Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘technology’ Category


So, I’ve just spent two fun days pretending that I owned an e-reader. I converted some books I owned to a file that my little XO (the OLPC laptop) could handle and cheerfully sat on the couch reading away. I can tell you that the four hours I spent reading two books far exceeded my tries at the Kindle and at the Sony E-Reader in both length and pleasure. It’s not that I have anything, at all, against the idea of e-books, although I would always be leery of dragging anything electronic to the beach, but there are a few…advances…that I need to see before I embrace to e-book as something that will serve as a real replacement for my physical library.
First, I need the e-book catalogues to have more depth to them. Some of the books I own, I own because I cannot depend on finding another copy. They are not necessarily rare (as in expensive), but they are difficult to find. If I’m going to adopt an e-book reader, I want to be able to find all of those wonderful books as well.
Second? Well, I’ve played with the Kindle and the Sony E-Reader. I was impressed with the e-ink technology. But, as someone who reads quickly, I really struggled with how often I had to refresh/change the page and how long it took for a new page to load. The e-reader also had a strange response to being set in portrait mode–it skipped back a section so that the last sentence you *had* been reading was suddenly in the middle of the new page. Needless to say, that drove me nuts. And, it didn’t solve my problem of having to load new pages every thirty seconds.
And last? for now? I’m not sure how I feel about DRM. I am all for artists, writers, creators, and those who bring their works to the public, getting paid. I would, however, be very, very, very annoyed if a book I had bought suddenly stopped *working* because of an argument between a publisher and a distributor. Or, simply because my e-reader died for some reason.

I did love reading my books on my XO. It was great to trot from room to room in the house with both the books and somewhere to type notes on them. The XO is light and has a great battery life, and, because it loaded the entire book at once, I didn’t need to wait for it load–I just scrolled down.

I’m all for e-books. I would love for entire libraries to be so portable that they are available for everyone, everywhere. It just hasn’t happened yet.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »


So, I’ve just spent two fun days pretending that I owned an e-reader. I converted some books I owned to a file that my little XO (the OLPC laptop) could handle and cheerfully sat on the couch reading away. I can tell you that the four hours I spent reading two books far exceeded my tries at the Kindle and at the Sony E-Reader in both length and pleasure. It’s not that I have anything, at all, against the idea of e-books, although I would always be leery of dragging anything electronic to the beach, but there are a few…advances…that I need to see before I embrace to e-book as something that will serve as a real replacement for my physical library.
First, I need the e-book catalogues to have more depth to them. Some of the books I own, I own because I cannot depend on finding another copy. They are not necessarily rare (as in expensive), but they are difficult to find. If I’m going to adopt an e-book reader, I want to be able to find all of those wonderful books as well.
Second? Well, I’ve played with the Kindle and the Sony E-Reader. I was impressed with the e-ink technology. But, as someone who reads quickly, I really struggled with how often I had to refresh/change the page and how long it took for a new page to load. The e-reader also had a strange response to being set in portrait mode–it skipped back a section so that the last sentence you *had* been reading was suddenly in the middle of the new page. Needless to say, that drove me nuts. And, it didn’t solve my problem of having to load new pages every thirty seconds.
And last? for now? I’m not sure how I feel about DRM. I am all for artists, writers, creators, and those who bring their works to the public, getting paid. I would, however, be very, very, very annoyed if a book I had bought suddenly stopped *working* because of an argument between a publisher and a distributor. Or, simply because my e-reader died for some reason.

I did love reading my books on my XO. It was great to trot from room to room in the house with both the books and somewhere to type notes on them. The XO is light and has a great battery life, and, because it loaded the entire book at once, I didn’t need to wait for it load–I just scrolled down.

I’m all for e-books. I would love for entire libraries to be so portable that they are available for everyone, everywhere. It just hasn’t happened yet.

Read Full Post »

While perusing one of the random book oriented websites I sometimes read, I came across this article on the availability of some free books on an iPhone e-reader. Immediately, (after my heart-rate had gone down at the thought of free books), I checked out the Stanza application on the iPhone and downloaded this book. I have two things to say.
One: the Stanza application (from Lexcycle) is one of the better ebook readers I’ve sampled. I actually like it better than the Kindle, partially because the “tapping” element now feels innate to me after iPhone use; partially because the pages load quite quickly once you are into the book, and I didn’t feel that there was as much dead time as with other ebook readers. The screen was clear and the typeface easy to read (although the ability to flip to a place within a book wasn’t as easy as with a physical book to deal with). The available books (I only checked out the free ones) are decent–although obviously a lot are missing (even of those books out of copyright). Every time I come across one of these readers, I start hoping that all of my favourite out of print books will be available. I found one or two here. So thumbs up from this picky (format-wise although not subject-wise) reader.
Two: I was right. Anything with the title “Free Range Chickens” had to at least be a little funny, and this was a lot funny. My favourite part so far? Some of the missing commandments. Including:

If it takes a man a long time to lead his people out of the desert and into the Promised Land, everyone should just be patient with him and learn to chill out a little.

