Thursday, December 17, 2009

2009 Holiday Luncheon

Not to irk any former ITA students, but at one point a very prominent staff member of ITA stated "that was the best ITA Holiday Luncheon ever!" Over 400 attendees registered beforehand, the party was held at the Alliant Energy Center, as ITA was too large for a UW venue. It was a very energetic Saturday afternoon, to say the least!

We kicked off the morning of the day in the labs at Computer Science. A few test retakes, and (eventually) rehearsals of the skits and performances ensued. As it had gone the last session, the students took charge of the performances, working it out in the hallway and where they could find space, and calling their own shots. The instructors were able to help students to catch up on things and finish before the semester ended.

After about an hour, we all climbed on a big ol' yellow school bus to head over to the event.

Paul, a trained actor, first led the Juniors though a cool-down/warm-up relaxation gig. Kevin decided he could use a stretch as well, so he joined in, even though he wouldn't be performing. Calm and cool, until about 12:15, the Juniors ran through rehearsals, which improv kept lively each iteration. 

The Seniors rehearsed some more out in the main lobby of the Banquet room, as anyone else presenting continued to find a somewhat quiet place, and continued to make small edits and additions to their presentations.

The luncheon itself kicked off by Bronson and his younger brother, Preston, playing an unbelievable original piece on classical guitars. 

Next, everyone grabbed some lunch while dual projectors showed the lovely Freshman/Sophomore Photoshop/Illustrator pieces. 

The Seniors then presented their "Senior Thesis", with great stuff from educational flash games to websites and marketing designs for non-profits. 

The Juniors then presented -- it was the stuff of legend. An Excel Game competition, with half the class rooting for "Noah" the Jock and the others for "Terrence the Terrible Tigrr" the Nerd. 

Eddie was the sports announcer, and some excellent lines included "great weather out there folks, for software sports fans, not too chilly, clear skies." AJ reffed keeping things clean. 

The Terrible Tigrr won, declaring he was taking his entire team to wallgreens with the $5,000 dollar prize. Noah said he went out there and gave 100%, but his competition put up an excellent game. 

Maya concluded, letting the audience know the Excel unit isn't all about acting, but we actually learn some spreadsheet software. 

The Luncheon continued with an amazing song from Carrie, done in sign language. She had asked to perform at the last luncheon and has spent the past year preparing. It was flawless and awe-inspiring.  Lastly, the keynote speaker, Police Chief Noble Wray. 

Bronson and Preston finished things off with another mind-blowing guitar piece, and the day was won. 

Thank you to all staff, parents, students, and guests for making this the best luncheon ever for ITA! This set a new standard for our gatherings!

Composed by: Kevin Doran | Edited and Posted by: A.J. Daughtry Krill

Want to read more about this year's luncheon?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

ITA's 8th Annual Summer Picnic

On 8.13.2009 we went to the Henry Vilas Park and Zoo for the annual ITA picnic! There was lots of food, fun and friends!

In the 1st annual kickball game the Sophomores beat the Freshmen 1-7…but the Freshmen made a great comeback to win the dodge ball game! Someone brought the cutest little cupcakes, and ALL the food was delicious.

Most people eventually made it into the zoo - we went in with Jacob, Kim, David, and Jose. We saw Black Bears, Brown Bears, Lions, Tigers, [OH MY!!]. We went into the Birdhouse, the Herpetarium, and the Monkey House. The monkeys were wonderfully furry and there was a chimp with his foot randomly on the window. It was hilarious. And Clara took the coolest ever picture of a tiger. It looked like it was trying to eat her. Which it probably was.
The poor polar bear was dying (not literally), because it was so hot. And the badger was really hyper. 
Note: Clara is the one who notices these weird things :D
The goats were weird and crazy about food. Speaking of giving food to animals, we fed the ducks  (before we realized we shouldn't do that) and ended up with a very hugely enormous flock of ducks/geese clamoring for food. It was scary.
There were these really pretty birds...and huge snakes. HUGE. SNAKES. O.O Pythons and anacondas. And there were huge turtles too, but they weren't as freaky as the snakes. HUGE. SNAKES. O.O
But anyways. It was pretty cool. But we returned to the CS building the next day to get back to basements and computer projects for the Summer Recognition Lunch. Bye!
                                                                       -Clara and Aubrey, ITA Students
                                                                                 [Edited by A.J.]

