Archive for October, 2008

Quest Atlantis begins at East Middle School

Posted in Uncategorized on October 26, 2008 by Mister A

I began sending home permission slips for Quest Atlantis last week and I began enrolling students this week. I have QA downloaded on each of the ten Windows based computers in my classroom which run the program pretty well despite only 256 mb of ram and pretty slow processors but they were good enough. We also managed to get it working on twelve other computers in the Library. The library computers are much better than the ones in my classroom, so QA seems to run a bit better there. The computer tech said QA looked like a chat room and Susan told him that it was much more than that. Susan is my feisty Quest Atlantis partner and she has been instrumental in getting QA loaded on the twelve computers in our library. Many of the kids are so excited, they can barely contain themselves. I had to have a small conference with one student to get him to stop asking about when he would be enrolled along with the others. Angela shared with me that I would be very busy in the near future when kids began completing quests. She is a Tasmanian friend I met on Jokaydia and she has been extremely helpful in helping me learn how to begin implementing QA in my classroom. She is an expert in Quest Atlantis as she has been utilizing it for well over a year now I think, possibly even more.

I also made a wiki page that linked to the How to download QA at home and many students have taken advantage of it and began playing QA from their homes. Classroom walls are becoming wider all the time, in schools of the future, I believe that walls will be nonexistent.

KFBB Television came in and interviewed the first quester I enrolled early in September about different technologies we have begun using at East Middle School. I will blog a little more on that story as it develops. The chaoticness of this time of year is making me be far more precise with my words when I blog. Precision of thought, I have heard that phrase somewhere, is a skill that I need to work on if I am to continue blogging. I coach basketball for a couple of elementary school teams that my two sons play on and although it is a rewarding endeavor, it can be quite time-consuming. Basketball season has begun and so has the chaos.

On a personal note…Although I am connecting to some awesome teachers and having a very cool time I may have picked a poor time to join a the Cognitive Dissonance Guild in a new adventure I just began in WOW as a night elf hunter and a paladin dwarf…On-line educators are by far, the most helpful people I have ever had the pleasure of being connected to…like Maratink…my helper in WOW…


Skype keeps me connected…Get ready for QA

Posted in Educational, Personal on October 17, 2008 by Mister A

I have been feeling a bit discouraged lately and a little afraid to begin taking some risks in my classroom. I sometimes tend to focus more on why something cannot be done instead of concentrating on why it should be done. Dean Groom, a colleague I met while learning about Second Life, skyped me, and his fire for education rekindled my passion about how important changing how I teach in my classroom is. Something about talking with that goofy Aussie brings out the best in me.

So anyway, as a result of our talk, I began handing out permission slips for Quest Atlantis on Tuesday, something I had been procrastinating on for a variety of “yeah, but” type reasons. Kids were very excited and most responded positively to the Quest Atlantis Legend video I used to introduce the program. In fact, several students rushed into my classroom with signed permission slips right after first bell on Wednesday morning. I posted the video below to show my PLN what the kids see. This video provides a background story for the Quest Atlantis program, that in my opinion, will lead students to an increased sense of social commitment and responsibility.

My computers are a little slow and they may not run QA perfectly, but they work well enough…And Susan Wanke, a co-worker also trained in Quest Atlantis, has managed to get QA loaded on 11 computers in our school library for approved questers to begin utilizing during library time, homebase, study hall, or after school. I am glad there is another teacher at my school fired up and feisty about web2.0. So, thanks again, Dean, for helping me stay passionate about teaching.

On a personal note, it has been difficult to keep blogging as much as I was during the summer months. I think I miss out when I don’t do at least one post a week. I think I need to be less of a perfectionist about my posts and be alright with there being a typo or two. My blog is very important for my professional development but I sometimes neglect things that have higher priority because I am worried about making sure my post is perfect.  So if you find a typo or two and it really bugs you, let me no, and I will fix them. Because my plan is to spend more time writing, and less time proofing and editing.

Diigo Updates – October 11, 2008

Posted in Educational on October 11, 2008 by Mister A

Kevin Jarrett has some awesome slide shows on Slide Share and was cool enough to share. He was the first person I ever saw present via ustream.

Check out my Fantasy Football team.

Paul Bogush, a teacher in Connecticut and Plurk contact uses wikis with his students. It looks like he and his students are really on the ball where web2.0 tools are concerned. Thanks Paul.

Royalty free images from Paul Bogush again. On-line teachers are generous.

GoAnimate – Cool Web tool

Posted in Uncategorized on October 4, 2008 by Mister A

Go animate is a pretty cool little tool. Thank you Kevin Jarrett for the twitter…I made this in about 30 minutes to introduce my new computer club to students…

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about "GoAnimate – Cool Web tool", posted with vodpod

Driving to Sweet Grass/Gettin some puters

Posted in Educational, Personal with tags , on October 1, 2008 by Mister A

I was able to finagle 25 dell computers from the United States Border Patrol over the past month or so and last Friday, I drove up to Sweet Grass, about a two hour drive, to pick up the computers. My journey began with the pick up of a Uhaul van to go and pick the computers up with. When I told the man at the counter, Goody, what I was using the uhaul for and that I was a teacher, he gruffly shared with me his opinion of computers and said that kids should just be given a paper and pencil with the instructions to “Git ‘er done”, after all, it was good enough for him. Computers cause way more problems than they are worth he went on to explain. It is amazing to me how similar his response was to certain people who I work with. The first responses I received when I shared with people that I was able to get some computers donated was “there is no place to put them”. I was hoping the response would be more positive, like maybe, Wow! think of all the things we could do with them. The computers I picked up are at least as good and in many cases better than the computers I currently have in my classroom, however, I will not be allowed to swap out windows licenses on to “Donated Machines”. The term “Donated Machines” seems a dirty word to the people involved with the implementation of technology at our school. One person in particular almost seems angry with me that I was able to get some computers donated to our school. Could someone in my PLN explain to me why that might be the case? Also, the only operating system that will be allowed on our district’s network is Microsoft Windows. The learning curve will be steep on this one, I think, as I begin to learn about Linux and open source operating systems. However, with my PLN, steep learning curves are much easier to ride up (bicycle racing metaphor). I imagine it is difficult to configure a network to take more than one different kind of operating system, but I don’t really know, because networking is not something I have a great deal of experience with. But it would seem to me that it must be possible, because I know other teachers are doing it in other places with poorer technological resources.

So, I will focus not on why I can’t use these computers in my school or how there will be obstacles in the way as I attempt to find a use for them, but on how much learning will occur for me and hopefully some of the students I see as I attempt finding a place in my school for these computers. Actually getting them on our school grounds should have been the biggest challenge I faced with regards to finding a purpose for the computers, but I have a feeling there may be bigger ones. Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if it were the employees from the U. S. Border Patrol who had to drive to Great Falls to pick up our school district’s old computers, not the other way around.

On a personal note, I took our dog, Buster with me on the trip to Sweet Grass. He is a great dog, just growing out of puppihood. He was great company along the way, and he really made me laugh when I looked down at him after paying too much attention to the road to see that he had chewed his old leash to shreds…See Picture…