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EdTech Update





Rotarians come through!

This is why I like living in "small" town America...

Mankato–The Rotary Club of Mankato is providing every third grader attending Mankato Area Public Schools with a copy of Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends. This decision comes after nine months of careful research and consideration on the best way to promote literacy within the community.
“As Rotary International closes in on achieving the goal of eradicating polio, a couple of global initiatives have been identified to direct our resources at going forward…one of those is literacy,” said Co-Chair of the Literacy Committee and Mankato Rotarian member Jonathan Zierdt. “We felt that by starting in our own community where literacy has been identified as a needed focus that we could not only bring results to children in our community, but may be able to establish a program other Rotary clubs could replicate.”

“Our ultimate goal is to establish this literacy initiative as an annual event,” said Mankato Rotary Club president Bob Weiss. “624 books will be handed out and we feel this is a very effective way to promote literacy within our schools and community.”

On Wednesday, April 23, members of the Mankato Rotary Club will visit each third grade classroom to distribute books. While in the classrooms, they will read popular poems from the book and reiterate the importance of literacy to the students. Each book will also include a written note and have been signed by various Rotary members.

“We are delighted that the Mankato Rotary Club has chosen this gift as part of their literacy initiative,” said Mankato’s Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Co-Chair of the Literacy Committee and Mankato Rotarian member Cindy Amoroso. “Reading poetry, especially the fun, wacky poems of Shel Silverstein, is a natural way for readers of all levels to develop language and literacy skills and makes the reading process enjoyable and rewarding. Mankato’s third graders are fortunate to receive their own copy of a Silverstein poetry collection!”

Silverstein, who passed away in 1999 at the age of 68, published
Where the Sidewalk Ends in 1974. Since its publication, it has been translated into over 30 different languages and sold more than six million copies, making it the best selling children’s poetry book ever. His use of silly words and wacky approach captivate kids worldwide in each of the 130 poems.

Mankato Rotary is a volunteer organization of business and professional men and women who provide humanitarian service, and help build goodwill and peace in the world. For more information or to become a member, please visit

It pains me as a Kiwanian to say this, but "GOOD JOB, ROTARIANS!"

I hope you all vote for our building referendum at the end of the month too. 


How not to get a tech job

Johnson’s First Law of Effective Supervision: Hire people who don’t need to be supervised.

We are filling two open tech positions in our district. Advice to applicants based on real events of the past few days:

  1. Don't have your mother call and ask for an extension on the application deadline. This may have worked with your English teacher but it doesn't work for anyone who may be your potential supervisor.
  2. Don't tell me you can't figure out the online application process. This is a tech position for which you are applying. 

Just a couple little hints...

Any other tell-tale signs that a job application should be circular-filed? 


A second go at Second Life



I had a second opportunity to use Second Life as a presentation medium last Monday night. You can read Lisa Perez's (SL name Elaine Tulip) write up here. About 40 avatars attended "No U Turn Syndrome: A New Approach to Teaching and Enforcing Copyright Compliance." The presentation was a part of AASL's National Library Week's activities in collaboration with the Chicago Public Schools Dept of Libraries. Rob Darrow also had a very nice blog entry on California Dreamin'. Rob, I truly appreciate the kind words. Ernie Cox also wrote up the event in his blog. Thanks as well, Ernie.

First, let me say a big thanks (again) to Lisa Perez. She is a comforting soul who knows her way around Second Life better than anyone else I know and manages to make anyone presenting in Second Life look more competent than they actually are. I am not sure what all her contributions have been to the physical aspects of ALA/AASL's island, but it is a beautiful, interesting and useful place. Go visit.

The newest SL client is its user-friendliest yet. And the in-world voice system make presenting much easier (and I feel more effective) than the chat/IM-based mode of just a few months ago. I feel like I still have a lot to learn about being an avatar/presenter, including:

  • How can I do a better job of gesturing, moving, maintaining "eye contact." etc. with my audience? This still feels far too much one-way, rather than two-way communications.
  • How do I know if the sound is working well? (Thankfully, I had one attendee tell me a couple times when I was too loud.)
  • How does one better facilitate discussion at such an event? I always feel like I am being hit by several channels of conversation at one time.

Still, I had great fun and I just need to say a huge thanks to those brave avatars who attended and participated in "my" learning experience.

A common concern that people email me about is that they feel uncomfortable and ignorant about much of Second Life. Attending an ISTE Social and connecting with an experienced Second Lifer  is the best way of overcoming. Here is a recent invitation:

Are you an educator new to Second Life or ISTE in SL?  Come out to the ISTE Discussion Skypark on Thursday, April 17, at 5:30 PM SLT (8:30 PM EDT)  to connect with avatars who can answer your questions about Second Life and ISTE. 

Connectors needed!  Are you interested in mentoring a new avatar at this week's social?  IM Corinne Fleury <corinnefleury (at)> for details.


 Blue Skunk readers, any tips or observations about better Second Life experiences are welcome!