Saturday, December 18, 2010

Getting from Pre-Testable Question to a Testable Question

I started classes by showing a pre-testable question from period 5, specifically chosen by me for its relevance to the interrelationship between plants and animals, specifically the carbon/oxygen cycle.  The title of the lesson was this question: "How are Plants and Animals related?"

I call this pre-testable because it asks about a relationship but needs to be more specific to actually be useful.  This can be turned into a more-specific, 'testable question' through a process of creating a hypothesis, and creating a question (i.e. testable question) to test that hypothesis

Thus, a pre-testable question is too general to be useful but can inspire hypothesis which then lead to a usable testable question.  The example above, "How are plants and animals related?" leads to many hypothesis.  I've highlighted hypothesis in yellow then indented testable questions indented under each hypothesis.  While I've included some more natural-language questions, others use the more explicit, "Focus Question Template" of, "How does ___ affect the ___ of ___?".  This template is powerful, learn to use it and create experimental questions at will!  I've also stated some questions in both forms.
  1. Animals eat plants.
    1. What's the favored part of a birch tree for deer? or... How does location on tree affect deer foraging?
    2. How does species of plant affect foraging by cows outside of Guatemala city?
    3. What part of anacharis do snails prefer to eat?
      1. Snails favorite part of anacharis to eat is the youngest part, the growing tip.
        1. How does age of anacharis part affect feeding by snails in aquarium?
  2. Plants use animals for seed dispersal.
    1. Which animals are most important for seed dispersal?
    2. How important are cows for the dispersal of Guanacaste species?
  3. Animals require the oxygen that plants produce.
    1. How does species affect the amount of oxygen produced by plants?
    2. How does amount of leaf surface area affect amount of oxygen produced by banana plants?
    3. How does light intensity level affect the amount of oxygen produced by spider plants?
It is evident as shown in hypothesis 1, question 3 above that there is a possible spiral relationship between hypotheses and questions, gaining specificity at each cycle.  Through this process of developing testable questions, students created many different questions and experiments, all to gain further insight on the carbon-oxygen cycle.

      Tuesday, December 14, 2010

      Setting up the design of a wordpress 3 multi site for Knowledge Building with FLE4

      It has taken a bit to come to grips with the WordPress 3 system of sites, most of the trials and tribulations haven't ended up on this blog, thankfull :).  In this post I intend to present organized tips on setting up a WordPress site for knowledge building with the FLE4 plugin.  I've already given some advice on setting up the site: initial installation and optional customization of FLE4 plugin and further first steps: setting up 'sites' i.e. blogs, for each teacher (1 site/blog per class).  The advice below addresses various other issues of setup and using it for knowledge building.

      Use a standard theme.  I do recommend using the WordPress 2010 theme: it's simple, nice looking and works and if you need help troubleshoot issues on the forums at wordpress it eliminates a bunch of possible issues.

      Create a naming system for your multi-site installation.  I've come up with this formula for naming the sites: teacherpx. Where "teacher" is the Teachers last name, and "x" is the Period number.  For example: groosp1, groosp2, groosp4... and turnerp1, turnerp2, turnerp3 etc.  Note the use of lower case: that is more standard for web addresses.

      Use and set up of a site (remember, 1 site per class)
      One strategy (not 'the best one' just one of several that can be made to work) for each science 'unit' such as 'Structure and Function of Cells' is to create a few essential questions centered around the major concepts and skills used and issues addressed by the scientists who research that particular area of study.  For this unit on cells I've used:
      1. What do cells need?
      2. Why is knowledge of cells important?
      3. How do cells interact with other cells?
      4. What kinds of cells are there?
      5. How do we learn about cells?
      6. How do cells work?
      7. What are the relationships between an organism and it's cells?
      8. What is the structure of a cell?
      Each of these questions becomes the title of a separate post.  Next, groups of students volunteer to 'champion' one of those posts, that is, take primary responsibility that that particular question or problem gets answered/solved.  In my class, groups correspond to tables of 3-4 students.

      Add navigation custom menus for each unit.  It was awesomely difficult to find instructions on how to create custom menus to navigate the posts on the blog but there they are :).  Specifically, I create a new category for the unit, such as "Cells", then associate this category with each of the unit-specific posts (corresponding to the 8 questions mentioned above, for example).  In the example below you can see I've made 2 menu items, Cells and KB.  By adding this category to the menu, when someone clicks on the menu cells, then it will take you to a page that has only those posts that are associated with the Cells category.
      Note the menu item, "Cells" under the heading image.

      Next, you add the posts you want to appear in the menu.  Follow the direction on the link to the how-to given above.  Then, when you hover over the menu all those items appear.  Below is an example of when one hovers over 'Cells' the post:
       I also edit the widgets to get rid of Non-essential visual info, only leaving the 'search', 'meta' and 'recent comments' widgets.

      And for the base blog site the only widget I use is a custom one.  In the menu section in themes I create another menu and call it "Classes".  Then I add custom urls that direct to the dashboard of each site.  Thus, when a student clicks on it he or she is taken directly to the login page for his or her site.  Below is a screen shot showing how my main site looks, showing the 'search' and 'Login to your Class' Site' widgets.

      These are most of the edits I make.  And you probably saw I uploaded a custom header--I like papayas :)

      Saturday, October 30, 2010

      Troubleshooting plone 3.2.3 k-12 buildout

      Of course at first I didn't know that the problem I was having was due to the buildout.  It sure was great having a professionally constructed buildout, but open source is also synonomous with DIY so...  The following are excerpts from e-mails I had sent out to plone supporters of GCoS.

      I thought I'd let you know about an issue I've been struggling with for a few days.  In my new 3.2.3 plone site from the buildout I can add all content types available, BUT users with member status can only see 9 of the 14 content types, including they can't see Vee's.

      Another issue is that even though I explicitly give permission to logged in users to edit pages (vee pages) in a folder, they can't edit them. While I googled and went on #plone, I wasn't able to get anywhere.

      I created a fresh site at root level.  I then created a 'member' level user.  I then went to Add Products in Site Setup and added (just) the Vee product--nothing else.

      When I logged back in as a member, I was able to add Vees, showing the problem wasn't with the Vee's product, or at least, not totally.

      I then Added all the 3.2.3 products from the buildout, some 20-30 of them.  Again logging back in as a member I tried to add a Vee and saw that the Vee had disappeared from the list of available content types.

      I then went through a process of uninstalling all the products, several at a time, each time loggin out afterwards and re-logging in as a member to check if the Vee product was available.  It never was.  Even when I had uninstalled all products except the Vee, it still was unavailable.  I even then reinstalled the Vee but it was still unavailable as a content type.

      Conclusion, some one (or more) of the add on products that are on the buildout messes around with content type adding for members (not for managers as I could always add it).  I also guessed that the issue may well be connected with the permissions issue I was having.
       A couple days later...
      Well, I just finished a good bit of testing and found that I could add literally every product in the add-on section in site setup EXCEPT uwosh.timeslot.1.4.7 and all content types would be 'addable' by member-level users.  BUT, upon adding uwosh.timeslot.1.4.7, not mattering if it was the second addon (after adding the Vee product) or as the very last addon (after adding all 30 some products), several content types would immediately go missing (including the Vee).
      And several hours later...
      Good News!  By comparing the security settings between a good site and affected site, esp. paying attention to the timeslot column, I found that the row, "add portal content" was checked in the uwosh_timeslot_ScheduleManager and not checked in the Contributor, Manager and Owner columns.  So I reversed that on the 'broken' site and things instantly... work again add Vee's

      I haven't checked the permissions issue yet but I'll let you know as I find out more.
      And finally a bit later (post midnight...)
      Couldn't resist testing permissions issue :)  sharing a folder now works properly :).

