Friday, December 21, 2007

Academic Aesthetic 149

That's right, I'm podcasting again! And how about that, this isn't even a horrible recorded-in-the-car-using-a-cell-phone-cast, either!

I won't speak for everyone, but for me December is a time to look back on the past year and ask "Where did the time go?" Of course it's also a time to look forward and ask "Wait, I have to do all that again?" Then you get to sit down, eat a Christmas cookie, and say "I'm getting too old for this!"

...ok, I added that last one this year, since I turned 30. And now everyone who's older than me can laugh at how the young guy thinks he's old. Go ahead, it'll relieve some stress.

But seriously, as I look back on this past year I really slacked off on being a content creator. Compared to the year before I barely podcasted or blogged at all, and my Flickr photo postings have been sporadic, at best. This new year, my resolution is to fix that.

You could say this episode is an early start on just that, but I need to set up a regular schedule again - and this time, I need to stick to it. Maybe even record shows early so I have a backlog in case of emergencies. We'll see.

LogoT20.jpgI've also tweaked the Teachers 2.0 Twitter account to make it, in my opinion, more usable. I used to set it up so that any time someone saves a link in and tags it "teachers20," it'll show up as a Teachers 2.0 tweet. The only glitch is that it has to be a NEW link - going back and adding the "teachers20" tag to old links won't make them show up on Twitter. Of course you can still write something a little more in depth and post it on the Teachers 2.0 Ning site, and that'll show up in the feed as well. I'm hoping that since we now have well over a hundred members we'll start to see these services used a little more often.

I have a lot more to say, but I still like the format of a short and sweet podcast, netcast, or whatever you want to call it, so I'll just hold that over until next time. Hey, now I won't have to brainstorm a new topic!

Until next time, stay subscribed, fare thee well, merry Christmas, and happy holidays, everyone.

Friday, December 14, 2007

DVD Sub Plans

Math on the TVI know what you're thinking: DVD sub plans? What am I, nuts?!

Well what if the DVD isn't some Disney movie you got from Blockbuster the day before? (This happened to me more than once when I was a sub years ago.) What if the DVD relates directly to the curriculum the students are covering in class?

What if the DVD was created by you?
If I was in a position where I would actually have a sub when I took a day off, I would definitely do this. (I'm more of a resource person than a classroom teacher. If I have a day off I just reschedule my classes)

I think the best part about Mr. Meyer's aforementioned (aforelinked?) blog entry is that he doesn't make it too fancy. Yeah, yeah, he uses Final Cut Pro, but Lawrence Lessig does the exact same thing with iMovie. That means anyone with an out-of-the-box macbook (or iBook, Powerbook, or Macbook Pro) can do this with very little effort.

This isn't technology that we can think about using years in the future, it's technology that we can use tomorrow. (Or Monday, rather, since tomorrow's Saturday.)

If you want to get your more technophobic teachers to buy into using all these wonderful toys, this is one good way to do it.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Follow Up On My Rant

Now I'm not saying that they read my little rant about their last newsletter (although who knows?), but this month's Discovery Education Streaming newsletter's survey question involved writing a sentence rather than selecting a single choice.

Oh, the question? It was:
How would you describe in one sentence what Discovery Education provides the education community?

A much better way of doing it, I think.

I think I need to blog more.  Writing reactions to things is OK, but writing more than one post that reacts to a newsletter most people can't read (I looked for a version on their site and couldn't find it in the short time I had to search...) is a little, shall we say, redundant?

More to follow, on different topics, I hope.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Should I be proud of this?

I have mixed thoughts here. On one hand, this is the level I teach. On the other hand, elementary students are not this site's target audience.

What do you think?

As a side note, I think that (assuming this web tool is accurate) this would be a good resource for assessing sites you're thinking of using with your students. I wouldn't rely solely on it, but it's a another tool to add to the toolbox I think.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Not enough answers

12:00 flashingDiscovery Education Streaming has a monthly newsletter that (I'm assuming) they mail out to all the DEN members. This month's newsletter seemed rather brief (perhaps I'm just confusing it with a different monthly email from Discovery - one that had Steve Dembo's picks in it), but the thing that got me was a survey question near the end:
1. Which statement best matches your relationship with Educational Technology?
*I have it working right now, so don't touch anything.
*Blogs, RSS, Web 2.0, Wiki - that's what I do before school starts.
*My VCR still flashes "12:00," but it works just fine.

There you go- that was the only question, those were the only answers.

When I'm teaching, I'll often have kids ask me "Can I go to the bathroom?"

My answer is usually along the lines of "I don't know. Can you?" Then in response to their confused expressions I tell them "You have to ask the right question to get the right answer."

Granted, there's a big difference between a 3rd grader who doesn't know the difference between "can" and "may" and Discovery Education - but in both cases I don't think they've asked the right question. Or, more accurately, I don't think they've provided the right answers.

ConfusedI know a lot of teachers who could look at that survey, answer it, and move on without wondering about it at all. Four(?) years ago, I would have proudly selected the second answer. (At the time I didn't think it was a good idea for students to be given blogs as school assignments. How wrong I was!)

But I've gone beyond that. I do have students using wikis, blogs, and all kinds of cool stuff in the classroom. When new ideas come out, I want to hear about them and try them out. I'm not saying this to pump up my already over-inflated ego, because I know there are others like me who are pulling it off even better than I ever could. (I'm looking at you, Mr. Eric Langhorst! Let us know how those new iRivers work out.)

So you see, my problem with the survey question is that there's no answer I can pick that fits what I do with technology, and I know a lot of people who are in the same boat.

Maybe I'm not Discovery Education Streaming's target audience, I don't know.

