Saturday, December 29, 2007

Tidy Up Your Teacher's Desk

This post is inspired by an article I read in a Wired Magazine, Allen, David. "Tidy Up Your Desk...." Wired Aug.2006: 022-023.

  1. "Stack the Knickknacks", well, not sure teachers have these because students do not give teachers anything these days. My desk is covered with curriculum CDs, a US/NC flag, whiteboard markers (most of them are almost dried out), a cup for pencils I find on the floor, and several coffee mugs. I guess coffee mugs would qualify as knickknacks. Pile it up until you can see the desktop
  2. "Line up the books and binders to establish a perimeter for your work area." I would not really recommend this for a classroom. Piled up books end up falling when students try to slip late homework on your desk and then accuse you of not asking for their homework or tell their parents or guardian you lost it on your desk. Do I like do, throw the textbooks in a box and stick them in the back seat of your car. I have used the say textbook for so many years I have the answers memorized. I only use them to write lesson plans. They have the Standard Course of Study numbers our school district requires on lesson plans so they can fire teachers that have poor test scores by saying we are not teaching the curriculum.
  3. "Hit the Container Store." Container Store? Forget that! The only place I can afford to go to is Big Lots. I bought some cheap CD containers. They are full. I need to weed my collection. Bet I have some CDs of Apple software that will not run on Leopard. I also park my truck near the school dumpster at the beginning and end to the school year. When teachers retire or quit, I volunteer to carry their old stuff to the dumpster. If there is something like document trays or pencil holders, I just drop them in the back of my truck and keep on going.
  4. "Set Aside A Few Minutes daily to clear your desk." The Wired Magazine article suggests using your daily planner to schedule time each day to clean off your desk. Use iCal or Google Calendar to make a repeating appointment, each school day, to remind you to clean off your desk.
  5. "Create A Folder Hierarchy." The article changed describing the desk to the computer desktop. Tip: "group files into folders labeled by year, then make subfolders for each set of tasks. Make sure your naming conventions are clear and concise." This is a problem on my Windows machine. However, I love Leopard's new feature called Quick Look/Slideshow. This is awesome for unorganized teachers like myself. I never remember what I saved a file as. If I download a curriculum file from our State Department of Ed, they name their files differently and I never remember to rename them.
  6. "Color Code Your Files." Sweet! I am not going to do this. The article recommends using bold colors for "urgent" files.
  7. "Move Your Folders." This tip is lame. "...create a desktop shortcut pointing to current assignments." Have you heard about Instead of using a flashdrive, I am trying this. Shortcuts are useless if you are having to work on multiple computers at home and at school.
  8. "Choose Attractive Wallpaper." I like this tip- "if you've got a background worth looking at, your're more likely to keep the desktop free of file and folder clutter." I am doing to download some photos from Harley-Davidson for their bikes and maybe set up that "retirement date" ticker. That is worth looking at. Cheers!
Happy New Year.

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Sunday, December 23, 2007

Remembering the Green Swamp

Festive Freaking Fruit Flies

With temperatures in the lower 70's today and upper 60's yesterday, fruit flies have invaded the sweet potato processing plant next door. I have sprayed Black Flag so much that my coffee tastes like bug spray. If I had the money, I would be on a cruise or in the mountains skiing. However, low teacher pay makes this only a dream.

The exact same thing- Invasion of the Fruit Flies, last year at Christmas time.


The best way to avoid problems with fruit flies is to eliminate sources of attraction. Produce which has ripened should be eaten, discarded or refrigerated. Cracked or damaged portions of fruits and vegetables should be cut away and discarded in the event that eggs or larvae are present in the wounded area. A single rotting potato or onion forgotten at the back of a closet, or fruit juice spillage under a refrigerator can breed thousands of fruit flies. So can a recycling bin stored in the basement which is never emptied or cleaned.

People who can their own fruits and vegetables, or make wine, cider or beer should ensure that the containers are well sealed; otherwise, fruit flies will lay their eggs under the lid and the tiny larvae will enter the container upon hatching. Windows and doors should be equipped with tight-fitting (16 mesh) screens to help prevent adult fruit flies from entering from outdoors.


Once a structure is infested with fruit flies, all potential breeding areas must be located and eliminated. Unless the breeding sites are removed or cleaned, the problem will continue no matter how often insecticides are applied to control the adults. Finding the source(s) of attraction and breeding can be very challenging and often will require much thought and persistence. Potential breeding sites which are inaccessible (e.g., garbage disposals and drains) can be inspected by taping a clear plastic food storage bag over the opening overnight. If flies are breeding in these areas, the adults will emerge and be caught in the bag.

After the source of attraction and breeding is eliminated, a pyrethrum-based, aerosol insecticide may be used to kill any remaining adult flies in the area.

simple fruit fly trap

A better approach, however, is to construct a trap by placing a paper funnel (rolled from a sheet of notebook paper) into a jar which is then baited with a few ounces of cider vinegar. Place the jar trap(s) wherever fruit flies are seen. This simple but effective trap will soon catch any remaining adult flies which can then be killed or released outdoors.


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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Twitter or Pownce

As a classroom teacher, I should probably avoid using presence social networks altogether. I once was told by one of my college professors that if you coach sports, or mess with politics, and teach school-- you must live in a mobile home because you have to move often. Online presence my be the new coaching/messing with politics topic in the coming days. 

Saturday, December 15, 2007, the kind folks at warned of impending network disruptions. Early in the morning, I began to notice folks looking for alternate Twitter-like solutions. Pownce was the immediate preferred replacement. The chatter flew. Someone quickly posted a wikispaces page for educators to "help transfer twitter refugees to Pownce". Great use of a wiki! 

After joining Pownce, I added about 30 educators as my friends. As I was busy sending invites on Pownce, I keep noticing Twitter was still online in and Twitterrific continued to refresh. Heck, Twitter has never been known for having the most stable API. I think that is part of the alure for me. Twitter is like my old CB radio. It has channels in that I follow educators that I have read their blogs, attended their professional development sessions, or listened to their podcasts or vlogs. These 30 educator "friends" in Pownce pales in comparison to the humble 75 educators I follow on Twitter. 

I love the enhanced features of Pownce and plan to try to continue to use it as long as others stick around. 

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Social Networking in our School

Fifth period class was well underway when one of my students asked if I had gotten the text. It was caught off-guard by the question. My first instinct was to say yes. However, day had not been a normal day. Students were mostly in shock. One of their classmates had been missing since November 19th. A body had been found
and positively identified as the your male. Several of my students had known the student since kindergarten, others were related to him. The student that asked me about the text message was kind enough to share the message with me. I have deleted the names from the message but wanted to blog the content of the message.

Fr: Jus yesterday Delemerz was found dead n we want 2 send lov 2 da family n hope that justice is done
De 6 9:14 a.m.

None of my students needed to check their emails, MySpace, Bebo, Facebook, personal blogs, typepad, and more are all blocked. Still their social network was uninterrupted.

My sympathy's are with the families and classmates in their time of bereavement.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Is Your School "Crackerjack"?

Cold drizzling rain and cloudy skies met me and our dog Gavin on the Sunday, the last day of Thanksgiving vacation. The weather ran us back into warmth of comfortable couch and my MacBook. While checking my email, I glanced at the list of articles in summarized in the New York Times. I subscribe to their daily email feeds on a few topics that that generally find interesting and thought provoking.

This morning, I read an article that warmed my heart and got me to thinking about why I teach. Let me just say, it is complicated. This article has a great phrase that I plan to steal: 'crackjack'.

