Monday, March 30, 2009

Thing 10 - Flickr

A "family" of fellow abolitionists...notice Frederick Douglas in center...

A "Fake Family" (From "Our Town" at Lionheart
Theatre (Norcross GS) Backstage April 2009
I am the dad, Editor Webb.

This is a picture posted by crowolf
Now how's that for an unusual family...they are the Granchio family
Read a little more about them at that link. Wonder if they were "engaged" with their children's education, "clawing" their way through the red tape of homeschooling? Yi
A family a world away...

And another family in another world away back in the 60s!
photo by SuziJane

Can you tell I like vintage pictures? They have always made me sentimental and nostalgic. All these people lived day-to-day routines like I do, and these photos are about all we have left of that life of theirs.

I think I see now that Flickr can be used to make poignant presentations, ones that hit an emotional nerve with the audience...that "move them". This may be the actor in me speaking, but I love the idea. I think I understand now how to respect the law and yet use images effectively.

Another type of family
Image: spacebahr
Flickr CC Image

Right, an image by dhammza
that I found here.

Here's a link to a Sri Lanka Kandian family

Now here's another interesting "plastic" family...yum!


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thing 9 - Fair Use and Creative Commons

How do you think Creative Commons may affect you professionally and/or personally?
  • Have you noticed the CC logo on any websites you visit? Did you wonder what it meant? I actually have never noticed the "CC" logo but will now!
  • Do you think CC will impact the way students learn and create projects? How? I think it should certainly offer them the opportunity to use materials created by others, I just hope that they will not become "lazy" in the habit of pulling out others' work that is not in Creative Commens
  • Do you use digital images, audio or video clips from the web in your teaching (or professional practice)? I mainly have used "Clip Art" photos. I have presumed that they were perfectly OK to use in presentations. Am I wrong?
  • Do you ever share content on the web? Yes! For example, see (use the username =; and the password = guest
  • Who owns your teaching materials? I do.
  • What are some potential negatives for using CC? I am still thinking about this question...!

Consider the "Best Practices for Fair Use in Media Education" and reflect upon them. Feel free to use any of the prompts below to guide your response. I want to list these questions here soI can refer back to them easily in the future. Since I am not a classroom teacher at present, I found it difficult to respond. The issues have emerged since I left the high school classroom for sure.
  • What has been your experience with students using copyright protected media in the past?
  • Given what you know now, would this affect how you ask your students to gather media for projects?
  • How do you think these new guidelines will impact the way students create projects?
  • How might these new guidelines affect media that you use for professional purposes? I now can be more confident and als o more careful about pulling images off the Internet and inserting them into presentations to parents, although I really ahven't done that a great deal. I am hoping to learn more about getting the flicker photos to look good, now that I have discovered flickr!
By the way, my cousin in Houston is a professional photographer champagnephoto so it will be very interesting to run this all by him for his opinion in using his "stock photos".

Friday, March 20, 2009

Thing 7 - Wiki and "Wiki Personality" ???

Thing 7. Glad to know the origin now of the term! (I say we need a course field trip!)....

Update note: As I edit this, I must interject and pose this thought: The most important facet/component of a wiki is what I now have determined is its PERSONALITY!!! The personality consists of :
(1) How well the wiki is introducing itself (why does it exist?)
(2) How "neat" and "catchy" is its "dress" (appearance/attire appropriate for the occasion...whether jeans and a T-shirt or a formal tuxedo...just "catch my eye")
(3) Its easiness to be around (i.e., how easy you can navigate the links and components, how friendly and "listening" it there a sense of "the group"?); and
(4) Can it maintain my interest/"friendship" or "loyalty" by being unusual and helpful (not just another book report format), i.e., is it engaging after the "honeymoon" is over? Is there a depth of "personality" and character or is it "shallow"?

With this concept in mind... I think I may rethink my own wiki real soon!
My Thing 8 poses this question on my sandbox wiki--- See Beam Me Up, Scotty!