Snort. For those who keep an eye on such things, a quote from the book appeared on reddit earlier this year (the one about the dissections from a frog point of view). Funny stuff.
Also, of course:

Everyone has to give Moses five dollars.

Read Full Post »

I’ve been asked a few times what ‘magic’ I use to match my kids with books. It’s not really a trick, I just have a large store of books in my head, and I basically shuffle through them in a effort to match maturity level, interest, and possibilities to spur further reading.
It’s not much use just sitting there in my head though, so I turned to Web 2.0

And created a wiki at pb wiki for just this purpose. It can be found here, and I would love more input than just mine. Even if you don’t teach language arts, or middle school, I would love to hear recommendations and suggestions for books for our students to read, from the littlest to the biggest.
Check it out!

Read Full Post »

And, we are learning about technology again. It’s too bad that teachers only get this sort of thing in one day snippets. I feel as if there is no way to get anything really accomplished when people have time to really explore and then come back and ask questions.
One of the greatest things about teachers is that they are (usually) eager to learn new things. One of the most difficult parts of teaching as a profession is that the amount of time teachers are given to learn new things is effectively—none. Which means, of course, that teachers need to use their free time to keep up with what is going on–creating a constant tension between work and, you know, the rest of life.

What does this have to do with technology? Technology has the potential to free up some of that time, to create some knowledge, to make the search for knowledge quicker and more accurate. It also, of course, has the potential to waste enormous amounts of time, but so does television and reading wikipedia and education blogs must do a little bit more for your mind right?

Teachers know that their students need time to learn, time to engage and think about what they have been exposed to, time to question and figure out what is going on. Teachers need that same opportunity; they need to have more time to learn the new stuff, and, of course, this needs to be an acknowledged part of their job, valued and supported, not a choice that pits personal necessity against teaching commitment.

Read Full Post »

I love to read and write. I love learning. I think it’s out of sight. I love the kids I have. And the ones I’ll have next year.(boom de yadda)(boom de yadda)(boom de yadda)(boom de yadda).

I love that Discovery ad–if you haven’t seen it, it’s here. I think videos like this showcase one of the most positive aspects of you-tube and other sites like it–their ability to pass the positive and people’s responses to the positive around the world.

I like using resources like this (sometimes, obviously, under the radar of those who block useful websites) in my classroom. They are inspiring and invigorating and uplifting and fun to imitate. We’ve done our own versions of the Obama “Yes We Can” video–written parodies of various “teaching” videos, watched the Challenger tragedy and responded to it and generally made writing part of the experience of watching. It’s amazing how inquisitive students are (and how much easier it is to teach analysis) when they hear the world “you tube”. I don’t let the technology take the place of the lesson, but I certainly love using it as a tool. (plus, of course, a whole class of eighth graders quietly humming “boom de yadda” while they write their poems/stories/responses is not to be missed.)

Read Full Post »

labels…

I have always had a difficult time with labels. I am quite resistant to them when it comes to books, even more resistant to them when it comes to my posts, and totally impossible when it comes to my students.* I suppose it’s because the only reason I can see for a label is to describe something accurately, and I’ve never actually met a label that does.
I’ve stuck my blogger labels in the sidebar though. While I was debating that move, I went through all of the labels I already had and realized they were hitting ridiculous numbers. In my effort to describe everything accurately, I had split so many hairs that the connections between posts (which I think are the real purpose behind the labels, the groupings) were non-existent. So I went back and edited any category that had only one entry.** I tried grouping some posts together; I tried piling labels on to certain posts that seemed to cover a lot of ground, and I took a hard look at the trends that I saw coming out of the process.
The result?

I do a lot of talking about reading (not surprising), not enough about writing, and hardly any at all about Social Studies. It was interesting because I’ll freely admit that, except for a bit more about writing, I bet this is roughly how my energies are divided, and I need to do better than that.
I need to think and write and research more about writing. I need to spend more energy on Social Studies (and not let the textbook get me so frustrated). I need to keep my ideas and enthusiasm about reading translating into my classroom.
This sort of reflection is one of the reasons I started this blog in the first place. It’s interesting to see it in practice.

*I think this is because so many of our labels in schools are…limiting (“below grade level”, “ELL”, even “Advanced” miss so much of the complexity that is what makes middle school such a unique time in a child’s education.)
**okay, I kept one label (organization) that only had one post. I really, really need to get more organized. I figured it would be a good reminder.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »