Tuesday, May 31, 2005


Finally...I Got It

Yesterday, I had a mini-rant about the Daily News article, Parents agog over kids' diary blogs by Dawn Eden . I couldn't fully grasp the meaning of the article; I was also looking to deeply into it.

Well Dawn Eden (herself) had to come to my rescue and explain. So it's no wonder why her blog is called The Dawn Patrol.

Here are some of her comments.

"Amy, sorry if the distinction I made between the different kinds of blogs wasn't clear. I tried to make that distinction when I wrote, "When the press refers to blogs, it usually means those offering frequently updated political commentary, gossip or links to breaking news. But the blogs that worry parents are a different kind of animal - online diaries that kids create through free sites such as LiveJournal and Xanga."

"In my defense, it's hard to make such distinctions in a 350-word column. I'm trying to explain how some parents are hearing horror stories about kids' using blogs, and also show what they can do to learn more about kids' blogging--or to blog their kids from blogging if need be. Wiredsafety.org is a good clearinghouse of information on that topic."

I truly appreciate Dawn's comments (that's again why blogs are so great; feedback is sometimes immediate). But there are some great blog stories happening in the schools and the MSM should continue to find and report those as well as the "not so good blog stories."

Monday, May 30, 2005


When Moi Doesn't Get It

After FIVE times of trying to understand the following Daily News Article Parents agog over kids' diary blogs (agog) by Dawn Eden. I came away with one thing (and I tell my son constantly to stop saying I don't get it) I DON'T GET IT.

I know I may be slow sometimes. But normally I think I get "it." Although I stumbled on LazyGal's blog this week and discovered that others think I don't get "it." But that's okay...only kind thoughts sent their way.

Anyway, back to the article. I'm trying to figure out the following

1) It's not clear if Eden herself has a blog? She references some guy named Denham "Bob Denham, a reader of my blog who was there, writes via E-mail." If she has a blog, where's the link?
2) I never got from the story that parents were overly excited about their kid's journal or blog. She never makes the distinction between Blogs and Online Journals. Or maybe she did and I didn't get "it."
3) Then there's the big jump, at the end of the article she writes... "One resource for parents wishing to know how best to monitor children's Internet use is the nonprofit wiredsafety.org. Services such as FamiLink (familink.com) also enable parents to block their children from accessing free blogging sites."

But in the article, Eden references Xanga and Livejournal as the online site used by our young people. Last I read at Will's site, there's a distinct difference between blogging and student's online journals.

"North Dakota artist Julie Neidlinger got a shock when she discovered a blog by a high-schooler threatening a teacher - who happened to be Neidlinger's mom. The teen wrote, "If she wants a WAR, she will get one." Huh? Where did that come from.

If you GET IT let me know.

Sunday, May 29, 2005


Straight From The Queen's Keys

Chess in schools has definitely been something I've been an advocate for over the past couple of years. I just see how much my own two children have benefited from learning how to think critically and to broaden their sense of Big Picture Thinking. When you play chess, you have to think outside the box. You really learn those real world strategies. Now, don't get me wrong, my two are typical kids and have their good days and bad. But overall, exposing them to chess has certainly enhanced their academic abilities.

Chess Grandmaster Susan Polgar, (who I've written about in the past) was the first woman to break the gender barrier in chess, is a 4-time World Chess Champion and a 5-time Olympic Champion and now she has entered the chess blogosphere talking to her fans from all over the globe.

She writes..."Politicians talk about the importance of education, and as a parent, I totally agree. That is why we need to do more to help our children succeed in school and in life. Chess can give a big boost to children."

I guess, that's why I haven't written in a couple of days. I'm too busy following her blog. She has really jumped right in. Congratulations Susan!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


The Blog's A Stage

May is proving to be a winter month in NYC (slight exaggeration) but it's really cold today.

Anyway, my faculty mini workshop (BLOGS IN EDUCATION) yesterday went very well. And using this blog site was an added benefit (once we were able to log onto the blog). Don't you hate when you have this great presentation and no one can log on? I promised myself I was going to be positive today...oh well. But really, TECHNOLOGY HAS TO WORK in order for the Digital INFORMATION to be integrated into curriculum.

But it's great watching teachers when they're introduced to something new that could possibly enhance their class instruction. They had great questions. For example, one teacher asked "why would we want people to read what we are doing?" My response was "blogs are for publishing yours and students' work with the understanding that the world reads it." There's something that makes blogs important when you know there's a larger audience. I compare it to singing at your family reunion vs. Carnegie Hall. Although I would clear the house at both. But I cannot wait to see what they have in store with their blogs. Coming in fall of 2005...although we're going to work on the set up over the summer.

Ironically, a few of them didn't know that I maintain this blog. Oh well...so much for self promotion.

So today, I sent the K-6 staff a follow-up of how some 4th graders are using blogs in the classroom (after I received a comment from teacher Gordon Brune who uses David Warlick's BlogMeister. He has his 4th graders doing what I LOVE....reporting the news using a blog. But the best part is his disclaimer for comments. He writes...

"Your comment will be delivered to the teacher, Gordon Brune, for approval. When it has been approved, the comment will be added to Frank's blog.
Thank you!"

