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Archive for February, 2011

Forbes on WI Situation

February 20, 2011 Leave a comment
http://blogs.forbes.com/rickungar/2011/02/18/koch-brothers-behind-wisconsin-e…

I just read this article from Forbes online. The article by itself is interesting but the comments on it our outstanding! I have never seen an author respond so much and as skillfully as Mr. Ungar. This man literly made my night!

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Using Linoit for Class Discussion

February 19, 2011 1 comment

Awhile back I found a website from a fellow teacher that showed how her students were using Linoit in class for discussion.  I thought the concept and website was very interesting so I decided to give it a try.  I gave my students five websites that are chuck-full of games.  At first I think they thought I had gone crazy.  I never allow students on these sites and this came as a shock to them.  I allowed them to play some games for about 8 minutes and at that point I stopped them.  I informed them that they now had to explain to me why that game was educational.  It was a strech for some of these 7th grade minds but I got some great results.

After the posted their first ideas on Linoit, I told them they could have the rest of the hour to keep going but that I expected more ideas to be posted.  Below you will find the links to three of the class discussions.  I will update this post when some more of my classes meet on Tuesday.

Oh, for those of you wondering about Linoit it is a free and works using stickie notes.  You can open up the board for anyone to comment on thus eliminating the need for students to create accounts.  The three boards I have posted are now locked, but if anyones class would like to add to them, I would graciously reopen them!

Examples: 4th Hour A Day, 5th Hour A Day, 7th Hour A Day.

Websites the students commented on: PBS Kids, Funschool, FunBrain, PrimaryGames, and Cool Math Games

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Divisive Choices

February 16, 2011 Leave a comment

Tonight many of my fellow teachers are rallying in front of our local Representives house to voice disapproval of Wisconsin Governor Walker Budget Repair Bill.  Unfortunately I am unable to attend, but, I can use my time at home to discuss some of the errors of this bill and its affect not only on teachers but all Wisconsinites.

One of the biggest things is the divisive nature of the bill.  It is putting Public Sector vs Private Sector.  Already you can see many arguments occuring all over the internet and between friends and family.  Just look at some of the public comments from a recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article:

“The less public employees that are unionized, the better.”

“The debate is over – we voted for not having to hire union workers and fiscal sanity – nothing illegal is occurring. AP is reporting we have the votes in the senate – the debate is over. Time to move on.”

“How do you think we can easily fill a chemistry teachers or an advanced calculus teachers job? some people may be knowledgeable in these areas but to teach it is another thing. And to fill them quickly with people who will be willing to work for $30,000 per year. Who could afford that? BTW, $30,000 is roughly a entry level teachers salary.”

“This is great Governor Scott Walker is doing this. The State workers have cheated us tax payers out of millions and millions of dollars. This guy was the only one who had the balls to stand up to the lazy unions thugs.”

“Here’s the thing: They (unions) are NOT refusing anything. They just want to keep their right to bargain. Remember, their contracts are negotiated, and there are TWO sides to a negotiation. No one whined about this for the last few decades. Let’s not pit against each other here people. We all want to make a decent living.”

Instead of finding ways to fix a budget, this bill has people fighting against each other and claiming the other lives to richly or cheats the other of their money.  Is this what is really best for a Governor to do?  It no longer matters if the bill passes or not there will be a lot, there will be a lot of anger either way.  Wisconsin has literly turned its own citizens on each other.  

If we look at just education, it is interesting to see some of the comments being used.  For example, look at this portion of the Wisconsin Associations of School Boards (WASB) response to the bill:

“Governor Walker’s proposal will provide school boards with flexibility in containing benefit and wage costs. Together, these measures will assist school boards to ensure limited resources are going to the classroom to provide the best classroom experience for our state’s students.

As a teacher, I view this as them saying, ‘teachers are way to over-paid and do not work.’  I know this may not be their intention, but it is my view.  The WASB also states, “We will look for ways to keep the dialogue alive.”  But how can the dialogue be kept alive when one purpose of the repair bill is to basically dismantle union negotiations?

