The Disposable World

Here is the second in my series of Boolean Squared comics about Freejunk (ie, Freecycle) and also about the dangers that are some of the older computers that we just toss into the landfills. (In fact, this series of comics was as much inspired by the Freecycle movement as pictures of landfills with piles and piles of old desktop computers).

Peace (in the waste),


Freejunk — Boolean can’t resist

We use the Freecycle quite a bit to get rid of stuff and to get stuff. What a great idea. But I imagine that there are plenty of folks who get a ton of junk from Freecycle because, well, they can. Here, I begin to poke fun at Freecycle as Boolean discovers “Freejunk.” This is leading towards introducing a new character to my Boolean Squared comic.

Peace (in the pile),

Brainstorming with Students on Technology Bill of Rights

Yesterday, I mentioned how a group of teachers at my school is working to develop a basic Technology Bill of Rights. In an effort to continue to make sure my students have a voice on the topic, I collectively brainstormed with all fuor classes yesterday around the idea.

First, we talked about the US Bill of Rights and what it means. Then, we talked about the technology available to them in our school and some ideas for increasing such opportunities in the future.

Next, we did our brainstorming for use of technology. Here is the list. You’ll notice that much of it revolves around taking care of the equipment so that everyone has equal access to it. If nothing else, our discussions reinforced in them the idea that being careful, and creative, can go hand in hand.

Obviously, this list is long and work will have to be done to winnow it down to some main elements as part of our larger discussions.

Norris School Technology Bill of Rights

  • Be respectful of equipment
  • Don’t change the settings (desktop, dock, etc)
  • Don’t be impatient (if computer is slow)
  • Put wires back in cart
  • Use appropriate websites
  • Make sure the laptops are plugged in when you are done
  • Use two hands to carry equipment
  • Make sure laptops are completely shut down before closing “the lid”
  • Be mature with things you find on the Internet
  • Don’t run with the computer
  • Technology focus on the upper grades
  • Don’t waste time (fooling around) on the computer
  • Don’t delete “history” on browser
  • Don’t look at (without permission) or delete files that are not yours
  • Don’t print without permission
  • Don’t buy anything on the Internet
  • Don’t email from school
  • Be grateful that we have technology at Norris
  • Be serious, but also be creative and have fun
  • Don’t have drinks or food when working computer
  • Keep the Cart in order (ie, laptop to charging area)
  • Don’t yank flashdrives/Mice/other out of USB plug
  • Try to avoid touching the screen
  • Don’t push and shove at the Cart
  • Be respectful of computer neighbors/environment
  • Try to save work on flashdrives
  • Don’t bang on the keyboard
  • Don’t take keys off the keyboard
  • Don’t download without permission from teacher
  • Be set up in a work space before you start working (no walking, standing, etc, while using laptops)

Peace (in the plan),

What would you put in a Tech Bill of Rights?

We held our first Technology Community of Practice meeting yesterday afternoon and although we did not get far with our long list of topics (everything from upgrading old software to discussing whether we begin to move from Macs/PCs to Netbooks and iTouches), it was a good beginning for a group of us who want to move technology forward at our school — for both teachers and for students.

So, we are trying to come up with a Technology Bill of Rights for our school — a sort of guiding document for using technology and equipment for both teachers and students.

We are now on our own closed Ning network as a team, starting these discussions both in person and online.

I wonder: What would YOU put into a school-based Technology Bill of Rights?

Here is what I came up with a brainstorm:

All students should have access to all technology. Make it a level playing field for everyone, regardless of socio-economic status.

Plug ’em back in! (for the next person)

If you break it or if you think you’ve broken it, own up to it and tell someone who might know how to fix it.

Don’t be afraid of the technology.

When I put out a query on Twitter, I got a few responses:

The right to keep and bear cell phones, iPods, and other personal tools for information access. — rrmurry

Everyone has the right to a safe environment. – 81teacher

One of my colleagues in our group gave us this quote to think about:

“Laws are made for men of ordinary understanding and should, therefore, be construed by the ordinary rules of common sense. Their meaning is not to be sought for in metaphysical subtleties which may make anything mean everything or nothing at pleasure.” Thomas Jefferson, 1823

Do you have a suggestion for us as we develop our Technology Bill of Rights? I would love to know what you think.

Peace (in the tech),


A Technology Community of Practice

This afternoon, a group of teachers at my school will convene the first Community of Practice (CoP) for technology. This is an interesting development, I think, and one I certainly welcome as we move further into technology integration. We have three computer carts (two PCs and one Mac), a handful of Interactive Boards, and assorted other stuff floating around the building.

Since last year, our school has moved into regular team meetings — first, it was known as Professional Learning Communities and now it is Communities of Practice (I see a Boolean comic coming …). Whatever we call it, this networking is important to us, even as we work as a school to figure out a good balance between setting goals for the work in this circles.

My hope is that our Technology CoP group will think about ways we can share out the technology we are doing with our students with the rest of the staff and consider ways to move us, as a whole, forward. My guess is that many people who say they are using technology as only using it for students as “gatherers” of information (ie, kids go to web and copy information) , and not as “creators” of content (ie, making movies, podcasts, etc). I’m going to try to be persistent, without annoying everyone, that this is the direction we should be going — helping students to become “composers” in a digital world through the use of a myriad of technological tools available to us. I may even print out the statement by National Council of Teachers of English that now puts emphasis on multimedia in the Language Arts field.

My worry is that this group will be seen as the place where we talk about what kind of technology we need to buy next — software, hardware, etc. — and while that is important to a degree, I think we have a lot already here at my school. I want to focus on practice, not purchase.

It’s very heartening that our principal is excited about this new technology CoP group and is fully supportive of the concept. He really does believe in bringing teachers along in this direction but also knows that there will be pockets of resistance to technology. I know that, too.

I wonder if you have a similar group at your school or organization? If so, I would love to know how it is going and what advice you might give to us as we move forward on our own baby steps.

Peace (with others),

Boolean Squared Blabbers On … and On

I use Twitter all the time for networking and writing (I am on Twitter at and find it both useful and frustrating, but I see it as a powerful resource. Some of you may remember that I published a song about Twitter called Twitter This (take a listen)

That doesn’t mean I don’t want to make fun of Twitter and so, I begin a series of Boolean Squared comics about a Twitter-like site that Mr. Teach is using called Blabber.

In this first one, a simple question leads to a math problem.

Peace (in the talk),


Podcasting Poetry with Myna

I found out about a new music editing program that may rival Garageband but — thankfull for me, the PC user — is located all online and is free. The site is called Myna and it is part of the Aviary suite of applications.

This morning, I wrote a poem in my head about walking my dog out in the darkness of morning and then came back, launched Myna,  and had this podcast poem in no time at all. Like Garageband, you can pull loops from a large database, and you can add effects to your voice.

But, unlike Garageband, Myna also gives you the embed code for your mixed down audio tracks.

So, here goes:

And here is a video tutorial on using Myna:

I wonder how we might use this with our students because if it is easy enough to use, then I would replace this application with Audacity. I love Audacity and have used it for years, but this Myna brings ease of recording and podcasting to a new level.

Peace (in the sound),