Thursday, December 27, 2007

Readability or reading level

Kathy Schrock has long been a great resource for finding excellent tools online. Recently one of her newsletters featured this link for establishing the reading level of a piece of text. As teachers continue to attempt to differentiate instruction and to provide assistance to those with special learning needs, having access to text at different reading levels is critical. Check out Kathy's tips and helps here:

Friday, December 21, 2007

Astronomy Software

I recently visited with science teacher Rose Emanuel. She was very excited about the astronomy software STARRY NIGHT, so I told her I would post it on the blog. The interactive program turns your computer into a "digital observatory." You can find more information at:

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Web 2.0 Safety

A Web 2.0 Approach to Internet Safety

Are your students safe in Web 2.0?


Another article on cyberbullying from ASCD SmartBrief

RtI Overview

One way for educators to make data-diven decisions is to apply the principles of Response to Intervention (RtI), an early intervention model that targets students who are behind, allowing schools and teachers to intervene early to quickly close the learning gap. South Dakota has 20 schools piloting this model this year. Read more about it on page 8 of the Spring edition of Changing Schools.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

English Language Learners

From my experience here in western South Dakota I must admit I have come in contact with very few people who are English Language Learners. However, it was not always that way. Having gone to college and studenting teaching in the Twin Cities I had 5 different native languages spoken in my classroom alone. So the article Asking the Right Questions is a great reminder for districts to begin implementation of ELL training for all teachers. It also offers teachers a great tool for including ELL students in classroom discussion. I also believe the insights on including ELL students in classroom discussion can work with our special education students or even those who are simply shy. It's easy for educators to default to those students who always answer but pulling in those who keep quiet is essential for their learning.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I just read an informative article about Wikipedia with all of its positives and negatives. One rule I had in my classroom was that Wikipedia was not an acceptable source for any research project. Did my students use Wikipedia and just not list it on their source page? I am sure many did but there were also those students who used Wikipedia only and were caught. How did I know they were using Wikipedia? I would find information in the paper which I knew was false and would ask them what source it came from and without thinking many said "Wikipedia". At which point we checked the information in other books and they realized it was wrong. It was a great lesson for them in double checking information with sources that are more credible.
It's up to you if you allow students to use Wikipedia in the classroom and I contend that it's a great source for base knowledge but that the students should verify the information with another source. As we all know 2-3 sources is better than 1 when verifying information.

Monday, December 10, 2007

An administrator contacted me recently requesting help with resources on cyberbullying. Jackie and I put together this list and thought it might be helpful to others:

WiredKids, Inc.
What cyberbullying is how it works, and how to understand and deal with cyberbullies.

Stop Cyberbullying: Because we all need to do what we can.
A social network to discuss cyberbullying, identifying resources and solutions to address this epidemic of online cruelty.

The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander: From Preschool to High School – How Parents and Teachers Can Help Break the Cycle of Violence by Barbara Coloroso.

Breaking the Culture of Bullying and Disrespect, Grades k-8: Best Practices and Successful Strategies by Marie-Nathalie Beaudoin and Maureen E. Taylor.

Cyber Bullying: Bullying in the Digital Age by Robin M. Kowalski

Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls by Rachel Simmons --- This one is very good. I heard about it on 20/20 a few years ago; then a colleague read it and shared it with me. There’s also a second book by the same author called Odd Girl Speaks Out: Girls Write About Bullies, Cliques, Popularity and Jealousy. The greatest point I learned from this author is that in the adult world, when someone bothers us, we can ignore them and walk on by. We did our kids a huge disservice to tell them, “just ignore it and it will go away.” It doesn’t in their world; it just gets worse.

§ ASCD Smart Brief Dec. 5, 2007
§ Australian "bully buttons" aim to create safer school environmentHigh-tech "bully buttons" are being installed in some Australian schools so students can alert educators and trigger video cameras to record such incidents. "If students are confronted with footage then there can be very little denial, but it also gives us a clearer perspective of what happened because kids often remember their part but don't have an overall perspective," said Thomas Carr College deputy principal Vera Treloar. The Age (Melbourne, Australia) (12/5)

ITunes U for You

I just returned from a meeting/training that explained a little more about ITunes U and how it can be used.
Basically, some of the major universities, including MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, and others have put some or all of their course content online. In fact, some of the courses at Duke now require the purchase of an ipod, rather than a text book. These and others have used ITunes U as a one way to disseminate the information to everyone around the globe. This is an amazing resource. You can get to the ITunes U library and listen to many educational lectures or see presentations, video, slideshow w/audio, etc.
These resources don't cost anything, only to have ITunes downloaded on your computer.
The possiblilities of using these podcasts in the classroom are endless!

Check it out at
Official Announcement:


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Video Games in the Classroom

In a time where kids are saturated with electronics from cell phones, text messaging, instant messaging and more teachers can find it difficult to bring relevant technology to the classroom but one university professor is working on exactly that bringing relevant video games into middle school classrooms. Check out the article below for the full story.

Audio/Music Software and Song Creation

Here are a pair of helpful ExtemeTech articles with software review and how-to for getting started with creating music on a PC:

Three-Way Music Software Comparison featuring Cakewalk, ACID Music, and MAGIX Music
Who needs a band? If you can jot down a few lyrics, wield a mouse, and maybe bang some keys on a MIDI keyboard, you can create your very own music. The process can be as simple as dragging a few readymade loops onto a timeline or as demanding as editing an entire tune note by note, complete with vocals, guitar, drums, and synth.

Sometimes, the question comes down to power or simplicity. That's what we're faced with today, as we examine three software suites that allow you to lay down music tracks to create that song running through your head—the one you're sure would be a radio hit destined to make you a rock star. The offerings are: Cakewalk SONAR Home Studio 6 XL, Sony ACID Music Studio 7.0, and MAGIX Music Maker 12 Deluxe.

Since you have a PC, you're already on the way to carving out songs. You can do it with a minimal system using just your mouse and keyboard and any old sound card, or you can add quality microphones, preamps, MIDI instruments, and all kinds of hardware to augment the programs in this round-up.

. . .

In the second half of this series, we'll get into the nitty-gritty of how to create a song of your very own:
Music Creation Part 2: Create a Song From Scratch

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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Getting Rid of Chairs

Is it possible that getting rid of chairs and replacing them with exercise balls with increase student health and achievement? Some definately believe both are possible.

"Keeping Students on the Ball"

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Online Courses Catch On in U.S. Colleges

The first of a two part NPR report.

When today's college graduates get together for a reunion someday, they may decide to do it by computer. That's because right now, nearly one in five college students takes at least one class online, according to a new survey.

Monday, December 3, 2007

A case for Wikis in the classroom

I was asked by a teacher to post some information and examples of how wikis are being used.
Through the Power UP project, (Title IID) I have been given the opportunity to work with teachers to effectively integrate technology into their teaching. My favorite example of wiki's being used by teachers was the 2-day kick off event. We were meeting with teachers in the project and one group of teachers from Faith stayed connected with their students through the wiki. Each day Faith students go to the wiki for the day's assignments and the teachers could modify items from anywhere with an internet connection. In fact, I believe those teachers were making some adjustments the morning of the second training day.
Now, some would worry about students changing wiki spaces, since the idea of a wiki is that eveyone contributes. While the attitude seems to be shifting from a world of 'mine' to 'sharing everything', in the mean time, if you are worried about this, you can set wiki spaces to private and only invite certain members to contribute to your wiki.