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Student's Reflection on How a Computer Works...

In the first few days of ITA camp, I've learned a lot about computers that I never knew before. For example we learned all about the hardware and operating systems. The hardware has lots of different parts like the monitor, motherboard, CPU, RAM, CD-ROM Drive, Hard Drive, Keyboard and Mouse. Some of the parts of the hardware I was familiar with like the monitor, CD-ROM Drive, key board and mouse.

The CPU (Central Processing Unit) is one of the parts I didn't know much about. I learned that it is responsible for handling all instructions and calculation it receives from other hardware components in the computer and software programs running on the computer.

RAM (Random Access Memory) is the place in a computer where the operating system, programs, and data are kept so that they can be quickly reached by the computer's processor. However, the data in RAM stays there only as long as your computer is running. When you turn the computer off, RAM loses its data. When you turn your computer on again, your operating system and other files are once again loaded into RAM. RAM can be compared to a person's short-term memory and the hard disk to the long-term memory. For example in the summer time you don't see some people from school, and then when u go back and you see them, it takes you a few seconds to remember their name and that's when your long-term memory comes back to your short-term memory.

A Hard Disk (Hard Disk Drive) is your computer's main storage device. It is where you would normally keep your operating system, programs and files.

UNIX is an operating system. Operating systems consist of a kernel and some system programs. The kernel is the heart of the operating system. It keeps track of files on the disk, starts programs and runs them, assigns memory and other resources to other processes. The operating system provides an interface to these parts using what is referred to as "drivers".

A driver is software which understands the operation of the device it interfaces with, such as a printer, video card, sound card or CD ROM drive. It translates commands from the operating system or user into commands understood by the component computer part it interfaces with. It also translates responses from the component back to responses that can be understood by the operating system, user.

I'm glad I got to learn about all the different parts and their duties, because now if any thing ever goes wrong with my computer, I know more about what to check for the problem and what to fix. It was really cool how they compared the system and parts to real life it made it so much easier to understand!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

"Things I've Learned" By Eileen


We were taught the parts of a computer and where they connect to on the motherboard(the control room of the computer); things like the cpu and the RAM connect to the north bridge and the graphics card, the PCI and the IDE connect to the south bridge. The north bridge has the highest priority and everything has to go through there in order to reach the CPU and be registered.

We also learned about definitions of parts; the RAM is the temporary memory of the computer, it can be replaced if faulty and it is measured in bytes. The CPU is like the translator of the computer, it takes your commands (like what you type on a keyboard), changes it into binary (the code that computers use), and the tells that to the parts like the graphics card so that you can see what you typed on your screen.

Then we learned about how the parts are related; the RAM is similar to, but different from the hard drive in the sense that they are both memory storing devices, but the hard drive holds all of the information forever until you purposely delete it. Even if you shut down your computer and move the hard drive to another computer, all of the files will still be stored on it. The RAM loses all of it's information when you unplug the computer or remove the RAM itself.

There were a bunch of metaphors for the different computer parts, some that were helpful and some that were pretty lame. One of the better ones was that the RAM is like clothing in the sense that it's readily available and you are always wearing it, but if you want to change it you have to go back home (or to the motherboard).

I think that what we've learned about Linux will be helpful because although you can't use familiar programs like Microsoft office and Adobe, it's a heck of a lot neater looking. In addition it's easier to install than windows and free to boot (haha, pun). Also, if you're someone who has a knack for coding, you can edit Linux because it's open source and that way problems that may be commonly faced, but not always solved, can be fixed. Linux is always being updated so problems are constantly being weeded out. Besides, I think that there is a nice warm feeling that comes with working on something that is controlled by the community as opposed to a corporation.

