Happy Blog Birthday to The Science Goddess!

Better late than never, here’s wishing Happy 5th Blog Birthday to The Science Goddess of the provocative edublog What It’s Like On the Inside.

The Science Goddess once was a classroom teacher whose adventures in eduland made for humorous stories about the foibles of our stereotypical edutyrants and eduposeurs. Nowadays, with a doctorate about to be conferred, she often forces us to think of our grading and assessment practices that impact, sometimes with terrible irony, the success of our students in middle and high school.

The Science Goddess now works at the state level, but still finds time to share with us the fruits of her explorations into the frontiers of education as it may, and probably should be, in the next century.

Read The Science Goddess. Subscribe to her RSS feed. Your brain will thank you.

Hybrid eTextbook

eDGe eTextbook

This article from Saturday’s New York Times (online edition) reviews a device that seems to bridge the textbook utility gap between laptops and e-readers like the Kindle.

Sarah Rotman Epps, an analyst at Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass., said that E-textbooks have special requirements that can be addressed by hybrids like the eDGe, she explained. “The devices have to render graphics faithfully, ideally with color,” she said, “and students should have the ability to take extensive notes and share them,” as well as have access to whatever interactive elements publishers provide.

Besides saving trees and reducing textbook costs (we hope), we may look forward to the increased well-being of students’ spinal health by eliminating the ubiquitous overweight backpack.

Google Book Project Almost There!

Today, we have an E-School News report that a settlement has been agreed upon, and now needs court approval.

Here’s some background…

Back in February of 2007, The New Yorker magazine ran a feature about Google’s intent to scan every book on the planet (the one’s in English to start with), and make a searchable database out of the verbal brew. The publishing industry had gotten up in arms about the perceived threat to its very existence and set out to block Google.

According to the E-School News report, the project is moving along.

The Google project would offer snippets of books to folks like us, researching from home or office, and full text to library patrons on site, free at the library. We at home or office, could, for a fee, read or buy the full text of in-print books, read out-of-print books, and  presumably, given state-of-the-art print-on-demand technology, buy out-of-print books that interest us. Imagine being able to search the entire printed universe…an infinitely beefed up version of Mortimer Adler’s Syntopicon that accompanied the Britannica Great Books of the Western World series.

If this sort of thing excites you, be sure to visit Project Gutenberg where you can download thousands of free books.

And while were at it, I used to lust after the entire Yale University Press publication of The Papers of Benjamin Franklin. Only $50+ per volume for many, many volumes. Even as a devoted teacher of American History, I could never figure out how to get that past my wife, Linda, the chancellor of the exchequer. (She may be the reason I’m not currently living in a cardboard box on skid road.)

Now Yale’s The Papers of Benjamin Franklin are free here. Go figure. But I’m definitely not complaining! (Thank you, Yale University Press!)

The E-School News requires registration to read the full article, but don’t worry, it’s free. You can get their stuff in your Inbox on a daily basis.

This is virtual culture shock even for a digital immigrant. 😉

Hot Opportunities — Free Webinars

Just got my catalog for professional development opportunities from ETS/ATI (the folks I presented for in Portland in December), and there are a couple of free webinars, one featuring Ken O’Connor on “grading for learning,” the other featuring Rick Stiggins on formative assessment.

The times are somewhat inconvenient but who knows what arrangements can be made by resourceful professionals!

I’ve heard both speakers present. They know their stuff and they are passionate about it.

Not Just For Podcasts

Part of my profile talks mentions the phrase “digital immigrants.” You’re looking at a Christmas present I got from my dearest wife. The latest stamp on my tech passport.

As Christmas drew near and she tired of hearing me say that I’d love a new Toyota Tundra, or desktop or laptop computer under the tree, I suddenly realized that podcasts had me trapped at my desk, listening to my computer, which is not really meant to function as a podcast receptor. Not mobile at all.

Hey, I said, how about an iPod Nano? Something small, low memory (how much do podcasts need?), with no moving parts. I’ll get mobile, use travel and wait time productively, and proceed a little further down the digital immigrant road!

Well, the Nano came with 8 gigs of memory. That’s a bunch. I thought the screen was for alpha-numeric display, but NO! It’s HDTV or something. And I can access video podcasts. Unbelievable. I downloaded and watched a NY Times Tech segment on mid-range digital cameras. Then I imported a file of fly fishing photos my son took of our trip to the Green River in Utah. Wow.

And I discovered the truly seductive aspect of this little demon device: music.

Yes, I’ve been away from the blog for a while doing year end books for two businesses, board work, preparing for the first Hillsboro Ski Club four-week session that starts Saturday, but I have to admit that I also spent two full days climbing the iPod learning curve and a lot more time trying to fill its memory.

But the music…transfer your digital files in any order and the device sorts the tunes by playlist, genre, composer, album, artist…you name it. I even flip through album covers if I want to access my tunes.

And I bought a little stand that sits on top of my wife’s JVC stereo set-up. The little stand plays the iPod through our receiver and speakers. Double wow. It’s like a fourth machine, but it’s not as big as a post-it note.

And I’m loving the Bob Marley (Three Little Birds, so sad if you saw I Am Legend), The Grateful Dead, Emmylou Harris, Willie Nelson, 1812 Overture, Frank Sinatra, and on and on. (I’ll bet my wife never thought about the iTunes bill — at least I can cherry pick tunes, and I didn’t duplicate what we have on CDs!) 😉

Oh yes, I downloaded and subscribed to a bunch of podcasts. They’re free at iTunes and all over the net. My next task is to figure out Feedburner, so I can use it to get podcasts also.

