Showing posts from 2007

The First 6 Months

I have been at the new job for about 6 months and the Superintendent asked for a mid-year recap. Here is an overview of what we have don in the last 6 months. There is more coming soon too! Updates in Educational Technology since July 1 st include: · Blackberry roll-out to all District administrators, principals, assistant principals, athletic directors, deans, and technology staff. This has increased the ability to communicate via e-mail and has increased productivity. · Currently, we are half-way through a new technology planning process which has involved students, teachers, staff, and community members. · Department chairs all have new laptops this year and have been using them for staff development and evaluations. · Each building is now running i-Tech sessions, which provide for staff development opportunities for integrating technology into the curriculum. Nearly 150 teachers, administrators, and staff are participating throughout the d

Tech Planning Process - Continuing...

Here is what went out Friday as the next step in the tech planning process. I have linked to the planning graphic organizer . I am not releasing the actual requests to the public though. The process is starting to gather some steam... Suggestions or ideas are always welcome! We are reaching the cut-off point for all of the tech requests. I wanted to describe what will happen during the next step and outline the schedule from here. After the window for tech requests closes department chairs have a couple of weeks to review and revise submissions. I will then organize and group the items while adding some supplemental information. I will use all of that information to create a technology "wishbook" that will have all of the requests in it. That book will be circulated to all of the technology planning committee members and the department chairs. I am attaching a pdf of the requests that have come in to this point and excel spreadsheet that summarizes that sam

Tech Tip 12/5 -Tech Tip 12/5 - Looking for some educational blogs to read?

Well the snow has arrived and we are reaching that point in the year where it is good to curl up on the couch with a good book - or maybe a good blog :) I will talk about the following things below - skip to what you might find interesting 1 - What is a blog 2- Where can I find good blogs to read? 3 - How can I keep track of all of this stuff? Will RSS help? Do I need an Aggregator? Where do I get that stuff anyway? 1. What exactly is a blog? ( from Wikipedia ) A blog (a portmanteau of web log ) is a website where entries are written in chronological order and commonly displayed in reverse chronological order. "Blog" can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog. Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries . A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comm

Approved! New Maine 207 "Web Environment"

Last night was a huge day for our district. Our board of education approved us to move forward on a project that will revolutionize our web presence and what we can do on the web. Here are the main parts: A main site for each school in the district governed by a CMS. A branch in the site for each activity/sport/teacher/etc... with the same CMS tools Each teacher will have a portal page that will bring their customized content to them Here is the real kicker - Each student will have their own portal page that will populate with important information from around the school - and they will have the ability to post content to it - AND SHARE that content with other teachers and students This will be a collaborative web 2.0 environment that gives our teachers and students the power to change the way they work in a classroom. American Eagle has given me permission to post part of the proposal so anyone who is interested can get a better idea of the direction we are heading in. When we star

Asus Eee Series Pc - Day II

So I showed the Asus off yesterday at a staff development meeting. Lots of wide eyes and a few good questions. It will be in the hands of a couple of kids over the next few weeks. I had this article passed on to me about Fresno Unified School District that has put them in several classrooms to work on student portfolios. Here are a couple of quotes: "Anything we can do as a district to engage students in learning and keep them here is a good thing," Superintendent Michael Hanson said Yes - engagement is a key piece here. Changing the way we teach is an even bigger one which is why I like this statement better school officials said they purchased 1,000 wireless laptops that fit on a desk alongside textbooks and notebooks, as well as give students the opportunity to build a digital portfolio of essays, drawings and other creations But what really scares me is that we continue to see statements like these: Stephen Lewis, a geology professor at California State University,

Asus Eee Series Pc

I responded yesterday to Jeff Utecht's post on R&D in education - by coincidence our R&D Asus Eee Series Pc arrived on the same day (yeah that is the one - right there next to my business card - so you can get an idea of size). I have already lined up some students that are going to each carry it around for a few days and use it in their classes and at home - with the agreement that they will meet with me afterwards to give me feedback. Here is the question for you - what should I ask them? What do you want to know about the student experience with this type of device? We have also ordered an XO to do the same thing with. I will use the same students. So please consider that when submitting your suggested questions.


