Monday, December 29, 2008

Writing Prompts & Idea Generators

Writing Prompts

Idea Generators

How to Write a Book

Write and Publish Your Book

So You Want to Write a Book?

The Known Universe

Scott Love of AquaMinds shares "The Known Universe":
"Teeming with life. Social, electronic digital life. That's how I see the Internet. Deep and mysterious at times but always rich in content and information. How does one find it and then share it? I like to use NoteShare as a tool for aggregating information and content but also using it as a terrific way to share and publish discoveries. From another point of view, one can easily imagine this same process of gathering resources (we called them readings in college) and creating the super syllabus of the 21st century course notebook. And I've seen evidence already by middle school teachers who are way beyond the experts and ivory tower researchers when it comes to integrating and exploring the vast information riches of the Internet for classroom use. Teachers and librarians are cool!" ~ Scott Love

Link to Noteshare Web Notebook, "The Known Universe"

AquaMinds Weblog: Web Agents, NoteShare and Collaborative List Building and Note-Taking

Ann Marie Quiron Hutton's Video Noteshare Tutorials
Noteshare Server for OS X

"There Ought to Be a Law"

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Will I Succumb to High Tech Reading?

by Becky Ranks

I tend to be an Oprah follower. I read her magazine, buy some of her recommended products, and read some of, but not all of her book choices. I actually even take some of her advice, and I find myself even more aware of the needs of people less fortunate as a result. Well, about a month ago Oprah came out with the ultimate recommendation...she actually blessed a piece of high tech equipment with her golden touch. That equipment is the Kindle. The Kindle is a wireless reading device unlike any other device on the market. It uses cell phone technology that enables you to buy books and newspapers from anywhere you might be. It has an electronic paper display that provides a sharp, high resolution screen that reads like real paper. It holds up to 200 books and has a long battery life. Everyone who owns one seems to love it and they claim it has changed the way they read. It is so wildly popular that you have to get in line on the Amazon site to purchase one. They sold out before December on Amazon. I am teetering on the brink of Kindle ownership. I am a reader. I love to read and read all kinds of different things. I am reading Twilight at the moment, but I may be reading a biography in the next moment or a thriller after that. I just finished reading The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, an Oprah book, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think I might want a Kindle. The operative words are "think" and "might". I still love the touch and the feel of a real book. I love turning the pages and placing my Harry Potter bookmark in the crease when I put the book down. I love the smell of a book. I love the way it feels in my hands as I escape on whatever journey it takes me on. I might want a Kindle, but I am not sure. Reading is reading isn't it? Or is it? I would love to know if kindle owners regret their decision. Are there a lot of Kindles on eBay? That might tell me something. I love technology and new gadgets, but I am not sure if this new gadget will rob me of that real reading experience that I cherish. Is there anyone out there who has succumbed that might offer some advice?

Social Networking Pros & Cons

Question: Is online social networking socially enhancing or socially isolating?

The Economist Debate on Social Networking in Education

Horizon Project: Social Networking
Connecting Safely - Social Networking Dangers in Perspective
The Dangers of Social Networking
Washington Post: Social Isolation Is Growing in the U.S.

"No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service Learning"

Jeff 'n Dan of Western Maine present Show #49 (7X7) on Wicked Decent Learning.

TeLL MAINE Teaching, Leading & Learning Survey

Results Link

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Free Technology for Teachers

Congratulations to Western Maine teacher, Richard Byrne for winning the 2008 Edublog Award for Best Resource Sharing Blog! If you aren't already a regular visitor to Richard's site, you really owe it to yourself to see his superb work. Maine is proud of you, Richard.

How Are We Using Our Wireless Gift?

"We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." -Albert Einstein

I often forget that not all schools around our nation have wireless capabilities. In Maine, we are blessed to be the recipients of the forward-looking decisions made to create the MSLN and then the MLTI laptop program which, in turn, leveraged the creation of wireless networks in our schools and libraries. How are we using it?

Karl Fisch of "Did You Know" fame makes an excellent case for the importance of WIFI in schools here.

Questions: How are we using our WIFI capabilities? Is it transforming our school model or just a distraction of the status quo?

"The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn." - Alvin Toffler

Thursday, December 18, 2008

"Hit the Road, Jack"

I know that many would disagree, but more and more, every day, I am finding YouTube and Wikipedia to be the most wondrous tools for learning. More and more, authority-based information, filtered by established elite, seems highly over-rated if not even of questionable validity.

