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Showing posts from October, 2009

Wikis & YouTube for Snowboarders!

My mission this year has been to integrate as much technology as possible in an effective way in my classroom. I have started class blogs, had freshmen create websites based on research, and encouraged sophomores to publish their work on wikis and VoiceThread. But I thought I might share how I have integrated some of my "techie" skills into my personal life, as well.

My husband, Jimmy, is an avid fisherman, surfer, and snowboarder. In the past few years he has gotten really good at the latter. He kind of had to get better to hang with me and my family. We have been pretty dedicated skiers our whole lives. So, in his quest to get better and learn more about the sport, Jimmy has become a certified snowboard pro and is now training other snowboard pros at our home mountain, Attitash.

In an effort to communicate with his snowboarding buddies in the off season, he asked me if there is a way they could network more efficiently than over email. Immediately, I thought "WIKI&quo…

Teacher v. Technology

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Anyone and everyone who has had a child or grandchild within the past decade knows what Baby Einstein is.

If you have watched or listened to any new within the past 24 hours, you also know about a refund that the Baby Einstein company has decided to offer in response to accusations that their products (mostly the videos) are not, in fact, educational. The experts seem to agree that no amount of time in front of any video will teach a baby as much about language, shapes, colors, animals, and human social skills as one-on-one time with parents and other caretakers.

After listening to NPR's Talk of the Nation do a 30 minute segment on this topic, I did some reflection:

How much does technology matter in my classroom?

How much to I matter?

If you are interested, listen to the NPR broadcast. It was an excellent segment and the guests got into a rather heated debate on the topic.


If you don't have time to listen, just check out the summary at NPR.org.

In light of a recent blog I p…

President Obama's Speech to America's Students... one month later

I'm sure you remember the controversy over President Obama's speech, which was broadcast nationwide, to America's primary and secondary school students. That day I did not have a class at the time the President was delivering his speech. But I had several students in my class that met soon after who seemed to think there wasn't anything political about his words at all. One student called it "an academic pep talk."

If you care to watch the 19 minute speech, here is the video.


You can go to WhiteHouse.gov for a transcript of the speech as well.

Now it has been one month... did his speech make a difference?
Are our students working harder because they have a better understanding of long term goals, a point President Obama tried to amplify?
Are our students seizing the opportunity to learn from their errors, or are they still arguing with their teachers to get a couple more points added to a test grade?
Are our students persevering because they feel a patriotic r…

Trying to be a Renaissance (Wo)Man

It seems that we teachers do a heck of a lot more than teach. When I decided to become an educator I was thrilled with the idea teaching events and ideologies from history to students. In reality, this job is sooooooo much more than that!

Here's my list of roles that a teacher has to take on everyday. By no means should it be considered an exhaustive list:

teacher
expert in (insert subject area here)
counselor
student
friend
parent
colleague
techie

The last category has been my latest endeavor. How can I learn more about how to use technology, social networking, file sharing, etc. in my classroom? I've really been stretching myself this year.

My latest effort seems to have paid off. There are a few links below to some websites that my freshman honors students created over the past few weeks. I decided to look at the Renaissance from a different angle. Once we discussed what a "Renaissance Man" is, I asked them to find a person from today or from a period in history bes…

"If you're a lawyer, why would you want to stay in teaching?"

As I was reading this article in the Washington Post, I literally welled up with tears. The author, Sarah Fine, is probably about two years younger than me, but she has faced similarly insensitive questions. You don't have to read the whole article. This excerpt says it all:

"Why teach?" they ask.

Do my lawyer and consultant friends find themselves having to explain why they chose their professions? I doubt it. Everyone seems to know why they do what they do. When people ask me about teaching, however, what they really seem to mean is that it's unfathomable that anyone with real talent would want to stay in the classroom for long. Teaching is an admirable and, well, necessary profession, they say, but it's not for the ambitious. "It's just so nice," was the most recent version I heard, from a businesswoman sitting next to me on a plane.

I used to think I was being oversensitive. Not so. One of my former colleagues, now a program director for Teach…

Children Sing Obama Songs in School: Inspiration or Indoctrination?

I found an interesting opinion blog at The Griot. The author reflects on whether the video showing young grade-school age children singing about President Obama is a way to indoctrinate those young minds, or inspire them. The author, Charisse Carney-Nunes, was a guest at the New Jersey school when the students performed the song. She contends that the song was simply a form of "civic expression," something lacking in American schools. She argues, "It is a widely accepted notion that instruction related to democratic citizenship has declined in our schools in recent years. Educators pressured by such issues as budget woes, the requirements of No Child Left Behind and high stakes testing have understandably increased their instructional time in core subjects like math and reading. "Softer subjects" like civics, social studies and art have taken a back seat."

Her interview with Inside Edition provides some insight into her perspective.



Equally interesting wer…