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Hello out there...
10.20.05 (11:12 am)   [edit]
I'm surprised that people still contact me about my blog and are still interested in my work and my personal family issues. But, I guess I can't say I'm that surprised. It's what drew me into blogging in the first place--the community it creates. Well, for those of you that are interested, here goes...

This year I'm teaching 2nd grade part of the day and coaching the other part. I love it--it's the best of both worlds. Our school is now a program improvement school year two. Even though our API went up 30+ points we still didn't meet the AYP. Ugh!

My siblings are still sick. My brother is now in stage 3 cancer. My mom and I went to visit him in Florida the day after Katrina. Our hotel wouldn't honor the reservation because there was no running water or electricity. It took us until 1am to find a hotel room. It was a mess out there but, of course, the visit was well worth the trouble.

My brother is a championship slot car racer, amongst other things. He's won multiple trophies, medals, and titles for speed and design. When we were kids he once let me hold a controller (and I do mean only once) and race a slot car until I flipped it off the track (which happened in about 15 seconds) after which he wrenched the control from my clutching hands and banished me from his testosterone filled room (a 1960's boy's dream filled with model cars, PT73's, and german planes hanging from the ceiling.) I longed to race a slot car but, alas, it was not to be.

Until, at least, our last visit. My brother has this ingenious coffee table he made. It looks like a coffee table, but you turn it over and it's a slot car track! Cool! So, he took out a couple of slot cars and controllers and we had at it. He was surprised that I wasn't half bad and told me that if he knew I was that good he would have raced with me long ago. He kept calling me Seabiscuit. He even let me use the good controller, which was double wrapped and in it's own case ($500.00 for a controller--geez!) It was great fun. I plan to go back and visit him in a few weeks and I'd like to take my own slot car with me, one with an "S" for Seabiscuit on the side.

My mother was in heaven sitting in her wheelchair, watching her two eldest razzing each other, just trying to have fun and not let the damned cancer be the end all be all that it tries to be. We raced in between his vomitting fits. It was cool to be with him, replay our childhood games and have them come out happy this time. Well, as happy as can be. Did I say cancer sucks? Well, it does.

He's undergoing chemo right now and in two weeks I'll be off track and I'll go take care of him. I was pretty good--I didn't cry until the last day, when we were leaving. He hugged me and said, "Don't cry kid. It is what it is." Damn you cancer. Damn, damn, damn.

My sister is still sick, too. Severe depression. She was in the hospital for a month during our visit with my brother. She's a mess, poor thing. Unable to think clearly, to care for herself, to sleep, to reason. The meds help with her mood but take away her will. I love her and I'm frustrated with her at the same time. "Why can't she just get on with it all and get better," I think, but then I have to tell myself that she's sick and she can't do what I think is logical. Damn. Sometimes I feel sorry for myself. Why us? But hey, why not us? It's life. Things happen.

In the end I think it's all worth it. The hell of it all is worth it. You exchange the hell for the beauty of a smile, a deep green, a great song, a slot car race with the brother you love... just a moment in time, replayed over and over again, with love, till you get it right. Yeah, you must enjoy the good so that it outweighs the bad. But, damn, damn, damn.

Phone call with Anne Davis
05.20.05 (8:38 am)   [edit]

Last night I called Anne Davis and found that she's in a hospital just 10 minutes from my house. My fiance worked in that hospital for 15 years, up until a couple of years ago. The hospital is highly regarded for thier House Ear Institute which attracks patients from all over the world. Anne is truly in good hands.

I have to say that she sounded great. She is facing quite a surgery--with grace, dignity, honesty, and a positive life force. If anyone can overcome this obstacle in her life it is Anne.

I'm looking forward to visiting her in a few days and possibly springing her and her husband from the hospital for a bite to eat (cuban food--definite possibility!) I'll post again and let y'all know how she's doin'. (She has the sweetest southern accent this L.A. born cuban has every heard!)

All my love and prayers for you Anne--my blogsista!

A life lesson
03.06.05 (7:31 pm)   [edit]

I've been strugging with life. One of my siblings is suffering from a severe mental disorder and has been hospitalized twice in the last three months. Another sibling is battling a recurrence of cancer and he doesn't want to go through anymore treatments. My 77 year old mother is having back surgery next week and to tell you the truth she's the strongest one of the bunch of us! She's exercising and pushing herself to get herself out of bed and back into her old life. Just this evening she told me she's figthting because she has to be an example for my two siblings--she's got to show them how to fight for their lives, she says. My mom was a teacher for 30 years and now she's teaching us the most important lesson of our lives. It makes me think of Anne Davis and her courageous mother. I think often of a buddhist guidance: "Suffer what there is to suffer. Enjoy what there is to enjoy. Regard both suffering and joy as facts of life and continue..."

