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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