Sunday, December 21, 2008

To do

I wish I had more time before Christmas. I'm only about half way through the to-do list my wife gave me.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Empty Bowls part 3

The kids in a circle bowls are very easy to make.
Each year for the Empty Bowls food bank fund raiser have my students make bowls that while retaining their childhood exuberance for art also contain a certain elegance and sophistication.
The past few years I have used a slump mold with my students. I made this slump mold using a large salad bowl that I filled with plaster. With this bowl shaped lump of plaster my students can form their bowls.
For the kids in a circle bowl the students used gingerbread cookie cutters to form the little people from slabs of clay rolled about ¾ of an inch thick. Then we placed the cutouts on the mold slightly overlapping with a little slip to help them stick together. I removed the clay from the mold when it was leather hard. After bisque firing I had the students paint the figures but each student could only glaze one figure on a bowl. That way each figure was very different, just like the kids.
Another bowl that the kids and I have done using the plaster slump mold is a hand bowl. After rolling out a slab I had the students trace their hand on the clay and then cut it out. This hand print was then placed on the slump mold along with about 5 other hands. Depending on how you place the hand prints on the mold the bowls look either woven or like a flower.
I’m sorry I don’t have any pictures but my art classes are only 45 minutes long and we have to start and finish clay projects in that time and it is hard to find time to take pictures during the process.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Sometimes even when you know change is coming when it happens it is still a shock.
1982 while still in college I first used Polaroid film as part of my chosen profession. Yes I had used Polaroid before, my parents had a huge Polaroid camera I think we got it in the late 1960's or early 70's. It was great and we took it everywhere. Polaroid Automatic 350
But in college I began using it as part of my professional photography.
5466959  I then used for the next 17 years all variates of Polaroid  film. During the height of my professional photography career I would use two or three boxes of film a day. To check lighting, proof shots for clients, record ideas, ok locations,props, models with art directors.I cannot imagine shooting without it.   I even carried a timer and thermometer with me to use the film as a backup to my light meter. (Polaroid develops at a precise rate according to time and temp)With that knowledge and a good lab I very rarely had over or under exposed film.
About 2 years ago I first heard rumblings that Polaroid would be ceasing production but today I read on a  web site that December 2008 is the last month of production. No more, the end, find something else to use, start stockpiling.
I'm sure, no I know that there are kids that have no idea about Polaroids but they sure were fun. I really enjoied pulling that film apart and seeing the image. The excitment of being on location and relizing that I was down to the last few sheets and I knew that the art director would want more, they always wanted to see yet one more Polaroid.
I think I still have part of a box of 54 stored away. I think I'll take some Polaroids on December 31 in memory of a friend.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Empty Bowls part 2

Last month I wrote about the Empty Bowls project I did with the students at Mary E. Bryan Elementary and I promised to post pictures. Well as always the project did not get finished till the last minute and I forgot to take pictures till I was delivering the bowls to the Second Harvest Food Bank. So just before I took the bowls in I opened up one of the boxes and picked a bowl. The only place I had to shoot was on top of my car with my cell phone. Ok not the best situation but here is one of the bowls. They did turn out very cute and the kids had a great time personalizing each figure.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Sewing in class

This year I wrote a grant to create a quilt with my students. For this I needed to teach the kids to use a sewing machine. When I gave my classes an impromptu survey about 2 or 3 students per class had used a sewing machine, usually with a grandmother. Not very many but by the end of next week all 500 of my students will have sewed two straight seams.
All of my students will participate in this project in some way. Today I have the two TMH (Trainable Mentally Handicapped) and I had them sewing or at least sitting in front of a machine watching how it was done. It is quite interesting sewing hand over hand.
I also found it interesting how well the boys did. They would watch the demonstration and study the mechanics of the machines and do quite well with their first experience with sewing.
This week all the students are making small bags to store the clay trivet in that we have spent the last month making. All are looking froward to being able to take home this treasure.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sometimes my head just hurts.