Catching Up
12.04.04 (5:45 am)   [edit]

So I'm reclining in my oversized chair, feet up, just surfing on my wonderful new Acer (penning between bloglines, amazon, and and I realize something--people are still reading my blog even though I haven't been posting very often! Thanks!                                                           Now, I don't think it's a good idea not to post often if you want to keep the channels of communication open between yourself and our blogging community... I'm just sayin' I'm surprised. And thanks.I have lots of blog about but the same thing is still true--I got the NCLB Blues -- Come on everybody, sing along with me...   I got the blues, I got the NCLB blues              

Oh well, nothin' like a tablet pc to brighten up my mood. I've been using GoBinder with my tablet--absolutely fabulous. Love it more than OneNote (though I understand that OneNote has more capability--but the learning curve is tough and I'm not keen on the layout.)  Here's what a binder looks like. You see here the calendar with notes and along the top are indexed tabs that contain subfolders into which you can ink or type text and save parts or whole websites like the example below.





You can see the multiple entries in my Student Led Conferences/Portfolios subfolder, many of which are actual clips of websites. Copying is one fast and easy step.






You can see that I inked and highlighted some of the clipped site's text.



Now this is way cool. I have a shoulder injury so I gathered information about the anatomy of the injured area and rehab exercises. With GoBinder, I have a rehab notebook right at my fingertips!Can you imagine the implications for classroom research!?! And, I even did a Professional Development afternoon for my teachers directly from GoBinder--no time wasted trying to research THEN create a PowerPoint presentation! Best of all, as teachers asked questions I was able to write notes directly onto the page during the presentation! Imagine having students use GoBinder to share their ongoing research, not only with an LCD projector but with a SmartBoard!

Tablet progress
11.13.04 (7:17 am)   [edit]
Hurray! My tablet is in California! It should make its way into my hands sometime today...

I bought a tablet pc!!!
11.12.04 (7:01 am)   [edit]

I was waiting to post about it until I got it in my hot little hands but I just can't. I bought a tablet pc this weekend--WOO-HOO!!!

Here's the scoop. Included in my bloglines subscriptions are the blogs of tablet pc users and one of them had posted about a developer who was selling his new tablet pc. I contacted them both, found that the tablet was less than 3 months old, that it's exactly the model I've been wanting, and that I could save about $800.00 buying it from the developer. So I did!

My tablet is on it's way to me as we speak. I've been excitedly tracking its journey through FedEx, using the tracking number. Since yesterday was Veteran's Day there was no movement but as of the day before it was in New Jersey and it's too early now to find any further location change posted online. It's scheduled to be in my hands on Saturday, November 13th!!! I can't wait!

Post election thoughts about NCLB
11.03.04 (5:00 am)   [edit]

Crisis in education? Yeah. Here's the crisis--we're not teaching people to think critically, to look for evidence and not simply accept opinion (tv, magazines) as fact, and to engage in real dialogue about important issues. Hmmm... NCLB... I know we have to reach all students, but with the insane pacing plans and ongoing testing, there's even less time to teach/engage in exercises in critical thinking and fact finding. I've been seeing it in the classrooms. Teachers have been saying there's no time. Are we just building a nation of automotons who can read, write, and do math just well enough, but who can't think independently or deeply enough to make informed decisions about their lives, important social/national/world issues, and do not understand history and their place/connection to it? Ack, maybe it's just sour grapes on my part... I so wanted a change in our country's leadership.

Today I'm even more deeply connecting with what Will Richardson has been blogging about for the last year--that real blogging (the verb) is reading, digesting the information, thinking critically and deeply about it, and writing about it in a way that adds to our collective knowledge. It's Bloom's Taxonomy, Habits of Mind, Accountable Talk--pick your label. It's what "the gifted students" or the "priviledged students" get to engage in during school and at home while our struggling learners are just that, struggling--to survive, to overcome, to break the cycle of poverty, of foster care, of illness without health care, of drug, alcohol, and gang abuses. Do we even consider that NCLB's "corrective measures" are punishments that are a continuation of the message our students already receive in spades--"you're not good enough kid (for your parents to keep you, for society to keep drugs and violence away from you, for businesses to provide a decent wage and health insurance for your family, for government to equitably fund your education) and now we're going to publicly label you and your school, and point you out in the newspapers and the internet with a big scarlet-letter-like stamp."  It's such a huge job we're facing and I don't think that NCLB addresses that fact. The issue is bigger than the basics in school. There has to be a better way. And, I don't think our current leadership is going to look for one. It's up to us.  (Perhaps my friend C2 is right--one thing at a time...)

