Monthly Archives: April 2009

Can I just say this…

Every day I love technology more!!  And here’s just one reason why…

I teach middle school students who don’t usually want to be caught dead talking to a teacher at school about important/serious things in life.  But I’ve been online with two just now…one via Facebook and the other via Google Chat.  One is a kid who is so smart but is on the verge of failing b/c he doesn’t “do” homework. And we’ve been able to have a serious “talk” about what that could mean for him and what he can/should/is doing about it.  This is a conversation that would not take place in person without having to break through some well-built walls first…he’s too proud (and ashamed).   But talking online is somehow different and I can get across to him the same stuff I would in person and have had success in getting him to take the conversation seriously.

The other kid  just got done blowing me away with her personal theology about some in depth science concepts and basically put me in my place about how we view and question God.  It has been a long and convoluted “conversation”, but again one that would have never taken place at school because, well…there’s just not the time, and again…talking to the old teacher lady doesn’t top the list while there are cute boys looking on in the halls…But this student finds me almost every night online and doesn’t stop “chatting” until time for bed.  And something extra to love about that is that she’s an English Language Learner who doesn’t get to practice her English with anyone at home, but via our conversations, I see her English improving daily.  Awesome!

It’s just made me want to say:  Very cool.  Very fulfilling.  Very enlightening.  Very important to their development…and mine!!!!


Ahh…the Chocolate-Covered Irony

I’m not exactly sure why this bothers me so much, but it does.  So, I’m leaving it here in the hopes of helping myself feel better…?

Here in the developing nation of Guatemala, in which I live, we are subject to…er, I mean, graciously provided with global “news” coverage from basically two sources:  CNN and Fox “News”.   Often, as a form of entertainment, when there are no reruns of Seinfeld to watch and we can take no more of the non-stop episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, my husband and I will turn to Fox “News”… just for the fun of it.  They always have these special segments called “Fox News Extras” … “And now here’s something our international customers might find interesting”…running between the “actual” stories.  These are canned spots that they play over and over, presumably because they think their international customers are no brighter than their domestic ones.  One such fascinating story that has been cycling through lately is about on-demand water heaters.   The dude telling his tale goes on and on about how amazing these new-fangled, fancy mechanisms are because they are efficient and green and can still do the job of providing Americans with the high-quality hot water they deserve!!  This space-age technology is apparently able to heat water instantly as it gets pulled from the pipes through this little box that just hangs there on the wall!  There’s no huge tank sitting around to keep water heated at all times of the day and night!  He goes on to say how traditional water heaters are  so inefficient because they use either gas or electricity around-the-clock to keep the water hot so it’s ready when someone turns on the tap (just in case you weren’t already aware of that fact).  But, now, with this amazing new technology, you don’t need that anymore…yada yada yada… aren’t Americans so wonderfully ingenious and still saving the planet?!?!…

The irony of it is this…here in the “developing world”… on-demand water heaters are all people who are fortunate enough to even have hot water (or running water inside their homes at all for that matter) ever use!!!!!  (insert dramatic music here)  The idea of a huge tank of hot water that just sits around your house being kept hot for you all day long is virtually unheard of.  Every morning, all over Guatemala and other places just like it, husbands (mine included) get up, open the gas to this highly-advanced new technological wonder and when someone then turns on the hot water tap, the water is instantly heated for the time that it is being used and that’s it.  Amazing!

I think the thing that gets me the most every time this “extra” bit of “news” comes into my home is the smugness with which this guy presents his marvelous new invention the on-demand water heater.   Just another example of “aren’t Americans so wonderful…they have now come up with a way not only to keep their lavish lifestyle alive but also to be able to do so while still considering themselves the saviors of the planet!   Surely, surely no one else could ever be so brilliant!”    Errr…well…except the “backwards” peoples living in Central and Sounth America who have been heating their water this way forever….

Just a Little Cheater Post

Due to the end-of-the-school-year-ness that’s been cosuming me these days, I’ve been having trouble keeping up with my blogging!!

So…does it count that I read this article (one on a long list of articles…),:

Online Education: Study Shows Social Networking a Boon for Education

and made a super awesome comment on it about the blog my kids used this year to create an online publication with a profession author on the other side of the globe??!  (I think that totally counts!…)

Here’s what all their blogging eventually led to…

Grammarman Travels to Guatemala

and the story behind how it happened:

Just a Simple Comic



Here’s my problem (well, one of them at least…)…I want to look into all the interesting tweets that come through each day.  Yesterday…boo…there were none.  Today…way too many to handle! And to make matters worse, I can never just stop at the initial page/site/link given!  I always find something even more interesting to follow within in each one and pretty soon I’m like Alice falling down the rabbit hole!

