Friday, November 30, 2007


Well, I've finally completed all my posts and my podcast. I have to say I am relieved. This has been a difficult fall to stay focused, but I made it!

This has been a great class with a mix of frustrations and excitement. I have learned a great deal. Of course, there is so much more to learn. For instance, I still haven't figure out how to post the MP3 file without having it directed to the specific server it's on. I'll get there but at least the podcast is posted.

I wish that I was actually in a classroom environment where I could daily apply all the technology we have studied. Web 2.0 is a powerful tool and I'm sure we've only seen the tip of the iceberg regarding it's future use. Of course, it sounds like there are still lots of hurdles to overcome within school districts to create access to Web 2.0.

I look forward to further exploration utilizing all the tools. I'm also looking forward to exploring in a more relaxed way because I felt a certain anxiety trying to accomplish each week's assignments. Many times I found myself wandering off on various tangents listening to podcasts. I guess that's what it's all about but sometimes I was a bit overwhelmed with the magnitude of information that's out there. The great thing about it though is its still there waiting for me.

I would have liked more opportunities to interact with fellow classmates. A collaborative project would have been quite the learning experience. Hopefully we'll all meet again, maybe in Second Life. I plan on checking in with the gathering that happens on Thursday nights. Thank you Jeff for all you knowledge and support. You are quite the busy person.

Take care one and all. Enjoy the holidays, whatever they may be in your part of the world.


In the last few years we have begun to explore different parts of the US. Some trips have been part of a business trip. We've been to San Francisco twice. Beautiful area. We drove north on Route 1. That trip brings a whole new meaning to the term white knuckle. The views were breathtaking. We've been to DC a couple of times. Lots of walking. I wish I had had my digital camera on those trips because it would have been easier to share photos. Two years ago we flew into Las Vegas and took a road trip to Zion, Bryce, Lake Powell, the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff, Sedona and back to Vegas. Last year we flew into Vegas and went to Zion, Bryce, Jackson Hole, Salt Lake City, Yellowstone, Mt. Rushmore and ended in Denver. Lots of miles and lots of pictures. So far, the most inspiring place we have visited is Bryce. It is one of the most spiritual places I have been. I would love to go back and actually hike to the bottom of some of the canyons. Probably will never happen but it is a dream of mine. If you have never been there, I highly recommend it. I actually was more impressed with Bryce than the Grand Canyon. Of course when we visited the Grand Canyon there were huge forest fires on the north rim and the canyon was full of smoke. I've included just one picture of Bryce. I scanned it in since again I didn't own a digital camera at the time we visited.

Hope you all have safe travels.

Don't feed the bears

Living in the country in New Hampshire we get all kinds of furry visitors in our yard. One of the ones that can be a little more bothersome are the black bears. Over the years we have had a number of encounters with them. Either because someone left a bag of trash outside or from leaving the bird feeders up too late in the spring. It's always amusing telling our friends that live in the city about our encounters. Each spring I try to anticipate when the bears are going to come out of hibernation. Most of the time I don't get it right because I'll take the bird feeders in at night but before long the bears figure that out and stop by during the day. The picture I included was from this spring. He's only a young bear but he looked pretty big compared to the chickadees that had been on the feeder prior to his visit. That was the last day that birdfeeder was outside this spring. I was lucky that he didn't get it down before I saw him.

My cats

There are four cats in our household. As I’m sure many families experience, two of the cats started out as my children's pets while they were in college (the children, not the cats). For one reason or another, the cats ended up residing with us. One is part siamese - mostly white with blue eyes and orange markings. The other, who by the way is the dominant cat, is grey and white. He definitely has nine lives. Last spring all the cats were outside in the morning. We were not home. Something, probably a coyote, grabbed him by the back leg. He obviously fought back because he's still alive, but he ended up with a dislocated hip and spent a month in a crate.

The third cat we acquired is one I brought home after going to a school event. A woman from the cafeteria had brought it in a box. It's the first pet that I actually chose myself. I didn't consult with my husband, I just brought him home. He's a tuxedo cat - black and white. The last cat we brought home we got from the humane shelter. He's orange and white. He's the cat with the most anxiety. He got chased into a tree at night by something and has been paranoid every since. Most anybody would probably be paranoid if they'd gotten chased up a tree. Lots of people in the area post signs asking if anyone has seen their missing pet. It's a futile question. Between fishers and coyote, cats that go outdoors don't have much chance. A year ago a fisher tried to attack a cat next door through a screened window. It wasn't successful but the fishere left it's impression on the screen. I also read an article about a woman in Gilford, NH who thought her cat was safe because she did not let her out. She got up one morning to find a big hole in her screen window and no cat. Fisher are viscious. Quite the predator. We did lose one cat to the coyotes. That cat was my daughter's. Again she got him as a kitten when she was in a dorm, but later on she wasn't able keep him when she moved into an apartment. Needless to say we no longer let our cats outside.

