Interesting Websites

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Parent-School Communications and In-school Technologies

Posted by on 21 Jan 2012 | Tagged as: education, Education Professional, Interesting Websites, teaching, technology in education, Uncategorized

I have just finished attending a web seminar, my usual Saturday-morning activity. Glad our power was restored in time for this! The livebinder of links for this webinar is at classroom20live. The actual webinar is available for playback at archives (there is a link to archives at the top of the page). It is also available on iTunes U!

I am excited by Joe Mazza’s presentation. The way this principal has integrated technology into a robust home-school program is inspiring. And to my question about what to do for the families who lack tech connections, the answer was simple and obvious: they maintain a list of those families, and EVERY communication that goes out via the web or cell network goes home to those families in hard copy. The school also has awareness of community resources that can help families become connected (cut rates for cable internet was an example).

The school district I am applying to is very rural. Cellular service is questionable, let alone smart phone access, and cable internet will be sporadic as well. Affordability of technology will be an issue for some families in this district. Some families might be able to access or afford technology but decline to use it. I want to be sure that anything I do online does not disenfranchise families!

So I am thinking about using a telephone-based call-in feature where I could leave a homework update or family notices about tests and conference times. My local school had something like this when my boys were little, and it was very helpful to me. Paper communications don’t always make it home in a timely manner! But that would be a common way for me to send information home also. Class sizes in this district will be small, so printing won’t be a huge deal. But in a larger, still rural or low-income community, cost to print might be an issue.

One of the participants in today’s webinar in the chat room mentioned Remind 101 as a tool that can both text families/students and email. This would be a good tool where cell service is reliable, and most families have cell phones. I know that just because families are in an urban location does not guarantee that they have access to computers. Even public access computers in libraries are not always available (as I mentioned in my Master’s Paper). So wherever I am, whatever I am teaching, I will have to be sure I make communications with families as broad and inclusive as possible.

I have a lot of things to think about! A different person in the chat room was insistent that online communications are not safe or secure. I think this person is unfamiliar with technologies, as many families are, and has read too many alarmist reports. However, there are some very real and important personal security issues that need to be addressed with online communications. I am going to do some research and thinking about how to convey to families (and other teachers) the knowledge they need to be able to address those concerns. For example, I understand how to disaggregate data and keep it anonymous, but I think most people don’t. I should be able to explain this better! I should also be able to talk intelligently about firewalls, restricted-access sites and communications, and what a “hacker” does – and doesn’t.

Finally, these webinars make me think about how tech can be used to support learning, both within and outside the classroom.

I am always trying to wrap my head around how to integrate tech into instruction without losing the developmentally appropriate tasks of non-tech activities. I think students of ALL ages benefit from using physical crayons, paints, scissors, glue… I think students of ALL ages need to know how indexing systems work in physical texts, how to ask a question and hold it in their minds longer than the time it takes to click a link, how to communicate face to face. I think students of all ages also benefit from being able to move quickly past a stumbling block by using online resources, to communicate with teachers or project team members outside of school time, to be able to publish their original work to websites where classmates and far-flung friends and family can view and comment! So when I think about the home-family connection, I think about things like posting student work to a class website that parents can access (with a password) and comment on. I think about a web-based chat room where parents can ask questions or suggest things and I can respond so all the parents can be part of the conversation (emails don’t allow this!). I think about giving students the tools to post notes from class so peers can benefit from the group process — who noticed what? Why would that be important? I think about an online class calendar and notification system so that my students can see what I have taught as well as what is coming up (projects, tests, special guests).

So much to think about, to be excited about.

I hope I get a classroom of my own soon so I can start working on this!

What I thought was an allergy…

Posted by on 02 May 2009 | Tagged as: art, health, illness, Interesting Websites, Uncategorized

seems to have turned into a virus. A head cold, actually. Not influenza. Which is good, because the flu knocked me back about three weeks winter quarter. But this is bad enough.

Didn’t study at all yesterday, just sat around in bed mostly, playing computer games because I couldn’t concentrate well enough between coughs and sneezes to read or think. Oh. And I napped… I suspect I will repeat this performance for Saturday (today) if I ever manage to fall asleep.

Until then, I am surfing the web and looking at my blogroll. A new category is in order, I think, anticipating the summer. Art Blogs. The first will be Art Projects for Kids, something that my friend Robin linked to a few days ago.


inauguration day – inspiration

Posted by on 20 Jan 2009 | Tagged as: celebrations, children, citizenship, Gardens and Life, good things, hope, Interesting Websites, Making a Difference, Peace Making, poetry, politics, Politics and War, social justice, Uncategorized

It’s not just adults who are interested and engaged in these times.

Children are writing Letters to Obama Poetry

and Slate Magazine invited its reading to craft aninvitational inauguration speech.

and here is how Obama inspired someone overseas, writing in The Daily Telegraph.

Supporting our Youth

Posted by on 25 Nov 2008 | Tagged as: celebrations, children, education, Giving, good things, Interesting Websites, Making a Difference, reading, school, social justice, Uncategorized, writing

I LOVE the way WITS (Writers in the Schools), based in Houston, Texas, supports and promotes literacy and writing. I periodically visit this blog that has a poem written by a child each day. There is so much talent, so much sharing that goes on! It makes my mama/teacher/writer/human heart glad.

Today only (Nov 25) there is a contest for people that will give an gift certificate to a random reader who mentions a poem they have enjoyed reading on the WITS blog.

