Saturday, December 22, 2007

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Ideal Situation

David Warlick had a great post on his blog that I commented on. As I typed, my comment ran further and further so I thought I'd post it here.

David's original statement
I tell them that teachers need:
  • Time to plan, collaborate, research, assess and adapt, build, and innovate (I tell them 3 to 4 hours a day — everyday).
  • Classrooms that are equipped for learning in an abundant information environment, rather than an information-scarce environment (This means wifi, a laptop in every teacher and learner’s hand, one or more projectors in each classroom, and access to the emerging technologies that channel contemporary literacy).
  • Permission to safely innovate and facility to engage in professional conversations about the changes needed for relevant education.


I've been thinking about this for some time now and as I read so many bloggers who point out the need for educators to work/adapt/learn in this digital age, I wonder if we engaged in a thought experiment to imagine the ideal situation. What would it look like?

Using the points you made:

1) Time.
Nothing new can be added to a teachers plate (there's no room.) New must replace something they're already doing, especially 'techie' stuff because it's usually hard enough to learn as it is. So, if a teacher starts a class blog, have it replace the class newsletter, Skyping peers to conference about students? PLC time, etc. This may seem obvious, but often they still do both.

2) Equipment.
The ideal setup here can be as varied as the teachers using it, but what I'd like to think of as the base: Computer + Internet + Projector. Or access to the like. Arguments could be made that one needs a camera or smartboard or a laptop vs desktop, etc. but I would be ecstatic if those three components were as standard as a chalkboard in every classroom.

3) Administrators.
Possibly the deal breaker. With an administration supportive and invested in these changes, teachers can and will be more likely to embrace them and impress everyone with their ingenuity. With out it, they're out on a limb.

4) Assessment.
My own addition, BUT if as a teacher you have the time, ample equipment and administrators on board, yet cannot showcase student work in a way that is meaningful to them and their parents, the rest becomes meaningless.
Assessment needs to be created collaboratively by all those who use them.(see #1) Work must be digitized and web based for access to all.(see #2) The system must be universally supported so no teacher is left out on a limb.(see #3)

The assessment system must provide feedback to the students, parents and teachers about actual student work, not a subjective score placed on the work by someone.

Is all this possible? I think so.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Tech Sherpas

The students I work with were recently recognized in a national newspaper (The Christian Science Monitor) and I couldn't be more proud.

Stemming from a comment I made in Edutopia (link) earlier this year, a reporter came up and spent the day. It was a fun experience for the kids and the article was a nice way to show some of stuff we're doing in the district.

Photo: Mary Knox Merrill


Audio Interviews:

(The article was later sent to - interesting how stuff spreads.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Into the Woodwork

First off, this is not a, "Sorry I haven't been blogging as much as I'd like to lately because of X, Y, or Z." post (even though I haven't)

I've always felt that the blogging platform is, in many ways, a digital rendition of an old school teaching style. One voice kicking out ideas or thoughts to a 'class' of readers. Of course there are comments and the asynchronous nature of the whole thing, but ultimately, even with all the differences they're much the same.

Not that there is anything wrong with that. There's something of blogger soul searching going on around the ole' RSS reader (Death of a blogger) these days, that some are asking why blog when we have Twitter or Ustream or ____ (Next Web 2.0 tool to be filled in tomorrow.) Tools that are more immediate and those needs better. I guess my reply would be, if this format aides ones own thought process and helps others to boot? It's a win-win.

'Nuff said on that, so why the pictures of lions and antelopes in this post? Well, creatures like these are pretty standard around the school halls of MSAD #48. We are fortunate enough to have one of the only taxidermy programs anywhere (that I know of) and host some incredible exhibits throughout the district. These have ranged from the lions you see here, to polar bears, giraffe heads, numerous deer like animals and an assortment of birds. All amazing and many taken for granted.

I rarely think about these lions as I walk by them and I chuckle whenever I'm with someone who starts as they see them for the first time. For me the pair have become part of the woodwork. One of the questions I've been asked by visitors is, "How do you stop the students from bothering them?" And I realized that for the most part, students barely see them as well.

It occurred to me that if we can do that for lions and bears, we can do that for the technology as well. I'm seeing the signs more and more that this is happening, but we'll know it's really a success when it had become part of the woodwork.

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Tech Curve - Episode 3

While still getting the bugs out of the process, I'm happy to see how the kids are progressing with their comfort level on a live show.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

GeekEd! Podcast

My brother Keith teaches the Integrated Technology classes at the middle schools in MSAD #48 for grades 5-8 . Some of his comments were covered recently on the GeekEd! podcast Episode 89.

I had the opportunity to chat with the GeekEd! team last April in Episode 68.

Friday, November 02, 2007

The Tech Curve Episode 1 - The Mac Book

Some of the students in my broadcasting class are creating a weekly technology help show for students and teachers. This was the first outing and I think went very well!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Search

A book I finished recently that seems to keep coming up in conversataion is
The Search by John Battelle. It not only covers Google extensively, (up to 2005) but starts where search begins and discusses the two elements of search that are so obvious to us now, but where not at its inceptio: Discovery and Recovery.