Neck and neck...
11.02.04 (6:01 pm)   [edit]

Kerry 199 -- Bush 207   ohmygoodness... My daughter is jumping up and down and whooping--ah, youth!

Getting out the vote
11.02.04 (4:58 pm)   [edit]

Well, my family and I went to our polling place and voted together. I was surprised to see not only one long line but two! Two lines went out the door and onto the stairs outside. We waited about 30 minutes. How wonderful that so many people took the vote seriously. I guess it helped that we had beautiful 80 degree weather today, too!

Most of the cars parked in front of the polling place had Kerry/Edwards bumper stickers, which was encouraging to me. But, as I type this I'm watching CNN--Bush has 171 electoral votes to Kerry's 112. *sigh* Well, regardless of my own personal opinion, I'm glad that so many more people are getting out and voting.

Still, I'm saddened to hear about all the barriers to people voting--intimidation, broken voting machines, missing absentee ballots, etc. What next? Do we need to have U.N. representatives to monitor our elections? What an embarrassment--what a shameful face this shows the world.

Well, my fellow Americans, good luck to us all.

Tablet PC sighting: Hey, there's using a tablet pc on KNBC to scribble out the count of the electoral votes. AWESOME!

Right after watching the tablet in use I found this pic via Engadget

I'm back, NCLB, blah, blah, blah...
10.31.04 (1:13 pm)   [edit]

Well, here I am… finally. The last month has been very up and down and I haven’t felt like blogging much. I guess I'm whining, and I really hate whining.


Since my school is now a Program Improvement School--based on our AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress)--we’ve had a lot of work thrown at us (as if we didn't have enough already.) Everything seems very disjointed now—I’m sent to countless meetings, I’m working on implementing new mandated activities, and am in general pulled away from my work.  I can’t seem to get things done on time because there’s just too much to do. There are meetings, paperwork, and plans—all part of the “corrective steps” of NCLB. I’m a member of the committee that attends monthly PIS (Program Improvement School) meetings where we get technical support: help in understanding the NCLB mandates, the legal meaning and requirements for PIS (all punitive), the differences between AYP and API (Academic Progress Index), ideas on where to focus efforts (developing English language for our mostly English language learners-um, duh, we know this but how fast can you make someone learn a language), test results analysis, and help in rewriting the school plan. 


The bottom line: our AYP goal in English Language Arts was 13.6% and we made 13.2%. Not good enough. According to NCLB, we must reach our AYP goal for two years in order to get out of PIS status. Here’s the kicker—our goal will now be 24.4%. We have to achieve double what we did this year—testing starts in 5 months...

Fetal Position/Primal Scream/I want my mommy! Take your pick...
09.24.04 (6:06 am)   [edit]

"A blog is a first person narrative, in real time."

So here goes... As you can see, I haven't been blogging. I've been struggling. I'm NCLB'd out. Sometimes I feel I'm running a race. I'm doing all the things I'm being directed to do, and it's not enough. The thrill is gone.

I guess I really took a dive in August. We got our CST results back and I couldn't believe it. Where we had gained about 23 points the previous year, this year we gained 5... 5 points, after all the work everyone did! I was beside myself in disappointment because it was my strongest year coaching and I know I made a difference with teachers, and in turn, with students.

I know, I know... the tests don't measure it all. Okay, maybe they're skewed. Yeah, okay, I'm an X-Filer so yeah, conspiracy theories... maybe the tests are set up to make us fail so school vouchers can become the law of the land. Yeah, yeah... yada, yada, yada. The fact remains, we worked hard, we didn't achieve, and it is serious business. I can almost hear the stomping of the boots marching to our school--"Ve haff vays to make you achieff, ant you vill comply!"

I've created two posts about it, but didn't post them. Going into the classroom and blogging with SuperThinker... yeah, right--out of the question. And last week--surprise, the district decided that the Literacy Experts should be assigned to schools, 4 months at a time. Our school was selected, and now I'm her shadow. (...harbinger? the boots are coming...)

