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What our new teachers need to know

A pundit once commented that while a medical doctor from the 19th century would be lost in a modern hospital and a 19th century banker would not be able to function in a bank today, a 19th century teacher could just pick up the chalk and perform19thcentteacher.jpg just fine in the 21st century classroom.

I'm here to tell you that just ain't so.

Here is the list of techie things Mankato's new teachers needs to master very, very quickly to be able to do their basic jobs:

  • E-mail/Shared calendaring (Outlook/Entourage)
  • District email lists are and how they may be used
  • Resources and forms can only be found on our district website
  • Attendance reporting software (Classxp), network passwords
  • How to access online file storage and back up files
  • Online research resources and library catalog (United Streaming, Net Trekker, Atomic Learning)
  • Ethics and Acceptable Use Policy
  • How to find a video and order a videotape/DVD (online)
  • How to locate and interpret the results of our value-added tests (NWEA) and access information on their students in our datamining program (Sagebrush Viewpoint)
  • How to complete online IEPs for Special Ed teachers
  • How to use our reading software (Read Naturally and Accelerated Reader)
  • How to use to the online gradebook (IntegradePro) and set it up for parent viewing (ParentConnect)
  • For an increasing number of teachers, How to use to the IWB
  • How to use to the create and maintain the required teacher webpage

All this before thinking about basic productivity tools like word processing or the use of any technology for instructional uses with kids. (So, technology has not revolutionized education to many folks disappointment. But it has changed it. Still automating rather than infomating, as Zuboff would describe.)

Up until now our department had a two hour block during the standard two day orientation to help bring new teachers up to speed on technology. It was almost enough time to distribute lots of handouts and tell them they need to learn this stuff fast. "Good luck and call somebody if you get stuck."

Next year for the first time we have budgeted dollars to pay our new hires and some instructors for a full day of new teacher "technology" orientation. It's not enough, of course, but it's better.

I think we should get a humanitarian award!

Photo above  from the Library of Congress American Memories collection. 


Odds and Ends - Sexy Librarian edition


I was shocked, shocked, to read two letters to the editor objecting to the Second Life librarian avatar on the cover of the January issue of School Library Journal, a publication not known for its titillating content (so to speak). I mean, what is the point of even having an avatar if it doesn't look like you want to look, not as you do look? According to the letter writers, this avatar was, gasp, violating a library dress code.

As readers of the Blue Skunk know, I am a big fan of sexy librarians and sexy search engines.
SLJ, keep up the good work! Librarian do have this image problem but it can be overcome. Keep helping.

I am honored that one of my blog entries won an award. At least I think it is  an honor.

 the piece of bloggery that best exemplifies the qualities of gleeful subversiveness, smarts, incisive style, cleverness, fearlessness, dark humor, and acute. . . er, chronic. . .  sense of irony.

Can an award for sarcasm ever be trusted? I really never thought I would win anything but a worst dressed award. Thank you, Scott!

A  t-shirt slogan: National Sarcasm Society: Like we need your support. 


Interent safety guru Nancy Willard sent the link to this most excellent article "Predators & cyberbullies: Reality check" around to several listservs this week. It's a very good read as is its companion piece, "The Shame Game" in the Columbia Journalism Review.


Favorite quote of the week: "My education was dismal. I went to a series of schools for mentally disturbed teachers." Woody Allen.


It's tough on blog conversations not to want to have the last word. I usually have a "yeah, but..." and I don't want to be rude with writers thinking I am ignoring them either. This is not my last word, but it is worth visiting the Assorted Stuff blog for Tim's thoughtful reaction to my The Technology Glass entry. Miguel Guhlin asked how Tim and I could differ so much in our views on IWBs. I think our views are very similar - I just have lower expectations of most things than Tim.


Peter Reilly remains one of the deepest thinkers in the educational blogosphere. I am in awe of every post he writes it seems. Join him for an Ed Tech Journey.

Best funny of the week (and I don't think it will offend anyone!)

After having dug to a depth of 10 meters last year, Scottish scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 100 years and  came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network more than 100 years ago.

