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Friday, July 31, 2009

Routinization of Novelty: Influencing Positive Change in Practical Ways

Yes, OK, I admit it, I"ve been taking a hiatus.  Blogging a little but not much - but this video from Bob Sprankle that he made for BLC09 is really something that snagged me back to reality!

My Summer Break Classroom
It reminded me of my classroom today.

Today I had a student come to the computer lab to work.  He wanted to work on enhancing his summer assignment and making it better.  Nothing funny about this until you realize that he wrote his own assignment based upon guidelines I gave him back in May AND that he finished the assignment the week school got out AND that school doesn't go back for another two weeks AND that he had his dad take him to the school and wait for 30 minutes until I could get dressed and get over there.

You see, this student called me at home and woke me up from my lazy seat in the recliner (the one day I gave myself off the whole summer, I might add) and BEGGED for me to open my classroom.

The picture at the end of Bob's video reminded me of that.  This student is building a world to help teach digital citizenship on Reactiongrid and he can't get enough of it and he was BEGGING to get in!

The thing I like about this video is that Bob Sprankle is a real classroom teacher (and one of my favorite podcasters.)  He's learning, teaching and doing -- but also speaking out and challenging us to be more.

The Quest for School Reinvention

None of us... I repeat... NONE OF US (especially me) have arrived at this new probable hybrid between traditional school and elearning, but those of us that are part of this quest - this journey to truly reinvent schools are highly motivated and energized in our careers and there are a lot of us here.  I think that there will be an increasing value on including people like Bob in professional development opportunities for teachers -- real practioners doing real things and sharing what they are doing.  While, this doesn't replace the experts (see Ben Grey's recent article mentioning experts) that are out there, it is a highly needed supplement to what we see at many conferences.

You go Bob -- you've got a dream and I do too - and there are a lot of us out there discontent with where we are -- let's keep what works from the past and add new things that work.

Making the Transformation Happen
You know, there is an expert on innovation that I just happened upon, Andrew Hargadon (actually related to Steve Hargadon and author of How Breakthroughs Happen: The Surprising Truth About How Companies Innovate) and he wrote an older blog post in 2007 about creativity and efficiency where he says:
"The big challenge in managing innovation lies, I would suggest, not in building up two very strong skills in innovation and in operations, but rather in building the bridge between them--of developing the people and processes that facilitate the routinization of novelty. Of turning good ideas into practical processes that the larger organization can value, adopt, implement, and manage."1  Andrew Hargadon
The Need to Routinize Novelty
OK, so this is where we lie right now in education, building the bridge that will help us routinize novelty.  Turning good ideas into practical processes to improve education that ALL of education can "value, adopt, implement and manage." 

 I read an amazing book this summer, Influencer: The Power to Change Anything which talks about their research on positive change as part of a new presentation I wrote called 21st Century Influencer for a group of technology directors.

In the book, Dr. Everett Rogers' research on change is discused and discovered that:
"the merit of an idea did not predict its adoption rate."2

This is why it took over 200 years for ship captains to actually starting USING the cure for scurvy that John Lancaster discovered in 1601 (and resulted in the English being called "limeys.")3 It took two hundred years and countless lives because the RIGHT person didn't pick up the cause!

So, in his research Rogers found that those who try early innovations are two types of people:  innovators and "early adopters" (opinion leaders.)  The book describes innovators as:

"tend(ing) to be open to new ideas and smarter than average... but the key to getting the majority of any population to adopt a vital behavior is to find out who these innovators are and avoid them like the plague.  If they embrace your new idea, it will surely die." (emphasis mine)

Any advocate won't do.   

Finding the RIGHT advocates for the practices that actually work is THE bridge to mass dissemination of positive innovation.

So, you can see this chart, I shared at the workshop this summer.  The key to promoting change at your school is to spend a disproportiate amount of time with two types of people:

1) Your people in authority
2) Your opinion leaders.

Now, this is interesting because, I think an opinion leader would vary.  For example, I may be an opinion leader in the edtech community, but at my school I may be the innovator. In fact, I would venture to say that this is the case for many edubloggers.  Our key in helping positive change happen will be in either: tapping into the power of the opinion leaders or BECOMING an opinion leader ourselves.

