Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Sign of the (Bing) Times

Despite the fact that students in our schools aren't allowed to do "blind" searches on Google, they still know how (and frequently do when teachers aren't watching). "Just Google it." is a phrase I often hear my students saying to each other when they come across anything they don't understand. (This phrase might make some educators scoff, but it really doesn't bother me in the least. I do the same thing so how can I judge?)

This afternoon however, I was chatting with one of my favorite "Twilighter" sixth graders; about Twilight themed tennis shoes. "Really?" I was skeptical. His response: "Yeah, just Bing it."

Bing it?!

What happened to our beloved "Google it?!"  I kind of just looked at him a minute in astonishment, at first because he knew what Bing was, and second because- wow, is it really a sign of the times that Bing is replacing Google?

I usually only use Bing when I can't seem to find what I want with a first (albeit lazy) Google search. Is Bing more student friendly? Perhaps I'll have to test it out more...

(image: Illustration by Dave Wheeler for @TIME )

Posted via email from Teacher Tracks (The Posterous)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Moodle Sign

Click here to download:
moodle (147 KB)

Here is a Moodle sign for the Pekin Moodle site, perfect to print & hang in your classroom.

Posted via email from Teacher Tracks (The Blog)

Reading Strategy Labels

These were created by Michelle Fogal at Wilson Intermediate School and are reproduced here with permission. These are great tool for students to self reflect on their reading strategies.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

Posted via email from Teacher Tracks

Monday, September 7, 2009

President Obama's Speech: Why I am pulling my kids out of school.

There has been a lot of talk about President Obama's education speech lately; at the eleventh hour, the end of Labor Day weekend, I am finally getting my chance to speak up on the topic. I am not going to dive into great detail and rewrite about the excellent points already mentioned in blogs like this one, or this one, but I do feel compelled to add my two cents.

Tomorrow I will be pulling my son out of school.

Okay, son is only six months old...but if he were in school, I would be pulling him out. Yes, I'll be one of those irritating parents who pulls her kids out of school often. I'll pull him out of school to take him to a museum showing a controversial exhibit the school is too afraid to take him to. I'll let him skip class so he can accompany me to the voting poll. We'll keep him home from school when he is so engrossed in a novel he just CAN'T put it down. We'll pull him out of school during state testing so that his time can be better spent volunteering and job shadowing.

And tomorrow we would be pulling him out of school so that he can watch President Obama, LIVE, give a speech meant for HIM. We would sit down together after watching it and have a meaningful discussion on it's content, merit, and affect. We would converse with others via Skype or Twitter to find out their thoughts. We would encourage him to share his ideas with his own personal learning network, maybe blogging about his agreements or concerns. In short, we would not let our son miss out on a pivotal moment in educational leadership or an opportunity to engage in a critical thinking discussion.

To show our support for what will no doubt be a memorable speech (ironically it already is- and he hasn't even said anything), I'm asking my husband to break our "NO T.V. for baby" rule and let Bay watch Mr. Obama's speech. And though I'm sure (as six month olds go) he will only be interested in chewing on his fingers or watching the "flashy colors," it's never to early to teach my son the importance of respect, leadership, and critical thinking.

As a teacher and public citizen I would hope the public schools would be willing to do that with him, but since they aren't, as a responsible parent I am prepared to.
I hope many parents will do the same.

Posted via email from Teacher Tracks

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Where is your RSS? (Leadership Day 2009)

School administrators, in order to be leaders in technology, most definitely need to be up to date in the latest technologies and their application for the classroom. Scott McLeod, on his blog Dangerously Irrelevent posts an interesting question for Leadership Day 2009: What is a technology tool that would be extremely useful for a busy administrator (i.e., one he or she probably isn’t using now)?

My first thought: The RSS Feed.

No- it isn't new, but I'm always amazed how at how many people have never heard of an RSS feed, let alone know how to use one. Many administrators don't have time. Well- they might not have time to search for valuable information, but they could probably find time to read it if someone provided it for them. So let's help them out! We "techies" already know the great blogs and tweets out there to subscribe to- lets put all the feeds together into a simple RSS, go to Mr. Principal's computer, set up Google Reader on their system and plug in the feed.

