Monday, June 05, 2006

Gay Marriage Ban (Yawn!)

Okay, when did we last see a push for a ban on gay marriage? Hmmm...maybe right before the 2004 elections? Republicans are so predictable. We are in an election year and involved in a war that is killing thousands of people, not to mention our soldiers...and all we have to talk about is the grave danger from flag-burners and responsible, mutually-consenting adults who want the right to marry the person they love?

Wake up, America! The sleeping giant has to be awakened, or else you are going to feel a lot like Rumplestiltskin when you do...

Bush and Condi Having an Affair

Well, the jury is still out, but where there is smoke, there is usually fire. Haven't used this blog much, but this is just too wild to pass up. If you haven't already read all the stuff on this topic, just Google the title of this blog and you will get all ten pages of hits.

When all of the crap with Clinton went down and the Republican Party swung into their witchhunt mode, something they are so awesome at doing, I cried foul then. Yes, he was the President; yes, he is a role model; blah, blah, blah. However, what goes on between a man and his wife and his lover he's having an affair with and his homosexual partner he had past relations with and whomever he chooses to "do" is between him and that person (or small crowd) and his maker. Do we actually think George Bush's karma could get any worse??? Even without an affair with Condoleezza Rice, he is a felon and a traiter who makes Benedict Arnold and Judas Iscariot look like choir boys -- a pawn in a scheme to suck the life out of this planet that is much larger than he will ever even dream of being. If the figurehead is getting head, then more power to him. Laura, bless her pointed head, is just as guilty for turning a blind eye for so least Clinton came up for air and knew what he was doing as President.

How about the affair he is having (throught tricky Dick Cheney) with Corporate America??? Get the stomach pump, quick!

Wake up, America! Get out and vote on Tuesday. Become informed. Send a message to the Republicans that we are mad as hell and we are not gonna take it any more!!! This is not the time for apathy. Go vote and take at least one other voter to the polls with you. We need strong candidates in November to take back our country.

Everyone can make a difference. Sixty million people were not wrong in 2004. Stop the shame NOW.

Thursday, October 14, 2004


Well, after taking a year off while working on my master's degree, I am doing a little bit of PartyLite again in the form of catalog shows. My little bit of effort has gotten about $3400 in sales in just one month's time, which translates into about $1000 of profit for me. I can really use the money, and a lot of my customers are needing their candles for the holidays. It's basically a win-win for everyone. I love PartyLite!!

Monday, October 11, 2004

My Grandma

Today is my Grandma Marguerite Bennett's birthday. If she were still alive, she'd be 97 today. Amazing. She was a great lady -- hardworking, self-disciplined, loved her family dearly, honest and consistent. I miss her.

So On To My Own Blogging

I am told that there is no blog like your own blog, so I am determined to try to not drop this thing like "wet cement" now the Professor Dodge's class is over. My blog will now be more of an educational and a personal blog, rather than just a vehicle to complete a college assignment.

It's so sad about Christopher Reeves. May he rest in peace and be rewarded for his amazing attitude and love of life, despite circumstances that would have crushed the spirit of almost anyone. He truly was Superman.

I am reading about the Bush and Kerry contest and just so disgusted with the fear-based campaign of Bush. He rarely discusses the issues, relying more on personal attacks and keeping us afraid that we cannot be safe without maintaining the status quo. The really disgusting thing is that it is working well on so many. Thank goodness Kerry is a few points ahead. I know that could change in the next few weeks, but I know he is the best man of the two for the job. I wish Nader would quit and throw his support to Kerry. Every vote for Ralph Nader is a vote for Bush! Why can't people see that??? Vote Kerry!!

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Prof. Bernie Dodge

Originally uploaded by edteclady.
EdTech 700

Weblog Saturday Seminar Class

Weblog Saturday Seminar Class
Originally uploaded by edteclady.

