Wisdom of Teachers and Students

A few years ago Julie Williams proposed teaching sixth graders to use Photoshop. The students all read the book Wisdom Tales from Around the World The idea was students would use Comic Life to create a comic to tell the story of one of the wisdom tales they read. Students needed to draw the comic panels for each scene and while we had Skitch, and even AppleWorks for drawing, Photoshop was clearly the best tool the project. I had my fears as to whether or not students could grasp and more importantly, could I teach this complicated piece of software. After three or more years of watching Julie and her students create master pieces, I am so happy that I overcame my fear/reluctance and helped to make it happen. Not all sixth grade teachers use Photoshop for the unit as Skitch works very well. For those students who learn Photoshop, their creative world opens up wider for them. I see them playing/educationally investigating Photoshop in the lab at break time.

Below are two examples of work being done by students. I was walking by and took them with my new iPod Touch. Both students gave me permission to use their images. Never underestimate what students can and SHOULD do.



Durham Academy’s Online Newspaper “The Cav”


The Cav has been done using a FirstClass Conference in the past with some success. This year Mrs. Williams, Mrs. Donnelly, and I wanted to offer an opportunity for our reporters to write for an authentic audience so we switched to an Edublog account. For about $40.00 we have a highly managed and secure system that uses advanced editing tools. Students are excited and writing away. Teachers are the ones who serve as publishers making sure before it goes live, it meets the editorial standards of our newspaper.


Check it out at http://thecav.edublogs.org/

Google Apps for Education K-12 is Now Available to Middle School Students

Google Apps for Education.png

I am  pleased to announce the new Google Apps for Education at DA Middle School. I have begun to show students and teachers how to use these powerful tools. Students in 5th and 6th grade are already writing collaborative documents or sharing their private writing with their teacher. Efficient and eliminates all the issues of not having the proper software or the wrong version of the paper.

Basic Rules:

Use of the tools will be for school related projects. The use of Google Apps for Education K-12 is governed by Durham Academy’s Middle School Handbook and Durham Academy’s Acceptable Technology Use policies. The account will be managed and administered by Durham Academy.

Google Collaborative Apps @ Durham Academy will provide access to digital storage, Google Docs (Word Processing, Spreadsheets, and Presentations) and Sites. Other collaborative web-based tools may be introduced in the future.

Google Apps at DA Middle School will not include Gmail, Calendar, or Google Talk. FirstClass will remain the only application for this type of communication.

Students will be able to use Google Docs to:

* Work on documents from any computer with an Internet connection

* Collaborate and share their work with other students and teachers

* Get instant feedback on their work from multiple collaborators and teachers

There is no ability to share documents outside of the students.da.org Google Apps Domain.

I have shared this story with classes after it happened to me. I was working on my nice 27 inch iMac in my office when we had a power surge on campus. Last week I had to switch my power supply from the UPS backup slot to the surge protection slot due to a chirping battery that needed to be replaced. Since I was no longer plugged into the backup slots, the chirpying was not an issue, but I also had no reserve power for when we lost power. The minute the power surge hit, my iMac shutdown. I lost some things I had open but had not saved prior to the power surge. I did not loose the Google Doc I was typing on because it saves every few seconds or when changes happen. This reminded me of the first question posed to me in my interview in 1999. “When should a student know how to save”? My answer was when they needed to save. How far we have come in 11 years. I am not sure the question was only on when but more then likely it was about name of file, where to save, and how often, most of which are still skills our students need to know. Saving anything as untitled is not a solution even if the software saves automatically in the background like Google Docs does. More software is beginning to save automatically to save us from ourselves.

Issues I have had to solve relate to involve redirect messages because of students  using our new Google Apps domain, (http://docs.students.da.org) AND also use a different Google account on the same computer/browser.

Sometimes users get an error message in Safari or other browsers like this:

“The page isn’t redirecting properly. This problem can sometimes be caused by disabling or refusing to accept cookies.” I then tried again and got this message from Safari”: Safari can’t open the page.

Too many redirects occurred trying to open ìhttps://www.google.com/a/students.da.org/ServiceLogin?service=wise&passive=1209600&continue=https://docs.google.com/a/students.da.org/document/d/1H7gPzpj_gKWaOaNnzZs-Lnc0_sj1UYpsu6z_yvjYCQw/edit?hl%3Den&followup=https://docs.google.com/a/students.da.org/document/d/1H7gPzpj_gKWaOaNnzZs-Lnc0_sj1UYpsu6z_yvjYCQw/edit?hl%3Den&hl=enî. This might occur if you open a page that is redirected to open another page which then is redirected to open the original page.”

