Thursday, December 09, 2004


Blogs have hit the recognition level. People outside of the blogging community have heard of them (and perhaps even started following one), but they have difficulty seeing the utility of them. I've talked to many teachers about blogs, even urged them to use them as a way of updating parents and students about the happenings in their classroom. But, few have responded. They don't perceive the value as great enough to justify the steep learning curve.

Over the next few months, I'm going to re-visit this issue on multiple occasions. I use blogs, I read other people's blogs, and I am passionate about their potential for education. I will be spotlighting my favorite blogs, posting about tips and techniques that are easy-to-use, and generally promoting their use in education.


I'm telling everyone I know about this:
"Yellow ribbons tied around trees and red, white and blue
stickers on the backs SUVs saying "Support our Troops"
are things that make civilians feel good but do nothing
for the men and women actually in uniform.

So please consider the following:

The number ONE request at Walter Reed hospital is phone cards. The government doesn't pay long distance phone charges and these wounded soldiers are rationing their calls home.

Locally, some inexpensive places to get phone cards are - Marc's, Walmart, and Target.

So, while you are trekking around town, picking up things for your loved ones, consider adding a phone card (any size) to your purchases, and sending it to:

Medical Family Assistance Center
Walter Reed Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20307-5001

You won't be sorry.


The "Winter Break" is fast approaching, and it's likely that the overload of responsibilities will make updates less frequent. I should be back by January 3rd, if not sooner.

Merry Christmas, and a Happy and Prosperous New Year!

Tuesday, December 07, 2004


I often have workshop participants comment on how much I know about a particular technology. At first, I was more than a little embarassed about it, protesting that I wasn't all that knowledgeable.

Over time, however, I came to realize that my knowledge base WAS larger and more comprehensive than many other teachers, at least in the area of technology. I eventually came to some conclusions about the time I spent, and what other people were willing to do to further their expertise.

On the average, I spend 5-10 hours a week either online, reading about technology topics, attending workshops, testing out hardware and software, and otherwise keeping myself up-to-date on technology. That's in addition to preparing to present workshops, taking classes in the summer, and attending seminars and conferences.

All that is W-A-A-A-y more than the average teacher. So, it's perhaps not surprising that I can use the technology more effectively. On the other hand, many teachers spend more time on lesson planning than I; the quality of their planning shows in the lessons. I also am terrible about keeping up-to-date on the grading. I need to budget more time for formal feedback via corrected papers.

In the end, you get better in the areas that you focus on. For me, it ends up being the tech.


On the blog University Diaries, you will find this link to the University of Michigan student newspaper:

So, why, with the equipment so readily available in the college classroom, are so few professors using it?
Of the 184 professors surveyed, 24 percent said they didn’t have the time to learn the technology. Twenty-seven percent said they didn’t know about the benefits, 17 percent said the technology was inappropriate for their classes and 23 percent said it wasn’t worth using.

It sounds as though schools are much the same at every level. Relatively few experienced teachers will change radically what they have been doing all along.

I've found that to be true in the corporate world as well. Unless an employer mandates use of the technology, only the few who enjoy being on the cutting edge will learn new tricks.

This will change 2 ways:
  • New teachers will bring in a different skill set, one that includes a certain comfort with the technology
  • Teachers will adopt technology if they can see what the benefit to them will be (WIIFM - What's In It For ME). One strong motivator is a reduction in time spent doing a task. Another is if using the technology brings them recognition as an educational leader.


I found these gifts on the Wired Magazine website.

Some gift mugs with a science theme.

A tote that's literally out of this world! Made with materials that were on the space station.

The Science Mall

This site contains items I've never seen anywhere, such as the Meteorite Pendant.


This area of technology is not one that I'm the most expert on, to say the least. However, many teachers have weather stations, and it looks as though the National Weather Service is going to have their data available in a more user-friendly format. That will, of course, affect the commercial services that have traditionally served as a filter for the publicly-funded program's data.

From what I can see, it may be worth your while taking the time to become familiar with the format, particularly for the Biology and Earth Science teachers. I'm just making the decision that it's not worth it for me, personally.