I've moved the blog!
Friday, March 30, 2007
tag: Kathy Sierra, stopcyberbullying
I wanted to share my thoughts. After recording this morning, I found to my dismay that the chipmunk effect had struck my own blog. So, I followed the instructions to fix it. Unfortunately my introduction is now talking super slow! Aurgh!
I'm sharing this with you. I wanted to tell the story of the pike (a fish) and the elephant and how it relates to cyberbullying. It is a 28 minute podcast.
powered by ODEO
tag: stopcyberbullying, Kathy Sierra
i am alone yet surrounded by millions
separated from them by a bit
and yet from me they take a byte
how could it be
that they take anything from me?
yet they deride
and now i hide
they taunt me, "IM anonymous,
no one knows any of us."
does anyone care a bit?
my parents don't know
and don't see
how someone so far
could steal from me
and destroy my tranquility
give me someone to tell
someone who understands
and will not yell
that i must abandon the way
i talk to the world each day.
i don't really like who i am
and "they" don't either.
is there anyone out there
a little bit?
Prominent blogger Kathy Sierra revealed this week (warning, her post contains explicit language) the death threats and cyberbullying she has experienced and calls on the blogging community to stand up for a code of ethics that rejects such behavior. Andy Carvin echoed and asked that we proclaim today "Stop Cyberbullying Day." I am observing it, are you?
If you think that kids are just happy, look at the meaning of the emoticons I used in the poem above:
:-S - Confused/frustratedIM speak is full of the whole range of human emotions, including great sadness!
>:E - Anger or hatred, baring teeth
:'-( - Shedding a tear
:-O - Angry/Yelling
:-X - My lips are sealed
:-( - Sad
Source: Emoticon- Wikipedia
Will you commemorate this day with me?
What can you do to Stop Cyberbullying Today?
- JOIN the Stop Cyberbullying networkto create a central repository of information that is rated and reviewed by educators and to discuss what works. View it like the front lines establishing a form of communication. (If the network is blocked, I've got a template on my blog that you can mail your IT person to ask for it to be unblocked.) After joining, post hyperlinks or review and comment on the resources of others, join the conversation.
- EDUCATE YOURSELF - Read how your
school can respond to and prevent it over at Stop Cyberbullying.com (and how to tell the difference between harrassment and cyberbullying from a legal standpoint.) Take some of the free lessons at Wired Safety. Listen to Wes Fryer's podcast (or read his wiki ) about Cyberbullying. You can listen to the whole podcast, or if you are short on time,
read the highlights that I have annotated and listen to the clips you choose. (I did this using Innertoob -- a great way to grade podcasts, by the way.)
- SHARE -Plan to show this video to your students during the next several weeks and talk about the importance of telling someone when they are being harassed online. (You can also see a wealth of other videos collected at the Stop Cyberbullying Network)
- REPORT - Every little BIT helps. When you see someone inappropriately attacking another blogger either on comments on or a blog, say something! (Often we DON"T see it because of comment moderation.) We often don't say things because we are afraid. Afraid that some "nut case" is going to come after us. However, if we agree that we will all band together and speak up. If we are afraid to "stand up," Wired Safety has a Cyber 911 tipline that you can also use.
- SPEAK - Use a badge from Scott McLeod on your blog and hyperlink it to http://stopcyberbullying.ning.com, or just copy the link and image from the picture. Post and share the facts from the experts and tag it <a
href="http://www.technorati.com/tag/stopcyberbullying" rel="tag" >stopcyberbullying</a>. Speak up in your sphere of influence: the classroom, the PTO, the civic group, the government agency, the educators organization. Make sure this is a topic that your teachers learn about and understand. We must become a cacophony of voices speaking out about how to be wise, civil, and successful online.
- BE AN ADVOCATE FOR WISDOM - When the leaders of the Dark Ages became afraid of thoughts and dissension, they burned books. We cannot afford to burn blogs (as ill-thought out DOPA would do) and the trail we have blazed into a new, more productive society through the Internet's new communication tools. The Human Genome project shows what amazing things can happen through collaboration. If we want important breakthroughs to happen faster, we must promote effective techno-personal and collaborative skills in the classroom. We cannot walk away and ignore the fundamental change in our society: Internet-enabled communications. Those who are vicious and hateful will not walk away from the Internet. It is imperative that the level headed and wise should not abdicate their responsibility to civilize the Internet and make it a safer place.
We are educators. We teach. We stamp out ignorance.
In our classrooms we hold the essence of what our
online life will be like in 10 or 20 years.
If we do not all do our little bit, we will be sorry. Do your part to
stamp out cyberbullying and most importantly, share!
And, we need to come up with (and use) new emoticons, one that communicates innappopriate, unethical behavior by a blogger.
Oh, how about?
B:-( Bad behavior
Stop Cyberbullying :-(
Note to my readers: The use of lowercase letters in the poem was intentional as was the use of punctuation. I always talk about the appropriate use of IM speak, in this case, I have a message to convey and wrote this as if I was a teenager online.
tag: stopcyberbullying, Andy Carvin, Kathy Sierra, violence, Wes Fryer, Vicki A Davis, opinion, blogging, teaching, education
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Kudos to Scott McLeod's space badges for cyberbullying. I'm going to add one. This one is my favorite.
Just saw a video that my friend Lisa posted over at the Cyberbullying group. I think you should show this video to students and teachers!
And, we'd like to have you and every educator you know join the Stop Cyberbullying group! There are several reasons this is a VERY good thing:
- It lets us mobilize on an important issue. I would like us to make this a central repository for all cyberbullying information. The usefulness is that we as educators can review the material and the best stuff will rise to the top (as we mark things as favorites or give it stars when we like it.)
- It lets us learn about how useful these tools are. It is a myspace-like environment but we are using it for good. WE can learn about the technology as we experience it. How can we "govern and guide" without an understanding? I encourage everyone to participate. (A tip: you can send special messages to your "friends. If you're wondering what the deal is with myspace, step in and use ning and you'll see!)
- It sends a message that we as educators are ready to band together and discuss and share in a meaningful way. That we can learn new things and new technology to communicate and share with one another across all boundaries for the good of the students we love and desire to teach.
tag: stopcyberbullying, Andy Carvin, education, teaching
It will be great in my post tomorrow at Tech Learning to be able to share that we have a lot of educators over there that have joined the network to discuss this! Let's get hundreds of educators to join in and discuss!