One of the blogs that I regularly read is "Wired Top Stories". On November 24 there was a follow up story on former Connecticut school teacher Julie Amero who had been prosecuted on pornography charges. From this she faced 40 years in prison.
Then on December 1 there was another story about Lori Drew. She was the mom that created a fictional MySpace page that eventually drove a 13 year old girl to commit suicide. For this she now faces up to 3 years in jail and $300,000 in fines.
Why do I get the feeling that we are not on the same page.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

FAEA Tech Workshop

Web 2.0 Presentation
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: faea art)
Last month I led a workshop at the FAEA State Conference on using the new web 2.0 tools in the art classroom. I originally signed up to present this workshop last February. Over the next few months I created a PowerPoint, handouts and wiki describing how these new tools could be used in the art classroom. By the end of May I was satisfied with the presentation and I put it aside to work on other projects.
Big Mistake!
In September I revisited my wiki and was surprised to find that many of the tools I had featured in my presentation had changed or I was using different tools. I realized that the presentation could not be on specific tools or exact way to use web 2.0 in the classroom but must be about the evolving nature of web 2.0 and learning in general.
My presentation became totally web based. No powerpoint, no handout except for a business card with the url of the workshop wiki, my e-mail and more. Also did I mention tha the theme of the conference was Green. You can' t get much greener only using one sheet of card stock for all the handouts in a workshop of 15.
Doing the workshop in this way I was able to and did make changes to the presentation up to the last minute and even added to it during the presentation. And by having the presentation in wiki form and the workshop was in a computer lap participants were able to add their thoughts and ideas to the wiki.
By having the workshop web based I was able to use the equipment available at the site the workshop was given, less wear and tear on my back lugging all my tech tools around. Just show up with a pocket full of cards and I'm good to go.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Empty Bowls

Every year my students and I participate in the Empty Bowls Project. This unit in my curriculum combines the study of ceramics and social awareness. Students make bowls that are given to American's Second Harvest of Tampa Bay to be used during the Empty Bowls Luncheon. At the luncheon for $10.00 you can get a bowl of soup, a piece of fruit, a roll and a bottle of water. And a ceramic bowl made by an elementary student of Hillsborough Schools.
For the past few years I have had the students work in groups to make bowls. This helps when we give them away and this way we end up with larger more interesting bowls.
This year the students are making figure bowls. We are using gingerbread men cookie cutters to make the figures. Then using 6 or 7 figures in a circle we make a bowl. Each student is responsible for one figure to make and glaze. I think that they will look very cool when done.

Sunday, October 19, 2008


Originally uploaded by blisschan
This is the result of a workshop I took this weekend at the FAEA conference in Orlando. It is called a bueprint or cyantype image. It is created by cutting a stencil and then placing the it on top of the photo sensitive fabric. This is pressed under a sheet of glass and placed in the sun for 15 minutes. After that time the fabric is washed in water to reveal the image.
Thanks Patricia Velazquez for the workshop.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Fridays FAEA October 17, 2008

On Friday I took a workshop in the morning that was really challenging. Flash in a Flash. This was a workshop on creating Flash Animation. There is a lot to the program and I will have to play with the program before I feel comfortable with it.
I also taught a workshop called "Web 2.0 Publish to the World" I had about 11 people there and everyone seemed to enjoy it.
Here is a link to the second half of Fridays Keynote Speaker

Thursday, October 16, 2008

FAEA Conference in Orlando 2008

Today was the first day of the FAEA State Conference. I began the day with a Gallery Hop to various Museums around the Orlando area.
We first visited the Orlando Museum of Art and saw a very interesting exhibit called Provocative Parings. The exhibit was made by pairing works from the museums permanent collection that represented different points of view and or use of media. It was very good and in some cases funny, I laughed out loud at the work titled "Head Cheese".
The next museum we visited was the Mennello Museum. There we an excellent collection of works by the artist Earl Cunningham.

Later on Thursday we had the FAEA General Session with the keynote speaker Dr. Deborah Reeve. Here is the first half of her talk.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Updating my Jott. I've...

Updating my Jott. I've updated my jott to a paid account and I find that I do use enough that it was worth paying for this. So its something that you shall look into Jott. listen

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Test

I began this week giving the HCSD Elementary Art Assessment. Oh are the kids excited, come to art and take a test.
Now don't get me wrong I believe that valid assessments are an important part of education. But the thought that a single pre-test and post-test shed any light on a students growth in art or any subject is just foolish.
Last week while scanning the various blogs that I read I came across a video by Chris Lehmann and about a minute into the talk he made the statement that "good data cost a lot more than we are willing to spend". Ouch that hit the nail on the head. We create standardize who's main function as I see it is to create numbers masqueraiding as data.
I know that the FAEA is in the processs of creating a state wide standardize art test. This could be a good thing from what I have seen from a plemenary  review of possible test questions I saw last year. but I'm not sure how the test will be paid for. Will it be part of a State mandated assessment like FCAT. Or will individual districts have the option of paying for and administrationg the art test? I don't know.
I do know that watching the students in my art class that growth cannot be measured during a single class. Often I see no growth at all untill all of a sudden a student gets it! But it may not be at the same time that other students "get it". So if I assessed at that time some would show growth and others not. Even if the other students "got it" the next week, that would not count. That is a problem. Do I have the answer, no I haven't gotten to the point in my education to "get it" .....yet.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Quilt Continued

