Thursday, September 27, 2007

standing at the edge of a blog

When I score free shirts from a conference, I always feel full of product and cotton. And with every new app I find and use, I feel myself filling up with potential and passwords.

But the more and more I blog, I find myself feeling a bit icky and insecure. Every post I create and every post I read from other bloggers leaves me feeling a bit confused about my place and purpose.

I am learning to blog like some people learn how to swim: reticent, toe-swishing, and tentative; standing at the edge of the pool posing more questions of doubt than affirmations of confidence.

I wonder:

Can I post more than one comment on one post?

Is comment-based conversation between blogger and commenter permitted in a blog?

Does finding an error in a comment I just posted and then submitting a revision allowed?

What if the revision does not replace the first comment, but shows up in near-duplicate fashion?

How do you deftly promote your blog without coming off as self-promoting?

Then there are other questions:

Do blog headlines follow the headline rules for journalism?

How important are hyperlinks in a blog post?

Is a blogger's authority on any topic determined by the number of hyperlinks included?

Does a blog URL heighten importance or professionalism: vs.

And one more:

Why the hell are the voices out in front of tech integration in education so far removed from actual classroom teaching?

keep teachers out of the pool

The simple premise: Create a product that focuses on the day in the life of a Classrooms for the Future Coach. Work with the members of your Intermediate Unit.

The IU-23 glitch: Being the largest IU, we were required to split into two groups.

The IU-23 solution: Team up by gender.

The result for the men:

The result for the women will be added here shortly, but I'm just so gosh-darn curious to post what my group created.

learning shoud be fun...right?

blogging question: can a blogger comment on someone's blog and then turn around and use that comment as an original post is his blog?

Or is that self-plagiarizing?

Damn the answer and full posting ahead!

Taylor states that, when it comes to learning technology:

the “technology leaders” are going to have to let us play with the technology. Learning is fun. If the leaders of the technology “inservices” hadn’t forgotten that, maybe the teachers would want to learn. Hell, even the kids might like it.
And she writes this in response to my previous post. So now I'd like to present my comment, placed on her blog (which you should read):

Point of clarification (I feel so Grand Jury-ish whenever I state that phrase!):

I don’t have a problem with the fact that 70% of posts by teachers in an on-line chat room were off-topic; in fact, I’ve spent 13 years in a classroom where I found myself, the teacher!, going off-topic (the horror! please don’t tell my administrators).

And I agree with you that we are no longer setting or upholding a firm agenda and that students, regardless of age, learn in different and varied ways. In fact, as educators, it is our job to celebrate and encourage varied forms of learning.

I was an off-task student. And posting this comment right now is off-task to the meeting I am attending (but it’s not off task to my learning style!).

What bothered me about The Day After Warlick was the chiding by the rep from PA’s Dept. of Ed. She claimed we were unprofessional. She stated we should be the “leaders” of appropriate and ethical behavior. She railed against us by comparing us to a group from the previous week that kept the same chat directly linked to the presentation.

What I found amusing was that when I began to reflect on the presentation and our next-day reprimand, I realized I had engaged in a lot of thoughtful reflection and processing about Mr. Warlick’s message (even before PDE expressed disappointment in us).

Additionally, I began to reflect on the ‘how’ and ‘why’ we are using tech tools. I’m no ’sage on a stage’; if anything, I’m more of a ’sage against the machine’, but I surely would not release students in a classroom environment w/out allowing them to develop a list of appropriate behaviors.

Or…better yet and perhaps more to the point of my post…if Mr. Warlick and PDE wanted experimentation for its sake alone, then, well, perhaps the day-after diatribe was a cheap, Tommy Boy 2×4 slap in the face. I would never do that to my students, or my teachers.

If I want them to play in the sandbox, then I have to expect that some of them are going to get dirty, throw sand, and even kick over a castle or two. The joy of the sandbox is when some of the kids create, share, explore, and collaborate in a meaningful way; especially those that entered with a ‘this-is-a-waste-of-my-time’ attitude.

I love playing w/ technology. I run workshop after workshop after bleepin’ workshop and play, play, play all day I say…

But then I ask teachers to reflect on the how, why, and where these tools may fit into their classes.