Think about it, on the web we know the amount of info is too much to categorize, so we use search to find what we're looking for, while on our own machines we recover work (usually called Find) and pull up something we have already done. These two model are converging now with Google's Web History feature. ( They record every site you've been on. Privacy issues are a huge concern with this ability to track your 'click stream.' But I have to admit - it's very useful. When I want to find that page I didn't bookmark or otherwise note, this is the easiest way to go back in time and recover it.

All these implications are discussed in The Search. It gets a little heavy with the geek speak at times, but overall a great read (listen) on something that we all use everyday.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

ACTEM 2007 Conference - Will Richardson

Will Richardson's keynote presentation at the 2007 ACTEM state conference.

To view the video in full screen [Link]. (Please note the quality level is set for web streaming, for a higher quality video or DVD please contact Download the video for an iPod. For more information on how to put video on an iPod click here.

Bob Sprankle also podcast an audio only version of the keynote here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


The folks at Digital Ethnography do it again! After the terrific video The Machine is Us/ing from Kansas State University. Here's two new videos:

A Vision of Students Today

and Information R/evolution

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Post ACTEM Conference

This year's ACTEM conference is over I've been mulling over how to recap. Will Richardson did a spot on keynote (our broadcasting students recorded it and will be posting as soon as we're back on Monday.) And I got to see the Bit-by-Bit team in action. What a treat. I also did a session of my own on the Virtual Classroom (That I embarrassingly didn't realize I was going to be doing.) I hope the participants got something from it. As soon as it was over, I started thinking of all that I should have said. Oh well.

Student following the projected webpage from Will Richardson's Keynote on his iPhone.

Overall it was a great time for Maine educators, but I still have that lingering feeling of the 'preaching to the choir' phenomenon. The sticking question for me was, "Ok, how do we get those educators not here that are not interested - well, interested?" The response of, "They just have to be." doesn't satisfy me. Obviously they don't 'have to be' because they aren't. How much of what's shared at this conference gets back to the kids. I mean really back to the kids. How many of us go back on Monday, jazzed by what we learned, and are able to get that through to those who are decidedly not on the 'Tech Scene?' Certainly every bit helps and I really do feel there were some amazing ideas being tossed around, but I like to know that the connection is being made beyond the Civic Center. I guess for me, I'll pull out my recurring mantra of, 'Have the students do it.' Meaning, have students participate in the experience, make them be part of the solution and bring others along in the process.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

ACTEM Conference

The ACTEM Conference is coming next week, October 11th and 12th, and I'm bringing some of our broadcasting students to record the keynote speaker Will Richardson as well as many of the sessions as we can.

I'll also have the students interviewing participants much like we did at Alan November's Building Learning Communities conference this summer. That was a fantastic experience where our students rubbed elbows and interview many of the movers and shakers of the educational technology community like Marcos Torres, Marc Prensky, Chris Lehmann, etc. (Check out some of the interviews here.)

Also, here's the keynote presentations from the 2006 ACTEM conference.

Angus King Award Presentation

David Warlick Keynote Presentation

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

K12 Online Conference 2007

The K12 Online Conference 2007 is almost here. It runs from October 8th to the 27th. Go to for more details. Here's a quick explanation from the website:

"The K-12 Online Conference invites participation from educators around the world interested in innovative ways Web 2.0 tools and technologies can be used to improve learning. This FREE conference run by volunteers and open to everyone."
You can click here for a flyer or listen to a terrific interview by Bob Sprankle, Cheryl Oakes and Alice Barr with a couple of the conferences organizers, Wes Fryer and Darren Kuropatwa.
Check out podcast #24 at:

Thursday, September 27, 2007

"The Perfect Thing"

The book I'm reading (listening) to right now is, The Perfect Thing by Steven Levy. It covers the rise that handy little gadget, the iPod, and how it's transformed more than the technology culture today. How the simplicity and usefulness of this device has made it as pervasive as the car or television.

The important point of the book for me is the idea how something that didn't seem to be a big deal - a portable music player - would create such a following. It would expand well beyond the original design and has become so much more.

We received a grant in my district to improve literacy, so we purchased 500 of them. The impact for students and staff is measured by how many beg us not to take them back at the end of the year. They've become such a part of their daily routine they couldn't image life without one. I know I couldn't.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sage Advice

Every month the educational magazine Edutopia, put out by the George Lucas Foundation, includes a section called 'Sage Advice.' There they pose a question for educators and this September it was:

"What's your resolution for the new school year?"

I was pretty excited that my answer was printed in the magazine.
"Get as many students in my district teaching technology to as many of the teachers in my district as I can. The students learn by teaching, and the teachers learn by listening."
I was feeling pretty good about it, and showed it to my wife who reminded me that,
"Your brother was in Computer Power User magazine, he made the cover." ;-)

The added smiley wink is mine, she was, of course, teasing me, (My brother designed and built the computer on the cover.) But it helped to remind my how pervasive and easy pockets of celebrity have become. Small bits of fame that add up to more than the alloted 15 minutes these days. This fame is relative to the size of the audience, but because the are so many channels for people to connect today, anyone with a computer and modem can be a celebrity. (Or at least feel like one anyway. ;)

Noob 2 Leet

For those follow the Learning 2.0 conference, a new Web 2.0 toy that's making the rounds is called Animoto. Basically it's a template driven video producer, you provide images and select music, then click finalize. It does this rest. The following video took me about 3 minutes from creating an account to completion. Here's a quick look.