Each cat has its own personality and habits. They all pretty much get along, with the occasional spat. Tough to wear anything black in the house – constant battle with cat hair. It’s worth it though to have their companionship and affection. They’re all large cats too – around 18 pounds. That’s even with us feeding them weight control food. As you can see, one day the grey and white cat decided that my granddaughter's mat looked like a good place to take a nap.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

My First Podcast

Well, after much time and effort I have finally suceeded in converting my recording to an MP3 file. I had put this off because each time I worked on it it took up a lot of time with no success. I also had alot of difficulty figuring out how to navigate OurMedia. I'm not sure if I have done this correctly because it brings you to the Internet Archive to listen to my podcast. Anyway, nothing exciting, just a very brief description of the Girl Scout program. Podcast

Monday, November 26, 2007

Becoming a grandmother

This summer I finally became a grandmother. I was beginning to think it might never happen. I have to say it's wonderful. I feel really blessed because my son and his family live nearby in a small cottage that we own. They won't always be there but for now it's fantastic. It works out well for them because they pretty much have a built in babysitter. It works out well for me because I can see her as much as I want.

I've been babysitting a lot which is actually one of the reasons I've gotten so behind in my blogging (never mind the long hours working for a living). They've asked me to babysit partly because my son had back surgery in the beginning of the month, but also because they have had a busy social schedule. Mind you I'm not complaining. My granddaughter is 4 months old now and really starting to smile and be interested in her surroundings. She's high maintenance in as much as she's not satisfied in any one position for more than 10 minutes but in time she'll be able to amuse herself.

Of course, I'm the classic grandmother taking lots of pictures and showing them to coworkers, friends and family at every opportunity. I will say that raising children really is meant for the young. Lots of energy expended. Of course, the best part of being a grandparent is that we can play with them all day - and then we can give them back.

I don't know what I want to be when I grow up

Okay. So I'm still behind getting my blogs done. Need to do a bunch of "choice of topic" ones. Put them off because I can't seem to come up with what I would consider a relevant topic. The first thing that came to mind is talking about the fact that I'm in my fifties and I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up. I don't know how this happened. Part of the issue is getting married at 19, starting to have children at 23 and being a stay at home mom until my youngest was 3, I was then in my 30's. I had attended Plymouth State College for 3 years but dropped out to follow my husband to West Virginia University so he could get his Masters. (We still had no children at that point.) I finally went back to school to finish my Bachelor's and had the opportunity to get a full time job working with Girl Scouts which I have done for 14 years. I've always had a strong interest in education hence I've enjoyed doing training as part of my position.

When my children were growing up I always loved pointing them in the right direction when it came to research and that is why I decided to follow the Library Media Specialist route when the certification became available at PSU in 2004. Now I'm just one course away from completing my Master of Education. It's has become fairly clear to me that I am going to have a very difficult time getting my foot in a school district as a LMS but regardless I am thrilled that I will be accomplishing my Master's degree. What I have discovered through my elective courses for my degree is that I really love technology and although I struggle with it I'm wondering whether I can carve a place for myself as a computer education teacher.

I'm hanging on to Girl Scouts until January 2009 because I will be eligible for early retirement due to restructuring that is occurring at the council and GSUSA is offering people a package. I've been ready for a change for a while and now it only makes sense to see it through. In the meantime I'm a little apprehensive of what I'll do in future. I think that one of my problems is that I am interested in a lot of things: nature, outdoor education, media specialist, computer education (to name a few). I envy people that seem to have figured out what they wanted to be by the time they were 30. I fear that age discrimination is going to work against me, but I'm not going to give up. Of course, there is also the issue that I really don't plan on moving to find a new job. I love New Hampshire. Plan on seeing other parts of the country but love the seasons here. Time will tell.

Hmmm.... rocket scientist...... no....too much math.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

One to one solutions

I poked around some looking for information on one to one solutions. Again this is a new term for me. (Fairly common occurence for this course - thank you, Jeff). The choices seem to be PCs, laptops, & PDAs. I think for any district cost will be the deciding factor. I think districts have a better chance of providing one on one solutions through the use of PDAs. There were some interesting annecdotes on the Palm site describing how individual schools have utilized PDAs. The Arlington Virginia Schools have had success with their writing program utililzing PDAs. There seems to be a general consensus that students are more engaged. The big question of course is - does it actually increase student achievement? There are school districts that feel their test scores are higher and attribute it to use of use of technology, especially one on one solutions. This is one of those areas that can be hard to prove. Others feel that additional time is spent monitoring student activity because as we all know it's easy to get sidetracked. I do feel that it has to be a benefit to engage students so that they look forward to not only reading and writing but to publishing their work for others to see. I think it also comes down to motivation. I've always felt that it is the most important attribute a person can have and the ability to use technology to learn has to be motivating for students. As time goes on the cost of providing technology should decrease so that it will be more affordable for school districts.


I seem to be having issues with my computer being very slow lately. I was unable to listen to the elementary episode #27. It would play but then the buffer would kick in and take a long time to reload. Wish I could have moved it along to other sections of the podcast.

I can see real possibilities using podcasts for assessment. I think there are a lot of students that have trouble with written tests. I know that two of my three children always have had issues taking tests. If they could have verbally explained what they had learned they would have done well. They are successful in their fields but they struggled with testing. I think it is important to have a variety of ways for students to demonstrate competency. Our local school district is implementing e-portfolios from grade 7 & up. It's a requirement from the Dept. of Ed. but I think it will be a great way to show achievement and progress.

the other benefit of podcasts is helping to develop students presentation skills. they really need to organize their thoughts so they flow. It's also a great way for parents and community members to hear what the children are learning. Student's poscasts could be posted on the district/school webpage.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Second Life

Well, I have to say that I'm not sure if I'm that impressed with Second Life. I think it's mostly because, once again, it's technology that you need to spend time with to figure out. I've spent time wandering around looking at various places. Haven't had much luck interfacing with the vaious signs throughout the place. It was interesting to meet in one spot with everyone and of course it's fun creating our avatar. Previously to visiting Second Life, I had listened to presentations done through Second Life. As far as students utilizing Second Life, it's definitely not a place for them. Too public with no control of who's interacting. Not sure of how to utilize Second Life for education. Maybe someone can give me other examples of how to utilize it. I can see where it would be popular with people because so many 20 somethings have grown up with computer games and virtual worlds.

One computer for every student

It seems like a no brainer to me that students definitely would benefit from having a personal computer that they could take home with them. There is no question that today's students will utilize computers in almost any career they pursue. It's vital that they learn to be fluent in every aspect of computer use. (Imagine only allowing students to have access to books while they are at school.) We all know that homework is a necessity for students to master skills. How can we expect them to master computer use if they only have access during school hours?

I think there are two major barriers to implementation of a computer for every student. The first is cost. Having served as a school board member I know first hand the challenges of selling new initiatives to the voters. I happen to live in a school district that has the means to provide students with quality facilities and teachers but we still encounter issues with convincing the grey haired taxpayers that certain services are necessary to prepare students for their future success. It might be that the best avenue is having a district seek a grant for computers. The second barrier is having educators that are not up to speed themselves with technology either because their district cannot provide the technology or they have not been trained sufficiently to feel confident enough to utilize technology in the delivery of curriculum. Today's teachers should be encouraged and suppported to become fluent in utilizing computers in their classrooms. Then, teachers should take every opportunity to utilize Web 2.0 to inform parents, administrators, board members and community members about all the great learning that is happening in their classrooms. I know that a well prepared presentation to a school board and the taxpayers can go a long way to convincing them of the need for availability of a computer for every student.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Teaching in a New Networked World

As I've mentioned previously I am not a formal educator. I am not in a classroom, although I have done a lot of informal education. Through reading lots of blogs it is apparent that there is a broad range of skill levels out there as it relates to utilizing technology in school districts and classrooms. It seems there is no question that all districts and educators need to jump on the bandwagon as quickly as possible or they are going to be left in the dust. As many have said today's students are technology savvy and we need to be on our game and we need to provide them with all the tools they need to function in the workplace of the future. I think districts are going to need to devote money and resources into allowing ample time for teachers to become knowledgeable in integrating technology into their curriculum. It has the potential of really engaging students in their educational experience. This is an exciting time to be an educator but I'm sure there are many who are more than a little intimidated and maybe a little frustrated because their days are already full and now they need to find time to develop new methods to deliver curriculum in order to utilize the powerful tools that are available.

Personal Learning Networks

Personal learning networks have always existed. A person begins their life with their parents, siblings and extended family as their personal learning network, then teachers and classmates, Girl Scout and Boy Scout leaders and fellow troop members, followed by bosses and co-workers. It's not really a new concept. It's just that the volume of potential contacts has exploded through the use of Web 2.0. As one who has always enjoyed researching and utilizing resources to develop workshops for Girl Scouts, I am enthralled with the possibilities of sharing and finding information from such a huge network. There are so many individuals out there with so much knowledge.

I want to share one interesting resource that I came across in a blog through the School Library Journal. Principal Barbara Barreda from Van Nuys California recommended utilizing this tool: TouchGraph Check it out at It basically is a tool for older students to use to when researching a particular topic. Type in the topic and you get a visual representation of resources for the particular topic. It includes related topics. I think it would help narrow searches. Coming across this is a prime example of the power of personal learning networks.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Web 2.0

I continue to be amazed at the powerful tool Web 2.0 is. I've been trying to come up with an appropriate analogy and one that may or may not work is the following: Imagine you suddenly wake up in a stadium full of cheering people all watching players on a field scrambling to get their hands on a footlong, oblong, pointed ball. There appear to be two teams playing against each other to see how far down the field they can carry the ball. You've heard of this sport but are not knowledgeable of the rules, never mind the individual plays that are being called. It appears that the game has been going on for some time because the players are very engaged and the spectators are cheering them on. You realize that you can waste no time learning the plays because you are not a spectator, you are a player! That's how I feel, excited but overwhelmed at the same time. Desperately wanting to learn the plays but realizing time is of the essence.

Now imagine you are an educator with a full schedule of classes, lots of students, lots of planning and preparation to cover all aspects of the curriculum and now you need to quickly learn how to function in a new world, a Web 2.0 world. It must be overwhelming. I can only hope that school districts work quickly to not only update their technology but find effective ways to support educators as they struggle to learn how to navigate the new technology while delivering the curriculum.