Friday, December 03, 2004


I was in a meeting with the principal today, and he said something very sweet - "We are going to have to find some way to keep you here with us".

I've been working as a long-term sub for the computer teacher (who had a baby at the end of the summer). The assignment ends next week on Friday. So, I've been working hard to make sure the grading is up to date, the room is returned to the way it was, and I start packing up my stuff to schlep it back home. I'm really going to miss that place.

But, wait! There's more!

I've found another sub possibility, this time at Gilmour Academy. It won't start until January, though. But, this job is in SCIENCE! Wouldn't that be great?

It's been hard keeping my spirits up, since the shutdown of teacher hiring is nearly total in the Greater Cleveland area. It doesn't look good even now, since the Cleveland schools levy failed. I fear there's more cutbacks to come.

Still, I have to say, I'm cautiously hopeful. I may not be working on a permanent position, but I've been very lucky with the work I've been getting. And I plan to beat the bushes to drum up some training opportunities. I've been talking to teachers at local conferences (such as the T3 conference at John Carroll last month), and it's clear that they would like to find a way to get professional development in technology, particularly if the focus is on ways to use the technology in a classroom by an experienced teacher.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004


Sometimes I have difficulty conveying just what it is about technology that I find so fascinating. It's not just the coolness of the stuff, it's the possibilities for what you can do with it.

Some of those neat things:
  • Using the Logger Pro software to create digital reports. Schools are always trying to get content-area teachers to include more language-arts activities in their lessons, and the software makes it easy to create a modifiable template for the report.
  • Immediacy of results. The quick response time of the digital equipment (probes and such) reinforces the lesson in real-time. The kids don't have to figure out what the meaning of the experiment was, it's evident in the graph that is produced.
  • Everybody likes to be master of the cool tech. The kids get a real kick out of becoming expert in something that others don't know how to use.
  • Multi-purpose technology. Rather than buying specialized equipment, that otherwise sits on a shelf and takes up space, the various digital probes can be used in a variety of activities.
  • Speed of set-up. Because it doesn't take long to put the probes into action, it's an easy matter to use the equipment on a daily basis.


I wanted to update everybody on the current status of teaching in Ohio.

There aren't many jobs. I mean, of course some of the parochial schools have a couple of openings, and the charter schools are always looking, but, effectively, there really are no jobs.

Except a FEW special ed jobs.

That's unheard of. There has been a shortage for over 10 years, at least in science and math. At any given moment, open positions exist in urban districts. That fact has been helpful for the young teachers. For many years, the urban schools were the employer of the last resort.

Not now. And, perhaps, not for some time in the future. The urban districts have consolidated existing classes, and the numbers are approaching Hoo-Boy. I don't have to say that such a crowded class is less effective in providing education. That's pretty obvious. But it also diminishes the school climate, and makes both teaching and learning more of a hassle, and less of a good thing.

I'll be back on the street in a little less than 2 weeks (I knew that it was a short-term job). I'm a little nervous about the prospect, but I have to believe that there is a purpose for all this turmoil.

If anyone wants to talk about setting up a workshop, I'm available. Don't be shy.


If you haven't checked out the new Vernier GoTemp! and GoLink! probes, you're really missing something. The bundled software is slick and easy to use, and the set-up is simplicity itself.

We got a couple when they first came out (my husband and I are big fans of the Vernier people), and we've been more impressed the more we use them.

They've been designed for the beginner crowd that has never used science probes in the classroom. There's a exploration book ($15) that's designed for the upper elementary/middle school level student. If you'd like to see a sample, Click on this link.

In the Logger Lite software that's bundled with the probe, users can make use of a Predict mode, which fits right in with the constructivist methods of learning. You can see the red Predict Line on this screen shot.


Normally, I r-e-a-l-l-y cheap. I don't spend, for hardware or software, until I'm fully convinced that it will be worth the purchase.

So when a friend, Lynn King, a very techno-savvy teacher in Cleveland, said that I needed to try QuizLab, I followed her advice.

QuizLab is definitely worth the expense. It's $ 30/yr. per teacher. You can buy an individual license, or get a slightly better deal in combination with other teachers. Either way, and even if you have to pay for it, it's very much worth it.

To begin with, imagine entering a quiz, having the students take it online, with the scores sent directly to you via email. Or you can check out how the kids did on the site. Reports are generated as soon as the test is completed, and, here's the best part, if a student is not present, they can take the test either with you present, or at their convenience.

Believe it or not, I was able to enter 2 classes, set up the test, and generate the students' login ID and passwords in only about an hour. I left the instructions for the sub, and she was able to proctor the test with absolutely no trouble. Because I chose to have the questions randomized, cheating wasn't a problem.

I'm currently setting up a final for all my classes. Part of the finals will be the same (basic computer operations), and part based on the activities of the classes, which differ.

You can import other people's tests, which can then be modified for your unique situation.

I can't describe how really good this site is. Go check it out.