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


The Poster Child

See article: Bloggers Can Spot Each Other with Og the Blog Trog by Edited by Carly Zander

Meet Og - courtesy of www.Send2Press.com

I take a teeny weeny issue with the latest Og the Blog Trog folks using a caveman as their "Poster Child." Barbara Freedman-DeVito and husband Bob of Baby Bird Productions created the characters. But I see more, Mork and Mindy as the reps for bloggers. They are certainly more futuristic; in my humble opinion of course.


Blogs in Education

For today's faculty meeting I thought, "instead of trying to explain blogs (short for weblogs) by lecturing about them, why don't we just go right to the source." Now if you look at the word blog in the previous sentence you'll see that it is highlighted. Please click on the word blog. You will immediately go to the definition of blog. And throughout this posting you will see words highlighted. This is called hyperlinking and will take you to source of where I got the information I want to share. There are many points to learn in regards to blogging. Will I be able to explain ALL of blogging in 15 minutes? No. However, I will provide you with ways blogging can enhance your curriculum with a quick overview and save some time for questions. There is also a comment section at the bottom of this post that allows for questions or comments if you think of it after this meeting. I'd like to start with reading some passages from the article, In the Classroom, Web Logs Are the New Bulletin Boards By JEFFREY SELINGO.

Now let's take a look at some examples of class blogs and how they're used in education.

More Classroom Blogs - ITEC501 Class Blog



Visit My Class

Social Studies blog

Bud The Teacher

Classroom blogs

Blogging vs. Posting

Examples of Students answering Blog questions

Teacher Parent Communication

Classroom and Teacher Applications

Teacher Librarian Blog Article.

Who Says Elementary Schools Can't Blog

Where I Got It
(blogging in education)

Points to consider:
-When you want to expand your classroom past the day.
-Enhance writing skills
-Student Identity and educating the parents
-Provides a forum for "getting out what's in"
-Use this forum but need to know that what they publish will follow them
-Publishing for the world

More links...
Web Pedagogy Blog

Will's FAQs

I hope I didn't overwhelm you. But this is a very exciting tool to use.

What about posting pictures? And deleting unwanted comments? We'll save that for another meeting.


Save As A Draft

Is anyone having trouble with the SAVE AS A DRAF feature with blogger? For some reason I cannot save my work; only publish.

Monday, May 23, 2005


Blogging Intros for K-6

Tomorrow I'll be giving a mini workshop on using blogs in the classroom; an introduction to our K-6 faculty. If anyone has any userfriendly links or advice, I greatly welcome any and all. Ed-Tech has an article today, Classroom Blogging Blooms in Spring by Tom Hoffman.

Saturday, May 21, 2005


Reading Keeps You Young

From the Net Genners to the 99 year old librarian...The Kansas City Channel.Com reports on Martha Smith who shares her love for reading and passion for libraries.

Love Of Reading Keeps 99-Year-Old Librarian Working Smith Has Been Librarian Since 1926 Coal Creek Library in Vinland, Kan. (courtesy of Librarian and Information Science News)


Net Genners

I had the honor of interviewing Doug Johnson the other day for the SLJ VSB. He's the Director of Media and Technology for the Mankato (MN) Area Public Schools he also writes, speaks and consults on school technology and library issues. For educators and librarians he highly recommends the ebook, Educating the Net Generation by Diana Oblinger and James Oblinger.
Just passing it along and printing it out now.

"The Net Generation has grown up with information technology. The aptitudes, attitudes, expectations, and learning styles of Net Gen students reflect the environment in which they were raised—one that is decidedly different from that which existed when faculty and administrators were growing up."

This blurb is from the Educause Website.

Friday, May 20, 2005


Here To Stay

The SLJ Virtual Summit Blog is one week old and to date has been both challenging and humbling for me. Now that the dust has settled a bit, reading through some of the comments has really been inspiring with only a couple of TKOs. But what are you going to do? I know, "get a thick skin" but sometimes words hurt. Even though all week I said to myself "I am not going to try to defend myself; people have a right to their opinions." So what do I do? TRY to defend myself. Shame on me...but I can't help it.

Most readers know my story...Journalist, turned educator, turned Libra/Tech Director (yada yada). But on a personal note, it has always been important to me to champion causes that matter. For whatever it's worth...I traveled alone to Bosnia in 1992 during the war, stared in the face of my brother's murderer and watched my father draw his last breath. I do have some idea about the things that matter. And to me LIBRARIES MATTER.

Right now, the librarians need everyone's support (not just librarians supporting librarians). They are truly the vessels by which information can flow through in a very systematic way. We are in a new age in education and we all have to work together to ensure that this happens. Librarians, teachers, administrators and parents need to join forces and work toward a common goal which is the future of today's student. Every school (including mine) should have a librarian. We also have to work on funding so we can afford to pay them what they deserve.

I know...a little too defensive.

Thursday, May 19, 2005


Rebecca's Rules

Yesterday I deleted one of my posts due to an awesome amount of spam comments. I just thought, "how else am I going to get rid of this spam with this one post?" Apparently, you're not supposed to do just arbitrarily delete a post. I didn't know this. Over at Rebecca's Pocket she writes about the ethics of blogging and she provides 6 rules to "form a basis of ethical behavior for online publishers of all kinds":

These are Rebecca Blood's six rules. For further details, visit her blog.

