Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Why aren't we doing this?

eduicnDavid Warlick had a great quote on his blog today:
Stop talking about integrating technology into the curriculum, and start talking about integrating the curriculum into an information-driven, technology-rich, rapidly changing world.

I'm sure most of us when reading that quote see it as the great, timely idea that it is. Unfortunately there are two roadblocks.
  1. How exactly do we do that?
  2. How many teachers, when told how to integrate the curriculum into "real world" experiences, acknowledge that it's nice and then continue with business as usual?
Obviously #1 is the first snag that must be addressed, especially for those of us with mandatory state, county, or local curriculums. I would propose that we look at our planning backwards - like teaching to the test, but in this case the "test" is surviving after graduation.

What skills will students need when job descriptions are constantly changing? (I won't list those here, if you're reading this you probably already have a good idea.) Those are the parts of the curriculum that need to be reinforced the most. Even if you have a rigid curriculum you should still have some wriggle room to get the ball rolling.

The 2nd roadblock is much more difficult. Inertia is a horrible thing to overcome, and teachers who were innovative ten, twenty, and thirty years ago have eroded away a nice rut. They're comfortable, the students are learning (albeit not what they need to learn...), and they're tenured, so why change?

We need to show those teachers how much better the change can be.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Don't fall off the edge

HPIM2450People in the following countries have visited my blog between January 24th and today:

United Kingdom
United States

I don't need any more proof that the world is becoming more flat every day, do you?

Hey, who wants to turn this into a meme? If you have a website and a way of tracking the countries your visitors are from (via a web counter, etc.) make a list of all of them from the past week or so and post it on your blog.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

I should be blogging this

techicnThe other night my wife and I went out to see Narnia. It was a great experience, but I'll save the review for the bloggers that focus on movies. However I did notice something during the show that I felt was worth a mention.

You see, we don't go to movies that often. Instead, we tend to watch DVDs or TV shows in the comfort of our own home. Now that Kelli works for the movie theater we can get in for free, so we celebrated one day by having her not go home at the end of her shift.

And we sat there.

When I watch a movie at home I will usually have my laptop open in front of me. I'll chat with friends, search for lesson ideas, edit photos, and so on. Kelli spends just as much time online as I do, sometimes even more.

If you try that in a theater, they'll ask you to leave.

When I'm on the road or working around the house I'll listen to a variety of podcasts, since their audio only format allows me to multi task.

You can't listen to mp3 players in the theater either.

Perhaps it's a symptom of ADD, but during that relatively short time at the movies I got a taste of what our digital native students might feel when they're removed from their technology. While I enjoyed the movie and the time I got to spend with my wife I felt totally unproductive during the slow parts of the film.

At that point I thought, "I should be blogging this!"

So I did.

Now what does this tell me about education?

The same thing that my 2nd grade Ojibwa basket lesson told me last week.

I had this great lesson where students would cut out a construction paper template and then lace it up to make a basket. It was really slick, but they had a lot of problems with it and we ran out of time.

I came back at the end of the day (with the classroom teacher's blessing) and continued the lesson, but this time I only had a few kids work on baskets at a time while the rest of them did some other classwork.

And the kids finished both projects so fast it was amazing.

Multiple simultaneous activities can (if done correctly) help to maintain interest and decrease the time those projects would need to be completed seperately.

I need to go plan some art lessons that can be used simultaneously.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

I see you, you see me ...

techicnI'll be the first to admit it: I'm a technophile. I simply love technology (cutting edge or otherwise) and what it can do in the right hands. If you're reading this, you're probably in the same category.

Back when I was a kid I learned about video conferencing, which to some was a very big deal. I remember going on a field trip to a museum so we could sit and watch a little unmanned sub named Jason explore the Titanic. Our time there was limited and while we were told it was a video conference there were so many kids participating that no one in our museum got to ask the scientists any questions - at least, not while my class was there.

At the time, I wasn't that impressed. Now as I look back I'm impressed with the technical ability to do live video communication via satellite during the 1980s, but the implementation was on just too wide a scale to give any of my classmates a sense of ownership in the experience.

Years passed, and a lot of cool things happened.

A sunday school teacher of mine came in one day and said he had talked to someone in Alaska by typing on a computer. Having read a lot of science fiction and fantasy even at that point I believed him, but again I had no ownership in it. After all, even if he got the chance to do that I probably never would. Computers like that were for scientists and rich people.

More years passed. I decided I either wanted to be a forest ranger, teach literature, or teach art. (Art won.)

My first semester in college a friend (who would later be my roommate and even later the best man at my wedding) introduced me to this wonderful thing called the "internet." Our university gave out free dial-up accounts, so the price was right. At the time our system was already antiquated so those speedy 24K modems (top of the line at the time) were vastly overpowered for the university network.

We had three numbers we could call. Two were the low speed connection of 2.4k (that decimal is not a typo), and they also had a high speed line that was a blazing 9.2k (again, not a typo). This of course limited our surfing ability, but having never been on the internet before we were still blown away. Paul and I spent a lot of time in various telnet chatrooms, MUDs, etc. where we could talk to people all over the world. At the same time I started to spend time on usenet, mostly lurking in the short fiction groups to feed my sci-fi/fantasy addiction or actively participating in a couple of the philosophy groups.

This time I had a tremendous sense of ownership, but never thought once about how I could relate this technology to a classroom environment. It's embarrassing to admit that, but it was true.

Later on I started hearing about webcams, and how they would allow for not just text communication but instant visual communication as well. It was Jason and the Titanic all over again, but this time anyone with a webcam and a connection faster than 9.6k (thank you, free AOL disk!) could do it. I heard more than one person start talking about video conferencing in the classroom, but it pretty much ended there.

I heard a story about a small school in Texas that had a limited budget, so they used video conferencing to outsource several of their classes to other schools. The special played one day, then I never saw anything about it again.

One of my former buildings even had a video conference room, complete with a wall of TV monitors and unidirectional microphones embedded in the desks, but in my two years as a teacher there I only ever saw it used for department chair meetings or standardized tests. I never saw anything in there even turned on, and the microphones in several desks had been vandalized.

Move time forward again. Yesterday Mr. Sprankle posted some photos of his kids interviewing (and being interviewed by) a radio station as well as Janet Hill from Apple Computer. The radio thing is cool just by itself, but the entire conversation with Janet Hill took place on the computer. It was a small scale video conference, and I'm sure that it was everything my Titanic experience was not.

Heh, every time I think Room 208 is so cool it can't get any better, they go and one up themselves.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Skills for Success

brushesicn(Courtesy of the Prince George's County Public Schools Art Department)

Goal 1: Learning Skills
  • The student will plan, monitor, & evaluate his or her own learning experiences.
Goal 2: Thinking Skills
  • The student will think creatively, critically, & strategically to achieve goals, make effective decisions, & solve problems.
Goal 3: Communication Skills
  • The student will plan, participate in, monitor, & evaluate communication experiences in a variety of situations.
Goal 4: Technology Skills
  • The student will understand, apply, & evaluate technologies as labor-enhancing & problem-solving tools.
Goal 5: Interpersonal Skills
  • The student will work effectively with others & participate responsibly in a variety of situations.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Academic Aesthetic Podcast 46: Cheapskate

Click to play or download.My 46th podcast is NOT a conference or presentation (gasp!)

Show Notes:

I'll admit it, I'm a total cheapskate. As such, I've found a variety or resources to use frequently that cost me nothing, or at least next to nothing. Hey, even today's background music (Loyalty and Honor The Journey Home) was free.

Expensive Way
Cheapskate Way
Art booksFlickr CC, Yotophoto, & Artchive.com

Art supplies

Donated recycled materials

New computer with the latest OS

Old computer running Linux

Microsoft Office

OpenOffice.org (NeoOffice)

Music CDs

PodSafeAudio.com & Archive.org

Server space (podcasts)

Ourmedia.org (Archive.org)

Server space (blog client)

Blogger.com & Class Blogmeister

Friday, January 20, 2006

Asking for it

writeCriticism, that is. A lot of people out there in the blogosphere ask for comments and criticism, but Lawrence Lessig (the man behind Creative Commons) has gone one step further.

Mr. Lessig has created a wiki where anyone can go in and offer criticisms and counterpoints to the arguments he offers in one of his books. It's an idea I had never thought of myself, and I'm very interested in seeing how it turns out.