WITS – A Poem a Day

Finding one’s voice is a major goal of growing up. WITS provides children with an opportunity to learn from published authors and participate in activities that help them develop their voice.

Want to get involved but don’t live near a WITS program? This is an idea that might encourage you: find a local school — or a library — with a need for adults to read with children, a need for people to listen to children read. Half an hour a week… or every other week. Take some time. Make a Difference.

Election Day

Posted by on 04 Nov 2008 | Tagged as: citizenship, Gardens and Life, Interesting Websites, Making a Difference, musings, Peace Making, politics, Politics and War, social justice, Uncategorized

A few links to sites about the voting that is going on in the United States today.

Here is one in Spanish, I followed a link and followed a link and found La Nation’s Website with a blog attached.

Here is a link to the local newspaper for Thurston County Washington (also read by people in Shelton/Mason County and the northern edge of Lewis County): A Historic Day.

CNN’s website will have plenty to say today… check out specifically the Politics section.

And if you are following state-wide ballot issues in your area, CNN also has ballot issues for all states that will track the results as they come in.

Yes, I voted. Dropped my ballot in the box yesterday, in fact. I am optimistic that most of the races will result in reasonably intelligent, conscientious people gaining office… we were lucky in our state and local races to generally have good candidates no matter who you voted for. Except in a couple races, where I really have my fingers crossed about the results.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming… COMPOST PROJECT (details to come).

November’s “Spare Time” Project (yeah, right)

Posted by on 18 Oct 2008 | Tagged as: Interesting Websites, NaNoWriMo, Uncategorized, wordplay, words, writing

I will participate in National Novel Writing Month again this year, but I doubt I will get the 50,000 word limit this time.

That’s okay, I haven’t been writing much the last few months because of school, and it would be a good challenge to work toward. I suppose I will have most of the last week of November without classes. Let’s see… 50,000 words over 7 days in the last week + four weekends (8 days) = about 3400 words per writing day! A piece of cake, right?

Anyway, here is the pretty large icon that links to NaNoWriMo for this year!

NaNoWriMo Participant Badge

NaNoWriMo Participant Badge

Blog Action Day — Poverty

Posted by on 15 Oct 2008 | Tagged as: blog action, citizenship, economy, editorial, education, Family Matters, Gardens and Life, Giving, good things, Green Living, health, hope, Interesting Websites, musings, parenting, Peace Making, politics, Politics and War, poverty, social justice, Uncategorized

Okay, I have posted a few links in the days leading up to today. As I was thinking about what to write, I decided to talk about what poverty is (and what it isn’t). And a little bit on abundance. This is my own perspective/opinion, if it helps you, great — if not… would love to hear your opinions, too.

I think that poverty is partly defined by what one lacks, and is also partly a matter of perspective. I’ll start with the second point first: in our area, most families have at least two cars, few students get free or reduced lunches, and at least in my acquaintance most people have health insurance. So a family with only one car, whose children receive free lunches and doesn’t have health insurance appears poor. But in another community I have lived in that isn’t that far away, few people own more than one beat-up car, no one has health insurance and nearly every child gets a free school lunch. In that community, the family with two cars that has to pay full price for school lunches appears well off. Obviously, if everyone around you doesn’t have enough to eat then you are all poor…

Perspective can cause you to “feel” rich, or to “feel” poor.
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Blog Action Day -1

Posted by on 15 Oct 2008 | Tagged as: blog action, caring, citizenship, Gardens and Life, health, hope, Interesting Websites, Making a Difference, Politics and War, poverty, Uncategorized

Okay, probably by the time you read this, it will be the middle of Blog Action Day and I will be working on my post. But in case you are a nightowl and need something to read, consider this: wealth and health are intertwined.

In a few countries (Canada and Sweden, among others), a form of universal health care exists so that all citizens have access to at least a minimum amount of care. But in at least some of those places (Canada and England for sure…) if you want something done quickly, or something that isn’t completely urgent, you need to pay out of pocket, or even go to another country for care. Something not available for the average wage-earner.

In my own country, supposedly one of the wealthiest in the world, no one has a “right” to basic health care, except in emergencies, so many people without the money to pay for an actual office visit wait until ailments are no longer curable — or very expensive to treat — before seeking medical attention. At the same time, many white-collar workers can make an office visit the same day for a teenager’s pimple because office visits are “covered” with a small co-pay; an insurance company pays for most of the actual visit’s cost. There is a huge disconnect when the people who actually do the physical work can’t get medical care for their physical needs.

Here is a CNN article from 14 Oct 2008 about the WHO’s assessment of healthcare worldwide.

Poverty, a universal handicap.

Blog Action Day – 4

Posted by on 12 Oct 2008 | Tagged as: blog action, citizenship, Gardens and Life, Giving, good things, Interesting Websites, Making a Difference, Peace Making, Politics and War, poverty, social justice, Uncategorized

Four days to go. Here is CNN’s site that is devoted to helping people. I picked the page on Poverty to start, but there are many other topics linked to as well.

Impact Your World

Blog Action Day — October 15

Posted by on 11 Oct 2008 | Tagged as: blog action, caring, citizenship, economy, Gardens and Life, good things, hope, Interesting Websites, politics, poverty, social justice, Uncategorized

I have signed up to participate in the Blog Action Day. The theme is Poverty, not sure what I will write, but I’ll come up with something!

The date of action is October 15 — that’s next Wednesday…

blog action day October 15

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