Below are a few links where wiki's are being used in the classroom:

Why not just use a regular web page, you might say? I already know front page or dream weaver... etc. because I learned it in TTL.
I am not discrediting those programs, just sharing how different using a wiki would be. With other programs, the web pages are considered 'static' meaning they are often build and never updated. This happens because you usually need to be connected to the server where the webpages are stored in order to save changes/updates. It also takes longer. Wikis can be edited anytime/anywhere you have an internet connection and you don't have to be in the vicinity of your server. As with the example above, wikis can be edited quickly and allow you to move on to other tasks. Wikis are a quick and easy way to keep your web pages updated. And, wikis are free, no programs or software to download or purchase.

Are you a wiki user?

Friday, November 30, 2007

Qwest grants promote technology in the classroom

Teachers across South Dakota can compete for awards of $2,500 each to support innovative programs that promote the use of technology in the classroom. Qwest will award a total of $25,000. Reported by the December Education Online from the Department of Education.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

VoiceThread--now a picture really is worth 1000 words

Voice Thread is a free online tool that allows you to add comments to a photograph. I'm really excited about the possible uses for this--post a picture of a cell and have students leave comments explaining the different parts. Post a picture of a group and have each member leave a comment explaining how they contributed to the success of the group's work. Have students post a picture of who they would choose to star as the main character in a movie about a book, then have the class post comments about why they think this is a good choice, or who they would pick instead. I created a sample here just to show you how it works. This took about 10 minutes for me to get an account, upload my picture, get my microphone to work, and get this ready to share. Click here to go leave a comment. And have fun!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Connect with millennial students...and new colleagues

A colleague recently shared an article with me that included this quote:

All adults who work with youth should be aware of how young people communicate, fall in love and stay connected; I encourage teachers to try social networking services, to have a blog, to text message with their own families and friends. Experienced teachers will not only gain a better sense of the world their students live in -- indeed, a world their students are creating -- they will have a greater understanding of the young teachers entering the profession.

That's right. In case you hadn't noticed, the internet generation is graduating to the work force. I doubt a 23-year-old, freshly minted teacher is going to stop interacting online simply because she has begun a Grown-Up Career! Besides, considering the pay scale for first-year teachers, the internet will be the only entertainment she can afford for a while. (Not that she'll have time for more than the occasional tweet,given her new workload.)

I think this is some of the best advice possible for educators who are wondering how to integrate technology into their classrooms. As teachers, we are constantly challenged for ways to connect with our students (and as parents, ways to stay connected with our children). Becoming more familiar with their world, in other words, gaining street credibility, is just one. Gaining a better understanding ourselves of ways to naturally and seamlessly include technology in our teaching and activities and assessments is a bonus.

HotChalk is hot

HotChalk bills itself as a teacher website, but really it's more of a classroom organizational portal, with places to list lesson plans and link to plan resources, post messages to your students in each class, keep track of grades, post assignments and gather student feedback or questions, and now, link to the NBC library of videos. The site is free to all teachers and schools, though there may be a change in individual subscriptions regarding the video component come January 2008.

In the meantime, any registered HotChalk user can access short video clips on a variety of topics from the NBC archives. Not only is this great engaging content for helping illustrate your content-based point, but it also inherently provides an opportunity for a conversation about media literacy and bias. For example, the video I watched on Wikipedia was very much slanted toward how unreliable the information is, despite the existence of research that says Wikipedia is just as reliable as the Encylcopedia Britannica.

In any case, the short and timely video feature on the trip of the Mayflower to this continent (once again, landing off course--one can only imagine the captain or navigator explaining that ship steering in the 1600s was not an exact science, and, really, what's a few hundred miles north or south, at least we're not on the boat anymore) was much more current and interesting than the filmstrip of still images with the little beep indicator to advance to the next slide I remember from when I was in school. Granted, I will always have a fond rememberance of those little plastic individual filmstrip viewers, but I would have traded it for an iPod in a nanosecond.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Systems Change Conference Keynote: Neil Howe

Systems Change Conference Keynote: Neil Howe

Click on the link directly above to read the posting in the TIE Leader blog.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

All U Need Web 2.0

This online tutorial from Atomic Learning on Web 2.0 tools will be available FREE until November 30, 2007. Here's what AL has to say about this great resource:

Blogs, wikis, Webcasts, podcasts, RSS feeds, social networks . . . they're all a part of what has come to be known as Web 2.0. Workshop author Vicki Davis is a classroom teacher who has been recognized for her innovative classroom practices using Web 2.0. The Flat Classroom Project, which she coauthored, won ISTE's Award for Best Online Learning project for 2007, an Edublog Award for Best Wiki in education for 2006, and inclusion in the best selling book The World is Flat. Her Cool Cat Teacher Blog received an Edublog finalist award for Best Teacher Blog of 2006.

Atomic Learning is a TIE vendor partner, and a great place to find just-in-time technology PD for students, staff, parents, and administrators.

Fun with personalized graphics

Okay, maybe it's not inherently the most educational site on the web, but what a neat way to create some great clipart that is personalized for your students or your classroom. This website has a long menu of templates that when you click on them, you can add your own text or pictures to create personalized graphics for your websites, wikis, blogs, desktops, whatever.
I particularly liked this link where I made the etch a sketch picture, and this link with the Norman Rockwell poster. And this one is lots of fun for adding borders to pictures.

CAUTION: Not all of the links/images in the mega-list are appropriate for school. Please pay attention to the short descriptors next to each link, and as always with material on the Internet, preview before sharing with students.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Math Journals - How to begin??

Many math teachers in the state are beginning to use math journals to record student thinking and learn each child's level of understanding. Many of my new teacher leaders have asked for more information about doing math talks. There happens to be a great lesson at in the ReadWriteThink partner site called "Talking, Writing, and Reasoning: Making Thinking Visible with Math Journals" . To add to this, you can find a variety of interactive learning resources and lessons aligned to national standards all totally free at Thinkfinity for all curricular areas K-12. Your treasure trove of lessons and interactives awaits you at

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Using a Cartoon to Enhance the Math Classroom?


"The Simpsons has established itself as an award-winning international pop culture phenomenon. It is the longest-running sitcom of all time and it is also one of the most literate television programs on the air, containing many references to subject matter and scholars from various academic fields, including mathematics. Since The Simpsons has been airing in prime-time for most of our students' lives, they likely are familiar with the program and its large cast of characters, including a resident scientist. The Simpsons also contains over a hundred instances of mathematics ranging from arithmetic to geometry to calculus, many designed to expose and poke fun at innumeracy. In fact, Al Jean, Executive Producer and head writer, has a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University. Several episodes of The Simpsons contain significant mathematics that relates to material we normally cover in our classes. For these reasons, this program is an ideal source of fun ways to introduce important concepts to students, and to reduce math anxiety and motivate students in courses for non-majors. "

You can find them at:

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Two Writing Teachers

"Two Writing Teachers" is a blog created by, you guessed it, two writing teachers. It's interesting to learn what not only goes on in their classrooms, but in their thought processes. Ruth Ayres and Stace Shubitz met in March 2007 while attending a conference, and they have remained in contact every day since then, despite the 800 miles between them.
One of their blog entries disccusses a mathematical rubric writing assignment. Now that is writing across the curriculum!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Non-Routine Math Problems

This site provides non-routine math problems that have been rated by viewers. I find many appropriate for use in classrooms. As with any resource, some are better than others so it is wise to review before using in classrooms.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Career Education in the Digital Age

"I watched a student use trigonometry to graph trajectories while building a catapult that launched a ping pong ball to land in an 8-ounce cup. His teacher had told me he couldn't add two numbers together," says Connecticut's Supervisor for Technology Education, Engineering, and Agricultural Education, Gregory Kane. Find out where the vocational education departments ended up after they were pushed out of high schools and how 21st Century Skills are embedded into training.
Read the article published in Technology & Learning - October 2007

FREE Online Vocabulary Tool

Tired of practicing the old fashioned way, a fifteen year old student created Quizlet. This free, online site has several methods for studying vocabulary words: flashcards, call and response, and testing, just to name a few. The user needs to only sign up for a free account (enter email and create a user name). Then enter the vocabulary words (chances are that they are entered already).

