Sunday, February 28, 2010

Differing Perspective on Tech in Schools

Do you agree with Nina's comment that our students need to learn how to live in the real world with digital tools accessible there? Does blocking access to those tools in school hurt them in the long run?

I am one of those "Most Fortunate" teachers who have the freedom to pursue my passion of teaching this generation with the tools they understand because of the structure and support... I am not a veteran teacher, this being my fifth year as the technology teacher for the intermediate school, but I am a veteran parent. I have a nine year old that I am convinced would have been diagnosed as autistic at two years of age. My husband said something to me that I will never forget, and I think applies to the situation discussed in your blog. "He has got to LEARN to LIVE in the REAL WORLD." 
Our students live in the real world. It is my job, and I take it very seriously, to make sure they LEARN to live in the real world by teaching them how to be responsible with the privileges they are given. That applies especially to content on the internet. 

Yes, we have filters in place, but it makes me sad for teachers I talk to that cannot access anything from their school because it is blocked to protect the students. How is that teaching them to live in the real world? I am so grateful I have administrators who have faith in me and my students, and I believe in the final analysis, my students will be better prepared to understand the joys and dangers of accessing the on-line world.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Saturday, February 27, 2010

DiigoNotes - Using Bond Money to go high-tech

Consider that if SBOE has their way, these kinds of actions by districts will disappear...just like....


    • GCCISD uses ’05 bond to go high-tech
      By Luke Hales

      Published February 11, 2010

    • The Goose Creek CISD will spend more than $1.5 million to help Baytown kids learn lessons with new high-tech gear.

    • School board members have approved the purchases of educational software and hardware to help students develop their capabilities for the future job market.

      Some of the funds will go toward enhancing existing technology and providing educators with greater flexibility in teaching through multimedia.

    • Funding for the purchases comes from a $10 million instructional technology bond passed in 2005.

      The school district will spend $175,840 to extend for another year the contract for an online curriculum management system. The system tracks student performance data and allows teachers and administrators to build individual lesson plans.

    • Fifth graders are being targeted specifically because an assessment of technology skills is required in second, fifth and eighth grades. While elementary students are familiar with technology, they are more accustomed to “texting” than actually typing, a dilemma the district hopes to remedy with these purchases.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

DiigoNotes - Netbooks for 8th Graders

    • Bandera ISD Goes Digital

      Plan Calls For Netbooks For Eighth-Graders

    • Bandera Independent School District officials recognize that the digital world is changing rapidly and if students there are going to keep up, traditional ways of teaching aren't going to make the grade.

    • "Are we doing the very best we can do to prepare students to be successful for college and the world of work?" asked Bandera ISD superintendent Dr. Kevin Dyes.

      This spring, the district is implementing the One-to-One Technology Initiative, where every eighth-grader gets a Netbook.

    • "If you look at the world of work, they're going to be working in a digital environment, where they're not going to be using a lot of paper," Dyes said. "They're going to be communicating digitally through e-mail and all of the other digital media that's out there."

    • Dyes said the plan is to eventually have grades 8-12 almost totally digital within five years and not just so they can excel academically.

      "We're preparing them for life," he said.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

DiigoNotes - At tech-savvy DFW districts, netbooks are joining textbooks

    • At tech-savvy DFW districts, netbooks are joining textbooks

    • Educators and school boards in North Texas are racing to equip their students with the essential tool of the 21st-century learner: laptop computers.

    • "We're excited that other districts want to try this, because we feel this really is the wave of the future," said Alice E. Owen, Irving's executive director of technology. "If we all keep working on this, it will get better and better over time."

    • The teens can use their Dell Latitude 2100 to access assignments, software and the Internet, but a filter prevents them from using certain social-networking sites at school, including Facebook, officials said.

    • Birdville schools are exploring the possibility of providing Apple laptop computers to students in grades 9 to 12.

    • The school board is expected to discuss the 1 to 1 Teaching and Learning Initiative proposal, a possible timetable and funding options for the program, which could cost $8.3 million, at a school board meeting tonight, said Lane Ledbetter, Birdville's associate superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

    • The Keller district is testing a program at four schools this year in which students are using netbooks, iPod Touches, iPod Nanos and Macbook laptops, and officials are looking at the possibility of allowing students to bring their own laptops to school, said Joe Griffin, Keller schools' executive director of technology.

    • "As soon as my kids come home, they have their laptops on and cellphones in their hands, and they're working. They don't have that same ability at school."

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

DiigoNotes - Crowley school administrators single out job cuts

    • Crowley school administrators single out job cuts to close budget gap
    • School administrators have identified staff reductions that will be made in response to a $6 million budget shortfall. At Thursday night's meeting, trustees formalized their declaration of financial exigency, announced last month, which allows them to lay off employees despite contracts.
    • Staff cuts will include two central office coordinators and a special-education supervisor. Other cuts include 21 elementary teachers, two middle school teachers, 101/2 high school teaching positions, and 121/2 strategically based teacher positions.
    • Also targeted are a dyslexia specialist, 11 instructional technology teachers in elementary grades, a diagnostician position, a student information systems coordinator, a math coordinator/secretary position, an elementary science coordinator and an ombudsman. The Crowley Regional Day School Program for the Deaf is scheduled to take the biggest hit -- the jobs of a coordinator/supervisor and three teachers -- because Mansfield pulled out of the program to join its closer neighbor, Arlington.
    • The district's Career and Technology Center is set to open next year using mostly reassigned staff.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Letting Go - Servers Gone Wild

One of my favorite Librivox recordings is a sermon entitled "Absolute Surrender." I listened to it one summer as I was driving to and from work. While I don't remember much, I suppose I was captivated by the title of "absolute surrender." It is an attractive concept of surrendering to a higher power...and the idea of just letting go can be liberating. I like this example of absolute surrender:
I have a pen in my pocket, and that pen is absolutely surrendered to the one work of writing, and that pen must be absolutely surrendered to my hand if I am to write properly with it. If another holds it partly, I cannot write properly.
Is the technology in today's schools "absolutely surrendered" to the work of teaching and learning? The problem we have is that technology in schools isn't absolutely surrendered to us for the purposes of teaching and learning. We have to deal with the consequences of preventing inappropriate use so that technology isn't used because others have control over truth, technology is absolutely surrendered to whomever controls access to the computer and what you can do with it, right? But even then, technology directors don't really have control...only the illusion.