Yes, I do know the warnings . . . from librarians, educators, and the keepers of the firewall and holy scripts - but, you know what - the genie is out of the bottle, the cat is out of the bag, the apple of consciousness has been eaten. We are no longer in Eden. We are simply in denial if we pretend that we can put the lid back on Pandora's box and everything will be as it was before. It is now a different game, and we need to learn the new rules and how to ethically work and play within this changed narrative.

YouTube is being used by many as a vehicle to develop their talents by sharing and building specialized communities. We all need audiences and encouragement in some form or another.

An example: Ulli Bogershausen is a famous German solo guitarist and teacher of guitar. He is an inspiration to South Korean child guitar prodigy, Sungha Jung,. YouTube, mentoring, the circle of life continues . . .

Sungha Jung's MySpace Page

What do you think?

Monday, December 15, 2008

ArtReach at Telstar Middle

Last Wednesday evening I had the opportunity to observe part of the ArtReach project at Telstar Middle School that this year is centering its work and learning on helping to support the Harvest Hills Animal Shelter in Fryeburg. Under the leadership of art teacher, Melissa Prescott, students had earlier visited the shelter, interviewed the staff, and created a polished video documenting the experience using the laptop iMovie program. The evening events started with a presentation of the documentary and then continued with an auction of donated works of art by area artists as well as the sale of student art with school superintendent, David Murphy, acting as auctioneer. Subsequently, student musicians, under the leadership of Tom Coolidge, performed for the audience.

There are great connections here. It is a powerful model for what education should be all about, with the integration of real-world needs, community involvement, citizenship, empowering technology, inspired teachers, and engaged students. Congratulations, Telstar!

Sun Journal Article
Melissa Prescott's Classroom Project Blog
Melissa's Art Portaportal
Digital Storytelling
Video 1 Workshop
Video 2 Workshop

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Monday, December 8, 2008

Transforming Learning with Technology

Essential Question: How do we use technology in a classroom?

Crescent Park School, 3:30 - 7:30, Agenda

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Sticky Notes

Mainers, Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz, of Diet Coke/Mentos YouTube fame, experiment with the many uses of stickies:

WikiHow: How to Use Sticky Notes
Wikipedia: Post-It Notes . . . history and background
Awesome Alternative Uses for the Humble Post-It Note

What uses do you have for stickies?
(Click here to share in "LIM Discussion")

Related Links:

The Odd Company
Celebration Theater
Eepy Bird
Oddfellow Theater

Photo Credit: Bah Hoonchback @ OddFellow Theater in Buckfield, Maine

Federal Secretary of Education?

U.S. Department of Education

Here are some different viewpoints on who should be the next Secretary of Education gathered from Google News.

Amanda Ripley @ Time
David Brooks @ NY Times
Dan Brown @ Huffington Post
Seyward Darby @ The New Republic
Washington Post Editorial

Google Alert on New Secretary

Who do you prefer for the position?

"A distinguishing characteristic of our nation — and a great strength — is the development of our institutions within the concept of individual worth and dignity. Our schools are among the guardians of that principle. Consequently . . . and deliberately their control and support throughout our history have been — and are — a state and local responsibility. . . . Thus was established a fundamental element of the American public school system — local direction by boards of education responsible immediately to the parents of children. Diffusion of authority among tens of thousands of school districts is a safeguard against centralized control and abuse of the educational system that must be maintained. We believe that to take away the responsibility of communities and states in educating our children is to undermine not only a basic element of our freedoms but a basic right of our citizens." ~President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Pros & Cons of Twitter

Twitter - What are you doing?

CommonCraft "In Plain English"

Twitter4Teachers Wiki
Twitter as a News Source
Tweeting the Terror: How Social Media Reacted to Mumai

Essential Question: What is the upside and downside of Twitter?

Cartoon Credit

Essential Question: What do we gain and lose from using Twitter?

Cartoon Credit

Why Teens Don't Tweet

Something New: Tweach!
50 Ways to Use Twitter in the College Classroom

Hurray for Western Maine!

by Richard Byrne

The official 2008 Edublog Awards nominees were announced last night. Four people from Western Maine were nominated. Jim Burke was nominated in the category of Best Educational Wiki 2008 for the Learning in Maine wiki. Jeff and Dan at Wicked Decent Learning were nominated for Best Educational Use of Audio. My blog Free Technology for Teachers was nominated for Best Resource Sharing Blog.

