Friday, July 31, 2009

Remembering my friend....

I woke up with all intentions of not ruminating over this at all. Didn't work out that way at all.
Last year about this time, Lee Baber lost her battle with cancer. Here is the link to the EdTechTalk Memorial Page -->
I hear August 19th was her birthday. I wonder if an impromptu webcast would be appropriate?
Usually never at a loss for words, I find myself with no words to describe the grief I still feel.........

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Monday, July 27, 2009


I'm reading the following for a course I am taking,

schools need to be able to provide high-quality instruction in both word-level and comprehension skills in order to meet the diverse needs of students who continue to struggle with reading in late-elementary, middle, and high school
and it occurs to me that this statement appears perfectly okay. But is it? If literacy is communicating and comprehending using a medium, then isn't focusing on just one kind of literacy in schools doing learners a disservice?
While I agree wholeheartedly, and took all but two courses for a reading specialist, I'm thinking beyond just reading. What about those learners who struggle with visual literacy, musical literacy, or movement literacies? Are the schools to focus on just reading literacy to the exclusion of the others?
Are all literacies connected or independent of each other? What have you learned in your travels through life about this topic? Tim Shanahan at literacy learning claims,
Good comprehension instruction should push kids to think more deeply
Why not good comprehension instruction in activities other than reading? When was the last time you pushed kids to think more deeply about a painting, a sculpture, a symphony, a theatrical play, a modern dance (just to name a few in no particular order)
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Photo courtesy of marttj available at covered under Attribution-Noncommercial Creative Commons license.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Powerful Learning

Which is more powerful, a service or a community? This idea came up during the last ETT Community Meeting. A service was defined as a fully funded entity like your landline or your local hospital or even your community college.
A community was defined more like a bunch of people who contribute to each other's learning. A community is an entity with which you can engage, and by engaging, learn.
The difference is both a but murky but at the same time crystal clear. Because specifically ETT was a community, I was comfortable being a part of the community.
A community is capable of powerful learning. I have not found a service, including any school, that is capable of that kind of learning. In any class, forming a community creates the opportunity for powerful learning. That is intriguing.
Every class I teach I take time to foster a sense of community before we dive into learning. Most teachers in K12 probably do this. Some professors I had in higher education have built the class into community. CCK08 built a sense of community and thus it was powerful learning.
I guess the real question for me is how do I seek to build powerful learning communities in every class I lead? Am I building community or not?
The above photo has nothing whatsoever to do with the topic, but ain't he cute? He loved the Shippensburg Fair last night too.

Friday, July 17, 2009

People to Watch

These bloggers are people to watch! They are making an impact within their sphere of influence. I can learn from their example.
Jason Schrage writes the blog Connections at His latest post talks about those connections and how learning is just that. Another George perhaps? I see a big name at the beginning, so I can say, "I knew him when...." Jason is a Middle School Social Studies teacher in upstate New York.

Jessica Johnson of Reflection from a School Principal at quotes Marie Clay in her second post. This is a favorite quote I found on her blog, "When a student doesn’t learn the way we teach, we need to teach the way they learn.” I'm unclear to whom this should be attributed, but that most likely is due more to my lack of coffee intake than anything else. Jessica is an elementary principal in rural Wisconsin.

Neil Stephenson of Thinking in Mind at also talks about connections! He refers to connected Canadian History teachers and building an online PLN. He wonders, as I do, how can we bring the disconnected into the conversation? He also writes about a Cigar Box Project, which would make a wonderful conference presentation/session! Neil is a Humanities teacher in Calgary.

Photo courtesy of Breno Peck taken on May 5, 2008 available at under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike Generic 2.0 license

Saturday, July 11, 2009

3 - 2 - 1 for Fall 2009

[Abysmally late due to connection difficulties, but better late than never I say]
This is a post for Leadership Day as organised by Scott McLeod at

Three Things Administrators / Educators are doing well:

  1. Providing a free public education for grades K through 12
  2. Delivering district approved curriculum in their classrooms
  3. Managing classes of 20 to 30 students
Two Things They Could Do
  1. Develop a learning network & connect with their network once a day for 10 minutes
  2. Read educational news / views for 10 minutes per day
One Technology Tool They Could Use Right Now
  1. An RSS Reader 10 minutes per day
How to Use an RSS Reader? Well first, you must know RSS means Really Serious Stressrelief. Your stress, that is. The purpose of a reader is to make your life easier. Think of magazines / newspapers that come to you through the mail at home. This is essentially what a reader will do. Current articles are delivered to your reader for you, instead of you roaming around the web in order to keep up to date.
I use Google Reader, although there are other good readers. A good explanation of RSS is the CommonCraft video at There is an excellent explanation of how to set up your Google Reader by Wesley Fryer at

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Swim Instructors or Swimmers?

When I was a kid, I had a very patient swim instructor at the local cricket club (country club in suburbia). I was taught everything I needed to know in order to be a successful swimmer. The swimming part was up to me however. My instructor couldn't do it for me.
I had instrument lessons too. I was taught proper technique, phrasing, all that stuff. Playing the instrument was up to me. Practicing way too many hours per day was up to me. Utilizing what I had learned was up to me.
In school, I learned languages other than English. I learned grammar, idioms, verb tenses, all sorts of things one never thinks to ask about a language. Using the languages to communicate was up to me.
My point is, how far are we to go with other educators? If we instruct on the technological skills, isn't our responsibility done? Isn't it the responsibility of individual educators to swim?
It seems that too many, I have met them too, educators lack the drive to do things for themselves. We all went to college where we had to study on our own, write papers on our own, take tests on our own.
I fail to understand the mindset. Back in 2005, I didn't know anything (I still don't). I did possess the curiosity and drive to find out. I found people willing to share. They weren't wearing "Ask me" signs either.
It seems educators aren't curious enough to find out how to engage their students with technology. It seems educators do not possess the drive to involve their students in world-class education. This makes me very sad.
When I observe the lack of curiosity, drive, and contentment with the status quo I have little hope for the educational system in this country.
I hope a conversation will ensue about this....

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Monday, July 6, 2009

Welcome Nik into the world!

I haven't been around much lately. This guy is the reason. He is the grandson of my very good friend. Welcome Nikolai Shaw Dabrowski, here hours old. I have moved into his household, we celebrated his arrival and the engagement of the household's other daughter. Things are bit crazy here. My desktop is not set up and the laptop isn't doing Second Life for me. Major Sigh. The son in the householed begins college in August, so there will be more adjusting as new mom & infant take over his room....more sighs.