Blog Revival

Now might be a good time to revive a bit of this weblog.

Why now?

I am so very exhausted with the way content, links, and content are scattered across social media networks. I have long thought that having this space is vital to not only owning the content, but that it gets captured and organized in a way that allows me to further digest it.

There’s another thing…

This week I step back into formal learning by starting a course module as part of a program for a certificate in school leadership. At this point, I have no sights on a specific leadership role, save that I want to make an impact based on my experiences and the powerful ideas I have come to know. Whether I use this space for the course is TBD. There’s a good chance that some of it will spill over to this more public space.

Without Sense of Hierarchy

“You realize how there’s no ceiling and how everyone is going to be able to contribute to everybody else’s learning no matter where they came from, when they got here or where they were at.”

In this short (1:35) video reflection, Angela Jochum, an ICT Integration Coordinator at the Frankfurt International School, shares her experience at Constructing Modern Knowledge 2014. The phrase that stays with me is when she talks about on there being “no sense of hierarchy.”

Join us this July 11-15 at Constructing Modern Knowledge!
Her reflection illustrates the absence of a hierarchy that is prevalent in many educational settings. A hierarchy constructed of perceived, and often intentional, divisive levels between the “smart” kids and “dumb” kids. Unfortunately this is plays out in classrooms (and teacher lounges) around the world where kids are ranked and sorted by grades and test scores. Angela’s is describing how CMK is wholly a different experience.

At CMK, people from various educational institutions (i.e. – schools, museums, etc.) come together for four days to do projects they’ve never done before. CMK participants often feel a bit uncomfortable the first day. Angela experienced the notion of learning to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. From what I recall, her self-selected project group also consisted of a kindergarten teacher and a AP physics teacher all learning together to do things each of them had never done before.

CMK attendees experience something that is not like a most conferences where attendees shuffle from hall A to hall B listening to one-direction presentations. They hear wacky and whimsical ideas that seem to have no place in serious professional learning. They wander the plethora of learning kits, google what an Arduino does, peruse volumes of books, and wonder what the point of it all is. Oh! They listen, chat and dine with stellar educational heroes too!

Everyone learns at CMK. Largely, it is about experiencing what it is to be a learner again. Learning from and with others.  In doing so, we can begin to empathize with our children, our students and fellow teachers in the modern landscape of learning.

Let them Soar!

NYSCATE - Leading the Transformation of Teaching and Learning through Technology
Let them Soar!
NYSCATE11 is just around the corner and I, along with the conference committee, anticipate another worthwhile conference.  I’ve been to a number of conferences for various organizations (state, national and international) and this conference is always the most special.  I’m not just saying that because I volunteer on the committee.  There is something about it that makes you want it to last.
It has a lot to do with our membership. There is such diversity at NYSCATE’s Annual Conference that in one moment you can speak with someone from just about every walk of education.   I love it when I can join in conversations with superintendents, technology directors, principals, teachers (from all levels and content areas) and students while they gather in the foyer to chat, discuss, debate and suggest solutions to current issues in education today. It’s also about being okay with walking around with BBQ stain on your shirt following a hearty lunch at the ‘Saur. Everyone understands.
From being inspired by the innovative educators at the grants and awards dinner to social events with members, NYSCATE is about people.  We hope you will also be enlightened by Diana LaufenbergHall DavidsonSteve Dembo and Kevin Honeycutt who will speak during the keynote sessions.
Don’t miss out on the hands-on, minds-on Pre-Conference sessions that often go unnoticed because they happen before the official kickoff.   Check out the list of Pre-Conference sessions here and register today!
If you absolutely cannot make it, be sure to follow from the #nyscate11 tag.  You can also friend NYSCATE on Facebook and join over 1000 NYSCATE members in our NYSCATE Network.

The Fischbowl: Dear Denver Post – You’re the Disappointment

I teach high school. I love all of high school, including high school sports, and including the fun that students have at Friday night (or Thursday night this week for us) football. So I understand the intent of the following headline in The Denver Post.

But, as it does every year at this time (and several times throughout the year), The Post throws the rest of school under the bus.

Summer is almost over, and the disappointment about returning to class . . .


