Sunday, February 22, 2009

"99 pictures of friends on the wall, 99 pictures of friends..."

99 FriendsFacebook friends. I'm finally on the cusp of triple digits. This comes as I'm reading Dean Shareski's Control is a Worthless Pursuit, where he rightly questions even trying to control our kids on the Internet - in reponse to this story about a school district in Wisconsin doing its best to stay even with a societal shift. I hope they give it up. Not only is it worthless, but it is a wasteful use of resources that should be directed not to control, but to teaching, leading, and guiding.

So here I sit at 99 Facebook friends. BTW, none of them is a student of mine. I am a third grade teacher. But I do get emails from my students, yes I do. Time to wake up.

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posted by Mark Ahlness @ 4:27 PM   3 Comments

A Poem

A brief affair with a bottle of Elmgrove Stout
by Chris
She was pretty,
well proportioned,
sensuous one could say;
good body sharp aftertaste.
Well worth the time
spent in dalliance.

When an Irishman writes a poem in response to a stout you made and shared, well, it's a good feeling. From a dear friend of many years in Lincoln Park. Thanks Chris.

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posted by Mark Ahlness @ 1:44 PM   0 Comments

Saturday, February 21, 2009

NCCE and a couple of days in Seattle

The last few days I've been on mid-winter break, that meaningless week of vacation recently added to our school year. Thursday and Friday I tuned in for a virtual expience of NCCE, happening in Portland. Thanks to a few twitterers and Jeff Utecht, I think I got a good picture of the event, often as it happened.

Hammering ManThursday took me into downtown Seattle, in search of brewing supplies (Market Cellar Winery), and Indian cooking essentials (The Souk). Taking the bus is a piece of cake, a straight shot from our home in West Seattle, and I get a chance to get in touch with downtown, which I do not do often enough. With shopping successful, I headed back home for some good stuff from NCCE. Unfortunately, my feeling of the day, for what I was able to tune in to, was pretty well summed up in NCCE Day 1.

On Friday it was another beauty of a day in Seattle. Hoping to tune in to a NCCE Twitter gathering, I headed in to school with a buddy who was able to open the building, all prepared to make some headway (or more realistically, serious catching up). Thanks to the West Seattle Blog, and their Twitter feed, I got news of orcas in Puget Sound - less than five minutes from our school! We jumped in the car and headed off to Lincoln Park - where we ran into Mark Sears, on his way out of the parking lot, in a hurry, and hauling his boat. He's the Man, knows and has tracked the pods in the Sound for many years. We followed, as best we could. We did get a peek at them WAY in the distance, from the Alki Lighthouse. We drove a little farther and saw Mark heading way off into a fog bank - where we again did see distant glimpses. Still very, very cool. There is some video shot from a helicopter that's amazing. I guess the numbers seen in the Sound that day had not been seen in several years.

So I missed the Twitter gathering. Caught a couple of presentations on video (thanks Jeff). At the end, I was left nodding my head in agreement as I read NCCE Day 2.

Just today I got word of something that sounds much more on the money for where my interests and passions are now: The NCCE Constructivist Celebration. It's close, inexpensive, and well, there's this guy Gary Stager speaking. Think I better go....

Orca image credit: Tammy Wooley
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posted by Mark Ahlness @ 10:45 AM   0 Comments

Monday, February 16, 2009

Still here, mostly...

It's been one of my longest blog post droughts ever, three plus weeks since I wrote here. Life goes on, I still have a job, and here's a little update on this and that, where my head's been and where it is right now...
  • Chinese witch hazel 2I am catching up in my third grade classroom. I missed a couple of weeks of school before Christmas because of the death of my mom, and several things did not happen as usual. In a classroom where every step is based on every previous step, it's been rough finding my way back at times. We are not where I'd hoped we'd be in blogging (writing in general), multimedia (PowerPoint and video production), the use of our XO laptops - and calendar events have raced by without enough time being given to them. My kids are a really nice bunch, and I always feel better when the 9:00 bell rings. And spring is right around the corner....
  • My school was spared from being closed. But there was serious damage done to our reputation, good name, and self esteem. More fallout is headed our way, and some of us are trying to figure out how to stop the bleeding. It is gut wrenching at times.
  • I had to cancel my preso (about XO laptops in the classroom) at NCCE 2009 in Portland. I was really looking forward to this one, but money, or lack of it, was the cause. I hoped for local support and came up empty. Makes me 0 for 4 in funding for my recent conference presos (2 regional, 2 national). Oh well, time to move on...
  • Tomorrow I'll be heading in to school during our break to do some serious maintenance on my classroom compuers. This is way overdue, and I'm looking forward to getting in there and getting them all tuned up. They (10 desktops and 5 laptops) have held up remarkably well over the last year and a half - although I just had a cpu fail last week....
  • I've been buoyed recently by reading some thoughtful posts from edtech bloggers, and listening once again to Sir Ken Robinson (yes, I have the book on order).
  • A couple of weeks ago I restarted the tictech email discussion list. Now this really felt like a one step forward, two steps back move in terms of edtech innovation, but it seems to be where the local school scene is most comfortable. When I stopped the list a year ago, I started up a Ning in its place. There was an initial flurry of activity, but then really nothing. I hope to restart much some needed (I think) local edtech conversations - via email. *sigh*
  • SSR 2.0aLast, I just got a comment on a post from over 2 years ago, Is this SSR, 2.0? I'm amazed at the legs that little post has had. It bothers me that something I've been doing for so long, something my third grade kids just take for granted and do so naturally- still sounds so foreign, and even unusual to many people. Maybe it's more widespread now, but my hunch (supported by a recent post from Will Richardson) is that silent reading from computers is still seen as daring and risky... I suppose I should post an update...

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posted by Mark Ahlness @ 3:11 PM   0 Comments