I wouldn't think this was worth a whole blog post, especially one as long as this one's becoming, if I wasn't seeing this all the time in education. I've had more than one employer over the years, and in most cases they were more than happy to get you up to a level that allowed you to copy, paste, and find Microsoft Office on your hard drive. "Advanced" classes showed you how to input pictures into a word document. (I actually attended one of those, and will speak no more about it other than that the presenter asked me how to open PowerPoint.)

And true, a lot of digital immigrants need classes like that - but that's just the starting point and if we don't go on then our students will surpass us in the "how-tos" without ever learning the "whys" or "shoulds."

PUWT ConferenceI suppose that's another reason why I'm looking forward to this weekend's Powering Up With Technology conference. There I'll find educators on every level of the technology spectrum, but we'll all have one thing in common.

It won't matter if our VCRs are flashing 12:00, our current tech is working, or we love to use blogs, wikis, rss, and more outside (and inside!) the classroom.

Every single one of us at that conference will be there because we want to do more.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Build My Presentation!

As I mentioned in my last post, I'll be presenting at next weekend's Powering Up With Technology conference. My topic of choice this year involves using cameras in the classroom.

Any classroom.

Now I've used cameras to help me teach all kinds of subject areas, and I have ideas for even more ways to use them, but I also know a lot of you have used digital cameras in your classrooms in ways that I haven't.

So I would like your input. If you have a moment, please check out my Digital Photography in Any Classroom wiki and see what I've left out.

I'm not asking for you to complete everything, of course, but if you have a lesson idea that worked well I'd love to hear about it. Hey, if the results of that lesson (or at least an example) are posted online, why not just add in a link to wherever they are?

I fully intend to continue editing this wiki up until (and including) (and past) the day of my presentation, but I would love to stand up there and tell my audience that the resource I'm providing was not just written by myself.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

I'm in!

Just got this in my email today, and I'm very, very happy about it.
Aaron Smith

We are really looking forward to your presentation at the Powering Up With Technology Conference on Saturday, November 17, 2007. Registration will begin at 7:30 a.m. You are scheduled to present Digital Photography in Any Classroom in Classroom E 314 from 12:15-1:15. A computer and projection device will be provided in each room. You will also receive a continental breakfast and a complimentary box lunch.

This year our conference will again be held at Northwestern High School, 7000 Adelphi Road, Hyattsville, Maryland 20782, 301-985-1820. Northwestern High School will be available for a trial run Friday, Nov. 16th from 5-8pm and for set up Saturday Nov. 17th from 6:30 am.

The conference schedule on Saturday, November 17th:

7:30 - 8:15 Registration
8:15 - 9:15 1st Concurrent Session
9:30 - 11:00 Introductions & Keynote Address
11:15 - 12:15 Lunch & Vendor Walk
12:15 - 1:15 2nd Concurrent Session
12:15 - 2:30 2 Hour Hands-on Session
1:30 - 2:30 3rd Concurrent Session
2:45 - 3:45 4th Concurrent Session
4:00 - 4:30 Prize drawings in the Auditorium

A hospitality area will be set up in the Media Center where coffee and light refreshments will be available and materials may be stored.

This year, we would like to make conference handouts and presentations available online after the conference. If you would like your materials posted, please email them to PGCPS.PoweringUp [at]


Exit Beltway at New Hampshire Ave/Rt. 650, South, towards Takoma Park. Continue on New Hampshire Ave. to Adelphi Rd. and turn left. Continue on Adelphi Rd., cross University Blvd and pass the University of Maryland. Continue on Adelphi Rd. to school on the right.

I look forward to a very successful conference.

If you have any additional needs or concerns please contact me at: Christo.Fuller [at] or 301-386-1608 ext. 2250

Christopher Fuller
Conference Chairperson

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Good News, Bad News

Just a short update, as I don't want this to become a "medical maladies" blog.   I wouldn't be posting this here at all if it wasn't for the one I wrote yesterday, since I don't want to leave anyone hanging.

My wife is home and doing better, after they adjusted a bunch of the medications she's been taking.  (kidney failure will do that to you, but we've gotten used to it.)  The worst news we got yesterday was that she's showing signs of the early stages of pneumonia, but we caught it early so she should be ok.

Thank you for thinking about us.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Bad News, Good News

Bad news: This morning instead of going to school, I took my wife to the hospital for high blood pressure.  (Her medication isn't fixing the problem.)

Good news: This hospital provides free wi-fi.  It's the first time I've ever seen such a service offered by a medical institution, and I've been in a lot of them.

Bad news: most web 2.o sites (Twitter, Bloglines, etc.) are blocked.

Good(?) news:  I can't goof around online, I have to catch up on my work instead.  Oh, darn.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Academic Aesthetic 148

A lot to say, but not a lot of time to type. This one's a low quality car-cast done on my way home this afternoon.

Show Notes:

Yeah, I've been busy.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Box? What box?

ProcrastinationTo start, I need to apologize to all of you, my loyal readers, for going "AFK" for so long. (I'm surprised you're still here, but far be it from me to look a gift horse in the mouth.)

The truth is that I have been procrastinating (a bit), but I've also been diligently working on other projects at the same time - ones that did in fact wear me down and/or lower my creative potential. Those projects aren't done, but I'm ignoring them for a half hour or so.

I owe you that, at least.

I also had the bright idea of recording this as a podcast, but so far every time I was inspired to do so I either did not have the time, was in a public place (odd that a ham like myself gets nervous about such things), was in an environment that provided too much background noise (don't ask about my car - please), or a combination of all of the above.

So here you go. We're caught up to today, so let's move on.

Cardboard BoxLately I've been thinking a lot about boxes, most likely because of my recent move. As most of you know, moving requires you to scrounge a lot of boxes in which you can place everything you own so that you can move it from point A to point B.

Since my wife and I are both packrats, that adds up to many, many boxes.