1. Publish as fact only that which you believe to be true.
2. If material exists online, link to it when you reference it.
3. Publicly correct any misinformation.
4. Write each entry as if it could not be changed; add to, but do not rewrite or delete, any entry.
5. Disclose any conflict of interest.
6. Note questionable and biased sources.

(she thanks Dave Winer for #1 & #5)

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Gone But Not Forgotten

Remember Kodak's flash cube?

Well, my son's second grade end of the year project is to create an autobiography, picture timeline. So of course, I read the assignment and immediately get catapulted into the weepy mom syndrome, thinking, "Wow! He's really growing up." But what a great bonding moment...Mom and son, relaxing around the fireplace with the good old family photo album for that much awaited trip down memory lane. Then it's reality and it quickly dawns on me...WHAT FAMILY PHOTO ALBUM? I actually have ONE, just one. Most of our family pictures are on CDs. I just remember how my grandparents always had their photo albums out on display and whenever asked "what would you save first, in the case of an emergency?" It was ALWAYS...the photo albums.

We have been taking digital photos for years and have been keeping the pictures on the computer. And to watch my son scan through mounds of online photos of himself on the computer was certainly a teachable moment. I explained how cameras and photography evolved over the years and we researched different cameras and compared to today. So I guess we'll have to snuggle around the computer screen or I better figure out a way to (stop being lazy and) make a photo album.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


Thoughts For Anne

Send Anne your thoughts. She's undergoing tumor surgery this week and requests your good wishes. (thanks to Will's prompt)

Monday, May 16, 2005


The King's Queens Rule!

Once again, chess is making headlines. Wahoo! This time however, it's Girls and Chess. And as much as I have tried to promote chess to MSM for educational purposes, for some crazy reason, broadcast news doesn't find it "newsworthy" enough. Too bad, and I'm not surprised because as a parent of two chess players, I know how much chess has enriched my kids' lives and their ability to think cognitively and strategically. Not to mention, they enjoy it.

Just the other day, my five year old daughter and seven year old son received a great gift from grandmaster Susan Polgar...Susan handed them her latest DVD Winning Chess The Easy Way, as a present...very cool. So today, I was thrilled to read the The New York Times article: On Boards Without Boys Girls Reassert Their Power by Jodi Wilgoren.

"Before play began, F. Leon Wilson gave a simple pep talk to the four girls from his KnightMare chess club in Columbus, Ohio: "Ladies, I want you to be aggressive."
Normally, Mr. Wilson said, "I don't encourage them to be aggressive, I encourage them to be strategic," but the girls' championship "is more of a strategic tournament," so he saw aggressiveness as the key."

I play chess but I am not an expert and I truly believe that one can be a conscious observer without being the ultimate expert (this is coming from a Librarian/Technology email BASHING I had today). For some reason there's a perspective from a few that states "if you're not a librarian, you're NOT part of the family" and "you can't understand our issues." Six words...Hogwash and give us a chance. Imagine if girls and chess weren't given that chance?

Saturday, May 14, 2005



I'm going to retire my blog for a day. I had a rough week.


My Virtual Summit Woes

Oh the blogs of woe!!!!!!!!!

Boy, this blogging gig is not always an easy one to take...sometimes. You think you're doing your BEST WORK and contributing to the field and then you realize there's more to do; or you're not doing enough. I was over at Steven Cohen's Library Stuff blog and noticed how kind he was to post about the SLJ Virtual Summit Blog. He was actually responding to a comment I left for him. But then I read on...He states, and rightfully so:

"While I'm thrilled that SLJ has started blogging, I noticed that there is no RSS Feed (it looks like their readers have noticed it as well), which means I won't be keeping track of the blog (yet). I'm a bit surprised that in May of 2005 a company would launch a blog without an RSS feed already in place. Scoble is right. A new site without an RSS feed is lame. Especially a blog..."

So I have a question for Steve (I hope it's not a stupid question), because I am still considered a "Rookie Blogger" (see Will's Posting) and I don't always know these things. In the future, will readers come to the SLJ Summit Blog if there is an RSS feed? I am sure we'll have one soon; because of the email we've received so far. But in all honesty, I just thought it was automatic to have an RSS feed. Back in November Will spoke at the Mohonk conference and introduced blogs in education and I haven't stopped blogging since. He told us everything we needed to know to get started and RSS was just a part of the agenda. So when I went to SLJ (it's not their fault) with the blog idea (after I attended their SUMMIT conference)....and the story continues; oh well. I guess I am naive and still a little blog/green.
Woe is me...what to do? This is definitely a job for Will. Any words of advice?

Thursday, May 12, 2005


Blogging Proves...It's A Small World After All

Do I know how to speak Dutch? No. But when moqub (a blogger from the Netherlands) links to your blog, and writes about a Libra/Tech posting (I am very passionate about Libra/Tech because I coined the phrase for my school) you want to learn the language pretty quickly. So thanks to a FREE TRANSLATION SITE, I was able to decipher some of what her posting was about. I'm still not 100% sure I wasn't being "dissed" (that's the NY in me, always paranoid) but I still left a comment...in English of course.