Sometimes, promoting change means having the humility to let others promote the change.  If you're an "innovator" as defined by Rogers -- you'll kill it by talking about it.  Now, the key is to BECOME an opinion leader ourselves, but this takes time!  It takes time in more ways than you may know!  On page 153 and 154 of Influencer, it outlines three characteristics of opinion leaders:4
  1. Knowledgeable
  2. Trustworthy
  3. Generous with their time
Now, if you want to learn more about this, you'll have to read  the book, but let me ask you who the busiest people are on campus!  Often they are the IT integrators.

Overloading our Potential for Change
By overloading IT, are we making it harder for them to develop the interpersonal relationships that they need to influence change?  By putting so much on their plate that they overpromise and underperform, are we making liars out of them who are just too overloaded to get to everyone and so do not have the trust of those who work with them?  Are we making them so busy as to make them technology killers instead of technology enablers?

Look at the research of 360 district-level tech coordinators cited in Dr. Scott McLeod's Presentation at NECC Overcoming the Challenges to Effective Technology Leadership in which he states some pretty alarming statistics:5
  • 30 percent of survey responders are the sole provider of tech support at their school district. They maintain the networks, provide desktop and software support, train staff, do budgeting and planning. In rural areas, it jumps to 57 percent.
  • Half of those surveyed were in their jobs four years or less. 
 "There's a fairly high amount of mobility and turnover within these positions. When I talk to Superintendents, one of the toughest things they say is how do you hold on to a good tech coordinator," McLeod says.
When he talks about it being partly a systemic problem, he is right.  This is called Structural Ability in Influencer.

Isolating our Potential for Change
And, one other structural ability point from Influencer that struck home with me is about propinquity.
Propinquity is " the property of being close together."

A study was conducted at Bell labs to determine who would collaborate and the best predictor was "the distance between their offices."6

This is precisely why David Loertscher is on to something with his Learning Commons idea:  he tackles this issue of propinquity head on.  Often, we put IT people in a tiny corner -- away from administrators... away from teachers.  By doing that,  

we are blocking the transmittal of innovation that happens naturally as part of informal relationships that occur with people who are located near each other.

David believes that libraries and computer labs need to work closely together -- so what is his solution?  PUT THEM TOGETHER.  His definition of Learning Commons says:

"we discover that two major functions are being accommodated simultaneously in the Commons.  The first is the Open Commons, and the second is the Experimental Learning Center.  Each is controlled by its own calendar of events but coexists in a busy real place while also extending into virtual space... it is a micro R&D center of testing, experimentation, and exhibition connected to a larger network of educational research and practice."7

As you can tell, I think his book,The New Learning Commons: Where Learners Win, is a total MUST read for school administrators, IT integrators, librarians, and computer lab facilitators.

If you put people together THEY WORK TOGETHER!  This is a clear implementation of the 6 method of influence discussed in Influencer called Structural Ability.

When working with change and technology we are dealing with two very disparate things.  Technology, which, when it works well is logical and people, which on our best days, have some logic and a whole lot of other baggage.

Adaptive Change
This is all about people but it is also about POSITIVE change, adaptive change.

Another excellent book, Change the Way You Lead Change: Leadership Strategies that REALLY Work, says:
"The pressures for change are real, but they cannot, and should not, be used as an excuse for careening from one change to another, no matter how sound the new direction seems to be in the abstract.  We do not live in the abstract.  Adaptation to new realities requires change, but not all change will get you there.  What to change, how to change it, when to change it, and what cost are all critically important considerations...

Leaders are responsible for assessing environmental conditions, assessing organizational realities and capabilities, and carefully choosing a change path and am implementation process that is likely to be adapting rather than just disruptive and painful."7

Checklist for Practical Change NOW!
These are things that we all struggle with, so here are some practical thoughts to ask yourself:
  • How close are the people located who need to work together as it relates to technology?
  • Is your IT job description a lose-lose for everyone and do you have a high turnover in that job?
  • Should you consider Learning Commons as you create your strategic plan?
  • Are you harnessing both your authority leaders AND your opinion leaders as it relates to change -- are you spending time with them?
  • How can you become an opinion leader? Are you knowledgeable, trustworthy, and do you spend time helping people?  
  • If you "hate people" can you at least read the perennial How to Win Friends & Influence People for painless ways to understand how you can work with people without being fake! 
  • Be careful of blaming people when you're struggling with change and look at systemic and social structures also - get a copy of Influencer: The Power to Change Anything and learn about change.