Ran across this site called brainfood that has logic puzzles and it reminded me of how I used to start my class periods. Many times I would have a logic puzzle on the board or a question of the day. It gave the students something to think about while I took attendance and put their focus on what we were about to do. Especially in my chemistry classes where logical thinking got you further than memorizing the periodic table. This gets me thinking again about the skill based approach. What should I have been more concerned about as a chemistry teacher? I did make it a habit of telling my students that they should take chemistry because it taught you how to logically think through complex problems and find abstract relationships. I don't know how I came up with that, or where it came from, but I remember saying it a lot. I would tell my students that it really wouldn't matter for most of them if they could "do chemistry" later in life - what mattered was if they

The Tech Plan

As a first time tech director I have spent more time planning and dreading this process more than anything I have done in my professional career. I could have played this safe and just done what had been done before - instead I sent this email (I have changed the survey links to a copy of the same survey) - this is the start - I am open to it changing and developing as we move forward, but this is where we are now... We are beginning the phase of the technology planning stage where we are gathering the organization’s trends and needs for the next few years. Each staff member has the opportunity to submit resources that should be considered in the technology planning process. You can choose to submit items we already have and need to refresh or maintain, or resources that we should add to the district in the future. The plan will be in place for 3-years, so forecast appropriately. I have attached a pdf and word document that show what the online survey looks like. The s

How I Spent 10 Minutes Changing the World Tonight

I spent 10 minutes today correctly identifying 100 words at For my time of brushing up on a few words and making myself a little smarter I donated 1000 grains of rice through the United Nations. It is pretty fun and is basically a creative billboard, but it also serves to show that games work. I wouldn't have stuck around as long as I did if a little game wasn't at work here. Plus I felt good every time I got a word right. Seeing as that it is very similar to many of the vocabulary tests that show up in standardized tests I could also see this used as a tool in the classroom. Maybe an enrichment exercize or as part of a center.

Blog Readability

Passed on from Doug Johnson I guess I am hitting the target audience...

the rambling draft of a developing philosophy...

I am into day 2 of the IETC Conference - These are the ideas that continue to become solidified in my mind - They might not make a lot of sense yet, but I am working on many of the details... I guess this has been building - consider this the rambling draft of a developing philosophy... 1. The key to developing prepared students is skills - refining the traditional skills that we know that all kids must have (3r's, communication, life skills) with the new ones that are developing through the power of technology (multimedia, social networking, living an online persona, etc(i still need to make a list of these things) 2. We need to understand that teaching content is a dying art. The collaborative informational tools on the internet are replacing the need for teachers as informers. We are more in need of teachers as connectors. Education must become an activity that shows how to find and use the infinite growing quantity of information. Information Literacy + Authentic Learning +

Tech Tip 11/9 - Introduction/Refresher Web 2.0

My quick definition of Web 2.0 is a collection of tools that allow for 2-way (or more) communication, collaboration, and creation across the web and its nature causes sharing to shape the content. If you aren't familiar with web 2.0 (or would like a refresher) check out the following resources: Web 2.0 Workshop from Atomic Learning The Machines are Us/ing Us Web 2.0 Workshop Go To Web 2.0 - the complete Web 2.0 Directory

Tough Questions - Social Networking

I just got asked 4 tough questions from one of the schools' newspaper. 1.Is a program like Facebook safe for kids? Why? 2.What measures are taken to protect kids and prevent online predators? 3.Are online predators as big a threat as they are made out to be? 4.Do you feel that it is fair for school administrators to look at students' facebooks sites and punish them in school if they have inappropriate pictures or comments? Here were my responses: 1.Is a program like Facebook safe for kids? Why? Like anything else there is a level of safety that is based on how it is used. It is easy to forget in virtual worlds that the same social rules apply. We have all learned from an early age not to trust strangers, this advice holds true in our virtual environments as well. Facebook, and other social network sites, do have policies in place to help maintain safe atmospheres but there are always people that are on the fringes of society that will look for ways to take advantage of peo