My Post Title- An Unlikely Couple Referring to my post on Libraries and Technology
Her Post Title- Een koud huwelijk?
English Translation Of Her Title - A cold marriage? (I like it. Although I don't agree. Because Eventually, Library and Technology will have a blissful relationship.)

Dutch--"Leuk zo'n nieuw woord. Nu nog een leuke vertaling vinden."
English translation--Nicely such new word. Now that yet an amusing translation find

What's my point? Well, after reading her post, I was determined to find out what she was writing and I found the basic premise within 10 minutes. I could translate a posting from a language I did not know. Thanks to the internet. Our world is REALLY getting smaller (although don't try to paint it); which is why we as educators have to embrace change and use the free online resources that are readily available to the fullest extent.

Just imagine a foreign speaking student coming into class and you (the teacher or administrator) have at your disposable a link to their language. That's huge. I don't think anyone would feel the frustration of "what can I say? I don't speak the language." Now...the 21st. century educator has no more excuses.

Tomorrow I have to share my "shhhh quiet library story." I am still seething about it. So I cannot write, right now.


A Donkey IN THE Blog Mirror


So this is my second posting day at the SLJ Virtual Summit Blog and I have to say it's kind of cool. I am a little nervous though because you never know how your writing will be preceived by new readers. Plus, bloggers are known to be a little self-conscious. But I have to give you my "donkey IN THE Blog Mirror" story. I wish I could make the donkey sound. Because this is a classic case of...WHY TECHIES DON'T LIKE OR APPRECIATE NON-TECHIES.

Anyway, the SLJ technology staff are amazing. They really "get the job done" and there's certainly no time for chit-chat...their job is always quick, efficient and complete. But most of all they're NICE. I guess that's the difference between working with corporate and schools. Unfortunately, schools and libraries don't have the same level of resources to put money into tech staffs. But these people are VERY EASY to work with...so far. I'm not glossing this over either. Anyone in education knows how tough it is sometimes to WORK WITH TECHIES. It's proven. There's a LOVE HATE relationship between us. Quick story...one of the SLJ tech staff went through incredible detail about HOW TO USE THE BLOG TOOL ELOGIC. Right? Took a lot of time on it...Sent it.... Amended it. And all I was supposed to do was READ THE DARN THING. So...what did I do? Well.........I read it. At least, I thought I did. But I Did NOT READ IT...thoroughly (you know? the old once over...I got it...deals). So for post#1, this brilliant, kind and patient staffer had to re-work some ISHKABBIBBLE coding that showed up in the post. It looked like characters I'd never seen before. But my trainer specifically stated in her instructions "TO NOT CUT AND PASTE FROM MICROSOFT WORD." And what did I do? Exactly the opposite. I CUT AND PASTE from Microsoft Word. And what did she do? Fixed the problem but definitely pointed out that it was IN THE DIRECTIONS.

So there is a reason why Techies don't always care for Non-Techies. But to my defense, this blog tool is far different from Blogger with many more bugs. Read The manual (reworded of course) at its best.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


Here We Go Again

'New York Times' Columnist Hits Blogger Ethics

“Many bloggers make little effort to check their information, and think nothing of posting a personal attack without calling the target first - or calling the target at all. They rarely have procedures for running a correction. The wall between their editorial content and advertising is often nonexistent… And bloggers rarely disclose whether they are receiving money from the people or causes they write about.”

If anything, bloggers have to fact check because as we know, the whole world is watching us. Even MSM.


Blogging Tips

I never link to the big wig bloggers but Instapundit has a link (via John Hawkins) 25 pieces of advice for bloggers. My favorite is #17...

"Even if you only have 7 people reading, work like you have 7000 readers. Because if you don't work hard when you have almost no readers, you're never going to get to 7000."


SLJ's Virtual Summit Blog

It's official and live! The School Library Journal magazine now has a Virtual Summit Blog (with yours truly as the blogger). Check it out. The main objective of the blog is to gather as many visionaries, thinkers, educators, librarians...anyone who is interested in sharing ideas for the 21st century learners. That's just about everybody. Right? It's an exciting journey and one I am really honored to be a part of. So who says you can't have more than one blog going at a time? And in case you were wondering I will still be blogging for K-F Libra/Tech. I will just be waking up a "weee" bit earlier in the morning.

Monday, May 09, 2005


An Unlikely Couple?

The marriage between the library and technology (over the years) has certainly had its bumps and I am comfortable to say...knock down bruises. Mainly, there's a rift between whether the "good old fashion" library will welcome its new patron...the computer/digital information/technology. There are also other issues: the role of the teacher/librarian in schools, who is responsible for information literacy? to weed or not to weed? are we phasing out librarians with technology? NO! My head of school took to these issues to task in his titleless post from Friday. He takes a stab at what would make for a better relationship between these sometimes warring couples.