It seems that using the same browser to log in to multiple Google accounts causes the issue. The solution for now is to adjust your browser’s Cookies and Cache.

Basically, you need to Remove Existing Cookies, Accept Cookies from all sites, and Clear the Browser’s cache file. The cache file stores information from previous visits which is what causes the problem when you have more then one Google Account.

The best strategy for using one computer with more then one Google Account is to use one browser for one account and a different browser for another account. This prevents the cookies and cache issues.

In the near future, I am looking forward to  Google Apps being fully supported in Safari mobile on the iPad as that and Moodle 2.0 will be an awesome combination for learning and collaborating for our students. Until that comes, Office2 HD works beautifully. 



Digital Image Project


My Foundations of Technology Students did a 3 day project called  Something on Campus Digital Camera Project”. After some initial instruction, we went out side and shot images. After editing and applying affects, students created slides. We also talked about how to communicate with each other in the VoiceThread. I am trying to build their collaborative communication skills (From Will Ferriter) so they could help each other learn and take risks.

This was the game plan:

Day 1

Begin to learn how to use the Lumix ZS3 Digital Cameras (in pairs) to take pictures and import into iPhoto.

We will go over how to work the cameras and then go outside to the garden area to take some pictures.

Tips: Rule of 3rds. http://tlc.ousd.k12.ca.us/~acody/digi4.html

Day 2

Working with 2 images, Use the editing tools in iPhoto to adjust image. Learn about the many editing tools that are available.

Day 3

Create a Keynote Slides for each image and add text to describe or add any writing that would help identify important parts of the image.

Export as images from Keynote and upload to this assignment. Also upload to your digital portfolio and add comments.

I took their images from our Moodle course and created a VoiceThread that they then commented on each others images. I think they turned out well.

This link will take you to the VoiceThread I created with the images and the students shared their thoughts and comments.





Foundations of Technology 5 Student Portfolios

With my  new Foundations of Technology course for 5th grade students, I wanted to students to develop an online portfolio that could live outside of both the classroom and our school. My goal is to give the students an opportunity to share their work and reflect on what it means to them. The idea of parents or other students also sharing their comments is a secondary goal. A third goal will not be obvious since the actual portfolio is the showcase for finished projects, and that is creativity, design and even fundamental technology skills centered around formats, copyright, privacy, communication, and others that are embedded into the projects we create. I used the term scaffolding with the class today as I wanted them to begin to connect the things we do in class instead of thinking, we start new each time. I was prompted to talk about this due to the age old question of “can I, can ya, or  can you”. I have a standard answer in that I ask them the question of “Where is Kenya?”. Often they understand this play on words although I feel like I am undoing some long learned rule of learning. I told the students today that if I taught you how to use it last week, it is OK to use it this week as that is the scaffolding part of this class.

So, I share now the portfolios of my students as we work on creating a digital portfolio using VoiceThread. For the price of a site license, this is incredible software for our students to begin telling the story of their learning. Remember that learning is often messy. That term is from a web site that I have read for years. http://learningismessy.com/blog/


Naomi J. http://damiddle.ed.voicethread.com/share/1318864/

Haley P. http://damiddle.ed.voicethread.com/share/1315501/

Mosehe I. http://damiddle.ed.voicethread.com/share/1315500/

Jonathan W. http://damiddle.ed.voicethread.com/share/1315499/

Izzy S. http://damiddle.ed.voicethread.com/share/1315498/

Tate F. http://damiddle.ed.voicethread.com/share/1315497/

Hannah J. http://damiddle.ed.voicethread.com/share/1315495/

Nicole R. http://damiddle.ed.voicethread.com/share/1315494/

Finn M. http://damiddle.ed.voicethread.com/share/1315493/

Catherine M. http://damiddle.ed.voicethread.com/share/1315492/

Dylan P. http://damiddle.ed.voicethread.com/share/1315491/

Ethan G. http://damiddle.ed.voicethread.com/share/1315490/

Jack M. http://damiddle.ed.voicethread.com/share/1315488/

Tyler S. http://damiddle.ed.voicethread.com/share/1315486/

Ready set, reload my files, good to go …


I have written about Ryan S. in the past as he is a student who does amazing things with technology and in how he thinks/problem solves. He impressed me yesterday again during Open House. He came into the computer lab, logged in, plugged in his USB flash drive and proceeded to drag over all of his files from last year, and the year before. As Ryan finished copying the files, he said ” Now I am ready”.

