Friday, October 30, 2009

The Innovative Educator: Why Every Parent and Teacher Should Learn MySpace and Facebook and A 30-Day Guide To Losing Your Digital as a Second Language (DSL) Accent

The Innovative Educator: Why Every Parent and Teacher Should Learn MySpace and Facebook and A 30-Day Guide To Losing Your Digital as a Second Language (DSL) Accent

I just commented on this blog. You can read about it there, but It really is a great post.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Wednesday Web of the Week:

Web Address: is the website of the George Lucas Education Foundation.  This has been a premier source for Project Based learning and real world examples of good public education.  Their tagline is "What works in Public Education"  I love this because it is an admission and affirmation that there are things that are working in public education.

Edutopia has allowed comments on their articles for several years, and this has been a lively area for teachers to voice their own opinions about what is working in public education.  Just this week a new feature was added to Edutopa: Groups.  Now, when you create a login you can join a group of people having conversations that interest you.  There are several groups already established including:

  • Green Schools

  • Middle School

  • Project Based Learning

  • STEM

  • Professional Development.

So, come join the conversation on

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tech Tip Tuesday: Watch TV on your PC (Mac or Windows)

A little while back I gave some tips on how to watch your PC on a TV.  Well the opposite can also be possible.  We are slowly but surely coming into the digital convergence when  media will be available all in one place.  We will be able to surf the web, listen to radio, download our favorite Podcasts and watch movies all on the same device.

Here are some tips for getting your PC to work as a DVR and TV.  You can watch live television on your computer and in most cases record the video as well

Tips for Windows:

Tips for Mac:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wednesday Web of the Week: Fancast

Web address:

Usually, in this web of the week post I focus on great educational sites, well today the focus is more fun.  Fancast is a website like many that are out there that broadcasts Television archives.  You can catch up your favorite TV shows.

It also has features that allow you to login and keep track of shows you like, and allows you to watch full length movies.

So, now for the obligatory educational purpose.  Since you can watch full length movies and some of the movies are educational this could be a source of materials for out of class work.  With so much available in on demand video it seems like a good time to start using it outside of class.  There is simply so much out there that we can't share it all in class, but as homework or enrichment to class Teachers can suggest topics, or videos that would help in class and allow students to report on them in class or turn in synopses or summaries of them for credit.
Disclaimer: The content on this site is commercial and does have some video that could be deemed age inappropriate for younger children.  Please use your own good judgment in determining whether to use this site in your specific situation.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tech Tip Tuesday: Pick your Browser!

An overwhelming majority of internet users browse the web with Internet Explorer.  This was one of the big fears of companies back years ago when Microsoft started marketing and packaging it with their operating system.  Other web browsing software felt they would lose their market if people got Internet Explorer right on their computer.  They were largely right.  Netscape Navigator doesn't exist anymore but it's heritage lives on in the AOL company.

There are other browsers out there besides Internet Explorer.  Here's a little summary of some of the major players:

Mozilla FireFox

This browser is an open source solution from Mozilla, the open source means anybody with the know how can download the code and improve, or update it.  What this means for users is it is exceedingly simple to get plugin and downloads that extend the capacity of FireFox.  Firefox is available for Mac and Windows

Google Chrome

This broswer is another step in Google's journey to being a one stop shopping center for web tools.  If you like Google's simply clean lines the browser will probably suit you.  Some users miss the menus and buttons, but it does make your Google experience complete. Google is available for Windows


Safari is the Apple browser.  It has some of the features that FireFox has and some of the feature the Internet Explorer has.  This is more compatible with the Microsoft Website and a few others on a Mac than FireFox is but what's really unique is that you can get it on a Windows computer.  If you enjoy using iTunes on your Windows PC try out Safari. Safari is available for Mac and Windows.

And if you are stuck using Internet Explorer because of network or policy issues try: This post tells you how do do just what it's title implies.  Turn Internet Explorer into Google Chrome.

For even more about using these different web browsers you can watch the archived episode of the Faculty Lounge where Jared Covili talks about each of the browsers and what the pros and cons of them are.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wednesday Web of the Week: WolframAlpha

Web Address:

Have you ever wanted to know the GDP of Liechtenstein?  What about the average weight of a Bottlenose dolphin?  You can always 'google' it but now you can WolframAlpha it too.  This website was developed by a Wolfram Research, a company that produces Math software.  WolframAlpha is different than other search engines because it is driven by data and results are data instead of web pages.  You can type int mathematical equations and get the results or ask it questions like the average weight of 40 yr olds in Italy.

Check this link for a video describing how it can be used then WolframAlpha to your heart's content!


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

What is the purpose of education?

I got a recent tweet from @AlfieKohn which sent me of on the roads of my discontent. I read the article and it made me think again about What it the purpose of education? Why do we teach? Sometimes I wonder if it's all an exercise in futility. Are we really accomplishing our goals?

An example: I have believed ever since I wrote my college application essay that true learning changes the way I behave. If I don't behave differently then I haven't learned. The same can be true for teaching. If the people I teach don't change then they haven't learned. The problem is "What direction the change?" If someone teaches children that cheating will get them ahead in life and they begin cheating and succeeding, they learned!

So, what do I as a teacher teach? Well, I have always held that what I want to teach is good citizenship, informed decision making and to help kids become bulletproof bullsh*&% detectors.

I guess, when it comes right down to it there are two purposes to education in my mind. To create a more socially conscious citizenship. To help the young people within my influence consider the needs of others and society as they go about the work of life. Also, I want to inspire everyone I can to strive to achieve their greatest human potential, but not potential as defined either by business nor academia. Their potential as defined by them as an individual. I want them to become good and what they want to become good at especially as it fits with the first goal I have for education which is the betterment of society.

This brings up though my great conondrum and my great challenge. What makes a better society? Who decides this. We have quite a bit of strife in our world. Some people define a good society as one where individual differences and choices are valued while others see the wide-open choices as license and licentious.

Also, and the article I read highlighted this there seems to be a divide between the economists and the academics. The economists of the world want value, specifically economic value from our education system. The academics want value from specifically, cultural value from our educational system.

What do we do? Not all people will develop such that they hold in high regard the humanities, the arts, the cultural side to life. But those who do still need someone to clean out the septic tank. It is frustrating to me to see that all work has value and that both arguments have value and I believe they aren't exclusionary. Can a plumber value VanGogh? Can a concert pianist appreciate a well made cabinet?

So, again there are two reasons to educate:
1. to give people the very real skills they need to be a productive contributing member of our economy
2. to give people the very real appreciation of the history, art, literature, science and body of understanding that is our human heritage.

Can we do this?

Tech Tip Tuesday: A new Vista on the Horizon

Not since the millennium have we seen a Windows Operating system received with such  animosity.   Windows Millennium was released in 2000 as an operating system for home users.  Many people complained it was just Windows 98 with new bugs.  Which to some extent it was.  Many People downshifted off of it back to Windows 98.  We have just seen that again.  Windows Vista has not been received well and despite the Mojave Experiment Vista made very little headway.

Well coming up on the horizon is the newest and latest Operating System.  Windows 7!  Follow the link below for a terrific post about this latest version of the Windows Family.

Friday, October 9, 2009

What would @AlfieKohn say?

I have recently rediscovered Alfie Kohn. He is still my hero! I have been reading some of his articles and a thought struck me.

How much longer are we going to continue to do things to students and not with them. (This probably struck me because Mr. Kohn says it a lot)

Case in point: Reading! Evidence absolutely supports the practice of having students read 20 minutes a day. What happens when this becomes a club used to beat the students? Because this 20 minutes a day is so important in many of today's classrooms it becomes the bulk or sometimes the entire measure of the students reading grade. Therefore a student who is struggling to report his or her reading because of organizational difficulties gets beaten down. Not because he or she can't or doesn't read, but because he or she is to busy reading to bother writing it down.

How much of our jobs as educators is to enforce a factory worker model of responsibility? How much of what we do in our day should be to instill in children the need to: be on time, turn in your work, be quiet, don't disrupt? I have written about this before: the fact that our traditional schools instill values that aren't the qualities necessary for leadership.

I wonder too how much of our job as educators is to be the guardians of civilization. The educational system is designed and sturctured to hold fast to the values of a world that is rapidly changing, but I wonder if we do that too often by holding to the practices of a world that has largely disapeared?

When I was in the classroom it took me 10 years to really learn that what mattered most was not instilling in students the values that I held so dear. Not to force them to comply or conform to what I thought was most important, but rather to help them learn to value what mattered most to them . I am not sure I ever quite got it. But, I do know that the longer I taught the more I strove to give kids multiple ways to demonstrate competency. Multiple modes to learn and demonstrate learning. The more I valued the uniqueness and distinctness of each student. We have to teach classes because it seems to just work that way, but it is still each student that learns. We have to value that student. To do that we have to measure more than: "Did little Susie write down that she read 20 minutes last night"

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Wednesday Web of the Week: Netsafe Utah

Web Address:

NetsafeUtah.orgIf you haven't visited it before, or if you haven't visited it in a while you should really consider checking out NetSafe Utah's website. This is a site developed in Partnership with the Utah Education Network, Internet Crimes against Children Task force, the Utah Department of Justice and a few others.

This site is full of resources that help teach the risks and dangers of the internet. This year the site will be added to with new videos, updated materials. Utah residents, schools, libraries and groups can also use the contact information on the page to request further information and face to face training.

Safe Surfing!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tech Tip Tuesday: Transfer Data

With the advent of netbooks, notebooks, and mutliple desktops in the same home we often have two or three computers with our data on them.  Wouldn't it be nice to easily transfer data from one computer to another.  You can use a flash drive to move from on computer to another, but now with a simple cable and USB 2.0 ports on both computers you can tranfer directly.

Check out the details at:

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.