Here's a clip...Libratech is a new way of approaching learning and research. Libratech is a new way of enjoyment and understanding. But, as with any new idea, Libratech's challenge is to blend the virtues of an "old way of doing things" with a sparkling and often confounding "new way of doing things." You have your "purists" who speak eloquently of the library and the use of books and criticize in many respects the "new ways" for acquiring information and understanding. The boldness of Libratech is that in this approach, and through a coordination of virtues so to speak, children and adults are more fully engaged and presented with a library world that plugs into the information age as well as the age of critical thought through reading books. Sometimes, there is that accusation from purists that a library is under siege from the technologists.

I actually tried to explain the concept of Libratech a few months ago. So this is why having heads of school (or your bosses) on blogboard makes for further clarity. They also have PLENTY to write about.


What Does Blog Reflections & Copyrighting Have in Common?

There has been a rash of blog news making headlines (NYTIMES article) lately. New bloggers are also blooming up everyday; and in my humble opinion, it's a great time to be a writer.

Just this morning, I was having some watercooler talk about the power of blogs. I then started reminiscing as to why I started blogging. Initially, it was out of pure frustration. There are great stories happening within every school. But I actually wanted to profile people, theories, events, news and educational/library happenings for the 21st century learner (among other things of course). In the past, I tried to "shop" these ideas to local newspapers and broadcast stations only to hear "it's not newsworthy enough for us." Well it is to me! And personally, I find it hard to understand how a reporter can give information on the "state of education, technology and libraries" if they're not stationed in schools (as their beat). But that's another story. I have also found in the past that if a news crew came to your school to do a story, you probably would never see them again. So blogs allowed for these stories to germinate and continue without MSM (mainstream media) approval. Why should I have to wait for MSM to decide if something is a good story or not? I promise I am not bashing....just reflecting.

That's why I took to blogging. In the past, a web page (I'mHTMLclueless) was just too darn difficult to make and who wants to constantly badger a tech department employee to post winning scores, teacher profiles etc.? They have enough to do.

So when do I get to the copyright issue? I got way off track...sorry. Well, I am still not 100% clear about what to tell new bloggers regarding copyright and their personal blogs. However, I do know if you blog for a company, your work becomes owned by the company you work for. I did find a pretty comprehensive article People are starting Weblogs in growing numbers, but the owner of the content isn't always clear By John Foley InformationWeek
I am also open to the copyright experts out there to provide some expertise.

Sunday, May 08, 2005


Move Over Agatha...

One of my favorite young adult mystery writers, Marianna Heusler (I hear) has another book coming out this summer called ANNABELLE'S MONSTERS (cool cover).

We invited Marianna a few years back for a book signing and reading from her hit mystery The Night The Penningtons Vanished. I must say the students still talk about her visit. It was one of the first times they were able to meet a real author. Here's a short segment section from one of my favorite of her books,The Night The Penningtons Vanished.

"Still sometimes Isabella felt sorry for herself. Other girls had two parents, and if they did have part time jobs, they got paid for it. Yet without Aunt Tallulah, both she and Anna would probably be in foster care.
A hard rap on the front door interrupted Isabella's thoughts.
Isabella's immediate reaction was fright. From where she was standing, behind the glass counter, all she could see was a huge shadow looming on the front doorstep. She stood frozen, unable to move. She pictured a vicious robber with a black stocking over his face, and a gun pointed straight at her."


Happy Mother's Day Mom

Posted by Hello


An Unbreakable Bond

In today's New York Times, Nicole Keeter writes about her earlier childhood experiences as being one of two blacks in a small Iowan town in the earlier 1980s. The New Girl sends a passionate, yet vivid reminder of how mixing real life racial issues in with normal childhood experiences can leave marks too deep for some to heal. This article also reveals an unbreakable bond that sometimes develops when two children meet eachother under some very unkind circumstances.

Here's an excerpt...
''How do you. . . .'' she said when I stopped for our first real meeting. She gathered herself. ''How do you do it here, with only them all the time?'' ''Them?'' I said, feeling my body stiffen. ''I don't know what you mean.'' She studied my face and hugged her knees more tightly. ''The boys were out here laughing, saying how gross it would be to kiss a little. . . .'' She shuddered. And then came the N-word."

The end of this article really left me wondering (deeply) about the fate of Chris. I wonder what happened to her? What did her experience teach her? Nicole, obviously grew through her past issues that probably made her who she is today; but I am very curious about Chris. Sometimes one word can make or break someone's spirit forever. It's sad but true.


Two With A Twist

Veronica Chambers a brilliant author I had the pleasure of meeting when I was out on the west coast a month ago, has two new books coming out June: Celia Cruz The Queen of Salsa and her novel out in paperback Miss Black America


Happy Mother's Day

For mother's day today, I want to pay tribute to 21st century women writers and voracious readers. So I will start over at Mary's blog she is a new blogger with some fascinating summer reading suggestions. Here are just some from the list she provides:
# Literary Machines - Ted Nelson
# Language of New Media - Lev Manovich
# Connected - Steven Shaviro
# The Laws of Cool - Alan Liu
# Picture Theory - W. J. T Mitchell
# Weaving the Web - Tim Berners Lee

Friday, May 06, 2005


The WHO's WHO Hall of Shame

I was THRILLED when I received the letter in my mailbox two weeks ago.
Red carpet, Award ceremony, screaming former students (in the audience) was off in the near future (you can see I am having fun with this? :) You've been nominated for "Who's Who" for American educators. One of my best students nominated me. Now I daze off....The book, the prestige, the cost, the people to send it to; Come on? The reality.... There are millions of people who should be in Who's Who. Why is there a cost for a book that comes from inspired students just trying to "give back" something from their heart....a thanks?