Let's ask the question: Is Your (our) school- crackjack? If not, then why.

The New York Times: Reference Search for 'crackerjack'
Jump to:
Dictionary| Thesaurus| WordNet
Back To Top

crack·er·jack (krăk'ər-jăk') pronunciation also crack·a·jack (krăk'ə-)
adj. Slang.

Of excellent quality or ability; fine.

[Probably from CRACK, first-rate + JACK.]
crackerjack crack'er·jack' n.

logo The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright © 2007, 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2007. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved. See crackerjack on

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Saturday, November 24, 2007

Wanted in my Science Classroom: Asus EeePC

Have to share this educator's first impressions of the Asus EeePC. Would this device serve the purpose of a school? Can its configuration be customized to meet the restrictions of school districts? Can it support our wireless printers? Can students and teachers maintain the device without overwhelming tech support?

I love the idea of it being the size of textbook (smaller than most science textbooks). When I saw it has a built-in webcam I was sold! What do you think about using it in your classroom?


Monday, November 12, 2007

Monday Off?

The radio alarm clock and wake-up timer on my old-school TV came on as programmed precisely at 6:00 a.m. I took the dog out in the 35ish degree morning air as he sniffed his way across the edge of the frost covered lawn. The sound of a few early travelers rushing who-knows-where was clearly audible in the cold. The trip was short- Gavin was ready to head back inside for the warmth of the couch and snuggling under my fleece jacket. Coffee would be nice about now. My wife is able to rest. She came down with a nasty cold Thursday, and has been coughing and sneezing ever since. Today, we are attending a grave side service at 1:20 p.m., and then we will be going to Wilmington to eat out. We are celebrating 30 years of marriage today. It seems like yesterday. My words just can not describe it. All the joy, excitement, ups and downs, families, friends and more.

I love my wife. It is a great day to have off so I can spend time with her.

Got to turn off this computer!

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Monday, November 05, 2007

Classroom Tool for Lesson Planning

I downloaded an application for my MacBook called Planbook. Until registered, Planbook allows you to enter up to 20 lessons for each class in your book. All other functions of the program work exactly as specified in the registered version. Registration removes the 20 lesson limitation.

To purchase Planbook, all I have to do is choose the 'Purchase Planbook...' menu item from the File menu. An internet connection is required to purchase and activate Planbook.

Code and Interface Design: Jeff Hellman
Contact e-mail:

Icon Design: Tim Burns
Contact E-mail:

I think I reached my limit in a couple of hours working on lesson plans with my Biology class. I am not 100% in love with the program. I would like to be able to get under the hood and change the template so I could change the layout of the windows. However, I can live with the way it looks now. I really like how easy it is to add hyperlinks to activities online. Planbook also allows me to attach documents like .pdf, .doc, and images. Also, I can publish the lesson plans to my .Mac account.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

New Program- Alternative Graduation

The WCS BOE approved our school's new alternative graduation program. The final details are still under consideration. The bottom line should be that the graduation rate for our students will increase. Our goal is to provide our graduating students with the number of credits required by the State Board of Education and meet all their credit requirements for math, science, English, and social studies. This program has specific acceptance requirements. Participants must have approval from our school superintendent and principals.

Monday, October 08, 2007

EduCon 2.0

EduCon 2.0 is both a conversation and a conference.

And it is not a technology conference. It is an education conference. It is a School
2.0 conference. It is, hopefully, an innovation conference where we
want to come together, both in person and virtually, to discuss the
future of schools. We are looking for people to present ideas,
facilitate conversations, and share best practice.

The Axioms / Guiding Principles of EduCon 2.0:

1) Our schools must be inquiry-driven, thoughtful and empowering for all members.

2) Our schools must be about co-creating -- together with our students -- the 21st Century Citizen

3) Technology must serve pedagogy, not the other way around.

4) Technology must enable students to research, create, communicate and collaborate

5) Learning can -- and must -- be networked.

Call For Conversations

In addition to the many informal conversations we believe will be a big
part of EduCon 2.0, we do want structured sessions in the following
broad strands:

School 2.0
-- What are the schools we need to prepare kids for the world to come?

Classroom 2.0 -- What are the classrooms our students need -- today and into the future?

Student 2.0 -- How should the student experience change in our schools?

Teacher 2.0 -- How should the profession of "teacher" change?

Innovation 2.0 -- How do we best act as agents of positive change?

Library 2.0. -- What is the role of the library in the future and what does it looks like, act like, feel like?

Conference proposals are due Nov. 1st. Please submit proposals via Survey Monkey -- Call for Conversations.

All proposals should include:

Conversational Strand:
Conversational Focus / Main Idea / Presentation (in 250 words or less):
Conversational Practice --

How will you make this an conversation, not just a presentation?
Skypecast? Conversational Protocols? Building a wiki together?

For more ideas, visit Stephanie Sandifer's post on Conference 2.0 Resources or the wiki page "Protocols Examples".

Conversation Website (Optional):

Presenter(s) Names:

Presenter(s) Afflilation:

Contact Email:


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Friday, October 05, 2007

Friday Seminar- Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

"The desire of humans to break from the
earth's surface and fly like the birds.  It is the story of the Wright
Brothers and their dedicated and inspired approach to a prob-
lem that had stumped many of the finest scientists of their time.
It is the story of how two brothers from Dayton, Ohio, careful-
ly and meticulously conducted a true scientific investigation
without the benefit of formal training or prior experience in
such structured procedures.  They intuitively and creatively uti-
lized their skills of observation to rethink and craft an approach
to a problem that scientists and inventors had faltered over for
years.  Theirs is a true story of inspiration, skill, devotion, cre-
ativity, and a desire to accomplish a very specific goal.  That
goal was to successfully build a heavier-than-air, motor-pow-
ered craft that would lift off the ground and travel forward a dis-
tance to a position no lower than their starting spot." source: Teacher's Guide Colgren Communications
Written by John Colgren.

After viewing the program and participating in the lesson activ-
ities, the students should be able to:
• Identify the key problems of flight that faced the Wright
• Identify how the Wright Brothers gained insight and knowl-
edge about the principles of flight from the studies of those sci-
entists and inventors that came before them.
• Recognize that the Wright Brothers were successful in their
endeavor to conquer the skies because they made careful obser-
vations, conducted their own experiments when they were dis-
satisfied with the data of others, and worked as a team.



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Sunday, September 30, 2007

EstuaryLive 2007

This past week, our high school biology students participated in this fall's EstuaryLive event. This had to have been the best EstuaryLive ever. Bill Lovin and Cris Crissman teamed up with the North Carolina and South Carolina folks to knock this year's episode out of the park.

I used the application from Apple called Grab to capture over one
hundred images from the live streams. I have never been a fan of RealPlayer, but the software was stable and images from the Charleston, SC were out of this world. The best part of this year's event had to be the guests. They keep the segments informative and interesting. The close up shots showed up nicely on the 15 inch monitor of the four year old PowerBook. My MacBook Pro remains out of service in the wake of last May's vandalism. I am still holding out hope that our technology department will find the funds to repair the monitor and power cable. But that is another story.

My students used Google Earth to locate Charleston, SC and looked at the coastal features. I encouraged my students to think about a question while they were watch the streaming video feed. They had so little knowledge of estuaries that this was a real challenge. I should have spend more time studying and preparing them for the sessions. They enjoyed the fish and shrimp segments.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Video project in my science classroom

Instead of just watching a Power Point lecture about birds of North Carolina and taking a test on it to see what students have memorized, my students are using digital tools to create short reports. The hooks was I showed them an animation of a character similar to the South Park characters. After seeing the intro animation, one of them mentioned that they would like to learn how to make their own animations.