I have got pretty far on the quilt for the Harvest Festival this weekend. I have to stop now because I'm about 8 inches short on the border. Humm, I suppose in the future I should always get a little extra fabric. So tomorrow I'll finish the border and then work on pinning the batting and backing down. I think that I can quilt it with the machine we have at home. I did a little test today and made a little quilted potholder and the plain foot on the sewing machine worked fine, although I may have to put extra pins in to hold the layers steady.
Oh I'm feeling a little too domestic so I think its time for a beer and some football!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Second Quilt

Well I had to open my big mouth at church last week. "Oh you know how to quilt? The Harvest Festival is coming up and that would be great for the craft booth."
Jan is out of town so I think I'll have some free time this week so I have challenged my self to finish the quilt before she gets back.
 This one will be frogs and flowers. The fabric is washed and ironed and this evening I'll get the pieces cut. I don't know if I'll be ready to sew this evening but I'm sure I'll get started tomorrow.

Friday, September 12, 2008


I have just added a Firefox Add-on to my computer called ScribeFire. This add-on allows you to quickly post to your Blog with out having to start up your blog editor.
At first I thought that this was an interesting add-on with out much practical purpose but after installing and starting it up (you just click f8) I see that it may be useful. I'm posting this with ScribeFire.
The interesting thing is that the extension opens in the lower half of the browser window while the web page you are on remains open in the top part of the window with full browser capabilities. I see this as making it very easy to blog about information I find online.
One of the options that ScribeFire allows is Live Preview where the post is temporally published to your blog so that you can view it with your blogs formating. After you return to editing the post is removed from your blog.
This is pretty cool and I'll see if it increases the number of posts I publish to my blog.

Monday, September 8, 2008

It will all be obsolete

I've been planning for a presentation\workshop that I am giving in October to the FAEA. The theme of the workshop is incorporating web 2.0 technologies in the art classroom. I began researching and planning for the workshop last February.
Some of the technologies I will be presenting I use regularly others not as often but I had prepared to present on all. I wanted to show the participants options on blogs, wikis and podcasts. As well as other ancillary web based tools.
Well in going over my presentation I have found that about a third of the sites\web tools that I had prepared for had already gone through significant changes.
This fact of web 2.0 (I use this term loosely to cover a very large and fluid group of tools I access via various electronic devices) changes and evolves at a progressively rapid pace.
So what you learn now will not be applicable a year from now. This makes this new media both very engaging and frustrating at the same time. PB Wiki has changed significantly 3 or 4 times in the year or so that I have been using it.
This creates an environment of continuous learning and I think that the workshop that I will be giving will have to reflect that fact. Participants coming to the workshop will be learning how to use the web to learn. They will find that some of the presentation I may have discovered only the night before while Twittering or reading over my blog feed.
This reminds me of the way very young children everything is new, exciting and they never know what to expect the next day. An adventure.
I hope no one wants a paper handout, I would have to bring a printer with me and print as the workshop was given. Even then it would not be current.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Finished my quilt!

4 classes,4 weeks one hurricane later I have finished my quilt. For the first try at quilting or sewing for that matter I think it turned out fairly well. This evening during the closing ceremonies of the Olympics I was sewing up the last of the edge of the quilt. I was told by our instructor that this is typically done by hand even in quilts that were otherwise sewn on a machine. So my is done by hand. I think I got the hang of the blind stitch on the second side and I cut out the first side and re-did it toward the end. I was much happier with the result after that. Really there is only one mistake in the quilt and I'll leave you to find in the accompanying picture.
After learning how to quilt I have written a grant and I hope to be able to buy some quilting materials to use in my art class. I think the kids would enjoy the process, even if we only make little pot holder quilts.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Hurricane Fay

Panoramic picture taken with my cell phone.

Gandy Bridge 2 days before Hurricane Fay blows by Tampa Bay.