What to do if it is blocked:
If it is blocked, ask your tech administrator to JUST unblock stopcyberbullying.ning.com -- and leave all of the other ning sites blocked. (It was blocked on my firewall.) You could copy this into your e-mail.
Technology Administrator:How are you showing your support for Kathy Sierra tomorrow? (I think we should support her by DOING something not by NOT DOING something!) Get out there!
I am beginning to work with a group of international educators to stop cyberbullying in schools. We are discussing what we can do to help this issue in ways that are legally responsible and sensitive to the needs of students.
Andy Carvin, the PBS education blogger, has created a website to allow us to discuss and share best practices so that I can pass this along to the people at our school and I would like to join. Unfortunately it is at a new website called ning and it is blocked at our school.
Could you unblock http://stopcyberbullying.ning.com/ so that I can join in the discussion and keep up with the innovation going on in this area. We have a responsibility to help with this problem which is crossing school and even country lines.
If you unblock, I hope you'll help me pass along this website so that we can get other teachers here to be aware of and understand this important issue.
Thank you! Please e-mail me at ____ to let me know what you decide. I eagerly look forward to your response.
tag: stopcyberbullying, Andy Carvin, Kathy Sierra, teaching, education
Take a look at Andrew's question #4:
Vicki Davis slightly changed Wes Fryer's podcast by adding in new annotations. Who's the creator of the podcast that Vicki placed on Innertoob, Vicki or Wes? Does it matter? Is there a certain point at which the product ceases to be Wes's and becomes Vicki's?
These are the issues we must ponder and discuss!
tag: education, teaching, opinion, ethics, Andrew Pass, innertoob
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
I am sharing it here via Innertoob with annotations from me (markers that show you where things are in the talk that I've commented on.)
f you want to comment or add to the annotations, please do, just sign up for an Innertoob account. (If you want to know more about it, we had Carter Harkins of the Innertoob.com service on WOW2 last night! Listen to the show.)
A note about innertoob
I'm a little uncomfortable with the fact that Innertoob seems to rip the entire podcast from the original location without a link back to the original, so I think that one should only do this (even if it is licensed under Creative commons) with permission even though it does make the podcast more findable. (I sent an e-mail to Wes letting him know and I'll share with you what he thinks. If he thinks it needs to come down, even as useful as the annotations are, I'll take it down and just leave the link to his original podcast.)
I am just learning about this service so I may be wrong about the technical details of it! It seems VERY useful to me at first use!
tag: stopcyberbullying, Kathy Sierra, violence, Wes Fryer, education, teaching
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
The educational community (and many others) is behind you. What has happened to you is reprehensible, and in my opinion, illegal.
Andy Carvin is calling for an anti-cyberbullying day on this Friday, March 30th and I'm with him. My post over on Tech Learning will be dedicated to you and on this topic of cyberbullying.
I'm sorry for what has happened and I will be praying for you to be strong and continue to be vocal. You already have a platform, now you have a cause that can impact the world: Internet freedom and safety.
For truly it is not freedom when one limits the freedom of another.
- We are free to own a gun, but not to shoot another human being.
- We are free to own a car, but not to run another person down.
- We are free to use scissors, but not to stab someone with them.
The moment a certain degree of harm is inflicted on another, we lose the freedom to use that item.
This is not about their freedom of speech, but about your freedom from fear.
And what happens now is very important because it sets a precedent for what happens in the future. Truly, you have a pivotal place in history and time because this one incident, if fought and won, can be used to protect the electronic safety of generations to come.
We need free speech on the Internet and the freedom to write on our blogs.
But we also need to have the ethics and professionalism to interact with the sensitivity that there are living breathing people on the other side of the words on a page. Our society is sadly lacking in techno-personal skills and it is time for more schools to do something about it!
But, we have allowed our reality driven, happy slapping, Borat-praising cultural tendencies that say it is OK to harm another as long as you "get famous" to go too far.
I cannot deal with these people, that is for the authorities to do, but I can do something within my tiny sphere of influence: I can advocate change in all schools so that we do not produce more people like these who have threatened you!
And I call on every educator to show their support against cyberbullying by doing as many of the following as possible on Friday:
- Posting this Friday about cyberbullying and how to prevent it. (Tag: stopcyberbullying)
- If you podcast, please record a podcast. If you video, release a video.
- If you have something on your list to do for the cyberbullying efforts at your school -- do it in Kathy's honor. (Schedule that parent meeting, send out that letter, post that podcast.)
- Remember to advocate the effective use of technology, there are many who advocate blocking everything and they'd love to stop the tiny trickle of momentum that has been building. (Kathy wouldn't want that, I don't think.)
- Use blocking for good for a change -- block the site meankids.org and don't go there your self. Certainly, do not give them a link!
- Write a letter to your local newspaper advocating Internet safety education at the K-12 level and include the importance of using these tools to stamp out the growing ignorance. Education is the answer, not blocking.
- Join the social networking space created by Andy to bring awareness to this topic - http://stopcyberbullying.ning.com/
- Propose or share something you think is effective.
I ask my friends in the edublogosphere to join me with all of my heart.
My prayers are with you,
Vicki, Cool Cat Teacher
tag: stopcyberbullying, Andy Carvin, Kathy Sierra, violence, blogging, education, teaching
"Bloggers are liars. They use all sort of ways to cheat others. From what I know, out of 10,000 unemployed bloggers, 8,000 are women.
“Bloggers like to spread rumours, they don’t like national unity. Today our country has achievements because we are tolerant and compromising. Otherwise we will have civil war.
“Malays will kill Chinese, Chinese will kill Malays, Indians will kill everybody else.”
He asked people not to believe bloggers and gamble away Malaysia’s future because 50 years of Merdeka (Independence) takes a lot to achieve it."
He was responding to Indonesian journalist, Nila Tanzil who had posted some unfavorable things about the Malaysian government.
I am especially moved by an anonymous commenter on Nila's blog:
Dear Nila, it's a brave new world, we walk with you !