I need to take the time to write up the instructions on how to do this. Instead of giving the students written instructions, I used a digital projector and modeled each step on a screen. The most interesting aspect of this activity was that a couple of students finished their project and volunteered as peer tutors.

Students had to present their project to the class using a digital projector and telling about their birds as a oral presentation.

Students used a performance rubric to assess their projects and learning. This video below is not complete. However, the other individual projects will be posted on Google Video.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Parents Being Involved

Dear Teacher,

Your student has found a really cool site that has been created by a teacher for teachers, students, and their parents. As a colleague, go ahead and take a look at academic scrapbooking. It can be used by individual students as a response to an assignment from you, by you in cooperative learning groups, and by parents who want to maintain a family scrapbook. You will enjoy using academic scrapbooking-- in teacher lingo, it falls under differentiated instruction and is the perfect way by which to include all the students in your class. And best of all, it is a management system in itself because it will keep the kids focused the entire class period and you don't have to adjust your assignment. The kids will be creative enough to figure out how to meet your high expectations for the assignment. Mine always do! Go ahead, log on now! Follow the Teacher Tag once you reach the home page.
Parents Being Involved

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Tobacco - The Golden Leaf of Days Gone By

When I was going up here in Chadbourn, the sites and smells of the tobacco market was always something we looked forward to. Farmers finally had some money to spend on cloths and necessities. I remember that successful farmers drove new pick-ups around town. Folks around here referred to the local economy as "the farmers plan". The merchants would charge groceries, fertilizer, feed, fuel for their trackers, tires for their vehicles, and just about everything--and when the tobacco market opened and the tobacco farmers sold their crop they would pay off their creditors.

Tobacco leaves 2

Yesterday, I noticed in the local Chinese restaurant in Chadbourn, a sign that reads: "Visa and Maste Card Only No Checks". As I stood there in line and chucked at the spelling lesson I wanted to make out of the poster, it came to me that we are not on "the farmer plan" economy any more.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Bungie Jumping Barbie

While scrolling through the tweets generated today on Twitter, one caught my attention. Glad2be twittered: "Home from day of 'laying the foundation' Pre-AP workshop. Labs were fun, we made Barbie bungie jump." Glad2be also commented that there are some different Barbie bungee labs -- this one is similar to the one used in her workshop:

This looks like something my students would like. Commando Ken, or, I have it...Astronaut Ken taking a walk to repair the space shuttle.

Note to those of you reading this and snickering- they are not DOLLS, they are ACTION FIGURES.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Record High Temp Today

NC CRONOS Database (WHIT) - State Climate Office of North Carolina
Uploaded with Skitch!
The question is, will Thursday's temperatures actually be higher than today's? We will see. Staying cool, watching STS-118 launch.

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Friday, August 03, 2007

New Feature in Twitter

I have been using a third party Twitter client and have not been using Twitter's web based app. Just a few minutes ago, I got an email notice that I had a direct message via Twitter. I as happy to see the pull down menu on the page. (see image)
I have really enjoyed sharing tips with fellow educators the last few days on Twitter. The experience is similar to being around the water cooler or teacher's lounge. However, it is better. It is hard to describe why it is better, it just is.
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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Interesting tech for my classroom

Time to start making a list of instructional needs and wants. Put this first item under the wants category. We looked at a competitor product last year.

With the AirLiner slate you can interact wirelessly with your SMART Board interactive whiteboard or Sympodium interactive pen display from 52 feet (16 m) away. The battery-free tethered pen lets you control any software application, write notes and highlight information in digital ink

SMART’s AirLiner wireless slate enables you to teach from anywhere and allows students to interact with information from their seats. Multiple slate users can write at the same time as someone at the SMART Board interactive whiteboard.

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Monday, July 30, 2007


I hope to find more time to brainstorm on how my students can use mySkitch to learn science. After downloading it, the first feature that I liked was how easy it is to transfer photos from the MacBook to my wife's Palm PDA. I have several PDAs but none of them supports bluetooth.
More later...I know, nothing new, still doing the same activity

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Teacher bugging of colleague bugs me

A news story from Flushing, Michigan caught my attention this morning. The incident seems to have been centered around a dispute between a middle school science teacher's child and another teacher. I say-- Oh, my Lord to this one. The science teacher seems to have placed a wireless listening device on the back of the chair of the other teacher. This is high tech spy novel stuff. The science teacher ended up apologizing to the "fellow teacher" and following her plea of no contest, was sentenced to six months of probation and 75 hours of community service and fined $250. This was a reduced sentence from attempted eavesdropping, a misdemeanor with up to a year of jail time.

I feel bad for the kid in this story. I am sure she never wanted mom, the science teacher to bug the other teacher's desk. What did her mom not believe that she had a problem with the teacher? Was the teacher that big of a butt hole? Why was the principal not in this deal? Was the school so large and relationships between teachers so crappy that this cound not have been worked out with conferences and friendly conversation?


I would have never taken my fellow teacher to court of an electronic bug, I would would have been so mad, I would have probably gotten fired myself from such a sneaky act. I am not sure what I might have done. It would not have been as civil as taking the teacher to court. But, in the country, we sometimes settle disputes with a more physical edge.

I am not happy with this and I think the principal should have been more proactive. The article says nothing about what all went on in the school as far as mediation of this episode. In our small district, the Superintendent would have been involved from the beginning. Let me guess, Flushing, Mich, and a middle school, it probably have over 2,000 students. Folks, this just goes to show that big schools spell trouble with a T. But what do I know, I am just a teacher.

The last thing I have to say about this article is that a comment that was posted really got my goat:


She got PAID leave for breaking the law?!?!?!? Typical of the education system. Teachers are already overpaid, now they get rewarded for being an idiot. I always wanted to be a teacher and get overpaid for working half a year..but I'm not lazy enough.

Posted: Fri Jul 20, 2007 1:33 pm

"Teacher are already overpaid". What planet is this commenter from? And to say that teachers "get overpaid for working half a year". I am not sure how ignorant this person is, but it sure shows. Honeytown_Blueliners you must live in a van down by the river. People, teachers do not work half the year. When teachers go home, their day just begins. We have lesson plans, papers to grade, parents to call, extra curricular duties like clubs, athletic events, coaching, parking lot duties at dances, ball game duty, School Improvement committee meetings, Positive Behavior training, bus duty, professional development meetings that last 'til after 5, continuing education, recertification, preparation for open house, parent nights, graduation duty, prom decoration committee, exceptional children IEP meetings, parent conferences and on and on... After a school year, of this, on top of teaching those Hockeytown_Blueliner's and or his/her darling children about the finer points of how to use the Periodic Table or AP Calculus based Physics, I say to Hockeytown_Blueliner-- You can't do nothing but complain in a post to a newspaper article online? Talking about lazy, get involved in your community, volunteer in a school near you this coming school year. Walk through the metal detectors and by the gang graffiti into the more than likely crumbling building and see what is going on-- if you are not too lazy.

Teachers make a difference. Even when things go so bad, there are still thousands of teachers in the classroom every school year. I will not try to quote the wonderfully strong words of the former educator and poet Taylor Mali has to say about what teachers make. If you have not seen it or heard about it, read the transcript at this location. Or better yet, read about Taylor Mali on his web page. If you have PayPal, buy the pen he sells for teachers and give it to your favorite teacher.