They pause. They consider. They think about their diverse student population.

And when they do that, I know they’re ready to move from play to apply.

And if they’re really good teachers, their application will come off as play. Their students will play, but damn, they’ll really start learning in ways that matter.

Thanks for making me think.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

teachers caught in the act

DATELINE: Harrisburg, PA
Early Monday evening at the Harrisubrg Hilton, 200 teachers engaged in off-task behavior during a multi-media presentation by internationally recognized tech-ed guru, David Warlick.

At the beginning of the presentation, Mr. Warlick invited the Classrooms for the Future Coaches to engage in a real-time discussion using a tool called AjaxChat. From the beginning, the dialog was mired in innocuous and trivial matters that strayed far from the presentation topic. By the end of the hour long presentation, over 1000 messages had been posted.

After analyzing the entries, Mr. Warlick reported early Tuesday morning that only 300 posts pertained to the topic while an astounding 700+ posts were meaningless to the purpose of the gathering.

Mr. Warlick noted that one person was responsible for over 200 of the 1000 posts and not one of those entries had any relevance to education, technology, or integration.

So 200 teachers in Pennsylvania were reprimanded for not using the AjaxChat in an educationally appropriate manner. In truth, I added to the off-task behavior, but this is not surprising for anyone that knows me. In elementary school, I more often than not watched from inside my classroom as my peers enjoyed recess.

But here's my problem with last night, as interesting, informative, and thought-provoking as David Warlick's presentation was: it missed the front-loading of appropriate on-line behavior that is CRUCIAL for students, regardless of age.

I am not trying to excuse the posts, but I will state that the AjaxChatter afforded all of us the much-needed opportunity to reflect on how we will integrate a new tool for learning.

I have had CFF teachers want to use a wiki. They believe it will be a great tool. They sign-up, set-up, and invite their students in with Enthusiasm2.0. And a day later, I receive an email that says the following:

"I am upset that a student posted a picture that is inappropriate. What else can a student do on this space that I won't like?"

My answer: A lot!

But then I tell teachers that they missed an important step. In their desire to use new tools for learning, they over-looked the same activity that accompanies their first day of class: rules, procedures, and expectations.

However, we are accountable for those students. We are responsible for teachers that implement without laying down the foundation for ethical and social responsibility in a web2.0 environment.

And we sure need to take a long look in the mirror, for we are the Coaches and the models, but as Mr. Warlick forgot, teachers sure are bad students.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Words vs. Numbers

224 = Today. Tomorrow. Forever.

WOMBAT = waste of money, brains, and time

WOMBAT + 224 = x

Where we hope x does not equal the current state of education.

A teacherly play

The Scene:
A large ballroom, classic middle-american design; beige & taupe colors permeate the walls, the neurotic carpeting, and even the seat cushions. Eight person tables cover the landscape, each filled with more than the recommended seating size. The people are educators from all over Pennsylvania, converted from the classroom into miracle workers. They all have computers out; loaded, charged, ready to surf at a moment's notice.

The Player:
Ken - a Classrooms for the Future coach with a hint of ADD, evident by his new-found use of AjaxChat and a massive inability to stay focused in large group settings. He is at an uncomfortable age; parent, husband, and questioner. He asks large questions about technology, education, and effectiveness. He is mired in questions, drowning in them and he can share them in impromptu fashion.

The Questions:
  1. What does a classroom look like today?
  2. What does an effective teacher look like today?
  3. Are there any more non-negotiables in a classroom?
  4. What does creativity look like and why is it so valuable?
Curtain rises. Enter stage left. Dim the lights. Spotlight on...?

Friday, September 21, 2007

keeping a theme alive

Who are you most like in this wonderfully large chunk of space called Panblogea?

If ever a test existed that accurately captured my current ire and irascibility, this is it!

Thanks to yet another mysterious blogger afraid of self-identification for tuning me in to this test. Although, in reality, I stumbled upon her blog so giving her credit for showing me the way is a mild fallacy. Actually, I finally found this blog after clicking around from blog to blog.

