Archive for December, 2009

Transforming Your Classroom Blog…into a Published Book

Posted on December 24, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

by Tim Cushman

Many teachers across the district have successfully integrated the district’s WordPress blog platform to create a safe, digital space for students to engage in educational conversations with one another and the greater global community.  We find that students have become accustomed to interacting with an audience beyond their peer group outside of school with tools like social networking sites and gaming communities through consoles from Sony and Microsoft.  Blogging has become a natural activity for citizens of the “digital nation” (see http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/digitalnation/).

One of the advantages of a blog is that it can act as a digital portfolio for a classroom or individual students.  Sites like www.blurb.com, www.mypublisher.com, and www.lulu.com take online publishing a step further by turning a blog into a print book (http://www.blurb.com/create/book/blogbook).  For example, one school turned a school mural project into a picture book using blurb.com (see http://www.blurb.com/books/1030436).  Books from blurb.com range in size from 7″x7″ to 13″x11″ and lengths from 20 to 440 pages.  Prices start at $12.95 for a single copy.

A book based on a classroom blog could easily turn in to a class or school fund raiser while giving students a meaningful purpose for writing.

Teach for Greenville County Schools and don’t have a blog?  Setting one up is easy by following the print or video tutorials at http://www.greenville.k12.sc.us/gcsd/depts/ets/its/blogs.asp.  Blogging ideas and research is located at http://timcushman.com/presentations.htmlBe sure to carefully follow the steps for configuring the “moderation” settings when creating your blog.  This is a critical step in exercising control over the content that appears on your blog.

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Back It Up…

Posted on December 16, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

by Tim Van Heule
Distance Learning Coordinator

As we quickly approach the holiday break, it’s always important to consider some good housekeeping tips. I’m not referring to scrubbing floors or dusting, but rather about backing up important files and information on your computer.

I remember purchasing a 1GB flash drive for around $100 a few years back, that same flash drive today is around $6. With that same $100 today, I could purchase a 64GB flash drive. It really is amazing how quickly technology advances in such a short time. Memory has become cheap and disposable. With that in mind, let’s consider the importance of backing up all of the files and information you have on your computer.

Our lives have become digital. Lesson plans are done on the computer. Promethean Flipcharts and SMART Notebook files are created to help us teach and engage our students. We download and create images and videos to reinforce the learning that is occurring in the classroom. Too often though, we save all these files locally on our computer instead of the network.

“It won’t happen to me,” is a common thought when people hear about hard drives crashing. After all, the technology has improved while the cost has gone down, right? While this is true, and much of what is on that failed hard drive can be recovered, the lost “time” is never worth the risk of not backing up. How much time can it take, you may ask?

Recently, my hard drive failed. I hadn’t backed up recently, so the technician who helped me retrieved everything from the old hard drive. It took over two hours for all of the files to be copied from the old hard drive to a server. A replacement hard drive happened to be in the office that day already, so the time waiting for a replacement under warranty wasn’t applicable here, but it could take 1-2 business days for the replacement hard drive to arrive. Unless there is a technician at your site 24/7, he or she will need to come back out to the school to install the hard drive, reimage the computer, and install all of the updates – this could take all day. Of course, when all of this is complete, you still have to install any software that wasn’t part of the image that was put on your computer and tweak all of your settings back to the way you had them before. In two words or less, the best way I can describe it is, “not fun.”

The best way to avoid this ordeal is to save your most important files to the network and back up the files you save locally to the computer. Avoid the pitfalls of convincing yourself you’re too busy or that you don’t know how to do it. If you think you’re too busy now, wait until your hard drive fails and you have to wait for someone to bail you out! If you can save a file to your computer, you already have all of the skills to back up your files.

Here are some suggestions to back up your files. Schedule an appointment for yourself to back up your files on days you can easily remember, for example, pay-day. Save all of your files into one folder that is easy to find, for example, a folder on the desktop of your computer, that way it is easy to find and save a copy of. Always save the date with the name of folder you are backing up, for example – “Backup12162009” – this is an easy way to let yourself know when the last time you actually backed up your files and information. The best suggestion is to ask for help if you need it. There are people in your school and in your district who can help you, take advantage of these resources!

Good luck with this endeavor and I hope you have a safe holiday season.

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