Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Future of Textbooks: $100 laptops

The Future of Textbooks: $100 laptops

Generally, I don’t highlight articles that I read in prominent newspapers like the New York Times, but to today I found something worth sharing. The current issue of the New York Times had an article highlighted in their technology section about the development of laptops for the children of third world countries. What a noble idea! Possible? Most computer industry executives laughed when they heard about the idea, but they’re not laughing anymore. The laptops have been designed and developed and they will begin production on the laptops in early 2007. Although, their developers missed their goal of $100 per laptop, they were able to develop a laptop for less than $150. Now that’s cool!

Mary Lou Jepsen is responsible for this really cool humanitarian project. Mary Lou Jepsen is the founding chief technology officer of One Laptop Per Child whose large-scale humanitarian mission is to deliver low-cost, mesh-networked laptops en-masse to the disadvantaged children of developing countries. One Laptop per Child (OLPC) is a non-profit association dedicated to research to develop a $100 laptop—a technology that could revolutionize how we educate the world's children. Faculty members at the MIT Media Lab launched this initiative. It was first announced by Lab co-founder Nicholas Negroponte, now chairman of OLPC, at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland in January 2005. Now, these laptops are a reality thanks to new developments in monitor technology. However, these laptops are missing a hard drive and this is something that will have to be addressed in the future. Nevertheless, the concept and now reality of inexpensive laptops for children makes the endeavor more than worthwhile. How cool!

Just as cool is the concept of a self-assembling “mesh” network to keep the computers connected. The mesh network is based on Internet repeater technology and connects computer to computer to computer meaning that each computer works as an Internet repeater for the next computer over varying distances. Actually, each neighbor helps his or her neighbor connect to the Internet via a built in Internet repeater. Hence, the computers help each other stay connected to the Internet. The repeater technology comes from BISON AKA Biology-Inspired techniques for Self-Organization in dynamic Networks. An interesting article about BISON can be found at Nobel Internet. The concept and near reality of the inexpensive laptops for third world children is great.

The potential of these machines for all K12 children seems limitless. With this inexpensive technology all students should have a laptop in lieu of the traditional textbook in the near future. However, before such an endeavor is possible, designers of these laptops and future laptops will need to address the hard drive issue and come up with a viable solution to store and manage data. As such, major textbook companies need to look into these laptops as supplements to current textbooks. Hypothetically speaking, in the future students will have laptops and teachers will store textbooks in the classroom. Laptops are already replacing textbooks in some areas and with cheaper laptops available more and more will be replaced as we move forward into the 21st century. Isn’t technology cool?

William Bishop (Bill)

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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Google Earth Education Community: A One-Stop-Shop for Educators

Google Earth Education Community: A One-Stop-Shop for Educators

I was in tappedin earlier and I stumbled upon a great Google Earth site for educators. David Herring has established a one-stop Google Earth shop (e.g. a Google Earth Education Community) for educators. His Google Earth Education Community not only helps newbies get started, it also provides a wealth of pre designed Google Earth and Google Map presentations for various disciplines. It is beyond cool. I particularly like the Lewis and Clark Expedition and William Shakespeare demos. Take the time to visit David’s GEEC site.

The community exists to offer a place where teachers and students can share and find information about educational topics that has been organized using Google Earth software. Placesets that have been created by Google Earth users that may be useful in an academic setting. Go to the site and follow the provided links. I'd like to thank Dave Herring for providing such a useful site.

I hope this helps my fellow Google Earth aficionados. Good Luck!

William Bishop (Bill)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Digital History Website: How cool is this?

Yesterday, I blogged about the FCIT the various educational online resources available at their website. I particularly highlighted their teacher’s guide to the holocaust area and suggested that the readers of my blog check it out. I ended my post with the following quote: “those who don’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it!” -George Santayana. What a powerful quote! Anyway, today I was more than fortuitous because I found one of the best online historical resouces ever. This educational resource is fundamentally superb, not just in content, but also in technological design. What do I mean by technological design? This site is user friendly, graphically appealing, and highly functional as websites go.

What is it? It is a digital history interactive website and the description of superb doesn’t begin to do the site justice. I have spent the better half of the last hour awe struck by the incredible historical resources this site has to offer. My favorite feature is the digital historical interactive timeline. What is a digital historical interactive timeline? It’s a really cool interactive timeline covering U.S. history from 1580 to present.

What does it do? Using your mouse, you slide a bar along a timeline beginning in 1580 and watch history unfold to the present day on an interactive map. As you move forward in time, historical points of interest appear on the map as icons. These icons are hyperlinked and can be clicked to link to more detailed information about each particular era in U.S. history. How cool is this? If you’re a history teacher or just a history buff, you owe it to yourself to check out this more than superb interactive website and timeline.

Even I could teach history with this site as a supplement and that’s saying a lot. Hence, I am sitting here contemplating how I can make the site applicable for my Spanish classes. I’m sure I’ll find a way. Maybe I will use the Mexican voices section to teach cultural diversity. Anyway, teaching across the curriculum never looked better.

I’d like to thank i.e. magazine for this fortuitous find. I’ll definitely keep reading i.e. magazine, not just for the great articles by people like Wesley Fryer, but also for the incredible links.

History teachers, leave a comment and let me know what you think about the digital history website.


William Bishop (Bill)

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Monday, November 27, 2006

Educational Resources Through FCIT

Last year I had the opportunity to attend the Florida Educational Technology Conference (i.e. FETC) in Orlando and I came back with a wealth of information. The conference was top notch. I am very thankful that I had the opportunity to attend the conference. As such, I’d like to share one of the resources with the readers of this blog. What is it?

The Florida Center of Instructional Technology website. The FCIT is out of this world. It provides numerous educational resources for students and educators alike. It was set up primarily for Florida educators, but I use it when I have a need.