Not to be outdone by the Scots, in the weeks that followed, British scientists dug to a depth of 20 meters, and shortly after, headlines in the UK newspapers read: "British archaeologists have found traces of 200 year old copper wire and have concluded that their ancestors already had an advanced high-tech communications network a hundred years earlier than the Scots."

One week later, "The Klub", a Sunburg, Minnesota newspaper reported the following: "After digging as deep as 30 meters in corn fields near Games Lake, Ole Johnson, a self taught archeologist, reported that he found absolutely nothing.  Ole has therefore concluded that 300 years ago Norwegians were already using wireless." YOU BETCHA!


This has been one heck of a month work-wise. Long range tech plan for the school, board report to be given this evening, surveys of staff satisfaction and the SmartClasroom project, new student information system manager job interviews, library media specialist meetings, every district committee existing meeting - all this month so far. I've written three longish articles and three columns over the past three weeks and prepared one whole new Powerpoint extravaganza. I am prepping for four presentations for a day long conference in SW Minnesota tomorrow, the WOW teleconference tomorrow evening, the Discovery webinar on Wednesday and the EARCOS conference next week in Bangkok where I will be doing another 4 workshops. Whine, whine, whine.

I've always believed it is better to wear out than rust out, but I am going to be a very happy camper when the LWW and I hit Friendship Beach on Phuket Island in two weeks for a few days. It is unlikely I will blog from the beach.


Hope everyone's week is off to a wonderful start! 



Policies 2.0 - Update 3

policy2.0.jpgThanks to everyone who tuned in yesterday afternoon. I had fun, but I've always said that the one doing all the talking is never bored. Anyway, I added the Think Before You Link poster below. And when the recording of this thing goes online, I'll add the link to that as well. Here is the link to the slideshow. And here is a link to the audio at Brian Grenier's Bump on the Blog.

The list below is the bibliography (webliography?) for my Discovery Education Webinar on March 21st. The article on which the presentation is based will be appearing in this summer's Threshold magazine. The links are in order they are mention in the talk, I am afraid.

Policies 2.0: Rules for the Social Web (teaser and resources)
In the fast-changing online world of social networking, where an embarrassing photo can travel the globe in seconds, online predators are the topic of nightly news programs, and young adults travel as avatars to virtual worlds where anything can happen, what policies do schools need to set and how do they set them?

Mankato Schools poster. Permission to use freely given. For a larger image click here. 

Sites mentioned:
MySpace <>
Pew Internet & American Life Project, Jan 2007 memo <>
Technocrati <>
Wikipedia <> <>
Flickr <>
YouTube <>
Second Life <>
Teen Second Life <>
The Horizon Report- 2007 <>.
ISD77 Acceptable Use Policy <>
Larry Magid and Anne Collier (book) MySpace Unraveled: What it is and how to use it safely. (Peachpit, 2006)
 Parry Aftab, Kids Online in Schools: Risk Management & the Law <>
The Internet Archive (Wayback Machine) <>
Andy Carvin, blog “DOPA Jr.” <> <>
“Tracking Theresa” and “Julie’s Journey” <>
ISD77  resource list of websites for parents about safe Internet use <>
Gargoyles Loose in the Library blog <>
Hennepin County Library in MySpace <>
Virtual literary worlds <>
Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture <>
Tips on forming and running an advisory group at <>
Vicki Davis, Cool Cat Blog <>
Predators & cyberbullies: Reality check (BlogSafety)

Recommended websites about Internet safety for parents
Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use <>
Children's Partnership <>
CyberBullying information <>
CyberSmart <>
Family Guide Book <>
Get Net Wise <> <>
Internet Safety Advisor <>
McGruff Online Safety for Kids <>
MediaWise <>
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children <>
NetLingo: Top 20 Internet Acroynms Every Parent Needs to Know <>
NetSmartz <>
Play It Cyber Safe <> <> <>
Safety Ed International <>
Wired Safety Website  <>

Readers, send in more resources!