When we started we had a system - a box for linens, a box for winter clothes, a box for books (ok, that was more like ten boxes...), and so on.  We had everything categorized.  Of course it didn't end that way, but that was the plan.

So why am I rambling on about this?

Boxes in a boxBecause schools are boxes, too.  Every day I walk into a school (box), step into a classroom (box in a box), and teach a subject (box in a box in a box).  Thankfully the Interrelated Art program I'm in requires me to teach art lessons that reinforce other subjects.  Through those I get to poke some serious holes in at least some of the boxes ... but the boxes are still there.

I'm not the only one thinking of boxes either, as shown in this chat log from a recent webinar.  I'm ending with this, because I was a participant and I think it says what I've been trying to say.
from Teryl Magee:
Ahh...losing time or thinking outside the box?

from Diana Laufenberg:
what if there is no box?

from Teryl Magee:
No box might be nice depending on how you look at it!

from Teryl Magee:
Agree Tracy!

from Jenny Vreeland:
It's what many teachers are afraid of.

from cathy masse:
There is often not enough technology available for all students and staff

from Aaron Smith:
Some people, finding that they are outside the box, then build a new one for themselves.

from Diana Laufenberg:
hence the DEN?

from Marie Coleman:
we often do set up limitations on self!

from Teryl Magee:
Ohh...deep thinking Aaron. Then I guess we step outside that box again!

[some conversation cut out to maintain the illusion of brevity] 

from Aaron Smith:
Teryl, the box is a comfort zone. I wouldn't destroy it if they need it, but I would install lots of windows and a really big door.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Academic Aesthetic 147

Download .mp3

(Note: I've just spent far too long trying to get this audio to NOT sound like a chipmunk on a coffee spree in the flash player.  The result is ... less than perfect, but at least you can tell what I'm saying.)

Here's a big important question: A reputable company with a product for educators has asked to sponsor my show. Should I say yes?

I have mixed feelings about this, since it would be advertising but on the other hand I've heard other edu-bloggers and edu-podcasters say nothing but good things about this company. I can't say more for fear of biasing your responses.

I can say that if I say yes, the sponsorship will include a graphic on the site and an audio clip in the podcast. However, the decision is up to you, the loyal listener After all, if you're reading/listening to this then you stuck by me even after over a month's hiatus. Feel free to comment on this post or email me.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Academic Aesthetic 146

wowhippo.gifThe rumors of my demise ... yadda yadda yadda.  No video this time, just an unedited monologue recorded with my newest gadget (see below).

  • Sorry for the delay.  I blame end-of-school-year-hassles, a trip to PA, a new apartment, and something else.

  • I have a new toy: The Creative Zen V Plus!  I used it to record this podcast, as a matter of fact.

  • Alas, Creative doesn't make any software or drivers that make the Zen V Plus Mac compatible.  Fortunately, these people made an open source program that gets the Zen onto my Mac!

  • It's easy to censor yourself.

  • When you post a link, you have no control over that site.

  • You're not just linking to that site now, but 3 months from now and 3 years from now.

  • Where do you draw the line?

Monday, June 04, 2007

Academic Aesthetic 145

No video this time, just wonderful low quality audio!

Wait ... what?

Show notes:

  • The wiki is getting more spam than legitimate edits. I'm dealing with the spam now, and I'll get to the real edits soon. No, really.

  • I'm beginning to like Ning more and more, mostly because it doesn't crash Firefox as often as it used to do.

  • The next Teachers 2.0 Groupcast will be recorded on the 13th. Come join in the fun!

  • Planning on upgrading the version of Drupal that's managing Should I go with regular or extra education?

  • Looking to find others willing to create Teachers 2.0 branded content. Are you interested?

Friday, June 01, 2007

Academic Aesthetic 144

Sorry for the delay, now on with the show!

Show notes:

  • Another nice audio comment by Chris Craft. Where's your audio (or video) comment? (And yes, I haven't edited the wiki recently for the same reason I haven't been podcasting.)

  • To make a podcast I need time, energy, and inspiration.

  • Usually I lack inspiration, but this time I needed time and energy.

  • Inventory is done! Hooray!

  • Are there times when we replace analog technology with a digital equivalent that isn't as good? Is digital always better? I want to hear your thoughts on this.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Academic Aesthetic 143

No time for banter, here's the show and the show notes:

  • I start out with a "phone call" from Chris Craft.  It seems he has a complaint or two.  (You can send me your own comments, too!)

  • My wife bought me a soldering iron.

  • It's cool, but scary. (I could get burned.)

  • Bre Pettis has a cool tutorial that'll help me out. I hope to one day be good enough to make a solar powered robot.

  • A lot of teachers want to start using blogs, podcasts, and/or wikis.

  • They think those things are cool, but scary. (They could get burned.)

  • There are a lot of people out there who are willing to help.

  • NextGen Teachers, Teachers 2.0, and the DEN are 3 groups that are free to join and willing to give advice and help in a pinch.

Monday, May 14, 2007

NextGenTeachers Skypecast

I couldn't stay for the whole thing, but I thought you'd might like to hear a recent online conversation in which I was the token rude American amongst a crowd of  British educators.

OK, so I hope I wasn't that rude.  You know me and self-depreciating humor...

In any case, you can find the show notes to the skypecast here.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Academic Aesthetic 142

This should have gone up yesterday, but instead I went to see a movie with the wife.

For some reason theaters frown at customers using laptops during the movie, even though they only tell you to turn off your cell phones and pagers. They said nothing about laptops! They should be allowed, right?  Um, they didn't think so.

Ahem ... well, in any case, on with the show.

  • There is always someone who will resist new technology.

  • If there isn't enough buy-in, even the best technology will fail. (BETA was better than VHS...)

  • By being enthusiastic users of technology, we can encourage holdout teachers to try it themselves.