I particularly like the following resources: Teachers Guide to the Holocaust, Multicultural Education through Miniatures, Oral Histories from Vietnam, Free Presentation Templates, Exploring Florida in 3D, and ETC. There are many more resources available. Nevertheless, the Holocaust area of the site is worth visiting if nothing else. After all, “those who don’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it!” -George Santayana

Let me know if you find the FCIT resources useful. Thanks

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Wikis, Blogs, and Podcasts: Self-directed Learning Tools

Wikis, Blogs, and Podcasts: Self-directed Learning Tools

I was taking in the latest issue of I.E. magazine from Smart Technologies when I came across the term self-directed learning and it sparked my interest. Self-directed learning is possibly independent study, individualized instruction, distance learning, experiential education, real life learning, community education, self-regulated learning, alternative education, and more. That is self directed learning? Yes, it is all of the above and more!

What do I mean by more? Interactive learning of course! Interactive learning applies to self-directed learning in many cases or at least it should. For example, the individual takes the initiative and the responsibility for learning. Students have the freedom to select, manage, and assess their own learning activities, which can basically be pursued anywhere, at any time interactively via the Internet. Does this do away with teachers? Absolutely not! Teachers are priceless commodities at all levels. Moreover, at the K12 level teachers are an essential part of the educational process due to the maturity level of most K12 students.

How do we teach self-directed learning in our schools? It’s simple! In schools, teachers can work with students to develop self-directed learning skills and abilities through interactive technologies (e.g. blogs, wikis, podcasts, videos, etc.). At least, these technologies are currently the easiest way to promote self-directed learning at the K12 level.

By establishing class blogs, wikis, podcasts, videos, and websites you create self-directed learning and promote student ownership in the process. With these interactive technologies students are able to share and highlight their work for their parents and the world. Isn’t it time that all teachers start utilizing these technologies and in turn promote self-directed learning?

Wesley A. Fryer would most likely agree and disagree with my promotion of these technologies. Wesley has a great article in the latest I.E. magazine entitled “Blogs and Podcasts”. In it Wesley outlines the pros and cons of the aforementioned technologies. The article is well written and a must read if you are considering using blogs or podcasts with your students in the future. Great job Wesley!

By the way the I.E. magazine is free and has an abundant amount of informative information about interactive educational technologies. You can download it in pdf format online by clicking here. I will leave you with a quote that I found at an instructional design blog entitled Rose Colored Glasses…I believe it to be a fitting closure to this post…

“But if we believe what we profess concerning the worth of the individual, then the idea of individual development within a framework of ethical purpose must become our deepest concern, our national preoccupation, our passion, our obsession. We must think of education as relevant for everyone everywhere — at all ages and in all conditions of life.” ~ John William Gardner

Sunday, November 26, 2006

K12 Blogging: You can do it!

K12 Blogging: You can do it!

Teachers are starting to ask me more and more about blogging. Some common questions are: What is a blog? How do I start a blog? What can I do with a blog? Will it help with course objectives? How much time will it take? How will my students access my blog? etc…

Well, a variety of individuals have blogged about educational blogging, so there is a wealth of information online about setting up and using educational blogs in the K12 classroom. However, I will do what I can to address a couple of the aforementioned questions.

What is a blog?
A blog is a weblog. The words web and log have been combined to create the word “blog”. If you still don’t understand the term blog you can do a search via Google or you can watch a short movie by Will Richardson click here.

How to set up an educational blog!

First, talk with your administrator and IT personnel and ask for recommendations of where they would like you to blog. If they don’t have a recommendation, tell them where you would like to set up your blog, and make sure that your IT department isn’t blocking that site or that sites email.

You have various options or blog providers available for educational purposes. I recommend the following blog providers, edublogs, gaggleblogs, blogger, and blogmeister. Each one of the blog providers has positive and negative attributes. Nothing is ever perfect, except my wife. There are some other blog providers, but for our purposes these will suffice.

Personally, I use edublogs and blogger. I have edublogs set up for my classes and I use blogger to reach the rest of the world. Note, before you set up your blog, make sure that the settings or options are set to moderate the comments. This will help you regulate what is being said by your students and could save you some trouble in the long run. Also, if you don’t have an Internet acceptable policy in place you should create one. You may even want to create a blogging contract for all of your students. There is a step-by-step word document provided at abpc for setting up an edublogs blog.

If you decide to use blogger you should go in and remove the blogger header at the top of the page to prevent students from randomly jumping to the next blog. I did this with my blog because I didn’t want any of my guest to think that I was associated scanty blogs by accident. The next blog could be trouble! Edublogs and blogmeister do not utilize this function.

Additionaly, you do not have to go in and do html edits on the template if you are using edublogs. You do have to make template modifications with blogger and I am not sure about blogmeister because I haven’t used it. Maybe, I will set up a blog there in the future. David Warlick is responsible for blogmeister so I am realitively certain that it is a very functional blog.

What can you do with a blog?

According to Quentin D’Souza and myself, teachers can…

use blogs for real-world writing experiences
pull class blogs together into one area for easy tracking
prolong discussions outside the classroom or for q and a with guest speakers.
quickly give feedback to students, and students to each other (no stacks of papers)
track student writing development Blogging with Students
students using peer networks to develop their own knowledge
update new information such as homework and assignments
help and give feedback on grammar and punctuation
discuss how technology is being used in class and for what purposes
share work and projects with parents and the world via the Internet
generate and share curriculum with others
share general information with students, parents, and others
encouraging students to help each other with their writing
use it for literature circle types of activities
get responses on a question without getting the same answer twenty times

Quentin D’Souza provided the majority of the aforementioned ideas. He has a very informative pdf. file entitled Web 2.0 Ideas for Educators. It is well worth the read!If you missed it earlier, Will Richardson’s video on blogging is very informative click here. In the words of Porky the Pig, Tha, Tha, Tha, That’s all folks!

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Saturday, November 25, 2006

Google Earth: Unleash the Educational Potential

One of my students asked if I liked Google Earth the other day when I was using Google Earth to show them the Galapagos Islands and I told her that I loved it. Moreover, I told her that it made me feel like singing. She took the bait and asked, “What does it make you feel like singing?” To which I replied, “He’s got the whole world in his hands…” If you use Google Earth you should get my bad attempt at humor!

