Saturday, December 31, 2005

I want my flying car

It's only fitting that while I'm creating a presentation on the power of the blogosphere that I do something like this:

David Warlick wrote a post called Our Classrooms are Irrelevant, not obsolete! Steve Dembo read that post, and responded to it with his post called High touch AND high tech. Now it's my turn to respond to both of them.

We might be using computers and web sites, but this is still good old fashioned networking - the sharing of ideas and concepts. It gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling when I get to participate in a global phenomenon like this.

... but I digress. The conversation's on what people think the classroom will be like in 2015. To summarize, one comment Mr. Warlick made was that it's disturbing to him that so many educators think classrooms will be totally replaced with long distance learning by then. Mr. Dembo's post continued along those lines, mentioning that to do such a thing would actually pull people apart rather than bring them together.

I totally agree with both Warlick and Dembo, but I'm not worried about the classroom disappearing. Why? Well, the answer's quite simple.

I've read a lot of old science fiction.

I mean REALLY OLD science fiction. In high school I would often walk to the local used book store and buy all kinds of anthologies and other sci-fi books, many of them published before I was born. I loved entering those hundreds of fanciful universes where the writers' futures were our present. They had some really cool ideas about what would be going on right now, but you know what?

They all got it wrong.

In some cases we're more advanced than they ever thought we would be. (The first Foundation novels by Isaac Asimov had the characters calculating equations for faster than light travel without a computer to help them.) In other cases, we've advanced much slower than the writer thought we should. (I'm still waiting for my fusion powered flying car.) In all those stories, the writers were way off on what life is like today.

Sure, some of them predicted certain ideas, but looking at the big picture they couldn't get it right.

So I don't really think we'll get rid of the classroom any time soon, or even in the next ten years. Kids need social, face to face interaction. They also need to use computers and understand how flat the world is becoming, but you can't play kickball with someone on the other side of the country (unless you've got a VERY strong kick...) or have a chemistry lab partner on another continent.

There are some who would look at Warlick, Dembo, and myself and say that we just don't get it, that we're holding onto the past like so many of the industrial age teachers we criticize. My response to them is that I've never advocated the total abandonment of old styles. For example, there are a lot of art projects for which a sheet of paper is far superior to a laptop screen, and there always will be.

What we need to do to prepare our students for the future is to give them a healthy dose of both old and new styles. I think I could go on, but I'll stop here and let someone else add to the chain of thought.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Wiki mania

Thanks to a great plug by Steve Dembo there are now others besides me editing the Blogging 101 wiki. I myself have been slacking on that, but only because I'm busy designing and rehearsing my blogging presentation in OpenOffice. ... oh yeah, and visiting the family in Pennsylvania for the holidays sorta limits me to infrequent dial-up access. (Do you remember when a 28k modem was fast? I do, but now a 56k modem feels like molasses.)

In any case, my presentation on January 10th is going to be fun. If anyone's near Anne Arundel County, Maryland and wants to register, drop me a line.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Mini Lesson 4 - high quality

minilesson_04In this lesson I show how to make a Star Book - a lesson I've seen in a couple of places including

High quality .mp4 (4.5 MB)
Video length: 5:02

Mini Lesson 4 - low quality

minilesson_04In this lesson I show how to make a Star Book - a lesson I've seen in a couple of places including

Low quality .mov (3.6 MB)
Video length: 5:02

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Academic Aesthetic Podcast 43

In my 43rd podcast I answer questions 3 and 4 from episode 41's "Open Interview."Click to play or download.

Show Notes:

I'm now a proud member of the Discovery Educator Network, also known as DEN. More information will follow in future installments.

I'm going to be running a blogging inservice in early January, and rather than give out handouts I've created a wiki. I'm looking for a few good editors, so if you're up to the challenge then please take a look at what's there already and add some of your own content. (Yes, I mentioned this before in my blog, but not everyone who listens to my podcast reads the blog so I tought it deserved a rehashing.)

I spend the rest of this podcast answering questions 3 and 4 from my "Open Interview." I'm looking for more people to answer these questions (hint, hint...) so if you've got a computer and a microphone I wouldn't mind having am audio file (or a link to your own podcast) show up in my inbox.

Oh, and don't forget to put a pin in my Frappr Map!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Wrongs have been righted

My goodness! I was taking a look at my blogroll and was surprised to see how different it was from what I actually have in my Bloglines account. I immediately fixed it, adding a lot of links in the process.

I'm also creating an EduBlogging 101 wiki that I'll be able to use at a teacher inservice in the near future. If you've got some ideas, please feel free to edit it.

... oh yeah, and if you haven't put your digital pin in my Frappr map ... well, why not? Do it already!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Subscribing's easier than ever!

After reading Steve Dembo's thoughts about FeedBlitz, I've decided to add FeedBlitz and MyYahoo! to my site. MyYahoo is kind enough to aggrigate blog feeds, and FeedBlitz allows people to subscribe via email.

Personally I'd rather just use an aggrigator like Bloglines to subscribe to RSS feeds, but for those of you just getting your feet wet all you have to do is plug your email addy into the box below and you'll never have to come to again.

Subscribe with Email


Saturday, December 10, 2005

Academic Aesthetic Podcast 42

In my 42nd podcast I answer questions 1 and 2 from episode 41's "Open Interview."Click to play or download. When I look back on the resourses I had compared to what our kids have now, it's no wonder that so many people in my parents' generation aren't computer savvy.

... in retrospect I should have done something truly geeky for my 42nd podcast. (Don't understand what I'm talking about? Google's there for a reason!) Alas, I couldn't think of anything truly special to do. Oh well...

Oh, and don't forget to put a pin in my Frappr Map!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Podcast 41: Open Interview

My 41st podcast is an interview with ... YOU! That's if you want to answer, of course.Click to play or download.

