To Calendar or Not to Calendar....Google Style

I gave up paper calendars very unwillingly. I admit, I liked the pictures, the historical references, the month at a glance, and a family log of all of the activities we had been involved in over the year. I was never a perfect teacher who journals each day, or a mom who tracked all of the happenings of each child. Oh I hit the high points, but by my poor third one, his list was a bit shorter than the rest because I just couldn't keep up! But my calendars were my saviour! They were in a nutshell a written, scribbled, jotted  journey. throughout the year. And then Google arrived in the hands of the geekoid husband.

He didn't push, he didn't shove, he just quietly created a calendar in vivid color with individual calendars all merged into one for the kids and all of their activities. He still respectfully called me to check the paper calendar for events, and then slowly turned me around when life became chaotic with the scout events, school activities, business meetings, and the like. Cross referencing kid activities was like swimming through a sea of paper at Christmas until I signed in and played, and documented, and archived, and played, and shared.

The next step? Discussion #2 with the geek trio at school. At the same time I was being turned around-- the wonderful librarian who is the other half of this blog, and our cohort in crime in the tech lab, set up the school computer checkout calendar in Google and merged it with the master calendar of the school to provide a center of ease for checking out and using school resources. Does it work? Yep...with a little training even the most timid staff member will give it a try now and then and most use it regularly.

Hmmm... then it comes right back home to the next generation this week. After an hour of trying to coordinate 3 households for pictures for Christmas in different towns the next family Google calendar is born to manage major events for a clan.  The kids never realize how hard it is to coordinate retired traveling parents, multiple schedules for two young to middle age families,  and major events until you try to negotiate One. Simple. Family. Picture. Google to the rescue again. What started out as an offhand comment from the brother-in-law turned into 12 minutes and 14 seconds of calendar creation, a family message, and several log-ins. Now to see if it works! One grandparent shot in like flash, a sister-in-law commented she thinks we should have done this a long time ago, and a wistful geek who set it up and wonders what the next technology invention will do to change communication in the family.

I still miss the paper log and the pictures. For now I will print out the Google calendar. Although it will never quite be the same, it does ensure that less schedule goof ups means more time for learning and family in this household and work environment.

Take a look at this nice reference about the good, bad, and ugly of Google Calendar...in our case it is mostly good. Decide for yourself...



Here I am...sitting on a bench staring at one of the very first computers at the National American History Museum in Washington, DC and I am playing on my iPad. It almost feels like the right place to be digging around in a list of mobile technology apps. I have spent the last two days at the National Council for Social Studies conference presenting and learning from others. I love working at a conference...it gives me the opportunity to share and collaborate with other great educators. And I come back rejuvenated and energized with great ideas. That sure happened today, and while I sit and rest my feet and enjoy a quiet space to write, I thought I would share a great app site!

APPitic is a website supported by Apple educators and is an amazing find!Here in one spot is a categorized list of educational applications for students and teachers. Listed by theme, subject, purpose, and pedagogy the site offers a wealth of information and resources at your fingertips. But the best part? The apps are also listed by blooms technology strands and Multiple Intelligence's categories. Now that is brilliant!

Wow! Something to play with and explore...and drop into the classroom. Great move Apple! Nailed it.


Remember When...

Remember When
A Poem About Technology
A computer was something on TV
From a sci fi show of note.
A window was something you hated to clean
And ram was the cousin of goat.

Meg was the name of my girlfriend
And gig was a job for the nights.
Now they all mean different things
And that really mega bytes.

An application was for employment.
A program was a TV show.
A curser used profanity.
A keyboard was a piano.

Memory was something that you lost with age.
A CD was a bank account.
And if you had a 3 1/2" floppy
You hoped nobody found out.

Compress was something you did to the garbage
Not something you did to a file.
And if you unzipped anything in public
You'd be in jail for a while.

Log on was adding wood to the fire.
Hard drive was a long trip on the road.
A mouse pad was where a mouse lived.
And a backup happened to your commode.

Cut you did with a pocket knife.
Paste you did with glue.
A web was a spider's home.
And a virus was the flu

I guess I'll stick to my pad and paper
And the memory in my head.
I hear nobody's been killed in a computer crash,
But when it happens they wish they were dead.

James S. Huggins' Refrigerator Door

Catagorize, Classify, and Re-Organize... Well Maybe, or Maybe Not!