  • I’m still looking for audio and video comments to include in my podcasts.  If the web interface doesn’t work for you, you can always email it to me instead.  That way you can include your own background music, special effects, or whatever.

  • Wondering what happened to the audio only version?  I’ve started posting them over on PodServe.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Connect Learning is Back!

Do you listen to the Connect Learning podcast?

You should.  He started long before I ever did.

Chris Craft called me a Warlick groupie.  I'm not - I'd never be able to afford the travel expenses.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Academic Aesthetic 141

This video brought to you by a tag from Durff's Blog.  Better late than never!

My 10 tips to be successful:

  1. Give thanks.

  2. Network.

  3. Unwind.

  4. Do at least ONE productive thing every day.

  5. Make something.

  6. Do something you haven't done before.

  7. Be honest, but not THAT honest.

  8. Never say no to free stuff.

  9. Have a "Plan B."  Plans C and D wouldn't hurt, either.

  10. "Don't TELL me what you're going to do, SHOW me!"

Other items of note:

  • I've created a wiki to showcase lessons that combine art with other subjects.  If you've ever handed a student a paintbrush, marker, or crayon, then you can contribute.

  • I'm still looking for audio and video comments to include in my podcasts.  If the web interface doesn't work for you, you can always email it to me instead.  That way you can include your own background music, special effects, or whatever.

  • Wondering what happened to the audio only version?  I've started posting them over on PodServe.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Academic Aesthetic 140

Behold, my 140th podcast! View it! Cherish it! Pause it at random moments and laugh at the funny faces I make!

... no, wait. Scratch that last one ...

In any case, most of this video was taken during day 2 of MICCA.

Show notes:

  • She didn't leave her name, but I think it's a plug from Gwyneth Jones!

  • Another plug from Will Richardson! WILL RICHARDSON!!

  • Getting in early. Why?

  • Picking a session. Sometimes the lesser known presenters are just as good but with more seats available.

  • Commentary by Mark Young!

  • Wondering where we'll be in 5 years...

  • Stopped by security. Oops. (No problems after I said I was a presenter.)

  • Buy David Warlick's books! Put his son through college! (What, you don't know who David Warlick is? For shame!)

  • National conferences are cool, but state and local conferences have art shows. Just sayin'...

  • Silliness

  • Now that we've learned all this new stuff, how are we going to use it in the classroom?

  • Read that last one again. It's that important.

  • Submit some audio or video! (Ok, you can email it to me instead if you don't like the web based format...) My 150th podcast is coming up, and I'd like to include more stuff created by other people.

  • A little bit of a surprise at the end. I'm not saying what, though...

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Session 8: Let's Tell a Story

hpim5454.JPGThis presentation by Melinda Kolk is showcasing software by Tech4Learning. This isn't the first time I've met up with someone from that company.

They have more than one product, the first they're showing is a program called Frames that can be used to make animations out of still images. iMovie has the same functionality, but its interface isn't designed specifically for that. Frames' interface is.

She's admitted that iMovie and Photostory have similar functionality. It's not about the technology, it's about how these kids are learning.

Each of these videos she's showing is helping to reinforce "core" (I still dislike that label) content areas. Some of them involve cross-grade collaboration, which is neat.

Session 7: Digital Filmmaking - A Beginner's Journey

hpim5450.JPGPresented by Kimberly Dyar & Beth Jacobs.

I was a little late coming in, but they're talking about how easy it was to pick up the skills needed to use iMovie. After one teacher got help, she had the skills to help others.

Camera angles


Does the music match the mood?hpim5451.JPG

Students made public service announcements after looking at some examples. They started with a worksheet to build their ideas. Te students actually had trouble creating one clear idea - instead, they wanted to write scripts.

They still have handouts, but most of it's on a CD. When I first came to MICCA everything was on a paper handout, sometimes 20 pages thick. Now, most presenters seem to have at least some form of digital version.

Pan and zoom shots were forbidden, so they could think more about composition and less about home movies.

They also talked about some space before and after the dialog so it wouldn't get clipped off by the transitions. That makes sense, although do they always need to have transitions? Still, you can always cut out the quiet times if they don't go with the commercials pacing.

Identify camera angles in examples before you set them loose.

Don't describe the shot - draw it in the storyboard.


  • Buy an external firewire drive.

  • Buy the warranty.

  • External battery charger.

  • Tripods. They got theirs from Big Lots, I found mine at flea markets and Goodwill stores.

  • External microphones.

  • Buy 1 to try out, but then standardize your equipment. Every manufacturer has their quirks.

  • Get a book called "Digital Photography for Teens." Not sure I'll buy the book, but you might wish to do so.

  • Consent & Release forms.

  • Save the tapes until the students have finished their projects. They're backups!

  • Small group camera instruction as teams finished their storyboards were more manageable.

  • Win over an administrator before you get started.

  • Demonstrate how the equipment can serve the entire school community.

Several students were special ed, and it all still worked. (I'm not shocked - every time I give my special ed kids an opportunity they rise to the occasion.)

They're talking about sharing the project with every teacher / administrator / supervisor that will listen - the support followed.

Fund raising idea: The class with the LEAST money won. It became subversive as students gave to other teachers.

Be concise when planning the budget.

Session 6: Using a Wiki to Take the Learning Home

hpim5449.JPGPresented by Richard Smart, who actually does have a website. Tell the truth, he has two of them. The paper handout is secondary, and the linksare on the first slide.

"Is this useful?" vs. "What is this useful for?"

1.5 million articles on Wikipedia by March 22nd, 2007.

He's got the point of wikis - they're fully collaborative pages.

3 features that make wikis cool:

  1. Editable articles.

  2. Discussion pages for those articles.

  3. Saves a history of all the changes.

Use the wiki to create a database on any subject: Over 2 weeks, his entire class wrote an article on his wiki on the Enlightenment. It was a group report.

Set quotas! Example: "Here's a list of vocab words. You need to post 5 definitions and edit 3 definitions posted by others."

If I have a classroom next year, I will be building a mini lab. If I have access to a lab every day, my kids can create their own textbook one chapter at a time. This is really cool stuff.

Have students post their reports to a wiki, then use the discussion board feature to critique each other's work.

Build a class website. (There may be a couple examples of that in my sidebar. Just sayin' ...)

Listing wiki services. His favorite is Wikispaces, since they provide ad free wikis to K-12 teachers.

(This presenter is British. That's cool, but his accent is making me want to put the letter "U" in certain words. I don't think that's a bad thing, provided they're the right words.) :)

Talking about security, safety, & vandalism. Good topics, too much to blog here and do the conversation justice. Suffice to say, there's a good chance that instead of Wikispaces I'll use MediaWiki on my server. I'll have much more control over everything that way, although granted it's not a free alternative since I'm paying for a server.

Ha! He posted inaccurate information on one of his wiki pages and waited to see if a student would correct it. It took 4 days for someone to notice.

The first case of plagiarism led to a class discussion on the subject. After the potential for class-wide humiliation, his students started policing themselves. Nice.

"This is Thanksgiving Day, stop posting!"  "Mr. Smart, stop checking your email!"  :D

Extended deadlines facilitate usage by students without internet access at home.  They can always visit the local library, they just can't visit every day.

He gives alternate assignments sometimes, but not every time.

Session 5: Linking Technology to Language and Fine Arts

hpim5447.JPGWoohoo, tech and fine arts! This one's presented by Magdalena Fitzsimmons.

Started off with a warm-up asking for the elements of visual arts and music, then went into justifying the existence of an arts program in the schools.

Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education

Arts help build and reinforce the transfer of knowledge.

A mention of Howard Gardner and his theory of multiple intelligences. His books are difficult to read, but the ideas are worth knowing.

Arts Integration "IS" and "ISN'T" time. It's not just doing a song about birds because the students are learning about birds. It needs equal emphasis on both academics and the arts.

She's showing examples for use in a lab, but the examples are printed out into a handout. I wonder if she has a website ... I can find online profiles, but that's it.

One example involves a graphic organizer that includes hyperlinks to media files.  The teacher prepares that in advance, then the students complete the organizer.  Not a bad way to get low-tech kids (& teachers) started.

She's only playing songs that have no English words so the students focus on the music rather than the lyrics.  Good idea.

How might I do that with visual arts?  Show abstract art?  Cut out or zoom in on portions of the composition?  I'll have to give this some thought.

Thursday's Keynote: David Warlick!

There are still a few presenters here that have printed handouts. David Warlick is not one of those people. Tags: flat, classroom, warlick

There's a password, but I won't blog that.

Taking a tour of the classroom of the future. Mr. Warlick is using his trademark sense of humor.

The words "World" and "Flat" have been used in combination with the word "is." A major requirement for ed-tech keynote speakers has been fulfilled.

"What do I need to know, in order to be a part of this increasingly cooperative world?"

"He's not investing in the technology! He's investing in the story!"

Talking about "the long tail." Basically, and other online companies make more money off of the old stuff than the new releases. Sales/item goes down over time, but there are so many items. This makes sense - most traffic to this site is from web searches that link to posts I wrote months (or longer) ago.

Buy Warlick's books! Put his son through college!

"Our job is not to teach kids what to read and what not to read." Our job is to help them make that decision.

Talking about Pluto and Wikipedia. I think Pluto got a bad rap, but that's my opinion.

"When we have new questions, where do the new answers come from?"

RSS demonstration.

Winter of 2004: Warlick started listening to blogs instead of just talking through them. It became a conversation.

RSS can be used to build a "Personal Learning Network."

"Pay attention to the information experiences that [our kids] have adopted! Respect what they have made of their world! A world that is both getting smaller and infinitely richer!"

Before Thursday's Keynote

It figures - just when I tried to post to Jaiku about the wifi working, the wifi went down.  This was a problem in the morning last year as well, but I don't recall the access being as spotty as it is this year in the rooms for the concurrent sessions.  Some are great, others you're lucky if you can get a page to load.

It's back up a little bit (enough for me to load this page), but not enough to really follow along if David Warlick mentions any cool new sites during his keynote.

Aaaand, now it's down again.  I need to stop talking about this before I become obsessed, but it's true that one of the elements of a modern ed-tech conference these days is a stable wifi connection.  (If it can get Steve Dembo to dance like Snoopy, it has to be good!)

Before we got started this morning I got to talk to several cool people, including this year's MICCA Teacher Of The Year (An art teacher!  Woohoo!).  Of course David Warlick pulled out his iTalk and asked us what we liked about MICCA so far.  It pays to be an early bird.  (I wasn't going to be a shameless self-promoter of my own site for that recording, but Mr. Warlick asked so I had no choice but to answer.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Academic Aesthetic 139

My first of two days at MICCA, so of course I'm playing with my video camera again. I presented today, but only a small section of this episode addresses my session.

Show Notes:

Post Presentation...

It occurs to me now that although this site does have a link to my Free Online Resources wiki, it's so far down on the list that even I had trouble finding it.

So ....

Here it is again:

Session 3: Digital Photography and Video Projects for Improving Learning

snipshot_hi_e46marw9dld.jpgPresented by Dr. Arnie Abrams. I've never seen Dr. Abrams present before, but he has some good ideas.

Photojournalism - tell a story, news or otherwise.

Digital ethics - nice. More people need to talk about how the camera can (and often does) lie.

Commercial assignment - more specifically, have the students create a commercial that advertises a product. The video he showed had students using aliases in the credits, wich is a nice idea.

Storyboarding instructions without words.

I may have to leave early to get to my own session on time. I hope not.

The last example had copyrighted music in it. Teachable moment about copyright infringement?

"Everyone's a reporter."

He talks about "Single Frame Animation." I know it as "Stop Motion Animation." To each their own.

Send digital photos back to the host after a field trip.

Time shifting - a look on the present from the viewpoint of the future.

Digital scavenger hunts - those are fun.

Visual seating charts - one of my schools uses photos on a chart so the Kindergarten teachers and students know who gets on which bus.

He's reccomending software at this point. Why must PhotoStory be mentioned so often? It's a nice program, but I hear about it more often than PowerPoint nowadays.

Giving tips - keep it under 3 minutes, privacy, copyright, ethics, ethics, ethics.

Sample rubrics.

Gotta go - my sessions on the other side of the continent.

Session 2: Digital Neighbor or Nuisance?

snipshot_hi_e4h3spc55tu.jpgThis session won out over my other choices because it's a forum, not a lecture. It's being moderated by Kate Cave and Bob Cave.

They want to record this. I asked if they would be podcasting it - they just might. If they do, I'll be sure to link to the file.

First a brief presentation, they're emphasizing the brevity. This could easily turn into a full lecture session if they didn't want the forum setting. That's not a complaint.

Kids people can be rude. Is your cell phone on vibrate or off?

"Fear of strangers has instilled a lack of civility in our children." I disagree. I don't think it's kids who are afraid of strangers.

This could quickly turn into a "those darn kids" gripe fest. I hope it doesn't.

UPDATE: It didn't.

On the way to Session 2

Saw David Warlick in the hallway and had a chat.

... I think my voice broke once.

Session 1: Podcast, Vodcast, Screencast Nation

Will Richardson at MICCA 07This session is being presented by the masterful Will Richardson, who is always worth seeing. When I walked in he told me I didn't need to be here (my ego inflates once more), but since it hasn't been that long since I switched from strictly audio to mostly video I'm sure there's more for me to learn.

I'm not the only one using a wiki for my notes: will take you to the handouts for all of his sessions.

Showing off podcasts - Radio Willow Web and Princeton Review Vocab Minute.

iTalk, iRiver, and other podcast recording toys. Some people have different definitions on the word "inexpensive," but at least we can still use our phones.

Audacity, that wonder of free, open source recording software.

If I find one new resource in a session, it's worth my time. Podomatic is that resource.

Onto the video - Will Richardson has a REALLY nice camera. No external mic jack, but nice nonetheless.

Youtube can RECORD video? Wow. I may need to play with that some more.

Izzy Video teaches how to make videos.

Smart Recorder is for SmartBoard presentations, but it's free and works on Mac & Windows. Could screencasts be in my future as well? :)

I taught Will about  Down, ego!  DOWN! :D

Wednesday Keynote

Hall Davidson is a great presenter - forgive me if I blog this presentation with short concise sentences or sentence fragments.

The world is shrinking - "long distance" is no longer a big deal.

"The most dramatic shrinking is between imagination and reality."

"If you do something all the time, the medium becomes invisible to you."

The old "I'm taking your picture and putting it in my presentation." bit.  It's worth repeating.

Kids will tear up the format we give them.  We need to make that relevant.

Still no working wifi, except for Hall who had his set up special.

"We share more than just data."

I left a little early, but only so I could get to Will Richardson's first session without participating in the "running of the bulls" that one might expect.

Before Wednesday's Keynote

You know you've gone to a lot of tech conferences when Hall Davidson (he took my picture, but he took LOTS of pictures) and Will Richardson (he promised to cancel his session that was competing with my own ... I'm sure he was joking ... I think.) both recognize you.  That being said, I still wish we had a few more of these within driving distance of where I live.

My only gripe so far is that the free wifi which MICCA brags about pioneering seems to have gone down.  The signal taunts me, occasionally jumping from one bar to a full signal, but even at full strength it isn't really letting me connect to the outside world.

Mr. Richardson showed me an external card from Verizon that gives him wifi almost anywhere, even when no one else has access.  To be honest, I'd invest in that of these conferences were a more regular occurrence for me.

I'm not worried about my own presentation, though.  Granted, my first choice is to show off the free resources wiki, but if I can't get online I have a PowerPoint with the same info and if that falls through I've got al the slides on my iPod.  If I need more than a "Plan C," then it's not my job to fix the problem.

While I was typing they were presenting awards to the students who won the annual art contest.  Every year it's nice to see some of the stuff that students are capable of churning out using tools that didn't exist 20 years ago when I was their age.

I feel old now.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Academic Aesthetic 138

Hey, where's the audio only version?  I moved that over to Podserve.  Vidcasts like this one will still get posted here, though.

Show notes:

Friday, April 13, 2007

Academic Aesthetic 137 Video

Chris Craft tells me I should register  I think he's right.

Show Notes

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Academic Aesthetic 136 Video

Episode 136 already? It seems like I only started 135 episodes ago!

Show Notes:

Monday, April 09, 2007

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Academic Aesthetic 134

Just a few quick things that I thought were cool:

  • My Art Club students have started teaching each other.

  • Some of my students are linking to my website from sites they've made themselves.  (I won't link to their sites without parental permission, though.

  • Second Life seems to be running better than ever.  When I last used it months and months ago, it took forever to download all the textures and I was often booted when servers went down.

  • I started a Teachers 2.0 group on Ning so I could try it out, and lo and behold people have been joining!  So now you can be a participate on Ning or on the original (and ad free) site.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Academic Aesthetic 132 Video

My latest show is a call for would-be podcasters to start podcasting.


