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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

30D2BBB Challenge--Days 7-10

So, last night I blew threw several of the challenges. Here's a recap:

Day 7: Invite Someone to be a Guest Blogger.
I talked to a friend of mine who is a mid-thirties undergrad college student. He tried this once before, after graduating from high school. The integration of technology has seriously changed education from his perspective. He's completing finals this week, so he'll post later on.

Day 8: Comment Unto Others
Oh, this isn't difficult! I do this A LOT. Especially with our 2.0 Challenge going on.

Day 9: Burn Baby Burn! my feed set's over there in the sidebar.

Day 10: Do you see what they see?
I did look at things in several different ways. I use Firefox at home, because it seems like my stuff works on Firefox when it won't in IE7. I've never looked at this one in IE6, but then I don't have easy access to that without doing some reverting. Things look a little off sometimes, but I have a pretty basic template, so I'm alright with that.

I know I shouldn't have blown through 4 days worth of stuff so quickly. Kind of defeats the purpose of being a better blogger. Does it help at all to know that I spent 4 hours looking at these things?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Technology Mastery

Doing a little blog-shopping this morning, as I try to catch up on posts and comments for the projects I'm involved in this year (see the sidebar).

So, I got to reading the guest blogger post last month over at Tech Thoughts by Jen. The guest blogger was Peggy George, a recently retired elementary principal. She opted to discuss technology and web 2.0 in the classroom from a principal's perspective. Interesting...

She mentioned an article offered in May 1993 in the "From Now On" educational technology Journal titled "Stages of Mastery of Technology." It's really no surprise to me that I'd managed to miss this article before now, since I was a 17 year old high school junior planning to major in business in May 1993.

But it's interesting. It's largely about the levels/stages of integration in the classroom from the teacher's proficiency and comfort level. Really rather fascinating, and I can sit here and count the the teachers who've made it anywhere near stage two or three. They happen to be the ones I have the least difficult time convincing to try new things.

Here's a visual that Peggy put together about the stages. It's a really great way to see where people fit in the continuum.

What does all this mean? Well, obviously, we need to think about how our TEACHERS learn technology. What works best for them? Many of us in education didn't grow up with this stuff.
It's a new language, animal, frontier for a lot of us. I'm not saying anything you don't already know. I often think I've got to approach it with the same mindset as teaching 1st graders how to read or ELL students how to speak English. Technology, Web 2.0 applications, and classroom integration has to come off as interesting and purposeful. I have to prove to them that a little bit of effort now will make it all easier in the end.

The problem is, for me at least, that we don't always remember that when we get ready to teach. I get incredibly frustrated when someone says "I don't have time to learn this" or "I won't use it, so why bother?"

I want to scream when I hear those things. "Why bother?"

Because our students can no longer get jobs at McDonald's without being able to use a computer.

Because soon you won't have access to an overhead projector, only a presentation station with a tv screen attached to a computer.

Because brain research shows that color makes a difference in learning.

Because you might discover a new and better way to present information. Because you might better understand the material you're teaching.

Because it's what all the cool kids are doing. And by cool kids, I mean your students.

My first computer experiences were with a Texas Instruments TI-99/4A that hooked to the TV. It had cartridges that reminded me of 8-track tapes and were read-only. I remember my grandfather setting up his tape recorder to save information he'd put together for some financial something or other, because he had not yet invested in the add-on 5-1/4 floppy disk drive. (And, I kid you not, I think I saw the shoebox full of those tapes a few years ago.) This was in the early 80s, probably right at '81 or '82. I remember the games we played--"A-Maze-Ing" with a little mouse that was hunting cheese, "TI Invaders," "Parsec," "Reading Round-up," "Number Magic" and "Numeration 1 & 2." Grandpa would let us play the "fun" ones, so long as we'd had a couple rounds on the educational ones. I even remember thinking at one point when I was little that it was REALLY COOL that my GRANDPA had a computer at home.

From those early days through to high school, I can't say things got much more interesting with my computer experiences. Yes, I know capabilities and applications advanced by leaps and bounds between 1982 and 1995 (when I graduated from high school), but we only barely had computers anywhere in my high school other than the computer labs. My senior research paper was typed on a word processor that we'd gotten somewhere around my 6th or 7th grade year. I think we'd replaced it by that time, but I don't really remember (I just know that by the time I was writing a literary analysis paper for college freshman English, that word processor was in my bedroom and we'd bought a new computer for the family.). My parents didn't even have Internet access until I was a junior in college. The library I currently work in wasn't even automated at that point--I know this because I keep finding check-out cards with my name on them in the backs of the books!

Now, I not only have a computer at home (a fabulous little green Dell laptop named Emily), I also have 2 in my office (a laptop and a desktop that are used interchangeably) and read my emails on my cell phone (a smartphone named Phoebe who also wakes me up every morning with a song and reminds me to go to meetings). I may have been born a digital immigrant as opposed to a digital native (like our students), I've become a naturalized citizen in the digital community. I LOVE TECHNOLOGY and its myriad of uses. I'm so used to digital things that, though I grumble about students who complain they cannot read Roman numerals and analog clocks (when I know I taught those skills to them in 5th grade), I'll admit that I have to slow down a bit to read one myself.

It wasn't easy for me to make the switch, never mind that college required it. I'd still rather pick up a book or a magazine to do research than to hit my online databases. I much prefer to play solitaire with real cards, and spade with people sitting at the same table as I am. When I write poetry, it's in a spiral notebook (and then transferred to computer at some point.).

My point is this--it's all about mindset, right? You can move beyond "survival stage" and work into "mastery" and "impact" if you have patience and determination and you TRY. "Innovation" isn't unreachable for the techno-phobe who's barely surviving, if you're positive and remember we all have to start somewhere.

Day 5 and counting...globalizing your blog

Ooo...this is fun. I hadn't added a ClustrMap to this blog, although it is on our 2.0 Project wiki for work.

So, I've added that.

I've never thought about adding a translator utility though. Hm..increases your visibility and return visitors for sure, doesn't it? I'll have to post the widget for Google Translate from home, though. It's blocked here at school.

Fun stuff. I can also share this with my library colleagues, what a neat way to share book reviews with ELL students. You just might spark an interest in reading AND provide them with interesting material to practice reading in English if you can hook them in the 1st language.

I found Yahoo!'s Babel Fish Translation service. I've sent kiddos to that one for a quick help with translation in Spanish class. I didn't know they had a website translation widget. I've added that over on the right column.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

30 Days...Day 4 (okay, okay, a month late)

Alright, I really am going to do this 30 days to being a better blogger thing. I feel like I should, since I've started leading our 23 Things project again.

So, today is about Creative Commons. For this one, I chose a "by-nc-sa" license. I'm not particularly worried about what I do here being adversely affected in some way by derivative works.

Not that anyone would want to create a derivative of my puppy dog live feed. *grin*

Creative Commons

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