I went for a bike ride today over the Gandy bridge. It is hard to believe that Hurricane Fay may hit us in a day or two. But then it always looks very calm before a storm. I just hope that all the kids tomorrow are safe getting to school. Yea thats right school starts and a day later a hurricane hits. I guess it can only get better!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Oh! this is fun. I just found this yesterday and have become fascinated with Twittearth. According to the developers this site was made for fun. OK but I think it illustrates the power and reach of the web and social networks. Go to the site and watch the globe spin with twitts. This is all happening in real time and what you are seeing is a worldwide conversation. Wow! I showed this to a group of teachers and I think that it really opened their eyes to ways that social networks could be used in the classroom. Unfourtnatly most social networks are blocked from our schools.
(In the screen shot above each of the little figures is a twitter and the location on the earth is where it orignated)

Thursday, July 31, 2008


"Oh my god" that was my sons reaction when his Mom told him about our new project together. We are taking a quilting class. Sewing is not one of those hobbies that I ever pursued. Oh I can sew on a button and at one point in my life I was studying sail-making. But that used waxed linen thread, heavy canvas, a BIG needle, and a leather sewing palm. Very butch.
Well now Jan and I have decided to learn quilting together, we are such "empty nesters". I was hoping for drinking and partying every night but alas it was not to be. So we are quilting.
It is kinda fun and I'm not bad at it either, Ok not great but I have been able to cut and sew a straight line.
We got homework tonight from class and this should be fun trying to sew on the sewing machine we have at home. I'm looking online for a 1/4 inch slant foot fro the sewing machine. No easy task because this was my grandmothers sewing machine before she gave it to Jan when we were first married. So it has some years on it. But I've found some of the feet we need and tomorrow I'm going to call a place here in Tampa that sells Singer sewing machines and see if they have any. Didn't think I'd be doing that last week!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Yesterday I gave a workshop to a group of art teachers. The theme of the workshop was incorporating digital tools onto the elementary art classroom. I used a wiki to present and demonstrate various ideas I have used or plan on using.

Some teachers caught on very quickly to the concepts involved, others struggled but kept trying but a few just gave up and did not try.

I was a little frustrated with the last group because I thought that if the teachers would just by try a little harder that they would get it.

Well today I have a little more understanding of the teachers that just gave up. I was working on my “second job” which involves rolling schools in our district over to Active Directory. Part of that process is preparing for folder redirection which is how users data is stored. I have a very small part of that process which is checking that users are in the right folders.

The other part is applying the group policy for folder redirection. I watched one of the network administrators do just that and I have no idea what magic he did. I could not even begin to duplicate the process or even describe what happened on the servers and domain controllers he worked on.

So those of you that were in my workshop and left feeling that the workshop was given in Greek I feel your pain. I’m not sure how many times I would have to be shown the process of “applying a group policy” before I got it if I ever would. But I’ll keep trying. And I hope that the teachers from my workshop will also.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Thats it. Now Austin...

Thats it. Now Austin is tucked away in his dorm room, his bags unpacked, groceries on the floor, computer running. listen

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Monday, June 16, 2008

Stop and think.

I have been thinking about the 4 boys who lost their lives in the Little Sioux Scout Ranch in Blencoe, Iowa. This makes me think about all the boys who wear the Scout Uniform and what it can mean.
On a personal level I have seen my son grow to a man in Scouts. During his time in Scouts Austin went from a little boy who was afraid on camp outs and had to sleep in the same tent as me. To a young man who during his Eagle project went to a foreign country to help other children there. Scouting gave him the confidence to do that.
Listen to this story from NPR and think "shouldn't more boys be involved in Scouts"

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Something else to think about.

This is an interesting video by some students from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Now I'm not a big player of video games or even on-line games, except for Parking Wars on Facebook. I use to play video games in college but that was limited to PacMan and Frogger. When my son turned 16 my wife and I allowed him to get the video game Grand Theft Auto. After he got the game I sat with him and watched him play. There was a lot of shooting, stealing of cars, and other inappropriate things going on. And imagine my delight when he "earned" enough points to become a Drug Lord. But I watched the game with him and I talked to him about what was happening. I came to understand that what he saw happening on GTA was about as real to him as it was for me when I tried to hop from log to log in Forgger.
So as with any other technology or activities your children participate in the best thing that you can do to ensure that it is appropriate for them is be involved. Don't depend on anyone or anything else to protect them, likewise don't expect to place blame on anyone else.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Thinking Outside the Box

I've been thinking lately about creativity, innovation and new media.
Firstly I have come to believe that the children that I am teaching are learning skills for jobs that do not yet exist.
I have found two examples of blending ideas and knowledge and talent to create a new way of seeing.

MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo.
This is a video created by Blu a graffiti artist and animator. Its an amazing video, really thinking outside the box.

in the above music video the band Get Out Clause used videos gleaned from London's vast CCTV security system to edit together a music video.

Now these are two examples of very creative, innovative thinking what will happen with these ideas I don't know. But there have been recent examples of very outside the box that have created new industries. Facebook, less than 5 years ago a student at Harvard created a way for other Ivy league students to socialize online. Now although its founder claims no plans to sell the company Facebook has been valued at between 1 to 8 billion dollars. Wow that is really taking anew idea to the extreme.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

End of the year

Only about 11.5 days left on the school year. It doesn't see possible. So many things planned but not yet accomplished and other things that I didn't plan on done.
I've actually got quite a few teachers at my school venturing into web 2.0 teaching. One is creating a wiki with her students about the history of the area around Mary E Bryant. Two other first grade teachers are working with their students creating MixBooks of art work created in my art class. Both of these projects are big steps for the teachers.

View this book full size or get a printed copy at Mixbook

Next year should be very interesting because the theme for the year is going to be " Learning through Technology" or something to that effect I'm not sure what that means or where that will lead us next year but where ever that is it should be an adventure.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Getting ready for College

I'm sitting here with my son going over his college loan information. Ohh what an eye opener...for him. "Dad I have to start paying it back right after I graduate?" Yes I told him. "Bummer."
They all want to grow up so fast and then when kids get there it's quite a shock to find that the adults were not quite having all the fun that kids thought that they were.
I'm sure that my son will do well in school and its both fun and scary to see him growing up.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Tech day Wednesdays....

Tech day Wednesdays. Spent the day today doing check, helping people fix some interesting problems and repeating things to people that I have repeated over and over about how to work with their computers. Over all, fairly successful day. I do have a fourth grade class that's creating their own web page about the history of the Tampa Bay area. listen

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Eagle Scout Banquet....

Eagle Scout Banquet. Tonight we went to my son Austins Eagle Scout Bankwood and along with, well over 200 other Eagle Scouts had a very nice dinner and he even won a subscription for the National Eagle Societies and he will get a membership for the rest of his life so we are very proud of him. listen

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Friday, April 18, 2008

We're getting ready...

We're getting ready to to a movie and we're watching Forgetting somebody. listen

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Monday, April 14, 2008


I've been playing around this evening with MixBooks. This tool allows you to create virtual books using images and writing. This evening I made a book using artwork made by one of my first grade classes.

View this book full size or get a printed copy at Mixbook

This book only took a little time to create and distribute via this blog and a wiki I created.
To start I used a digital camera to photograph the students art as soon as it was finished in class. these files were uploaded in mass to the MixBook site. Once there I placed the images on the pages as well as wrote the story. Total time was under an hour.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Previous Post

This is pretty cool I have been messing around with some new to me web 2.0 tools. Jott, Sandy, and Blogger. Ok Blogger is not so new but the other two are. Jott allows you to sent a text message or e-mail by speaking into your cell phone. I use it to send e-mails to myself with ideas, thoughts, and to do items. I can also use it to respond to my sons text messages, much easer that trying to type in on my phone.
As the previous post shows I have also discovered how to use Jott to add posts to my blog with my phone. The first few words spoken are used as the title and then the rest is transcribed into the body of the post. Jott has a 30 second limit so the post will be brief but then most of mine are.
Sandy takes an e-mail and converts it to a daily calender entry. All you have to do is include the phrase remember or remind me in the e-mail and Sandy figures out the rest from the text of your e-mail.

I think I got this figured...

I think I got this figured out. The ID is the number at the end of the link when you are trying to sign on to a post. So, this should allow me to blog from my phone. listen

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Granny get your gun

Often when I read about the workings of our political system and the laws that are passed by our elected officials I question their collective intelligence. Then I heard about the “Take your gun to work” bill that is soon to be signed into law by the Gov. of Fla. Wow I thought that's the craziest thing to come out of Tallahassee yet.

