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Thursday, March 27, 2008

Crossing the Skunk River

I've spent the day crisscrossing the Skunk River in Iowa on my quest to discover my great-grandfather's (Rev. Joseph Sanderson) origins. Wednesday in Galesburg was a bit frustrating. I could find my mother's grandfather in the census records, but no birth or marriage announcements in the papers. It was hard to pass up the stories in the papers, since my mother's aunt (Emma Louisa) was born a year before the Civil War began. Her uncle (Edward) was born two years later, when Missouri was struggling with secession. Three hours of scanning microfiche gave me some census data that showed my great-grandfather in Knox County (probably Galesburg), Illinois in 1860 and 1870, then moving to Iowa. In 1850, he was unmarried and living in Sangamon County, Illinois.

On Thursday, I spent the morning in the Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. A wonderful researcher named Jill spent almost three hours with me. We were unable to locate immigration on my great-grandfather, but I learned that my mother's father (John Albert Edward Axelson) was born in Falkoping, Sweden and his birth name was actually Johan. I had gotten information that he immigrated at age 16, but Swedish parish records put him at 17. Jill said they sometimes lied about their age to get a cheaper rate on the steamships. He departed from Goteborg, but passed through Liverpool, England and Queenstown, Ireland. I also printed off minutes from the Fremont Evangelical Mission Covenant Church meetings from 1905-1910, when he was minister there, but they are in Swedish and handwritten.

Tomorrow I head to Stratford, Iowa to visit my great-grandparents' graves. I am meeting my mother's aunt's grandson, Weldon Swedelund and his wife Audrienne. They have corresponded with me about our mutual relatives, but I haven't been able to meet them yet. Let's hope the rain and snow have ended for the week!

Monday, March 3, 2008

IL-TCE 2008 Day Two

Il-TCE 2008 Day Two

Some of this writing is sketchy, since I haven't had time to edit it yet.

Sowing the Seeds for a More Creative Society, Mitchel Resnick

Growing recognition that success in the future will be based on ability to think and act creatively. He recommended The Rise of the Creative Class, by Richard Florida. At the same time, the education system hasn’t kept up. Our present model is of a teacher pouring information into the student. Using the kindergarten classroom as a model of an effective cycle, he related the activities as: Imagine – create – play – share – reflect – imagine. He referred to Jean Piaget, who emphasized that knowledge is constructed. Students are actively creating knowledge structures. Seymour Papert used his ideas to create Logo, a programming language for children. At first, children moved a robot using this language, but early microcomputers allowed children to draw pictures using a turtle icon. With Lego-Logo, children could build a concrete object and also create on the screen 30 years ago. Ten years ago, Mindstorms put the computer in the Lego structure. To get these ideas out more broadly to have a bigger impact, he recommended creating a product that has a low floor and a high ceiling. In other words, it should be easy to learn, but not limited in abilities. His peers added that it should have wide walls, or should be able to be used in a variety of experiences. Make sure technology is open to all kids. The MIT people created a small computer called a cricket, which allowed one student to create a cat that meows when you pet it. Most electronic toys do not allow students to determine what the toy does because they are pre-programmed. They interact, but do not create. New kits have Legos but also arts and crafts materials, different kinds of sensors, motor, sounds, displays, etc. Child sees electronic parts as part of their creative materials. Vocabulary becomes natural. Another toy was programmed to move more quickly when the user spoke loudly. A young girl made boots that changed colors the faster she walked. Another made a juke box that played different music depending on the coin that was used. A young girl made a home security system. An Icelandic boy made an alarm clock that ruffled his hair and played music when the sun hit it, then had to adjust because of the low angle of the sun in Iceland. PicoCricket is the playful invention company. To maniplate rich media forms, a new language was needed. Students who want to create interactive games and activities can use Scratch. They can create and share on the Web. Graphic objects shaped like Legos can be fit together to program a graphic to move or make sounds. It also allows image manipulation like PhotoShop, in addition to tying manipulation to the movement of the mouse. Incidental learning is coordinate systems. He showed a student’s project, which included boom box, a photo of the student dancing, a singer, inverting the dancer and adding a drum as separate buttons that allowed the user to interact. Another created an aquarium where the big fish ate the little fish. Using variables, the student was able to add a counter into a structured program (using easy graphics) to see how many fish had been eaten. A Scratch website posts projects much like YouTube or Flickr. One of the galleries is of Tetris games created with Scratch, with a rudimentary game improved by each user. Future projects include interactivity with phones or Multi-User Environments like Second Life. The hope is that all students will be full participants in the digital society. The research group can be found online.

