Friday, August 24, 2007

The Bionic Librarian

Maine State Library
MARVEL! Maine's Virtual Library
Maine Association of School Libraries
Maine Library Association
Maine Libraries

The Troy Howard Middle School Garden Project

THMS Garden Project

Gardening Resources

Life & Learning in a School Garden

Active Games for Kids

The Alliance for Childhood has written Fool's Gold: A Critical Look at Computers in Childhood in which they question the early use of computers in the classroom. The concern is that computers take time away from important developmental needs of young children such as active participation in their environment.

What do you think?

Related Resources:

Physical Education Resources

Children's Games Around the World

Capacity Building: People & Conversations

"We're talking about a change in the culture of schools and a change in the culture of teaching. We know that when we think about change we have to get ownership, participation, and a sense of meaning on the part of the vast majority of teachers. You can't get ownership through technical means; you have to get it through interaction, through developing people, through attention to what students are learning."
~ Michael Fullan

We have to be careful with buzzwords. Thrown around without thought, they become perversions of their original meanings. "Professional Learning Communities" and "Capacity Building" are two such instances with which I am concerned. We have to be very careful that they have meat to them and are not merely empty structures driven by the status quo. More busy-work for teachers without intellectual freedom and openness to new ideas will not suffice. In my mind, the ability to listen and put ourselves in the shoes of others without being defensive is the key. We don't have to like what we hear, but everyone must be given a fair hearing. Only by having true conversations can we create cultures that are open to new possibilities.

To this end, I would like to suggest the ideas of Meg Wheatley, which I just came across this afternoon. Check out the reviews of her book, Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World Revised , for an outline of her ideas.

A couple other books by Wheatley:

A Simpler Way

Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Tobasco Sauce

I always thought my father was a bit crazy to be putting Tabasco sauce on just about everything he ate. What was the old man thinking? It was definitely not anything I would ever do!

But I fear it has happened: At age 59, I have become my father. It all started with those fresh cucumbers out of the garden. It has become a tradition for me to create the most incredible, mouth-watering delicacy about this time every year . . . the cucumber sandwich. My ultimate recipe had always included fresh bread, real butter, salt, pepper, a few drops of sesame oil, and of course, cucumbers. In the frenzy of creating this gastronomic delight, I found that there was no sesame oil to be found. Enter Tabasco sauce and the rest is history: I can no longer stay away from the stuff! There seems to be an exponential improvement in anything I put it on. What can I say? Dad wasn't quite as crazy as I thought he was!

The question: Is this behavior a result of nature or nurture? Does my genetic makeup create a biochemical predisposition that is creating this craving . . . or is there some social/psychological connection going on here? ;)

Google Earth Sky

Wow! Google continues to amaze. This update of Google Earth is a must-have for astronomy teachers or anyone else who is interested in what is out there. Download the latest version of Google Earth to see what I mean. Who needs to go to the planetarium? And how can you beat the price?

For a companion, download Celestia as well.

Related: Solar System Resources

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

On the Deeper Basics . . .

What is important?
On the Deeper Basics…"'Why can’t Johnny and Susie read, write, and count?' is the mantra of school reform. To be sure, these prerequisite skills are essential for all future learning – and they are not enough. Where are the voices that fear as much for the deeper basics – the basics of the human mind, heart, and spirit? Why aren’t we at least equally troubled by why Johnny and Susie can’t think, can’t slow down, can’t reflect, can’t sit still, can’t imagine, can’t create, and can’t play? Why aren’t we deeply saddened that they can’t dance, or paint, or draw, or make up a story? Why aren’t we worried that they can’t cope with frustration and conflict? That it is so easy for them to be bored, cynical, and distrusting of adults and that it is so difficult for them to express deep love, trust, and compassion? Why are our hearts not heavy because their spirits cannot breathe, because they have not experienced the wonder and awe of the natural world, and because they do not know how and why they belong in the world?"