Forgetful? Email junkie? This might help!

There is a service online called jott where you can call their number from anywhere and leave a message for yourself, or for a group of your friends or coworkers, and it will translate your voice message into text and email you or your group. So if you've ever found yourself needing to remember vital information, but without a pen handy, just use your trusty cell phone to send yourself an email instead! There are also some very neat options for blogging from your cell (I did this the old fashioned way by typing it in) or using your cell to Twitter. The online service is free, but phone charges will vary by your agreement.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

Seeing Corporate Fingerprints in Wikipedia Edits

Remember what your mom told you? You can't believe everything you read? Wikipedia is a fine example of this. We must remember that this is a site that can be edited by anyone, so we shouldn't rely on the information to stand alone. It goes further than that now. Corporations can easily edit unfavorable articles about themselves to make them more positive. Likewise, consumers can easily edit articles to make them not so positive. The Wikiscanner has helped identify where ther entried are coming from. If an entry is coming from within the office of a corporation, then we can weigh that information carefully; if the edit is from a consumer, we can do the same. Either way, we must uyse a discriminating eye when reading ANY online information, not just that of Wikipedia.
This article, which discusses Wikipedia edits, was posted by a student in one of my online classes. It is from The New York Times. Check it out:

Friday, October 19, 2007

Digital Students at Analog Schools

This video was created by university students about their university experiences, but in too many of our K-12 classrooms, for a variety of reasons, the same situation exists--students are experiencing learning that is not taking advantage of all the tools they have access to outside the classrooms, and we are doing them a disservice by not teaching to their individuals needs as learners. Here's what these students had to say.

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Thursday, October 4, 2007

What is your wiki wisdom?

Wiki's have grown in popularity and are being seen in increasing numbers in classrooms across the country. Wiki's are easy to use and are multi-faceted in their use in the classroom as well as throughout the education setting. According to Vicki Davis in Education Week's Digital Directions, “Wikis … allow you to get 100 percent participation.” To read more about this as well as find out where the word wiki comes from read the article below:

Monday, September 24, 2007

One Laptop project offers machines to U.S. customers

As production of the One Laptop Per Child machines gets under way, the nonprofit will on Nov. 12 offer U.S. customers two laptops for $399, one for themselves and another for a child in Afghanistan, Cambodia, Haiti, and Rwanda. Denmark education professor Jan Soelberg said the early model he tried was a bit slow and buggy, but had the capabilities of any other modern laptop. BusinessWeek (9/24)

PowerPoint as an Effective Student Presentation Tool

PowerPoint has proven to be an engaging student presentation tool. However, is it also distracting? What's the best way to use it for student presentations? The article from Education World,"What's the Point of PowerPoint?", answers those questions and offers suggestions for its use in the classroom. It even includes a detailed lesson plan and rubric!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Google Offers Free Presentation Tool

By signing up for a Google account, one can have access to Google Docs, an online word processor and spreadsheet developer. Why use these? The files can then be shared with anyone, and they are always available online. Suppose you are working on a report, and you need some help. With Google Docs, you can share the document with a friend and get his/her opinion.
Now Google is offering a free presentation tool that works very much like PowerPoint. Again, the presentation will always be available to you online and can be shared. This is a nice alternative if you do not have PowerPoint. To read the article from MSNBC, click

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Is User Education Pointless?

TechnicallySpeaking@TIE: Is User Education Pointless?

Please click on the link above to view the blog posting on TechnicallySpeaking@TIE.

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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Generation YES

Generation YES has wonderful technology integration ideas for teachers. Students work with teachers to bring effective technology into the classrooms and libraries. The resulting collaboration provides the students with project-based learning and teachers with on-site, sustainable professional development. It is suitable for
Elementary, Middle, and High School.

Check out this blog article for an interactive graphic called a Voki - your students will love it!
Voki! A fun way to introduce yourself
Keeping Students Engaged On Many Levels - Fantasy Sports Leagues Teach Math

Assessing Preschools

Some states are creating an awareness of the preschools in their states. With a concern that some children begin school "behind," these states are proactive rather than reactive. Some critics argue that the state will not stop and begin placing unfair expectations on the preschool teachers - requiring them to get children to the level they need to be to enter school. I prefer to think of it as an assessment tool for parents when it comes to choosing preschools. As a parent, I would prefer to send my child to the preschool in which their graduates were doing well in kindergarten. There are pros and cons, but for now, I think it's a step in the right direction.

To read the article, "States Move Toward Closer Scrutiny of Preschools" from Education Week go to

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Make Your Life Less Hectic

We all know that teachers do not just teach; the job description goes far beyond that. Most teachers also take on extracurricular duties, from coaching the golf team to organizing the concession stand. It seems the time spent to arrange the necessary meetings and distributing information takes more time than a teacher has. Simplify your life: use a wiki. By creating a wiki, you can post schedules, eliminate the need for some meetings, and keep everyone informed.

For example, you are the staff sponsor for the school newspaper. Topics must be discussed, deadlines must be met, and finally, the paper must be published. Put some responsibility on the students. Create a wiki space where you can post deadlines. Award editing privileges to your editors. Now they can post the deadlines and any other information. Invite the other newspaper staffers to a discussion on possible topics to be covered.

The wiki is a good place to put football schedules, including the time the bus leaves. With the information on the internet, the parents can check out the information, rather than calling the school or the student. Include extra-curricular guidelines, coach's expectations, and maybe a weekly summary of the competitions.

Maintaining the communication line between students and coaches over the summer can be difficult. Use the wiki to post summer camp information. What camp will your band be attending? How long will the basketball team be gone? If you are a band or vocal instructor who gives lessons over the summer, use the wiki to post your schedule. Now the students and parents can check the wiki.

These are only a few uses for the wiki; the possibilities are endless. Even more satisfying is that the wiki is so easy to use. For more information on wikis go to:

Monday, September 3, 2007

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Happy new year!

As the 2007-2008 school year begins teachers are searching to find new, innovative ways to teach content in a more exciting way than last year. Open Education Resources or OER is an online resource overflowing with ideas for every classroom. OER offer new ways to engage with free-to-use learning content.

OER Commons now features over 1200 K-12 lesson plans from LEARN NC, licensed under Creative Commons, in this case, the Attribution-NonCommerical-ShareAlike License. Terms specify that you may use, share, distribute, and modify these materials for your non-commercial purposes by crediting the creator and sharing your derivative works in a like manner.

