Sunday, July 23, 2006

Charles Sheeler @ NGA

Last weekend I went to Washington DC. One of the shows that I saw was Charles Sheeler: Across Media. It was at the National Gallery of Art. The show runs from May 7th to August 27, 2006. The Sheeler show was especially interesting because it explored the relationship between Sheeler’s photography and his graphic work and paintings. Photography played a very critical role in Sheeler’s work. Interestingly enough, Sheeler’s dealer Edith Halpert, felt that his painting was much more important than his photography. She wanted to downplay the role that photography took in Sheeler’s paintings because, she feared, that if people knew about the photogaphs his paintings and graphic work would’t be taken seriously.

Sheeler studied at the School of Industrial Art in Philadelphia from 1900 to 1902. He then studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. In 1909 he went to Paris and was exposed to Picasso and other European modernists. So Sheeler really started out as a painter. Sheeler go into photography around 1910 as a way to support his painting. He became friendly with the photographers Morton Schamberg and Paul Strand. In 1917 Sheeler and Morton Schamberg rented house in the Doylestown, Pennsylvania.

Some of the photographs that Sheeler took in Doylestown were then turn into drawings and paintings. The Upstairs of 1938 and Interior with Stove of 1932 are examples of Sheeler’s painting and graphic works that are based on his photographs..

Something that I had not known and all was that around 1920 Paul Strand and Charles Sheeler made a movie called Manhatta. The 11 minute film was shown in London in 1927 and the was lost until the 1950s. The film is shown inthe exhibition. The movie starts out with a scene of people coming off the Staten Island Ferry and landing on Manhattan Island. Many of the images in the movie are reminiscent of photos that Sheeler and Strand had taken. The movie takes its title from a poem by Walt Whitman of the same name. Lines from the poem are used as caption for many of the scenes in the film.

The most remarkable work in the show is the Sheeler’s painting The Artist Looks at Nature from 1943. It is owned by the Art Institue of Chicago. The painting shows Sheeler sitting at an easel working on a drawing that is based on one of Sheeler’s photographs. As the brochure for the exhibition explains “The painting can be understood as autobiographical and records how his explorations across various media defined and complicated his artistic identity.”

Thursday, July 13, 2006

No Family Left Behind Law

This is from Michael Winerip's NYT's column of July 12, 2006

"We need a No Family Left Behind Law. This would measure economic
growth of families and punish politicians in charge of states with
poor economic growth for minority families.

FOR example, in Ohio, black families earn only 62 percent of white
household income, one of the biggest disparities nationally. So every
year, under No Family Left Behind, Ohio would be expected to close
that income gap. If it failed to make adequate yearly progress for
black families' wealth, the governor and legislators would be judged
failing, and after five years, could be removed from office. This way
public schools wouldn't be the only institutions singled out for
failing poor children.

And if states succeeded in closing the economic gap, test scores would
be expected to rise, giving politicians and teachers a chance to
celebrate together."

I think that this is an idea that most teachers can get behind!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

NECC, 2006 - Random Thoughts

The Read/Write Web, also referred to as Web 2.0, was a big part of the conference. Many sessions dealt with wikis, blogs and podcasts as easy ways for teachers and especially students to contribute content to the web. As Will Richardson put it, “A society of authors.” This was also said about the web not too long ago. The difference is that learning html or Dreamweaver requires lots of time while setting up a blog or a wiki on one of the many sites that offer them is relatively easy.

Many people were blogging the conference. I sat next to someone in one session who was typing right into her blog . She said everyone in her district who is at NECC is blogging the conference. This is one great way to create a district resource that teachers who did not attend the conference can use. Also, teachers who attended the conference have a blog to refer back if they forget something.

During one session the person sitting in front of me was looking at my blog during the session. I tapped her on the shoulder and said hello. Small world. In another session, I met a person who had emailed me about my blog the day before. The great thing about NECC is that the people who are using technology are at NECC using technology. There were laptops everywhere and the entire conference site offered free wifi access.

Some people were saying that educators should not take away the tools that kids are using at home when the come to school. The tools that they were referring to are cell phones, blogs and myspace pages. I believe it was Will Richardson who compared a myspace page to a beer commercial. He pointed out that there was the same amount of commercialism and sexual innuendo in the beer commercial as in the myspace page. The important thing is to teach students how to use these tools for educational purposes and publish responsibly.

In the exhibits area I was impressed by This company offers a web based file storage system for students and teachers. For about $1.00 per user in a school each student gets 100Mb of storage and teachers get 1Gb of storage. Students and teachers can take files that they are working on at school and upload them to the server. When they get home the files can be downloaded to their home computer. This is a great way to give students and teachers the opportunity to store, access and transfer files at school or at home. had a booth at NECC and their website,, is a useful research tool for k-12 students.