Don’t worry…about a thing…’cause every little thing’s…gonna be alright. (Bob Marley)

Educational Technology That Works…

…is the title of a promising wiki (like I know so much about wikis, novice that I am) that is devoted to classroom instruction integrated with Web 2.0 (about which I’m still learning).

I’m excited for several reasons.

Marzano’s work — featured on the wiki — recognizes the convergence of education research and he emphasizes the practical application of the research.

This wiki may be a good model for the experimental Edubloggers wiki.

And most interesting of all, this wiki is an electronic version of six publications (plastic comb flip-books) that were put out by our district curriculum and instruction department back in 2000 to remind teachers of the main things to remember about the instructional strategies we were then beginning to promote: differentiated instruction; individualized instruction; cooperative learning; brain-based research applied to learning and instruction; multiple intelligence theory application; and assessment literacy (Stiggins, et al).

Those little books were fantastic — they are collector’s items now (for the geeks among us, anyway), but they were expensive and time consuming to produce. The wiki takes the place of all that and even spreads the joy of contributing around to whomever is willing and qualified.

All this discovery is total fun!

All of a Sudden, My Learning Curve Got Steeper

Just when I thought I was getting with the program and into smooth water, I read about all this… Not only do I have to worry about getting left in the behind, but the velocity of the learning curve is increasing and I’m wondering if I’ll actually gain on the pitch!

Check this stuff out:

21st Century Collaborative

Changing High Schools
21st Century Collaborative Wiki

Should I be alarmed? Should I go back to NY, where they’ve been ahead of the standards curve for, like, fifty years?

Nah. I’ll get a handle on it in the morning!

New Wiki In Town! 2

Here’s an update on our wiki…

First, participants discussed wiki goals, use, and format. Then Eric edited and finalized the Front Page that outlines where we are at this point.

We’ll begin our exploration of standards-based grading with a warm up wherein we analyze a couple of grading situations that made major metro papers. In SBG Warm Up Draft 1, we’ll look at the articles separately, comment on each of them, then compare the situations and draw some conclusions about what’s being described in the articles. (Articles are on this page.)

Standards-Based Grading, or SBG from here on, is also known as “grading linked to standards,” and “grading for learning.” (Thanks to Exhausted Intern for the new term and three-letter acronym!)

The end goal is to produce a document or series of wiki pages that can 1) serve as a primer for educators new to SBG, 2) facilitate a quick review for educators who have been exposed to the concepts, 3) be a training tool for professional development sessions.

This topic is red hot and ready to roll.

New Wiki In Town!

Eric Turner of Second Hand Thoughts has been hard at work constructing a wiki for edubloggers to share and polish thoughts about the education topics near and dear to their hearts.

While poking around in Eric’s new construction zone, I came upon the above image. It’s from Eric and it pretty well sums up the aim of the new wiki.

Any more conversation/ideas about how it’s going to work? Let’s hear from you!

Eric’s my choice for ad hoc wiki foreman at least till it’s up and running. How does that sound?

This Is a Relief!

Edubloggers go every which way during the summer. A few posts ago, I declared I was easing back on posting while I tried to get a grip an all my edu-chores that lie in other domains, my wife’s trackbacks on the household chore pings notwithstanding (I’m still faithful about doing the dishes and vacuuming). 😉

But I’ve been climbing the digital literacy learning curve as quickly as I can, and have been unable not to share a few of the epiphanic insights that are coming about because of it. To keep the pings from my darling wife from turning to flames, I shared with her some new learning and she said that’s relevant to what she has been doing in ed tech with at-risk kids in summer school. (Turns out we both agree that the students are ahead of the teachers, like Mr. Warlick says! See “Comments” on today’s Science Goddess post for details, if you’re curious. )

In addition to upgrading my digital literacy, I’ve been concerned about doing digital publishing right as well. I start a post in WORD, check it for grammar and spelling, then paste it into Notepad to strip out the formatting, and finally paste it into the WYSIWYG window on my Blogger dashboard. I press the “publish” button and off it goes. Then, for a couple of days afterward, I pick at it aiming for conciseness and better diction. I know that sounds a bit compulsive, but remember, I take the publishing aspect seriously.

Today, David Warlick posted an important piece on 2 Cents Worth about the importance of school librarians (aka media specialists) as purveyors of digital literacy. But that’s not all that struck me. He also added a piece about blogging, specifically making errors in blogging. It was a great relief to read and I’ve printed this short section out and put it into my copy of Classroom Blogging as an addendum.

“This brings me to another point. Now this is my opinion, but I do not believe that blog postings are meant to be scholarly dissertations, perfectly considering every point, every example, every definition, every eventuality. They should be better considered than IM postings and better crafted than most e-mail messages, but they (mine) are typically written in one or two sittings and rarely with more than an hour of writing. I leave things out. I leave terms undefined. Sometimes I get it wrong, and I’m happy that I do. Because everything that is not included, that is important, gets added through comments from thoughtful readers and through continuing conversations. If it’s an important addition, such as including librarians in a conversation about video games in schools, I will usually elevate it to a new blog posting to make it available to more readers.

As I’ve said many times before, I write this blog to learn

I only wish that I had the time to address every question and correction!”

Thanks, David. I needed that!