But upon closer inspection the law does exempt a few places of work. Schools, hospitals, and nuclear power plants ok maybe they are not so crazy. Places that deal with Home Land Security on first blush that is also a good one to keep guns away from but wait…. That would include everywhere elected officials work so without saying so our “Protectors of the Constitution” just took themselves out of the mix. I guess they aren't as crazy as I thought.

And while I am pontificating I’m really peeved about the IRS. Yes I just finished my taxes and imagine my delight when I discovered that I qualified for the Economic Stimulus Package. WooHoo $1200 free money! Oh but wait I have to send with my tax return a little more that that. So I send the IRS a check and then a few months later I get a little less back. Gee thanks! I think that the Government got the idea from those “mail in rebates” you have to do at Best Buy. I just hope I sent in all the forms, receipts, and little bar codes off the box.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Eagle Scout

On Saturday March 29,2008 My son Austin was presented with the rank of Eagle Scout. I am very proud of his achievement. Austin finished all the requirements for Eagle Scout just days before he turned 18. After that birthday he would have no longer been eligible for the rank but by waiting till the very end Austin was able to be a Scout for the maximum amount of time.
Austin started Scouting in first grade when he was just 6 years old so by the time he earned his Eagle he had been a Scout for 12 years. He will tell you he loved every minute of it. Camping, hiking, peeing on trees, building fires, and having adventures with a bunch of his friends. Austin also learned to be a leader, he leaned respect for others. He learned to be a man and I know that this is just the start of great things.

Austin job well done!
Love Dad

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Strange Bed Fellows

I am far from a one issue voter; I’m more of a stir the pot, turn over the apple cart type thinker. But there is one issue that I will be taking a serious look at this voting season. That is the arts and art education. I think that the arts are the canary in the coal mine of our children’s education.
While our policy makers point to the easily testable subjects as gauges of the success or failure of the educational system. Often those tests depend heavily on lower level thinking and questioning. The arts on the other hand by their very creative nature move past the lower levels to the higher levels of application, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. These are areas of critical thinking that will allow students grow as learners; developing the skills that they will need in the new economy that is developing around the information age of the 21st century.
Below is a link to the Art Vote page of the Americans for the Arts Action Fund with the different Presidential Candidates Arts Policy Brief.
Read and decide.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Luck of

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Racing ahead, falling behind.4

From the networking class I learned a very basic idea of how the network at our school worked and with that knowledge came the opportunity to fix every ones computer problems. Ooh didn’t see that coming. But also by having to solve many different problems gave me the confidence to include technology more actively in my lessons.

I created a web page that students could access at home. They were encouraged to work with their parents on writing about different artworks that I posted on the web site. Once a month I collected the “home work” and had the students discuss what they wrote in class. Some parents enjoyed the time working with children while others viewed is as a burden and just one more thing to do. OK this was using technology but this could have also been done with a handout that students took home and wrote about. I was doing something with tech that I could have done without tech. I still wanted to have the kids do things that they couldn’t do any other way.

One thing that I did was with a first grade class and their teacher. We created a claymation animation. This was doing something that could not be done any other way. In their class the students wrote the story or script. In my art class we created the clay figures then working during an enrichment time we all worked together photographing the figures and recording the students telling the story. The students actually photographed and moved the clay figures, with a minimal assistance from me. But I still did the computer work of putting together the animation.

Then earlier this school year I discovered the K12 Online Conference. This was a great resource of information of how others were using technology in education. I learned about other teacher used wikis, blogs and other web 2.0 tools with their students. Soon after that I began to create wiki web pages for my students to work with. I also used this blog to record and report on the FAEA State conference. I hoped that my fellow teachers that were not able to attend the conference could share, virtually my experience there.

To be continued…..

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Racing ahead, falling behind. 3

At my first school I used Macs and with them I was good at organizing data from the classroom. I also used the computer to research and create overheads for my lessons. But that was the limit of the computers/technology in my classroom.
Then in 2002 I moved to a new school. This was a brand new elementary school with all new technology. All PC, OK new learning experience. Laptops, LCD Projectors, SmartBoards and document cameras. Wow a challenge to learn about all new stuff with all new stuff.
First thing I did was check out an LCD projector from the media center ( the school started out with 12) I then played around with PowerPoint till I could create a simple slide show of images.
I teach elementary art and it is a great advantage to be able to show large images if the artworks I am studying with my kids.
This worked out great for the first part of the school year but then I noticed that there were other goodies in boxes in the back of the media center. Time for me to browse for new toys.
I talked the media specialist into allowing me to "store" a SmartBoard and document camera in my room. Oh I was off and digitally running. And I was learning a little about PCs, I found them a little more awkward than Macs but I was learning.
I took a course called Intel "Teach to the Future". Teach to the Future is a good course once you get past the thought that this ia an ad for Microsoft. This class encouraged me to look at ways to not only include technology in the things that I did in the classroom but also the things that kids do in the classroom.
I began by having a weekly art class in the computer lab and having kids draw using MS Paint. This was great the kids were learning a new skill and found that the computers were more that just fancy game consoles.
But the things that I wanted to do with the computer in the classroom were outstripping my skills on the computer. I needed to know more that I could learn on my own. So I convinced my Principal that I needed to take a networking class that was offered by the district to a chosen few. I should have know better.
To be continued....

