Internet Technology
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Carrot, Apple & Celery Salad with Spicy Mustard Vinaigrette

Fri Oct 12, 2007 10:35 pm
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I had a boring, limited base of vegetables at home - carrots & celery, which I hoped to turn into something tasty for dinner. I looked into the fridge and found apples, pickles and mustard and thought this might work.

So I made a spicy vinaigrette with a lot mustard and mixed it with these vegetables. What's nice about this salad is that it won't go mushy or soft for while and you can make it a day in advance if needed.

4 Servings as a side dish


  • 4 carrots
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 1 apple
  • 2 pieces of pickle

  • 4 tbsp of spicy mustard
  • 1 tbsp of honey
  • 2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp of soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil
  • Small handful of fresh herbs (I used cilantro which was slightly overpowering)
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Cut vegetables into bite-size pieces, and pickles into small pieces. Whisk vinaigrette together and taste off with possibly more mustard and salt and pepper. Mix together and preferably cover and let sit in the fridge for a few hours before serving.

Letter to the Educators

Fri Aug 10, 2007 8:01 pm
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This is a letter I sent out to educators who were interested in creating online classroom collaborations.

Hey Everyone,

Let's talk about project standards. In order for this project to work we need to establish some standards. If you've talked to me at all you know that I am all about setting up very practical solutions that fit many needs simultaneously, so that's how the standards are going to be developed. It's important that the collaborative projects you create online support the classroom as well as parents, the local community, and other teachers; think of yourself as a mentor as much as a collaborator and educator. You will be setting the example for this kind of practice and you'll be the first in this community of teachers.

The first standard is that you maintain your web presence. This is actually really easy to do. All it consists of is creating site content and responding to your mail and comments. The system we're going to use makes this very easy.

The next standard is that you structure your site the way you structure your classes. If you teach multiple subjects emphasize that with your site structure. If you have a unique perspective on the structure of you class emphasize that. Content will actually flow a lot more easily if you structure your site properly. Providing structure to your site is one of the things that sets it apart from a typical blog or wiki. The structure is what is going to define your classroom to other teachers and collaborators. It will also make content more available throughout the term and or school year

The third standard is to make your content useful to your own classroom by posting information and that is up to date and helpful to parents as well as students, it may even be helpful to other teachers in your district. A parent should be able to come to your site and know what happened in class that day and what the assignments for the day are. This will also be very important when you begin a genuine collaborative process with other teachers (this project is going to be decentralized, I'll only be here for support).

The forth standard is to make your community aware of the project. The project needs to be a place where parents, students and teachers can meet and see that there are no barriers in your classroom. Your essentially creating an open standard where parents, colleagues, and administrators can get a hard wire into the events in your classroom.

The fifth and final standard is to use security settings to control who has access to information on your site. You shouldn't be posting the names and photos of your students on the web openly. be careful who you let access to these private areas. Site content should be like your grade book. It's open for everyone to see, but not for everyone to see everything. Security standards will work there way into the collaborative process as well.


"The Achievement Gap" and technology part 1

Thu Aug 09, 2007 8:06 pm
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This week I'm writing a series on technology and "The Achievement Gap" on my social desktop. This is the fourth part of the series which takes concepts and problems from previous articles and then discusses some basic assertions about technology that will play a role in my discussion about methods of using technology that address socioeconomic factors in "The Achievement Gap".

"The Achievement Gap" observes that student performance is linked to socioeconomic conditions that negatively effect long term academic achievement. Effective solutions can be developed and implemented through policy that enforces stronger literacy programs for early primary and higher standards for secondary grade levels. Other solutions might constitute greater use of federal programs like Head Start or better guidance counseling programs. In the last article I defined these kinds of programs as "brute force" solutions that will continue indefinitely unless the underlaying socioeconomic and cultural problems are properly solved or worked around.

Technology, in general, has the potential to provide sweeping changes to society. An example is the printing press, which enabled mass distribution of lower cost copy and ultimately increased literacy rates exponentially (and also played its role in things like the Protestant Reformation). Another example might be the calculator, or graphing calculator. Introducing these pieces of technology into classrooms allows students to spend less time working out complex arithmetic and more time applying and understanding higher level mathematics. Yet another example might be Arabic numerals which are infinitely more simple use and write compared to roman numerals.

Technology, in each of the above cases, eventually provided a cultural shift, albeit over time. It took Arabic Numerals over a millenia from conception to become adopted in Europe (300 BCE - 850 ACE). The printing press, invented in the west in 1440 by engraver Johann Gutenberg, obviously took much less time to proliferate. In 1957 IBM released the first all transistor calculator and by 1970 pocket calculators were being developed. These technologies mostly illustrate that it is possible to quickly build and integrate tools into education that meaningfully improve pedagogy. I am not saying that technology always has a positive result or implying any other kind of whig interpretation that might naturally go along with my examples. My only assertion is that through technology changes and, more specifically, improvements can be made that have far reaching effects.

In my next article on "The Achievement Gap" I will discuss methods that apply this understanding of technology to create cultural changes that improve education. However, I may become sidetracked by accessibility issues related to economic conditions. Please feel free to chime in on any issues I'm leaving out. This series is turning into a bit of a roller coaster.

