Saturday, October 27, 2007

Cut & Paste Kids

Hmmmm . . . should this be Copy & Paste Kids?

In this time of instant information, how can we take a closer look at student engagement, inquiry learning, essential questions, and good questioning in general?

Other CyberSmart Videos

I tend to be wary of canned programs of any sort, but I've spent some time this morning looking at the CyberSmart site and think I will now be making use of some of their resources.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Why I Love Maine

Jeff Swanson has done a series of short videos called Why I love Maine.

Might these work as an introduction to video creation with students?

Video Resources
iMovie Resources

School Culture & Climate @ Oxford Hills

Oxford Hills School District devoted their professional development day today to student behavior and school culture and climate. All approximately 600 employees, including bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria and maintenance workers, started the day out with an introduction to the PBIS model. Employees later went to smaller groups to hear about ways to identify and deal with harassment and sexual harassment. The day ended with individual building members meeting together to discuss local needs. They had earlier taken a survey using one of the popular free online survey tools.

PBIS Resources

Behavior Management Resources

Rights & Responsibilities Resources
Process Skills
Classroom Management Resources
Character Resources
Bullying Resources

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Creativity, Learning & Jobs

Daniel Pink, author of Free Agent Nation and A Whole New Mind - Moving from the information Age to the Conceptual Age, gives us this advice in a McNews interview:

MCNews: One last question: if you were going to give somebody just one piece of advice about how to be successful in this new age, what would it be?

Pink: The best career move is to find what you love to do, what you’re great at, and pursue that. I think you will be more valuable in the workforce. If you love accounting and you’re great at it, you’re going to be okay.

I worry about the folks who pursue careers because their parents, teachers, or spouses give them outdated advice and they’re dutifully marching into careers they don’t really care about because they think it’s the way to make money. Not only is that bad for their individual self-actualization but I think it’s a bad career move, too.

Steve Jobs gives this advice at his 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech:

Sir Ken Robinson at TED tells us this:

Do these views have anything in common?

Little Boxes

I never get headaches . . . but I think this morning might be my first. Anyone remember that song from the sixties by Malvina Reynolds called "Little Boxes?"
"Little boxes on the hillside, Little boxes made of tickytacky
Little boxes on the hillside, little boxes all the same
There's a green one and a pink one and a blue one and a yellow one
And they're all made out of ticky tacky and they all look just the same.

And the people in the houses all went to the university
Where they were put in boxes and they came out all the same,
And there's doctors and there's lawyers, and business executives
And they're all made out of ticky tacky and they all look just the same.

And they all play on the golf course and drink their martinis dry,
And they all have pretty children and the children go to school
And the children go to summer camp and then to the university
Where they are put in boxes and they come out all the same.

And the boys go into business and marry and raise a family
In boxes made of ticky tacky and they all look just the same."

Now originally I'm sure it was simply a lampoon of middle class suburbia and conformist nature of our society. But today, for me, it comes to mind when I think about the NCLB-induced professional time that is top-down with a avalanche of data and an incomprehensible amount of "boxes" and "hoops-to-jump-through."

I would like to argue that top-down system approaches are part of the problem and ultimately will fall under their own weight. I hear talk of professional learning communities and capacity-building, but at times become very discouraged by the weighty bureaucracy, mandates from above, and "blue-ribbon" panels of corporate executives and university officials pontificating abstractions unconnected to the realities of the common people.

We need fewer boxes . . . not more.

Is just doing more, faster, really the solution to the issues of our nation?

