Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Today we will spend about 15 minutes peer-evaluating our exams. Start adding to your vocabulary the adjectives (creative, professional, interesting, thoughtful) and terms (usability, bias, layout, format) and statements ("I noticed that...") needed for these evaluations.

Final exam deadline is Friday. Be sure you are working on your self-evaluations.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


A cold quickly attacked me yesterday and has completely overtaken me. I will not be in today. Again. I ask that those who feel they are done work on their evaluations today. If I am upright I will try to leave comments during the day.

Anyway, I have tried to take the philosophy that it is better to stay home and avoid sneezing all over you guys all day. But I know some of you need guidance as the projects get completed. Hopefully I am in tomorrow and we can do the planned activity to check our work.

Monday, October 29, 2007


Today rough drafts of your exam are due. Final drafts by Friday--no exceptions. I have seen all of you use this exam to make progress in your learning. Don't have a deadline screw this up--be sure to get your work done.

Please put drafts in the Udrive as you go. That way in "case of emergency" you have your latest work saved.

You must complete this exam evaluation by Friday at midnight if you want credit for the exam. I would start that work now.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


I will post exam thoughts throughout the day here. A few early reminders:

1. Citations!! Work on this.
2. Your site should be visual and interactive. Give a the reader something to click on.
3. If you write paragraphs be sure it is in three dimensions by including linked text.
4. Modern design is essential. It is hard to find a legitimate website with anything but a white background. Many of you are using pictures as backgrounds and it just doesn't work. Sorry.
5. Dog link.
6. For Dreamweaver movies vs. Windows Movie Maker. Go to Flash. Import the movie you made in Movie Maker. When you save the movie in Flash you can then embed that Flash movie in Dreamweaver.
7. Olivia's Blog has the code to embed a movie in HTML.

Please make a blog entry today about your exam progress. I hope you have learned something in the last few days. A great entry will be very clear to the reader about your exam. Use descriptive details, talk about examples you have seen in the UDrive, link to information or students blogs that you have enjoyed.

Here are an example example2 from the NY Times of how graphics and images can improve the usability of your page. Can you compare and contrast these pages with the ones you are creating (graphics, font, background, link set-up, etc...)?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

CECA Update

I am here at CECA listening to the keynote address by Dr. Henry Lee. He is talking through the cases that he has worked on (OJ, Vincent Foster, JFK). Very interesting. My presentation is at 11am and I will update more later.


I finished my presentation a few moments ago. There were about eighty educators in the room and it was a lively discussion. I spoke about what goes on in our class and how writing is undergoing a fundamental shift from two dimensions to three dimensions.

I showed them your clustrmaps, a few of your blogs, and the survey we took a few weeks ago. I think everyone enjoyed it and I predict that many educators will be visiting your blogs today. If you are a "visitor" and reading this I encourage you to click on this blogmeister link and leave comments on the students blogs! Or here on this blog! Don't be afraid....

I am sitting in the room that they set aside for presenters. It is nice and quiet and they have really nice chairs, Cokes, and snacks. Of course, it is nice to have wireless access as well.

I hope things are going well in school and I hope to see great progress on your exams when I return tomorrow.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

This week

This week will be devoted to your exams. I will be checking work on Monday and Wednesday.

It will be an interesting week for me. On Tuesday I am presenting a blogging workshop at the Connecticut Educator's Computer Association conference in Hartford. I usually bring back lots of new ideas. On Thursday and Friday I will be at a workshop along with five other teachers and administrators related to including students with special needs in the classroom.

I set up the schedule so you had one week of exams before I missed time, and one week after I get back so it should work out fine. I do expect a complete draft of your exam to be done on Monday so we can talk about revisions. Final drafts are due November 2. No exceptions.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

Movie Maker

We have been taking very short tours (10 minutes or so) of some of the programs available on your computer. On Wednesday we looked at Audacity.

It is important to note that if we took time to learn all the programs on your computer from first to last program by the time we got to the last program the first program would already be obsolete. It is impossible to keep up.

So I believe in the just in time, just enough theory of learning. If you take charge of your learning you learn what you need to complete a project.

