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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Daily Spotlight on Education 03/31/2010




Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Daily Spotlight on Education 03/30/2010




Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Monday, March 29, 2010

This Old (School) House



A typical school entrance building in AustraliaImage via Wikipedia
My house was built in 1953 - we bought it in the early 2000's.  We've put in new floors, repainted a few times and been redoing things.  Anyone can build a new house, but if you have an older one in good shape, that says a lot about the people who live there.  At least that is what I tell myself as I struggle to "whip things in shape" around here.

As I was working in the front yard today, it struck me that this relates to what is happening in education. If you have the time and money and resources you can build a new school and have exactly what you want -- TODAY. But how long will you have it?  The longevity of a school is determined by the culture and the leadership and the teachers and ecosystem that evolves in that place.  Sure, starting from scratch is attractive and if you have a complete failure of a school (or a termite-ridden house) - this could make sense.  But most often, we have existing schools and have to re-work, reinstitute, re-do and improve things. 

I just think that often the desire to start over completely is sometimes needed but with budget cuts and struggles we instead need to re-invent ourselves.

I think the part that irritates me most in the US is hearing politicians criticize the "state of education" when their many mandates and true lack of understanding of schools and what is needed is much of what has put education in the state that it is in. 

The point is that systemic educational improvement on a nationwide basis - means the empowerment of each school to do what it takes in their location to reach their students and when we're being pushed to massive standardization, you pull some of the uniqueness that makes schools special, unique, and distinct from one another.

Again, I'm thinking out loud here - but I just have my own frame of reference which is a measly $25,000 a year budget to maintain 100 computers - 4 servers and buy whatever new we need and our computers are OLD -- we can still collaborate globally and do some really cool things WITHOUT the money.  The answer is not money it is heart.

Heart to fix up the old schoolhouse -- energy, tenacity, and some old fashioned sweat.

We've got what we've got - we have to use what we have.  But we can view this time as an opportunity to get busy or we can whine about the "good old days" which probably weren't much better than today -- or we can long for that money to start from scratch and have a good new school for a few years which will eventually turn into a school that needs to be renovated and redone again - just like the ones we have.

For me, it is kind of like this 40 year old body of mine -- I've got to make the best of it - I'm not getting a new one.  I can look at myself in the mirror and criticize and complain or I can do the best with what I have and renew my mind daily and push myself to be more and do more.

So many schools are doing amazing things! There are many great stories out there.  We have to focus on what we're doing and what we can control. We cannot control politicians or corrupt school boards or parents who don't care if their kids come home much less do their homework.

You and I are educators - we CAN control a few things:
    The Thinker by Auguste Rodin. Grubleren, in Ny...
  • Our attitude
  • Our work ethic
  • Our classroom
  • Who we decide to listen to.
This is your day - this is your schoolhouse. Throughout history there have been people who were in tough situations who have overcome - they are called HEROES. 

HEROES and HEROINES do not emerge in easy, relaxing times but rather are hewn from the rock of impossible situations.


Chip. Chip. Chip.


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Daily Spotlight on Education 03/29/2010



  • We do one of these every two years and this summer it will be in St. Louis. We also have a Flat Classroom Workshop and Digiteacher workshop at ISTE as well. Sign up early - last year the workshops we did filled up quickly.

    This is the wiki on the workshop:
    Co-founders of award winning Flat Classroom Projects, as well as Flat Classroom Conference and Events, Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay announce their July 13-14, 2010 2-day "Flat Classroom Workshop: Seven Steps to Global Collaboration" Workshop.

    Over 3 years ago the first 'Flat Classroom Project 2006' was created that connected our classrooms in Dhaka, Bangladesh and Camilla, Georgia, USA. Since then we have developed a series of global collaborative projects including Digiteen, Horizon Project/Net Generation Education, and Eracism, many of which run 2-3 times per year and have included 1000's of students from numerous countries, cultures, backgrounds and geographic locations.

    Learn more about Flat Classroom Projects, including how we are featured in the latest edition of Friedman's "The World is Flat", as well as Tapscott's "Grown Up Digital' and Bonk's " The World is Open". Read what participants are saying about our projects and workshops.

