Monday, September 29, 2008

GTA reflection

On September 24 I attended the Google Teacher Academy in Chicago. The agenda speaks to the scope of the experience. Of course there were a lot of things that were noteworthy, but here are some things that stand out now that I've reflected on the event.

As a teacher who still incorporates both digital tools and traditional language arts tools (like books, pens, and paper), I was intrigued by the search function of the Books project. For example, suppose I can't quite locate a quote from the book, 1984, by George Orwell; I remember that there was a part where the character Syme is predicting the imminent demise of books, but I can't find the quote when I need it. I do a quick book search, and within seconds I've got it:

Whoever thought up the idea for the Books project has definitely done Orwell proud.... There are a lot of noble digital endeavors devoted to the book these days, like Project Gutenberg and Shelfari to name a couple, but as of this writing no one does book search better than Google.

Another area of interest is Google Forms, which I've only been using for a little while. I'd like to know how other teachers are using them. Certainly Thomas Barrett is someone who's doing some amazing things with that application now.

Suggestions for future GTA's? I could have spent a lot more time learning about advanced searches, and also how I can turn better manage the wealth (glut?) of information that can appear in my Reader on a daily basis.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Drill Bit

Although the "Drill, Baby, Drill" mantra first burst on to the scene on September 3 at the Republican National Convention, it seems to be gaining force lately. Wired Science is even sponsoring a "Drill, Baby, Drill" remix contest.

On September 8, I surveyed my 70 of my freshmen and AP English students about some of the election-year issues using Google Forms. When asked "Should the United States drill for oil in protected offshore waters?" 65% said no, 30% said yes, while 5% were undecided. It should be interesting to see if their opinions change as both sides try to steer the energy debate and my students research the issue.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

My dad in World War II, part two

My dad ships out for Australia in the summer of 1943. Gen. Douglas MacArthur pays his unit a visit.