Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Beyond words and understanding


Free 1.0
Originally uploaded by mahlness
In less than 6 hours, every one of the 40 year old dictionaries I had offered for free outside my classroom door was gone. I am beyond words and understanding.

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posted by Mark Ahlness @ 6:45 PM   1 Comments

Monday, August 25, 2008

Free!


Free!
Originally uploaded by mahlness
Casualties of the need for more space and years of non-use, these dinosaur dictionaries are now an extinct sub species in my classroom. (I saved one of each for our Book Museum).

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posted by Mark Ahlness @ 11:48 AM   0 Comments

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Gearing up for 08-09

1/3 set upWith two weeks to go until the kids walk in the classroom door, I have started preparations. Having done this a few times before, these days I accept and understand that I absolutely cannot effectively do anything until the kids' computers are set up and I know they are ready to roll. I'm about halfway done. The only tech unknown, thankfully, is where to put the solar panel for our XO's. Now, that will be fun to work on...

Folders, 1.0Then there's all the other stuff. I was so disgusted with the manipulative clutter from last year's math adoption, that I finally cleared out hundreds of manila file folders from a file cabinet, looking for storage space. Those files had been there for years. Somebody gave them to me, and I had never used them. Unfortunately, the manipulatives I put in those drawers reflect a pedagogy that is so outdated, it's hard (for me) to see any progress in the process. Exchanging one outdated way of doing things with another... Oh well. Less clutter is something.

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posted by Mark Ahlness @ 5:52 PM   9 Comments

Thursday, August 14, 2008

XO Pics

Thanks to Alan Levine for his mention of this cool tool:

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posted by Mark Ahlness @ 12:03 PM   1 Comments

Saturday, August 09, 2008

XO in the classroom - the whole story

I've written frequently about the XO Laptop here, and I thought it would be useful to try and organize all those writings in one place. I certainly did not start out the 2007-08 school year imagining any of this. Here is a chronoligical listing of all my writing about the XO in the last few months.

  • OLPC (Nov 15, 2007) - I had just ordered an XO in the G1G1 program - found a video demo...
  • OLPC - Merry Christmas! (Dec. 19, 2007) - my XO laptop arrives!
  • The Three Amigos (Dec. 27, 2007) - comparison of my three laptops.
  • Leaving town to find the neighborhood (Dec. 29, 2007) - first connection to xochat.org, the jabber server (amazing number of XO's there), success on Opera install
  • OLPC in the classroom (Jan. 20, 2008) - I bring the XO into class, can't access the wireless network, do my first build upgrade, get connected, thoughts about how to use in the classroom...
  • Seattle XO Users (Jan. 27, 2008) - meeting with the Seattle XO users group. Intimidating and exciting, this will open many doors, real soon...
  • Our XO Laptop (Feb 2, 2008) - crosspost to my classroom blog, a formal introduction to our classroom - picture documenting first blog post from an XO.
  • A Tale of Two XO's (Feb. 9, 2008) - a second XO arrives - a donation! I take them both to Writer's Night out at local coffeehouse, and kids read to the crowd from their blogs - from XO laptops!
  • XO Joy (Feb. 17, 2008) - another XO is donated, so we now have three! Overwhelming, difficult to manage. Teacher pours water on keyboard so kids can use pic in PowerPoint presos they are doing on the XO laptop. Kids post short first impression of the XO articles on their blogs, compiled on the classroom blog.
  • An XO Tale (Feb 20, 2008) - a voicethead on the XO.
  • Note to Room Twelve (Feb. 28, 2008) - crosspost to classroom blog, during my absence from class to present at NCCE in Seattle. Picture shows our fourth XO laptop!
  • Tomorrow, tomorrow... (Mar. 13, 2008) - reality of four XO's starting to settle in. Experience first classroom chat w/somebody - in Texas, video sharing....
  • XO Users - Connect! (Mar. 26, 2008) - discover a new jabber server near Seattle!
  • Year of the XO, part 1 (May 16, 2008) - title indicates my feeling that I should be somehow organizing all that's happening with the XO in my class. But this is a big moment, the beginning of a too cool XO collaboration...
  • Instincts (May 21, 2008) - highlight of the year, describing the incredible experience with four University of Washington students, trying out a new piece of software they've developed for the XO. Amazing, unforgettable.
  • Year of the XO, part 2: Memorial Day (May 24, 2008) - reflections from my backyard on the impact of the XO on my class, as the school year nears an end...
  • A large neighborhood walkabout (May 27, 2008) - reflecting on the year, joining in jabber-enabled chats with folks far and near...
  • How do you say Thank You (June 10, 2008) - as we prepare to return one of our XO's (on loan to us), the kids say thanks, in one of their final blog writing assignments.
  • Report Cards, 2.XO (June 15, 2008) - I do report cards, aided by an XO.