Show Notes:

I decided to do something that I'd like to call an "Open Interview," so called because I'm encouraging anyone and everyone to respond, preferably in audio format. You can email your responses to or, if you decide to podcast your response yourself, just send me a link to your podcast.

Thanks, and now on with the questions:

1. What was your favorite subject when you were in elementary, middle, and / or high school, and why?

2. What do you remember about how your teachers used technology in the classroom? (keeping in mind that technology in it's most basic form is any kind of tool)

3. Assuming you're a teacher, how has technology made your lesson plans different from the lessons you had when you were the same age as your students?

4. Which do you think is better: A computer in every classroom or a single common computer lab in the school that has enough computers for everyone in a class?


Like the Show? Vote for it at! (I'm only asking once a month, now.)

And don't forget to put a pin in my Frappr Map!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Mini Lesson 3: Origami (Yakko-san) iPod version

File Size: 31.4 MB

Mini Lesson 3: Origami (Yakko-san)

File size: 4.4 MB
Length: 6:03
Format: quicktime

This lesson in folding origami is appropriate for kids in 3rd grade or higher, although in small groups you could go even younger than 8 year olds. The iPod version of this will follow shortly.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Video Podcasts: Beyond Alpha

Tech Icon
Audio vs. Video

Steve Dembo recently blogged about video podcasts, vodcasts, vlogs, or whatever hip, trendy word you wish to attach to those nifty moving pictures that show up on your computer via an RSS feed. He makes a very compelling argument on why audio podcasts are right now better than video podcasts, mainly because audio is a media more accepting of multi-tasking than video. (That's why all of those DVD players in those newfangled SUVs are set up so the driver can't see them. We would have fewer intact roadside obstacles otherwise.)

The main thing is that with audio so many of us have mp3 players which we can use to listen to everything whenever we want. With video we're more likely to want to watch it when sitting in our living room munching popcorn or a suitable alternative snack. So, until the Tivo handles video podcasts they're more of an "alpha test" type of format.

I don't quite agree...

I must say that while I see where Mr. Dembo is coming from, I think we're at least at the "beta testing" level rather than merely alpha. Take United Streaming, for instance - my base school has set it up so almost every classroom is capable of going there and showing all those cool videos on a TV connected to the computer with nothing more than RCA jacks. (Most of our computers have VERY nice graphics cards.) My only complaint about the whole setup is that since I'm not a classroom teacher I don't get to use that content myself.

Now I'll be the first to say that there's more out there than just the content that United Streaming has. I mean, just look at what they've got at, for example - one of their most recent offerings is a 52 minute show where several paleontologists are interviewed and even answer questions from an elementary class. This video is 100% free and could be shown in the classroom with the same hardware we're using to show United Streaming. Since our 1st graders are learning about dinosaurs right now this video came out just in time.

Shorter Clips for Longer Retention

There's a downside, however. A lot of people that produce educational videos feel the need to make them fit into a 30 or 60 minute timeframe. This is the standard for TV, and content creators tend to be influenced by what has come before. (I'd be willing to bet that most of the photoshop geeks who use the "burn" and "dodge" tools have never even been in a darkroom where those terms originated.) Unfortunately experienced educators have also been saying for years that the worst way to show a video in class is to hit play and back off.

Short clips, followed by student discussion are actually the way to go. Your brighter students will help keep the conversation interesting and the ones who would rather put their heads down and sleep won't get the opportunity.

Enter the educational video podcast. It doesn't take much for a science teacher to set up a camera and record a lab experiment, or a history teacher to record an historical reinactor discussing his or her period clothing. These short clips can then be uploaded to something like to be shared with the world and shown on TVs in classrooms everywhere. I know from personal experience that videos recorded at 320x240 resolution look just fine on your average TV, so they don't even need to be that big.


I don't think video will kill the podcasting star, any more than the invention of nuts and bolts killed the nail.

Different tools, different uses. all cool.

Oh, and don't expect me to give up podcasting in favor of video casts. I may like my little mini-lessons, but I still have a great face for radio.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Monday, November 14, 2005

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Podcast 40: Tech4Learning interview

Click to play or download.My 40th podcast is an interview with Tom Kelly from I find the company to be facinating not just because they deal with graphic software, but because of how they're doing it.

Show Notes:
  1. Powering Up With Technology - A great conference, and not just because I got to present there.
  2. Tech4Learning: a business serving schools and educators with some nifty programs and ideas.

Podcast 39: Powering Up With Technology Conference

Click to play or download.My 39th podcast is an abbreviated overview of the Powering Up conference. I'll have a few posts that go into more depth in the near future.

Show Notes:
  1. Powering Up With Technology - A great conference, and not just because I got to present there.
  2. Tony Brewer says: "Technology is not a panacea." ... of course he also says "If you steal from me, it's been stolen twice." He was personable, funny, and very knowledgeable.
  3. Tech4Learning: a business serving schools and educators with some nifty programs and ideas.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Guess who was a presenter today?

HPIM2366Today I attended (& presented at) the Powering Up With Technology conference, and it was a blast. I have audio (and potentially some video, maybe) to share, and am working on getting that ready for you. If I can configure OpenOffice just right, I'll have my presentation uploaded as a flash file. If not, I'll take the more troublesome route and convert it to a .mov file.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

He's Baaaaaaaaaaaack!

I could hardly believe my eyes when I looked at my list of podcasts this morning, but Steve Dembo has started uploading those wonderful mp3 files of his once more.

(And all the Ed-Tech world rejoiced.)

His latest podcast is a bit of a ramble about what's happened in the past 3 months and the difficulty of getting back into the swing of things, but it's still all good.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Moving again

After a scare with my hard drive that may or may not have been resolved I decided to move my blog to a more off-site publication method. I love Thingamablog's features, but push comes to shove I have to keep the dynamic files on my own computer and upload static pages.