    We invite educators who want to transform their learning and embrace global collaboration in their curriculum to join us for a unique, 2-day Flat Classroom Workshop at Mary Institute St Louis County Day School in St Louis Missouri, as part of the MICDS 2010 Summer Teacher Institute for Technology and Curriculum Innovation.

    Please take time to review the workshop information, and what you will learn, and email us flatclassroomproject@gmail.com with your questions. Space is limited and on a first come, first served basis.

    Join our Flat Classrooms Ning! This is where we have established the Flat Classrooms collective of educators and people interested in transforming learning through global collaboration and opportunities.

    tags: education, learning, workshops

  • Overview of contest with Don Tapscott for the netGenEd Challenge and Macrowikinomics Challenge:

    This year’s grand prize winners for the Net Gen Education Challenge and the MacroWikinomics Challenge will receive US$1,000 and a one-hour webinar by me to include members of the winner’s organization or school. Each of the ten finalists will receive a signed copy of Grown Up Digital by me and a personalized signed copy of Wikinomics by me and Anthony D. Williams.

    I’m also inviting people to nominate any school within the K-12 range for the eChalk School Prize, a prize that awards a school anywhere in the world with eChalk’s Anytime Package – a suite of online communication and collaboration tools pioneered specifically for teachers, students and parents – for one year. The prize includes a school website, group and class webpages and workspaces, safe email accounts for faculty, staff and students, and parent access accounts – all in one place to support learning. The winner of the eChalk School Prize will be determined by the school that receives the most votes.

    tags: education, learning

  • I love reading reviews of articles - here Charlotte asks "where is all the technology" in terms of how teachers are using it. This is based upon the article:

    indsay , J, & Davis, V. (2010). Navigate the digital rapids. Learning and Leading with Technology, 37(6), Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/Content/NavigationMenu/Publications/LL/LLIssues/Volume3720092010/MarchAprilNo6/Navigate_the_Digital_Rapids.htm

    tags: education, digitalcitizenship, learning


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Daily Spotlight on Education 03/27/2010




Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Daily Spotlight on Education 03/26/2010




Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

He never spoke merely to be heard



"All his oratorical efforts were made for practical effect. He never spoke merely to be heard." Abraham Lincoln, in his eulogy on Henry Clay.

We could literally starve to death eating  cotton candy - well, at least that is what I've heard. It is sweet, it is very fluffy, but there is just not much there. You know the 1980's were a time where we had "big everything" - hair, cars, spending... then we moved into the 1990's where we went faster.

Now, I think partially because of our economy and society today, we are drowning in meaningless fluff.  We are still of the abundance mentality where we measure people by how many followers they have, how many readers, how many hits, and how many tweets - but what about the quality there?

Nothing is free. Nothing!  I mean, Twitter is free, but it costs you time! Blogger is free but this blog is my life's work.

I've been lectured how this blog couldn't survive with just one writer (but the best blogs have to be updated 2-3 times  a day, Vicki - you've going to have guests posts, etc. to get that kind of traffic.)  Well, certainly when I post more often, the stats go up -- but why should I blog just to be heard? If I don't have meaning, then am I lessening the blog posts when I do.

It is sort of like Tiger Woods - his vow to his wife means less because he wasted something meaningful on people who didn't mean anything to him!

Resist the fluff!
I think that our students and we are hungry for meaning. We don't need yet another app, another movie, another American Idol to vote upon and talk about - what we need is a little moderation.  I think it is certainly time to back up and go for quality over quantity.  Would Twitter mean more if those with the "cotton candy posts" -- lots of sweet stuff but not much substance were to back off a bit.  Certainly, it is their choice to post and it is also my choice to unfollow those who hog my timeline with their STUFF.  Their fluff.

What is fluff?
This is an answer that each of us have to examine for ourselves.  But I learned some valuable lessons from Marla Ciley, known as "The Fly Lady" when I went from total clutter to a much improved system of housekeeping (I'm still getting there!) -- she says that clutter takes away from our lives.

So, to me, fluff items are items that take up room but don't add meaning - don't add sustenance to my life.  They are the things I'll wish I had spent less time on when I reach the end of this life.