Anyway, I thought I was being a sadist when I deep sixed the two envelopes that came, on the same day (I might add). It got me thinking that I was nominated twice. So I will admit, my face had the Kodak moment for a lifetime. But as I fast forward to today and stumbled upon...Pedablogue blog who had the same euphoric experience, also had the same red flags. Fortunately, I learned in the newsroom long ago...."if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." But when a child's name is attached to an envelope, you can't be a cynic. So I had to be realistic and take it for what it was worth.... A nice compliment I didn't feel comfortable paying for.

While I love the student who nominated me, I hope she knows that "WHO'S WHO" has nothing to do with how she really feels. I felt really guilty not purchasing the book. But there in lies the trap. It's the book that your name will be in and live in forever. NOT...I'd rather have my student keep my name etched in her memory; because whether I like it or not, I will never forget her nominating me for "something." It's truly an honor." Even if the honor has a price tag.


Blogs Aren't Flat

Just reading the following article, Tuning in to Jon Stewart, and Britney Schmidt By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN for the third time and I cannot imagine a book tour of this magnitude having NO blog impact. (sorry double negative-but I get much of my news from blogs and I consider myself educated Mr. Friedman)

He states the following..."many educated people seem to be getting their news from Comedy Central. Say what? As any author will tell you, the best TV book shows to be on have long been Don Imus, Charlie Rose, C-Span, Tim Russert on CNBC, "Today," Oprah and selected programs on CNN, Fox and MSNBC. They are all still huge. But what was new for me on this tour was the number of people who also mentioned getting their news from Jon Stewart's truly funny news satire, "The Daily Show."

Don't get me wrong. I agree with his notion that,

"...there's a huge undertow of worry out in the country about how our kids are being educated and whether they'll be able to find jobs in an increasingly flat world, where more Chinese, Indians and Russians than ever can connect, collaborate and compete with us."

However, in regards to his passions of teaching students how to, "love to learn" or "learn how to learn" we have to challenge the 21st century student in the world that THEY live in. They are millennium learners and no classroom door or virtual door should be closed to them. We should have far more American interested engineering students. But I am a hopeful optimist that this wave of new learning initiatives will change that.

We've also have to keep in mind that not to long ago, the educational experts released valid data on the issue of learning style and differences. How have we changed the educational classroom to meet the needs of varied learning needs. NOW we know hat all students learn very differently. I know I am a visual learner...tried and true. I need to see things.

But, Mr. Friedman is right on when he states that "you can inspire a student to want to learn, no matter what the subject." But what I want to see is for my student to make that connection early on in life and not after he has written a best seller.


The Human Side of Blogs - Continued

before I lose this again...I am reposting what was inadvertantly chopped off (thanks to "knot" knowing HTML coding-arrrggghh) Here are my final thoughts on the HUMAN SIDE OF BLOGGING. Here it goes...

Blogs have liberated: the educator, the journalist, the philosopher, the students, the voter, me... but most importantly, the people. There are even PhotoBloggers...

Photoblogs Photo blogs capture slices of everyday life Alex L. Goldfayn
"Photo blogs are the evolutionary offspring of text-only Web logs, or blogs, where anybody can write anything for posting on the Internet. Photo blogs let users post photographs and diary-like descriptions."

Blogs are freeing our minds from the thoughts, of the "AHAAA" moments that were once, just discussed in the faculty room. Now you can literally "think outside the box" online.
Bloggers have very logically taken a stance on NOT waiting for "the papers" or "the journals" to come off the presses before reality strikes. Teachers, Librarians, Writers are all (very rapidly) becoming purveyors of information. It's just that teachers live it and don't always consider themselves the "experts" outside of their own domain.

Just think of all of those teachers we had when we were growing up. Whether they were good, bad or indifferent, if they had blogs, we would have more today. Certain things would probably make sense, like "why is this teacher always frowning?" You can't just be a teacher and forget the human interaction. That one day of instruction will live on in the life of your student forever. Our profession provides the human side to something that was once forbidden.

Thursday, May 05, 2005


The Human Side of Blogging

What I love about blogs (and bloggers) are that they have a very "take it or leave it" attitude once that posting is final. I will admit though, that much thought goes into what's being put out there on the web. I also know and respect the fact that from what I have read, it appears that every post is very carefully composed and reviewed. It's like a never ending "newsroom edit" session.

So with educators, we are sharing with the world who we are as people; as well as our pedagogy toward learning and curriculum. In earlier times you couldn't show that human side of who you were. It was always "well this is the way it's been done." You also were advised to put on that stern face from September to December so that the students NEVER, EVER, saw you smile. What? A teacher smile? Ghastly...that advice always bugged me when I started teaching. So my hopes are that blogs will change that; so what if a student sees a smile before December? I would burst. I include the following quotes and links on what I think are making blogs a human exchange and not just a passing fad for the 21st. century visionaries. The Blogger.