Title: TravelBlog: Spain
Author: Peggy Ward, Teacher, Montgomery High School, San Diego, CA
Summary: As an adjunct to a unit in our text that uses the country of Spain as its context and setting, students will create and post to a personal blog acting as a traveler on an imaginary journey through Spain, following an itinerary they will construct in the days before departure.
Context: Spanish 1/2 students are typically 10th graders, as a majority, with some 9th, 11th, and 12th grade students also in the class. This is their first year studying the language, so this particular activity will center on an understanding of culture, geography and demographics, as opposed to having to use the target language. For this reason, the students have the choice to complete the activity at least partially or wholly in English, depending on the skill level at this point in the course.
Duration: This project will last throughout the 3-week period we use for the entire chapter. The first few days will be their preparation for departure, the next two weeks will be devoted to the actual imaginary journey, then the last few days will be a debriefing and follow-up on the construction of a scrapbook.
Goals: The Foreign Language National Standards cover all of the aspects of learning to speak and about the culture involved with a particular language of study. The five overarching components of the standards are Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons and Communities. The two that will be addressed specifically by this lesson are Cultures and Connections. The actual text of the standards is as follows:

Gain Knowledge and
Understanding of Other Cultures

Standard 2.1: Students demonstrate an
understanding of the relationship between
the practices and perspectives of the cul-
ture studied.
Standard 2.2: Students demonstrate an
understanding of the relationship between
the products and perspectives of the cul-
ture studied.

<>Connect with Other Disciplines and
<>Acquire Information
<>Standard 3.1: Students reinforce and fur-
<>ther their knowledge of other disciplines
<>through the foreign language.
<>Standard 3.2: Students acquire information
<>and recognize the distinctive viewpoints
<>that are only available through the foreign
<>language and its cultures.

Participants: The participants will mainly consist of just the students in the class and the teacher. Because of the nature of a public blog, which this will be, students may receive and solicit posts from outside the school environment to enhance their information about their itinerary. Also, if the teacher has resources he or she can connect with to make a "surprise" visit to the students' blogs, so much the better.
Students will first need a blog.
The teacher will take the class through the steps of creating a blog, preferably in the computer lab where everyone can go through the process all at once.
Each blog will be linked to the classroom Spain Trip blog, where selected posts will be duplicated and posted from the individual students' blogs.
Students will spend at least two days on research for and refinement of a written intinerary (the progress of which, notes for which, and final copy of which will be posted on the student's personal blog, of course).
This portion of the blog will be followed by a fictitious letter to Tía María, telling her all about their upcoming adventure trip in Spain.
They will give a brief glimpse of what they hope to see and accomplish on their trip, based on some of the introductory information in the chapter we are studying.
During the progress of the trip, students will post daily experiences, based on the research.
Students will be asked to post reactions to at least two of their classmates' blogs each day.
Resources: Just to be safe, the teacher will post a page of links having to do with Spain. This will be a timesaver, as well as a help for the less computer-savvy students.
Policies: I will share my previously posted AUP
Products: Students will gain an understanding of Spain that is far greater than they would have otherwise.
Evaluation: Learning will be evaluated by teacher and peer reactions to the blogs.

(Too rushed at end, so a little sketchy...sorry)

Policy Assignment

  • For my own blog, I will simply follow these particular rules, as well as expect those who post to my blog to follow the same rules:
    • Anyone who posts to this forum should not post anything that could not be comfortably said to the affected person(s) face(s).
    • While differing points of view are valued and encouraged, professionalism, courtesy and tact are the rules of this blog.
    • Any examples made of specific circumstances and/or individuals should have all non-essential and/or personally identifying elements changed to protect the identity of the individual(s) in question.
    • There will be no explicit comments of a sexual, violent, criminal, slanderous or libelous nature allowed. No harassment of any kind or anything that could be construed as “stalking” will be allowed.
  • My learners will be reminded about the following issues:
    • No activities that are not related to class assignments (time on task)
      • Games
      • Personal surfing
      • Chatting/Instant Messaging
      • Commercial sites
        • ebay
        • online stores
  • No criminal or inappropriate activity
    • Pornography
    • Teen magazine sites (except if related or research)
    • No postings or uploads that will cause harm or distress to another individual or group of individuals.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

What Drives What?

Here's a thought out of the first part of the second article:

(Before I forget, at least)

I think we can safely use the word "bandwagon" and "education" together in the same sentence under many circumstances. While I know blogging is here to stay, in probably increasingly sophisticated forms, I wonder if the cart is again pushing the horse when we look around for ways to use this "cool tool" in education. Is it enough that it is merely cool? Just because it exists and is amazing should not automatically qualify it for entrance into the instructional minutes of the school day. This constructivist approach is not jiving with the current research that drives the state standards, which drive our district's gurus' mantra: Direct Instruction, Bell to Bell, Feedback and Accountability. (Actually, I just made that up, but I bet those guru's would adopt it if they saw it.)