What's most confusing are the technicalities. I can grasp what you do with these programs and hardware knowledge and I understand the basics (components, what they do), but I have trouble with understanding code and what not. Not to mention that everything goes so fast. It always has. I suppose that it is just something that I am going to need to get used to, but it's difficult. So much info is being fed to us in such a short amount of time (and we have no idea who half of the people who feed us this info are).

I have to say that personally, I am more creatively inclined and its hard for me to sit through all of these technical lessons. I prefer to just mess around and design neat stuff, not follow a bunch of mathematical steps to achieve the expected result.

Friday, June 26, 2009

ITA Evening on the Terrace

While working in the stuffy office, we decided that work and air-conditioning are a little more than they're cracked up to be!

Summertime . . . and living is . . . not always easy here at ITA! Between summer camps, unit revamp and prep, Panda development, hiring new instructors, and not to mention summer school, we've been pretty swamped here through the month of June. So we decided it was high time to take a night off and go have some fun!

And the Terrace seemed like the place to do it! The warm evening air blowing in off the lake, a live bluegrass band, and shady trees overhanging the quintessentially union colored metal chairs, created a perfect atmosphere for just hangin' and having some good conversation.

One characteristic of our team definitely stands out - we're all so amazingly different! Each and all of us have stories, fascinating life experiences to share with one another. Our night on the Terrace finally gave us a time to sit down with one another and hear about those awesome experiences - where we've been, what we're doing, and where we're going. We often say that, "each person has something special to contribute" but it's important to really live that out and experience that together, discovering the unique experiences and talents of our fellow teammates.

Practice what we preach!
One of these mornings
You're going to rise up singing
Then you'll spread your wings
And you'll take to the sky

Summertime . . . and the livin' is eeaasssyyyyyyy . . .

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Showcase 2009 - Tuesday, May 12, 2009

ITA students learn a lot in the classroom, whether it be college preparatory study skills or technological capabilities. But there’s only so much we as instructors can teach them -- so much of learning comes by experience. The annual ITA Showcase is one way students learn by experiencing something we instructors are blessed with far more often -- teaching.

Every year, ITA staff chooses a theme on which students develop a project presentation. This year our theme was ‘Inventing Change’: students focused on creating an invention idea which would in some way bring more peace and justice to the world. Students, though not by any means required to create the actual invention, could use any of the programs available through ITA to develop their idea in a visual presentation. The culmination of this experience is a journey to local elementary schools to ‘showcase’ the products of our students’ minds.

Planning for the showcase begins months in advance, as the instructors meet to discuss possible themes. This year, we threw around many different possibilities before settling on the ‘Inventing Change’ theme. We wanted something that would get the students thinking in more global terms of world problems and issues. After choosing the theme, we put together a presentation, explaining the requirements of the presentation and the age level to which the students would be presenting.

Showcase work started at different times for each of the different classes – many students were still working on their final Behind the Wheel Projects when we presented the Showcase. Once they had finished their regular class requirements, they were ready to start on the next task . . .

After much head scratching, group consulting, and idea bouncing, the presentations started to take shape. Some were products of sudden flashes of inspiration; others collected more slowly. Eventually, each student had their idea and at least a rough presentation. These we saved on our systems for a preliminary presentation just amongst us ITA students and staff during the last Saturday session. This presentation was important as not every student was able to make it to the actual Showcase, since attending requires missing a day of school.

The presentation was a great way to end our ITA session time this year, and was very useful as some presentation ran into technical difficulties. We could all enjoy the products of one another’s work and troubleshoot for the actual event.

The day began with a morning breakfast all together at the Computer Science building – we wanted to make sure that, even though our students had to wake up a bit early, they at least had gotten breakfast! After a short bus ride, we arrived at Emerson Elementary. We were given a nice-sized auditorium to set up our nineteen projects. Each student or group of students set up a computer, facing outward, ready for an audience. Those with sound also had headphones. Set up took very little time and soon we had our first batch of kids meandering through the doors.