      Ah... the taste of success :)

      Sunday, October 17, 2010

      Superman--the silver bullet for education?

      About 21 years ago I learned that teaching was A LOT harder than it seemed.  Over the next 5-10 years I learned convincingly and in detail that there is no secret, clever, innovative or 'we should just...' solution to the complex challenges of education.  I've been there and tried a lot :) and learned some of the complexity on different levels of analysis.

      Generally I don't post other peoples writing even if it's great stuff because well, it's out there already.  However, I'm entering the fray over this new movie, "Waiting for Superman" though I'm well into my second decade battling to 'improve' education.  The topic of education in general and perhaps especially public education is a political football and part of that has to do with there being such a widespread state of  'not-knowing-that-we-don't-know' about teaching and therefore about education. 

      Most of us know that we can't fix a modern car, we can't take a computer apart and fix the components, decompile a computer program and improve it, design and build a house, make a great perfume, carve a sculpture, etc.  But, the funny thing about teaching is that, in our private hearts, many of us believe we can teach OK with just a bit of practice.  OK, so maybe it was just me before I started teaching (but there is the saying that 'if you can't do, teach').

      A good teacher makes teaching look just like smiling, talking, pulling out the occasional evil eye, directing people, answering some questions and calling on people and telling people to 'turn to page...'.  Most of us can do that.  But, of course, 'the man behind the curtain' is busy!  It's a well documented fact that the profession of teaching requires more decisions-per-day than practically any other profession.  And every decision a teacher makes in (and out) of the classroom has it educational consequences, good or bad...

      All I'm trying to say is that when/if you watch "Waiting for Superman" please add some background knowledge/alternative perspectives to their story. I hope  you find this long but interesting letter worthwhile.

      This was written by Rick Ayers, a former high school teacher, founder of Communication Arts and Sciences small school at Berkeley High School, and currently adjunct professor in teacher education at the University of San Francisco.  It's posted on different parts of the web such as at the Washington Post.

      "What 'Superman' got wrong, point by point. 

      By Rick Ayers
      While the education film Waiting For Superman has moving profiles of students struggling to succeed under difficult circumstances, it puts forward a sometimes misleading and other times dishonest account of the roots of the problem and possible solutions.

      The amped-up rhetoric of crisis and failure everywhere is being used to promote business-model reforms that are destabilizing even in successful schools and districts. A panel at NBC's Education Nation Summit, taking place in New York today and tomorrow, was originally titled "Does Education Need a Katrina?" Such disgraceful rhetoric undermines reasonable debate.

      Let's examine these issues, one by one:

      *Waiting for Superman says that lack of money is not the problem in education.
      Yet the exclusive charter schools featured in the film receive large private subsidies. Two-thirds of Geoffrey Canada's Harlem Children's Zone funding comes from private sources, effectively making the charter school he runs in the zone a highly resourced private school. Promise Academy is in many ways an excellent school, but it is dishonest for the filmmakers to say nothing about the funds it took to create it and the extensive social supports including free medical care and counseling provided by the zone.

      In New Jersey, where court decisions mandated similar programs, such as high quality pre-kindergarten classes and extended school days and social services in the poorest urban districts, achievement and graduation rates increased while gaps started to close. But public funding for those programs is now being cut and progress is being eroded. Money matters! Of course, money will not solve all problems (because the problems are more systemic than the resources of any given school) - but the off-handed rejection of a discussion of resources is misleading.

      *Waiting for Superman implies that standardized testing is a reasonable way to assess student progress.
      The debate of "how to raise test scores" strangles and distorts strong education. Most test score differences stubbornly continue to reflect parental income and neighborhood/zip codes, not what schools do. As opportunity, health and family wealth increase, so do test scores. This is not the fault of schools but the inaccuracy, and the internal bias, in the tests themselves.

      Moreover, the tests are too narrow (on only certain subjects with only certain measurement tools). When schools focus exclusively on boosting scores on standardized tests, they reduce teachers to test-prep clerks, ignore important subject areas and critical thinking skills, dumb down the curriculum and leave children less prepared for the future. We need much more authentic assessment to know if schools are doing well and to help them improve.

      *Waiting for Superman ignores overall problems of poverty.
      Schools must be made into sites of opportunity, not places for the rejection and failure of millions of African American, Chicano Latino, Native American, and immigrant students. But schools and teachers take the blame for huge social inequities in housing, health care, and income.

      Income disparities between the richest and poorest in U.S.society have reached record levels between 1970 and today. Poor communities suffer extensive traumas and dislocations. Homelessness, the exploitation of immigrants, and the closing of community health and counseling clinics, are all factors that penetrate our school communities. Solutions that punish schools without addressing these conditions only increase the marginalization of poor children.

      *Waiting for Superman says teachers' unions are the problem.
      Of course unions need to be improved - more transparent, more accountable, more democratic and participatory - but before teachers unionized, the disparity in pay between men and women was disgraceful and the arbitrary power of school boards to dismiss teachers or raise class size without any resistance was endemic.

      Unions have historically played leading roles in improving public education, and most nations with strong public educational systems have strong teacher unions.

      According to this piece in The Nation, "In the Finnish education system, much cited in the film as the best in the world, teachers are - gasp! - unionized and granted tenure, and families benefit from a cradle-to-grave social welfare system that includes universal daycare, preschool and health care, all of which are proven to help children achieve better results in school."

      In fact, even student teachers have a union in Finland and, overall, nearly 90% of the Finnish labor force is unionized.

      The demonization of unions ignores the real evidence.

      *Waiting for Superman says teacher education is useless.
      The movie touts the benefits of fast track and direct entry to teaching programs such as Teach for America, but the country with the highest achieving students, Finland, also has highly educated teachers.

      A 1970 reform of Finland's education system mandated that all teachers above the kindergarten level have at least a master's degree. Today that country's students have the highest math and science literacy, as measured by the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), of all the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member countries.

      *Waiting for Superman decries tenure as a drag on teacher improvement.
      Tenured teachers cannot be fired without due process and a good reason: they can't be fired because the boss wants to hire his cousin, or because the teacher is gay (or black or.), or because they take an unpopular position on a public issue outside of school.

      A recent survey found that most principals agreed that they had the authority to fire a teacher if they needed to take such action. It is interesting to note that when teachers are evaluated through a union-sanctioned peer process, more teachers are put into retraining programs and dismissed than through administration-only review programs. Overwhelmingly teachers want students to have outstanding and positive experiences in schools.

      *Waiting for Superman says charter schools allow choice and better educational innovation.
      Charters were first proposed by the teachers' unions to allow committed parents and teachers to create schools that were free of administrative bureaucracy and open to experimentation and innovation, and some excellent charters have set examples. But thousands of hustlers and snake oil salesmen have also jumped in.

      While teacher unions are vilified in the film, there is no mention of charter corruption or profiteering. A recent national study by CREDO, The Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University, concludes that only 17% of charter schools have better test scores than traditional public schools, 46% had gains that were no different than their public counterparts, and 37% were significantly worse.

      While a better measure of school success is needed, even by their own measure, the project has not succeeded. A recent Mathematica Policy Research study came to similar conclusions. And the Education Report, "The Evaluation of Charter School Impacts, concludes, "On average, charter middle schools that hold lotteries are neither more nor less successful than traditional public schools in improving student achievement, behavior, and school progress."