This bill has definately made a lot of people look at each other in a different light for better or for worse.  Hopefully the people that are the most important, the students, are not the ones who end up being hurt.  

If you are still intereseted in reading more about the affects of this bill, here is an excellent Opinion piece writen by a second year teacher named Vikki Kratz I am not the Enemy.

 

Sources:

http://www.jsonline.com/news/wisconsin/116228594.html

http://www.wasb.org/wasb-response-to-walkers-proposal.html

Categories: Uncategorized

Messing with Education

February 15, 2011 Leave a comment

Recently the governor of Wisconsin has started pushing for some serious reforms and changes that affect public workers.  These reforms do not affect the police or fire deparments though.  On reforms not affecting the police or fire workers, Walker said “To me, that’s not an area to mess around with.” But it is okay to mess around with education?  Education is not something that should be simply “messed around with.”  Teachers and support staff interact with hundreds of thousands of students a day.  Teachers do not just “mess around with” these childrens education and neither should a states governor!

Sources:

http://www.jsonline.com/watchdog/noquarter/116139104.html

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Confession of a Photo Story Hater

February 12, 2011 Leave a comment

So the insomnia fairy came and visited me tonight, and I thought, heck, I should make one of those Photo Story things.  I have never used Photo Story before, and just decided to give it a try.  Currently my 7th grade students are working on a project creating Glogs about a European country (I’ll share these next week).  Part of their assignment was to create five audio bites of interesting facts to place on their glog.  I just picked one fact from all the students that have recorded thus far and created a European Photo Story.  

Download now or watch on posterous

Europe.wmv (6443 KB)

I have to admit that before I created this I was kind of a Photo Story hater.  To me it seemed slightly pointless or childish.  I am unsure where these feelings came from, made I was biten by a Photo Story when I was young, who knows.  But after creating this Photo Story I came to the conclusion it is actually kind of cool.  I didn’t realize how much customization you could do and the other neat tweaks with transitions and audio.  It was fun to manipulate certain items and to try to make a song fit certain parts.  So now I have been converted from a hater to a, um, non-hater?  Is there a cool slang-term for that now-a-days?  Anyways, if you were like me and disliked Photo Story, but never created one, give it a try and see what happens!

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Hear Our Cry: Boys in Crisis

February 9, 2011 Leave a comment

This morning I was asked by a fellow teacher if there was a quick way to show some information she had learned at a conference the previous day.  I said, “sure, you should try Animoto!”  Well, turned out she needed it for our staff meeting that evening, so being the kind soul I am I quickly created a short video using PowerPoint and Animoto.  You can view the results below.  It is based on the book series Hear Our Cry: Boys in Crisis.  Oh, and yes, there is a spelling mistake on one of the slides.  Hey, no one is perfect!

 

http://static.animoto.com/swf/w.swf?w=swf/vp1&e=1297292120&f=XOlf1Yhi0lg9020CBZ4V9A&d=161&m=a&r=240p&start_res=240p&i=m&ct=undefined&cu=undefined&options=

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Middle School vs High School

February 9, 2011 Leave a comment
At a tech committee meeting the other day I stated that I would like to get the Adobe Creative Suite for my classroom in the middle school. Currently I have an outdated verison of PhotoShop Elements that does not prepare students for the high schools computer classes.

I spoke with the high school teacher and he thought it was a great idea. But, at the meeting other members said it was a bad idea because the middle school would have better software then the high school. They felt students may be disgruntled to use an older verison when they reach high school. Needless to say I left disgruntled and a little frustrated.

If I am able to give students a chance to use a program that the vast majorty of students across the US do not, shouldn’t I do it? It should not matter the grade level or what someone else is using. At least if my idea were to be shot down give me a reason besides what may occur. I mean, I may win the lotto this Wednesday and retire with my 63 million dollars!

What are your thought on this? Is it okay for lower grades to have better tech then the upper grades? Or should the best always be reserved for the high school?

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