Friday, May 29, 2009

My ideal Library

I had an experience the other day! I was asked what I think the library of the future would look like. WOW! If I could design the ideal library what would it include? Well, that is a big question.

Ideally, some of the physical needs would include:
  • Tables and chairs, but not just the standard square tables with student chairs, but some cool and fun arrangements of bistro style tall stools and tables.
  • Sofa's and comfortable reading spaces.
  • BOOKS!!!!! Duh, but with an identical emphasis on non-fiction as on fiction. Literature is the joy of our lives, the enrichment. Non-fiction/Information reading is the meat and veggies.
  • Computers! but not just computers! I would love to see collaboritive spaces. It is often nice to have the one laptop per child model, but there are times when it is much more successful to have one computer per group. I would like to see large desks with plenty of space for other media, like books, posters, videos and dvds alongside the computer.
  • Conference rooms/cubicles where students can collaborate without disturbing others.

Blended Learning

What does it take to learn today? What does it take to teach today? I would argue that it takes a blender.
Students are growing up in an environment that is saturated with online interactions. Younger and younger students are adopting interactive online media as a way to connect to the people they know face to face. Schools need that same blending. Schools were designed years ago for a factory worker model. The structure of school was designed to cultivate a good factory worker. This model no longer fits. Students want to interact in online ways.
In face to face interactions there are strategies a teacher can use to engage students. Questioning techniques, Project based learning, collaborative work. Each of these strategies takes skill, experience and often support and training to be able to pull off successfully. Students achievement both in terms of testing scores, inherent self-concept, and marketable skills are improved when teachers effectively weave different authentic learning experiences into their students face to face interactions. In the past few years, there has been an increased emphasis on the effectiveness of multi-media, well, that is true, but the reason we need a blender is that we need to blend these face to face skills into an online environment.
In the online or distance environment, whether it be the online presence of an individual teacher, a library, district, or a specific course or class ideally, there would be a connection to the real world face to face environment. There are a set of skills for interacting online. There are skills to moderating online discussions, to creating a paperless classroom, and to processing multimedia. These skills need skill, experience and often support. These skills are the greatest challenge for many teachers.
The ideal teaching and learning experience is the experience that best facilitates the learning by the student and the teaching by the teacher or facilitator. Sometimes the ideal is entirely online, sometimes it is entirely face to face, but increasingly it will be blended. Whether we are talking about Algebra 2, Biology, 4th grade reading time, or Professional development. Learners will be looking for a face to face experience and an online connection.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wednesday Web of the Week: American Rhetoric

Site Address:

American Rhetoric contains some of the very best American Rhetoric ever! This site hosts mp3 files of the best speeches given on American Soil by political leaders. While the site is a bit hard to navigate, it does have lists of the most important speeches of all time, ranked for your learning. It isn't clear who ranked them as most influential, but still having every one of those speeches is a prime example of effective speaking. Another list ranks speeches by decade making the study of American History come truly alive as you hear speeches by leaders of that time.

Other interesting highlights include:

The site provides some terrific resources for teaching about speech, language and history. Check it out!

Utah Core Curriculum Links

3rd Grade Language Arts
Standard 1 Objective 1
Social Studies - 6th Grade
Standard 4 Objective 1

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tech Tip Tuesday: Build a simple Podcast!

What is a Podcast? Well a podcast is a compound term created from iPod and broadcast. A podcast is nothing more than an audio file that is posted on a web server usually on some regular schedule. When properly hosted they can be subscribed to via iTunes. Mac users have long had GarageBand to help them create audio files. If you are looking for an easy way to create Podcasts or any advanced audio file and are using a PC or a Mac but want something a little simpler than GarageBand there is another great source out there. Audacity is a free opensource solution to audio editing. It can be used for a variety of purposes including creating podcasts. For some more info on how to use it check out the Faculty Lounge Archive: Audio Editing and Recording with Audacity

You can get Audacity for free here:

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wednesday Web of the Week: PBS Video

Site Address:

PBS recently launched a new site that includes full length video's from many of the most popular PBS series including: Nova, Frontline, and Nature. Many of these can be used to effectively enhance learning. The strategies encouraged by the National Teacher Training Institute seem ever more appropriate.