(And don't forget to send me some audio or video comments!)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Academic Aesthetic 130 Video

Here's my latest rambling, where I talk about the definition of art and how it relates to education.

...Ok, you got me - this is a response to Dave LaMorte.  I also make a plug for the Artchive.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Academic Aesthetic 128 Video

Behold, episode 128 in all of its glory! ... sorta.

In this episode I tried for a slightly different style. Don't fret if you don't like it, I'm not keeping it.

Show Notes:

Monday, March 19, 2007

Academic Aesthetic 127 Video

It's been far too long since my last episode - Here's the video version of some news that's happened in the interim.

  • I'm presenting at MICCA!

  • Free Online Resources Wikki! (The handout for my MICCA presentation)

  • Ning is less annoy-ning!

  • My PowerBook's mic works again! I don't know why, but I'm not asking too many questions.

  • Anime Studio is a fun animation program. Like Flash, but without the price tag.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Free Online Resources Wiki

Mobile Phone showing multimedia optionsMy MICCA presentation this year is all about free sources for multimedia, something I know a bit about since I use visual aides so much in the classroom to help with my lessons.  Hey, as a visual art teacher I pretty much have to, right?

Well, as I was writing down all of the sites I go to on a regular basis I had an idea.  What if I listed my favorite resources on a wiki?  Then my handouts would be online (thus saving a tree or two), and others would be able to add their own favorites to the list as well!  (I've had good luck with this strategy in the past as well.)

To make a long story short(er), that's exactly what I did.  Why not browse around and add some things that I forgot?

Friday, March 09, 2007

Art class in the Mac Lab

A fellow art teacher is interested in teaching an art lesson in a Mac computer lab. Does anyone have some cool ideas for a 75 minute lesson (give or take)?

I'm unsure of how many cameras/camcorders/scanners they have available, but they've already used Comic Life to illustrate some stories using clip art.


Denied!I know, I know, that title is a horrible pun. Still, it does do a good job of summarizing this posting.

It should be no surprise to those of you who've been following this blog that I've been dabbling in ed-tech groups. I still attend the occasional DEN event,and I'm an off and on contributer to the NextGenTeachers blog. Of course there's also Teachers 2.0, but I talk about that so much that I'll limit my plugging of that group to things that directly relate to the subject of this rant.

Steve Dembo recently raved about, which lets you create your own social networks. In a nutshell, it's like installing Elgg without the pain and suffering. Sounds great, right?

It would be, if it worked right.

I had been expirimenting with Elgg to see if it might be nicer than Drupal for Teachers 2.0, so almost immediately I created a test group on ning - not to replace the main site, mind you, but just to try it out to see if it was worth it.

My first impression was that it was really slick. The interface was intuitive and I had a lot of options to help me customize my group. Ok, so it wouldn't show a preview image when I posted a video, but that was a minor detail, right?

DeniedOh, I also can't answer any of the profile questions I created for my group. No matter what I type, when I submit them I go to an error page. That's not so much a problem, but what about groups where you have to fill out the questions to join?

Nope, those don't work either. I'd love to join Steve's EduGamerz group. Love to, but Ning won't let me, since I can't submit answers to the questions.

I couldn't even post to my blog on Ning, since the only thing it loaded in the text box (when it loaded anything at all) was the front page for my Teachers 2.0 Ning group. Yeah, that was odd.

The final straw was this morning. It turns out that a member of the DEN group on Ning sent me a friend request and a message. Not only can I not view either (so I can't approve the request and I can't reply to the message) , trying to do so will force my browser into a downward spiral that forces me to force-quit it and restart. Switching browsers gets me a little further along, but not far enough to actually do anything useful before I once again have to force-quit.

So I wouldn't say Ning is ready for prime-time. Not when it gives me this many glitches regardless of the browser I use.

I think I'll stick with Drupal.

[UPDATE] - Many of the bugs have been fixed.  There go all my complaints!

Thursday, March 08, 2007


Just got this in the mail - it's happy dance time.
Congratulations!  Your proposal has been accepted for the MICCA 2007 "MICCA Goes Platinum" conference.  The program committee reviewed many applications, looking for presentations that would allow all participants an opportunity to learn more about educational computing.  Your presentation met all of our criteria and we look forward to your session

I'll post more as the conference draws near.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Any Elgg Experts in the house?

I'm playing with a copy of Elgg to see if it's better suited for Teachers 2.0 than the current Drupal setup.  Through trial and error I've gotten through most of the errors I encountered when installiing the thing, but I still have one more that keeps popping up on the top of each page.

Anyone know what I'm doing wrong?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Sunday, February 18, 2007

What do you make?

Bre Pettis has done it again.

Where does he get all those wonderful toys ideas?

You can find more of Bre's stuff over at

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Academic Aesthetic Netcast 125

I'm still playing with my digital video camera.

This time around I lament that I have too many books (yeah, you heard me), and why. It's because the nature of the media has changed, but there are a lot of things that have changed along with it.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Academic Aesthetic Netcast 124

Behold, Steve Dembo's Top Web 2.0 Applications in all of their glory! The audio has a few glitches that I didn't expect, but otherwise I'm happy with the recording.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Will Richardson!

I'm sitting in Will Richardson's breakout session and we're asking him all kinds of questions.  I'll fill this out more later, but why not check out his presentations' wiki while you wait?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

It's alive! IT'S ALIIIIIIVE!!

After much panic and several emails exchanged with tech support, Academic Aesthetic is back in business ... more or less.  There's a bit of housecleaning left to do, but other than that I'm good to go.

You see, THIS is why regular backups are important.  :)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I cost my school $2000 dollars

Tools of the Trade ... well, actually a bit more than that. Today I brought my new toy into work, and just had to show it off to the media specialist. She liked what she saw, and liked the price tag (only $220!) even more.

