Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Authors, ethics, and random thoughts

On Monday evening, I had the unique pleasure of meeting Joseph M. Marshall III, author of Walking With Grandfather and The Power of Four (among other works). He did an appearance at the Boulder Bookstore do to a talk and book signing. He was interesting to listen to, and he had a quiet, confident energy about him that lent even more power to his words. One of the many advantages to living in this area is the ability to meet so many people like him.

In other news, I have discovered that leaving a wireless microphone on for several hours is a sure-fire way to absolutely kill the rechargeable battery inside it. Oh, and rechargeable 9-volt batteries are not inexpensive.

I've really been enjoying the live blogging that we've been doing in the epistemology class, but have definitely found that it doesn't work as well when/if others don't log on from anywhere. I still need to work on that; perhaps more lead time to discussions would be good... maybe pick a day of the week to be a regularly scheduled live blog day or something like that. This week (and the next few) should prove interesting... we're going to begin a discussion of ethics. I'm sure that there are several in the class who will have some pretty strong opinions about things along ethical lines; it should be fun, or at least interesting.

I had an interesting conversation with Phil, the owner of Rocky Plains Meat not too long ago. For some time now I've noticed that while the food I've been eating in some ways costs more per pound, I'm eating less of it. That's not to say I'm going hungry at all; in fact, quite the opposite- that the food I'm eating satisfies me sooner due to the higher nutrient content in it since it's both organic and local. Combine that with my more mindful eating habits, and my meals have taken on a much different "feel" to them, and I've suspected that I'm actually saving money rather than spending more. Phil and I talked about that, and he told me about a couple who shop with him as well. The woman of the couple does the budget for their household, and she noticed that they were spending less money and eating less food since they made a similar switch in their diet as to what I have done. Proof at last! Of course, I've since then been talking with people about that concept; that if you really want to save money, then buy and eat local/organic as much as possible. Yeah, I do still cheat a little (e.g. coffee, chocolate, bananas), but I still try to eat seasonally. Bananas are currently in season, for example, so for the next couple of months, I'll be chowing down on bananas. Not only do I feel better and have reduced, if not eliminated, my chances of being subject to food recalls, but I'm actually saving money. Kind of nice, really.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Live blogging improvement

We continued our discussion on the goal of science today, and started an interesting conversation around genetic engineering which led to the use of antibiotics and growth hormones in food (especially meat). In addition to another teacher in the building, we had a former teacher join us as well as one a former student of mine who is now a teacher in Boston. I'm pretty excited since this is exactly what I was hoping to do... branch out beyond the district. I've also joined Classroom 2.0, and I'm hoping that between that and the Global Education Collaborative that I'll be able to start hooking in with other classrooms as well. I think posting it on Facebook and the like helped, and I'm also going to post an invitation on the IB website. I think it's great to be able to reach out like I'm able to. Now I just have to get others to join us!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Back at work and back at live blogging

We had another live blogging session in my epistemology class today. The kids have really gotten into it; it's definitely become a part of the classroom culture. Actually, yesterday we had a brief moment of panic when I said we were going to discuss the blog topic but not have an online conversation. The kids misunderstood and thought that I was saying that we weren't going to use coveritlive anymore, and I almost had a mutiny on my hands. Today's conversation was "What is the goal of science?" Before we started the conversation, I asked the students to take out their phones and turn them on. There were a few sheepish looks from the students who already had them on, and general confusion all around. One student looked at me, laughed, and said, "You know they're waiting for the snatch and grab, don't you?" Once the phones were on, I had them send text messages to as many people as they wanted to (preferably not other students), asking those people what they thought the goal of science was. It was pretty amazing... I think many of the students were a bit surprised to be using their cell phones and sending text messages as part of class work, but they certainly weren't complaining. As messages came in, we added them to our class discussion on coveritlive, where John Albright and someone named Angel had joined us.

I love the fact that the students have taken to this so readily and have really become much more active participants in class discussions; it's even bringing out the "wall flowers," especially when they could incorporate text messaging. My only wish now is to get more people participating in the live blog that are not only outside of the building, but outside of the district (and not just through text messaging); I've begun posting the links and notifications on Twitter, Facebook, The Global Education Collaborative, and even MySpace, but we haven't quite gotten the response I've been hoping for, at least not yet. Then again, it's new, so I'm not really discouraged, either... I figure once I make this a more regular thing, I'll get more outside participation.

(Cross posted to the Global Learner blog.)