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Why Do You Ask?

From asking questions that require an answer To asking questions that require a conversation.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Podcast, Our First VIDEO

Library Lady & I created our first Video BookTalk. It is on our Cougar Paw'dCast page. Click here or here, or here...It all depends on proxy-blocking experiences as to which one will work.

You may need QuickTime.

ADDED on 10/21/2006
As a reflection of the experience of creating the VPC I noticed several things:
  • It was not difficult.
  • It did take time - though not as much as I anticipated.
  • We need a "production area" in the MC. Not is a separate room, but secluded in the area we have. [Not the same as the Closed Circuit needs].
  • We had a classroom of students in the MC when we taped. They were intrigued. It was like the Today Show - with people "eavesdropping" on our work.
  • It was fun.
  • If students or other teachers had something to say, this could be done by anyone.
  • Getting the video from camera to my Mac was effortless with iMovie.
  • Getting the video uploaded to the Internet (private account, Google Video, and embedded into the blog was easy (upload button - then copy and paste the code to the blog).
  • After researching for about 30 minutes (at home), I figured out how to get the video as an iTunes automatic download through their Podcast subscription (free).
  • I think I would do this as a classroom teacher at least weekly, to highlight the main point(s) of the units we study. It would take maybe three days of teaching students how to set up their iTunes / iPods to subscribe to the feed.
  • I am learning about creating personal Channels on YouTube (Google just bought them for $1.65 billion) to see if students and faculty would/could become "friends" of the channel.
So much to do...so little time.

Conference, Attending My First Media Center

Library Lady and I attended a Bureau of Education & Research conference in Chattanooga today. The topic was Increasing the Effectiveness of Your School Library Program: Creative, Inviting, Budget-Friendly Ideas. Deborah Ford led the conference (with a little help from Aunt Betty). You can see her conference information here. She is a good presenter; entertaining and informative. The resources in the Resource Handbook are helpful too.

This was the first conference I have attended in nearly 5 years. I was past-due. Sometimes a conference is good for affirming what one already knows...preachin' to the choir meetings. Other times a conference can be a flip-o'-da-switch meeting. This conference was the later. Nothing said was earth-shattering, but I saw immediate application for nearly a dozen things. I'll list a few.
  • Weeding without feeling guilty. People who like books have a difficult time weeding a collection. If the information is outdated, or incorrect, the book is of no practical use. It serves only as an historical marker of previously thought-to-be-true material. An Antique Book Sale can help get rid of books, and rasie money at the same time. Buyers know the information is not reliable for modern use, but they may like to have a book for posterity.
  • School-wide Bulletin Boards. Don't just advertise in the MC, use wall around the school. Have students create the themed bulletin boards. Base the theme on core content standards to advertise what the MC has that could help the teachers.
  • Ugly books don't circulate. Student created book jackets can help. I have noticed really good books, that have been re-bound, that do not appeal to students because the books have "ugly," solid color covers.
  • SoundzAbound.com for royalty-free music for ambience in the MC. Instrumental only. While I mention sound, a CD with snippets from songs like "Hit the Road Jack," "Hey, Hey, Hey, Goodbye," or "These Boots were Made For Walking" can serve as a 5-minute warning to let students & teachers know the class period is about over.
  • Welcome bags for new students who do not have an orientation opportunity at the beginning of the year. 6th Graders get the full orientation, 7th & 8th Graders could have a refresher "quiz" at the start of each year about MC Rules and Policies.
There were several more great ideas that I might discuss in a later entry. Hundreds of web sites are included in the Handbook. It was a very good conference for me.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Google, The Educator's

Google never stands still. They are constantly developing (or marketing) in new ways.

They have recently made a public commitment to the Mac community; promising more help and features for Mac users.

They have announced two things just for educators...Google for Educators & The Literacy Project. This is in addition to something I am working on for The MC - Google's Custom Search tool (this limits the results to perameters we set). I wonder if this can appease the filter czar's sense of protection?

Both of these services (actually containing some of the same services) are aimed at getting the educational community to catch up with a flattening world. We are rapidly moving from a server-based delivery of services to a web-based delivery of services. What does this mean? For our school system, it could mean freeing up the IT department from work we don't need them to do anymore...manage servers for teacher files, student files, email, and several other server-based services. Will we do this? I doubt we adopt it anytime in the near future, because we have invested too much time and money in our current business model.

