Monday, December 31, 2007

Another year ends

This has not been a great year for me. I find that I am not letting go as well as I should. There is no reason not to, really, but I am not doing it. As I move into the next year, I want to begin to focus more on possibilities than on what did or didn't happen.

That being said, today is my 36th wedding anniversary. (I think I got it right first time, this time! Last year I was confused!) It is a good day. Tomorrow I return to Albuquerque. We'll have to see what 2008 brings around.

One thing that I intend to see happen this coming year is more regular posting to this blog. I didn't realize how much I missed that until I made myself blog regularly again.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Kwout, part 2

So, to test this tool further, I decided to get the bookmarklet and try it on the Scott McLeod's post. Getting the bookmarklet was only difficult because I didn't read. All you do in Firefox is drag it to your bookmarks. Then I opened the page I wanted to copy, clicked on the kwout button, and waited a few seconds while it worked. I selected a portion of the page, clicked another button and waited a few seconds. This is what I got:

Now, if you try the links in the post, they are hot. The links in his kwout demo are not. But all I would have to do it click on the link to the post below the kwout and I would have access to the hot links in the kwout, too.

Now, the question: Will I really use this or is it a fun toy to play with and blog about? It remains to be seen. But it seems like it would make my blogging easier. I guess we'll have to wait and see. Meanwhile, the kwout button is waiting there for me in my bookmarks toolbar.


One of the first things I looked at this morning was a post by Scott McLeod about Kwout

Kwout takes a screen shot of a web page, allows you to crop it the way you want, and then allows you to post it to Flickr of anyplace else you want. So, I decided to check out the demo. This is what I got when I used it on my own blog:
Although you can't tell from this post since I don't have any, links in these screen shots are hot. Or they can be if you allow image mapping. All that requires is not unclicking a box.

This seems like a great tool for bloggers. I can't wait to check it out.

Saturday, December 29, 2007


Well, I looked at my bloglines feeds yesterday morning and didn't find any inspiration for a post. I looked later on and had the same lack of inspiration. I was going to look later yet but forgot. So there was no post yesterday.

While it is not the end of the world and I am not even really disappointed in myself for not posting, I am aware of how easy it is to fall back into that not posting thing. I don't want to do that. I have truly enjoyed writing every day this month (except yesterday, of course!), and I hope to continue the habit. I know from the past almost 3 years of blogging that it isn't easy to sustain, but I have also seen this past month how much pleasure it has given me to write regularly again.

And, with this post, I have matched the number of posts I made last year. Next year is going to be better!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Can we change education?

Another interesting post from Edward Cherlin on the OLPC News. This one is about education. He says:
The problem that we face is that almost every education system in the world was created by a colonial power, not to encourage innovation and problem-solving, but to keep the population in order while their country was pillaged.
Now, I don't want to get involved in a discussion of the political elements of this claim, but I do want to discuss the state of education today.

It seems obvious that our schools do not "encourage innovation and problem-solving". This situation does not seem to be improving. And it is not just K-12 education.

If there is a chance of changing that situation, it comes from the free access to information. And that is where the OLPC project comes in. Students can have access to information much more easily when they have access to the Internet. Children are naturally curious and, given the chance, will follow that curiosity and will learn.

All too often we kill that curiosity in school. We force kids into move lock-step through material that may or may not be interesting to them. I do not understand why this has to be. Why do all students in a class have to do the same thing in the same way at the same time?

There are examples of teachers doing things differently, or starting to anyway. I think of Clarence Fisher's work,like his students' Outsiders wiki . I think of Eric Langhorst's The Guerrilla Season project. And then, of course, there is Barbara Ganley's blogging and her work with her students. She sets the bar, as far as I can see.

Computers don't and won't automatically change education. It will take teachers who are able to open up the world to their students through using them to make a real difference.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

His year in photographs

Teacher Dude, who does great photography, has given us a peak at some of his work with wonderful explanations accompanying them in his post today. He has selected one photograph for each month and placed it in a VoiceThread presentation. The photographs, stunning in and of themselves, are enhanced by his descriptions of what and why they are.

The post is wonderful, both as a glimpse into the photographer's mind and as an example of what could be done with VoiceThread. Give it a look. You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

What can I do?

