Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Odyssey Book Twelve Questions

Record your questions and make sure to come back to answer somebody else's.

Odyssey Book Ten Questions

Here is the place to record your questions as well as answer your classmates'. Good luck!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Google Earth Personal Learning Journey

I posted on Learning and Laptops about my students creating their own personal learning journeys from their travels and places they have lived. I was trying to get them to realize before we read the Odyssey, that the places you have spent time have influenced you similarly to the effect it had on Odysseus in his travels.

We spent about 4-5 days in class learning about Google Earth from Mike Porter (he is a saint no matter what Karl says about him). The kids completed the project in stages working first with the writing portion answering the questions of where did they go? what did they do there? what did you learn? what mattered from your visit? how does it still affect you today?

Once the writing portion was complete, Mike assisted the kids with creating the place marks of their journey. We even challenged the kids to add pictures from their online photo albums as well as encouraged the use of video and audio. We didn't have any takers there, but it gives us room to grow! I was really excited about this project and glad I took the time to do it with the kids.

I am so thankful that Mike came over to help with the technical side of things; also, it was really fun to see him as the teacher. I can only imagine how interesting, creative, and funny it would have been to sat in his classroom as a student. I will make sure to have the kids comment on the process, but even though not everyone completed the assignment, I really am thankful for those who ventured out to try something new. Check out their examples:

Adam A.
Angelica O.
Anna K.
Averee L.
Alena V.

Carter W.

Dennis K.
Ethan L.
Jackie N.
Joey W.
Josh TS.
Kelly S.
Lauren E.
Lauren P.
Mandi G.
Sam H.
Sean B.
Sean D.
Xavia H.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Odyssey Book Nine Questions

Here is the place where you can continue to ask and answer questions about Book Nine of The Odyssey. Remember to ask specific questions as well as check back often to hopefully have your questions answered.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Meaning of the title

What do you think is the meaning of the title, " The Most Dangerous Game?"

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

PLN Week 1- post 2

I read a recent post from Karl Fisch's The Fischbowl regarding testing and the value we place on testing.

I have always felt as though I was one of those teachers who did not place a lot of value in test scores because there are so many factors that contribute to students doing well or doing poorly on them. For example, some of the contributing factors that pop into my mind are that we over test kids (in one year alone kids take PSAT, CSAP, MAP testing as well as all the other classroom tests), maybe they didn't eat breakfast that day, maybe they had a bad experience with a friend or parent before the test, the test doesn't measure learning but rather regurgitation, etc. I really could go on forever about testing; HOWEVER, and I mean a big HOWEVER, I do feel that I am slightly hypocritical about test scores when it comes to my own child.

When looking for a school for Emma and Jackson to attend, we of course looked at what school would be best for as kids and learners. We wanted a school that would meet all their needs? And, sadly, what school had the best test scores. I know it is not something I value or want to say I support, but I have to admit I looked up the school's scores on CSAP. Do I think CSAP accurately measures learning for every child? I don't think it does. I know growing up, I was not a good test taker. I talked myself out of correct answers on tests time and again.

So why do I place value on them? I guess part of it, is that I don't have time to go and sit down in classrooms at the elementary school level to see if it is the best possible learning environment for my child so I must rely on other resources to aide my decision. I know I should make time, but I trust that these tests as well as other factors (i.e. talking with other parents, administrators, teachers) will help me make the right decisions for my kids.

So, what does this mean for the world? I feel as though we are moving in a direction that puts more and more emphasis on testing and accountability regardless of what that means to the kids. I do think the tests can be valuable for the students if time is given for teachers to talk about the tests, and that the kids are not over tested. I fear however, we are heading in this direction-over testing! On a personal note, I recently learned that my kindergartners, Emma and Jackson, are actually going to be tested during the beginning and end of the school years. I thought to myself, they are only starting school and they are already measuring and assessing them.

So, what can be done? I am not sure. Is that we as a society need to start placing less emphasis on test results? That we need to trust that teachers are doing their jobs and students are doing their jobs. I worry sometimes that blame is placed heavily on teachers and administrators for not doing their job when we don't consider that the students are the ones actually sitting down and taking the test. Teachers and administrators can provide all the instruction and guidance in the world, but it is up to the student to apply their knowledge and understanding.

I guess I don't have answers to testing, to measuring kids and schools via testing, but what I do know is that it is time to start having these conversations about overtesting, purposes behind all the tests we administer, and where to go from here.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

What Matters: seand

Family- My family matters to me because I can go to them for help whenever I need it and I know that they would help me. My parents have cared for me my whole life and supported me in everything I do so they matter to me a lot. My uncle and aunt are also a huge part of my life. I know that if I ever needed anything they would do whatever it took to get it for me.
Friends- My friends matter to me because they help me to laugh and have fun when I am in a bad mood. Friends are different than family because they are the same age and they understand how you think.
Florida- The next couple of things that matter to me are Florida and my boat there. Some of my favorite memories are of my family and friends in Florida. My parents and I spend a lot of time there and it is a very special place to me. Florida matters to me because I can get away from all of the stress that I have in school and sports and just relax. My boat matters to me because when I’m on it it’s like a whole different world. Time doesn’t matter and you don’t have to worry about anything, it’s just you and the ocean.
Faith- I was brought up in a Christian family and I think that my faith in God has done a lot for me in the fourteen years that I have been alive. My faith matters to me because when everything is going wrong and when I feel like nobody understands I can talk to God and have trust that everything will soon be better.
Sports- Sports matter to me because they keep my body in shape and they give me something to do when I am bored or upset. I have also met a lot of my friends through sports so I think it is very important to be involved in physical activities and stay active.

PLN- Week 1

Lately, I have been reading a lot of education blogs trying to wrap my head around the changes I am trying to create in my classroom as well as anything new and exciting out there in the blog-o-sphere. I happened to read one of Will Richardson's posts in which he linked to an article from the New York Times. The article focuses on IBM and their policy of not tallying the days thier employess take off for vacation. Instead, they give their employees the freedom to take vacation when necessary. Although this sounds like a great idea (heck, I would love the chance), what IBM found was thatmore employees were "working" on their vacation than just taking the time to relax and rejuvinate. What they meant by working was that they were completing projects for deadlines, checking email and voicemail, etc...

This really resonates with me because I feel like I do the same thing. So many times in my life, I work through vacations, holidays, days off, when I should be taking a break. Do I come in more relaxed? Not really. Often times, I am more frustrated because I don't know how to take time off. I feel the need to get the things done so that eventually I will have time to relax. It always seems as though there is one more thing to do or to cross off my list. Currently, I am on my third full-page list, crossing off item by item trying to prepare for school and for life (Sounds like a motto I have heard somewhere).

If the people at IBM are doing this, and are described as "a group of workaholics" is that what I have become? I think I did a great job this summer of taking time off and relaxing, but I question as to whether I can keep it up?

With the greater reliance on technology, I wonder if this is the future for my students? Will this be their future one where the line between work and play become inseperable?

P.S. I just liked this quote and its commentary on giving independence to workers; I think it really applies to what we are trying to do with changing the face of education:

“It’s like when you went to college and you didn’t have high school teachers
nagging you anymore,” said Mark L. Hanny, I.B.M.’s vice president of independent
software vendor alliances. “Employees like that we put more accountability on


What expectations do people have of you? Do you have of yourself? What happens when you don't live up to the expectations set up for yourself or that others set for you?

Monday, September 3, 2007

What Matters To Me - BerekM

What is meaningful to me?My family means the most to me. My dad for showing me how to do things, teaching me how to get along in life, supporting my lacrosse, and enjoying watching me play which means a lot to me. My mom for always being there for me and helping me with anything. She too comes and watchs me play lacrosse. She supports me and buys me all the sticks and gloves and everything I need. She is nice and smart just like my dad. When I get hurt she knows how to make it go away and heal because she’s a professor in sports medicine. It’s like having a personal trainer at my house. My sister is only four but I’m sure when we get older we will get closer than we already are, even though she is annoying.My friends in NY mean a lot to me still. They call me everyday forgetting I started school and get mad at me when I don’t call them back. We used to have so much fun. We walked to town, played lacrosse, long boarded, swam and jumped off stuff. Ill never forget them. My closer friends meant a lot to me too. I could tell them anything and they did the same to me. I helped them and in return they helped me. My best friend was like my brother and his family was like my second family. I called his mom “mom”. When I go back in the summer and winter I will stay at his house along with my other best friend. His family was like my family too. I knew him for 14 years and he meant a lot to me and I was really sad to leave him and everyone else. Right now I don’t know a lot of people but I’m sure that in a little while I will meet some cool people and they will eventually mean something to me.Lacrosse means so much to me. I live for lax. When I get home I play for at least 2 hours then after hw I go back out until dark. I don’t know why I love it so much but I’m happy I do. I want to do good in school because even if your amazing at lacrosse but you have bad grades your not going to go to a D1 college. Coming from Long Island, New York lacrosse was played all around me and that meant a lot to me. I also found out that one of my goals came true that meant a lot to me and that was making Varsity as a freshman at my old high school. But since I moved I didn’t get the chance to play I was upset and the coach was upset. But lacrosse out here in CO will probably mean a lot to me as the years go on and the team becomes a family just like my old team.