6 Blogs of to speak.

Take the test here. And perhaps, like me,

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Q: How do you determine your level of popularity on Twitter?


you blog AND you leave me feeling slighly perturbed

We are all making this up as we go along.

Whoever posts first, wins, right? If I uncover a new app because of someone else's post about said app, I am supposed to give credit to that person. As if he is suddenly Ponce de Leon, a pioneer. And for what? For sharing with a small audience something he most assuredly uncovered from someone else's blog?

What the *#%K is going on here? Am I suddenly back in middle school? Is it really such a source of pride and joy to state that you shared an app before others?

Oh, nice new shoes, Ken. I had those. Anyhow, enjoy them.

How many more times do I need to listen to someone tell me, "oh, I saw that yesterday. I already posted about it"? What are you proving? What's the real prize, the tangible, take-it-with-you award, for posting first?

Wow! Will you be the next ed-tech guru, running around the globe, speaking about theory and tentacles, adding links with snipurl and tinyurl?

And the reward? Someone? Anyone?

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

because I love games

Time to share some dirty little links, sites that I have recently tagged.

I am doing this because:
1. Someone else is playing a cruel, cruel game
2. I am finally able to sit for a moment, what I like to call Meeting Purgatory
3. It's all far more innocuous than cult-mongering

So, in no particular order, except chronological/numerical/sequential, behold:

- Games, activities, and more courtesy of the Nobel Prize in Literature. Really interactive stuff, in all areas Nobel (Chemistry, Physics, Economics, and Medicine). One that my students really like is an interactive Lord of the Flies activity (ahoy, SmartBoard...or any other rival brand that does, essentially, the same thing).

- A math blog. That's right! This here English teacher loves da' math...especially da' math ladies, yo. Patty O'Flynn (never met her, but yes, I'm using her name here as if we are somehow pals, coworkers, or friends, when in fact we don't know each other. We could bump into one another on the great Super Highway [I-95] and unless we happened to exchange insurance information [I have collision, thank you very much] we would never be able to place the other person).

- Another math blog, but a collaborative one, kind of like a geometric proof. Here's what the site says in its really clever 'about' page (got to get me one of those new-fangled 'about' pages):
It began as a personal blog, but following its widespread success the site is now accepting external submissions and contributions by guest writers and regular bloggers, making it a hub for those who intend to publish high quality, informative and easy to follow mathematical articles on the Web

In truth, there a great videos, short, snappy videos that surely will find a way to your classroom, or your living room (if that's how you roll).

- From our friends at the Online Education Database comes 119 Authoratative, Invisible, and Comprehensive Resources. My fave: #67 - a database of grant opportunities (hello, I-touch!)

- A teacher in our Science Department has a class entitled, Catastrophic Events. It's a fun, light-hearted class, focusing on family values, fuzzy bunnies, and spirited tsunamis. When it's time to map the path of fuzzy bunnies and add notes about their migrations, he loves to use Tagzania. This site also is a great place to track tsunamis and other care-free moments.

Pass it on. Pay it forward. Just do it. Made from the best stuff on Earth. And in the words of Vonnegut, 'and so on and so forth'.

Monday, September 17, 2007

stale vegetables and moldy fruit

Dr Leo Marvin's book, Baby Steps, tells us that we should always proceed with caution. Move slowly. Take one step at a time.

This would be an award-winning philosophy if everyone around me didn't seem to think that the integration of technology needed to occur with the celerity employed by Cyberdyne (see Terminator 2).

Note: I cannot identify 'everyone' as mentioned above. Perhaps they are just a presence hovering in and around my mental crevices.

However, I'd like to reveal a large, gaggling group that exists in my building. They are the 'late adopters', The Resistance, Scantrons Last Hope.

They represent a group so reticent to change they still protest erasable pens as devices that promote the shirking of responsibility.

So much time is spent between people preaching messages to audiences that have already indoctrinated and converted themselves to the same cause (see NECC) that what they are really missing is the chutzpa, grit, and moxie to plant seeds of change in the stubborn fruits and veggies that sprout back in schools every September.

Golly gee, what's a Tech Coach to do?