NECC, 2006 - Podcasting

How We Created Our Education and Technology Podcast Series
Richard A. Smith University of Houston-Clear Lake
Caroline M. Crawford University of Houston-Clear Lake

Smith defined a podcast as an old thing a radio broadcast with the difference being that the broadcast is distributed over the Internet. The history of radio and education goes back. In the 1920s – 40s instructional radio was the new thing. In 1930s there was even an instructional radio program to teach gymnastics.

Creating a podcast has more to do with creative ability rather than technical ability. Podcasts help students focus on written and spoken language. It is important to have students write it first. Check out this elementary school website WillowWeb -

Ideas for podcasts include:
News and sports program and other types of reports
Posting announcements and recording lectures but he is not too keen on recording lectures.

Presenters have a show called Education and Technology Today
Show has 3 formats:
Discussion between hosts
Hosts interview a guest
Guest serves as a third host/discussant

Their early podcasts were a bit slow, wordy and stilted.

They tried vodcast – video added to podcast but that added too much work so they stopped doing it. If you have a production crew it makes it more possible. They use an old laptop to record and edit their audio.

A headset is important to create a podcast. Omni-directional microphones record too much background noise. He recommends Audacity. Open source and converts audio to mp3.

Acting and speaking slowly is good. It is important to rehearse. Pay attention to the quality of your voice. Focus on speaking clearly, slowly and distinctly. Reading questions sounds stilted so be familiar with the questions if you are doing an interview and let the guest know the questions in advance.

Keep in mind that radio and TV productions have set the bar high for podcasting. Listen to radio shows like those on NPR to get an idea of how to do a show.

They recommended a limit of about 20 minutes for a podcast.

Web site considerations:
Web page identifies the people involved in the podcast and links to iTunes and ipodder. Need to set up a RSS file so that people can subscribe to it.

Education Podcast Network,, is a good resource. David Warlick set up this site.

NECC, 2006 - One Laptop Per Child

It was exciting to hear Negroponte talk about his One Laptop Per Child Program. I have been a fan of his and really enjoyed his book Being Digital.

Negroponte started by talking about Papert and programming and how it develops thinking skills. The act of debugging a program was key to learning about learning. Debugging programs got kids interested in thinking about how to fix what they did wrong. Negroponte thought that teaches kids applications like MS Word or Excel was not teaching kids how to think. He said it was a false notion that learning how to use MS Word or Excel well help them get a job. Technology is not about teaching it is about learning.

1. Use technology to learn learning not to learn something
2. Teaching is one, but not the only way to achieve something
3. Leverage children themselves – bring the children into the equation so they are doing more teaching and learning on their own.

Negroponte stated that Costa Rica is the poster child for success in technology education. He felt that telecommunications is not the problem, there are lots of ways to get online. The problem is laptops. One Laptop Per Child is the equivalent of the cost of a few airplanes. This is not about laptops it is about learning.

Sales marketing and distribution is 50% of the cost of a laptop. The display costs 25%. 75% of the rest of a laptop’s cost is used to support bloated programs. He feels that commercial programs have too many features that slow things down.

Their laptop operates at 2 watts so that a crank can generate enough power to run the laptop. Commercial laptops may use up to 40 watts.

$100 laptop is Open Source. Kids will do the maintenance. Peripherals include cheap servers, DVD drives and more will be made available. A global satellite provider will provide the Internet connectivity.

In October the program should be launched in several countries, Brazil, Nigeria, Thailand and Argentina with other places discussing it. Launching globally is very important. Nigeria is the primary test site because the environment is most challenging, heat, dust and lack of power.

Go to for any feedback to Negroponte about the program.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

NECC, 2006 California Streaming

California Streaming: A Golden Model for Rich Media Delivery!
Julie Drake, Central California Educational Technology Consortium with Laurie Maclin, John Magneson, Laura Smith and Steve Woods

California Streaming was my favorite session title at NECC. The session showcased a very exciting project – the creation of a statewide resource of streaming multi-media projects. Presently about 13 counties are participating in the project. Their website,, offers California educators an opportunity to join and download lots of free resources but, some resources on the site require a fee. This sounds like or other websites that provide media but there is an important difference here. Educators who are members of the group can upload their students’ projects or their own presentations. They hope that this participation by students and teachers will help them develop resources specifically focused on CA needs and standards.

California Streaming has set up an organized structure for searching viewing and sharing the work of students and teachers. The presenters pointed out that the projects on their site are great for learning and appeal to a variety of learning styles and are made by students.

