Monday, June 09, 2008

Graduation speech from Ms. Lewia

I asked Ms. Lewia if I could refer to her speech for those of you who may not have been at graduation. She presented this speech with great polish!

Good Afternoon, Administrators, Senator Collins, School Board Members, Faculty, Staff, Parents, Family members and the Wells High School Class of 2008.

When I was asked to give the graduation inspirational speech, I said, “Are you kidding”… For those of you out there that know me this is not my forte. But this is a special group of graduates! I have enjoyed following all of you over the past four years and look forward to hearing about your new adventures.

I want to share with you today an inspirational story that I read many years ago from the book of Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul. This story is one of my favorites.

It is titled TRUE HEIGHT.

See the passage True Height.

Today I would ask you to be brave. Explore the great big world out there. Open your hearts and your minds to new ideas and fresh suggestions. If I could give you one bit of advice it would be to try something new every day of your lives, even if it only means taking a different route to work or school. That way, whatever else that journey of life brings, it won't bring boredom.

I’ll leave you today with An Irish blessing that goes like this…
May the sun shine, all the day long, everything go right, and nothing wrong. May those you love bring love back to you and may all the wishes you wish come true.
I wish you all the best in your futures, I love you all and always remember…

YES YOU CAN!!!( At this point a banner dropped from the podium Yes You Can!)

Thanks Ms. Lewia

Permission to post this has been requested from Jack Canfield, Chicken Soup for the Soul Enterprises.

My favorite quote, as soon as graduation was over, a student was heard saying, "I can't believe my text box is full!"

Friday, June 06, 2008

Professional Development Meme

It seems that a Meme kicks off my jump into summer! So, I am happy to oblige Michael Richards with  my entrance into this meme.  Especially since he was tagged by Skip Zalneraitis (twitter=skipz), who considers himself a newbie in this world of social web tools. So, Welcome Skip!

Here are the directions:

Summer can be a great time for professional development. It is an opportunity to learn more about a topic, read a particular work or the works of a particular author, beef up an existing unit of instruction, advance one’s technical skills, work on that advanced degree or certification, pick up a new hobby, and finish many of the other items on our ever-growing To Do Lists. Let’s make Summer 2008 a time when we actually get to accomplish a few of those things and enjoy the thrill of marking them off our lists.

Here are the rules:

  1. Pick 3 professional development goals and commit to achieving them this summer.
  2. For the purposes of this activity the end of summer will be Labor Day (09/01/08).
  3. Post the above directions along with your 3 goals on your blog.
  4. Title your post Professional Development Meme and link back/trackback to
  5. Use the following tag/ keyword/ category on your post: pdmeme.
  6. Tag 8 others to participate in the meme.
  7. Achieve your goals and “develop professionally.”
  8. Commit to sharing your results on your blog during early or mid-September.

Here are my goals:

1. Learn how to use Podcast Capture on my macbook for instant podcast or videocast publishing.

2. Make some face to face connections with my virtual cohorts while at NECC and BLC .

3. Make my 4 summer professional development courses available online!


Carla Arena

Leah Welch

Jo McLeay

Jen Wagner

Sharon Peters

Vicki Davis

Kathy Shields

Ernie Easter

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Monday, June 02, 2008

Dear Teacher Redux

Dear Teacher, ( substitute your name here)

This was posted originally at as a guest blogger!

Thanks Wes for allowing me to be a guest blogger. With a 3 day span I am really challenged to produce a daily post. Well, here goes. These ideas and opinions are mine and do not reflect Wes’ thinking on these subjects.

Dear Teacher, (substitute your name here)

I have heard recently that teachers don’t get much thanks from their students until sometimes years later when you notice that we have become productive members of society. But, I want to thank you for this year and perhaps….. well, read on.
Thank you for knowing your content area. That is really important for you to know your content so the administration, parents and students have trust in you to transfer that knowledge to us. I want to especially thank my World After 1945 teacher for having assignments from our book and for making sure that I learned the dates of important world events and the impact of those same events (from the textbook author’s perspective) and for having assignments where I just had to fill in the blank.
I want to thank my literature teacher for having assignments from Beowulf ( Beowulf is an Old English heroic epic poem composed in the later Early Middle Ages (in the 8th, 9th or 10th century), and for making sure that we read the old English version and translate it into modern day meaning. I am sure I will use that knowledge when I am writing a technical manual about how to navigate the website of my future business.