This being the first year we went to elementary schools instead of middle schools, I know there was some concern about the age difference. Perhaps the younger students would need more stimulation than just the projects to keep them interested. In the end, however, we discovered that the younger children (first though third graders) seemed to be our most attentive audience! Going around from station to station fascinated them, certainly because of the technology but their interest was probably mostly captivated by the big, cool high school-ers behind the technology! They listened attentively as our ITA students explained, encouraged, ahem, specific votes, and even grooved to the music of their projects!

We really saw our students grow exponentially through the process. They seem to mature in a few instants; as soon as younger, shorter miniatures appeared in the room, the students seemed to gain a grasp of the responsibility they have as mentors of a younger generation. They interacted comfortably and smoothly, maintaining a patient attitude of fun.

Aside from challenging our own students, the showcase is also meant to raise awareness, amongst younger students and teachers, of ITA and the opportunities offered through our programs. As the elementary kids came in, we had ITA student greeters sharing about the program, its purpose and practice. At the end, AJ and others concluded, stressing the importance of keeping up grades and being a good student in order to experience and learn the same things they saw these cool high school-ers experiencing and learning! Hopefully, this presentation planted seeds and to prepare these students for academic success.

The afternoon was very similar, as we loaded the bus and headed off for Marquette Elementary. I was encouraged by how much the students changed even throughout the course of the day – their presentations the second time through grew clearer and more impassioned. The elementary students were very receptive – many of them started asking when the inventions our students were presenting would be available to the public! Hmm , not for a couple of years . . .

Overall, the day was a complete success!
The elementary school kids were engaged and excited about the projects, our students were growing through teaching and mentoring, and ITA’s overall message of academic stewardship and the importance of effort reached new corners of the earth. We brought a little more peace and justice to the world.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Silicon Valley: Images Coming Soon!

Wow! Did you get a chance to read the blog entries from the ITA Silicon Valley Trip?


I want you to know that images are coming to those posts soon! I, for one, can't wait to see them!


Thursday, April 9, 2009

Silicon Valley: A Day Spent on Sightseeing and Shopping

The morning of Thursday, April 9, 2009 brought about the San Francisco Trolley tour and the trip to Fisherman’s Wharf. Although San Francisco spans only 49 square miles, it has 43 hills where Californians put them to use and built hundreds of houses (at unbelievable angles) and roads on hills and flatlands alike. Because of these hills, our tour of San Francisco had its ups and downs (very steep ones!).

We woke up as early as 6:00A.M. to pack and load our luggage. After loading, we drove to Fisherman’s Wharf to start our tour. On this tour, we visited the Presidio, a base that the Spanish in North America established to protect against attacks, the Exploratorium or science museum, and the Golden Gate Bridge. Today, the Presidio serves as a park consisting of wooded areas, hills, and scenic vistas like the Exploratorium and cemetery. A large pond with a fountain and a variety trees encompassed the Exploratorium while a giant willow tree and an excess amount of water complimented and attracted birds as well as tourists. After leaving the Exploratorium, we headed towards our next destination: the Golden Gate Bridge.

Along the way to the Golden Gate Bridge, Allen, the tour guide, described the scenic vistas as we drove pass them. For example, we saw the first cemetery dedicated to fallen soldiers including many Medal of Honor recipients. Similarly, Fort Point, located near the bottom of the Golden Gate Bridge, served the United States’ government as well. As a defense mechanism to the U.S., Fort Point had protected the San Francisco harbor from attacks during the Civil War and Post-Civil War eras.

Many of these historical sites have laid a path to the exquisite Golden Gate Bridge which has a ferrous coating that gives off a red tint. The completion of the bridge in 1937 made an impact on the world simply because it surpassed 8 other bridges, and established itself as the longest for a couple of years. From the time of its construction, 8 bridges outstripped the Golden Gate in length.

