Last updated 5/16/2006
When I have time, I'll post answers to some questions I get about
this web site. Fred Roemer
Q. Well, it's about time you got some new questions!
A. Hey, that's not a question.
Q. When does school begin this year?
A. On Tuesday, August 8th, 2006. Our school hours are 7:45 a.m. - 1:45 p.m.
Q. Why polar bears? (Click for links about real polar bears!)
A. When I first came to the school, it was as a kindergarten teacher, after the school year had begun. The other kindergarten teachers told me my class had to be a "bear," but, coming late, all the good bears were taken. So I took The Polar Bears. As I looped with classes up to my current fifth grade, I found that the students didn't want to give up being Polar Bears and so I'm stuck with it. I have grown fond of the mascot, The Polar Bears have good reputation at the school, and it does help in building a stronger classroom community.
Q. What's with the passwords? Can I get guest access?
A. I used to have an open site, but the popularity of the Web has made me more careful. Pages with pictures or places where a student's name or messages are posted are protected. I'm sorry, but I only give access to my students and their parents. I don't make exceptions.
Q. Why the PHAT in PB Phat?
A. Our discussion board was originally called PB Chat, but some Internet filters wouldn't let kids on a page containing the word chat. When I found out about the filters, I had already made a lot of links, so, what with me being lazy and all, I found that the easiest way to fix it was to change CHAT to PHAT.
Q. Where's the kidz frequently asked question page?
A. Right here! http://www.pb5th.com/pbkidz/fakq.html (It is no longer maintained)
Q. Can you help me make a site for my students?
A. I used to help teachers all the time. But the requests are much more frequent and I've added two other education-related web sites to my task list. I can't help much anymore and, because of time restrictions, I may not reply to e-mails asking about this. The best advice I can give is to get a good book on building a web site and, perhaps take a class. I would recommend starting small. Beginners have also fond this site helpful:
Q. How many pages on this site?
A. Not counting our message board, there are close to 100 pages that get updated throughout the year. There are over 500 pages altogether, but most are not updated.
Q. How long has this site been running?
A. I began the Polar Bears web site during
the last week of March '97, our Spring Break. It began as a simple one-page
project to help me learn HTML. It's turned into a monster (for me at least)
experiment in how the web can interact with teaching and parent communications.
Q. How long does it take you to update this site?
A. It's hard to tell. That depends on
how much of the work my students have done during the school day. It also
depends on the "fiddle
factor," which is how long I spend playing with the internet instead
of actually working. Usually it takes me no more than 15 minutes each day and an hour on weekends. I'm learning as I go, though, and the
time I spend actually working on this sight decreases each week.
Somehow, my playing time keeps increasing.
Q. Don't you have a life?
A. I had a life
once. It just got me into trouble.
Q. Do your students do any of the web page construction?
A. We used to
When we did, the students didn't use anything but a text editor or the bulletin board. Time is an issue lately, with all of the curriculum changes, and I haven't been able to teach technology as thoroughly as I'd like.
Q. Do you edit your students' work?
A. (I don't edit the daily log anymore) Yes, when I have time I edit some
spelling and if absolutely necessary I fix gross gramatical errors. I don't
like to to this, but I've seen so many articles lately about folks who
get bent out of shape after having received letters full of mistakes from
schoolchildren. (Those people ought to visit an online newsgroup sometime
and yell at those adults!) I still have difficulties with grammar
and spelling, but that doesn't keep me from writing (although you might
wish it did!). Still, I don't want this site to get that sort of press
and so I do edit. However, I like it that the kids are writing and expressing
themselves. As they see their work online, they become interested in getting
rid of the mistakes. Writing for the web has really motivated some and
in some cases I've seen a big improvement in grammar and spelling. In addition,
I usually have to correct some HTML mistakes when the kids do the markup
Q. What programs do you use to design your pages?
A. I'm a believer in learning HTML by
using it, so usually we use simple text editors. On the Macs at school,
we use Tex-Edit and I use the registered and very good shareware text editor
TextPad and the fantastic NoteTab Pro at home with Windows.
Q. There are a lot of broken links on the site. Will you fix them?
A. I try! Problem is, there are so many pages and links.
Q. What happens to this web site over the summer?
A. First I take a few weeks' break. Then, I continue to update it with pictures I have in the archives - I have tons. At some point during the summer, the current PB's become the newest Old PBs. The PB site gradually transitions to the new class over the summer, with welcome messages, the class list, and parent info for next year's PBs.
Q. How many of your students use this site from home?
A. For the 01/02 school
year, 19 of 29 students used this site from home. For the 02/03 year, only about 12 students had Internet access at home. During the past few years, about 2/3 of the class accessed from home each year. Interestingly, each school year several students try to hide this site's existence from their parents!
There are about 60 former students who still access
the site. Many students use the public library to access this site. In addition, some parents access the site from their computers at work. Any news or information posted to this site is also sent home in print form.
Q. You made up these questions, didn't you?
A. Yes and no.