Saturday, March 27, 2010

Go Animate

GoAnimate is a site where teachers, students, and others can create quick animated videos. Here is an example of a 45-second animation focused on teens. Check out the site GoAnimate, and take some time to view other animations. Let us know what you see as the potential for this site in the school setting. School News for Teens! FREE TV Show Opening! by gwyneth

Like it? Create your own at It's free and fun!

School Filtering Programs

I found this slide show, Strategies for Fighting Internet Filtering on tips for how to address the issue of schools blocking specific Internet sites. For those teaching K-12, blocking sites creates problems when we know specific sites sponsor information that would be of value to our students. The slide show offers some suggestions of how to address the issue and ways in which teachers can teach responsible use of online sources. If you prefer you can view the presentation here instead of clicking on the link Strategies for Fighting Internet Filtering to view the presentation at the slideshare website.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

School-Issued Smartphones

Although many schools ban the use of cell phones, this policy is beginning to be revisited. Here is one article that speaks to the merits, Solving Algebra Problems on Smarthpones. In fact, in the North Carolina school featured in the story, students are issued smartphones by the school. They are used by students to assist them in solving algebra problems both in the classroom and at home, while doing homework. In addition to several applications for which the phones are used, the students have access to a class blog, where they can pose questions when they need assistance with solving problems at home. The teacher or peers can respond. To learn more about this use of smartphones to assist students with their algebra skills, refer to the Education Week article, Solving Algebra Problems on Smarthpones. Do you think it is about time that more schools lifted bans on smartphone use during school hours? What about the idea of the schools being the ones to issue the phones? The article documents several advantages of issuing school-sponsored smartphones and using them both in and out the school. Let us know what you think after you read the article.

In addition, the article contains this video, which you might want to watch for additional information and for student and teacher testimonials of the value of the K-Nect Project, the program that brought the phones to the schools.

Photo is from the article at and is captioned as such: "Using her school-issued smartphone, Katie Denton, a junior at Dixon High School in Holly Ridge, N.C., reads the biographic profile of a student from another school that is also participating in a Project K-Nect math class.—Sara D. Davis for Education Week" (URL:

Monday, March 22, 2010

Failing Grades for Attracting Women and Minorities into STEM

Several new reports just released show the trend to attract women and minorities into the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (often designated by the acronym STEM) remains dismal. Here are links to read more about two recently released reports.

Why So Few? AAUW Report

There's a lot to chew over in these two articles. Take some time to read them and to check some of the links to other resources contained within the articles. As educators, we need to be concerned about stereotypes we create and how our attitudes influence the students in our classrooms. What can we do to serve as strong role models to encourage students to pursue interests and eventual careers in the fields represented by STEM, areas in which more and more professionals will be needed in the future to sustain our growth as a world leader? What is our responsibility to encourage students in general to pursue careers in these fields and to start preparing them for such futures in grades as early as the elementary school?

President Obama has already proposed several steps to support STEM. (See "Obama Unveils Plan to Bolster STEM," Jan. 2010.)

So much of the future of our country rests in nurturing young people's interests in the STEM fields. What is your response to the recent reports about our failings as educators to support and nurture young people's interests in the STEM areas? Are the solutions offered in the articles and the related reports feasible? What do you see as solutions?

photo credit: cover from report obtained at

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Teacher Suspended for Facebook Post

An East Stroudsbury University professor was suspended for a comment she put on Facebook. She claimed she was kidding when she said she had a bad day and wanted to kill some students. The school officials took her comments seriously, and suspended her when a student brought the matter to the attention of the administration. Some say the suspension was a violation of free speech while others claim all threats of this kind even if made in jest should be taken seriously. Read more about the case in Higher Ed Morning, Facebook: Teacher Suspended for Posts, and check some of the comments posted.

In another case, a middle school teacher was suspended for some comments she wrote about one of her students on Facebook. Read of that story, Apex Teacher Suspended. Stories of both students and teachers being suspended for Facebook comments are increasing.

How do you feel about the emerging cases of retribution when a member of a school, be it a student or teacher, faces suspension for postings put on Facebook or other social networking venues? Should comments posted on these sites be taken seriously? Need teachers exercise caution? What about comments students post on Facebook, or other public social networking sites, about teachers, school administrators, and other students? As a teacher, what would you do if a student brought to your attention a comment written about her or him by another student that could be interpreted to be mean spirited or threatening? What about the teacher from East Stroudsbury U.? Do you think she should have been suspended? What about the middle school teacher who called her student "Bible boy"?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Videos Feature Winning Digital Natives

See some wonderful digital media projects created by students, some as young as 8 and 13, and read their profiles to learn more about who they are. Youth Portraits at Eutopia features the stories of students showcased in the Digital Generation Project. This project is intended to help educators and parents understand how students are using digital media. Spend time reading the students' profiles and seeing their digital work. Afterwards, return to this blog and post your comments about the project. Which students' work did you find impressive? What have you discovered by viewing the students' profiles and work? Note what the students have to say about their education and how digital media has motivated them as students and learners. If you have some extra time, explore the Digital Generation: Educators section for specific teaching ideas. Let us know what you fnd of particular of interest to you.
What about teacher tenure? What about merit pay? Should tenure or the alternate option of merit pay to replace tenure be tied to test scores? As the national debate unwinds about these controversial issues, we as educators need to stay informed.

When a post was made to the English Companion Ning, the posting generated a volumnious number of replies. The title of the blog, If We Can Put a Man on the Moon, We Can Certainly Measure Teacher Effectiveness, is controversial enough, and already 15 pages of comments have been left. By the time you check, more pages of comments are likely to have been added.

The English Companion Ning is read by over 12,000 English teachers, and surely other professional education nings and blogs are already generating a plethora of commentary on the topic of measuring teacher effectiveness. Just check the If We Can Put a Man on the Moon... and the comments posted to get a feel of some of the response in one community of educators.

This ning, The English Companion, is one of the most popular in the K-12 setting and is read by more than just English and language arts teachers. The discussion on the ning was started by Alan Sitomer, a former California teacher of the year and an author of young adult literature.

By the way, those interested in the teaching of literature and language arts skills, should check out the English Companion Ning regularly; it is a storehouse of information, and why not also join the ning to become part of the conversation.

In the meantime, post your comments on this blog regarding the discussion that has evolved based on Sitomer's blog and the whole controversy of a method to measure teacher effectiveness. Can it be done? Is tenure the answer? Is merit pay a better answer? What about using test scores to measure teacher effectiveness? If not test scores, then what else? Check out the discussion at, If We Can Put a Man on the Moon..., as well as Sitomer's What I Believe Measuring Teacher Effectivess is About. He has posted on the main English Companion Ning as well as within his own Page on the English Companion Ning; thus, you will see two forms of commentary in each place.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Top NCLB Advocate Reverses Position: Hot News and More to Follow

Yes, it has hit the press that Diane Ravitch, one of the chief engineers of the NCLB, has changed her mind after all these years. I will be posting more information, but in case you missed this big news story, click on the title of this post to get to the NPR coverage. Since the story will be all over the news, post links in your comments to other helpful media you find. Here is a quick ink to the story from the New York Times.
Photo, courtesy of Basic Books as taken from the NPR cover story.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Adding Audio Track in PowerPoint 2007

This video guides you through the process of adding an audio track (music) to your PowerPoint created in version 2007. Let us know if the video is helpful to you.