In the end, teachers are just people. Parents will do almost anything for their children. This case is just a tip of the iceberg for what is going on in the lives of all our students. It is a challenge that we all need to work on.

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Almost at NECC 07

Originally uploaded by David Warlick
Take a close look at this image from David Warlick's flickr photostream. On the Buddy List, I can see my name. This is as close as I got to this ISTE's NECC '07.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Charcoal Grill and July at the Lake

Read an article about how to have a safe summer cookout. Ground beef should have an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. Ok, since this is a science teacher blog, what temperature is 160 degrees F in C? No cheating, do not copy and past 160 degrees F in Google and key in the word convert. Get out your slide rule and make the conversion. Oh, too young to even know what that is, too bad.

A way that you will never forget just remember that 0'C = 32'F


0'C + 1'C = 32'F + 1.8'F = 33.8'F

0'C + 2'C = 32'F + 2(1.8)'F = 35.6'F

0'C + 3'C = 32'F + 3(1.8)'F = 37.4'F

and so on.

If you want to change take 23'C into 'F

0'C + 23'C = 32'F + 23(1.8)'F = 73.4'F

thus the formula to convert 'C to 'F is as following

x'C = 32'F + x(1.8)'F

Let us work back

0'C + x'C = 32'F + x(1.8)'F = 73.4'F

do it your self and find the value of x

you will get another formula that converts 'F to 'C

Monday, July 16, 2007

Almost Free Stuff for Science Teachers

I know bloggers are not suppose to post stuff like this. But if you have any science teaching friends, please share this info with them.

ALEXANDRIA, VA - In support of Earth Science Week 2007 (October 14-20),
the American Geological Institute (AGI) is publishing its "The Pulse of
Earth Science" Toolkit to enable teachers, students, and the public
alike to actively participate in this year's event.

This year's Toolkit includes a wide array of resources, including a new
edition of its popular Earth Science Calendar filled with activities and
important geoscientific dates.  These activities, supplied by AGI member
societies and other organizations, engage students in learning about the
earth sciences. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has provided both
"Facts on Disc," a CD-ROM which includes all of the USGS fact sheets
from the last twelve years and the brochure "USGS Education Resources
for Teachers."  The Toolkits also contain materials from NASA including
the CD-ROM "Exploring Ice" and an "Earth and Space Explorers Series"
poster.  ESRI has provided a copy of its "GIS Solutions for Education"
CD-ROM.  NOAA is also providing information on student opportunities and
careers within the earth sciences. 

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Friday, July 13, 2007

Edublog Updates- Moving from Good to Gooder

I have been using and noticed James Farmer's latest blog post:

The more discerning of you may have noticed that there’s something a little different about your Edublog backend as of today.

In particular I suspect you’ll rather like what you see when you visit your Presentation tab (uploadable, ahem, croppable, headers anyone… 20 new themes, perhaps?)

Or check out the multi-blog management drop-down menu that your blog name (in the admin area) has become.

Then, you might enjoy the extra helpful links in your Dashboard… and notice that the site is swanning along at quite a nifty pace.

And, while you’re at - upload an Avatar… you’ll be happy you did (and there’s even a widget to pop it in your sidebar).

More information (and funky functionality) coming very soon… told you we’d make this worth your while, didn’t we!

I have spent hours tinkering with my P2LS blog Changing the header photo is a real snap. In my iPhoto program, I setup a custom crop that previews photos that I might use on the blog. Changing the photo may cause some confusion, and change the look of the blog, but who cares. No one visits you blogs anymore. If I want to read what Steve Dembo is thinking about, I follow his Tweets on David Warlick uses his smartphone and texts messages to Twitter. If he sees a quote in a presentation, he twits it and Twitterrific pops up and I can read it instantly. The Chris Pirillo shots out twit posts like a machine gun. As for blog posts, I use RSS readers to aggregate them. I have been trying out NetNewWire, but keep coming back to Bloglines. I tried Google Reader. GR is just not easy for me to read for some reason.

I never take time to visit the blog sites. Today, I took the time to edit my Blogroll. I used the links on several blogs that I enjoy reading and using their lists of blogs, and the WordPress javascript linked them to my P2LS blog. Now that was a cool activity for a hot summer day. I should have been out working in the garden or trimming the hedge or heck no! was too hot outside.

I do not remember who posted the question, but someone asked what bloggers cut out now that they are spending more time reading and twitting all the time? I have cut out reading DIGG. I have deleted DIGG from my RSS readers.

I digress- has updated their multi-user site. It was good, and now it is "gooder". Sorry about that- I am not a scholar.

Using Wikis for Relevant Resources

In thinking about how science teachers can make instruction of middle school topics, I ran across the site. The site has many useable videos. However, when I searched the web for topics like plant cells, or chemical change, I keep getting YouTube references. I have used YouTube in my classroom, but found that after students played the video clip, they wanted to immediately search for Rap, wrestling, or anything to "entertain" them. YouTube does a great job keeping middle school students, and adults, clicking on their site. Clicks equal revenue for YouTube and I understand all that.

I found a neat little trick when embedding YouTube clips. It customizes the embedded clip. After making your selection, copy and paste the embed code above. The code changes based on your selection. Select "Don't include related videos." This trick lets the video play and then when the clip ends, other "related" links do not appear. This takes a couple of extra steps, but it well worth the effort when trying to keep my students on-task. I thought about using the online sites that convert YouTube video, but that takes hours and lots of storage space.

How will students relate to the videos and are the concepts they show verified for authenticity? What strategies did I use to evaluate the information?

On-line sources such as radio archives can turn up news stories that you can play using streamed audio players. Listening to a speech by a major science figure can provide nuance and context missing in printed accounts. Streamed video make it possible to watch television newscasts and documentaries archived on-line. Chat can be a frustrating and uneven tool, but used properly, it can help you find tips or even quotes relating to a story.

In looking at YouTube and trying to evaluating a clip, I used this basic strategy. Hypertext establishes links to banks of information, leading to the assumption that ideas are always backed by evidence. But a hypertext discussion can be manipulated by the choice of those links. What appear to be inevitable connections to related facts are actually *choices* made by page designers and video producers whose views are reflected in their selection of links and scenes. A key component of digital literacy is wariness. The links that are missing from a web page or video clip can tell you as much about the author's intentions as the links that are present. Notice whether the links made available point both to other sites as well as to the site you're looking at; if they're all inward pointing, you may want to ask why the site's developers haven't chosen to contrast their work with the ideas of others. I also used the North Carolina Standard Course of Study and searched YouTube, TeacherTube, and other sites using keywords from the objects.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Skype on a cell phone near you?

This is be nice:  When in DC, I would not use my cell phone due to my local plan and roaming charges.  My daughter travels and she will be trying to call her friends all the time from out of state.  She needs her own phone line, but until then, this would help.  The only problem is that her friends would have to use Skype on their computer.  Hum, I need help figuring this out...

Nokia says adds Skype to N800 Internet tablet | Technology | Reuters
Nokia, the world's top cell phone maker, said on Wednesday it has made Skype telephone services available on the Nokia N800 Internet tablet.

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Wireless Devices and Field Trip Adventures

The Best FCC Regulation, Ever ~ Chris Pirillo
The Best FCC Regulation, Ever July 11, 2007 at 2:07 am · in Communication · Comments New rules could rock wireless world, literally: Coming soon could be a wireless broadband world in which consumers get to pick any smartphone or other device and load any software on it - not have to take what the wireless carrier wants to sell.