Friday, September 14, 2007

because I love numbers

Thanks to fellow Classrooms for the Future Coach Sue Sheffer (still don't know her that well) for the following response on our CFF listserv when someone posted a question about integrating Google Sketchup in a Math classroom:

We had a math teacher do it with a project last year where the kids
had to design our new pool. The pool architect came in and gave them
some pointers and showed them how he goes about it. They measured the
property and did some other outside work. He had the kids learn
Sketchup through the tutorials, which I thought was great. They then
designed the pool, did some measuring and math stuff I don't
understand, went online to get pricing for materials and had to
figure some cost stuff. Then present it to the class. This year we
are going to see if we can get the architect to come back and they
can present to him. We are also going to tape the architect because
while the kids were working on it, they realized he had told them
information they needed, but they forgot it.

It was pretty cool. It was with a class of "disengaged seniors" if
you will. College bound but not into school. Most really liked it but
some told me they hated doing it. When I pressed, it was because they
had to work too hard. Too bad.
So now I'm "inspired". So now I'd love to share this with Math teachers. All I have to do is get to them without pissing them off or making them feel belittled.

Fun times ahead.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

yummy, yummy baby

Thanks to Taylor the Teacher for pointing this out. It is a reminder of the fear that exists in our lives!

Save yourselves!!!

Click here to laugh!

Monday, September 10, 2007

I am tungston, hear my isotopes...Part One

Friday was a good ol-fashioned round-up of local Classrooms for the Future Tech Coaches.

Oh, the memories of this day will stay with me forever (primarily because I'm blogging about them).

Blogging was discussed. At one point, a fellow coach wanted to know how to use blogs in a class. Here are a couple reasons why this 'event' sprouted awe and ire in me:

1. A CLASSROOMS FOR THE FUTURE TECH COACH did not know about blogs.
2. Two Tech Coaches did not read blogs.
3. The only idea one coach had for blogging was to have a teacher post a question and then have all her students respond.
4. See #1

I left the meeting more confused than when I arrived. As the organizer of the meeting, I was hopeful that we would all have an opportunity to share some of our plans for the upcoming year. I had questions in need of answering. Instead, I left a little confused, concerned, and even angry.

I drove home, feeling like I should rededicate a brief segment of my life to blogging.

So, I am unleashing 'Think BIG' (Blogging Ideas Galore). I am scouring my brain for blogging ideas. I am focusing all my powers on harnessing the greatness that blogging affords learners, passive and motivated alike. I am aware of the power of blogging; its potential for reflection, collaboration, etc..., etc...

I am all about blogging because it is CREATIVITY in action. Blogging is more than the 'something-from-nothing' camp of thought, it is the 'something-from-someone' ideology; it is reaffirming, empowering, and HTML.

When we blog, we make something. We make a point. We make an argument. We refine an opinion. We identify commonalities. We reaffirm our beliefs. We propose, suggest, and every once in a while, hyperlink.

It's high time that the ed-tech lot stop conferencing and unconferencing, reinforcing their own thoughts with like-minded souls, and begin to share.

Really, really share:

With our staffs that don't know about blogging. With our students who may not care about blogging. With a population that we know is going to have to demonstrate creativity in order to sustain a meaningful and rewarding professional life.

So I am going to share ideas for blogging. Ways to get students blogging about learning. Ways to increase creativity. Ways to strengthen literacy and thinking.

And it all starts with tungston, my favorite element on the Periodic Table.

Stay alert. Stay awake. Stay for Part Two.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

open 24/7

Am I? Can I just give myself a title? Those in this digital circle will know what it means, but all this label may cause is more distance between me and my faculty.

In the end, or at least for now, I'd like to thank Graham Wegner for providing us with a concise, two-word descriptor.

This will be a lot easier to say than the current speech bubble phrase I've been using:

full of flax-seed and HGH

I can not tweet.

I feel shunned for attempting to express a thought.

I cannot express my thought.

What do I do now?

writing down the lane

So here is Glypho. You write something, like a premise for a story or even part of the story and then the 'rest of the world' can suggest plot ideas, character development, and all that yummy expository stuff that makes writing exciting.