After visiting the Golden Gate Bridge, Allen took us on a non-stop tour while informing us about the history. At the end of the trip, we discovered that the Chinatown in San Francisco, the oldest in the U.S., had many cheap sales ($1 T-shirts!) which drove in herds of tourists. The bright colors and lively people ranged in many shades and shapes. These tourists filled the 11 blocks by 4 blocks Chinatown which consists of the largest Chinese population outside of Asia. Immediately after driving by Chinatown, we entered Little Italy, or North Beach. The name derives from the large amount of Italians who immigrated to the U.S. from penal colonies. When the drive bys by the cultural towns ended, we headed towards the hills of San Francisco for a glimpse of the rich and famous. We drove by the house in which directors filmed Mrs. Doubtfire and Princess Diaries, and saw buildings owned by models and actors. The tour ended with a drive by Union Square where upscale boutiques, tourist trinket shops, art galleries, and salons made up the majority of the buildings.
When the Trolley tour ended, we went to have lunch and some shopping time at Pier 39, which featured two levels of dining, shopping, and entertainment on the San Francisco Bay, and has over 110 shops, specifically souvenirs. Pier 39 is known for their stree performers hwo are world-wide famous magicians, jugglers, comedians, and mimes. The entertainment shows are free to audiences.

Aquarium of the Bay is another big entertainment of San Francisco. The Aquarium is filled with marine animals of the San Francisco Bay: Lila, the seven-gill shark, sea stars, sting rays, and more. We were able to touch the sea stars, sting rays, and tiger sharks.

The sea lions out on the West Marina of Pier 39 are a huge attraction of Fisherman’s Wharf. These sea lions started out with about 10-50 of them, but with the help of the protected environment, the numbers grew and became a part of Pier 39’s docks.

Pier 39 has recently acquired the newly arrived San Francisco Carousel from Italy. The carousel images consist of the Golden Gate Bridge, Coit Tower, Chinatown, and Alcatraz. It is a popular entertainment for all ages.

Pier 39 is famous for their all souvenir shops of clothes, accessories, and food. Many of us got to taste some amazing food from Wipeout Bar and Grill which has sandwiches, burgers, nachos, pizzas, salads, and more.

After dinner, we headed towards our last destination before our flight tomorrow: the Comfort Inn and Suites.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Silicon Valley: Trip Blog

Today was unexpected, in the world of business, i find that like all business, only one intent, profit, but my ignorant aspect was reverted, i now know that Businesses can intertwine with kindness, pleasure, and social-welfare. Businesses, profit, money, greed, charity, philanthropy should not be a obligated chore, as if they have to, to advance their image, gaining publicity. Ignorance is bliss, Cisco displayed more of a philosophical aspect, but im sure Apple, and Google have theirs as well, my judgment, bias as it was, decided to favor Cisco over them, it still does, but now i believe that all business have a deeper pursuit, than profit. Cisco is a good corporation.

Human Touch, Connecting lives, and communication. Cisco provides us that opportunity in wireless networking.Cisco's products unite their partners, investors, and their co-workers, and families globally. I feel that Cisco will contribute to the advancement of "Human Touch", through their products, such as the "Telepresence", a product which can allow all users to digitally view each other, and hold conversations,meetings, and brief speeches, as if they were actually there. The Camera, used in broadcasting the users, well built, can even zoom into a motherboard, and perceive the tiny text defining the parts, some of us had to squint to see the labels, machine 1, man 0. jk
And models come in sets of 3's so the meeting can hold more than one person,. They're ticket at around +$5000. "Telepresence" can take some stress of the economy's struggle for gas, no strong need for transportation. Cisco does not allow its employees to travel, at all, they are strict on their policy, and it encourages the use of their "telepresence". Schools will be revolutionized, classes can be held whenever, wherever, the weather, the health condition, well maybe... "Telepresence" will change our social lives.

The IP Phone, was just amazing, the concept complex, the uses, simple. Users can choose different views on Game Events, order food, refreshments. I was Impressed by Cisco's products, and presentation, the presentation, much more appealing to the others, superior in fact.
The HQ, as futuristic as it was, it still had the modern 2000's feel, to it. Cisco focused on both business, and philosophy, which i admired, allowing both an average joe, and an average businessman could, and can.