In a recent post on OLPC News, Edward Cherlin was talking about whether or not computers are the best way to help children in developing countries. His response was, I think, quite good. And it really got me thinking about what I can do. He said, in part:

As to what you and I should do, computer scientist Edsger Dijkstra has a suggestion that I find helps to clarify matters for me: "Only do what only you can do."

Most of us in the laptop project wouldn't be very effective at direct food aid. We find, however, that we are very effective at what we are doing, and nobody else comes close. Please ask yourself what you know that the children need to know, and come to the Wiki to tell us about it.

The Wiki he refers to is the OLPCWiki. It has sections for educators and developers to contribute ideas and actual projects that they could become involved in.

But the question remains: What can I do that only I can do? And that, in turn, begs another question: Am I willing to do it?

Transforming education one laptop at a time

Yahoo news had an article about the One Laptop program as it is playing out in Peru. It is truly encouraging to read.

Oscar Becerra, the head of educational technology in Peru, is hoping that the laptop program will help stop the exodus of young people from rural areas in Peru to the slums of Lima. He said:
If we make education pertinent, something the student enjoys, then it won't matter if the classroom's walls are straw or the students are sitting on fruit boxes.
He also noted that school enrollment has increased since the laptop program was announced. Now, some may see that as an attempt on the part of the families to get a free laptop. And if it is, so what? If it gets the kids in school, if it opens up the world to them even a little bit, it has been worth the money.

Of course, not everyone is convinced. The article quotes a university professor as saying he fears
a general disruption of the educational system that will manifest itself in the students overwhelming the teachers.
While I understand his concern, I think it is that fear of losing control that is keeping education around the world from advancing as it could. But that is another post for another day.

The article goes on to quote a mother who says she sometimes pokes around on the laptop, too. Who knows where it might take her?

If you have been considering participating in One Laptop Give One, Get One program, please do. It is running through December 31st. We bought 4, 2 to "keep" and 2 to go somewhere to help a child. Of course, we aren't really keeping the ones we are getting, much to my husband's dismay! So there will be two kids in our lives who will get a real surprise when they arrive! But the true joy is knowing that other kids in other places will be able to experience the joy of discovery that these children in Peru have.

Thanks to LXer for the tip.

Monday, December 24, 2007


Stephen Downes has a great post about morality -- not your usual blog post topic maybe, but a really wonderful post nonetheless. He points out how our morality is shifting/has shifted and says that kids are the first ones to notice this. He says:
I think you may also want to examine how publishers and their supporters are changing (or trying to change) the concept of 'morality'.
and goes on to describe some "shifts" in terms of "the doctrine of first sale", "fair use", and "sharing", among others. He concludes by saying:
Children do not have some fundamentally different morality. Rather, they see - while adults, for some reason, are blind - that the game is shifting, that some very self-centered and greedy people are trying to change the rules. The children - who have no stake in this sudden 'ownership society' - are not fooled. We shouldn't be either.
It's a very thought-provoking post. If you are one of 2 people who read this blog and don't read Half an Hour, please correct that situation and read this post.

Are you ready for linux?

Miguel's post rings true:
...In K-12 education, I often hear that Linux just isn't ready...but everyone--except the leadership--knows the truth. The truth is that it's not ready to be supported by the staff you have on hand. So, rather than require people to learn a new operating system and make the switch, you're stuck with an expensive, proprietary system.
Human beings, most of us anyway, don't like change. It is hard to give up the known for the unknown. We only do it when we are forced to.

My son-in-law, for instance, is very happy running PCLinux on his laptop. But he would never had done it had his computer not crashed. And when he gets a new hard drive, I don't know what OS he will put on it. He says he would be happy to keep PCLinux, but the pull to the familiar will be very strong, I am sure.

My daughter is resisting getting comfortable with Knoppix, which is OK since we wouldn't be installing it on her machine anyway. But I hope that being forced to use it (or Ubuntu on my other machine) until they decide what to do with her machine will give her enough of a taste for it that she would consider Linux as an option.