Additional Strategies are also possible. The time we have with students face to face is precious and can be best utilized by activities that can only be done face to face. This can include deep analysis of video, but when looking to enhance the classroom with out of class video resources consider some of these strategies:

  • Allow students to choose among several video's on the same topic, watch them at home or in the computer lab. Class time can be devoted to discussion and debate on the topic.

  • Create Point/Counterpoint style activities.  Students can be assigned videos on different sides of a topic and then discuss in class or an online forum

  • Allow students to do a written analysis of videos related to a class topic.  These could also be used for grade "enhancements" to make up for poor grades, missed assignments or to improve a faltering class average.

  • Encourage students to subscribe to or view relevant video podcasts as methods for enhancing to topics in class.

PBS Video has many terrific online resources available now in full length versions.  For more resources Utah Teachers can also also access video for classroom use at and click on the eMedia link or click here if you are at a Utah Public School

See another review here:

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Welcome to Widescreen!

If you have a newer laptop and or projector they are often compatible with wide screen views. To take advantage of this in PowerPoint you must set up your PowerPoint to display in widescreen. You can follow the instructions on Wendy Russell's Post here or check out the video below or click here for a link to a large screen version of the video:

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Assessment again!

I've been bumping around my RSS feeds and reading some of the great blog posts out there and I stubbed my toe on two valuable posts.

First on Kelly Hines blog: Or is it about the technology? Deven Black made a very cogent comment about the inappropriateness of our current testing regime. Or maybe it's really about the ineffectiveness of the current testing regime, but it all boils down peanuts.

Another post pointed out the very real, and accurate points a 15 year old has about the troubling nature of trying to prevent kids from failing. I just can't believe that artificially inflating their grades and ego is helpful. Shouldn't they do good useful things and then they get to feel good about themselves? (Yes, I know I am quoting the old Bill Gates chain email but hey the sentiment was right)

My response to the post was:
Hey, Sorry, I am with the 15 year old on this one. This make almost no sense. Especially considering a 50% is still a failing grade. Is this move just to stroke the ego of the kids? I structured my classes and grading such that any kid who made a modest effort could pass. Legitimately without someone artificially forcing a minimum grade. Did I have kids fail. Yes, Miserably but it was due to their absolute refusal to put in any effort. We need to get away from grading kids. A term which means we are literally ‘grading’ them. Putting them into categories based on subjective value we place on their abilities. It would be so nice to actually evaluate their competencies, including their willingness and motivation to, as your 15 year old friend points out, how much they try to learn!
I just find it aggravating that we throw our efforts into testing, measuring, evaluating, and planning instead of just helping the struggling kids who want to succed find the areas they can succeed in. We spend so much time trying to motivate the unmotivated that the highly motivated are left to navigate the oceans of learning on their own.

Web of the Week: EnergyQuest

Site address:

Energy Quest is sponsored by the California Energy Commision. It is designed to supplement learning about energy and energy issues. You can navigate through 20 chapters of informative text and images or head over to the games and puzzles, many of which are printable for educators. The site also includes a teacher resource section with links to other valuable sources of energy information

Check it out below:

Utah Core Curriculum Links:

CTE: Intro to Transportation and Energy
Science - 8th Grade Core
Standard 1 Objective 3
Standard 4 Objective 1
Earth Systems Core
Standard 6 Objective 1, Objective 2
Science - Physics Core
Standard 4, Objective 1, Objective 2, Objective 3
Social Studies - Geography for Life
Standard 5 Objective 2

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tech Tip Tuesday: Get more out of your webcam

Many newer laptops are coming with built in webcam standard. Even for those with a desktop computer webcams are becoming much less expensive. The question? How do I get more out of it? In keeping with the spirit of this post: Here are some tips on getting more use out of your webcam.

  • Use your webcam as a document camera to share pics, graphs, or even handwritten notes or examples.

  • Create desktop science videos that show demos of science concepts that are hard to demonstrate for a whole class.

  • record weekly announcements and then put the video file on your website.  Need a place to put the video try: my.uen.orgYouTube, or TeacherTube or put the video file

  • Create virtual office hours for parents. Use the Wimba Live classroom on if you are a Utah Educator, consider Skype, iChat, Yahoo, GoogleTalk, or Windows Live Messenger as other possibilities.

  • Create Stop Motion animations by taking multiple pics with the webcam and then splicing them together with a tool like: iMovie, Windows Movie Maker, Frames, or any other multimedia tool.