When I ask people if they have a blog, usually, they start off apologizing:

"I have a blog but I haven't updated it in a while..."

You know what - you have a blog! Why do you have to apologize for updating once every three months?  It is YOUR BLOG.  Be YOU!  I'd a lot rather follow 30 blogs that post 4 times a year with real, honest, good down-to earth posts full of meaning than a blog which spits out a lot of fluff out of the cotton candy machine.  More links, more stuff, more things that don't really add value to my life.

Yes, I wish most people had blogs, but we all have different callings in life.  I find it disconcerting that some top bloggers would rather leave blogging altogether than to decide to blog less and watch themselves catapult from the top rankings of blog super-star-dom!  Why not have less blog posts with more meaning?

So, as I was reading my new book by Brian Tracey, Speak to Win, and came across the quote from Abraham Lincoln about the great orator Henry Clay - I was struck.  Struck that many of the greatest people in history have been people of great purpose.

People who didn't just throw words out like spaghetti onto a wall and hoping something would stick, but people who intentionally walked up to the wall with a hammer, nail, and tretise of words to nail into the history of mankind.

Oh, to be the kind of person who doesn't get lost in all the stuff! Like ET hiding in the closet of stuffed animals. A really cool, amazing, fascinating one of a kind thing was hiding in the closet and the little girl played by Drew Barrymore almost missed it because of all of the "stuff."

How many nuggets of truth that could improve our lives are hiding amidst the stuff -- the Facebook updates, Friend Feeds, RSS updates, and emails?

So, my challenge to you and myself today is to be like Henry Clay. Let's let all of our efforts be for PURPOSE and not just to hear ourselves post, tweet, blog, or anything.  Your best writing may come after a hiatus.


But what if people forget you?  
If you're in it for the long haul -- they won't because you have become part of something and have a network of friends.  I haven't commented and "talked" with my dear friend Karyn Romeis in a while, we've never met and yet I don't forget her because she made a poignant post about singing into a hairbrush very early on in my blogging life. She took the time to leave a very meaningful post.

The Spam commenters make me almost want to turn off commenting, however, the great comments from the heart as I get 3-4 times a week compel me to go through the stuff - the drivel, the spam.  The gems are worth it!

As we head into spring in North America, it is tempting to say, "I don't have time for ___ or for ___."  When instead we should be saying, "because of limited time I will have less time to ___ or to ___."  Why must it be all or nothing? Isn't checking your RSS reader every two weeks better than not checking it at all? Isn't reading the newspaper on Sundays better than never opening the pages again?

We should look at the "fluff" and truly drop it -- cull it out of our lives as much as we can. But we should also realize that there is a certain beauty and joy to having less but more quality.  As I'm working still on my weight, I ask myself this all the time -- is it worth it?  Is it worth the calories?

So, my friends, let's read that quote again, and I'd encourage you to read it aloud and perhaps even replace the word "oratorical" with "blogging" or "tweeting" or "reading" or "Facebook-ing."  Make it fit whatever you tend to "overdo" and challenge yourself to have meaning and quality in what you do.

Don't give up a good thing when what perhaps you should do is condense that good into a more potent greatness!

"All his oratorical efforts were made for practical effect. He never spoke merely to be heard." Abraham Lincoln, in his eulogy on Henry Clay.


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Daily Spotlight on Education 03/25/2010




Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Daily Spotlight on Education 03/23/2010



  • Edutopia issue of the Story of Movies featured this middle school curriculum and film lesson libraries. Lots of resources and a message from Martin Scorsese.

    tags: education, filmmaking

  • Please consider dropping by and leaving a message for this student about the future of education! Let's inundate his inbox! From Krysten Hokanson.