Tech Tip 10/31 - Scary Emails

A scary tip for a scary day... Today's tech tip is about circulating those scary emails and rumors. Over the years email has become a quick and easy way to pass along rumors, hoaxes, and threats. Most of these emails are untrue and contunue to make the rounds. To ensure that the information you are passing along is truthful you can validate it at the following websites: They are the utmost experts on these kinds of stories and claims. So before scaring someone with a story about a computer virus, phone bill scam, or similar warnings run it through the fact checkers first. It is also a great site to use with your kids about substaniating sources and claims. Many of the stories on these sites are fun to go through. A good exercize in researching is to pick a couple and have the students determine if they are true or false using a varity of sources. One of my favorites is:

Tech Tip 10/11 - Google Maps Street View

Today's tech tip is just something fun and geeky. Check out Google Maps Street View. There are 15 cities in the US that are now offering street view. What is it? Why must you have it? Well, its cool. You virtually drive down the street and see around you. You can twist your head and look around 360 degrees as well. I just took a virtual trip down Michigan Avenue. How can it help your kids? Here is the really cool part. Google Street View is in 15 cities. Use it to drive by Ground Zero, or follow Holden Caulfield through the streets of New York in a modern Catcher in the Rye , compare architecture in different cities, or use proportional triangles to determine the height of a building...there is a lot of potential there. I don't know if you have used other features of Google maps yet in your classroom, but I will be showing you how over the next few weeks as we embark on another thread

Tech Tip 9/24 - preventing spam

Since I have joined the 207 family I receive about 10 emails a week from staff members concerned about the amount of SPAM they receive. I would like to take a moment to explain the reasons why spam gets through, ways you can prevent it, and what we are doing to combat it. What is SPAM? A spicy canned meat...I mean - a Monty Python sketch...I mean - - Electronic SPAM - is defined as mail that is unsolicited and bulk. It can come in many forms and include text, attachments, or photos Up to 80% of all email sent each day is SPAM and spam involving images is on the rise. Up to 50% of all SPAM sent each day is in the form of image files. Spam as pdf's is the new trend with up to 8% of all daily SPAM as pdf files. The #1 type of SPAM is greeting card SPAM. How do they get my email address? The most common way is from posting it on message boards, using it to make purchases, or posting it on websites. The less often you use your school email for these purposes the less

The Two Sides of Tech

It has been an interesting few weeks. We are rolling out our new gradebook program and I have had a great chance to work 1 on 1 with a bunch of teachers of varied abilities. It is interesting how many times I am perceived as a helper and a hindrance. To be more precise - I am helping them through their hindrance. However, most teachers are very happy to work really hard at something difficult, because they care about their kids. What has struck me strangely through this process - is how often one question has come up: "Have you ever been in the classroom?". It usually comes up as we start discussing how the teacher grades. I get the feeling that if I say no that they will give up all hope of me bing able to help them through the sometimes difficult task of setting up the gradebook. I guess in some ways I am lucky that I can say - yes I was in a Science or Music classroom for the last 10 years. It is weird having to say that to people. Where I am coming from I was a tea

TechTip 9/5 - Quintura

Good Evening, Busy day today - so here is a short late night tip: Here is a rather cool site that is in the ballpark of tagging, which is the theme we are on this week. Quintura is a visual search engine. It extracts keywords from search results and builds a word cloud. By clicking words in the cloud, you refine your query. It is really cool to see your search morph and change as you click on words. It is a great tool for visual learners. It is also helpful if you are searching "around" a topic and can't come up with the exact right term. Check out the search for rubrics: I am only showing you 1/2 of the screen. On the right is the listing of sites that changes as you click on terms in the cloud. A real fun thing to search for when using quintura is pictures. The images will show on the right and also change as you maneuver through the cloud. Try it I think you will agree. Quintura is just another search engine - but it does it visually. Kinda cool

