Friday, December 29, 2006

Dogboy dating video

Since Dogboy Goo is a good friend of mine, I told him I'd post his dating video for him.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Google's Student Speakout

We recently completed the Global Warming Student Speakout in my English classes. It makes me wonder about the differences between digital writing and traditional writing. Here are four things I've noticed:

  • Revision is becoming more visible. It used to be a black box. Among other things this is significant for writing teachers (e.g. a writing conference with more evidence) as well as for the writer.
  • Linkage. It feels different reading a document that can link to the source material rather than just cite it.
  • Web surfing for information during collaborative projects is more conductive to the ebb and flow of conversation, and is better suited to the psychological connections our brains make.
  • Audience matters. Nothing new here. Audience influenced the choices we make in traditional writing too. But a potential immediate worldwide audience that allows others to interact with the content? That seems different. Maybe Marshall McLuhan's predictions about a global tribe aren't so far off.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Google Docs in the classroom

Is anyone else working on Google's "Global Warming Student Speakout"? Here are some thoughts on the first couple of days with Google Docs in the classroom.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Sunday, September 17, 2006

confidence in voice

A great writer has a strong voice. "Voice" is one of the 6 Traits of Writing, but a lot of teachers don't see it as one of the more important traits.

On June 24, 2006 I saw Garrison Keillor perform an episode of Prairie Home Companion in Salt Lake City, and I again wondered about voice. How does a writer come by a strong voice -- where does that confidence come from? I remember the first time I heard my voice through the sound system of a big auditorium; it was unnerving. But now when I hear myself like that, it's not a big deal. Speaking from experience, I got better as a writer once I got used to my voice, and that included actually listening to my recorded voice, becoming accustomed to it, "hearing" my voice as I composed, and then making editorial decisions based this awareness of voice.

So when I had my classes write about their thoughts on 9/11 and played their recorded voice back to them, I asked them what they thought about their voice.

Do you think seniors in AP English would have more confidence in their voice than my 9th graders do? I did. But I was wrong. 63% of the seniors responded negatively (e.g. "I sound weird"), while 65% of the 9th graders felt the same (e.g. "I sound like a freak").

Do you think girls or boys have more confidence in their voice? Out of the five seniors who responded positively to the experience (e.g. "my voice sounds more professional, cool") 4 of them were boys. All six 9th graders who responded positively were boys.

I think that if I get them more accustomed to their voice, they'll be better writers. That's why I include podcasting in my curriulum.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

I Saw It

I just saw my oldest son off to college this morning. He'll drive across Nevada to the Bay Area for his senior year. My daughter just started her first year in college and is living away from home for the first time. At first I was in a bit of a funk; I admit it, I'm sad about it all, especially when I run across old snapshots of them or their baby blankets. But then there's the part of me that recognizes the inevitable and celebrates the fact that despite their parents they turned out reasonably well-adjusted. It's a heartache that brings joy. Here's a song that my band Cicada just recorded about what's left when we all move on.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Google Mashups

I've been working with some Google mashups lately -- Quikmaps and Wikimapia. Soon I'll try MapBuilder. Here's a Quikmaps collaboration with some teachers from EducationBridges.

Here's an example of a wikimapia addition I made. I labeled Gilgal Garden in Salt Lake, which is definitely a one-of-a-kind.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

I'll never be too old for this

The start of school is just around the corner, and there's a lot I need to do before then. Still, that doesn't stop me from recording a new song this morning while everyone else in the house is at work. I wrote this one after I got home for Chico, CA. I had a lot on my mind. Ultimately Too Old? is a song about never losing the passion for living and loving.

Recorded on my PowerBook G4 laptop with a inexpensive Logitech USB microphone using GarageBand's helium voice for the background vocal effect. The quality will be better when I record this with Ben and Zack on better equipment. But for now at least, I've entertained myself (something I can do pretty easily).

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Podcast examples

Postscript: The Communiqué from the 2013 Future of Education Summit identified five wicked problems facing education. One of those was how to preserve the digital expressions of our culture and knowledge. I've seen that first hand as the server no longer exists that hosted some of the earliest podcasts my students had done in 2005. That's too bad because they were excellent audio pieces. To remedy that I'll start collecting some recent ones from my students.

