Thursday, January 31, 2008

teachers retiring

Just read this on

"Record Number of Teachers Set to Retire, January 31, 2008 · Teachers are leaving their profession in record numbers, especially at the high-school level, according to study released Thursday.
Some 40 percent of the nation's classroom teachers are now 50 years or older and an unprecedented number of them will likely retire in the next five years, a study by the National Center for Education Information said Thursday.
The number of teachers expected to leave the field is double what it was 12 years ago. Losing so many classroom veterans spells trouble for schools trying to meet federal guidelines to hire only the most qualified teachers - especially in math, science and special education.
The researchers said the current pool of teachers is graying because so many of them switched from other careers in their 30s and 40s. That trend is likely to continue.
The study also said 80 percent of teachers surveyed said they were satisfied with their jobs."

I find it interesting that this is especially affecting high school teachers and wonder if this is a break through time for new teachers and new ways of teaching. Also interesting that teachers are generally satisfied with their jobs. That number seems high, a pleasant surprise.

why we integrate technology

Susan has asked me to contribute ideas for a column for a school publication. As a 1:1 laptop school the answer to this question should be evident by now to the entire school population. It's quite frustrating that it is not.
She has specifically asked me to talk about why I chose to use certain programs and what it did for the students. Here are my examples:
  • an online collaborative wiki application on which students worked with a partner to gather research and present their findings to the class. Originally intended for an oral presentation with visual aides but also became a vehicle for students to access each other's work outside of class time. They used the discussion boards to ask for further information and comment on each other's work. The students were motivated by the opportunity to use Internet sources in their research and the activity afforded authentic discussions on the validity of using Wikipedia, cross checking sources, and citing sources (with links).
  • an online subscription service which serves a variety of purposes in preparing papers and conducting alternative class discussions. I primarily use this source for students to upload their papers, peer edit, and check for plaigiarism. The originality reports give students an objective way to see their words and judge whether they have cited or paraphrased correctly. Again, leads to authentic discussions on plaigiarism. The discussion boards give students who do not participate in oral discussions as easily an opportunity to "get a word in edgewise."
  • Inspiration: a brainstorming and outlining program. I have used this as a visual aid during class discussions and a tool to help students learn to outline their ideas effectively. Being able to manipulate their ideas in a more symbolic way is a great aid for some students who are more visual learners.

There are a lot more that I could talk about, but I'd probably say that I have used those 3 tools most effectively in helping a variety of students to learn.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

wiki for research

My 11th graders complete a research project this marking period. I am thinking of having them organize and collect all of their notes on their own wiki space. I can link all of the pages together so that I have access to their work for checks and feedback. It could also be an interesting way for them to organize and keep track of the progress of their research. In terms of teaching the research process, instead of notecards they would have separate pages for each source. I'm thinking that they would write the paper on a wiki page also. Using two screens (or more) to translate their research notes into their own text. I'm going to keep thinking about this and work out an example on my wiki.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

expanding, or inventing, my PLN

This week has been a new step for me as I am "meeting" new people around the world through video conferencing and Twitter. On Wednesday I tuned in to professional development in Utah and today participated in a session at Educon 20 in Pennsylvania. Besides listening to speakers there, and remotely from China and Qatar, I chatted, blogged, and "twittered"? Got to see Susan on Ustream :) Mostly, I made some new contacts that I am very excited about following and learning from.

EduCon 2.0

Links to follow the events from Dangerously Irrelevant:

Educon 2.0 begins today. Do I wish I was one of the attendees? Absolutely!
Follow along at the conference wiki, via RSS, via UStream, via Technorati, in Second Life, and/or at Flickr. Kudos to Chris Lehmann and everyone else who worked on putting together what looks like an amazing event. I can’t wait to see what shakes out over the next few days!

Thursday, January 24, 2008


I am a teacher mentor at my school and have had difficulties knowing exactly what my job entails. I don't want to step on anyone's toes, but I am excited about sharing my experience and learning from different perspectives. I enjoyed reading Dana Huff's article on making a teacher.

sonnets recorded

My 10th graders recording themselves reading original sonnets. Hear them here.

Voz Me

My tech coordinator is always finding new tools in her explorations and passing them on to me. Many times I don't pursue the link but today I played with Voz Me and came up with an educational use in about ten minutes. I created this mp3 to remind my students to bring in their papers tomorrow. In case they didn't get the message from verbal instructions at the end of class, or from the post on my class webpage, here is an auditory reminder:
Is there any other way that I can reach them? :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

knowledge: a level field

On a chat at Ustream conference, Jeff in Shanghi talks about how the opportunity for knowledge is a field that is quizkly being leveled by the Internet and open source information. He says: "The ability to learn from anybody, anywhere, at any time." How can I help my students understand the competition that they will face in the global market that will exist by the time they enter the work force? Right now they feel very privileged to live in America, but are they also a little blind?

digital storytelling

There is so much to be done with digital storytelling. This is an area that I would like to pursue, but for now I'm just going to record the resources:

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


I just joined Technorati because I've read about it on other blogs. I don't fully understand what it is, but I'm willing to dive in and see what happens with that.
Today I tried using an online survey with my classes, but I think that I accidentally locked it so none of their responses could register. I reassured my classes that the real point was to just get them thinking about their responses, but we couldn't help but be disappointed. I have to find better ways to set up new uses of technology and check for loop holes before trying something new in class.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Christmas present for myself

One of my favorite Christmas presents this year was high speed Internet at home. It really was crazy to try to move into the new world of teaching with technology without fast access at home. The fact that I had dial up for so long was helpful in keeping my sanity, however.
I am a teacher at Susan's school and we've been having some problems lately: see her recent post. By the end of last semester I had stopped blogging, neglected my wikispace, and even stopped trying to use web 2.0 technologies in the classroom. When I reflected on why my efforts had diminished so much, I realized that I was suffering from a feeling of not being appreciated.
Having a break was a good time to get my head straightened out and my enthusiasm reignited. It's an exciting time to be a teacher, but real effective change takes time. I sometimes get frustrated by the roadblocks, but I still have my eyes trained on the ultimate goal: a future of teaching and learning more effectively.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

new finds in 2008

People who love words are always trying to tighten up our language:

These comics are interesting to me in light of this blog and the Maus comic writing project that I have my juniors complete in the spring.

last year's comics