Blogging is a force
Blogging has become a force in the world and many do not like it. It gives an accountability and a voice to those that some in power believe "do not deserve a voice," in this case a woman journalist from another country in a society that does not value the feminine gender.
Perhaps I see the echoes of those who tell teachers not to blog?
Effective, professional, blogging has an impact.
If you want to change the world, perhaps your best choice is to blog.
If you want students to change the world, perhaps we should teach them to blog.
tag: blogging, Tenku Adnan, Nila Tanzil, , education, inspiration
Monday, March 26, 2007
Thoughts on Teacher Tube
Teacher tube is really starting to get a lot of your contributions.
Here is the nice thing about it -- youtube has a 10 minute limit so I have 5-6 videos I couldn't upload there but had to use Google Video.
From an ease of use perspective for collecting my own digital artifacts, the teacher tube allows all lengths and I really want to go to one place. (Of course the drawback is that it is not available and searchable for everyone like on youtube or google video.)
Not Blocked (yet)
Also, it seems like teacher tube is not blocked at many schools!
The Technology Fear Factor video has had 3064 views at Teacher Tube and 210 views on youtube!
We may need to use teacher tube just for these reasons.
(On a note: From listening to other bloggers, youtube has continually ignored our requests for an educational category so that we can set our filters that way.)
tag: TeacherTube, Teacher Tube, teaching, education
Sunday, March 25, 2007
One of my favorites is the Zig Ziglar Inspire podcast. Although many people in the business world love him, I listen because he talks about such important things about having a good attitude, working with people, having a good marriage, and faith.
This weeks show is "Relationships that Break Down Barriers."
At the beginning he talks about the relationships that have influenced him most and that if he had limited himself to only associating and learning from those just like himself, that the five most influential people in his life would never have reached him!
It is a great listen and reminds me of the importance of reaching out and learning from a wide variety of people! It is very inspiring!
What are your favorite podcasts?
tag: Zig Ziglar, inspiration, podcasts, relationships
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Meanwhile -- some other videos are cropping up that make you think.
And my laughter turned to tears!
If you're teaching about the Holocaust, have the students watch the video below, then, after studying the Holocaust, have them create a video response! Give students a reason! They love to interact with their peers and this gives them a great method of virtual interaction.
Sadly, this video says only a little over 50% of our school aged students know what the holocaust is! I would love for such videos to include citations at the end, particularly if we're going to use them in the classroom.
It is important to be able to cite your source!
Will Teacher Tube Take Off?
I don't know. It is a very needed resource and will only do as well as those who rate and evaluate it. I like the idea.
I also like the idea, however, of being connected to the world at large (a la youtube.)
Can anyone say -- video filtration? podcast filtration?
We need a way to let the good stuff in and keep the junk out! It seems like such a method could be invented!
tag: youtube, teachertube, video
1) I'm going to give more contrast to the body of my blog.
(Thanks Christy Tucker for your link the comments to the Juicy Studio Color Contrast Analyzer. Cool tool!
2) I am going to redesign the header, I think.
(But that will be next week.)
3) Many of you are saying you like shorter posts.
I'm considering the merits of researching a topic and breaking them into smaller posts and doing a series. The drawback with this method is that a person who wishes to respond to the entire topic has to link to all three or the latter one. Still thinking on this one.
4) Tell me what you think!
So, Click here to take survey and let me know what you think (sorry, I only have the version that allows 100 responses.)
Friday, March 23, 2007
Give me feedback
It is important to me to do a good job. I survey my students (It makes me a better teacher!) each year to see what they liked and didn't like. I want to know what helped them learn. Now, I'm asking you! What do you like? What do you wish I'd tell you more about?
So, I'm asking you to take a small six question survey to help me improve my blogging.
Click here to take survey
In particular, I'm debating on the graphic in my title bar (at the top) that came with this template. Is it too risque for me? Do I need to redesign it? Please give me your feedback.
I am going to share my answers over spring break so that you bloggers can learn from this feedback as well. Meanwhile, I look forward to your feedback and hope you'll take the survey!
How I did it!
I customized a blogger template at one of the free blogger sites and it took some real HTML coding to get just like I wanted it. Unfortunately, you cannot really use Blogger 2 and these templates and you have to understand a little about HTML (particularly TD and TR tags for tables).
Remember, if you do this, notepad is your best friend! Copy and paste your old template into notepad before you ever start!
I also went back to all of the places where I do things online and snagged their newest codes for how to do things!
Some Cool Places for blogger templates:
So, help me be better and I'll share more with you later! Been a busy day and I'm ready for a little chair therapy!
I am now preparing for my first conference, the Tech Forum in Chicago and with the help of some of my students, I have created a video that expresses how I feel about the state of technology education. I base many of my opinions upon what I read from the Computer Science Teachers of America (CSTA) so I consider it fact, not opinion. It applies to many other countries around the world.
If you have a youtube account, I invite you post a video response on youtube to this question:
Why do we need to use technology in schools?
OH, and thanks to Danita Russell for tipping me about Teacher Tube, I've uploaded the video there as well. Perhaps it should be unblocked for many of you.
tag: education, teaching, Vicki A Davis, coolcatteacher, youtube, , technology standards, wikis, learning
But now we have one week until spring break and I want some excitement! These are great moments that can either drone on or can be used as exciting, stimulating times of learning and I teach computer fundamentals, so I have the world at my fingertips.
So, meet my Amazing spring Break Project!
This project teaches how to insert comments and hyperlinks into excel and gives me a cumulative assessment of the things already taught: templates, formulas, charting, making posters in Excel. I'm very excited about this project and just wanted to share it with you here! (Remember, feel free to use this, but you cannot sell it!)
Your project will have three sheets. It will be turned in by e-mailing it as an attachment to Mrs. Vicki at **My e-mail** by Thursday, March 29, 2007. It must be saved as an excel 2007 worksheet.
Your Amazing Spring Break
You have $5000 to spend this spring break to go anywhere in the world from Camilla, Georgia. You are creating a spreadsheet to share with your friends about this trip. It will include an interactive map showing the stops and places you’ll go. It will include a budget worksheet that will show how all of your money will be spent. You will also create a poster that will print out on 4 sheets of paper that you will cut and paste together about your trip. If you have time, you will create a word find (and answers) to get them excited about where you are going. This is not a team project although two of you may go to the same place.