Amee Godwin, Program director for OER Commons shared the following in her online newsletter. Speaking of favorites, we'd like to feature an example of an innovative lesson plan accompanied by activities, assignments, teaching strategies, and assessments for the Secondary Grade Level: An Ad for An Element: A lesson plan for Grades 9–12 Chemistry and Physical Science from LEARN NC. Students prepare an ad for an element, including properties and uses, in an attention getting format such as that used in the advertising business.

Comments from the author:"My students really showed creativity and enthusiasm in doing this activity. I have had every form of ad turned in from video commercials to pamphlets to movie posters."

See LEARN NC items on OER Commons

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


In contrast to popular belief, bullying was man's first invention, even before fire and the wheel. Come on, do you really believe that every cave person liked each other? I'm certain that poor Ooga Ooga was taunted by his cavemates. I can see it now: the other cavekids edge him closer and closer to the mouth of the cave just as TRex is happening by. Ooga Ooga is consumed by fear and cries out just as the bullies pull him back into the cave in time to escape the jaws of the dinosaur. Outrageous? Maybe, maybe not.
As teachers, we want our students to feel safe; it's one of our goals to create a comfortable environment for our students. Sometimes with bullying we don't know what to do. Why? We are led to believe that by drawing attention to it, we are creating more angst for the victim. In addition, we don't recognize it.
Have you ever been bullied? Or were you the bully? I spent a year of my teens being a target. Each day was torture. Let me add that it's difficult enough being a teenage girl without having to worry about bullying. I could not walk down the hallway (that's right, singular, small school) of my school without having someone yell the name that had been circulated as my "nickname." I can remember when it started, or when it came to my attention. It was during our basketball season of my sophomore year. I was standing on the court during the fourth quarter when I began to hear this chant of initials. I didn't quite understand; I didn't get what "PBT" stood for. It took me several minutes to realize it was being yelled at me. And so it began...
No other student could even address me without saying, "Hey, PBT." What is this new nickname? Pit bull terrier. That's right. I was compared to a dog, and not a cute, fluffy canine. When I would address another student, he would bark as I spoke. Boys would roll down their car windows and bark at me. During class, when the teacher would read the answers to the multiple choice test, and say, "'D' as in dog," all eyes were upon me, and my nickname was shouted. I tried to ignore it, but it didn't go away. Where was all this coming from?
The bullying and teasing went on and on. Once an upper classman and I happened to be wearing the same t-shirt from a rock concert. Too bad for him; he was a quiet guy himself who minded his own business, but, alas, from somewhere in the hallway, a classmate of mine yelled at the top of his lungs, "Hey, you and PBT are wearing the same t-shirt today!" Another day of humiliation began. The bullying surrounded me like the air. I was tough though; why couldn't I shake this? I was the youngest child of four; my three big brothers made sure to instill toughness in me. At some point, even the toughest person collapses. With constant chipping, a rock will give way.
My friends were spineless; they would say nothing. One of the boys even dated my best friend, yet she said nothing. Finally, I asked her, begged her, to at least say something. She replied, "Well, I can't stop it." True that, but I begged her to make her feelings known to him; that I was her friend, and he shouldn't treat me that way. It took her a great deal of courage, but she eventually did say something. He at least stopped teasing me when she was around. Any reprieve was a welcome one.
I prayed to go unnoticed and for the school day to end, knowing that I would be safe once at home, where I was loved. Home was my solitude. I was free from torture for 12 hours before I had to go back to school and face it all over again. We didn't have a computer; even if we would have, this was before the days of the information superhighway: no email, no instant messaging (IM), no text messages. However, in the present day, this is not the case. Our bullied students are going home to their computers only to find hateful emails and IMs. Their sanctity has been violated; they have no reprieve. Constant torture 24/7.
It's embarrassing to be a target. It's hard to admit that I didn't measure up. Honestly, would you want to be a teenager and say to one of your teachers that you are the target of bullying? Please. It was hard enough to tell my mom. I couldn't even tell my dad. I certainly wasn't going to tell my brothers; I kept it a secret. I was embarrassed. I needed someone at school with whom I felt comfortable enough to say, "hey, this is going on, and I just can't deal with it any longer" and then I needed to feel reasonably secure that person was going to do something about it. I didn't have this. My mom talked to the principal (only after several months of me begging her not to), yet he denied ever hearing anything. As quickly as it started, the bullying started to taper off. Why? I don't know. There were no new targets. I do know that I began to stand up for myself. I came up with a name for one of the boys, and singled him out. I even got some of those spineless girls to help me chant it once or twice. That seemed to be enough to get him to quit. Though it's never been confirmed or denied, I believe one of my brothers had a word or two with another of the bullies, which caused him to stop. A couple of the guys graduated high school. Soon, it was gone, but not forgotten. It was a roller coaster of emotion.
In college, I ran into one of the offending gentlemen. We had a conversation in which I asked him, "Why?" His response: "Did you ever think it was because we thought you were tough and could handle it?" No, that never occurred to me, and it only angered me. They felt it was their right, or their duty, to break me, to remind me of my place. To this day, I do not understand. I saw another one of the bullies several years ago. We hadn't seen each other since high school. He introduced me to his wife and asked how I was and what I was doing. At the end of our brief conversation, he said I looked great and it was great to see me. These two instances taught me that their bullying certain didn't leave a mark in their memories as it had in mine. They didn't harass me because I was ugly; they did it because I was there. That in no way lessens the impact it had on my life, but it puts a different perspective on it. Many times I thought to myself, "if only I could get hit by a bus while crossing the street..." Of course, it would have had to have been a yellow school bus in front of the school because we didn't have a mass transit system in my hometown. It's only been in the past few years, that I've been able to freely discuss it, let alone use the word "pitbull," or "bulldog."
Well, what can we do? First of all, teaching our children to ignore it is a mistake. The torture will not go away. We must teach our kids to stand up for themselves, as scary as that is. It's very difficult to stand out there alone and say to the bullies, "Knock it off," but it has to be done. Secondly, drawing attention to it in the classroom doesn't make it any worse. If one teacher would have said, "Stop it. That is not acceptable, and it is certainly not acceptable in my classroom," it would have been appreciated. Yes, it would have been shining a light on it, but why do we think we need to keep this a dirty, little secret? Those 10 seconds of embarrassment are nothing compared to the entire year that I endured. I did not feel secure anywhere in my school. The problem needs exposure.
You see, I can understand the school shooter when he says, "I just couldn't take it anymore." I don't condone his violence, nor did I ever want to bring harm to my bullies (okay, that's not entirely true -- a little bit of physical and/or emotional pain would have been refreshing); I just wanted it to stop. The people who say (in regards to school shooters), "Why didn't he just tell someone?" don't get IT. We -- adults, teachers, parents -- need to dialog about bullying. Let's make it taboo to be a bully. We don't look upon child abusers favorably; bullies need the same treatment. How many times have you ever been in a conversation and one person says, "Well, you know, he was a bully," and the rest of the group gasps in shock and disbelief. I'm guessing never. We need to change the perception. The target of the bully no longer has to carry shame; it is the bully who should should have to live with the shame of treating another human so horribly. It is not okay to tease. It is not okay to hurt someone; it is not okay to take a person's security.
As for me, I'm okay. I'm good enough, smart enough, and doggonit, people like me.

Many articles, case studies, and books have been written. I would invite you to take a look or do a little research and help enact a change:

The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander: From Preschool to High School – How Parents and Teachers Can Help Break the Cycle of Violence by Barbara Coloroso.