When showing this to one of my Video Production students, he commented:

"It makes a Noob look like a Leet."

My Immigrant to Native language dictionary tells me this roughly translates to,

"A inexperienced user, (a Newbie) can quickly and easily
produce something that looks like a power user (an Elite) made it."

Some edu-bloggers like David Warlick and Wes Fyer are pretty excited about it, while others like Gary Stager lament on his blog: "Animoto lets you create meaningless PowerPoint-like slideshows without all of that pesky, editing, creativity or thinking. I won't even mention the discipline, knowledge and sense of history required of artistic expression. "

I have to agree with Gary's description, EXCEPT that it does have educational value. It raises the bar.

To recreate the effects that effortlessly appear in one of these productions in any flavor of video editor you'd like would take a substantial amount of time, but because they are so easy to create, it makes those production values into vanilla. It's like the first time you play with GarageBand. You create a song, that really sounded like a song you'd actually want to listen to in a few minutes - wow. There was magic there. Then you play it for others and they start nodding their heads and tapping feet. More magic. But soon, the more you listened to what other made, using the program, all those loop diven tracks start sounding the same. To the point where, it's cliche, and boring.

What this has done, for students is that they have to produce better stuff. Don't get me wrong, I think that GarageBand is a fantastic tool and fun way to create quick songs, but if everyone's sounds the same - it begs you to be different.

As students create content and productions like Animoto become the baseline. It makes the quality of work of those trying to stand out have to be that much better. Our expectations increase, and educationally that's not a bad thing.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

NetFlix in School?

If you have a Netflix account, (or know someone who has.) You can watch a selection of videos right online. How might this tie in with education you ask? Well, there are hundreds of documentaries to choose from. Offerings from PBS Video, Nature, Discovery Channel, History Channel and many more.

There's a very wide range of titles, some of which I had at one time gone and signed out from the library. Viewing them online doesn't effect the number of DVD's you have from Netflix and you can watch as many as you want!

Note: The Netflix viewer wants to run on Internet Explorer. But If you'd still like to watch it through Firefox there is a cool add-on that turns a tab into IE and works fine.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Whoa - Thought Controlled Wheelchair?

This story was too cool not to mention, Here's the story from the New Scientist.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Buying Technology

Since the iPhone price drop is such big news on the tech front, and I'm so often asked,
"I'm planning to buying a [enter tech item here.] What do you recommend?"
Here is my patent response for buying almost all computers, digital cameras, media players, etc.

1) Wait as long as you can.
With the iPhone dropping 30% in price in two months as proof, there will never be the 'perfect' time to buy tech stuff, it's not an investment and will certainly reduce in price.

2) Set your price.
Because there are so many options when buying tech toys, there always seems to be more
features with just another just

3) Search for your price.
Because there are so many options when buying tech toys, there always seems to be more
features at small increments, so once you have the price you're willing to spend, stick to it. Otherwise you can keep upping the price until it's way more than you intended.

When I start searching for tech stuff, there are always the usual suspects: Amazon and EBay, but I like to start with a trip to CNET reviews to narrow it down to the exact one I want. Then a trip to where I can see if there are any deals on the sites.

(BTW A couple of the tech sites I especially like are and

Sunday, September 02, 2007

So . . . what did YOU do this summer?

Cracked iPhone anyone?
For those who don't know, this summer the iPhone was cracked by a 17 year old George Hotz.

By cracking it, he made the phone able to run on different networks other that AT&T, who I'm sure was not happy about the announcement. But in the weird word of cyber -law it's ok to crack a phone, just not sell or distribute the know how.

While this is all interesting on a geeky level, the real interest for me is from the rationale of George spending 500+ hours on this 'summer project' because ultimately he was bored. And where were we, the educators, in all of this.

If George came to you with this idea, what would happen? What about all the other George's in our classes. This reminds me of another story about Ashley Qualls. A 17 year old who started a website called that provides templates for MySpace. She's since been offered $1.5 million for the site. (Which she declined, by the way.) Again, where would be she in class and what are we offering students that want to move beyond the standard multiple choice tests.

A final note on students. We must take them seriously. Not just as another aspect of our jobs, but people to engage and learn from as much as we teach them. Recently "A 16 year-old Australian student took approximately 30 minutes to bypass a government funded content filter that took $84 million to create." [link]

Students will always find an outlet for their creativity, whether we chose to benefit from their creativity is up to us.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Tracking Comments

As fun as blogging is, in many ways it's still a one way conversation. What I mean is, unlike a forum where all participants have equal say in posting or responding, the creator of a blog really has total control over what gets shown on the site, by way of moderation.