TechTip 9/4 - Cool Tag Uses

I wanted to continue the theme of tagging and the possible uses. One of the neatest uses of tags is to create tag clouds. A tag cloud is a visual representation of the common words in a group of text - words that appear more frequently are larger and bolder. This text can be from any source and can be in any language. Here is one for Act I of Romeo and Juliet (I'll show you how to do this later in this tip) I am sure something like this could be a great discussion starter - or could be excellent in the review of a particular piece of text. One of my favorites is a website that has taken many of the past Presidential speeches and has created clouds for each speech. It is really interesting to see what words (topics) have changed or remained over the years. Here are other good clouds: Tag Clouds from the Democratic Debate Flickr Photos - popular photos - popular bookmarks Technorati - popular blogs The coolest option is to have you

TechTip 8/30 - del.icio.ous

Here is the tip I promised you on Besides having an incredibly cool name is an awesome tool. It is a social bookmarking service. "A What" you say... Here is the skinny: You can create an account at http:// You can then start saving your bookmarks there You can then retrieve your bookmarks anywhere in the world Big deal - right? Wait there is more: Once you have your bookmarks you can choose ones to share with your friends - like mine You can also search other's bookmarks for good stuff - instead of trying to find the best sites on your own For example - lets say I wanted to find the best sites on literacy. I could go and search for literacy on google and sift through the 45,700,000 results that are found. Or, I can go to and do the same search and find the sites that other people have deemed good enough to bookmark. They key to all of this is tags. Tagging is a term you should be fa

TechTip 8/30 - Top 100 Tech Tools

It has been a busy day, so this one is going out late. David Jakes turned me on to this site through his account . If that last sentence made no sense - don't worry - I'll describe tomorrow morning. Anyway, the site I want to tell you about is This list has been compiled from the Top 10 Tools lists of over 100 learning professionals (consultants, analysts, developers, practitioners, academics, etc). This is a great spot to go to and look for things you don't know about in technology. Take a minute to click on the link of something you aren't familiar with and peruse it for a little while. Don't worry you won't wast your time - they are the top 100 after all!

TechTip 8/29 - Finding Photos without Breaking Copyright Laws

So, you want to use great photos in your presentations, powerpoints, movies, whatever. You could also crawl through flickr - but the quality there isn't always the best. Sure, you could just steal stuff off of google images , but you don't want to break copyright laws. Plus you would like to teach your students how to be responsible when you have them do similar projects. Where can you find this stuff? Well, you want to look for sites that offer royalty free stock photos. Stock photos tend to be of a better quality and resolution. There are a bunch sites out there that sell stock photos and carry free ones like: But you don't want to spend all day bouncing between sites looking for good free stuff. So where do you go? Yotophoto is now indexing well over a quarter million Creative Commons, Public Domain, GNU FDL, and various other 'copy

TechTip 8/28 - Timelines

Today's TechTip is by request. I have had several teachers of the past couple of days asking for the best way to do a timeline on-line. The best site I have found for a truly graphical timeline is Here are a couple good examples of what you can do with this technology Pregnancy Timeline Timeline that describes week by week the changes in a woman's body as well as that of the baby during pregnancy. The History of Video Games This is the history of video games. The information is taken from US Public Broadcasting System (PBS) "The Video Game Revolution", and from a timeline on Infoseek by Amanda Kudler. Adolf Hitler Adolf Hitler: From unknown to dictator of Germany A history of Jazz Albums

Unlocked iPhone

I don't know if you have been following this story - but it is pretty interesting and gives us a clear idea of what our kids are able to do when we let them use their talents...

TechTip 8/23 - The Educators Reference Desk

The Educator's Desk Reference: - here is what they say about it: The Educator's Reference Desk builds on over a quarter century of experience providing high-quality resources and services to the education community. From the Information Institute of Syracuse, the people who created AskERIC, the Gateway to Educational Materials, and the Virtual Reference Desk, the Educator's Reference Desk brings you the resources you have come to depend on. 2,000+ lesson plans, 3,000+ links to online education information, and 200+ question archive responses. In other words one-stop shopping for great stuff on-line for integrating technology and information into your classroom.