The illusion of control is hard to dis-spell, isn't it? It's a problem technology directors face every day when they have to make a decision, "Should we rely on a third party vendor who will host our content, or should I put in a server farm to support it?" Whichever choice is made, it is fraught with peril. You simply can't know everything. If you choose the server farm, you've just overcommitted yourself one more time, pushing your people beyond the limit to get a new server setup--even if it's virtualized--and deploy another solution that includes data synchronization with a third party vendor.

Often, the decision is made to host district content on internal servers rather than mess with placing "confidential" content outside of the District's literal control. That's why it's fascinating to read, like marooned men lustily trading stories of mainland mayhem, of people who have surrendered or let go.

Mike Gras (White Oak ISD) is almost belligerently optimistic about his decision to surrender to the cloud and stop trying to ride herd on servers gone wild. He writes the following:
My District (White Oak ISD), when compared to other districts in Texas is always in the bottom 10% in funding and always in the top 20% in student achievement as measured by the state.  We were heavily invested in servers and software.  That is no longer the case.   
In fact I told my superintendent last week that my department is in better shape this year financially than ever before.  Consider doing what we have done -get rid of your servers.  See if your administrators will allow the opening of your network to the world at large (Filtered goes without saying, I hope).  The online academic world is richer than any number of "worlds" districts can build.  The services a district needs are out there.
Mike goes on to write:

...the question is really what do we have left.  One BCIS course, Plato, and Follett, which is going online soon (read off site).   
Our mail and document storage, calendars etc are done by a staff far more dedicated than I could ever be, Google.  Students and teachers are responsible for their own file storage.  Many of the stored files are available online through teacher and student blogs.  Cooperative projects abound because of Google's ability to share all sorts of files, from videos to spread sheets.   When Google goes down I'll be out of luck but I won't be alone.  
Our Web site and lots of our Moodles are hosted off-site for less than $5.00 a month.  I have near total control there but don't need it   We do e-portfolios and blogging, using WP-MU that costs thousands but what a value. See    
No single human can keep up with our teacher's accomplishments in those blogs and our students are developing positive identities on the cloud . Out there control is not the issue it is more an issue of trust.  Parents of every student can know what is happening tomorrow in every class at White Oak and reviews are being attached to every item in each teacher's syllabus (we just started this)  All this is often done with the personal flair that is hard to believe.   As I'm writing this I'm attending a meeting with teachers and administrators via Skype about how we use and will use our network  The enthusiasm for teaching and the excitement about the resources delivered is hard to communicate.
In this meeting a  teacher of 25 years just said she is more excited than ever about teaching and the resources we delivered has produced a new spark in her life and her classroom.  She added that the network is it is a blessing in the classroom.   A Blessing...Let that sink in.  I'm not bragging,  I'm trying to share.  A Blessing, I can hardly believ it myself.  I don't need to control more and I don't need to trust less.   
Hard times are easier to bare [sic] if the teachers are excited about what they can do with what they have at their disposal.  We have an agreement among many at White Oak that less is more when it comes to control.  I must say this meeting with the teachers that attended TCEA sharing with administrators abut their successes has me on cloud 9.  One teacher said the network is so much better than it was 3 years ago..  And the big difference between now and then...  we use other peoples servers.
It may be that some are reading Mike's comments with a healthy dose of skepticism, shock, and who knows what else. It may be that some who read his words are wondering, "How does he get away with being so irresponsible?"

But to be honest, the only thought that comes to mind now is, "How long before tech directors and school districts broken by economic realities look to Mike Gras as the white-bearded prophet calling for absolute surrender?"

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Engaging Administrators with EdTech

Are you in Texas and trying to get administration to better understand how to use technology in instructional settings? Then, definitely consider participating in the LOTI Professional Administrator Program advertised below...having gone through it myself, I can highly recommend it!

Get printable PDF flyer or click on the images below to see them full-size.

Print PDF flyer

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

BlogNotes - Create Ripples not Splashes

Image Source:

Thanks to Paul Cornies (Quoteflections) for sharing his insights at this blog entry.

    • Create Ripples not Splashes

    • Mitch Joel's Six Pixels of Separation, (Everyone is Connected; Connect your Business to Everyone), emphasizes that "we are all a click (or a pixel) away from one another."

    • -Your brand is not what you say it's what Google says it is. Consequently take care how you develop your brand.

    • - Mass brands are being overtaken by personal brands which connect to very specific niche content and media.

    • - Embrace community as the new currency.

    • - The Five C's of Entrepreneurship 2.0...Connecting, Creating, Conversations, Community, Commerce

    • - Create ripples not splashes...

    • - In the rise of the personal brand be yourself,..find your voice...

    • - Embrace your digital footprint...

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

BlogNotes - Grabbing Great Ideas


Over the last year (maybe longer), I've been citing tons of content in "DiigoNotes," which is really a way for me to keep track of what I'm reading online. I can't tell you how many times I've re-read my DiigoNotes--called that because I use the Diigo highlighting tool--to find relevant ideas and information to some timely topic.

