Friday, February 27, 2009

Do You Enable Your Students to Fly?

I cried when I watched this...A student reports that at his school, subjects are systemic. Who using vocabulary like that in high school? Hence my tears, it is obviously working so why can't we all do it yesterday?

Thinking Musically

"Reading, writing, and math test scores dramatically improve" as a result of integrating the arts into the curriculum. Now I understand a little bit more why I was dragged to the opera, the symphony, and music lessons when I was a child. I value more highly the weekly chamber music that occurred in our home. Just think if these experiences were infused into my school experience! Maybe I would not have flunked kindergarten....okay, I probably would have.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Dumbest Generation?

What do you think?

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That's the Trouble with ...

I often hear educators say that the problem with integrating technology is it is unreliable, that it might break, it might not work. What if Gutenberg had said that about the printing press? What if people had said the pencil was unreliable because it might break?
How many pencils have students broken? Do you throw out those pencils because they are unreliable? The argument that any tool should be abandoned because it might break is ludicrous.
This blame game is pervasive. I listened to an IDRA podcast with Abelardo Villarreal and Bradley Scott. Dr. Villarreal suggests that instead of blaming someone or something else, we need to look at solutions.
But then again, there is a certain usability level to which we expect any tool to rise in order for us to adopt it. It is so frustrating when it does not rise to that minimum level that we are presented with two choices:

  1. Abandon the tool and revert to the status quo.
  2. Abandon the school that clings to the broken tool and look for one that enables it to rise to that minimum usability level.
Being the annoying sort that I am, I refuse to do the first. I will provide a world class education. I will use tools that engage the minds of the learners in my classes. What will you do?

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dancing in SL

I attended a talk by Kevin Honeycutt, Kansas, this evening. I live on the East Coast and I don't own my own jet. How did I hear his presentation,"Leaving Intentional Footprints for Today and Tomorrow"? A very thorough post about this appears at Riptide's Blog.
The virtual world of Second Life makes it possible for people from around the globe to gather in one place. People I noticed present at this particular talk live in Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., New York, & Illinois. That is only a few. Kevin gave a wonderful talk that had us all thinking about ways to emphasize with kids that what one puts online stays online. One really good question he asks kids is whether their mother would be happy with what they have posted online.
This is a topic we really need to be covering in online safety units with all k12 learners and their parents. The web is full of wonderful technology, like the technology that allowed all of us to gather to hear Kevin despite our disparate locations.
Just like one follows certain safety rules when crossing the street there are center safety rules to be followed online.
The title of this is Dancing in SL. Why? Kevin played several tunes for us after his talk and many of us started dancing. Now anyone who knows me knows I walk with a cane. There is no way I could dance in real life. But in Second Life, I only had to wear a dancing bracelet and off I went!
I wonder what wonderful surprises the DEN in SL series holds for us next!

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Photo courtesy of Riptide Furse from his Flickr photostream available at covered under an Attribution 2.0 Creative Commons license.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Language as a Barrier

Link to Will Richardson's interview with Carol Dweck :
Language we use (with anyone) is a barrier. If I were to say to you, ich bin sehr gut, or something, that language would be a barrier unless you knew it.
If I were to say to you, I attended a webcast were I heard and saw Carol Dweck, you would say "that's nice dear, pass the sugar." You would ignore it, because the schema in your brain, often called prior knowledge, is just not there.
But if I changed my language to say, I saw a TV broadcast of Carol Dweck, you would understand and be able to incorporate and respond.
Similarly, if I say to my colleagues at my school, I have a bimonthly webcast, they respond, "that's nice dear, pass the salt". But if I change the language and say, I have a bimonthly broadcast (or even radio show) they perk up, recognise and respond.
Our language about this fabulous Web2.0 world has been a barrier to so many. It is up to us to change our language to provide something familiar for people to "hang the knowledge on" as we learned in college with the prior knowledge thing. Anticipatory Sets and all that.
Carol speaks of the same barriers that our language, and because of it our mindsets, provide. Or do the mindsets come before the language? This is interesting ...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Barry Schwartz

Are you celebrating moral exemplars with your learners?

People to Watch!

Watch out for some new trailblazers as they gain momentum.
Coach Burk at Burk Tech is a new blogger reporting on educational trends. He teaches 3rd grade at Grace Lutheran School and is passionate about teaching his students to think.

John Faig is a middle school math teacher at King Low Heywood Thomas who grapples with emerging technologies at his block, John Faig's Blog. A video on his site led me to a wonderful discovery.

The WA Mash is a place where Antonio Viva's students at Worcester Academy produce & publish original content. These students write about issues that matter to them in ways that are important to them using this multimedia online magazine.These learners and their teacher are breaking new ground. I applaud their magazine.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Truly amazing - who says the future has not arrived?

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Let's Disrupt the Educational Status Quo!

"How do we move to a student centric system?" asked Michael Horn on January 14, 2009: What are your ideas?
Here's more along these lines :

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Following the herd ?

I'm rereading Tribes by Seth Godin. On page 96 he talks about sheepwalking. I am definitely not a sheepwalker. I am so much not so that...
Mr. Principal-who-hired-me, I hereby formally apologize. I was probably hired under false pretenses and for that I am sorry. You probably thought you were getting a status quo defender, a quiet, docile, nonwavemaker kinda elementary teacher.
What you got stuck with was a disruptive, connected, opinionated, loud, wavemaker educator.
Seth Godin says sheepwalking is "hiring people who have been raised to be obedient and giving them brain-dead jobs and enough fear to keep them in line." I am not blindly obediant, my brain and mouth question everything and I fear nothing on this earth. I'm sorry if you thought you were hiring a docile sheepwalker.
I don't take the road more travelled and I am not training sheep. I do model and expect colearners to question - especially to question me!
As Seth Godin says on p.99, I guide colearners into embracing "nonsheep behavior", even downright bellicose and indignant behavior. I want colearners to analyse, to critique, and to really think about their world. It is their world after all, and educator's charge is to prepare these learners to inhabit it. Are we doing this or are we training sheep?
As Godin says on p.101, "...think for a second about the people you know who are engaged, satisfied, eager to get to work." Those are not the sheepwalkers. Those are the heretics like me. Yes Mr. Principal, I'm sorry, you probably thought you hired a teacher. What you got was a heretic. All I need now is a hammer, a church door, and.....

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Network Challenge

Random Acts of Kindness Week 2008: February 11-17, 2009 what will your classes do?
I challenge you to: (ideas from the website)
1. Welcome Winter Gloves
Purchase a pair of winter gloves for someone in your community.
2. Set up a Custodian Appreciation Day and have students clean classrooms for the custodian. Make a banner or card telling your custodian how much he is appreciated.
3. Create a bulletin board where kids write their commitments to specific Random Acts of Kindness on construction paper cut out in the shape of footprints.
4. Smile with unconditional acceptance at friends, loved ones, and strangers
5. Do a kind act for someone they don't expect and don't tell them or anyone else about it.
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Friday, February 6, 2009

Bored to ... create

Remember Ferris Bueller's Day Off? Remember that Science teacher with the monotone lecture style? Wasn't Ferris just so bored with school that he created something better? Hollywood aside...

I was reading Laura Deisley's blog post entitled, "Drumming it out" in which she talks about what grows out of our boredom:

Boredom-or lack of a prescribed activity-enables imagination and creativity. Just like the lack of "saying anything" to fill space encourages private reflection, boredom actually moves us to higher levels of experience and engagement and learning. (Deisley, 2008)
What are the minds in our classrooms doing when not engaged in our prescribed learning activity? What is really going on when we bore them to tears? Isn't this where learners create ideas, those outside-the-box creations that take off as if they had wings of their own?

I once had a professor who sought to engage the class in a prescribed learning activity - a review of the concepts taught. Nothing inherently wrong, such activities take place in classrooms everyday. Except little ol' obstinate and bored to tears me was there. When called upon, I promptly thought of a new possibility way out of the universe (where was that box anyway?). Being the person I am, I voiced this wonderful idea. That professor surprised me, and probably others too, in the reaction. The professor moved the lesson into a brainstorming along those lines.

Yes, I was being intentionally disruptive. You all know I am. The point here is, what is our response to our learner's boredom? Few learners give voice to their imaginations, creations, reflections. Do we seek to engage every learner? An interesting thought to ponder...

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Am I Missing Something?

Reading Jeff Utecht's post about 2009 trends, I wonder if I have missed something crucial. He talks about wanting to present a 6 hour workshop on using wikis in education. Now I have been using wikis in my classes as well as blogs, videos, podcasts, nings, but I have never had 6 hours of training. I just started, jumpinging in with two feet.
I wonder what information I am missing here. Did I do it wrong? Is there some method which I should be using and am not? And more importantly why does everyone else not use technology in education too? Why would anyone feel the need to take a 6 hour workshop first? I am not dissing Jeff at all. He does wonderfully creative work. I guess I am just frustrated that not every educator is integrating.
He refers to how overwhelmed students say they feel in his grad course. They have to learn to use the technology themselves. But that is exactly how I learned, and am still learning. Why isn't it an expectation that learners learn on their own? Who is in charge of each human's learning? The high school learners in this room now insist they are in charge of their learning. I agree. I am only a poor excuse for a tally keeper.
Photo Courtesy of wilhei55 available at and covered under an Attribution 2.o Creative Commons license.

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Thinking of character...

I was reading a post on Intrepid Classroom's Ning about character. It occurred to me that character is a summation of who we are. It equals not only the 'good' points, but 'bad' points. The terms 'good' and 'bad' are defined across cultures in pretty much the same general way.

Displaying etiquette is defined by Merriam-Webster as "the conduct or procedure required by good breeding or prescribed by authority to be observed in social or official life." Now I'm not saying I'm Ann Landers or anything. But others who fail repeatedly to display etiquette lack good breeding & education. It is important to treat others with respect.

This is how we should treat our learners - those in our classrooms. We need to model this behavior in our own interactions. When others consistently fail to do so, others cease to listen. For a twitter analogy, they unfollow you.

But how do I address this is the classrooms where I lurk? What is the best way to guide young hearts and minds toward developing character? I'm sure I don't know the definitive answer. All I know is that I do insist on kindness, courtesy, and a reverence for all humans as better than ourselves. I attempt to provide many opportunities for colearners to practice kindness, courtesy, and reverance throughout the school year.

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Monday, February 2, 2009

Technology, Colleges and Community Conference

Would you like to attend your next conference in Hawaii? Now you can! At the Technology, Colleges and Community Conference scheduled April 14-16,2009! How? It's an online conference!! Yupper - an online trip to Hawaii - nothing better than that for me! So register for the TCC Conference at , tune up your headsets (or earbuds & deskmics), brew some coffee, and come join in the streams of learning !

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