Friday, December 7, 2007

Social Networking Sites

Sorry for the delay in posting my social networking resources. You can fine everything I showed at the November meeting at

Sarah Rolle

Friday, November 23, 2007

How do you spell MIT?

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On a quiet day here in Sparta, when everyone is geared up for the long weekend full of Thanksgiving meals and shopping, Ryan Lollgen and Steve Schels had something else in mind for their United States History Classes.

Ryan had made contact with Dr. Pauline Maier, the Dr. William R. Kenan Professor of History at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, after having read some of her work. A simple email and phone call to the contact information she supplied landed Ryan and Steve, and more importantly, their students, access to one of America's preeminent historians.

On Wednesday morning at 10am, we used Skype to phone Dr. Maier at her office and conducted an hour-long interview with her with questions generated by the students. The podcast of the event is available for your listening above, and while not the cleanest audio in the world, it is well worth a listen by anyone interested in a unique conversation about the American Revolution.

Maier was featured prominently in PBS's documentary Liberty a few years back, the ebullient style with which she exhibited in the documentary really came through in the phone interview. Her enthusiasm for the topics the students brought up was refreshing for us to hear, and her perspectives were poignant and insightful.

Perhaps the greatest part of the process was that she was genuinely interested in not only the topics, but why the students wanted to know these things. Her answers to the questions the students asked were above and beyond what we all expected, and reflected her desire to help the students view history as a dynamic and changing process. Here is a quote from an follow-up email she sent to Ryan:

Congratulations again on getting your students so involved in American
history. There's nothing like encouraging them to ask questions to avoid
the sense that history is a boring collection of dead facts arranged
chronologically rather than an exciting inquiry into human experience. My
hat is really off to you and the other teachers I have known who, like you,
are doing good work preparing students to think and, not incidentally, be
informed citizens of the American Republic. What was the line attributed
to Franklin (perhaps mythically)? I think as he left the convention,
someone asked him what kind of government the Americans would have, and he
supposedly said "a republic, if you can keep it." We need to know what a
republic is and what it demands of its people if we want to keep it.

This was a unique event for us to participate in, one that showed how we can easily bring experts into our classrooms just by reaching out to them and extending the invitation. Much like Dee Peselli did with Kyle MacDonald a few months back, all it takes is a teacher who wants to provide a memorable experience for his or her students.

Cross-posted at Tech Dossier.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Janine's Music Presentation

Here is me email for those of you who asked:

I would be glad to chat more with anyone who wants more info - or has other ideas to share!

May you all have as much fun as I am having when you've been teaching this long!

Ustream Address for today

If you would like to follow the presentation online and participate in the chat, here is the link.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

If you are not busy today....

Today marks a big day for us in terms of our movement towards a more transparent school community: we are broadcasting a student-led conference on the environment live via Ustream and inviting you, your students, and your colleagues to watch us and interact with us through the chat.

Laura Sofen, a 7th grade Language Arts teacher and I sat down about a month ago and worked through our ideas and made this happen for our students. As Laura said, they had worked so hard, inquired so much and grown through this research process, that allowing them this outlet to show the understanding they have gained was a fitting reward.

Our goal tomorrow is to engage in dialogue, to pull you (and your students) in from wherever you are. We want our students to see "Global Warming" as truly "global," and not just something they are reading about because we are in an election cycle here in the states.

The times are 9:30am, 11:00am, and 1:30pm EST in the US (GMT-5). Please take the time to drop in and bring your students if you can. The students are in 7th Grade, so they are not quite high school age, but in listening to them practice today, they have done their homework and are ready for a global audience.

Here is the address for my Ustream channel where will be live from. Hope to see you there.

Flickr image credit: "What Global Warming?" from maistora's photostream

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Friday, November 2, 2007

Some Great Writing

I would hate for this to seem as if it were self-promoting, but since I am actually promoting the work and writing of others, hopefully you all will excuse it. We have a district technology blog in Sparta called Tech Dossier, which until recently was managed and written solely by me. Last week, I asked a quorum of teachers and administrators to begin contributing posts as co-authors. A few interesting things have happened:
  • the readership has increased by at least 50%
  • participation in the form of comments has increased, well, it actually never really existed before, but now every post has at least three comments
  • there is lively, conversation and diverse conversation going on.
These things are all things I could not accomplish on my own in over a year as the sole writer of this blog. Now, with the aid of three teachers and two administrators, this blog has vitality and life like it never had before. Please go and check it out and add your expertise to the conversation.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Acceptable Use Policies

I was interested in new acceptable use policies which discuss USB keys, emailing projects, blogs and other new technologies.
Please let me know what new issues are outlined in your acceptable use policies.
Are AUP's on the district website?


Monday, October 22, 2007

PB Wiki

Congrats to Samantha Morra for being the first to contact me with her new PB Wiki address. I gave her a free upgrade for a year which is worth $24.95 a month and 2 gigs of storage plus traffic statistics and full zip backups.

If you are still interested in creating a wiki using PB Wiki, Heather Sullivan made the same free offer in her afternoon session. You can contact her at (That's one of her e-mail addresses.)

I want to echo Patricks comments - thanks for having me and I look foward to coming back and sharing again. What a great group of educators!!

I've received many e-mails so far with questions about Web 2.0 tools and AUPs. Keep them coming and feel free to subscribe to my monthly newsletter at


Lisa Thumann
Senior Specialist in Technology Education
Rutgers University
Center for Mathematics, Science and Computer Education

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Another great thing about UStream...

is that you can embed your recorded shows into your blog!

Thanks everyone for a great day. I hope you took something away from what Angela and I spoke about. It was great listening to Samantha and Lisa talk about what they are up to. See you in November!

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Samantha Morra's Presentation

Many of you have asked for a copy of my presentation. I just threw this up on my .Mac account.

There is the original file, a PDF and a movie. The files are huge!


Chat for Patrick's Presentation

Presentation Tomorrow

On Friday, October 19th, Angela Davis and I (from Sparta Township Public Schools) will be presenting at NJECC. Last spring, two teachers from the Sparta Middle School, Erica Hartman and Jo Shuppon presented on their use a of wikis in the classroom.

This time around, I will be going into as much of our work as possible, showing wiki projects, blogging, podcasting, screencasting, tablet applications, some of our global connections and discussing how we develop our staff in terms of technology and Web 2.0. Angela will be talking about the dialogue that regularly occurs on her AP Language and Composition wiki, and her SAKAI project with a group of seniors.

We will be live broadcasting this presentation via UStream, provided it is not blocked by any firewalls that MSU has. If so, we will switch over to Google Presentations and present that way. The aim of broadcasting this is to foster a backchannel discussion that Angela and I are privy to as we present. I will open up the chat room to the member of my twitter network as well, and I hope some of that group can join the discussion as well. To access the UStream channel and the chat, just click here. You will most likely have to create an account before being able to appear as yourself in the chat, but that process takes only a few moments.

Regardless, here is a link to a Google Notebook page I created with links to things I will talk about during the presentation. See you then!

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Friday, September 28, 2007

Alice and Scratch

I discovered Alice, from Carnegie Mellon University and Scratch, from M.I.T., last year. This year I'm planning to teach the basics of both programs to my middle school students. Has anyone been using these programs? If so, do you have any words of advice and/or example projects?


Middle School Blogging

I want to have my Middle School students "blog" with classmates at other schools on a local, state, national and international level. I am concerned with safety issues, so I am looking for any advice from colleagues who have already begun such a program or are in the process of implementing one.

Monday, September 24, 2007


I am just beginning the Thinkquest competition for the first time. We are using PC computers. The whole thing looks a bit overwhelming! Has anyone done this and if so can you recommend software we should use for creating our projects? Any helpful hints for this project would be greatly appreciated.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Recycling computers

I had planned on recycling some old - but still working - imacs through Apple - but apparently now you have to box them up and send them yourself. Does anyone have another solution?


iMac Screen Scrambled

I have new imacs and after sleeping for a couple of periods when the screens come back on the top looks like giant pixels and the screen gets scrambled. I have emailed Dave. Was just wondering if anyone else was having this issue.


MacBook battery issue

I had an iChat with Dave Marra about the issue:

Hey Dave, My battery issue: battery in my Macbook (2 GHz Core Duo) will go from 100% to reserve to sleep in about 15 minutes!!! Sometimes it will just shut down. Any thoughts?

Dave responded:
"This battery update should fix it."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Out-of-District workshop/conference policy

I've heard that some districts have a new policy that in order to go to a workshop or conference you have to submit a request six weeks prior to the event for the Board of Ed to approve. Is this true? What's the policy in your district? Will it effect going to monthly NJECC meeting?


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