Actually, I'm happy about the expert. I can use the help, she is wonderful, and she understands--she's human! She's really getting in there and working with me, with our teachers. She's not afraid of the work, or to work, but she's stressed about it all--the vision, the consequences.

President Bush, my fellow americans, parents in our school community... we're no slackers! We're working hard. Our days are spent studying about the needs of diverse learners, backward designing around the big ideas to effectively teach the standards through mediated scaffolding/conspicuous strategies/use of direct instruction, collaborating, doing peer observations, reflecting, revising, debriefing lessons, assessing periodically, using the data to drive instruction, planning for differentiation, moving, pushing, pulling, all to nudge along our students, most of whom are english learners struggling within a cycle of poverty, violence, grief, fear, and loss... and none of this seems to be on your timeline... your NCLB timeline!

We know the importance of our work. The urgency. Our kids need a ticket out of the cycle. Our kids are bright. They can achieve. We can achieve. But, you just don't know what we're up against. Police chase/helicopter overhead this week. Monday, we arrived to broken windows and stolen computers in the 2nd grade pod. As I was giving a demonstration lesson in a classroom the construction crew arrived, hammering and drilling to replace broken window grills. And the news arrived--we didn't get the CTAP grant we applied for so no digital cameras, no digital narratives... no one wants to hear our stories.

No, I'm not making excuses. I can learn new strategies, change, take risks, stand up to scrutiny. But... the stuff of school is people... students and teachers... human beings, not robots... and we do bleed...

08.22.04 (11:12 am)   [edit]

This via WhatIsNew (thank goodness for RSS and Bloglines):

"Agilix is now selling a product called GoBinder which is designed for students and teachers as a repository of personal knowledge. In a classic viral marketing move, every educator in the world is being offered a free copy of GoBinder. For the average person, the GoBinder software is far easier to use as a repository than Folio VIEWS. Anything you read online, any materials your teachers provide you with, any handouts you get from class, any web page or PDF file that you view, you can easily and permanently save into your GoBinder. You can add personal notes (if you own a Tablet PC) (no, you don't need a Tablet PC-you can use a Wacom Tablet and Stylus-under $80.00) to any document. And then you can search and find everything instantly when you need it." (Source: Paul Allen of Infobase Ventures)

You MUST go IMMEDIATELY and download GoBinder. I did and I LOVE IT!!! You don't need a Tablet PC--it works with XP! Since I have a Wacom Tablet, I can type or ink with GoBinder. I am not kidding--it is fabulous!!! First view the demo, then download it and be amazed! 

I created a tab for my school, calendar with notes, and have downloaded information from websites that I will need for professional development on Monday. I can even draw, circle, and annotate over the website information I downloaded. Best of all, it's all in one place! No more opening separate documents and files just to get through one lesson! (BTW, it even syncs with Blackboard!) There's so much more it can do--just go there NOW!!!

Thank you Curt Allen. Thank you Lora. I think I've died and gone to Heaven!


Faster, easier writing with Tablet PC
08.10.04 (6:16 am)   [edit]

If you've never seen a tablet pc in use, you MUST view this 3 minute video! It's Bert Keely, an architect on the MS Tablet PC Team, demonstrating how he uses his tablet. With the new release of XP Service Pack2, writing and editing on tablets is even faster!!!

View here: Channel9: Souping up the Tablet PC

HULK good blog...
08.09.04 (6:25 pm)   [edit]

HULK like blog. You read HULK blog. HULK blog good! HULK blog make me smile. Here read HULK.

08.09.04 (6:05 pm)   [edit]

I usually like to introduce teachers to blogging using Tabulas because it is very powerful. With tabulas you can have your main blog page, endless shared journals, endless content pages, a picture gallery (free accounts can post 80 pics while paid accounts-about $2 a month-can post 300 pics and 3 video files --I hate to brag, but I did get a Beta account so I can post 500 pics, but...who's bragging?) But on the day of my blog workshop at the Teach the Teachers Collaborative at Thacher, tabulas was down, so, I had to use this blog's host, tblog. It turned out great--teachers were sooooo very excited and the word spread quickly about blogging so I ended up doing two afternoon workshops (8-10 people each) and have received several emails from teachers wanting to know when I'm going to teach the 16 hour blog class I developed for the district. As I wrote in my last post, two teachers even wrote a grant after the first workshop, and are more than willing to come out to my school at the end of the day to learn more!

