Showing posts with label Maine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Maine. Show all posts

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Shuck 400 Oysters...Bus Huxley Shows You Can Learn Anything Online

Gardner Waldeier is one of the most interesting people that I know. We first met when he showed up to a cycling club group ride with a 20+ year old steel bike and a borrowed helmet while wearing cotton pants and sneakers. He then proceeded to crush almost everyone on the climbs and held his own on the sprints. I knew then that Gardner wasn't your average cat.

Gardner produces some fantastic videos that he publishes on YouTube under the screen name of Bus Huxley (that's also the name he uses on Strava). Lately he's been getting some press in New England for his videos including a recent profile that was aired on many National Public Radio stations. Listen to the interview and you'll hear some astute observations about learning and sharing in the digital age.

Gardner says, "I live my life by saying that I can do something that I can't." He then goes out and uses the Internet to learn how to do those things like shucking 400 oysters for a restaurant on short notice.

The end of the recent NPR story about Gardner closes with this valuable reminder for all of us; "once something is put out on the Internet, it is carved into digital stone."

Take a look at Gardner's videos and see what you can learn. And listen to the NPR profile, it has some gems for digital age from a man who seeming straddles the 21st, 20th, and 19th Centuries every day. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Lighthouses and Designs for Democracy

Earlier this week the featured document from the U.S. National Archives was a drawing of the Matinicus Rock Lighthouse on the coast of Maine. The drawing is one of many in the Designs for Democracy series published by the National Archives.

Designs for Democracy is an online exhibit created by the National Archives and Records Administration. The exhibit features drawings, sketches, and pictures that demonstrate the creativity and ingenuity of Americans through history. The exhibit is divided into three sections tracing the development of the United States from its early beginnings through the 20th Century. Each of the three sections contains images in the categories of symbolism, improvements, science and technology, and artistic expression.

Applications for Education
Designs for Democracy is a good place to find images that can be used as the basis for classroom conversations about changes in technology and how they have influenced American life. For example, you could use the drawings of the Matinicus Rock Lighthouse to start a conversation about changes in navigation and travel.

Speaking of lighthouses, I was in Portland yesterday so I recorded a short video of two lighthouses that are found not far from the site of this year's Practical Ed Tech Summer Camps.

Friday, January 27, 2017

A Great Example of Using Google Maps in Science

At almost every conference that I attend I offer a session about Google Maps and Google Earth. Most of the people that come to those sessions are social studies teachers. That is because there is a natural connection between maps and topics in social studies. But there are plenty of other subject areas and topics in which Google Maps and Google Earth can be helpful. One example of this comes from my former colleague, John Haley.

John Haley created a blog and a corresponding Google Map called Maine Geology Hikes. On Maine Geology Hikes John writes about interesting hikes in Maine that lead you to neat geological formations. Each placemark on the map includes a description with a link back to a blog post about the hike. The blog posts are more than just stories about hiking. He shares lessons worthy of inclusion in books on the topic of Maine geology.

Applications for Education
John Haley's Maine Geology Hikes is a great example of using Google Maps in an subject area outside of social studies. The model that John provides could be modified for any state or region. Google's My Maps tool offers a couple of ways that your students can collaborate to create their own geology hikes maps.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Teaching in a 1:1 Environment in Maine - Guest Post

Editor's note: Whenever I travel out of Maine, teachers ask me about Maine's 1:1 MacBook program for middle schools. Since I don't teach in a middle school, I thought it would be good to share the perspective of a Maine middle school teacher. 

The great thing about teaching with technology is that it can open new doors for your students. However, you have to be willing to walk through that door with them in order to see those benefits. Since you’re reading a blog entitled “Free Technology for Teachers,” I’m guessing you’re already there.

The trap too many of us fall in to with technology is that we’re just doing the same things we’ve always done, except now there’s a computer involved. Sure, there are some “21st Century Skills” that students achieve (often times we falsely assume through osmosis), but at the end of the day, showing video clips on Youtube is no different than popping a video in the old VCR.

Likewise, much of the same classroom management challenges we faced before we introduced laptops to our students are still there and are manifesting themselves in new ways. Too often I hear teachers blaming these classroom management problems on the technology itself, rather than the real root causes. Texting is just note passing. Even with technology, you still need clear and consistent expectations, engaging lessons, and an understanding of how the adolescent mind works.