What do you think?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Research Brief: Creating Better Writers in Maine

Maine's Middle School Laptop Program: Creating Better Writers - Research Brief ~David L. Silvernail & Aaron K. Gritter, October 2007

University of Southern Maine ~ Center for Education Policy, Applied Research, and Evaluation

Collaborating with the Collaboration at Dirigo Middle

I made a quick trip up to Dixfield today to finalize the plan and contract with the wonderful educators at T W Kelley Dirigo Middle School. DOE now will have their IID MOU as required by the feds, and I will be able to devote considerable time to work with Dirigo teachers who are becoming mentors through the Western Maine Educational Collaborative Literacy Project. I'll be working with Sarah Sirois, eMINTS teacher Tania Clark, and others in supplementing the work of Darlene Bassett . . . although Darlene doesn't know it yet! :) In other words, we will be investigating more ways of integrating technology into the literacy initiative ideas. Let's just call it an augmented professional learning community! :)

See Mountain Valley Literacy Project Information
Literacy Across the Curriculum
Professional Learning Communities

OHMS - Team Planning Time & NoteShare

View Larger Map

I took an hour today to work with a team of teachers at Oxford Hills Middle School on the basics of NoteShare. Every child on their team already has had the experience. Whenever it is presented to teachers, it always brings excitement, and ideas on utilization start to be cultivated. Having the ACTEM NoteShare Server up and running today was very handy in showing what is available out there. Tomorrow, during a professional day, I'll be using the admin password to enable sharing on the teachers' iBooks.

Noteshare Resources

The Smell of Bacon at Climate & Culture Morning Meeting

You gotta love it. I connect with Mountain Valley Middle School as often as I can, being an additional resource for their literacy initiative and building-wide climate and culture focus. It is such a joy to observe the light-hearted social interaction of this staff combined with the serious work of school improvement. Today, as I arrive, a complete breakfast including the smell of bacon drew me to the home economics room where the staff gathers before the professional development meeting. Friendly place . . .nice touch.

This morning's topic was bullying. There's an enthusiastic and well-organized committee that leads the monthly late-arrival meeting devoted to school climate and culture.

Here's leadership that respects the group process, but perhaps more importantly, knows how to do it. The congeniality that comes from working through issues with patience in a collaborative manner shines through, mixing laughter and good humor with the more serious realities of working in a school. Want a model for PLC's? Look no further - they understand the concept at MVMS.

Today's task was to work in groups to try to come to a consensus on the consequences of different types of inappropriate language in the building. The discussion was to the point, relating to the realities. To me, the process was the important thing.

How is discipline and behavior management in buildings used to create a school that is friendly, caring, and encourages the best in each student as well as civility?

Behavior Management Resources

Rights & Responsibilities Resources
Process Skills
Classroom Management Resources
Character Resources
Bullying Resources

Professional Learning Communities

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Reality Check - Manufacturing Crisis in Education

A few articles that question some of the assumptions being made about education:

Public Education and Its Discontents by Gerald W. Bracey

Who to Trust? by Deborah Meier

Democracy Is All About Making Tough Choices by Deborah Meier

Great Ideas by Deborah Meier

The Pedagogy of Poverty Versus Good Teaching by Martin Haberman

It's the Curriculum, Stupid: There's Something Wrong with It by Dave F. Brown

No Child Left Behind: A Foolish Race Into the Past by David Marshak

Accountability for Promoting Democracy by Kenneth A. Sirotnik

Bridging the Culture Gap by Peter Sacks

In Technocracy We Trust by Sam Smith

Just Like Pastami by Lee Shulman

Educating a Democracy by Deborah Meier

Don't Weigh the Elephant - Feed the Elephant by Milton Chen

Teaching the Elephant
by David Brooks

Have any online articles on education that you would like to add?

ACTEM NoteShare Server

Crystal Priest of SAD #4 has set up the ACTEM NoteShare Server which gives us access to many excellent notebooks created by people in Maine. Many thanks to the excellent support and encouragement from Scott Love, president and developer of the program at Aquaminds.

The NoteShare application, which is on all MLTI laptops, is being discovered at an increasing rate by many teachers and students across the state. It is appreciated for its ability to pull together a variety of functions and resources in one place, organize them, and to then allow collaboration through several ways of sharing.

