21Things Post #11

I am forever getting great stuff from folks in my PLN.  Two websites that I was introduced to recently are interesting:  This first one – Kidblog looks promising and will need to be sanctioned by OITMS before anyone uses it.  The premise is the same as classblogmeister – simple safe blogging for students. Instructional blogging – like writing prompts, journal entries and literature circles.  The interface of the Kidblog platform is clean, slick and updated.  I haven’t played with it at all to see if it has the same features as the blogmeister.  We’ll have to see…

kidblog

The other site is  Carrotsticks.com – it’s a math game.  It’s very cute and just for practice in basic math facts.  The only part that is free is the addition part, but I played and had fun.  “competed with two other kids” and even had a progress report and achievement certificate sent to “my parents” email address.  I think there may be some real use for this in a classroom setting.

carrot_sticks

21Things Post #10

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Social Bookmarking would benefit a number of teachers in my school.  I am thinking specifically of working together to build a list of bookmarks that would be somewhat like a Portaportal.  I have created a portaportal for both  schools, but I am the only one building them.  This limits the viability and growth potential of the list.  I did not really think of introducing “web based” bookmarking to many teachers.  I have mentioned it to one of the math specialists and a reading specialist.  I think a better tactic might be to hold an inservice for the staff – one of my schools is ready for it -  and introduce the concept.  I know several would embrace the idea for their own personal productivity, but all would embrace the idea of creating a communal group of bookmarks of teaching resources.

I actually think a workshop on social bookmarking might make a great Tech Tuesday session.  It’s quick and the application to personal productivity is immediately visible.  It would also work well as part of a Web 2.0 for personal productivity exploration workshop.

21Things Post #9

This item is about RSS in education.  I read the article :  https://randysresources.wikispaces.com/file/view/RSS.pdf   I think all teachers might be able to use RSS for a variety of ways to save time.  Thinking of specific teachers that I have worked with…

  • Debbie Daniels back when her kids had individual blogs  might have been interested in using RSS to keep up with what they were writing if the tool she was using didn’t make it easy for her.  Fortunately, she was using classblogmeister at the time and that service makes it easy to check your kids blog posts.
  • Another one of my teachers – Vikki Parrish – is very interested in in technology applications.  I don’t know if she is currently using Web 2.0 for professional development…I’ll need to check.  She would intuitively understand the use of RSS.
  • One other teacher Victoria Mapp uses technology personally – she is a newshound.  I’ll need to check and see if she is using RSS.

The Gradebook Debacle

I usually try to be more positive about division wide projects even if I don’t agree with the way they are carried off.  Unfortunately there is no way to put a positive spin on the what the teachers in my schools have had to endure with the gradebook this first nine weeks.  It’s been so bad, that I have been scheduled to do additional inservicing in BOTH buildings.  In preparations for next week’s inservices, I have been creating a timeline of events, things that both the teachers and I have had to make adjustments for over the last 6 weeks.  I felt the need to document this transitional period  for them to validate what I know has been a really bad experience for most.

I’m using TimeRime for this timeline.  It’s a free web2.0 aplication that I have known about for a while, but have never gotten around to exploring…seemed to be the right tool this time.

If you sent it, I got it…

I don’t know how many times in the last week someone has asked me “Did you get my email?”  Most of you know I spend close to 12 hours a day at a computer (10 hours at work and a few hours at home).  I check my PPS email several times a day.  If you’ve sent an email to me and enough time has passed for you to wonder if I have received it… chances are I have already responded.   

Email is an automatic service.  Unless there is a severe network failure or crash, I will receive any email sent to me on the PPS network within 2-3 minutes.  While PPS only requires staff members to check email daily, as a member of IT, I check much more frequently.  As a matter of fact, I am more likely to email someone than I am to call.   

So check your email before you ask if I’ve received yours…’cause the question might really be “Did you read my response?”

Portaportal

Yeah I know…It sounds like Port-a-potty, but it is a great service that you should know about.  Many teachers use this service to create a web based list of favorites that students can access at home as well as at school.  The service is free in fact I have several portaportals myself.  Signing up for the service is easy…Just go to www.portaportal.com and sign up for an account.  While you are there, check out the list of websites that I have bookmarked for the school:

  • Brighton guest sign in is: BrightonES
  • Victory guest sign in is:VictoryES

I also have a portal for teachers to use while teaching use of reference materials, internet safety, search strategies etc.  Guest login for that portal is: MSOTEACHES.  Feel free to use any of them in your classes.  If you would like to have a resource added, just let me know.

Email provides a written record…

I get a lot of questions about my use of email.  People ask why I’ll answer email before I’ll return a call.  Folks ask why I never delete my email.  I have friends who think it’s interesting that my voicemail directs them to the internet to get in touch with me.   I’ve been told email is impersonal, no one has the kind of time for email the way I do, I send too much email etc.  But after today, I am FIRMLY convinced that I will not be likely to go back to phone and face to face communication.  You see, email provides a written record.

A while ago, I was trying to develop a rapport with a new colleague.  That is something that is best done in person, most of the time.   We had a few very amicable conversations and I thought things were off to a good start.  We discussed my plans for an event and I had her support (I thought).  So when the day for the actual event arrived I proceeded as planned.  Then I was totally shocked to be told that the colleague emphatically disavowed any knowledge of the plan and was not in agreement with it. 

For the first time I – the email before I speak queen – had relied on an in person conversation and I had absolutely no proof that the conversation had even taken place.  So of course I was “wrong” and had nothing to back me up.  Very unusual for me…but I take it as a learning experience.  It will never happen again. 

So now you know why I’ll send you an email about something I’ve spoken to you about or talk to you about something I’ve sent via email.  Email provides a written record…of many things.  I can track the conversation, your receipt of information, and several other things.  I wanted to share this with you as school begins so that you can get into the email groove.  You might just need it this year. 

While we are on the topic of email, I thought I would share some information from a post on a tech blog about email etiquette.  The post is called 5 email habits that waste time and cause problems.  When you have a chance you might want to check out the original article.  Lots of folks left comments with some additional tips, hints and scenarios… Here’s what the original post  said:

  • Vague or non-existent subject line – This makes it hard for the recipient to know what you’re asking about.  If (like me) they can open their email and find anywhere from 5-15 new messages – they are going to open the ones they know are most important first.  People judge what’s important from the subject line…
  • Changing the topic without changing the subject – If I send you an email about a lesson plan idea and you respond with an issue that you are facing in your classroom – without changing the subject – how will I know that I need to make my way to your classroom as soon as I can without opening the email?  If I think you are responding to the lesson plan idea, I might not open the email until I’m working on the lesson plan in question!
  • Including more than one issue in an email – especially if the issues are very different, you might want to send them separately so that nothing gets overlooked when you the person replies.
  • Sending before thinking – You can’t take email back (even though some people think Outlook can…)  Once it’s out there it’s out there.  Make sure you’ve read it once or twice for errors.  If there’s emotion involved you might want to have someone else read it too…
  • Replying to All – The email you’ve been sent might have gone to a dozen people.  When you “reply to all” your answer will go to that same group.  Does everyone need your reply? 

Of course if you have questions about email feel free to ask.  Or better yet…send me an email.  😉