Sunday, April 29, 2007

Please add yourself to be included in my ACSI presentation in November...

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Saturday, April 28, 2007


Do online conversations occur in a finite space and time? I just read something in my aggregator that directed a poster to post on another website because that was where the conversation was occurring. I most heartily disagree!
The beauty of our online conversations are that a human does NOT have to be in a certain locale in order to converse with others. It's like going to Aunt Arlene's house to talk to her (Hi, Aunt Arlene!)
Conversing online is better compared to a brain. It's a jungle. Not neat rows of desks or chairs, not symmetrical anything. Our brains are attracted to asymmetry. That Cruise guy is an example. Look closely at his face. It is not symmetrical. But all the ladies swoon...
So when we redirect anyone to another blog because that is where that particular conversation is occurring...I can surmise that we just don't get it. And I thought he did.
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Friday, April 27, 2007

Circle of the Wise

Surround yourself with wisdom because some is bound to rub off. So in your RSS reader, subscribe to your circle of the wise. This nugget came from Vicki Davis, and I found myself passing along this sage advice to another who asked whom should be read.
She repeats this advice in her recent column Will we still need F2F in a P2P world?
She also advises us to engage all of our senses. Many people call this living in the moment. We engage with present reality when all our intelligences are accessed simultaneously. Everything coming at us from all directions - the whole 4D. Yes, Victoria, there is a...oops wrong movie. But there is more than wrote learning, there is more than 2D. It's 4D, four dimensions, not just three. Think of the mathematical parallels - there are four quadrants, not three.
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Spiritual discipline contains several elements. Like those wrinkles - there is a lot sqooshed up inside a wrinkle. The discipline of prayer...the discipline of giving...disciplining the tongue...disciplining the gets the picture.
There is also digital discipline. While I won't go to movies and I won't own a t.v., I very much need to develop more digital discipline. It is easy to waste an entire day online, accomplishing nothing substantial. That is a luxury I reserve for vacations, I do need to better structure my online time to get more done.
Part of getting more done includes judicious use of RSS, calendars, audio-notes to colleagues, anything that saves me time. I need to discipline myself in order to open up more time for prayer, reading books, face-to-face relationships.
We are created for relationship by our creator. Digital tools are meant to be used so we could serve Him better, not be monopolised by the digital landscape.
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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

My 21st century students!

They have started including technorati tags at the end of their blog posts! Now that may seem like old hat to you, but to me this is a major breakthrough! And I have at least two who are using RSS aggregators regularly, almost all having signed up for those aggregators. Small beans to most, but in middle school this is big! We will be using this skill when we review the Horizon Project next week.
So as we round the corner towards the end of the year and I have students literally begging me not to stop their blogs, what skills and strategies do I need to impart to them?
What skill set will they need to allow them to excel as Christians in the 21st century? The ability to communicate effectively and to vessels in His service are at the top of the list. We are working on class commercials and we will be peer review sounding boards for the Horizon Project.
I want to be able to facilitate these kids in developing these strategies, not teach these kids because they are not tabula rasa, they are brimming full of intelligence which just needs pulled out...I hope I am equal to the task!
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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Make a PBwiki as easily as a peanut butter sandwich

If I blog about PBwiki, they will double the storage space, so here goes...
I use PBwikis with my students. I have found that each group needs their own wiki because they love images! Having an identity helps me keep watch over their work and organises me. I just prefer these wikis for the kids. There is my shameless plug to increase my storage space. Take a look at The Forest Biome
by middle school students. Far from perfect, but learning!
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"Knowledge is of two kinds: we know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it" Samuel Johnson quote seen in SL at Info Island II on a poster today.
This is in Latin: Scire ubi aliquid invenire possis, ea demum maxima pars eruditionis est (To know where you can find anything, that in short is the largest part of learning).
A 21st century skill! How important is it to be able to get something or retrieve what you need, rather than possess it? Einstein, a pretty smart guy, didn't know his phone number. It was in the phone book, why should he clutter his mind with it?
There are strategies that students do have to memorize, like multiplication facts. These facts are not known for themselves, but because knowing them opens up other doors. Cramming the night before a test is a useless waste of the brainpower that God gave us. But teaching someone how to do something solidifies your own knowledge.
I so wish parents and students would discard the industrial age schools and quickly embrace the digital age educational models.
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Saturday, April 21, 2007

Simply Successful Secrets

Thanks Miguel, here I thought I had some time to figure out the pinging on technorati but tagged me on the 13th no less. I will get you back. Sigh.

