Archive for December, 2008

My Slippers on Twitpic

Posted in Educational on December 25, 2008 by Mister A

I figured out a new application called Twitpic that goes with twitter. I can post pictures from my phone to my Twitter account any time I want. I imagine that there is a more profound way to use Twitpic than postinggoofyslippers pictures of various slippers I wear, but I like people I have never met face to face to see my slippers. I think slippers say a lot about a person. This was my first picture that I posted to Twitpic…my Goofy Slippers. My dog Buster has chewed them up so they no longer have big black noses, but they still keep my feet warm.

The fact that 39 people have viewed my second entry of slippers from as far away as Bhaktapur, Nepal still amazes me. They are my Homer slippershomerslippers and they have also been chewed to pieces by my dogbustereats-leash Buster. Buster loves to chew things. In fact, on a trip we took recently to pick up some computers, he ate his leash. Hopefully, Buster won’t get dogslippers1a hold of my latest slippers my two sons bought me for Christmas. He has yet to attack this pair of slippers as he believes they might be related to him. Twitpic makes me think of the old saying that a picture can say 1000 words. I also believe that stories are better with pictures. I can say that my dog ate his leash or I can show you the picture of him eating his leash. To me, the picture is more meaningful. I believe that today’s students are more visual than ever before and we (teachers) should try to capitalize on this with the use of web 2.0 tools like Twitpic and Flickr. As my good friend Dean always says the C in ICT stands for communication and very often, a picture communicates so much more than words.

Since I began meeting other teachers on-line and developing both professional and personal relationships with them, I have shared things (like my slippers) that ordinarily I keep to myself. I love that I can show my friend Dean who has always wanted to see Montana, what an October Sky looks like on my way to work in a matter of moments.

sunrise

Or I can send a tweet to show what my perspective is from my sled on the first day of Christmas break…

sledding

On a personal note, as a Christmas gift, my wife, kids, and I received an Australian vacation. I have met and friended many people on the islands of Jokaydia in Second Life, most of them from Australia. It will be very exciting to meet some of them in real life, next June, when my family and I go there.

Gopi, Ubuntu, and other things

Posted in Educational, Personal on December 18, 2008 by Mister A

In September I went and picked up 25 donated Dell PC’s from the department ofputers border protection. They were donated to the fledgling computer club I started at East Middle School in Great Falls, Montana. After considering how to use the computers, I decided to set the computers up and have kids come to my room and play computer games for a quarter. Our plan was to use the money we raised to help buy supplies for a needy classroom in Bhaktapur, Nepal. In October and November we raised a little over $75.00 to help out Govinda (the administrator of the Nepalese school) and his students. This is where the problems seem to have started. A local news station even did a story about it…Click Here if you want to read the story. Go to the WATCH the VIDEO link if you want to see how it looked on TV.

I don’t think things through very well sometimes. I went to Walmart and bought $60.00 worth of crayons, notebooks, pencils, erasers, and other supplies to ship off to Bhaktapur, Nepal. Bhaktapur is about as far away from Great Falls, Montana as you can possibly get so I thought shipping something there might be a little spendy…maybe another $30.00 or so, if I ship it UPS ground…this was my first mistake. You can’t ship something via Ground across an ocean (I am always learning something new). When I asked for a quote at the local UPS store, I was put on hold for several box-of-suppliesminutes when I imagine they were probably contacting the Bhaktapurian UPS store to come up with a price to ship a 35 LB box of supplies from here…to there. Long story short…it would cost $282.50 to send the $60.00 box of supplies to Bhaktapur. I contemplated spending the $282.50 to send the package and imagined the box being smashed, crunched, dropped, and mutilated as it made the 7000 mile trek from here to Bhaktapur (give or take a couple thousand miles). The reason I would even contemplate spending that amount to ship something to Nepal is that I lack the ability to trust.

