Thursday, July 31, 2008

To live ...

To live is so startling it leaves little time for anything else.
- Emily Dickinson

Be glad of life because it gives you the chance to love and to work and to play and to look up at the stars.
- Henry Van Dyke

What, in life, makes you happy?

Life is ...

Life is a long lesson in humility.
- James M. Barrie

Thursday, July 17, 2008

This is a test, this is only a test!

The question is ... to blog or not to blog ... or .... to wiki or not to wiki. That is the question worthy of pondering. I suppose as time goes on, and I experience and practice with both, the answer will come to tell me what is best for what, and what is best for when, and what is best for where.

Let test this ... Okay, here is a blog I want to follow. Butterfly Hill Farms. Highlight and link. Let's try. Whala! It works. No prob. I don't need to place this on the sidelines I see.

For my class project I'll either use a blog or wiki as an easy access to webpages I want to highlight in my presentation ... Imagine, not using a Powerpoint! Now there's a new thought! :) Use a web 2.0 tool? Perhaps this will become the norm!

By the way ... I figured out why my Internet Explorer didn't have the "Tag" icon that everyone in class had last night for their download. It was because when I tried to install the buttons (last week), I got an error message. Error 2738 to be exact. So I got on my Firefox browzer and was able download the buttons for successfully. Yey! But now I've sent a message to tech support asking how to bypass or fix this error problem. I'm awaiting their answer.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

A Vision of K-12 Students Today

A vision of the younger students who
desperately need us to engage them in learning! How will we do this? And how can we incorporate technology in these efforts? Watch both videos: one for the K-12 learner and the other for the college learner (worth your time to watch both videos: K-12 and college age version; also on!)

A Vision of College Students Today

What are we going to do as educators to meet the needs of today's students? It begins with KNOWING your students, knowing their interests, their learning styles, and their communication style. After that, educators need to check themselves and ask themselves if they are truly connecting with their students, or are they continuing to do what they always have done from what they learned 10 years ago. If they dare to "check in" with their students and get the true picture, they will know that something in their approach to teaching needs to change. Watch this video by Michael Wesch, professor of Cultural Anthroplogy at Kansas State University, to get a glimpse of what's going on in student's minds in the classroom. And then, if you're a teacher, begin studying what the Web 2.0, the read/write web, has to offer you AND your students. It's a smorgasboard of active engagement just waiting for you! And remember that ... being human is all about LEARNING ... which is all about creating meaningful connections -- and significance.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Value of Community and Collaboration

What effects me directly, effects others around me indirectly. All of us are equal and connected. The whole is great than the sum of it's parts. Have you heard these statements before? The clip below includes some quotes by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We are all part of one continuous thread. How would your world change if you saw the whole planet as part of your community? What would you do differently? Together ... we can make the world a better place for everyone.

A Tale of Power and Vision

A short film on the response to change. There are the innovators, the early adopters all the way to the laggards (pessismists) according to Everett Rogers in his Diffusion of Innovations theory.

The Downtown Duckling Hero

Another Random Act of Kindness
A story from my email with a scary start, but a happy ending, dedicated to my Grandpa Neal who loved his ducks and birds.

Dear Nature Lovers,
Something really amazing happened in Downtown Spokane this week and I had to share the story with you. Some of you may know that my brother, Joel, is a loan officer at Sterling Bank. He works downtown in a second story office building, overlooking busy Riverside Avenue. Several weeks ago he watched a mother duck choose the cement awning outside his window as the uncanny place to build a nest above the sidewalk.

The mallard laid nine eggs in a nest in the corner of the planter that is perched over 10 feet in the air. She dutifully kept the eggs warm for weeks and Monday afternoon all of her nine ducklings hatched.Joel worried all night how the momma duck was going to get those babies safely off their perch in a busy, downtown, urban environment to take to water, which typically happens in the first 48 hours of a duck hatching.

Tuesday morning, Joel came to work and watched the mother duck encourage her babies to the edge of the perch with the intent to show them how to jump off! The mother flew down below and started quacking to her babies above. In his disbelief Joel watched as the first fuzzy newborn toddled to the edge and astonishingly leapt into thin air, crashing onto the cement below. My brother couldn't watch how this might play out. He dashed out of his office and ran down the stairs the sidewalk where the first obedient duckling was stuporing near its mother from the near fatal fall. Joel looked up. The second duckling was getting ready to jump! He quickly dodged under the awning while the mother duck quacked at him and the babies above.

As the second one took the plunge, Joel jumped forward and caught it with his bare hands before it hit the cement. Safe and sound, he set it by the momma and the other stunned sibling, still recovering from its painful leap. One by one the babies continued to jump to join their anxious family below. Each time Joel hid under the awning just to reach out in the nick of time as the duckling made its free fall. The downtown sidewalk came to a standstill. Time after time, Joel was able to catch the remaining 7 and set them by their approving mother.

At this point Joel realized the duck family had only made part of its dangerous journey. They had 2 full blocks to walk across traffic, crosswalks, curbs, and pedestrians to get to the closest open water, the Spokane River.