Remember that it isn't about the technology- it is about what the technology lets us DO!

It also isn't about change for the sake of change - it is about keeping what works and improving what doesn't!

Most of all... don't just talk about it, take action in ways that produce positive results.

"Workaholics are addicted to activity; superachievers are committed to results. They work towards goals that contribute to their mission.  In their mind's eye they see the end they want and the actions leading to it." Charles A. Garfield, Peak Performers

Resources Used:
 1Hargadon, Andrew, "Creative Efficiency or Efficient Creativity?" (http://andrewhargadon.typepad.com/my_weblog/on_managing_innovation/).

2Everett Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations, 3rd ed. (New York: Free Press, 1983).

3Don Berwick, "Disseminating Innovation in Health Care," JAMA(2003): 1969-1975.

4Patterson, Kerry and Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler, Influencer: The Power to Change Anything (USA: McGraw-Hill, 2009): 153-154.

5Robert Kraut and Carmen Egido, and Jolene Galegher, Patterns of Contact and Communication in Scientific Research Collaboration (New York: ACM Press, 1988).

6 Loertscher, David V., Carole Koechlin, and Sandi Zwann. The New Learning Commons. Salt Lake City: Hi Willow Research and Publishing, 2008. Print. 

7Herold, David M. and Donald B. Fedor. Change the Way You Lead Change. 1. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2008. Print. 

------Dedication ---

This post is dedicated to my amazing husband, Kip Davis, on our anniversary (today.)  Without his support and vision for my blogging back when everyone thought blogging was a disease, I wouldn't be Cool Cat Teacher and allowed to share these thoughts that are shut up in my bones and have to come out.  I love you with all my heart, Kip, and am thankful for the 16 start we have on our marraige - I'm still in love with the greatest man on the planet, thank you Kip for being my inspiration and heartbeat and I promise I won't quit until I get that first book published, thank you for doing such a great job with the kids while I was at NECC!

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Daily Spotlight on Education 07/31/2009

  • Wikispaces is hosting a free webinar. THe email to me today says:

    "Wikispaces Education Webinar: Join us on August 6 for our Education
    Webinar. We'll focus on features that teachers have found useful in
    their classrooms and hear from Nicole Naditz, a French educator and
    foreign language pedagogy trainer. Nicole has used wikis in her French
    classrooms and as resource pools for her colleagues. Join us as she
    shares her wikis including an e-pal exchange and a solar power project
    with a school in Burkina Faso."

    tags: education, wiki, learning, edu_news, bestpractices

  • Learn central is doing some cool things (created by Elluminate) and although the interface is currently sort of spartan - there are some very powerful features in the group scheduling and room capabilities that we're planning to use, at first with our teachers, but eventually with students.

    This is a copy of the wiki grading rubric from last year's flat classroom project.

    tags: education, learning, flatclassroom

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

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Daily Spotlight on Education 07/30/2009

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

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Daily Spotlight on Education 07/28/2009

  • This website is a companion to David Loertscher, Carol Koechlin, and Sandi Zwaan's must read book The New Learning Commons: Where Learners Win! about the transformation of libraries into the learning commons. David is a true visionary who I personally respect immensely and was so delighted he gave me this book at NECC when we happened to bump into each other at NECC.

    tags: education, learning, tools

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

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Daily Spotlight on Education 07/25/2009

  • Great post by Ben Grey on his participation in Constructing Modern knowledge - he hits several things including the fact that many at the conference said that computer programming should be mandatory for all students and a presenter who said that the problem with today is that too many people have a voice.

    My comments from Ben's blog are below. Great conversations happening here!

    Programming -
    OK, on the programming thing, here are my thoughts.

    In our curriculum our objective is not as much a specific LANGUAGE. One year I may use HTML with Javascript, this past year I used LSL — what I want kids to know that when they encounter programming and coding that there are certain conventions. Some are case sensitive, some are not. How do you find out how to add to what you know about programming? Do you know where to go to find prewritten code? Can you hack it to make it work to do what you want it to do?

    We spend about a week – two weeks but I require they know how to handcode hyperlinks and images – they are just too important.