Really, Denver Post, that’s the message you want to send? With all your whining on the editorial page about the state of our schools (and pretty consistently getting it wrong by the way), you don’t feel any responsibility to actually read your own paper and perhaps, just perhaps, make sure you aren’t contributing to the anti-education culture of the state of Colorado?

I just had a conversation similar to this in our break room during lunch with some colleagues. The gist was that students who enter HS from a 9th grade academy (9th grade only) were full of themselves and that they needed to be “knocked down for a couple of months”.

I spoke up in aggravation at the gall of another educator putting negative light on students and school in general.

This may seem like nit-picking, but really, do we want to add to the negativity at any level?


My Aggregator’s on a New Diet

I have been struggling with my RSS feeds lately as have others in light of new tools like Twitter. My feeds have become a beast that I do not want to face. Just now I’ve pressed the “mark all read” button on many of my feeds as well as unsubscribed to others. To commit to reading the posts is too overwhelming a task to even think about. Yes, I’m worried (just a little) about missing some important blog posts, but if it’s truly important, I’m sure I’ll get wind of it in my network. Here’s what I’m going to do… significantly cut down the number of blog feeds to which I subscribe. Reasons for this are:

  1. My network is active. Using Twitter has brought me up to speed on a variety of topics and new technologies being used in education. Twitter is often my first choice for connections lately.
  2. Narrowing my focus. I have the need to narrow my focus of what I access online. I’ve come to realize that I won’t really miss anything online. It will always be there. If I want to know something, I’ll search for it. I plan to subscribe to more blog searches based on specific areas of interest, work related topics, conference tags and, of course, the edubloggers that I read often.
  3. Balance. I remember a blogger (not sure who) asking one time whether or not readers read blogs that were contrary to their beliefs. I found this very interesting to think about. I love a good debate and usually come out of it having learned something. So, I’ll start looking to read more blogs and feeds that are from “the other side” to help push my thinking further.

I know at least another in my aggregator feeling similar due to some new tools, but the value of blogging is still there.

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Here we go…

Blogging K12 Online Inventing New Boundaries

David Warlick, Keynote Address

(You can follow the subsequent conversations using this tag: k12online07pc)

I’m writing this as I, intermittently, watch David Warlick’s keynote address for the K12 Online Conference. Intermittently because I am able to pause the video or audio and post my thoughts in this post or on Twitter for others to read. This is the essence of the K12 Online Conference as you will find out. David’s presentation is great because it is so real. Real in the sense that anyone could record the way he did this keynote. Now I’m not suggesting that anyone could keynote this conference, David has loads of experience presenting and conducting workshops on the concepts of connected learning, learning through communities and outside of traditional boundaries. I can imagine some who are participating for the first time in this conference expecting that the keynote video would be professionally produced and edited (in fact it has, David is quite the professional). That might turn some participants off, man I hope not. They would miss so much insightful information from the keynote and the conference itself.

David spoke about his reference his talk last year about the railroad system and how students are all on the same track. Which is the traditional model, is it not? He then compared learning is now more like an airplane taking off on the runway. It will taxi down the runway and proceed to take off on a flight path. Differing from the train on the track, the plane follows it’s flight path, however, it can deviate from it’s path if needed. With the train track it’s one direction with occasional changing tracks at specified “crossroads”. In the airplane model we are only limited to the airports and the runways for landing and takeoff. I really like this analogy to describe learning in our bound education system. My 16 year old stepson, who is extremely intelligent and well read, rejects school for learning it is more a social face-to-face environment for him. I have often said to him that he is in a system that is breaking down and that in order to succeed in this arena he has to “jump through the hoops”. This is sad that I have said this, but isn’t this the reality? For all we blog about learning in the blogosphere it still remains that the shift that is happening is slow. Our current students can experience transformative learning, however, it will most likely be on their own, not from their current cadre of teachers.

David describes how his son learned, not from his teachers at school, but on his very own:

“He learned, because he’s connected. He learned, because he’s part of a network, he’s part of a community. He learned because he knows how to find people, who can help him learn what he needs to know to do, what he wants to do.”

Another quote that resonates with me and should with all educators:

The problem is when they enter our classrooms, we chop these tentacles off. We want our children to be the students we want to teach, rather than teaching the children that they are. And this is an insult to our children.

One point I would contend with David is when he states that “our classrooms are flat”. I disagree. I don’t think our classrooms, as they appear currently, are flat. I don’t disagree that they could be “flat” allowing students and teachers to learn from each other, however, I might suggest changing this to “our students are flat”. As David suggests, we can use the info savvy students to tap their “intrinsic needs”:

  • Responsive Information Environments
  • Communicate & Share Personal Experiences
  • Form & Participate in Communities
  • Ask Questions, Accomplish & Invest themselves
  • Safely Make Mistakes
  • Earn Audience & Attention

I believe that all educators NEED to understand the New Information Landscapes, maybe not for their own learning (they may have a learning landscape that works for them), but definitely for their students learning.

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K-12 Online Conference -3 Reasons to Participate Meme

3 Reasons Meme

Time for a new blog meme to help us spread the word about the upcoming K12Online07 conference. Please share either three (3) reasons to participate based on your experience from last year or (if you didn’t attend last year) three (3) things you hope to gain from the experience this year.

K-12 Online Conference 2007

If you are new to memes–when you are tagged– simply create a blog post where you link to this flickr photo. Then write your 3 reasons and then tag several others who will do the same thing. After you tag someone in your post, please email them to let them know so they can help spread the word.

Three Reasons to Participate

  1. You don’t know, what you don’t know (and these people know)
  2. You can be in your pajamas and eating cereal while learning
  3. It’s there when you need it, a very comfortable feeling.

I am tagging… my wife, Tony Vincent, Rick Weinberg, Karen Fasimpaur, Dean Shareski, & Chris Harris

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I’m So Proud.

So some of you may know that my wife is an educator in an elementary school.  She’s taught 4th grade for years, as well as some 3rd grade, but this year she’s in a totally different role.  She doesn’t have a class.  She has all of them (including the teachers).  She has designed, with the help of some grant funding, a Math, Science & Technology lab for her school.  Yes, the technology is there, but that’s not what I want to draw you to.  It’s the essence of what is happening there that really strikes you.  Inquiry, problem-based learning where students are acting, well, like learners.  So are the teachers, take this quote from a teacher whose classroom is located right next door:

Thank you for leading by example and showing a new facet of education that was not part of my courses when I was preparing to become a teacher.

Take a peek inside what the MST Portal is all about and leave your comments and links to similar classrooms.

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Would you like Docs & Sheets with that?

I witnessed something today, something that I feel we should all see, everyday.  After catching a tweet from my Twitter network I learned that Google released Google Presentations today.  But that wasn’t what I witnessed.  I saw a complete devouring of a web application.  It was almost stripped down to the network cables.

Listening to WOW2 tonight (first time listener) I entered during a discussion that reminded me that this wasn’t the first time I witnessed this happen.  Back in June at NECC those populating “The Bloggers Cafe” were chatting, playing and learning like children. There they were devouring Twitter .  They seemed so different from what we are used to in watching educators collaborate. Their energy was palpable.  Their enthusiasm for being together and working through the new tools, comparing notes on sessions and what’s next was inspiring.  I want more of that around me, or at least connected to me.

Today, I witnessed today the same energy, but this time from my office (a blah boring cube).  A “mob” (credit to Bernie Dodge) flocked to a Google Presentation created by Vicki Davis to learn all about Google Presentations live.

What I “saw” was learning in it’s truest form.  I observed a group of interested individuals collectively devour the new application from Google.  As the “mob” increased, more of the tool was disected and consumed by the collective group.  Using the chat feature, embedded in the presentation mode, individuals posted questions and others set off to see what the application could handle and what what it could not. The really cool thing was that they were learning together.  The presentation, to start, was messy as contributors simply tried out the features, asked questions, and problem solved to devour the application in one afternoon.  Although it’s still a demo presentation, by the end, it resembled more of a presenation worthy of presenting.

Thinking further, even with the little bit that I was able to contribute and pick up, I realized that the group was learning together instead of learning individually, saving time for all.  Time.  The educators nemesis. 

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