Anyway, the educational potential of Google Earth is limitless. Moreover, I keep stumbling upon new features within Google Earth as a result of other bloggers. Today I was reading David Warlick’s2 cents worth” blog and he had a post about Google Earth and Quentin D’Souza. Quentin D’Souza is an educator from Toronto Canada that seems to be on the cusp of things. Moreover, he has a teaching with technology blog that highlights new technologies, specifically Google Earth. Go visit Quentin D’Souza AKA the Teaching Hacker to see some great innovative curriculum ideals utilizing technology.

Quentin has a number of Google Earth posts that are worth looking at, as well as an informative video entitled “Google Earth: Educators Perspectives”. Another blog well worth mentioning is Mister P’s (Alan Parkinson’s) blog entitled “Google Earth’s Users Guide Project”. Alan’s blog is a Google Earth fans dream come true! I am going to take the time to go through his blog when I have the opportunity so stayed tuned for more post about Google Earth.

Note: If you are an educator and you are not currently using Google Earth with your students, please start. I don’t get to use Google Earth as much as I would like but I try to use it a couple of times a month to take virtual tours Spanish speaking countries. My students love it and learn from it! Good Luck…

Friday, November 24, 2006

Social networking and keeping children safe online!

How important is social networking for the k12 students of tomorrow? Myspace and Facebook have been deemed inappropriate in most schools throughout the United States. When administrators and others hear individuals mention either of the aforementioned they often shutter, as well they should. Myspace and Facebook have the potential to cause and create safety issues for our students due to their very nature and limited control. Fortunately or unfortunately, many students have these accounts at home with or without parental consent.

Nevertheless, while students are at home, schools are not responsible for their online activities unless they are using school sites or materials. Should educators be concerned? Yes. We don’t want anything to happen to our students while they are at school or at home. However, at home parents should take an active interest in their children’s online activities. The following is a list of things that parents can do at home to help keep their children safe while they are online.

1. Set your browser up with safety in mind
All major browsers (e.g. internet explorer, mozilla firefox, netscape navigator, apple safari, etc.) have built in safety (parental) controls.
You can go into your browser or browsers and set these controls to keep your children safe.

How to set up parental setting in Internet Explorer
If you are using Explorer 5.5 you should upgrade!
If you are using Explorer 6 Click Here!
If you are using Explorer 7 with Vista parental controls are built in to the operating system. Maybe a legitimate reason to upgrade! Click Here!

Will changing browser settings help? In some cases yes and in some cases no. All sites do not have ratings. What does this mean? If the site does not have a rating it will most likely be blocked with or without malicious content. Could this be a problem? Yes. A lot of great sites including school sites do not have ratings. Should you use this function? It is entirely up to you as a parent. If do decide to use the settings, be aware that you can go in and allow sites that you know are safe (e.g. your child’s school site, school blogs, and school wikis).

2. You have the option to purchase filtering software (e.g. net nanny, cyber patrol, etc.) for your home computer to filter inappropriate sites.
The software can be bought at your local computer store or online. The cost is less than fifty U.S. dollars.

This software filters a majority of the bad sites but it is not fail safe. Is it worth the money? It’s your money and your children; you will have to decide for yourself if you want to use these services.

3. Use monitoring software (e.g. Safe Net) to police your children’s online activities.

Monitoring software doesn’t stop your children from going to the wrong sites, but it does show where your children have been. Of course, you can use browser histories to look at the same information for free. The only drawback is that tech savvy older children can delete the history before you get to it if they are so a minded.

4. Parents can also purchase lock down software to keep your children off the Internet.

Lock down software controls applications and is password protected. You can give your children access to the Internet as you see fit. Of course, this type of software also prevents online learning, so I don’t recommend it.

5. Talk to your children about Internet etiquette, appropriate Internet activities, and monitor your students while they are at the computer.

Number five is the most important. Parents need to talk to their children and monitor their Internet activities. Talk isn’t cheap if you are educating and keeping your children safe. Start when they are young while they still like and respect you. Good luck!

Last but not least, social networking on the Internet is a great educational tool if done correctly. Parents, teachers, and school systems should promote appropriate social networking tools like educational blogs and wikis. If used correctly these tools have unlimited instructional value for our children.

The following links should help you and your children remain safe while surfing the Net from home. Enjoy!

Links: Kids Health, GetNetWise, SafeKids, KidsCom, Internet Safety

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Tuesday, November 21, 2006

School ID Badges: The future of student and teacher tracking

RFID = Radio Frequency Identification

Twenty years ago, if someone suggested that school administrators would be able to track student’s and teacher’s movements at all times while on school grounds, you would have thought that there cheese had slid off of their cracker (e.g. that they were crazy). Last year a pilot RFID system was established in California for attendance purposes only. The students in the school, grades kindergarten through 12, received an ID badge with a tiny tag carrying the RFID technology, which was activated to take attendance when students entered their classrooms.

Michael Dobson the co-founder of Incom conceptualized and helped develop the RFID system for the schools. Although, the system was established for attendance purposes only in Sutton California, many parents feared that it would be used to track their students and adamantly opposed the technology. Good or bad, the system was removed at the beginning of 2005 due to the overwhelming number of parental complaints and the involvment of the ACLU over the issue of individual privacy. Nevertheless, we haven’t seen the last of the RFID badges.

As a parent and aspiring administrator, I believe that the benefits of RFID badges in the school setting far out weigh the negative connotations proposed by privacy advocates. For example, with RFID badges in place in student safety concerns dramatically decrease. If we are able to track and locate our students at any given time we can prevent some discipline problems, track attendance, and locate children in times of crisis or otherwise.