    But to take 12 weeks or 6 weeks to learn a whole language – yes maybe some value – but to me the value is HOW is the language constructed or built. What are the conventions and how do I educate myself if I am interested in pursuing. What comes out of this time is kids who say either “I never want to do that” or “this is really cool, I love coding.”

    They are doing very simplistic work (although the LSL object languages were pretty advanced) but since we don’t have a full course nor time in our curriculum, I do see this as an essential part of what I teach.

    I’m not teaching it for the language sake but for the sake of understanding the whole body of how languages work – we talk about the different languages and what they are used for as part of Intro to Computer science and have an immersive experience.

    To me, this is somewhat a comprimise between leaving it out entirely or forcing everyone to take 12 weeks of it. I just don’t know where 12 weeks would go in the curriculum.

    I’ve seen ki

    tags: education, learning, constructivism, edu_trends

  • Use this website to create, read, and share digital books and build reading skills in students. The books you build will be universally designed and accessible -- elementary teachers should be all over this super cool resource.

    tags: education, learning, tool, web2, edu_newapp

  • My new friend at CAST (and UDL expert) shared this cool resource with me called bookbuilder. This is a link to a presentation and a podcast can be found at - http://www.cyberears.com/cybrss/6373.mp3 about how bookbuilder can be used as a product or tool used students to demonstrate their content knowledge.

    I love how each student can have comments or information they post on their slides about a topic. This is very very cool and accessible to all! This presentation demonstrates what can be done and I can't wait to work with the back end!

    tags: education, learning, tool, web2, edu_newapp

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

Friday, July 24, 2009

Daily Spotlight on Education 07/24/2009

  • I love how tweetmeme lets me track this - my all time most tweeted blog post is this one from this past April about my favorite apps and tools. It is also the single longest blog post I've written in terms of time - topping about 10 hours of work!

    tags: education, learning, tools, technology, edu_newapp

  • Those who have panicked that their Twitter followers have dropped - don't be paranoid! The twitter spammers have again taken the axe. Twitter self corrects about every 90 days and you'll get used to it.

    The fact is that Twitter is for meaningful, authentic communication - albeit short and if you do that, it can be a fun, and useful part of your personal learning network. It is unique to you and how you want to do it! Remember that it is not about the followers although you'll have people direct message you that you can somehow buy 200 or even 500 followers a day -- like that will enrich your life! Come on -- twitter is great and it is not about how many people follow YOU anyway - if you get tied up in that too much then you're probably really there for just selfish reasons anyway. Enjoy and have fun!

    tags: education, learning, twitter

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

Your Professionalism as a Teacher: The Hope Diamond in Your Pocket

The Hope Diamond on display at the National Mu...Image via Wikipedia
I am a heavy sleeper.  As soon as my head hits the pillow, I'm gone.  That is, except during the three weeks before school starts. It is now almost 2 am in the morning here on the East Coast of the USA and I'm wide awake, thinking of all of the things I've got to do... the five projectors that aren't installed YET, the 4 computers that need to be put in service, the countless userids that need to be set up, the patches on the server, my lesson plans -- just so much!

And I'm still excited about all the cool technologies I've learned about this summer (particularly the evolution of the hyperlink:  the hardlink) and opportunities Julie and I've been working on for Flat Classroom(tm).

But, it still remains that I was up until 4 am last night and woke up at 7:30 am this morning and here it is almost 2 am and I'm still up.

Awaiting marriage
I liken this insomnia to that I had in the days prior to when I got married.  I was excited, worried, had so much to do, and filled with anticipation but still stressed.

It will happen and pull together... it always does.

I really want people to understand what it is like to be a teacher. 

Teaching isn't like any other job I've had -- it is a life calling and all-consuming. 

You don't have the teaching profession - it definitely has you.  Interestingly, when I talk to teachers who move to another profession, they usually say, "I got out of teaching."  Other people change jobs or change careers - but why is it that teachers say "I got out of the classroom" or "I got out of teaching?"

 I love the students and love what I do.  And yet, every year, before it all starts, I count the cost.  I find myself asking myself, "How many more years can I do this?"  "Will I hold up?"  "Can I make it?"  Things I ask myself while running but that I never asked myself until I started teaching, even when I was a high powered General Manager at a cell phone company.  I never used to wake up and ask myself, "will I hold up?"  I just went to work and did my job.