Breaking the Culture of Bullying and Disrespect, Grades K-8: Best Practices and Successful Strategies by Marie-Nathalie Beaudoin and Maureen E. Taylor.

Cyber Bullying: Bullying in the Digital Age by Robin M. Kowalski

Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls by Rachel Simmons **A must-read!


WiredKids, Inc.
What cyberbullying is, how it works and how to understand and deal with cyberbullies.

Stop Cyberbullying: Because we all need to do what we can.
A social network to discuss cyberbullying, identifying resources and solutions to address this epidemic of online cruelty.

Friday, August 24, 2007

One of my favorite Web 2.0 tools is a social bookmarking service called In the Sunday, August 12 edition of the the Rapid City Journal, librarian Marjorie Brekke shared basics along with information about how the library is using the tool to serve customers. You can find the Rapid City Public Library page here . When you join, not only do you get a very effective mechanism to bookmark your favorite sites, you can also become part of a network that allows you to connect with other bookmarking people.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Technology & Learnings: For Web 2.0 newbies, here is a visual tour of key tools for educators.

If you are not terribly familiar with some of the Internet tools labeled Web 2.0, here a concise guide to give you some background on these tools:

The Web 2.0 Visual Glossary

Techlearning > > The Web 2.0 Visual Glossary > June 15, 2007

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Hear what you're missing-sound added to Google Earth

The creation of Google Earth first wowed us with it's amazing ability to zoom in on any part of the world so we could get a better look.  Whether you're teaching setting in a novel that takes place in Paris, or sharing the different topographies with elementary students, Google Earth helped us take our students around the world--visually.  Now, through a partnership with Wild Sanctuary, we can also hear the natural sounds of landscapes both familiar and foreign to our ears.  Even better--if you do not have Google Earth, you can also access this feature on a limited basis via Google Maps.

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Monday, July 9, 2007

Learning from the best

It's been so exciting to read about the NECC conference, sessions, and exhibit hall. I can't wait to spend some time trying to better understand it all. Luckily for us in South Dakota, we don't have to go to a national event in another state to hear about the latest in technology integration. First there was relative newcomer to the educational technology keynote scene Will Richardson at the TIE conference in Rapid City, sharing his look at how Web 2.0 is changing our lives, and then about a month ago, David Warlick returned to our state to continue sharing his excellent and practical tools for teachers at the Laptop Institute in Mitchell. To find out more about the Landmark Project, visit the links below. And don't miss Warlick's article in TechLearning titled, A Day in the Life of Web 2.0 (you can also listen to the podcast).

Thursday, July 5, 2007

NECC 2007 - Keynote

NECC 2007 - Keynote

Click the link directly above to view the entry in the TIE Lead blog...

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

NECC 2007 - Staggeringly Good Things Integrating Media and Google Earth

More and more teachers are becoming familiar with the wonders of Google Earth. Hall Davidson of Discovery presented tips on extending the capabilities of Google earth:
Staggeringly Good Things Integrating Media and Google Earth

Nearly everyone works with the standard version of Google Earth, mostly because Google Earth Pro costs $400 a year. What many don't know is that Google Earth Pro is available !!FREE!! to educators by contacting Debra Kettmann at and asking for an educator application (I have already gone through the process and have been using Pro for about a year).

Hall demonstrated how to place image overlays and add video or audio to placemarks within Google. His extensive handout (37 pages) provides much of what you need to try these features. He also highlighted Google Lit Trips, a website that highlights areas of the earth featured in great literary works like Candide, The Grapes of Wrath, The Odyssey, etc. Each lit trip provides information about the literary work, embedded right in the Google Earth placemark (if you are interested, Google Lit Trips welcomes more teachers to add to this content).

Some of the placemark files he used to demonstrate these extended features can be found at:
Media Matters: DEN Goes to NECC '07

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NECC 2007 - Integrating Real-World Data in Classrooms

Greg Bartus of CIESE (Center for Innovation in Engeneering and Science Education) presented resources and ideas for integrating real world data in classroom learning.
CIESE: Integrating Real-World Data in Classrooms
He also shared a catalog of collabroative projects their supported schools participate in:
CIESE - Curriculum: K-12 CIESE Online Classroom Projects

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NECC 2007 - Shedding Light on Web 2.0

Many educators are quite familiar with Kathy Schrock. She did a session titled Shedding Light on Web 2.0 which I did not attend but I find the resources very useful. Her presentation slides can be found at
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NECC 2007 - Sowing the Seeds for a More Creative Society

Mitchel Resnick of MIT
Sowing the Seeds for a More Creative Society
is part of a project called Lifelong Kindergarten where they develop new technologies that "in the spirit of the blocks and fingerpaint of kindergarten, expand the range of what people can design, create, and learn." Virtually all educators that students need to think and act creatively, yet as students work through the educational system they move farther from the creative spiral process of imagine-->create-->play-->share-->reflect-->imagine...
One piece of software (FREE!!) they developed is Scratch,
a graphical environment for creative programming. The website also hosts shared projects that others download, then enhance and share again. He also shared other LEGO/Mindstorms projects they are working on.

My notes on the session can be found at
LS Notes: Sowing the Seeds for a More Creative Society

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NECC 2007 - How Virtual Worlds Help Real Students: The River City MUVE

Chris Dede of Harvard University and his colleagues presented a session on the importance of using MUVE (Multiple User Virtual Environments) to immerse participants in rich digital environments.
NECC 2007
How Virtual Worlds Help Real Students: The River City MUVE
Dede points out that as more and more jobs get automated by machines and computers, two areas important for people to add to work is expert decision making and complex communications. In the pursuit of emphasizing 21st century skills, many educators focus on the ability of problem solving. Dede believes the ability of problem finding may be even more important. He also reiterates the importance of the ability to make meaning out of complexity and the ability of comprehension by a team, not just individuals. In their MUVE project, River City, students travel through a 19th century virtual city to determine why people are getting sick. They investigate on multiple levels within the game, set hypotheses, and collect data. They find that students are highly engaged and they improve their biological knowledge at double the rate of non-MUVE students.

eSchool News shares some video clips from this session.

My notes on this session can be found at
LS Notes: How Virtual Worlds Help Real Students: The River City MUVE

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NECC 2007 - Visual Learning: An Accelerant

Cheryl Lemke of the Metiri Group presented a very thought provoking session on the importance for educators to focus on Visual Learning.
Visual Learning: An Accelerant
Education is highly oriented to teaching to the text world, but schools also need to educate students on the "grammar" of visual literacy. Cheryl presents specifics on how the brain works with evidence of increased learning potential with the visual stimulus. She also provides examples of manipulated news media and the importance of students' to discern that manipulation. She describes how schools need to produce expressive and inventive thinkers. Cheryl's presentation can be found at:

My notes on this session of the conference can be found at:
LS Notes: Visual Learning: An Accelerant

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

NECC 2007

I had intended to blog about every session I attended, but I got pushed out of one session on Monday because it was full. Someone there said to plan on only going to every other session and going and getting in line for the next session. Wow! You can tell this little South Dakota girl doesn't get out enough!

I did get to go see Process Writing for the MySpace Generation. I already knew that we need to change the way we are teaching, but this takes it to that level! It was put on by the folks at Teaching Matters and I know I am going to be spending some time checking out their website when I get home. They are very reality-based and that is what matters to my kids!