Additionally, having all school buses equipped with RFID systems could drastically improve the safety of students with disabilities. I know of a case where a student with a mental disability got on the bus unnoticed by the bus driver. The mother could not find her child and was frantic. Fortunately, the student was located within a reasonable amount of time. However, had RFID been in place the student could have been located much faster. If the student had left the bus with other students unnoticed s/he could have got lost or injured. RFID could save a child’s life.

Are all RFID technologies good? Absolutely not! New passports are being equipped with RFID technology and this could be a bad thing. Vicki A Davis in a podcast interview with Patrick Crispen addresses the negatives of passports being equipped with RFID. To “almost” quote George Orwell, not 1984, but Animal Farm, RFID students badges GOOD! RFID passports BAD!

Links: The New York Times 2004, Fox News 2005, Wired News, Incom, Vicki A Davis, & Patrick Crispen

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Monday, November 20, 2006

Presentation 2.0: Beyond Bullet Points

Presentation 2.0: Beyond Bullet Points

Recently, I listened to a podcast by Vicki A. Davis interviewing Patrick Crispen entitled “How terroist will target US citizens with passports and more technology that will affect your future and that of your classroom.” The podcast addressed a variety of current issues (e.g. RFID, IPTV, HDTV, etc.). During the interview Patrick made reference to presentation 2.0 and it sparked my interest.

Presentation 2.0 like Web 2.0 is more of an ideology than something concrete. Nevertheless, since it has been conceptualized, like Web 2.0, Presentation 2.0 has the potential of becoming something concrete with the correct framework. Does a framework exist for Presentation 2.0? I’m not sure yet. Should one exist, someone point me in the right direction, please.

Before I try and explain the concept of Presentation 2.0 as I see it, please allow me to explain what it isn’t. Presentation 2.0 is not the old boring power point presentation that puts everyone to sleep. You know what I’m talking about. We have all been to faculty meetings, business meetings, and workshops where the presenter presented their slide show in a fashion that made us think about suicide. Maybe not suicide, but you get the idea. Additionally, I am sure that we have presented presentations for our classes or co-workers that had the same effect. How sad! With Presentation 2.0, it doesn’t have to be like that. Want to know more, read on!

What is Presentation 2.0? Presentation 2.0 is a no nonsense approach to presentations. Some would call it a presentation beyond bullet points. For example, Cliff Atkinson has a site called, “” and uses the abbreviation bbp to explain the concept. However, maybe Patrick suggested the best example in Vicki’s interview. Patrick suggests, that everyone have a look at Dick Hardt’s Identity 2.0 presentation. Well, turns out that I didn’t know Dick.

Dick’s Identity 2.0 presentation is one of the best presentations ever. So, if you don’t know what Identity 2.0 is, or if you just want to see the best presentation ever, I suggest taking the time to watch Dick's presentation. As a result of viewing his presentation, it is my current and future goal to learn more about Presentation 2.0 and apply it to all of my presentations. I'm sure that my students and co-workers will benefit from my efforts and hopefully avoid thoughts of suicide.

I’d like to thank Vicki A. Davis and Patrick Crispen for giving me something to write about, as well as introducing the concept of Presentation 2.0 through Identity 2.0. I just hope that I can apply the concept as well as Dick Hardt.

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Saturday, November 18, 2006

Wikis and Blogs: the Read/Write web in the classroom

The above title is a testament to Will Richardson’s weblogg-ed site and his efforts in bringing Web 2.0 technologies into the classroom. I am starting to see the light, and I like what I see. Wiki’s and blogs definitely have educational potential.

Allow me to elaborate; my classes and I are just starting to tap in to the potential of wikis and blogs. I set up a blog about a month ago for my Spanish classes at edublogs and a wiki at wikispaces. To tell you the truth, I wasn’t all that interested in the wiki at first. Sure I had been to wikipedia and other type wiki sites, but I didn’t really see the full potential of a wiki until recently.

In addition, I was worried about cyber bullying and I didn’t want to be responsible for anything that would lead to cyber bullying of my students. Then I figured it out. We need to do what we can to protect our students, but we can’t lock them away from the world. Thus, I started doing research and I got involved with Alabama Best Practice Center and 21st Century Learning. Now I am a better person for it and my students are as well.

My classes have a public blog “bishop blog” that is moderated by me. Also, we have a wiki (private wiki for now) that is graciously provided by wikispaces for educational purposes. We are using both of these technologies as much as we can for instructional purposes. I set up assignments on the blog and the wiki, and my students follow the directions and complete their assignments. We use the blog for reflective purposes and we use the wiki as a platform for discussion, assignment submissions, and synergistic learning.

I was working on our wiki the other night and I noticed where my students with out any real direction from me had begun to edit the reflexive verb page with relevant information in a thread type format. A lot of the work was “cut and paste” Internet information, but they had provided the URL as a reference and link. I love it! Currently, I am trying to limit the cut and paste format by requiring students to provide authentic analysis of content in their own writing.

As a result of my students wiki work, I believe that the potential of the wiki as a learning platform is limitless. Hence, we are going to do our best to build up our wiki with pertinent and informative information. For example, my Spanish One students have started adding to the 21 Spanish speaking country page.

What is the 21 Spanish-speaking country page? We are creating a page for each country that links directly to that country’s page. Our goal is to have relevant information about all 21 Spanish speaking countries. Additionally, we are not only providing our own information, we are also providing useful links for each country.

I am very thankful for Web 2.0 technologies. With blogs and wikis as classroom tools, students should have more than enough information at their fingertips to be successful in school and in life. My hope is that one-day the wiki will be as functional as the current high dollar software packages like “Blackboard”. James Farmer asserts, “Blackboard beware, we’re coming after you!” I love it! As such, I am going to do what I can to see that James’ dream becomes a reality. Not because I have something against Blackboard, but because K12 educational resources should be open-source, cost effective, or free.

If you would like to know more about wiki’s April Chamberlain has set up a great instructional wiki site called, “may the tech be with you.”

