Sunday, May 31, 2009

Blogging Connects Hometown Soldier with Hometown Middle Schoolers

Blogging connects an American soldier in Afghanistan with middle school children from his hometown in Ballard County, Kentucky. A seventh grader at the Ballard County Middle School helped to design the blog in December 2008 including a picture of an ice storm in January. Since, pictures of the middle school have been posted to the blog, and the National Guard Aaron Connor has been writing posts about life in Ghazni City, Afghanistan where he is stationed.
According the Ballard County School District website, “A blog has been set up where students can ask Connor, 26, questions and the soldier can respond. The public can visit at Many questions have been added to the blog, as well as photographs of sixth-grade activities. Connor, a gunner on a transport vehicle, has been asked about anything from his dogs, to the weather, to what he does for fun. He already has responded to many of the posts, and is in the process of answering the questions in three parts: his daily life; Afghanistan; and the dogs. On the blog, students can also comment on things that are happening in their daily lives, as well.” You can read more about Connor’s blogging, emailing, and phone calls with the students by scrolling down on the district website at: reading about the blog at the district site and skimming the blog, comment on ideas that you have for using blogging to forge international connections. (Image from Aaron's blog shows sixth graders at the Ballard Middle School.)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

No More Paper Textbooks

Free digital textbooks hit California Schools. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced plans for digital math and science for the 2009-2010 school year. Faced with budget woes, it is not surprising that the Gov. opted for the change. Schwarzenegger sees the plan as way to encourage collaboration among school districts. Plans call for compiling a list of digital textbooks aligned to state standards. A few questions come to mind: Will digital textbooks improve student learning? Are teachers ready for the change? Will digital textbooks be more up-to-date than regular ones? How soon can we expect most textbooks to be digitalized? To find out more about digital textbooks, read this article in Curriculum Matters, California Going Digital with Math, Science Textbooks. What do you see as the pros and cons of textbook moving to the digital format?