-Lejia, and Tenzin..

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Silicon Valley: Google and Apple

On April 7th, we visited the headquarters of Apple Computers and Google.
We started the day off with a late breakfast at the hotel. We then drove to Apple Headquarters at 1 Infinite Loop. We were given individualized name badges, and taken on a tour through the campus.
We then went to a conference room to talk with a group of Apple employees, where they discussed perks of their job at Apple. One thing I learned there was that nobody outside of the design team knows what product Apple is working on. Nobody else knows until the CEO announces it. One exception to this was the iPhone, where they had an exact date set for release, and each employee received one as a gift. The reason Apple doesn't usually announce release dates for items is business related. Nobody would buy an 8GB iPod Touch if they knew a 16GB one would be released next week for the same price.
After listening to the employees about thier jobs, we performed out presentation about ITA to them. It was easy, because Apple was a very friendly environment. After that, we had lunch at Caffe Macs, the restaurant on campus. They had a variety of food, from burgers to burritos. We then went back to our vans and drove to Google.
When we first arrived at Google, we were introduced to Avelia Stewart, our host. The first place we went was to a lobby, where we got personalized name tags (again), and were allowed to have a small snack. There was also a large display of everything that was being searched on Google at that moment. We were then introduced to our tour guide, who taught us about what it was like to work at Google, and products that they work with. While on the tour, we noticed the large amount of food available everywhere on campus. And it was all free!
We also visited a wall where there were pictures of all these famous people who have visited Google, all of them were in a picture with Mike, a Google employee, who tries to get a picture with everyone important who visits the campus. As we continued our tour, we noticed all the different facilities that Google has, such as gyms, pools, and lunchrooms. We also had a meeting with several Google employees who talked about what they do. We then presented to them about ITA, then answered some questions that they had. As we left, we were given Google gift bags and t-shirts, a welcome gift.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Silicon Valley: HP & Stanford

So we finally had the chance to see the site where Hewlett-Packard began. We took pictures of the garage and it was real great. I was very fascinated by seeing the exact site where such an industry took place. It's amazing how two people with a little imagination can turn out to be so successful. After many photos by the HP Garage, we took a tour of Stanford University. There was so much artwork around the campus. We saw many statues and paintings. The scenery of the campus also was lovely. I never seen a campus with that like peach feel color with different shades of red plates for its roof. It is a lot smaller compared to University of Wisconsin-Madison, but they have a lot more on display to see around the school. I personally liked this campus more overall because I know I'll rarely see snow around. After the tour, we saw a snippet on how much robots have changed the world. It's crazy to think of how much the world has evolved since the creation of the first robot. I hope to see some robots on the streets in the decades to come. Overall, today was great. We saw where the beginning of a currently billionaire industry began and had the chance of touring one of the prestigious colleges in the nation deemed "The Havard of the West".

Pari & Quentin

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Silicon Valley: Trip Blog by Jasmine & PaYing

Sunday April 5th 2009

Our morning started at the Comfort Inn & Suites for breakfast. After breakfast we made our way to the Tech Museum of Innovation. We then had a chance to look at a lot of exhibits. For example, we made our own roller coaster on the computer then we used our ticket to save our design and then scanned the ticket onto the simulator and were able to see our design in action. We enjoyed lunch in the museum and then got tickets to see "The Magic of Flight" in the IMAX Dome Theater. Afterwards we left the museum and went to our hotel for the next three days Mariana's Inn where some of us swam in the pool and played Marco Polo and others layed by the pool and relaxed under the sun. Later we went to Dave and Buster's for dinner. D & B is like a grown up Chuck E Cheese minus the pizza. Our food was delicious. After dinner we played in the giant arcade. PaYing played the "spin and win" game and one the first try won 20 tickets then the second try she won 1,000 bonus tickets. It was really fun and we had a great time.

