Big changes in the Mac Lab

The new MacPro server is set up and ready to go and each new iMac is lit up and rolling. Still a couple install bugs I have to sort out: like naming each computer(minor error at startup as Leopard assigns its own name). They should get you to the net and back.

I’ve spent far more time than I wanted setting everything up, but I know the value of an automagic, autonomous Mac lab. Each iMac has the standard out of the box Mac stuff, iTunes, Garageband, Safari. But I’ve added the usual favourites as well: Firefox and Microsoft Office. No Adobe applications yet as there was a mix up somewhere and it hasn’t arrived. The new cameras and their bell’s and whistles should be here soon. I still have to order more audio gear(keyboard and mixer) and other odds and ends. The Comtech blog will have details as they unfold.

The iblogs have been updated, again. Little surprises, mostly. New themes, better support for tagging. Recall how we had to add code to align an image in a post, you’ll like the automagic stuff there too. Trackbacks still do what trackbacks do, but we’ll use Pingbacks from here on in.

Post tagging will be emphasized(3-5 tags per post is enough) which means a post should only need to be in one category. This summer I added tags to all my old posts, but in the process deleted all my categories, so I have new work to do there someday :grrr

I’ve added a new blog devoted to tags called iblog.stjschool.org/tags/. It updates on the fly when any post is published at iblogs.stjschool.org. I’ve written a couple widgets to support the rollout of the sitewide tags blog too.

Reminders about blogging at STJ: abide your signed “Computer Use Agreement.” Set your privacy and comment moderation settings to whatever level is comfortable to you (Private blogs do not appear in the tags blog/widgets, though). Don’t forget to update your blogroll and refresh your tagline.

If you are looking for ideas for your first post, my Random Idea Generator, Focus Question Generator, Critical Thinking Generator, Learning Log Generator are all now plugins you need to activate in order to add them to the Edit Post form. Or you could browse Snowflakes, or Ideas won’t keep.

If you want to boast, help, cry, complain, or belly-ache about something about the site go to the Forums. I need some help, again, choosing the course focus questions . . . hint-hint.

Course Outlines and Reading lists for Language Arts 9, English 10, and English 20.

In 2008/9, each CTS student I teach must earn 2 credits in Information Processing before moving on to the ComTech modules. At least one credit must be in Keyboarding, if you can’t get a second keyboarding credit I recommend Information Highway 2. What Comtech modules will be ready will depend on circumstances in and beyond my control. I have some very interested “Industry Partners” willing to share in our efforts in ComTech.

My son Malcolm took this last image, I like the surreal blur as I puzzle over the Leopard Server install manual in microprint. Notice the 14 inch monitor(circa 1996) The cinema display has since arrived via China–>Alaska–>Ontario–>Calgary–>Edmonton…

Novel Study Preflight Checklist

Read a Novel from the Reading List:

Tracback a “map” of your response here.

Hamlet: Act 1 and 2(English 30)

How do isolation and loneliness affect how we perceive ourselves?

Is Horatio a nihilist? A Christian existentialist? Something else? Does he reveal his “imperatives“? How does he respond when evidence challenges his “imperatives”?

Consider “Postulates 1-4.”

How do characters respond when evidence clearly contradicts their ideals?

While viewing/reading/blogging, keep the usual “Cornell” notes with pen and paper. Blog your response to textual issues arising from class discussion. Link your blog to online sources: wikis, etexts, guides, discussions, imdbs. Synthesize don’t plagiarize: hyperlink all sources. Refer to “Improve Your Critical Thinking” suggestions.

Refresh your skills by looking again at notes from our discussion on Bloom: Knowledge=>Comprehension==>Application==>
Analysis==>Synthesis==>Evaluation.

Ask for the “Strong Verbs” handout if you’ve misplaced yours.

PS: linguistic multi-taskers will excel.

Bloggiest start to the bloggiest year ever.

What a funny word, “bloggiest”. Should I say it is a “most bloggy” start to the year? Does correct English matter in a blog?

All students I teach have begun a blog, of sorts. For the most part, I’ve insisted the content of the blog must be school or course related, the myriad responses to Macbeth fit this category. Other responses are more like “snowflakes”, snowflakes is my term to describe the phenomena of no two responses to the same prompt being identical.

I aggregate(not related to the term aggravate) RSS feeds from each class to aid in tracking down assigned work. Each student has a spreadsheet I term the Data Collector that averages rubric scores and totals moderated comment feeds, too. I then collect the Data Collectors periodically to determine scores to enter into GradeLogic. The data collectors serve a dual purpose, a foundation to build a grade obviously, but a powerful device to bring a landslide of peer pressure and collaborative assistance on the lazy, slower, or reluctant bloggers. Those that finish first have always shown a willingness to “share their secrets” with others.

Students are also instructed to collect and deposit appropriate comments on each other’s blogs, too. It is proving to be a fine art to learn to comment. Last year I found the aspect of commenting to be more valuable than the creation of the posts. Comments must contain evidence of critical thinking, I said, not simply “gladhanding”. If you troll the blogs you’ll notice the biggest difference right now between a veteran blogger and a newbie is the quality/quantity of appropriate comments. Students complete work earlier to benefit from positive/any attention from peer “commentors”. Any student who doesn’t get their blog post done on time, gets punished by receiving low or no rubric scores from their peers. However, unlike class discussions, the very nature of blogging allows anyone to catch up at any time. The students themselves seem to have an unofficial pecking order for who writes the best comments. They have internalized their own standards for what they will accept as a comment on their blog and are very persuasive at convincing each other to measure up. A few students are positively verbose and comment on all they can. Others choose fewer responses yet measure their words very carefully. Those that finish writing a post early, are left to hustle remaining students.

The grade 10s are shifting their attention to Keyboarding modules for a while, although I keep prodding them about “Turing Tests”. iGod is our most recent fascination.

The grade 9s get their prompts from Mrs. Fraser’s class then I help them become a bit more tech savvy.

The Grade 11s are in the midst of Macbeth and may see no reprieve for at least 2 more weeks, I figure. The more traditional assignments I’ve used for the last 14 years are as appropriate in a blog as they have ever been in my class. Doing it with blogs is just so cool!

Anti-Bullying Song Research Assignment

Blog an online research about a song that relates to Heather’s workshop(s) about:

  • Bullying
  • Domestic Violence
  • Peace
  • Getting Along

Requirements:

  1. Lyrics, portions cut’pasted with hyperlink to source.
  2. 250-words:
  • What is going on in the song?
  • What is the message the artist is trying to send?
  • How do you feel about this message?
  • How does it focus on the workshop topics?

3. Composer, performer, dates, album art, awards.

4. History, background, items/ideas of interest

5. Hyperlink all sources.

6. Add to Assessment Data Spreadsheet and apply Critical Thinking rubric (1-4)

7. Moderate three comments on your own. Leave plenty of comments, at least three, on other iblog.stjschool.org blogs.