So anyone who reads a large number of blogs, then makes comments, and then wishes to follow up on those comments - I've found an easy way to do it. The site is still in beta, so there are some quirks, but it's been the simplest way to track the conversations I have on other blogs that I follow. They all turn up in one convenient location.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

My Yoda

Marco Torres often talks about finding one's Yoda. A mentor who you can look to for guidance and help from but it technology questions or educational ones.

Today I found mine - My two year old son.

Here's the story:
My wife, two year old son and I were getting ready for dinner and he told his mom, "I'm hungry." While preparing the meal she said, "It's not quite ready yet."

He looked at her, tilted his head to one side and asked,
"Is it buffering?"

As this school year begins, my son reminds me that we as educators must always be mindful of what we say and do around our kids. Anything you say or do may be an educational experience for a child.

And you never know what will stick with them!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Digital Information Literacy

A good video about digital literacy, thanks to Jim Burke for the link!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Following up on my last post, I realized that with the use of one Google login, a really good password is more important that ever. The best kinds incorporate numbers and symbols and are at least eight characters.

One way I use to remember longer passwords with a variety of symbols is to come up with a phrase where the first letter of each word comprising the password. The phrase should have at least eight words in it.

For example: "I Like To Work With Students And Teachers" becomes: "iltwwsat"

Because you're using a phrase, just say it in your head as you type the (seemingly) nonsensical word. Also, you can replace words like 'To' with '2' and maybe an 'S' with a '$' so the final result would be

Another thing you can do is add the first letter of whatever website you're on to the end of the password. That way, you have a different password for every site, but you still only have to remember one. So if you went to Amazon it would be:


while in Ebay it would be:

Don't forget to periodically it too because all the security and firewalls in the world can't stop someone if they have your password.

Saturday, August 18, 2007


Ok, we all know Google is the uber-search engine of the net. Able to find all kinds of info in a single bound. But, many do not know about all the services Google offers and most users are not interested in having another login for each of them. One of things I love of about Google for Educators is that users can have one login to access a ton of services, Now, there may be better examples of individual services, but when users can log on to all of them from one place - it's well worth it.

Take Blogger for instance, there are arguably better blogging platforms available, (Wordpress, Typepad, etc) but with Blogger, you can post directly from Google Docs or link to images in Picassa or video in Google Video - all with one login.

I'm going to get what I see as two biggest problems out of the way, 1) Access 2) Privacy 1) If you do not have reliable internet access, then you don't have Google Apps. They are working on something called Google Gears that will allow blogs from Google Reader and Gmail to download and sync with your computer whenever you on the net. 2) Privacy concerns are always a part of being online. Having so much information about yourself in one place can be scary, depending on what they do with it. For a far more detailed discussion about online privacy than I can put here, check out

So, here are some of things you get when you 'Go Google.' (BTW It's better to setup a GMail Account not a Google Account. You'd think there should be any difference, but a GMail Account gives you more access to services.

Some of the biggest boons of using the services is hardware doesn't matter, Mac, PC, Linux as long as you have web access. And your data follows you on what ever computer you're using.
And it's all FREE. The only costs if you want to upgrade some of the services, but I have yet to have had to do that with any of them.

GMail - a web based email service, much like Hotmail or Yahoo but with 3gigs of free space.

Google Calendar - Very useful to share, publish or just manage your calendars. Especially when those you have to coordinate with have an account too.

Google Docs - an online word processing and spreadsheet application that lets you easily collaborate with other Google users. This is a terrific service that I use daily.

Blogger - Google's blogging platform

Google Reader
- An aggragator that pulls info from all those blogs into on place. Works great with an iGoogle page.

iGoogle - Set up a personalize homepage that follows you with every computer you log in to.

Page Creator - Create a template driven webpage in seconds. Literally. The hardest part is selecting a color scheme. Here are a couple examples: and

Google Browser Sync - If you use multiple computers, this will sync all your preferences bringing passwords and bookmarks with you.

Google Anayltics - Anyone that has a blog or web page can use this to get incredibly detailed information about their site.

Google Groups - Create, manage and work with forums. A easy way to store and encourage discussion.

Google Talk - Much like Skype, but without the ability to call a landline number. This may change, however, because Google bought Grand Central. A service that coordinates ones phone numbers.

Google Blog Search - Even though Technorati is more well known, I've found this search to actually be more thorough when looking for something.

Picassa - Google's image editor and thumbnail viewer. There are better lightweight free image editors out there (Irfanview I'm looking at you.) But, with the ability to make a Web Album with the click of a button, it can't be beat.

Google Video - This is one of those services that you can find better quality out there, but If you only need to quickly load something (and larger that 100mb YouTube) than this works fine.

Google Earth - Not a web based app, but too cool not to mention.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Spreading F.U.D.

What is F.U.D. you ask?
F.U.D. stands for Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt.
Something that usually Freezes, Upsets and Discourages progress.

Jeff Utecht from the Thinking Stick blog commented on this recently stating we're "Putting them in a Bubble" and I couldn't agree more.

When I discuss the use of disruptive technologies in the classroom with some teachers, their first response is, "Yeah, but how can I control it."