Today we will look at Windows Movie Maker. Here are three examples from last year that we posted on Each of these videos have had over 2500 hits.


Notice that none of those videos used copyrighted images or music. We create original work here. Their assignment was to create a 28 second long Public Service Announcement. Did you notice how they used music to create an emotion?

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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Exam Thoughts

Some random exam thoughts:

1. Think before you start coding your page. Think about usability, bias, accessibility. Remember your audience is a 5th grader. Can they find the answer to the question?
2. Is your site interactive or does it look like an essay? Is there stuff for a kid to click on?
3. Have you really thought about your layout and how many pages/frames/links make it most usable? Don't put in 10 links simply because you can.
4. Citation page is essential.
5. The Japanese keyboard question should not be just a description of the keyboard. Be sure to find an expert to consult (use blogs!). Do people ACTUALLY use it the way it is described in wikipedia.
6. The iTunes question is not about iTunes, it is about musicians and their music. Will they record more or less? Find data to back up your claim.
7. Tell a story! Don't write an essay!

Above all, expect to revise, rewrite, and revisit your sites many times.

Several blogs got comments from New Zealand yesterday!

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Web 1 Exam.

All exams are posted now. All exams are due November 2.

Please do the following today for your exam:
1. Create a folder in your Favorites section of your browser. Call it "Exam".
2. When you research information, put relevant pages in this folder. Remember that you must have a professional citations page for your exam.
3. Create a blog entry about your progress on the exam. Your blog is where you can show evidence of collaboration. Connect with someone who is doing your topic. If you have trouble finding someone leave a comment on my blogmeister so you are easier to find.

Examples from prior years are in the Udrive.

Good luck!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Survey Results

Here are the results of the blogging survey. We had 68 total responses.

1. I have viewed or edited my blogmeister from home.
Yes 76%
No 24%

2. I have edited an article in blogmeister to improve it or fix a mistake.
Yes 80%
No 20%

3. I have read other students work in blogmeister.
Yes 95%
No 5%

4. I write more in blogmeister than I would if I wrote using pen and paper.

Yes 47%
No 53%

5. I monitor my clustrmap and read counts on my blog to see if people read my work.
Yes 59%
No 41%

6. I learn something by reading other students blogs.
Yes 89%
No 11%

7. Writing in a blog is more fun than writing on paper.

Yes 76%
No 24%


Please take the survey first today.


Web3: Exam work. By Monday you should have a working outline for your story.
Web2: Grading Project 3 and Project 4.
Web1: grading Project 3.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

TED Talks

(this is Thursday assignment. I put it up early as some will be out tomorrow).

One thing you want to do in life is get around smart people. I was lucky to go to a school that had really, really smart people around. Listening to them makes life interesting.

Many of you have seen some of the TED talks before. TED is a place where smart people get together and kind of do a show and tell.

I would like you to watch at least one video today from start to finish. I give you some prompts to start a discussion on your blog. Each of these videos is about 10-20 minutes long. They say teenagers can't pay attention to anything. Prove them wrong.

I asked you all to bring headphones today. Use them.

Hans Rosling: How data is cool. Think of your little Excel charts. Will you be ready to use data like this. This guy is fun to listen to.
Jeff Han: How displays will change. This would profoundly change how we use computers.
Jimmy Wales: How wikipedia started and works. Here from the founder. These guys take an idea and make it work. Listening to inventors can be fun.
John Maeda: A smart, funny guy talks about simplicity. Think about how simplicity is the driving force in design (hint: iPods).
Nicholas Negroponte: Would you spend your life on a project that helps others? Does listening to the originator of the idea change your vision of this program?
Theo Jansen: Freaky. Mind-blowing. But pay attention. What is life? Can you make something that lives out of PVC pipe? He does. Cyborg alert!

What did you learn? Share what you learned. Start a conversation. Can you add something to a discussion?

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007


All should check out this site. A bit mind blowing.

Here is an example of a portfolio for a senior in high school. What will be in your portfolio?

I push very hard on having my students tell a story, whether that story is in a website, a blog entry, or in a conversation.

The Web 3 exam requires students to use Flash to tell a 50 second story. Here are some examples that you might adapt.