So ... if you can read this, the move of all my posts to a Blogger account has been successful.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Mini Lesson 1: Flip-Its iPod version

Here's the 18.7 MB iPod video version.

Mini Lesson 1: Flip-Its

minilesson_0The wait is over, behold my first mini lesson! In this lesson I show how to make a simple two frame animation known as a "flip=it." Making this video was itself a learning experience - I expect the quality of these to improve with time.

File size: 1.9 MB
Length: 3:32
(The iPod version will be posted soon)

More Resources:

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Podcast 38: Audience and Creative Commons

Click to play or download.
My 38th podcast is a few days late, due to some technical difficulties. My computer feels better now.

Show Notes:
  1. Whenever you use a form of media, you must NEVER forget your audience.
  2. Where do you go to find media released under a Creative Commons License?

    Yahoo! Creative Commons
    PodSafe Audio

  3. Academic Aesthetic Forum: Yes, no, maybe so?

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Mini Lesson 0: I owe you an explanation


This is the introduction for a series of videos where I show how to create a variety of art projects.

File size: 1.4 MB

Length: 2:39

(There's also an iPod version if you're interested, but that's 14 MB)

Lessig and Laporte

Tech Icon

I'll admit I'm a total Lawrence Lessig fanboy.

I'm also a Leo Laporte fanboy.

So when Lawrence Lessig showed up on this past Sunday's This Week In Tech I was ... very, very happy.

You may want to check that podcast out for yourself. Trust me, it's some good conversation.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Podcast 37: Podvangelism and Movies

Click to play or download.

In my
37th podcast
I say "podcast" a lot. I can't help it, it rolls off the tongue.

Show Notes:

  1. What does my nickname have to do with podvangelism? You may not know as much about podcasting as some people, but if you're hearing my podcast now you know more than most people.

  2. The 5th & 6th grade members of my Art Club are going to be making short movies, and so far things are working out well.

  3. I feel inspired to make little movies of lesson ideas/instructions. Look for them soon.

Monday, October 24, 2005


Ad supported service providers like Bravenet are often ok, because the ads are often not too intrusive while the services (like showing me who visits my site here) are great.

Unfortunately, Bravenet took a turn for the worse. At first I thought it was a fluke. After a restart I visited the same Bravenet page a 2nd time and got the same problem - 94 .exe files downloading themselves onto my desktop (It would have been more, but I eventually geve up trying to hit "cancel" or "quit" and just used the "force-quit" command). How they managed to do this while I was using a Mac and running a Firefox based browser (Camino) is beyond me, but needless to say I was very annoyed. I'm just happy that .exe files won't run on a Mac so I don't have to worry about any spyware infections or the like.

Free is good, but it's not worth that. I filed a complaint with Bravenet but since they allowed this to happen I've decided to remove all the code from my webpages.

UPDATE: One thing in Bravenet's favor is the fact that their tech support responded to my complaint faster than any online company I've seen in a long, long time. I don't mean a computer generated something, I mean a living human being asked me to clarify some things and then responded again once I did so.

Bravenet might yet redeem themselves. We'll see.

Saturday, October 22, 2005 2.0

Tech Icon

At long last, has released version 2.0 of their impressive office suite. (Of course the Mac version isn't fully debugged yet, but it hopefully won't be long now. Until then NeoOffice J still rocks.)

If you've yet to download OpenOffice and try it out, then now's a good time to do so. It does 90% of the stuff that Microsoft Office does, and a few things that Office has never done to boot.

Oh yeah, and it's free. Free is good.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Welcome back, Steve!

Steve Dembo, one of my main inspirations for starting this site, was going through a bit of a dry spell so far as blogging and podcasting were concerned. Mind you, I'm not complaining - analog life must often take precedence over digital life.

But no matter, he seems to have returned to the Read/Write Web. If you've yet to check out, then you really should go there to browse through his blog and listen to a podcast or two.

Hey, if he's good enough for Apple to feature his podcast when they rolled out iTunes 4.9, then he should have some great ideas, right?

As a side note, a big hello to everyone over at the Shanghai American School Blogs! They were kind enough to add me to their blogroll.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Going Shopping

Tech Icon

After being used VERY hard, my current MP3 player (A Creative MuVo TX FM) is giving up the ghost. I'm looking for a replacement, but I'm not so sure I want to buy the exact same brand again.

What I want is something that ...

... holds at least 1 gig.

... can record audio.

... can double as an external drive.

... will run off of a standard battery (AAA, etc.)

... will work with my Mac.

... and ...

... is less than $200.

In addition to the kind I already own I also found this, but I'm open to suggestions.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

The basics?

School Icon

David Warlick was recently interviewed on a talk radio show. I won't go into all the details since I can always just link to his account of the experience, but I do want to cover one question that was asked of him:

"Why should we be bringing technology into our classrooms, when our kids aren’t learning the basics?"

To anyone who is an advocate of technology in the classroom, this question should irritate immensely. As someone who is also an Art teacher, this irritation is an all too common experience.

We (and by "we," I mean everyone - teachers, administrators, parents, students, the list goes on...) tend to value some aspects of education more than others. Administrators tend to focus on standardized tests, since their jobs often depend on those test scores. Teachers focus on their own subjects, since ... well ... they did spend four or more years in college devoting themselves to those areas. Students will focus on whatever they don't find to be boring.

But most of all, society seems to focus on Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic. Science and Social Studies will often be thrown in as 2nd class citizens, but the so called "Three Rs" are what we usually think of when someone refers to the "basics." This is no doubt an ego boost to the teachers who teach those subjects, while the rest of us feel inferior in comparison.