Now, on to what I had written for Thing 7 Task 1:

The wikis I have explored are :
The Holocaust Wiki Project
Schools in the Past and
The Flat Classroom Project

I seem to have chosen well, for I saw a significant variety of styles and complexities by viewing these three wikis. Let me start with "Schools in the Past". It was a very basic, "no thrills" wiki for younger children who interviewed older relatives and neighbors to ask about how schools had changed and then summarized and/or quoted them on the wiki. I admit I had fun glancing over them, but the organization and "stream of consciousness" style with which they appeared on the wiki didn't "catch" my interest too much. There was very little information on the wiki itself about the goals and objectives/learning outcomes or Essential Questions of the project. Perhaps this wasn't the goal of the teacher at the start. I also was distracted by the errors of grammar and spelling, but I think that creating the wiki was the goal of the teacher and not presentation to a larger audience. Interesting, because what attracted me to explore the wiki was the subject matter and the enormous potential for great detail and exploration, but it (this wiki) just didn't seem to fulfill my expectations (probably too high for that grade level, I grant you!) for the topic.

As to the Holocaust Wiki Project, it was moving emotionally, but not quite so moving from a technological point of view. There were no real clear (they may be there, but these are my first reactions and reflections as an outsider "glancing in" on a wiki) objectives...although the teacher made it clear that students would examine the personal struggles and questions they faced...that seemed measurable to me. The wiki I though was hard to "move around in"... causing me to lose some interest in it except that I was very persistent in doing so. There were a few pictures.
The students wrote, but mistakes were abundant! Made me wonder why they did not use Spell-Check on their work. The research background and links were great once I figured out how to get to them. Overall, a great "start" to a use of a wiki...moving in the right direction, but somehow not quite there yet...seemed to me more like they just "published" a flat book report or history project with little "wiki personality"...does that make sense to anyone besides me?

The other wiki brought me to see the "personality" of a wiki that inspired me to pursue the idea.
The Flat Classroom Project has a bit of it fact....quite a lot of work went into creating and maintaining it (something I am not so sure I saw in the previous two wikis). Of course, it was started back in 2006. But there are video clips, abundant links, clearly stated project goals and Essential Questions, and from the minute you click on the wiki are engaged with the personality (there I go again!) of the wiki itself!!! I can see that a higher standard (probably because the instructor was more knowledgeable about wikis) "introduces" the wiki, the materials and links to the left are well-organized (and there are many!)...and the purpose is clearly defined.
The spaces for each school across the world that was participating were fun to skim read, and overall "things" just seemed to "fall into place".

Those are my impressions!
Did create a wiki for me ... just for's Scottys (come visit me?)
Will create another on Sandbox soon I understand...

More to follow very soon...!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Thing 6 - Diigo

Well, I have to confess...I've actually had the Diigo account (I am "scottking") and experienced social bookmarking for a while in case you see my Diigo bookmarks and tags, I have been working on them a good while now!

I really LOVE the fact that when I am teaching a class (adult ed) elsewhere---like I recently did for a UGA Cont. Ed. seminar one Saturday---I used their computer and Smartboard, simply went online and loged in to my dashboard on Diigo, and there were my bookmarks! It was so very convenient. In fact, it saved me from feeling like I needed to drag my own laptop to class (well, that along with my Google docs page where I now store all my PowerPoint presentations and other handouts/docs!).

Hey, check out my bookmarks at
There are some interesting ones there I think!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Thing 5-a

I like having the Reader bring the webpage feeds to me instead of the way I was doing the webpages before! I used to list all these (probably 100+) websites in "My Favorites, scroll down whenever I had time to browse the Internet, and click just to see what was I wasted a lot of time actually when there were no updates, without realizing it! Now I do!

The feeds come in, some fast and furious...did anyone else get the feed for the Weather Channel! Ha! I went on this morning and there were 100+ feeds...seems they update the site for my Lilburn location (and no doubt every other location) about every 20 minutes!!! That is a lot!
It was very funny! And do I really want to clcik and see last Monday's weather prediction! LOL!

I did discover a great feed for European news...I added that. I also found a couple more personal interest feeds for my faith group...we're relatively small and scattered, and many are using blogs to communicate and stay in touch. It will be much easier for me to just sit back and wait for updates! Hooray!

I visited a few of your blogs as well, as directed to do so, and it was fun. Of course, a few haven't caught up yet or have left the course perhaps (???) that was disappointing.