    " Subject: My E-mail to the educators
    Hello,

    My name is Andrew Wisniewski and I am a senior at Upper Merion Area High School in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania. For my end of the year project I have decided to explore education and how technology is changing how students learn. Ms. Hokanson has helped me by creating a drop box and by forwarding this email to all of you. You can help me by visiting, http://drop.io/FutureEd and leaving me your thoughts about the future of education. In my drop.io, you will see that you can upload a picture, a text note or even call the dropbox.
    Here are some ways you can share your thoughts

    * Go to http://drop.io/FutureEd and upload a file, record or add a note
    * E-mail a note, picture or video clip futureed@drop.io
    * Call 646-495-9205 x 95270 and leave your message via voice-mail

    Please describe your role in education and let me know how you feel technology can change education; not only presently but also in the future. If it is fine with you, please state your name and with your permission I may contact you again regarding this subject. This will be an excellent addition to my presentation and I appreciate your insights about education.
    I would be grateful for any input you can provide.

    Thank you so much for your time,
    Andrew Wisniewski"

    tags: education, learning

  • " The Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation is pleased to announce the last call for essays for its 16th annual Holocaust Remembrance Project Essay Contest. The national writing contest recognizes the moral imperative of teaching young people about this watershed event. The contest is the only ongoing national essay contest on the Holocaust for high school students.



    For 2010, high school students who are interested in entering should study the Holocaust and then, in an essay of no more than 1,200 words: (a) analyze why it is vital that the remembrance, history and lessons of the Holocaust be passed on to a new generation; and (b) suggest what young people can do to combat and prevent prejudice, discrimination and violence in our world today."

    If you do this, I also encourage you to have your students blog their essays and share publicly (authentic audience) as well as potential to win the contest. What an important topic.

    tags: education, writing


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Minds of Peace: Can "Average" People Do What Politicians Cannot?



My only disappointment from MACUL is that I didn't get to meet someone I admire very much, Dr. Jeff Stanzler, from the University of Michigan.  I just received an email from him about a very special event that relates to the wonderful Arab-Israeli Conflict Simulation that my student and I just love!

"I wanted to let you know of an event that the ICS group is co-sponsoring on campus that may be of interest to you. The attached flyer describes the "Minds of Peace" project, a collaborative venture of an Israeli (Sapir Handelman) and a Palestinian (Mazen Badra). The idea animating their project is that it may be too dangerous for Israelis and Palestinians to wait for political leaders to solve the Arab-Israeli Conflict, and that the effort may need to start from the ground up. To that end, over the last several months, they've convened several negotiations (in Israel, the West Bank, and the US) wherein five ordinary Israelis (or Israeli-Americans) sit across the negotiating table from five ordinary Palestinians/
Palestinian-Americans and, over the course of an intense two day negotiation, try to work towards peace by way of (hopefully) understanding a bit more about one another. 
 
I mention all of this because the next negotiation will take place in Ann Arbor this Thursday and Friday. With an eye towards the AIC participants, we will also be streaming the negotiations live, and I want to cordially invite you and your students to tune in and even to participate. 
 
On the attached flyer you'll see the times for the five negotiating sessions that will take place on Thursday and Friday. I hope on Monday to be able to send you the URL for the webcast AND the e-mail address to which your students can send questions for the participants and/or the hosts. After each of the five sessions, the audience (whether onsite or online) gets a chance to ask questions, and you and your students are welcome to participate. 
More soon...Jeff

Minds of Peace website: http://www.mindsofpeace.org/"
 This is the flyer.

 Applause to my dear friend and to those who are even considering "flattening" the peace situation in the Middle East.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Daily Spotlight on Education 03/21/2010




Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Daily Spotlight on Education 03/19/2010




Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Daily Spotlight on Education 03/18/2010



  • Data that is innocuous or is it? Excellent article from the New York Times on Privacy.

    "In a class project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that received some attention last year, Carter Jernigan and Behram Mistree analyzed more than 4,000 Facebook profiles of students, including links to friends who said they were gay. The pair was able to predict, with 78 percent accuracy, whether a profile belonged to a gay male.

    So far, this type of powerful data mining, which relies on sophisticated statistical correlations, is mostly in the realm of university researchers, not identity thieves and marketers.