My daughter's problem, actually, isn't an aversion to Linux as much as a commitment to certain Microsoft products (like Money) and Windows/Mac-centric sites like ITunes. I am sure she will end up back on Windows for those reasons.

But enough about me and mine. What about you? Are you ready for Linux? I guarantee there is a variety of Linux out there that would be just perfect for you!

Sunday, December 23, 2007


The Teacher Dude wrote about KanTalk yesterday, and I went again to check out their website. It looks really interesting. Do any of you ESL/EFL teachers out there have students who use it? Have you really checked it out enough to have an opinion?

It seems like it has potential. But I wouldn't want to suggest it to students without more input from others.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Why not for Linux?

When I saw the link to the professional learning board toolbar in Vicky's links, I decided to give it a try. But then I saw the system requirements: Windows 2000/XP/Vista. I downloaded it anyway because it is a Firefox add-on. Had to work on PCLinux, right? And it did. More or less, anyway. The "jobs" button gave me a blank screen that wouldn't go away, but the rest of it was OK. I uninstalled it right away because I could see it had nothing of interest to me.

So why put system requirements if they aren't requirements? Why not say, "This will work on almost any machine. You may have improved functionality on some, but the basics will work for anyone." If the assumption is that everyone uses Windows, why put the requirements there at all?

My husband told me the other day that he isn't interested in helping people with Windows problems anymore. If you have a Linux problem, he'll be there to help in a heartbeat. I thought that was a bit extreme, but I am starting to understand.

As more and more people use Linux of one variety or another, we shouldn't be made to feel like second-class citizens. We have to stand up for ourselves. So from now on, if you tell me I need Windows to use your product, I won't even give it a try. Usually it will work, I know, but that isn't the issue. It is a stand I am willing to take.

Guess I am becoming a crotchety old woman!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Worse than not knowing...

I was looking at some Linux sites today and came across An alien's view point. While some of the posts were quite interesting, what I found most interesting was a saying stuck off in the right sidebar:

Worse than not knowing

Is not wanting to know.
What more is there to say? I find myself having little patience with people who do not want to know. It doesn't matter what it is they don't want to know: computers, the Internet, another language, a different way of doing something/anything. It is a mindset I cannot understand.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

A coincidence?

In the space of 15 days, three computers in my daughter's house have crashed or suffered some type of serious meltdown. My son-in-law's machine went down as he was trying to finish his last assignments for the semester. Knoppix saved the day -- and his papers. Then the day before I was to return to Louisiana I discovered that my laptop was dead. Well, at least there was nothing other than a light glowing telling me it was plugged in and charged. Knoppix wouldn't do anything for it. It is on its way back to Acer as I write this.

An hour ago I got a call from my daughter telling me that her desktop had crashed. Fortunately, a Knoppix disk proves that the machine has at least some life in it. Hopefully she will be able to get the data off of it, and then she can decide what she wants to do.

But what are the odds of that happening? They seem astronomical, but maybe I am wrong.

A wake-up call to myself

I was looking again at the posts in my clippings file in Bloglines. And I discovered something interesting: I have probably half a dozen posts by Bruce Schauble clipped. Now, you might think that I would have realized that and started reading his blog very closely, but that was definitely not the case. Actually, I almost deleted Brice from my feeds a couple weeks ago. Looking now, though, I see a great Writing Project technique that I want to try using and a discussion of substantive blogging that has me thinking about the quality of my own blogging. I also had clipped another practical post with another classroom writing activity.

I need to read his blog more closely all the time. If you don't read Throughlines, you should. There is a lot of great stuff there.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Back home again

Well, I am back in Louisiana for a few days. It is nice to be here. The only drawback is that I haven't had time today to read anything that I can comment on here today. Hopefully tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Catching up

Once I discovered Clippings in Bloglines, I started clipping posts that were of interest. But, of course, I never looked at them again. So I decided to remedy that situation today. One post that I had clipped was from Graham back in February, The Viral Glass Bead Gameboard. This was of particular interest to me because I have been a fan of HipBone games for 7 or 8 years now.

HipBone games were developed by Charles Cameron and are based on Hermann Hesse's Glass Bead Game. The boards look similar to the one Graham used that was developed by Chris and used with his classes.