I suggest using some of the RSS tools, like FeedMingle, or YahooPipes to condense the feeds into one. Edu-techies can create a "District 15 Administrator's Feed" whereby all principals/admins would only need to subscribe to the one feed (and it can easily be edited by the creator). No time to read on a computer? You could use an RSS to PDF program like FiveFilters to print out an "Admin Newsletter" of the most relevent blog feeds available.

Perhaps if we can first get administrators reading about great technology, we can then inspire them to try it and encourage application uses in the classroom. So read on- leaders! Read-on!

Posted via email from Teacher Tracks

Friday, June 19, 2009

Online Personality Cleanup: Goodbye MySpace.

Contrary to what most people think, summer can be the busiest time for teachers. Aside from taking care of all the personal tasks we neglect during the school year, it’s often a time for reorganizing, cleaning, prepping and planning for the school year. I’m taking a few moments this month to clean up my online personality; to organize all the virtual clutter in my life. First item thrown off my boxcar- MySpace.

I’ve had my MySpace account for about 3 years. I hoped on board the idea of social networking as a way of easily communicating with people I couldn’t very well hang out with when I lived away from home. As more of my friends and family members set up their pages it did become more exciting, but then Facebook came on the scene. When all my MySpace contacts were on Facebook, plus some, it became evident it was no longer necessary to keep two social sites; I opted for the more popular (and much more user-friendly) one. Goodbye MySpace, off the train you go.

I’m glad I had one though; any teacher who wants to have a thorough understanding of social networking needs to really dive in and explore it for himself. I remember the awe and sudden respect my middle school students gave me when they found out I had a MySpace account. (Of course this was always followed with the inevitable question, “Will you be my friend?”….but that’s for another post…) Readers if you have not yet created a MySpace account I encourage you too…but then chuck it and go to Facebook.

Friday, June 12, 2009

My Online Personality: Admittance is the first step....

If you only have an engine with no cars you’re likely to go so fast you might miss something- something important, humorous, or inspiring. But too many cars on your train will slow you down, and then you’re left wanting, never able to completely catch up.

I MySpace, I Facebook, I Twitter under two names, I blog, I Ning, I have over 300 messages from 30 various feeds on my Google reader a day….and I still feel like I’m not keeping up. I know to keep up with the world you have to keep up with technology. To keep your job, to even get a job these days one has to understand the innovation of what’s on the web and how to manipulate it for your own personal or corporate gain.

But I’ve come to believe that I have too many cars on my virtual train. I’m feeling overwhelmed. I realize it isn’t healthy for my family to have me glued to the computer all the time, but I feel guilty not keeping up with all my rss feeds, I feel like if I don’t check my email several times an hour, or read every critically perceptive tweet, I might miss something crucial to my existence….or at least crucial to my next day.

I have 82 friends on my Facebook. Eighty-two. I’m not sure there are 82 people who care about me enough to want to know what I’m doing everyday; and I certainly know that I don’t care what 82 people are doing on a daily basis. Why do I have it? It is because of the convenience of an online address book? Or is it because it’s a sure fire way of getting a hold of someone and keeping in touch without having to put forth any effort of a real relationship.

When does too much online personality begin to overshadow your real self, the authentic you; the one who closely guards (or used to) her privacy with discretion? Has our society embraced this social media circus because we genuinely care about others?

Or is to further our own ego with, “Here look at this! Look what I have, look what I did!”

Haley from high school- I didn’t like you back then, you never paid attention to me and I don’t care how talented your children are now, what you ate for dinner, or when you started your last menstrual cycle.

Katie from work- we had so much fun last year, I call you and you never answer, we never meet for coffee anymore, but you update your status three times a day. What gives?

I have a huge online personality, and all these nifty tools meant to enhance my life and make things easier are in fact slowing my train down.

.....I need a makeover.