Friday, October 28, 2011

Chaistic Structure - the important stuff is in the middle

And first, a funny story:

I took my kids downtown today to give my wife a break.  We were gonna chill at Better World Books for a while, then I was going to take them down to Olympia Candy Kitchen for a piece of pre-lunch candy - a treat they never get.  Well, as we're walking into BWB I see this kid wearing a Spiderman costume.  "Huh..." I thought... "Must be getting an early start..."  And nothing clicked as I walked into BWB and the staff were all wearing costumes as well.  Turns out I was taking my costume-less kids on a walk through downtown Goshen during the designated "Downtown Trick-or-Treat" time.  I had just told them I was taking them to Olympia, so they were really excited to go.  But we had to walk past all these other stores with candy to buy a piece of candy.  Not only that, but we were getting tons of disapproving looks from store owners and parents who took the time to dress up their kids.  Looks like, "what'd you dress your  kids up as this year?  Kids?"

"Yep buddy, I did.  Now back off."

Actually, the store owners were really nice about it, but I felt like I had to explain to each one, "No, we're not actually trick-or-treating... we just want to go buy a piece of candy...  Yes I know it sounds dumb, but... well, ok... thank you... don't mind if I do..."  *glares from other parents as the three of us reach our hands in the bowl.*

Speaking of candy, in discussing the intellectually worded question, "How can you encourage your professional colleagues to engage in ongoing development in terms of technology integration?" Teacher Talk With a Thompson mentioned bribing teachers with candy in order to get them hooked on technology.  Not a bad idea, says I.

Before reading her blog, I could only think of emailing the entire school my ideas or using some passive aggressive/ guilt-tripping tactics...  "Ohhhh.... you don't use technology in your classroom?  ... ... Huh..."  *raises eyebrows*

I'll say that most of my idea sharing between colleagues happens either at block lunch, or social studies lunch.  Social studies lunches are the best.  We all help each other out.  We all received SMARTboards this year and we'll tell each other new tricks we've learned.  Man, one guy made a version of Settlers of Catan for the SMARTboard.  It utilized all sorts of features that I could only bring forth in dreams.  His kids were learning about civilizations, trading/economics, etc... Awesome.

So, I'll share stuff in there as well.  I'm excited to learn more about Edmodo.  That will be my next techno-lunch-share.

As for being a teacher leader, that shouldn't be too difficult since I don't see anybody else paving the way.  What I mean is, we've got a lot of teachers sharing a lot of great ideas, but nobody has really come forward and said, "You guys got a question about something techy - come see me."  Of course, now that I see that in writing I'm not sure I want to be any more of a teacher leader than I already am.  I could be our team leader again, but I dropped that so I could focus on my master's work.  I like the system we have now.  We've got many leaders, blazing different technological paths.

Lets make this a little chaistic here, beginning and ending with something off topic:

If you haven't watched this yet, watch it.  If you have, watch it again.  It's pretty funny.  October Light's a bunch of Christian Croatians who formed a band.  It's a nice little tribute to their country.

Monday, October 24, 2011

And it's 10:14 PM

It's been a crazy day/ week.  (Granted, I'm counting Monday-Monday...)

I just wanted to say that I switched browsers and blogger no longer freezes my computer.  So now, maybe I can do my blogging from home.

It was really frustrating to have to power down anytime I'd click a link to a blog - which is like... 75% of my supplemental reading for my class.  I took down pictures and backgrounds and links and things from my blog as well, thinking they were the cause.

Curse you Internet Explorer.  Curse you to ... (And may I never be tempted to retrieve you from there.)

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Here’s a nice bulleted list for you, detailing various reasons I might be afraid of incorporating internet technology into the classroom:
Ø  Looking incompetent
Ø  Students accessing inappropriate sites (other than porn)
Ø  Students accessing inappropriate sites (including porn)
Ø  Server goes down
Ø  Firewall prevents students from accessing appropriate sites, yet somehow allows them to visit (not a real website… probably)
Ø  School laptops include cameras… I’m not really sure why I fear this, but I do
Ø  Students break computers, pull off keys, or hit control+alt+up arrow and I get blamed for it
Ø  Students use computers as weapons (not an actual fear, but it should be)
Ø  How much time is it going to take me to come up with a lesson plan that isn’t the one I’ve been relying on for the past thousand years?  Fear of time commitment should definitely go to the top of the list.  Seriously, that’s the biggy for me.
Ø  Also, looking incompetent

The biggest thing I can do to alleviate these fears is just jump in – or get pushed in, which is essentially what happened by taking a class entitled “Technology in Education.”  (*WOOT! WOOT!  SHOUT OUT COHORT 222!  HOLLA!!!*)

Granted, the fears listed above aren’t actually fears per se, so much as apprehensions.  I’ve never really worried about students accessing porn, or students breaking the computers.  There’ve been a couple instances of student vandalism, but really, they’re just doing their work.

I do worry about looking incompetent, but I worry about that (and basically awkward situations in general) with every aspect of my life. 

Technology will fail, but that’s a risk worth taking.  It’s working most of the time – and the payoff seems worth it.

As for the time… geez…  Nothing comes to mind to help me alleviate that fear.  I’m worried that I won’t be able to access the WebQuest I made for my class after my 30 day free trial is over.   You should check it out.  It’s pretty good.  You can find it HERE.  (If you can’t click on that link, it’s because I’ve decided to put some more finishing touches on the WebQuest… or because my 30 day free trial is over and they took it down.)  I don’t know where I’m going to come up with more time…
Oh well.  In the words of H. Jackson Brown Jr., “Don't say you don't have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”
That’s not alleviating much though…

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Of Funerals, Volleyball, and Software

What a week.  I’m writing this from school because blogspot has been crashing my home computer… I can’t even get to the troubleshooting/helps page from home because…  Yeah, you get it.
My wife’s grandfather died yesterday (not suddenly, but thank you for your condolences, etc…   etc…)  He was as decent and godly a man as any.  We’re leaving tomorrow (silence the pianos and with muffled drum).  Funerals can be ghastly occasions, but I’m anticipating this one will be quite nice.  My college roommate introduced me to his cousin Liz – my future wife.  We moved to the hometown of her best friend and cousin Mary Rose, though she has married and moved to some far off land…  So, although funerals are somber, it will be nice to see everyone and catch up.
Death is fantastic and stupid.  I coach volleyball.  We’ve been winning here at the end of the season.  If we win tonight, we go to the championship game on Saturday.  It’s been a LONG season.  There have been several days that I left home before my kids were awake, and returned after they were asleep.  As teachers (and likely as human beings) we all make sacrifices for the betterment of ourselves and society.  The young ladies on my team have worked hard, and developed not just as athletes but also as compassionate, dedicated, thoughtful and insightful people.  I hope that my absence from the game isn’t detrimental to their season, but it can be an encouragement as well.  Ultimately volleyball is just volleyball, and family should come first.  Hopefully they take that lesson the right way.

I’ll tell ya… give a guy a soap box…

What software applications do I use regularly?  I guess you’d have to define “software applications” and “regularly.”  I use MSWord, the internet, and my SMARTboard every day.  Sometimes I break out power  point, but these days I’m relying on SMART notebook more and more… (essentially ppt for the SMARTboard.)  I use my iPod quite a bit.  We listen to songs and poems.  We haven’t done much with podcasts, but I’m not opposed to it.

I’ve wanted to learn Excel for years.  I’ve felt pretty incompetent for not knowing it…  Apparently, there are quite a few people out there who aren’t using Excel to its full potential.  I just learned some basics for this class – and man I’ve exploded out of the gates.  I created a spread sheet tracking student test scores for several years.  I showed it to the other teachers in my block, and now they want me to make them for their bubble kids as well.  There’s so much I could potentially do with Excel – chart earthquake occurrences, religious populations and percentages, ethnic growth and conflict… I’m not a math-y person.  Looking at numbers is one thing, see the numbers on a clear chart is another.  (And since I’m the one making the chart, I can be assured that it’s not propaganda…

I’m planning on spending at least two hours a week working on improving my Excel knowledge through web-tutorials and simply messing with the program.  After some basic instructions to get me started, just looking around and exploring the program has helped me out the most.  It’s a big world out there… there’s a lot to look at.