Day One Straight Ahead/Goals for the year

Although we, as teachers, were back in school last week, today is the first day for our students to return and I am antsy and nervous/excited as always. I already know some of my students from my role as Student Council advisor and through a claymation summer camp that some of them took with me in July. But still …

tiger

I have a few goals for this year:

  • Continue with Youth Radio podcast site (I was interviewed by a writer from The Reading Teacher journal about the project this weekend, so that is pretty exciting to get some recognition on that level)
  • I want to try to use a Wiki for kids to create a Make Your Own Ending story, allowing them to map out and craft a story that jumps from wiki page. Still working on the thinking of that one.
  • Since I have moved blogging platforms (from Manila to Edublogs) for my classroom site, I want to try to use the blog even more with my students as writers. I think I will miss the ability to thread discussion but will enjoy the ease of use. We’ll see how the students react to blogging. I intend to try a simple activity this week after an introduction to what a blog is and how you use it, and what responsibilities students have as bloggers.
  • We are being required to pump more math into the heads of our students this year and I would like to find some ways to use technology for projects that support the math curriculum at our school.

Peace (with prospects),
Kevin

RSS and Wikis made simple (sort of)

These two videos are more great intros into two Web 2.0 tools: RSS feeds and Wikis. They are engaging and informative and, well, fun to watch (who can ask for more). They are done by Commoncraft. This post has been sitting in my blog files for months and kept getting bumped for other things so I decided it was time to get it off the floor.

Check the videos out:

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Peace (from my feeds),
Kevin

Classroom 2.0 Grows and Grows

I was reminded of how fast the Classroom 2.0 social networking site has grown since I climbed aboard the Ning train a few months ago (there were just a few hundred folks then in the network created by Steve H.) when the site was featured on the main Ning Blog Page as an example of an active community.

It said that the Classroom 2.0 site now has more than 2,500 members! Wow! That’s is a lot of exploration and discussion and sharing of resources going on among educators, and there is a wealth of knowledge and experience there. So go ahead, check it out and join the network (if nothing else, you can see what social networking is all about)

Classroom%2020.jpg

Gina Bianchini (one of the Ning developers) had this to say:

I’ve got to believe the classroom is a more fun and productive place when you have teachers who are creatively and passionately bringing social software into the mix. The teachers in Classroom 2.0 are leading by example.

Peace (in networks),
Kevin

Participatory Media — a funny take

So why has “participatory media” become the buzzword at newspapers? ‘Cause they are scared of the real power of the new media. This is a very funny take on responses from newspaper editors and columnists (George Won’t, anyone?) and how they are taking steps to bring more regular Joes and Josephines into the mix (yeah, right).

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Peace (with participation),
Kevin

Blog Day 2007

Tomorrow, (Friday, Aug 31) is the third annual Blog Day, where organizers hope you search out some blogs that you would not ordinarily come across and leave a comment, or thought, or post of some sort.

Blog Day 2007

Here is a brief description from the Blog Day website:

BlogDay was created with the belief that bloggers should have one day dedicated to getting to know other bloggers from other countries and areas of interest. On that day Bloggers will recommend other blogs to their blog visitors.
With the goal in mind, on this day every blogger will post a recommendation of 5 new blogs. This way, all blog readers will find themselves leaping around and discovering new, previously unknown blogs.

Peace (in discovery),
Kevin

Social Bookmarking — A Video View

The folks over at CommonCraft have done it again — a great little video on the power of social bookmarking (such as delicious) and how the collective force of information gathering can be used to widen the web of resources at your fingertips (on the keyboard):

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Peace (with links),
Kevin

Writing a Song: Making the Process Visible

I’ve been very interested in considering ways that we can use technology to make the process of creating art visible to others. I believe that for young writers and creators, it is helpful to catch a glance of a work in progress, as it unfolds. So, here goes: in the last 18 hours, I have written a brand new song and I began it all by turning on my little video camera and taping the start of the process from the first chord, and then today, I recorded a final version of the song (although, it may still change) as an MP3 mix.

First — the video (a bit dark and scratchy sound and a bit of half-head going on):

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Second, here are some versions of the lyrics:

I started with this:

(first version) A Man of Contemplation (August 2007)

I’m in the middle of a situation

nothing here seems real to me

I’m stuck inside this infatuation

why is that so hard to believe?

When you’ve got love inside your heart

It’s a perfect place to start

And everything can shine so beautifully

Then, I revised the words to this:

(second version) A Man of Contemplation (August 2007)

I’m in the midst of a situation

nothing seems real to me

I’m a man of contemplation

why is that so hard to believe?

