Saturday, December 06, 2008

Again Saturday we meet

I got to Roosevelt a little before eight this morning, coffeemaker in one hand, portable drill, battery and bits in the other. Donuts, in the other. Laptop in the other. All hands were full. I had enough time to put things down, a bit of caring for the animals and plants, then Don called that he had arrived. A while later Conner calls that he's arrived. And I know when Fred gets there because he pulls on the string dangling out my window. All are busily engaged, Don's laptop plugged into the network, Conner working busily on a thin client, and Fred and I working on creating to boards along which will run the permanent power strips when all of a sudden over the loud speaker...
"Mr. Groos please call extension 48161."
And we got kicked out! The Engineer just came there for his 4 hours of overtime and it was time for him to go. So we pushed everything back in place, put the 80 lb. server, the switch, thin client, monitors and cords in my car and we cruised over to my house and re-set up shop. Conner said it had been a long time since he had been kicked out of high school!

Conner was working on his script to manage the Tiered Permissions Scheme with creating a way to manage the gconf file and squid proxy and groups. Hey! Better yet, in his own words (and here is his site, also):
"During the GCoS computer lab project, I was working on a system to allow a teacher to lock down the settings on student workstations, and allow them to add and remove permission and menu items as student progressed. I worked on developing a script that copied menu items into each students folder based on group membership. I discovered on Saturday that unfortunately Edubuntu handles menu setting differently then Ubuntu.

So I started doing some research and came across the Edubuntu-menus project.
This project allows you to create multiple groups, and by adding students to these groups it dynamically creates their menus. So you can create a menu group called edubuntu-games and add a student to it, and everything you put in those menus is dynamically inserted into a students menu.

This is a much more elegant solution that I initially had planned. Unfortunately, it's still in initial stages, and though functionaly works, any changes to the menus requires hand editing text files. I'm still going to write a script to copy gconf settings, but as things stand, I'm going to work on figuring out the menu file syntax so I can help David develop appropriate menu groups for his classroom."
  • is working on teaching me to use his script to import and manage students. What a cool script! It works clearly and as I said to him in an e-mail: "I feel confident that not only can I use this student user management system, but that pretty much any teacher could, too!" We I used it to add all of the students and to add some late-comers who weren't in the import file. All right!
  • Came on his way to picking up his wife at the Airport but arranged some way of her taking the light rail to the station near Roosevelt and picking her up there. But in the end it wasn't so smooth since we got kicked out of school. Anyway, we started to implement the new idea discussed in a recent post and it looks good! Things are coming along!
Anyway, we got important ground covered, Meet at my house this next Saturday? The server, switch, thin clients etc are still set up... I think we are almost there!

  1. Printer setup (always print user at bottom, limit pages, easy way to view printer logs?)
  2. Quicktime etc plugins?
  3. CmapTools setup?
  4. Squid config?
  5. Mount/unmount flash drives?
  6. Get VNC server working
  7. Finish setting up iTalc.
  8. Solve the "IDS server" issue w/iTalc
  9. Conner's solution?

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

We arrived at some conclusions...

Clyde and Kyle
I was very pleased to meet the Interim Director of Facilities, Clyde, as he came to visit me in my classroom this last Monday morning. I again was impressed with our district leadership--he came with with a positive, problem-solving perspective on the wiring issue highlighted by the fire marshal.

Kyle accompanied Clyde to my classroom during my prep. After showing both around my classroom and sharing our vision of the Growing Communities of Scientists project, Clyde had questions. He asked about evidence showing that this model works, how other teachers in the district felt about this project, what the dream was. Clyde had some insightful things to say. Additionally, we addressed the issues brought up by the fire marshal. Here were some points he made:
  • While the design of the tables were practical, they were rustic. To expand this model into many more classrooms, the tables would need to become more professional. I couldn't disagree with this!
  • If this model proves itself then the district should be expected to support it.
  • He felt that the solutions we have come up with to address the concerns of the fire marshal will work! This is great news because for this model to be practical it can't require expensive modifications of each classroom. I'll post a picture of the solution this Saturday as a few of us volunteers will be working in the room, then.
  • He suggested that the leaders of the different, stakeholder-departments such as Media, Technology Integration, Instruction, and Science need to get together to discuss this project. Involved teachers, Ed, Christen and James need to be part of the meeting, also. We would combine our expertise, improving the ideas of this project. This would help avoid what happened with the electrical wiring where we lost a lot of time, effort and money implementing a solution that in the end was not acceptable. I thought this was an excellent idea and appreciated him bringing it up. He said that he will start to organize this meeting though it will probably take a while to happen.
The snowball continues to grow :-)