Category Archives: The Teachers

What’s a Whuffie?

I checked out my Twitter feed this morning and David Warlick was live blogging from TechForum in Austin.

“Social and intellectual capital are the new economic values of the world economy.”

discussed by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach

The quote reminded me of this:
In Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom (2003) by Cory Doctorow

The usual economic incentives have disappeared from the book’s world. Whuffie has replaced money, providing a motivation for people to do useful and creative things. A person’s Whuffie is a general measurement of his or her overall reputation, and Whuffie is lost and gained according to a person’s favorable or unfavorable actions. The question is, who determines which actions are favorable or unfavorable? In Down and Out, the answer is public opinion. Rudely pushing past someone on the sidewalk will definitely lose you points from them (and possibly bystanders who saw you), while composing a much-loved symphony will earn you Whuffie from everyone who enjoyed it.

As often happens in science fiction, there will be bits and pieces that make the story believable because they will mirror parts of life that are close to present reality. Mr. Doctorow didn’t have the economic incentives part right, but social and intellectual capital sure sounds like Whuffie to me.Another thing mentioned in Mr. Warlick‘s post was that people don’t subscribe to magazines, they subscribe to people.

We all have “our people”; those we listen to, go to, read, learn from, trust, and respect. Where are yours? Are they at your workplace? In your feed reader?

Ten For Tuesday

1.  This day has flown by because I never stopped moving!
2.  I am going to make it my business to learn what is where on the servers from now on!
3.  Some of what we thought was gone is not (which is the reason for number 3!) and there is more than one way to keep grades and do an export.  You can physically move folders and export files.  Not elegant but it works.
4.  The weather is getting chilly – time for soup and bread!!

5.  I cannot stress enough, the importance of backing things up.

6.  If we didn’t have bible study tonight, I would probably be in bed by 7 o’clock.

7.  It never seems to amaze me, the people who are the most willing to help in a crisis.

8.  I am again reminded that I get dumber when I am tired.

9. I am also reminded that sometimes the best way to learn to swim is to be thrown in the water (and the best way to learn is when you absolutely HAVE to)
10.  I am planning on writing more on this blog, even if it is from prompts. I want to write more with the goal of learning to be a better writer. If you read here you may find some strange posts appearing in the future.  I am saying this now so that I will be able to hold myself to it!

I think I could have written twenty for Tuesday but I’m going to save it up.  I’m going to take a deep breath and let it all go til tomorrow, and to quote Sidney the psychiatrist on M.A.S.H. – “pull down your pants and slide on the ice!”

Sometimes  we just need to be silly… 🙂

Beauty From Ashes

Eye make-up washed off by tears – $10.00

Lotion for hands sore from clapping – $ 3.99

Cough drop for throat raspy from yelling – $1.98

Heart full of pride – PRICELESS!

I’m scribbling this in the car on the way home from the UIL band competition.  We made it in time to see the Paris Blue Blazes Band take the field and their show was just beautiful and graceful.  We stayed til after the North Lamar Panther Band finished playing and until we knew both bands had made ones!

I yelled and clapped for both bands and it made me incredibly proud that I work with these wonderful creatures who overcome so much everyday. Band teaches a sense of community, responsibility, accountability, and that practice really DOES make perfect.

Today, it taught them that beauty can come from ashes, that you can move and work through grief, and you can create meaning from senseless loss.

They proved to themselves that you can step up and do what needs to be done even when it is painful, and that the beat is still in your heart and head even when the drummer stops playing.  I am humbled.

Links To Visit

This is the coolest online image application I have seen.  It is called Sumo Paint and has a ton of features!  There are layers, gradients, shapes, brushes, and blend modes.  I played with it for about three minutes and made a little picture (nothing fancy, I know)


If you are in a more serious mood and if you Twitter you might consider in taking part tonight in fact checking during the vice-presidential debate.  NPR is asking that you watch and whenever you hear something that you think contradicts what you have already heard, see if you can find a transcript or video that backs it up and the same thing when a statistic is quoted – try to find the original source.  Twitter your finding with the tag #factcheck in your tweet.
Amazing – NPR will have people all over the country doing their preliminary research for them.  To me this is the interactive internet at it’s best.   What a way to get people involved.  I wish I had seen this sooner.  It would have been fun to have a twitter/debate party!  There is still time – if you have wireless and some friends with laptops get together and participate!