I want to thank my math teacher for having assignments from the textbook and for making sure that we learned how to answer the questions at the end of the chapters on our own, as that is the sure way to determine if the students understand the process.
I want to thank you for keeping the school day short enough not to interfere with my most important and significant learning which happens as soon as I leave the building. After all, I am easily able to finish my fill in the blank answers, reading assignments and predictable answers to your questions. Which leaves me enormous amounts of time to pretend to my parents that I am researching a topic for my World After 1945 class, Mom, I can’t come do my chores just yet. (Translate I am adding some photos to my Facebook and tagging my friends to see what they are doing, I’ll do chores at the last minute.) I want to thank you for keeping my assignments short so as not to interfere with my (MMORPG) Massively multiplayer online role-playing game
where I meet up with friends from all time zones and like it is my job to take on a role in this game. Oh Dad, I can’t come and move the trash yet, I am finishing up my math problems, it is a little difficult tonight I can’t solve for x in this really long equation.

Last but not least, I want to thank you for keeping cell phones and mp3 players out of the school day, you can’t imagine how distracting it is for me to have to answer all those text messages during school and keep in touch with my circle of friends including calls and messages from my parents when there have been changes in our family plans.

But, I was wondering if maybe next year we could add just a few social networking tools to your content? I was thinking it would be interesting to chat with some students in India to find out what kind of information they are learning in their classes since I will be competing with them when I go for a job or enrolling for college. I wonder if they learn about mathematics the same way we do. I wonder how long their school day is, how long their school year is? Then I am wondering if the kids in the UK are still reading Beowulf, and how their teachers teach them about the purpose of Beowulf in today’s world and wouldn’t it be interesting to have a dialogue or chat with some kids in school in the UK. Finally, I was wondering if there was a way we could work on an environmental problem with some kids from around the world to see if there is something that we have in common and if some of us have ideas that might just help the environment now rather than waiting 5-9 more years when we finish high school.
You see, teacher, I am curious, I want to learn, I want to be challenged, I want to be engaged in my learning. To be honest, your curriculum doesn’t always provide for the connections I need to make my learning purposeful. But, I do want to thank you for trying to deliver the content and knowledge. Please add one technology tool, social networking, let us work collaboratively like we already are when we are outside of school. Hey, give us great assignments and we will work longer and harder. You will see.

Your 21st century student.( substitute one of your student’s names)
Here are some great blogs and wikis designed for the 21st century learner.

Thanks to Clarence Fischer for the Clarence Fisher Project, SnowLake Manitoba, Canada

Darren Kuropatwa Winnepeg Manitoba, Canada

Susan Ettenheim, Eleanor Roosevelt High School, NYC, Youth Voices

Alice Barr, Yarmouth High School, ME

Here is a collaborative science program, worldwide connections.Globe

Over and Out,

Cheryl Oakes, guest blogger

Redux=is a Latin word that means "brought back", "revisited".

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Dear Student Redux

June 2007

Dear Student, (fill in your name)

This was posted originally at as a guest blogger!

Thanks to Wes for this opportunity. Thanks to students everywhere for this inspiration. Thanks to teachers and administrators for all you do.

Dear student,

Thank you for kicking off this series of letters. I must say you have given me pause for thought. However, your questions are really unsettling and puzzling to me. Your questions don’t have just one answer! Your questions can not be answered by me reading a book or an article. Your questions can NOT be googled. Your questions have to do with me collaborating with others and having conversations.

Hey student, will you show me, will you share with me?

I remember playing monopoly and someone, usually the banker held the money and the rules, well now think of monopoly as a 3D version with you trying to make money by buying up property and others trying to get around the board without landing on property with too many hotels, with helicopters zooming in with vacationing guests, travel agents bidding their clients to stay on Boardwalk, it is the best and you trying to watch behind your back for the next new guest, real estate broker, banker etc. who is sneaking up behind you! Monopoly could not be played in a hurried fashion. However in todays online games the pace is frenzied, hurried, yet the time flies by!

Different realms appear in online games,there are so many rules, rules, rules, there is NO WAY most of the players read many of the rules. If you don’t read the rules, then how do you play the game? Trial and error, collaborating with friends and enemies! Multi tasking, chatting, collaborating! Even if you read some of the rules there would be many exceptions and cheats to get by the roadblocks. If you read the rules you would never get to play the game.

So, what are you learning student? That although there are rules, and explanations about the games you are engaged in, the reading you do is not fill in the blank! There isn’t much that is static, there isn’t much that is historical about what you are playing. By this I mean, the games haven’t been around for a long time so you are constantly learning how to do things, new learning. However, it looks like to me that the most important things to do in these games is that you learn how to collaborate, chat with others, find the right time zone to enter the game and be aware!

Hey student, will you show me, will you share with me?

Blizzard Oates ,
avatar name in SL,
aka Cheryl Oakes

Here are some of the few resources I found about online gaming. Take a risk and read further.

Beth Ritter Guth, is a college professor who has designed her college literacy classes in Second Life. Read some of her students work, you will be amazed at the depth of their writing! Students here are NOT just writing for their teacher, they are writing for the world.

Ex Paine , is a secondary teacher, check out this site for great conversations about gaming, Second Life and how it all impacts education.

Teen Grid in Second Life, here are some resources for examining Second Life for a teen grid and how Teen Second Life could be used for educational purposes.