      Some fantastic education is happening in charter schools, especially those initiated by communities and led by teachers and community members. But the use of charters as a battering ram for those who would outsource and privatize education in the name of "reform" is sheer political opportunism.

      *Waiting for Superman glorifies lotteries for admission to highly selective and subsidized charter schools as evidence of the need for more of them.
      If we understand education as a civil right, even a human right as defined by the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, we know it can't be distributed by a lottery.

      We must guarantee all students access to high quality early education, highly effective teachers, college and work-preparatory curricula and equitable instructional resources like good school libraries and small classes. A right without a clear map of what that right protects is an empty statement.

      It is not a sustainable public policy to allow more and more public school funding to be diverted to privately subsidized charters while public schools become the schools of last resort for children with the greatest educational needs. In Waiting for Superman, families are cruelly paraded in front of the cameras as they wait for an admission lottery in an auditorium where the winners' names are pulled from a hat and read aloud, while the losing families trudge out in tears with cameras looming in their faces - in what amounts to family and child abuse.

      *Waiting for Superman says competition is the best way to improve learning.
      Too many people involved in education policy are dazzled by the idea of "market forces" improving schools. By setting up systems of competition, Social Darwinist struggles between students, between teachers, and between schools, these education policy wonks are distorting the educational process.

      Teachers will be motivated to gather the most promising students, to hide curriculum strategies from peers, and to cheat; principals have already been caught cheating in a desperate attempt to boost test scores. And children are worn out in a sink-or-swim atmosphere that threatens them with dire life outcomes if they are not climbing to the top of the heap.

      In spite of the many millions of dollars poured into expounding the theory of paying teachers for higher student test scores (sometimes mislabeled as 'merit pay'), a new study by Vanderbilt University's National Center on Performance Incentives found that the use of merit pay for teachers in the Nashville school district produced no difference even according to their measure, test outcomes for students.

      *Waiting for Superman says good teachers are key to successful education.
      We agree. But Waiting for Superman only contributes to the teacher-bashing culture which discourages talented college graduates from considering teaching and drives people out of the profession.

      According to the Department of Education, the country will need 1.6 million new teachers in the next five years. Retention of talented teachers is one key. Good teaching is about making connections to students, about connecting what they learn to the world in which they live, and this only happens if teachers have history and roots in the communities where they teach.

      But a recent report by the nonprofit National Commission on Teaching and America's Future says that "approximately a third of America's new teachers leave teaching sometime during their first three years of teaching; almost half leave during the first five years. In many cases, keeping our schools supplied with qualified teachers is comparable to trying to fill a bucket with a huge hole in the bottom."

      Check out the reasons teachers are being driven out in Katy Farber's book, "Why Great Teachers Quit: And How We Might Stop the Exodus," (Corwin Press).

      *Waiting for Superman says "we're not producing large numbers of scientists and doctors in this country anymore. . . This means we are not only less educated, but also less economically competitive."
      But Business Week (10/28/09) reported that "U.S. colleges and universities are graduating as many scientists and engineers as ever," yet "the highest performing students are choosing careers in other fields." In particular, the study found, "many of the top students have been lured to careers in finance and consulting." It's the market, and the disproportionately high salaries paid to finance specialists, that is misdirecting human resources, not schools.

      *Waiting for Superman promotes a nutty theory of learning which claims that teaching is a matter of pouring information into children's heads.
      In one of its many little cartoon segments, the film purports to show how kids learn. The top of a child's head is cut open and a jumble of factoids is poured in. Ouch! Oh, and then the evil teacher union and regulations stop this productive pouring project.

      The film-makers betray a lack of understanding of how people actually learn, the active and engaged participation of students in the learning process. They ignore the social construction of knowledge, the difference between deep learning and rote memorization.

      The movie would have done a service by showing us what excellent teaching looks like, and addressing the valuable role that teacher education plays in preparing educators to practice the kind of targeted teaching that reaches all students. It should have let teachers' voices be heard.

      *Waiting for Superman promotes the idea that we are in a dire war for US dominance in the world.
      The poster advertising the film shows a nightmarish battlefield in stark gray, with a little white girl sitting at a desk in the midst of it. The text: "The fate of our country won't be decided on a battlefield. It will be determined in a classroom."

      This is a common theme of the so-called reformers: We are at war with India and China and we have to out-math them and crush them so that we can remain rich and they can stay in the sweatshops.

      But really, who declared this war? When did I as a teacher sign up as an officer in this war? And when did that 4th grade girl become a soldier in it? Instead of this new educational Cold War, perhaps we should be helping kids imagine a world of global cooperation, sustainable economies, and equity.

      *Waiting for Superman says federal "Race to the Top" education funds are being focused to support students who are not being served in other ways.
      According to a study by the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights under Law, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., and others, Race to the Top funds are benefiting affluent or well-to-do, white, and "abled" students. So the outcome of No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top has been more funding for schools that are doing well and more discipline and narrow test-preparation for the poorest schools.

      *Waiting for Superman suggests that teacher improvement is a matter of increased control and discipline over teachers.
      Dan Brown, a teacher in the SEED charter school featured in the film, points out that successful schools involve teachers in strong collegial conversations. Teachers need to be accountable to a strong educational plan, without being terrorized. Good teachers, which is the vast majority of them, are seeking this kind of support from their leaders.

      *Waiting for Superman proposes a reform "solution" that exploits the feminization of the field of teaching; it proposes that teachers just need a few good men with hedge funds (plus D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee with a broom) to come to the rescue.
      Teaching has been historically devalued - teachers are less well compensated and have less control of their working conditions than other professionals - because of its associations with women. For example, 97% of preschool and kindergarten teachers are women, and this is also the least well-compensated sector of teaching; in 2009, the lowest 10% earned $30,970 to $34,280; the top 10% earned $75,190 to $80,970. () By comparison the top 25 hedge fund managers took in $25 billion in 2009, enough to hire 658,000 new teachers.


      Waiting for Superman could and should have been an inspiring call for improvement in education, a call we desperately need to mobilize behind.

      That's why it is so shocking that the message was hijacked by a narrow agenda that undermines strong education. It is stuck in a framework that says that reform and leadership means doing things, like firing a bunch of people (Rhee) or "turning around" schools (Education Secretary Arne Duncan) despite the fact that there's no research to suggest that these would have worked, and there's now evidence to show that they haven't.

      Reform must be guided by community empowerment and strong evidence, not by ideological warriors or romanticized images of leaders acting like they're doing something, anything. Waiting for Superman has ignored deep historical and systemic problems in education such as segregation, property-tax based funding formulas, centralized textbook production, lack of local autonomy and shared governance, de-professionalization, inadequate special education supports, differential discipline patterns, and the list goes on and on.

      People seeing Waiting for Superman should be mobilized to improve education. They just need to be willing to think outside of the narrow box that the film-makers have constructed to define what needs to be done.

      Thanks for ideas and some content from many teacher publications, and especially from Monty Neill, Jim Horn Lisa Guisbond, Stan Karp, Erica Meiners, Kevin Kumashiro, Ilene Abrams, Bill Ayers, and Therese Quinn.

      Tuesday, October 12, 2010

      Scaffolding for teachers: Managing Progressive Inquiry possible--V2

      Here is an improved version of a process to make practical a scientific-inquiry-based unit in science class.  Please add comments or thoughts at the bottom of this post.

      Saturday, October 09, 2010

      #plone helps solve user import issue.

      One of the key functionalities I need from plone is to be able to import a batch of users as at the start of each year I've go a fresh crew to install (3-4 hundred users this year).  While I wish there were some way that I could set my authentication to the district AD servers and when someone logged in for the first time it would set up new local accounts on my plone server, able to be managed locally, it doesn't look like that functionality is around.

      So, I went on #plone at the suggestion of my WebLion friends and I've gotten some good direction.  The dialog below shows the second time I visited the chat room for help on this topic.  In the end (now almost 2 weeks after the below dialog) I've given up on this for a variety of reasons related to my lack of knowledge and time to gain it (couldn't get a fresh install with same buildout to work).

      So, over this last week I have had students join as 'new users'.  This is always a painful process with incorrect login names (though of course I liked that God became a user on my site ;)) but now have my students in my plone site.  They can now make and edit and review content...

      (04:54:39 PM) dgroos: Anyone here have a not-too-difficult solution to batch-add about 350 new users to a plone site?
      (04:55:04 PM) dgroos: I teach, don't code, sorry.
      (04:55:30 PM) dgroos: Hi dahoste: I'm back for another try...
      (04:57:45 PM) dahoste: dgroos, :) I did look over my stuff after we chatted, and I've factored it into like a dozen function calls and, and it's all pretty embedded into the custom policy product in which I'm using it. You'd be as well of (or better) starting from that tutorial blog post you mentioned as from anything I've got.
      (04:58:57 PM) dgroos: dahoste: thanks for continued consideration on this need. :)
      (05:02:31 PM) dgroos: Dahoste: Here's the page on the site:
      (05:02:38 PM) Moo--__: dgroos: here is some more
      (05:02:41 PM) dgroos: Would you take a quick gander and tell me if this is something that *should* be able to be adapted to plone 3.2?
      (05:03:20 PM) Moo--__:
      (05:03:37 PM) Moo--__: dgroos: it works on plone 3.x
      (05:03:40 PM) dgroos: If it looks doable I'll see if I can get some enthusiasm going :D
      (05:03:48 PM) dgroos: Hi Moo--_: :)
      (05:04:06 PM) dgroos: I'll check it out, thanks.
      (05:07:03 PM) dahoste: dgroos, that script is literally the bare minimum for making a new user account. The regtool.addMember() call. But yes, that call looks fine. The devil in doing robust batch processing is all the stuff that script doesn't do. Checking against existing userids, sending account notifications, etc..
      (05:08:08 PM) dahoste: dgroos, but it would technically do the job, if you have a known good set of user data, and you were pushing it into a known clean plone instance (or you otherwise felt confident that the userids wouldn't collide). And you didn't need account notifications.
      (05:09:00 PM) dgroos: Thanks for checking it. It's an almost empty site and I can be careful about the info I put into the csv AND I don't need account notifications so...
      (05:10:14 PM) dahoste: dgroos, then it sounds like a match made in heaven. :)
      (05:10:24 PM) dgroos: Are you saying that it looks like it might work as is with a 3.2.x site? I'll make a new plone instance then and give it a try.
      (05:10:27 PM) dgroos: :)
      (05:11:09 PM) dahoste: dgroos, note that the little dictionary he uses to pass the other user properties in, can be extended with anything you see in portal_memberdata/Properties in the ZMI.
      (05:12:00 PM) dahoste: dgroos, sure, the only Plone piece is really that regtool call. And that function signature likely hasn't changed.
      (05:13:24 PM) dgroos: Are you saying that it might not be too hard for *someone-in-the-know* to make it so that it also adds people to a particular plone group?
      (05:14:19 PM) dgroos: In the article that Moo--__: referenced, there is a section about adding users to a group...
      (05:15:05 PM) dgroos: Thanks dahoste--I'll be giving this a try :D
      (05:17:13 PM) dgroos: (getting out my note sheet...) Thanks!

      (05:18:24 PM) dahoste: dgroos, have fun storming the castle. If it's a new plone instance, just wipe it and try again as you're vetting the script.
      (05:19:11 PM) dgroos: Great, will do. I'll let you know next week or sooner how it goes.
      (05:19:17 PM) dahoste: partial success of the batch will have created as many new users as it gets through, so you can't just re-run the batch without taking that into account (or wiping things first).

      Now to get back to the irc and let them know and maybe get some help with the javascript error.

      And thanks again to Jamie

      Jamie Miley arrived at Roosevelt at 6:30 AM on Sept. 2 to help set up SAMBA sharing and make it so that the printers on my sub LAN got published to the building level LAN.  This was necessary so that I could print in my room, from the laptop I often use, that is connected to the building's network.  Somehow it just worked last year, but this year I couldn't get it to work, so after some hours trying to make it work I e-mailed Jamie.  He had offered to help again and had said, 'Just let me know...'

      He did several things (the details which I've lost!) and it worked!

      It sure is nice to be able to print from any computer.

      Friday, October 08, 2010

      Framework to teach a topic via dialogic/trialogic scientific inquiry.

      So much has happened--Updates will occur in over the next few days in random order...

      Today I was at the North Central Regional Association of Science Teacher Educators and met Morgan Yarker and Matt Benus from the University of Iowa.  Their research along with their advisory, Brian Hand, is about helping in-service science teachers teach through inquiry methods.  I really liked what they were doing since dialog is central to their approach.  Seeing the words, "Claim and Evidence" on their poster shown above is what first caught my attention.

      Matt helped me think about how to structure a unit so as to maximize student involvement, authentic inquiry and community meaning-making.  I've created a very rough flowmap with some questions using CmapTools.  Really, this is just the notes of what we talked about.  I'll be providing details on this as I progress in developing this unit.

      I really REALLY appreciated his distinction between Testable Questions and Researchable Questions. Testable questions (TQ's) provide an in-road to student experimental activity, the latter providing centers of meaning making that we expand to encompass the Big Ideas.  I also like the idea of students assessing which TQ's would be most helpful to understand the Big Ideas of the topic.  It's obvious to me how FLE4 will help with the RQ's and the on line Vees will help with the TQ's.  I'll be developing how these tools/activities along with others will be integrated to provide a whole experience for the students. Here's the rough draft showing the development of the unit:

      Saturday, August 28, 2010

      Alkis G saves the day... again

      I've spent *a lot* of time this summer setting up the classroom edubuntu thin client (LTSP 5.2) server, though to tell the truth, it was less than 25% of the time I had to spend over the previous summer and it has/will have lots more functionality, and I expect to 'go live' in class, sooner, to boot!

      More than once 'alkisg' has helped me out, see previous posts.  The last time was yesterday, my last day to prepare before students arrive and I'm spending 6 hours trying to beat the server into shape.  Thanks to alkisg' help I was able to find that the problem was the resolv.conf in the chroot.  The symptom was that, when I was chrooted, I was unable to update, all misses with 'apt-get update'.  The problem was that the chroot had resolv.conf settings from my house this summer which is where I originally set it up.  Upon fixing that, and ltsp-update-image all things were hunky dory.  That gave me some time to prepare for my students arriving on Monday.  Well, I had to come in today (Saturday) to do lots of the work and got most of it done--even my wife and son came in a bit and helped!  Things are looking pretty good :-).

      Fred prepares Christen's Classroom at Nellie Stone Johnson

      Thanks to Fred, NSJ science teacher is ready again to welcome her students with computers in place--all hardware working.  Following are most of Fred's notes.  One thing that I appreciate about these notes is that they are so thorough; it's easy to forget the detailed nature of technology in education:

      Other problems found and fixed were:
      • The main problem was that most of the balls and rings from ball mice were missing.  In the closet with the server there were extra mice so now there are only 4 of 16 computers without working mice.
      • server needed to be rebooted - (done)
      • one keyboard with stuck space bar (replaced)
      • various power, video, keyboard etc (not ethernet) connectors disconnected - (reconnected)
      • One DC monitor power connector (with hollow barrel) was disconnected and filled with gum (?) and pencil lead. I was able to clean it and get it working.
      • One computer case was partly open. The computers at this table had never been secured with screws.
      • Computer at another table was no longer secure with screws. (repositioned)
      • I was surprised at how few problems there were with network connections. (Only one connector and to be reseated; and that is all. It just worked when the computers were started.
      • One computer needed the date restored.
      • The floors and been re-waxed and the carpet pads on the table legs are now stuck in the wax.  The row of computers near the windows were stuck in a position from which the power strip cords would not quite reach the outlets on the lab island. I did not see a way to get any slack on the cord from the furthest strip except by removing the final strain relief screw which I did.  This  allows the cords to "cut the corner" and barely reach to be plugged in.
       Left to be done:
      • acquire and install 4 mice on table 6 & 7
      • further investigate power strip cords on row by window
      • Secure computers to back middle table
      • server upgrade
      Possible improvements:
      • replacing mice by optical mice would be great solution to missing balls.
      • Ponder further the idea of cutting about an inch off corners of tables where the stick into aisles.
      • a better way of securing excess cable length in middle of table would be an improvement
      As soon as Doug Roberts, the senior MPS internet dude, gets the LDAP authentication running on the thin client (LTSP 5) server for Eddie's and my room, I'll clone the server, copy it onto the other server that Ben and Cody supplied me with, and she will be on line.  I'm excited to see how Christen develops these resources in her classroom, how she 'grows a community of scientists'.  Here's a pict of Fred in the drop room we're using at NSJ...

      Wednesday, August 11, 2010

      Plone: redirecting logins to group-determined root page

      Chat from #plone irc channel:

      [6:00PM] dgroos
      :  Hi I'm a teacher using plone.  Any (easy) way to make it so that  the page one is referred to upon logging in is determined by  this users group membership?

      [6:05PM] dixond
      :  dgroos: you probably need to customise login_next.cpy
      [6:05PM] dixond: dgroos: it's in there that any redirect is traditionally done.

      [6:06PM] dgroos
      :  dixond: thanks.  is this fairly trivial or involved, do you estimate?

      [6:08PM] Moo^_^
      :  dgroos: it is easy

      [6:09PM] dgroos
      :  Thanks Moo^_^ and dixond, may the force be with you ;)

      [6:09PM] Moo^_^
      :  dgroos:

      :  Moo^_^: thanks I'll note this for when the moment comes to implement it!

      Pooling our knowledge--make an entry point for new Edubuntu-LTSP users

      Do you want to set up an LTSP lab?  Know how to:
      • Install Edubuntu?
      • Install LTSP?
      • Install Media Plugins?
      • Create a Backup process?
      • Manage student permissions?
      • Setup a proxy server?
      • Control details of your students internet access?
      • Install programs into the Chroot?
      • Set up a printer?
      • Install software to control a lab full of computers?
      • And optionally LocalApps, Add users? Add a scanner? etc?
      Well, I didn't and don't.  I found out that even generalist, Linux-wise people can't do all of these tasks without some help.  Thus was born the idea to make 1 page to rule them all or at least to coordinate all the how-to pages needed to do a basic (but complete) set up of an Edubuntu Lucid LTSP server.

      I was moved by all the work that has been done on the Ubuntu wiki.  So much has been created over the years and hopefully The "BasicSetup" wiki page respects this effort.  Also, with a single entry point to the how-to pages for the set of critical setup tasks, it will be easier to know which pages must be kept current as new versions of Ubuntu are released.

      Like all community projects, I can't (nor ought to) do this all myself.  I don't have enough knowledge nor enough time.  There are many dozens of people on the 3 main Edubuntu mailing lists.  The Dev's are already tapped out with their work developing the software and answering higher-level troubleshooting questions so mainly my plea is directed to the Edubuntu-users list and Ubuntu-education list.   Haven't made a page and not sure how to?  Ask me and I'll help you get started.  We need more people helping out our growing community.

      Please take a look at basic setup page.  Consider adding your knowledge to this page, improving this page or the linked how-to pages.
      • If there are existing how-to's that are appropriate for Lucid, note that and link to them.  
      • If a how-to page needs to be updated for Lucid and you have the knowledge or are willing to gain it and update the page, please do so!  
      • If you are going to perform one of the basic setup tasks and there already exists a page for this task, go to that page and test it out as you perform it and improve the clarity of the page
      • If you use one of the pages and need to ask for help, reference that page so it can be improved! 
      I'm willing to work to help create and coordinate this BasicSetup series of pages.  Join me!

      Tuesday, August 10, 2010

      WebLion asking for plone users in K-12 for ideas on a buildout!

      Thanks to WebLion for providing this forum for educators to communicate about their experience and needs for plone.  It seems like they are preparing to create a buildout they will share that is customized for educators!