The onlooking office secretaries then joined in, and hurriedly brought an empty copy paper box to collect the babies. They carefully corralled them, with the mother's approval, and loaded them up into the white cardboard container. Joel held the box low enough for the mom to see her brood. He then slowly navigated through the downtown streets toward the Spokane River, as the mother waddled behind and kept her babies in sight. As they reached the river, the mother took over and passed him, jumping into the river and quacking loudly. At the water's edge, the Sterling Bank office staff then tipped the box and helped shepherd the babies toward the water and to their mother after their adventurous ride.

All nine darling ducklings safely made it into the water and paddled up snugly to momma duck. Joel said the mom swam in circles, looking back toward the beaming bank workers, and proudly quacking as if to say, "See, we did it! Thanks for all the help!"

Thankfully, one of the secretaries had a digital camera and was able to capture most of it (except the actual mid-air catching) in a series of attached photographs. Please join me in celebrating my brother -- The Downtown Duck Hero!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Random Acts ... of Kindness with the Pool Bees

Asking questions is always a good practice in life. One question to ask on a daily basis is ... What can I learn from someone's random act of kindness? Essentially ... What can I learn from watching others ... and how do their selfless acts influence me?

A good teacher will always reflect on his or her practices. Reflecting should be done with such automaticity that it becomes second nature. At least, that's what reflection has become for me. Even a better question to ask might be ... What life lessons can I learn from my own random acts of kindness? and ... How can this become so engrained in my way of behaving that it would be unusual for me to do otherwise?

Often when peacefully floating my time away in my pool ... I have made it my mission to save the bees that accidently find themselves on top of the water struggling to fly free. It's not unusual to save at least 2 or 3 bees a day. I scoop them out, careful not to get stung (hmm, no good deed goes unpunished - Do you believe that?) ... Anyway, there the little fella is on the hot, now wet pavement, frantically rubbing his face and squiggying the water off his body, just as a cat would clean it's face after eating.

I love watching PoolBee work hard to dry himself and within a matter of moments, he is off and flying for a 2nd, maybe 3rd, chance at life. (They all look alike; I may have saved the same bee twice in one day!) I smile and know that I made a difference for that little bee, and I am pleased to know that I've done my job for the day with the "pool bees." It feels good to save a life, even though it's a little bee, you know?

We all need to nurture and care for things in our lives. This is really like drinking water - It's absolutely essential for our own well being. What little, and big, things do you do to nurture the people around you everyday? Is there a lesson to learn from observing all that is around you?

Ding Ding Ding ... And the winner is ...

WETPAINT!... for my final seminar project (see July 5 entry for project details). After researching three wiki options: wikispaces for teachers, pbwiki and now wetpaint ... I had to go with Wetpaint - the absolute simplest for all teachers concerned; no html code required (a huge selling point); not too many options for your average digital immigrant. Wikispace for Teachers: choice #2, but uses html code and I don't want to have to build the code in for all of my team. Keep it simple is still the name of the game ... and then later ... expand to the beyond!!! :)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Final Seminar Project for EDIT 490

Starting simple is always a good idea for teachers since time is such a valuable and limited commodity day to day. I want to use a Web 2.0 tool that will help my 4th grade teaching team collaborate and share ideas more easily. Also we can share websites, and other resources for various lessons and subjects ... so that we don't need to reinvent the wheel. Wikispaces for Teachers is my choice at this point ... I did look at PBWiki, but free space only goes up to 10 MB which is not much and I don't want to have to pay a monthly rate to increase this storage space; hence the Wikispaces route. I might look at Wetpaint to compare.

Bottomline: the wikispace will be used for teachers to collaborate, share ideas and valuable resources, give feedback and discuss our new intervention in reading program we're using this coming year. I want to design this wiki in such a way as to make it easy to access and be inviting and organized, but mostly USEFUL. Ultimately, the team I collaborate with will need to use an application that is hosted by an existing site online.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Book Review: RSS for Educators

Digital Wise - A Magazine for Digital Immigrants
Digital Wise, a magazine for digital immigrants, is a fictitious magazine that I created for my EDIT 490 book review assignment, June 2008. See graphics version on WebCT discussion post. RSS for Educators: Blogs, Newsfeeds, Podcasts and Wikis in the Classroom, by John G. Hendron, is an well organized account of the author's knowledge, wisdom, and insight into Web 2.0, the new generation of the World Wide Web. This book was published by the International Society of Technology Education (, 2008. Book can can be found on

Wikis, Podcasts, and Blogs, Oh My!
Lions, Tigers, and Bears? Not here! No Need to Fear the “New Web” by Lori Rozelle, Elementary Teacher / for EDIT 490: Web 2.0 for the Classroom

Digital immigrants, and educators, will no longer be wary of all the latest innovations on the World Wide Web once they read this book. In fact, they’ll want to keep this newfound resource close at hand in order to keep up with the digital natives they teach and influence every day. In the book, RSS for Educators; Blogs, Newsfeeds, Podcasts and Wikis in the Classroom, author John G. Hendron (2008) introduces an immeasurable number of read/write applications and tools associated with what he calls “new web” in a powerful “new era” of technological advances in communication, collaboration, and shared computing (p. 1).

