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July 2013

June 2013

Student Centered Web Design

Alfred "interviewed" me at and I thought there would be more back and forth but maybe this is the way to do it.

Texas has TEKS for every course, a list of things we are supposed to address. The Tech Apps and CS course TEKS are listed here:

Our district has curriculum planning guides but they are going away. That means they won't be updated, but that also means that they can't make me throw mine away. Two other teachers wrote a document that is worth about 4 weeks' worth of class, maybe more that is mostly social networking. I took our old CPG, took out the software and aligned it to old TEKS and made it available to the rest of the group.

We also have a final exam that is provided by the district that is used to assess the principals and the school, and I spent some time on about 10 years ago. I've been vetting it, and complaining about questions but haven't been listened to in a while. That makes up 15% of the semester grade. It is also supposed to be used to evaluate me next year. I am supposed to be writing questions for it. We'll have to see if any of my input is listened to. So far I am not optimistic.

Do I sound frustrated?

The way I teach the class, and the way I have designed the class, is that we have students design web pages while teaching them HTML, CSS, and the software that is available to use it. Last year, I used Expression Web and Adobe CS 4. Why Adobe CS4? There are massive test questions on it. Also Flash. Why Flash? There are massive test questions on Flash.

The part that frustrates students, is that we have them write web pages that they can use. Here is a list:

  • Write an About Me web page
  • Write a Greeting Card web page with images
  • Create a vacation website using a common external style sheet
  • Write a Client Web Site for a client you pick
  • Create a logo for yourself
  • Create a banner for yourself
  • Create a Portfolio showing all the work you did in the course

The part the hate the most is coming up with original ideas. They really just want to copy something that someone else did, but then isn't the course, just a weird typing class?

Oh, and guess what I get – 5 or 6 of the same web sites – pounding head against wall.

Hopefully I'll feel better in August.


Upgraded the Surface RD

I'm running Windows 8.1 RT – was a painless, but extremely long update process. All my data is still here. Not that I really cared if it was gone.

So far, I've noticed the Start Button which I don't really need, and Outlook which is nice to have back. Just wish the people, mail, and calendar apps were unlinked.

Chromebook is going right back to Best Buy

Basically it's a giant Nexus Tablet with a keyboard. I hate the fact that it doesn't have a touch screen.

I got the ASUS version which isn't bad. I have a ton of ASUS's netbooks around – 2 in my classroom for Robots, several here around the house and what I really like about them is that I can download the Microsoft programming tools (Visual Studio, etc), or the Java tools and write a program. I like the Netbooks

AM NOT seeing how to do that – and not seeing that in a Google search. I'll try Bing in a bit.

I know I can do web pages – there are plenty of text editors, plenty of tools that let me do Wordpress and Typepad.

Good news:

  • I can do Scratch – it's in the browser now.

Bad news:

  • I can't do Alice.

Useless for computer science, could live with for Web Design but would like to be able to do Adobe stuff with it.

Summer Project – A Website

One of the summer projects I have taken on is to convert my breeder's website from Front Page to Word Press. Don't laugh, its' been working for her.

It's a win-win for both of us. We have known each other for years, back when she worked for Richardson ISD, and I wasn't even a teacher yet. Neither of us knew what we knew today, especially about dogs, but we love beagles and have our hearts in the right place.

She got lucky breeding and ended up with some really nice dogs. I got lucky training and have ended up with some really well behaved dogs. Yeah, they are beagles.

Anyway, she's been asking me questions and right before school was out, laid the project out for me. Came at a good time – I've finally decided to stop fighting the Web Design / Tech Apps teaching thing and embrace it.

I was talking about it to a friend last night – I would have loved this class when I was a kid – and I would be rolling in the dough. Instead, I get kids like M.A. who claims he wants to learn the stuff, but spends his time doing one of three things: napping, playing games or watching movies. While his mom is supporting three kids working at Wal-Mart. ARGH!

His younger brother want to take the class next year, and boy oh boy am I ready for him. Yeah, I knew my stuff before, but now, I'm practicing what I am preaching.

Oh, the website: and we have it looking that way for a reason, but will be branching out to other stuff soon.

And the other part of the web design summer – taking the district final (ACP), from a software specific test to a non-denominational test where we can pick and choose wat we teach.

Want to spend the year teaching Word Press? GO FOR IT!

And if you know anyone who wants a customized Word Press site….

Trying to be Two Places at Once

I was invited to be at a focus group for Teacher Evaluations both today and tomorrow.

At the same time, I was required to be at a meeting to Kickoff Test Writing today.

There was no way to tell the first group that I needed to be at the second group. The second group didn't really know what the first group was doing, so I tried for both.

The first group was a bit odd. First they didn't know our bosses "name". He is Mr. Miles, not Dr. Miles. He actually seems to like to go by Mike Miles, but I'm not comfortable with that either. If you have to call him something other than Mr., you could probably all him by his Army title. Not sure which one though.

You never go wrong with Mr. or Ms. In fact, I won't correct you if you call me Ms. Weaver, but I will introduce myself as Mrs. Weaver.

I did tell the person who kicked me out of the first group and misspoke the bosses' title that it would have been nice to have an email to have a conversation with someone about the situation. I'm sure that won't happen.

I did get to see our campus officer and he did get to find out why he was there. And now I have an afternoon and a day to call my own. Have to test write on Wednesday (or whenever my partner can join me this week).

Want to learn how to make a movie that will play on a DVD Player?

I've been having all my students do this the last week and a half we've been at school and it's gone pretty well. I took all the movies I made down – which sounds really weird when you say it – I made a movie on how to make a movie – and I've posted them on my own moodle.

DM me on twitter, email me, post comments or send me smoke signals and I'll set you up on the course so you can play with it.

Flexible Year – Making Movies

So we've got something this year called the "Flexible Year". Seniors are here for part of the day, but not in classes. The kids that met the requirements were released last Thursday. We have kids who failed classes or missed too many days until June 12. We're out on June 13.

We can't change any grades but the current 6 sixes. We've already covered all the material. I'm bummed because my husband can't take any vacation from June 15 until sometime in September, so he's off on a vacation.

Solution: Declare it summer camp and have everyone do something fun.

I'm covering how to make a movie and giving them time to make their own. When they go home next week, they are taking home a movie burned on a DVD. All summer camp stuff.

I'm making movies of the course I put together and putting it on my Staff Development Moodle so that others can see it. Free to the people in my building, cheap for everyone else.

Making lemonade out of lemons.