Here's what I think happened--tblog is very user friendly so teachers got pretty far right away, and that created enthusiasm! Within 90 minutes teachers had created their blogs, posted an entry, commented on each other's blogs, and and started using bloglines! There were alot of ooooohs and aaaaahs--and lots of ideas about how to use the blogs. This just didn't happen with tabulas. Don't get me wrong--tabulas is still my favorite blog host because you just can't beat the features, but tblog is superior for a quick, down and dirty, get that blog up and running workshop! I realize now that perhaps I was the impediment to teachers blogging because I wanted to give background, information, resources, examples, blahblahblah... and I wanted to start teachers off with a blog host that had all the bells and whistles--which bogged them down with too much to learn. In effect, I told teachers, "wow, blogging is so cool because you can quickly and easily post and receive feedback," then proceeded to make their first experience long and difficult! Sheesh!!!

So, if I want teachers to blog I need to get out of the way by letting them just create a blog quickly and easily! That in itself builds excitement and the desire to seek out the background, information, resources, examples, blahblahblah... and then I can help them begin to use a more powerful blog host! Which, as a matter of fact is how I got started. Um... duh...

You say you want a revolution...
07.31.04 (5:50 pm)   [edit]
Well, the Teach the Teachers Collaborative at Thacher School is over and I’m at home recovering from brain overload and pain from prolonged sitting. The experience was awesome but really, what is up with having 100 teachers sit day and night with their laptops on plastic folding chairs!?! Why, the even offered a “Healthy Computing” workshop but had to cancel it because no one signed up! Gee, I wonder why… All that aside, it really was an awesome experience.

The blogging workshops went great. Everybody enjoyed it and two of our Harrison Bloggers Network teachers attended so they helped others when they got stuck. Two teachers loved blogging so much that they got their blogs up and running and then spent hours writing up a $5,000 CTAP mini-grant asking for computers, digital cameras, and scanners so that students can blog and post their work! And, two teachers from my school (one kinder and one 8th grade) felt the same way so the three of us got together and applied for the same grant, which was due Friday at 2pm (both grants made the deadline!) We requested LCD projectors, digital cameras, and microphones.

Our grant project, which we titled “Bridges to Learning” Digital Narratives and Blogging,” involves a kinder classroom and 8th grade classroom creating digital narratives using iMovie which will include student chosen/created digital images, student created soundtracks, and student created voiceovers that narrate the stories. 8th grade students, most of which were English learners, will mentor kinder students, most of which are English learners. Both classrooms will share the process using a project blog!

I’ll share more about the experience after I’ve recuperated more, so for now, I leave you with this:

For the most awesome thing we learned at Thacher! view the 30 second video—it will start a revolution!!!! Click here for video

Thacher: learning, collaborating, and blogging
07.28.04 (12:58 pm)   [edit]
Wow, Thacher has been great so far! I'm here with our school principal, our coordinator, a kinder teacher, RSP teacher, 5th grade teacher, 6 grade science teacher, and 8th grade language teacher, all from our PreK-8th grade span school! We've all been working on creating technology lessons which we will go back and teach, assess, and then present to the district in November.

I'm working on digital narratives, something I'm trying out as a result of blogging. I followed the link on one of Will's posts to Hector Villa's blogmediainquiry. which led me to many digital storytelling sites like this one: MediaThatMatters. I emailed Hector to ask some questions, and received immeidate feedback from him and his partner, Barbara, offering online support and collaboration! Here's her blog: bgblogging. As I keep saying over and over, this is what I love about blogging--collaboration and community!!!

I'm scheduled to do a blogging workshop tomorrow but ended up doing a workshop yesterday, on the fly. It was great--so much fun that the group asked me to meet with them tomorrow before dinner for another workshop, to take them further! We started blogs here at tblog (tabulas was down) and we did bloglines. Here are links to some of their blogs:
My Weblog

As you can see, we got off to a great start with only an hour and a half! And the best thing--everyone wants to meet again tomorrow to go further! I'll post the links to the rest of the blogs after tomorrow's session.

There were several workshops on dreamweaver and the comments were that, although dreamweaver is wonderful and very powerful, blogs are THE thing because you can easily create a web presence. I'm getting so many questions from people who are really interested in blogging for that reason! NEVER would I have thought of comparing dreamweaver and blogs--but it just goes to show how powerful this medium is!