Now, while I often find that in Blog entries I read, I seldom have time to weave them into conversations. Usually when I'm skimming Google Reader, I'll see patterns in the blog entries that appear and can easily juxtapose those...but "easily" takes time. Sometimes, I just want to grab the ideas and run, then reflect later. Since my blog serves as a scrapbook of content, as well as a place to share what I'm learning, I'm launching a new approach which is entitled "BlogNotes."

Yes, this means I'll be using Diigo to grab great quotes from blogs I'm reading WITHOUT much reflection on my part.

We'll see how it works out, huh?

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

@TCEA TechEdge Editor Responds

TCEA TechEdge's Editor, Marisol Valdez, took the time to respond to my wild, out of the blue questions that appeared in this blog entry entitled, TCEA and TechEdge New Policy. I appreciate Lori Gracey (Executive Director) and Marisol Valdez (Communications Director) for giving this their attention!

Note that Marisol states that the new TCEA web site should be out later this week!!

I've included Marisol's response in its entirety below for your reading:

Hello Miguel:
I hope this email finds you well.
I have addressed the questions you sent Lori regarding the TechEdge. See below.
Will TechEdge continue to feature writers from Texas, or will it pull a "Tech & Learning" approach and grab content from the web to fill the magazine? 
  • Currently there are no plans to pull content from the web to fill the magazine. We will continue to seek writers from Texas as well as across the US.. We want to reach out to other resources to provide our readers with different perspectives and the latest information. 
Is it realistic to focus on generic themes for articles? I mean, if something great in leadership happens now, does it have to sit on the shelf for months before it appears in print? 
  • It is fairly standard practice to have an editorial calendar for a magazine. Though our goal is to adhere to the editorial calendar for each issue; if the information is timely and essential to our readers we can choose to run it – that is at our discretion. Another avenue we use to address current and breaking news is to communicate via our web site and our bi-monthly TechNotes. 
If TechEdge--which is rumored to have an online component--is publishing content all the time, what pieces will make it into print, and which will appear only online? 
  • As indicated in the letter that was sent to current TechEdge writers,  a digital version of the magazine will be available. The content in the digital version will be the same as the printed version. 
Since TechEdge is now publishing online, will it increase its publication schedule to monthly or continue on a quarterly schedule? 
  • Currently we will continue to publish on a quarterly basis for the next year. We will re-evaluate at year’s end to determine what our needs and the needs of our readers are and make adjustments accordingly. We hope to go to a six-times-a-year or more magazine in the future. 
What standards will writers have to adhere to <> ? Will these be transparent and published, will there be peer review, or what? For example, Who's editorial opinion counts more, TCEA's or an external consultant? 
  • Currently, the standards for writing will remain the same. The information will be updated and posted on our web site, as it currently is. (It should be updated by end of this week). TCEA has 100 percent control of all content in the magazine, editorial and advertising. Though we are working with an outside publisher, we remain the final say in what does or does not run in our publication. 

If you have further questions, please let me know.

Best regards-


Marisol Valdez
Director of Communications
Texas Computer Education Association
512 450 5408 p
512 476 8574 f

Thanks to TechEdge editor for responding! One of the positive points is that they will be going to a six times a year publication! Woohoo! Can't wait.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

MoodleTip - Embedding AnimotoVideo in #Moodle

Problem: Does anyone have the steps or information on embedding animoto videos into Moodle? or can you do this with the free version? Thank you in advance for the information.
Solution (includes video)

View Video Tutorial

Embedding content, especially video content, is pretty straightforward in Moodle. However, before getting started, you'll probably want to check a few things. Those things include:

  1. Are your Moodle installation's Security->Site Policies set to allow Embedding of Code as displayed in the image below?
  2. Are your Multimedia Filters turned on? While these aren't necessary for Animoto, they can be useful for other projects. Check the image below:
All that done, you're ready to embed the code from Animoto--which is available through their VideoToolbox--as shown in my rough-cut video below:

Below is an "old" MoodleTips on embedding's specific to other tools besides Animoto. I hope it's useful to you:

VoiceThread embedded on a Moodle web page
Via the Diigo user group on Moodlers, I ran across this question:
My students create podcasts (1minute) and I want them to be able to listen to their peers projects. I would like them to be able to upload their mp3 files to a block or whatever and allow others to listen to them.
At this point I have to post them on a server for the students to go to the server link to listen to them. My understanding is that they would have to download the file in order to listen to the audio file. These podcasts have still images, not motion video. Does anyone know an easier way to do this?
My response:
I recommend using as your MP3 audio host, then embedding that in a Moodle label or web page, depending on whether you want it up front or as a link to a web page.
To share enhanced podcasts, or as Robin Martin describes them as podcasts with still images, you can convert them to video format. Whether they are WMV, MOV, convert them to a usable format (some tutorials to help you do that with free software) and then host them on (which is great for MP3 audio or video).

After you've done that, you can copy the EMBED code which appears next to every video/audio file hosted on and paste it into HTML view of Moodle:

Of course, for it to show up and work, you have to make sure you've adjusted your Security->SitePolicies in Moodle to allow embedding:

That's pretty much it!


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Erecting Instructional Roadblocks

At a training a year or so ago, teachers attending training on reading/writing notice that they were devoid of technology connections. When they shared the materials with me, I noticed something.