      I've used multitudes of products since plone 2.0 came out.  The following list includes ones I'm currently using or would like to use.  Of course not sure if they all still exist or if there are better updates of them.  Anyway, here is the list with annotations:
      1. CacheFu.  I've used this along with Squid to speed up my site.  Great though I needed help to get it set up.
      2. TinyMCE (epoz then kupu were OK but fckeditor was better though when they made it easy to have colors in kupu and FCK was creating some problems I switched to use kupu again.  Looking forward to see what TinyMCE can do.
      3. ImageEditor.  Upon reading about this in Jon Stahl's blog I had to try it and it IS the cat's meow.  I've got no idea how difficult it would be to add the following functionality BUT I do know it would make it a 'killer App' for science education.  What I would like it to do is to add editable-annotations to images.  Imaging a student taking a picture of something/s seen found through a microscope, uploads that image to the specific place in Plone, then adds arrows with text such as a name of a part or of a specific creature or asks a question about a specific part of an image.  Then, with that page being commentable, students could have a threaded discussion about that piece of comment.  It would be important that the arrow with text were visible without requiring a mouse over or worse having to click on a link that takes you away from the image.  I've looked for a good open source app to add text/arrows to an image with ubuntu, have found some apps but they aren't simple. If this annotation could be done on the web, edited by various team mates, improved over time (always with versioning available as a fall-back), well, that would be incredible)
      4. PloneFlashUpload.  I need something that will work.  I've not been able to get this to work since Plone 2.5.  I really dislike uploading 12 images, 1 at a time, after having used this add on.)
      5. Something to translate the plone interface for kids.  Last year I had kids from 12 different languages as their home language.  I remember a Vietnamese student I had a few years ago (the last time I had multiple languages available for my plone site) who was quite literate in her own language but spoke virtually no English.  When she set her home language for the plone interface (I think I had linguaplone installed then?) and I showed her about wikipedia in her own language and google translate she was so happy and it enabled her to study English within the science content I was teaching.  It was hard to help her, though, as even though I knew about what buttons should be where on the plone page, when everything was in Vietnamese I had a hard time helping her as i couldn't understand anything!  I guess an ajax mouse-over to convert the interface to English would have been great but I can't see that being of wide spread utility.
      6. Ploneboard.  An important part of my site has been a Q/A forum section and ploneboard was nice.  Two useful features that would be great are having a couple of basic editing tools such as numbered/bulleted lists and tables available for comments.  Another function that would be great is being able to create 'collections' of forum posts based on group membership.  Imagine having generic posts for topics of interest to all students in a school, other posts relative to biology students there and still other posts being class-specific--all in a single page based on student group membership.  I just remembered--it is important that WHILE commenting on a web page or as part of forum post, that all contents can be seen by just scrolling.  It's frustrating making a comment and then forgetting some detail of a comment you were responding to and then not being able to see the previous comment unless you open the page in a new tab!
      7. Vee content type.  This is a completely unique content type and distinguishes my plone setup from our district's moodle server.  Students create a Vee--a graphic organizer for inquiry--on line as a plone content type.  It has the advantage of sharing editing privileges for team members, and is commentable encouraging class dialog on student research.  Students can include web images such as concepts maps (mentioned below in item #8).  A big plus with these images is that when a student updates her concept map, it is immediately shown in the Vee! Here's a very simple but nice example from a couple of my students showing the basic idea of a Vee.  Unfortunately this content type isn't on site.  I'd love to load it up there, though.
      8. FancyZoom.  For me, this is a killer app.  Filling a folder with important images that are then displayed as thumbnails, allowing students to click on an image, seeing it almost instantly without leaving the page, is BIG!  Something that would multiply its usefulness even further is if I could add an image to a page at a size that could be defined in settings, AND upon being clicked, this image located elsewhere on the web would ZOOM in the same fashion as when it was an image in a folder with fancyzoom selected as the display option.  This would be hugely useful in many contexts, for example, I could embed an image of a concept map from my CmapServer and not have it take up too much space on the page, but when someone wanted to see the details they would simply click on the small image and it would quickly pop up without needing to leave the page (important for usability reasons).
      9. Webcouturier dropdownmenu I've installed this and it would be a big time saver, but unfortunately it was inconsistent when it would work and looked weird with our theme.
      10. webcouturier.icompany.theme  I love this theme.  I use it on a few sites.  It might be nice to have a few that teachers could choose from.
      11. Plone TrueGallery.  Not had this working since plone 2.5, but it was really nice for the class I taught with inservice teachers.  Looking forward to using it again.
      12. LDAP authentication.  I really need this to work with our districts AD LDAP server.  Students and I spend too much time getting and working with accounts/passwords etc.  Failing getting this working, I need a bulk-upload function that works (couldn't get Tomster's to work though he was/always is helpful.)
      13. Group-Membership-based site root.  I need it so that the students in my classes, upon logging in, are immediately taken to my folder with all content applicable to their classes located inside of that.  Then, when a student in a different teacher logs in, since this student would be a member of this this other teacher's group, it would take him to that teachers root folder.  I got this idea from reading about a plone add on (uwosh.something?) but couldn't make it work.  This would be GREAT.
      14. Ploneformgen.  This sounds like it would have tons of uses to collect and organize student thinking.  With some spiffing up this could probably become a decent way to create a portfolio.
      15. Plone4Artists/ATVideo.  I never really got this working well so was never able to do much in the line of videos but the district has been getting better tools for that so maybe I won't need videos, but it would be nice having the option...
      Would Really Like but never used.  Some of these exist, some are on the 'wish-list'!
      1. Glossary.  I used to try to get plone glossary working but never could.  That would have been a great tool to build and assess class understandings.  It would be great to have each class have their own root install so their definitions wouldn't overlap (or even be visible to each other?).
      2. Some kind of a 'frame?'.  It would be nice to have a collection (live folder) which would show content from several different pages or from different anchors on the same page.  So, instead of it being a folder listing content with a particular keyword, it would be a web page showcasing (not simply showing links to) the content with a particular keyword.
      3. Maybe use Timeslot at our school as a way to sign out computer labs--it's not super efficient right now.
      4. I need to look into Easyslider...
      5. Being able to simultaneously edit a plone page, like in google docs, would also be a killer app.  I'm guessing that it's a pretty unrealistic wish at this time...

      Saturday, July 31, 2010

      FLE4 commenting getting stuck?

      If, when you try to post a comment to a FLE4 KB discussion and it goes to a blank page and the web address of that page ends in: .../wp-comments-post.php then there is something to check, your site setup.

      1. Go to your dashboard and in the Super Admin section click on 'Sites'.
      2. Hover over the site that's not working and click on 'Edit'.
      3. Make sure that "Path" is correct, for example: /wpblogs/teachers/
      4. Make sure that "Siteurl" is correct, for example: (I substituted the "x's").
      5. QED (but why did it take me so long to fix it!!!)

      Thursday, July 29, 2010

      Create FLE4 'sites' for teachers with WordPress 3.0

      In a previous post I describe much of how to set up FLE4 knowledge building using WordPress 3.0 (our district IT guy, Doug Roberts, set up WordPress 3.0 and did the LDAP integration with the Minneapolis Public Schools AD).  This version of WordPress is especially important as it integrates much of the multi-user capabilities from previous WordPress mu versions.  And this is important because it allows one to easily create new 'sites' (previous known as, 'blogs') on the fly.  This is important because it allows one to invite more teachers into the world of knowledge building.  The following describes how to create a new site and set it up for knowledge building for another individual.

      The steps to create the new site are:
      1. As the super-admin go to your dashboard and click on 'Sites' and look to the bottom to the section that is titled, "Add site".
      2. Type in a short name (often lower case) to identify this site.  Consider that a teacher will most likely want a separate site for each of their classes thus some consider adding something like, "p3" or "p4" to the end of the site name for period 3 or period 4.
      3. Add a site title and add the e-mail address of the teacher.
      4. Finally, click on the "Add Site" button below this.
      The steps to update the teacher as the admin for the site:
      1. This will take you back to the dashboard listing of your sites.  Hover the cursor over the name of the new site and click on Edit.
      2. Find where it says new user and put in the persons username.  Give them Administrator role and click on 'Update options'.
      3. Click on their name, give them a First/Last/nickname and click on update, again.
      The steps to configure the new site for knowledge building.
      1. Click on the "Posts" control panel and select "Categories".
      2. In the name field I typed, "Knowledge Building", gave a quick description then pressed, "Add New Category".
      3. Click on the "Settings" control panel, select, "knowledge building".
      4. Under the "Knowledge Building" column I clicked on "Progressive Inquiry", then pressed, "Save Changes".
      5. Then go back to the "Settings" control panel and select, "Discussion" then,
      6. Put a check next to: Enable threaded (nested) comments levels deep, scroll to the bottom and select, "Save Changes".
      Done!  Repeat for each site you want.  If there is an easier way... post below or let me know.

      Wednesday, June 30, 2010

      compiz problem in booting ltsp thin clients

      I worked for a few hours trying to address an issue on the new lucid server--I wasn't able to login to a thin client but it did boot.  I jumped on the #ltsp and this is what I got (and again, thanks alkisg!!!):