But, I see the use of something web-based inevitable for schools. I can already hear the objections about security, safety, and all the meme that accompanies this kind of discussion. We have to catch up with the world, and realize that if we do not teach our students how to use these tools (appropriately, safely, and beneficially) students will still be using them (just without adult supervision and guidance). It is time for education to replace fear in our schools' business model of teaching technology use to our students. After all, we are a teaching profession.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Data, Backup Your

How many times have we heard, "Be sure to backup your data."? For me, hundreds, if not a thousand times. I've actually said it more than I have heard it. It's part of computer evangelism...Hear it once, tell it to dozens.

The inside of a hard drive is a very fragile thing. It is like a record with a needle racing across at 60 mph, seeking the data you request.

Here is a great video reminding us why it would be a good idea to back up our important, and not so important, files.

I wonder, how do most educational systems backup their data? How about our system, and backing up the information on Infinite Campus? Might be worth asking, since we are fighting through the learning curve. It could be something we are unintentionally overlooking.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Creativity, Another Vote for

I reflected on my thoughts about Sir Ken Robinson's TED Talk earlier.

We are currently on a Fall Break from school and I come across this video on Google. It is a street drummer...and he is awesome.

I couldn't help but recall Robinson's story about the woman with the Royal Ballet, who choreographed Cats and Phantom of the Opera. She was not doing well in school, she couldn't sit still, and her mother takes her to a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist says she's not sick, she's a dancer. The mother enrolls her daughter in a dance school. Robinson interviewed the dancer/choreographer and asked her what she thought of the dance school. She said it was great. There were other children who could not think UNLESS they moved. If you haven't see Robinson's TED Talk, it is must viewing for educators.

Back to the drummer. I see this video and think...I wonder how he did in school? Was he even in band? He doesn't use the "right equipment." He isn't holding the drum sticks correctly. He is drumming below his waste. If he was in band, what was his grade? Did he "fit in" in his other classes? Is he literate? [based on the Robinson questions]. Did public education provide him what he needed to become who he is?

Then my bigger question...why is he a street drummer? Why hasn't some band grabbed him by now? Maybe they have, but I would be surprised. Then again, on Google video he may become known, and "be discovered." I found him, and I wasn't looking for him. Furthermore, I was lead to think about "deeper things" because I found him. Huh. Imagine that.

Here's the video.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

TV, Closed Circuit

Wow. What a fun day on Friday. We did our first, student-conducted Morning Show. Grace and Maclain did a good job with the announcments. Josh (Krusty) did an awesome job with explaining the Cougar Carnival. I had at least a dozen comments from teachers about how the students paid attention during the announcements. I wonder if the teachers did too ;-).

Ms. Bremner and I have worked together, trying to find out what other schools in the district are doing. We contacted Mr. Ross, the system video expert, to help us get started with the wiring. Mr. Helton (director), Mr. Atha (sound), Ms. Autry (music and sound fx), Ms. Keith (location), and a few others have been discussing the equipment needs to make our show something special. This is something that cannot be done with just a few, and the students really like having the teachers help them look good (or goofy) or at least make the famous.

The equipment cost is high; more than I would have expected. But this is not my "cup-o-tea" and I didn't really know the expense for seemingly simple equipment. It actually reminds me of a sign I used to have in my room. "It is amazing how hard I work to make this look simple." I guess the same is true with the right technology. It looks so simple to transition from one medium to another (just a toggle switch), yet the engineering behind the scenes must really be something to make it happen.

Soon, Mr. Helton and Ms. Bremner will conduct auditions for Academic Team Anchors (cool idea). Then we can develop a schedule of anchors for the broadcast.

I know I tend to get ahead of myself...I am a dreamer/visionary type of guy. The elementary schools sell tapes to the parents of the kids who do the news. UPDATE: One of the elementary Media Specialists (I'll call her Westwood Library Lady :-) ) informed me that they do not sell the tapes, but that the parents supply tapes if they want a tape of their child. That's even better! What a way to promote your media center. I think it is still true at the Middle School level that we won't really see a desire for this service. BUT, I wonder if I could tape the show, and put it on youtube.com? The kids would eat that up. The school system might not "get it." A quandry...kids would watch it just to see themselves, parents might watch it just because the kids pass the word around, but the system policy might think it would "endanger" our students. I digress... But I wonder how many hits we would get in a week???

Oh well. I'm learning much from my colleagues about sound boards, mixers, video, and audio. I enjoy the learning. It is also great to realize the kind of talent and enthusiasm we have on staff at DMS. They are the best.