One of the books they're passing out in Reading/English Language Arts workshops is Nanci Atwell's The Reading Zone. This is one I hadn't read yet, even though I was an avid reader and practitioner of Atwell's In the Middle Reading/Writing Workshop in my own teaching. So, I cracked it open and stumbled across this paragraph.
In fact, a more useful lesson about the connections that story readers make, as we're reading, is one that helps students decide how to respond to them. I ask my kids, "When you're reading a story, do you ever bump yourself out of the zone because something in the book sparks a thought or memory?" and follow up with, "If so, how do you respond to the bump?". . .these occasions when we read like writers:we pay attention to the way a text is written, and we enjoy an efferent moment as we observe something in someone else's writing that we might choose to carry away, and put to use, in writing of our own.
What a powerful way to introduce blogging as a way to deal with the bumps that move us out of the Reading Zone. I'm going to be reading this book in more detail in the future, but I have share how excited I am to see the connections and how blogging can kick off a bigger conversation that is, in itself, understanding that learning is in the connections a la George Siemens' connectivism.

When facilitating reading workshop with my students, in fact, even when doing sustained silent reading with my children at home, I experience a certain pleasure at reading is a feeling that is incongruous in public schools frothy about high stakes test prep. As I read a review of Atwell's book, I ran across the "P-word." It is a word that reminds me of same obstacle that technology faces. In the review, the author writes:
Every day, smart, well-meaning teachers erect instructional roadblocks between their students and the pure pleasure of the personal art of reading.

There it is: the P word. I know, because I’ve felt it too, that there’s a sense of uneasiness among teachers and parents about an approach like a reading workshop. Shouldn’t there be some pedagogic strings attached here? Some paper and pencil and small group activities that look like schoolwork? Because otherwise, isn’t reading class, well, too enjoyable?
Source: Scholastic
Couldn't that statement read just as well, like this?
Every day, smart, well-meaning teachers erect instructional roadblocks between their students and the personal, digital communication tools.
How do we bridge the divide, conflating these guilty pleasures?

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DiigoNotes - The Writing Workshop (Part 1)

Here are my notes from The Writing Workshop by Ralph Fletcher and JoAnn Portalupi.

  1. Most kids experience schools as a series of tasks, dittos, assignments, tests--things that are administered to them. Writing workshop turns the table and puts kids in charge...engage in responsive teaching rather than relying on present lesson plans.
  2. Writing workshop puts kids on the spot and makes them responsible for their learning.
  3. "Flow": optimal learning condition for human beings according to Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Flow is when an individual enters a "flow zone" in which s/he loses track of time and becomes totally engaged in the task...Create conditions that allow students to occupy the zone when they can work/play with language, and learn as they do it.
  4. Students need to have frequent, predictable time set aside for them to write. Minimum of 3 days, 1 hour each. 4-5 days is better.
  5. Conditions:
    1. Student choice is prevalent.
    2. Students decide when a piece of writing is finished.
    3. Students set their own agenda and pace.
  6. While teachers may determine what gets taught, only the student can decide what will be learned.
  7. Components of Writing Workshop:
    1. 5-10 minute minilesson
    2. 35-45 minutes of writing time
    3. 10-20 minutes of share time
  8. Time:
    Component #1: MiniLesson - Various categories of a minilesson include the following: Procedural, Writers' Process, Qualities of good writing, and Editing Skills
    Component #2: Writing Time - Students work on writing projects they have set out for themselves. Rough drafting, planning, re-reading, proofreading, conferring with other students. Teachers confer with students.
    Component #3: Sharing Time
    Share sessions direct students to act in ways that will help them when they are conferring one-on-one with peers.
  9. Space: 
    1. A Meeting place
    2. Place for materials/tools
    3. Carefully arranged desks or tables.
  10. Short-term goals for writing workshops
    1. Getting students to have writing time
    2. Establishing a safe environment so that kids can take risks in their writing
    3. Setting up a workable management system to handle the flow of paper, folders and so forth.
  11. "Choice leads to voice" John Pouton
  12. Safe Environment
    1. Give specific praise
    2. Let primary children draw
    3. Read aloud "from the heart" pieces of writing
    4. Use a Writer's Notebook
    5. Write with your student
  13. Workable Classroom Management
    1. Finished Box: acknowledges people finish work at different times, asks teachers to review writing piece.
    2. Unfinished writing folder:
      1. Color coded by group/table
      2. Personalized list of writing ideas
      3. Topics to Write about....
        1. I'm an expert at...
        2. Things I will always Remember
        3. Topics I feel deeply about
        4. Kinds of Writing i would like to try

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DiigoNotes -The Case for Literature


Is Nanci Atwell, whose book In the Middle helped me structure my reading/writing workshops in my years as a writing teacher, living in fantasy land? That is, is Nanci's experience as a teacher dramatically different than what is actually happening in schools today?

Consider that in some school districts, the work of Nanci Atwell, Lucy Calkins, Donald Graves, Kirby and Liner, Kenneth Koch finds its way onto teacher shelves, but the ideas go unimplemented. In conversation with one school district language arts director in central Texas, the ideas espoused in the article below are completely unrelated to what is happening in classrooms today. The only idea that was recognizable in the miasma of monotonous teaching that is ongoing in language arts indoctrination centers was this:
Many teachers who recognize the power of stories to create readers are doing all they can to squeeze time for independent reading into mandated, proven-ineffective programs of instruction that perversely substitute activities, drills, textbooks, quizzes, and tests for engagement and experience.
Chaperoning a field trip for my son's school today, I couldn't imagine sharing my joy of writing and reading in the classrooms that many colleagues find themselves in, and that Nancy describes so eloquently. And, while no one wants to be negative, when you've seen the light, nothing else is quite as good.

Thanks to PJ Higgins for pointing out the article in this blog entry.

