Monthly Archives: August 2008

"Do You Believe in Me?"

“Do you believe in me?” That is one of the many questions Dalton Sherman, fifth grader in Dallas ISD, asks during his keynote speech for the start of the school year for Dallas ISD staff. This young man spoke to over 20,000 district personnel. His speech was so passionate, so right on for delivering a timely message for today, and so convicting.

I first came across this video that someone plurked about early in the week. I was so blown away that I didn’t write this post until a few days (besides I have been ill and bed ridden since Monday). I embedded the video into this blog post in the event that youtube videos blocked but then remembered in districts like my last school district all blogs, social networking, micro blogging and anything related to education outside the confines of the district walls are blocked. Regardless of where you view this video, take the next eight minutes or so and take in this inspiring message delivered by Dalton Sherman. I am quite certain this will not be the last time we hear a motivational speech by the young Mr. Sherman.

Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAMLOnSNwzA

“Do You Believe in Me?”

“Do you believe in me?” That is one of the many questions Dalton Sherman, fifth grader in Dallas ISD, asks during his keynote speech for the start of the school year for Dallas ISD staff. This young man spoke to over 20,000 district personnel. His speech was so passionate, so right on for delivering a timely message for today, and so convicting.

I first came across this video that someone plurked about early in the week. I was so blown away that I didn’t write this post until a few days (besides I have been ill and bed ridden since Monday). I embedded the video into this blog post in the event that youtube videos blocked but then remembered in districts like my last school district all blogs, social networking, micro blogging and anything related to education outside the confines of the district walls are blocked. Regardless of where you view this video, take the next eight minutes or so and take in this inspiring message delivered by Dalton Sherman. I am quite certain this will not be the last time we hear a motivational speech by the young Mr. Sherman.

Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAMLOnSNwzA

Teacher Trek #3 Update

Looks like the time for the Teacher Trek #3 session will be changed to 7pm CST or 12am UTC. Sorry for the confusion with the time zones. Hope you can join us live and if not, watch for the posting of the recorded session.

Teacher Trek #3 Session

If you are available around 6pm CST (1800 GMT) please join Minhaaj ur Rehman and I for another session of Teacher Trek. This will be a first attempt for me to webcast solo (semi-solo depending upon how many technical difficulties I encounter and how many listeners join us!) Minhaaj will interview me and I will share briefly some great resources found at the DEN to complete my requirements as a STAR Discovery Educator.

As I was preparing and reviewing the resources at the site, the main thing I was going to direct your attention to was the Educator Resources. There are tons of blog posts, online articles and other resources on content area strategies, best practices and just about any aspect of education that you might encounter. Currently they are moving resources from an older location to the new location that I will show this evening and it appears that the resources are not accessible at the moment. Hopefully this will be resolved by the time of the show. If not, there are tons of other resources that can be shown at the Discovery Educator Network site.

Regardless, please feel free to join us or listen to the recorded streamed sessions after the sessions are posted online. And if we experience technical difficulties please offer your assistance and knowledge of webcasting troubleshooting.

Are you up for the PBwiki Back to School Challenge?

I am one that is usually up for new challenges and decided to take on “Back to School Challenge” by PBwiki. The feature that intrigued me the most about creating a PBwiki is the feature that students can be invited to use the pbwiki without having an email address.

When you use a wiki, your students get a gentle introduction into online collaboration, and they’ll remain engaged beyond the classroom. Many of our educators tell us about their students getting hooked on PBwiki and editing it from home and on the weekends!

Several months ago I set up a PBwiki for personal use and didn’t like the structure and setup of the pbwiki. The wikispaces and various nings were much easier and met the need at the time. After reading about the challenge from an email, I decided to revisit PBwikis and discovered the ease of the setup and the ability to create pages from pre-created templates. These features made PBwikis definitely worth it to take a second look and set up the PBwiki.

In just a few minutes I had things set up and invited a few users to the wiki. The wiki will be used for educational purposes but I currently have the pbwiki set to private views until I have things set up and ready for public viewing. Regardless of whether you participate in the Back to School Challenge or not, I was extremely impressed with the new PBwikis and the awesome resources available on the site. Even if you don’t use PBwikis, some of the white papers and educational resources are applicable to any type of wiki setup and worth checking out. And if you take on the back to school challenge good luck to you!

Pier 1 uRoom 1000 Giveaway

Please take a moment to vote for my room creation entitled Kim’s Comfy Condo!

