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Welcome to the 2020NEXUS web site. 

Keyboarding           Tech Integration          Gaming (The Learning Kind)

 

Please visit My Classroom for information on the following topics: History, Writing, Reading and English.  I am teaching only I.T courses at the moment so those pages may not be updated.

Tuesday
Jun012010

Teachers Are Off All Summer? 

This will be a short post since right now I'm preparing to present at a 21st Century Learning conference tomorrow, and also starting tomorrow: taking the intense but highly recommended Colorado Writing Project for two weeks, since May 3 I've been teaching an online course about ThinkQuest that lasts until June 21, and finally, I'm prepping to lead a face-to-face ThinkQuest seminar in New Mexico on June 17. 

Being busy is fun, although I hope to get some rest sometime this summer! 

Here's my big news:  I will be spending a lot of this summer getting ready for my new teaching position in Language Arts at Jenkins Middle School!  I loved my last job (teaching technology to kids all day) yet it was time for a change.  It will be very different thing to be back in a content area classroom instead of being in an elective computer lab, but I did it for several years before and I know I can do it again.  No matter how jazzed I am about this new job,  I'll never forget the wonderful people who came in and out of my life during my 9 years at Mann Middle School.  I learned so much more from those colleagues and students than they ever learned from me!

Friday
Mar262010

Balancing Screen Time With Life Time

Today's post is about a dilemma most of us geeks in the modern age must confront:  keeping our virtual lives balanced with our offline lives.  I don't even like the phrase "in real life" because my digital activities are just as real as my analog ones; but I use it for lack of a better one.

During this Spring Break I decided to turn off my Twitter and Facebook accounts.  Over the last few years my time spent on both of those social networks has increased while the impact or payoff from using them has not. I believe my contributions to such networks should be either uplifting or useful to both others and myself.  I like to share resources, news, and support with others. I like to foster connections that benefit both me and the other  users.  I simply found that the "drinking from a firehose" nature of following ed tech colleagues, ELL coaches, health/fitness gurus, gadget geeks, travel deals, etc., became more than I could keep  up with.  I wasn't forming many lasting or mutually beneficial connections and I was spending a significant number of hours per week checking tweets and posts.   I had even tried limiting my Facebook friends to only non-work-related individuals, yet social circles inevitably get wider, and the number of posts that called for my attention got more and more time-consuming.  For all the interesting, funny, and helpful links, photos, stories, and resources my network and I shared, I had the gnawing feeling that no one would notice if I kept it up or not. Much of it felt like shouting into a void.    Hardly any of those online connections were maturing into offline or even telephone relationships.  There's some value in purely virtual acquaintances, no doubt, but it occurred to me that my time and energy are my prime assets--was I spending them wisely? 

Because much of my work requires me to be online, If I'm not careful to monitor myself and use Herculean self-discipline, the work and the play time in front of the screen begin to overlap and meld. That's fun, until you feel as though you work 18 hours a day and are unnaturally tethered to your digital devices.  I had to ask myself: are my activities adding value  or sucking the life out of me? Are these networks inspiring me to actually get offline, live, move, and love others? Am I becoming more thoughtful, focused, and wise because of them or am I becoming more scattered mentally and stagnant physically? I wasn't pleased with my answers to these questions.

I don't consider being overly busy a virtue and these social networks were eating away at time I could be spending on work, play, or building meaningful friendships and professional associations. I'm at a time in my life where I need to invest my time and energies where they will matter most and produce a return. Don't get me wrong: I believe that in all my interactions with people I should try first to be of service and to give more than I receive.  Although I found I didn't have enough time to contribute enough meaningful material, I was gradually getting in the habit of spending time contributing fluff, quips, gripes, and jokes.  That wasn't value-added for me or my followers and friends.  So it was time for a break.

I also did some spring cleaning and culled my RSS Feeder of blogs and podcasts that aren't truly fun or useful to me. That needs to be done every so often because I tend to subscribe to new blogs or podcasts to see what they're like and because I love to learn new things; however, the list gets big quickly and becomes overwhelming.