    • The Case for Literature

    • The irony—and tragedy—is that book reading, which profits a reader, an author, and a democratic society, is also the single activity that consistently relates to proficiency in reading, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

    • In 2007, fully 70 percent of U.S. 8th graders read below the proficient level on the NAEP exam. Our 13-year-olds aren’t reading well because they’re not reading enough: The National Endowment for the Arts has reported that only 30 percent of students in this age group read every day. And that’s where literature comes in—or should.

    • Each year, my 7th and 8th graders choose and read between 30 and 100 titles. They devour books because the classroom library is packed with intriguing stories by serious writers, because they have daily time to read in school, because I expect them to read at home every night, and because 35 years of experience has taught me that it’s my job to read, embrace, and recommend worthwhile young-adult literature to the young adults I teach.

    • from my perspective as the teacher responsible for their literacy, my students become strong readers. They build fluency, stamina, vocabulary, confidence, critical abilities, habits, tastes, and comprehension. No instructional shortcut, packaged curriculum, new technology, regimen of tests, or other variety of magical thinking can achieve this end.

    • Knowledgeable English teachers have learned to fill their classrooms with well-crafted writing that appeals to and satisfies adolescents, provides rich, accessible examples of literary technique for students to notice and appreciate, and invites every student to want to enter a story and become lost there.

    • Today, young readers with access to books and opportunities to read them can live vicariously, alongside three-dimensional characters close to their own age who inhabit compelling stories about growing up in every time, place, and circumstance, with themes that resonate in the real lives of adolescents: identity, conscience, peer pressure, social divisions, political strife, loneliness, friendship, change.

    • The American Library Association recommends that each U.S. classroom have its own library, and that school libraries contain at least 20 age-appropriate titles per student.

    • So is regular, sustained time in school for students to choose, read, and fall in love with books.

    • Bernice E. Cullinan’s study, “Independent Reading and School Achievement,” funded by the U.S. Department of Education and available on the American Association of School Librarians’ Web site, marshals the evidence.

    • Many teachers who recognize the power of stories to create readers are doing all they can to squeeze time for independent reading into mandated, proven-ineffective programs of instruction that perversely substitute activities, drills, textbooks, quizzes, and tests for engagement and experience.

    • Nancie Atwell, the author of The Reading Zone and In the Middle, teaches at the Center for Teaching and Learning, in Edgecomb, Maine.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Awesome Highlighter...Not Yet Ready

Someone asked, is Awesome Highlighter the same thing as Diigo Highlighter? In short, the answer is NO.

While it's nice, allowing you to highlight, you can't send items highlighted directly to your blog, GoogleChrome add-on isn't available (one for Firefox is, though), copy to clipboard didn't work for me (using Firefox).

And, here's what the output looks like:

Maybe they'll improve....

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San Antonio Writing Project Summer Institute 2010

Participate in the San Antonio Writing Project Summer Institute 2010...More information online.

We are pleased to announce the San Antonio Writing Project’s fourth Invitational Summer Institute, to be held on the campus of the University of Texas at San Antonio.
The San Antonio Writing Project (SAWP), housed in the Graduate School of Education, is a collaborative program between the University of Texas at San Antonio, the National Writing Project, and San Antonio area schools. Not only will SAWP be a vital resource for teachers and area schools in the arena of writing, but it will also serve as a model of professional development and excellence, teacher leadership, and reform.
The SAWP Invitational Summer Institute is at the heart of the project, and with the experience and guidance of the National Writing Project, we can be clear about its purposes:
  • to identify successful teachers of writing across all curriculum areas in San Antonio area schools and colleges who will be effective teachers of other teachers
  • to identify approaches to the teaching of writing and the uses of writing-to-learn in all subject areas that have been successful in real classrooms, and that add to the profession’s knowledge
  • to involve teachers in their own writing so that they can better help their students
  • to examine basic issues of equity and access as they affect student learning
  • to make current research in the field available to teachers
Through the Summer Institute, SAWP will build its corps of Teacher Consultants, expand its collective knowledge, and increase its capacity to address complex issues and concerns regarding literacy in San Antonio area schools.
This year we are able to invite 15 teachers, kindergarten through university level, to the University of Texas at San Antonio campus to participate as SAWP Summer Fellows in the Invitational Summer Institute, supported by a summer stipend. At the end of the summer program, Fellows will be SAWP Teacher Consultants, an expanding network of exemplary San Antonio area educators.
As a SAWP Teacher Consultant, you will become part of the SAWP community--a lively, collegial network which offers resources and programs for deepening your knowledge about the teaching of writing and literacy issues, opportunities to grow as a writer, and ongoing support to realize new projects and initiatives. You will also have the opportunities to expand your role as a leader. SAWP Teacher Consultants shape and carry out all of SAWP’s work: professional development in schools, summer programs for teachers, Young Writers’ Camps, teacher research programs, Saturday Seminar sessions, special interest groups, and more.
We are seeking strong classroom teachers, school principals, and other educators who are helping students become better writers, who promote equity for all students, especially for English language learners, and who are interested in taking on leadership in the ongoing work of the San Antonio Writing Project.
We invite you to apply for the Summer Institute. Please complete the online application for the Summer Institute (see above) and by April 1, 2010 at the latest. SAWP staff will review the applications, and select a group of candidates for interviews which will take place on selected Saturdays throughout the Spring. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us or the person who nominated you.
You must also apply online to the UTSA Graduate School as a Special Graduate Student no later than April 1 , 2010. Please apply as soon as possible, you do not have to wait for the deadline! The application, required materials for submission and other information can be found online at: . If you have questions, please feel free to contact one of us, or the Graduate School at (210) 458-2330.
As the San Antonio Writing Project enters this new year, we are delighted to have teachers such as yourself nominated for SAWP’s Invitational Summer Institute. We look forward to receiving your application.
Dr. Roxanne Henkin, Director                                     
(210) 458-5427  
Jacob Sanchez, Graduate Assistant
(210) 458-7437

If I could, I'd participate...but a month is too long when you're a 230-day administrator!