Head of School, Dr. Lewis
(new blogger) today writes...
"It is wonderful to be in a classroom. It gets me out of the office and away from my e-mail, voice mail and grumbling parents, teachers and staff. It helps me truly understand why I am doing what I like to do: educate children and be a major influence in their lives before they go off to college."

The Joi of blogging by H. AMIR KHALID
"Blogging is also much more interactive than maintaining a website, he says. Essentially it is an ongoing conversation between the blogger and his or her readers. You can spark off a discussion, or reach out to an audience, whether it’s just family and friends or the world at large. "

Blogging blossoms in British election
"The blogs range from discussions on tactical voting to simple rants about politicians only being interested in themselves
Bloggers are split broadly into two camps--those taking themselves seriously and those poking fun at the whole process."

Blogs have liberated: the educator, the journalist, the philosopher, the students, the voter, me... but most importantly, the people. There are even PhotoBloggers...

Photoblogs Photo blogs capture slices of everyday life Alex L. Goldfayn
"Photo blogs are the evolutionary offspring of text-only Web logs, or blogs, where anybody can write anything for posting on the Internet. Photo blogs let users post photographs and diary-like descriptions."

Blogs are freeing our minds from the thoughts, of the "AHAAA" moments that were once, just discussed in the faculty room. Now you can literally "think outside the box" online.
Bloggers have very logically taken a stance on NOT waiting for "the papers" or "the journals" to come off the presses before reality strikes. Teachers, Librarians, Writers are all (very rapidly) becoming purveyors of information. It's just that teachers live it and don't always consider themselves the "experts" outside of their own domain.

Just think of all of those teachers we had when we were growing up. Whether they were good, bad or indifferent, if they had blogs, we would have more today. Certain things would probably make sense, like "why is this teacher always frowning?" You can't just be a teacher and forget the human interaction. That one day of instruction will live on in the life of your student forever. Our profession provides the human side to something that was once forbidden

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


Passing The Blog Baton

Okay, this is really breaking news! So sit down and hold on to your key-belts...because I have a brand new blogger to report on and he's got some real educational issues to discuss.
After much support from another blogger (myself), Dr. Peter Lewis our Head of School (the Principal) is off and running in the blog race. His opening post (today) A thought for the day
challenges the timed component of the New SAT test. (see today's NYTimes article)

"The question that I pose to all teachers and administrators (public, private and otherwise): why do we have to set such stringent time requirements for our students on tests? My hunch is that the main reason is: we do not want to screw up the schedule that oversees our day and our student's learning. Our commitment to time is not so much a pedagogical piece as much as a scheduling piece."

Whether he knows it or not, Dr. Lewis is truly breaking new ground in the blogosphere because many higher end administors don't blog. If I am wrong I will be thrilled. However, there is a superintendent blogger I have been reading in Florida. He is really making progress with his school community because he's taking on the tough questions. What impresses me about Dr. Lewis in his initial blog is....he's asking the tough questions. Welcome him...(please)


Meet A Modern Day Philosopher

It's been a while since I've posted a Teacher of the Week (just too busy). So in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, I am thrilled to introduce you to a true modern day philosopher. He is also my colleague, Dr. Joseph Bertolini. The short resume is that Joe is our senior advisor, teaches American History, AP history, and Philosophy. Joe authored the book The Serpent Within: Politics, Literature and American Individualism and is also a contributor to The Philosophers' Magazine. His recent article, The Hobbesian state of America takes an in depth look at how Hobbesian and Lockean philosophies have influenced modern America.

Here are some recurring themes from Joe's article: democracy, freedom, societal ills, and world views of America. He poses some fascinating insight and cleverly threads together past philosophies and how they connect to the realities of today.

"There is much social data that supports the idea of America becoming a more and more self-regarding, Hobbesian society. Whether one looks at the divorce rate, the self-centered coarseness of much popular culture, declining schools, the increase in the prison population, corporate greed, deficient social services, environmental abuse, the increasing rate of poverty and the increasing gap between rich and poor and so on, it is difficult to assume that the average American does not think of himself/herself as a Hobbesian nation of one."

"Thus, America 's monolithic Hobbesian-Lockean ideology has had resultant, inevitable, serious foreign policy implications. America has been isolated, throughout its history, not only by geography but also by its incapacious political philosophy. Wholly committed to its exclusive, unique, Hobbesian-Lockean liberalism, the US has traditionally viewed other nations with other political ideas as, by turns, unimportant, strange or dangerous. The rest of the world, politically, is to be regarded as either odd or threatening to American survival."

"There is much social data that supports the idea of America becoming a more and more self-regarding, Hobbesian society. Whether one looks at the divorce rate, the self-centered coarseness of much popular culture, declining schools, the increase in the prison population, corporate greed, deficient social services, environmental abuse, the increasing rate of poverty and the increasing gap between rich and poor and so on, it is difficult to assume that the average American does not think of himself/herself as a Hobbesian nation of one."

Today's students can benefit from historical thinkers when they have a teacher who can help make the modern connection for them. Clearly, Joe is that link to the past. I wonder if he'll let me sit-in on his philosophy class for a refresher on these great minds?