Tech Tip 8/22 - Using the Net as Your Calculator

My Grandfather always used to joke that a computer was nothing more than an oversized calculator (in a way he was right). Did you know that there are a bunch of awesome calculators on-line and you probably type words into one quite often? Here are 3 cool calculator tools: 1. Google Yes that is right - Google! If you type something in the search bar as a calculation and click search - the first results back will be your answer. You can do this for just about any math - including conversions (sorry factor-label method lovers). Here are directions. 2. Very Cool. Does calculations, conversions, and keeps a history of your calculations. Real nice for teaching students to follow their steps in calculations without carrying around rolls of calculator tape. 3. E-tutor Graphing calculator - Those TI's are pretty expensive. Get your graph groove on for free!

Tech Tip 8/21

Happy 1st day of school! As we go into this year I will be sending out Technology Tips on a pretty regular basis (a few times a week). Some of these will be cool websites or tools you can use. Most will be helpers or ideas for the classroom. Every so often they may just be good stuff to know. Either way you can be assured that I will be delivering a daily dose of geekiness. Past tech tips will be available at my blog . Here is your first installment... I want to introduce you to a couple of concept-mapping sites. Both of these sites allow you and your students to build mind-maps which take large difficult concepts and break them down into smaller manageable pieces. Here are some websites that have great examples or discussion: Anyway back to the cool tools... The 2 most popular si
David Jakes account turned me on to this awesome website within TED (I can't believe I didn't stuble on it myself with my TED crush lately) - Top 100 websites you gotta see and will probably be using.

Free Federal Resources for Educators

I stumbled upon this today: Some great free resources and has a rss feed so you can keep up with the changes.


I read about this company this morning - they have developed a wireless product that creates a wireless mesh from access point to access point. They can communicate up to 150 feet indoors and 750 feet outdoors. They are small and the company provides software updates for the life of the product. Big Deal for Schools? Yes - Here is why - Each access point can be set up to offer a secure and open internet connection. What if...schools worked with local businesses and homeowners to create a wireless grid? The school provides the bandwidth - the business buys the access point and agrees to host it on top of their building. The community works together to provide free wireless to their students everywhere in the school boundaries. Talk about eliminating the digital divide. Mange your network over the web with Dashboard , the simple control panel for the Meraki system. Keep track of dozens or hundreds of network users, set bandwidth limits, brand your network, or optio


I forgot how much I like TED. Here are some favorites: Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity? Photosynth demo Unveiling the genius of multi-touch interface design

Links for Student Software

I saw this article today in USA Today regarding software for student purchase. It is a decent reference guide about getting student software at a decent price. Here are some other good products out there - that students might like to have on their computers that are free: Product - link - similar product it replaces (if there is one) OpenOffice (Microsoft Office) AbiWord (Word) Google Earth GIMP (photoshop) Picassa (photoshop) Scribs (pagemaker) Audacity for Windows Dia for Windows (Visio) Nvu (frontpage/dreamweaver) Google Sketch-up (CAD software) Celestia (Star Charts/Space) Firefox SynchToy http://www.m

Digital Copyright

A patent has been filed for a new technology that will allow you to put a digital "watermark"  on any digital media that you put out there. you will be alerted when someone publishes your "stuff" elsewhere. Now that some sites are sharing profits with posters, I can really see this catch on. link

"violent video games" and our "violent youth"

I was waiting for the videogame community to start it's backlash against the "violent" label it has been given.   This will probably be one of many articles that begin to push back against the  common assertion that videogames are destroying our childrens' futures'.  I am waiting for educators to figure out that there are reasons why kids like these games more than eating. By the way... how come football and other sports are not blamed for our "violent" youth that are not really violent.  link

Sony UX

I have spent my last week with a Sony-UX as the only PC I have used.   I got the tablet features working it is much better on Vista.  The tablet interface eliminates the keyboard in most cases.   I think all of you will be impressed.  I can't imagine how awesome this would be with a wireless projector! It has easily made me one of the most popular people at  the Ice conference! Here is a link to the product 

Illinois DOPA

Just in case you hadn't seen the actual wording. .. my $.02 - doesn't define a social networking site - looks like it leaves it up to the "State Librarian" to determine this...  In case you were wondering her name is Anne Craig and here is some info on her She seems to be quite accomplished. Including being named librarian of the year.  I still question giving this decision to one person.

Nick Version of YouTube

looks like web 2.0 is coming to a 7 year old near you!