Randy Pausch

From the Google Blog:

Goodbye to Randy Pausch, a great teacher

7/26/2008 10:25:00 AM

Randy Pausch, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University and a good friend of Google, passed away last night. In addition to being recognized as a pioneer in virtual reality research, he became widely known as a gifted teacher and a mentor to many. Millions of people saw his inspiring Last Lecture on YouTube. Read more about Randy and his contributions on our Research Blog.

If you haven’t seen “The Last Lecture” please do – you won’t be sorry.  If you do not have access to YouTube – watch it on google video.  You can also buy it in book form.

His family has my prayers – I liked him and never met him.

Global Education

I am not a teacher, I have worked in education in some form for about 15 years.  I took 9 years out of public employment to raise my kids and even then I was a substitute teacher a few times.

I have heard people fuss and complain about schools, kids, teachers, parents – on and on.   None of the complaints directed at any particular group ever rang true to me because I have always believed that  institutions reflect the greater community they reside in along with all the individual entities that make up the community.

If I think – really think, about how change is effected, problems solved, from this starting point –  I feel so overwhelmed.  How can change happen if each entity is not moved somehow?

Maybe the reverse is true.  Maybe each little change affects the entire community.  That approach seems a lot more hopeful to me.  That means any piece of the puzzle that I come into contact with can be a part of a positive or negative change.  There is hope in that and also accountability.  That means that every single interaction I have, somehow creates change and that brings everything down to individual responsibility.

It means that my actions and interactions need to be thoughtful and intentional.  It means that not only am I my brother’s keeper but each of us is the keeper of our entire local community which has it’s interaction with the rest of the global community.   It means that I can’t blame anyone else for the state of the world – I can only make my individual actions count.

That makes sense for the individual.  If the entire community thinks like me – has the same belief system, and is willing to take the same level of responsibility then we will move as a group in a particular direction.  The reality is, individuals have their own agenda’s, their own belief systems, and their own ideas about what is the best direction for a community to move.  How to we reconcile the different views and not end up simply sitting still or moving backwards and forwards instead of making progress?

If you don’t think our thinking is splintered – look at your community.  How many churches are there?  If we are unable to unite in our belief system when in most communities in this area, it all revolves around a single book then….well, you can see the difficulty.

The catalyst for this whole discussion was a website called 2 Million Minutes.  There is a dvd you can order and I am planning on purchasing one.  There are lesson plans and clips of the making of the video.  The premise is that our young people have about 2 million minutes to spend in high school.  How will their two million minutes stack up result wise to students in China or India.  There is an exam to take to see how you stack up.

The exam challenge is the brainchild of Bob Compton after hearing a professor at Harvard Graduate School of Education  “We have nothing to learn from education systems in Third World countries, “Much less a Third World country that lacks freedom of speech.” when he viewed the Two Million Minutes video.

The exam “is a shortened and greatly simplified version of the multi-day proficiency test that every 10th grader in India must pass to go on to the 11th grade.”


As a part of the global community, what are our priorities?  What are we willing to sacrifice to get there?  What are the consequences?

Getting Things Done and Organized With Google Spreadsheets and Forms

Example of a Google Docs spreadsheet PDA

  • Create a new spreadsheet
  • Create headers across the top – you can format the text and background color if you like.
  • I used Subject, Date, Notes, Details
  • At the bottom of the screen you will see a tab for the sheet you are working on..  If you click it you have several editing choices, including delete, duplicate, rename, and move right or left.  For now you might want to rename it work.
  • Now click again and duplicate it (I did this twice) You now have three sheets with the same headers and you can now click on and rename the other two sheets.  I have named my sheets Work, Home, Ideas.
  • Now here is where it gets fun
  • You could just enter information directly into the spreadsheet but with Google Docs you can create a form that will make it easier to quickly enter data and have it automatically update in the spreadsheet.
  • We will create a separate form for each sheet and show you how you can use those links to populate your spreadsheet PDA
  • Click on the tab for one of the sheets so you will have that sheet open.
  • You should see a row of light blue tabs across the top of the document – click the tab for Form
  • Click create a form
  • A new page will open with your form already created according to the column headers you used in your spreadsheet.
  • As you move your mouse cursor over each field in your form you will see that you can edit that individual field, you can move it, you can even add or delete questions.  Just remember that what you do on the form will be reflected on the spreadsheet.  If you delete a field it will no longer exist on the spreadsheet either.  A good rule of thumb is that the form is “the boss” of the spreadsheet.
  • Now choose “next choose recipients”  You can put in your own email address and if you look on the right you will see a note saying that if you have trouble viewing or submitting this form, you can fill it out online and there will be a link.  This is the link you want to save as a shortcut on your desktop.  You can change the name of the link to make it easier to find.  On a PC you will right click on the shortcut and choose rename.  If you use something like @Home the @ sign will cause it to be near the top if you arrange you icons in alphabetical order.  On a Mac you will control-click the shortcut and choose info. There will be a field where you can change the name.

