Search this site
Other stuff

All banner artwork by Brady Johnson, college student and (semi-) starving artist.

My latest books:


        Available now

       Available Now

Available now 

My book Machines are the easy part; people are the hard part is now available as a free download at Lulu.

 The Blue Skunk Page on Facebook


EdTech Update





Equal time

After passing along the negatives about Arne Duncan in the last post, I thought it only fair that good news gets passed along as well....

Obama's Pick for Secretary of Education Supports School Libraries
School Library Journal, 12/16/2008

"Although Illinois doesn't mandate certified media specialists, Chicago's 650 K-12 schools are staffed with some 500 teacher-librarians, all of whom are certified teachers with the majority holding an endorsement or certification in library science, says Paul Whitsitt, director of libraries and information services for the third largest district in the nation.

Despite widespread layoffs of school librarians nationwide, there've been no district-level cuts in library staff over the last few years and staffing at the school level has held steady, adds Whitsitt."

This is what makes politics so interesting. There are always lots of ways to spin interpret any action. It's also a reminder why I should stay away from writing about it completely!

Have at me, Gary!

Any Chicago librarians (Lisa?), teachers or admins reading the Blue Skunk? What do you think of Obama's choice?


The information below was originally a comment to this post, but I felt it ought to be shown here as well:

I live near Chicago and my wife taught in CPS while the transition to Duncan was occurring. Can I tell you that there has been visionary change? No. Has CPS become a better school district - Yes. Can it be better - Yes.

For a view of Duncan through the eyes of the independent publication that looks at Chicago Education view this link:

All respect to Gary, but it is probably a more reputable source on Chicago Education and the guy in charge of it.


Four more years of subversion?

If you can believe Gary Stager and others ruing Obama's nomination of Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education (and I don't see why you shouldn't), it looks like we need to keep our copies of Postman and Weingarter's Teaching as a Subversive Activity dusted off.

While we librarians have always been subversives at heart, we need more techs and teachers doing what is right by kids, not simply doing what they are told to do by those who are politicians rather than educators.

What subversive act have you committed today?


How to keep websites unblocked

YouTube is perhaps best known for its cavalcade of homemade performances and TV clips, but many people are turning to it for free tutoring in math, science and other complicated subjects. Math videos won't rival the millions of hits garnered by laughing babies, but a YouTube tutorial on calculus integrals has been watched almost 50,000 times in the last year. Others on angular velocity and harmonic motion have more than 10,000 views each. The videos are appealing for several reasons, said Kim Gregson, an Ithaca College professor of new media. Students come to the videos when they're ready to study and fully awake, which is not always the case in 8 a.m. calculus classes. And they can watch the videos as many times as they need until they understand. Benton. Original article in LA Times.

Our district does not block YouTube. We give it a very low priority setting in our packetshaper and we have had regular requests to have it blocked. But YouTube remains accessible to our staff and students.

But to keep it this way, we keep as many people as possible informed about its postive uses. See graph:

So far, so good...



Update (Dec 19): Joyce Valenza at NeverEnding Search has a great blog post called When YouTube is blocked (seven ways ways around). If you don't have any ethic issues with violating YouTube's Terms of Use (and I don't), these are some easy ways to save YouTube videos to your desktop.