This should not be the case. The basics, after all, should be whatever students need to know to survive in the real world. I'm not saying that the "Three Rs" are unimportant - they're more important now than they were 100 years ago. What I am saying is that there are other subjects that are equally important. Those who fail to know history are doomed to repeat it. Science is what keeps us from reverting to the fears and superstitions that ran rampant in the dark ages of Europe. Art helps us to develop our creativity - something needed in every well paying job. (And don't forget about expression, communication, and abstract thinking skills.) Technology is so ingrained into our society that I can't think of a profession that isn't impacted by computers in some way, shape, or form.

And yet we still refer to only three subjects as "basic," and then wonder why our children are falling behind.

It's not just certain subjects that are basic. Our educational system is supposed to prepare our students for the real world. That preparation should be the true basic, to which every teacher should adhere.

Let's stick to the basics.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Camino Rocks

Tech Icon

For a while now my favorite browser's been Camino, which is a side project from Like Safari and Firefox, it's a free browser that works on Mac OS X. However, it's faster than Safari and integrates with OS X's GUI better than Firefox.

But now I've discovered a new feature: The Ad Blocker.

No, I'm not talking about the Pop-Up Blocker - that's something already in every browser worth taking up space on your hard drive (read: NOT Microsoft Explorer). Instead, the Ad Blocker goes after banner ads that have been imbedded into a web site.

As soon as I turned it on I started going to as many of my bookmarks as I could think of that had banner ads on them, and it worked pretty well. Google Ads, Double Click, and even some ads that I thought were hand coded into the web pages all succumbed to the might that is Camino. A few things slipped through on my Yahoo! Mail page, but I hardly go there anyway.

So why post this here? There are some people who vehemently oppose any kind of advertising in school. (I myself am neutral about ads in school, since that's another way we can teach students about weighing information based on it's source, but I see the point of keeping ads out of school as well.) A browser that blocks more kinds of ads than others can free up even more web sites for school access.

That, and if I see another "Punch the monkey to win a free X-Box" animated ad I think I'm going to scream.

Friday, September 30, 2005

Podcast 36: My Copying

Click to play or download.My 36th podcast is, for a change, not about the Art Club.

Show Notes:

I've been working my way through Lawrence Lessig's book, Free Culture. It's a good read, even though it was written by a lawyer.

After the book plug, I spend the rest of the podcast talking about my views and experiences with copying throughout my life. A lot of the skill I've acquired as an artist is due to the fact that I've copied a lot of the artists that came before me. That's one of the reasons why Creative Commons licenses are so cool. Without giving up what we own, we let future generations learn by copying what we've done and building on it.

[EDIT: There seems to have been a problem with posting the audio file. I think it's fixed now, though.]

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Podcast 35: Art Club's First Meetings

Click to play or download.My 35th podcast is a two-for-one deal - I recorded half of it yesterday, and the other half today.

Show Notes:

Today's posting is all about the Art Club, what we did and my responses to it.

I got some of the kids to start using Blog Meister while the rest of them worked on some altered books. I haven't taken pictures yet, but I will.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Podcast 34: Lifelong Learning

Click to play or download.This is not my 34th podcast, it's my 6th attempt at my 29th podcast.

Show Notes:

On 9/14/05, Will Richardson Wrote:
I was talking with a math teacher who is a part of our pilot, and he told me that in the course of his lesson on Monday he used a term that was unfamiliar to his students. Rather than simply give them a definition, he modeled his own practice by having his students watch as he went from the OneNote page he was projecting via his tablet, opened up a browser, surfed over to Wikipedia, looked up the definition, and started a discussion about not only the math but about the workings of the site. Now I would bet that only a handful of teachers would model that same process.
Mr. Richardson was excited about this story, and I agree it was totally awesome when I read about it myself. It's a total shame that today's teachers often focus on passing on the information more than passing on the methods used to obtain that information. I don't think this is any individual's fault, but rather it's residual inertia left over from an era where one could succeed in the "real world" without being a lifelong learner.

This is a new millennium, and we must begin to teach in a way that will help our students also be their own teachers.

Podcast Alley: Education Podcasts - C'mon, you know you want to vote for me ... right?

Monday, September 19, 2005

Podcast 33: Art Club and 1KBWC

Click to play or download.
My 33rd podcast's audio is messed up, but I don't know how to fix it. It isn't normally full of pops like this, honest!

Show Notes:

Red Cross Posters

redcross13Every now and then (Ok, more often than that...) I feel the need to show off what my students can do. Recently I did a lesson with my 5th graders at Gaywood Elementary that involved making posters for the Red Cross. I uploaded several of them to my Flickr account, and thought I would dedicate a blog entry to them as well. Enjoy!

Oh, and don't forget to donate to the Red Cross. The outpouring of funds has been wonderful, but they're not done down there yet.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Quotes about teachers

eduicnOur best teachers do more than impart facts and figures - they inspire and encourage students and instill a true desire to learn. That's a fine art in itself.

-Sonny Perdue

There are many teachers who could ruin you. Before you know it you could be a pale copy of this teacher or that teacher. You have to evolve on your own.

-Berenice Abbott

Teachers believe they have a gift for giving; it drives them with the same irrepressible drive that drives others to create a work of art or a market or a building.

-A. Bartlett Giamatti

The sincere teachers of their youth should be met, not with an intention to dictate to them, but to give additional force to their well-meant endeavours, and raise them to public esteem.

-Joseph Lancaster

Teachers of design should help a student to find their own voice. In other words, not be a templated version of the teacher, but rather to help them [the students] unfold what they already know and can bring to the table.

-April Greiman

I have learnt silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet strange, I am ungrateful to these teachers.