    But the F.T.C. is worried that rules to protect privacy have not kept up with technology. The agency is convening on Wednesday the third of three workshops on the issue. "

    tags: privacy, analytics, education


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Daily Spotlight on Education 03/17/2010



  • 60 day period for input for the US National Educational Technology Plan is open. Here is the summary from the Read Write Web.

    tags: education, learning

  • A contest conducted by Trend Micro in partnership with Common Sense Media, ConnectSafely and Identity Theft Resource Center will award $10,000 to the person who can create the best short video on Internet safety. There are four additional awards of $500 each.

    Anyone in the U.S. or Canada that is 13 or older can submit a short video (up to 2 minutes) to What's your Story, about an aspect of Internet safety. To qualify, your entry must focus on one or more of these topics: "Keeping a good rep online", "Staying clear of unwanted contact" (including dealing with bullies), "Accessing (legal) content that's age-appropriate," and "Keeping the cybercriminals out" (computer security issues like identity theft, scams, spam, viruses, and other bad stuff).

    tags: education, learning


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Measuring Beautiful Minds: Moving Away from the Test Take Over



Rendering of human brain.Image via Wikipedia
Spring in the US is such a busy time with "spring sports" and so many things going on including the end of the school year.  I'm trying to get my feet under me after a spate of trips (including the one to India.)  So, since I'll be grading until 2 am, I just thought to share a little bit with you about some of the ponderings running around in my head.

No Child Left Behind is Long Overdue
I've been thinking about the plan to introduce legislation here for the long-overdue revision of No Child Left Behind and was struck with an analogy (perhaps not a perfect one) with what is going on in education. Tests can only tell you so much.

What I saw in my  minds eye is an old cartoon from the 70's where the hood of a car is up with the proverbial lady looking at the engine with the lovely figure -- the cartoon character whistles and then the lady with her head in the engine looks up and is the face of a cow with the cartoon character's jaw dropping down to the floor.

Beware judging beauty by measurements.  Measurements are certainly part of the equation and certainly there is more to beauty (and learning) that some discrete dimensions.  And that is the point.

Test scores are PART of the equation, but right now, we're focusing on getting just good test scores.  Good test scores just don't measure a good education: there is so much more.  In order to make things scalable, we are tempted to make things discrete and mass-measurable.  Certainly, this is understandable.  However, there must be more to education.

The limitations of a test-only education system have been debated and discussed ad nauseum and I'm not planning on adding to that.  I will tell you, however, that seeing students who can speak well in front of an audience, who can write a blog post well, upload photographs and produce video as easily as producing an essay are part of my definition of well-educated.  Someone who can debate and think and figure things out as well as study for and do well on a test.  Being able to do the measurable AND the more generalized bigger picture sorts of things are BOTH part of being educated.  But, how do you make that scalable?

Sometimes I think those arguing against learning styles, customization, and differentiation are those who do not see room for such things in a scalable environment. What about both? Once I had a younger relative who was bemoaning a certain teacher who only lectured and gave them tests all the time, I'll tell them,

"you know what - if you had only amazing teachers in every subject and every topic was interesting and they were so good you never had to study, then you wouldn't be ready for real life!  Real life is mundane and exciting!  Boring and Interesting!  Tedious and Unique! Get over it!"

ONLY A REASON
This is part of what life and education is. I think, however, when school becomes ONLY tedium and ONLY memorization and ONLY routine and ONLY lecture that we start seeing the huge drop out rates. Every student needs a REASON to want to come to school - they may find it in sports or an activity and truthfully, this is why I think the East Program in Arkansas has had such a resounding and measurable improvement on math and science scores! Here you have a program (in EAST) that is NOT teaching math and science but because the students are becoming engrossed in a project to improve something using technology - the kids want to come to school. They want to come to school and want to succeed and it spills over into everything else!

EAST is Eden?

Look at these projects they are doing in EAST! (Fighting underage drinking, planting trees, fighting childhood cancer, and supporting animal shelters just to name a few.)

We have their bodies in school but we do not have their minds.  We have their hands but their souls are outside running through sprinklers (to quote one of my favorite cartoons.)

Completely Educated
So, I'm saying this to point something out -- that we need to look at a complete education.  A WHOLE education.  Producing students that have the facts and information that they need to succeed along with the poise, confidence, technology skills, and cultural/ global savvy to thrive and compete in this complex world.  And that, we're not going to get with a test.