Thatcher is a go!
07.25.04 (10:50 pm)   [edit]

Whew! It's after 11pm and I'm barely settled into my dorm room at Thatcher. We made the trekk to Ojai this afternoon, registered, attended the group dinner, listened to the keynote speaker, and went to class until 10:15pm! And, we have homework--25 online pages!!! Good god, they're going to cram as much learning in as humanly possible! The keynote speaker, Hall Davidson, was fabulous! He spoke about using the right tech tools for the job and showed us how to help students create powerful multimedia projects embedded with various snippets of content rich video available from sites listed on this handout.This information will come in handy because my idea is to work on digital narratives as a blog project. More about that later--I have to finish my homework!

Tech training with Teach the Teachers Collaborative
07.23.04 (1:57 pm)   [edit]
Well, my daughter is recuperating at home and I'm back at work. I'm very excited because on Sunday I attend the Teach the Teachers Collaborative at Thatcher school with a teach of 7 other educators from my school. We will stay in beautiful Ojai from Sunday through Friday, participating in project based learning workshops during the day and attending workshops, listening to speakers, and working on our tech plans in the evening. I've heard it is wonderful with excellent food and lots of opportunities to hike and swim.

I'm scheduled to teach an evening workshop on blogging Thursday evening. I'll only have a half hour so I'm going to direct teachers to Anne's site Weblogs: The Possibilities are Limitless! She's done a great job creating a rich yet succinct introduction to blogging and I'm very grateful that it's available.

I will blog from Thatcher. Now I wish I had one of those "I'm blogging this" t-shirts.

My daughter was sick!
07.17.04 (11:26 am)   [edit]
My daughter went for an outpatient tonsilectomy last week and ended up developing pneumonia. She's been hospitalized most of the week! There's nothing worse than watching your baby (she's 25 but she's my baby) struggle with pain and illness. Thankfully, the hospital staff was wonderful--patient and kind. She'll be coming home today. Hurray! When she's settled I'll be back to blogging!

65 ways people have used their Tablet PC's
07.10.04 (1:03 pm)   [edit]
As if I needed more reasons to love Tablet PC's, from What is New, a post that lists 65 interesting ways people are using their Tablet PC's. Here are some of my favorites:

18. Collect and store autographs (Scoble’s Hillary Clinton picture)
28. When I sold a car I took a picture of the person in front of it, inserted that into the contract, and then had the person sign the bill of sale
33. The bathroom faucet was dripping and I didn’t know how to fix it. I used the Tablet PC to access repair instructions at the same time I was repairing it. (It didn't get wet.)
38. Excursions to Home Depot/Lowe's. Well, it actually depends on what I'm doing, but this is a great way to accumulate ideas. With a USB camera attached to the Tablet PC, I snap a picture into a custom paper-app and scribble product information, prices, ideas, diagrams, etc.
46. Use it in RV / truck with a GPS and then email photos when get to a stopping point – or passenger can email photos with cell phone while still on the road!
57. Students download and read eBooks.
58. Teachers connect it to a projector to share those primary sources with your students and write annotations on images as they talk about them.
-Other ways I use a Tablet PC
* Store thousands of pieces of sheet music on it and play directly from it at the piano
* Edit music directly from MIDI inputs while at keyboard
* Use mapping software, Journal and OneNote to help look for real-estate

Very cool!

Pushing furl onto my blog
07.03.04 (8:31 am)   [edit]
I read a lot of blogs and I'm usually impressed with the work people do. I don't just read edublogs. I read lots tech blogs--mostly tablet pc users, people who tinker with gadgets--and I also read what I've titled "miscellaneous" in my bloglines folder--more of the personal type of blogs by interesting and funny people. I've learned alot from reading these blogs.

But my absolute must reads are Will and Anne. They're my heroes! They always, always make me think, stretch myself, and lead me to interesting links, even essential information. Will posts great links but it's his vision and ability to just try things that inspires me. Anne's spunky down to earth posts are so uplifting, they inspire me to collaborate more. (BTW, when the Wrinkles group graduated last month, I... that is, SuperThinker called her at JH House in Georgia. It was fun! The school secretary knew who SuperThinker was! And it was fun hearing Anne's voice. It's as cute and spunky as her posts are, with her southern accent! If I didn't blog I would never have had the opportunity to collaborate with someone on the other side of the country, so different from me on the surface--me, a little 'ol cubanita and Anne, a little 'ol southern girl--yet so well suited to work together.)