Good teachers know that good teaching comes at a price.  Good teachers also know that it is worth every cell of our body that is shed a little early. 

I dream of a day where society truly understands what it means to be a teacher and where every teacher remembers what it means to be a teacher!
Now, being a great administrator is also a calling as in so many other careers.  Every person I know has a "bad teacher" story.  How many have a "good teacher" story?  Parents commiserate over the water cooler about how the teachers can't make little Johnny mind just to go home and let little Johnny get away with, guess what, not minding!

There is a double standard that comes with teaching.  A certain way we have to act.  Here in the US, as my friend Dr. Scott McLeod tells me, teachers literally have a higher standard of behavior and if we do anything that detracts from the learning environment - no matter what it is, we can be  fired for it!

Some people say that the solution to getting more qualified people teaching is to pay more money.  Sure, who doesn't want more money.  And yet, to me, money is something, but here in the state of Georgia I know so many people vying to get into public education because the pay is now almost twice what many private school teachers make! 

Pay a dog catcher a million dollars, and he's still a dog catcher, although a highly paid one.  But, pay a good teacher nothing, and you've still got royalty!  There is a nobility in teaching that truly transcends money.   (Still, I'm not saying teachers don't deserve more - but get my point here!)

There is a nobility in good teaching that I think I and my colleague teachers often forget.  There is something about knowing that the very course of a young life will change as a result of being in my classroom and I pray it will be for the positive.  That some granule of learning will be retained and go on to bless the world in future centuries as a result of who I was to a student (or to you, my readers for that matter) is something I hang on to.

  • Do we as teachers act like teaching is a noble calling?
  • Do we see how important our job is?
  • Do we truly understand that the very future of society itself is very much a product of the classroom environments we create and the love, respect, and caring we show our students?
Teachers are tremendously important.

So many teachers say, "Well, I get it, but I'm not treated like I'm important and they hang their heads."

Look at it this way.  You could be the holder of a great treasure in your pocket - the Hope Diamond.  You've got this diamond in your pocket walking down the street and someone tosses out a pail of nasty gutter water on you.  You're wet - but that doesn't diminish the fact that you've got an infinitely valuable, priceless diamond in your pocket.  You can walk past a group of carousing teenagers who call you surly names and laugh at you for being old -- and yet your fingers still curl around that diamond knowing it is there.  You can even get punched, for goodness sakes, but if you keep your hand tightly around that diamond, you've still got it in your possession.  You are rich and should you decide to, you can truly get that diamond out and enjoy it and share it with others.

Terrible, awful, indignities happen to teachers (and other educators) every single day.  But not one thing can happen to you that can take away the fact that you have a priceless fortune in the form of your called profession.  You, my friend, are nobility.

Now, picture this.  If I get mad at the person who threw moldy rainwater, or the surly kids, or the person who abused me and grab that diamond in my pocket and decide I'm going to get even - I can hurl that diamond at those who condemn and are unkind to me.  I can throw away my diamond and lose it forever.

Unkindnesses come with the streets of life and especially the desks of our classroom!

When we respond in ways that are unprofessional, are unkind, and not becoming to what we possess - we can very possibly throw away the most valuable thing to us -- the nobility of our calling.  Again, we see this on the news, the teachers who is unprofessional, unethical, or promiscuous, who some say tarnish the rest of us.  But just because they threw their Hope Diamond away, doesn't take yours away!

If you're a good teacher, you've got your professionalism as a teacher as part of who you are.  It is in you, around you, and exudes from every pore... if you are a good teacher.  You are rich.  Your calling is noble and you will remain rich as long as you rise above, and keep your treasure.

The most sacred treasure of a teacher is one's professionalism: the gleaming, shiny, sparkling Hope Diamond that no one, no circumstance, and nothing in this world can take away from you but only you can relinquish in the the heat of bad decision, perhaps irretrievably.

Your Hope Diamond is yours

As this temporarily insomniatic  teacher sits her in her easy chair in the den listening to the air conditioner hum and my husband snore, I am encouraged by the visual of holding my own professionalism in my hand - and picturing that professionalism as a Hope diamond.  And when I have the tough days that come, as they will, my goal and dream is to never ever throw the essence of who I am away and to remember that ...

Teaching is the most noble calling on earth.

Act Like it!  Live Like It!  Remember It!