When I presented in Arkansas, I made the comment that having great test scores and saying you have a great education is like saying that my husband comes home every night and saying that statistic means I have a good marriage.  It is much more complex than that!

Taking Tests without Tests Taking Over
Now, all of this comes from me just prepping my ninth and tenth graders for the SAT.  My own children started taking the SAT in 7th grade and take it once a year each year.  It is a certain type of test that they have to learn to take so they can be ready for it - it is important for their future.  However, I wouldn't DREAM of having a semester long SAT prep course - there are more efficient meaningful ways to prep for that test that don't require such a time commitment!  However, to ignore the test is fatal if my son wants to go to Georgia Tech like Mom and Dad!  And yet, to ignore GPA and clubs and literary and sports is also harmful as he won't be well rounded.

AND
I just don't think this is an OR decision. We're not choosing Test OR something else to measure education - we're saying Test AND other measures.  Otherwise, give me the perfect measurements for your perfect beauty and then don't care what his/her face looks like and also ignore the fact whether they have a screechy voice or are such an annoyance that they make your life miserable! 

Measurements CANNOT define beauty and more than they can singly define education. How do you measure a beautiful mind?

As we discuss and push ahead we must realize that answers lie in the qualitative AND quantitative measures.  And we must grapple with the issues and struggles that come with keeping qualitative fair and at a high standard of excellence.
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Daily Spotlight on Education 03/16/2010




Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Daily Spotlight on Education 03/15/2010




Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Daily Spotlight on Education 03/12/2010




Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Daily Spotlight on Education 03/11/2010




Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

MI-Champions: A phenomenal mentoring program in Michigan and other ponderings at #MACUL10



Hello, my friends, I'm in Michigan this lovely evening and just had a delightful chat with my good friends Anne Truger, Hall Davidson, Steve Dembo, and Rushton Hurley - all fellow spotlight speakers here at MACUL 2010.  Attendance is up, which is delightfully great news - about 3,300 will be here tomorrow.

I enjoyed dining with Spotlight Speaker Chair, Ren Baldwin today at lunch as he discussed their Mi-champions Program. (See the video below.) The second class of graduates will be graduating at this conference (they have had 300 per "class") and the third cohort will begin.  The year begins and ends with the MACUL conference here in Michigan. 

The premise of the Mi-champions program is that teachers of core subjects who are novices at technology education apply to the program and are paired with a "coach." They have extra training in the summer and then coached and encouraged and mentored.  The attrition rate is very slow.  I WANT TO MEET SOME OF THESE MI-Champions tomorrow. So, if you happen to be here and read this blog, please introduce yourself.


Find more videos like this on MACUL Space

I'm so struck at how each state has a phenomenal "prize" or jewel - in New York where I was in January, there are some of the best 1:1 laptop practices I've seen and some amazing video conferencing work, in Arkansas, there is the incredible EAST program, and here they have MI-Champions.  I commented today to Ren that state technology programs are often so modest that they don't realize the prizes that they have and that other states need to hear about them!  It is important to share these best practices and help others learn - but how?

Somehow we have to strongly consider formalizing the documentation and submission process so that state organizations call also help be clearinghouses of information - whether spotlighting videos on their facebook page or creating videos where they need to happen - there have to be better ways for us to continue to share rather than the piecemeal way. (I love how Edutopia disseminates their information.)

It is an honor to be here at MACUL and truthfully I feel a huge sense of gratitude and responsibility. Gratitude for being able to do what I LOVE (teach and share) with educators.  The educators I've met here so far are so warm, genuine, and caring and just seem to love their students.  These types of educators are really every where I go -- just great people. It is an honor to be among you!  I also feel responsibility as I want to give my 100% best for everyone. Push push push to be better.  But eventually each night before I present at about 1 am in the morning, I push my chair back and say --

"You know what, Vicki, you just need to be Vicki Davis -- nothing fancy - just Vicki.  Give the presentation only you can give from your perspective.  Share as much as you can and realize that there are beginners to experts in the audience.  Just because it is old to you doesn't mean it is old to someone else.  Treat those in the audience as you want to be treated:  with love, respect, and gratitude for their attention and give 100% of your energy and strength to the presentation, realizing that if you push the thinking of those in the room, there will always be pushback - no one is ubiquitously loved by all, it just doesn't happen - but whether they like you or not is not the issue - are they a better person when they leave the room?"

