Saturday, October 4, 2008

One-Room Schoolhouses

I dropped into the one-room schoolhouse at the Fryeburg Fair this morning. This got me to wondering about the advantages of a small community of learners. We've all heard about how inefficient they are, about how larger schools provide more opportunities . . . but might there possibly be more ways of looking at a situation than through mere efficiency? Is efficiency the only measure of progress?

Wikipedia: One-Room School

The One-Room Schoolhouse Resource Center

Maine Memory Network: Otisfield Schoolhouses.

One Room Schoolhouses of Minot, Maine

History of Maine Education

Are there any one-room schools still in operation in Maine? If there are, I'll bet they have superb per student bandwidth for the Internet "Global Village."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

PDF Readers - Undiscovered Classroom Tools

It is easy enough to turn just about any proprietary file into a pdf that can be universally used. It is built into OS X, but there are many online sites which will do the job as well for any computer that doesn't have that local capability.

To read a pdf, one needs a program called a reader. Apple provides Preview with its products, but one can easily download Adobe Reader as well. There is also a neat freeware application called Skim. Each one of these does its primary task of opening up PDF documents, which is enough all in itself, and that is the only thing that most people need done.

But . . . . the simple powers within these readers are usually overlooked. While you can't alter the text in the original document, you can mark it up to your heart's delight. That means highlighting, using arrows, stickies, and even more. After the document has been annotated, it can be saved with those updates and sent to someone else, who can, in turn, add thoughts, suggestions, etc. Simple, but powerful.