As an educator and instructional technologist, Hendron’s goal is to meet the needs of fellow educators by explaining why and showing how the latest web 2.0 technologies can enhance any classroom in the 21st century (p. xi). Endorsed and published by the International Society for Technology in Education in 2008, Hendron’s book defines and explains the basics of blogs, wikis, newsfeeds, and podcasts in addition to giving the reader a comprehensive listing (Appendix A) of 130 web resources for this new generation of the read/write web users (p. 259).

Hendron does an adequate job of defining each category listed in the title of his book (blogs, newsfeeds, podcasts and wikis); however, his discussions on news aggregates were difficult for a web 2.0 newcomer as myself. My preferred learning style, hands on, however might solve that problem. One weakness worth mentioning is the book’s presentation: Hendron’s application tools graphics illustrations are very small in print and so very difficult to read and follow. It isn’t worth straining the eyes, and since there are likely plenty of other more user-friendly resources on the internet, I would go there for further illustrations of the concepts presented. Other than this slight fault, RSS for Educators serves as a very good resource from which to begin a quest for knowledge of the “new web” technologies.

Because Hendron is not only a teacher, but also an instructional technologist who won the 2006 Virginia State Technology Leadership Award from the VA Dept. of Education -- and knowing that the International Society for Technology in Education ( published this book in the current year, high credibility can be given to the information presented in this book. An additional strength of the book is Appendix C, which provides a vital resource for educators who want to continue their pursuit in digital fluency and information management.

Appendix C is a list of the National Educational Technology Standards for students and for teachers (Hendron, 2008, p. 285). These standards are essential reminders for why educators must at least begin to understand web 2.0 technologies and its many read/write tools. For students, these standards include: creativity, innovation, communication, collaboration, information fluency, research, critical thinking and problem solving, digital citizenship, and technology operations and concepts.

The question is … How can educators meet these rigorous student standards without educating themselves first? Not overnight is a sure answer. Is it doable though? Hendron thinks so, if we work at it. Actually, our students are digital natives who will learn new web 2.0 technologies with or without our assistance. They are the clicking generation with no fear of technology. I often tell my 4th grade students that they were clicking in the womb! I believe upper grade elementary school is a time for teachers to lay the foundation for future opportunities that Hendron discusses in his book. It’s a time to begin the habit of building a community that communicates, collaborates and builds information together.

Hendron (2008) writes about the importance of parent involvement in a school’s mission. He quotes from A Harvard Family Research Project report (Patrikakou, 2004): “ … a multitude of research findings point to the importance that parent involvement has in all stages of the educational process.” This involvement increases the chances for success with both students and teachers (p. 56).

Middle school and high school teachers will be pleased to know that Hendron includes a whole section in his book on classroom applications, great lesson planning ideas to modify and run with! He does include 4th and 5th grade for a few lessons, however consistent access to a computer lab would be necessary for success in these grades.

When discussing wikis for the classroom, Hendron (2008) says, “students are powerfully motivated by being able to publish their work online for others to see, hear, and use” and then gives a long list of how classrooms can use wikis for project based learning (pp. 178-179).

A later chapter discusses podcasts in the classroom, which can be easily downloaded on personal audio players. Hendron (2008) notes, “One of the great rewards for writers and creators is knowing someone is using, reading, or consuming their work … Imagine how this makes the work done by student more exciting, authentic, and real” (p. 201).

As a digital immigrant myself, I found the chapters most easy to understand were about blogging. It definitely helps that I’ve have actual experience in blogging and so the prior knowledge would aid with assimilating the information. Overall, blogging seems to be the simplest of all applications. Just start writing and then post! Guests of the blog may comments on the postings and a conversation ensues. In order to keep the blog fresh and thus read, it is encouraged to keep the blog current. As some blogging applications are open source (free but must have a web server to run on), others cost money. Hendron (2008) helps us wade through the choices in making educated decisions to suit our needs both personally and professionally (p. 114).

Before using blogs in the classroom, Hendron (2008) advises educators to be clear on set goals and to define the intended lifespan of the blog as well as define exactly who the blog is for, the educator or the student. This will help in making sure blogging is not only meaningful but successful (p. 153).

RSS for Educators is a good starting ground for gaining knowledge of the web 2.0 tools and technologies available today; however, it only begins the journey into this new era of read/write innovations. A second read with a laptop at hand as reference might be helpful to the novice web 2.0 user. RSS for Educators will serve as a quick reference to resources that exist today and is a handy book for your library; however, it is strongly advised that curious learners explore further on their own on the internet, as applications are being developed every day. Digital natives, be on the lookout! The immigrants are coming!

Hendron, J. G. (2008).
RSS for Educators / Blogs, Newsfeeds, Podcasts, and Wikis in the Classroom. Washington, D.C.: International Society for Technology in Education.

Patrikakou, E. N. (2004). Adolescence: Are parents relevant to students’ high school achievement and post-secondary attainment? Cambridge, MA: Harvard Family Research Project, Harvard University.