These games, whichever version you use, are wonderful tools to use in the classroom. I have used them to practice vocabulary and grammar, to stimulate discussion, and to work through a difficult reading. Whenever and however I have used them, students have always loved them.

The games fit well with how we all seem to live and work today. It is all about connections. We follow bread crumbs online and off. Give the games a try and see what you think!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Taking time

Bud has an old post about professional development that really struck a chord with me. He says:
I think so many of the professional opportunities that teachers are afforded are races, mere dips of a toe into the waters of potential. There's lots to do and not enough time to do it.
I feel that way about much of the professional development I have done lately. Maybe all of it. We don't get a chance to really explore the possibilities of a thing before we move on to the next one. We seldom get the opportunity to try something out in our classes and then report back to the group. Reflection is what is missing from most professional development.

Bud goes on to say
I want sustainability. I want reflection. I think others want it, too. we don't learn by racing. We learn by doing and reflecting and questioning.
One good thing that has come from my determination to blog every day until the end of the year has been the fact that I have read more blogs and I have reflected more on what I have read. I think that I am learning from this process; I know that I am. And I am determined to continue after the first of the year.

I don't think it will be easy to continue this pace. I know that at times it will feel impossible. But I think I owe myself the time that it will take. I deserve it, actually!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

What if I lost it all?

Like many, many others, I received the email telling me about the closing of Eduspaces next month. I really never got into using it as much as I probably should have, so for me it isn't a major deal. But is made me think. What would I do if I got word that Blogger was shutting down or I wouldn't really have to lose all my posts or anything, but I would lose these outlets for my thoughts and my writing. I would really be lost.

We have come to depend so much on free online services, and I seldom think about the possibility of one of them shutting down. I guess I am beginning to understand why people have their own sites to house all their online stuff.

Safe, interactive searches

Ewan pointed to something maybe everyone else knows about already: Quintura for Kids. It really looks great. Your basic search options appear in a cloud: stories, toys, music, school bell, sports, etc. Move the mouse over one of them and you get more options within that option. When you click on one, you are given a more traditional list of sites that fall under that category. The site is visually appealing, sporting a wintry scene right now. I can't wait to see what kids think about it.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The most powerful technology resources

Wesley Fryer's Moving at the Speed of Creativity podcast the other day was the audio portion of a talk he gave to a group of teachers in a professional development workshop. It was called Blending Learning with Powerful Ingredients.

I don't always get around to listening to podcasts, but this is one I am very glad I did. He talked about not just doing the same old thing that we have always been doing. It isn't enough to use technology to tell students to read pages 6-20 and answer questions 1-10. I've talked about this before, and it is something that I really struggle with in my own practice.

The other thing I took away from the podcast was Wesley's picks as the most powerful tech tools or resources. After asking the participants to come up with their own lists, he talked about, flickr, voicethread, and skype. While I use all four extensively, I haven't used them as much with students as I would like. I have used flickr extensively, but that is about it. I need to think about how I can use the others more.

Anyway, it was a great podcast. You have probably listened to it already, but if not, check it out!

Friday, December 14, 2007

This just keeps getting stranger and stranger!

I downloaded task-gnome and have been playing around with it on my PCLinux machine. I was happy -- until I tried to print. It wouldn't work. Not at all. No matter what I did. So, I went back to KDE. It wouldn't print. No matter what I did. Finally, I tried what I did last time: I plugged it in on the Ubuntu machine. It printed fine. Then I plugged it back in on the PCLinux machine with KDE, and it printed fine. I switched to a gnome session, and it printed fine.

If there was some rhyme or reason to this, it would be a lot easier to take. As it is, it is very frustrating! But I guess as long as I have my Ubuntu machine around, I'll be able to "fix" my printing problems.

Today was the big day

My son-in-law received his Masters in Nursing today. I've been busy all day with graduation, dinner, and family festivities. It's been a great day!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

MacArthur Series on Digital Media and Learning

Clarence pointed the way to some great books on digital media and learning published by MIT Press and made available freely online thanks to a grant by the MacArthur Foundation. (He got there by way of danah, by the way!)

The available titles are:
Youth, Identity, and Digital Media

and all are available for free online!

I look forward to reading some of these over the break. What I saw with a quick glance today looked really interesting.

Thanks, but...

Miguel read about my concerns about getting used to KDE and found an answer to my problem: PCLinuxOS Gnome. I immediately downloaded it and ran the Live CD. I love the look and feel of it. I guess I really am a Gnome person at heart! Thanks, Miguel, for the tip.

Now for the "but". It found my printer, but it couldn't download the firmware for it from the Internet. This was the same problem I had when I tried to run Linux Mint. I am sure there is an easy solution, but I don't have time this morning before work to figure it out.

I have to think that the problem is something in Gnome. But I don't understand why this has to happen. If PCLinixOS with KDE can find my printer and set it up and let me print (most of the time!), why can't PCLinux OS with Gnome? Is this the real reason people like KDE better? Does it just work better than Gnome?

I will admit that after only a few days I am getting used to KDE. I got rid of the blue desktop, which is my real objection to it. (I know. That doesn't seem like a real reason to like or not like something, but if I wanted blue, I could log on to my Windows partition!) But I want to give PCLinux with Gnome a try, so I will play around with the printer problem tonight.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Another convert... almost

My son-in-law got his final papers finished and should receive his MA on Friday. He had gotten used to running his computer off the Knoppix Live CD. I gave him a PCLinux disk to look at, and he has been playing around with it. He really likes it. I think that he is going to end up having to put a new hard drive in his machine, but I think it will have PCLinux on it when he does. At least I hope so!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Problem solved -- for now

Well, a good night's rest didn't help my printing problem. I tried all the same things this morning that I had tried last night. Nothing. So then I decided that I needed to be sure that the printer itself wasn't the problem. I plugged it into the Ubuntu machine, and it printed fine. I plugged it back into the PCLinux machine, and it worked fine. Huh? Oh well... for the moment I can print. Let's see how long it lasts!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Ah, the frustration of it all...

So tonight I went to print. And I couldn't. Yesterday I could and tonight I can't. I can't do a test page. I can't print my document. I uninstalled and reinstalled the printer and still can't print anything. I rebooted the computer. Nothing.

This is my frustration with Linux, of whatever variety I am running: Sometimes it just stops working for absolutely no reason that I can determine. I am going to bed now. Maybe the computer is as tired as I am right now. At least I hope that's it!

PCLinuxOS -- and a question

It is interesting to me that my switch to PCLinux from Ubuntu has generated more comments than my announcement about using Ubuntu did. And, if I am to be honest, it has generated more comments than anything I have written in awhile. Guess that means that the PCLinux folks are out there promoting the operating system they really love.

And I can see why they love it. The only problem I am having is making the switch to KDE. I know some people like it better than Gnome, but I am still trying to find my way around it. I got Boinc and Seti up and running yesterday; that was the last piece I needed to get in place.

This morning, though, my flash drive, which was mounted yesterday and removed safely last night, wouldn't mount until I rebooted. None of my flash drives would mount. Is this something i should expect to have happen? Is it going to go south the way it did with Ubuntu and I'll end up not being able to mount them even after rebooting? I would be grateful for any ideas you PCLinux folks might have.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

A clarification

I received a comment asking what laptop wouldn't run Ubuntu. I have to say that I ran Ubuntu on that laptop for almost a year. It was fine. It was only after an upgrade to Gutsy that things started not working. It is an Acer Aspire 5100. And, as another comment indicated, I think it has to do with the 64-bit thing.

As for PCLinux, so far I am happy. Except I had a Skype conference call this morning that didn't go well; I couldn't hear them at all. Was it PCLinux? Probably not. But it is curious that it happened now. I was very happy to see that Flash works perfectly, though. I didn't have to log in to Windows to check the latest updates to the course materials.

We'll see what I think in a week or two or a month or two. I still have Ubuntu Gutsy on my other machine, so I don't feel totally disloyal!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

A switch

My husband has been at it for some time now, but it wasn't until Miguel talked about it that I was ready to give it a try. PCLinuxOS 2007, that is. I finally switched from Ubuntu to PCLinux on one of my laptops.

