Archive for March, 2007

Our house hunt has come to and end in North Platte, but our stay has been prolonged by hazardous weather. Last night there were tornadoes to our west, and a powerful winter storm has prevented us from making our way back through Wyoming. On the bright side we are able to get to know our new town a bit, and we are just hoping Friday or Saturday’s weather will let us travel to our current home. We knew this would probably happen and are taking it all in stride. Luckily the kids are all on Spring Break and are not missing school, but this is no Disney World :-(!!! That updates my current state of affairs, and I hope to be back posting instructional technology info soon! Until we meet again: peace!

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I would like to announce my upcoming opportunity to become the new Educational Technology Director for the North Platte Public Schools in North Platte, Nebraska. Serving in this capacity has been a goal for the past few years and since earning my master’s degree in instructional technology from the University of Wyoming in May 2006 I have focused much of my energy in achieving this charge. I will begin my duties this summer, and I am excited to be a part of an organization that has been focused on improving the learning process via the integration of technology. My wife, Dianna, has also been offered employment in this same district as a speech-language pathologist.

My family and I will be taking a trip to North Platte to search for housing next week, and my posts here may be a bit sparse. For those who may have become regular, semi-regular, or accidental readers, I invite you to search through some of my old posts for bits of information that may be of interest or helpful to you.

My plans are that this site will remain up and running as a personal project; furthermore, the opinions expressed here are the personal views of myself, Neil Hokanson, and Hokanson’s Instructional Technology (H I T) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the North Platte Public School District.

Hannah Marching Band My two oldest children, Hannah (a freshman trombone player and beautiful choir singer) and Charlie (5th grade guitar player), are budding musicians. School is where they have engaged in this opportunity, and research shows the benefits on academic performance for students involved in music education programs (NAMM). I was, for a time, a trumpet player, and my wife played an alto sax throughout her school years. Music is an important part of our lives and the iPods and other music making/playing devices that inhabit our home are in heavy use.

Charlie Guitar I recently read an article at eSchool News Online (Requires FREE registration to read full articles.) about music education and Web 2.0 titled “Music education moves online.” The information included several online and software programs that enable collaboration amongst musicians. I have also included a link to an excellent software program that I purchased for my son’s guitar practice sessions: Guitar Shed.

WORKSHOPLIVE

eJamming

In The Chair

Sibelius

I am interested in learning about valuable online resources that music educators use to supplement their instruction or to enrich student practice. Please share!

UPDATE!!! I was informed of a new product (see comments) called StarPlay that is in its beta version and can be tried for FREE. The following video explains StarPlay’s benefits:

Science One particular science site that continues to interest me is the Franklin Institute Science Museum and its “Resources for Science Learning” Case Files Online Exhibit. The resource is fully interdisciplinary and as the site states:

“This exhibit feautures notable scientists and their Case Files. The Case Files are a unique repository in the history of science and technology. As the documentary record of The Franklin Awards program, the Case Files are filled with stories of scientific enterprise.”

Other science sites that I have been exploring for student use include:

Exploratorium

NASA (Education)

How Stuff Works (Science Channel)

Please share the interesting science web sites that you are using with your students.

Over the years I have used Webquests in my classroom and generated a few of my own. Webquests are excellent ways to engage students in the learning process while utilizing the valuable resources found on the Internet. There are many ready made Webquests covering all disciplines of study found on the Web. One particular Webquest I created, refined, and used for many years with my 8th grade U.S. History students was called “New Inuits in Town.” The Webquest culminated with the students actually working in groups to create igloos. Our climate, highland, allowed for plenty of snow, and the students enjoyed the activity. The following is part of a video from one of our Webquest generated igloo building adventures:

The music for the video comes from the band Elysian Sky. It is comprised of three wonderful souls, two of which are my former students from back in my Dakota Valley High School teaching days (1994-1997): Jobey McGinty and Jamie Sanders!!! Check out the band’s site and score some awesome tunes TODAY!!!

Rick Thomas shares a valuable resource via his blog post “Using Technology in the Classroom.”

The link he shares is to the Kentucky Department of Education site, and I really liked the parent resources found by clicking on “Parental Involvement” then “What Parents Need to Know.” This takes you to the “Links for Parents” page. The introduction states:

“Helpful links for parents regarding kids security online, what parents need to know about media, and some good links for students.”

The page is divided into the following categories:  “Helping Your Kids With Homework,” “Kids Security Online,” and “Sites For Kids.”  Check it out today!

The following article is a continuation of yesterday’s post and is taken from the Casper Star Tribune:

“Statewide test faces more trouble

By JARED MILLER
Star-Tribune capital bureau

CHEYENNE — Topping off a troubled week for Wyoming’s statewide assessment, educators learned Friday that some students who scored “proficient” on part of the exam may have to retake it anyway.

Schools across the state on Friday received “estimated” scores for the writing portion of the Proficiency Assessments for Wyoming Students. They will be combined with precise reading and math scores to determine who will retest later this month.

Melissa Cade, curriculum director for Weston County School District 1, said the estimated scores could force educators to make a “gut feeling” decision on retesting.

And some pupils who actually cleared the proficiency hurdle might be putting pencil to paper again this month. “We were never under the impression that we were making a judgment call,” she said.

State Department of Education spokeswoman Mary Kay Hill Friday recommended retesting students whose writing scores are “on the bubble.”

The problematic scores represent the latest in a string of troubles with PAWS, which will help determine if schools are making “adequate yearly progress” under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Earlier this week, the test maker, Texas-based Harcourt Assessment, delivered the scores 10 days late. The delay cut short the time students have to prepare for the retake, which begins on March 26.

“Every time we turn around it seems like there’s one more kink in it,” said Cade, who is optimistic that the test eventually will become a “powerful tool” for Wyoming students and educators.”

Nothing surprises me anymore! I am gaining a solid foundation of low expectations concerning this testing procedure. Does Texas have these same issues (Read the related articles in my previous post!)?