The site claims that it is presenting a"'new way to write"; however, I'd argue that the site really provides a "new way to sit back and lose control of the creative process".

That being said, I post something, because in true tech-ed spirit, I have this urge to register, sign-up, share my email, and validate every account. I enjoy squiggly words that prove that I am not a robot, cyborg, or spam-bot.

Anyhow, here is what I posted on Gylpho:

Brownies today. Chocolate chip cookies tomorrow. How about an entire box of Lucky Charms on Friday? Saturday? Sunday? Now that's tricky because I don't have anything to do. Planning a menu to get me through the entire weekend will take some time. Grab some paper. A pen. And I'll need more brownies.

Keeping myself occupied is a complex, convoluted, and time-consuming task. Currently, the amount of time I spend planning what I will do could be a full-time job. In truth, I could just keep myself in planning mode and actually never do anything. Except planning.

But if I'm not planning, I'm twirling. I'm inspecting. I'm feeling for imperfection; for difference and perfection all in one.

And then I rip.
And then I inspect.

And I continue to pull out my hair. And there's actually a word for it: Trichotillomania.

Re-directing my compulsion is an interesting way to get through each day, but no activity can mask the history that led me to this point.
So, I will wait and see. In the meantime, I'm going to go register for Geni; I mean, we're all connected anyhow, right???

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

My New Love

Okay, so animoto makes all of this a bit too easy, ridiculously easy. But if the purpose of all the new-fangled, user-friendly technology is to eliminate the need to teach how to use the technology so we can better focus our efforts on integrating the technology, well, then long-live animoto.

I spent 20 minutes this morning taking some picture in school, uploading them to Flickr and then over to animoto.

At least it's a more engaging opening for BTS presentations than:

i am interesting, and people laugh

Thanks to Russell Davies; although achieving the goal apparently requires scrapbooking.

Oh, and Dan Meyer; although if I think too hard about his points, I'll lose whatever funny I may have left.

And both make me wonder: is it better to be interesting or funny?

Saturday, September 1, 2007

A Curious Innovation

So here is part of my Fulbright Memorial Scholarship trip to Japan, all whiz-bang and hoo-hah, thanks to animoto

So You Think My Child Has ADHD?

Jim Gates directed me to this film. And now I have a story to tell:

My wife and I are educators. We've been teaching for 18 years. She is an elementary teacher and I am a high school English teacher. Our oldest son is 8 and he is about to begin second grade at York Avenue Elementary School in North Penn School District.

He is movement on Red Bull; always wanting to ambulate. To him, art is sport. He moves around an easel like a pitcher pacing around a mound. Reading is part stationary, part walk-and-talk. Like a new employee, he literally learns on his feet.

A few weeks ago, we were contacted by the guidance counselor, requesting that we come in for a meeting with the District Coordinator of Special Education. We arrived early.

The theme of the meeting was as predictable as it was infuriating.

"We think he would benefit from medication. Something to keep him focused, on task."
"We want to insure that he has an opportunity for success."

And so I am a teacher. And so I am a parent. And these two tags weave themselves together, forming a twisted mess of emotions. I feel my wife place her right hand atop my left hand.

And now I am Ken, the person I've been far longer than any title I've held: teacher, parent, etc...

And now I speak:

"Everything in life is movement. Every job is movement. On my way to this meeting, I saw construction workers busy at pouring foundation, excavating, and collaborating. I Skyped my friend and learned about the six meetings he had scheduled for today, each one in a different location. I have lessons planned for this upcoming year that require desks to be removed from my classroom. You see, they take up too much room. They limit mobility; mine and my students'. And you bring my wife and I here to tell me that my son needs medication so that he can sit. Train him to sit. Condition him to sit. Drug him to sit. He will not be medicated. He will learn and think and understand. That's what he'll do. So the question is, what will this school do? Learning is movement, so I suggest that this school start moving in a direction that recognizes children for the talents, diversity, and even heartbreak that they bring."

And the meeting ended.

And this story is fiction, foreshadowing at its finest, a glimpse five years into an uncertain future.