Thursday, July 19, 2007

Oh, by the way...

Isn't it amazing that I can spend an hour in a discussion with a woman who just returned from helping the government of Serbia create a national anti-bullying legislation and we can't get our colleagues at school to agree that we might need a school wide curriculum?

Isn't it amazing that I can sit next to a guy from the Ministry of Education in Finland?

Morning Keynotes

Two challenging voices this morning. We were asked to think about changing the teaching model, not just including technology as a part of the classroom. Make this all more than just an expensive pencil.


And excellent model for a classroom. Problem for us as English teachers - how to make the study of literature into a creative process. I can see how this would work in fiction and poetry writing, and I have a glimmer of an idea operating on the corona of my usual practice. Now how to make it come clearer into focus.

As I said earlier about Mitch Resnick, he makes me want to transform the look of my classroom. Perhaps my girls can help me innovate here. My room needs work.

The first speaker, Angela McFarlane, reminded us that:
Education comes from the root Educare - to draw out
But we don't educate our children -- we train them (:()
We should educate children to ask good questions
She makes a point about what parents want for their children -
*they want them to be happy
*they want them to be successful
but all success is not monetary.
This gets me back to my discoveries about all the teachers in the Potter Family. There has always been an opportunity cost to formal education, especially in its purest form.

I'm going to listen to Resnick in the keynote follow-up, so I'm going to listen now.

The North End... Success!!

So, last night we risked the possibility of rain and took the bus into downtown Boston for the express purpose of revisiting the North End. Well, some things are frozen in time, thank God.

The landscape has changed slightly since the Big Dig. You no longer have to get to the North End through a pedestrian walkway (read - tunnel) under the highway, as they have moved the road. So it's a simple act of crossing the street at the light.

We walked up Hanover street and had dinner at Piccola Venezia (Little Venice) on Hanover. It is as I remember it, just a bit bigger. We ate early as I wanted to not stand around for a table - a possibility even on a Wednesday. I had a "small" (food for five) ceasar salad and a huge plate (food for seven) of fried calamari with a spicy marinara. Yum.

I dragged Cathy all over the North End on the ruse of "just a block" to the next thing. We saw North Church, St. Leonard's Church (the Sacco [I think of Sacco and Vanzetti] memorial stained glass window), Revere Mall, Copps Hill Burying Ground.

We had cappuccino and the gold standard of tiramisu sitting at the table on Hanover Street at Cafe Vittoria (you remember that place, Liz? We went there together a million years ago.)

The keynote speaker is starting, so I should listen. More later!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Morning at BLC

Hi everyone -

Well of course after a fascinating yesterday today has been a lot of powerpoint presentations (or Keynote if they are Mac users). So lots of pages and pages and links and..

Someone, somewhere has to do a presentation on how to actually make some of these things work. No one is yet discussing pedagogy - they are all showing us cool stuff. i just saw a presentation that mentioned a new on-line bookmarking site that allows you to highlight and leave sticky notes on electronic texts. Now THAT could have some application with annotation.

This session that I am waiting to see is supposed to be about "putting it all together" so I hope that they are ready with some - "now, how do you use it" options.

Lunch was a salad, roast chicken breast, really sturdy (shiny) mashed potatoes and Raspberry Tiramisu. The coffee here is good, contrary to my expectations.

Tonight we are going to travel into the city down to Quincy Market via the conference bus. We are going to have dinner in the North End. Cathy was so skeptical last night about getting around, and she's not much of a walker, so tonight will be a challenge.

The session is starting, so I'll sign off and post later.

Great Beds

Just a morning note. The bed is great. It's a little Princess and the Pea, but with a featherbed, a duvet, and four down pillows it's very cushy. Hard to get up at 6:15 again this morning.

I have a zit on my chin. Quel drag.

Off to the opening remarks - I've just been to a very interesting early bird session on tolerance.

Later folks

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sentimental Journey

Okay - so we went to Brookline tonight for dinner, and even though I had previously googled my favorite restaurants - they were gone. Sniff.
We did find a nice place where the ambience was better than my meal - but my companions enjoyed theirs. I had a muddy (bleck - tilpiaesque) Striped Bass, but the rest of the meal was better. It was called The Fireside and it was in Washinton Sqaure (Tam O'Shanter territory).
So here's the amazing part. I - the queen of lost - managed to navigate the mothership with the copilot (Cathy) kept screaming at Dave (the pilot and her husband) not to miss the turn again. I knew where I was!!! I could get us where we needed to go! Too bad so sad that neither of my sentimental journey destinations were still happening businesses - ah well.