California Streaming provides a safe environment for teachers to post digital media projects and to preserve and make available exemplary student projects. In effect, the more students and teachers contribute to the project the more they will have. This service is a non-commercial alternative for streaming and downloading multimedia.

Several student projects were showcased during the session and ideas about how teachers and students from across the state may collaborate on projects were also presented.

The model provided by this project should be used by other states to develop educational resources. Large and small school districts alike could also work together to share and develop classroom resources creating their own “wikipedia” of resources.

Monday, July 10, 2006

NECC, 2006 - eJournalism

eJournalism: Authentic Learning with Technology and Journalism
Gloria Antifaiff, Qu'Appelle Valley School Division with Kelly Ireland

I was drawn to this presentation because the title implied using technology as a tool for journalism. I wasn’t disappointed. This presentation showcased several successful eJournalism projects that have been completed by Saskatchewan high school students.

eJournalism began is Saskatchewan in 1999 and since then they have done more than 16 formal projects. eJournalism involves students working as teams to report on events such as a conferences or some other community event. The products of the reporting are newsletters that are distributed at the conference and web sites about the event. In the examples discussed at this presentation groups of 8 to 23 high school students in 11th and 12th grade were trained in the skills needed to do an eJournalism project and then traveled to a conference to do the reporting. Students get a special credit for the time out into the project.

Schools often sponsor sports teams or musical groups to participate in festivals or play in other towns. The great thing about this project is that high school students interested in journalism, writing and website development are given the same opportunity to travel that student athletes and musicians have.

The students selected to work on the projects have interests in writing and journalism and work in teams. The students participating in the projects come from across the school district and they start with some team building skills. This is an extra project that students do in their after school time. Students are assigned shifts and have to meet deadlines. Teachers take a minor role and are there for guidance and support

If you are interested in starting an eJournalism project the presenters suggested that you:
Get district approval first
Apply for grants to fund the project in addition to funds from your school district
Think about possible venues, they target conferences
Staff team should include students with knowledge of website design, video editing, photojournalism, newsletter skills, interviews skills, publicity and computer tech skills
Involve students that are self-motivated
Have in-district training days in school to build team skills and spirit before a trip

On site organization is also an important consideration. Where are you going to be located – the presenters liked to be in the display area so conference delegates can see the students working. They split things up into stations – writing, web page development, video editing, photojournalism, PR and newsletter interviews.. They rotate students though jobs over several shifts. At the end of each shift students had to complete a part of the project.

On site teachers go with students to sessions and provide some support but it is all about the students doing the work. Students are exhausted at the completion of the project but exhilarated. At the end of the project they meet celebrate and have closure.

I was very impressed with the quality of the planning by the teachers and the quality of work of the students. I suggested that the group seek funding from the conferences they were covering to help fund this exciting opportunity for student journalists.

NECC, 2006 GlobalSchoolNet Presentation

Reaching Beyond the Walls: International Projects and Partners Collaboration Center
Global SchoolNet Foundation,
Presented by: Yvonne Marie Andres and Al Rogers

Yvonne Marie Andres and Al Rogers made this presentation. They started Global SchoolNet, a site that is all about the power of global learning and reaching beyond the classroom. They have a long history of working to create shared learning experiences for students and teachers and their Global SchoolNet web site is one of the best free resources for setting up global projects. Global SchoolNet also connects schools to real explorers, competitions and virtual exhibitions.

If you haven’t come across their website it is a must visit. The description posted on their site says it all. “Global SchoolNet Foundation (GSN), founded in 1984 by teachers who believed that in a connected world students need a global perspective, brings together youth online from 194 countries to explore community, cultural and scientific issues that prepare them for the workforce and help them to become responsible and literate global citizens.” Their goal is to move beyond the Internet as a library and use it as a communication and collaboration tool.

A library of about 2500 finished model projects is available on the site. There is a template that teachers can use to post a project proposal. Filling this out creates a project announcement that a moderator will review. If it is approved then the site lets other educators know about the project within 24-48 hours.

At this session they also talked about a Microsoft Partners in Learning grant they are using to set up the next version of their Global SchoolNet web site called iPOPP, International Projects or Partners Place. The new site is scheduled to go live in September 2006. This new improved site will offer the same free services as the old site with some exciting new tools. The new projects registry will have a tool that lets teachers who are proposing a project include the State Standards that the project addresses. Logs, wikis and journals will also be available so that the projects will live on.

The second part of the presentation was showcasing projects that have received awards. They give one US and one International award. Jennifer Wagner’s award winning US project was based on the Lewis and Clark expedition. Her website,, lists and presents many of her other collaborative projects.

Marsha Goren received the international award. In her emotional acceptance she stated that she learned that if we all share we all learn and that her project is about making people better people. She also said that her students reading and critical thinking skills have improved because of her sharing projects.

In addition, Sherry Rinkel McKay and Brenda Gladstone talked about their project on native Canadian people’s oral tradition and included videos of stories told by Native Americans.

The program with the participants encouraging teachers to look at the award winning projects and start collaborating on line.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

NECC Presentations, July 5, 2006

Teaching Zack to Think
Alan November

Alan is an entertaining and instructive presenter. This was the session that won my “Best of the Day” award. Alan is funny but he gets to the point and this session pointed out lots of things to think about when doing research on the web.

Alan thinks teachers need to redesign the assignments they give students. Assignments need to be more demanding, more rigorous and more suited to the technology of today. He raises the question – “What do we need to teach kids?”

He also stated that teachers need to redefine reading. Children read from the Internet not books. Reading on the internet is different then reading print. November, the person, not the month, quoted Marshall McLuhan’s
"The Medium is the Message” –and made the point that people who learned with print do not bring their skills with them to the next medium. “It is time to redefine literacy.”

When you do a search for octopus the second listing is a bogus website about the tree octopus -

Students need to think about and research who put the information on the internet. This is the equivalent of asking who wrote the book and getting them to think more carefully about the information on the web. Having students do a whois search to find out who published the website is the equivalent of having students check the author of a book. In some respects, I think, it may be more like founding out who is the publisher. November said students need to know who controls information.

Another example he showed is a MLK website,, published by a white supremacist group who also publish the website The MLK site comes up near the top of a Google search for Martin Luther King.

November points out that figuring out Google may get someone more power than they deserve. This lead to another point he made. “Children need to know the architecture of the internet.”

He talked about an assignment design that tells students to go to 5 sites and compare and contrast the information on the web rather than have students do a Google search. has the wayback machine that lets you see sites over time. This can be very instructive in understanding a website.

Alan feels that teachers need to teach children that information on the internet is in a state of constant movement, unlike books. Ask students to compare and contrast earlier versions of a website to today’s version.

Students and teachers can also check to see who is linking to the website to get a better idea of the references to the site. Cross-referencing websites gives one a better idea of the quality of the site. Who is linking to the website.

In Altavista putting link.www. url:k12 will tell what k12 domains have links to the site. You can do that for any site. There is more info that can be gotten about a website and many of these things are outlined on his website. He also recommended Danny Goodman’s site search engine watch

For middle and elementary school students he recommended and as search engines for getting good results. Also, has a site reference feature.
Oher points Alan made were that:

Teacher should expand authentic audience for their work, globalize the audience. Use skype, blogs etc to connect kids to schools and build an audience for the work students do.

Teachers should have myspace accounts to show kids how to do it. Make teachers publishers of student work. Use blogs and the web to engage students. Take a look at a teacher’s Pre-Cal blog site.

Keynote Speaker - DeWitt Jones
Extraordinary Visions

From his website: “Dewitt Jones is one of America's top professional photographers with a career stretching over twenty years. As a motion picture director, he had two films nominated for Academy Awards before he was thirty. Twenty years as a freelance photographer for National Geographic earned him a reputation as a world class photojournalist. Dewitt now speaks to associations and corporations all over the world.”

DeWitt Jones said Vision, Passion, Purpose and Creativity sums up his presentation in 4 words.

Told story of his first film about kayaking in Japan. He sold the idea to National Geographic without having made a film before. At first, Jones was turned down by National Geographic because he wanted to shoot the film himself. Then, after writing to the head of National Geographic he got the gig.

Jones said, “Nature teaches us that there is more than one right answer.” He showed lots of his terrific images throughout the presentation and said that not one photo is the right answer. Yje sense of possibility.

Jones said that it was important to be open to the possibility of more than one right answer. He also said that it is liberating to be when you remember that there is not one right answer. The average National Geographic article may have over a thousand images shoot but only 30 are used in print. It is not how many shots you take but if you get the good shot that is important.

First learn technique so that you are ready.

Then put yourself in place of most potential

Be open to possibilities.

Focus the vision by celebrating what is right about the situation.

Jones also said that life is about continually finding the next right answer.

Overall I was pleased to see someone in the arts doing a keynote and talking about art as a metaphor for life. All too often it is sports metaphors and speakers that we hear.
NECC July, 2006

GarageBand Mechanics: Composition and Recording Arts for the Classroom Dan Schmit University Nebraska at Lincoln
handouts at:

Dan started by saying that there is a rumor that the next version of windows will have a garage band type app. Dan pointed out that most kids say music is a very important part of their lives and Garage Band gives them a chance to create music. As kids get older they doubt their creativity. Dan thinks iMovie and iPhoto give people creative tools to get back to creativity. He talked about the process of creation and emphasized that people need to give themselves permission to be creative.

Dan defined Garage Band as a sound design program and composition tool. Students can compose music to learn music. He believes that GB gives kids an opportunity to respect intellectual property. An example of playing a student’s GB song without giving them credit usually gets the student upset and is a good setup to get students thinking about copyright and respecting the rights of artists.

Use GB for creating sounds and organizing and combing them. There are 3 inputs loops, real instruments including voices and software instruments. Loops are like musical legos that can be organized and snapped together and play well together.

Projects Examples discussed were:
Rhythm Rondo musical form that uses repetition.
Present a rondo pattern - ABACABA then have students assign drum sounds as the A B and C sounds and create a composition with GB based on the pattern.

Another project is voices of power. Get voice files of speeches or poetry and drop them into GB. To drop files into GB you may need to convert them into a mp3 there are programs that convert wav files into mp3s. Drop the audio file into GB and add a soundtrack to it. Gives kids an opportunity to interpret a speech or reading.

Another idea is to create a musical piece and then create a video to go with the music rather than making a soundtrack for a movie.

Language arts activity - build a soundscape around a poem that a student has written or that was written by a poet. Start the project by recording a reading of the poem. Then add appropriate music. This is a kind of performance poetry project.

A neat trick is to alternate left and right speakers to create a surround sound experience. Pointed out some cool features like changes you can make to vocal tracks. Musical typing offers a very useful keyboard as opposed to the first keyboard that pops up.

We got into Podcasting as another use of GB. You can use radio sounds with the keyboard in GB. Ducking automatically lowers background music when the voice is talking.

An excellent presentation and everyone left happy and informed. Check out his book and the handouts available his website mentioned above.

Ten Timely Technology Topic Tips
Allan Dunn from Oregon and Chris Hayden from Auckland, New Zeeland

They had a corny start about things not working and gave a feel good sessions with jokes and humor like the term PowerPointlessness. They also showed some very funny video clips.

Most of the information they presented is on their nicely designed website:

Some points made were:
Team – variety of people - Build a good team and feed them well
Targets - "Although technology may be the vehicle, focus on the journey and the destination." Change things gradually.
Trends – What will kids be using down the road. Showed very funny Fujifilm clip about the birth of a child and the newborn already has a camera and takes a picture of the parents.
Tasks – allow staff and students access to wireless network. Get used to color. Get everybody to back up!! Use Flash drives to back up. Regular training for staff is important. Short tech training before each staff meeting is recommended. KISS – Keep it simple stupid. Digital Media Kits – Burn CDs with info – images and sounds for students to put videos together – have a server distribution folder with media for student projects.
Tech-sperts – use students to help with tech and talk about tech
Truth – Verify info on the web
Tools go to open source software to save money.

They recommended a nice website with sounds. They pointed out that there is a math mac utility installed on Macs called grapher, check it out. Another thing they showed that I really liked was using Googleearth to show scale – paste images of Mt St. Helens next to your town to get a sense of scale, for example. They have a lot to offer and have a good time showing it but the humor can get distracting.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Web Slide Shows

Over the years I have tried several ways to create web portfolios and photo galleries. When I first started my website,, back in 1996 there were few tools available to automatically create web photo galleries; now there are many to choose from.

In the beginning I would simply create a page and insert the images. Then I started using the web gallery option in Photoshop Elements and Photoshop. The latest version of Photoshop, ver. CS2 has several more options than Photoshop 7. I just finished making a new web portfolio of my early sculpture, work done almost 30 years ago (wow I really am getting old).

The images I originally posted on my web site were small so I went back to a Kodak PhotoCD I had made back in 1993. They scanned 100 of my slides and put them on a CD for about $60 back then. The problem was the slides were not in pristine condition and the scans showed every piece of dirt and every hair on them. The images also had color problems. So I used Photoshop to clean up and color correct the images and posted here is one before and after.

The new web gallery is now on line at It uses Flash and I used an option to include an audio file so I narrated the text that was on the first version of the Wood Waves page. The problem with the audio is that it repeats so if you get tired of listening to me hit the mute button on your computer. A big problem with the template Photoshop gives you is that you cannot easily add text to the page. Their template just allows the basics. I tried adding text in Dreamweaver but could not find a way to do it because I have no knowledge of JavaScript.

BTW - A 30 year younger version of me is in one of the images.