After playing in the arcade we left and drove to Walgreen's to pick up snacks and whatever else we wanted. We left and came back to the hotel and had a group meeting to plan/discuss our presentation at Apple. We were paired up with people that were the same year or section that we had been assigned to. For example: brief ITA info (section 1) was presented by Kalia and Cristina, freshman year (section 2) was presented by Ivan and David, sophomore year (section 3) was presented by Tenzin and Lejia, junior year (section 4) was presented by Pari and PaYing and finally senior year (section 5) was presented by Jasmine and Quentin.

We learned a lot today and also had lots of fun. Thanks for taking the time to read our blog and please check this page again for more updates/blogs.

-PaYing & Jasmine

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Silicon Valley: Here we come baby!

Well it has finally arrived! The ITA trip to Silicon Valley begins today.

As the students and their families arrived for our departure from East High School, there were huge smiles, some nervousness and some looks of not really knowing what to expect on our first big trip. But as the students and their families started to look through the wonderfully prepared trip binders (thanks Alison and Erica), the agenda for the week became much clearer. And yes, after seeing the weeks agenda and the assignments due some of the grins did go away.

The ride to Milwaukee’s Mitchell Airport was the bomb (I think the kids today still use that?). We rode in the comfort of a limo bus with DVD player (thanks Kalia for sharing Twlight (I can’t wait to see the end) and very comfy leather seats. If the ride to Milwaukee is any indication, this should be a fun trip.

While all of the students and Erica make it through security without any problems. I have to sadly report that today I was “that guy”. You know “that guy” that holds up the security line. That guy who has to go through the metal detector several times before getting clearance. Well, today was my day! I forgot my I-pod, that I had some change in my pocket and my trusty cell phone. I finally made it through and none of the other passengers seemed too annoyed with me. The students were wonderful, playing cards and chilling out as we waited to board our plane.

As we neared the departure time for our flight to Minneapolis there seems to be some anxiousness. When I heard “ Northwest flight 357 is boarding”, it really hit me that we were on our way to San Francisco!

Our flight to Minneapolis was ok for the most part; however the landing was horrible. It was like being on Tilt- a- Whirl (poor PaYing-her first flight). But we all survived.

The best part of Minnesota was being able to grab a good cup of coffee from Caribou Coffee. By the way…. the airport is truly like being in a mall.

A funny thing happened to us on our way to terminal for our flight to San Francisco, We were stuck on the tram. The Minneapolis airport has this wonderful tram service (think Disney world) that moves you through the airport. Thankfully we were only stuck for about five minutes. Too bad the sun wasn’t out today!

On-ward to San Francisco. Our trip into the bay area was very nice and smooth. One of the best flights that I have been on in quite some time.

Well, it’s end of the night (well at least it is in Madison) and we’re all checked in our hotel for the evening. And other than getting lost on the way to the hotel, Day 1 has been a huge success!

Friday, April 3, 2009

New Site Update: The Permit Updater!

“Hey Pacal, can you enter all these scores into the Google Spreadsheet and then enter it into the Excel Spreadsheet and then when you are done can you put all that same data into the website?”

“Sure thing boss,” said Pacal, with a slight cough.
“Oh yeah, and that is just for Acid, but can you also do this with the Microsoft Word and Illustrator scores?”
“Sure thing boss, I'll have that done by, oh, this summer.”
“Well, actually I'll have Kevin enter the scores into the Google Spreadsheet but you can put it into the other two places... Ha! Just kidding, you only need to enter the scores into one place now! And the students can see it immediately,” said A.J., triumphantly as the image of Drew at a computer crossed his mind.

Hi, my name is Daniel, and as your trusty guide into the world of new site updates, I have something new and great to show you! The whole thing is pretty self explanatory and idiot proof, not implying that you are one, but we can go through how it works nonetheless.

Before you can start, remeber you have to log in, either from Login link at the ITA site, or from here
Both will prompt the user for a password so, make sure you are confident when typing, the site may no let you in, sensing your nervous attitude. I'm just joking however, just don't forget your password okay?