I still struggle with tags. Too many, not enough, to few. It is the OCD nature of one of these geeky teachers. I think my cohort in crime would disagree as she is the librarian not me but I will own it. I can never decide. I inevitably look for a way to categorize the things I create, the things I find, and the things I know I want to remember. But then I am stuck. What are the best words to categorize something for a teacher? How can I make things as powerful to use as to reference?

I will now admit that I am a stalker of good taggers. I love looking at Diigo lists from other teachers, professionals, and students, to see how they organize things in a certain way, or categorize things for a future purpose or reference. What I have found though is the need to divide how I tag into the purpose of the item or list. To some this may seem simple, to others an overwhelming task. So then where to start?

I recently heard a great discussion by a local geek at a dinner party who was talking about developing lists for three different types of audiences. After that opening comment, I had to listen in and totally eavesdrop on the conversation. He was teaching a class for trainers and mentioned his top five ideas for staying organized while tagging lists for his students. Hmmm...some nice ideas to share here. ( And yes I asked- and no he did not want a citation event though I was willing to give credit ) So here they are. Maybe something to think about the next time I tackle a new organizational method!

5) Think about using Google's Keyword search tool. This tool helps a user to come up with new ideas for key terms or words commonly referenced when searching for the subject area or item. This tool will also give you commonly referenced phrases to reference, and can help you decide on meaningful tags that may come up in a search.Chalk another one up for Google-- I didn't know it existed. Add another tool to the teacher toolkit!

4) Decide on your audience. Is the referenced term going to be used by a student or adult? Vocabulary level makes a difference, and so does word choice.

3) Decide on a situational use. Is the term being used in a professional context where professional terminology is needed? (such as methodology, pedagogy, curriculum, standard, lesson, etc) Or is the item being used as a reference for a project where a theme is more appropriate ( language arts, grammar, revolution, equations etc)

2) Attack a browser or two! Open up a different browser on your computer and check and see referenced terms it may use to give suggestions. People reference browser key terms often and get used to looking at them as reference. These browsers use popular terms that can help you think of alternative suggestions to tag.

1) Remember that you cannot be something to everyone. He said that he decides on an audience or two,  brainstorms a list of tags, and then slashes it in half and uses those he feels are most appropriate. Side note: Here is where I groaned as my list would be huge and probably take me an hour for one word ! Then he tags and lets go knowing that the tags may not be perfect, but then neither is he. His belief: if it is worth finding, someone will come across it. The key is making it worthy of the find.

Well that's a thought.  I think I will go tag a few things for tomorrow's lesson and see if their next primary source is worthy of finding.


Well we have to launch something.....we have too many sticky notes lying around!

Well we are now taking the plunge. Who are we? Two geeky teachers who collaborate, laugh, cry, cheer, celebrate, and dream big and small. But when does it happen? Before school, in a caught moment in the hall, late at night on cell phones when a great idea hits, and usually on the fly. But we are definately committed...

Committed to chocolate, Diet Pepsi and a Mountain Dew even at 6:30 am, stuck on our Diigo accounts, netbooks, and iPads, and anything else that brings learning alive to our kids in the K-8 school we call home. We're some of the last to leave, some of the first to arrive, and the work never ends. But the bottom line is that we are committed to our kids at home and those we teach, and the only way we sometimes manage is to have two husbands who just plain put up with us. Who are they? The guys who just roll their eyes at the next new idea, cheer us on, and give us a shoulder to cry on when that kind of day is done, and support us in every way possible.

Bottom line... in an era of budget cuts, limited resources, and 21st Century Learning we have decided that it is time to take all the stuff we keep and talking about and implementing in the classroom, and park it in one spot. That way, we can stop looking for "that post-it note" and keep running to the next thing we have to grade, edit, digest, read, or find. So here you will see our classroom trials and tribulations ~ sometimes with a bit of humor, sometimes with some frustration, but most of all so that we can have a running log of all the things that work ( and those that sometimes don't ) to bring our kids to the edge of global learning in the classroom.

We aren't perfect, we don't always agree, we can usually finish each others sentences, and we are brave enough to try something even when it means a 2 am morning. Why? It's about who we teach. If you are reading this -- welcome! Join us for the ride. It may be bumpy but we're from Colorado so we are used to mountain trails with just a few turns, bumps, and celebrations along the way. We're glad you visited!