Archive for September 2007

The K12 Online Conference is Almost Here!

September 27, 2007

In case you haven’t heard, this year’s K12 Online Conference is starting soon. This year’s conference is offering the strands of School 2.0, New Tools, Professional Learning Networks and Obstacles to Opportunities.

“The K-12 Online Conference invites participation from all educators from around the world who are interested in innovative ways Web 2.0 tools and technologies can be used to improve learning. This is a FREE conference run by volunteers and open to everyone, no registration is required. The conference theme is “Playing with Boundaries”. The 2007 conference begins with a pre-conference keynote the week of October 8, 2007. The following two weeks, October 15-19 and October 22-26, forty presentations will be posted online to the conference blog (this website) for participants to download and view. Live Events in the form of three “Fireside Chats” and a culminating “When Night Falls” event will be announced. Everyone is encouraged to participate in both live events during the conference as well as asynchronous conversations.”

If the presentations are anything like last year’s then you need to participate… I know I will be!




Online Meetings and Whiteboards

September 24, 2007

My husband asked me the other day if I knew of a program (a free one) that would allow one of his math teachers to assist students with their math homework via the Internet.  I always bookmark sites I think may be useful at some point, so the first place I went was to my handy bookmarks.  I had several sites marked, and had looked at each of them briefly when I tagged them, but had not spent much time with any of them.

These are the sites I sent him:

And then yesterday, I came across WIZiQ  on David Warlick’s blog.  It has an interactive whiteboard, chat, file transfer and archiving features.

These sites are pretty fun and offer some great resources, but I am trying to figure out where, if anywhere, they might fit into my classroom.  I use Blackboard during school hours, and if I offered tutoring a night via my home, I could do it through the virtual classroom features in Blackboard.

So, is there a place for this type of technology in my classroom or at my school?  I would love to hear your ideas or know how you are using these tools with your students.

Have a good day!

I Am Digging Myself Out…

September 24, 2007

Since I have been sick for the past couple of weeks, and I have been swamped at work trying to get school started, I have gotten a little behind.  The good news is that I am almost caught up!

For a few minutes today everything fell in to place… my inbox was at zero, all of my RSS feeds had been read and all of my grades were updated.  I came home and cleaned my house (which had been sorely neglected), called my grandmother to say hello and did some laundry.   Woo hoo!

I have a couple of more things to do and then I will be in my happy place… maybe I will even make it to the gym this week!

What I Have Been Up To

September 20, 2007

So, it has been awhile since I have written, and that is due to several things.

  • School just started and I have been super busy
  • I have been sick… going on 3 weeks now
  • And I just haven’t had a lot to say lately… I go through phases sometimes

With all that being said, I am hoping to start posting a little bit more regularly.

So, I might as well start now!

I am teaching English again this year – three sections of English III.  It has been a couple of years since I have taught English III, but I am enjoying being back in the classroom so far.  The kids are fun — for the most part. 🙂

We haven’t gotten as far into the curriculum as I had hoped to be by now, but we are working on it.  We have started setting up our electronic portfolios on our class wiki <click on the class periods to view them>.  We haven’t gotten much on them yet, but it is a start and we will be adding to the site as the year progress.  My intent is to give students a place to keep track of their work, showcase their best assignments and reflect on what they have learned throughout the year… we will see how it goes.

My honors class has posted some group projects they did over the themes and symbols in the Great Gatsby, and they did a great job of evaluating each others assignments with this rubric.  They have also posted some of their thoughts on the characters from the novel as well as the novel in general over on our class blog.  I am sure they would enjoy any comments you would like to leave them.

And as for my other position, Instructional Technology Specialist, all is going well.  We have had some great Teaching and Learning Tuesday sessions so far and we are currently scheduled though November.  My staff is great; I get teaching volunteers and session ideas from teachers all the time.  I have also finally taken the time to add some on-line learning opportunities for my staff into a Blackboard site and have already had four sessions completed.

Oh, and some of my staff are already doing some pretty cool things with their students too… check it out.

So I guess, all in all, things are running pretty smoothly.  Let’s hope things just keep getting better.

Taking a Stand

September 16, 2007

I was encouraged when I came across this article yesterday. Apparently two boys at Central Kings Rural High School in Nova Scotia, Canada, decided to take a stand against bullying.

It seems that a new student to the school was harassed and threatened for wearing a pink shirt to school, so the two boys rallied together and the next day over 400 students wore pink to demonstrate their stance against the bullies.

You can read more about it here.

I would like to applaud these two young men as well as the students who took a stand against bullying. Good for you! Perhaps if we all took steps like this when we saw someone being treated unfairly the world would be a nicer place to live (and school would be a nicer place for everyone to attend).

I Am Having A Tough Time

September 9, 2007

School has barely started and I am already struggling… and it probably isn’t what you think — the students are great. 

I am struggling with what I always struggle with… the curriculum, the TAKS test, what I think my students need to know.  I am struggling with reconciling them all in a manner that does not leave my students feeling beaten down.  My problem is that I question too much.  Sometimes I seriously over-think things.

My problem is that I want my students to learn what they need to know to pass TAKS, pass my class, be productive citizens and be overall nice people, but I want them to learn all of these things while being engaged and having at least a little bit of fun… I know, it is a lot to ask.  So this is the pressure I place on myself when I plan each week of lessons, and I think I am falling a little short.  But, I am trying and questioning and getting feedback from the students, and I am not giving up.

Now, for a side note… when did we stop trying to make learning fun for our students? By “we” I mean us — educators.  I have been talking to some of my friends who have students in elementary schools in Texas, and it just doesn’t sound fun to learn anymore.  Apparently it is all about the TAKS test at the schools where their children attend, gone are the days of carefree recesses, there are no naps in kindergarten anymore… and reading is REQUIRED.  Not required as in story-time, but required as in, the teacher will deduct X-amount of points from your grade if you don’t do your required reading. 

When did students stop enjoying school, discovering on their own, questioning, running around carefree at recess, reading because they wanted to see what Ramona Quimby does next?  When did it stop being fun?

Well, I for one am not giving in to this new breed of fun-less learning.  Fun is good… let’s bring it back.