-Kahlil Gibran

You can get more quotes from

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Podcast 32: Books, Clubs, and Conferences

Click to play or download.32 is just like 42, except there's not as much of it.

Show Notes:
  1. The local Labor Day Festival's PTA book fair left me with a ton of hardcovers. Why? Can you say Altered Books? Mwa-haha!
  2. Art Club notices have gone out, we're starting the last week of September.
  3. Looks like I'll be presenting at a tech conference. I'm looking forward to it.
  4. I'd like a new theme song. Anyone have a good one I may use?
Podcast Alley: Education Podcasts - C'mon, you know you want to vote for me ... right?

Technology Conference!

9th Annual Powering Up With Technology Conference

Moving on Up: Using Technology to Impact Student Achievement


Saturday November 12, 2005

7:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.


Northwestern High School
7000 Adelphi Road
Adelphi, Maryland 20782


*8 hands-on computer labs
*Model lessons on integrating technology into the curriculum
*Vendor booths and presentations
*Innovative instructional ideas
*Door prizes including a COMPUTER
*Yours truly (The Art Guy) doing a presentation on Creative Commons Multimedia

For additional information:
Call the Department of Instructional Technology at 301-925-2874, or visit the web site at and then click on the conference link.

Preregistration is $40 (in the form of a check or money order, no cash, please) which includes a continental breakfast, box lunch, and conference materials. Onsite registration is $45. Mail registration form below with fee to Christopher Fuller at the Department of Instructional Technology, 8437 Landover Road, Landover, MD 20785 by October 28, 2005. Checks should be made payable to the Prince George’s County Public Schools.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Podcast 31: Opinion Hunt

Click to play or download.31 is fun, if you don't mind listening to me rant.

In this episode I rant about a "news" story I found in Google News, then make a connection to one of the things that David Warlick talks about: It is not enough to teach our kids how to read and write. We need to teach them to read and figure out if it is RIGHT.

Hopefully I'll get to do that in my Art Club.

Podcast Alley: Education Podcasts - C'mon, you know you want to vote for me ... right?

... On an unrelated note, I think I need new background music. Any ideas?

Friday, August 26, 2005

Podcast 30: Good Web Page Design

Click to play or download.30 is wordy, but I've summarized it below.

In this episode I give tips for how to make a good web site or PowerPoint. I go on for a bit, but it all boils down to this:

1. Decide exactly what your website is about. (Example: Mine is about art, education, and technology.)

2. When adding anything, ask if it will support or get in the way of that content.

It sounds simple, but you'd be surprised how many things you can add to a page that you really shouldn't add. - a great site that teaches good web page design through bad design. They also have a book.

Podcast Alley: Education Podcasts - C'mon, you know you want to vote for me ... right?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Google Talk

I really like my Gmail account, so when Google introduced Google Talk it did manage to snag my intrest. While they don't have a Mac client yet they have provided links to several alternative clients that are Google Talk complient. (I'm partial to Adium at the moment, although those default sounds were horrible!)

If you're trying out Google Talk as well you can send an IM my way - my Gmail addy (Which is of course also my account name for Google Talk) is theartguy [at]

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Tooooo Heeeeavy!

The local news had a story on backpacks being too heavy for students nowadays. When I went to their website to reference the story I couldn't find it, but I DID find that they had in fact covered it several times before: 8/17/04, 8/23/02, I can go on, but I won't.

In a society where we stress more and more learning we seem to be putting more than just emotional weight on our students' shoulders, and apparently we've known about it for years. Think about how much an iBook weighs compared to all the books that it could replace. (And when you figure that e-books are cheaper and updated more often, those laptops can be very cost effective.) If there ever was a just reasoning for using digital media over printed texts, this is it!

Podcast 29: Art Club and Upgrades

Click to play or download.29 is fine, but I'm sure 30 will be better.

Show Notes:

On this episode I geek out. Sorry.

The Art Club computer lab is shaping up, today I upgraded some systems and installed some drawing / editing programs. Tomorrow: Linux!

Why Linux? Because spyware and viruses scare me.

(I forgot to mention this in the podcast, but...) We've got a Flickr group for elementary school art projects! ... wanna share?

Podcast Alley: Education Podcasts - C'mon, you know you want to vote for me ... right?

Monday, August 22, 2005

Podcast 28: Moodle, Art Club, Flickr

Click to play or download.28 is great!

Now I've got one show for every year of my life.

Show Notes:

Steve Dembo set up a moodle page for me to play with! Boo-Ya! It's very nice and I'm sure I'll be using it in the future, but for now Thingamablog and BlogMeister meet my needs.

Art Club will be starting soon! I'm setting up computers and scrounging/begging for more. I don't need to beg for software, thanks to programs like FuturePaint. (Scroll down on that page to see FuturePaint. Yes, I know it says "shareware" on the page but the program's documentation says it's freeware.)

We've got a Flickr group for elementary school art projects! ... wanna share?

Podcast Alley: Education Podcasts - C'mon, you know you want to vote for me ... right?

Thursday, August 18, 2005

New URL!

Now almost 50% shorter! I've registered and pointed it to my server. Those of you who still see pop-up ads when visiting my site should no longer have that problem.

Greenbelt Art Contest

Who: Any 4th, 5th, or 6th grade Greenbelt E.S. students who want to enter.

What: Drawings of what you like most about Greenbelt Elementary. (You may color them if you want.)

Where: Greenbelt Elementary

When: All submissions are due by Friday, September 2nd. Give your art to your teacher to put in the Art Guy's mailbox OR slide it under the Art Guy's office door.

Why: Because the Art Guy enjoys hanging up art!

All entries must ...

1.... have the student's name, teacher's name, and grade level ON THE FRONT.

2.... be on 8 1/2 x 11 unlined paper (computer paper).

3.... be about what you like about Greenbelt Elementary.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Podcast 27: 3 Conference Sessions

Click to play or download.Ok, so I did get lost on the way home today, but
I finally got my 27th podcast uploaded

Show Notes:

Steve Dembo set up a moodle page for me to play with! Boo-Ya!

On to the sessions!

Session 1:

Keith Haring

Session 2:

Crayola Dream Makers - Fred the bug says "hi."

Session 3:

National Museum of the American Indian ... I think I got the name wrong for this one when I was recording ...

A different session:

I didn't actually get to attend this session, but I got to see some cool sculptures that were made with clothes hangers, wood, elmer's glue, and water based paint. (Step 1, Step 2, Step 3)

Podcast Alley: Education Podcasts - C'mon, you know you want to vote for me ... right?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Podcast 26: Goals for this year

Click to play or download.

Ok, so I can't think of a wisecrack for number 26
. I owe you one.

Show Notes:

Goals concerning my students:

1) More technology in the classroom

2) More discussion of intellectual property / copyrights / fair use / open source / Creative Commons / etc.

Goals concerning my coworkers:

1) Encourage educators to read and/or write blogs.

2) Encourage educators to listen to and/or record podcasts. (iTunes will really help with this.)

Speaking of podcasts, here are some good ones:

Podcast Alley: Education Podcasts - C'mon, you know you want to vote for me ... right?

Moodle? Denied!

Now that Bud the Teacher has started using Moodle I feel I'm seriously missing a bandwagon here. I mean, there are other educators using it as well and singing plenty of praises.

Alas, I don't have access to any accounts at the moment that support Moodle or Word Press. Thingamablog is working well enough for me at the moment, but I'd like to have other options open in case I need them.

So ... anyone know how to get something like Moodle to work on a .Mac or Verizon account?

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Podcast 25: Open Source Art

Click to play or download.25th podcast! Only 75 more to go and I'll be celebrating my 100th podcast!

Show Notes:
  • This podcast is a really short one where I consider the potential of a classroom lesson involving "open source art."

  • I was inspired to do this podcast while listening to another very good podcast.

  • I wasn't thinking of it at the time, but there are already collaborative drawing lessons that I can take for a spin. The most popular is called "magnificent corpse," where three people draw a person without looking at what the other people have drawn.

  • Podcast Alley: Education Podcasts - C'mon, you know you want to vote for me ... right?

Friday, August 05, 2005

Podcast 24: What do mp3s tell us about curriculum?

Click to play or download.24 is 42 backwards! ... does that make this podcast the question of life the universe, and everything? Ok, I'm geeking out a little too much.

Show Notes:

*A big hello to everyone who found me using iTunes 4.9's podcast directory!

*What do mp3s tell us about curriculum?

*Why dread the question "When are we going to need to know this?"

*Podcast Alley: Education Podcasts - C'mon, you know you want to vote for me ... right?

Thursday, July 21, 2005

in absentia

I'm taking a break because summer vacation's almost over.

I'll be back soon.

I promise.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Podcast 23: iTunes and Art Club ... AGAIN!

Click to play or download.

The 23rd podcast is here
, there's no use trying to stop it! In this show I don't really wax philosophic too much ... maybe next time.

Show Notes:

iTunes 4.9 Now has me listed in it's podcast directory, although it lists them all out of order for some reason. (I still think iPodderX is a nicer podcatcher.)

My school's Technology Coordinator and I cleared out the old "Jostens Lab" to use for the Art Club. I've posted photos. There were some ancient computers that were beyond upgrading but we now have 8 or 9 boxes ready for tinkering - including a beige G3 donated by Phil Shapiro! (Thanks, Phil!) Computer and digital camera donations would still be appreciated.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

The 1.5 solution

circuit board

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana

"We cannot get to the future without making a break with the past" - Phil Shapiro

"The future is here. It's just not evenly distributed yet." - William Gibson

It's a bit of a dichotomy here. To get to the future we have to build upon the past, but the past can be very controlling.

Take a look at photo processing. Any good photo editing program will have tools labeled "burn" and "dodge." Burn makes things darker while dodge makes things lighter. Why do they use these terms? It's because when you're developing photos in a darkroom "burning" is when you give an area on the photo paper extra light (which makes it darker) and "dodging" is where you use something - anything - to block the light from certain areas (thus keeping the area lighter). The processes done by the software have nothing in common with the darkroom techniques other than the results, but the names stuck.

When we teach students how to use "new" technology we often have two routes we can take.

  1. We can start with the old school stuff so they can appreciate how things used to be done, although they will often resent being taught old and outdated methods. (Trigonometry without a calculator, anyone?)

  2. We can immerse them immediately into the realm of the new way of doing things. This will have a better chance of grabbing their attention, but many things will be confusing because the students won't know what came before.

As a floating Art teacher who walks into different classrooms everyday I've seen a lot of teachers pick #1 because it meant they had to spend less time with the new things they were unfamiliar with, while at the same time I've seen other teachers pick #2 because they themselves didn't know much about that subject matter's history.

This is where I offer some witty remark about how to fix this problem, but I can't really think of one. I suppose the best way out would be 1.5 - halfway between 1 and 2, if you can forgive the math pun. Unfortunately, there's no magic formula that can find that for you. You have to feel it out, I guess, just like any performer has to feel out their audience and know when to deliver the right punch-line.

Friday, July 01, 2005

22nd Podcast: iTunes and Art Club

Click to play or download.

22 won't win you a game of blackjack
, but hopefully you'll enjoy the podcast.

Show Notes:

iTunes 4.9 is not just an mp3 player, it's a podcatcher as well! I think the true geeks will keep using programs like iPodderX, but iTunes is a nice way to get podcasting to the masses.

Art Club updates: we've got computers, we have space, we have supplies, things are looking up!

You Are Here is a 12.5 meg quicktime music video by Sam Bisbee. His music's nice, but the video is a wonderful blend of still photography and stop motion animation. He even put the contact sheets online and licensed it under Creative Commons so you can remix it! If you have broadband I reccomend checking this out.

Monday, June 27, 2005

21st Podcast: Furl comments and

Click to play or download.

21st podcast
- Does this mean it's "legal?"

Show Notes:

New background music. The nice thing about GarageBand is anyone can arrange music. The down side is that ANYONE can arrange music. I hope my efforts don't disappoint.

Please, for the sake of those subscribing to your Furl or feeds, include comments with your links. Thank you.

A while back I complained about not working so well, but made sure to mention that they were in fact alpha testing their service so improvements were almost a given. Well, it's now better than ever with an almost instant submission turnaround time. Combine this with the fact that all content shows up on and I think I've found my new podcast host. :)

Monday, June 20, 2005

20th podcast: 'Not for kids' and Fanfiction

Click to play or download.

20th podcast
- one more and it can drink, even though I don't.

Show Notes:

Weblogg-ed discussed inappropriate sites, so I do too. - Another podcast popularity contest. Thanks to Steve Dembo for pointing it out.

Bud the Teacher talked about fanfiction, something I used to make a lot of years ago.

Friday, June 10, 2005


I am truly not worthy, but David Warlick added me to his blogroll. He and Steve Dembo are in my opinion the two top educational podcasters, and now they're both linking to me.

Maybe now I can get more listener comments. ;)

19th Podcast

Click to play or download.

19th podcast
- one more and it'll no longer be a teenager.

Show Notes:

Congratulations to Steve Dembo of fame, he recently got hired as a kindergarten teacher for a charter school. Steve, does that mean you'll change your podcast description to "musings of a kindergarten teacher?" - I've only just barely scratched the surface of this site, and I already like it. They have plenty of "games," but they all have an educational nature too them. Registration is free and VERY fast, activities are organized by subject, and a "Teacher Guide" is included to let you know the grade appropriate objectives for each activity.

Art Club - We've hit some snags, but we're working on it.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

18th Podcast: Making Stuff and Strange Angels

Click to play or download.

18th podcast ... does that mean it can vote?
... most likely not.

Show Notes:

School ends on Friday! So, how many educators will continue to blog/podcast over the summer?

Making Stuff - A great blog that documents one woman making all kinds of cool crafts. Reading her stuff really inspires me.

Artboy - This site has all kinds of content, but I mention it because of it's podcast: Strange Angels. Think of it as the internet version of NPR's Art & Culture segments.

Education Podcast Network - Another wonderful education resource by David Warlick. This site organizes educational podcasts by category.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

17th Podcast: 5 Security Tips

Click to play or download.

Can you believe this is my 17th podcast?
... yeah, so can I.

Show Notes:

Of course the best way to be secure online is to buy a Mac, but that's not an option for everyone so I've compiled some tips to help out those of us still using Windows.

By the way, if you're already a Technology Coordinator or fan of Leo Laporte's you can probably just skip over this. The whole podcast is really for the less technical members of my listener base.

  1. Explorer (as well as AOL's web browser, which is essentially the same as Explorer) is inherently flawed. Use them for System Updates because you have to, but for everything else you should switch to Firefox of your web browser of choice. It's less vulnerable to spyware and virus attacks and even has a built in pop-up blocker! Mac users get a lot of the same features with Safari, although I must admit I really like the beta version of Camino.

  2. Get yourself a good firewall. There are a number of software options that are quite good (Microsoft XP's built in firewall software isn't so hot, Macintosh's is a little more decent), but nothing beats a good old fashioned router. If you're using a router, whether wireless or otherwise, you've already got a hardware firewall.

  3. Firewalls don't block everything, (if they did, you wouldn't be able to get online!) so you also need a decent antivirus. Some people swear by Norton, others like McAffe (I think AOL has this built in now), Leo Laporte swears by NOD32, and still others prefer the free version of AVG since it's ... well ... free. Two things to remember though: A) An antivirus that isn't updated regularly might as well not even be there. and B) Antivirus programs don't play well together, so only have one on your system at a time.

  4. Ok, so now we have a decent browser, a firewall, and an antivirus. You should be secure, right? So why do you still have all those pop-up windows?!?! The problem is that you could still have spyware on your computer. Using Firefox may protect you from some of these, but they can still get in and antivirus programs don't usually check for them. THe purpose of most spyware programs (their creators will insist that they be called "adware," not "spyware") is to saturate you with advertisements, from which they make a pretty penny. Besides being annoying they can also mess up your bookmarks or in many cases really screw up your system. Luckily there are three decent anti-spyware programs you can get for free that (unlike antiviruses) really do play nice with each other. If you don't have them already, you should go and download the free versions of AdAware, Spybot Search and Destroy, and Microsoft's own anti-spyware program. Each one will catch spyware programs that the others won't catch, so you should install at least two of them if not all three.

  5. By the way, are you keeping your system updated? Security holes are being discovered and patched every month, so you really have no excuse not to make sure you have all the patches installed. I even have to do this with my Mac, and Firefox had some problems recently. You see, as soon as a patch comes out hackers around the world look at it and discover flaws they didn't know were there. If you don't install the patch then you're vulnerable to whatever flaws the update was made to fix. Bottom line: updates are good.

Well that covers most of the basics right there. If you want more information you can always go to Leo Laporte's Tips Section. That's where I learned most of the stuff I spouted off just now. Until next time, fare thee well!

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

16th Podcast: Comments and Podcast Sites

Click to play or download.Sweet 16, Boo-YA!

Show Notes:

Like the background music? It's mine.