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I am trying to accomplish two things at one time: 1) advance my skill working within and with virtual world items and 2) will a contest by Pier 1. Please if you could take a moment to vote and my creation entitled “Kim’s Comfy Condo”. Silly little thing but wouldn’t it be great if I won the money with your help? While there, create one for yourself and let us know we can vote for your creation too! Thanks everyone!

Webcast Academy Miracle Workers

At the beginning of the summer, I set a personal and professional goal that I would learn how to be a webcaster like the experts on the ‘Women of WoW; or ‘Teachers Teaching Teachers’ shows. I enrolled in the webcast academy led by the wonderful leaders Jeff Lebow and Doug Symington.

Initially, I had some difficulty with the first assignments but I eventually was successful after following the directions at the website. The second assignment was not so easy.

The second assignment was to record both end of a call on Skype. It sounded easy enough but I noticed there was an additional software program that was needed to make this successful and a USB microphone or headset was required for this process. So I followed the directions and started off on my adventure to complete my assignment.

Source: Noheadset Photostream

Things weren’t going so well so I asked my husband to assist me. My husband has a degree in programming and is the Assistant Director for Technical Services in a school district here in town so I thought he would be able to find my problem. We spent several more hours trying to find out why I kept getting an echo when using the program Audacity to record the two way Skype call. Needless to say I was frustrated. He tried on his desktop computer and followed the steps in the screencast video created by Jeff Lebow to demonstrate this process. Instantly it worked for him.

But I wanted to resolve the problem on the laptop I use. I gave up for that evening. Each day that week I tried again and again thinking maybe this time I will get the settings correct using the repeater of the Virtual Audio Cables software used when recording in Audacity. I had no clue what I was adjusting but I tried every combination known to man to get the settings right and still not much luck.

Twitter post from Coordinatortwo

Hour after hour passed and one night I noticed a tweet from Jose Rodriguez. I tweeted back that I was having difficulties and the next thing I knew Jose rounded up Doug and we were using Yugma to look at my settings and share my desktop. Mind you, this was 1:45am CST! My husband was asleep next to me as Jose, Doug and I worked to resolve the echo problem. After about an hour we gave up. Jose and Doug prescribed a 12 hour holiday from trying to fix the problem and I heeded their advice.

By this time I lost count how many hours but I know it was over ten and I was particularly frustrated and discouraged. I tried another hour or two and then gave up and waited for the next webmaster academy class to begin so that we could again share my desktop and review all of the settings with Jeff Lebow and the other webmasters out there. Jeff Lebow and Doug guided me to check this setting and that setting and we were getting nowhere.

Then Jeff asked me to go back to Audacity to look at the preferences a second or third time – I lost count. Jeff suggested that I remove both checks on the Play Through options in the Audio preferences.

Preferences in Audacity Screenshot

As you can see in the yellow circle below, I removed the check marks that activated those two options in the preferences. After removing the checks marks I pressed OK and we tried to record again to see if the echo was suppressed. (Click on the picture for larger image.)
After struggling for about 30 minutes with the community of webcasters, I tried again. I must say I wasn’t feeling especially optimistic. I started the repeater, started recording in Audacity and lo and behold, no echo! Both sides of the Skype call could be heard loud and clear without any echo anywhere.

Talk about relief! I was thinking that I was going to have to move to a different computer if I wanted to webcast and while that wasn’t a terrible option, it wasn’t the favored option for me. I was thrilled and mute the microphone in the Skype and yelled out to my husband that the webcast pros fixed it and worked another miracle again!

Screenshot of Jeff Lebow in a screencast at WebcastAcademy.net

Up after me was another webcast academy intern and after about 20 minutes another miracle by Jeff and Doug occured! Several people that night experienced the tech savvy experience and assistance and had problems resolved to move each of us one step close to webcasting. These generous men give of their time and talents each week solely to share their knowledge to create new webcasters who share their knowledge with others further repeating this cyle an infinite number of times.

While we each celebrated when our technical problems were resolved and graciously thanked Jeff and Doug, the two will never know just how many people’s journey of learning have been dramatically changed, improved and furthered by their time, efforts and words. I recorded the details of this episode solely to spotlight these two educators and webcasters so that others who are experiencing similar technical difficulties will be encouraged, persist and be tenacious about tackling these difficulties. The obstacles will come but with their assistance you can be confident the obstacle will be overcome and spur you on to bigger and betters things in webcasting.