Monday, December 31, 2007

That's a Big Ten-Four

Scott Elias's latest post uses NASA phrases to describe parental interaction with a tired child.

I thought it might be fun to use a similar technique and apply CB lingo to in my last posting of 2007.

Although I've read blogs by many good neighbors [fellow drivers/bloggers], I apologize for the times I've just been readin' the mail [just listening - not actively talking/commenting] and promise to be more interactive in 2008. I don't want to be an alligator station [all mouth and no ears: a person who likes to talk just to hear himself]. You are all ACEs [important] to me.

I'm also hoping to expand my technical skills, moving beyond being just an appliance operator [non technical person who knows how to turn the rig/computer on, and that’s about all].

NECC 2008 will be my chance to experience some bean house bull [trucker/blogger talk exchanged at truck stops/meetings & conferences, eyeball-to-eyeball/f2f] with many of the people who make my cyber universe so vital.

I wish everyone in my ever-expanding PLN all the good numbers [best wishes]. Have a great happy happy [New Year]!

"Hercules" by Cubwolf (Dave Smith)

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Everything I Need to Know About 21st Century Skills I Learned from Tina Turner

"What do we do with our lives

We leave only a mark

Will our story shine like a life
Or end in the dark

Give it all or nothing"
Tina Turner, We Don't Need Another Hero

Be Flexible in a Changing Environment/Never Be Afraid to Re-invent Yourself
Tina Turner is a singer, songwriter, dancer, and actress. After her professional and personal life hit rock bottom, Ms. Turner engineered a stunning solo comeback to achieve international stardom.

Have a Global Outlook
While her career languished in the States, Tina Turner continued to sell out venues in Europe and other parts of the world.
She has become the "face" of the National Rugby League in Australia and New Zealand.

Although she now limits solo appearances, Tina Turner has teamed up with various musicians (Phil Collins, Herbie Hancock, Santana) on recordings and contributed her voice to numerous charity concerts.

Be a Lifelong Learner
Tina Turner has risen from poverty to spectacular success by intelligently assessing her options, studying her chosen field and carefully orchestrating her career moves.

"Tina Turner" by Rob!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Old Knowledge

Master Po: [after easily defeating the boy in combat] Ha, ha, never assume because a man has no eyes he cannot see. Close your eyes. What do you hear?
Young Caine: I hear the water, I hear the birds.
Master Po: Do you hear your own heartbeat?
Young Caine: No.
Master Po: Do you hear the grasshopper that is at your feet?
Young Caine: [looking down and seeing the insect] Old man, how is it that you hear these things?
Master Po
: Young man, how is it that you do not?
-from the TV series, "Kung Fu"

There was an interesting exchange recently between technology guru and visionary Clay Burell and a young, articulate up-and-comer, Arthus regarding the value of content knowledge.

After receiving a mediocre score on an interactive geography quiz, Arthus remarked
"I’ll leave the geography facts to Google. I’ll do the thinking."
Clay responded,
"I don’t buy your 'geographic facts are unimportant compared to real thinking' implication.

Geopolitics, regional wars, and a million other things start with knowing where places are, what places surround them, the history of relations, the resources, etc etc.

That fact-base takes time to stew and congeal into a worldview and theoretical base... Foundational knowledge of facts is a prerequisite for nuanced thinking "
Arthus countered
"Ah… but I have the sense to Google something before I pretend to know about it."
A seemingly innocuous exchange, but it reflects two distinct schools of thought regarding the object of education: should we modify curriculum in favor of outcome-based education? Is it enough to possess the skills to access information or does content-based learning still have value? What do students need to acquire in the educational system to become successful adults? Should schools focus on skills and process?

What does a successful learner look like?

"Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information." -T. S. Eliot

"Reflective grasshopper" by Cowboy Dave

A Very Merry E-Christmas

"For centuries men have kept an appointment with Christmas. Christmas means fellowship, feasting, giving and receiving, a time of good cheer, home." -W.J. Ronald Tucker

Many of the gifts exchanged in our household this Christmas had a technical or digital component.

There was a selection of books (from a Jane Austen mystery to a home improvement manual); the requisite sweaters, scarves, and socks; food and beverages enough to ensure jolly times for days to come.

But there were also the connected "toys": my MacBook, my husband's digital camera, a new phone with answering machine, a DVD player, wii accessories galore, a printer, and a GPS system.

Rather than fracturing the family, these tools bring us closer together as we set them up, learn their idiosyncrasies and use them for communication, collaboration, and just plain fun.

Our skills range from basic to professional grade. Within our ranks, we manage to differentiate for, and accommodate, a very mixed group of learners.

In our various ways, we move with inquisitive minds into the future.

"I think, at a child's birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity." -Eleanor Roosevelt

Sunday, December 23, 2007

And wild and sweet the words repeat...

"I heard the bells on Christmas Day. Their old familiar carols play. And wild and sweet the words repeat. Of peace on earth goodwill to men." -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Yesterday I heard "Oh Holy Night" on the radio and was immediately transported back to a Sunday afternoon in late December, over 45 years ago.

Every adult parishioner, each student from the school (grades K -8), all members of the elementary and high school choirs, gathered for a program of traditional and sacred music.

Jimmy Maguire sang a solo in his soaring Irish tenor; the senior choir contributed a cappella Latin hymns; the entire congregation thundered forth "Joy to the World".

We walked home in the deepening evening to sip hot chocolate and dream beside the Christmas tree.

My beliefs have matured, possibly; changed, certainly. The music has stayed with me as a continuing comfort and delight.

"Adeste fideles, laetit triumphants, venite, venite in Bethlehem!" -Adeste Fideles (Oh Come, All Ye Faithful)

"You are the music while the music lasts." -T. S. Eliot

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Welcome to My World....So Far

NJ Tech Teacher shared a site that lets you map your travels.

For a visual learner like me, this graphic serves as an easily scanned reminder of the deficiencies in my world travels. Although I've expanded my virtual horizons considerably, I still fancy exploring in real time some of those cities, countries, and continents upon which I have yet to set foot. I have seen "...the glory that was Greece, And the grandeur that was Rome." (Edgar Allan Poe, To Helen); I want to see more.

create your own visited country map

I've done a bit better when it comes to U.S. travel, but there are still quite a few states I haven't visited yet.

create your own personalized map of the USA

“I cannot rest from travel; I will drink Life to the lees.” Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Ulysses

"Suitcases" by Malias

Do Do, Re Re, Meme

Bead Letter E V E coloured card disc letter n

I was tagged for this meme by Ms. Whatsit. Although I've done similar lists before, I'm never averse to talking about myself, so here goes:
  1. I can snap the fingers of my left hand, but not those on my right hand
  2. I was born in Uncle Sam's home town, Troy, NY
  3. Both of my parents saw active duty in WWII. Mom was in the WACS (France and England); Dad served as a navigator in the Army Air Corps (India/Burma)
  4. My favorite dance in high school was the Bristol Stomp
  5. I don't like mustard and put mayonnaise on my ham sandwiches
  6. My first clear memory is of the bears in the San Diego Zoo
  7. I cried throughout the movie "Rudie"
Pass it on, Life as I Know It, nickhereandnow, A Keeper's Jackpot, the cloudy dreamer/stacy, And another thing, Techno Tuesday, and Slam Teaching.

Here are the rules:

- Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.
- Share 7 random and or weird things about yourself.
- Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs.
- Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
from Diane & Tim and Family

Saturday, December 15, 2007


“With only one life to live we can’t afford to live it only for itself. Somehow we must each for himself, find the way in which we can make our individual lives fit into the pattern of all the lives which surround it. We must establish our own relationships to the whole. And each must do it in his own way, using his own talents, relying on his own integrity and strength, climbing his own road to his own summit.” -Hortense Odlum

In her latest NeverEndingSearch blog posting, Joyce Valenza asks "So, what's your own top edtech story of the year?"

For me, it's always been about people. My career history reflects this orientation, as I moved from social work to public library work to teaching, with some interesting stops along the way.

All of our education and/or technology investigation, promotion, instruction should ultimately reflect back to the needs and desires of our target audience: our students. Not the district, Board of Education, staff members; not the state or federal government; not the business world...but the people of all ages who rely on us to guide them and facilitate their learning.

We are preparing them for a life which includes, but is much more than, a career. They need to understand how the world they inhabit operates on all levels: culturally, socially, technologically, politically, morally.

My top edtech story has to be the launch of Students 2.0. Their voice is getting stronger. Are we listening?

“Human relationships always help us to carry on because they always presuppose further developments, a future—and also because we live as if our only task was precisely to have relationships with other people.”Albert Camus

"Happy People" by panchiluli

Pimp my wrist

My daughter-in-law is now making custom beaded bracelets. Guess who suggested these designs!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Death be not proud

"Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for, thou art not so..." -John Donne

Today I watched the video of a man giving his Last Lecture. For most college professors, this would the opportunity to deliver a defining philosophical statement. For Randy Pausch, it was the chance to say good-bye.

Professor Pausch is 46 years old, and he is dying of pancreatic cancer. His upbeat and inspiring speech was meant to challenge his colleagues and students to "move on" without him. It will also serve as a legacy for his young children.

Today I read Terry Pratchett's open letter to his fans announcing that he has been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's. A best-selling British fantasy and science fiction author, Pratchett remains positive, saying "I would prefer it if people kept things cheerful, because I think there's time for at least a few more books yet".

These two men personify courage. They are moving forward with dignity and grace.

“Death is the last enemy: once we’ve got past that I think everything will be alright.” -Alice Thomas Ellis

"Snowdrops Thorney Abbey Graveyard" by wit


As our universe expands, so does our language.

My cyber buddy, Cathy, asked who would be the first to blog about the addition of "w00t" to the Merriam-Webster dictionary. The term is, in fact, the Word of the Year for 2007.

So my answer to Cathy is: Me!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Stars were with me most of all

“But stars were with me most of all. I heard them flame and break and fall.” -Fannie Stearns Davis

The quotes came first this time. They seemed melancholy to me, whispering of change, illusion, loss.

My life has been all about change this year, as I rush headlong into a series of new adventures: feverishly reinventing myself professionally, moving towards retirement from my current career, coping with the very real challenges of growing older in a world so different from the one into which I was born.

When I was a child there appeared to be more permanence in the world. The difference between good and evil was clear. If one followed some basic rules, life was safe and stable. People worked hard and progressed towards a comfortable old age.

Was all of that perceived permanence and safety illusory? Or are there still constants, a few remaining rock-bottom certainties in which to believe?

I am blessed in my family and friends. The choices that life offers seem diverse and exilherating. And yet I feel the tears behind the laughter as the year draws to a close and the cosmos reels in its crazy dance.

"The countless stars, which to our human eye
Are fixed and steadfast, each in proper place,

Forever bound to changeless points in space,

Rush with our sun and planets through the sky,
And like a flock of birds still onward fly;
Returning never whence began their race,

They speed their ceaseless way with gleaming face
As though God bade them win Infinity..."
-John Lancaster Spalding, The Starry Host

"Neutron Star 2004 by NASA (NASA)" by

Friday, December 7, 2007

Students 2.0

"The secret in education lies in respecting the student." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

There have been many discussions about "Student Voice" in the edublogosphere. Students 2.0 promises to be the real deal: a blog written and maintained by an amazing group of young adults, ranging in age from 14 to 17. Scattered geographically, they are united in their desire to examine and question the 21st century world they inhabit.

Their opinions might not jive with ours. Their outlook needs to be different from ours. We don't always have to agree with their opinions, just listen, interact, comment. But with respect for what they are doing and becoming at such a young age.

Congratulations to Anthony, Arthus, Dillon, Kevin, Lindsea, Nicole, Sean and Stacy. I won't wish you "good luck" because I know you'll create your own luck.

And congratulations to Clay for helping bring this all together. You've done us a great service.

"We really have a problem with perception in education. Technology is perceived too much as invasive to the learning and thinking structures. Technology is seen as basically a virtual reference book and type writer - no social aspects to it. Technology in school is something that is called upon when needed - to look something up or write a “final draft.” Instead, it should be seen as a constant companion, always there to socialize, share, research, and learn. Unfortunately, we are a long way from that. Before we even start leverage the possibilities of the web, teachers need to be comfortable with technology in the class room." -Arthus

"When I really come down to it, I think it’s that I like learning. Not math or science (well, I like technology and electronic gadgets a lot– just don’t spout numbers and expect me to stick around long) but I like things I can relate to and experience." -Stacy

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Back to the Future

“Next Saturday night, we're sending you back to the future!” - Dr. Emmett "Doc" L. Brown, Back to the Future (movie, 1985)

Inspired by Carolyn Foote's recent efforts to weed her collection, I decided to start scanning the K-6 non-fiction section of our Library Media Center. I haven't made it past 001.64 - computers. Two of the books on the shelf with this call number had copyright dates of 1985; the other volume was from 1983.

"I Can Be a Computer Operator" (Catherine Matthias, Chicago: Childrens Press, 1985) declares that "Someday soon everyone will be a computer operator. Everyone will need to know how to use a computer because computers will be everywhere. They will be in our homes and our schools. Someday soon there will be more than a billion computers in the United States." Ms. Matthias assures us that "very young people can learn to operate a computer" and asks readers "Have you learned to use your school computer?"

"A Look Inside Computers" (Paul G. Zomberg, Milwaukee: Raintree Publishers, 1985) explains the parts of a personal computer and makes connections between personal computers, educational programs, and game programs.

"Computers" (Ian Richards, New York: Franklin Watts, 1983) boldly predicted a future with "lots of computers...They will control all kinds of machines that will look after you and your home and family."

Matthias was just a bit off: according to the Earth Policy Institute, in 2002, the number of personal computers in the U.S. was estimated at 190 million. In 1983, only 10 million computers were in use in this country in home, school, and industry combined.

With the introduction of Atari, in the 1970s, and Nintendo, in the late '70s and early '80s, computer technology became an almost indispensable part of any household with children: it wasn't just for engineers any more.

Zomberg ("A Look Inside Computers") felt that "The uses of computers are limited, after all. They're limited by memory, size and programmers' imaginations. But those limits are being expanded constantly, as are the uses that people make of computers."

Richard ("Computers") anticipated the information revolution when he wrote "One exciting use of computer networks is to find out almost anything you want to know in your own home. You use a terminal to ask the central computer to show you the information on a screen."

Matthias ("I Can Be a Computer Operator") gave some career advice, "Would you like to learn to be a computer operator? If you would, start now. Play games on a computer. Learn how to solve problems on your home or school computer...You can learn how to make a computer work for you."

What has happened to the grand promise, the vision for the future that computers seemed to offer? We had all the components: the technical know-how, the eager public, the children who had found a cool "toy" and wanted more of the same. In education, at least, wholesale integration of digital devices is still a dream for the future.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Marble and Mud

"Life is made up of marble and mud." -Nathaniel Hawthorne

Jeremy came back to visit today. After graduating last year, he enlisted in the Navy. He has completed his training and will report for duty at Pearl Harbor on December 14.

Joelle gave me a poster today advertising her dance studio's holiday presentation of The Nutcracker. My daughter and I will enjoy the magic of music and dance as we celebrate the holiday season.

Two unique personalities, two students whose lives have intersected mine.

"Every experience in life, everything with which we have come in contact in life, is a chisel which has been cutting away at our life statue, molding, modifying, shaping it. We are part of all we have met. Everything we have seen, heard, felt or thought has had its hand in molding us, shaping us." -Orison Swett Marden

Monday, November 26, 2007

Grinning Inside

“Joy is the feeling of grinning inside.” -Melba Colgrove

There's been a lot of blogging lately about the Kindle, and I can see that this electronic device has many positive attributes.

But it will never be able to duplicate the experience of sharing a beautifully illustrated, rollicking picture book like my new favorite, "I Ain't Gonna Paint No More" (Karen Beaumont), with a class of enthusiastic first graders.

When a classroom teacher tells you that the kids sang the story to her as soon as they returned from library time, you know you have a hit on your hands.

The digital world is wonderful, but there is still a time and a place for books.

"Then I thought of reading - the nice and subtle happiness of reading ... this joy not dulled by age, this polite and unpunishable vice, this selfish, serene, lifelong intoxication." -Logan Pearsall Smith

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Dangling Conversation

"Like a poem poorly written
We are verses out of rhythm,

Couplets out of rhyme,

In syncopated time
Lost in the dangling conversation

And the superficial sighs,

Are the borders of our lives."

Simon & Garfunkel, The Dangling Conversation

Just as I'm starting to feel comfortable in my new identity as a blogger, there are ominous rumblings about the "death of blogging".

Ryan Bretag is not so much condemning blogs as questioning their validity as "participatory media tools". He describes his own frustration at failing to to "add much in terms of value-added through analysis or reflective thought that adds to our collaborative efforts to learn and improve education." Troubled by a lack of common goals and absence of "constructive confrontation", he wonders if blogs have stalled in their necessary evolutionary process.

Many of members of my PLC have either responded to Ryan's posting or begun parallel discussions. While recounting details of the Stager and Richardson UStream "Bootleg", Clay Burell mentioned "blogger burnout" and the lack of interaction by "top-tier bloggers" when comments are left on their pages. The announcement in October by Will Richardson that he was considering giving up blogging to concentrate on Skype chats caused consternation and controversy, as those outside of Will's inner circle contemplated losing his direct guidance and leadership [he continues to post, but not as frequently as in the past]. Clay reminds us (and them) that the opportunity to communicate and collaborate with some of the leaders in educational technology has always been a key benefit of reading and writing blogs.

A commenter on Ryan's post, Evan Scherr, is critical of those who spend time "telling me what they are doing in their classroom. For many of us, we can't get excited about how you are using UStream in the classroom when the UStream site is blocked by our public school district. We can't get excited about how your class built a MySpace page, when MySpace is blocked by our school district." I strongly disagree with this criticism. Although it can be disheartening to read about innovation that is (presently) out of my reach, every example I am able to cite from the edublogosphere is a valuable persuasive tool in helping convince my administrators, BOE, and fellow teachers of the value of embedded technology tools. Jo McLeay's Voicethread, Anthony Armstrong's podcast project, Cathy Nelson's experiments in both these venues, Clay Burell's digital storytelling renditions of "Paradise Lost", Carolyn Foote's virtual author visit via Skype...all serve to inspire rather discourage me. If they can do it, so can I; more importantly, if their students can do it, so can - and should - mine.

Finally, I'd like to share a quote from SC Morgan: "Twitter is for the linking--blogs are for the thinking." Twitter serves as a way to stay connected with colleagues. Blogs are better suited for the conversations, debates, explorations that will result in deeper understanding and professional growth.

"It is not what we learn in conversation that enriches us. It is the elation that comes of swift contact with tingling currents of thought." -Agnes Repplier

"With thee conversing I forget all time." -John Milton

"IMG_0214" by blair christensen

Friday, November 23, 2007

A Day in the Life

"I read the news today oh boy" -The Beatles, A Day in the Life

Items of interest reprinted in my local daily newspaper this morning:

"But there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen before we go to Paradise by way of Kensal Green." -Gilbert K. Chesterton

"Reading the Tulsa Tribune" by DScott28604

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The World's Great Anguish

"Mourn not the dead that in the cool earth lie, but rather mourn the apathetic throng, the coward and the meek who see the world's great anguish and its wrong, and dare not speak." -Ralph Chaplin

The Megan Meier tragedy has been on my mind a lot lately. Yesterday I took an informal poll of some upper elementary and high school students, hoping to get a sense of their technology use and their awareness of how to be safe online.

Approximately five of forty 5th and 6th graders said they had their own Myspace or Facebook accounts. A few boys said they occasionally posted messages using another person's log-in. When I reminded them that the legal age for signing up for these services is 14 (the oldest of them were 12 years old), they laughed and said that they just clicked on whatever birth year would allow them to join. Many more of them had webkinz virtual pets. The webkinz owners enjoyed the online interaction and didn't seem bothered by the limited messaging that the official site allows.

It was quite a different story with my high school Current Events students. The boys (our sole female class member was absent) estimated that 2/3 of the middle school and high school population belongs to Myspace or Facebook. They seemed to feel reasonably safe online and accept the fact that our school blocks all social networking and most interactive sites.

Since the Meier case is very much in the news lately, I had my class watch an interview with Megan's parents and read some tips from the Department of Homeland Security on Dealing with Cyberbullies. The students' most interesting reactions were in response to some short YouTube clips, prepared by the non-profit Ad Council.

The first video, Cyberbullying Talent Show featured a fresh-faced little girl standing in front of a school assembly, sweetly listing the things wrong with a classmate ("Her dad doesn't work, they have no money, that's why she wears that nasty pink sweater"). In Cyberbullying Kitchen a similar scenario unfolds as one teenager calmly tells her "friend" (ironically named Megan) that "you are a tramp" and the "most desperate girl [he] knows - besides your Mom". The idea being presented in both vignettes was "If you wouldn't say it in person, why say it online?"

My students seemed shocked by the comments, even though their own language occasionally strays from the "school appropriate". Perhaps they hold girls to a different code of behavior, or perhaps hearing such insults being used in front of a teacher made them uncomfortable. The point that words written online can be just as hurtful as words spoken aloud was well made and well taken.

Although I had heard of a girl being harassed online by her classmates last year, none of the boys said they had ever felt uncomfortable or threatened online. I asked them to write their reaction to the Megan Meier case, and these are some of their responses:

"I think that it's very sad. If people weren't such bullies, she'd probably still be alive, to live her life."

"Cyberbullying is a problem. I think it needs to be dealt with. I am not scared by cyberbullying because I think cyberbullies are little woosies trying to act tough on the internet."

"I think that the whole Megan Meier case is just sad. I think that she should have alerted somebody about it. She shouldn't have done what she did. [committed suicide] They should definitely start making laws concerning Myspace, chat rooms, and other stuff like that."

"I have never been bullied or bullied anyone. It is wrong and should be stopped...There should be certain rules and if they're broken, certain punishments should be set up. It is wrong..."

"I think it should be monitored on Myspace and others [sites]. I think the people [who set up the fake "Josh" account] should be prosecuted."

"I think that this case is very sad. I wish that someone could have helped this girl or that she could have figured out what was really going on."

"Cyberbullying is a problem. Megan Meier should not have died."

"Any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee."
-John Donne

"Saddness" by RadoB

The First Fall of Snow

"The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?" -J. B. Priestley
"True solitude is a din of birdsong, seething leaves, whirling colors, or a clamor of tracks in the snow." -Edward Hoagland
“Now the hedgerow
Is blanched for an hour with transitory blossom
Of snow" -T.S. Eliot

"I never think of the future. It comes soon enough." –Albert Einstein

Monday, November 19, 2007

Timor mortis

Timor mortis conturbat me is a Latin phrase commonly found in late medieval English poetry. It can be translated into a number of different ways, most literally as "fear of death confounds me". However, a better translation in the context of the poetic usage of the phrase is "fear of death upsets me". Another looser translation is "I am scared to death of dying". The phrase comes from a responsory of the medieval Office of the Dead, the third nocturn of Matins...Wikipedia

It was from a Twitter friend that I first learned about the Megan Meier tragedy. This young teenager took her own life after being the victim of cyber bullying on a MySpace account. The disparaging messages that led to Megan's suicide were actually written by adult neighbors monitoring their own daughter's online activities.

Megan Meier's parents thought they were adequately supervising her computer use. They knew about her social networking and had been told of the fictitious "Josh" who was messaging their daughter. When Megan began responding to unexpectedly cruel posts with vulgar language, her mother told insisted that she stop such "upsetting" behavior. Twenty minutes later, Megan Meier was dead by hanging.

Wesley Fryer
recommends stronger anti-bullying instruction in schools, more parental involvement in prevention programs, and increased emphasis on positive online experiences like digital storytelling to showcase information literacy skills. He also urges parents and school districts to "encourage students to socially network online in age-appropriate, moderated and non-commercial environments like and/or"

Tomorrow in class I'll be sharing the story with my high school Current Events students and tackling the issue of cyber bullying. Perhaps I can get them to realize the seriousness of bullying, whether in person or online.

On a dark and cold November evening, my surroundings are as somber as my thoughts. Megan, requiescat in pace.

"The most painful death in all the world is the death of a child. When a child dies, when one child dies—not the 11 per 1,000 we talk about statistically, but the one that a mother held briefly in her arms—he leaves an empty place in a parent’s heart that will never heal." -Thomas H Kean, Governor of New Jersey

"A child miseducated is a child lost." -John F. Kennedy

"Writer's Close 04" by cx1uk

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

"la nuit blanche – not retouched" by Dom Dada AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works

"One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions." - Admiral Grace Hopper

Depending on their results, bloggers have reacted with delight, dismay, or indifference to the ratings issued by the Blog Readability Test. Just what the test is evaluating, and how the scores are calculated, is never explained.

A bit of online searching brought me to Juicy Studio, a site whose mission is to "promote best practice for web developers in a fast moving industry." One of the Quality Assurance links takes you to Readability Tests:

"Gunning Fog, Flesch Reading Ease, and Flesch-Kincaid are reading level algorithms that can be helpful in determining how readable your content is. Reading level algorithms only provide a rough guide, as they tend to reward short sentences made up of short words. Whilst they're rough guides, they can give a useful indication as to whether you've pitched your content at the right level for your intended audience."

All three algorithms are used to evaluate any given website. The results are interpreted and compared to the readability of familiar documents, from TV Guide to academic papers.

If you are targeting a particular audience or would just like to analyze your writing, the Juicy Studio test is a far more useful tool than the showier "criticsrant" variation.

"Away with the cant of Measures, not men! -- the idle supposition that it is the harness and not the horses that draw the chariot along. No, Sir, if the comparison must be made, if the distinction must be taken, men are everything, measures comparatively nothing." -George Canning

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Can You/Will You Read This Blog?

From the Blue Skunk Blog: The Blog Readability Test
This Blog is at a Genius Reading Level.
I submitted my blog address, and this was the result. I don't know the criteria and can't decide if such a "classification" will hurt or enhance my readership. So I'm posting the "results" as a one-time oddity and passing on the permanent site badge.

Genius is as genius does.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

"And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, 'Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.'" -Genesis 2:16

"That was the birth of sin. Not doing it, but KNOWING about it. Before the apple, [Adam and Eve] had shut their eyes and their minds had gone dark. Now, they peeped and pried and imagined. They watched themselves." -D.H. Lawrence

Adam and Eve were tempted not by the Tree of Life, but by the Tree of Knowledge. Their desire to taste the "forbidden fruit" of this tree resulted in expulsion from Paradise.

Satan/Lucifer declared it "Better to reign in hell than serve in heav'n." (John Milton, Paradise Lost).

Another "light-bearer", Prometheus, risked the ire of Zeus to bring the secret of kindling fire to mortals - and suffered daily torment as a punishment.

The mythologies of many cultures warn men of the consequences of seeking to know that which is hidden or forbidden. Does the greater danger lie in recognizing evil or in being unaware of its existence?

Should we be innocent or armed?

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Uploaded on February 13, 2007 by Lawrence OP

Sunday, November 11, 2007


"We all live under the same sky, but we don't all have the same horizon." -Konrad Adenauer

I've been thinking about my role as Librarian and how it's changed through the years.

Some of the changes are the result of shifting standards and curricula. But the most meaningful ones, the ones that have transformed my perceptions and shifted my teaching goals, are those that resulted from my participation in an online information literacy course and subsequent headlong dive into blogging.

Many teachers work in professional isolation, regardless of the size of their institution. The problem is magnified for librarians, who are frequently the only media specialist in their building, if not their district.

Discovering an online community with which to interact has been literally a life-altering experience for me. My new cyber colleagues share information, tools, and best practices in a constantly refreshed conversation. They teach in Texas and South Carolina, Australia and Korea. We share successes, dissect failures, and brainstorm possibilities.

It is not always a comfortable environment. There are the occasional philosophical "wars" and critical comments. Sometimes the innovations of others leave me feeling backward or inadequate. But someone always responds to my questions, someone always takes the time to reassure me that my efforts are worthwhile.

My new world is scary, exhilarating, exciting. It's where I want to be; I won't go back.

“Never look down to test the ground before taking your next step; only he who keeps his eye fixed on the far horizon will find the right road.” - Dag Hammarskjold

"porte vers l'horizon" by coincoyote

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Comet Holmes

"Comet 17P/Holmes" by Happy Cat Dave

"Comets importing change of times and states,Brandish your crystal tresses in the sky
And with them scourge the bad revolting stars." - William Shakespeare, Henry VI

There is something new in our firmament: Comet Holmes has erupted into a bright "fuzzball" visible to the naked eye.

Discovered in 1892 by Edwin Holmes, the comet, officially named Comet 17/P, occasionally and inexplicably grows in magnitude. Between October 23-24, 2007, it increased in brightness until, by October 25, it appeared as the third brightest star in the Perseus constellation.

My husband lured me away from books and computer to step into the cold, clear night and observe this strange phenomenon. We reminisced about previous celestial events (the Northern Lights) and non-events (the much ballyhooed but ultimately disappointing Comet Khoutek of the early '70s) that we had shared.

And we observed:

“The endless, foolish merriment of stars
Beside the pale cold sorrow of the moon” -Harriet Monroe