When you’ve got love inside your heart

It’s a perfect place to start

And everything can shine so beautifully

I’ve got friends up there in high places

looking down on history

All I want are friendly faces

A smile that lights up inside of me

When you’ve got love inside your heart

It’s a perfect place to start

And everything can shine so beautifully

I’ve been traveling around this land

Singing songs out for free

There’s a twist that I don’t understand

why is there no place for me?

When you’ve got love inside your heart

It’s a perfect place to start

And everything can shine so beautifully

Which led to a final revision:

A Man of Contemplation (August 2007)

I’m in the midst of a conversation

nothing here seems real to me

I’m a man of contemplation

I live my life with my belief

When you’ve got love inside your heart

It’s a perfect place to start

And everything can shine so beautifully

I’ve got friends in wide, open spaces

Finding ways to be free

All I need are friendly faces

A smile that lights up inside of me

When you’ve got love inside your heart

It’s a perfect place to start

And everything can shine so beautifully

I’ve been traveling around this nation

Writing songs with melody

I’m driven hard by motivation

All I need is serenity

When you’ve got love inside your heart

It’s a perfect place to start

And everything can shine so beautifully

Finally, I booted up Audacity and used my Blue Snowball to record the song with my acoustic guitar and keyboard (and drums from Super Looper) and here is it:

Listen to Man of Contemplation

The layers of changes came as I tried to understand what the song might be about, since I often don’t have a clue until the final molding of the lyrics, and even then, I sometimes have a hard time explaining what I am trying to get at. This process of tearing back the curtain has been valuable to me, though, as it has allowed me to view what I am doing from a bit of a distance. I don’t know if I will do anything with this song or just let it sit where it is, which often happens. But even songs that have been filed away sometimes come back up for air at a later date.

Peace (with music),
Kevin

Social Networking and Student Activity

Look at this graph:

I love that the highest category is related to writing, although I wish it were even larger. But this chart — from a report entitled Creating and Connecting, etc and shared by my friend, Gail, and generated by the National School Board — shows the growing impact of social networking on young people.

Gail cites the report with this quote:

In light of the study findings, school districts may want to consider reexamining their policies and practices and explore ways in which they could use social networking for educational purposes.

Peace (with connections),
Kevin

Need ideas? Hit the Generator

This is another interesting site that gives you some ideas when your brain is fried and dried and it sure comes up some strange ones. It’s called the Director’s Bureau Special Projects Idea Generator (like a spy movie or something). Just click and spin the wheel.

levitating animal

In three turns of the wheel, I got:

  • Do-it-yourself levitating animal
  • Exclusive foam garden
  • Nutritious holograph club
  • Comedic Inflatable Event

There’s got to be something I can do with these.

Peace (in abundance),
Kevin

PS — I was taking my cat for a virtual walk when the strangest thing happened. She doesn’t like to stroll too far in the holographic room but every once in a while, a robotic mouse jumps out of the low corner of the walls and she is off like a shot. The mouse always gets away by scaling the walls and disappearing into the upper corner of the holographic room. On this day, my thoughts were clouded by the upcoming meeting of the Inflatable Foam Garden club and our concern that every time it rains, our gardens wash away. I had suggested tying bowling balls to the flowers but the others just pooh-poohed that idea. Still, no one had come up with a better suggestion and I could just see our gardens graced by colorful balls, anchored nicely during storms. It was while I was in these deep pockets of thoughts that my cat brought back some kind of paper bag, and it in were wires and nodes and other items. I was curious — as my cat was — and so I followed the set of instructions and began connecting the pieces together. When it was done, it resembled something like closed box, with a large wire coming out of the top and big blue button on the side. I clicked the button and something jumped from the box to my cat. My cat looked at me, and I just shrugged. This kind of thing happens all the time to us. Then, to my surprise, my cat started to lift up off the ground. She was flying! No, not quite flying. More like levitating. I grabbed the paper bag and tried to find some kind of label. On the bottom, worn out, were the words: Do-it-yourself Animal Levitation Kit. I waved to my cat and she kind of waved back. Waving isn’t easy for cats. Suddenly, a robotic mouse scurried out of the wall and my cat was zooming after it. No more escape through the top of the room for this prey but when my cat swiped at the mouse, there was a loud “pop” and the mouse disappeared in a cloud of smoke, and the room was gone. We were standing — well, I was standing and my cat was floating — back in our house and my cat had the funniest expression on its face. Like something had gotten her tongue this time. I reached down to see what happened and found a rip in our Comedic Inflatable Event. I folded it up, put it back in the bag and silently told myself that I needed to bring the room back for repairs before the next meeting of the Nutritious Holographic Club. The room would not be too tasty as it was.