Then I wandered into the Exhibit Hall! Talk about sensory overload. I spent 1 1/2 hours in there and didn't make it half way across the room. Yahoo is getting ready to pilot some new stuff for teachers. I signed up, but who knows if they are taking everyone. I met a wonderful lady who designed her own writing program, but I was surprised that she knew nothing about blogs, wikis, or other online tools. I know I am far from being an expert, but I did realize that I know more than the average teacher as to the Web 2.0 and the environment our kids need to be learning in. Towards the end of my visit to the Exhibit Hall I found Google. Since I am convinced that Google is taking over the world, I popped in. Fun for me...I found I do everything they were showcasing (and many things they weren't) except for the custom search engine. (I popped back in there today to do the Scavenger Hunt and found that it is fun and easy.)

Yesterday was a bad day. I woke up with a terrible headache, went back to bed for a while, then got up and got ready for the afternoon. I made it as far as waiting for the bus, only to have to run back and get sick. I missed the whole day. I can't tell you how bummed I am about that! Thank heavens there are so many people that have blogged about NECC. I have my reading cut out for me for the next week!

Today I feel better and started my day with Digital Game-based Learning in American History. I stopped at their booth on Monday. The are the Colonial Williamsburg group. I can't wait to dig deeper into this. I know our state pays for us to see all the broadcasts, but I really need to sign up for the teacher materials. There are many games and sites for students to interact at. I just need to remember there will be a lot more in my curriculum than just the Revolutionary War!

The second session of the day I went back in to see Will Richardson. I know, I know...a case of hero worship, but I get really inspired listening to him. His wiki for today was at

I know I now need to add Wikinomics to my summer reading list. I don't know that I learned any more than I have from seeing him two other times and from reading his book, but I am more prepared to go back to the classroom and fight the fight to have my kids using these tools and really preparing them for the world THEY are going to live in verses the one we grew up in. I know that blogging isn't where all teachers agree we need to be, but I am going to have my kids there doing their thing and showing teachers it not only CAN but SHOULD be done. While I agree with Will that we shouldn't be keeping our kids TOO protected, I do know I am going to have to take little steps. I am very confident that I can get the district to not squawk if I start with Class Blogmeister. Sometimes baby steps are better than no steps at all. I am going to set up my own wiki and put all the assignments and resources for my kids there. I have more to learn before I am up to podcasting, but would like to find a way to use that before the end of the school year. Perhaps my US History class could do their own podcast about the Revolutionary War? Hmm, something to think about!

I wanted to go to the Hands-On Wikis in the Classroom session, but again it was full. (Guess I would have had to skip Will!) I did go see Creating to Learn: Integrating Technology into your Classroom, Grades 5-12. I was almost on overload by then. Jacqueline Keane has put a lot of work into this and, thankfully, she sent me out with a book and folder packed with information. (More summer reading!)

Since I didn't think I could handle any more sessions, I went back to the Exhibit hall. (As if that wouldn't push me over the edge!) I finally saw the back half. I don't feel like I did it justice though! I have a backpack full of information. I found a great deal on thumb drives. I hope I can convince my wonderful principal that she needs to purchase one for every teacher. Maybe if I keep putting technology into teachers' hands, they will get excited! I saw things that make me want to drool and also realized how lucky we are in South Dakota. Most teachers aren't given web space around here. We all have it available. WebCT available to every teacher? They laughed at me. Promethian Boards starting to come into all the classrooms. I had teachers asking where was it I was from. Okay, we may be on the low end of the pay scale, but it is no wonder South Dakota scored an A- on the technology report card. (Only behind Georgia's A.)

There is only one keynote left for me today and the conference is over. It was a fluke that I got to come this year. I guess I am going to have to really start the campaign so I can be in San Antonio next year!

NECC Session 1 ~ Will Richardson

The first NECC session I attended was Will Richardson's

Learning with Blogs: Bringing the Read/Write Web into the Classroom
I have heard Will speak at the TIE conference in Rapid City. Now that I have started my own blog and am planning to use them in my English class, it seems to be a whole new conversation. I will record some of what I heard:

Will's Wiki
Will's Blog

Will had been a 21 year educator. Quit to become a full-time blogger and speaker. Will has been blogging for six years.

Google Blog Search

To start blogging you need to read blogs. The links above are great places to start to find blogs that interest you. You then need to start commenting on other blogs. Engaging is a very important piece. At that point you may feel comfortable to start your own blog. There are many places you can start your own blogs. I have a couple started, but I am not sure where I want to "live."

Blogs are reflective. You can use it as a journal, but the real power is to put your thinking and opinions in there and see what people think. You put in intellectual sweat.There is a lot of synthesis in blogs. There is a lot of hypertext. Kids will be working in linked environments.

The question was posed to Will asking the difference between a blog and a wiki: A blog is a conversation. A wiki is a collection. What is the difference between blogs and forums? Blogs are deeply personal. They are your space. Forums are not. They are a group of people.

Reading blogs is an important part of being a blogger and a few that Will talked about were:
Clarence Fisher's blog
Konrad Glogowski
Karl Fisch

Teacher modeling works best when teaching blogging. Here are a couple more:

Vickie Davis - Cool Cat Teacher
Bud Hunt

IM is a very effective language and we should be teaching students that as well as formal language. We need to tell them when it is appropriate.

There are many places you can set up blogs. Here are a few:

I have a blog. I read blogs and occasionally comment in other's blogs. I am not yet to a point that I consider myself a blogger. I am getting there though. I really want my 8th graders to publish their writing to a blog this year and comment on one another's blogs. I HAVE to be a good role model, so my summer is cut out for me. I am so excited!

I always enjoy Will's presentations and hope to catch a few more!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Hitch a Ride to NECC

A site called Hitchhikr allows you to hitch a ride to many conferences via the blogosphere. On the main page you will find listings to popular conferences. If you click on NECC 2007 you will find a listing of blog posts by people who are at NECC and who are tagging their blogs in a certain way.

Podcasting from NECC

Apple is sponsoring podcasts of key sessions at NECC (National Educational Computing Conference). Check out this page for a list of sessions scheduled for podcasting. The easiest way to listen to a podcast is to download iTunes on your computer. Once you've completed the download select podcasts, select the education category, if you don't see a listing of NECC podcasts perform a search for NECC using the "search iTunes Store" window.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

ISTE New Student National Education Tech Standards (NETS)

ISTE is releasing this week the new version of the student technology standards.

ISTE | National Educational Technology Standards

In 2006, ISTE began work on the next generation of NETS for Students, which focuses more on skills and expertise and less on tools. Specifically, they address

* creativity and innovation;
* communication and collaboration;
* research and information fluency;
* critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making;
* digital citizenship; and
* technology operations and concepts

. . .

After a year-long effort to gather feedback and rewrite student standards and accompanying documents, we are eager to release the new ISTE NETS•S™ at NECC 2007 in Atlanta.

View the next generation of NETS•S (Word doc, 52K)

National Educational Technology Standards for Students: The Next Generation PDF

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Wednesday, June 6, 2007

This generation of students

Some have suggested that our (educators') generation is one of information explorers; students of today are a generation of editors. Not only must they find the information but they must do more with discerning good information from weak information and produce quality content. One blogger brings some interesting insight to that notion.

