Our Linux Adventure

This page is for the Orono School Staff involved or interested in our Linux Adventures. 

I will do my best to post information that may be useful or interesting to all of us. 

 If you have questions or comments, I can be reached at:



Learning with Linux: Teaching with Open Source

Free and Open Source Software in Education



Interesting Listservs

Discussion Group for Teachers and Administrators Who Use Open Source

Discussion Group for Technical Support of K12osn 

Association of Computer Technology Educators of Maine Discussion Group

Helpful Links

Archives & Weekly Skypecast Interviews about using Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) in schools

A Jargon-Busting Glossary

flash-based Tutorials for OpenOffice.org2.0

NorthEast Linux Symposia 2006

Tech Learning Site of the Day

T.H.E. Journal: (Technology Horizons in K-12 Education) There is both an online AND a print version of this magazine.  Subscriptions are available for free for employees of  K-12 institutions and organizations.

Union #87 Technology Plan 2005-2008

What’s the Fuss About FOSS?
Part 1: An Intro to Free and Open Source Software by Andy Carvin
  An article from PBS Teacher Source: learning.now

What’s the Fuss About FOSS? Part 2 A Chat with David Thornburg

Why Should Open Source Be Used in Classrooms? 



Web Resources for Teaching 

This is a personal compilation of briefly annotated online resources.  It is an ongoing project.



GoodSearch school banner







What is Linux?

Linux (pronouned with a short i) is a computer operating system.  One of its advantages over Windows and Macintosh is that it is able to run on a wide variety of hardware.  Other advantages include:it's free!, the source code is available to any and all.  This means that literally thousands of programmer-types have worked on this code with the result that there are few bugs to foul up the works.  These same programmer types have also created a variety of software that is comparable to commercial software.  And like the OS, the software is also free.

Installing Our First Workstation:


 Laying out the panels

Attaching the first corner

Attaching the second corner

Leveling the panels and installing the first shelf


More Shelf Installation

And still more shelf installation

TaDA! The finished work station!

And it's even sturdy!  One of the installers takes a much deserved rest!


Professional Development 

Our first step was to visit the Glenburn Elementary School to see how they were using Linux and the K12LTSP.  It was an informative trip.  It convinced us that this would be a cost effective way for us to more fully integrate technology across the curriculum.

Once the K-2 staff and our Superintendent, Kelly Clenchy, were convinced and excited that K12LTSP was a good match for us, a parent volunteer extrodinaire went to work.

Leo Kenney of SBK Consulting contacted Ruth's Reusable Resources and managed to procure the office furniture and the computer equipment to install 5 workstations in 9 classrooms (K-2) and 2 workstations in 2 Resource Rooms.  The first workstation is pictured above.

Next, we sought funding for training for classroom teachers to attend the 2006 NorthEast Linux Symposia.  In the ideal world, all 9 classroom teachers would be funded.  However, we live in the real world, so with a corporate grant from Leo Kenney and SBK Consulting, and a grant from the Orono Education Foundation, and the squeezing of the Asa C. Adams School budget, funding was secured so that 3 classroom teachers, 1 from each grade (K, 1, & 2) could attend the Symposia June 17-20th in Bethel, Maine.  There will be no expenses for substitutes because school is out by then this year.

Shane Stafford, Orono School Committee Member , parent, and Union #90 Technology Administrator, is helping us gather the correct hardware to bring to the Symposia so that we can learn as much as possible. 

The plan is for the 3 teachers to present what they have learned to the rest of the K-2 staff for implementation during the 2006-2007 school year.

 NELS 2006

(Northeast Linux Symposium)

June 18, 2006

Here we are at the beautiful Gould Academy in Bethel, Maine.  The campus is lovely, the cows lowed us to sleep, and the food is truly amazing!

Our first session is Open Source Applications for the Classroom. The presenters are Kathleen Malsbenden, Co-Director of the Capital ARea Center for Educational Support, located in Penacook, N.H. (kmalsbenden@mv.k12.nh.us) and Sharon Betts, Educational Technology Coordinator for Turner, ME. (sbetts@msad53.org).

Shane Stafford, our School Committee member, and Union #90's Tech Guru, is well thought of by the NELS organizers.  We got reserved front row seats for today's session and everytime we asked a question that involved a technical answer, we were told not to worry becasue "since we had Shane, we'd have no problems!"  It's very nice to have Shane looking out for us and checking in with us.

We learned about all sorts of applications.

