Saturday, January 12, 2008

Do you see what I see?

by Jeff Bailey

Note: This is a cross post from Maine Ideas in Education

As one of the staff members in my building that has the unofficial responsibility of supporting technology integration I am constantly re-explaining how to set up, configure, build or find things for teachers. We recently changed our web publishing tool in district and somehow I got tagged with the responsibility of training anyone who was interested in how to make and maintain their web page on the school server. I could already see the 40 separate one-on-one sessions I was going to have to have to explain the nuances of the process and I wondered how I would survive. As in most cases, I was able to find a technology tool that would help me be more productive.

A screen cast when you use a program to record what is happening on your computer screen. Most of these tools let you include audio (usually your voice) from your computer's microphone. This is perfect for those of you who have to explain things on a computer screen often. Screen capture is similar but only takes a still image of your screen and some screen capture programs let you draw on, circle and type on top of the image to point things out or give direction. Surprisingly, many of these tools, which used to cost money, are free! Here are some I've played with.

Jing. This is the best one I have used so far. It is a program that you will need to download from their web page, but it is free. It's available for PC and Mac, and can be running in the background until you need it. It does video, audio, screen cast, screen capture and lets you edit the pictures you take. Additionally, it has some great sharing features that let you save the file on your machine, on your free account (comes with the program), ftp, or even embed the code into a blog or web page. You can even share on Flickr. Great tools and really helpful tech support (I ran into a small snag with installing but the staff responded quickly and efficiently).

. This is downloadable software that offers a 30-day free trial (after that it's quite pricey). But, for 30 days you get the fully functional version that lets you do basically all that Jing does more smoothly and integrates with PowerPoint, lets you add audio during recording or after and even has an editing function that lets you fine tune your screen cast. This is great if you want to make a really powerful presentation and you can do it in the 30 day window. It appears to be a PC product only. This blogger says you can get a free older version of Camtasia until January 7th, 2008. So if you like this tool, get it now.

For those of you who are not allowed to add programs to your school computer, there is an online tool alternative to these. is an online, free screen casting tool. It lets you define the area of the screen you'd like recorded, lets you choose to use audio and will let you download the finished file or share it on their website. It's honestly a little murky in terms of the screen clarity, and sometimes the audio skips a bit, but as far as a free way to try out screen casting, this is a great place to start. No need to install software, but you'll want a high speed connection to work with, and you might need to update your Java (the site links to Java's update page to see if you have the right one so it's a free easy fix if you don't). Works with Mac or PC. The nice part about this site though, is that you can look for screen casts others have done in a searchable database (why reinvent the wheel when someone already has the definitive "How to use Screencast-o-matic Screen cast").

So what would a teacher in a classroom use these tools for? They have many implications beyond technology training. For example, imagine a writing teacher recording his/her writing and thought process in a video file to share with students how they plan, draft and edit. Imagine taking students on a tour of a website like Wikipedia and pointing out want makes it a credible source and what to look for when doing research citations. Or making a screen cast or capture of your class or school website for as a tour for parents and community.

Even better yet, why not have students make screen casts to edit each others papers (think aloud peer editing), review websites, teach how to use a program, or voice over in a foreign language. Why not have students make screen casts teaching staff how to use technology tools? There are all kinds of possibilities here when you start sharing what you see with others.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Stratification in School

by Ed Latham

Professional sports have constantly adjusted to ensure that new and existing talent is spread out among all of the teams in the sport. There have been some swings in different sports where one team seems really stacked or one team looks like it has some high school kids playing in the pros. These variances do not stay in place for long because each league runs directly from the money revenues from all of its teams and not just the best one. Another philosophy at work is to keep fan interest in every team by having a few star players on each team to give the fan a reason to watch the product. It is too bad that professional sports can not look to the education system to learn about how to spread things out.

I get to work with many wonderful staff. In every discussion about teacher composition, discussions come up about this personality or that personality. The level of consistency has allowed some to even make up education simulation games that include personalities and attitudes that are present in every system. How is this possible? We have little schools, big schools, ethnically diverse schools, economically advantaged systems, as well as poor systems and yet with all of the variables that differentiate schools from each other we can point to personalties or habits that seem to exist in every staff.

I was recently in a wonderful Math Leadership (AML) meeting in Bangor. The session was centered around the concept of how change happens in school and what strategies are most effective. One new concept for me was the idea that every group of people has 5 types of Adopter Types. When a change is presented, people will adopt that change at different rates.