Ever since I upgraded to Gutsy Gibbon, I have had trouble getting it to read my flash drives, and Flash wouldn't work right. It was a major pain because of the course development I am doing that is produced in Flash. I had to log into my Windows partition to edit it. (That is all I ever use Windows for anymore!).

So today I backed up everything on my Linux partition and tried live CDs of Linux Mint and PCLinux 2007. I really wanted Mint to work, but it wouldn't find my wireless card. PCLinux found it right out of the box. So I got everything running the way I wanted with the Live CD and then installed it. It was so easy. Everything was exactly the way I wanted it as soon as the installation was finished.

I am sorry to leave Ubuntu, but I need for things to work. For me on this machine, PCLinux is it. I am still running Ubuntu on my other laptop. Everything works much better there. So for now, I am content to leave it that way. But if I have trouble in the future, you can be sure I will try PCLinux on it, too.

Some things to think about

Thanks to Vicky at Cool Cat, I discovered Teen Literacy Tips. The site is great, full of things that I could have used in my old job, things that I am still vitally interested in. As I was looking around today, I found a post called Education Quotes to Peruse and Ponder. One of them seems to speak to what all of us edubloggers believe:
“Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.” — John Cotton Dana
Nothing terrible new there, of course, but it reminded me of how important my blogging and reading of blogs is to me as an educator. It is how I learn. Would I learn if I didn't blog? Probably. I hope so, at least. But what I learned would be different. It would be textbook based. It would be theory more than practice. And that wouldn't be bad. But it would definitely be different.

And another quote:
“An educational system isn’t worth a great deal if it teaches young people how to make a living but doesn’t teach them how to make a life.” — Source Unknown
This goes back to something I wrote about a few days ago, something that Doug brought to my attention, something that Gerald Bracey wrote about: whether or not schools should be in the business of preparing young people for jobs. Maybe this is the approach I should have taken in my post: It is OK for schools to prepare students for jobs, but they should first prepare them for life.

There are other great thougts in the post. Which ones speak to you?

Friday, December 07, 2007

Reality or fantasy

Richard MacManus' post reporting on the faberNovell Consulting research paper on social networks was quite interesting. I am not into Facebook or MySpace, but I know people on both networks. I had never thought of them in the terms that faberNovell did. What struck me was MacManus' statement that:
Facebook is viewed as "real identity", whereas MySpace is "fanntasized identity"!
As I said, I am not overly familiar with either network, but these characterizations don't seem too far off.

What I found interesting was my reaction to the idea of a fantasized identity. Granted, I am quite old (57 at last count!) and stodgy, but I can't imagine going on MySpace and creating a fantasized identity. I don't know how I would even go about it. And if I wanted a fantasized identity, why not do it on one of the many online games that are out there, where you are expected to take on an identity within the game?

I think about my desire for transparency in my blogging and in my life in general. I guess am not a good candidate for MySpace. But then, I am not sure I am a good candidate for Facebook, either.

There is a slideshow of the faberNovell paper in MacManus' post. Check it out.

A circuitous route

I am amazed by the things I can learn online every day. But I am even more fascinated by the path to that knowledge. Take, for example, this post on Read/Write Web by Richard MacManus. I got to it from this post on Column Two, which I got to from a post on elearningpost. I got to elearning post when I added the flake to my Pageflakes page. I was looking at Pageflakes today because of all the recent hype about the Teacher Edition. Although I had seen posts about it before, today I saw it in Ewan McIntosh's links, which appear in my Bloglines account along with his blog posts. I decided to check it out, to see what the difference was between the Teacher's Edition and the "regular" edition. And so started a chain of links that brought me to an interesting post about Facebook and MySpace, which I will talk about in a minute.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Today's post... just barely!

I have been sitting here for half an hour trying to decide if it is better to have a lame post than no post at all today. I finally decided that lame was better than nothing. And actually, I want to talk about something that isn't lame at all: TESOL's Electronic Village Online 2008.

Every year about this time I plug it, and this year is no exception. Check out the call for participation. It gives you a basic idea of the sessions that are being offered this year.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

In praise of Knoppix Live CDs

At 7:15 am today I was frantically downloading Knoppix to create a live CD. After I got it, I stuck the disk in my son-in-law's dead computer. It booted right up in Knoppix. After mounting the hard drive, I was able to access his files. We put the ones he needs right now on a thumb drive and transferred them to another computer. Over the weekend I hope to get all his files off the machine. He was good to go when I went to work at 8:45.