Nike Football: Notice that this story is about the "essence" of both football (soccer) and the shoes. It is less about the narrative than about the emotions athletes feel and how Nike is a part of that. The movie is about 50 seconds long.
Sharp Aquous: Notice how there is again no real narrative. The message is clearly that the product has simple, clean lines. The movie is again about 50 seconds long.

How does sound enhance both of these movies? I think the sound on the Nike site is essential to the story (we are alone with our own sounds, etc...).

I think you realize from the above examples how essential it is to really think out your story BEFORE you start to create anything on the computer. The story and feeling that you want your audience to get will drive the tools that you use.

Do you have a story to tell?

Friday, October 05, 2007

Exam and Blog Notes

Many of you made very perceptive comments about your blog. Now put those ideas into action!

Today I am launching the Web 2 and Web 3 marking period exams. The content and questions are the same for both exams. Web 2 students saw these questions last year. But the techniques will be different as Web 2 will be using Dreamweaver and Web 3 will be using Dreamweaver and Flash. Exams are due November 2.

Check out the Best Flash Websites. Get any ideas?

Examples from last year are in the Udrive.

I will grade your projects and your evidence of collaboration. You must show evidence of collaboration on your blog. Who else is working on your question?

I also include the amnesty program for anyone needing a grade boost.

Web 1 will continue their work in the textbook.

David Pogue is the leading technology person at NYTimes. He has a cool video about the OLPC. Hope it gets through the filter (aargh--not coming through filter yet...). Try doing this at home, its worth it.

Do you know how to use tags? Those are the things at the bottom of this post. You can use tags to see what people are blogging about on a subject like the OLPC. Want to impress me and get more clicks on your blog? Write a response to one of the posts about OLPC that you read. Put a comment on their blog linking back to yours.

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Thursday, October 04, 2007


All students will start today writing in their blog. The assignment is on the blogmeister and below. I encourage you to go back and edit some of your entries today.

Web 3: We are going to progress to a more advanced type of animation. Do this globe animation. I suggest watching the entire tutorial first THEN going back and doing the work. I put a map you can use in the UDrive. If you watch this and think it is too advanced see me and we will find another tutorial for you.

Web 2: Complete project 3 editing. Analyze other students' work. Clean up any files, check for errors, etc...

Web 1: Continue Project 3 work.

There is an interesting article in the NYTimes. A teacher in New Jersey is assigning homework to his students and their parents. The parents need to log-in occasionally (once per week or so) to comment on the topics in class. Research is clear that meaningful parental involvement in school is very important for student success. This article seems to show that the teacher is providing thoughtful and productive assignments. I am certain that if teachers, parents, and students learn together it is a far more productive environment.

Shouldn't our expectations be:

  • Students learn something new.
  • Parents learn something new.
  • Teachers learn something new.
  • Everyone shares and collaborates.

If only the student is learning something new I think it is much less fun, productive, effective, or efficient. Modeling life-long learning is probably the most important thing we can do in a world that will be changing drastically. Remember, we are training you for jobs that don't even exist yet, to solve problems we don't even know about yet (for example, the internet industry is HUGE; but didn't exist ten years ago).

A parent in this article says "I'm too busy, and I'm done with school! I graduated.". Lets accept as a truism that successful parents and student are way too busy. I agree. I also obviously agree that any "assignment" must be truly collaborative and meaningful for all.

But, shouldn't parents be very involved in classroom work? Is this type of parental involvement more meaningful than helping with fundraisers or other activities? What do you think?

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Web 1

All Web 1 students will start Project 3 today.

1. Summary
2. Theater Club project
3. Apply 1
4. In the Lab 1 (careful of colspans!)
5. In the lab 2
6. Quiz

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


This is a test. If you can view it, you can probably make your own animation and post it to your sidebar on blogmeister.


Today is a half day for students (full day for teachers) so be aware that the periods are short.

Web3: Finish Exam. Please be sure you completely answer each question. I will also be checking your animations (ball, walking, ball tossing, plus one more) and blog entries (daily Flash progress) today.

Web2: Project 3 Quiz.

Web1: I will send you the files for Project 3 (tables).

For all classes I will finish any last grading before progress reports.