I'm not swearing off social media. I'm not fasting from the digital age. I will still text and watch a little TV. I still teach 6 computer classes a day.  I still belong to a number of professional online communities, read or skim about 50 blogs, and subscribe to about 20 podcasts. I still believe in social media as a great way to stay connected--I will miss my friends and family's day-to-day posts on Facebook.  I will miss some of the up-to-the minute professional development that came from the teaching community on Twitter (especially missmarista's tales of the UAE and wmchamberlain's  insights).  There just has to be a balance. When it comes to our virtual lives, let's not forget the "M" word: moderation.

My goal for the next few months is to do a better job of picking up the phone and making some voice calls, planning more face-to-face meetups, writing some snail mail, hitting the gym and the bike trails, and most of all: turning off the screens and getting a life! You can ask me how that's going. In fact, let's go discuss it over a nice walk!

Thursday
Jan282010

Support Persons of the Week: Mr. Lippincott and Lunch Staff

 

   

   

Thursday
Jan212010

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

My students were inspired when I showed them a poster from Ruskin Press and asked if they could make their own. Here is the result.  Can you tell what it spells?  I am so proud of them!

  

Wednesday
Jan202010

Support Persons of the Week: Mr. Stark and Miss Pauline

This is one of our most reliable Special Ed aides, Jim. He demonstrates super-human patience, love, and good humor with some of the most challenging children we have. 

This is our wonderful full-time volunteer, Miss Pauline. She is a GREAT-Grandmother raising a former student of ours. She just kept coming after her great-granddaughter went on to high school. She is a treasure for many reasons!

 

Wednesday
Jan202010

My colleague Jackie Arthur, a Spanish teacher, is working on this question  for a graduate course. Below it is my quick response:

Jackie:

The NETS standards and and the ICT4LT website both outline knowledge and skills that language teachers are expected to have. But since technology changes so quickly, skills become obsolete. How is it possible for pre- and in-service teacher development programs to give teachers the necessary skills?

My question is since you do many inservices, both online and in person, what have been some of the things that you have seen teachers asked to improve their tech skills? What have been some of the things you wished they asked?  Also since you teach technology how do you decide which applications (or skills) to teach since most likely those skills will change or become obsolete?

Me:

I think schools -- in meeting the needs of both kids and adults -- should focus on making sure that folks are prepared to do their jobs in an increasingly information-saturated and global environment.

It's really important to emphasize skills like:

  • media and information literacy (how to get around on the web, find what you need, etc.);
  • how to build a robust personal learning network that will help you keep pace with rapidly changing tools/skills/tech (i.e. following blogs in your subject, communicating with others about what's happening in the field);
  • keep the focus on teaching and learning via technology tools instead of getting bogged down or obsessed with specific software, hardware, or web services. 

You have to learn some tech skills to do all of the above but as you can see, it really isn't about the technology itself. 

Tuesday
Jan192010

Writing About Math and Technology

Tomorrow I try something I haven't done in a long time.  I will ask my students to analyze some graphical data in a coherent sentence or two.  I don't know if they are doing this in Math class; however, I feel certain they will be asked to do something similar on our state's standardized test, the CSAP.

 

Stay tuned.

 

Tuesday
Jan122010

A Few Professional Development Books On My Shelf

Tuesday
Jan122010

During Keyboarding Practice

We spend 10-15 minutes at the beginning of class most days using various types of keyboarding tests, games, drills, and lessons.  Students are expected to show progress in both speed and accuracy and are assessed every 2 weeks. 

Sunday
Jan102010

How's Your Facebook? Know How to Twitter?

One of my ed tech contemporaries, Judy O'Connell, blogs at  Hey Jude. She mentioned two great tools in her blog on 01.09.10. I believe they are worth sharing here. They are guides to using Twitter and Facebook, made by Mashable.
 
The Facebook Guide includes
  • Facebook 101: The Basics
  • Managing Your Facebook Wall
  • Using Facebook for Business
  • How to become a fan of Mashable
  • Using Facebook Applications
  • Facebook 305:Advanced Topics

Twitter Guide topics include:

  • Twitter 101 – The Basics
  • Building Your Twitter Community
  • Twitter for Business
  • Twitter Guide Book To Go: PDF Download and Slideshow
  • Sharing on Twitter
  • Managing Your Twitter Stream
Hey Jude also credits librarianbyday.net regarding these resources.  Thanks, Judy, for telling us about them!
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