Dude. DUDE?! This can’t be true. I simply can’t believe that this is actually (possibly) happening. Of course, I’d imagine that Apple’s lobby won’t let it fly - but if they really, truly cared about users - as they claim - they won’t have a problem in opening up a little bit more and playing along with the rest of the consumer electronics world. The carriers and phone manufacturers must become more interoperable.

This would be great for when students are away from school or on their way home on a school bus. However, in a recent conversation with a middle school teacher, she told me why this is not such a great idea. My fellow educator told me that a group of middle school students participated in a field trip to a North Carolina city. Their educational goal was well documented and communicated with parents and students. Students asked permission to carry their Sony PSP and Nintendo DS gaming devices to play on the bus ride. When the students got bored walking around the scheduled educational venue, the middle schoolers began to explore on their own. They used their DS and PSP wireless Internet access to access their own entertainment. Mark one up for "disruptive technology". Lesson learned: wireless Internet on cell phones would be very disruptive on a school field trip. FaceBook, YouTube, AOL Music. I can hear it now-- "HEY! we are on school field trip...if you wanted to just play on the Internet you should have stayed home."

While attending the Model Schools Conference, I keep hearing that educators need to focus on Rigor, Relevance, and Relationships. My question is this: How can educators motivate students to use their problem solving skills when learning about how to analyze variables in scientific investigations?

Until I can get a handle on the pedagogy-- Sony PSP and Nintendo DS are not welcome on any of my potential field trips.

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Saturday, July 07, 2007

Using Excel to Make Posters

This is a great idea for summer projects.  If you have a few minutes, and you want to knock out a few room rule posters to print when you get back to school, watch this video for instructions.  The video shows how to use Excel to create classroom posters.  I had an idea to use a digital camera the first day back and photo the students in my class and make a poster to put on our bulletin board.  Thinking about a title for the student photo poster.  Here is the results of my brainstorming:
  • "NWA- All Stars"
  • "Can Do"
  • "On the Way to Excellence"
  • "On the Road to Success"
Here are some I might not what to include: (just kidding)
  • "Most Wanted"
  • "Wanted Dead or Alive"
  • "I'm Back!"
  • "Bless Their Hearts"
Download Video: Posted by josmith at

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Packing my bags for Model Schools Conference

Which gadgets to take, and which ones to leave home?  Currently, I have a heavy computer bag and a smaller one.  In preparing for this trip, I have decided to try to pack my cloths in a carry-on bag and take my smaller computer bag with me.  So, I have to decide what to carry.

Items on my want to carry list:
  1. Laptop & power cable

    From view album

  2. iPod video & cable

  3. Podcasting Recording Device

    • ZOOM H4
    • Rechargeable AA batteries w/charger
    • AC adapter for the ZOOM

  4. Still Camera
    • Sony Cyber-shot

    • Sony charger w/extra battery

    • Misc: Flash drives, pens,  (small stuff)
  5. Video Camera
    • Panasonic PV-GS160
    • Charger

  6. Computer bag (smaller one)
Now if all this will fit into the small bag.  If not, I guess I will check my luggage and hold my breathe that is will make to the airport. 

    Twitterrific Version 2.2

    Ok...calling all Twittheads, coming to a conference room real soon- Cmd-B will now open up a list of folks tapping the keys as they Tweet their hearts away. If you have your laptop out and you have updated to the latest version of Twitterrific, you will notice your friends avatar image will have a white outline. Does anyone worry about this but me? I am still not sure I will try installing Twitterrific on my classroom iBooks. If so, it will be setup on a special user account which is not available to students all the time. For example, I my install Twitterrific on a user account for use during a specific technology part of the class.

    On second thought, I need to check our district's Internet Use Policy. I do not think they will allow students to use Twitter. AIM is blocked already. "Disruptive" technology strikes again.

    Version 2.2 - TBD

    WWDC Special Edition

    New Features

    • Twitterrific now scans for other users on the local network using Bonjour. When your friends are "close by" their avatar image will have a white outline. You can also use Cmd-B to see a list of all people on the local network that are using Twitterrific and their last tweet. Hopefully, this will be effective in environments where Twitter users are in the same physical space (such as WWDC.) Thanks to Jack Dorsey for the idea.

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    Sunday, June 17, 2007

    Classroom Management: 101

    Bloglines | My Feeds (1) (2)

    Define Class Rules (a.k.a. Classroom Procedures)

    The discipline committee must decide what sort of rules will be enforced school wide. Try to limit these rules to about four or five. I think that it’s easy to enforce a handful of rules that everyone knows and can even spout off the top of their heads; but when you get so many rules, that no one can remember without looking at the paper then you will have too many rules for everyone to enforce. My own school developed these rules. All rules should be stated in their positive format and not in negatives, i.e., instead of don’t hit people, we found a way to say this by our second rule:

    1. Be in your assigned seat ready to work when the tardy bell finishes its ring.

    2. Keep hands, feet, books, and objects to yourself.

    3. Speak courteously to your teacher and fellow students.

    4. Follow the teacher's directions.

    5. Bring only those items which are essential to the educational process.

    The class rules should be posted in every classroom and referred to often.

    These are fine classroom rules.  However, just posting them on the wall does not insure they will be followed.  I have students that are learning disabled in reading.  They could care less about a "stinking" poster on the wall.  So, as part of our school's discipline policy, we spend class time teaching what these rules. Instead of calling them rules, I prefer the word procedures.  Also, in our school, we do not have warning bells and tardy bells, but we may add them this coming year.  I personally have to program our school's bells and when the power blinks, our bells shut down and they have to be reprogrammed.  So, before we go to tardy bells, someone is going to have to purchase one of those continuous power supply or backup batteries. [note to self: remember that.]

    The hardest part of classroom procedures is for the teacher to get the students to buy into the system.  They have to see that you mean business and you are not going to let them slide if they do not follow the procedure.  If I let them get by with it one day, and then send them to the principal the next day, then chaos rules.  For me, instead of just posting the list, I use a flip chart and conduct a brainstorming session and just ask my students what the class procedures should be, if we are going to be in this classroom all year together and end up with all level threes and fours on our EOG tests and everyone passing to the next grade.  I teach middle school, grades 6, 7, and 8.  I have my list of procedures already formulated on paper so when students come up with something like- "bring paper", then one says "bring ya pencil", and one might say "bring your notebook", I list all these. After brainstorming, I ask them to look at the list and give them 2.5 minutes to discuss the list with the student next to them and see if any of the items on the list have anything in common.  The items listed above all fit nicely under procedure 5. Bring only those items which are essential to the educational process.

    Here is the next big important step I have found that works for me: Thumbs up, thumbs down, and I am not sure.  After the class has found commonality and formulated our list which is usually very close to the one above, we vote.  Thumbs up if you can live with all the procedures, thumbs down if you can not, and thumbs sideways if you are still not sure.  Polling the students helps them see that everyone else knows they know the procedures.  If a student is trying to be cute, and gives a thumbs down, or really does not want to follow the procedure, then the discussion of why we are in school, what are your career goals, what would your mama say will not help.  I simply ask the student to spend some time with me after the class so we can talk.  If I have a student that is authoritative defiant, they just want to pick a argument, I have to remove them from the group.  I have experienced students that want to try to win every point of the discussion and I have a prearranged signal with my school counselor.  I have a phone in my classroom and I hit the three keys to his extension and just say, "could you please give me some time".  This means our code for come to my room and look for a student about to snap.  You might ask well how does he know it is your room?  Our phone system has a sort of caller id. 

