Fort Herriman Middle School


Extensions
November 30, 2007, 8:49 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

This is not exactly educational, but it is very interesting, and other people have mentioned it before. When my daughter was born yesterday (yippee!!!), I called my dad on Skype to tell him she came safely and show him what she looks like. He lives in Brazil, and so it is not easy to call and talk to him very often without Skype. Think of how amazing Skype could be in education. If I wanted to talk to an author, or a professional, or an actor, or a screenwriter, or anyone else associated with the subject that I teach, it would be very easy to do. Wednesday night I did not go to class because Staci was going in for the C-section on Thursday, but it turns out that I was sick, too. I emailed my professor and asked if we could do a Skype call, but he didn’t know what it was so he would have to set it up. Turns out, he couldn’t get it to work. Bummer, it would have been really neat to be able to attend my class while sitting at home.

I would really like to do a video call with someone in a profession that could benefit my English students. I do know an author, named Stacey Cochran, and maybe I could contact him and do something. 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A Teaching Meme
November 26, 2007, 9:04 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I am following the lead of an edublogger that I just learned about. I don’t know any of the teachers’ blogs that I read, and I only know one of the bloggers that is a teacher.

1. I am a good teacher because… I love learning and helping other people learn.

2. If I weren’t a teacher, I would be… lost! All through my life I have wanted to be a teacher. I tried to avoid it, but I knew I would end up in education. I believe any job in education is there to help students learn.

3. My teaching style is… dependent on my students, but sadly probably more authoritative than I would like.

4. My classroom is… covered in paper. I have papers all over my desk and counter top. My organization skills are in desperate need of assistance from a professional organizer.

5. My lesson plans… are online.

6. One of my teaching goals is… to start my own school (that goal is still many years away from being accomplished.)

7. The toughest part of teaching is… motivating the unmotivated, (I agree with Blair).

8. The thing I love most about teaching is… when students “get it”. The “Oh, I get it now!” is the best and most exciting thing to hear.

9. A common misconception about teaching is… those who can’t do, teach. (And by extension, those who can’t teach, teach PE.)

10. The most important thing I’ve learned since I started teaching… It takes time to be a good teacher. Teaching is a marathon, not a sprint.

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Educational Software Review: Mindjet MindManager 7
November 25, 2007, 5:47 pm
Filed under: review, software

Update: Thanks to Kyle who commented below and solved the major issue that I have with this program, kind of. He suggested using shift while dragging. That makes it a floating topic, and disconnects the subtopic from its parent. Also, the “quick start” guide is 30 pages long!

Overview
As you can see from the picture to the left, MindManager 7 is a product that helps people visualize information. This is a great idea because many people, especially children can understand things better if they visualize them. This program can help facilitate children’s learning. Mindjet pitches this to businesses, education, NPOs, government agencies, and individuals. Academic pricing is $149.

Useful Features
Once you make a mind map you can export it in a number of different formats: PNG, JPG, TIFF, RTF, PDF, web page, and some others that I didn’t even know existed. The best export is the PDF because it adds some white space around the map, and that makes it look nice. The picture formats (TIFF, PNG, and JPG) were good exports also, but they cut off the top-most and bottom-most lines on the subtopics. as shown below.
It doesn’t look like it cuts the borders off too much, but it is enough to be annoying.

Another good feature is that there are plenty of things you can add to spice up your map. It doesn’t have to be boring like the one on the left. You can add all kinds of graphics, pictures, arrows, and pretty much whatever else you can think of. You can also link other files to your map, including Outlook contacts, Word files, spreadsheets, websites, and more.

You can also draw relationships between different subtopics, which is very useful as well. Another good feature of this program is the ability to collapse and expand subtopics. Collapsing subtopics helps the productivity maniac focus on just one idea, not the whole enchilada.

Opinion
I did not like this program. I have a real issue with programs that make me fight them. The video clip below explains one feature that really bugged me. MindManager makes you put parts of your map in certain places. For instance, if I want to place a new subtopic somewhere the program would suggest a spot. Most of the time, that is great…but sometimes, I want a bubble where I want it. I wanted the figure I was making to look nice, but the program would not let me put things where I wanted them. I am a firm believer that the software needs to get out of the way so that I can do what I need to (like Jing). This program just got in my way. I tried to figure out how to change that setting, but I couldn’t find it. The preferences menu is one page with only six options.

If I wanted to move just one subtopic somewhere, then it would affect all the other subtopics and that drove me nuts. My finished product still does not look how I want it to, but it does look good enough, I guess.

Basically, I had to stop using this program because it was way to difficult to get it to do what I wanted. It took more time to figure out how to make it do what it should than it did to make a more complex map in Inspiration, which I will review next.

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Lockdown Drill
November 20, 2007, 3:03 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

We had a lockdown drill today at school and I was nervous that my students would not do well with it, but they managed to do OK, for the most part. There were a couple kids who did not do very well. They were making faces and laughing at each other. It is really frustrating that some kids (and adults, too) think that everything is a joke and that we don’t need to be serious about things. Lockdowns are serious business. It is very important to have procedures in place to keep everyone safe if something were to happen…say nothing of the legal implications if something goes horribly wrong. It is really important. One of my professors at BYU-Idaho told a story about how she was shot at in the hall of a high school in Salt Lake City. These things do happen, and it is important to be as prepared as possible for everything. Obviously, there is no way to prepare for every contingency, but it is certainly worth our best effort to prepare for as much as possible without being to overcome by paranoia.

So, I sent one kid down with a referral for goofing off and the other kid I sat and talked to for about ten minutes. The student eventually agreed that he should not let someone else get the blame for something he was as equally to blame for, and he went down to the VP’s office with me and fessed up to acting poorly. I sure made sure that he understood his mistake before I let him off the hook. It was a very brave thing to do, though. 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Congratulations, you are a genius
November 19, 2007, 11:19 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Take that Chris!!! Apparently you have to be a genius to understand what I write. Chris made some good comments about how this could just be randomly generated. I did the Flesch-Kincaid for the first page in Word, and I got some different results. Apparently, I write to the grade that I teach…interesting. 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Web Quest Problems
November 16, 2007, 9:46 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I make no assumptions that anyone reads this blog, so now that people are actually reading it, and commenting even, you also get to hear my reflective posts.

The problem I ran into today was explaining that they need to fill out three source cards, but there was only one for the internet in the packet that I gave them. It is very frustrating that this happened. So, I had to make more.

There are times as a teacher when you realize that it is a lot easier to change how you do things instead of dealing with the incessant confusion by your students when what you are asking them to do makes perfect sense to you. 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Amazing! Thank you Chris
November 16, 2007, 8:16 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

So my good friend Chris asked a question in the comments yesterday about the web quest, so I thought I would answer it. The really amazing thing is he had a perfect teaser to get me to answer it. He used a program he is working on called Jing. It is wicked awesome. It is a screen capturing program that you can use to capture video or pictures and then explain whatever you want. The only problem is that while Chris left the comment at about 7 pm, I didn’t see it until 10:30 last night. As it turns out, I was so excited about how to use this program, that I couldn’t go to sleep. I just thought about how I could use it. For example, more than half my students were on a field trip yesterday, so they missed my explanation about what to do to start this web quest. Now, I can put a link to the Jing screencast on my website, explaining what to do, and they can watch it before they start working. This will also be good for explaining things that are complicated when I need to show something, but don’t want to be stuck at my computer. I can see how this program can be very useful in education.

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