Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Grease Tuesday ?

Word Reference gives the following French to English conversions:

Mardi = Tuesday
Gras = Fat, Fatty, Chubby, Greasy

Wikipedia offers the following descriptions Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, Shove Tuesday & Pancake Day,

All represent the same day. Today!

The internet has become quite amazing in how quickly we can get information...I regularly take it for granted.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Tech Tools for Teachers

Today's post is contributed by Rudy Fyles, Executive Director of Facilities

I recently had the opportunity to attend the Northwest Council for Computer Education Conference in Portland. It was attended by just short of 2,000 teachers and administrators from throughout the Northwest. As most of you know, the Puyallup classroom of today is already looking very different due to the infusion of technology from the 2004 bond program. As executive director of facilities, my interest at the conference was to gain more insight into educational applications of the hardware and software the district is installing in its new schools and to see how it was working for teachers.

As we open two new elementary schools, one new junior high, and replace two junior highs, we will be equipping the classrooms with state-of-the-art technology (sound amplification, smart boards, ceiling-mounted projectors, DVDs, video (local and streaming), and both wired and wireless Internet access. We tested these installations in four of our Puyallup schools with Puyallup teachers.

I can tell you quite confidently that the district is on target with these installations. While I don’t have room here to share all of the details, I believe the district will be making a great leap forward with the installation of this new technology. Sound amplification alone in each classroom will serve to improve student learning greatly, not to mention help teachers preserve their vocal cords.

Perhaps the most significant realization I came away with from the conference is that the technology we are installing will help teachers and students learn - not only in the more traditional modality of discursive communication, but also with presentational aspects of communication. This will better fit some of our students’ learning styles and will be more inclusive. We all understand the value of addressing different learning styles - verbal, musical, kinesthetic, etc. These new technologies will make it easier for teachers to apply the appropriate styles for a particular group of students.

Yes, there will be a learning curve. That’s part of the excitement. There will also be a price of ownership to sustain the technology, but I’m convinced it will be to the benefit of all of our students and teachers.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Dear Anonymous

I deleted this post from an "Anonymous" reader this week:
"I can put anything in here I want to including links to sites that are insulting or degrading to the district."
--Posted by Anonymous to PEP Tech Talk at 2/23/2006 03:40:55 PM
The comment has nothing to do with the post of that day.

Even though it is a true statement, I deleted it to illustrate the control that I actually do have on this blog as the author.

It was deleted at 3:50 pm

My Stat Counter shows the writer's IP address.

Given this info the writer was in the Puyallup School District & on a district computer.

The IP address indicates a location that is not filtered by our district's BESS proxy.

To me the comment reflects concern about the openness of blogs.

It points to a yearning to control the conversation.

It reflects a position of desired command.

It indicates a concern for "what if" that stifles dialogue.

It expresses a need to be responsible to the point of paranoia.

How do you read it?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

My MySpace Anniversary

I have a MySpace account.

The account does not state my real name or my correct age, in fact it says my name is Milo and I'm a cat.

On March 20th I will have had the account for one year. I set up the page to watch my children ages 20 & 22. They both know I have the account and they both post on my page occasionally. I'm sure their content is occasionally modified to make it fit for daddy's eyes. It has been an interesting year to say the least.

Dean Shareski from Moose Jaw did some exploring of MySpace this weekend and had the following observations:
  • Most don't actually blog, they only post photos and receive comments. In that sense, I hope we stop calling MySpace a blog site when for the most part it's simply a social networking site.
  • The "f-word" is pretty common place.
  • Most of the conversation, while not what I would consider appropriate was not malicious but mostly encouraging
  • Some sites are used to post their personal music and video productions
Motivated by Dean I did a browse of the MySpace users that claim to be between the ages of 35 - 45 within a 5 mile radius of my house and found 246 people. 1,310 people between the ages of 18 - 21 & 1,685 kids between the ages of 16 - 18. Now granted, my page says I'm a 15 year old cat, so who knows the real ages of these folks but there are over 3,000 accounts set up within a 5 mile radius of my house. That's quite a few for the small town of Graham, WA.