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Teachers Aren’t Tech Savvy: Digital Educators Wanted

With practical web applications, affordable hardware, and Web 2.0; technology emerged as a useful education tool for the classroom at the turn of the 21st century. As such, the goal of this blog is to help and inform educators and administrators about basic classroom technologies, emergent technologies, and classroom integration. The dilemma, of course, falls in the category of professional development. Teachers, media specialist, and administrators in many cases are not tech savvy.

Top Three Reasons “Most” Educators Aren’t Tech Savvy!

1. Most teacher preparation programs at institutions of higher learning (i.e. universities) have not provided sufficient tech training for educators.

2. School systems have not provided sufficient professional development (i.e. PD) for baby boomers or new educators.

3. Teacher Excuses: I don’t have the time. You can’t teach an old (sometimes) any teacher new tricks. I don’t do computers. My students won’t stay on task when we go to the media lab.

We will focus on number two of the aforementioned. School systems need to provide sufficient professional development in technology for willing teachers. The “spray and pray method” of PD for technology is all but useless. How do you transform a traditional school environment into one where teachers effectively use technology? Don’t use “spray and pray” PD. But, there is more to this than just ending the spray and pray practice of PD.

First, you have to have administrative and IT support in your school. Second, you have to get buy in from other teachers. Start with the teachers that know technology and get them on board. Next, you involve teachers that are fearless (e.g. if its going to promote learning they want onboard). Last, you have to provide productive PD for willing teachers. We need to move beyond the spray and pray method of PD. We should replace the generic; one size fits all, "spray and pray" method of PD with motivationally rich, personally relevant, PD experiences that involves willing educators.

Educational technology can provide a rich learning environment, if teachers are collaborative, help one another, and give up some of their personal time to become tech savvy. However, school systems must provide sufficient PD in technology for all willing participants if we are to successfully educate our students for the 21st century and beyond. Check out the K12onlineconference podcast entitled “Cultivating Digital Educators” by Foxworth, Bosch, and Geanangel for more information.

Relevant Links: “Cultivating Digital Educators”, Frieda Foxworth, Ron Bosch, John Geanangel, Global Horizons, Wesley Fryer,

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Thursday, November 16, 2006

School Web Filters: Good or Bad?

It's a funny world we live when people are so worried about protecting us from evil that they protect us from the good as well.

Where am I going with this? Well, I am headed to most high school IT departments and school boards. I am talking about Internet filtering. The other day, I finally got an email from a tappedin moderator answering one of my questions and he wasn’t very happy with the filtration means that we are using to filter our email. I forwarded the message to our best IT guy and he said that he would remedy the problem ASAP. He's great, so I'm sure he took care of it...

Nevertheless, sometimes we (i.e. administrators, teachers, parents, and IT administrators) build up walls to keep the bad out and accidently keep the good out as well. I said something along those lines in my first sentence, but practice makes perfect…

Note: If I can’t use the tools then I can’t educate like I need to be educating…People are killed in car wrecks every minute, but I keep driving. The same principle applies with school Internet filtering. Use it, but don't over use it!

I copied the following post from Shawn Nutting an IT administrator that presented at the K12onlineconference and I think he is absolutely correct in his assertions…

“Isn’t the business of schools to educate? Why not allow students the exposure to these sites and then teach what is appropriate? It scares me to think people actually believe they can block the internet.”

I concur with Shawn. We simply can’t go around building walls that keeps the good out with the bad. Our first job as teachers is to educate our students and tell them what is acceptable and what isn’t acceptable. My adivice to school IT people, administrators, and others is to use our filters inteligently and to monitor your students activities for possible hazzards, rather than going block crazy.

Internet filters are like locks, they only keep the lazy crooks out…If you don’t believe me, ask some of your tech savvy students how one would hypothetically bypass the school’s filters to get to myspace or facebook…I’m not a betting man, but if I were I’d give you ten to one that the tech savvy students know how to do it at your school. I know they do at mine…I asked, and I learned about the magical world of…

Just in case some of my not so tech savvy students read this I’ll leave it out…But, trust me they know how to bypass your schools Internet filters and can do it as fast as they can type http://…

My adivice to school IT people is to use school Internet filters inteligently without going block crazy. My advice to administrators is to make sure that teachers monitor students closely while they are online...

W. Bishop

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Mashups and Flash Earth: Awesome

Mashups and Flash Earth: Awesome

I was making a mashup for my Spanish class about the Galapagos Islands integrating power point, United Streaming video segments, Google Earth, podcasts, sounds, and images when to my surprise, I found FLASH EARTH. Flash Earth is an experiential application that uses satellite and aerial imagery without official consent. Gee, I hope I don’t get Paul Neave in trouble by blogging about it. Oh well, I’m not exactly the guru of the blog world and I found it on the Net, so I think he’s safe for the time being. At least, I hope he is…

Flash earth in my opinion utilizes some features that Google Earth could definitely utilize. I hate getting to an area on Google Earth only to find low-resolution pictures. More specifically, today I was able to use Flash Earth to look at my school, which I can’t do with Google Earth due to the low-res images of the area. Needless to say, I was very impressed with Flash Earth. In the language of my students, “It rocks”.

Paul Neave is responsible for Flash Earth and states, “Flash Earth has not been formally endorsed by any of the imagery providers (Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! etc.) as it conflicts with their Terms of Use which states that the imagery should only by accessed via their official API, and not by any other means (which Flash Earth has done). [Moreover,] Flash Earth uses unofficial techniques to access imagery from mapping websites, I do no want to encourage other people to do this, and so the source code is no longer available.”

I don’t know that much about API’s, but I know a genius when I encounter one and Neave seems to be at least a Flash genius. His Flash introductory to his site is out of this world and worth a look. Neave makes me want to start working even more with flash.

Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, or someone needs to work out a deal with Paul Neave ASAP. Flash Earth is an ingenious creation! Thanks for sharing Flash Earth with us…

P.S. If you don’t know what a mashup is David Warlick explains it well, “A mashup is a web site that takes data from one or more other web sites, and then does something with the data to add value.” So maybe, what I was doing with my power point wasn’t really a mashup after all. Maybe, I should call the presentation a mashdown because I am using Google Earth, Flash Earth, web maps, and United Streaming video segments that were downloaded to create a unique interactive experience for my students in the true spirit of Web 2.0…Yes, I think we should call the combination of downloaded combined elements utilized to provide an interactive presentation, a “mashdown”. Any suggestions?

Anyway, David’s latest post discusses a new cool mashup about policital campaign contributions. It is called, Following the Dollars: Map Political Campaign Contributions in Your Area…If I taught History, Government, or something related, I think I could really use this in my class lessons. Hint, hint! Nudge, nudge! It will be fun!

I hate to run, but I have to give tests tomorrow and premiere my new “mashdown” for my classes. Until later!

W. Bishop

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Google it, just a little bit more with Boolean logic

The other day, I wrote about searching the Internet in attempt to help people trying to catch the tech bus learn more and get better search results from directories and search engines. The title of the post was “Google it, just a little bit.” This post is an attempt to explain some of the logic behind my previous post for those of you that are still chasing the tech bus.

First, remember the difference in the address box and the search box. Second, use directories (e.g. Yahoo) when looking for companies or people. Third, use search engines (e.g. Google) to do research or to look for encyclopedia type information. Last, learn some basic search tips to make searching the Internet work for you. See my previous post if any of this sounds confusing or visit Patrick Crispen’s power point in html format.

Today, I am going to discuss the latter of the aforementioned tips by introducing you to my friend Boolean. What a name! Boolean is like Mr. Spock from Star Trek. Everything must be logical or it doesn’t matter. Boolean is a logical system of algebra using set theory and operators such as "and", "or" and "not", the basis of binary computers and some solid modeling operations, described by and named after the mathematician George Boole (1815-1854). For our purposes, that is all we need to know about Curious George.

The basics of Boolean are actually just using quotes rather than not using quotes. Search for “lostjohns” or “lost johns” but not lost johns. Good enough! Also, the plus sign is rather useful +lostjohns +blog +cave Try it in Google and see what happens. Minus signs or dashes are also useful. If you want my blog minus my first post that talked about a cave you can try this +lostjohns –cave and you end up with my other post minus the cave post. If this still seems foreign check out my previous post about Googe it, just a little bit.

Let’s move onto Boolean searching and see what we can make of it. Shall we? Boolean search techniques are not rocket science. Well, maybe they are in the fact that they are based on George Boole's 'Mathematical Analysis' and 'Investigation', or boolean algebra, AKA boolean logic. Simply stated, Boolean searching uses OR, AND, NOT, and NEAR.

Good enough! We will begin with OR. OR is a match any search technique. You use the command like this:

lost OR johns

which results in more hits than I care to look at. This means that everything under the sun (e.g. on the Net) will show up. I don’t really have a need for this so I seldom use it.

Next, we will use AND. AND is a cool function that requires that the other word be present. You use the command like this:

lost AND johns

That’s what I’m talking about. My blog is the fourth hit. Try it!
Let’s move on to NOT. NOT excludes items from the search results. You use the command like this:

lostjohns NOT cave

It’s just my blog now and nothing more. Imagine that!

Last, but not least, we can use NEAR. NEAR is used in order to specify how close terms should appear to one another. You use the command like this:

lost NEAR johns

Okay, I really don’t see the use in using near. Not because my blog didn’t show up on the first page, but because most search engines try to keep related items together or NEAR.

Note: Caps must be used to distinguish the Boolean search (i.e. OR, AND, NOT, NEAR).

Nesting (). Nesting is a process that allows you to create complex queries. You use the command like this:

lostjohns (bishop NOT cave)

Complex queries may also be established by using pre-existing advanced search features provided by most major directories and search engines. For example, Google Guide is a great advanced search area provided by Google. There is some cool search information here as well. I personally hate to take the time to fill in boxes when I can apply learned searching tips because I can type faster than the pages load and be on my merry way.

Okay, if you haven’t figured it out AND is like + and NOT is like – Pretty cool isn’t it?

I hope this helps. Maybe we can Google it some more later…If I’m missing something please let me know. I typically make more than my fair share of mistakes, but I keep coming back. So, in the words of the Terminator, “I’ll be back”. Wow! I forgot power searching. Oh well, I have to have something to discuss later…

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Jostens' Renaissance and School Administration

Okay, I just rushed in from a fundraiser at my school, so it’s been a long day. We had a celebrity dinner to raise money for the Jostens Renaissance process that we started at our school this year. The fundraiser seemed to be a big success as we raised a great deal of money for the program with the dinner. I’m sorry, I am getting ahead of myself as I often do. I will slow down and discuss why we decided to go with the Renaissance process at my school.

Why Renaissance?
We started the Renaissance process this year to recognize and renew academics at our Elementary and High Schools. Basically, the Renaissance process is a school improvement and academic renewal initiative that recognizes the academics of all students. Let me repeat that…ALL STUDENTS…not just the top ten percent.

Recognizing all students is currently more important than ever and I can’t believe that we haven’t been doing this all along. However, after attending the Renaissance Nation Conference in Minnesota last year we realized that we really only recognized two groups of students (e.g. the top ten percent and our discipline problems). Hence, we myself included, were unintentionally over looking the majority of our students. We didn’t mean to overlook any of our students, but it was happening anyway. Why? Well, they weren’t the top students and they didn’t cause any problems so they accidentally fell through the crack.

Now, we are doing our best through the Renaissance process to recognize all of our students. Additionally, we are challenging them to excel academically. This is more important than ever with NCLB and we should have caught the problem before attending the conference.

Want to know more? Check out the video and other great information from last year’s conference at Jostens site. You can click here, do a Google search, or click on one of the previous links. What is the Renaissance in their words? Read below…. I copied it from their site…but I am quoting so I’m sure they won’t mind…

“Jostens Renaissance is a proven educational enrichment program developed by Jostens and customized by you and your school community. It's designed to empower your students and educators to reenergize your educational atmosphere, and to create and seize new opportunities for success. The result? Schools all over the country cite higher GPAs, increased attendance, improved morale and stronger graduation rates, just to name a few. Many individuals even see Jostens Renaissance as a program that changed their entire outlook on life.”

