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My Commute to College: A Photo Essay January 25, 2012

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My Commute to College

Gas is Empty

Getting started for my commute.  As we see, my tank is almost empty.  This is kind of how I feel some mornings when I have to get up and go to school.

The Drive

Mornings are filled with cars, traffic and smog as I travel up the NJ Turnpike.

Time to Fill Up

Gas prices are steep!  This fill up will cost me $55. I fill up once every 5 days!


Finally! Done with HTML November 29, 2011

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HTML is a special programming code that we use to make websites look exactly like we want them to be.

Here is my final HTML page:


Pie chart October 18, 2011

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{“dataSour​ceUrl”:”//​docs.googl​e.com/a/si​sclnyc.com​/spreadshe​et/tq?key=​0AgwCfjmlW​8QidDl0bmJ​SNGptZHhXM​2hQUjI4ZmZ​qRWc&trans​pose=0&hea​ders=1&ran​ge=A2%3AB6​&gid=0&pub​=1″,”optio​ns”:{“colo​rs”:[“#336​6CC”,”#DC3​912″,”#FF9​900″,”#109​618″,”#990​099″,”#009​9C6″,”#DD4​477″,”#66A​A00″,”#B82​E2E”,”#316​395″,”#994​499″,”#22A​A99″,”#AAA​A11″,”#663​3CC”,”#E67​300″,”#8B0​707″,”#651​067″,”#329​262″,”#557​4A6″,”#3B3​EAC”,”#B77​322″,”#16D​620″,”#B91​383″,”#F43​59E”,”#9C5​935″,”#A9C​413″,”#2A7​78D”,”#668​D1C”,”#BEA​413″,”#0C5​922″,”#743​411″],”is3​D”:true,”h​asLabelsCo​lumn”:true​,”hAxis”:{​”maxAltern​ations”:1}​,”width”:6​00,”height​”:371},”st​ate”:{},”c​hartType”:​”PieChart”​,”chartNam​e”:”Chart 1″}

My Biopoem June 8, 2011

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This is my biopoem.  It means a lot to me.  I spent a long time pouring my heart our in this artistic poem so that you can get to know me a little better.  What do you think?

Snow Leopard Server Upgrade Today February 18, 2010

Posted by mvalia in computer lab maintenance, IS 49.
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I ventured into work today on a quiet Thursday morning to attempt to upgrade our school’s OS X server that controls our two Apple labs.  After backing everything up, the installation went quick and smooth.  I set up AFP and OD, imported users and groups and that’s it! I look forward to a faster client and more reliable home folder syncing.  We will see Monday.

If all goes well, we can start testing Podcast Producer to push out screencast tutorials to our students.

Creating a new learning environment for high school literature students September 29, 2009

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For my masters thesis project at New York University this semester, I aim to create a technology-based learning environment to help high school students become familiar with the historical periods of the novels they read in class.

It is my experience that students have trouble connecting with the setting, politics, environment, landscape, architecture and context of most eras of classic literature.

Before I begin, I would like to hear from high school English / literature teachers.  I have created a short, two-question survey to help understand which time periods students struggle with and what techniques teachers use to help students become familiar with the context of a novel.

If you are a high school English teacher, please take a moment and fill out the survey below.  If you know a high school English teacher, please pass this along.


How close are we to replacing textbooks in New York City schools? August 26, 2009

Posted by mvalia in IS 49, PC hardware, web 2.0.
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I spent some of my time this summer break perusing ed tech magazines, reading about the modern classroom.  Clean flat tables scattered about, ready for students to pull out their netbooks and digitally turn the page 331 and click on the link to the accompanying online simulation.

I also spent time these last eight weeks sending tweets, reading an array of online material, collaborating, editing, posting and producing.  But when I walked into my school today for the first time since June, it really hit me how different things are going to be for our students when they come back in a few days.  We just don’t have the hardware, the software, the training or the willingness to look beyond the “fluff” that technology brings to the classroom.  Despite our yearly computer budget allocation, we will not meet the digital learning style of our students.

Preparing one of the classrooms for clunky desktop computers to run our new reading program, I spent much of the afternoon moving stacks of textbooks out of the way so I could reach the electrical outlets and clear a space for the computer tables. Some of the books were new and others outdated. What a waste of time, energy and resources it was for me to have to move these books – not to mention the administrator that ordered them and unpacked them the over the last two decades. The text of all these books would fit on a flash drive. They could be readily downloaded from a web space.  Yet closets and classrooms all over the city are dedicated to keeping them around.

I understand there are budget cuts, but if we really want to invest in education, put a digital tablet in every student and teacher’s hand and let’s move on already. We are done with the laptop carts, four computers in a classroom, one or two labs in a school.

Maybe Apple’s tablet will be the answer.  I wonder what the group discount would be on a purchase of two million of them? I will gladly take a salary cut to help the DOE make the down payment.

Choosing a domain name for our 8th grade class websites March 18, 2009

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Now that my 8th grade class has almost finished creating their websites and are getting ready to host, we need a good domain name to represent the class.  This main page will contain image links to their individual sites. Each student will get their own subdomain.

So what makes a good domain name?

What should my 8th graders choose?

Please read their responses below and come back later to find out which one they voted on.

Fun times developing 21st century skills! November 3, 2008

Posted by mvalia in IS 49, video production, web 2.0.
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As 21st century educators teach students to become media producers, the journey through the learning process can be hilarious.  When we teach students to use iMovie and Movie Maker, the first projects they come up with as they are practicing using the software and honing their skills often bring out their personalities and make you smile when they produce a really wacky video.  Of course we want students to produce moving pieces about the importance of voting or giving students a voice, but it is just as powerful to see students demonstrate their production skills when they are just goofing around.

Many of my students have YouTube pages are filled with comical stuff they do after hours.

The SNL skit that aired November 1st about a group of Staten Island Tech students who created a crazy giraffe video for the Staten Island Zoo is a great example of this playful production. The use of stiffly animated giraffes, slideshow photos and psychedelic transitions are typical ingredients students use when they play around with video production tools. I was also amused that the representative from the zoo said he “hasn’t seen the movie yet,” but was sure it would be OK.  He was wrong!

While I am still investigating the back story of the skit and will ask my former IS49 students who currently go to SITech for the full scoop, it wouldn’t surprise me if this video was made by students.  I don’t think it was, but as my students are capable of movies of this production level as 8th graders, it should be an easy task for the bright students at SI Tech.

For your enjoyment… Giraffes.

Educational Technology Specialist NY State Certification September 23, 2008

Posted by mvalia in educational technology career, IS 49.

After a year at NYU to complete 12 credits of “non-printed media” coursework and the technology content specialty test, NY state has granted me a supplemental Educational Technology Specialist license.

I originally sought out this endorsement to ensure I would always have a place at my school teaching technology.  However, after discussing with my principal, if I switch the paper work at human resources and actually teacher under this license I would have to go through a year of probation and lose the six years of seniority I have under my current license. I will investigate further and update after a few phone calls to the UFT and DOE human resources.