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Racing ahead, falling behind.2

Now that I have thought about my previous post for a few days I thought I would describe my journey of incorporating technology in the classroom.

I have been teaching for less that ten years and when I came into the classroom most schools already had computers in the classroom and they were networked together. But at that time the primary use of computers was word processing. Some were using e-mail but not for important communication that was hand written or printed out and sent via student to the teacher or placed in their mailbox. A few teachers were using "Learning" games on the computer.

Coming to teaching later in life and having used computers in my business I knew that they were capable of doing much more.
Keeping records was something that I always found tedious at best. And much to my early dismay I found that most teachers are very consistent record keepers. Computers also do tedious and consistent very well. We were using Macs at that time in the schools and Apple had a great simple program for creating databases. I used that to create a student behavior database and was beginning to create a grading database when our tech teacher said that the school owned a grading program Orbis GradePro. but no one used it but the software and instructions were in the box and I was welcome to give it a try.

Ooh I was in heaven. This program allowed me to keep track of students grades, attendance, seating chart and notes on the student. I was able to print out charts and graphs on my students after just a little set-up (ok that set-up consisted of typing in all 500 of my student names) But it was worth it because it gave the illusion that I was as organized as a veteran teacher.

The graphs and charts proved to the other teachers and administration at my school that I was some sort of computer savant. Because of this I was able to move into my room a really cool blue and white Power Macintosh G3 and the only scanner in the school. People came by to see that the computers in the classroom could be used for something other that showing screen savers of kittens or grandkids.

To be continued.......

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Racing ahead, falling behind.

I have been grappling with incorporating technology, web 2.0, and other "alternative" methods of teaching for the past few weeks. I have a Twitter group of educators and technology pioneers that I follow regularly. From this I read how others are using various technologies in their classrooms. Of course being very curious I follow links provided and discover new web 2.0 sites.
I also use an RSS feed to aggregate blogs that I read. This allows me to quickly scan what other bloggers are thinking. I also blog myself but not as regularly as some.
A web 2.0 that I have been using in the classroom is PBWiki. A wiki is an easily edited read write web page. I have been using this in my classroom having my student create web pages about their art work. The kids are very interested in publishing to the web but I do not have the time in my class to devote to an in depth study of wikis by the students.
Another wiki that I use regularly with web 2.0 is Wikipedia. Some view the information on Wikipedia as suspect because anyone can create or edit
entries. But because of the rapidly developing aspect of web 2.0 wikipedia is often the only source of information. (That is why many of the references in this blog use Wikipedia) Often current events are updated on Wikipedia as they happen. I am writing this on the evening of February 19th 2008 and early this morning Castro announced that he was steping down as the leader of Cuba. Just a short time later that day contributors had begun changing the entry on Castro to include the fact that he had stepped down and his brother is taking power. I think that this feature of a wiki is very interesting.
I have also begun a lesson plan wiki to collect and share lessons with other art teachers. Blissart is also a PBWiki that I encourage other art teachers to add to, the password is #1art, go figure.
To be continued.....

Saturday, February 16, 2008

February 14th

The dark underbelly of February 14th.

Last Thursday started off like most work days, coffee and a 25 minute drive to work. When I got to school I knew something was different, the kids. The kids were more excited that usual for a Thursday; then I remembered it was Valentines Day. The day of sugar excess. When I met the buses I knew that this was going to be a day to remember. Kids were getting off the buses with bags, boxes and other containers of sweets. And they were grinning from ear to ear knowing that moms had put special treats in their lunch bags, some already eaten on the bus.