Still learning...still reflecting...
Am I ready for Thing 6? I think it's about Diigo, and I am already "into" that one, hanks to Caroline here at the PDC. Time to check that out now!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Thing 3 - Using my Reader

I found it easy to add sites, and I had never used my Google Reader before today (actually not quite true...I noticed when I went to Reader from my iGoogle homepage there already was a feed coming in...I had done it unitentionally when i joined a blog from one of our classmates and right there it was listed!), and I really love that I know what RSS is all about now.
I read from the blog Langwitches the blog which I thought would relate to my Thing 2 post..."Don't Believe Everything You See Online". Some very interesting techniques about how to teach that not everything online is true because it exists there. Some interesting links used to share ideas about the topic. I had a bit of trouble figuring out how to get to I copied and pasted some, and then ended up just typing in urls I saw. It worked.

Reflections on a blog

I was reading one of the blogs that I picked today to read for Thing 2, How to Prevent Another Leonardo da Vinci

and I quote:

5. Arte/Scienza (From “How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci”)What? Interest in both the arts and sciences and interdisciplinary work that combines themThe Murder: High school courses are most often strictly defined as an “Art” or a “Science”, and they never mingle; interdisciplinary courses at this level are rare. In college, an undergraduate usually receives a either Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science, though there is more flexibility here than in high school. Scientists and artists have their own professional domains which almost never overlap.

The whole article is great...this #5 so made me think of a play I saw at St. Louis's Webster University Conservatory of Theatre by Steve Martin (yes, the comedian!) called "Picasso at the Lapin Agile"....exactly addressing science and art meeting. I wish I had read this blog article before I saw that play! The play was great, by the way! See more info at "Picasso at the Lapin Agile"

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Thing 2 - Reflections on Blogging

I am pondering this question: Is blogging an effective way to communicate ideas or does blogging distract from "personal" responsibility and other words, is it replacing the "human connection" among us with cyberspace detachment?

I have read some blogs before...and even commented on a few...but I have a new appreciation for Blogs after this lesson. Blogging seems to encompass a huge variety of styles and purposes. - It seems to allow a great deal of people to have a voice that otherwise would not.
- It seems to also allow some people who apparently have a great deal of time on their hands to
vent and get their true feelings out without fear. It seems to take the place of paying a good
psychologist or psychiatrist!
- It fosters ideas and discussion, and connects people from all over who would not be able to
connect "humanly- in person" otherwise.
- It is a tool used for those already connected to enhance their relationship...whether teacher
and student, teacher and teacher, student and student, colleague and colleague, etc.

So, in many cases, this genre can be used to substitute for personal contact. But in most cases I observed, the connection was indeed increased via blogging. The blogs I selected were great...I probably most needed the one on how to change my PowerPoint presentations... but I enjoyed reading Vicki Davis's blog the most. I tend to like controversy although I like keeping "everybody happy". And as a parent, I sure know how I appreciate my children's cell phones (now they are older and that's even more important).

Reading a blog is both fascinating and frustrating, and more challenging than "live" conversation. Why? To me it forces one to LISTEN to others! By that, I mean that you can't just "tune out" others. Everyone gets a turn to speak. Some do dominate, but everyone can interject their thoughts! Reading comments can make you smile, laugh, get upset, or respond immediately with your own "two cents", but it does force you to listen to others or you are not up to speed. Were that true during person-to-person conversations (especially group conversations...remember your last family gathering????), how refreshing that would be. But also time-consuming!

Reading a blog seems to be very similar to reading a People Magazine or other current events magazine and being able to say something about each thing as you read! I also noticed that it was easier for me to learn some things (like in the PowerPoint conversation referenced above) in that format because of the style. I like the shortened style of blogs for learning! Chapters in books seem to have encouraged lengthy discourse! Authors feel like the bigger the book, the more value it has! The best blogs I saw in this Thing 2 exercise were the opposite of that...they were briefer and packed full of thoughtful words. Of course, I did notice the tendency to do exactly what I am doing...reflect perhaps a bit too much. Blogs and the comments seemed to encourage a bit of rambling in some cases!

Commenting and writing differ in technique and rules apparently. They seem to be at a midway formality between emails and formal letters. Yes, there is a literacy level expected in blogging that I was unaware of before examining these blogs. It seems that one loses credibility if ones doesn't follow the cues of the blogger as to expectations of formality. How different from texting!