Unless you create a MySpace account you can't see the pages of others. When talking to parents, I regularly recommend they set up an account and tell their children. I rarely do anything with the account but watch, explore and spy on the sites of my children and their My Space "friends". I deny all friend requests, except for the real live friends of my kids. I have found if I want all of them to get a message I deliver it through MySpace...it never fails, they always get it.

Yesterday I had lunch with Margie Jensen and we talked about MySpace. Margie is the Director of Student Services for the Puyallup School District. She is responsible for interpreting our policy when assisting administrators dealing with reports of threats or slander including those made using MySpace. She has consulted law enforcement and legal counsel regarding the actions that we as a school district can take to discipline students that make threats in these forums.

Margie stated that MySpace is blocked in our district and as such any content on these pages would have been created off campus. Blocking the site also blocks staff from investigating reports. If MySpace threats are substantiated law enforcement is called. Slander issues on MySpace are not under school district jurisdiction. If child abuse is reported on MySpace we follow regular policy and legal reporting obligations. In addition, all secondary administrators have been briefed on the MySpace issue.

As my one year MySpace anniversary looms near and I reflect on my conversation with Margie, it is clear that MySpace in particular has consumed a great deal of Margie's attention and mine. For different reasons we're both trying to figure out MySpace and respond to our kids increasing desire to create content and publish on the web...to get attention...to get noticed...to speak their mind...without proper informational literacy skills. We see two different sides of the same coin.

I still think we can harness the energy and excitement that an authentic audience brings for good...I think Will, Dean and Margie do too.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


Last Friday we spent a couple hours working with Kevin Hasslinger the Director of the Online Development Center at the Puget Sound Educational Service District. I asked Kevin to teach 15 of our Master Teachers for the Intel Teach to the Future project how to use his product called SWIFT ~ Simplified Web Interface For Teachers.

We are piloting his product from now until June to determine if it will be the solution we've been looking for to post our Easy Grade Pro grades online and to easily have our teachers publish their own websites.

At first glance I think our teachers are gonna love this easy to use tool.

Take a look at our pilot sites.

You'll notice that Kevin has included tabs for announcements, discussion, documents, events, grades, homework, images, links, & quizzes.

The interface is very simple for teachers to use, just like the name implies.

I'm excited to see what our 150 teachers think of this tool this June.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Go for the Gold

I should have pointed you to these links from Google Maps Mania much earlier, better late than never. GMM put together this collection of outstanding Olympic resources:

Ask the World has a great site for up to date info on the competitions.

RemMaps put together this great map with links to the official Olympic site.

Community Walk offers another map integrating info about Italy and the Olympics using geography.

Google has really been in the Olympic spirit too! They have an awesome Google Earth interface.

For these and other links including a Google map in Italian and some cool Tagzania pages check out the Google Maps Mania site.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Presidents' Day

Maps & Presidents - Take a while to poke around on this map of the birthplaces of presidents and their wives (and 2nd wives in some cases). You can zoom in and switch to the satellite photograph of the actual neighborhood they grew up in.

The White House & Presidents - Great resource on all the presidents straight from the White House. Includes 360 degree video tour of the oval office. Also includes a kid version.

Objects from the Presidency - The National Museum of American History has "more than 900 artifacts related to the 42 men who have held our nation's highest office." If you can't make the trip to D.C. this site is an excellent alternative.

Presidential Libraries - These aren't libraries in the usual sense, FDR had a great idea here.

Secrets about the Presidents - PBS provides a sneak look at presidential secrets for kids. For instance, Bill Clinton is allergic to cat dander...Shhhh don't tell Socks.

See all of these and many more Presidential resources at FREE Federal Resources for Educational Excellence.

Friday, February 17, 2006

How Much do You Make?