Just then, our Principal walked in with a smile on her face. She was in a good mood.

Long story short, the Media Specialist and myself convinced our Principal to buy a digital video camera and a digital still camera for each grade level. (I also agreed to help the Principal out with her own personal digital camera provided she brings it in. Should I be worried about what I've gotten myself into? ... nah!)

This is all really good news. (Even the helping the Principal bit - I'm looking forward to the opportunity.) One of the biggest hurdles I've encountered with tech is finding room for it in the budget, and we have it. Now, we'll have to move onto the next big problem.

Convincing the staff that the cameras should not only be used, but that it's easy to use them.

I've a few ideas concerning what I could do, but I'd like to hear your ideas. If you had only 15 minutes to show other teachers a cool digital camcorder activity, what would you do?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Academic Aesthetic Netcast 123

This time around I play with a new toy (a digital video camera), lament (sort of) on spending so much on tech, and talk about redefining education.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Room to Read

Kids in a LibraryI've recently fallen in love with the podcasts that National Geographic is rolling out on a regular basis.

In one of them they've posted an interview with John Wood, an ex-Microsoft employee who got the idea of collecting books for impoverished schools in Nepal and Vietnam (and more countries?) after a vacation to the Himalayas.

He founded an organization called Room to Read and has started over 3,000 libraries already, saying he wants to set up more libraries than Starbucks has coffee shops.

But enough from me. Why not listen to this National Geographic episode yourself?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Academic Aesthetic Netcast 122

Today's 'cast is all about groups and a legitimate concern or two voiced by Bud the Teacher. (I'm cross-posting it on the Next Gen Teachers group partially to check out how well it handles podcasts.) (UPDATE: Looks like it works just fine.)
Shownote links:

Saturday, January 13, 2007

His English was better than my Polish

I just spent over 2 hours chatting with a 16 year old student in Poland who found me on Skype and wanted to practice his English skills.  We talked about popular culture, politics, school, and anything else he could think up.  He had only been learning English for two years, but he was good enough to get by in most English speaking countries, I think.

The cool part is that this was a kid who decided on his own that he wanted some practice, so he found a teacher on Skype on his own time who might be able to help him.
When I was 16, if you had suggested to me that I should contact someone in a country a quarter of the way around the world in order to improve my skill at anything, I would have said you were nuts.  Now, I'm sure it's much more common.

This is the future of education - students deciding they want knowledge, then going out and finding it for themselves.  I think of all the skills we pass on to the next generation, teaching them where to find what they want is one of the most important.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

World's Youngest Blogger

Aiden 018

Aiden 018,
originally uploaded by teach42.

Steve Dembo is now the proud papa of a bouncing baby boy! He hasn't blogged about it yet, but there are a ton of Flickr photos uploaded already.

Congrats, Mr. and Mrs. Dembo! Now the fun can really begin. :)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Hear ye! Hear ye!

(Taken from Dangerously Irrelevant)
All education bloggers are hereby invited and encouraged to...

  1. complete the short and completely unscientific, but hopefully interesting, education blogosphere survey;

  2. forward the URL of said survey to all other known education bloggers to ensure decent representation of the education blogosphere; and

  3. publicize said survey URL on their own blogs to foster greater participation in this most noble endeavor.

Survey results received by Sunday, January 14, shall be posted in the town square on Wednesday, January 17.

Those solicited who choose not to participate shalt be labeled both publicly and widely as dastardly scoundrels, notty-pated hedgepigs, or beslubbering, doghearted, maggot-ridden canker-blossoms!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Academic Aesthetic Netcast 121

The best part isn't the coreDownload .mp3

Chris Craft (a man who is quickly becoming one of my favorite bloggers) wrote a post yesterday that I find difficult to sum up in an introduction.  He had a few insights that spoke to me, partially because art and foreign language are both lumped outside that tightly knit group of "core" subjects.  (I continue to believe that a "core" subject should be any subject that prepares you for the real world.  For me, my art classes were some of the most important core classes I had.)

But one thing that sent a shiver down my spine was when he quoted another blogger named Christian:
"Instead, get kids to begin to define their stake in the world .... Otherwise, tomorrow's 'blogging assignment' is merely yesterday's boorish 'PowerPoint presentation' ..."

Best Slide EverMy goodness, that's scary!  For years I've fought against the idea of giving the students an annual PowerPoint assignment as a halfhearted attempt to fulfill some technology integration requirement, and to see today's blogs become yesterday's PowerPoints would be like taking Web 2.0 and turning it into Web Beta.

And yet Chris and I have a similar dilemma - how exactly are we supposed to get our students where they need to be with information literacy if we barely have time to teach them our official subject areas?

As much as I love my job, the kids I get to see most often are the ones in my art club.  Our weekly meetings give me only an hour of instruction time with the kids, so setting up the back end involved in getting students to start blogging on their own is much harder than it could be for a classroom teacher teaching the same grade level.

Well, I have three choices.  I can whine about it, forget it, or do something about it.  I've just finished my whining (and yes, it did make me feel better) and I'm too much of a geek to just forget about it, so It's about time I start doing something, right?

Working TogetherThe key thing I have to remember is that I'm not alone.  In some ways I'm in a great situation, because K-6 students have very few teachers.  For those grades that do team teaching I can collaborate with one teacher and actually cover every student in that grade level, and it's the upper grades that are more likely to be taught in teams.

So there's a way to divide the work load (and get more face time with the students), provided I can get certain teachers into the whole blogging thing.

Beyond that, there's still a lot of work.  We'll simultaneously have to drill the students on internet safety, show them just how easy it is to blog and comment on the blogs of others, and give them writing prompts that will encourage them to give answers that are more than just copied out of their textbooks.

Yeah, I never said it would be easy.  But the collaboration will make it easier, I'm sure.