Because of their most recent posts, I'm trying something new. Last week Will posted 10 Cool Things to Do with Furl, and comments about a list:

"On first blush, one addition I would make to her list is to use Furl to push content to various pages similar to what I did with the "What's Mr. R. Reading?" section of my journalism portal. But this is a great list of creative ways to use the tool, one definitely worth Furling."

Will's been blogging about pushing content into a blog with furl for a while now. I thought it was really cool but I thought it would be very difficult and time consuming. But the "10 Cool Things..." link led me to the how to page right on bloglines and it was SIMPLE! So I tried it. If you look below my links you'll see a box that says, "Furl4blahblahblog." That's it. It's not pretty--I have to figure out how to make it more organized, attractive, etc. Nevertheless, it's there!!!

And, it's filled with links from Anne! She is always posting links to great articles about research on blogging. What better way to share them than as Will suggests--collecting them and pushing them onto my blog with furl.

This one's for you, Terry
06.26.04 (4:11 pm)   [edit]

One of the great things about edublogging is getting to know more about the lives of other teachers that you wouldn't otherwise get to meet. Yes, it's true--teachers actually do have lives outside of school!

A few days ago I was sharing with Terry Elliot, (an edblogger I've never met but whom I always read) about how stressful it is to work in year round schools.

I shared that since I don't have much vacation time, I've been enjoying snippets of time in my backyard. One fun thing we've been doing lately is showing movies using an LCD projector and a dvd/vcr, on a big screen we rigged up. We invite people over, lay blankets out on the grass, set up tikki torches, barbeque--we even roast marshmellows--while enjoying cool movies with friends and family. (I'll post a picture soon.)

Terry says he's got several types of berries on his land, and he just walks along, picking them off the vine and enjoying them!

I told him about my first first good crop of apricots and braeburn apples, my grape vines and a pair of birds with their baby that live in the vines, and that I'm learning to use a serious slingshot to protect my beloved 20 year old cat from the hawks that have nested in a tree behind my house.

The next day I look out my window and there's a hawk, sitting on my porch!

I took this picture of it through my screen door--it's fuzzy but it was so awe-inspiring
I just had to post it in honor of Terry! I think it's a red-shouldered hawk, common to southern California and seen often in the sycamore trees around the arroyo.

All this blogsharing got me investigating birding in my community, and low and behold, I discovered that we have an Audubon Center, just miles from my home and my school!

Now wouldn't that be a fabulous blog project--learning about habitats through birding--posting pictures, information, maps, and graphs representing sitings of specific birds.

Yep, we teachers have lives outside of school--and if we're open to it, our lives can inspire us to remain fresh and new as educators. Because blogs make it easy to share information, blogging can help us make the connections...

Iraqi Schools
06.24.04 (9:04 am)   [edit]
Here's a picture of the second box of supplies out sent out to support IraqiSchools. If you read my post around Christmastime, you know that I first read about the IraqiSchools program on Mike Arnzen's Pedablogue. He wrote about how the bombings in Iraq had resulted in many schools sustaining substantial damage. To make things worse, roads were so badly hit that they were impassable, so supplies could not get into many cities. As a result, many students had no books, pencils, crayons, rulers... you name it. And teachers had no chalk, markers, paper, etc.

IraqiSchools is a project run by some of our soldiers stationed in Iraqi. It is not a government run program, rather it is a grassroots effort begun when a solider wrote home telling his family and friends about the terrible conditions of the schools in the village where he was stationed. Family, friends, and church groups began sending materials, and a project was born.

As a teacher, I can only imagine what it must be like to know that the future of your village--city, state, country--depends on your ability to carry on educating the youth in the middle of a war. I hope that any boxes of supplies I send will help a fellow teacher carry on during difficult times.

PowerPoint blog
06.20.04 (10:48 am)   [edit]
via Scobleizer: I just found beyond bullets a blog about using powerpoint to communicate ideas. Though it's geared more toward corporate use, it contains useful ideas for education like using ppt for storyboarding:
"When you look at a storyboard, it presents some built-in questions: What do I want to say? In what sequence? How do I start, what happens next, and how will it end? What techniques will I use to make this relevant to my audience?"

As a Literacy Coach, I'm always looking for ways to teach students plot development--the all important sequence of events--and awareness of audience. Storyboarding with powerpoint is a great way to achieve both.