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. 



Musings of a Master Teacher Academy Member

Photo credit: click from morguefile.com

I was accepted to be one of a few Master Teacher as part of NCAIS Virtual that was looking for “Change Agents”. I debated taking on this role/task as I had been working on streamlining my life. The more I considered it though, the more I wanted to be a part of something big like this as I see it as a great opportunity to learn new strategies and connect with teachers and trainers outside of Durham Academy. I consider myself to be pretty versed in many of the tools but am always looking to learn and challenge myself more. I think all educators need to continue to push past the comfort zone of ” What I did last year”.

The training starts in January and is even at the Hill Center.

What will I learn? How will I grow as a teacher? What impact will be felt at Durham Academy? How big will the audience be for our collaborative work? How will my teaching change?

The information below is from NCAIS Virtual http://www.ncaisvirtual.org/index.asp

21st Century Teaching Academy

Mission Statement

Present day education requires a more complex and demanding educational landscape.  The 21st Century Teaching Academy embraces a constructivist conception of school transformation and acknowledges the importance of changing minds, not just practices.  The Academy affirms the value of educational leaders to stimulate the reflections needed to unsettle the status quo and mobilize change.

Opening the door for 21st century teaching and learning involves a commitment to professional development training.  The 21st Century Teaching Academy is the essential component and change agent committed to making this professional development happen



Master Teacher Academy

The NCAIS Master Teacher Academy represents Phase I of our 21st Century Training model.  10-12 teacher from NCAIS Virtual member schools will be chosen from a pool of applicants to receive elite training (at no cost to schools other than release time to attend the training) to become part of a unique 21st century collaborative that is attracting nationwide attention.  The 4 day 3 night training will take place in the winter of 2011.

Our training team includes:

Amanda Antico-Majkowski, Educational Consultant and Chang Agent

Faculty from the Online Learning Task Force at St. Alban’s School, Washington, DC

Christopher Gergen, Founder of Bull City Forward, Durham, NC

Bruce Friend, NCAIS Virtual Education Consultant

Select NCAIS Innovators

Encourage the “Difference Makers” at your school to apply for this selective NCAIS program and let us take them to a Whole New Level!


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.

New Year, New Course, New Moodle

After a summer of healing my broken arm and enjoying my grandchildren, I am ready for the newness that awaits. I have again become digitalkarl after spending most of the summer in analogkarl mode. Except for two weeks when I did summer camps on Lego Mindstorms and Scratch, I was not on a computer. I did listen to my iPod often on walks and did “read” Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollan. A great book and one my daughter will be teaching to her 8th grade students using the Young Readers edition. I would think it would be perfect for our 8th grade students as well.

Onto the title:

New school year is full of promise and changes as new technologies are introduced as well as new teachers, students to our middle school. I am now leading an early bird workshop with 5 teachers who are learning about our new technology skills matrix based on ISTE’s NETS skills. I am thrilled with how the workshop is going so far as teachers are receptive, engaged and providing great feedback in the VoiceThreads and Moodle Discussion Forums. This is great because all MS Faculty will be using this course next week during the kickoff to getting ready for school. It is my first attempt to have a true online workshop in Moodle that can be self-directed if so desired. My hope is this will free teachers to learn on their own or to complete it when they have time and use the time dedicated in the start up week to the most pressing issue which may or may not be attending a workshop with me.

New Course: Foundations of Technology for 5th and 6th graders. I will be teaching a trimester course  where we will address these ISTE technology skills. I am excited to finally have this course in the schedule as it has taken 4 years. The course is now part of the Fine Arts rotation which means the final spoke on the 6th wheel will not be the ability to take one of the Fine Arts from the existing rotation. In most of life, we live in a zero sum world, and in order to fit in this technology course, we dropped this choice. The rotation also means that a student could have been here for almost 2 years before they take a technology course. Still, it is better to have one then not as has been the case. Integration into core classes has been pretty successful, but this course will allow me to focus directly on what I think students should be learning and not embedding it into other projects. My course will be totally project based with students assembling a digital portfolio in their own VoiceThread.

New Moodle: The Middle School now has our own Moodle server as we have installed a separate Internet connection on our campus. The new address is http://msmoodle.da.org/moodle/ This new 20 mbps connection should really help with load time and computer use. Please adjust your bookmarks to reflect this new address.