      (09:37:52 AM) dgroos1: Hi
      (09:38:26 AM) dgroos1: I'm installing LTSP on an Edubuntu 10.04 setup.
      (09:39:18 AM) dgroos1: the ltsp-server-standalone openssh-server install went well.
      (09:39:39 AM) dgroos1: My DHCP is handing out addresses.
      (09:40:13 AM) dgroos1: ltsp-build-client --arch i386 went well.
      (09:40:53 AM) dgroos1: After reboot I attempted to boot a thin client and it successfully booted to login screen.
      (09:42:56 AM) dgroos1: upon putting in user and password and enter, the screen alternates between the message: (process:211): GLib-Warning**: getpwuid_r(): failed due to unknown user id (0) (and the rest is off the screen)
      (09:43:59 AM) dgroos1: and the other screen looks like a zebra on the top half: about 50 alternating black and white vertical lines.
      (09:45:58 AM) dgroos1: Google hasn't helped me yet, syslog tells me: "gcos-server ldminfod[xyza]: connect from ("
      (09:46:18 AM) dgroos1: Any ideas what I can do?
      (09:48:21 AM) dgroos1: and the syslog message above gets repeated almost exactly every 15 seconds.
      (09:53:49 AM) alkisg: !compiz
      (09:53:50 AM) ltspbot`: alkisg: "compiz" :: if compiz is giving you problems, one way to disable it for all users is: sudo gconftool-2 --direct --config-source xml:readwrite:/etc/gconf/gconf.xml.mandatory --type string --set /desktop/gnome/session/required_components/windowmanager metacity
      (09:54:05 AM) alkisg: dgroos1: try this ^^
      (09:54:27 AM) alkisg: About the zebra, try putting "nomodeset" in pxelinux.cfg/default
      (09:54:33 AM) dgroos1: hi alkisg!
      (09:54:41 AM) dgroos1: will do...
      (09:54:41 AM) alkisg: hello :)
      (09:57:04 AM) dgroos1: :)
      (09:57:16 AM) dgroos1: I should say... :D
      (09:57:41 AM) alkisg: Heh ;)
      (09:57:56 AM) dgroos1: it works now. This doesn't seem to be documented anywhere or at least I didn't have the right search terms...
      (09:58:32 AM) dgroos1: I'll put it on my blog. Thanks alkisg! Now on to localapps and fatclient chroots!
      (09:58:53 AM) alkisg: dgroos1: you don't need to install ssh separately, it's installed along with ltsp-server
      (09:59:48 AM) dgroos1: OK I'll note that... Any other advice? I was just going to use the instruction pages on the help.ubuntu and wiki.ubuntu.
      (10:00:32 AM) alkisg: They should be OK - except for the localapps wiki page, which I hate...
      (10:00:47 AM) alkisg: I think it's making it much much more harder than it is
      (10:01:08 AM) dgroos1: there is a new localapps page for Karmic, I think I saw.
      (10:06:11 AM) alkisg: <== I mean this one, it's more complicated than it should.
      (10:09:04 AM) dgroos1: I'm hoping this page will do the trick:
      (10:11:05 AM) alkisg: Ugh, why isn't that under UbuntuLTSP? Someone should move it...
      (10:12:00 AM) alkisg: Anyway, some hints, if you want to edit that page: sudo nautilus => not needed, gedit can create new files,
      (10:12:16 AM) alkisg: LOCAL_APPS=True, SEARCH_DOMAIN, DNS_SERVER => not needed,

      So anyway, the answer was at 09:53:50.

      Friday, June 25, 2010

      Installing Knowledge Building plugin "FLE4" on WordPress 3.0

      Once you have super-admin status on the WordPress 3.0 site you can add the Knowledge Building plugin, you can do it from the wp control panels you don't need server access. (Note: I've added comments where there are changes in WordPress 3.1.  Where upgrading to WP 3.2 note the green text directions.)  Here's how I did it:
      1. I clicked on the Plugins panel, then "Add New" as this sub-menu.
      2. In the Search field I typed in "Knowledge Building", pressed search and the top one that appeared was "knowledge building".  I clicked, "Install Now".
      3. And it did!
      4. I selected, "Activate Plugin".
      5. Click on the "Posts" control panel and select "Categories".
      6. In the name field I typed, "Knowledge Building", gave a quick description then pressed, "Add New Category".
      7. Click on the "Settings" control panel, select, "knowledge building".
      8. Under the "Knowledge Building" column I clicked on "Progressive Inquiry", then pressed, "Save Changes".
      9. [When you update your version of WordPress you must repeat steps 9-23] Click on the Appearance control panel (or in WordPress 3.1 in the upper right hand corner of your dashboard, click on "Site Admin", (in version 3.2.1-3.4.1 go to the upper right corner and select the dropdown menu 'Howdy, username' and select 'Network Admin'--note, this little menu is how you toggle back and forth between your regular user account and network admin account: Site admin and Network admin.)), then click on "Themes" then click on the "Editor" sub-menu.
      10. I'm using the Twenty Ten theme--make sure it says the name of the theme you are editing where it says, "select theme to edit".
      11. Under the Templates list on the right hand side, select "Comments" (comments.php).
      12. If you have a wide display and you're not a programmer, make your browser window as wide as possible--makes the code easier to read. 
      13. Use Firefox's page search function and search for the following: "wp_list_comments( array( 'callback'' ) );"  excluding the quotation marks (In WordPress 3.4.1 I found: "wp_list_comments( array( 'callback'", excluding quotations)
      14. I cut that and replaced it with this.  Note, the content between the "/*" and the "*/" are ignored, I included this copy of the original code so that it would be easy to revert to it if necessary, by just removing the commenting-out marks.
      15. knbu_list_comments();
                            /* wp_list_comments( array( 'callback' =>; 'twentyten_comment' ) );
      16. In 3.4.1 it is seen as: 
      17.  /*wp_list_comments( array( 'callback' => 'twentyten_comment' ) );
      18. Remember to do steps 10-17 for each theme you are using!
      19. **remember to change the twentyten to twentyeleven so you backup works if you are using the twentyeleven theme!**
      20. Then I pressed, "Update File".
      21. I just had to the "Plugins/Installed Plugins" control panel and "Network Activate" both the Knowledge Building" and "Disable Check Comment Flood" plugins.  The latter plugin is useful if you will be having a classroom of students KBing at the same time.
      22. Then go back to the "Settings" control panel (in 3.2.1 you have to go back to the Site Admin in upper right hand corner) and select, "Discussion" then, (In 3.4.1, still as Network Admin, I clicked on "Sites" control panel, then selected the site I was updating--will have to do to all?--and clicked on the "Settings" menu tab, then searched for "Close Comments", changed the "Close Comments Days Old" from 14 to 0 (so it never closes), and changed the "Comments Per Page" from 50 to 150.  So for 3.4.1 can skip next step as I described it in this one.)
      23. Put a check next to: Enable threaded (nested) comments levels deep, scroll to the bottom and select, "Save Changes".   Actually, I kind like 7 deep when I do the optional settings listed below (but in theme 2011 seems to not be necessary)...  Also, scroll down to the bottom and select the "monsterID" it is fun!  do Save Changes.
      Optional settings (must also repeat steps 1-6 when WordPress is updated)
      --I prefer to use more of the page on the comments and not the narrow space provided by 2010 theme so I made the following alterations:
      1. Click on the Appearance control panel, then click on the "Editor" sub-menu. (In 3.1 go to the dashboard of any site and click on "Site Admin" (in 3.2.1 select "Network Admin"!) in upper right-hand corner.  Then drop-down the "Themes" menu on the left side and select, "Editor".)
      2. I'm using the Twenty Ten theme--make sure it says the name of the theme you are editing where it says, "select theme to edit".
      3. Under the Templates list on the right hand side, select "Stylesheet" (style.css) near the bottom.
      4. Use Firefox's page search function and search for the following: "=Structure".
      5. In that section, change, "940" to "1140" as this will make the comment column wider. 
      6. Press, "Update File".  You'll see that your discussions are wider, now. 
       --(And these steps must also be repeated when the Knowledge Building plugin is updated) I prefer to use the word, "Question/Problem" in place of the word, "Problem" in the knowledge type set.  Also, I haven't found the sentence starters for each knowledge type to be useful, on the contrary, they are almost invariably deleted, so I also get rid of most of them:
      1. Go to the proper dashboard, select "Appearance", then, "Plugins" then "editor" (In Wordpress 3.1 go to "Plugins" then "Editor").
      2. Where it says, "Select plugin to edit:" select, "Knowledge Building" and press the "Select" button.
      3. Click on the Plugin File: "knowledge-building/kbsets/progressive_inquiry.xml" in its name. 
      4. Do a Firefox search for: "Name="Problem"" (Don't include the 'outside' quotation marks here).
      5. Then simple change "Problem" with "Problem-Question".
      6. I also searched for the different sentence starters for each knowledge type, deleted the words and pasted in: "Name..." as a reminder for students to put the name/names of the authors of the post at the start of the post.
      7. I also changed the for each knowledge type.
      8. I posted my version of the file with the changes in wording.