You've got one Hope Diamond -- keep it!
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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Helping Students Navigating the Torrents of Change

Share photos on twitter with TwitpicThis past week in the mountains we went rafting twice:  once down the Nantahala (class I, II, and III rapids) and once down a more mellow river with just class I and II with an outfit that specializes in rafting with kids.

Training them Well
We did this for a reason, the first trip was to remind the kids of the rafting and steering principles that they had forgotten from last summer, with an experienced guide (either an "official guide" or my husband who is a great guide as well.)  This way the kids had brushed up on the technique.

Setting Them Free (sort of)
Then, we went down the other river (I think it is spelled Tugaseekee) because kids who are 9 and up have the choice of going down in an individual self-bailing ducky.  We gave the kids a choice and all but one chose the ducky. My 7 year old went down with me in a 2 person ducky.

Now, some would call us parents crazy - including the beginning rafter adults with us who were scared to death.  But our kids have been down every summer since they were 7.  They were ready and they believed they were ready.  They were equipped with life vests and were in charge of their own boat.

Was there some danger?
Sure, any time you're on a river, there is danger. Of course!  (There is also danger when you're riding in the car or crossing the street.)

But, I always think back on Dr. Paul Brand, one of my life heroes, the man who discovered the cure (or at least the cause of leprosy) - when he was in India, he let his kids climb trees and said that it was an acceptable risk for raising independent children.

Acceptable Risk
So, for us, they were ready and we were ready.  We kept watchful eyes, but as we went down the rapids, the kids were amazing!  NONE Of them got stuck.

Unacceptable Risk
The kids were in stark contrast to some beginners that were much older (about my age in their 40's.)  These beginners had never been on a raft on a river in their life and they told us they had decided it would be easier to learn without someone telling them what to do!  Were they insane? (Does that remind you of any people you know? I for one prefer to stand on the shoulders of giants and learn from those who have done it or share if I know something to help another!)

Well, what happened was that one of the "beginner boats" hit the first rapid, got scared -  and the two inhabitants threw their paddles at least 20 feet as they threw their hands up, stopped paddling and started screaming for help.  They didn't realize that in the midst of a rapid that was the worst thing they could do and so they ended up going down sideways and falling out!  So, one of the kids actually ended up rescuing a screaming, half panicked 40 year old woman!  (Think how many times something like this happens on the Internet!)

Navigating the Rapid Torrent of Internet Change
 So from this, I take a couple of tips for navigating this torrent of change we call the Internet.

1- Find good guides
Yes, I advocate jumping in and learning things for yourself, however, you learn as part of your own personal development time and as you link up with coaches or guides.  There are many people out here who are blazing the trail and can give you tips for navigating the sometimes treacherous waters of the Internet.  Follow them in your RSS reader, on twitter, and befriend them in mutually beneficial relationships.

2- Learn the tactics for safe navigation
Any time you're on the Internet there is an inherent danger and you should know how to navigate.  There are certain principles for keeping safe.

3- Facilitate eventual independent digital citizens
But, I'll tell you this.  As we got out of the water and each of the children carried their boat up to shore, there was a certain pride.  In fact, it was a tremendous pride -- they had done it and NONE, not one of them had fallen in or needed help the whole 2 hour trip down the river!  They experienced something that they never would have experienced had we continued to keep them in our boat.  (And with their little skinny derrieres they didn't get stuck either!)

They had been prepared with at least 3 years of rafting experience - at least 6 times rafting each.  They knew the rules,  had a healthy respect for the power and danger of the river, knew the safety guidelines (like how to pull a 180 pound woman into the boat even though you weigh barely 100), and how to steer their boat.  We had one nine year old, two ten year olds, a thirteen year old and fourteen year old who aced the river on their own.  The pride of navigating safely and also the knowledge from us parents that our children are now safer -- they are safer because they know they can do it and when they are caught in a rapid, they will not throw up their paddles and panic (the worst thing you can do) and possibly drown!

And this is what I want for my children (and my students) before they leave my classroom in the tenth grade.  I want them to:
  • know the rules, 
  • have a healthy respect for the power and danger of the Internet,
  • know the safety guidelines and 
  • how to be technically competent with whatever they tool they meet.
And this happens through a process.  A process of sharing and teaching from me, first in super safe "locked down" environments but progressively taking them to a place were they are navigating on their own.