There is already quite a collection of quality notebooks. Barbara Greenstone and Phil Brookhouse have been working overtime in producing a large number of these books on a variety of topics. You really must check 'em out. :)

If I have this correct (Do correct me if I'm wrong, Scott), there are two ways of accessing the Maine server:

1. Through the NoteShare Application - Fire up Noteshare, go to SHARING:OPEN SHARED NOTEBOOK, PRESS THE + BUTTON, and add this address: . Choose the notebook you are interested in and downloaded it to your computer desktop by going to FILE:SAVE TO, and if you wish, edit it to meet your needs. Check with your building tech person or teacher-leader for the password to these gems.

2. Through a web browser. This is read-only.

Additional Information

ACTEM on NoteShare

Do you have a NoteShare notebook to share with the rest of Maine's educators?

Send Crystal Priest a note and she'll set you up. :)

Ready or Not here they come ... Maine Learning Results !

by Ed Latham

That's right, you heard about them before. You have plugged endless hours aligning curriculum. You saw them get pulled back for revision. You got to see some revisions and may have even had some input. Finally, they are back. Let the curriculum alignment frenzy commence!

Nancy Hudak just shared with me the link to Informational Letter #32 which officially posts that the learning results are ready for consumption. The letter provides a time line and encourages schools to start in on alignment. Included in the letter is a link to the revised learning results. I looked over some of the changes about a year ago so I guess it is time to look them over again with a bit more effort to determine what the changes are. Some people lived and breathed the first round of learning results and those people may benefit from a concise summary of "What has changed" very much like software producers release when the next version of their product comes out. If anyone has such an abbreviated update sheet, I am sure everyone reading this would love to see that. In the meantime, I need to figure out when I might be able to have some time to look over the new learning results. Oh, I said the T word again. Time is such an important commodity in the educational process as Jim previously posted in his post yesterday about constructivism needing time for the processing. Of course our leaders in the state house know about this important commodity and how necessary it is in order for real change to happen. I am anxious to see their version of extra time teachers will now have to really construct meaning for the learning result in their classroom. While waiting for the state's view on where that time is coming from, I guess I will go buy my winning Power Ball ticket so that I can experience two statistical miracles at once.

Happy aligning everyone!

Monday, October 22, 2007

I talk too much . . .

I talk too much. No question about it.

Part of it is fearing that others will think I'm not earning my pay unless I'm presenting. Now . . . I really know better . . . but . . .

Tonight I asked my eMINTS group to pick a topic that they teach and then gather resources for it, giving them some suggested links to use. Pure Web 1.0. We spent about 45 minutes on this until our evening meal of stuff shells was ready. (We have great cooks in this group).

After eating, everyone shared something about what they had found. I asked if this was worthwhile time and was surprised at the intensity of the response in favor of this "personal" time. Teachers need time to connect to their own work. We all do. Constructivism applies to everyone. We need time for connections!

Why is it that I have to keep re-learning this lesson?

I'll be quiet now ... .... .... ... . :)

Constructivism Resources

Piaget Resources
Dewey Resources

Gathering & Sharing Workshop at Telstar

Gathering & Sharing Agenda

Add a comment.

Skimming & Scanning

Does skimming and scanning come naturally . . . or does it need to be taught?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Expeditionary Schools in Maine

I've done some reading on expeditionary schools but have to admit my ignorance of the details of their operation. My understanding is that the King Middle School in Portland, the Casco Bay School in Portland, and the Bath Middle School are official sites. Any others?

Anyone in the know care to share how they work?

Expeditionary Learning Resources

Inquiry Learning & Webquests

Ever tried a webquest? If you have, you know that an authentic one requires an essential question and the following:


"A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented activity in which most or all of the information used by learners is drawn from the Web. WebQuests are designed to use learners' time well, to focus on using information rather than on looking for it, and to support learners' thinking at the levels of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation." ~ Bernie Dodge, the originator of the WebQuest

Webquest Resources
Inquiry Learning Resources
Bloom's Taxonomy Resources

Do you have a webquest to share or recommend?

Here is Sarah Sutter's Contribution:

Propaganda WebQuest at Wiscasset High School.