        Wednesday, June 16, 2010

        Install Lucid Edubuntu from DVD but via netboot

        I need to install Edubuntu Lucid on a server that doesn't have a DVD drive and the Edubuntu disk only comes on DVD... Enter alkisg scripts...  Here, for safe keeping, is a copy of an e-mail he sent to the usergroup explaining how to do it:

        Alkis G

         to edubuntu-devel, edubuntu-discu.
        show details 12/27/09

        Στις 23-12-2009, ημέρα Τετ, και ώρα 22:44 +0200, ο/η Jonathan C έγραψε:
        > * alkisg: perhaps the liveDVD could be configured to install remote
        > systems via netboot. This may need some further investigation. At the
        > worst, a wiki page on how to configure it manually would be good. A
        > script could be included to simplify things.

        I found this wiki page which describes how to do it:

        I made a script which hopefully completely automates the process.

        To make the method more suitable for a live environment, I changed it to
        use dnsmasq-base, which is already included on the live Ubuntu CD, and
        which has the additional benefit that it can function as a proxyDHCP
        ...and whose tftp server works with symlinks, saving space/RAM.

        So, the steps to netboot the client(s):
        1) Boot a "server" with the live Karmic/Lucid desktop (ed)Ubuntu CD,
        2) Run this command on the live session:
         wget ';topic=2525.0;attach=1421' -O /tmp/livecd-netboot && sudo sh /tmp/livecd-netboot
        3) Then power on the clients and select "Boot from network", they should
        boot off of the live CD that is published via NFS.

        Internet connectivity is needed on the "server", because the script
        temporarily installs nfs-kernel-server.
        Also, make sure that you have an *external* DHCP server in the local
        network (e.g. a router).
        It's also possible (though not recommended for novice users) to run the
        script in a normal Ubuntu installation (i.e. not from a live session).

        Happy holidays to all,

        (And beyond... ed.)

        Friday, June 11, 2010

        reinstalling/updating CmapServer

        This is a big one as I update CmapServer no more than 1 time a year.
        1. Download software on a computer within the district firewall.
        2. Use scp to transfer it to the server:
        3. scp /Users/admin/Desktop/LinuxCmapServer_v5.03.01_06-05-09.bin dgroos@10.x.x.x:/home/dgroos/ (and it works!)
        4. This page tells how to export an x-session from a VE container through the internet:
        5. I put the .bin file in /srv/ and set the permissions with: sudo chmod 755 LinuxCmapServer_etc.bin
        6. Then I run it by typing: sudo ./LinuxCmapServer_etc.bin and it works :)

        Tuesday, March 30, 2010

        FLE4 Assessment--How is it possible?

        It is immediately improbable, thinking about using a classroom discussion as a tool for significant assessment (read: grading) for individuals.  What would a teacher look at to assess 'the standards'?
        1. Number of posts?  Artificial, though productivity is important, but not at the expense of significance of participation.  I'd hate for students to try to up their post-count at the expense of quality/significance/authenticity of posts.
        2. Types (that is, knowledge types) of posts?  This is interesting, it attests to how a student can participate in a knowledge building discussion.
        3. Concepts correctly used in posts?  Well, on the surface this seems like a good metric.  However, what really counts is how someone's idea, whether correct or not, initiates or advances a scientifically significant dialog.  And, scientifically incorrect posts often start important knowledge-improvement dialogs.  I don't want to discourage students sincere participation by not recognizing or downgrading these posts.  Just as there truly are no, 'stupid questions'  nor is there a 'stupid comment' as long as they are sincerely made.  Not to say that there are no anti-productive comments that shut down sincere participation.
        4. Range of correctly used concepts? While this is nice metric to know, and a student who knows a broad range of science concepts is an asset to a knowledge building community, is this our only or even highest goal for students in a community of scientists?  Also, since assessments guide student participation, one must be careful about creating simple criteria like this--it would most likely restrict the range of participation as people look for opportunities to produce grade-increasing comments, not authentic knowledge building.
        5. Bringing in personal question to the dialog?  This is an important metric, but it is obviously hard to measure, and certainly isn't the most important factor.
        Is it impossible to use this tool to 'grade' student knowledge? I don't think so but more must be considered...

        Monday, March 29, 2010

        Excerpt from actual FLE4 student discussion.

         I copied the last 13 (of 100 total) comments that students posted to the question: How do ‘children’ end up looking similar to, but still different from, their ‘parents’? mentioned in the previous post.  I removed all student names and links to the discussion.  This site doesn't get indexed by search engines, as well.  Of the 12 some kids mentioned in class, there was only 1 girl (my program has an automotive/construction concentration).

        There is nothing special about this selection, although it is from a section that was entirely produced during the 30 minute 'exam'.  The only editing changes I made to this discussion were the ones mentioned above designed to remove identifying information.  On the actual blog page, each of the 5 knowledge types: Problem (including questions), My Explanation, Scientific Explanation, Process Comment, Summary, has it's own representative color to visually distinguish it's role in the discussion.

        Note that neither grammar nor spelling were mentioned as assessment criteria :)  On a future post here I'll provide some thoughts on FLE4 discussions.  Feel free to add your thoughts below.

        1.  Problem
          FemaleA  says:
          I am interested in studying does the first words you say depend on what gene was passed down to you like did you say the same thing your mom say first or the same thing your dad said

          • My Explanation
            MaleA  says:
            ithink that the your first words are influanced by what you hear around you and you get used to hearing that so you eventaly match the sound

            • My Explanation
              MaleB  says:
              i think the first words a baby will say is the one that you say the most the baby will remember then repeat it

        2. Problem
          FemaleA  says:
          I would like to find out is there a certain kind of habit you can get from your parents like smoking,biting your nails etc…

        3. Problem
          MaleB  says:
          if a dwarf is born is it because there parents are short or is it a genetic mutation?

        4. Problem
          MaleC  says:
          If a mother had twins does that mean that they would both get the same traits or diffrent?

          • My Explanation
            MaleD  says:
            I Think That They Wouldn’t Get The Same Traits But Carry The Same Genes…

          • My Explanation
            FemaleA  says:
            I think that…even tho they look alike that one of them my favor the tributes of their father and the other might favor their mother..

          • My Explanation
            MaleB  says:
            if the twins were born identical they will have the exact same genes. faternal twins have diffrent genes

        5. Scientific Explanation
          MaleE  says:
          Each person in this world is unique. When parents give their traits to the child, two alleles are given, a Dominant and a recessive trait. There’s many combinations of all kinds of traits. For example, noses, height, bone structures, faces and other defining characteristics, and thats why each person is unique.

        6. Problem
          FemaleA  says:
          I would like to find out when a child is born and say if their parent they look up to is drug dealing does it most likely mean that their going to be doing it too..

          • My Explanation
            MaleA  says:
            it could..but it has nothing to do with traits it’s what you row up around that will determan that not your traits

        7. Problem
          MaleF  says:
          how does a baby get a disease from their parents before being born?