The first thing you should notice is that, when you click on the link marked Enter BTW & RT Scores, you will see that the permit score column is missing! This is because there is a separate data entry system for Permit scores and all student attempts.
This can be accessed by clicking on the link marked
Input/Edit Permit Scores
in the ITA ToolBox

To use Input/Edit Permit Scores, must first log in as always into You can then access it by first going to the ITA ToolBox drop-down menu. Then select "Input/Edit Permit Scores." (If you look at the top of the the screen you will see an address bar.)

If the address bar at the top says
Scores, you are in the right place!

You will notice a few things once you have picked the class (first drop down menu) and unit plan (second drop down menu) and pressed the SELECT button, the first thing you will notice is three columns. Student, Date, and Attempt, each column is quite self explanatory. When typing in the date, make sure to follow the correct format,
Please take the time to read the instructions at the top. Once you have entered the score in the ATTEMPT 1 box of the same row as the particular student you can go ahead and save the score. If you find that the student has already taken the test once, you can add another attempt by clicking the SAVE SCORES AND ADD ATTEMPT button.

If the column turns yellow, don't freak out, this means that you typed in an invalid input. You will be prompted to change them, so its okay. Not everyone is perfect, or have degrees in math.

DO NOT DO THIS. Here is an example of a poor score entry. Even though it will allow you to do so, you must never enter a score in the second attempt slot if the first attempt slot for a particular student is blank. If you do this, you will rip a hole in the space and time continuum, causing an imbalance in the tapestry of the universe. No it actually nothing will happen, but, this is still a big deal.
Think logically here:
How can
Test Peter possibly have an Atempt 2 score for a test if it is his first time taking it?!

Some useful tips for entering data:

  • you can use the TAB key to jump horizontally from box to box.
  • You can also triple click to highlight the contents of the entire box.
  • Also the Copy:CTRL+C and Paste:CTRL+V combos work well when you are working with repetitive information, such as dates for an attempt.
  • Watch out for differing dates for different attempts, as make-up tests might not line up with the whole class for each attempt.
  • Use the scores and layout to find out what students still need to take a first or second attempt in the class!

The Enter BTW & RT Scores, as great as it is, is only a temporary placement. Eventually, there will be in existence a separate data entry system for the BTW sores and the Road Test scores. Good God is this possible? Yes my friend, it is. And as your trusty tour guide, I will be there to help you when that time comes! Until then, happy score entering!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

New Site Update: The Scorester!

Sometimes band-aids are needed while the skin heals...

The Scorester is a (non) creative name for eliminating the LiveNotes. The LiveNotes were conceived by AJ as a temporary way to show the students' their current PLC progress, as the tools required to properly store and manage the PLC data are currently incomplete. As many instructors know... this is quite a chore to constantly update an html table in a textbox. In addition, all this data that was painstakingly entered was completely temporary and impossible to tabulate.

Hopefully, we can eliminate these shortcomings for the time being with the Scorester. Simply put: it's a way to enter in BTW "scores", permit test scores, and road test scores for each class (or individual student), and be able to actually use all this data in the future and now.

When you load up a class and topic in the Scorester, the current HIGHEST score for each category per student will be shown. When you save a new score, nothing is overwritten; the new score is just added to the student's history. While there is currently no way for anyone to look at this data easily, it's there, and can be pulled in the future when the PLC website functions are fully... functional.

On an individual student's status page (their home page), they will now see an automatically calculated chart displaying their highest PLC scores per topic. These scores are being pulled from the data entered into the Scorester.

To note: while all the scores entered are saved, only the highest score will be displayed to the student. This should work just fine, unless a data entry mistake is made. For right now, if a score was entered improperly (for example, a 809, when it should have been 80.9), let me (Drew) know and I can remove that score or adjust it manually.

One last note: should we keep the LiveNotes, to be used for their original purpose? The original purpose, for those who wonder, were to inform the student briefly of what might need to be done. So let's say an instructor goes through a class's Flash BTW projects, and then needs to tell each student what is missing from the project. Type it into the live note!

You'll see these changes, including the Scorester, in less than a week (probably).