I have so many cool activities and projects that I have developed over the years for kids. They loved them, I loved them, and we had quality experiences together. They thought critically, they analyzed, they constructed meaning for themselves, but unless I can very directly tie the outcomes of those activities to the standards for the subjects I teach and to the items that will appear on the End of Course Exams and/or the High School Exit Exam, those very cool activities are out the door, regardless of how magnificent I might think they are. That's just reality as it is practiced (or at least mandated to be practiced) at my school.

I am skeptical after reading teen blogs beyond those in class. The average teen is not thinking deep thoughts, and as was stated in the other article, as soon as the blog is tied to a class, the motivation for contributions, by its extrinsic nature, creates an artificial environment that students drop "like wet cement" as soon as grades are submitted and credit is granted. I have experienced that with all of my classes in the online message board environment. When the obligation is fulfilled, the group disbands. It's natural. Human beings don't usually do things they don't have to do nor directly benefit from without intrinsic motivation. There's got to be something in it for them.

I know enough about the Whole Language approach and Integrated Math to know that not all things that seem like a great idea at first end up actually being great, or even good, or even harmless, especially when it uses the "sink or swim" approach. I have a lot of victims of Whole Language in my classes who couldn't write a coherent essay if their lives depended on it. While some kids, in their natural development, "got it" and kept it, many others never "got it" and still don't. I wonder if turning the kids loose on a blog will really get the desired result, which would probably be increased writing ability. Writing more does not always translate into writing better, unfortunately. Sometimes writing more just gets more bad writing, reinforcing the mistakes; therefore, I think blogs have to be used judiciously, and not just for their own sake.

Let me be quick to say that I know "turning kids loose" was not at all what is being proposed, but just as the WebQuest idea is not always translated in its true, pure, intended form, becoming nothing more than electronic scavenger hunts or worse, so the idea of using blogs in the classroom has great potential for abuse, misuse, and overuse.

Another example of a still-popular bandwagon is that of SSR: Sustained Silent Reading. Many schools have mandatory SSR periods. Most English classrooms have SSR, some using even up to an hour during a block schedule, and several other disciplines have also instituted SSR minutes into their courses. Don't get me wrong; reading is a great thing, and our students need to do lots of it, but we were recently told, at a training for the new standards-based English program we just adopted from Holt-Reinhart, there is really no support in the research for the practice of SSR. They confirmed what I had long suspected. SSR is great for the kid who reads well and is motivated to read. They will have an opportunity to, without interruption, widen their reading experience, increasing vocabulary and all the other perks that go along with reading frequently. For the student who reads only fairly well, it could go either way. The student who reads at a very low level, however, does not benefit; in fact, a hatred of reading may be strengthened, frustration may increase, and time will be spent figuring how to beat the system and not read during SSR. I've seen it over and over again. Readers will gain; non-readers will lose, much of the time. Over half of our high school reads at a 5th grade level or far below. That's a lot of losers. That's my opinion, anyway.

I'll read on and keep an open mind, though, I promise.

Not Sure About All This...

Just finished the Downes article. A particular line burns a hole in my brain: "...these students, when they enter postsecondary education, may have had more experience writing online for an audience than writing with a pen and paper for a teacher. Such students will bring with them a new set of skills and attitudes." I cannot help but think of my own inner-city, low-income high school students. It's only natural. I cannot help but bring forth an image of our antiquated computer lab, as well as my own student-computerless classroom. I cannot help but experience "computer envy" as I recall my recent experience with our computer lab facilitator who, I discovered, encourages students to use Simpletext as their word processor even though they have access to Microsoft Word and Appleworks, outdated versions notwithstanding. When I asked him why, he just said it was easier. He was amazed that I had my class in there, teaching them the ins and outs of bullets, tables and tabs, among other things. His big source of pride is that the recycling container only needs to be emptied once per quarter, since he keeps such a tight rein on the printer. So sad.

As I am reading and exploring more and more blogs, I think I am getting further afield of the objective for the class. I'm not going to worry too much yet, though, because my experience with the computer has taught me that new frontiers (for me) in the Internet cannot be incorporated into my daily computing without the investment of disgusting amounts of time and effort. So, the beat (maybe a "bleat") goes on...

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Blogs as a Data Source Assignment

In my Spanish classes, there are a couple of units that focus on Spain as a backdrop for the particular unit. Because of this, I always have the class focus at least one collaborative assignment on things such as the politics, customs, people, geography, history, etc. of Spain. News from Spain, a blog created in March of this year, has a wide variety of current posts with current events, as well as links to separate blogs-within-the-blogs about various subtopics, such as tourism, climate change, drug use, etc.