In this podcast I also respond to comments by Flint and Deb.

I have several podcast directories to reccomend:

And I wrapped things up by plugging these podcasts:

  • Tips from the Top Floor - A must listen for anyone interested in improving their skill with a digital camera.
  • - The home of Steve Dembo: The man, the myth, the legend.
  • Connect Learning - Another great project by David Warlick. This man's really got his hands full!
  • History According to Bob - All the cool history that we didn't learn in school ... but should have.

Monday, May 30, 2005

New background music!

No podcast this time (perhaps tomorrow, I do have some things to talk
about...), but I just took some time to play around with GarageBand to
make some
new background music

Now I'm not saying that I dislike the
background music I've been using recently
, but I felt it was time for a
change for two reasons: 1) I could do it and 2) I like being
able to depend less on the efforts of others.

The time may very
well come soon where I begin to show case musicians in my podcasts again,
but for now I'd like to just toot my own horn (figuratively speaking,
since there aren't any horns in
this song

I hope you like it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Viral Game Thingie

Don't blame me for this little foray into random listing of things, blame Steve Dembo for emailing me. I promise to return to the usual topics of conversation after this.

Well, there's another meme going around. I participated and have picked you five to pass it along to. So if you want to participate in a schoolyard game of tag, please feel free to answer the following questions on your blog. If you hate this sort of thing and find it childish and lame, feel free to delete the email and never think about it again!

Here's what you need to list -

First 5 Songs in Shuffle of Entire Music Library

Toccata et Fugue (D minus Mix) - KRYPTONIC

The Remedy (I Won't Worry) - Jason Mraz

Appalachian Spring-Variations on a Shaker Hymn - Aaron Copland (Detroit Symphony Orchestra)

My Girlfriend - Reliant K

Warp - Yuki Kajiura (.Hack soundtrack)

Current Book You are Reading (or lightly leafing through)

Digital Photography Hacks - Not everything in this book is really a "hack" per se, but it's still a good book for anyone interested in being serious with a digital camera (even a cheaper digital).

Last Movie Seen in a Theater and Where

Hoo boy, that was a while ago .... I think it was "Master of Disguise" and it was in a theater just outside of Reading, PA.

Five People To Whom You'll Pass This

I'd rather not write all their names here (I'm not sure how they would feel about me doing so), but It'll mostly be family and friends outside of the school setting.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

15th Podcast: DSL and Creative Commons

Click to play or download.Beware the ides of ... podcasting

Show Notes:

A Basement of Broken Dreams - An album by John Holowach, hosted on I used his song called My Piano Sings (Part 3).

Thanks for the listener mail, Steve! Comments are always appreciated. - A nice site for anyone who wants to share their works without making it public domain.

Yahoo! Creative Commons Search - use Yahoo's search engine to look for things licensed under Creative Commons.

Lawrence Lessig - an author, blogger, and supporter of Creative Commons licensing.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Ender's Game and Education

circuit boardI recently revisited Ender's Game, a very decent sci-fi story, if somewhat unbelievable when it comes to child psychology.

I'd already read the book once, but that was back before I was a teacher. Back then, it just struck me as an enthralling story with plenty of plot twists. (I was once told that the art of writing a good story involves creating a character you like and then visiting hardships upon that character. Ender's Game does just that.)

But now I've been teaching for a few years and I have a lot more tech experience under my belt. When I went back to read the story one of the first things that struck me was that everyone had a computer.


Sure, the students called them "desks," but really they were tricked out wireless laptops. Even before Ender left Earth to learn in the high tech battle school it was obvious that the 1:1 student to computer ratio wasn't just present, it was expected. There were no books, save for the electronic files the students could access. The internet was still in it's infancy when the book was written, but Orson Scott Card had gotten a fleeting taste of it and imagined a world where students could find ways to communicate with the world over the 'nets. The anonymity of the internet was present as well, and in fact played a key role in the story along with self-paced life long learning.

So why am I talking with this? No reason, I suppose. I just thought it was cool that even in 1977 (the book's earliest copyright date) there were pioneers who were thinking about what computers could do for education.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

14th Podcast: Risks and Email

Click to play or download.It's the 14th! Valentine's day!

... no, wait, it's the 14th podcast. Sorry about that.

Take a survey, win a pro account for Flickr.

Show Notes:

A Basement of Broken Dreams - An album by John Holowach, hosted on I used his song called My Piano Sings (Part 3).

If you don't push the students you'll always have good results, but if you push the students then they will LEARN.

When sending email about the art schedule, some messages aren't finding their way to my gmail account. Chalk it up to computer glitch or user error, but art sign-ups were up 100 percent so I still think my system works.

Podcast Alley: Education Podcasts - Lots of good podcasts here, many of them much better than my own. I recommend casting your vote for Connect Learning (ranked 13th place), or the one for which I cast my vote: Teach42 (ranked 4th place). Either of these is worth a spot at number 1.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

13th Podcast: Ratings and Performance

Click to play or download.Lucky 13!

Take a survey, win a pro account for Flickr.

Show Notes:

A Basement of Broken Dreams - An album by John Holowach, hosted on I used his song called My Piano Sings (Part 3).

Egad! How the heck did I make 10th place in Podcast Alley's education section? I mean, I appreciate it and all, but how did that happen? To those of you who are listening / reading this, some comments on why you keep coming back would be greatly appreciated.

I think the biggest hurdle we must overcome if we want teachers to catch on to podcasts is the fact that it's still a little too technical. If we try to throw everything we know at someone all at once they won't get any of it. People digest things better with small bites.

Teachers need to stop lecturing and start performing. Walk around the classroom, tell jokes, make silly voices, and so on. It may sound goofy, but if get your students' attention then they're more likely to learn.