"The Achievement Gap" and real impacts

Thu Aug 09, 2007 6:50 pm
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This week I'm writing a series on technology and "The Achievement Gap" on my social desktop. This is the third part of the series which takes concepts introduced by "'The Achievement Gap' and culture", and distinguishes between established methods for addressing the problem and making real changes. In my last article I promised to go more into technology, but it seems that the problem I'm addressing needs more distinction at this time.

In previous articles we've seen that "The Achievement Gap" can be narrowed by: improved school conditions, greater guidance and counseling and increased requirements at higher levels; and greater access to needed resources and literacy plans for earlier grades. It's also been shown that high level administrators in education have implemented policy that positively effects "The Achievement Gap". I haven't found any good data that shows exactly what happens when policy is implemented that effects "The Achievement Gap". From what I have found it seems safe to assume that policy decisions can have an effect on "The Achievement Gap" and that there are large costs associated in doing so. The purpose of this segment on "The Achievement Gap" is to examine issues that known solutions do not take into consideration, namely the effects of socioeconomic status.

Chief among my concerns about "The Achievement Gap" are social and familial influences that policy makers generally have to work around; directly confronting social problems can easily outrage families who might be at risk. Policy makers can't change the way people think or feel either; their budgets are limited and their ability to influence stops when the school bell rings. To boot, attempting to brute force a cultural change isn't practical. An example of a brute force change might be extending Kindergarten classes from half to a full day, increasing spending to support needy families, enhancing native language programs, or improving student guidance. While these kinds of changes have been shown to positively effect academic performance (and increase spending) they will at best impact socioeconomic and cultural conditions on future generations leaving little tangible difference for many years to come.

There's a strong distinction in this argument between academic performance and social perceptions about education. It has been shown that academic performance can be influenced by brute force on the side of policy makers, but the underlaying cultural and economic problems will persist until there is a cultural shift that undermines negative factors, particularly in impoverished and minority groups. For "The Achievement Gap" to subside by existing methods brute force will have to be applied that pushes those at a disadvantage forward until they no longer constitute a large enough population to warrant the expense. That's basically saying that resources will be spent on these illusive problems until, for some reason, they magically disappear. It should be clear that there is a difference between making an academic impact and a real impact on an education system that faces "The Achievement Gap".

In my next article I will focus on cost effective ways of using technology to address socioeconomic problems linked to "The Achievement Gap" and other known problems in Oregon's education system.

"The Achievement Gap" and culture

Sun Aug 05, 2007 12:37 pm
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Administrators and educators in the United States are faced with balancing federal mandates like the "No Child Left Behind Act" and state concerns like closing "The Achievement Gap". When considering new practices in the classroom these complications need to be addressed along side the needs of students. Ultimately, I think these programs have lead to administrative tunnel vision that blinds the way technology and innovation can effect culture to solve many problems with less effort. In short, the current answer to literacy and dropout problems is to create more testing, increase teacher credentials and improve schools. While these are all good things that appear to directly address the problem while providing measurable results their effect may actually be limited by other factors. It also seems that the answers high level administrators have used to solve education problems has been "work harder" instead of "work smarter." Answers to these problems are better found through analysis than common sense.

NCLB, which Utah basically passed a law against in 2005, focuses on improving teacher qualifications through certification and degree programs and improving student performance through testing and "higher standards." As we've seen in my previous article on this subject, "The Achievement Gap" is closed by: improved school conditions, greater guidance and counseling and increased requirements at higher levels; and greater access to needed resources and literacy plans for earlier grades. There are also cultural consideration in closing "The Achievement Gap" that imply some home and/or cultural influences can be accidentally or intentionally anti-education.

After taking a look at high level education policy in Oregon (which consistently performs well above national averages and expectations and makes annual improvements) I've found that there is no real position on the public relations problem that exist between culture and classroom. High level administrators may think that policies they enact wont effect culture or they're at a loss as to how policies do effect culture. In any case, it's fairly easy to see that measures are not being taken to undermine anti-education cultural influences on children in Oregon. This probably comes from a mentality that sounds something like "schools cannot break into homes and tell parents what to think or do." I wouldn't suggest that they should, that's simply the wrong way of looking at the problem.

"The Achievement Gap" indirectly challenges the idea of using technology in the classroom. This doesn't mean that technology must or wil increase the education gap. OLPC will show this to be a deductive fallacy; I think it is more likely that "The Achievement Gap" will be closed by introducing the appropriate technology to classrooms. However, common sense says that implementing technology into the classroom right now in the United States, and Oregon specifically, is an exercise in futility because the children most negatively effected by the education gap are also most likely to be the children without access to a computer with internet access at home. If technology really does improve classroom results then children that benefit most will already be in the upper median academically. This is where some less intuitive reasoning comes into play. I understand why administrators may think that introducing technology is lower priority in Oregon than the programs that have already shown to be effective that directly address educational issues; I simply disagree that the methods used are the best possible solution. My reasons for disagreeing will be the subject of my next post on "The Achievement Gap".

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