The school year ends, but writing about the XO does not:

  • Another XO chapter (June 25, 2008) - another XO laptop is donated to us! Shaking head and thinking about the year just ended, I begin to plot and plan XO use next year...
  • XO chat/video share at NECC (June 28, 2008) - trying to get XO's in San Antonio at NECC hooked up to same jabber server - never happens...
  • NECC 08 Live, via XO (June 30, 2008) - live multimedia on the XO is pretty exciting.
  • xoclassroom (July 20, 2008) - start up a wiki in hopes of connecting other classrooms with XO laptops.
  • Johnny One Note news... (July 30, 2008) - local jabber server going down soon, I get beautiful XO laptop stamps from Uruguay.
  • XO Classroom Video (Aug, 7, 2008) - I put together a few pics from my Flicker olpc set and "create" a short Animoto video.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

XO Classroom Video

A few images of the XO Laptop in http://roomtwelve.com

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posted by Mark Ahlness @ 6:16 PM   0 Comments

Neighborhood Block Watch

On August 5, 2008, our neighborhood in West Seattle got together for our annual "Night Out", or Block Watch Party:

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posted by Mark Ahlness @ 12:10 PM   0 Comments

Monday, August 04, 2008

School home, 2.0?

A few hours ago I handed off my school web site. To my school - well actually, to my school community.

For 14 years I've been the webmaster for one of the very first elementary school websites on the Internet. It is certainly the oldest elementary (and possibly the oldest secondary) school website still operating out of the same URL. August 14, 1994 was launch day.

New School Site The school site is now a wiki. It is not a web site. Let me clarify a little. The web site will live on - but it will not be added to. As I said earlier today in a post the the PTSA email list and the district allstaff list, the school site (now a wiki) is a hybrid blend:
with wiki links on the left side, live rss feeds on the right, and our school information in the center…. Scroll down and you’ll see the familiar little icons from the old school home page – they still connect to the same web pages.

So we can't call it a web site anymore. Wiki sounds so out there and scary for a school home on the Internet. Even using the words web page brings up the wrong connotation. I guess it's a school home, 2.0.

The wiki has been wide open for over two years. Anyone could edit it. The vast majority of the content has been added by 2 parents and me. We had a few minor vandalism incidents, which we took care of in short order. I had hoped for a much faster buy-in by staff and parents. It just never happened - people weren't ready.

So this summer I started reading Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky. This (plus just the end of reasonable patience) was the tipping point. Well, actually, the tipping point was some vandalism that prompted me to lock the wiki down just as summer started. I had fought really hard to keep the wiki wide open - mostly, to encourage contributions from our school stakeholders, to make it ever so easy to add/edit.... Well, that never happened. What did happen was this....
  • I locked the wiki, and I let staff and parents know
  • I individually invited all staff members to join the wiki
  • I came up with a way to include our old homepage in the wiki (imagemap was the big hurdle)
  • I changed the domain forwarding of arborheights.com to point to the wiki, and not the web site
My biggest immediate hope is to get enough active stakeholders so that we can open up the wiki to anyone.

This will then truly be a School home, 2.0.

Here it is, Arbor Heights Elementary School

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posted by Mark Ahlness @ 5:57 PM   2 Comments