This would work for a student organizer – just change the column headings to something like assignment, due date, teacher/professor, class period, notes/resources. 

A couple of modifications and you can share and collaborate so now you have an online project management system.

You can also click publish – this gives you an embeddable link and an RSS feed so you can subscribe to your own list.
Choose more publishing options and click in the drop down box and choose HTML to embed in a webpage.  You can also choose which sheets and even which cells to show.  The will generate some HTML that you can paste into your blog.  Pay attention to the sizes shown in the HTML.  If you paste it and find it is bigger than the space provided in the webpage you can usually adjust those numbers to make it fit.

I hope this is useful to you!

I have only included a form that adds information to one sheet.

Addendum: I cannot get the embedded form to work.  I can use the form I created from my desktop or via my email so for the time being look at the above images as screenshots and don’t be afraid to follow the steps to create one to play with yourself.

Comp Day May 2008

Here is my handout. Some of it is covered in other places in this blog. It was created on a Mac using Pages. I am trying to get more comfortable using the iWork software and I think that while it is not as much of a workhorse as Word it was fun and easy to export as a PDF.

Create a folder

PowerPoint Backgrounds and creating content in Word

Adding Sound to PowerPoint and making the music play across multiple slides

Creating Screenshots

Creating a group in Outlook Express

Locking your computer

Word Tips


End of year grade export


TeachersFirst Question of the Week had this for the question of the week recently. Below it is my response.

Some teachers create their own MySpace and FaceBook accounts. Some have personal blogs. A recent article in the Washington Post details indescretions by teachers in such public spaces. If a teacher wants to have a personal web presence, what guidelines or advice would you give to him or her about what should/should not be shared online for the world to see, and why?

Having a presence on the web is like having a picture window into your life. Anyone driving by will form an opinion of you by what they glimpse through that window. If you are dancing around with your lampshade on your head – they are going to make a snap judgment. Every picture, every post, every song playing on your website creates a picture of you for someone who visits. If you are a teacher and have not learned what is and is not appropriate in public then you have bigger problems than the internet.

It doesn’t matter if it is correct, the opportunity to make an impression has passed and if it is a bad one it will be very difficult to change even if you get the chance which in most cases you won’t.

If you are the type of person that sweeps the floor, dusts and straightens up for company then do that on your website as well because company will be coming and going most times without you even knowing it.

In education this is even more crucial. Whatever is on your website may as well be on the principals’ desk, the school board meeting, the local newspaper, or a students iPod. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use it. We should just use it for what it is – a tool to communicate. It is not and never has been your private diary with pictures and sound.

Our students are now creating content on the internet. We have a wonderful teaching opportunity if we choose to utilize that capability. That means we have to get on the bus with them – not stand on the sides wringing our hands. We just need to have a destination in mind and plan accordingly.


Daniel Pink, Career Advice, and Manga

Daniel Pink has a new book out and I am planning on reading it but until I can get an actual copy in my hand here are goodies to share.  Garr Reynolds has created a presentation with an overview and a few of his own ideas.  It is definitely worth the watch. The book is The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You Will Ever Need.   

An article in Business Week says this:


In Japan, no subject is too serious or too pedestrian for manga. Comic books about financial management are popular. The True Life of Carlos Ghosn, a series about the head of Nissan Motor (NSANY), sold well. And a two-volume manga account of the country’s economic development has become a classic.

As for those who are still dubious about the, uh, value proposition of a business comic book, Pink offers this pitch for manga: It provides maximum efficiency of expression.


You can watch Garr Reynolds presentation here and also download a pdf if you prefer a paper copy. 

I have not been a big fan of manga but as I read more online and the pile of books next to my bedside table grows taller than the table, it may be worth a second look.  My experience thus far has been the kind that high school students want to read and is often not appropriate for school.  I am interested to know if anyone knows of more manga style books that are reference or informational.  If you have any suggestions I’d love to hear about them.

Ten Steps For Burning A CD or DVD On Your Mac

  1. Create a “Burn Folder”
  2. Click the finder icon (the little blue faces) in the dock
  3. Click file/new burn folder (menu bar at the top of your screen)
  4. Go to the folder where the files you want to burn are living
  5. Click a file you want to burn to disc. (Hold down the apple key and click multiple files to select more than one)
  6. Select edit/copy and then click on the burn folder and click edit paste or drag the files over to the burn folder
  7. The files you selected should appear in the folder as “alias icons” with little arrows in the bottom left corner of each file (indicates it’s a shortcut)
  8. Select file/Burn “burn folder” to disc or click the burn button that appears in the upper right corner of the finder window
  9. There will be a dialog box asking you to insert a blank disk
  10. Insert a blank disk into the Mac and it will start burning your files.

Yay UIL!

Tonight I got to attend my second UIL banquet of the week.   While the two were for different school districts it still is such a blessing to realize what a great group of kids live in this community.  It also blesses me to know such awesome teachers who are so willing to go above and beyond to give to the kids.

The Last Six Weeks Of School

This is a crazy time any year but more so this year because my son is a senior and my daughter a junior and they attend a different school than the one I work at.  This means two UIL banquets, and speaking of UIL my daughter is going to State for computer apps!  I eased into that gracefully didn’t I?

I’m proud of and for her.  She left the competition before the actual scores were final so she didn’t even know at that point.  A friend of ours picked her up so she could join a youth group attending a Third Day concert and the Rangers game.  She called me on her cell and held it up so I could hear them singing “God Of Wonders”.  She didn’t stay for the whole game – it was not one of their better games but she still didn’t get home til midnight but had an awesome time.  The praise team was tired and hoarse!

We have something nearly every night for the next few weeks – probably longer but I am not looking ahead any farther than that!

Just Checking In For A Moment!

I have been off the grid since my last post. It has been a very busy week and this weekend is going to fly by! We hosted the District UIL met at our school this weekend and while my part is small, it was fun with lots of payback. I coach Computer Applications (my first year) and my student took fifth place which I think is wonderful considering this was her first year to compete. My own kids attend school in the next district – a weird think I know but we are a small area geographically but have three school districts. My daughter placed second in Computer Applications and My son placed third in Extemp (I hope I have that right or I will never hear the end of it!)

A friend is at WordCamp Dallas 2008 this weekend and I hope learns some great stuff to share. I would love to have gone but too many conflicts this weekend! I will have to be content with searching for posts to read to live vicariously!

We have joined a small group bible study and we meet on Tuesday nights so that is one night we are busy, and then we are trying to attend two different churches right now which is confusing but we are trying to work out some things. One place has incredible teaching. the other has definite issues but we went there for years and many of the people there are like extended family. We have gotten involved with a small Sunday night praise service and tomorrow morning there will be a youth led service and then in the evening we will continue that theme but I AM TO GIVE THE MESSAGE. I have been struggling with this all week. I would have preferred a skit but they are doing one with the kids in the morning.

I’m relying on Luke 15 and the parable of the Prodigal Son but I’m concentrating on the eldest son. I would really like it to have meaning and bear fruit and I don’t want it to be about me. If you are a praying person I would ask for your prayers for this service that I would disappear and the Word would do whatever God needs it to do in this place and at this time.

There will be very little rest this weekend so I’m going to crash and burn early. I still need to do some more writing and tweaking. This is the first and maybe the last time I will ever do this – it is such a huge responsibility. I can’t imagine what it would be like to do this week after week. I AM looking forward to the kids’ skit. They will be goofy and cute and forget stuff but isn’t the way it always is?

For now world, goodnight! I will try to get some more tutorials up in the next few weeks.

Switching To A Mac Part 2

safariIcon.jpgHow do I get to the internet using my Mac?

The Mac comes with it’s own internet browser called Safari. Look for the icon that looks like a compass. Things will look very similar to any other time you have gone to the internet. Whether you have used Internet Explorer or Firefox you will see the webpage, a box that contains the URL or web address, and buttons for maneuvering around. Here is a screenshot that is typical of what you will see:

On the left you see the three little round buttons that let you close/minimize, or maximize. Just below them you will see arrows for going backwards or forwards. A button to refresh the page (looks like a circular arrow) and a plus sign which lets you add the current website to your bookmarks (favorites)

Down on the right bottom corner there is a little triangle with lines across it. You will notice that when you click the maximize button in Safari it doesn’t fill the entire screen. You can drag that triangle to make the window even larger.

If you are like me and even the bi-focals are not quite enough anymore there are a couple of key shortcuts that you will love. Command (apple) key and the plus sign makes the text on a webpage bigger. You can press the key combination several times to get things large enough to read. To go back to the normal size just press command (apple) key and the minus or dash sign. If you don’t like keyboard shortcuts you can do the same thing by going to view on the toolbar and clicking make text bigger or smaller.
There is another way to make things easier to see. First practice scrolling by using two fingers on your trackpad. You can drag two fingers towards you or away from you on the trackpad to scroll. If you do this (or use your mouse scroll wheel) while holding down ctrl you will be able to zoom in to particular areas of the screen. Just move the wheel or scroll with two fingers, away from you.
To go back to normal just scroll towards you.

This zooming technique works on everything – not just Safari.

As in everything on the Mac – you can always click help on the toolbar and find answers to your questions there.

There is a box to the right of the URL where you can type words to search for.

If you decide Safari is not your cup of tea you can install Firefox for the Mac. Next time I will talk about how to install an application so you can do just that!

I will be posting on using the Mac for the next few weeks and if you have a question I will be glad to try to find answers for you.

PowerPoint Tip – Create Your Content In Word

You can type the content for your PowerPoint presentation in Microsoft Word. If you highlight a section and choose Heading 1 in the formatting toolbar, that section of text can become a slide title. If you highlight another section and choose Heading 2 in the formatting toolbar, that text will become a bullet point. Header 3 will give you a bullet one level in. Normal text will not show up at all.


When you are finished typing your information, save your text in case you wish to edit or re-use later. Go to File/Send to (click the chevron arrows if necessary to see all the choices) and choose Microsoft PowerPoint.


You now have a basic presentation with all your text already in place. You can now add backgrounds, animations, slide transitions and whatever else you want to dress it up.


This technique makes it easy to see the flow of your presentation and to see where you might want to add notes if you are creating notes pages for yourself. You could type notes into Word as you work on your original text – just leave the notes as normal text. They won’t show on the presentation when you “send” it but once your Slide titles and bullets have been created in PowerPoint you can switch view to notes page and you can easily paste your notes onto the bottom section and you will have a complete presentation package complete with notes for you to use as you present.
If you’ve ever watched students work on a presentation you know that they tend to want to spend the bulk of their time working on the bling. By creating content in Word and then sending it to PowerPoint you know they are starting with the “cake” and then working on the “frosting”.

If you are ever asked to create a PowerPoint for someone else, you can tell them you would be glad to help and if they will type their information in Word and send it to you you will have it done very quickly for them.

Computer Applications UIL

I started coaching for the first time this year and this is only the second meet we have competed in. I have two students and one went with me to the last meet. While she didn’t place this time she made a huge improvement from the last time. My other student got her first introduction to the real thing today and I expect she will improve as well.

It has been a learning experience for me as well. This year coaches are required to grade after the meet and I think this is a very good thing. I have learned more during the grading about how to help my students do better than any other time. Both my kids are seniors so I will start over next year, but with more knowledge and confidence. Every meet we attend I learn more and we get a copy of that test to take with us so we will build up a bank of practice material.

I am trying to work through all the tests I have that are from last year. If I can do it, I can explain it. If you are not familiar with this event, the student is given a test that may consist of a Word document, and Access database, and an Excel spreadsheet. You may have to embed a spreadsheet in a memo, or import data into a document to complete a mail merge. There will more than likely be functions involved too.

Computer Applications seems to traditionally be an early event and I was up at 5:30 this morning but we were home by noon so I am now getting ready to turn in.

It’s nice to see progress even if it isn’t a win. At least we are headed in the right direction!

PowerPoint Can Be Artistic? Poetic? Pretty???

Frame 1

Take a look at this site – a teacher wants her class to do a project like this – can we put together some instructions?

Sidebar – whoa this is cool! I am loving this.

Frame 2

A little playing, a little tweaking, some typing and some screenshots and yes we can do this! This is fun and creative and the students will take it and run!

Frame 3

Some explaining – this is how, this is where, be creative – think! not just about the bells and whistles; the bells and whistles have to enhance the symbolism in the text.
Think about the poem, put some words in separate text boxes. Animate them, use color, movement, sound and pictures to SHOW the poem!

Frame 4

Next day student asking will I be there that afternoon – this is confusing. Sure, we talk about the poem (she was stuck – how to animate a poem about sleep)

Frame 5

Student using all the elements – beautiful! Walking around helping, add a few seconds, try this and that. Go sit down – get out of the way. They are the artists!

If you are creating – you are learning. I’m learning, they are teaching me!
They are making a new piece of art!

There will be some tutorials coming up!