Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Countdown to Earth Day (oh and that’s my birthday too!)

Five green things you can do with your students/children starting TODAY:
1. Email notices….9 times out of 10 they are created on a computer in the first place, but somehow they wind up in a copier.
a. If you are a teacher think how easy it would be to create a distribution list in your email address book and send home all notes in one attachment. You can do this quickly and efficiently and save paper.
b. If you are a parent, ask schools to stop sending paper notices home. Offer to create a distribution list for those parents who want less paper (I’m thinking PTA can be really helpful here) and offer to be the point person to email out the notices. It might make sense to break your distribution lists up by grades, that way if you have a grade specific notice it is real easy to send.
2. Take a look at your technology in your home, office or classroom. Are your devices plugged directly into the wall. If they are they are most likely draining electricity. It’s estimated that about 40% of home use electricity comes from this slow drain. Instead, plug all your devices into surge protectors-after you power down all of your devices turn the surge protector off as well to stop the drain.
3. Recycle those ink cartridges (and now cell phones, PDAs, laptops, DVDs, iPods).
a. If you are a teacher go immediately to http://www.cartridgesforkids.com/ and sign up your school. I always participated in this at my schools where I taught and it was easy, free and we always got lots of points to buy things we needed. Enough said.
b. If you are a parent go to http://www.freerecycling.com/ and turn your cartidges, PDAs, Cell Phones into cash. I live in a building, so I signed up. I figured I’ll put the box in the clubhouse, post a sign and collect some old recycled stuff. Send it and use the money to buy plants for the neighborhood, can’t get more green then that. (I’ll keep you informed about how much money I collect to beautify my neighborhood.)
4. Reduce your cell phone time…there seems to bee a link to the radiation given off by cell phones and the reduction of honeybees. Try SKYPE as an alternative when you are at your computer.
5. Try a solar charger. This particular company sells them rather inexpensively, and think of how convenient it would be to charge your phone, PDA or Laptop whenever there is sun!

No Mommy, Pokemon is real…

Andrew loves his Pokemon cards. The names on those cards are really strange and I have no interest in knowing about the damage level each character possesses but he feels compelled to share all his knowledge about Pokemon with me. The Easter bunny also brought new Pokemon cards so there is a new batch of names to learn and who evolved from who and 10 damage or 20 damage (those who know about this know exactly what I mean.)
This morning my son came running to me to announce he had two “legendary” characters. I asked Andrew if he even knew what the word legendary meant. He said no but he was certain they were legendary. Feeling the need for a teachable moment I showed him that I could type the word into MS Word, right click and choose “look up.” So that’s what we did. Here is what we got:
1. described or commemorated in a legend
2. retold for generations as history but unlikely to be completely or even partially true
3. very famous in contemporary society

Well definition number two caused quite a stir in my home. His jaw dropped, he looked at me and shouted “Pokemon is real Mommy!” Then he stormed away.
Shortly afterwards he returned to my desk and saw the title for this blog on the computer and then as cute as can be he said “So I guess now you are going to tell everyone I think Pokemon is real, right?” You got it kid!
But the point of this story is to show that whenever I have a chance to show him something cool on the computer I do. And you should to. Today he learned he can look up any word he chooses to use in his writing. I modeled it for him, he saw how to do it and the next time he sits down to write an email to his grandmother he will probably do the same. Knowing that he can look up words, use them appropriately in his writing will help him become a stronger writer, a fearless writer. Isn’t that the point of these tools, make our work easier?

Your blog is locked….

...this post was written yesterday as I waited patiently for them to fix my old blog but I thought I would share it anyway since there are some nice links in it.

I worked hard Easter morning. I wrote and wrote. I came home from celebrating Easter and literally jumped into my seat to check my blog. I knew that even if the whole world didn’t read it, at least Lisa Michelle, my friend, my critic, my colleague, my partner in crime, at least she read it. I assured her I would put up my first few posts and I did but as I logged on I saw something very strange: http://screencast.com/t/3zGemKLnMLq (captured with JING... http://www.jingproject.com/ (very cool, free and easy) They took down my blog??? Why would they take down my blog??? I checked my email and saw a notice that indicated that the spam-preventing robots have detected spam like qualities in my blog and until they read it it will remian blocked. I wrote to them and the response I got is here:

Blogger's spam-prevention robots have detected that your blog has characteristics of a spam blog. (What's a spam blog?) Since you're an actual person reading this, your blog is probably not a spam blog. Automated spam detection is inherently fuzzy, and we sincerely apologize for this false positive.
We received your unlock request on March 24, 2008. On behalf of the robots, we apologize for locking your non-spam blog. Please be patient while we take a look at your blog and verify that it is not spam.
Find out more about how Blogger is fighting spam blogs.
And so here I am 24 hours later and no blog. I am sure it is a mistake but it is very frustrating (and very annoying.)

But as you can see, I moved over to a new blog...and knock wood everything has been fine, but I wonder aloud here...is there a back-up service to use to save our blogs in the event it is taken down?

An Introduction...

