Dear Students, Pre-Service Teachers, and Educators,

Photo credit: Dean Shareski

Sometimes what my former students post on the web or the poor decisions they make in real life really surprise me. I try telling them during the middle school years that things have a way of catching back up to them. Some listen. Some do not.

Now, the “digital tattoo” is living proof that it is more true now than ever. Consider this great story from Seth Godin (bold print mine):

A friend advertised on Craigslist for a housekeeper.

Three interesting resumes came to the top. She googled each person’s name.

The first search turned up a MySpace page. There was a picture of the applicant, drinking beer from a funnel. Under hobbies, the first entry was, “binge drinking.”

The second search turned up a personal blog (a good one, actually). The most recent entry said something like, “I am applying for some menial jobs that are below me, and I’m annoyed by it. I’ll certainly quit the minute I sell a few paintings.”

And the third? There were only six matches, and the sixth was from the local police department, indicating that the applicant had been arrested for shoplifting two years earlier.

Three for three.

Google never forgets.

Of course, you don’t have to be a drunk, a thief or a bitter failure for this to backfire. Everything you do now ends up in your permanent record. The best plan is to overload Google with a long tail of good stuff and to always act as if you’re on Candid Camera, because you are.

And that is just someone looking for a housekeeper. Imagine if it were really important to you: college application, internship, scholarship, promotion. Yes, employers, colleges, and organizations are scouring the Internet to see what they can find out about you before they meet you. It is a part of the process these days.

Remember what your mom always told you? No, not the underwear and the car wreck thing. She also talked about first impressions when meeting someone for the first time, and you only get one of them? Well, now you are doing that BEFORE you meet them for the first time. As a matter of fact, it just might cost you meeting them for the first time. Google me. Be more specific in your search: “Scott S. Floyd”. You will see me everywhere: literacy sites, political sites, newspapers, blog comments, video comments, and who knows how many virtual communities I participate in. What I do know is that I work hard to maintain a web presence that I want my mother to be proud of. Funny enough, my wife (who spends nowhere near the time online that I do) casually mentioned over dinner one night, “You know, you have a lot of good stuff on the Internet.” Yep. She Googled me. I was proud of what she found. So was she.

So, it is time to add this component to the technology application standards we teach our students in a focused way. Our goal is to teach it through electronic portfolios. If we show our students the proper way to present themselves to the virtual world, then maybe some of that training will stick with them when they are growing that tattoo outside of the school walls.

I’m Now a Mechanic…Sort of

I was reading a post from Vicki Davis in my feed reader tonight when I came across this post that “analyzes” me based on my writing in my blog. So I figured I would give it a shot. I would say that it is a fairly accurate read of my personality. Those who know me would agree with most of it. Those who will be getting to know me in my new leadership endeavors with TCEA will probably recognize much of it as well in the near future. Since this is looking at writing I have done over a variety of topics through the past year and a half, I think it had a decent chance of gathering accurate data.

Agree or not, here I am according to Typealyzer:

ISTP – The Mechanics

The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment and are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generally prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts.

The Mechanics enjoy working together with other independent and highly skilled people and often like to seek fun and action both in their work and personal life. They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters.

Analysis

This show what parts of the brain that were dominant during writing:

This would be great to do this same analysis on some of our students’ self-directed writing and then on writing we require them to do (for test prep more than likely).

Acer Aspire One and the ESL student

Acer Aspire One Unboxing 3 by wstryder
Photo Credit: wstryder

Most schools in our neck of the woods are trying out iPods with their ESL students. We started to do the same. Our teachers worked through the process of learning what they needed to know about them and how to utilize them with kids. Then, the Acer Aspire One came on the scene. We bought a few to try out for our elementary students thinking they might be a nice low cost alternative for our small handed friends in K-5.

While reviewing one of them, I noticed it had an SD card slot on both sides of the machine. Hmmm. Then I noticed one was a card reader and the other a storage bay. Double Hmmmmmm. I got to thinking about how we use Deep Freeze to protect our machines from viruses and vandalism in general and how a USB flash drive can be cumbersome for a kid to carry and pop in and out all the time when changing classes. So, we slid a 4GB SD card into the storage bay, redirected My Documents to the card (which in turn moved the iTunes preferred storage folders with it), and loaded our software of choice (OpenOffice, Skype, Firefox, all of the required web plug-ins, and Deep Freeze), and we had a nice little machine.

The big advantage of the SD card is that if we have a hardware malfunction with the Acer, we pop out the SD card, give the students a new machine, and they are back in business.

One thing we did specific for our ESL students was to use the web based version of Rosetta Stone. We have open wireless throughout our school district (read that as no active directory or other log in needed), so they now have the chance to work independently anytime throughout the school day with the given USB headsets. We are also waiting on Higher Ground’s new case for the 9″ laptops so we can begin sending the machines home with the kids. We know the family will begin to use it which will only serve to improve their fluency as well. It seems to be a win-win.

So as it stands, our secondary ESL students have a netbook to use freely throughout the day to do the following:

  • notes in the wordprocessor
  • presentations if asked using either OpenOffice or web-based tools
  • podcasts in iTunes
  • Rosetta Stone
  • online language translators for communication
  • calculator
  • Skype/video conferences
  • MovieMaker with built-in webcam & mic to record notes, lectures, or whatever
  • Firefox with Scribefire for blogging (when they get to that)
  • Firefox for email with Gaggle (with built-in translator)
  • Firefox for Internet-based research and web 2.0 tools

Something I still want to find out is how the Deep Freeze and/or swapping of SD cards will effect the subscribed podcasts. There is probably a workaround in backing up the account to the card, but we will know more as we move into the project a bit. I am not concerned about the rest of the project. The kids jumped right into OpenOffice and have not even asked how to do a thing with it. It is just intuitive, which backs up our belief that we do NOT have to have Microsoft Office for them anymore. They just need the productivity suite practice regardless of flavor. We really like OpenOffice 3, and the price is right.

I am sure I am leaving off some of the things they do with that great little computer. It is actually my Windows machine of choice (if there is such a thing). Now I just need to get me an MSI Wind so I can convert it into a Hackintosh to make my life semi-tech complete (for now). 😉