List the top 5 to 10 things that you do almost every day that help you to be successful. They can be anything at all, but they have to be things that you do at least 4 or 5 times every week. Anything less than that may be a hobby that helps you out, but we are after the real day in and day out habits that help you to be successful.

1. Pray
2. Check email.
3. Read RSS aggregator.
4. Post homework in advance on at least one blog. (I have 3 at blogmeister)
5. Set aside time to blog on my blog. Don't always get there, but the time is scheduled.
6. Correct papers in at least one bin (each class has one bin).
7. Clean off my desk before I go home.
8. Make my bed. Just makes me feel better.
9. Listen to music and do nothing else for ten minutes.
10.Leave myself notes....with email, Jott, Yackpack, Evoca, my calendar online, to whatever I am closest. I have to at my age.
And the pinging still is not updating technorati. Aarrg. I tag George Siemens, Chris Craft, Aaron Smith, Jennifer Madrell, & Julie Lindsay. The original post was found at Thea Westra's Blog
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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Perspectives on life from a Senior High viewpoint

Life now these days is hard. In addition to that it is also enjoyable. Because you don't know what is going to happen on the first, second, or third parts of the day (morning, evening, night). But sometimes days go by in a flash. But when getting a good life you need to have a good education and a good job to have a good life.
For some people life is enjoyable. Because they might have a good job. Others have no worries. For them they have a good life and a good job to support that. Because of that is that they worked hard for it or they got lucky.
For others they just don't care. For them they just need to get things done. One way or another way to just get on with their life because they don't care is that they have a bad life. Or they have nothing to live for. So I hope I don't turn out that way.
Please keep in mind the abridged essay, which went on in this vein for six paragraphs, in the most this student has ever written. We do a lot of blogging in this class - maybe there is a connection?
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Breathing underwater

I once read a book by that title I think. Scott MacLeod recently commented that we are fighting a losing battle. We are trying to involve students, parents, & teachers in employing web2.0 tools. He claims, and I agree, that we cannot persuade parents nor teachers that engaging students in learning in better than baby-sitting students in factory warehouses. We all want power over our niche, wherever that might be found. We do not feel comfortable releasing the reigns to any other individual, much less to a group or consensus. Yet doing just that and using all the tools at our disposal will spawn creativity, induce engagement, and signify autonomy. I observe that the parents of high school students and those students themselves expect us to play by the rules. Those unspoken, unwritten rules state that school is a play-factory where absence excuses one from assignments, where misbehavior is admissible, where grades are not earned but given, where learners have no accountability.
Where the stake-holders are open to change, the new paradigms will inundate the old patterns. This is happening in Middle Schools and elementary schools right now. Perhaps because those students and parents are not so rigidly rooted in the industrial age paradigm.
so what will it take from us, the bloggers, the educators, to effect change? What is our responsibility in this scenario?
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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

You have nothing to fear...but ignorance.

George Siemens recently quoted D. Watts: "Our desire to believe in an orderly universe leads us to interpret the uncertainty we feel about the future as nothing but a consequence of our current state of ignorance, to be dispelled by greater knowledge or better analysis. But even a modest amount of randomness can play havoc with our intuitions."
Miguel recently blogged about fear. About how fear paralyzes the creativity innate in each one of us. He claims we must totally change our educational systems in light of 2.0.
Fear is big press. It catches eyes. It has been around for awhile. No wound can heal, no bone mend, no scar grow new skin, without there being a wound, a break, a scar first. Destruction proceeds life. Think of acorns. Think of rotting tomatoes. They sprout new life after they die. While this is a simplification, it does illustrate what occurs.
We are uncertain because we lack tools with which to predict. It is therefore imperative that we prepare students for anything. We prepare them to think on their feet - to critically analyze everuthing (especially what I say) - to create content using web 2.0 tools. They are merely tools to connect students through the mass of wrinkles in our unflat world.
I really think Miguel's sign "Make Internet TV" would read better if it said "Make Internet History". That is what we are all doing and it is what we are asking students to do.
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Are you an Island?

There is a famous saying about every man (and woman) being an island. In education, especially PreK-5, it seems that we walk into our classrooms and close the door. There ends collaboration, and hence best practices. Wes Fryer categorizes the Web 2.0 tools thus:
A) Collaborative
B) Research
C) Digital Storytelling
We can, of course, accomplish all those things without using Web 2.0 tools. We must remember our perspective. Our focus is to prepare effective citizens who will be successful in tomorrow's economy. Since the students are engaged by Web 2.0 tools and captivated by their use, it seems wise that educators learn not only how to use these tools, but how to facilitate their use by students.
The power of these tools can be hypnotic and overwhelming. When harnessed to meet needs, these Web 2.0 tools can effectively increase literacies, save time, & help students focus their study.
The majority of educators in the USA have not embraced the new technologies. Rather than wasting time wondering (at which I excel) the education of our peers is most important. The usefulness of Web 2.0 tools, the pertinence to our practice, the applications to good teaching, somehow these things need to be communicated.
I feel I often fall short of these worthy aspirations.
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Monday, April 16, 2007

True Blogging According to a Middle School Student

Hey People!
I haven't really blogged for a few days. Yes, I did my homework and study skills assignments, but true blogging? Nope, I haven't. But what IS true blogging? I think that true blogging is when you sit down and actually write about anything. Just that you are writing about how you feel or even what you are thinking! What a person writes about tells you little bit about them. Maybe someone wrote about being sad, well, what if they were feeling sad and wanted to help the world see that they can overcome this feeling? I know many people write about their favorites. Blogging is fun! Totally Awesome!

I challenge you to go, sit down, relax, and share with the world!
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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Meandering Thoughts...

Compulsory education in the United States began 155 years ago in 1852. A Massachusetts law required that all young people between the ages of 8 and 14 attend school three months a year — unless, that is, they could demonstrate that they already knew the material; in other words, this law was competency-based. It took 15 years before any other states followed Massachusetts’ lead and 66 years before all states did.
This is the cultural norm now. Workshops, conferences, church services, concerts are all set up with many people facing in one direction, listening to a speaker for a definite period of time. This is what is meant by Web 1.0. It's traditional. It's familiar. It is how school is done. In contrast, Web 2.0 is the antithesis of such seat-time rewards. By definition, it is differentiating instruction for every learner. It is competency based. It is educating learners where they are, whether that is a 2nd grade reading level or a college reading level.
Somehow, we educators have to prepare parents and students to embrace Web 2.0 because it is here and it won't go away. We have to get away from the expectation that a student receives a high school diploma because they attended high school for four years and have 30 credits (I don't even know how many it should be - can anyone tell me?)
The technology at our disposal right now can help us educate students, differentiating their educations, prescribing programs just for them. Technology is not separate from education, it is an integral tool.
I think we would all agree that good teaching results in learning. Integrating technology into the curriculum is just good teaching. Because we want students to learn, we use good teaching, sometimes called best practices. The tech tools that can be integrated into your curriculum right now include blogging, using wikis, podcasting, webcasting, virtual gaming, and a lot more.
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Friday, April 13, 2007

That wrinkled world

I recently wrote that the world is not flat but that it is wrinkled, with four dimensions hitting us from all sides simultaneously. So it would follow that in order to teach effectively, one would have to attack the issue from four directions, pushing against all pressure points — text, sound, images, video. David Warlick says knowledge is crucial, and subtle differences actually awaken our brains. Like the jungle of the brain envisioned by the Sylvesters' back in...oh my I almost wrote "back in the day", but I could see the ghosts of students past shaking their fingers at me!

Warlick, D (2007, April 13). Literacy & Learning in San Antonio. Retrieved April 13, 2007, from 2 cents worth Web site:

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Disconnected thoughts in a culture of disconnection...

Collaborating with other people teaches us to write. I write more, although not better, when I blog. I don't know why, but I have observed the same thing going on with my students. We don't bother to ask, we just communicate. We need other people to hear our ideas, to recognize our voices, to see our efforts.
We are created for relationships. We need to connect and students need to connect. Often, connections are made with family members and real-time friends. Increasingly, connections in our disconnected culture are made online and in our second lives. The people I have found online are warm, caring, real people. I don't know that our students always care as much as I do about those connections.
I have been asked to give a workshop at some convention. What on earth will I say to these educators? What on earth can I possibly contribute to their portfolios? It feels very strange indeed...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

My students are amazing!

Today I had a great student say this in his journal entry:
Schools should use video games to teach because I still remember everything about that game and I haven't played it in nine years. So if we used video games in the education system students would remember more stuff.
WOW! That is only one good reason to use games in education! Now what would everyone say if we used cell phones in the classroom? Horrors!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Scientific Question from 2 cents worth

Dave asks us to consider whether the great teachers in our lives influenced us in ways that could be measured with quantitative research. I replied:
That's easy - there is no way to quantify the influence really great teachers had on who I am today! Overall, it was a love of learning and an attitude that drew me. I was enraptured not by quantifiable facts or degrees or accomplishments (though those things were present) but I became enraptured by their appetites for constant learning. How does one put that in a bottle and measure it? There have been so many in so many fields....Mr. T., Nancy C., Ken S., Dusty, Mr. Sherrin, Mrs. Stearns, Jane, Bonnie (I went to a Quaker HS & all where called by first names), Dr. Hoover, Nancy A., Dr. Bufalino, oh the list could go on and on and.....

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Web 1.0 or 0.995 ?

Danita Russell posted:

This was posted on the Abilene, Kansas High School Dialogue Buzz website. It was an anonymous post, but VERY powerful. Feel free to share this with educators, parents and stakeholders about 1:1 and the power of the seamless use of technology. It seems to sum it all up!!

Let’s have a little competition at school and get ready for the future.

I will use a laptop and you will use paper and pencil. Are you ready…?
I will access up-to-date information - you have a textbook that is 5 years old.
I will immediately know when I misspell a word – you have to wait until it’s graded.
I will learn how to care for technology by using it – you will read about it.
I will see math problems in 3D – you will do the odd problems.
I will create artwork and poetry and share it with the world – you will share yours with the class.
I will have 24/7 access – you have the entire class period.
I will access the most dynamic information – yours will be printed and photocopied.
I will communicate with leaders and experts using email – you will wait for Friday’s speaker.
I will select my learning style – you will use the teacher’s favorite learning style.
I will collaborate with my peers from around the world – you will collaborate with peers in your classroom.
I will take my learning as far as I want – you must wait for the rest of the class.
The cost of a laptop per year? - $250
The cost of teacher and student training? – Expensive
The cost of well educated US citizens and workforce? - Priceless

Unfortunately, it is way too true.....and way too sad....

Friday, April 6, 2007

What If?

Goes with this blog post:

Thank you Blogging Veterans!

Thank you to every person, and they are legion, who has helped me since I started this online journey in October 2006.

And I had to make a cartoon too. Mine is very simple...

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Houston - do we have a problem?

Web 2.0 has arrived. We have moved past our roots in a static medium to an Internet where all users create & continually interact with and transform information. How will teachers meet the challenge? Yes, Houston, we have a problem, and we will not survive unless we solve it.
The Digital Natives, who are in my classroom now have Web 2.0 expectations and they are frankly bored at my Web 1.0 style of teaching.
Against that impossible background are the parents of these Digital Natives. They don't understand why educators bother, why I want to change, why I don't play school.
Not to forget my teaching cohorts who believe, and maybe rightly so, that I have plum lost it. They saw results in the lecture method, all kids facing front, predictable assignments made from predictable lectures year after year. Who should argue with results?
But will we continue to have results? The US rankings in education are falling, last I heard. I need to get with the program and learn so I can teach these challenging natives.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Stop Cyberbullying in Italian

Two Italian students of Claude Almansi inserted the Cyberbullying Project video into a wiki page they made on cyberbullying. Their teacher used mojiti to subtitle the video in Italian. Her subtitled work can be viewed at
This website enables anyone to annotate any work. This can be very useful to language teachers as well as any teacher who wishes to leave notes on a work that students view.
I also found The Machine is Using Us at in French (I think) by Pierre Lachance
and Portugese by pilgerowski, and Spanish by Jota. The youtube videos we Americans are watching are being watched and translated worldwide.
It truly is a global audience, and though I tell the students this everyday, I think the reality of it hits my more squarely between the eyes when I see a site like this! If I could get my aunt to turn on a computer, I could show her watch I watch and translate the words for her. I know my German is very poor, but she makes allowances for her niece....
Here is their commercial...pretty cool