Gcompris-a package of educational software

Tuxpaint-a basic paint program with cool tools TuxPaint Tutorial  TuxPaint Instructions

Open Office-a word processing program with spreadsheets, database, drawing, and presentation modules (see tutorial link above under "Helpful Links")

Scribus-a desktop publishing tool

Childsplay-another package of beginning educational skills software

Gimp-an image manipulation program.  Gimp Tutorial

We heard an interesting keynote speech by the Assistant Superintendent for Research and Technology in the Exeter, NH school district via web conferencing tools.  He is associated with http://www.k12opensource.org/   It is a site worth checking out.

This evening we heard from the guys at Ed Tech Talk .  First we had a Skype powered presentation/discussion about new media and how it is being used in the classroom.  And then we listened to a scheduled podcast from the same guys.  It was a pretty cool introduction to some new (at least for the 3 of us) tools.

Now, it is late and the dorm rooms are hot and stuffy.   But, we all have our fans and our cold water from the vending machines, so we should all sleep well.  (As long as our brains relax after learning so much today.)

June 19, 2006

Day 2 of NELS brought sunshine, humidity, and lots more learning.

After a scrumptious breakfast, we headed to McLaughlin Science Hall for a keynote address by Jon "maddog" Hall.  Mr. Hall is the Executive Director of Linux International.  Their webpage describes LI as "a world-wide non-profit association of end users who are dedicated to furthering the acceptance and use of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS).
An end-user is defined as a person that uses FOSS in their daily life."  He was interesting to listen to as he described how using FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) teaches at least 4 different ways, supports the economy in an ethical manner, and is accessible and used by young and old in all parts of the world.


Our main session of the day was Moodle Training from Daryl Hawes, an Apple Systems Engineer.  Not only is Daryl is a great teacher even if he is one of those engineer-types:), he was able to move the class from the assigned and HOT and HUMID one to an air conditioned one.  He used all the best practices that effective teachers utilize.  Each of us got to set up a practice Moodle course on the NELS site.  We will be able to continue to practice on the site until December, 2006.  (If we're lucky, maybe even longer.)  Since we are from Maine, we also are now certified by the Maine State Department of Education to access the Maine Moodle Server that is the result of a grant.  I think it is safe to say that there will be at least one or two Asa C. Adams Moodle in the future.  Moodles have an amazing potential for parent communication, professional development, course organization, and increasing student engagement in their learning.  I think that the Orono School System would benefit from having K-12 Moodle training and having a place to host Moodle.

The late afternoon gave us another keynote address.  This one was Warren Togami.  Mr. Togami is a founder of Fedora.  He spoke about the history of the Fedora Project as well as his current mission of making a documentary of how Free and Open Source Software is working in and changing how technology is used in K-12.  His plan is to complete this movie and then mass distribute it to as many schools as possible.

Dinner was nothing short of amazing!  It began with a reception hosted by the official sponsors of NELS.  Wine, beer, softdrinks, and elegant nibbles accompanied chatting groups of NELS attendees.  The meal was elegant . . .white tablecloths, candles, cloth napkins. . .asparagus, lemon thyme shrimp, roast beef, (and vegan options!) . . .and desserts that were melt-in-the-mouth rich and gooey.

After dinner speeches included thanks to session leaders, door prizes (Mrs. S won a hat and Mrs. G won a "Byte Me?" T-shirt.  They both graciously gave their goodies to Shane Stafford.) and various announcements.  One of the announcements was about Software Freedom Day held this year on September 16th.  The 3 of us (aka 'The 3 Almost Geeks') are very excited about organizing a K-2 team to support Software Freedom Day.  There will definitely be more information about this in the future!

Our evening session was a demonstration by Matt Oquist of an Electronic Portfolio project he is working on in a Moodle.  A demo of this project can be found at: http://portfolio.spdc.org .  Matt is also a co-founder of Software Freedom International.

Fortunately for all of us, there was a roving band of thunderstorms through the area during dinner and the evening.  It certainly cooled things down and took some of the humidity out of the air.  Sleeping should be more comfortable tonight.

 June 20, 2006

Day 3 . . .I don't know how much more information our brains can effectively absorb.  But, like good students, we will try!

Our Users Track session for today is called "Social Networking in the Classroom."  I think that it should be called  something more like "Collaborative Networking".  The word 'social' has too many connotations of partying and playing.  The tools that were introduced in this session are designed for collaborative work.  There are a large number of tools designed to enhance or facilitate collaborative work.

