Welcome Newbies! Let's Skype!

Tonight was our annual dinner for new teachers. It a tradition. My principal invites leadership team members and new teachers to her home one evening in the summer to help us get to know our new school-family members and to help them feel connected to us. It's an evening with food and fun! We always play ice breaker games to learn little-known-facts about each other. Don't worry guys....I'm not telling. :)

This year, our traditional dinner stepped into the 21st century as we Skyped in one of leadership team members that was unable to attend. I am always surprised when people don't know about cool tools like Skype since it is free and can be used for personal communications. I call my brother in another state all the time on Skype.

Our media specialist, KK Cherney, appeared on the screen with enthusiastic greetings for all and then proceeded to ask for one on one introductions, which only required me to walk around for the built-in camera to get closer.

Skype is a tool we would like to use at school but it is blocked by security at this time. I wonder how many other school districts have it blocked? It seems like so many other educators have access to it. I wonder if there are ways to make it safer? I'm not sure, but it does seem to be the industry standard and if other people have it downloaded on their computer that is what they're going to want to use to connect.

One of our goals this year is to have classrooms all over the building collaborating globally with other kids around the world. Skype is a tool that could help us make those powerful connections. Has anyone else had this struggle? Does anyone have suggested solutions?


It's Official

My little brother was wrong. I'm not a nerd and here's the proof!

NerdTests.com says I'm an Uber Cool Non-Nerd.  What are you?  Click here!

The only questions I have is...does taking this test make you a nerd!!? Are you a nerd?


Technology + Exercise = ????

I joined a health club a few weeks ago to use my summer to kick start getting myself in shape. The first thing I should tell you about me is that I HATE exercising. I hate getting sweaty. I find exercise boring. And I spend most of my exercising time thinking of things I would rather be doing. Enter technology...

I received the wonderful gift of an IPOD touch for Mother's Day and have enjoyed listening to my favorite tunes while walking or running on the treadmill. BUT...after 30 minutes I am tired of listening to music and find myself literally counting the seconds until I can stop. (Maybe I have attention issues. )

SO....this weekend I came up with a plan of attack. I went into itunes movies section for the first time and choose a lifetime movie to download and play while exercising. Perfect solution! I have four kids, my life is crazy busy, so I never get to watch movies.

So tonight, I smugly saunter over to my treadmill with my IPOD ready to go. I begin walking briskly working up into a light jog and I am feeling like queen of the universe. I'm watching my movie, the sound is turned up loud to block out the buzz of the treadmill and I am transported into exercise utopia. Isn't technology grand? Then, 20 minutes into my movie (which I think is a light drama) the character has a terrifying near fall from a cliff from out of nowhere. I jerk so fast to press pause when the sinister music startles me that I get my arm stuck in the cord, the IPOD flies off the treadmill and I stumble to the side catching myself on my knees. My daughter, who is on the treadmill next to me, stops her machine and stands gaping at me. I started laughing so hard I couldn't stop!

So...I think I'll stick to music for a while. Anyone else have a tip or trick to make exercise more fun? I don't trust my ideas!


Virtual or Face-to-Face...It's all about Relationships

Those of you that know me know how much I love technology. If I have a free moment - I'm logging in to see what I can learn and to practice what I want to learn.

Over a year ago now, I stumbled across twitter and became connected with other educators around the world who have pointed me in a direction with my professional development that I couldn't ever have imagined. Those relationships have led to professional growth, personal growth and a new direction in my career (looks like I'll be full time in technology next year). I have never felt more energized and connected about what is new in my practice and how it could be implemented. I truly can attribute all of that to the educators I meet and follow online.

When I arrived at NECC and saw how many of the people I know virtually were there literally...I wanted to try and document it visually for you and give you the way to connect with some of these amazing educators also. So here are a few I tracked down for photos.

Jeff Utecht
Formerly of Shanghai American School
Next Year will go to Bangkok
The Thinking Stick

jutecht on twitter

Stephanie Sandifer
Houston, TX
Change Agency
ssandifer on twitter

Maria Knee
Deerfield, NH
The Kinder Kids' Classroom
MariaK on twitter

David Jakes
Naperville, IL
Strength of Weak Ties
djakes on twitter

Dean Shareski
Moose Jaw, SK, Canada
Ideas and Thoughts from an Ed Tech
shareski on twitter

Kevin Jarrett
Northfield, NJ
Welcome to NCS-Tech!
kjarrett on twitter

Ginger Lewman
Ginger TPLC on twitter

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach
Virginia Beach, VA
21st Century Learning
snbeach on twitter

Nedra Isenberg
Holland Patent Schools, NY
My Journey into the World of Elem. Tech

hockeymom1788 on twitter

Adam Frey
Co-founder of Wikispaces

Vicki Davis
Camilla, GA
Cool Cat Teacher
coolcatteacher on twitter

Thanks to you all for being a part of my network and inspiring me on my journey. :)

**cross posted on LIVE from the Creek


My entrance into Second Life

I have been wanting to know more about Second Life and have been avoiding learning about it (yes, me, avoiding learning) because..
A) it looks complicated
B) it looks like playing and
C) I haven't had time.
BUT - many, many educators that I follow that I know for a fact know way more than me, have said, "You HAVE to learn about Second Life."

First of all, what is Second Life?
Second Life® is a 3-D virtual world created by its Residents. Since opening to the public in 2003, it has grown explosively and today is inhabited by millions of Residents from around the globe.
  • From the moment you enter the World you'll discover a vast digital continent, teeming with people, entertainment, experiences and opportunity. Once you've explored a bit, perhaps you'll find a perfect parcel of land to build your house or business.

  • You'll also be surrounded by the Creations of your fellow Residents. Because Residents retain intellectual property rights in their digital creations, they can buy, sell and trade with other Residents.

  • The Marketplace currently supports millions of US dollars in monthly transactions. This commerce is handled with the inworld unit of trade, the Linden™ dollar, which can be converted to US dollars at several thriving online Linden dollar exchanges.
**taken from secondlife.com/whatis

This is where your elementary students will go after they outgrow Webkinz, Club Penguin and other virtual worlds. These are real places where people work, earn money, learn new things.

In the session I went to they showed us a nursing school using Second Life for interaction building lungs, to discover which are healthy or not. In another session, a college literature professor has built her literature classroom in Second Life and students must visit "Beowulf"'s area to interact as a part of their assignments. Students all "show up" at a designated time.

Pros in Second Life here at NECC encourage you to get out of education areas and go into other areas to make connections with people and business. They say, "If you are going to be a part of the future, you can not NOT go into Second Life."


So...taking my own advice about "getting wet"...even though I was unsure...I dove in. I built an avatar (character that represents me) in Second Life and was "born". (That part was a little scary - you just fall out of the sky into a virtual world.) Then I found out really quick that if you don't walk and move somewhere, the next person born will drop in on you. That was weird. So I began moving around the beginning island that is set up to orient you with how to use your avatar. There are mini tutorials to run through.

I ran through some more the second night and began to get tired of strange people like me who didn't know how to work the darn thing - we're all running into each other! I went to seek out Kevin Jarrett, my twitter pal, for some help because he has been saying for months that Second Life is a must do! He said he'd straighten me out in a few minutes, and he did! He got me off that island and got me over to the Educators Island so now I am there in my virtual space! Whoo Hooo! I can't wait to see what comes next.

Now it's time for me to make connections - to hook up with other educators who can direct me to the learning available. There are online events, projects to view and places to go...how exciting! If you've been on this journey yourself --- I can't wait to hear your tips. If not, consider stepping outside of your comfort zone and trying something new!

**cross posted at Live from the Creek