    So, what is the purpose of writing a blog post about classroom rules/procedures?  I am not doing it for my readers, this is for me to reflect and share.  If you read this and think this is nothing neither fresh nor blending-edge, congratulations.  If you have a new middle science teacher and you want to help them but do not have the time, email them a link to my blog.  If you have constructive points you want to add, leave a comment.  If you think my little classroom management reflection is worthless, keep your comments to yourself and have a nice summer. 

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    Thursday, June 14, 2007

    eBay and Jericho

    Last night, I watched an episode the CBS TV series Jericho. It was one of few that I messed. It was titled "Black Jack", (original airdate: 2/28/07). This morning I was listening to a CNN news report. The story was about the recent PCWorld article. The article reports on how eBay is trying to reduce fraud. A light bulb came on in my head. I remembered the general idea of a line in "Black Jack" that goes something like this:

    As the characters walk into a secured, guarded, "barter town" in a search for needed equipment, one of the characters commented that the compound was "sort of like eBay". The booths with their vendors, and shoppers are shown peacefully bargaining and trading on the surface it looked easy. The camera cuts to a shot of a body that had been hanged as punishment for stealing, another character commented..."maybe not".

    As a fan of Jericho, and someone that has been spammed by eBay-look-a likes, and one that stays away from eBay, maybe I will change my mind about using eBay. Maybe not. EBay will not hang fraudulent eBay folks. Someone is always going to keep trying to beat the system.

    I do know that I will be watching the new series and the reruns of episodes July 6th.

    Friday, June 01, 2007

    Wikimapia in my science class

    This looks like something teachers could use. It is free. This example shows our campus. I can see my students could use this to illustrate blog posts as they research coastal resources, landforms, changes of earth's surface, freshwater, and much more.

    Monday, May 28, 2007

    Reviewing for the EOG is over!

    This week, our students will take the most important test in their lives- the dreaded EOGs. Are they ready? Will they be rested and clear minded?

    We shall see.

    Friday, May 18, 2007

    Surviving Spring Cold-Motorcycle Rally Week-EOGs

    Coughing, scratchy throat, chills, no energy and to top that off- gas prices that border on insane. These days it is a challenge to stay positive. This week has been motorcycle rally at Myrtle Beach, and at 11 p.m., I can hear the rumble of their motors as they pass along the highway nearby. I am not really sure what a spring cold has to do the motorcycles, much less what it has to do with education. But, it is what our classroom must be like to our kids. They have the rumble of their personal lives pounding in their heads much like standing beside the highway and watching to flashy bikes parade to the beach. They, like me, have their minds elsewhere. Still, high stakes testing, and the fear of failure, hovers over their environment like a spring cough. Never able to get comfortable. Then when they think they have it under control, it is something else.

    To make my spring cold bearable, I my antihistamines, cough drops, expectorants, and soft tissues. I can pull up videos of motorcycle riders on the web and watch news coverage on a South Carolina TV station. Most of my needs are meet. On the other hands, the needs of my students, preparing for their EOG and EOCs is not very warm and fuzzy. We make them sit in a classroom, drill and practice, review and recite, and feed them popcorn and pat them on the backs and tell them how well they will do if they just try.

    Teachers are not just sources of information, we have to coach students. Sometimes, it is not pretty. Surviving EOG and EOCs in North Carolina is like trying to stand be side a highway with a group of puppies on motorcycle rally week with a spring cold.

    If it don't kill you, it has to make you stronger.

    Thursday, May 10, 2007

    Mobile App for Classroom management

    Just ran across something interesting for use in managing my resources for my classroom on the go. Google calls it iGoogle Mobile. I have been trying to adjust my iGoogle resources to include some useful resources. One resource has to include our Standard course of study. Also, a link to a bookmark list of lesson plans correlated to the goals and objects. How about links to a blog with daily assignments or classblog with RSS. The list seems endless. I am really pumped about this tool.

    Saturday, May 05, 2007

    North Carolina Strawberry Festival, Chadbourn, NC

    My daughters are home for this year's festival.  It is hard to believe it is time already for the parade.  My students have been talking all week about going to the parade and all the excitement they are expecting.  Not real sure what they are inferring, and not sure I want to know.  I am going to the parade, and hope they have a nice time.  Ok, that is all I am going to say about that.  I feel sure they will experience some educationally enriching events...

    The weather this year is much cooler than average.  Last year, it was too hot.  I just read the weather forecast I subscribe to from WECT-TV.

    It has been a few years since we have had rain on the parade, but unless George Elliott is way off, we will be fine for the parade.  Just carry your wind-breaker, baseball cap, and an umbrella.

    I will post photos later today.

    <blockquote>Greetings from George Elliott at WECT-TV! Here's my outlook...

    We need the rain, and although it looks like a weekend event, we'll have to take what we get. Showers will increase across the area today and especially tonight, and most likely linger into the first part of Sunday. Some spots could see an easy half inch, with isolated higher amounts if an isolated t'shower passes overhead.

    A complex storm system to the west will transfer energy along the Carolina coast tonight through Sunday, and this will develop a potent offshore low pressure area. In the process, showery weather will spread across the area, and winds will pick up Sunday into Monday as the storm system offshore intensifies and high pressure from the Northeast builds down the eastern seaboard.

    Precipitation should end as the storm system moves (but stalls) east of us by late Sunday into early next week. Eventually, the storm center to our east will weaken and will move farther out to sea.

    Mostly cloudy with patchy showers developing today; high lower 70's. Northerly wind becoming easterly 4-16 mph.

    Cloudy with showers likely tonight; low around 60. Easterly wind 4-16 mph.


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    Saturday, April 28, 2007


    While waiting for our family dog, Gavin, to finish his appointment at the groomer, I stopped by a local WiFi hotspot to kills some time.  It is very generous of the kind folks at to leave a wireless port open.  I have known about this free WiFi hotspot for some time, but never really took time to try it.  Thanks guys! 

    As I was coming out of the groomer's, I walked into a fellow educator.  The first thing out of her mouth was Congratulations.  Well, I thought she was talking about our daughter's recent graduation from college, or her engagement.  But, to my surprise, the teacher, said I read that you are retiring.  Well, I almost could not say anything.  Then she told me that our local NCAE newsletter had listed my name as one of the teachers retiring this year.  I just laughed and told her that it was a mistake.  I was definitely not planning to retire.  I bet I checked the wrong box on a recent form we filled out for our local NCAE.  The form has two parts.  One part was for retirees to be included as retiring at our May banquet.  The other part was to say you were planning to attend and eat, and celebrate the retirement of others in our district.  Geez, this is embarrassing.  I guess I should just not go to the banquet.  Everyone there will be like- oh, congratulations.  I will spend the whole time explaining how it was a mixup and, well-- crap.

    To top that, I was sitting at the table, eating my microwaved leftovers from San Jose Mexican Restaurant and the Jehovah's Witness folks rang the doorbell.  And guess what,  it was a retired math teacher, that I worked with for many years.  Smiling and asking about how I had been and that she did not know I lived here and small talk.  Then she asked me if we were closing down the alternative school I work at. 

    In this weeks News Reporter, "Alternative School to close in June".  Ok, news flash, it is not North Whiteville Academy.  Come on Fuller Royal, "Nakina Alt to close in June" may have been a better title for a dang front page "news crier".  Controversy sells newspapers, but it also confuses the public.  It took me several minutes of talking with the well-educated/retired/math teacher/Jehovah's Witness.  I know the parents of our kids and community members will be thinking 'oh well, we might as well close ours too'.  Wrong.  The students attending North Whiteville Academy are making progress.  They are mastering math, reading, technology skills, and most importantly interpersonal skills.  I appreciate the kind comments from the News Reporter Editorial comment:

    North Whiteville Academy, the alternative school component of Whiteville City Schools, has been a success, but it deals with fewer students who get more individualized attention. Maybe the county’s twilight schools, which will divide alternative school candidates among the three county high schools, will do a better job with fewer students per teacher. Source:

    It must be a day for signs.  