These tools function as part of what is known as Read/Write Web or Web 2.0.  It's increasing the interactivity of web-based learning.  Some of the tools we learned about can be viewed by following these links:

http://www.gliffy.com/ This site enables users to share and collaborate on diagrams using a web browser without downloading software.

http://www.thinkfree.com/common/main.tfo  This is a free office application that allows the user to collaborate on documents and track changes.  It is also Microsoft compatible.

http://www.irows.com/  This is an online spreadsheet site.  It also allows you to create bar/line/pie/2D/3D graphs and charts.

http://www.writely.com/  Writely has just been bought by Google.  It is an online word processor that allows you to collaborate in real time.

http://www.thumbstacks.com/  This is a presentation application on the web.  You can send a link to your presentation to someone else or save it to work on later.

http://writeboard.com/  Writeboard is another way to collaborate online and save the different versions of a document.

http://del.icio.us/  This site is a web bookmarking site.  What makes this different from www.portaportal.com is that users can browse and see what other users find interesting and worth tagging.  (Tagging is just a cool way of expressing the concept of  keywords.)  The Portaportal site is great for bookmarking and organizing sites for students to use.  Mine can be seen at http://guest.portaportal.com/room8

http://basecamphq.com/  BaseCamp is an online project manager for collaborative work.  It looks like it would be a good match for those grade 6 - 12 group projects.  A teacher would be able to determine how much work each individual provided for the end product.

http://www.kiko.com/  This online calendar looks fairly similar to Google calendar.

And remember, this was all presented BEFORE the morning break!  (I told you there were a lot of available tools.)

The second part of the morning was also full of new information and resources!  It covered webcasting, podcasting, and blogging in the classroom.

First we learned about an 8th grade teacher's work.  You can visit Lee Barber's class podcast at: http://web.mac.com/lbaber/iWeb/Site/Podcast/Podcast.html 

Then we heard about webcasting via The Webcast Academy.  Webcast Academy is a training ground for those interested in producing live interactive webcasts.

Here are some examples of student podcasts:

This is from a 3rd/4th grade in Wells, Maine.

This is from a former student teacher and long term substitute at our school.  Leah Tondreau is now teaching 2nd grade in MSAD #46.

We also heard about student blogging in learning communities like Elgg.


The after lunch session included information about Worldbridges, Education bridges, Ed Tech Talk, and a Wiki tutorial.

Worldbridges is a network of individuals and organizations who are using New Media to learn from each other and create a syngeristic whole.  Use Worldbridges to meet new friends, introduce your class to people around the world, do something with your computer besides play solitaire! :)

Education Bridges is best described with their own words. "Education Bridges is an experiment in a new means for bringing together educators and nonprofit, business and government leaders to voice their concerns and opinions on the role philanthropy can play in addressing issues that will enhance the quality of conversation about education in communities we live. We invite you to listen to the show, participate in the conversation in the forum, blogs and comment area. "

Ed Tech Talk uses all kinds of ways to engage in conversations about using technology in education-webcasts, chats, online discussions, even an RSS feed.  This community is mostly educators.

Tutorcasts provide tutorials for a variety of New Media, including wiki's.  Your class can even create a tutorial and submit it to tutorcasts.


And for those of you who think I documented all three days through prodigious note-taking, please think again.  Most of the resources presented here were presented to the NELS 2006 attendees via Moodle.  It was easy to go back and continue my learning about these resources.

 Continuing Professional Development

 Beric Deane, Union #87''s Computer Coordinator (50% K-8 Veazie, 50% Orono K-12), attended NELS 2006 in New Hampshire.  He had hoped to bring our K12LTSP server so he could get help setting it up however, it hasn't been delivered yet.  He assured me that he was confident that between himself and Shane Stafford (see above for id), that the server should present no problems.  I'm looking forward to having it set up and networked within our classrooms so all of the K-2 teachers and 2 of the Resource Room teachers can begin playing with the system.  We want to be ready to go before the first day of school.

I'm hoping that Beric will write up his experiences at NELS so that we can add it to this site.  Documenting our experiences is important for continuing the transfer of knowledge and skills to our Orono colleagues as well as for providing a model for other school systems.

New Employee

We are lucky to have been able to employ Sandra Cookson as our new K-12 Technology Integration Specialist.  Sandra is helping Orono out in all 3 buildings.  She's familiar with all 3 platforms, is a certified teacher, and is all ready helping everyone with technology needs.  Sandra can be reached at: sacookson@orono.u87.k12.me.us

Welcome Sandra!


Thanks to Leo Kenney and his unflagging enthusiasm and effort, all 9 K-2 classrooms and 2 of our Resource Rooms will be connected to the  Linux server by Monday September 25, 2006.  Leo recruited and organized a group of community volunteers who measured, lifted, moved, connected, and booted up workstations in our classrooms.  One of the volunteers made oodles and oodles of ethernet cords for us.  This volunteer work was invaluable in getting the physical setup in all the rooms acomplished.


 This picture says it all!  The workstations are up and running!


A New Year, New Equipment --July 2007

 We are so excited!  A variety of circumstances created the financial means for the School Committee to update the computers in our building.  We will all have Linux-based thin-client machines with flat screen monitors.