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

DiigoNotes - HB 4294 Summary

    • House  Bill  4294  amends  the  Education  Code  to  require  each  school  district  and open-enrollment charter school to certify annually to the State Board of Education (SBOE) and the commissioner of education that, for each subject in the foundation curriculum and each grade level, the district provides each student with textbooks, electronic textbooks, or instructional materials that cover all elements of the essential knowledge and skills adopted by the SBOE for that subject and grade level.
    • The bill authorizes the state textbook fund to be used to purchase technological equipment necessary to support the use of electronic textbooks or instructional material included on the adopted list or any textbook or material approved by the SBOE.
    • The bill requires the commissioner to adopt a list of electronic textbooks and instructional material, including tools, models, and investigative materials designed for use in the foundation curriculum for science in kindergarten through grade five, and it authorizes a school district to select a textbook or material on that list to be funded by the state textbook fund. 
    • If a school district or open-enrollment charter school selects an electronic textbook or instructional material on the list, the bill requires the state to pay the district or school an amount equal to the cost of the electronic textbook or instructional material plus textbook credits as specified in the bill, times number of such textbooks or materials needed by the district or school.
    • The bill authorizes a school district or open-enrollment charter school that selects a subscription-based electronic textbook or instructional material on the conforming list or the adopted list to cancel the subscription and subscribe to a new electronic textbook or instructional material before the end of the state contract period if the district or school has used the textbook or material for at least one school year and the Texas Education Agency approves the change based on a written request by the district or school that specifies the reasons for the change.
    • House Bill 4294 requires the commissioner by rule to establish a computer lending pilot program to provide computers to participating public schools that make computers available for use by students and their parents. The bill requires the commissioner to establish administrative procedures, including procedures for distributing to a participating school any surplus or salvage data processing equipment available for distribution under the pilot program or computers donated or purchased for that purpose with funds from any source. A school is eligible to participate if 50 percent or more of its students are educationally disadvantaged and the school operates or agrees to operate a computer lending program that allows students and parents to borrow a computer; includes an option for students and parents to work toward owning a computer initially borrowed under the program, subject to any applicable restrictions on the computer's disposition; provides computer training for students and parents; and operates outside regular school hours, including operation until at least 7 p.m. on at least three days each week. The bill requires the commissioner, not later than January 1 of each year, to submit a report to the legislature regarding the computer lending pilot program.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here. Makes the Link

Thanks to for the link back--"linktribution"--regarding the report about Fort Worth ISD and financial exigency!

And, of course, I do encourage you to keep up with Texas education events by reading

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

DiigoNotes - Mobile Broadband
  • Chairman Genachowski's Remarks, "Mobile Broadband: A 21st Century Plan for U.S. Competitiveness, Innovation and Job Creation" at the New America Foundation.
    Word | Acrobat

    • Prepared Remarks of
      Chairman Julius Genachowski
      Federal Communications Commission
      New America Foundation
      Washington, D.C.
      February 24, 2010

    • "Mobile Broadband:
      A 21st Century Plan for U.S. Competitiveness, Innovation and Job

    • The challenge is:  we are lagging behind when it comes to broadband.

    • Multiple studies have the U.S. ranked outside the top 10 when it comes
      to broadband penetration and speed. While some people take exception
      with those studies, few would suggest that we are leading the world in
      broadband, or are even as close as we should be.

    • the rest of the world is not sitting around waiting for us to catch up.

    • Consider a study that Intel CEO Paul Ottelini described yesterday.  The
      study ranked the U.S. 6th in the world in innovative competitiveness,
      and 40th out of the 40 countries ranked in “the rate of change in
      innovative capacity.”

    • The first of those rankings is enough of a concern.  That last-place
      statistic is the canary in the coal mine.

    • The costs of our failure to lead are high.

    • As IBM CEO Sam Palmisano recently put it, “Without pervasive broadband,
      our country will not be prepared for a new world that is increasingly
      built on the fusion of the physical and the digital.”

    • For U.S. businesses to lead across the globe and for innovation to
      flourish at home, we need to invest in the infrastructure of the
      future: broadband.

      We need robust and open broadband, flourishing with applications and
      services that we can only begin to imagine.

    • It would be like having the technology for great electric cars, but
      terrible roads.

    • When it comes to mobile broadband, our goal is clear:  To benefit all
      Americans and promote our global competitiveness, the U.S. must have
      the fastest, most robust, and most extensive mobile broadband networks,
      and the most innovative mobile broadband marketplace in the world.

    • Breakthrough new devices that put the power of a “PC-in-your-pocket,”
      combined with billions in network investments have liberated broadband
       from the desktop and made it possible to imagine a world where the
      Internet is available to anyone, anywhere, anytime.

    • And some of America’s greatest innovators have clearly been working
      overtime to seize the opportunity, as the iPad and the Kindle attest.

    • Jobs in the mobile network economy – jobs building out and managing
      extensive mobile broadband networks.

      And jobs in the mobile apps economy.  According to Gartner research,
      $4.2 billion in mobile applications were sold last year – up from
      essentially zero just a couple of years ago.  The number of apps has
      crossed 150,000.

    • Last week, a New York Times article described an Arizona school
      district that installed Wi-Fi on one if its school buses. The bus was
      instantly transformed into a rolling study hall. And if anyone ever
      doubts the power of mobile broadband tell them this:  the driver says
      that bus of high school kids is now quiet.

    • Mobile broadband can be about healthcare.