The voting is open now. You can see the full list of nominees and place your votes here.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Maine Tech Integrators List

A list is being compiled of Maine educators involved in using technology in schools. Please help by adding/updating your information as well as that of others your know. Also think about adding areas that you have expertise in and would be willing to share with others. Roles/titles are not important . . . only that individuals are promoting the use of technology in education in some way and are willing to share.

Edit List Here
Photo Credit


A "thank you" to Michael Richards of Notes from Millie D for introducing me to iSpeech.

Monday, November 24, 2008

21st Century English Framework

The Partnership for 21st Skills and National Council of Teachers of English have created a new framework for teaching 21st Century skills in English classes.

PDF for English Class Download

Partnership for 21st Century Skills


Maine school budgets are being curtailed. Superintendents are scrambling to find ways to balance their spreadsheets. In many cases, this is going to have to involve reducing or eliminating professional development days and travel, among many other cuts.

Question: We know the downside, but what are the opportunities?

Poster Generators

Lemonade Stand (Cool Math)
Lemonade Stand (ClassBrain)
Lemonade Stand (PrimaryGames)
Lemonade Stand (4WebGames)

Photo Credit

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Chris Lehmann & Others on Change

Thanks to Nathaniel Porter of View from the Corner Room I've been pointed to the direction of a couple of Chris Lehmann presentations.

K12 Online Conference (Lehmann bio and slower presentation)
Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach: 21st Century Collaborative
Dimensions Of Change
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: maineducation08)

Essential Question: How do we go about making change?

Sunday, November 16, 2008


“Wisdom ceases to be wisdom when it becomes too proud to weep, too grave to laugh, and too selfish to seek other than itself.” ~ Kahlil Gibran

Wisdom Quotes
ThinkExist: Wisdom Quotes
BrainyQuote: Wisdom Quotes

"Where ever you are, be there totally." ~ Eckhart Tolle

Amazon: The Wisdom of Crowds
Wikipedia: The Wisdom of Crowds
Wikipedia: Crowd Psychology

Question: Are crowds wise . . . . or merely smart? Or neither?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Internet Resources at the Little Yellow Schoolhouse

Essential Question: How are Internet resources effectively and efficiently located and organized?

Agenda Link

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Ideal School of the Future

Jim writes:
I hope this is not a taboo subject.

I have immense respect for the caring and hard working educators I've had the privilege of knowing and working with throughout the years, but after spending 38 years in education, not much seems to have changed except that there is more bureaucracy, less academic freedom, and greatly increased stress. This is true nation-wide. Am I wrong? And yet, the world is a very different place. Everything is getting smaller and faster . . . except probably my body and mind. ;)

Are we going in the right direction?

With the exponential changes happening in technology right now, is the Twentieth Century model still viable? Will just working harder and smarter using the same school model, while collecting and sorting immense amounts of data, lead to better citizens and workers? Perhaps it will, but I'm not convinced.

I am interested in knowing your thoughts. Are you satisfied with the present direction? If not, what would you propose? What would your ideal school of the future look like?

Mary Mackinnon writes:

Here is one point of view from Joe Renzulli

Heather Westleigh writes:

Thank you to Jim for bringing this important question. Thanks to Mary for bringing this paper. I have to admit I have not made it through the entire text, but this excerpt from the opening jumps out at me, as it is what I have been saying for years (although I absorbed some of the logic from reading Gardner):

"We have become so obsessed with content standards and test scores that assess mainly memory, that we have lost sight of the most important outcomes of schooling -- thinking, reasoning, creativity and problem solving skills that allow young people to use the information driven by content standards in interesting and engaging ways."

...the article also talks about learning styles. I'm impressed so far.

More important than teaching facts is teaching how to think about facts, in my opinion. In a world of information, I shudder to think of all the misinformation that we all absorb every day. Without critical thinking skills we create a future that was all too obvious during the election. Aside from political affiliation, it was awful to hear people talk about voting for Palin because "she is hot" and not Obama because "he is Muslim". To be even more impartial I can quote people who told me they would never vote for Palin because she is a woman, or would vote for Obama because he is young. This type of thinking warps our (already thin) social fabric. Even more frightening is that these quotes are from adults, not students. (no, they were not joking) This shift in education is not new, but has been a slow progression. To be fair to schools, the problem is one without walls. It seems to be a social epidemic, fed from many directions.

More important than whether we agree with the direction is whether or not we can do anything about it. I worry that teachers are in the same position as students. We react to rules and legislation that we have no part in making. We are told that this is just how it is. We WILL use standards-based grading. If we don't like it, then what? We leave? I still have a child in the system. I am still a member of the community. I adore my students. How do I make myself heard and make change in 'the system' if I believe it is harming our children?

Deborah Meier "Educating a Democracy"
Jamie McKenzie: "You Can't Fatten a Pig by Weighing It"
President Dwight D. Eisenhower on "Democracy, Freedom, and Education"
Singularity Summit 2008 Reviewed

Scott Love writes:
It's a very relevant topic for everyone. Other sites are approaching this discussion as well from other viewpoints as educators in higher education. Here is a site that was referred to me from another teacher in Maine. Very good discussion.

My dream is that we can give every family and child a more individual learning path as enabled by leveraging digital tools, applied cognitive science and the ever present teacher as mentor guiding our life long pursuits. Some call it the disruptive class. I call it the age of the mentors.

Speaking as a parent, I am constantly worried about the drill and kill approach that seems to be the regime of choice. We create grouping standards but we don't really know why anymore. I think the revolution starts one classroom at a time. One teacher at a time. One family at a time. One lawmaker at a time.

If I compare Maine to my own state of California, Maine's approach to education is much more progressive by any measure. For starters, we're forced to teach by textbooks. Sounds like a minor issue but believe me, it's a factor in how and what teachers in California actually focus on. I like the idea of the teacher picking and choosing readings.

The ideal school for me personally is a university of the mind where we recognize student's have different strengths and abilities. That we can actually understand them and appreciate other factors in how we learn.

That we can teach to their personal strengths and modalities. And that we have more time for learning and exploring, not just preparing for the next STAR test. And we would be able to meet not only in person but in cyberspace too for informal lectures, Second Life events, etc. Maybe even listen to a lecture from a teacher as hologram using the Feynman avatar.

And I'm sure Asimov would have loved this discussion too.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Phishing Scams

From the good people at CommonCraft, "Phishing Scams in Plain English"

Essential Question: How do we stay safe?

"It's Time"

Thanks to Barbara Greenstone for twittering this link of student videos. Whether you support the products or not, it's engaging stuff. Original music, great singing, fantastic choreography, and first-class video technique. Click on picture.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

Getting Started with Telstar3

Today a new Western Maine Custom Learning & Technology Community will be starting at SAD#44.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Ego and Education

"The most common ego identifications have to do with possessions, the work you do, social status and recognition, knowledge and education, physical appearance, special abilities, relationships, personal and family history, belief systems, and often political, nationalistic, racial, religious, and other collective identifications. None of these is you."

~ Eckart Tolle
We've got to convince our egos and our minds that if we want to live happy lives,love is more important than anything else.

~ Ken Keyes

I've been thinking about this thing called "ego" lately. It seems to me that while a good healthy ego is very helpful in getting things done, too often a perversion can happen which gets in the way of us working together as teams and collaborative groups. I can't disagree that we all need to feel loved and capable, but when we lose appreciation for others because our egos become inflated, all our efforts become diminished at best and counter-productive at worst. Antidote: playfulness, good humor, ability to actively listen . . . and love.

And, yes, I'm guilty of ego inflation! :)

"Don't judge any man until you have walked two moons in his moccasins."
Active Listening at LIM Resources
Process Skills at LIM Resources
Are You an Egomaniac?
Signs of an Over-Inflated Ego

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Current Events in the Classroom

I met with Joan Parker of Oxford Hills Adult Education yesterday to discuss and create a plan for adding more of a digital component to her class on current events for adults. I had to admit my neophyte status in this area, but Joan patiently helped me understand her approach and what she had in mind.

This got me to thinking. I now realize that a current events class is the perfect environment for inquiry-based learning. It seems to me that the 21st Century skills (Courtesy of Curriculum 2.0 New Literacy Wiki) can be approached in a very holistic and constructivist manner with the following essential questions:
So the challenge now is chew on this for a bit and then to create a plan that will best fit adult learner needs. I think I'll be starting with Who Do You Trust? and modify it for the situation.