Emily - I shall, shall, shall (triple promise) to put Scratch on every machine when I get home. You will all love it.

I'll write in the AM

Tuesday Evening - there are stinky cheese people...

We are having a reception to get everyone "Connected" and there is a considerable quanity of stunky cheese - a white stilton in particular I am told. I find that the Brits (and there are a bunch of them) particularly like to talk about stinky cheese.

"Cheese, Grommit!"


It is unfortunately that like a SD wedding, everyone is sitting at those round tables and very few people are mingling. I shall fight my hermetical istincts and chat up some Brit about the stilton.


Tuesday afternoon at MIT

We've learned a bunch about the programming possibilities of Scratch and how to make it do complicated things like keeping score in games and respond to an outside stimulus (like light and touch and sound).

The folks here at MIT are really helpful. There is at least one facilitator for every two workshoppers making the learning curve flatter - though for some of these folks doing show and tell, it's hard to tell who did the work - but as we are a room full of smarty pants teachers, it probably is a good bet that most of them could do these things, it would just take a little longer to figure it all out.

I know that you girls (Hannah, Sophia, & Emily - and the M's too) will love this and I'll send the link to Al Tabor who will get a total kick out of it. Matt, you should check this out. It's pretty intuitive and you will get it in a snap

Tuesday morning at MIT

We woke up to the snarl and shout of the alarm clock at 6:15 Boston time (5:15 Chicago)- to make the 7:15 bus to MIT. The bus driver took the curlicue way to MIT - we are just in Kendall Square so I'm not sure how hard this could have been.

We looked at the coolest software, ladies. I'm going to load it on your machines when I get home. It's called Scratch and you can program your own computer games and animations and it's fun (and easy, too).

The Lifelong Kindergarten at MIT is big fun. The room is full of Legos. They invented the lego robotics "mindstorms" stuff that I am sure is the stuff that they are using in the Girl Scout workshop. I don't know how $$ it is, but it sure would be fun to have. I need to have my room at school look like this place - it looks like a demented giant decorated it. (photos to follow)

They are itching to get going in three minutes - and there is a woman at our table (who joined the group this afternoon) who uses self controlling speech for everything she does. She pilots herself aloud through every step of the process - "I have to find widget. Ah here are the widgets, can I make them bigger? Yes! So now the widget needs to run over here? Can I make more than one widget do this at the same time. Now I have to do this, then that now why isn't it working. why isn't he move... yadda yadda yadda - I am ready to smack her in the face and she' only been here 10 minutes!!!!

Gotta go and workshop. Love to you - I'll update later.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Monday - Travel day

Trains Planes and Automobiles

From home at 9:00 this AM with a fabulous send off from my girls and Sam. Got to O'Hare is record time. No trouble getting to the gate - I checked my bag a curbside spending the $2 to not wait in the long cattle lines inside. Boom, done.

Flight was jammed but uneventful. I am always at the back of the plane - row 27. There was a family of clearly homeschooled kids traveling with mom and dad to Boston. They were being quizzed about how many syllables in the word gum - had to give the right answer in a polite way or not get a piece of gum for take off and landing. The woman next to me was reading a well thumbed copy of the King James Bible. I read a Harlequin.

Easy to get my bag and get to the T shuttle. Transferring to the blue line and then the green line at Govt Center was easy - but the Riverside train is running shuttles from Reservoir (by my old apt at Cleveland Circle)to Riverside - this adds some time and extra level of complication to just jumping on the train and heading into town. The bonus of this little bus cruise was that I got to see the towns I usually trained right by. Blue hydrangeas are very pretty - I'm so used to only seeing pink and green ones that blue ones seem so unusual. I know it's the acidic soil, but they are still pretty. They remind me of Ann Murphy's house in Falmouth.

I had dinner here at the hotel after a good walk provided nothing more than a quick-mart and a place to rent kayaks and canoes. No food.

The big excitement was the fire alarm that went off as I was talking to Sam on the phone. Two fire trucks, a police car, and a command vehicle appeared, but we were only out of the building for 10 - 15 minutes and no one looked too hurried.

It's now 8:00 pm and I have to be ready to leave for the MIT session at 7:15. I was hoping to get Cathy's Dave to drive me to a CVS. Met some folks from Portland. Long day for them, and a short night if they too have to be up early. Even 12:00 here is 9:00 am in Portland.