Sunday, June 29, 2008


A link to another interesting tool comes from Barry Bakin.

Wikisend allows you to upload files of up to 100MB. They will be available for 30 days from upload. You can access them yourself by emailing yourself the link. You can post the link somewhere, as I am going to do. I have uploaded the same Writing in Cyberspace presentation. You can access it for 30 days here. After that, the link won't work.

As Barry says, this would be perfect before a conference presentation: Upload your presentation to Wikisend and you will have access to it during the conference. If your bag is lost, if your computer crashes, whatever, you are covered. I like the idea.

By the way, you can keep a document live for anywhere from 1 to 90 days. And you can protect it with a password.

Thanks for the tip, Barry!


Stephen Downes had a post about Calameo, so I knew I had to give it a shot. I tried it with a couple different documents that I had lying aorund, and it didn't do much for me. Then I tried it with an old presentation that I had on Slideshare. I converted it using Calameo, and this is what I got.

While it isn't spectacularly different, I like the page-turning more than the arrow-clicking of a regular presentation. I think I will be playing around with this some more.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Summer Reading

Bryan inspired me to share with you what I have been reading.

I am finishing up Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it.

I just finished The Burn Journals by Brent Runyon. The true story of his suicide attempt at fourteen, it is not a book for everyone, but I think it is an important book. It is billed as Young Adult nonfiction, but parents should read it, too, I think.

And what will I be reading next? There's nothing waiting on the bedside table. I may try one on Bryan's list, but I don't know. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Thanks for the encouragement.

Many people have been very kind, encouraging me to get out there and take pictures. My life has been a little crazy lately, but I have been trying. This is one I took today as we were driving through Texas.

We had been going along fairly flat land -- or so we thought. We came around a corner and got a breathtaking view that extended for miles. By the time I got the camera out, I had missed the best shot. But this one was pretty nice, too, I think.

Letting students inside the process

Clarence has a great post called The Things I Carry. He talks about things he has given up in his classroom and things he is going to give up. He has what, to me at least, is a great idea:
This year I'm starting off the year with having the kids look at the required outcomes for the ELA (english language arts) curriculum. There are a whole lot of them and I've decided to start with this one document since it is the one I am most comfortable with. I have placed all of the outcomes onto a spreadsheet, and in the fall I plan on having small groups of kids take one or two outcomes, write it up in kid friendly language, make up a rubric for assessing this outcome and then make a work sample that would meet it. Once all of this documentation has been produced, it will all be assembled into a binder which kids can access. But this is all background work. The purpose of it is to give kids choice about what they are learning.
This part of the idea is important, I think. It takes the outcomes and makes them accessible to the students. After this step, you can be sure that the students know what it is they are expected to do during the year. And they have have more than a vague idea of how they could demonstrate that they have met an outcome. I think this gives students very valuable tools to use throughout the year.

He then gives an idea of what students would these tools and what it might look like in the classroom:
For example, if we are doing a unit on present day societal issues, at the beginning of this unit, I plan on having the kids choose possibly four or five of these outcomes that they want to pursue over the unit. They will then have to collect evidence and conference with me, showing me they have met the outcome. By years end, they should have spreadsheet that shows they have completed all of the outcomes. Done on a Google spreadsheet, we will be able to see its revision history, make comments on it, etc.
This is such an incredibly simple and yet profound idea. It lets students in on the process: Why do we make them do the things we make them do? How do we decide what they do when? It is transparency in the classroom on a daily basis. It gives the students choice. It trusts them to understand that there are certain things that have to be done. It gives them ownership -- or at least can help foster ownership -- of what goes on in the class.

As I am not currently employed, I can only dream about this. But I would really like to try it. I hope Clarence will blog about this process throughout the year.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Wordle for tag clouds

Everyone seems to be doing it, so here's the tag cloud for my account.

I think I need to rethink my tags. But it is interesting to me to see this.

The tag cloud was done in Wordle, and I really like the way it can be customized.

