Podcasts in a Primary School My friend Daphne Gonzalvez passed on this presentation by John Pearce for the k12online.conference. He tells the story of his journey through developing blogs, wikis and podcasts with his grade 3/4 students. Well worth a look/listen - a long journey but very interesting because it is a familiar road for fellow teachers on the information highway.
Wired's Steve Silberman has written an interesting article on The Fountain's director, Darren Aronofsky. I thoroughly enjoyed his first flick, Pi, made for a paltry $60,000.
Update - Watched The Fountain yesterday. The statement the director makes is one I already believe in... death is an act of creation, hence, death is an act of life. So, in that respect, the film didn't take me anyplace I hadn't been before. That said, it did spark my curiosity about Mayan culture. Detailed review here.
The MacArthur Foundation is focusing on digital life and how it impacts kids.
Over the next five years the foundation will support cross-sector research, writing, and demonstration projects that explore how technologies from video gaming to social networking affect how young people learn, play, and socialize. (From November issue of Technology & Learning)
Update - 12/04/06 - As I stated elsewhere, I hadn't planned on writing anything more on this blog concerning the Sonia Diaz controversy. Yesterday I submitted a comment to the LCPS Underground. I also e-mailed the blog's anonymous creator, telling him (her?) that I wanted my comment to be published in full or not at all. The comment has been published, and it is exactly as I wrote it, except for a couple of typos and some unfortunate formatting. So, for clarity's sake, I've cut and pasted the comment from LCPS Underground and reproduced it here in it's original form. It's from memory, though - I didn't save the original - so it may not be an exact duplicate as to punctuation and formatting. It is, however, identical as to content. Lastly, the first sentence in my comment below is a quote pulled from a previous comment by an anymous poster on LCPS Underground, which I used as a springboard for my own thoughts.
"There has to be some criminal wrongdoing somewhere for us to have been forced into the Houghton Mifflin reading series in the middle of the year."
This can be confusing. There's the federal government's Reading First initiative - http://www.ed.gov/programs/readingfirst/index.html - and there's the Houghton Mifflin reading program - http://www.eduplace.com/marketing/nc/. The federal intiative is under investigation for abuses. http://consilience.typepad.com/teachers_lounge/2006/11/reading_first_a.html
I abhor this site but, like a bloody car wreck, I find it hard to look away. However, in the interest of clarification, I offer the above information.
Jeffrey Michael Field
Department of Education officials violated conflict of interest rules when awarding grants to states under President Bush’s billion-dollar reading initiative, and steered contracts to favored textbook publishers, the department’s inspector general said yesterday.
In a searing report that concludes the first in a series of investigations into complaints of political favoritism in the reading initiative, known as Reading First, the report said officials improperly selected the members of review panels that awarded large grants to states, often failing to detect conflicts of interest. The money was used to buy reading textbooks and curriculum for public schools nationwide.
Sonia Diaz has been ousted by a unanimous vote of the Las Cruces Public Schools Board of Education .
Las Cruces Sun-News reporter Heath Haussamen does some soul searching after the fact. So I figure I can put in my two cents worth, having worked both sides of the street.
Let's take this shopworn bromide as a given, shall we? Power corrupts. (Or, we can be charitable and say power tends to corrupt.) The quest for power goes hand-in-hand with hidden agendas. (Track down and watch the film Hidden Agenda for a textbook example.) Wherever you find a play for power, you should suspect hidden agendas somewhere behind the curtain.
There is nothing in the above that is inherently evil. It is simply human nature.
When I was a young reporter for the Athens-News Courier in the mid 1970s, I was told by the publisher to lay off the editorials criticizing Governor George Wallace. Then and there my illusions about the mass media being a vessel of unbiased/fair reporting went up in smoke. The truth was, the publisher and George were good friends. Hidden agendas all around.
The only truth you'll find in today's mass media is the "truth" they want you to know. Journalism as an honorable profession is in it's last throes. The media has been bought out. (As has the United States Congress.) People looking for a clearer, perhaps more accurate picture of local, regional, and national events are better served by reading various blogs, be they local, regional, or national. (You'll notice I tend to read blogs from the right and the left. If you read only one side of the aisle, it's like watching only Fox News.)
But blogs have their pitfalls, too. I find the LCPS Underground despicable. Even so, it became obvious from reading the anonymous comments that there was indeed much smoke, which led me to think there was a fire on the horizon. And, indeed, there was much fire.
So, in a sense, the LCPS Underground performed a community service. (It will be interesting to see how the blog evolves from this point on. I fear the worst.)
My house was burgled some years back. I contacted police and told them where they could find the burglar. They completely botched the job. Completely. The detective division was so inept that I went on a mini-rampage. I appeared before City Council. I spoke with the mayor by phone. I spoke with other citizens whose homes had been burgled. Angry citizens, like myself. And I spoke with a now departed Las Cruces Sun-News reporter. After spilling my guts to her, can you imagine how floored I was when she responded with, "We know there's a problem with the detective division."
Say what? You know there's a problem with the detective division?
So much for the mass media telling it like it is. You're better off doing your own legwork. (I got so many tips from citizens whom I talked with that it would have been easy for me to be in the right place at the right time with my digital camera. I could have blown a few doors off the police department. I was tempted, believe me. But, once I'd cooled down... this took many months... I considered favorably the mayor's request to back off because the police chief was about to retire and he assured me the new chief would shake things up.)
Long story short - I never got my stuff back. The person who stole my stuff was never arrested. My insurance skyrocketed.
Sometimes you have to decide which battles are worth fighting.
The Sonia Diaz affair is almost a direct replay of an incident I witnessed in the Limestone County Schools in North Alabama the year before I moved to New Mexico. The board hired a new superintendent from Kentucky. He was very well qualified, but, he was also quite abrasive. He too brought on board several people he'd worked with in Kentucky. Rumors swirled. Teacher morale plummeted. Of course, it wasn't long before the locals ganged up on him. Before the end of his first year he announced that he would resign. Couldn't take the heat.
Why in the world does a school board need to pay good money to hire a head-hunting group to find a new superintendent? That's freaking insane! And it's a freaking insult to the local community. You're telling me that there's nobody within the Las Cruces Public Schools with the solid credentials to be superintendent? Hey, I got a bridge...
(BTW - I'd be interested in hearing from anyone arguments as to why it is better to go outside the school system for the top spot. Cause, you know, I might be missing something here. Wouldn't be the first time.)
I've ambled enough. Time to wrap this puppy up. And, if perchance I've offended anyone here, please... feel free.
Update - Well, there was this one man, brought in from the midwest by the Athens City School System in North Alabama to replace a superintendent fired by the board for some minor misconduct involving the sale of football tickets. Let's call him Steve (won't use his real name for reasons that are soon to become apparent), and, even though he was an outsider, he soon became one of the most beloved superintendents I ever knew during my 30 years in Alabama. One time he got drunk and had a wreck. I interviewed him in the police station for a story, his eyes blkackened, his face puffy. Nobody on the board or in the town of Athens raised any stink.
And then there was the time he was shot in the stomach in a red light district in New Orleans while there for one of those three-day gigs school superintendents love going to. (C'mon, anybody with guts enough to try to run a school system these days deserves all the perks he can get.) Again, the folks back in Athens looked the other way. No doubt about it, there was something very special about Steve. Everybody liked him. Including me.