Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Legal Implications of the Backchannel

An interesting article today on the front page of the local paper. Councilman upset about members e-mailing each other during meetings

The main thrust of the article is whether or not council persons' use of email during city council meetings is a violation of open meeting law. Is the public's right to the full and open discussion of a topic being infringed?
[Council president] Childers said the communications were appropriate because they dealt with a topic on the table. He also said he does not see a meaningful distinction between an e-mail during a meeting and a council person leaning over and whispering in another's ear, a frequent occurrence.
I suppose the comparison is a fair one, but the use of email (chat, twitter, txt, etc) does seem to violate the open intent of transparent, democratic discussion.

Perhaps the council needs to start using Twittercamp ;)

Monday, September 17, 2007

Phases of Online Development

Came across this table while researching electronic portfolios. These phases seem reminiscent of my entry into blogging.

In my own experience, the phases are fluid. I will get comfortable publishing on a specific topic, or with a specific technology, but find myself returning to anxiety when I step outside the usual fair (there's a reason I've done exactly one podcast ). However, each back slide is briefer and less intense; the more I work at blogging, the more comfortable working at the boundaries becomes.

Now that I am doing more to promote using online tools, I've certainly seen the anxiety and uncertainty in others, too, as they consider the implications of publishing online. Part of providing support and encouragement to my colleagues and students is remembering this anxiety as I work to encourage engaging in online publishing.

Table from Developing Digital Portfolios for Childhood Education by Marja Kankaanranta. 2002.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Demo Classroom Update

Work continues on getting the demonstration classroom ready for visitors. The portal is coming along nicely; a calendar outlining upcoming activities is now online, and once we are ready for visitors, an online sign up form is ready for use.

This week was also about hardware, peripherals mostly. All of the "stuff" comes with software, and software means getting time with the tech. Our building tech is great, but like so many techs in our district and across the country, he is split between multiple schools and seriously overworked. So, its not all up and running yet, that may take another week or two, but we are getting closer.

One of the hidden costs of integrating technology into a curriculum is patience. Absolutely nothing, from installation of hard/software to planning how to use it all, goes as quickly as I would like. Remembering that we are in the early stages is important, and while I worry that we are not making progress quickly enough, as a district and as a nation, we are moving forward and seem to be accelerating.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

First week thoughts

Week one of the year of many hats went quite well. I love teaching, and the first days back are always a real treat.

Returning students are refreshed and happy to be back, a few even told me they were ready for school to start. I work in an alternative school with students at risk of dropping out but here they are smiling and upbeat about another year at Willard.

The new students, who account for roughly half our population this fall, were understandably more cautious as they learn the routine and settle into how things are handled here. In a few more weeks they will be fine.

The hardest part of this week has been leaving school each day just as afternoon classes are beginning. As I walk out the door I have this nagging feeling that I'm not done yet, that I'm abandoning my students halfway through the day. During the five minute drive down to the administration building I am learning to let that feeling go and put on my ToSA (Teacher on Special Assignment) hat.

Of all the differences between being in a classroom and in an office, the nature of time has been the hardest to get used to. The classroom is ruled by the clock; there are only so many minutes in a period and, whether you have finished or not, when those minutes are used up the period is over. Current students file out, new ones file in, reset the clock and go.

Not so in administration.

The first meeting I attended was scheduled for an hour and a half, but when time was up we weren't done. We worked for another hour, completing our planning. Being able to do so was a completely foreign experience but also a real delight. No half finished discussions, no scribbled notes to pick up the thread the next day; instead, a task completed by giving it the necessary time. I can get used to this.