Monday, November 13, 2006

Vickie A. Davis-- "Keyboarding: The Hidden Giant of Web 2.0"

Vicki A. Davis mades some really great points that I am including in this post to help remind us of how important keyboarding skills are to our kids.
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Educators are trying to put more into the day. Reviewing this article, I see two great ways to improve student performance:

1) Teach effective keyboarding skills
This is my second semester with over 70 words per minute. (I had a year before with over 60 words per minute.) Every student has broken 30 words per minute for the last two years. We keyboard daily for a semester. I have other curricular objectives, but the focus is keyboarding.

I was a failure my first year. I had to teach students every other day either two or three times a week. My class average was in the high 20's. I felt like a failure!

There is a right and a wrong way to teach keyboarding. I use the methodologies (and textbook) used by my mother, an expert business education teacher. I use a book supplemented by Mavis Beacon, however 90% of the work is supervised by me and uses the book. I focus on technique.

Look at the lifetime difference of my students versus a student not taught. At 70 words per minute, my students will be able to get work done almost three times as fast as another person. They will e-mail faster. They will IM faster. They will be able to focus on thinking and not on getting a product on paper!

2) Teach Speed Reading

When I look back at the article, they mention the effect of speed reading. The article says that using Rapid Serial Visualization Representation (RSVP) speed reading, a person can read at speeds of 600 to 800 words per minute. I actually did a speed reading book last summer and have seen a significant increase in my reading speeds. What would this do in schools?

How can schools afford to NOT teach keyboarding?

As we discussed this issue via skypecast this week, the overriding comment is that schools do not seem to have the time to teach keyboarding.

Faster typists can cover more material

I look at it from a production standpoint. When a student can type faster they can take notes faster, wiki faster, type papers faster, and have more time to study, so in effect they will become a better student!

We teach keyboarding for 6 weeks in 5th grade and a semester in eighth. Yes, it is tough to fit in, but good education is never easy. There is great research on this topic.

Keyboarding is not a vocational subject
I also take issue with the fact that keyboarding is considered a vocational subject. It is the most college prep subject that I know of!

Look at the world! We are producing INFORMATION! Widgets are going overseas. And now, information is beginning to go overseas because they can produce it faster. We're still training vocational students to be secretaries when I know CEO's who type their own letters!

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Moodle 1.7 is released!

Moodle 1.7 is released!

by Martin Dougiamas.

We're proud to announce the latest major version of Moodle fresh from the oven: Moodle 1.7 !

The four big headline features are:

  • Roles - Moodle has a complete new architecture for assigning people permissions. It's very flexible, allowing you to give just a single person the right to delete posts in one particular forum, if you want that! Thanks to Open University for sponsoring Moodle HQ in this development!
  • XML database schema - Moodle now supports a single way of specifying database structures using XML, which not only makes development a lot easier for programmers, but allows us to support a wider range of databases. One of our frequent requests is now a reality - in addition to MySQL and PostgreSQL, Moodle can now run out of the box on Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle (with more databases to come). Thanks to Microsoft for sponsoring Moodle HQ in this development!
  • New admin interface - admins get a productivity boost with a new interface designed to make it much easier to find settings and configure Moodle properly. Thanks to Google for sponsoring most of this development!
  • Unit testing framework - developers can now easily write unit tests that can be run as part of a system check to make sure Moodle code is performing as expected. As Moodle grows this will really help us maintain certain levels of quality. Thanks to Open University for contributing this!

There are plenty of other smaller features and fixes created by developers and testers from all over the place (thanks!!). You can find out all the details from the Release notes in our comprehensive Moodle Docs. (Some of the documentation for 1.7 is still catching up!)

Of course, you can download Moodle as always from our Moodle Download server.

Enjoy! Good luck with all your Moodle sites [[yes]] and wish us well for Moodle 1.8 (already well under way!)


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Monday, November 06, 2006

High Schoolers on "Pottie Lock Down"?

Talk about cracking down... This article appeared in our media.  I had to blog it.  First, I applaud the administration for addressing the issue of discipline.  However, there are probably more to the the story that is reported.
Kristen Hughes says if she and her classmates are going to be treated like kindergarteners, they should at least get recess and nap time.

The West Brunswick High School student is reacting to new policies established in the wake of several incidents.

School officials began revoking student privileges after three bathroom trash cans were set on fire and fire alarms pulled intentionally. Each incident required an evacuation, cutting into class time for students and teachers.