This is one of the nice things about the way the web is evolving. It's a way for us to share our opinions, true, but it's also a way for others to share differing opinions with us.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Finger Puppets!

hammerThis is truly spiffy - Bre Pettis over at I Make Things and Room 132 posted a finger puppet how-to video that is nothing like the mini lessons I've been making. (In other words he's in front of the camera, showing lots of details, has a GOOD camera, and is otherwise doing a great job.)

I really think more art teachers need to do these, and then someone needs to combine them into a giant online library. Imagine - any lesson you want at your fingertips! unitedstreaming, eat your heart out! :D

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Monday, January 16, 2006

Egg on my face

MediaSelection.jpgWhy does this image embarrass me? It's pretty simple, really.

You see, I recently posted about my trials and tribulations when attempting to get unitedstreaming video onto my iPod.

Turns out that it wasn't MoviesForMyPod that wasn't working, it was me. As you can see in the illustration (click for a better view if you can't see it) there's an option to select Windows Media or Quicktime as a playback option.

I had switched this to Quicktime, but never refreshed the page so it was still full of .asf files. That didn't even matter, since I spent most of my time trying various freeware programs on an .asf file I had downloaded last week.

While revisiting unitedstreaming yesterday I noticed that suddenly all the files were using quicktime suffixes because by now Firefox had refreshed.

So unitedstreaming works better than I ever thought it did. I feel silly for not noticing this before, but at least now I can put a lot more video on my iPod to show my students.

(Oh, and if you've been thinking of doing the same thing don't you dare go out and buy the cable from Apple that lets you hook your iPod up to the TV. There's a cheaper way to do it.)

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Idea Hunting

PodcastEdShirtFrontI just caught up on all of my blog feeds yesterday and today I'm trying to catch up on all the podcasts I've got on my hard drive. (This will not be finished today, as I've now only gotten it down to just over 23 hours of podcasts and I will be taking a 3 hour break when Leo Laporte's radio show comes on.)

Listening to the likes of David Warlick and Bob Sprankle has gotten me itching to record another podcast, but I won't be doing that just yet. You see, I'm temporarily out of ideas.

Oh, I've got plenty of ideas, but I've already mentioned them in writing and in my podcasts. I don't want to just rehash the same old concepts over again for the sake of building up the number of podcasts I've recorded.

So for now you won't be getting any podcasts from me. I need to be inspired to ramble on about something first.

Maybe tomorrow, as I still have a ton of EdTechTalk podcasts to work through.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Altered Book Ideas

Altered Books on FlickrI'm still on my cleaning spree, and while most old school things I find are totally irrelevant today (including a list of 20 art links that were all dead except for two museum sites) every now and then I find a gem.

One nice thing I found was a list of ideas for altered books, which is great since my Art Club kids each have one. I wish I knew who wrote the original list, but here's the new improved version with a few of my own ideas included.
  1. Use crayons and watercolors to create a wax resist. Use a white crayon or rubber cement to make "invisible" lines.
  2. Glue two pages together (to make them more sturdy) and cover them with watered down gesso, with or without a tint of color. Sand the pages and draw on them with a pen.
  3. Copy a picture of your own onto a transparency sheet and tape it into your book. When flipped one way or the other, how does it relate to the work behind it?
  4. Create a 50/50 glue/water mix and use it to stick colored tissue paper to a page.
  5. Cut shapes from thin cardboard and place them under a page. Rub over the page with a spoon to emboss it.
  6. Cut apart two images (your own, pages from magazines, photocopies, or any combination) and weave them together.
  7. Outline an image with liquid glue and let it dry, then color it with watercolors and/or colored pencils.
  8. Cut out pictures of arms, legs, torsos, and heads and glue them together to create collages of new people or monsters.
  9. Circle words on a page to create a "found word" free verse poetry. Color over the selected words with white crayon, then use markers to cover the rest of the page with an illustration that describes the poem.
  10. Cut three pages into thirds horizontally, and draw a person (or house, car, machine, etc.) on each page. Try to get the body parts of each person to line up so you can flip through the top, middle, and bottom separately to create new artworks.
  11. Save postcards, receipts, and other flat souvenirs from your next vacation. Use them to create a collage.
  12. Cut apart a page with nothing but words on it and glue those words together to tell a new story. illustrate it on the next page.
Additional ideas are more than welcome.

unitedstreaming for iPod

iPod fanatics unite!