Govinda Prasda Panthy (Gopi) contacted me through skype because he thought I was 79 year old teacher who would be able to donate lots of money to his school. Since my name on skype is Teacherman79 I guess I can understand his reasoning. I joke with my teaching partner that Gopi is probably sitting in a high rise building in New York City contacting people through Skype and getting them to send money to a poor school in Nepal…but in all humor there is usually truth. Deep down inside, I somehow believe that Gopi is trying to scam me. And honestly, who can blame me,welcomegopi1 with all the scams, identity thefts, and other crimes against unwitting victims that seem to be the norm these days. In my distrust, I asked Gopi to send me a picture of his students holding up a sign that said hello to my students at East Middle School to prove to us that they were real. Something was lost in translation as you can see from the sign held by the young student who looks as if he is really curious (and perhaps a little miffed) as to why he has to hold up a sign in someone else’s language. Gopi told me that many parents of students at SAV school were taking there kids out of school as they had no money to pay for supplies and they believed that education held little value.

Anyhow, I guess that I will keep the box of supplies here and give them to local children in need of supplies because we have needy children in Great library-designFalls, Montana too. I will also figure out how Western Union works and send Gopi some money to help him buy some things for his students. He sent me a picture of plans he is making for a library at his school. Maybe the money I send can help him get started with his library. I am debating on the amount to send him, perhaps $282.50…

To me, the fact that I am even having a conversation with a teacher whom I am 99% sure is from Nepal, about struggles he has in his classroom says boatloads about how much our world is changing. Great Falls, Montana and Bhaktapur, Nepal are about as far away from eachother as you can get…

On a personal note, we signed our two sons up for Recreational Hockey League last night…Great Falls finally has ice to skate on…its been a long time coming…My kids love to skate and play hockey but we haven’t had an ice rink for several years…they played hockey last year but didn’t do well as it is difficult to play hockey if you don’t know how to skate…a predicament faced by about half of their team last year…I am happy they get to play hockey and learn to skate in town now…Seeing my kids happy makes me happy…I wonder if they have hockey in Bhaktapur…

I am still alive…

Posted in Educational on December 1, 2008 by Mister A

I have not been blogging much lately for a couple of reasons. I guess I was a little burnt out on blogging and basketball season has come into full swing (I coach a couple of basketball teams). I also started playing World of Warcraft with a group of teachers. It is an interesting game which I have found to be scarilyhenzimer2 addictive. I need to be very careful around things that are as addictive as I have found WoW to be as I have an extremely addictive nature. I also haven’t felt the need to write about the things I am doing in my classroom as they haven’t changed much since my last post. I continue to introduce students to Quest Atlantis in both the Math Lab class I teach and in the Computer Club that has started. I have created a blog and a wiki for a few of my more advanced questers to share their experiences on. We also created a Flickr account as a venue for my students to share screen shots of their adventures in QA. A slide show of several of the screen shots can be accessed by clicking HERE. (WordPress…you need to get Flashed).

Finally, our computer club was recently featured in a newscast by a local station. We are raising money for what I believe is a needy school in Nepal. I have never been much of a fund raiser but my friend, Gopi, tells me that his school really needs some supplies.

My blog is mostly about how a Personal Learning Network (PLN) has worked in my life. For without my PLN, I would not be twittering, blogging, questing, wiki-ing, or even WoWing for that matter. As for instruction in my Math Lab…I don’t know that Web 2.0 totally changes the need for direct instruction in mathematics. There are certain things that middle school students struggle with when it comes to mathematics. I have attempted using some web tools for a few things in my classroom, but if a student does not understand how to convert a mixed number into an improper fraction, direct instruction to me still seems like a pretty good option. Any suggestions regarding the utilization of web tools with regards to mathematics are always very welcome.

buster-and-boysOn a Personal note, I took my two boys and dog, Buster, fishing last Saturday. We had an excellent hike up to the fishing hole and some excellent conversation. However, the only thing that we managed to catch was Buster’s ear on a hook.