Saturday, September 22, 2007

Eight Conditions

The Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations has a list of 8 conditions that it argues is important in the lives of students.

"• Belonging means that a student is a valued member of a community while still maintaining his or her uniqueness.

Heroes are people with whom a student can connect. They have a positive influence and listen to and value students’ ideas.

Sense of Accomplishment is based on being recognized for different types of success, including hard work and being a good person.

Fun and Excitement as a condition means students are inspired. Students are actively engaged and emotionally involved in their schoolwork.

Curiosity and Creativity become evident when students ask “why” or “why not” about the world around them.

Spirit of Adventure is experienced when students tackle something new without the fear of failure or pressure of success.

Leadership and Responsibility as a condition happens when students can make decisions and accept responsibility for their actions.

Confidence to Take Action is the extent to which students believe in themselves and are encouraged to dream about their future, while being motivated to set goals in the present." ~ Russell Quaglia
What do you think? How important are these conditions in our lives? How do these conditions relate to character education and expeditionary education?

Also check out the September 2007 issue of American Association of School Superintendents on Personalizing Schools.


Friday, September 21, 2007

Operating System Debate

by Martha Thibodeau

Here I am at the Leadership Meeting for the High School deployment of the Maine Learning Technology Initiative. Although I should have expected it, I was surprised at the fervor with which one person broached the PC vs. Mac OS divide. Although Doug Snow tried to be diplomatic, the rest of the room lit up with tension.

Several folks talked about the fact that this is "not about the technology." Other ideas:

*Leadership will play an intregal role in setting the tone for faculty and students.
*Jigsawing the applications is a good way to introduce the different applications to staff.
*Mechanics don't use mac or windows.
*Our teachers are in such a flux now going between windows and linux that it's a good time to throw other stuff at them, too.
*There will always be Mac bigots and PC bigots.
*We have to model the ability to change.
*The students will not have a problem with the platform.
*I wish people would get over that.

For myself, I started out as a PC person, in college, doing programming. Then I started working at Lawrence, and through the help of Brian Barrows, I learned about Macs. To be honest, I am bi-platform. I will use whatever I have on hand. If I want to make a movie...I will only use my mac. Although I would rather use iWeb, now that I've discovered it, I can manage with DreamWeaver on my PC. If I want to do anything else, it doesn't really matter to me, I can adapt to the machine in front of me.

Isn't that what we really want our students to be able to do...adapt?

Thursday, September 20, 2007


I love libraries. Always have. Today the eMINTS mentors had our monthly meeting in the ATM room at the Bangor Public Library. Both Olga LaPlante and the Bangor Public Library Blog suggested VideoJug as a place to find video How-To's. Here's How to Make Creme Brulee.

Other How-To Sites:

How Things Work
How Stuff Works


RefDesk: Do-It-Yourself

Skype as a Tech Tool (or more Joys of Skype)

by David Trask

Following up on the recent post on Skype, today I had a Skype experience that was worth sharing. One of my colleagues at another school was having difficulty with getting something to work correctly with ARD. At first we tried the cellphone route, but holding on to the cellphone (even with a headset)...typing...and problems with a weak signal forced us to try another means of communication. I have a SkypeOut account with unlimited calling in the US and I simply called his classroom phone. This worked well for a bit when we realized that it would be even easier to do a direct Skype to Skype call to his laptop. (a Macbook Pro) Talk about the ultimate speakerphone! I was able to talk him through the issue and even send some screenshots through the chat feature while we talked. Skype allowed us to bridge the miles and get some quality work done troubleshooting a computer problem. Imagine the ramifications for kids working collaboratively on a project from afar. If you haven't checked out should!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Character Series: Courage

"Moral cowardice that keeps us from speaking our minds is as dangerous to this country as irresponsible talk. The right way is not always the popular and easy way. Standing for right when it is unpopular is a true test of moral character." ~ Margaret Chase Smith

Question: What place does courage have in schooling?

Courage Resources

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Moving On

by Olga LaPlante

I had a workshop today with middle school teachers. Two of them were from King Middle School which is an expeditionary learning school. I haven't been in it, or observed lessons, but one thing is very obvious - they are enthused. They are talking passionately about their classes - expeditions - and are quite creative. It's also possible that I was lucky to meet this particular kind of teachers by pure coincidence, but it was very encouraging anyway. You hear so many controversial things about Portland Schools. However, working with adults has proved that there are great teachers, and great things continue to happen.

So, as I said, that was middle school - with all the buzz around the high school piece, middle school initiative has lost a great deal of its novelty, and has gone to the background. Which actually may be a blessing in disguise - don't I know about that phenomenon!!! - and now middle schools who are savvy in many cases, may go on focusing on their local smaller scale professional development, and this is where the MLTI/eMINTS mentors are invaluable.

Well, thanks to Jim for sending me an invite to write here - I guess I needed a special note to start contributing! :)

Expeditionary Learning Resources

King Middle School - Kelly Fitz Science Blog


“Feelings of worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible - the kind of atmosphere that is found in a nurturing family” ~ Virginia Satir
How do we learn to appreciate other people?

Who Resources

Diversity Resources

Resources for Writing Biographies

Biography Resources

Character Series: Responsibility

"If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders." - Abigail Van Buren
How do we develop a sense of responsibility in our children?

Responsibility Resources

Monday, September 17, 2007


I'm attending the ACTEM meeting this morning. For those who might for some reason know nothing about this wonderful organization, let me say that the Association of Computer Technology Educators of Maine has had a powerful impact on the use of technology as a learning tool in our state. Just a couple of their services to check out:

MaineEducation Technology Conference 2007 - "Learning in a 2.0 World"
Great Deals on Software from ACTEM

Technorati Tags:

Sunday, September 16, 2007

From Noob to Leet

by Kern Kelley

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.

The Joys of Skype

Want a free download that allows computer-to-computer phone calls, chat, video, conferencing, and more? For a small fee you can add the ability to call regular phone numbers. If you don't have it yet, go here to download the Skype client. I would love to add "Learning in Maine" participants to my
Skype list. Very handy indeed.

My handle is adagio10. My email address is .


Who is already using Skype?

What wisdom can you share on that experience?

Skype Download


"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a LISTENING ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." ~ Leo Buscaglia
How well do we listen?

Listening Resources

Active Listening Resources