Sunday 6 June 2010

My first MYP IDU

So, next year, I will be leaving the comforts of elementary school and stepping into the grown-up world of Middle School. In my new role, I will be in the elementary school as a resource to oversee ICT integration in the classroom. The other half of my job is teaching Technology in the middle school.  There willl be no shortage of new acronyms to learn, I'm sure.  (Middle Years Program, Interdisciplinary Unit btw...)
So, in the past, the DT teacher started the year with a project that had students design a postage stamp. He would walk the kids together through the design cycle as they worked their way through each step.
I thought it would be fun to have them work on a business card instead. It would have a cool logo and they could pass it out to friends when they were done. But what would they put on it... student? Boring!  They are really just beginning to create identities for themselves.  So, I am going to have them do a business card for themselves as they see themselves in the future.

Each autumn, everyone starts the year having kids write about themselves, right?  What they like and don't like etc... Instead, I thought we could get them to tell us about how they imagine themselves in the future. It would be more interesting and more likely to get the kids to really think. The information we get out of it may turn out to be more useful in helping us understand our kids better.

So, I got together with the English and Drama teachers and the librarian, we put together a project where the kids will start the year writing about how they imagine themselves 17 years in the future--in time for their high school reunion!  They will develop their characters through a series of writing assignments.  In library/English, they were already planning a pretty long unit about biographies. Now, they will introduce it with a shorter one about autobiographies.  In drama, they will work on improvisation techniques and further develop their characters.  I will be running them through the design cycle as they set up digital, on-line portfolios and create their business cards.

So in the 3rd week of school, we will host a 10 year high school reunion party for our current grade 6 students, complete with long stem glasses and shrimp dip.  I think the business cards will be a nice prop to help get dialogue rolling.

Of course, we will film the whole thing. It should be a blast!

Tuesday 1 June 2010

Ubuntu Netbook Remix 10.04 is the frontrunner...

Jolicloud is really a great OS.  It runs smoothly.  It looks cool.  Everything 'just works' out of the box.  But it is based on Ubuntu 9.10 and there seem to be some battery issues.  Not a big deal, but this Eee 1005PE gets 12+ hours out of its 6-cell battery and using Jolicould that was cut by about half.  Otherwise, it is sweet.

I am in love with Meego.  It is fast.  It is beautiful.  I think this will ultimately be the one to beat.  But for now, it is really intended for developers.  There is practically no support available.  There isn't a lot of software available.  I couldn't find a terminal.  I don't know which packages it uses (I seem to remember reading Intel-Moblin using  .deb then switching to .rpm but that was ages ago.)  For now, it isn't ready to hand out to schoolkids on classroom laptops.

Lubuntu, Puppy, there are lots of other options out there that will make these machines bump and hum a lot faster than UNR but it seems to be the best compromise.  (Actually, it didn't even find the wireless drivers out of the box) but it is current, slick and really well supported.  We don't pass the machines out until August, so I have time to change my mind, but so far, 10.04 is it.

The kids in my classroom have had no trouble figuring it out.  Some of the kids in my class have been installing it on their own.  I have 3 netbook kids with Kubuntu 10.04, 1 with Lubuntu on an HP laptop and 1 with it on a Mac.  They didn't have any trouble working it out on their own and are pleased with the results.  They all set up dual boot systems, but I haven't seen any of them using another OS in weeks.  And it is interesting to listen to their conversations as they argue the merits of one desktop environment over another.  Apparently, we have been teaching them critical thinking and problem-solving after all.

** Despite an evening and a morning of attempts and with help from the forums, I still can't get the wifi to work. Using the same set of instructions, some users seem to have it working and others don't.  Still trying... Not a good sign.

Iconic Design: Bic Pen

  I bet we all have one or two of these. Learn the story of this perfectly designed product. (I question his argument that the pen caused an...