He is onto the fact that each year all of his files are deleted by our Network Department. While we have had some light discussion on how we could change the practice, nothing ever came of it. In many ways, starting over is a good thing as some students keep a Home Directory much like they do their bedroom closet.  How would I feel if each year I had to start over? Not happy given the fact I have 2 terabytes of storage on my desk for backup plus the server backup. I do not like loosing anything.

I think most of our students live their digital lives without limits to the amount of storage. YouTube and Google do not wipe out everything after 9 months. What are the implications for education with this group of students who are creating their digital dossier? I think we need to allot more space for students to build their learning space so they can retrieve the history of their learning much like we can all look up our web history.

Cyberbullying and Common Sense Media

All of us need to play an active role in helping the youth of today in how to use technology tools appropriately. The New York Times article sparked discussions around this topic. The problem I have is that this behavior goes with digital devices and in the analog world. It should not take an article, suicide of a young person, or other tragic event to bring up the topic and react. A solid resource is Common Sense Media.

This is a short clip from Common Sense Media on their YouTube Channel. I suggest you subscribe to it.



Summer Camps and the Programming is Fun! but not that Easy:(

For the past 3 summers I have run Lego Mindstorm NXT camps and Scratch camps for children aged 8 – 13. I employ 3 or 4 helpers who in fact are much more then that as they rush about showing campers how to use the software and hardware. I could never do it without them.

Checkout the camp wiki. http://dalegoscratchcamps.wikispaces.com/

This summer has presented me with a challenge I never have faced, a broken radius bone in my left wrist. I fell unloading hay on May 16, 2010 and suffered a compound fracture that required surgery and an external fixation device. I am healing, but slowly and have had to learn how to not do most of what I am used to doing in the summer. I have learned how to sit still and how to ask for help. I also had the rest of our hay delivered:) I will be ready for the training I will offer teachers in a few weeks as well as teaching my new Foundations of Technology Course.

Here is what I called “Rodney” as he is gone but will be sent to Nicaragua someday to be reused.


To learn more about the EFD http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/External_fixation

My Morning at Culbreth Middle School

Today I went back to where I began my teaching career to see how they have developed a strong technology program using iPod touches.

The notes below were typed using Evernote on my iPad. It worked beautifully and I even got to ask an Apple Engineer about how to get Google Docs to work. She assured me she would look into it and let me know. I told her that the lack of Google Docs is my only concern about suggesting this 1.5 pound device become standard for our students.I also met Tony Perez from Atlanta Girls’ School. They will become a 2 to 1 school next year as students will have a MacBook and an iPad.

My rough notes:

Teacher’s got them first – not too much planning or rules as that can stop innovation.
Chorus Class:

Musictheory.net was used to go over the notes study. Had booked marked. Used site as textbook for lesson.

Science class:
Headphones in baggies, 4 iMacs,1ipod cart, overhead, LCD projector with speakers, and 2 teacher MacBooks. One student did not have iPod so had to share headphones. iMacs looked like they were not running OS X but were being used for the Citrix setup. May have been same computers I helped set up. They still use FirstClass. iPods used video on race – gave out directions teachersdomain. Had teacher account.

History class:
mrstaberswiki.pbworks.com students watched video and took notes from teacher handout in notebook.

Math class:
Coin flip for probability app iHandy coin flip game. Chccs.k12.us/culbreth Robert bales

Science class:
Different teacher but used same lesson as other Science Teacher. Watched movie acceleration activities used same http://www.teachersdomain.org/asset/phy03_vid_velocity/

Each teacher had a small sheet of paper with questions and directions. At one point another student noticed a student using his iPod for something other then what he was supposed to be using and said “Vincent is using his iPod with unapproved app”. Public shaming is alive and well.

A Burmese student was using dictionary to translate notes.

Next steps:
Culbrethpodcasting.chccs.k12.us will be used for announcements and other information done by students on iPodsl .All will be done with podcast producer with wikis and blogs.
Classroom20.com is where you can find information on the program.

Other notes:
Started with a beta team and had them work with their students to learn how to use them the best. PD was how to use the device.Val now have 28 wifi stations. 16 carts with 622 iPods. ITunes account for each team. Val gets list of apps from teachers to get. They are added to laptop in the cart. Mobicip is the filter they use. http://www.mobicip.com/ they use premium account.

Conversations happen if issues come up with the report.al has a portable Bretford case for 20 iPods.iPads are coming for use in a sandbox lab. They will have students begin to write apps or other uses. Stuck in the shallow end ….. Book The hope is to get these into the homes of their students.

Technorati Tags: , ,