Are We Just Editors Now?
I think, however, that simply calling the current school-age generation a "generation of editors" is a little too limiting. It's true that today's kids don't have to hunt down kernels of information as if they're ancient Cro-Magnon scrounging for roots and berries. Instead, it seems to be replacing those hunting-and-gathering skills with the ability to synthesize and combine information in ways that my own Baby Boomer mind can't always grasp.

It's also creating a generation of skeptical kids who can better sort out bad information from good information. In the old days—the 1980s—finding what seemed like a relevant piece of information was like digging up gold. But sometimes it was fool's gold, and it was often difficult to tell what information was good and what wasn't. We had to rely on editors and peer review to uncover bad information. Even then, bad information would propagate, and would often take years to correct.

One minor example of this is the statue of David, sculpted by Michaelangelo. Art history books had long noted that the statue was a little over 14 feet tall, and this was accepted as fact. But while working on the Digital Michaelangelo Project, researchers discovered that the statue was actually 17 feet.

These days, we get upset when network news doesn't correct factual errors in real time.

I think also think that the baby boomers tend to view information as simply words, pictures and diagrams. My older daughter regards information as something that's mutable, and that flows, not as something fixed and chiseled in stone. We see that on the Internet, too, as people experiment with mashups of different media, with information (data) mixing freely with algorithms to create different ways of looking at the world. One example of this is the work that Imran Haque, the Stanford graduate student who won my old PC in our recent essay contest, is doing by mashing up Google Earth with US Census data.

Editors, synthesizers, and creators. That's the new generation. They'll no longer have hunt and gather for precious bits of information. Instead, they'll be able to build something new and—we can hope—better.

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Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Blogs in the classroom

If you are needing ideas/rationale for using blogs in the classroom setting, this blog from Anne Davis may be helpful:

Ed-Tech Insider: Blogging in the Classroom

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Are you preparing your students for their future?

Recently in my doctoral program, I came across this article posted by a colleague in one of my courses. As a K-12 educational leader, it made me ponder the questions: Are we doing all we can to prepare our students for the future? Are they learning the necessary skills from us that they need in order to perform and function in the world? Teaching and learning are changing, are we keeping up?

This article linked below describes one college who is now requiring all students to successfully complete at least one online course prior to graduation. Interesting.

TIE Conference 2007

The conference is over and I can't believe how fast it went. I am excited about the new things I have learned and only hope that I am going to be able to use them in my class. It takes a little more than just me to be onboard with Web 2.0 to make it happen!

The conference was wonderful. Thank you for having the wireless internet available. I was able to keep up with this blog everywhere I went. The speakers were incredible as was the variety of breakout sessions.

I am thrilled that the state's middle school computer teachers have all come together and started their own association. We hope to meet every year at this event!

I would like to thank the TIE staff for all their hard work and dedication to making this event happen every year. We know it doesn't just come about by magic.
I hope to see many of you at the Systems Change Conference in the fall!

PS ~ Check out the cluster map to see who is checking us out!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Student 2.0: New Technologies, New Opportunities for 21st Century Learners

Julie Mathiesen - TIE

Julie took off from the in-depth session I took with her on Sunday about Web 2.0 tools. She truly believes we need to know who our current “customer” is and what they are all about. You will find her presentation on her wiki.

Julie showed us a cute little video about Digital Immigrant vs. Digital Native. She pointed out that “You might be a digital immigrant if….”

She also gave us some new vocabulary like: Screenagers and the MySpace Generation. She also gave us MMORPG – Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game

Teachers don’t know much about gamers because we don’t play games and don’t get the draw. There are games that thousand, even tens of thousands of kids are playing all together.

Electronic communication: “Email is so, like, 2005.” Teens do instant messaging.
Voice communication: Cell phones vs. text messaging.

There are currently 173 million people using MySpace. Julie, being the hip and happening young woman she is, showed us her “MySpace” page. Her page may not be “rockin’”, but she uses it for the great reason of keeping track of her kids. Since I do the same thing, I think it is something parents should do. If MySpace were a country, it would be the 9th largest.

Our generation gap is turning into a generation LAP since many of our kids are lapping us. Start checking out places like Second Life. Many universities as well as ISTE are represented here. What a site!
Five ideas to go forth with:
Go Public! Start blogs! Get student work out in the world
Be! This is Social Bookmarking. Keep your favorites online. If you tag them, you can have them come into your wiki automatically.
Get Wiki! Julie has a Wiki Challenge: Come to the TIE site and paste in your own standards. Link resources to make students proficient with this standard.
Fast Forward! YouTube or TeacherTube. Check out the content. Watch some video and then learn how to MAKE a video.
Get Game! Explore the world of games.

Julie, what an awesome job! Thanks for sharing all your knowledge with us!

Technology Tools for Schools

Joe Hauge – TIE

Joe explained the advantages of being a TIE member. TIE is funded on soft money through grants and they do powerful work for school districts.

Benefits of membership:
Vendor discounts
Individual districts struggle with getting good pricing
As a collective, TIE has been able to generate more discounts
All vendor discounts are on the TIE website (
Support Technology Coordinators
Technical training is very expensive, but also very important. Some examples:
A+ Certification
Microsoft Certification
New Horizons technical training
Professional Development for teachers and administrators
Face-to-face training
Online workshops
Working on putting workshops on DVD – set up for an in-service
Classroom Management is out
Winning Words will be out in August
TIE conference
Data Analysis Service
TIE’s redesigned website

Systems Change Conference – MAPLE (Midwest Alliance for Professional Learning and Leadership) in partnership with TIE
It will be held at the Cedar Shore Resort in Chamberlain, November 14-15-16, 2007

Systems and Design in Technology

Wayne Lang
Technology Coordinator and Trainer in the Rapid City Area School District

Strand 1 of the new technology standards (Nature and Concepts of Technology) relies heavily on systems thinking and design. Educational technology fits well into Information and Communication Technologies. There is so much change coming that we need to find out how to deal with teaching our kids.
Strand 1 includes:
History and Progression
Relationships with other fields

System is made up of several parts that all work together. We are surrounded by all kinds of systems. Systems help us to see how individual parts work together, understand complicated things, and deal with future changes.

System thinking can be broken down to the simple model of input, process, and output. Feedback is also a necessary element to make certain the system works.

How do we use this model? Relate the to the student world. Introduce – Plan – Analyze
Use the system all the time and kids will start thinking that way.

It could take between 7 and 20 years of students being exposed to systems thinking before it really pays off.

The Design Process (Technological Method)
Define the problem
Gather information
Generate alternatives
Select the best solution
Produce the solution
Test and evaluate the solution
Report the results

Wayne did a wonderful job explaining the systems thinking method.

For more resources, see Wayne’s website:

Tuesday Keynote

Technology Award
With a welcome to the final day of the 2007 TIE Conference by Joe Hauge, he presented the final technology award to Shelia Jensen of Corral Drive Elementary School in Rapid City. Shelia has been there for 6 years and works with Literacy. She has been a mentor to other staff members. She troubleshoots glitches and incorporates technology daily. Shelia also servers on the Building Leadership Team and as a Building Technology Leader. Congratulations Shelia.

Student Media Fair
We had an opportunity to see a video clip highlighting student technology achievement. I am constantly amazed by the creativity and talent of our young students. I sat watching the video in awe! We all need to celebrate these awesome students and their ingenuity!

Get your students involved with next year’s media fair!

Governor Mike Rounds
The Governor gave a heartfelt thank you to everyone in the room for what we do with the students in the state of South Dakota. He also thanked Jim Perry and TIE for this conference.