So, to be honest, I am not exactly sure how I ended up at the National Council for the Social StudiesPosition Statement on Media Literacy (I don’t even LIKE social studies…seriously…my very LEAST favorite subject ever…) but that ‘s where I ended up.  And in skimming the statement, which I think should be of interest to ALL educators and not JUST those teaching social studies, I came across this statement that literally made me say, “Whoa,” out loud (I guess that would be WOL)…

“Less than ten corporations own the majority of the world’s media, creating a small group of wealthy individuals with tremendous power to decide who and what will be represented and what lessons will be taught (McChesney, 2003). When a small group of people has the power to create and disseminate enormous amounts of information, the diversity of ideas shrinks as the potential for abuse increases.”

Now, setting aside the English teacher in me who wants to correct the word “less” which should be “fewer,” thinking about this statementjust blows me away.  Think about what this is saying.  Think about what this means for what our kids see, hear, witness, experience every day!  The statement doesn’t go on to list what entities are behind these corporations or what their agendas might be, but consider who or what you would want controlling everything your student/child encounters through the media.  Now, I’m not trying to imply that wealthy individuals would knowingly use their extensive resources and power to manipulate others to gain even more resources and power (cough, cough), but I think, as the NCSS stated, the potential is certainly there.  So…one of their conclusion is:  “Teaching students to think critically about the content and the form of mediated messages is an essential requirement for social studies education in this millennium.”  A statement with which I must concur, but as I said above…I would argue that this shouldn’t be the goal of JUST social studies teachers, but of all educators and parents everywhere.

My apologies…I originally came across this link thanks to a post on Derek E. Baird’s blog: Barking Robot.  Thanks Derek!!

Just Cuz it Makes me Smile!!

Originally saw this on Alec Couros’s Open Thinking blog.  I don’t really know what it had to do with the presentation it was part of…although I’m sure it was completely relevant, eye-opening, and fabulous!  I just love the video for the fun and creativity of it!!  Make sure to watch all the way to the end!  Enjoy!!!

Vodpod videos no longer available.
more about “Amateur – Lasse Gjertsen“, posted with vodpod

Look How Far We’ve Come!

The following is based on my thoughts about two recent CNN articles:

Commentary: Is ‘sexting’ child pornography? and Out-of-wedlock births hit record high

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t believe in coincidence.  Even so, when these two articles came through my reader feed yesterday, I didn’t think much about them…together.  But last night when I remembered that I am supposed to be working on a presentation about generational differences in women, thoughts started weaving their way through my mind.

Ok, first…honesty time:  Until the commentary hit my inbox, I had never heard or “sexting.” While reading it made me sad, I wasn’t necessarily given to thinking about taking sides on the “criminal” aspect of it, which is the focus of the article.  Rather, I was wondering about what it is that we are instilling in our young people that makes this seem ok.

The sexting article referenced a recent study done which showed: “…51 percent of girls say it’s “pressure from guys” that’s making them send sexual messages and pictures of themselves. So guys are expecting this and our girls are saying “OK.” It makes me [psychotherapist Stacy Kaiser] wonder how much progress we’ve really made in how young women are viewed and treated.”

Then, the article on out-of-wedlock births hit with this statement:

“Nearly 40 percent of babies born in the United States in 2007 were delivered by unwed mothers . . . The 1.7 million out-of-wedlock births, of 4.3 million total births, marked a more than 25 percent jump from five years before. . . . which include for the second year in a row a bump in teen pregnancies, after a 14-year decline…”

So one thing I started wondering about is:  Are statistics like these mutually exclusive?  I don’t know the answer to this question and haven’t done anything to research it, but it has gotten me thinking about my own experience, which, would indicate to me that they are not.  I was raised by a single mom, and due to my lack of understanding of what a healthy relationship looks like, the resentment I had at never knowing my father or feeling loved by any male role model, I used sex for all kinds of things: to gain “approval,” to be “mature,” to pursue unhealthy attachments to any guy who would pay attention to me, doing anything I could to keep a guy.  Now, I’m not saying that my mom was a bad mom or that she ever said: “Hey…go do a lot of really stupid things with your body and maybe some man will actually love you;” but I am saying that the lack of a father figure in my life was a leading cause of choices I made as a teenage girl.

The other question I have had after mashing up this information echoes that posed by Kaiser:  What does this say about how far we’ve come as women?  Just because women can have babies without men, does that make us somehow make us more powerful or better off?  What does it actually do to advance the state of women? ( I guess I don’t get the connection.) And, in the long run, what is it teaching our young girls?   I know from my part, watching my mom struggle to pay bills while not having time to participate in my school events, it sure didn’t appear to empower her in any way.

So is exposing themselves for men and having babies without men really making women equal to men? Or is this just modern-day exploitation, selfishness, and ignorance?

Like I said…these are just things that have come swimming into my mind…as I’m preparing to present on generatational differences.  I would like to be able to say, “We’ve come so far!”  …  But have we?

Transparent Footprints?

As a follow up to yesterday’s thoughts on transparency, I’ve come across this MUST READ, also by Will Richardson.  Any educator or parent needs to read:

Footprints in the Digital Age by Will Richardson

In fact, I’ll be reading and rereading it and anxiously awaiting the discussion with my director about when I can start presenting this kind of stuff to staff!!