This week Laurie & Leska pointed me to the recently released Zillow website which gives you details about the value of your home. It's amazing what you can find on line with public information.Kind of reminds me of the work of Louis Bloom a 56 year old septic system installer on Camano Island he put together an impressive collection of Washington State government salaries, including every teacher, principal and superintendent in the State of Washington.

It's interesting to compare the difference between College Football Coaches and a College Chancellor.
$35,700 a month

$25,312.51 a month

$150,000 a year

Bloom even collected the 2005 Assessed Property Values
from King County including:

Land Value $ 16,725,000
House Value $108,394,000
I found my salary, my wife's and in Zillow I found the details on our house.

Feels weird snooping in other people's business and my first thought was; you can't put that on the web, but it didn't stop me from snooping around.

Can you find your house value and your salary (Washinton State only)?
How about your neighbor's?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Jails and Schools

Court Systems and Education Systems

Today I experienced life in the courtroom while waiting for the plea of a man that held a gun to my head a few years back (but that's a different story).

I arrived at 8:50 for a 9:00 court date.

I was greeted by the victim's advocate and told that it shouldn't be long before my case was up. The first case started at 9:10.

Prisoners/Defendents were brought into the courtroom through a side door with shackles on their wrists and ankles. They were shackled together in groups of 6. They all wore the same uniform, a grey pullover shirt with PC Jail (Pierce County) printed across the front and back, matching pants were included. They all wore a pink tshirt underneath. A few harder criminals wore an orange suit. Someone said this was to identify them as such.

I sat with the observers and it turns out that some defendents were sitting among us as well. There were two glass barriers between us and the judge, probably to prevent one of us from going postal on the defendents that may have offended one of us victims. Or maybe it's to protect the judge in case we didn't like her verdict. At any rate the glass formed a transparent hallway between courtrooms to transport prisoners and to separated me and the other visitors from the actual court room.

As I waited for my prisoner's turn to have his day in court, I watched as defendant after defendent made "an Alford plea. In this plea, the defendant does not admit the act and asserts innocence, but admits that sufficient evidence exists with which the prosecution could likely convince a judge or jury to find the defendant guilty. Upon receiving an Alford plea from a defendant, the court may immediately pronounce the defendant guilty and impose sentence as if the defendant had otherwise been convicted of the crime."~Wikipedia which was exactly the case in most of the 21 cases in this courtroom today.

Their offenses included theft, forgery, unlawful possession of stolen property, attempting to elude a police vehicle, solicitation and manufacturing of a controlled substance and assault. My prisoner had the worst charge of the day with the exception of one who was on his 3rd strike.

The defendants include both sexes and many races; most had tatoos and piercings.

The prosecuting attorney suggested a 10 minute recess at 11:00. The judge agreed and everyone left the room except the Deputy Officer that was assigned the duty of escorting the prisoners in and out of the courtroom once they were unshackled from the rest. I sat alone, still waiting for my prisoner's plea.

The 10 minute recess ended at 11:20 and new prisoners were brought in for processing. I was amazed at the ratio of staff to prisoners. At times the room was full of 10 - 12 paid staff and lawyers and only one defendent.

Finally, my prisoner made his Alford plea. Guilty. He was sentenced and it was done. He went back to jail for a couple more years. Just like that, your taxes helped pay to put him there and they'll pay his expenses while he's in there.

In retrospect, I thought about Courts and Education and the money our government spends on each. I thought about Jails and Schools and how we staff each. I thought about Judges and Principals and how similiar their roles are. I thought of Lawyers and Teachers and the money made in each profession. I thought about Prisoners and Students and how we get to choose neither yet both are required to attend and obey. I thought about the Kids/Prisoners I saw in court today; some of which could have been my students, in fact 2 were in my 4th grade class many years ago.

I don't think it's a coincidence that recess is important in both.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

He wasn't even there!

Last week I attended a session at NCCE in Portland and the presenter Conn McQuinn wasn't even there. Last summer, I attended several sessions at Alan November's Building Learning Communities Conference near Boston and I wasn't even there.

Conn used GoToMeeting & Skype while Alan posted the vodcasts of his conference on iTunes and I've watched them several times at my leisure.

Participating in a conference either at a Participant or as a Presenter just got a whole lot easier and cheaper.

I'm packing my bags for the TCEA conference in Texas courtesy of Miguel Guhlin.

What conference have you attended or presented at lately...without even being there?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Welcome MacBerry

Lisa Berry joined the blogosphere today. I took this pic of Lisa & Betsy with my Treo 650.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Northwest Behind East Coast EduTechies?

Hall Davidson asked the question, "Who has made a podcast with kids?" to a auditorium full of 1,000 plus educators during his closing keynote at this year's NCCE conference in Portland last week...not one person raised their hand, not even me.

We did set up a NCCE conference blog, I'm unsure how many viewers we had.
We set up a Flickr Group site, only 3 members so far.
Few signs of Wiki's or Social Bookmarks were present; although I did use Writely.com to organize a geocaching event for the conference.

Among the most popular sessions were the Blogs, Wiki and Podcast type workshops.

It seems to me that the Northwest is lagging behind the pack on these Web 2.0 technologies.

Am I wrong?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

this is an audio post - click to play

Friday, February 10, 2006

Farewell Portland, Farewell Adina

Today’s schedule was action packed.

Microsoft’s Peer Coaching by Anne Allen & Shelee King George
Cool thing I learned: “The more powerful technology becomes, the more indispensable goog teachers are.” Fullan

The Podcasting Revolution by Karen Fasimpaur
Cool thing I learned: Audacity has some very cool features!

Google 301 by Patrick Crispin
Cool thing I learned: Google has a preference interface language selection of “Elmer Fudd”

How to Think Bigger While the World Gets Smaller by Hall Davidson
Cool thing I learned: Discovery Education was very smart in hiring Hall & it’s Hall not Hal.

The Geocaching Activity was a huge success! We’ll be set up in San Diego this July.

Special thanks to local Portland Cachers, pdxmarathonman, fractal, doodlecat, charliewhiskey you guys are awesome!
Check out Moutain Mule's blog regarding the conference.

Farewell Portland it was a fantastic conference!

And Finally, Farewell Adina Winstead, NCCE administrative assistant; congrats on your upcoming marriage and your move to Olympia, my correspondence with you over the last 2 years has always been pleasant, you will be missed.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Geocaching @ NCCE

2 men played 5 games of checkers and they each won 3.

Please explain...(see Bransford keynote for answer below)
Glenn's Day @ NCCE
7:00am Breakfast @ Denny's With Beth, Rudy & Nick

8:00am Geocaching Booth Setup:
Coolest Thing I Learned: fratal, pdxmarathonman, and CharlieWhiskey are great people!

8:30 Handhelds for School Administrators by Karen Fasimpaur
Coolest Thing I Learned: How to share files using Bluetooth! Duh, what took me so long to figure that out?

9:45 Keynote Dr. John Bransford
Learning Theories and Technology for the Twenty First Century: Issues and Opportunities
Coolest Thing I Learned: Hantano's Efficiency & Innovation Balance (answer: they didn't play each other)

12:00 Lunch @ Lloyd Center w/ Gary & Mark Arbys Yum

1:00 Gizmos, Gadgets and High Tech Toys by Alan Walker
Coolest Thing I Learned: USB gadgets are ridiculous and many

2:15 I have a Bunch of Digital Pictures, Now What? by Conn McQuinn
Coolest Thing I Learned: Conn can present at NCCE in Portland from his desk in Renton

3:30 Blogging, Podcasting, and other cool things you really should know by Karen Fasimpaur
Coolest Thing I Learned: Never trust technology, especially during a technology conference.

6:30 Portland Spirit Flagship Yacht
Coolest Thing I Learned: David Guertin, Coordinator of Instructional Tech in Central Kitsap can't read this blog from his desk at work because his district blocks blogger and all other blogs.