Fun With Timelines on WebWednesday

Whoever said "you learn something new everyday" really was RIGHT ON. Today's history techclass was creating timelines. Now normally you would think..."BORING!" Get a picture, get a date, what's the big deal? But I have to say, there's so much out there for creating fun and interactive timelines. One of my students is still here engrossed in using Powerpoint to create a timeline. But here's the best part, Microsoft word has timeline templates. It also has a Make a Timeline With Excel Tutorial I didn't know this (but what else is new?). There's also a timeline maker that allows you to plug in the dates and events and it creates a timeline for you. Now there's always a favorite with these kinds of projects. So I'd have to say that using Inspiration software has been THE most popular. Once the students figured out the sample that was provided. One of my angels uttered the following when first given this assignment "could you imagine Galileo using powerpoint? Coooooool!"

You gotta love it.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


The Possiblities TRULY are Endless

Here's what happens librarians, educators and techies..."ALL GET ALONG." See NYTimes article.
At Dartmouth, Advanced Wi-Fi by Katie Zezima

"We're really at the front end of this," said Jeffrey L. Horrell, dean of the libraries and librarian of the college. "It's not yet clear where the boundaries are."

The new network could even change how students write papers. They will not replace words or writing, but might enhance, say, a paper on "The Merchant of Venice" with a clip of the actor Patrick Stewart explaining the method behind his portrayal of the character Shylock, said Professor Luxon, who teaches a course on the play."


The BIG Blog Question

Content Blogs Versus Syndicate Blogs? by Darren Rowse
"Scrivs takes a look at whether its best to write an original content blog or a syndicated (linking to others articles) blog. It is a good question that is well worth thinking through for each of your blogs."

While I am no expert on the subject, I do think with writing blogs, BOTH content and syndicate are acceptable. The syndicate link can sometimes prove a point you are making on a topic you feel very passionately about. See Will's blog post on blogging vs. journaling.

Any takers on this one? I am still a blog "newbie" so I don't think I can honestly comment (even though I just did :) mid May is my sixth month as an educational blogger).


Keeping The Focus

I have to admit, some days it's REALLY hard keeping students focused ON the same WEB page for a lesson. Especially now that the weather is getting nicer. But last week after visiting the NYPL's tech/classes I saw something that really blew me away. They have this neat computer panel called Crestron (for computer control) and what it does is it gives instructors web control (among other features). You could actually share what one student is working on (on his/her terminal) with the rest of the class. Almost like a showcase feature. It's very easy (famous last words). So when my students sat down for their online lesson (prepared by NYPL staffers), they were only allowed to visit the sites that were pre-selected for the instruction...and ONLY those sites. There was no "I am bored" so let me surf the web or check my email...none of that. Now maybe all schools have this feature installed on their computers, but we don't. So as always, I went to the K-F, tech guru Mike Bourdet who is a master at finding the RIGHT THING FOR THE RIGHT PRICE. I mean this sincerely. Within a day he pointed me to this Geneva software, specifically for schools. Not only was it a similar version of what I saw at NYPL (he priced the Crestron and it was out of our $$$ range), but it was considerably less expensive. Here's a blurb from the Surf Lock feature site...
"Block Instantly stop student web surfing for a single student or the entire class. Turn browsing off (or back on) from the teacher’s computer.
PreventRemove the temptation of web surfing during important lessons and discussions. Reward selected students with surf time without disrupting the class."

Right now, we're just testing out the 30 day free trial version. But I am optimistic about the potential benefits of this product. ***This is no product endorsement because we haven't used it yet. I just hope it lives up to its web page information. As always, I'll let you know.

Monday, May 02, 2005


Blogs On A Roll

See the following article on how Duke, a Higher Ed. University is using blogs in the classroom. Professors introduce blogs in class assignments by Mingyang Liu

She writes...

"Other professors are already using blogs as a part of class assignments.

In a journalism ethics class with Susan Tifft, professor of the practice of journalism and public policy studies, senior Jordan Stringer followed a political blog regularly and posted weekly responses online.

“There were things you would see on a blog that you wouldn’t see on CNN,” Stringer said. “It was interesting to read something that didn’t have invested interests in selling publications.”"


A Tapestry of Blogs

Will Richardson shares today an MSNBC article on...kids blogging too much information. This got me thinking of what would happen if "Their Parents Were To Start Blogging?" They could actually circumvent some of these problems young people are running into because they would know the VALUE of blogs.

We're now finding in schools, that the more teachers know about the online world, and what's available (like blogging, webquests CBS2NY internet parent pack etc.) they can guide their students to use the tools for positive purposes. Educators like, Will, Anne Davis and the many others using blogs as a teaching tool are showing that the possibilities are endless...it's a matter of redirecting the ebb and flow of the online tide. It's just like when we were in school and the telephone and television were the "enemies." Today it's the online jungle. Tomorrow it's going to be something else.

Take my mom (not literally) she is an educator and a parent on the verge of re....ment. She has also just begun her online blog journey by providing invaluable information to her children. Today's post is My family tree. Very cool post because this information is priceless and now will live on forever. Thanks mom!

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