Archive for April, 2010

Arkansas Technology Institute

April 29, 2010

I got word today that the Arkansas Technology Institute has a few remaining vacancies for sessions in June and July.  I participated in the institute in 2007, and I coached teams in 2008 and 2009.  Participants work together to learn to integrate technologies including video production, web design, and other multimedia into frameworks-based lessons that are then published to the web.


Upon completion, participants return to their districts as newly-minted AETN ATI Certified Institute Trainers who lead sessions for their colleagues.  Participants are reimbursed for travel, lodging, and meals, and they receive 30 hours of technology professional development credit.  Additionally, participants can earn graduate credit through the University of Central Arkansas.

If you’re interested in attending, hurry!  Space is limited.  More information can be found on the ATI website.

Google.

A Few Things

April 28, 2010

Over the years I have received more than a few emails from our principal with the ambiguous subject, “A Few Things.”  I always knew there would be at least one item in there that I didn’t want to read.  That principal is retiring this year, and I will miss working for her.  Like those “few things” messages, this post consists of some items that need to be said but don’t really warrant an entire post.

Google Workshop Registration Closing
Registration for the Go Paperless with Free Google Tools workshop closes May 1.  Participants will receive 18 technology PD hours and a chance to visit scenic Hot Springs, Arkansas.  Win-Win!  Contact Kim Singleton <singletonk@asmsa.org> to register.

BotBall Competition in Edwardsville, IL
I traveled with a colleague and 12 students to Edwardsville, IL, last weekend to participate in the regional BotBall competition at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.  This is the same competition I posted about last year.  If you are unfamiliar with BotBall, you should look into it.  Students are given a kit of parts, including Lego, servos, sensors, a Roomba optimized for robotics prototyping, and a pair of programmable “brains.”  They work for several weeks to design, refine, and optimize an autonomous robot to solve a particular problem.  This year’s problem was timely:  collect and clean ducks that were contaminated in an oil spill.  The students learned a lot about team work this year and took home an award for outstanding documentation.

Academic Partnerships at Arkansas State University
I enrolled in the Curriculum and Instruction program at ASU late last year.  I am happy to report that the model this program uses works well for me, and that I’m on track to graduate in May 2011!  I’m currently finishing up School and Community Relations.  I’ve completed School Law, Elementary Curriculum, and Philosophies of Education.  I particularly enjoyed the School Law class.  Do consider this program if you’re looking to continue your education in a program that is rigorous yet manageable.

Twitter
You’ve probably heard of Twitter.  You might not know about PLNs.  The “in” thing to do is to create Professional Learning Networks by following educators on Twitter who post information and links that you find valuable as a professional educator.  I have been cultivating my PLN for more than a year now. Things have gotten hectic, though, and I haven’t had a lot of time to keep up with Twitter.  Anybody have strategies for taking away the immense value found in a PLN without investing hours each day?

John’s Blog Saved Networking
Teaching students in a lab environment is so rewarding, but sometimes things go wrong.  Without getting too techie, let’s just say that the students ran a command on our pet Linux machine that prevented us from running certain administrative commands.  The only way to repair this is to run administrative commands.  A Catch-22.  Through the directions found on John’s Blog, we were able to get things going again within the period.  Teaching students “stuff” is one thing.  Teaching students how to find “stuff” is another thing.  This only works with folks like John out there creating the content.  Thank you.

Cell Phone Crack-Down
Two media outlets ran stories about the Vilonia School District‘s battle against cell phones.

“Why can’t they just understand the rule that no cell phones are allowed at school?,” [School Board president Danny] Lawrence offered. It should be no different, he said, than the acceptance of the rule regarding the possession of drugs or  tobacco products. A rule is a rule, he said, made for a reason and to be enforced.

I agree that cell phones can be a distraction.  I concede that they can be used to cheat.  I admit that students can do all sorts of unethical or illegal things with these devices.  Drugs and tobacco products have no redeeming qualities.  Cell phones do.  Students can capture images, audio, and video with even the least expensive phones.  Those lacking the funds to spend on expensive clicker systems can instead channel student passion for these devices into class participation using free services like Poll Everywhere or Twitter.  Cheating, goofing off, and other abuses with cell phones should be regulated through classroom management techniques and supporting administration rather than sweeping policies that strip schools of resources they don’t even know they have.

VisualCV

April 15, 2010

The wonders of Web 2.0 will never cease to amaze me.  I was checking out Richard Byrne’s Free Technology for Teachers blog the other day when I noticed a link to his VisualCV.  Like an interactive, web-based resume, VisualCV lets users organize and display text, graphics, and video in a number of attractive themes.  Through the service, users can share this document with particular individuals or with VisualCV’s corporate partners.

After seeing Richard’s VisualCV I decided to have a go at it.  I particularly like the PDF button that generates a printer-friendly version of the document.  The free service allows for one resume with a not-so-attractive URL.  The premium gets you a number of features, most importantly a custom URL and the ability to host multiple resumes.

Daniel Moix's VisualCV

Take a look at VisualCV even if you aren’t a computer whiz.  The editor is very intuitive.  Reorganizing entire sections is as simple as dragging them around.  Images are cropped and scaled automatically.  Have a look at mine or see what the power users are doing in the gallery.