Discovery Education offers a great service called unitedstreaming. It's a commercial product, but lucky for me my county purchased licenses for all of it's schools. This gives me access to all kinds of videos (and clips), pictures, lesson ideas, and more, but I do have a problem.

The movies are saved as .asf files, which means I can't put them on my new iPod with video. A workaround has been found using Quicktime Pro, but after paying for an iPod I don't really feel like shelling out another $30 or so to make it work. (Especially when a Quicktime Pro license only lasts until the next update.)

So I embarked on a search for a free solution. I've had Digigami's MoviesForMyPod on my hard drive for a while, so I knew when that was suggested as a solution it wouldn't work - it didn't have the right codec to decode .asf files.

Then suddenly Flip4Mac came on the scene, due to Microsoft's decision to discontinue updates for the OS X version of their Media Player. I actually saw references to this nifty app on a cartoonist's website first, although Mr. Dembo is already hyping it.

So I downloaded it last night and did a restart.

Turns out on my Mac running 10.3.9 it's only half successful - I can listen to the audio just fine but the pictures are just a wash of pixelated colors. I'm open to the idea that I did something wrong or skipped a step somewhere, but after uninstalling and reinstalling I still can't figure it out.

Does anyone have a free solution for me to translate .asf files into .mp4 so I can use them in my classrooms?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Blogging 101

My 45th podcast is another presentation - this time it's an introduction to blogging. I can't say it was my best example of public speaking, but I said I'd record it and put it on the site so that's exactly what I'm doing.Click to play or download.

Last time I included all of my presentation slides embedded in the mp3 file and I decided to do the same thing this time as well. Be careful, though - at 9.8 MB and over 28 minutes this podcast is much longer than my usual ramblings.

Show Notes:

Edu-Blogging 101 Wiki

bloglines.com (to read blogs)

blogger.com (to write blogs)

Rachel Amstutz

Discovery Education

Monday, January 09, 2006

Tech Integration Checklist

I was doing some very late (or very early) spring cleaning, and came across some papers from seminars and conferences I attended years ago.

Most of the stuff wasn't worth keeping, but I did find a list that I think I acquired at a MICCA conference. I wish I knew who wrote this (a Google search came up empty), but I think it's worth a reprint here.

UPDATE: I just got an email from Rachel. It turns out that Sarah Stiles (A freind of Rachel's from Anne Arundel County Public Schools) was the author of this wonderful list. My guess is that it was her presentation I saw at MICCA.

8 Ways to Test for Effective Technology Integration

1. An outsider would view the use of technology as a seamless part of daily instruction.

2. Students are genuinely interested & excited about learning.

3. You'd have trouble accomplishing your learning goals if the technology were removed. (In other words the technology is truly the "best media," or the "right tool for the right job.")

4. You can explain how the technology is enhancing instruction in 2-3 sentences.

5. Students work towards one or more content-related outcomes.

6. The technology activity is a logical extension of the lesson.

7. A real problem is being solved through the use of technology.

8. All students are able to participate & you can describe how a particular student is benefiting from the technology.

The idea behind this list is not to do all 8 at once, but to hit two or three of them every time you strive for technology integration. Thoughts? Comments? Does anyone know who wrote this?

Friday, January 06, 2006

Happy Smith Day!!

I'm going to take an unusual detour away from my normal art, ed, and tech ramblings to wish all the Smiths out there a happy Smith Day.

What, you don't think it's a real holiday? Well the Seattle Times disagrees!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Dembo and my Open Interview

I was checking the long list of blogs I read regularly and was pleased to see that Steve Dembo responded to my "open interview." (As if I didn't have enough reasons to inflate my own ego...) You should go check it out, and since I'm sure some of you just listen to my podcasts rather than read what I write here's a direct link to Steve's podcast. His answers are at the end, so just sit back and enjoy.

It's not too late to respond to my open interview, why don't you give it a shot?

Academic Aesthetic Podcast 44

My 44th podcast is a recording of my presentation on Creative Commons that I gave back in November. I included my presentation slides (Not PowerPoint - I made them in OpenOffice) as artwork in the mp3 file.Click to play or download.

Show Notes:


Creative Commons

“Crowd” Picture

Flickr.com Creative Commons

Free Culture (the book)

Google Advanced Search



PodSafe Audio

Yahoo! Creative Commons Search


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