    Maybe it is just that time of year. My lawn, which is mostly weeds, needs mowing.  The weather is nice and warm.  It is 87 degrees F.  The Moon is waxing, and according to an astrological timetable, based on the Moon's signs, showing the best days for certain activities it is one of the best days: Go to the dentist. Monday, April 30- Best days: Begin diet to gain weight.  What? Gain Weight?  I need a nap.

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    Tuesday, April 17, 2007

    Is It A Podcast Recorder?

    After watching an Apple Webinar on electric guitars and Garageband, I was ready to buy a copy of one of the commercial software and device to connect my electric guitar to my MacBook Pro. Then I remembered the Handy 4 from ZOOM that I have been using to record my podcasts in my classroom. BONG! I found this on a site:

    Zoom’s New H4 Handheld Recorder Packs A Huge Feature Set Into A Tiny Package, Creating A Tool Everyone Can Use.

    Combination XLR-Quarter-inch Inputs
    The H4, with its two phantom powered XLR-1/4" input jacks that support direct connection of external microphones, is the solution to an infinite number of recording situations. You can also use the H4's Hi-Z rated phone inputs for direct connection of guitars, bass, or any other line-input device.

    Input Level Optimization for Detailed Sound.
    The H4's excellent dynamic range allows you to consistently match the input level to the source. Whether you're recording a band's live performance, a solo vocalist, acoustic instruments, a classroom lecture or even a subtle soundscape, the H4's automatic gain control lets you limit peaks to -6 dB during Rec Stand-by position. And its built-in level meter and separate Low / Mid / High gain settings for the built-in stereo mics mean you can monitor operation and make adjustments on the fly.

    Portable Multi-Track Recording
    Capture vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, drum machines and other instruments on separate tracks with the H4's 4-track mode. The H4 allows simultaneous recording on two tracks and simultaneous playback on four tracks. Level and panning can be adjusted for each track individually. Punch-in recording and track bouncing make editing a breeze. Other features include a versatile tuner for guitar and bass, a metronome for use as a rhythm guide and A|B repeat capability.
    *While in 4-track mode, the H4 records as 16-bit/44.1kHz WAV files.

    Onboard Effects With Microphone And Amp Modeling
    The integrated DSP effects processor with 32-bit architecture employs the latest modeling technology to replicate the most famous guitar, bass and microphone sounds. The array consists of 4 microphones (SM57 / MD421 / U87 / C414), 12 guitar amps and stomp boxes such as Fender, Marshall, Vox, and Mesa Boogie and 6 bass amps and preamps including Ampeg, Bassman, and Hartke. We've also included a compressor / limiter to prevent input signal overload, Zoom Noise Reduction (ZNR) and other studio quality effects such as chorus, flanger, phaser, delay, and reverb. The effect memory of the H4 accommodates 60 patches. 50 presets are already programmed for applications such as direct recording of guitar and bass as well as mic recording of vocals and acoustic guitar.
    *In stereo mode, only mic modeling and the compressor / limiter effects can be used.
    *Mic modeling effects are only for use with the built-in microphones.

    It's a USB Audio Interface
    The H4 also will function as a direct audio interface for your computer. Connect the supplied USB cable and record directly to your computer. And the H4 comes bundled with Cubase LE from Steinberg so you can start to produce and edit music straight away. Thanks to the direct hardware monitoring function, there is no latency problem, you can hear what you're recording as you're playing it.
    *Effects can only be used when the sampling rate is 44.1kHz.

    Drag and Drop File Transfer
    When the H4 is connected to a computer via USB, it also functions as an SD card reader. This allows you to drag and drop audio files to your computer like you would pictures from a digital camera. Create a media player sound library, tailor a recording with a waveform editor, then mix and master with a DAW. Then create your own CDs, send files by e-mail, or use them for podcasting. The possibilities are endless. The H4 will even function as a portable MP3 player.


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    Sunday, April 15, 2007

    April Showers Bring May Flowers-- Right?

    The wind and rain has howled since yesterday afternoon. At least the official tornado warnings have been dropped in our area. Our family dog has spent most of the day running under the chair. I am not sure exactly how much rain has fallen, but it was over two inches. Water is standing every where around the house.

    Now, just a few words about motivating my students tomorrow, after six days out of school.
    • Plan in shorter time segments.
    • Vary activities.
    • Bring children's books and novels into your lesson.
    • Actively involve students in the lesson.

    Sunday, April 08, 2007

    Making Google Maps in the Classroom

    Ok, so check it out, dawg…here’s an example of what you can do with the new “My Maps” feature from Google. Go on…go look.

    Now, if your head ain’t swimmin’ with ideas like mine is… My children don’t know it yet, but they just became the map makers for all travel related to the Richardson family. (And we just figured out that the whole clan is going to Australia this summer.) I can’t wait to show them this.

    I know this isn’t news, but this is the kind of stuff that still gives me butterflies. Stupid, I know. It’s also the kind of stuff that I want to go running into schools with, shouting “Look what our kids can create! Look what they can contribute!”

    It’s a great time to be a learner, isn’t it? Very cool… Check out Step #19 in the directions

    By Will Richardson.

    If any of my students go out of town during vacation, I hope to challenge them make their own map.

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    Monday, April 02, 2007


    Now that Twitter is taking the web by storm, here is a mash - up of Google maps and Twitter allowing you to see all of the Twitterers (Twits?) posts in real time posted on a world map.
    Twittervision Thanks to Gaping Void .

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    Sunday, April 01, 2007

    April- Time for Spring Vacation

    I have been very slack posting in the past few weeks. Sometimes, reading and listening provides inspiration to the writing process. Sometimes is does not help. I listened to Bit by Bit podcast episode 17 with Alice, Cheryl, Bob, Cathy, Deb, and Michael come together in this Flat World over FlatBread. They mentioned in their conversation a web clone of ComicLife and it jogged my memory of how excited my students were about using ComicLife software on the Mac.

    Tuesday, March 13, 2007

    The Bear Facts, The Story of a North Carolina Treasure

    To receive "The Bear Facts" DVD please use one of the following contacts to reserve your free copy. All educators including teachers, Museum employees, Parks Personnel, Scout Leaders and others are encouraged to request a copy.

    Include the following information in your correspondence:

    The Bear Facts DVD/CD
    Your Name
    Address of Educational Institution
    Phone Number
    Email Address
    Requested quantity


    Mailing Address:

    1710 Mail Service Center
    Raleigh, NC 27699-1710
    Toll Free Phone: 1-866-WILDSHOP
    Local Phone: 919-707-0393

    Local Fax: 919-707-0294

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    Monday, March 12, 2007

    Periodic Table of the Elements

    This periodic table is really interesting in that the elements are hyperlinked to QTVR movies of samples. My favorite is the gold element. I downloaded the QTVR movie of a gold coin and showed it to my students on our digital projector. This might be fun to use with an interactive whiteboard. If the software would allow students to touch the element on the whiteboard and the whiteboard would react like a touch screen.

    Have you ever tried this in your classroom?

