Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Bloggin' Class

A great site to check out for blogging with students is that appears to be very safe for students that comes with permission slips for the parents.

It sounds like this blogging software can be monitored by other adults in the building so, if you have a huge number of students using this blog you can recruit some help to monitor the responses. Get the librarian, other teachers, and the counselor to help out.

Now teachers are using blogs. Beth did a great job giving us an overview of blogging and the applications for not only our students but personal and professional growth as well.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

To Memorize or Not to Memorize

The spelling list for my fifth grade students for the last couple of weeks has been the states and their capitals. I have asked them to not only spell them correctly but be able to memorize each capital as well.

As a final test my students are ready to fill in a blank map of the United States and label all states and their capitals, and yes spelling does count. This is all done from memorization.

After reflecting a bit on this activity I was wondering how important it is to memorize all the states locations and their capitals. I mean if you ask any student where Wyoming is or its capital they will simply "Google it."

The information can be obtained quickly and effortlessly. So why am I spending time having my students memorize this "fingertip knowledge?"

Interestingly enough, I read an article by Elliot Masie about this very same thing. I then searched out his blog and found that he had an entry on September 18, 2006 about "fingertip knowledge" and discussed the idea of memorization and the lack there of in today's world.

For instance, how many phone numbers have you memorized now that our cell phones are with us virtually 24 hours a day? Can you identify the location of each of our states? Do you know all the capitals? Test yourself at this site.

So where do we draw the line? Personally I think that yes, students should still have the opportunity to memorize certain aspects of today's learning. The time should certainly be balanced with explicit instruction on showing students "how" to find information or more importantly figure out if it is "valid." The Web 2.0 definitely offers students the opportunity to delve into the upper echelon of Bloom's Taxonomy but I think there is something to be said about balancing the old with the new.

I would love to hear your ideas about the idea of having students memorize certain bits of fingertip knowledge.

Monday, April 23, 2007


ePals is turning out to be a wonderful experience both for my students and myself as well. Initially, we were setup to communicate through email with Kenya but it never happened. At this point, we are talking with students from Mayo College, in Ajmer, India and another school in Lviv', Ukraine called Gymnasium, "Sykhivsaka"

My students are gaining a global perspective through the emails they are receiving. They are also taking part in sharing the American culture and traditions that we follow by telling their story as well.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Better than Expected

Integrating Technology into the Curriculum

Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, Technology Administrators, principals from all five elementary schools, middle school, and high school, President of the PTA, several teachers, members from the community, and all School Board Members. Oh yeah, and a guy with a big camera that said, "Channel 34 News" on the side.

Little ole Me ~ No pressure ~

I am telling ya, I was feeling very humble to be able to speak in the presence of such educators fortunately, as soon as I started speaking all nervousness disappeared. There was suppose to be another teacher presenting with me but due to an illness I went solo for about 45 minutes.

Wow! What a reception I received. For a moment I felt like a keynote speaker. A dream come true for me.

First, I am long winded, hence the title Anything but Succinct. Second, I have been reading so much and taking in so much knowledge about the mighty Web 2.o that I feel like I can explode. At any rate, I tried to remember to show excitement, to show enthusiasm in my presentation but balance it with a clear voice and a clear focus on student learning rather than the technology.

In the end, I was actually told that my presentation was "succinct," can you believe it? But it wasn't about me, it was about the students and what they had to say through their work. I simply extended their voices directly to those who have the power.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Wish Me Luck

I am fired up! I will have the attention of our Board of Education members for about 10 minutes tomorrow night. Our Board Members visit each school in our District throughout the year and the Principal's setup a couple of teachers from each building to share what they have been working on.

When my principal approached me and asked if I would present about what we have been working on with technology my mouth dropped to the floor and I felt like hugging her. But of course I maintained my professionalism and instead I simply jumped up and down while shouting yes, yes, yes....

Topics that I will attempt to cover with student examples are:
1. Podcasts
2. ePals
3. Discussion Board

I signed up for the 60 day free trial of the .Mac account to upload all our Podcasts and iMovies that we have created to use as a link during my Power Point presentation. Wish me luck.

Any other advice?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Reaching for the Stars

I feel like I am at the crossroads of my life, looking back at what I have accomplished and looking ahead at what I have left to do. Being at this point brings with it an infinite number of questions and the grand opportunity to reflect.

While loitering at the crossroads of life my children are in the fore front of all my thinking. How can I be a better dad? How can I be a better husband? How can I be a better man for my children and my family? I am constantly striving to improve on both a personal level and professionally.

~My meager attempts at being a good citizen~

Teach Tolerance Model Tolerance
Teach Humility Model Humility
Teach Compassion Model Compassion
Teach Respect Model Respect
Teach Accountability Model Accountability
Teach Cooperation Model Cooperation

Leadership traits I was taught while serving in the Marine Corps.



Thursday, April 05, 2007

It's 3:26 a.m.

It's amazing what goes through your mind at 3:26 a.m. My daughter finally managed to get back to sleep and of course I find myself "thinking" and not being able to get back to sleep myself.

Random Thoughts
1. American culture ~ are we our own worst enemy?
2. Competition vs. Cooperation
3. Should I learn Mandarin?
4. What language do they speak in India?
5. Work Ethic ~ What it should be and what it is
6. What will I do today to make a difference for tomorrow?
7. What time does the sun rise?
8. Peanut butter and banana sandwiches ~ yuck
9. Note to self ~ get organized
10. Find balance in all that I do...

It is certainly time to say goodnight but before I go I am going to school tomorrow to deliberately and explicitly find the good. I have been so busy pushing content and teaching strategies that I have taken my eye off the ball ~ make connections, build relationships, ask meaningful questions, and find the good in everyone. That is what my today will look like. Wish me luck.