I am, of course, not in favor of a classroom free-for-all, but if we can't beyond the possibility that one student might type a naughty word (just like they could do now) and weigh that against all the positive discussions and collaboration that can happen, then we are truly stuck.

Yes, it's easier to ignore what the students are doing on their own at home, but what a disservice to our students. For me, it would be the equivalent of not teaching drivers education because one of the students might do something dangerous. As a system we've weighed the pros and cons and recognize value is worth more than the possible pitfalls. I hope this will carry over to the use of communication tech tools in the classroom, and we can help our students see outside the bubble.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Old Dog - New Tricks

As the new school year rapidly approaches, I want to ask something I usually begin my workshops with. Do you know where the layout of your QWERTY keyboard came from?

No? Well, the placement of letters comes from a time when people could type faster than their typewriters could keep up. Keys would get jammed in a terrific mess of metal and ink. By placing frequently used keys, like vowels, in harder to reach places, users were slowed down.

Now, examine keyboard in front of you.

The placement of the keys has been the same since 1873. There are newer, redesigned keyboards that allow faster typing such as the Dvorak keyboard. Introduced in 1936 it arranges the keys for the greatest efficiency. But, overwhelmingly we use what is given to us.
What we have always known and are comfortable with.

Sound familiar?

Many teach how they were taught, and I won't belabor the point, but the world is different. It's flat right?

If I handed you a new keyboard, it would undoubtedly take time to unlearn how you type and relearn the new positions. During that time, productivity would down and frustration would ensue. Yet, with the understanding that ultimately, speed and accuracy will improve with time and practice until you have surpassed what you were capable of before.

Such is all new learning.
Don't let only what you're comfortable with limit where you can go!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

iPod Manual

For anyone looking for a easy to read manual for their iPod Nano, I had students last year take the 60 page manual from Apple and reduce it to a 8 page graphic FAQ that covers the typical questions new users ask. Enjoy!

Friday, August 10, 2007

OLPC Machine

Matthew Hockenberry of demonstrates the one laptop per child's fourth production prototype of the 'hundred-dollar laptop' at siggraph 2007 - video by Leonardo Bonanni of

Monday, August 06, 2007

Firefox Addons

Some time ago on Twitter John Pederson asked what other blogger's desktops looked like. It got me thinking about my own desktop and I realized, my Firefox web browser has become my desktop. It's so customizable and with the use of so many web 2.0 web applications I have my desktop where ever I go.

I know there are virtual desktops available, but I've found I can tweak the browser to my own specs. So, I decided to put together some of the add-ons that I've found most useful.

8 Random Facts

First, the Rules:

1. Post these rules before you give your facts
2. List 8 random facts about yourself
3. At the end of your post, choose (tag) other people and list their names, linking to them
4. Leave a comment on their blog, letting them know they’ve been tagged

So here are the 8 facts:

1. I do not like chocolate.

2. I can balance with one foot on a basketball and juggle.

3. I taught in New Zealand.

4. I'm something of a Simpsons-aholic.

5. I took an astronomy course at Colby College in 6th Grade.

6. I'm teaching my two year old to recognize Star Wars characters on sight.

7. I usually have three books going at the same time.

8. I love my job!

Tag - you're it.

Sharon P.

Keith K.

Ben W.

Jayson C.

Dan V.


For those of you who haven't tried Microsoft's Photosynth - now is the time. They have 1000's of images of the Endeavour Space Shuttle on the launch pad. You can fly around and zoom in. A cool way to see the shuttle.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Kid Logic

I know the NPR radio show This American Life covers a lot of ground, not all of it appropriate for kids, but one of the best episodes they've done was called Kid Logic. "Stories of kids using perfectly logical arguments, and arriving at perfectly wrong conclusions."

Very cute and worth a listen.

The Binary Bubble

When being more connected makes you less informed.

I've always been a news junkie, rarely listening to music on the radio when I can listen to news. When the TV was on it was usually on a 24 hour news channels.

Enter Web 2.0

Now, because I readily have news, blogs, podcasts, videos, etc. all sent to me with minimal effort, I have not watched or read or listened to a traditional news source in a looooong while. Every time I tune in, a commercial starts or a story I'm not interested in. So I fire up the iPod or feed reader and pull up something that I find more engaging.

I thought it something of an informational nirvana - few ads, compelling content and all tailored to my schedule.

And yet, I've been recently wondering about what I'm missing. I don't mean the ads of course, but the information that I used to pick up with traditional, passive, media. When I'd flip through the news paper, I would invariably see stories that I wouldn't have been looking for, but because they're there read, find interesting and ultimately make me more informed. I wonder that because it's so easy to narrow the information stream that comes to me, am I becoming less knowledgeable about what's going on beyond my news reader.

One resource I use that helps is Digg (or better yet, Digg Swarm.) The problem is, it's not local stuff and is still pretty tech heavy in content. I haven't decided how this will all pan out yet, but in the mean time, I think I'm going to start reading the paper again.