Scratch, Mitchel Resnick

Designed for 8-15 year olds. This session was mostly a question & answer session. On the About Scratch page there is a link to educators. When user types in text, it is not automatically translated to other languages, but features are available in many other languages. Scratch also provides prototype of a scratchboard that has sensors for motion, sound, light, etc. Using this tool, sound can change with the amount of light or height or with the resistance of a circuit.

Making the Schoolhouse Rock, Tricia Fugelstad

Tricia enjoys creating videos to teach concepts, utilizes all of the different types of intelligence. She related it to 21st Century learning skills, which she defined by using the ISTE NETS standards. The example of the Alphabet Song was familiar to us. She then used a video from School House Rocks to teach the multiplication of eight. Using Keynote, she used Instant Alpha to erase the background of a photo and create a layer. Snaps Pro makes screen movies. She showed a movie she used to teach idioms. Students can draw, scan, record, add a Garageband loop for movie, drop them into a slide in Keynote. Students could each make a slide to be combined into a movie. Her movie called the Pencil Exchange showed how to manage pencil sharpening in the classroom. She mentioned VJ loop. Keynote can be exported as a movie. It becomes a QuickTime, which can be edited in iMovie. To make the illusion of three-dimensional space on two-dimensional surface. To record a track in Garageband, you can just use built-in microphone to record a track. There are also built-in jingles. This would be good for front, back, etc. positional words. She created a TV background using clip art and inserted movie into the TV. When the movie is finished, compress it into MP4 format to put it on a web site. Zamzar is an online compressor that is free. TeacherTube is like YouTube that is accessible online. She also recommended Joe Brennan’s site on Digital Storytelling for contests. Apple also has school nights at local stores. She showed a movie on TeacherTube that used Godzilla to teach relative size. You can run your video from TeacherTube on your blog or web site. Her students’ movie about sloppy brushes won several international awards. Apple stores also have a premiere night for students videos. The video “All I Want is Technology” is on TeacherTube.

Emerging Technologies That Make Your Online Life Easier, Jenny Levine

Jenny recommends RSS (Common and YouTube are resources for this)and showed a site that aggregated online news articles on a single topic. She uses Instant Messaging at her library as a question/answer tool for students. In Flickr, community people created posters encouraging reading and the community could access them. Also, the Library of Congress has posted 1200 photos in Flickr and relying on the community to add tags (key words). Facebook is another social networking site and Jenny suggests that we put library catalogs into Facebook as an application. UIUC is putting up subject guides in Facebook. Microblogging is a new trend initiated by Twitter. Users are allowed only 140 characters, so the next generation has learned to telescope its writing. Can now download onto phone. Her library is posting library events on Twitter, where it can be distributed easily. Jott is a site that can take phone messages and send them back to you later so you don’t forget them. A best practices library for wikis is An intranet that is easy to do is a wiki. On escondido, the library routed around city regulations to create an intranet. Another wiki is Foley Center Library, where they post their handbook, so it is easily updated. YouTube has made video easy. It is also a good place to store videos for training and orientation. Unfortunately, many school districts block these sites. An audience member recommended Creative Commons. A site with photos from Normandy was mentioned (
These new tools are changing the purpose of the Web to that of an operating system. In other words, web sites are becoming the desktop. Meebo allows instant messaging through a web page. Google application suite includes Google docs (online storage of documents), which allows collaboration and can be exported as a PDF document. At GE, you can draw a picture. At Gliffy you can create a drawing as well. Google spreadsheet does formulas, not a fancy as Excel. At Picnik you can edit photos and link to Flickr. Jumcut allows you to edit video. Blogs allow links, pictures, Flickr, Slideshows, audio, video, PowerPoint, slideshare, surveys, instant messaging. There is a screencast at Casa Grande Library. Mashups are content from one site combined with another as in Google Maps. Web Mashups Directory showed a map of Wii owners in Chicago area. Thirty boxes desktop will allow you to embed different web sites together. She showed an ancestor map on Flickr. Then he traced how his ancestors moved around. Google news is syndication of all news about a particular web site. Pictures from Flickr about the same topic and video from YouTube , text from Twitter and Mashups maps can all be posted on the same page with RSS feeds. Nateritter suggested a web site that covers emergencies and one of his readers had already done so. Library 411 allows you to find local library on Google Map. Community Walk shows where a library was receiving books. Widgets are ….hmm. I seem to have been on overload at this point. The LaGrange Park Public Library put, Flickr, blog, calendar,, and local newspaper all into suprglu. Changes are posted in any of these sources automatically.