~Stephanie Pace Marshall

What do you think?

First Year Teacher

" There can be so much tugging at your students' minds and hearts - troubled family situations, changing friendships, uncertainties, doubts, and fears. Be aware of them as a whole person." ~ Karen Katafiasz

It is difficult being a first year teacher.

My first year was way back in 1970. To say that my youthful idealism was tempered by the realities of the classroom would certainly be an understatement. There was so much I needed to learn at that time, but in many respects, it was a much simpler time. New teachers today have many more demands on them from day one.

Here are some links that might be of assistance in helping first year teachers:

New Teacher Resources

Back-to-School Resources
Classroom Management Resources
Behavior Management Resources
Mentor/Coaching Resources
Process Skills Resources
Hot Links for New Teachers

Monday, August 20, 2007

Questioning Information

“Information is a source of learning. But unless it is organized, processed, and available to the right people in a format for decision making, it is a burden, not a benefit.” ~ William Pollard

Lots of information out there. Do we give everything the same weight? Who is presenting the information and from what perspective do they come? How do we find out more about the creator? How do we give credit? How does copyright law fit into the picture?

Below are some links to resources that might help in answering some of these questions:

Resources for Evaluating Information
Plagarism Resources

Who Is It?
Wayback Machine
Logical Fallacy Resources
MaineLearns: Copyright & Plagiarism
Citation Machine
How to Write a Bibliography
Evaluating Web Pages

Any to add to the list? Thoughts, suggestions, recommendations?

Discover Information Literacy

Web 2.0 The Dark Side?

In the Bangor Daily News of August 13th, there is an editorial entitled: Amateurism Goes Big. The editorial discusses Web 2.0 as the “birth of a revolutionary new era of cultural democracy,” and “ marking of the end to elitism and gatekeeping and a reliance on the wisdom of the masses.” It also urges us to be cautious.

As we move into an age where items such as YouTube, MySpace, Wikipedia, and the downloading of music becomes more common, and we depend on Google to locate information we need or entertainment we want, we need to become careful as citizens and educators. We also need to pass this caution onto our students.

The quality of some of the information on the Internet should be called into question. Are all the facts in the Wikipedia article really correct? Are the first five listings of my Google search the best information about my report? Does the YouTube video of the candidate’s mistake or outburst make him or her less of a person?

Andrew Keen, the author of a book, “The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet is Killing our Culture,” that is cited in the editorial. He gives us this warning, “Parents and teachers and individual users of the Internet must seek out trustworthy sources and beware of hidden propaganda and deception. The Internet is here to stay, but it must be approached with skepticism and watchfulness. Just as the experts and the gatekeepers have their faults, so does the wisdom of the masses.”

As educators, we need to stress Informational Literacy. The resources of the Internet are a source of information and entertainment. We need to be sure that as consumers of the Internet that we are cautious about the information that we get from the Internet. We also need to be cautious about what we put out on the Internet. It needs to be fair and we need to remember that once something is online it doesn’t go away.

Things to Think About:

1. What are the good and bad points of Web 2.0?
2. How do we teach students about Informational Literacy and testing information on the Internet?
3. How do we teach students to be responsible about what they put on the Internet?

Editorial in the Bangor Daily News of August 13, 2007 link to Andrew Keen’s Book “The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet is Killing Our Culture.”

Sunday, August 19, 2007


"Time and tide wait for no man. A pompous and self-satisfied proverb, and was true for a billion years; but in our day of electric wires and water-ballast we turn it around: Man waits not for time nor tide." ~ Mark Twain

To paraphrase the Rolling Stones, "Time is on our side." Or is it? How should we handle time?

Chris's Virtual Online Collection of 'Flash' Time Pieces
NLVM Clocks
Timeline Resources
Calendar Resources
66 Best Quotes on Time Management
Quote DB: Time
The History of Time

BBC: Walk Through Time