So, this is what I want from presentations and you've gotten to hear my pep talk to myself.  Sure, I want to make sure they know about some of the latest things that have me pumped up (OAR FILES, Google Marketplace and other items) -- but what has me most pumped up is that maybe there is another beginner out there - like me at GAETC in 2005 who just needs to know that this can be done safely in ways that improve the classroom and that you don't have to be some walking code manual to be able to do it!

And with that, my friends, I will again give my spotlight presentations in the mirror until I'm so exhausted that I again read this speech back to myself and let myself go to sleep!  Goodnight my friends.

I also want to say thank you to all of you who have been commenting and sharing here on my blog lately.  For a while, I don't know if it was just a busy time for me and I didn't blog as much but it seemed like the main people commenting were spammers.  Many of you have taken time to teach me through your comments.  I read EVERY comment and try to comment on them all. I work very hard to try to keep spammers out and just want you to know that your comments touch and move me. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for blogging here at Cool Cat Teacher - for when you leave a comment, truly, you become part of what happens here on this blog.  Thank you!  And with that, I really will say goodnight!
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Daily Spotlight on Education 03/10/2010




Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Fail Forward, Move Forward



John Maxwell in his book Attitude 101 quotes a story from two artists David Bayles and Ted Orland about an art teacher who did an experiment with his grading system.

The ceramics teacher told the left half of the room that they would just be graded on the quantity of what they produced. If they had fifty pounds of pots on the last day, they'd get an "A," forty would get a "B" and so forth.

The right half of the room would be graded on "quality" and "needed to produce only one pot - albeit a perfect one - to get an "A."

An interesting thing happened when it was time to grade.  The HIGHEST QUALITY came from the HIGH QUANTITY side of the room.  The author tells it like this:

"It seems that while the 'quantity' group was busily churning out piles of work - and learning from their mistakes - the 'quality' group had sat theorizing about perfection, and in the end had little more to show for their efforts than gradiose theories and a pile of dead clay."

Ok, this is GREAT but is this what we do and encourage our students to do? Do we encourage FAILURE at anything?  Certainly we want students to MASTER subjects and to become good at them. However, perhaps there are certain subjects (i.e. movie making, art, creative artistry of all kinds and yes, even teaching) where we should encourage a quantity mentality.

John Maxwell goes on to say in his book,

"People naturally tend toward inertia. That's why self-improvement is such a struggle. But that's also the reason that adversity lies at the heart of every success. The process of achievement  comes through repeated failures and the constant struggle to climb to a higher level."

So, how does this fit in with yesterday's post about the dangers of minimalism.  (Where I am pushing myself to be careful about trying to do too much).  I guess as I have this ongoing dialog with myself over getting the most out of this beautiful life, this yang for yesterday's yin also comes to me.

Sometimes giving my MAXIMUM means falling on my face. It is OK to fail AS LONG AS I LEARN FROM IT.  And really, sometimes things crash and they do mess up. We worked with Wallwisher at the Flat Classroom conference - it was too many on one wall and it crashed in a mess! We made a mess. And yet, we learned from it.  We became better.

These are the teachable moments that we can learn from. Behind the scenes on Digiteen 10-1 (this means the first Digiteen project of 2010 - there will be 3 in total) - we had several issues that happened - and we said "Teachable moments" and turned them into a time to teach our students - some of who really didn't understand that IM speak is rude to those who speak English as a second language!

But the bumps and bruises of learning can leave one wishing that one would "arrive" that some place a nirvana would swirl from the mist where no mistakes happened and where we could stand forth as the master of our space.  Well, the answer is that it doesn't happen this way.

There is a great quote in the 2010 Horizon Report that we shared as we kicked off the 2010 NetGenEd project today with our classrooms around the world.