Sure, it is scary.  Sure, some will criticize, however, I believe it is the only way to have self-confident, safe, effective users of this new world that has emerged via the bits and bytes that connect us.

Get Past the Walls that Bind
We have got to come to grips with how to take children from walled gardens to a point where they can safely operate in public places before they graduate from high school

Face facts!  They are navigating these waters on their own, with no guide, and little supervision -- let's help them succeed, and be safe and do it in ways that give them the sense of pride knowing that they have the ability to make it through the rapid torrent of change we now call society.

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Daily Spotlight on Education 07/23/2009

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

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Daily Spotlight on Education 07/22/2009

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

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Getting Ready to Start the School Year: Tips and Tricks to Get You Going

I've been in mega-recovery mode after NECC and just returning from vacation. (I need a vacation to recover from my vacation.)  We rafted, duckied, hiked, picnic'ed, shopped, cooked and ate quite a bit all while hanging out with 14 of our closest family members - -it was great! Always the highlight of my year.

Am getting ready to get back in the blogging swing, but was just reviewing my notes to myself on starting out the school year and my routines -- for the newcomers to my blog - thought you might want to see these.

Starting the School Year off Right: Part 1 -- Set the Pace
Starting the School Year off Right: Part 2 -- Establish the Flow
Starting the School Year off Right: Part 3 -- Create the Plan

Am spending quite a bit of time on this as well as working on projects and also trying to get this book I've been working on for 2 years now to print.

Have so much to share - hope this gets you started as our beautiful summer is waning. Enjoy every moment and remember -- get ready and prepare. A few days of solitude in your classroom over the summer can make a huge difference in your year!

Daily Spotlight on Education 07/21/2009

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

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Daily Spotlight on Education 07/16/2009

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

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I wish I could grab the sun cresting over the hazy mountains,
and pick it like an orange
and squeeze into your mind the juicy words
that could let you feel what is like to be part of this day.

To experience what it means to be alive
to thrive
as the day inhales the mist
and exhales sunshine into my soul.

For sometimes to truly feel alive,
I must be a human being
and not just a human doing
tethered to the invisible and visible cords and ties
that catch me in the Web from which I cannot untie.

It is when I break the tendrils of containment,
the Net that binds,
that I again become real
and life becomes whole again.

Squeezing down my scalp the juice of life
embodied in river water.
Trickling down my spine, the tart and tangy water of life
as I hike deep in the woods to find
hidden waterfalls covered with lichens and teardrops of joy.

These things, these waters, ferns, wood spiders and zest,
they are always here
hidden away and forgotten through their disconnectedness with the Net of Life
and yet, more firmly entwined in the web of living than the most connected tweeter on the planet.
Their tweets are from the birds and they don't have blogs
only logs where you can think
and webs that entangle straying insects.

This is living
and should one become so entangled in their online life
that they cannot leave it behind for a moment,
to become part of the real web of life, the mist of the morning,
then I would say that they are missing out on the most important tweet of all:

the electric realization directly tweeted into the cerebral cortex of your mind
when you awaken and realize that
you are truly alive and that life means something
whether or not you have followers, friends, readers, or commenters
that it is OK and you are you and life is good
and that the King of the Universe has a plan in which you can play a small part.

Should I be able to grab the sun cresting over these hazy mountains
and pick it like an orange
and squeeze into your mind the juicy words
that could let you feel what it like to be part of this day
this is what I would say.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Learning at NECC And Beyond

"Enjoy it, drink it in, it's not going to last
enjoy it,drink it in, it's not going to last!"

My neice repeated over and over as Sue Waters, Julie Lindsay, I, and my 3 kids, 4 nieces and nephews and extended family were watching the grand Camilla fireworks on July 4th.  We'd laugh - just when we thought it was the finale - another finale would start -- we had at least 3 and laughed and laughed.

Well, now I'm in Las Vegas, just having spent time with some amazing IT Directors from Edison Learning and I haven't had time to blog and tell you about all the things I learned at NECC from so many of you as well as the experiences.

Really, it was sort of this drink it in phenomenon that caused me to not have time to blog.  For me, NECC is about getting to see so many of you face to face that I respect and admire - I wanted to drink in your knowledge and learning - knowing that soon I'll be an island again.  Additionally, there was business to do - meaning, that we had to work on Flat Classroom projects for the next year to bring together so many of you who are doing things and want to help with these projects. 