LotW for May 3 2010 – The FaceBook Edition

The FaceBook Edition

Full Disclosure – I do not use Facebook. I did set up an account once and all of the people I no longer wanted to be friends with were back. Call me antisocial but hey, there is a reason I do not want you to auto connect to me simply because I added a profile of where I went to Elementary School. I am not concerned that there is no longer much privacy as much as I am concerned about who controls my privacy. I teach and live in public ways that I choose and not a vendor. Therefore, I set my privacy controls depending on who I want to see my “stuff”. I prefer and Opt in versus Opt out policy.

This leads me to the Facebook edition where I am putting together a few links that address some rather important issues for those of you with Facebook accounts. This is not a judgement on whether you should or should not share your life on Facebook. Obviously, I choose to not share my life. I still have an analog life and a digital life.

What drove me to this post was listening to some very, very, very, smart people who write programs, run Internet companies describe how hard it is for them to manage their privacy settings in Facebook. It made me realize that some of you who use Facebook, but perhaps do not realize the depth of information you are revealing. In fact, two of them were deactivating their Facebook account until they could figure out how to manage the privacy.

The issue has not to do so much with what your Facebook Friends and you do, but what happens when a FoF interacts with your Friend. It seems as if the privacy setting you set for your Friends does not stop your Friend from passing on your information to one of their Friends who you are not a Friend of.

Again, I do not have first hand experience as I deleted my Facebook account shortly after opening one to communicate with a friend in Uganda.

Facebook Eroding Privacy Policy Timeline from Electronic Frontier Foundation

See What Facebook Publicly Publishes About You – Lifehacker

Use this link to enter in your Facebook ID or alias

Time to Audit Your Facebook Privacy Settings – Here is How by Gina Tripani

Facebook’s New Social Plugins – Now 50,000 plus in one week – an article from Mashable
Facebook for Parents from CommonSenseMedia

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iPad – The Good, The Bad, The Ugly, The Unknown – with apologies to Sergio Leone and cast

I have had my iPad for two weeks now so I think I can write a review that reflects where I see this device in an educational setting. In a nutshell – close but not there yet. Do not get me wrong, you can not pry it out of my hands, but there are some limitations that must be overcome.

The Good
Design, Touch, and Feel – This is a wonderful device for the eye, fingertip, and hand as it is easy to carry and use. Using the touch interface on this device is a little bit like magic. Check out LukeW’s wonderful resource for how to use the Touch UI. http://www.lukew.com/ff/entry.asp?1071

There are many apps that are outstanding examples of how this device is a different approach to a computer. This is not an exhaustive list, but one that represents my early use and the fact that my account is empty:)

  • The Elements which can be purchased as a book, or you can even use the web site http://periodictable.com/ On the iPad, there is the ability to rotate and look closely at examples of the element in nature or products.
  • The Weather Channel Max – Another well done app that takes full advantage of the screen and interface
  • NPR – Access to all stories and all stations with a few touches
  • Magic Piano – play differently and with others
  • Evernote – If you do not use this app, you are missing elegance and simplicity and is the only way I have found to get documents out of this device as easily as I should be able to get documents out of this device.

The Bad

  • Smudges on the screen make it look bad really fast. You do not want to eat while using this device
  • While the case is nice, the texture feels weird to me. I suppose it is less likely to slip, but I am not a big fan of it.
  • Not that many apps that I own have been updated to the iPad version or in a couple cases involved repurchasing them
  • The constant envy and gasps from people who see it and want to touch it

The Ugly

  • Document management is lousy and frankly a HUGE mess. Until this is solved, this device will not work in a school or at least in any way where a school deploys them for multiple students to use.
  • Google Documents do not work in the mobile Safari. Many companies are attempting to solve it, but there should be no reason to use an intermediary service.
  • The inability to use the Dock with the Case on the iPad – Really no one thought you might want to dock the iPad with a case that you sell on it. Can you say “Incredibly stupid design and I want a refund”
  • iPhone apps look pretty bad but are useable even when upscaled.

The Unknown

  • Textbook publisher have not provided samples of what they will be like so unless we can remove the 30+ pounds of books from the backpacks of students with a highly interactive, annotation capabilities, and a strong pricing structure we just do not know
  • Management tools for school wide deployment and configuration. iPhone Configuration Utility works – barely

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