Thanks to Bryan for the link. (His is so much more interesting than mine! Check it oot!)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Back from New Orleans

I just got back a couple hours ago from the Southeastern Louisiana Writing Project's Advanced Institute 2008 New Orleans Marathon. It was, as always, a wonderful experience. We wrote. We talked about writing, talked about teaching, and just talked about life. We stayed at the lovely Le Richelieu Hotel in the French Quarter. It is always hard to leave my writing friends after such an experience.

Now comes the hard part: finding pieces begun at some time in the past that can be revised and turned into finished pieces. It is a challenge -- but a good one. I am ready!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Writing among writers

I spent yesterday with a group of Louisiana writers. Most were from the Southeastern Louisiana Writing Project. The others were from other Louisiana Writing Project sites. And then there was Kim Stafford. He is director of the Northwest Writing Institute and son of the late Poet Laureate of the US, William Stafford.

Kim had us writing and talking about writing all day. It was great! I hadn't realized how much I missed it. I thought blogging served as my outlet for writing, but I find that I need this community of writers, too.

Tomorrow we head into New Orleans to write for three days. I am really looking forward to it!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Photography and me

First of all, thanks to those people who commented on my last post, encouraging me to take pictures. I appreciate it. Thanks, too, to Gabriella for making me feel guilty for not having uploaded pictures to Flickr yet!

I am stuck with photography where I used to be stuck with writing: I can't see that anyone would be even remotely interested in any pictures I take. I don't seem to be able to find anything unique or beautiful or even interesting to take pictures of. I went out to the back yard today and took a couple shots, but they weren't even interesting to me! I am going to keep trying, but it may take me a while to work up my courage.

It goes back to what I was saying about the Nikon site: they want you to figure out what your passion is right from the start. That is where my problem is. If I knew what I wanted to photograph, it would be easier to do it, I think.

Do I have it backwards?

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Learning photography

While in Albuquerque, I bought my husband a new digital camera. See, I wanted one, and he thought I should get a really good one. But I know myself: I will take snapshots with it. What do I need a 10x zoom for? So, he gets the new Canon and I get the "old" Sony: 7 megapixels, 3x optical zoom. I am happy and so is he.

I have never considered myself particularly artistic. He is definitely the photographer in the family. But I have an urge to be more creative, to take more pictures. I look at the wonderful shots Teacher Dude posts on his blog, and I long to be able to do the same.

So today when I saw a post on Open Culture on the Nikon Digital Learning Center, I was really happy. I haven't done much more than just look at it yet, but I want to take some time and really check it out.

The hard part, for me, is the first step they talk about:
Find the type of photography that moves you!
How do I do that? It's the same problem I used to have with my writing, though, so I am fairly sure that if I explore photography enough, I will eventually figure it out. At least I hope so.

I have always been so focused on words. I want to break out of that, to become more image-oriented. Maybe this will give me a little guidance on taking pictures and maybe that will inspire me to move beyond the written word. At least I hope it will.

The future

I sit here unsure about what the future holds and yet not worried. That's a minor miracle! I have two basic options: get a job or try to work for myself. Actually, I wouldn't really be working for myself because I don't pay much, but you know what I mean!

I have a possible paying "consultant" job doing course development that would pay OK. No benefits, of course. It would be 6-12 months. I have been working for these people as a volunteer for about 3 years now, so I pretty much know what I would be getting into.

I have 2 job applications out at the moment. One is here in Louisiana and the other is back in New Mexico. Both jobs would be OK. Both would have benefits. Both have their drawbacks.

If I decide to go the consultant/course developer route, I am probably making a decision about the rest of my working life. (At almost 58, it is hard to find a job. It isn't going to be easier in a year.) That is the only scary part for me. Can I make enough money piecing things together? I want to do it. I want to try.

The other disadvantage to the consultant thing is that it takes me out of the classroom entirely. I could probably find some part-time teaching opportunities, I guess, if I felt a real need to do that.

I am doing the Southeastern Louisiana Writing Project's Advanced Summer Institute starting next Monday. That gives me two weeks of writing and time to reflect before I really have to make any decisions. We'll see what happens.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Back home again

Well, I made it back to Louisiana without incident. It is good to be back. Not sure what will happen in the future, but at least I am here for now!