(This was imported from my damaged site) Sunday, March 23, 2008

Who is the Innovative Parent? Here is a list of some words that come to mind when I need to describe who I am:Parent, Mom, Educator, Technologist, Blogger, Scrapbooker (…and not paperless), Online dater, Friend, Text Junkie, Social Networker, Sister, Cook That’s just a few, but I want you to have a sense of who I am. My goals through this forum are simple:
  • To share with parents/educators what I know about 21st century tools and how to use them and where they fit in our children’s lives.
  • To build a social network of parents/educators that share what they know about 21st century tools and where they fit in our children’s lives (lets face it…I don’t know everything)
  • To communicate and share ideas and thoughts with people throughout the world.
  • To build an active digital footprint that can have a profound affect on my parenting and teaching while learning and collaborating with anyone who wants to “chime” in.

Throughout my journey you will learn more about me and my son. I hope to learn about you, your students/children and together we can collaborate on ways to meet the needs of these kids who are growing up in a digital age so vastly different from 2 years ago, 5 years ago, 10 years ago and beyond.

Digital Footprints....

(This was imported from my damaged site) Sunday, March 23, 2008

What is a digital footprint? What is the power of leaving a digital footprint? Why should we want to leave this footprint? Unlike footprints left in the sand at the beach, our online prints often linger around long after the tide has gone out. As more internet users become familiar with the idea of authoring and posting content online, they have also become more aware of the information that remains connected to their name online.

In 2007, a study was conducted and found users are becoming more aware of their digital footprint; 47% have searched for information about themselves online, up from just 22% five years ago.

There are two different types of digital footprints: Active and Passive. Passive footprints are not created deliberately by the user. This is information uploaded to the internet by way of companies providing public information. An active digital footprint is very different. It is the deliberate creation of this footprint. Facebook and MySpace are perfect examples of this. Bloggers write about their daily activities, include photos and movies to carve out their prints.

It is interesting to note that for all the content created on the internet in pretty much any forum: blogs, wikis, myspace, twitter, flickr, delicious, facebook, and the list goes on and on that wikipedia does not have an entry for Digital Footprint. So I decided to create one http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_footprint I left it simple on purpose. My hopes are that many people will visit and edit so that it grows and grows allowing individuals to create their digital footprint on the very place that defines digital footprint.

Parents and educators need to be aware of what an active digital footprint is and teach their students/children responsibility and the appropriateness with this power. Our children can become published authors with a simple click. If we don’t teach them the lasting affects of their work we are doing them an injustice. Publishing work is a wonderful thing. Students and children should write and read as much as they can on the internet, but it is the content that requires a conversation and best modeling practices. In July 2007, Will Richardson blogged about digital footprints and how colleges look at it for admission. And if we don’t share with our students/children that colleges, potential employers, potential mates can use the way back machine to see archived sites as discussed by Alan November then again we have failed to give our kids a thorough 21st Century education.

It is important to encourage kids to use the internet as a social networking tool, publishing tool and research tool but it is as equally as important to teach them safe and appropriate use. Ignoring this role is ignoring the fundamentals of their way of learning, sharing, communicating and collaborating.

Those darn furry creatures....

(This was imported from my damaged site ) Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Easter Bunny arrived at our home sometime between midnight and 3 am. He brought lots of jelly beans, M &Ms and Butterfingers. He also brought a few other fun things like Disney's Car boxer shorts and speedo sunglass goggles for the pool. Along with these items he delivered a Webkinz. The bunny to be specific. Instantly the room was filled with ooos and ahhhs over the newest Webkinz acquisition. Andrew immediately ran to the computer to log on to Webkinz to register his newest pet and see what prizes awaited him. The "adoption" as they refer to it in Webkinz world went smoothly (it was 7:45 am NY time) and Andrew was able to see his prizes and all the treasures that awaited him in his dock. This is pet number 16 for Andrew so the adoption process for my 6 1/2 year old is an event that occurs without my assistance. Andrew stayed on the site playing their fun games (I admit...I have played them and they are a little addicting and are quite similar to the Atari games I played when I was his age) Roughly 20 minutes later (8:05 am) I hear "No not again!" come from the vicinity of the computer. My mind immediately raced back to Christmas Day. Christmas Day the Webkinz site was hit so many times by eager children to register their pets that it crashed and crashed hard. They didn't recover until sometime mid January. The site was so unstable that users were unable to access it during normal waking hours for weeks. Ganz, the parent company offered little in the way of child friendly apologies. A simple message "Our site is experiencing unusually high traffic, please try to log on later" was all our little Webkinz addicts saw. What does a four year old understand from that message? My son had some understanding of what was going on but his level of tolerance ran out by the end of week one.

So here it is Easter Sunday and hundreds, thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of kids got a new Webkinz pet in their Easter basket and ran to the computer to register their new furry creature and saw the same message they saw only 3 months ago.

At $15.00 per Webkinz, I think Ganz is making more money on this gimmick then we can imagine, yet they have refused to upgrade their system to a point where it doesn't crash when hit with a large amount of traffic. I am angry with them. This site is a great place for kids to be safe in an online environment. It is a great springboard onto the internet's more open sites. They instruct children to not use usernames that would give out personal information, and the online chatting is very controlled, unless a parents signs a waver to the more open online chat area (which I have not, so Andrew is limited to controlled area) You would have thought they learned their lesson 3 months ago and prepared for this. Apparently not.

...I'm Back

I started a blog under another ID, but it was flagged for spam, which wasn't true. I became increasingly more and more frustrated while I waited for Google or Blogger to fix the situation. I went into the help forum and heard the cries of many people who this had happened to and nothing was done. I pulled down all my posts and I am going to place them here again. Hopefully, it won't happen again.