Worksheet 1 –The Map
You will create an interactive map of where you are going (if you don’t know where you’re going , then make up a place anywhere in the world in which you will go.) The name of this Tab is: Map of ___ where the blank includes the name of the place you are going.
See - http://www.monroe.k12.la.us/~mhen/excel_interactive.htm for how these will work:
What this includes:
· You must insert a map of where you are going as the background.
· Insert at least 15 comments about the places you will go on the map in the proper location. (Right click and select “insert comment”) These will pop up when someone puts their mouse over them.
- · You must also include at least 5 hyperlinks.
- · You must have 4 additional pictures.
- · One of the pictures must be a hyperlink.
Worksheet 2 –The Budget
You have $5000 to spend. Using a budget template as a new worksheet in your workbook, you will type up a budget of how you will spend your money. You must include the following:
- · Hyperlinks to the major destinations
- · At least 5 comments as needed to explain any items that may have questions including flight arrangements and times if you are flying somewhere.
- · A chart of some type to help interpret the information in your budget.
Worksheet 3 – The Poster
You will make a large poster at least 2 sheets of paper wide and 2 sheets of paper tall in color. You will print it on the color printer, cut it out and paste it together. The title is My Amazing Spring Break. Include the chart about your financial data. Include your map and other information promoting your trip.
Bonus – The Word Find 1- points
You are to create a Word Find using Excel to help your friends get excited about what you will be doing on this trip. (See http://pirate.shu.edu/~medealyn/MicroComputing/page3.htm for an example.) You must have one page as the word find and one page as the answers.
Worksheet – The Answers to the Word Find
Include your answers to the word find like the example shown.
So, this will be fun and I'm excited.
(And we will learn a lot! Actually, the content taught here is covered in four weeks of lessons in my old book so covering this in one week is both exciting and an efficient use of time. If you're not using project based learning in your computer fundamentals courses, you're missing excitement and great learning experiences!)
tag: Office 2007, Office Vista, Microsoft Office 2007, Microsoft Excel, Leson Plans, Vicki A Davis, coolcatteacher
Thursday, March 22, 2007
This quote from Scott over at Dangerously Irrelevant.
It was a pass along from an administrator:
The school district is legally obligated to protect our students from the outside. It is not legally obligated to prepare them for the outside.
It's like the picture to the right -- if we didn't teach how to drive around a curve in driver's ed. If we didn't teach brakes in drivers' ed, how many kids would hit this wall?
Scott says it well:
"This statement elevates CYA thinking over social justice concerns about technology access/usage and workforce preparation for disadvantaged students. This statement is reactive, not proactive, at a time when we desperately need forward-thinking school leaders."
Scott's post is dangerously RELEVANT and the comments are incredible!
Preparing our young for their release into "the wild"
This is what I say to that administrator:
If I was preparing to release an animal into the wild, I would slowly acclimate that animal to what it would experience there. For, by coddling, sheltering it, hand feeding it, and giving it everything I would prepare it for a dramatic, sudden and very probable death upon its release.
Which is the greater negligence?
That of creating a slight amount of discomfort before release or that of totally not preparing the animal for life outside of the comforts of captivity.
We see it in nature when mother eagles literally push their young out of the nest to force them to try their wings while under the mothers attentive watchcare.
But they're not in a cage
But kids aren't in a cage -- if you don't teach them at school, they go home and teach themselves.
They teach each other how to do things, but in true teenage fashion -- never stop to discuss if they SHOULD do those things. That is our job!
With cars, teenagers know how to press the gas pedal, but unless someone teaches them why and when to take their foot off the gas pedal -- they will face a probable fiery, death amidst flame, iron, and steel or even worse, take others with them!
Look at all of the resources put into drivers ed. I believe technology education is as important.
And kids don't just "automatically" understand computers -- I teach it and I know that there is a big difference between learning how to set up a myspace account on your own and understanding the technological nuances of today's technology-heavy world.
I teach bright, high achieving kids and they don't just "get it." I have every student at our school for two and a half years at least. (1 semester keyboarding, 1 year computer fundamentals, 1 year computer science) When they get out, they do better in English, math, history and all of their subjects and more importantly -- LIFE-- because they have had my classes. (And they come back with stories about how they have to "help" many of the others who don't even know how to check their e-mail!)
We have a responsibility
Our job is to get kids ready to be successful adults.
- People with integrity who will respect their elders.
- People who know the meaning of hard work and have the empathy to weigh decisions that affect others.
- People who care and know that it is more important to stand up for what is right than to cave to selfishness.
- People who consider the plight of the helpless and respond with empathy, kindness, and consideration for their fellow man.
- People who are tech-savvy, tech-smart, and wise digital citizens and who understand that a misspoken word on the Internet can often destroy like a brick through a window or a baseball bat to the head. But that it can also bring great good and profit!
- People who understand that the Internet is like the world in which we live -- full of good and bad people.
- People who know how to protect their own privacy and be their own advocate!
This sort of comment from an administrator scares me.
Perhaps there is not a legal obligation to prepare students for the outside, but there is a moral obligation in being a teacher and educator.
If we spent more time eradicating ignorance perhaps there would not be as many predators to eradicate or we would have more watchdogs out there to help us find them!
Doctors promise to do no harm.
Educators should promise the same.
For truly, sometimes, too much shelter will truly harm those about to be released into an untamed Internet world looking for its next unwitting, unwise, uneducated victim.
tag: education, teaching, technology standards, Scott McCleod
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Rote memorization and the rise of Hitler?
My thoughts of rigid discipline of rote memorization pull me hauntingly towards a series of novels I've been reading lately. This particular set of novels are historical fiction and begin in Germany just during the beginning of Hitler's rise and the first one has just concluded as Austria fell without a word.
This first novel has haunted me. Because Hitler's rise to power was largely escalated by an "appeasement" policy where most nations and people took the attitude of "I don't care what happens to the helpless in Germany, as long as war doesn't come to my doorstep."
Don't get me wrong, many great men and women (Dietrich Bonhoffer comes to mind) did stand up against the wrong of the Reich and paid for it with their lives. However, France's only chance to prevent the German invasion occurred when Germany took the Rhineland.
Hitler himself said:
"The forty-eight hours after the march into the Rhineland were the most nerve-racking in my life. If the French had then marched into the Rhineland we would have had to withdraw with our tails between our legs, for the military resources at our disposal would have been wholly inadequate for even a moderate resistance"England could have prevented rubble in their streets if they had cared when German bullied Austria into a surrender / annexation. The blitzkrieg was made possible by the blitzretreat of those who should have cared enough to sacrifice themselves to prevent encroaching darkness. (And eventually, it was those who sacrificed themselves who brought the Holocaust to an end.)
We cannot control the times but only how we spend our time
We cannot control the times that we live in. We cannot control much. But you and I have control over one thing -- ourselves.
And as we are faced with principle -- the things we believe in and know to be true, we must stand up. The time is short.
And the most horrifying retreats are made one step at a time.
I am quite sick of hearing people throw up their hands in hopelessness about "the kids of today." When I was a child, I heard adults saying those same words.
I see it as generational excuse that "it is too hard" to do the right thing.
I disagree, I think it is too hard to undo too many decisions to not do the right thing. (How's that for a double negative.)
The lost art of respectful disagreement
I have my beliefs that I hold dear-- very dear. But underlying every belief of who I am is the importance of diversity and the importance of being able and willing to disagree with manners and nobility.
What bothers me most about the country I love dearly and the world that I want to make a better place is that I see that both sides -- both right and left have begun the slow roasting ostracism of those who are not cut out of the very same cloth that they are.
These people want teachers to keep their mouths shut and not blog and to standardize everything. Yes, we must be professional. Yes, we need to have some form of testing. But, my goodness, diversity is a beautiful thing! So is creativity!
No monochromatic world!
We don't plant monochromatic flowers next to a monochromatic house -- the human eye loves color and diversity. Beauty is something fleeting but it is different for all of us.
God forbid the wrinkle in time, Big Brother -like grey uniformity of all being standard.
I am concerned. We must be able to work with others without stereotype and with an open mind.
The fact that the scientific community seems to be unable to tolerate differing viewpoints whether it is global warming or the discussion concerning a divine entity bothers me. If a theory is a theory, it is disputable by definition and in fact must be disputed to keep the democracy alive. So now, theorists want to claim theories are fact, when in fact, they are still theories.
The crawly, itchy chillbumps of recognition
I'm not lashing out at any topic in particular, but at the crawly, itchy chillbumps I got as I turned the pages of historical fiction ...
as people stayed quiet, hoping that the problems wouldn't come their way. As they lived in denial, people in Vienna ate strudel and went to concerts up until the moment the country fell.
First Jews in Germany hoped that they could just live their lives and not be arrested, then Austria, then Poland, then France, then further and further. Friends of Jews denied them in the hopes that they could retain their own position and exert influence to help. There is no influence gained in compromising the beliefs that make you. Those who compromised, did little in the end to save the millions cooked in ovens of evil.
We risk repeating history when we hide it from the young
Perhaps it is all wrapped up together. My history teacher who buried the realities of what happened in World War II under some vague dates that I had to memorize and still do not remember. Overstandardization that seems to be robbing the very life out of so many schools. Kids who aren't taught the meaning of what happened and allowed to feel the pain of humanity wearing the blindfold of the pursuit of comfort while a terrible dictator rises to power.
People who say, "I'm just going to live through this and not say anything because I'm so close to retirement" or "I can't do anything about it so I'll be quiet" or "It's not worth the hassle to stand up for what's right" or worst of all "There is no hope, I can't change anything and I'll just get in trouble."
We need more people willing to respectfully, wisely stand up for their beliefs.
Yes, we live in dangerous uncertain times. Our schools are seemingly more violent than ever. However, there is a big difference between separation of church and state and separation of state and morality.
Yes, I think technology is important.
But goodness, the most important thing in the classroom is the teacher!
And teachers are afraid.
It bothers me greatly!
I am getting more e-mails lately than ever and I have to wonder if it is because teachers are afraid to publicly air their concerns and questions.
Now, before you go shake your finger at one political party or another, I would equally lecture both sides.
My background working for a bi-partisan senator
Perhaps I am greatly colored by my time spent in Washington, DC working for Senator Sam Nunn. He was a great statesman. Although he was a Democrat, he honestly, equally worked with both political parties. I often heard in his office to make sure that we knew what HE believed before responding to anyone because he looked at issues and not necessarily at his party. In fact, I think he left the US Senate (where he spent 24 years) because of where he saw things going.
We need to work together
We need to teach students to work with people different from themselves. We need to be able to work with people different from ourselves.
I relish the opportunity to have meaningful discussions with those who challenge what I think. But I hold true to the fact that we have a right and privilege to disagree.
It is an even greater privilege when we can disagree with integrity and mutual respect.
There are far too many Jerry Springer-like confrontations that are a shame on the human race.
I encourage them to disagree
This is why I challenge my students to disagree with me. I often make statements to get them to respond and defend their position. Sometimes I take the opposite viewpoint not necessarily because it is mine but rather because I want them to see the opposite viewpoint. I want to teach them to disagree effectively, with kindness, without interrupting one another.
I want them to know how to think and debate effectively as we discuss the ethical issues intertwined with technology and ever aspect of our society.
For within the ability to disagree with respect and stand up for the beliefs that make you who you are, are the kernels of greatness.
We cannot help the times in which we live, but we can help the life we live in these times.
I blog because I want to make a difference.
I am just a teacher. I'm a country girl who loves my family and my God more than anything else. But I also believe I'm put in this world to make a difference and to share what I learn with others.
I will not be selfish -- I will share.
I will not be afraid -- I will speak my convictions with humility and with the knowledge that I will be wrong sometimes in a very public forum and will have to admit my own humanity.
I will do my best -- I will work hard to be accurate even when it means admission of being wrong and with the belief that there will always be a job for people who are like me.
I will keep perspective -- Technorati is flawed and popularity contests are a waste of time. Yes, it is nice to feel validated but my greatest validation comes from doing a good job in my classroom and at home with my family.
My Dad has always said,
"Never believe your own press."
Face it, most people don't really know what a blog is. IF they do, they think it is for people who don't have enough to keep themselves busy. (That is what my mom says.) People who become proud become pretty useless.
There is a difference in confidence in your ability and thinking you're the center of the universe. I'm part of a larger picture and few if anyone read every word of my blog. But I am part of a positive change, I think.
I will enjoy this -- blogging isn't a chore. Blogging is fun! Meeting other educators with a passion to be their best is fun! Yes, things are tough sometimes (especially right now during term paper season) but life is too short to look like you spend your spare time sucking on lemons!
I will be true to my beliefs - The most important part of my day is the first thirty minutes where I read my Bible and pray. That is where I honestly believe I tap into supernatural wisdom. However, as true and real as I know it is, I also believe just as strongly in human choice. For it is the fact that I am allowed a choice that I do have the first thirty minutes of my day. People should have a right to spend the moments of their day as they choose, as long as it does not break the law!
Do not be indifferent
Perhaps the most difficult attitude I have to learn to tolerate is that of indifference and lack of empathy.
I think indifference is a learned attitude for truly, most kids come into this world very inquisitive and very opinionated.
I just want to encourage you as teachers, administrators, and those who care --
don't just "bellyache" DO what you can to make a difference in your corner of the universe. You may retire in May, but that is no excuse to sit back and not speak when something needs to be said. When the child has been labeled, when someone needs a loving hand, when a person needs mercy or when they need tough love.
Teachers could make a million dollars a year and not be paid enough. If you're in it for the money -- get out! You can make more money selling copiers.
Teachers could have 9 months off a year and still not get enough rest. If you're in it for the hours -- get out! The hours are a lot longer than they look if you're a good teacher because you live and breath it (and some of you blog at midnight like I'm doing tonight.)
Teaching is the most noble calling on earth.
So be noble.
Do what is right.
For the most horrendous retreats in history were taken one step at a time.
tag: Vicki A Davis, coolcatteacher, opinion, teaching, education, inspiration
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
We've titled the show "Administration 2.0 Supershow" and here are some of the topics that we plan to tackle:
Show 21 -- Administrative Web 2.0 Supershow!
- What administrative practices enable effective technology usage by students and teachers?
- What barriers do administrators create that impede effective technology usage by students and teachers?
- What are the consequences when few formal school leaders (e.g., principals, superintendents) understand digital technologies?
- What are university educational leadership programs doing to prepare new technology-savvy school leaders?
- What can tech departments do to help improve tech skills and understandings by administrators?
- What kinds of awards and commendations could be given to teachers who are using the tools and how can we showcase best practices.
- Is the hassle worth it? Do you believe you see gains occur in the classroom when these tools are used?
- How is technology used to more effectively manage the business side of school operations? Who to answer this one?
- Should libraries change as part of administrative leadership or have they already?
- Then, hold on as they field questions and share super cool tools that they use to lead!
The show is on tonight at 9 pm EST over at edtechtalk.com -- If you've never listened before, just go to www.edtechtalk.com and click on channel 1. Then, in another window, you can open up the chat room by clicking on chat room, just sign in with your name (no password is required). Then, you'll be in touch with our speakers and able to ask questions.
After the show is over, the show is available for download and the chat and show are archived over at edtechtalk.com.
We have a lot of fun and lots of people like to come a little early to catch up with the others! It really is a high point of my week because so often it is easy to feel alone in the struggle to push into new technological realms of excellence (and it requires many hard knocks as well.)
Saturday, March 17, 2007
Thanks, Eric, for giving me these resources below!
Great Legal Info for Bloggers & Schools
- The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Legal Guide for Bloggers, says
"Freedom of speech is the foundation of a functioning democracy, and Internet bullies shouldn't use the law to stifle legitimate free expression. That's why EFF created this guide, compiling a number of FAQs designed to help you understand your rights and, if necessary, defend your freedom."Alas, international readers, this guide is meant for an American audience, however, I believe that EFF's should be started in every country to produce similar guides. This is a great community service!
Check out their Bloggers Intellectual Property FAQ and their FAQ about Student Blogging.
Don't think that disallowing blogging makes you untouchable
Of particular interest is how public schools that do not even allow blogging, may have limited control over the private blogs of their students:
"In Emmett v. Kent School District, 92 F. Supp.2d 1088 (W.D. Wash. 2000), the court held that public school officials had violated a student's First Amendment rights by punishing the student for his personal website, the "Unofficial Kentlake High Home Page.""
I think this is yet another reason to discuss the ethics of blogs and allow it. If they blog all day at school, are they less likely to do something like this?
"The court held that "[a]lthough the intended audience was undoubtedly connected to Kentlake High School, the speech was entirely outside of the school's supervision or control.""
Blogs give students power. A power that is greater than most will admit. The power of blogs is inescapable -- teach the cat or ... well, look at the picture. (hint: schools are the mouse.)
Blogs are to our society as printed pamphlets were to the American Revolution... the spark for change.
The Ecstasy of Influence
And then, I came across this beautiful piece entitled the Ecstasy of Influence as published in February 2007 by Jonathan Letham.
This brilliant piece of work ties together both a current topic (plagiarism), history, literature, music, and Internet literacy. It could be used in an upper level high school classroom for several reasons:
- incredible use of vocabulary
- numerous references to many great musicians, works of literature, and history
- a writing style that is often seen in college -level journals
- Great prep for SAT passages.
Those Dark Hiding Places
I also enjoyed Those Dark Hiding places where author Robert J. Lackie discusses the THREE methods researchers can use on the web:
- Directories and Portals when you:
- have a broad topic
- want selected, evaluated, and annotated collections
- prefer quality over quantity
- Invisible or Deep Web [searchable sites and databases] when you:
- are looking for information that is likely in a database
- are looking for information that dynamically changes in content
- Search engines [general and specialized] when you:
- have a narrow topic
- want to take advantage of the newer retrieval technologies
The Eyes Have it
Finally, I just have to mention the new eye tracking study that I saw today from the Online Journalism Review. Using the famed usability scientist, Jacob Nielson's eye tracking technology, the study shows how pages can be redesigned to increase retention while decreasing the amount of time it took to read an article:
"What if you could engage users in a story for about half the time, yet have them remember about 34 percent more of the content?"The study sample only included people from 18-64 so we cannot say it would work for our page design for our students.
However, I must ask the question,
Shouldn't we be doing eye-tracking usability studies to determine the most effective web page design for learning with students?
And, if you want to see the pictures that has the whole blogosphere literally abuzz, scroll down to the bottom of the page and look at the results when they showed the picture of a baseball player on the screen.
I think we can deduce this -- edit our stories and make them shorter (I know I know -- I need to work on it myself!) and use graphics to stimulate interest.
tag: Jacob Nielson, journalism, web page design, Eric Hoefler, , blogging, education, coolcatteacher, Vicki A Davis, learning
Friday, March 16, 2007
The 2007 Horizon report is a must read! If you're tired of blazing the trail, this month the folks at Educause and New Media Consortium released the Horizon 2007 report that may astound even you!
The report outlines the six most influential forces for the future of higher learning:
1) User created content
"Small tools and easy access have opened the doors for almost anyone toMy thoughts:
become an author, a creator, or a filmmaker. These bits of content represent a new form of contribution and an increasing trend toward authorship that is happening at almost all levels of experience." (New Media Consortium 6).
The audience is vital but also the authorship that this new audience provides us!
The new first impression
As a child, I was taught how to look a person in the eye when I shook his hand to make a good first impression. Now, people make first impression over IM, blogs, wikis, podcasts, videos (oh the videos!) -- you name it!
Digital Artifacts - And just as we learn in effective web design that every page may be the home page because of the search engine effect, likewise, every digital artifact has the potential to be a first impression.
As David Warlick says
"information doesn't travel in straight lines"so a digital artifact created today may literally be found years from now and influence your life.
If we teach this mindset that everything we create digitally (even our comments) could be our first impression -- how will students consider the work they post?
Digital artifacts are a legitimate forms of expression and we should learn to create them with authenticity, quality, creativity, and appropriate privacy. (Now, how do we do that!)
The new writing - We live in an era where a person who can type rapidly literally has a "leg up" (as long as they have something worthwhile to say). Just ask those who IM with me, I have to be careful at my 130+ words per minute or they literally don't get a word in edgewise!
It makes sense that after kids master cursive, that they move to the next form of writing: keyboarding.
Putting the ability to write faster than a person talks in the hands of our future is a great gift. And for those who think voice recognition is going to catch up soon, you should listen to the WOW2 podcast with keyboarding expert Patsy Lanclos where we interviewed Sharon Peters' husband (a researcher for Dragon naturally speaking) -- don't expect voice to eliminate the need for typing any time soon.
2) Social Networking
"Increasingly this is the reason students log on." (New Media Consortium 6).
The report sees this as a key way to increase student participation in classroom activities.
It is about peer review
Peer review is an essential element of higher level research. That is what social networking is... peer review.
Effective peer review can now be taught at an elementary school level. As serious academicians, we should welcome the opportunity to take peer review to the next level as should college professors and the business world.
Do we really want a cure for cancer?
I honestly believe that if such difficult problems as cancer and AIDS are to be solved, it will be through the more expeditious sharing and the resulting acceleration of research and learning that could result. In no better way could we hope to accelerate the progress of our generation than by collapsing the information float between the highest levels of academic research.
It will require a little humility and willingness to change, but if academicians have knowledge and the welfare of the human race at heart, they should be open to work towards this.
I know that colleges have funding and patents and that whole industries have basically outsourced their whole R&D process to higher institutions of learning, however, perhaps companies should consider funding excellent researchers at various institutions and requiring them to communicate with one another via such tools. Could virtual connection and physical disconnection help validate work and promote progress?
Creating educational magnetism
Just as people with charisma are magnetic and attract others... educational opportunities that use social networking attract the interest of students like magnets. They work! They increase excitement! They make learning more fun! They are great!
Learning through connections
And teachers meet roadblocks every time they try to connect students -- Yes, we must be wise and vigilant, but we must progress.
Everyone is looking for a way to improve the dropout rate! Kids are obviously connecting with more outside the school than in -- "LET THEM CONNECT!" We will be amazed at what we see!
If we're scared of the term "social networking" then why not create another term that the critics won't fear? Some ideas: educational networking, learning networks, co-curricular networks -- just be warned that if you make it sound too boring the kids may not want to try it.
It is OK to sound cool
There is this long standing (wrong) assertion that if it sounds fun its not learning, when in reality, those who have been the greatest scholars have derived an immense amount of joy, passion, excitement, and yes, entertainment out of learning.
Here is an example. If I walk in a class and put a glass of liquid on the table and say,
"I'd like someone to drink this delicious clean glass of dihydrogen oxide."Will someone drink it? (Probably only the smartest of the bunch.) or, If I walk in and say
"I'd like someone to drink this glass of water."Names do count and its OK to sound fun and be fun. You can still learn.
My friend Jennifer Wagner over at Technospud projects has elementary kids learning in countless ways while having... yep... fun! (Susan Silverman also does a great job with collaborative, fun projects for elementary kids.)
3. Mobile Phones
"There is a time these will be as much a part of education as a bookbag." (New Media Consortium 6).What I say:
I think this reporter for CBS news (on youtube) says it best with his 3 minute iphone report:
When I went to Georgia Tech in 1987, they strongly encouraged freshmen to have a computer. I believe that some college within the next few years will require some sort of smaller mobile computing device.
I wonder if it will:
- Have enough memory to house their textbooks (that they can download from the online store),
- accept wireless handouts,
- synch professor podcasts
- synch syllabi with their calendar
- schedule appointments with project teams,
- talk to their prof during his/her virtual office hours
- access to resources in their library
- add or drop courses
- e-mail, voicemail, IM, and share notes
- allow the unethical to cheat like crazy (those who come from schools who choose to only stress learning and leave out ethics)
- tandem learning of foreign languages with a learning partner in another country
- cooperative learning projects with students from around the world
- be more connected to learning, their peers, their home, their interests, and their life
- create, save, edit, and share documents and do just about anything that most of today's computers can do.
4. Virtual Worlds
"The trend is likely to take off in a way that will echo the rise of the web in the mid 1990's" (New Media Consortium 6).What I say:
See my post: The future of the Web: Web 3D. But I think educators will be asking themselves what Molotov Alva asks himself in the increasingly popular video on Youtube:
"Is almost real...real enough?"
Are the simulations and worlds we can create in Web 3d real enough to teach? Which subjects require the real world and which ones are best simulated? These are questions that will form the crux of many a debate in academia with virtual worlds coming into every discipline in some form.
Perhaps the greatest potential uses are in the K-12 arena. Perhaps we will also see the greatest opponents.
5. The New Scholarship and Emerging forms of Publication
The report says:
"The nature and practice of scholarship is changing. New tools and new ways toI say:
create, critique, and publish are influencing new and old scholars alike." (6 New Media Consortium).
It is about being useful.
For those who don't think that these tools are useful to facilitate serious academic research, look at how this scholar at my alma mater, Georgia Tech, teaches his fellow researchers how to find scholarly engineering and research articles in the Georgia Tech Library with a video he released on youtube.
I believe this video is probably more useful to fellow researcher than a paper on the same subject. In 4 minutes and 56 seconds, they can learn an invaluable skill that will save them hours of time in scholarly research. In another 4 minutes and 56 seconds, they can embed that video onto their own blog to share with others.
What if colleges required freshmen to make videos about useful things they had learned -- how much would be shared and how much would be learned to allow those students to progress more rapidly into the intense flow of learning at major universities?
Scholarship is Scholarship
There is something permanent feeling in the ivory tower nestled amidst ivory paper, something almost pure and surreal. However, with books and textbooks being easily self published, I believe we will see more profs write their own textbooks. (And perhaps some teachers too!)
The medium should be entirely irrelevant with the focus being on the content and the content producer (are they ethical and qualified) and a high caliber of academic standard and attainment. Less importance should be placed on the location of the content producer and whether they have the connections to get published.
I believe that the potential arises for more doctoral students to emerge as world class researchers than in the history of academia. No longer overshadowed by their profs, meritorious work could potentially shine in this new public publication environment.
Yes, standards must still be there and in fact must be adhered to more rigorously than ever. (One would not want an exciting day in the lab to turn into an erroneous blog post that announces the cure for cancer that turns out to be false the next day when one learns they have transposed a number!) But, if serious researchers do not put serious standards in place and see blogs, wikis, podcasts, video, and other methods of electronic publication as legitimate publications, then they will have to accept the struggles that will invariably emerge as a result of their negligence.
Likewise, as colleges rush to embrace and effectively use these technologies, digital citizenship becomes an essential skill for the serious future businessperson and the serious academician. It becomes equally important as pen, paper, eye contact, and verbal expression. Notice, I did not say it will replace it, simply augment our other forms of communication.
Naysayers are always quick to say... "but"
- "But it will always be important to write a paper!"
- "But it will always be important to have good interpersonal skills!"
- "But it will always be important to speak effectively!"
- "It is always going to be important to write a paper on paper and electronically."
- "It is always going to be important to have good interpersonal skills for face to face and technology based communications."
- "It is always going to be important to speak effectively in person or in a video conference."
It is an "and" equation with a big + beside it.
We are not removing any form of communication that has existed before, we are simply adding more ways to do it! And some forms will be more appropriate for certain things than others. Yet again, more to discuss.
6. Massively Multiplayer Educational Gaming
The report says:
In the coming years, open-source gaming engines will lower the barrier to entry for developers, and we are likely to see educational titles along with commercial ones." (New Media Consortium 6).I think the report also distinguishes a very subtle but very important point for all of those following these trends:
" Educational gaming...appears here in two variants: virtual worlds and massively multiplayer educational gaming. Over the past year, it has become clear that these topics, while related, are not simply two sides of the same coin. Virtual worlds are not games, but spaces where many sorts of activities might occur, most of them social. Massively multiplayer games sometimes take place in virtual worlds, but not always. They are more structured, with clear goals and objectives built in, and players interact with the setting in ways that are generally very different than the ways one might interact with the elements of an open-ended virtual world." (New Media Consortium 7).
For those seeking to align curricular standards, this should be a dream come true. States could create whole video games around courses. Kids would beg to go to Spanish or Math or English.
Why won't they? Probably for some of the same things that happen to me, comments like this:
"You're spending my good tax dollars making a video games so the kids can come down and play all day."
"Kids act like they have to be entertained. I wasn't entertained, they sat my rear end in a desk, I sat still and I was bored, but I learned something."
"Why are we doing this when no one else is doing it?"
The challenge of change
In fact, it is often hard to believe for some parents at my school. I have had criticism because "why isn't the local super-wealthy college prep private school doing what I'm doing? "
Well, that particular school cut out computer science and put in two years of Latin! We've continued to remind parents that our job is to be the best. I think that collaborative global skills are more important to the long range health of my students than anything else I can do. They may suffer a couple dozen points on their SAT, but they will be more successful in life, I believe.
The Horizon of Hope
It is easy to get frustrated, but these changes are coming at the speed of a super wave. And we can look at how surfers conquer formerly insurmountable super waves to find our answers.
I recently saw an incredible documentary about how surfers can now ride the super waves. Prior to this, these superwaves only meant death because the currents were too difficult for the surfer to get out to the origin of the waves and if he could, the surfer could not gain enough speed to ride the wave. So, surfers have begun using jet skis to allow them to get on these waves and get them to the proper acceleration.
If you want to see how it is done, watch this incredible one minute video:
Riding the superwave into greatness
These surfers can use their technical knowledge of how to surf and the technology of the jetski to reach greater heights than in the history of surfing.
The same is with us. Academicians, teachers, businesses who wisely harness technology to overcome our weaknesses and use humans to do what we are best at... thinking, creating, theorizing, networking, and more... will ride the superwave of achievement into the future.
Some who refuse to acknowledge this superwave will be left behind or crushed, but those who see its potential will have the ride of their life.
BIBLIOGRAPHY New Media Consortium. "2007 Horizon Report." March 2007. NMC: Projects and Initiatives. Ed. New Media Consortium and Educause Learning Initiative. 15 March 2007.
tag: New Media Consortium, New Media Consortium, NMC, Educause, 2007 Horizon Report, virtual reality, web3, Web3D, secondlife, technology standards, education, teaching, coolcatteacher, Vicki A Davis, connectivism, blogging, technology, video games, gaming, learning, colleges, David Warlick, Sharon Peters, Jennifer Wagner