Any advice? Your thoughts?

Current Events Resources at LIM Wiki

Photo Credit

Monday, October 20, 2008

URLS according to Dewey Decimal System

Just discovered this site this evening, thanks to Telstar Music Teacher, Tom Coolidge.

A Research Guide for Students by I. Lee.

Virtual Library of Useful URLS Arranged by Dewey Decimal Classification:

000-005 Computers / Reference
006-099 Computers / Reference
100 Philosophy / Psychology
200 Religion / Mythology
300-331 Social Sciences
332-337 Social Sciences
338-349 Social Sciences
350-369 Social Sciences
370-371 Social Sciences
372-399 Social Sciences
400 Language
500-539 Science / Math
540-599 Science / Math
600-628 Technology / Health / Business
629-699 Technology / Health / Business
700-779 Arts / Music / Sports
780-799 Arts / Music / Sports
800 Literature
900-919 History / Geography
920-940 History / Geography
941-999 History / Geography

WebQuests with TelstarToo

Wondering about WebQuests

Blogs in Portland Schools

For an example of school use of blogs, check out the Portland Public School Department Blog Server.

What makes blogging desirable for schools? See Joe Makley's post here.

Who else has some examples to share of blog use in Maine schools?

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Maine Science Teachers

Wow . . . just discovered MSTA Web Online Home of the Maine Science Teacher's Association. It is full of excellent links and resources. Good stuff!

WDL: Episode 41 ACTEM MainEducation 08 Debrief

From the Ground Round in Augusta, a post-conference debrief of the ACTEM MainEd Conference by Jeff, Dan, and esteemed guests of Wicked Decent Learning. Show notes have some excellent links to happenings at the conference.


Friday, October 17, 2008

"CoverItLive" of MainEducation 2008 Conference

Deborah White's Live Blogs

Sarah Sutter's Live Blogging of Round Table Discussion and Building Your Network.

Mark Spahr's Live Blogging of Jim's Best of the Web 2008, Digital Toolkit for Creating Digital Learners, Keynote with Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, and The Web and You (Collectively).

Any others?

MainEducation 2008

Miss the ACTEM MainEducation 2008 Conference at the August Civic Center? I did . . . as I was presenting at the the Maine Adult Education Conference at Sunday River and thoroughly enjoying it, gaining a much better understanding of the issues of adult learners. . . but . . . thanks to the great work of Michael Richards and many others who put their work online and recorded many of the sessions through blogs, wikis, live blogs, photos, etc., I am now able to attend asynchronously though missing the face-to-face contact that is always welcomed.

Check out Michael's compilation here at ACTEM's Web 2.0 One Stop Shopping. There is an incredible wealth of information to help stay in the loop. Thank you, everyone!

FREE Conference Calls with Skype

As the need to be fiscally responsible becomes more important than ever, I'd like to share Skype's tutorial regarding how to conference call. Up to 24 people (or computers, really) can be involved in a conference call. I have personally "attended" Jim Burke's Blogging Workshop in Norway from the comfort of my own kitchen using Skype. It worked beautifully. Take a look at this tutorial and give it a try!

Blasting Away with Blogs

MAEA Conference, Friday, October 17, 7:30 - 10:15, Simonds

“One of the reasons we fear these technologies is because we as teachers don’t yet understand them or use them. But the reality is that our students already do. It’s imperative that we be able to teach our kids how to use the tools effectively and appropriately because right now they have no models to follow.”

~ Will Richardson

Essential Question: How can classroom communication and collaboration be enhanced with the use of blogs?

Connectivity and Warming Up

Blog Definition/Description

Why Blog?
View Blogs
Create a Blog

Promote Your Blog

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day 2008

by Joe Makley

Today, October 15, 2008, is a day that bloggers around the world have been asked to speak on poverty, (to "shake the web," actually.) In this forum, we often hear reference to the flattening and equalizing effects of technology access in education, and I can say I have seen it first hand, in Maine, where more than one low income MLTI student has blossomed after receiving his/her 1-1 device. The OLPC program, even in its reduced form, is making great headway, especially in parts of South America. Sites like Kiva really show the muscle of the read-write web for social change. Is anyone currently operating a classroom project using Kiva?