In my room, the desks are arranged in groups that face each other to encourage collaboration among students. Some teachers dictate how their classrooms should be physically arranged based on the need to “see” every student’s screen. I made my decision based on what I felt would be best for my students in the long run, not the need to have a semblance of control (an extra benefit is that it encourages me to move more in my classroom to assist students and monitor their activity instead of sitting at my desk and staring at the back of my students’ heads).

To really revolutionize our classrooms, we have to fully embrace Web 2.0. At the end of the day though, the things that make Web 2.0 great- collaboration, peer feedback, real-world application- are the things that have always been the key ingredients to great teaching. The upper levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy don’t change because you’re connected to the internet. It’s the fact that you can now access and create content on an international level, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, that makes it truly powerful.

In the past, great teachers have struggled to engage their “hard to teach” kids across the learning spectrum. However, we now have a limitless amount of resources at their fingertips. We live in an age of self-guided learning, where students can access huge amount’s of college-level material from MIT and Yale. If the technology your student needs isn’t out there, they can create (and monetize) their very own app to get the job done! The possibilities, for once, truly are endless.

We have always known that learning never stops, but now we have an incredible amount of resources that make it easier than ever before. If you’re a great teacher, you’ll still build your learning activities with those key elements like you’ve always done, except that the doors you open for your students will be more limitless than ever before. 

About the Guest Blogger
Ryan Reed is a second-year middle school teacher in Maine, where seventh and eighth grade public-school students and teachers have been provided Apple laptop computers for the last decade. You can connect with him on Twitter.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Professional Development Webinars Offered by MLTI

MLTI (Maine Learning Technology Initiative), the organization that oversees Maine's 1:1 laptop initiative, is offering a series of professional development webinars throughout the 2009/2010 school year. The webinars are being conducted by members of the MLTI staff. These webinars are being recorded and the first three are now available on Some of the webinars are specific to Maine schools that are using state-issued MacBooks while other webinars such as "Directed Use of Research Tools," have universal appeal.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Last Days of Summer...

I have one week left before I go back to school. It's been a very busy summer for me that seemed shorter than any summer break that I've ever had. Therefore, I'm taking off for a few days to go to Bar Harbor, ME / Acadia National Park. I plan to play "tourist" within my own state. As a part of this vacation I won't be bringing my netbook. But don't worry, I have plenty of posts scheduled to go live while I'm away. I just won't be able to moderate comments until Wednesday.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

26 Inches of Snow and 36 Hours Without Power

You may have noticed that Free Technology for Teachers was silent yesterday. No, I didn't run out of things to talk about. I ran out of electricity to power my computer. On Sunday evening we received 26 inches of snow in Naples, Maine. Like 100,000 others we haven't had electricity at home for the last 36 hours. It's an odd experience to be involuntarily disconnected from the web. Hopefully, the power will be restored this evening and I'll be able to share some of the things I've learned about today.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: Wicked Decent Learning podcasts

Wicked Decent Learning just released their tenth podcast! Wicked Decent Learning podcasts are about an hour long and cover many topics related to technology integration and education in general. Those of you outside of New England, USA may not be aware that the term "wicked" means something is very good to New Englanders. The podcasts are produced by two Maine teachers, Jeff and Dan, and the podcasts are indeed "wicked decent." I've enjoyed the podcasts for a couple of months now and have described them to my colleagues as Tim Sample discussing real education issues.

Here is how Jeff and Dan describe their podcast and accompanying blog.
"Like the fair loon that swims with the best of them but has serious issues and looks awfully goofy when trying to get airborn, a new education podcast has taken flight in the podcast-o-sphere and the blog-o-sphere: Wicked Decent Learning. Created by two practicing educators, Wicked Decent Learning examines issues in education of importance to Maine and the world beyond. Each episode features a discussion as well as a number of integration suggestions related to technology, literacy and media. And, ayuh, we throw our fair share of western Maine shenanigans into the mix, too."

Wicked Decent Learning is available through iTunes as well as on Jeff and Dan's blog,

You can also access the Wicked Decent Learning podcasts at

Monday, February 4, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: Wicked Decent Learning - Podcast

Wicked Decent Learning is a series of Podcasts covering a variety of topics of interest to educators. The Podcasts are a bit long, but entertaining and informative none-the-less. Wicked Decent Learning is produced by two teachers in Maine. Click on the license plate to visit Wicked Decent Learning or listen to the most recent Podcast by clicking play.