Some say NECC is about the conversations -- and surely that is part of it. But to me conversations implies just talk and I was raised to ACT (as the daughter of a farmer.)

So, my challenge is to all of you who went to NECC or attended from afar -- what are you doing to DO about it?

I always like to keep my big 3 - or the next 3 things I want to learn about and learn how to do!  For me, I wanted to play with Microsoft Surface as a big item - and have a great video I'm going to share with you when I get back.  I think that Microsoft is sitting on an incredible gold mine of learning potential in this device and hope and wish they will harness the networking ability of someone like Alfred Thompson, my favorite Microsoft Blogger, to understand and implement such an amazing technology with schools that need it so badly.

I wanted to talk to Bernajean Porter to work on the upcoming Eracism project (a middle school debate project that was invented by our students at the Flat Classroom conference this past year.)  Julie and I had to work on the conference, and unfortunately also ended up having to work with my lawyer on a horrible case of plaigarism that came up at NECC where a significant portion of our work was copied without permission into a book coming out in August!

Then, Sue Waters and Julie Lindsay came over and I wanted to drink in the learning (and the work in the case of Julie and I) and spend time really getting to know and understand them.  If I had it to do now, actually, I'd likely use Edublogs - mostly because Sue Waters is the support but also because of the amazing hacks they've put on the wordpress platform that let you embed all sorts of things into your edublog.  You know you can't duplicate face to face.

Was listening to a football player who is trying to make a comeback (someone jog my memory on the name) and wanted permission to tweet from the locker room at halftime.  My thought was -- "Get your head in the game and focus on what is in front of you."

And that, to me, is a message I have for myself.

You see, at the last session, when I was completely worn out, we had a backchannel and put it up on the screen for others to see.  While I'm not really a fan of doing it that way, I was asked to do it as part of my role on the panel and was so happy to oblige.  Well, there were a couple in the audience who just weren't having it - when the floor was opened for questions, I was accused of paying attention to the backchannel and not the other panelists!  And this was a good point.

Really, I think the backchannel moderator doesn't belong on the panel and in retrospect, we'll do it differently next time.  But I did have a job to do and did moderate as best as I could to help the conversation go.

So, now I've got to board and go to Atlanta -- and if I keep blogging right now when I should be boarding - I'll miss my flight.

And that, my friends, is my point.  Do what is appropriate for your current context.  If you have someone amazing face to face -- look them in the eye and spend time with them.  If you have a flight to board, board it.

And if you have fireworks in front of you, drink it in, they're not going to last.

So, right now, I'm jumping on a plane to head home to my family and GO OFF THE GRID.  I love you, my dear readers and haven't spent enough time talking to you lately -- but it was about context.  With Sue Waters and Julie Lindsay around the corner - I needed to pay attention to them.

So, my question to you is just one of focus.  Focusing on the right thing at the right time.  OK, time to shut down this computer and catch that flight.  I may be offline for the next 2 weeks, but know I'll come back better and stronger --

Gotta drink this life in... it is not going to last.  Remember it and use the appropriate technology for the moment you find yourself in right now.  Technology used well should bring us together, not drive us apart.

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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Daily Spotlight on Education 07/08/2009

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

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Daily Spotlight on Education 07/07/2009

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

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Daily Spotlight on Education 07/05/2009

  • Larry Magid writes about his view on NECC in the San Jose Mercury News, and in particular the use of the backchannel at the Web 2.0 session with Steve Hargadon.

  • "There is a problem with energy literacy" says Chevron CEO, David O'Reilly, in Thomas Friedman's Hot Flat and Crowded - Julie and I are working to incorporate energy and environment into our next Flat Classroom mini-conference in Februray and we turned up this energy literacy nonprofit. This is fascinating. 
    This is just one resource we reviewed and is not the BASIS for our project, just one resource we reviewed, so please do not view this bookmark as an endorsement of this or any other project, just as a place to share resources.  We'll let you know the official basis of our project when the time comes!
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Daily Spotlight on Education 07/03/2009

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

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Daily Spotlight on Education 07/02/2009

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

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Cover It live Games & Simulation Planning- Bernie Dodge and others

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