If you don't have Knoppix Live CD, get one! It can save you. And it gives you a chance to try Linux, too. You just might find that you like it.

A friendly reminder

My son-in-law has one final paper to finish before he gets his MA on December 14. He had just finished the next to the last project and was turning his attention to the paper when his computer crashed. With many of the articles he still needs to read for the paper on it. We are at the moment trying to get back into the computer and, hopefully, will be successful. If not, we will all start trying to duplicate his search and find the articles again.

But to the reminder -- to myself as much as to anyone else -- please back up your stuff! You never know when things will come crashing down around you!

I know I start out with good intentions and then get busy and forget. I know that's what happened with my son-in-law. Don't let it happen to you!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Mounds and mounds of paperwork

In my new job I find I am suffering from too much paperwork. I know that I am fairly lucky not to have had to deal with all kinds of paperwork before, but that doesn't make me feel much better about having to deal with it now. Right now I feel like my teaching isn't as important as all the paperwork -- at least not to anyone but my students and me.

There is no way to avoid doing it, and I understand the value of it as a way to satisfy funders if nothing else. But I feel like I am shortchanging my students because I am taking time from instruction to test and then test again, and then I have to document all that testing. Then I have to fill out a ton of other forms on top of that and on top of all the other forms we have to fill out throughout the term. Or at least that's how it feels.

Since this is my first time doing all this, I am sure my reaction is a little extreme. In time I should be more used to it and take it in stride. But for now, I am really feeling frustrated and harried.

There must be a better way to do some of this, but I haven't been here long enough to have an idea what it would be. Believe me when I tell you I intend to find out!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Professional development

Miguel's posts usually make me think, and this one on professional development was no exception. I was struck, though, by his parting comment:
In the meantime, I'm glad that I embarked on the blogging adventure 2.5 years ago. I'm much further along than if I'd limited my conversations to traditional venues and people who I hope will embrace a different way of learning.
This ties, again, to what I have been thinking. Reflecting is good. Connecting is good. But blogging is better. What I have learned, the people I have "met" and interacted with since January, 2005, truly amaze me. There is no other way that I could possible have learned as much as I have through blogging and reading blogs.

I have taken three grad classes since I started blogging. None of them made me think as much as blogging has. None exposed me to the variety of thought and opinion as blogging has. Blogging nourishes me as a professional in a way that nothing else seems to. It inspires and challenges me on a daily basis.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

My goal for the rest of this year

I know; it's almost over. But in looking at the sidebar on this blog, I saw that this has not been a great year from blogging. At least not for me. So I am determined to finish this year up the way I started blogging almost 3 years ago -- with a post a day. If I can do that and throw in a couple extra posts when time permits, I won't ahve the msot dismal blogging year ever. It still won't be great, but it will be better than last eyar. So I am going to give it a shot and hope that it carries over into 2008, too.

The need for creativity

Coming after my last post, I was interested to read Barbara Ganley's post in which she says:
...I am dismayed that our institutions of higher learning place such little value on creativity-centered courses except for majors in the arts. If a student has 36 courses to take over the four years of college, how many of them are creative-intensive? And yet, what could be more important than building their ability to think and act creatively?
I don't think it is just colleges that are ignoring creativity. I see children doing senseless, mindless worksheets that don't mean anything to them. I see my own students not encouraged to be creative or really interact with what they are learning more often than I would like to admit.

I know that I as a human being am only happy when I am creative. I used to sew and bake. Now I blog and develop courses. And I am happy.

Barbara goes on to say:
In slowing down by moving more deeply into reflection, connection and creativity , my students have gotten in touch with parts of themselves that they haven't seen in years while coming out of themselves to examine the world around them...
Reflection is, in itself, a creative process, I think. So is connection, really. The "product" may not be tangible, but it is very real.

She says more that I need to think about and comment on. But that is for tomorrow, I hope. My thanks to Barbara for helping me think about this.