When the first group of the day came to my art class (something that on a normal day excites the kids) they were buzzing. I had them stay in line before entering my room and asked them who had Valentine candy for breakfast. About ten hands went up. Then I asked who had candy on the bus, more hands. From that brief survey I determined that about 80% of the class had already exceeded their daily consumption of sugar. Time 8:15am. This was going to be a long day.

The next two classes were about the same. Most lasted about ten minuets till I yelled for them to work in silence. Even then kids were falling out of their seats and spilling their paints more than usual.

Then I had a fifth grade class come in. I could tell something was up because the teacher informed me that she had already told them that they had better behave. I reluctantly inquired as to why? She told me that before coming to art that the class had reenacted the Boston tea party and then eaten Valentine candy. Thanks a lot! Like that Star Trek TV show where Captain Kirk Starts moving so fast he disappears, some of the kids were getting a little faint around the edges. By the end of class 3 cups of paint water had been spilled and a few papers destroyed by overly vigorous erasing.

The day pretty much continued like that till dismissal, and then it really went downhill. Of course some of the buses were either late or missing so the kids had to sit and wait. Left to their own devises while waiting for their bus the kids found many ways to get on each others and my nerve. Those that were not fighting or crying were throwing up. I blew my whistle and had them stand. Then they had to put their arms out and make sure that no one was near enough to touch and then sit silently waiting for their bus to take them home.

I’m thinking of going to the school board and asking that sugar be declared a controlled substance that cannot be brought within 500 feet of a school.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Web Filtering/Censoring

Photo by Billy Abbott

Recently my school district started blocking most blogs as social networks. This got me to thinking about the usefulness of filtering software.
From what I can see the WebSense filter blocks sites according to broad definitions of the content of the sites. So if a site is associated with other sites by name only then that site is also blocked.
Now image if books in the library were "filtered" in the same way. The other day a book from our library was brought to the administrations attention "My Mom's Having a Baby" innocuous enough right? Well when one of the students brought this home and showed it to her parents they looked through the book and found the following passage "The man puts his penis between the woman's legs and inside her vagina". Now if books were filtered by words or author then this book may have been filtered along with all other books by Dori Hillestad Butler. If books were filtered by the publisher which would be similar to the network a web site is associated with then many more books would be blocked.
Am I proposing that kids be given open access to everything at school, no of course not. What I am saying is that web filters are a very blunt tool and do not do a very good job. They give the illusion of safety with out teaching kids how to be safe on the web.
If you teach swimming, kids have to jump into the pool.
Photo by Glennharper

Monday, January 21, 2008

What I Make

Found this video on another blog and thought it was good, a little harsh but good.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Science project looking for an art connection

So now all I have to do is figure out an art project that I could connect this with.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Nationwide Insurance Company of Florida

My wife and I just received a notice from Nationwide Insurance Company of Florida that our homeowners insurance was being canceled. Or in their feel good words "non-renewed" which I’m sure some corporate wordsmith really enjoyed writing. Apparently the main reason for canceling our insurance was not from not paying our insurance bill or making too many claims (we have made one in the 19 years we have lived in the house). No our Nationwide Insurance was canceled because of L.I.F. or Living In Florida.

Our house has survived, with out damage, several hurricanes. We have prepared our house for the next by trimming trees and preparing plywood covering for all our windows. We are ready and so is our house but apparently the only risk Nationwide is willing to take is if our insurance payment might be late, and they never were. So after 19 years Nationwide just up and bails on us.

Thanks A Lot Nationwide Insurance Company of Florida.

Now I guess that Nationwide Insurance Company of Florida can’t take all the blame. The Florida Legislators in Tallahassee also need some of the blame for this happening. In their “Show me the money” attitude the Leaders of Florida allow insurance companies in Florida to keep their books separate from their parent company. So I send money to Nationwide Insurance but it really is only Statewide Insurance.

What will I do you are thinking. Well Monday I’ll go with hat in hand and ask my agent if there is an insurance company that till cover my home, the one that has had one claim in 19 years. To me that looks like a pretty good risk.

Nationwide may be on your side, but not on mine.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Here is another way to use web 2.0 for collaboration

Friday, January 4, 2008

New Story Telling Tool

OK, found a new site called Bookr. It allows you to search tags of images in Flicker and paste the images in to a Bookr "book" This is a very simple example.

As you can see when you move your cursor over the corner of a page it flips up and turns to the next page. You can also read it in full size by clicking the bar under the book to the left.

I "discovered" Bookr while reading a post on my Twitter account.


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