Here are fascinating essays on MMORPG’s and economics and education. There is even an online conference in fall 2007.

The reason the army has taken the challenge to develop one of the most popular online games is this is where they are spreading the word and marketing. Look at their success. Look at the changes they have made in the past FEW years. Has education even made a stab at these kinds of changes? Have you?

Beginners guide in World of Warcraft 2
. Teachers and administrators check out the reading level in this online manual. Check out the comprehension if you think these games are dumb. Better yet, read a few paragraphs and check your own comprehension. I don’t mean see if you can answer questions about your reading either. Go to the game and see how long you survive!

Or you can be like me and check out an easier version of an online game Webkinz.
When I was researching for this story my niece popped up online and asked if I wanted to play a game in Webkinz. She is 500 miles away, and I only see her a few times a year. However, through Webkinz I get to play games with her and watch her strategies grow and sometimes I even talk to her on the phone and she explains the games to me. She is 8 and I am 55. I am learning so much from her and I know I will be able to apply this to other games as I mature in my gaming profession. BTW, she beat me in the game! I, for one, am glad I have some summertime to perfect my game image. Now if I can only learn how to land gracefully in SL, I would meet my standard!

Redux=is a Latin word that means "brought back", "revisited".

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Dear Administrator Redux

Dear administrator,

This was posted originally at as a guest blogger!

Guest blogger, Cheryl Oakes, reporting for duty! I wrote this a year ago. See how much has changed.

Dear administrator,

I am writing after an exhausting year of instructing my students. I want to thank you for hiring me and keeping me in this position. I have been teaching this same content for the past 5, 10, 15 years ( you choose). Each year it gets harder and harder to teach these kids. They come to school tired from all the activities they are involved in. They are tired from staying up late watching TV, I don’t even have time to watch TV! I don’t understand why they are not doing well on their tests. I know my content, I know my students from 5, 10, 15( again you choose) years ago did much better on these tests. I don’t think the tests are testing what I have been teaching, but rather testing students who are not interested in learning the way they have in the past.

You say maybe I should change the way I am presenting information to my students? What do you mean? I have a new whiteboard, I use colored markers, I have the latest maps to show the changes in the world. Well, last week I even borrowed a projector from the teacher next door and I showed a powerpoint presentation I found on the Internet. Oh, I haven’t had time to learn how to make a powerpoint presentation, the kids all know how to do it, and well, if I had time I would, but it is not important, it will take too much time out of the content I need to deliver before we have the next testing dates.

You say maybe I should engage my students more using technology? You can’t be serious, that would be giving in to them, they spend way too much time on Facebook, Ning and Myspace as it is. What, you say even the presidential candidates have a myspace page? Well, that is..., that is.... not education that is politics.

Oh, another thing, parents, those parents just are not as involved as they were before. I finally gave out my email address to parents but I told them that it is easier for me to answer their questions with a phone call, but I can’t always get a phone line out of the building, so I just wait for them to call me. What, you say, I could have conversations with parents by email or a blog. It is just not as personal, you can lose the meaning of some conversations through email and blogs, well, that is just way too public to have conversations in a blog. You can’t possibly think I will publish what we are doing in my class on the Internet for all to see anytime they want. Well, maybe next year I will try using email more with my parents. Only if I find the time.

Exhausted and looking forward to summer,

Your 20th century teacher trying hard to find the time to move to the 21st century.

You know if I knew how to use a blog, or saw some examples of how a blog could work for me I might give it a try next year. What, you say, you will blog with me? You’ve been thinking of having a blog for the past few months?Well, I guess if you had time in your busy administrator schedule to have a blog, I too could find a little time to try out posting to a blog.

Here are a few examples that may just jumpstart your journey into the 21st Century. There are many people online who will support you! Just start reading a blog a day, you will be hooked. You will find the best staff development and encouragement online! - a great place to listen to some good conversations about 21st Century Literacy.

K12Online Conference

Melinda Miller- an elementary principal who just started blogging and podcasting

Mark Alhness- an elementary teacher who blogs and podcasts with his students

Tim Lauer- an elementary principal who blogs about his school

Bob Sprankle- an elementary technology integrator who just finished podcasting with whole grades of students!

Vicki Davis- a middle school teacher who began blogging a little over 2 years ago

Jen Wagner- the absolute best at collaborative online learning projects

Sharon Peters- a high school technology teacher who gets her students collaborating worldwide and is on her way to Africa with Teachers Teaching without Borders.

Dr. Cheri Toledo- an education professor who believes that requiring her students to use Web 2.0 tools will have far reaching implications.

Be on vacation, be cool and learn new tools.

Since I wrote this last year I changed very little in this post. Hm, what does that tell us?

Leave me a message in twitter @cheryloakes50

Redux=is a Latin word that means "brought back", "revisited".

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