Communiqué from the 2013 Future of Education Summit

Original post (the server that hosted these files crashed, so they no longer exist. Sorry)
Here are some examples of podcasts the students did this year in my 9th grade Journalistic Writing class. They represent a wide variety of writing modes. The students were highly engaged in the process of composing for online audio.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Who talks most in class?

If you're a teacher, let me know if this sounds right. When it comes to the types of talkers in class, I've noticed three different types: quiet/reserved students, chatty students, and students who dominate class discussions. So in my class blog project this year, which students do you think "talked" most online? Who had to most responses to other students' writings?

Turns out the students who tend to contribute most to whole group discussions responded most online. The students who responded least were the chatty ones (students whose in-class interaction was usually off-task and with their neighbor). Anybody have any thoughts on that?

Saturday, July 29, 2006

mine entrance

mine entrance
Originally uploaded by 6 Sloans.

Me and the boys outside of an abandoned mine entrance in Montana's Beartooth Mountains. The mine went back about 150 feet. Some animal had made beds out of sage and pine needles in a couple of places; it smelled really good actually. We also found a dead kangaroo rat that was still pretty fresh.

I'd be lying if I didn't say that it was a little eerie, especially when we turned off our lights. There are abandoned mines all over the West. At the risk of turning this post into a bit of a Public Service Announcement, I do think that if you're going to go into an abandoned mine, you should be aware of the potential dangers.

Caves are pretty cool places (no pun intended). While this wasn't technically a cave, it reminded me of spelunking. They appear often in mythology and literature. What's your favorite underworld place – real or fictional?

Monday, July 17, 2006

podcast tutorial

Teaching something helps me learn it better myself. Here's a link to a tutorial I did about how to make podcasts.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

What I'm doing on my summer vacation

Okay, I've got some domestic duties. For instance I painted a room in our house, cut out a window that had been paneled over, and am growing a pretty wicked garden this year. So I'm no slacker around the house.

But one of the things I really look forward to is recording with Ben Moffat and Zack Sloan. We have a band called Cicada. I host some audio files on my school's server. Here's a link if you want to listen to "Summer Swims" one of the tracks on our newest CD. I haven't quit my day job yet, so we can only get together a few precious summer days. But we have a lot of laughs on those days.

I've also begun an online memoir (using Flash). Here are links to the first two chapters. It's the first part of the last time I made it to my parents' house where I grew up. They were moving out and it was also, coincidentally, my high school class 20-year reunion. Watch these and let me know what you think.

What I learned this year

The beauty of teaching is that you can make a living by learning. Every day during the school year I wake up, make a latte or two, whip up some lunches for the fam, strap on my laptop bag, and walk the half-block to my school. Then I get to help teens (and me) along the path of self-actualization. It's a simple existence, but I like it. This year I learned more about human nature, but for this post I'll limit it to what I learned in the tech world that's actually helped my teaching. Specifically, one of the things that I think has a lot of potential for improving education is online collaboration.

One of my classes participated in a PBwiki project. I'll do more with that technology and more wiki collaborations with other schools next year. In the very near future more schools will be collaborating more often, and I can't help but think that the world could use a little more education -- a little more peace, love and understanding these days. Since we did that I've thought more about the people who are creating those online collaboration places. Writely is getting a lot of press these days, but what about Writeboard or ZohoWriter? Does anybody out there think one of these three is the best? Or is there another one that I've overlooked?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

School's Out for Summer

Okay, so it's been a while since I've posted. A little thing called the school year intervened. It's not that I didn't want to, it's just that I don't have the blogging habit down yet. I post with nearly the same frequency as the appearance of my favorite insect -- the cicada. But anyway, if I'm posting that must mean that the 2005-06 Judge Memorial school year came to a close yesterday. It was a great year. Sorry to say that one of my colleagues, Calli Short, is retiring. She has been a key part of our department for the last 12 years. Gonna miss her. I learned a lot over the past 180 school days, and I got to work with some amazingly talented students this year. One of the more interesting projects was my freshmen English class's podcast collaboration with some students in New York City. In the posts to come, I'm going to tell you the top five things I learned this year.