  • Consider a pic a day feature from your class and take a picture every day of the school year showing what happens in your classroom.

With all of these be aware of your District and Building policies regarding posting materials on the web.  Be especially sensitive to posting pics of students.  There are laws and policies in place to protect the privacy of children.  Find out what they are and then design your own webcam project to highlight your class.

Monday, May 11, 2009

What does that mean?: A Mobile Reference Library

Mr. Jorgensen, do you have a calculator? Nope, do you have your cell phone? Mr. Jorgensen there aren't enough stopwatches do you have anymore? Nope, do you have your cell phone? Well, add one more to that list. Mr. Jorgensen, do you have a dictionary? Nope, do you have your web enabled cell phone?

When students would ask about a dictionary in my computer lab, I typically directed them to or both great sites to look up words, word origin, and other forms. Before web enabled phones, I downloaded a Microsoft Encarta Dictionary into Microsoft's Reader a good resource on my mobile device but with fairly limited definitions. With web enabled phones you can now visit to look up terms, thesaurus entries and other information on the fly. also provides an Application for the iPhone/iPod touch.

Not to be outdone has a mobile interface at When you check the site it states that the site is optimized for the iPhone, but it works well on Windows Mobile phones and other web enabled phones and the iPod Touch.

Another great feature that doesn't require a web enabled phone is Google's SMS tools. You can see a list of these tools at Most of the advanced search techniques work for example text: "define:learning" to 466453 (Google) to get the definition of learning.

Learn where you are!

image citation: flickr user: midnightglory

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

W =F x D; T = (L + R + C)Ch

I was reading Kelly Hines blog today and ran across this from an older post

2. Learning and Teaching are not the same thing. How many times have we heard a colleague say, “I don’t know why these kids don’t get it. I’ve taught it a hundred times.” I equate teaching and learning to a basic physics principle. If an object does not move, no matter how much force has been applied, no work has been done. Therefore, if a student has not learned, not matter how much effort has been exerted, no teaching has been done. Teaching in the 21st century is going to be about working smarter and not harder. It is not about adding to our proverbial plates. We must look at learning as the product of a successful day. Learning will not look the same to all students or all teachers, but it must be the goal.

This was part of a complete list, but it struck me as unique and the physics reference hit home for me. So adding my own 2 cents into the conversation here's my formula for teaching

T = (L + R + C)Ch
Teaching equals Learning plus Retention plus connections multiplied by change. If what I do doesn't cause people to change the way they behave I haven't really taught them anything. It doesn't have to have a life altering effect on them, but maybe a slight course correction that sends them into a new direction. Everything valuable I have every learned has caused me to change, and I hope it has caused me to change for the better, to improve.

Kelly's Post reminded me of that! Thanks!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Why Cite sources in the Digital Age

There are at least three good reasons to cite sources in our digital age.  Here they are listed in increasing order of importance.


And I believe the least important.  Now, that is not to say unimportant.  We need to cite sources to obey copyright law.  Most trouble with copyright can be avoided by appropriately citing sources.  Teachers often point to Fair Use Copyright doctrine or the Teach Act 2002 as valid reasons for using information, but this does not excuse proper citing of sources.


I think the second most important reason for citing sources is: Modeling good behavior for students.  In our modern day with plagiarism and copyright violation so easy, it is easy to take the approach as a teacher of just using what is necessary to get the job done.  After all, it's all out and available for the public anyway right?  Well...sort of?  Information that is found in 3 independent sources can be considered general knowledge and is exempt from the necessity of citation.  The challenge with this is that items of a multimedia nature are not always public domain, even on government or other websites since the work may have been commissioned and the images or video may be copyrighted materials, subject to licensing and royalty agreements.  We should cite sources to provide a good example for students of giving proper credit and not presenting others work as our own.


And I really think this is the most important reason!  We should cite sources properly so we can find the source again should we need to.  Ever accidentally deleted a photo out of PowerPoint?  Have trouble finding it online again?  If we cite our sources well we can find these resources again.  Some may not be essential, if all you need is any picture of a giraffe it is fine, but if what you need is a picture of a giraffe and you lose it, having citations can save the day.

So, how do you navigate this jungle in a digital age?

A couple of suggestions

Understand the difference between formal and informal citations.  Formal are the tried and true citation formats for MLA, APA or other defined styles.  Informal are just that, informal methods that accurately reflect where information was found but don't follow a formal style sheet.  A tendency on the web for citing sources such as flickr, youtube and picasa is to cite the user:  i.e. photos from flickr user: covili

For more formal citation help try: Citation Machine

Monday, May 4, 2009

Creating threads of understanding

Our education doesn't need to be changed, but our assessment does. There is certainly a place and quite probably quite a central place for multiple choice tests within the framework of assessment.
I admit that multiple choice questions are the simplest to deal with. They have the very friendly trait of being simple to analyze. It's easy to count up the number of correct answers and give percentage score and plot that on a chart. The problem is that it so rarely reflects all the learner has learned and rarely shows the nuances of understanding that can exist.

Might I suggest an alternative approach, Allow students to create multiple lines of evidence for learning. Consider 3 or more lines of evidence and make at least some of the lines be chosen by Learners. If quizzes or tests are part of the assessment plans or requirements, make some of the other lines of evidence different methods, and not just essays or other traditional approaches. Consider:
  • videos
  • multimedia presentations
  • journals or notes (as an assessment tool not just as a study tool)
  • drawings, artwork, or artistic representations of processes.
  • animations or 3-D diagrams
  • In Class presentations
  • Collaborations
Visit specifically for ideas related to Multiple Intelligences and Project based learning.

The Kindle App for iPod Touch and iPhone

I have been very reluctant to take a $359.00 chunk out of my pocket to get a Kindle. despite the fact that I absolutely love the idea of having a whole library in my hands. I have used multiple other eBook formats on both a computer and handheld devices. My first PalmPilot had decent resources for eBooks. My first Windows Mobile with Microsoft's Reader was my favorite for years. Mainly because I was able to have the same books on my mobile device and on my desktop/laptop.

The Kindle was touted as the iPod for readers, and it is undeniably doing well. I simply haven't been able to justify buying another dedicated device. So I was pleasantly surprised a few weeks back when the Kindle App for the iPod Touch and iPhone was launched. I downloaded it immediately but waited until I had finished a couple of paper and ink books before downloading my first book. I am a bit behind the times, but I bought Twilight by Stephanie Meyer.

The app worked very well. As soon as I had purchased it and opened the App on my iPod it downloaded in seconds. I was able to send the book to another device too with no trouble at all. Activating and Deactivating devices is all done on Books must be purchased there too. That is one place the Kindle Hardware beats out the iPod app. My two biggest challenges with it were:
  • Battery Life- When I started reading, I was on a bus with Wi-Fi access, and listening to music. The Kindle App allows these process to continue in the background and Whispersync keeps your book 'synced' while online. But this ate up my battery life. It took me a few days of reading to figure it out, but while sitting at home yesterday, I turned off the music, and shut off the Wi-Fi and read for 4 hours without putting to much of a dent in the battery. Half that time with music and Wi-Fi was enough to completely eat through the battery
  • Navigating- Turning pages is about as intuitive as it gets. Easier by some counts than the awkwardly placed buttons on the Kindle Hardware, but I found myself hitting the home button to try and get the navigation tools to open. There was something almost too clean about the reading frame. A simple info button like so many other apps have would have been useful, but I think it would detract from the clean look Amazon was obviously going for.
Considering the two faults I had with the App, I realize they are both user issues that just require me to relearn a little. I would definitely give this app two thumbs up.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Response to Jeff Utecht: When do we start teaching self-branding

No, it is self-branding not self branding. See his thoughts here His post brings up an interesting dynamic. Below is my response:

Self branding and identity protection create a unique tension in the online world. On the one hand I as a person want to protect myself from identity theft, on the other hand I am trying to carve out a piece of online territory that is ME! This becomes even trickier because our students are doing the same thing. They want to be recognized and heard and be noticed, but what if they are recognized and noticed?

Thanks for a thoughtful post

It makes me wonder though, do we really teach the technology? Kids get the branding idea already. That's why they myspace and facebook. They are defining who they are by in a sense advertising who they are. I don't know all the answers but the questions sure keep things interesting.

Welcome to Jorgie Learning

I really am learning and this blog is maintained both as a record of some of what I am doing as well as a place for me to train and teach others about creating an online presence. So please don't mind the dust. We aren't remodeling we are learning!

Visit some of my other blogs or the other blogs I find mildly entertaining for a more polished feel.