      Mobile medicine takes remote monitoring to a new level. A patient’s
      heart rhythm can be monitored continuously, regardless of her
      whereabouts, and diabetics can receive continuous, flexible insulin
      delivery through real-time glucose monitoring sensors that transmit
      date to wearable insulin pumps.

    • Mobile broadband can be about energy.

      With mobile broadband, consumers and businesses can utilize Smart
      Grid-enabled information services.  A whole new world of “energy apps”
      can adjust lights, heating, and cooling from a smartphone or netbook,
      saving electricity, saving our environment, and saving money to boot.

    • Mobile broadband can be about public safety.

      With mobile broadband, EMTs can beam images of a patient wirelessly
       from the road so that emergency room doctors can review them while the
      patient is in transit. First responders can also access a patient’s
      medical records almost instantaneously when they arrive on the scene.

    • Mobile broadband can about 21st century government and enhanced civic

    • During the recent snowstorm, Howard County, Maryland equipped all 120
      of its snow plows with GPS receivers. A website displayed the trucks’
      positions and the status of county streets, and county residents could
      see which streets had been plowed, salted or sanded. Families who lost
      power used their smartphones as a lifeline, coordinating cleanup

    • Spectrum – our airwaves – really is the oxygen of mobile broadband
      service. Without sufficient spectrum, we will starve mobile broadband
      of the nourishment it needs to thrive as a platform for innovation, job
      creation and economic growth.

    • America is facing a looming spectrum crunch.

    • “Without more spectrum, America’s global
      leadership in innovation and technology is threatened.”

    • Mobile data usage is not just growing, it’s exploding.

      AT&T reports that its mobile data traffic is up 5,000% over the past
      three years.

    • According to Cisco, North American wireless networks carried 17
      petabytes per month in 2009. By 2014, they are projected to carry 740
      petabytes per month.

    • Many homes are technically passed by mobile broadband networks, but
      still cannot get a clear signal inside their home.  And a mobile divide
      is an increasingly important part of the digital divide. In Alaska, for
      example, 23% of its population doesn’t have access to 3G mobile
      broadband.  In West Virginia, at least 29% of its population lacks
      coverage.  We also see disproportionately low adoption rates among
      certain populations, such as persons with disabilities.

    • The National Broadband Plan will chart a clear path forward. And if we
      do not seize the moment, I fear for the opportunity we will have lost.

    • When you get your chance, you better make it count, because you don’t
      know when, or if, you’ll get another shot.

    • If we get it right, broadband will be an enduring engine for creating
      jobs and growing our economy, for spreading knowledge and enhancing
      civic engagement, for advancing a healthier, sustainable way of life.
      This is our moment. Let’s seize it.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Texas Board of Education Thwarts Bond Funding of Technology

Well, they haven't done it yet, but the work is in progress. The problem? Simply, school districts pass bonds to buy stuff. Sometimes, that stuff is technology. In fact, for many districts, this is the ONLY way they are able to bring in updated technology to their school districts. The timeline is cited as follows:
"The committee will likely continue discussing these and otherpossible changes to the bond-guarantee program at its monthlymeeting on Feb. 19 in preparation for presenting the full SBOEwith recommendations for a first reading vote in March. Finalreading would likely occur in May, with implementation of anyresulting new rules set for June." (Source: Email shared with Texas Technology Directors citing "Texas Education News")
A Texas educator wrote the following; I've anonymized the email:

Please be aware that the State Board of Education is currently trying to pass an initiative that would limit the use of bond funds to only items that can be specifically shown to last 20 years or more.  As such, the purchase of technology items, including laptops, would be specifically prohibited.  This move essentially limits the ability of local communities and school board to decide what needs they have. SBOE has actually contacted the Texas Education Agency about this as well to try to pressure them to support this fundamental shift in thinking.

There are also efforts being put forward by individual members of the board to interfere with legislation that allows schools to use textbooks funds to purchase electronic books.  In short, there are those on the board who feel technology is just a toy that schools are misusing.
I am attaching a link to this message with the email addresses on it for the State Board of Education members.  There are those on the board that very much support technology.  You need to contact all of the members by phone or email and let them hear your viewpoint.  To date, only two or three people have contacted them, which is making it very easy for a minority of the members to push their views through.

Of course, another way of looking at it is the way this technology director put it:
You wouldn’t let your teenager purchase a car that took 30 years to pay off. I don’t think a bond over 20 to 30 years is the place to purchase technology. You can create a technology bond that takes 5 years to pay off or even 10 if it is infrastructure. We are trying to learn how to be fiscally responsible. And a 30 year loan for laptops is not fiscally responsible.
Some responses to this idea of being fiscally responsible at a time when the State failed to anticipate a budget shortfall (read previous blog entries) are frustrated. Here's an example:
[A School District] purchases technology with 5 year bonds(as do many other districts), but if this passes, we may not have that option at all and then how will end user technology get funded?  And please do not say “Technology Allotment”……that is a joke.
While President Obama is saying that the recession is almost over, I get the feeling it is just starting in Texas. Speak up now or watch your District's technology infrastructure crumble into the ground...and for those districts that did not pass a bond to get technology in schools, well, it could be too late.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Teacher Breaks the Rules

Breaking the rules isn't all bad. However, what happens when a teacher does what Tami Brass says in this comment on my blog entry, "My Teacher Made Me Do It?" In that blog entry, I share the example of teachers who encourage students to sign up for email accounts or web services that they are under-age...without parent consent, as if that would make it any better. Tami writes:
I've struggled with this issue more than once. The arguments I get from teachers are "nobody reads the user agreements anyway", "kids do it all the time", "nobody actually checks this stuff", and "they all have Facebook pages before they're 13".... Drives me crazy. I spend a big chunk of time helping kids to get it and do training with parents a couple of times per year, but getting teachers and administrators to get it is another thing. It's somewhat comforting to know I'm not the only one facing the issue. 
In a follow-up tweet, Tami asks a question I have yet to hear answers from administrators and teachers on the Web:

How do you deal with teachers who encourage misuse for convenience?