"In a 2007 report, the American Association of Colleges and Universities recommended strongly that emerging technologies be employed by students in order for them to gain experience in 'research, experimentation, problem-based learning, and other forms of creative work,' particularly in their chosen fields of study."

Emerging technologies give us room to learn, experiment, grow and also to fail.  When my students created the areas on Google Lively and then had Lively shut down underneath them and then had to start from scratch in ReactionGrid - some very deep learning happened.  The deepest learning perhaps I've ever seen in my classroom.  It was the failure that taught them so much and it was the desire to dust off and get back up that taught them even more.

Failure has a place in my classroom.  It is hard, it is painful sometimes and it is hugely humbling (particularly when I'm the one who has a super bad crash on the bleeding edge) however, it creates the richness of learning that makes a good technology centered classroom world-class.

Fail Often, Fail Forward.


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Daily Spotlight on Education 03/09/2010



  • eBooks are becoming more affordable and with devices like the Kindle, Nook, and soon to be released iPad, ebooks are becoming more practical (as well as environmentally friendly as they save paper.) This trend is predicted to move full scale into the college scene within the next 2-3 years. These are the links from the Horizon Report 2010 on this topic.

    tags: hz10, ebooks, education

  • Augmented Reality is enhancing the world around us by using electronic devices to create a reality that is supplemented (or "augmented") with additional information.

    Sometimes this is location based (using GPS) or uses QR Codes (with QR code readers) and most often with handheld devices making this truly possible.

    These links are from the Horizon Report 2010.

    tags: education, learning, hz10, augmentedreality

  • This listing of resources covers Visual Analysis. Visual analysis "blends highly advanced computational methods with sophisticated graphics engines to tap the extraordinary ability of humans to see patterns and structure in visuals."

    tags: education, learning, hz10, analytics

  • Students on the NetGenEd project will use list of tags that bookmark the latest news and information about mobile learning. This is also a great list (compiled from the Horizon Report 2010) for those who specialize in mobile learning.

    tags: education, hz10, mobile

  • Lots of resources from Tony Vincent. This page focuses on the many things you can do with an itouch in the classroom.

    tags: education, hz10, mobile, edu_trends, bestpractices

  • This video shows how to use itouch and google docs for a classroom. (I prefer polleverywhere for this.)

    This video demonstrates how to do this.

    tags: education, learning, itouch, hz10, mobile

  • If you think that cell phones can't improve math scores -- check again - read this report about a pilot where algebra problems were sent to smartphones. (So much for "leaving your homework at school.)

    "During the 2007-2008 school year, Wireless Reach began funding Project K-Nect, a pilot project in rural North Carolina where high school students received supplemental algebra problem sets on smartphones (the phones were provided by the project). The outcomes are promising -- classes using the smartphones have consistently achieved significantly higher proficiency rates on their end of course exams. So what's so different about delivering problem sets on a cell phone instead of a textbook? The first obvious answer is that the cell phone version is multi-media. The Project K-Nect problem sets begin with a Flash video visually demonstrating the problem -- you could theorize that this context prepares the student to understand the subsequent text-based problem better. You could also theorize that watching a Flash animation is more engaging (or just plain fun) and so more likely to keep students' attention."

    tags: education, hz10, mobile

  • Project K-Nect is designed to create a supplemental resource for secondary at-risk students to focus on increasing their math skills through a common and popular technology – mobile smartphones. Ninth graders in several public schools in the State of North Carolina received smartphones to access supplemental math content aligned with their teachers’ lesson plans and course objectives. Students communicate and collaborate with each other and access tutors outside of the school day to help them master math skills and knowledge.

    tags: hz10, mobile, education

  • Julie Lindsay and I are doing this working on 6/2/2010 12:30 pm -7:30 pm at ISTE. It will be a lot of fun and learning.

    tags: education, learning

  • HOrizon Report 2010 - an important document in ed-tech for both the collaborative methods used to create the document AND the implications of what is written. If you want to know where college education is going or needs to go (as K12 we should care about it also) - then this is an important document to read.

    We use this as one of the fuondational research pieces for the NetGenEd project with Don Tapscott.

    tags: education, netgened, edu_news


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