Two Cool Web Tools

Two cool web tools that I thought might work well together in the classroom as a resource or just as an easy way to see and manipulate a lot of data fast.

The World Clock

Google Gapminder

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Maine is Different

David Warlick discusses our conversations with students at the Summer Teacher Leader Institute on his blog here entitled Maine is Different.

And as a side note, I truly believe in that title. It would be easy to say that it's the tech - (our 1to1 Maine Learning Technology Initiative has put laptops in the hands of every 7th and 8th grader, and is now moving to high school staff statewide.)

But if it was just about the technology, it would have failed long ago as so many other programs without a specific educational rational to them. There has to be an educational baseline to the technology, period. Without that, why bother.

As David mentioned, one of my students is an Apple Developer and has the opportunity to preview Apple software before release. He, as well as a number of my students, help conduct professional development for teachers throughout the year. Once again, students as teachers - teachers as students.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Even Elmo uses email.

Anyone who has young children knows Elmo - intimately. Yet watching Sesame Street with my son today, something stuck me. In every episode of Elmo's World, he gets a video email from someone on Sesame Street. Now, in context that's pretty tame compared to talking dinosaurs and green monsters. But, for my two year old, it must seem completely natural and probably wonders why dad doesn't get as many video emails as Elmo does.

I noticed this in the Curious George movie last year. In one scene, the man in the yellow hat takes a cell phone image in Africa and sends it to his bosses computer in the U.S. The audience takes it in stride, but I was thinking through all the techie steps it would take pull that off. Now I know, it's a cartoon movie, but it's quite a process and I'm sure the kids see it as no big deal.

I'm not sure what to make of it yet with my own son, but I know he's already hooked.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The best laid plans . . .

. . . well you know the rest.

I brought a couple of my students to Castine to interview David Warlick. We did have a great opportunity to hear him present and talk with him afterwards. David was very gracious to the kids and one of the students showed him Leopard - the new Mac OS that's coming out in October. (The student is a Mac Developer, that's right and 14 :)

Anyway, on the way home we tried listening to the interview and something had happened to it. I'm not sure but it was probably a setting or something. Ahhh, technology, you're a fickle mistress. Oh well, we took some great pictures and the students had a good time. If you want more information about the conference, check out Jim Burke's blog and Cheryl Oakes entries on the wiki

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Digital Students in Analog Schools

I shared this on the Maine ACTEM listserv and received quite a few responses, so I thought I'd re-post it here. Also, we had the change to interview the students of Marco Torres that created this video, you can find it here.


Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Interviewing David Warlick

I'm having some students interview David Warlick tomorrow at the MLTI Summer Teacher Leader Institute. I had students record his keynote last fall at the ACTEM conference and include it below. I'm very excited about it, what should be a great interview.

David's blog and other online resources. can be found at

Monday, July 30, 2007

Bob Sprankle Strikes Back!

Follow the interview my students did with Bob, he interviewed them right back! It's a great way to get them involved and feel more like participants in the conference rather than observers. Here's Bob's blog post as well. Bit by Bit

Sunday, July 29, 2007

BLC07 - David Jakes Interview

David' Jakes interview can be found here. His blog and Skypechats of the sessions can be found here (and yes, that is Darren Kuropawta and Ewan McIntosh are sitting beside him.)

Saturday, July 28, 2007

BLC07 - Dean Shareski Interview

Kayla interviews Dean Shareski who's blog is here:

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Backing Up

I covered this earlier this year, but after reading Chris Lehman's post about losing data, I thought it would be good to mention it again.

You will lose everything from your computer at some point.
Back up now.

Three ways to recover quickly from a computer crash,

1) Use which is an online backup service. Once it's setup, you don't have to worry about it again. Free for 2 gigs. A low tech curve, high result.

2) Back up to some drive, usb or otherwise. The easiest way to do this is use
which syncs two drives or folders as you specify. Again, once setup very very easy to use.

3) Use Google Docs. Doesn't matter what computer you're on.

The iMatrix

This was too cool and geeky to not show, one of our students has been coming in over the summer to help us and showed us how to re-image 30 iBooks at a time using his server.

BLC07 - Maro Torres Students

Again from the BLC conference here is podcast of the students of Marco Torres (The Yoda of educational technology) He had four students there who recorded many of the presentations and presented themselves when one of the presenters had to leave.

This hearkens back to comments made by Karl Fish and others about "Where were the students at NECC." The podcast is here and the audio from the video is not that good, but here it is.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

BLC07 - Darren Kuropatwa Session

Kayla with Darren
Uploaded the podcast of Darren Kuropatwa's session and interview at BLC07. You can find the Skypecast as well at Darren's blog A Difference. Darren's interview with one of my students soon to follow!

A laptop by any other name . . .

Here in Maine, we've been fortunate enough to receive Mac Books for the all the High School teachers. Of course, as with anything new there's a Tech Curve ;) (a time of learning as we change platforms.)

