Friday, January 4, 2008

The Maine National Guard and the Adventure Program

Today I found myself catching up on paperwork (or perhaps a better term would be organizational-work) in my tiny cubicle on the perimeter of the Oxford Hills Middle School library. This is often a great place to be because (1) there is a wealth of AC outlets within easy reach, and (2) as a multi-purpose area, I am often introduced unexpectedly to many special activities that are happening in the school. Today was no exception when seventy-five 7th graders filed in and two national guard instructors. I was about to experience the 2nd day of the Adventure Program that has a history at this school. Students have two classes on decision-making, cooperative learning, and team-building . . . and in the Spring will go to Bog Brook for outward-bound type activities.

Although this Maine program is not without controversy, I was impressed with the focus, which was process skills, and the enthusiasm of the facilitators.

This particular activity today was to have students work as teams to develop an egg-catcher, given a set of materials with which to work. It culminated with a contest to see which worked the best. Students described how they created their "catcher" and the reasoning behind it. Engaged Learning!

Do our schools have something to learn from military training methods?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Taming the Beast

There seems to be a coming-of-age event that people of my generation are increasingly experiencing, if not thoroughly enjoying. I am speaking of the wondrous colonoscopy. I will spare you the specific details, but suffice it to say, should you have airs of self-righteousness or a certain holier-than-thou dignity, it certainly quite effectively pulls you back down to earth. I speak from personal experience over the past 2 days. :)

But on a high note . . . I also finally got my chance to read Jason Ohler's Taming the Beast - Choice & Control in the Electronic Jungle (1999) which I had bought months ago on Amazon. I had frequently visited Ohler's website, so I was no stranger to the questions he has been asking. Both his work and that of Neil Postman play much into my own thinking about the place of information and technology in our schools and culture. My view: Jason Ohler gets it!

Sure would be great to have him as a conference speaker in Maine for a refreshing viewpoint. What do you think?

More Jason Ohler Links

Medical Sites:


Mayo Clinic
Jackson GI Care
Medicine Plus

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

iMovie 8 and Atomic Learning

Okay, I'll admit that I had been putting off learning how to do iMovie 8 after looking at it briefly this fall. I had grown so accustomed to the earlier format which had been quite consistent through the iterations to this point. Now Apple has the audacity to plunk this foreign-looking application in front of me! But you know what . . . it ain't so bad. Since I'll be using iMovie 8 on the MLTI MacBooks to introduce movie-making to Vocational Region 9 - School of Applied Tech next Tuesday, I thought it just might make sense that I know what I'm doing before I do the workshop . . . so in comes Atomic Learning to the rescue!

Atomic learning is the only paid subscription I have on the web and well worth the $75 or so to renew each year. Now if I were a young whipper-snapper (what so many people insist on calling digital natives), I might just figure it out on the fly, but I'm afraid I feel a great deal more comfort in having this powerful set of video tutorials in my trunk of resources. So after shoveling out at my small rustic home in Western Maine this morning, I'm spending the afternoon with the convenient, high-quality, just-in-time learning that Atomic Learning provides. I'll view the instruction, play with the application a bit, and then create a project that will make me feel comfortable that I can teach it to others, knowing that I can always review the tutorials anytime that I missed something the first time.

This all makes me wonder why there is any need for programs/applications to be taught locally or at regional or state-wide workshops unless there is also a connection made with utilization and application to needs and issues. I, of course, do realize that we all have different learning styles and the power of learning something with others in the same room can be very motivating and satisfying. Building community is important. Working with others to come up with solutions to real problems is the essence . . . but there is a place for independent life-long learning as well, and increasingly, quality online resources are out there to serve that need.

Where do you suppose it is all leading? What will education look like in 20 years? Any predictions? Hopes?

Apple iLife iMovie 8 Tutorials

Info about iMovie Capabilities at GeeThree
Unlocking iMovie 8 Blog
Andy Dickinson iMovie 8 Review
MacWorld iMovie 8 Review
Download iMovie HD 6.0.3
Pogue: Apple Takes a Step Back with iMovie '08

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Do You Remember These?

Readers who are old-timers might connect with some of the images expressed in this Statler Brothers song. Or here is another version from YouTube . . .

This leads me to these questions:

Are we sharing the stories of our cultural past with our children? Are connections being made from one generation to the next in a meaningful manner? Does it matter?

Oral History Interview Resources

Timeline Resources

Resources for Twentieth Century Music, History and Culture


Keith Kelley's "Half the Man"

Digital Storytelling Resources

Maine Memory Network

Windows on Maine

Northeast Historic Film