Trust me when I say that this process really has something. Is it going to work at our school? I sure hope so! It would be very unfortunate if it didn’t work for our school. However, the Renaissance is something new and like all new things it will take time and dedication on behalf of the administrators, teachers, and community to make the process work.

All school administrators and other leaders should read this!
I just wanted to highlight a great post for current and future school administrators and other leaders entitled “Wake up call to administrators”. Like Vicki’s administrator, my current administrator is great, but I have been through a few that really needed to read this post… Anyway, like the Renaissance, this information should help schools if administrators will take the time to adhere to the wisdom within. Please do so for the sake of your students and teachers…

Vicki A. Davis AKA the cool cat teacher is responsible for the post and she hit the nail on the head with this one. Way to go cool cat teacher! She definitely has my attention as an aspiring administrator… I’m awake…Thanks

W. Bishop

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Google it, just a little bit: Searching the Net

Google it, just a little bit: Internet Search Tips

There is a real learning gap between various generations as a result of the advancement of modern technology (e.g. the Internet, Browsers, Search Engines, Blogs, Wiki’s, Software, etc.). As such, I have decided to do what I can to help. Specifically, I want to help the generation that missed the technology bus and the generation that is trying to catch the technology bus. I am going to begin the lesson by pointing these generations in the right direction...or at least I am going to try…

Let’s begin today by learning out to make the most out of Google. First, we will beging with Patrick Crispen. He has a couple of great presentations on the subject at his site in the sunny state of California. You can check them our or read further in this post.

I have found in my classes and from Patrick’s Presentation that the number one mistake made by people trying to use the Internet and Google is that they use the wrong box. Actually, I just got off the phone with a frustrated friend that was using the wrong box.
It sounds to simple to simple to be true but my student’s use the wrong box all the time.

What is the wrong box? When you open up whatever browser (e.g. explorer, firefox, safari, etc.) you use to surf the Internet there are only two places where you can put text. They are the address box where you put the URL (i.e. the exact address) or the search box in the middle (i.e. where you put what you are searching for). When you open your browser the URL at the top will have the address of your start-up page (e.g. If you know the URL of the site that you want to visit just type it in there. It begins with http://

Note: It is case sensitive and specific. If you miss a dot or a letter you will get directed somewhere else or nowhere at all…who knows where you will end up!

Specifically, if I want to go to Patrick’s site I would type exactly like that and it would take me directly to his site. If I miss a letter, well too bad I headed off somewhere else in cyberspace.

Note: Sometimes you can omit the www as is the case for Patrick’s site

In contrast, if I didn’t know the correct or exact URL or address I would want to do a search for Patrick Crispen or the net squirrel. I’ll plug in his name without any fancy search techniques and see what happens. Imagine that, his site was the first one to pop up. I was lucky in this case. Often, if you just plug in a name you will multiple hits and none of them will be want you are looking for. Patrick is a tech guru and his site is highly promoted so he is the first thing that pop’s up at Google. Try the above for yourself and see if it works. Know you know what the boxes are for and you are one step closer to catching the tech bus!

Shall we continue? It’s my blog so why not!

Patrick call’s the second biggest mistake using the wrong tool at the wrong time and I concur. My students will use Yahoo when they should be using Google. Go figure. What’s the difference? Glad you ask.

Yahoo is not a search engine it’s a directory. Let me repeat. Yahoo is NOT a search engine it is a directory! What is a directory? A directory is a web search tool compiled manually by human editors. Once websites are submitted with information such as a title and description, they are assessed by an editor and, if deemed suitable for addition, will be listed under one or more subject categories. Users can search across a directory using keywords or phrases, or browse through the subject hierarchy. Best examples of a directory are Yahoo, MSN, and Netscape ODP/DMOZ or Open Directory Project. Stated in the words of the wise net squirrel, “directories are like telephone books.”

Note: If you are looking for a company or a universal topic, directories are great! However, they really stink if you are doing research on a specific topic. Stop using directories like search engines ... or quit complaining about not finding anything!

Okay, now you know what a directory is and we can move on. What are search engines? Glad you ask. Search engines are databases (e.g. Google, AltaVista) that help users find web pages on a given subject. The search engines maintain databases of web sites and use programs (e.g. "spiders" or "robots") to collect information, which is then indexed by the search engine. A cool informative site about spiders and robots of the web can be found at .

Note: Use Google or Alta Vista, to do research. It’s like going directly to the horse’s mouth for the information. Of course, Yahoo is great if you are looking for telephone type information, otherwise it’s like going to a goat roping when you really wanted to see a rodeo.

If what I am writing still doesn’t make sense take the time to check out Search Engine Watch. There’s some really cool information about search engines and directories there.

If you are looking for something using a search engine or a directory you have to be specific. If you’re not specific you will end up with more hits than you can shake a stick at…and most of them will be garbage.

Note: Use quotes in the search box “lostjohns” for example. I’m the first hit. Imagine that! In contrast, if you add a space “lost johns” I am the second hit. And if you omit the quotes altogether I still the second hit. Now that’s cool. Try this out and see what a difference it makes.

According to the intelligent little net squirrel (okay Patrick isn’t little he looks like a linebacker) “this works on every search engine and directory but Direct Hit, LookSmart, and MSN Search. At MSN Search, it’s unpredictable about when this works.” Note: Ask Jeves utilizes the Direct Hit search engine and so I don’t know if quotes work or not. Let me know.

Additionally, some search engines have changed operations since Patrick’s original presentation. For example, MSN dropped LookSmart and went solely with Inktomi or their own version of the web crawler…

Use the +
If you want to include something use a plus symbol.
For example, use lostjohns +blog and this blog will be the first hit. Note: If you put a space between lost and johns you may never find me…funny how this works…

Use the -
If you want to omit results you can us the dash (minus) symbol.
For example, lostjohns –technorati and you will see the technorati hits disappear. Cool isn’t it!