Some helpful sites are
Switching To The Mac: A Guide For Windows Users.
Free Atomic Learning Orientation to Mac OS 10.4 Tutorials
Mac 101: Getting Started with a Mac:
Thank you Mike Muir

For more information, check out MLTI High School Teacher FAQ Do

Monday, July 23, 2007

BLC07 - Ewan McIntosh

Here's one of the students we brought to BLC who had the opportunity to interview Ewan McIntosh. What an honor, Will Richardson mentioned on his blog that "Ewan McIntosh is a rock star. Plain and simple." and I couldn't agree more. He brings some amazing ideas to the table.

Here is the podcast link.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

BLC07 - Overview

Coming down now from an amazing Building Learning Communities conference of thoughts, ideas, the works. I was privileged to meet many of the educational technology Communities 'royalty' (though none would enjoy being called that) and have two of my students interview many of them.
I will be posting photos and audio of the conference here. You can also find some of the Skype chat sessions at David Jakes blog. Some great back channel conversations.

I'd like to add one of the comments from my 9th grade student there:
"its hard beign the only kid in the chat with tonz of adults"

Hopefully we can change that feeling for all our students.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Bob Sprankle

Here's a cross link to Bob Sprankle interviewing the kids I've brought to BLC07 podcast

Ewan McIntosh - BLC07

A terrific blog here

This session: We’re Adopting: An Adoption Strategy for Social Software in Education"

Discussion of how to get this model of the 'go getters ' in educators and make that far more pervasive throughout education.

Strategy for getting this to happen:
Identify key user groups
Understand key users
Let them evangelise
Turn these key users into trainers
Support bottom-up and emergent behaviours

Ewan discusses fear as a motivator in teaching and education. The fear is inherent in new technologies and how important it is for those 'go getters' teachers to show that they too get nervous about the new tech, but the mistakes they make is ok. It's what I've been calling the Tech Curve :)

The podcast of the session will be here:

Dr. Mitchel Resnick Keynote

Live blogging here:
Just watched the keynote by Dr. Mitchel Resnick. He covered the PicoCrickets and Scratch. A free graphic based programming language. I really like his ideas of the Lifelong Kindergarten. How we know the play that students do in Kindergarten is a valuable time for learning.

So, how do we extend this idea that we know is right to those that just look at is and ask, "Yeah, but how do we assess it?" My answer? Project Based Learning where the students are focusing on their projects and the teachers are showcasing the where and how the educational value comes from them.

BLC07 - Weblogg-ed

Hey, we were mentioned in Will Richardson's blog here

Thanks Will!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

BLC07 - Day One

So our first day is over from the BLC07 and already it's an amazing experience for my students and myself. We heard presentations from Ewan McIntosh and Alan November and had the opportunity to interview a number of people.

The link here goes to the podcast of Jayson's interview of Bob Sprankle.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Building Learning Communities 07

I'm very excited, we're heading to Alan November's conference Building Learning Communities 07. There should be many interesting sessions and hopefully a ton of posts to follow!!

Don't Click Here!

Click here for a great page from the Nokomis History Department showcasing some of the netiquette on the internet. Nicely done!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Intel to get on board with OLPC

The One Laptop Per Child program has been somewhat at odds with the Intel Corp. since it's inception. Watch the CBS story here to see why. Now it looks like they're going to join the OLPC board and (hopeful) push the technology forward. More info here.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Visual Dictionaries

This posted by Vicki Davis: Here are some interesting visual dictionaries. Very graphical in the way they navigate to similar words or phrases

More link based:

Great for kids:

Very cool visuals:

Thursday, July 12, 2007

"How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet"

A hilarious essay by Douglas Adams. Click here to read the entire essay. Here is an excerpt from it to give you an idea about the content.

This piece first appeared in the News Review section of The Sunday Times on August 29th 1999.

I suppose earlier generations had to sit through all this huffing and puffing with the invention of television, the phone, cinema, radio, the car, the bicycle, printing, the wheel and so on, but you would think we would learn the way these things work, which is this:

1) everything that’s already in the world when you’re born is just normal;

2) anything that gets invented between then and before you turn thirty is incredibly exciting and creative and with any luck you can make a career out of it;

3) anything that gets invented after you’re thirty is against the natural order of things and the beginning of the end of civilisation as we know it until it’s been around for about ten years when it gradually turns out to be alright really.

Apply this list to movies, rock music, word processors and mobile phones to work out how old you are.

This subjective view plays odd tricks on us, of course. For instance, ‘interactivity’ is one of those neologisms that Mr Humphrys likes to dangle between a pair of verbal tweezers, but the reason we suddenly need such a word is that during this century we have for the first time been dominated by non-interactive forms of entertainment: cinema, radio, recorded music and television. Before they came along all entertainment was interactive: theatre, music, sport – the performers and audience were there together, and even a respectfully silent audience exerted a powerful shaping presence on the unfolding of whatever drama they were there for. We didn’t need a special word for interactivity in the same way that we don’t (yet) need a special word for people with only one head.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Teacher in Space

Barbara Morgan was slated as Christa McAuliffe's backup for the ill fated 1986 flight of the Challenger. She is now scheduled to go up as an educator astronaut August 7th.
Godspeed Barbara Morgan and good luck!