11:23 Blog Entry...Good night

Only one more day...

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Bloggin the NCCE

Check out the Pics for the NCCE conference on SplashBlog and our NCCE Flickr group. We are also bloggin about the conference here.

Karen Fasimpaur & Annette Lamb gave exciting presentations today on Blogs & Podcasts!

Alan Walker presented a 3 hour workshop on Microsoft Outlook...did you know that you can send out a ballot to vote using Outlook?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Curling @ NCCE

This entry comes from the Double Tree Portland - Lloyd Center. The same Lloyd Center that was the training ice arena of Tonya Harding. I'll be spending the entire week in Portland for the annual NCCE (Northwest Council for Computer Education) Conference. Lloyd Center Mall is right across the street from my hotel, it was built with an ice rink right down the middle and tonight they offered Curling lessons for $5. It was fun to watch but I still don't get it.
Look for to more details about my sessions and experiences at the NCCE conferences each night this week.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Levy Election

I've been spending my evenings for the last couple weeks phone calling voters for our upcoming school levy election. Well tomorrow is the BIG day...Election day. We'll be asking for our taxpayers support of our basic maintenance and operations funding for the next 4 years. 20 percent of our budget is funded by our levy. Simply put, the levy pays for about one in five staffing positions. These include teachers, classroom assistants, and other staff who educate the more than 21,000 students in 31 schools across our district.

Levy propositions require a 60 percent supermajority to pass.

Vote! & watch the results here tomorrow night.

Friday, February 03, 2006

12th Man = Super Bowl Refs for Steelers

Seahawks looked like a better team than the Steelers to me today...unfortunately the score does not reflect that.

Bring the Steelers to Seattle and the 12th man advantage will be ours.

Wait until next year.

Congrats Steeler Fans.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Prelutsky's Mad @ Wikipedia!

A Haiku* for Jack
“Chicken Bosoms & The Bean of the Day”**

Wikipedia (5)

Posts lies about Prelutsky (7)

“Who’s manning the shop?” (5)

Jack Prelutsky is “mad at Wikipedia.” he told me so himself.

He’s mad because Wikipedia included false information about his life. The current article on him is accurate today but the damage has been done. He wants to know “who’s manning the shop?” He vented his frustration during his presentation to a group of educators from WORD @ Borders Books tonight.

False Wikipedia entries about Jack included these statements:

“Jack Prelutsky was married to Von Tre Venefue, a woman he had met in France.”

“They divorced in 1995 and Jack is currently single.”

“He befriended a gay poet named Espiritu Salamanca in 1997 and both now work together in writing poems and stories for children and adults alike.”

These falsehoods were added to Jack’s stub on June 8, 2005 and remained unedited until last week on January 28, 2006

These entries have since been deleted but Jack is mad because “none of these people even exist outside of this website.” The crowd of primarily primary teachers and librarians had little knowledge of what Wikipedia is and this first impression was not a good one.

Jack is the current featured poet on PoetryFoundation.Org with an impressive 30 year career as a “charming and witty verse” poet…darned impressive considering he “flunked college English twice.”

*My attempt at a Haiku in honor of Jack’s reading from his book of 17 Haikus “If not for the Cats” tonight. Technically mine is not a Haiku because it’s not about nature.

**”Chicken Bosums & The Bean of the Day” are funny restaurant menu sayings written by Jack in his little black book.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Hey Puyallup Teachers

It's possible that all 1200 of you will be reading my blog this month. I'll have my counter set.

I post a daily thought on education and technology Monday - Friday. Set this as your home page and you'll begin each day with my look on life from where I sit. The better news is that you can contribute to the discussion by leaving a comment with your opinion on the issue of the day.

You should also check the blogs of the Instructional Tech Team and many or our PSD Administrators have blogs too.

Join the fun and leave them a comment or two...heck you should even consider starting a blog yourself... Welcome to the Blogosphere...Your students have been waiting for you.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.