Note: The above works with most search engines, but I haven’t tested them all.

That’s the basics about web searching. If you would like more information about searching the web check out the following links or you can view Patrick’s power point “Stop Searching and Start Finding” in html format HERE . Thanks goes to Patrick…for a lot of the information posted here. Although I have been using most of the information posted for a while I haven't shared it or put it into cool ppt format like the net squirrel.

Google Help
Google Guide Cheat Sheet
Yahoo Search
GoogleWhacking A search challenge…

I hope this helps…I may add to it in the future…Let me know what you think about it…

William Bishop

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Sunday, November 12, 2006

High School Bookmarks and Blogs

Rachel S. Thompson has shared her “del icio us” bookmarks for all educators to utilize. These bookmarks look like very useful educational links. Check them out and let me know. Personally, I haven’t had time to visit all of them, but I will do so as time allows. Rachel also makes reference to the great blog evangelist Will Richardson. I made a reference to Will’s book about blogs and wikis in an eariler post entitled “plug your students in”. Just a thought, I think I will ask for Will’s book for Christmas. Will seems to be the guru of educational blogging and his site is definitely worthwhile.

Additionaly, Will has a high school blog site if your are interested. It is worth visiting!

Last but not least, if you haven’t visited Google for Educators check it out. At Google for Educators you will find all types of educational tools and they’re free (e.g. Google Earth). Free is cool!

I don’t know about you, but I learn something new each time I visit the Internet. Moreover, if I don’t learn something new its my fault.

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Friday, November 10, 2006

Veterans Day: Thanks to one and all!

I just wanted to take the time to thank all the members of the U.S. armed forces past and present. Remember, freedom isn't free! God bless...

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Plug your students in!

Think about it for just a minute or so. On most Mondays students leave school go home and grab their cell phones, blackberries, palms, computers, etc. and plug-in to a world of opportunity via the Internet. They currently have websites, wikis, blogs, facebooks, my spaces, and they communicate with the world at home. Then on Tuesday they come back to school to listen to their teachers lecture in an environment of yesteryear. Boring? Ask your students!

I know that many teachers are utilizing technology in their classrooms, but are students using technology in the classroom? Computer Classes Don’t Count! I’m talking about English, History, Math, and Science. In my classroom, I use technology but the students seldom ever have a chance to work with it themselves. Of course, I have currently created a blog and a wiki for my classes and we use it when we can. However, we have to schedule the media lab in order to plug in and unfortunately we can’t always get in the lab as needed.

Are other teachers going to the computer lab or asking students to blog at home or from school? Unfortunately, in a lot of cases the answer is no. Why? It’s the same old thing, excuses… “I can’t get the lab when I want it, all of my students don’t have access to the Internet from home and it wouldn’t be fair if I ask them to blog, or I just don’t have time to do stuff like that.” Of course, many of the teachers making these excuses are still using chalk and a chalkboard and think that they’re really teaching.

Wait just a minute before you start sending me ugly comments and I will clarify. Students learn form the chalkboard or white board and we should keep using them. They are educational tools and good ones. In fact, the chalkboard is simply the LCD projector, blog, and wiki of yesteryear. I use my whiteboard and my dry erase markers as much as I do my LCD projector or the interwrite pad. All of these tools are tools of the trade and we should keep using them. However, we should also stop making excuses and get onboard the technology bus for the sake of our students.

How much time should we take to blog and wiki? Who knows! Each individual teacher is in a unique situation and needs to do whatever is best for his or her students and their learning. Anyway, remember the old Glade plug-in commercial, “Plug it in! Plug it in.” I say we plug them in, plug them in! Why? Well, we have to think about NCLB and our teaching practices and then do what is best for our students.

Should you be blogging and using wikis with your classes? Absolutely! You have to plug the students in if you expect them to excel in school and reach their full potential as learners. Moreover, this could help with school discipline and the dropout rate. Remember the old adage, "a mind is a terrible thing to waste."

If you're not plugging in your students you should get started ASAP. How? Check out some of the links below or visit your local bookstore and grab Will Richardson’s New Book or some one else’s book should one exist…Good luck!

Weblogg-ed Blogs in Ed ABPC wiki

K12onlineconfrence Support Blogging


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Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Around the world in 80 minutes

This is a follow up post to hopefully enlighten and recruit more Google Earth users among fellow educators. First, I can’t imagine teaching geography, history, or earth sciences without Google Earth. Of course, since I don’t teach any of these subjects, I can irrationally interject my two cents here. Anyway, if you haven’t heard of Google Earth crawl out from under the rock where you have been hiding and check out my previous post about Google Earth and get started right away. Your students will love it and your teaching will benefit from the Google Earth applications.

Now on with the Google Earth tour. Fortunately, I stumbled upon Joseph Papaleo who just finished presenting “Around the world in 80 minutes” for the k12 online conference. You can read his comments at or you can view his presentation at the k12 online conference. This was the conference intro of “Around the World in 80 minutes”:

Jules Verne’s “Around the World in 80 Days” was inspired by 19th century technological breakthroughs. In this presentation, Joseph takes a look at 20th/21st century technological breakthroughs and how they can be used to complement teaching practices in the 21st century.
Using Google Earth, the Google Earth community forums and Videoconference technology, this presentation will take you “Around the World in 80 Minutes” (NB presentation is approx 30 minutes).
Pack your toothbrush and join in the adventure.

If you're still not convinced that Google Earth is a useful and cool classroom application, maybe you should retire. Otherwise, get with the program and start Google Earthing today. In contrast, if you use Google Earth with your classes currently you may want to visit the following: Tom Barrett, Janine Lim; ReefEd and National Space Center, UK and as aforementioned…Joseph Papaleo. Thanks for the informative information.

Google the earth and tell them that we sent you!

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