In commenting, some people just feel compelled to comment when they should basically "shut up" and follow a while (what I call "seasoning" their thoughts first before interjecting them)...others offered great additions and reflections that truly affected and even altered my first "gut reactions" to the original blog.

One caution I note...and still pose the question: How do you know that the commenter has really researched and is speaking knowledgeably about the topic?
You can't (but neither can you know that about an author) it's important that we teach our students that comments are just that...comments...not necessarily well-researched facts more often seem in books.

As educators, how can we start to use blogs to communicate with parents? There are dangers and benefits. Choosing words wisely still seems to be a skill we need to emphasize no matter how they are delivered. But blogs seem to be like calling hundreds (maybe thousands!) of people on the phone for a "chat" at the same time! And at times, everyone talks back at one time! But also seems to give you hundreds of new ears to hear those talking at you. Just a middle-aged guy's observation.

I see blogging as offering us new connections. They extend my world. They broaden my potential circle of friends and human connections. Many people write a lot better than they speak. Know what I mean? But some do not. They may never blog or comment. I think I'll pick up the phone now and call a friend!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

"el colmo"

I will let you figure the title out ...
Today my computer at my desk just quit behaving normally! Not a great start for this course. But I remain optimistic that I can do it! I'll take all the encouragement you can give me....
Maybe Thing 24 will be that you can hardly stand it if someone takes away Things 1-23!!!!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Today's struggles and challenges...

Just had to post something...I am so slowly struggling through translating (that's written work, mind you!) the new Ethnicity and Race Categories FAQs sheet into Spanish so that our Latino/Hispanic population will be able to make sense of the new forms we are soon expecting to send and receive back from them... the form is laborious and really causing me to pause and consider words even more carefully than ever before. Even simple issues...such as the terms "Native American" versus "American Indian" (see are just a few of the reasons I am struggling in order to put this form into a meaningful and expressive Spanish.
That has been my day here today...lots to contemplate! I'm going to search for a blog about this!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Thing 1-B

  • Consider the ways in which Web 2.0 tools might change (or have already changed) your professional practice. Just amazingly exciting what Web 2.0 offers the language teacher. Before (way back in my early years as student and teacher) all we had were slides, movies, and albums... maybe penpals who could write and weeks later (plus postage!) you might get a letter back. Now, students can hear live (without the annoyance of short-wave radio connections at night) radio broadcasts, chat with students in their new language, connect with authentic and up-to-date cultural aspects of people who speak the language, etc.! The ideas seem limitless! This is what I want to learn more about in the course!
  • Since I am not in the classroom, I will start changing gears and think about ways to engage families using Web 2.0 (as BCS Family Engagement Specialist-Latino Families), and also for my Spanish class training I lead for the District, and the Translation/Interpeting aspect of my job.
  • How might you be able to use these new tools to to engage today's "digital learners? I can envision parents being able to access critical information by logging on to their computers at home and to a Wikispace...all current events and important news from the schools is liste in Spanish nd English...tere are links to forms that need to be completed by a certain date, and ways to schedule conferences...all in their own language. I envision that they can link to a translation page...create a message to the teacher or to the school, click and the message is translated for them and an avatar appears, speaking aloud the message and they can send that to the teacher or to the school! I think I cn do this now once I learn the "things" better! I can see new strategies to use the "Lee y SerĂ¡s" course we have in place now, but offer it with Web-2 technologies.
  • Why would you want to? What better way to make a language "have life" for students and not just be an academic exercise! I remember when the "oral proficiency movement" dominated all the trends and standards in FL or L2 methodology. So now I think "Web-2 proficiency" ought to take over!

thing 1-A...a little more...

I was a high school Spanish teacher and adult education/college instructor before coming here to BCS...own a language school down in Norcross GA, and have some business experience as well. I teach Continuing Ed for UGA in Medical Interpreting, and that is fascinating as well.

I hope to learn a lot more about how to use the internet as a teaching tool through this course!


Well...I'm off to a late but good start! It's a little overwhelming to think that there are 23 things to learn about...yes, I may already know about a few, but reality there must be about 2300 things to learn if truth be told. So here I start today. A typical Tuesday. Why did I choose "amigoscott"'s a combination of the Spanish teacher and the Quaker ("Friend") in me...clever, huh? OK, maybe not so much...but it's something I can remember at least!
Much more to follow in the upcoming months...