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    Sunday, March 04, 2007

    YouTube Fight Club - muy malo

    “Doing it to Post on You Tube” « Haulin’ ‘Net

    15 boys from Lee Senior HS in Sanford, NC were suspended and arrested for staging fighting events in the school lavatory prior to the school day. The 21st century kicker is that they were filming the fights and posting the New Media to You Tube.

    Very one wants to have their own 15 minutes of fame, but holding a pre-school bathroom brawl is taking it to a new level. I know a couple of teachers at Lee Senior and I can not wait to contact them and ask them which bathroom they have duty in now... Not to make fun of this, I do not blame the teachers or the school. If these kids wanted to fight, they could have held their matches anywhere they wanted. I still do not understand why the school? Was it because they had first period computer class and conspired to use the school's network to upload their videos? Is YouTube blocked on their network? If not, how many times were the movies viewed on the Lee Senior network?

    The sad thing is that these kids are not going to be denied a education, they are probably heading for the Lee County alternative school program. So, watch out alternative school, you are going to have your hands full. Maybe Lee Senior should start a boxing program.

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    Wednesday, February 21, 2007

    Podcast Player for Teachers

    Dave Winer has been thinking about the features of an ideal podcast player on his blog Scripting News. As a classroom teacher that has struggled to teach my students how to use Garageband on Apples, I agree with Dave’s wonderful characteristics. The recording feature is the trick. All my students have USB flash drive MP3 players. I load then podacast mp3 files on their devices so they can share them with their family and friends. This task is time consuming at best. So, to add RSS feeds to this idea device, wireless is a must.

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    Sunday, February 18, 2007

    What? Huh? I am sorry, what did you say?

    Last night, my daughter, my wife, and I attended a wonderfully pleasant wedding. At the reception, the DJ spun his magical mix of jazz, rock, hip-hop, Top 40’s from the 70's, 80's, and 90’s. I am not sure how close my old ears got to the speakers, but my ears are ringing a little louder today than usual. While reading my RSS feeds on Google Reader, I skimmed across this post from WIRED Blogs and had to comment on the article. It is: SPOT ON. My hearing is not what it once was. Add to that the dance music and I know I missed some really interesting comments made by fellow attendees at the wedding reception. I could see lips and mouths moving and could catch parts of what was being said. The people at my table must have thought I was ignoring them, but I could not hear what they were saying. The stress from trying to hear conversations made having a conversation a real challenge.

    Not to be a grouch, I actually enjoy all kinds of music. So, if I cannot hear well, why not get a hearing aid? No. They are not cool. Call it vanity if you want, but hearing aids equates old age. Now, not go postal on me. This is my opinion. My father paid big bucks for a set of hearing aids. He would not wear them. He complained that they did not fit right. He kept leaving them here and there. My mother fussed constantly about him not wearing them or not putting in a battery, and on and on. I do not mind wearing ear buds while at the gym working out. IMHO, hearing loss is the redheaded stepchild of the worthwhile diseases, but it is a personal issue to me. This is a desperate predicament for all most all Baby Boomers.

    While reading the article linked below, it hit me: iEar. Steve Jobs please design your fellow Baby Boomers something cool. iEars could be a big financial success and popular tech gadget. Imagine “digital hearing appliances” from Apple. Taking design clues from the original iBook and how it transformed the boring black laptop into a cool “must have”. Then it was the iPod. They are fabulously popular and user-friendly. Steve- your fellow aging Baby Boomers need a favor- design us a cool hearing aid. Could it have bluetooth, so we can hear our podcasts, music, iPhone, video, and Apple TV? Whip up support and the cool factor by celebrity endorsements. Maybe folks like Bono, Ozzy, Mick, and James Taylor to raise money for "iEars for Baby Boomers". I can see the ads for it now: [wide-shot] Are you tired of the What? Huh? Tell me that again? [two-shot] I'm PC and I cannot hear a thing you are saying. I'm Mac, and I am wearing the new iEar from Apple, Inc. I can listen to my iPhone, and all my Beatles music without having to drag around my laptop and iPod. [fade-to-white] iEar, from the corporation that damaged you hearing, we now offer these products to you at a low cost of 99 cents.
    [TagLine] iEar: hear like a hawk. Now available at an Apple Store near you, or online at

    WIRED Blogs: Bodyhack

    As one scientist just put it at a briefing for reporters at the AAAS annual meeting, "hearing is considered to be the sort of poor cousin of vision. It also doesn't have the sex appeal of aids and malaria and other worthwhile diseases."
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    Sunday, February 11, 2007

    Legislative School Technology Day

    Instructional Technology Division NC Department of Public Instruction

    North Carolina school districts are cordially invited to participate in Legislative School Technology Day, Tuesday, February 13, 2007, from 10am until 2 pm at the North Carolina General Assembly Building. This event is designed to showcase for our legislators the exciting ways that technology is being used to support the teaching and learning of 21st century skills in the classrooms across the state. Every North Carolina legislator should be able to point with pride to the ways that schools in his or her district are using technology to enhance teaching and learning. Visit the Legislative School Technology Day web site for more information.

    Our participants will be leaving NWA at 6 a.m. Tuesday morning and travel via an activity bus to Raleigh. Join us later this week as we bring back audio files and edit a podcast for our listeners.

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    First Impression of H4 Handy Recorder ZOOM

    I just picked up a H4 yesterday. Tried to record a podcast while riding in the truck to pick while making a quick trip to town. However, nothing recorded. I read the manual when I got home. I found that starting a recording is a little tricky. To make the H4 record, you turn it on, then press the REC button, then press it again. I did not like this feature, until I realized that by requiring that extra button push allows you to monitor the recording settings before recording. Using a good headphone, I can listen for background distractions like a fan running on my computer. I like the one clip button on the front so the file type can be selected. For the price, ZOOM should at least include a set of batteries. Maybe they do, I did not get any. Also, my copy of the free software was missing. Not to complain, this was just my experience. I am saving my money for a couple of XLR mics and cables to use with it. One last point - if you use the H4 as a handheld device, set the mic gain to L and use MP3. The L or low gain cancels most of the noise that results from holding the device in your hand. MP3 compresses the file. Go ahead and buy a 2 GB SD card when you buy it. Look around for cheap 1 GB cards if you do not need to record a long presentation. Also, buy a tripod. I found a cheap one at a store called Big Lots that was designed to use with a camera. Also, I recommend investing in recharge AA batteries and a charger. I am looking for a carrying case for it too. One last impression- if you are over 50 years old, make sure you have your reading glasses nearby when operating the H4. I was not designed for farsighted users like me.

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    Saturday, January 27, 2007

    Shrink-wraped version of the future-ready schools discussion?

    I have been using Moodle and video or audio clips in my science classroom for some time now. I found a perfect example at Dr. Scott McLeod’s blog Dangerously Irrelevant. His 7-step (60-90 minute) “unit” got my attention. It utilizes Re-useable Learning Objects. In Moodle, it is important to create lessons that save time anywhere you can.

    He combines .pdf files, a slideshow from the Fischbowl, an original slideshow, a podcast, and a viral video. He can re-use these materials in future contexts, but more importantly, he posts them to the web and invites others to use them. That is the power of re-usable learning objects of the digital kind.

    What could we blend as resources for a lesson on cell mitosis or math or geography?

    Dangerously Irrelevant: 100% proficiency on old skills?

    100% proficiency on old skills? Here's something if you have a 60- to 90-minute block of time with educators... 100% Proficiency on Old Skills? A Candid Conversation About the Demands of NCLB and Preparing Students for the New Economy

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