For more info:

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Cool Firefox Addon

If you're into tabbed browsing as much as I am, check out this Firefox addon.

Tab Mix Plus

Constantly Connected

I was chatting with a friend of mine and we were discussing how connected most people are today. Between the cell phone, email or some web version of chat, most people are reachable virtually 24/7. For so long, people have strove for exactly that. The desire to be more connected at all times, so if you wanted to reach someone, you could. (The first cell phone call from the peak of Mt. Everest occurred earlier this year. I read that the reception was terrific because of clear views of towers in China. And I drop calls downtown!)
Anyway, the question asks itself, when does it become ok, to opt out or purposely make yourself unconnected. If someone knows you screen your calls, they always assume it's not for them, but when is it still polite to say, Yes I'm connected, but I'd rather be 'unavailable' right now. How will this question be answered for teachers? I know as a teacher, if a student sees that I'm online, and asks for help, I don't want to not help them, but is there an etiquette developing for this level of connectivity?
I always marvel how, if I'm standing at a counter at a store and the phone rings, the clerk will stop helping me, and work with the person on the phone. I feel a little like, "Hey, I came into the store, when did the phone trump actual human interaction?" I'm not really upset by it, I just question how far can it go. If I'm constantly connected and get emails or Instant Messages, does politeness require I answer those before having the face to face conversation?
Just some summer time thoughts . . .

Friday, July 06, 2007

What If....

Another terrific video by Karl Fisch from his Fischbowl Blog.

RSS in Plain English

A great video on what RSS means and how you can use it. And like it says, in plain English!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Cross Post

I was reading Wes Fryer's Blog Speed of creativity and made a comment that to find a song he was looking for to try A website where you can "Search with your Voice: Search for music by singing or humming part of a song. All you need is a microphone."
Check it out here:

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Did You Know? Video

I showed an earlier version of this video in the Summer Tech Institute. It has been updated and improved, so even if you saw it the first time, check it out again!

Too Many Passwords!

Having multiple passwords has become part of our online existence. The problem is remembering all of them. One technology that is coming down the pike to help with this is OpenID. OpenID is "an open, decentralized, free framework for user-centric digital identity." What that means is one place to store your info that other sites can reference, only if you tell them to. It's still new enough that all sites don't recognize OpenID, but it should be such a useful way to manage logins that more are sure to follow. For more info, watch the slideshow below.

Video Presentations

Here's a link to a number of video cast presentations from the NECC conference, there are some really nice presentations here.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Self Publishing

Some teachers were asking me about publishing books from websites on the net. Two that I have found are and Both take work that you create and will allow you to buy 1, 10 or 100 copies. They also allow parents or anyone to buy the books directly from the website.

Here is an example:

Summer vacation's not what it used to be.

For those interesting in catching up with some of the conferences going on this summer, there's the NECC the National Educational Computer Conference where you can find a number of blogs, podcasts and other resources to use.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Google Docs

For those who use Google Docs, they have just updated the interface. I think it's easier to sort and manage your documents and spreadsheets on it. For those who are not using Google Docs, check it out here: Highly recommended!

A Special Thank You

I would like to give a special thanks to all the students that helped during the week. We had Tech Club students from 7th graders to graduated seniors volunteering to help teachers out all week.

Thanks so much guys!!

Mr. K

The Tech Institute - Friday

Today we wrapped up with a number of features the Google Suite has to offer and worked on the pages that teachers made. You can find a list of the blogs and pages Here .

We also watched this video having to do with copyright and Fair Use in education.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

The Tech Institute - Thursday

Thursday was audio day. We worked mostly with Audacity, Podcasts and iTunes. For more info go to

Just a note, a number of teachers asked about the use of the iPods, please remember that while the iPod gives portability, anything you would use an iPod for, you can accomplish with your existing computer. Make sure you have iTunes version 7 (The easiest way to tell is if the CD with a blue note on it, otherwise download it here.) Also, here is the iPod Educational Use Form if you have a use for the portability iPods bring.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Tech Institute - Tuesday

Another great day, this one focused on iTunes and podcasting. There were a number of links today and I'll post a few of them here.

Did You Know? Video (This is in YouTube, so will be blocked by Bess.)

Also here is Mrs. Cochrane's class podcast, Give it a listen!

Ok, back to getting ready for tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Tech Institute - Wednesday

Today was a lot of fun, we covered Blogs and Google Reader in the morning and Google Calendar in the afternoon. (Although I think the teachers had the most fun setting up their iGoogle page :)

Tomorrow, iPods and iTunes!

Removing the Navbar

Insert this code in the template of your blog. Before the Body tag with brackets < around the word style.


First Day of the Tech Institute

We had the first day of the Summer Tech Institute, and I think it went really well. I'm going to post some of the links we made here:

OLPC 60-minutes Interview

Thursday, June 14, 2007

If you can read this . . .

Congratulations! I'll be posting much more here in days to come and now that you have a reason to come see and what new resources I can find and put here.

Don't forget, the notes from the week can be found at


Sunday, February 04, 2007

Web 2.0 Video

This video titled, "Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us" was created by Michael Wesch, an Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University.