Security cameras helped catch the culprits, who were apparently smoking in the restroom during times they should have been in class or on their way to lunch. Now, teachers must escort students to the bathroom and to the cafeteria.

The last school I worked in had bathroom issues, so teachers were assigned bathroom duty. Between classes, one of our teachers dashed to the student bathroom and stood in there. If possible, the teach slipped in a few seconds before the bell, stand in the stall, and when the smokers lit up, walk out and lead the offenders to the office and report the incident. Teachers can not take a smoke break, go drink a cup of coffee, or call on their cell phone to see if their nail appointment can be changed to another day. Teachers are not suppose to even be able to go to the bathroom themselves. That is why so many of us have bladder and kidney problems.

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Friday, November 03, 2006

The Earth Science World Image Bank

The Earth Science World Image Bank is a service provided by the American Geological Institute (AGI). This Image Bank is designed to provide quality geoscience images to the public, educators, and the geoscience community. Click on one of the images below to browse that category or go to the Search Images page for an advanced search.

January 2006 - The Image Bank now has over 6,000 images available to search, making it one of the largest sources of Earth Science imagery available on the web! So start searching today!!!

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Professional Development Ideas

Our school subscribes to UnitedStreaming. This connection with Google Earth is interesting. I am personnally interested in learning how these tools can help our students learn math skills. Our math scores on standardized tests are horrible. The scores are showing growth, but they are still very low. This only means we must think outside the box to reach our learners.

The challenge is to find time to retool our staff. Discovery has the right idea- Professional development is critical. I will not try to use new strategies without some idea of how to do it.

Develop Dynamic Lessons for Geography, Math, Social Studies, and Language Arts Using Google Earth and Google SketchUp! > Professional Development > Project Demonstrations

Discovery Education and Google have created a series of lesson plans that bring together unitedstreaming video and images with two of Google's products, Google Earth and Google SketchUp. Available for elementary-, middle-, and high-school classrooms, these lessons, tutorials, and demonstrations represent a unique method of incorporating digital media into the curriculum.

Project Demonstrations > Professional Development > Project Demonstrations

Visit the Project Demonstrations page to review and download sample Google Earth and Google SketchUp lessons, tutorials, and getting-started guides, as well as demonstrations of completed projects. Additional lessons and projects are available for popular educational software - e.g., creating digital stories with Adobe Premiere Elements, brainstorming activities with Inspiration, or incorporating interactive whiteboards into your classroom activities. Each project area contains lesson plans tied to state standards, examples of integration of digital media, templates, and tutorials on how to integrate unitedstreaming content.

Webinars and Webinar Workshops > Professional Development > Live Online Webinar Sessions > Webinar Workshops

You can attend complimentary webinars (30-minute Web- and phone-based tutorials) on using Google Earth, SketchUp, and other software to develop classroom projects for your curriculum. Sign up at

Our online instructors are eager to collaborate with you to develop a customized Webinar Workshop that supports your school-based in-service. These sessions combine live online instruction with hands-on activities in your computer lab.

Choose a half- or full-day session, which give teachers ample time to create classroom projects. Participants will view multimedia examples, learn how to integrate unitedstreaming content with software they already have and use digital media to enhance student learning. Select a subject area that's right for your group.

Contact your Account Representative today at 800.323.9084 to schedule a Webinar Workshop.

Conducting a Staff Development Session? Use Interactive Training As a Pre-Requisite! > Professional Development > Interactive Training

To prepare for an upcoming staff development session on technology, have your participants complete the online Interactive Tutorial. With this engaging series of lessons, teachers can learn online at their own pace, print a certificate after successfully completing each lesson, and submit certificates and assignments to their staff development coordinator for possible continuing education credit. Each lesson is equivalent to a half-hour online and two hours offline doing related activities.

Lesson 1: Features and Navigation
Learn to use the features and resources that correlate to your curriculum, subject area, and grade level.

Lesson 2: Integration Strategies
Learn to use digital media to create multimedia lesson plans with PowerPoint and Inspiration.

Lesson 3: Differentiated Instruction
Explore ways digital media can be used to meet the diverse needs of students.

Lesson 4: Teacher Training and Technical Considerations
Examine strategies, support materials, and technical considerations for training other teachers.

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006

New Version of Flock

Oh-- Man. They fixed whatever it was and I am in love with Flock 0.7.7. It works. I installed Performancing in my Firefox browser and until someone comes up with a spell checker, I am not interested in leaving Flock's blog editor.
I am testing to see if version 0.7.7 of Flock has any improved compatiblity with Blogger.

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