Governor Rounds talked about the budget and the moneys appropriated for education and technology.

Guidance Central has been purchased for schools to prepare students for college entrance exams and to plan their high school and college careers.

Education Week announced that South Dakota was one of only three states to receive an A- in technology while the average grade is a C. This article for SD was available at Education Week ( and was amazing to see where we actually are compared to others.

The Governor opened the floor for questions:
What will we look like in 10 years?
Combination of wireless access and voice communication
Kids may have computers in their pockets – a visual world
Will teach them with same technology – series of stories from around the world
Teachers will strive to stay one step ahead
Our challenge is to stay current with what technology students use
Will all students be connected?
Wiring schools was a priority – every school building
Now we need to go wireless
Make it bigger so business can hook in
Funding – How can you guarantee adequate funding for training for one-to-one teachers?
How do you guarantee funding for training for Regent schools?
We don’t have complete buy in even now – it still needs to be sold
You don’t learn by just have the tool, it has to come along with training
We need to have enough schools involved and succeeding to ask for state funding from the legislative body
Ongoing training at the local level – Districts need to match salary enhancement dollars – target specific projects, like training for teachers
We don’t want a merit pay system – we are trying to build teams
Post-secondary level – all students that are graduating have to understand how to integrate knowledge using a computer system
All students will soon be required to have a laptop
How are we going to bring new teachers in to the state?
State sends money to districts, but schools are putting money into reserves instead of teacher salaries
Governor Rounds is pushing for more dollars to go into a salary policy
What can we do to bring high paying jobs to the state?
We are losing kids to other states
Businesses look at South Dakota are worried about finding employees to fill positions
Have to have good job opportunities in the state and young people with the skills to go to work right away
Kids have to have more education
How can large schools like Central High School get involved in the laptop initiative?
Started with small schools because it was too daunting for larger schools to get everything pulled together
The first two rounds are able to share what is and isn’t working
Schools that have the laptops need to continue sharing what is working

The Governor ended by thanking the veterans that do so much for our country.

Congratulations Sheila Jensen--Technology Leadership Award Winner

Sheila has been a mentor in technology integration at Corral Drive elementary school in Rapid City. She promotes reading and writing through the use of laptops, having applied for and received numerous grants to provide technology tools for teacher and student use. She is a member of the building technology committee, and is also an author and inventor. Great work, Sheila!

Monday, April 23, 2007

PodCasting in Education presenter: Janet Hill

How many have tried podcasting? I decided to see what this was all about. There are basically 3 types--audio, enhanced, and video podcasts. We were shown how easy it is to do each type of podcasts with Janet from Apple using several audience participants. She also showed us the free podcasts in itunes. One nice thing is itunes can be downloaded free and works on either platform. If you get into itunes, do a powersearch and look for ecogeeks. Some great free video podcasts!

You Tube Showcased by BHSU

Dr. Len Austin and his students, Brittainy Covel and Chad Grahek, began a lively YouTube demonstration with a clip of Elvis Presley from 1977 in this very building (Civic Center) the end of the hour, they had uploaded and could show a clip of their audience, filmed by Chad's cell phone earlier in the session. This session gave me new insight about what it might mean to "live" on the web...It's the ultimate "show and tell" tool. Today's session was a great introduction to this site and some of the issues surrounding its use. I didn't immediately see great educational connections, but it certainly revealed a lot about our culture...

Monday's TIE Conference

With over a thousand participants, the TIE conference is off to a great start. The gifts are fun - we all got a cool bag and a TIE blanket. When picking up the bag we were given a sheet of vendors. If each of those punched your sheet, you could turn it in for a ticket for extra prize drawings. Lots of prizes have been given away already and more to come tomorrow.

Getting to see friends and explore new technologies is fun. I love the TIE conference and always come back to school with a renewed sense of purpose. I think this year's is off to a rousing success.

Middle School Technology Association

Mary Frances Honner ~ Sioux Falls Catholic Schools
Rosalie Moore ~ Douglas Middle School

Mary Frances and Rosalie are spearheading an effort to pull the middle school technology teachers together in a collaborative environment so that we can share ideas and lessons. With the new state technology standards, we are all looking for ways to cover everything and keep our students current with technology. There was a great deal of interest and I think we will be hearing more from this group. Keep us posted and thanks, Ladies!

Top 10 Web 2.0 Applications for the Classroom

Brian Dzwonek

Brian lead us through a tour of his favorite Web 2.0 applications. You can find his presentation on the web site. Below is his countdown list and a general idea what you will find these applications to do.

10. Ajax13
Simple icons

9. Leafletter
Mini webpages

8. Zoho
Creator (online database)

7. ScanR
Use your cell phone camera as a copy machine

6. Google Docs and Spreadsheets
You need to go through your gmail account and you can use the documents and spreadsheets and collaborate with others.

5. Survey Monkey
Online survey creation tool
It has a basic, free component

4. pbwiki
Education wiki as easy as making a peanut butter sandwich
5 gb space for free

3. Google Pages
Create web pages

2. Blogger
Easy blog tool through Google

1. Basecamp
Online project management tool

Courage To Teach

Maggie Austin, Marilyn Hofer, Marlene Rothermel, and Karen Taylor

We were broken into two circles of trust and these amazing women were able to show us a glimpse into the Courage To Teach experience. I am a member of the second cohort and I honestly wondered how they were going to be able to take this program based on Parker Palmer’s work and do it justice in such a short time. I should have known better than to worry.

In a time when our lives as teachers are so incredibly busy and struggling to keep up with additional content and No Child Left Behind and advancing technologies (that the students frequently know more about than we do) and all the other pressures of our chosen career, we rarely take time to ourselves to remember or find out who we are or why we are teaching. Courage To Teach a a gift that allows you the time for reflection and support.

Personally, I was not sure I had time to be part of Courage To Teach and Marlene assured me I didn’t have time NOT to be part of this program. I will owe her forever! I have found that the retreats give me the absolute luxury of time that I never seem to have. The reflection I have done is both personal and professional. I feel the difference when I walk into my classroom. If you don’t have the opportunity to participate in the retreat program, I highly recommend reading one of Parker Palmer’s books.

The program was brought to South Dakota through the EveryTeacher grant, which is gone now. They are trying to find funding to continue, but at a cost of almost $3000 per person for the 18-month program, it may not happen. That would just be sad!

Thank you, Ladies! Well done!

Using Video from the Web in the Classroom

A breakout presentation by R.L. Erion
His presentation can be found at

Erion's presentation offered educators strategies for utilizing video in a way that works with district technologies policy. The "how-to" details are contained in the presentations files. Once you visit his website you can also find links to resources for educators.
Many districts do not allow use of sites like YouTube for various reasons. It is possible to download videos that may be useful for educational purposes and still show them in your classroom without exposing your students to the entire world of online videos.

A new site that operates in the same manner as YouTube, but is dedicated to more educational fare is TeacherTube -- check it out.

Teacher Tube allows you to:

-Upload and share your educational videos worldwide.
-Upload Support Files to attach your educational Activities,
Assessments, Lesson Plans, Notes, and Other file formats to your video.
-Browse original educational videos uploaded by community members.
-Find, join and create video Groups to connect with teachers, students, and schools who have similar interests.
-Customize your experience with playlists.
-Integrate TeacherTube with your website using video embeds or links provided on your video page.

Note: This post can also be found on the TIE Tech Blog