Innovators will jump right in and play while learning. Leaders will be excited about the ideas but show a bit more restraint and thought before jumping on board. Early Majority types will be keen on the idea, but they must see some level of success in others before they will jump on board. Late Majority people sit back and wait until they "have to" try it out before they start on the path. Then we have our Resisters that feel the change is a total waste of time and not worth their attention.

I knew about these divisions to some extent, but I was shocked to hear about how all 5 parties show up in almost any organization of people when a change is started. This includes business, governments and other parties. This brings to mind many questions. I would love to hear people's response or ideas concerning the following...

1). Is it possible to assemble a staff of Innovators or maybe Innovators and Leaders to make up a school? This staff would be very open to changes and shifts. Is that a good thing? Would there be a constant state of change? Most importantly, over time would this group stratify to form the 5 groups (Innovators, Leaders, Early Majority, Late Majority, Resisters)?

2). Do the Adopter types shift depending on the nature of the Change? It seems logical that we all may be more open to some changes and more resistant to other changes, but how do those thoughts and feelings drive our professional efforts in the field? In our roles do we actively shift our Adopter role depending on the nature of the change at hand?

3). Education has been criticized by many for being particularly slow to change over any number of years. Education seems to always be "behind the curve", "way off balance", or "not on track". Listening to more experienced teachers, they all can point to the cyclic nature of Education trends. Why is it that Businesses can adapt to changes and move on but the perception is that Education is constantly chasing it's tail?

We always plan things in Education, we may even start out on a path, but then things die out and resume to some "norm" only to wait until the wave starts up again. Some have claimed that if the Leviathan that is Education can not become a more flexible and adaptive system, our culture and quality of life will suffer in just a few generations. With 4 teenagers at home, I am already afraid of the signs I see from today's younger generation.

Our kids will be competing on a more global level than any proceeding generation. Data has been collected over the last few decades demonstrated some dramatic educational differences between countries. Do those systems have the same inability to change? If they do, how do they deal with change? Our team, (USA ED System), seems to be loosing something and falling behind in the league. Is it a manager's job to change it? Does the responsibility fall to the coaching staff? How about the players? What role do they have? Do the fans have any part in helping things get better? In sports, the answer to all of these questions is at least a partial yes! Sadly our Educational team continually stratifies into differing factions and the energy out there waxes and wanes as innovations burn out trying to light a fire made up of a wide variety of flammable and inflammable materials.

by Ed Latham


Lots of great resources at the Down East Educational Partnership.

Literacy for ME

Literacy for ME

PDF for Universal Literacy Elements for Deeper and More Powerful Content Learning

Noteshare Web Notebook on Universal Literacy Elements

Jill Spencer's Portaportal on ULE

Jill Spencer's Maine Literacy Portaportal

For Mac users -- NoteShare notebook is available in Jill Spencer’s public folder on iDisk: Finder/Go/iDisk/Other User’s Public Folder (member name: jillspencer)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


My father grew up on a farm and then worked as a welder in the Rumford papermill as an adult, not a job he particularly liked, but one that paid the bills of a household of five children and a wife. His hobby was reading everything he could about the stock market, buying stock, and following the ups and downs in the morning paper.

My mother grew up in a Franco-American home with 8 brothers and sisters where French was the primary language and English the second language. During the Depression, they all lived on her grandparents' farm in order to survive. Due to poverty, she was not able to attend high school. Nevertheless, she was, and is at 86, a voracious reader and life-long learner.

Some of my parents' expectations:

1. "Supper" was a sacrament and we were expected to be there.
2. There's always room for one more at the table.
3. Treat people of all stations of life with equal respect.
4. Do your best.
5. It was never explicitly talked about, but simply "understood" that all their children would become college graduates. And so it became . . .

Jim - B.A. economics, UMO
Bob - B.S. civil engineering, UMO
Sue - B.A. art, Goddard
Mike - B.S. education/social work, UMF
Dave - B.S. business, UMO

How did your parents make a difference in your life?

What is your story?

Aspirations: 8 Conditions

Monday, January 7, 2008

Interactive Whiteboard Workshop

We are investigating ways of making use of interactive whiteboards this afternoon at the Crescent Park School in Bethel. Here's the agenda. We'll be making use of the small, portable variety of Smartboards and the excellent software that comes with them.