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DiigoNotes - Finances Cut to the Bone in Texas

    • Senate panel gets stark forecast on school finances

    • "Texas school districts are facing tough decisions unparalleled in my 20 years as a superintendent," said Richard Middleton, legislative chairman of the Texas Association of School Administrators, to members of the Senate Education Committee.

    • Escalating costs are leaving many districts with a growing budget shortfall, seriously impairing their ability to provide services.

    • "I know right now all our school districts are looking at cost-cutting measures," said Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, a member of the commitee.

    • Middleton, who is superintendent of the North East Independent School District in San Antonio, cited a litany of factors affecting costs that include rising utility and transportation expenses, expanding enrollments and state-mandated salary increases.

    • "I've got to make decisions on what to eliminate or what to reduce," he told the Star-Telegram.

    • The added financial pressures in education come at a time when lawmakers are bracing for an overall budget shortfall of more than $10 billion -- and possibly as high as $20 billion -- when they convene in January.

    • Arlington school officials expect a $12 million shortfall this year. Fort Worth officials have made various budget cuts to save money, including layoffs and a reduction in adult education programs. They are considering plans to close small schools to better use district resources.

    • In the Carroll district, administrators blame the new state finance formula for a budget shortfall, prompting the district to dip into savings for about $3.3 million for the 2009-10 budget.

    • Staff writers Traci Shurley, Jessamy Brown, Eva-Marie Ayala and Shirley Jinkins contributed to this report.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

DiigoNotes - Banning CellPhones

Thanks to Will Richardson and The Innovative Educator for sharing this info!

    • In his post “I lost something very important to me” Will Richardson shares three important lessons that banning cells teaches kids. They are:
      1-It teaches them that they don’t deserve to be empowered with technology the same way adults are.
      2-Tools that adults use all the time in their everyday lives to communicate are not relevant to their own communication needs.
      3-They can’t be trusted (or taught, for that matter) to use phones appropriately in school.
      I recently had a cell phone enriched lesson plan shared with me (stay tuned, will be posted shortly) by a secondary teacher who is empowering students to harness the power of cell phones in their learning. And guess what happened when he did? They came up with their own list of appropriate use.

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Solving Hard Drive Duplication Problem

Image Source:

Ever wanted to duplicate a hard drive? A colleague in Oklahoma shared this hard drive duplication problem...

I have a technical problem I am sure one of you has run into:

I am attempting to clone a drive.  I have two identical drives.  I used
Ghost 2003 to clone the drive.
The drive is partitioned into 2 partitions.
The 1st partition, Drive C is active.
The 2nd partition, Drive D is not.
It has a multi boot system: Win 98 and Win XP Pro.
Win 98 boots fine.
Win XP Pro will boot to the login screen and then immediately logs out.
If I boot into safe mode, the same thing happens.
Safe mode to a command prompt, same thing.
When I use the repair option on my XP CD, it boots into the D: Drive where
the windows files are.
I can't use FDisk to set the D: drive active because it is NTFS.

And, while I offered the following as a possible solution, I'm not entirely positive it was the best solution since there might be an easier way to do it. How would you have solved the problem above?

If I might offer a technical (you said it was OK) suggestion that is free, except for your time. First, though, here is an article that might be helpful:
I've successfully used a GNU/Linux program called "dd" to make a copy of an entire drive, including partition tables, partitions and all. Given you have identical drives, you use dd to make a copy of the first drive and then use dd to restore the copy.
This blog entry may be helpful to you:
You'll need several things to accomplish this, including the following:
1) A SystemRescueCD installed on a flash drive (1 gig USB flash drive)
2) An external USB drive that can hold the entire contents of the drive you are trying to copy.
3) Patience as the copy is made, and then restored. I can only offer you the simple truth that I've done this successfully with a similar situation.
Relevant commands:
Make a bootable USB Flash Drive (1gig) using System Rescue CD
a) Download Unetbootin -
b) Use it to create a bootable flash drive (you can format it to MS DOS/FAT the standard way first)
c) Follow instructions but note you can download the SystemRescueCD from within UNETBOOTIN:
Format the external USB drive:
mkfs.ext3 /dev/sdb1
Makes the backup:
dd if=/dev/sda of=/USBexternaldrive/sda.backup
Restores the backup:
dd if=/USBexternaldrive/sda.backup of=/dev/sda
Or, you could try this approach:

So what do you think? Other responders suggested the following:

  • I would try a program like partition magic(there are some free ones like easeus), then you should be able to make the partition active.  Will your XP disc let you do a repair installation?  Have you tried fixmbr in the recovery console?  When you boot into 98 can you see the XP partition?
The mention of "easus" made me look that one up...

EASEUS Disk Copy is a potent freeware providing sector-by-sectordisk/partition clone regardless of your operating system, file systems and partition scheme by creating a bootable CD. The sector-by-sector method assures you a copy 100% identical to the original. Disk Copy can be used for copy, cloning, or upgrading your original small hard drive to a new larger drive. Simply speaking, it can copy anything from the old hard drive including the deleted, lost files and inaccessible data. So, the freeware is a perfect tool for Data Recovery Wizard to recover files from a backup disk.

Source: Easeus
Thoughts? This is a different kind of problem than just copying files from one hard drive to another, as shared in this blog entry.

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure