Previous month:
April 2009
Next month:
June 2009

May 2009

Hectic Week

For me, it's a three day at school week as I am having surgery on Thursday.  Details on that on the diabetes blog if you care.

I've got to Field Test all the physics students on Wednesday.  I need to change the proxy on two of the workstations next door just in case we have to use them.

I had to come up with an paper assignment for my students that day -- I've put together an exam review packet.  I am going to have the physics teacher pick them up and give them to me and I'll hand them back out next week.  I am also going to have the kiddos put their answers in online and have a grade for them that way too.

I have to come up with lesson plans for next week and notes for my substitute.

Finishing installing Rosetta Stone today -- I think I just have to add the management part, everything else should be installed.  And that has to be done today.

And push on TAC to get the wireless up for our new principal.

And I'm sure someone else will find something I just HAVE to do, like the Rosetta Stone project.

School districts turning to Twitter to speed up communications | | Tallahassee Democrat

School districts turning to Twitter to speed up communications

School districts turning to Twitter to speed up communications | | Tallahassee Democrat

Of course, my district is blocking Twitter.

But speed is one of the things I do like about Twitter.  I’ve got certain people that I am really interested in going to my mobile phone, the rest go to regular Twitter.

Sometimes I get to go to the BEST STAFF development

Though I might not get to go ...

I got an email today asking me if I wanted to go to the Tapestry Workshop in Virginia in July -- well it said last we they asked me but I swear I got an email saying it was full ...

And the cool part is that they pay you to go.

Hope it works out, if so, I'll drive to Virginia and back and even let my family torture me.  Might take a side trip to DC since I've never been.

I Love My Chumby again -- and Flash development

Yes, I have a Chumby, -- did you expect anything less? Well, I actually have two and one on the way.

They have a mother's special going on -- will probably go away or become a father's day special and I bought one which arrived last week.  It solves the clock problem in the living room, but still doesn't solve the really dark pixels on the one in my bedroom.

I was really disappointed when the pixels started going dark and dummy me didn't look at the warranty until it was too late. I would have replaced the first one long ago, if they had given me any sort of price break and so with the Mother's day, I jumped for it.

So I bought another one, and it's on its way.  I think the wireless radio is starting to fail on the original one. Considering it's been on and working for quite a while -- I got one of the first, I don't feel too bad about replacing it and it will give me one to play with.   I'm just about ready to ditch the clock radio.

I also got back into Chumby development and starting to program in Flash.  I figured out last night, with the help of a person on the forum, that the graphics front end of Flash scares me and makes all my logical fly out of my brain.  Now that I understand that, it's going better.

I now have my Chumby in the living room programmed so that at 10:00 pm it tells me to go to bed, and stops that behavior at 12:00 pm Wrote a little flash widget that displays "Go to Bed" text.

I have it working in CS3 but haven't tried it again in CS4.

And this is freaky -- the Chumby people even accepted it as a Widget!

Organizing Technology Training

One of my jobs, both as Campus Tech and as being one of the teachers in my district with long seniority is to teach technology classes.

Plus I get to take a ton.

When I organize a technology training, but it for non-CS teachers or for CS teachers, I focus on what the tool I am teaching will do for the teacher in the classroom.  I like for my training students to come away with a project that they have done and they can go back and think about it.

I try hard to keep my talking to the group to a minimum.  I'll introduce what we are going to do, do a short demo and then walk around the room and help people do their own projects.  I also try to break things into as small as things as possible. Typical organize is:

  • Introduce the topic in the morning.
  • Demo 1
  • Hands on activity
  • Reflection time as a group
  • Demo
  • Hands on activity
  • Reflection time as a group.

I try to get the group together to share what they have learned, what problems they had, etc.  I'll often remember what I helped someone with and ask them what they learned from the experience.

I find when I'm in the classroom and it is organized that way, I learn more. I figure my brain works the same.

Twitter Organization

I don't get to twitter as much as I would like to.  As a result, I've come up with some ways to organize Twitter so I can use it to the max.

During the school day, I'm supposed to be teaching, but since I'm project based, there is a 10-15 minute Window while students are organizing their work.  I use that to grade previous classes but sometimes I'm caught up on that too.

There is a key core of Twitters that I have been keeping up for a long time, they include @alfredtwo and a couple of other teachers.  They don't twit a lot but when they do, they give me really good ideas.  I have them set up for device updates and get them as text messages.  I also keep a couple of news feeds set up the same way.

If I do want to twitter, I have to use my own personal account -- I do that when I have TAKS hall duty, during my planning period if I have time, and during my tech period again if I have time.  I was using Twirl for that, but I've installed OutTwit.  One of the reasons I'm liking it, is again I can keep important Twitters in seperate folders and just check those.

In the past, I would look up them up individually using Twirl or using the website.  This seems like it will be more efficient.

By the way, have I said lately how much I love Twitter and the ideas I get from it?

Flu Notes

Question to CDC: Who is going to feed and supervise students now that you have shut down the only means to do so?


First, before I say any more, my mother's family was HUGELY affected by the flu epidemic of 1918 and as a result, I've gotten every vaccination known to man, and every flu shot.  I'll be lining up as soon as this one is available and I'm always at the doctor's office the first week the flu shot is available.  Especially since everyone thinks its okay that their children cough and sneeze on me.

If there was a guarantee that we could contain the flu by shutting down schools, I might be all for it -- though we should at least be able to feed the free and reduced lunch babies.

And in the same breath that the news media was recommending that the children be kept apart, the local news media was showing parents who were considering pooling their child care resources. Hey, I thought the point was to seperate the kids as much as possible.  <sigh>

Thankfully we have one case in my district and have only shut down 1 out of 283 schools.  Though I keep expecting the superintendent to shut down early to save money.

Pre AP Computer Science

Alfred Thompson asked about PreAP Computer Science on Twitter.

I have been teaching PreAP Computer Science for a long time, I think we started a few years before C++ was on the AP Computer Science Exam.

We spend the first two six weeks making sure that students have a basic understanding of computers and how to use them.  I make sure that students know the components of a computer science, can go to a store and figure out what they want to buy and make sure they know how to use all the basic tools, include word processing, spreadsheets, and powerpoint.  I also make sure they can use the internet for research.

We also spend time with planning and flowcharting. I have been using Raptor to introduce programming for several years now.  Then we move onto the AP language.  I like to get through basic file handling and through arrays as those are the two topics that seem to make or break programming students.

HP Media Smart Home Server

During winter break, right after Christmas, I picked up a HP Media Smart Windows Home Server -- it was the demonstration unit from the local Office Depot.  I've always found, and this was no exception, that you can snag a really good deal that way.

I love it!  I have had some issues with it, nothing major, in fact it was the Seagate hard drive that was the problem, but I"ve finally used all the features.

It was super easy to set up, basically plug and play.  I've got mine set up to backup every computer that is on at night.  I also save quite a few files on the server itself, anything I'd like to get to in the house that I don't have on WIndows Live Mesh.

I even had hard drive that came with it fail -- it was a Seagate, and it did several hours on the phone to get it replaed and get the server working but they were very helpful.  It was a known issue and the drive was back the next day.  One thing that did help was already having extra drives.

Putting extra drives in couldn't be easier, you don't even have to power the server off, just slide the drive tray out, put the drive in and slid it in.  By the way SATA is so much better tha the old IDE drives, and they were bad.

I finally did a restore last night -- I decided to try WIndows 7 on my Gateway M75 computer and while the tablet features worked none of the drivers did and none of the hardware is being supported.  Restore was a bit scary since it was the first time, but once I found the Network Card driver and put it on a flash drive, it was a piece of cake.