Wednesday, December 23, 2009

my 1080i and your 1080p

We will no longer wait for an exemplar. We will no longer wait for the model, the evidence, the research, the rubric, or the time.

Instead, for 2010, we will create the model which will serve as the evidence. We'll use our time differently, and through our persistently restless spirit, we'll become the exemplar.

And somewhere, someone is snickering:
Cure cancer while you're at it.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

all the tech in the world...

can not transform teaching.

But removing chairs would be a great first step. Seriously, here's the proof.

Friday, December 11, 2009

contactable

alternately entitled, 'trees of bandwidth'

Everyone began exchanging business cards, and everyone handed me one, like a present, but flat, unwrapped, quaint and rectangular.

I had no card to give. I have no card to give. No card to give!

So I gave them all that I could gather:
my Twitter username

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

strangers in a strange ballroom

Did you just find out that your conference presentation proposal received the good to go signal?

Let me be the first to extend kudos and hugs. And I would hug you, lovingly, in a way that feels, upon embrace, like I'm also presenting. Because I am.

And I am going to attend your session. And you will attend mine. We will compliment one another while our teachers will be at school, teaching the teach. They'll miss the conference.

So, when we're done hugging, we'll each go back to our schools. We'll hug our respective Technology Directors, and we'll whisper in their ears:
One teacher from each building will go to this conference every year. We talk about technology and integration and innovation and digital literacy and access and apps and taxonomy. It's worth the investment. You know it is. Now keep this hug going for ten more seconds.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

the lesser known mayan calendar prediction

We all know about 2012:
The end of the world
But lesser known, embedded like a footnote on the calendar is the 2010 prediction:
The end of poster board
Projects crumble. Assignment sheets fall. Audience survives.

What if schools ceased purchasing any paper larger than 4 x 4 inch?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

10 strategies for top ten lists

10. Number descendingly to increase anticipation and excitement.



9. Use appropriate spacing to milk empty space for all it has to offer.



8. Include wonderful and passionate feeling adjectives to create sensuous appeal to any included, life-changing item.

8a. Employ sub-numbers to eliminate ties. Ties slow down the countdown process. Better to go with '8a'.

8b. You'll need this is you use an 'a'. Standard outline rules and regs apply, even after middle-school.

7. Avoid lists that are application-based. For the purposes of real education, craft a skill-based list, or something 'Bloom-y'.
Example, Good:
Top 10 questions to use in the formulation of student-learning opportunities:

10. How can I foster more student participation during class discussions?

9. How can I promote greater outlets for student creativity?

Example, Bad:
Top 10 questions to use in the forced integration of whiz-bangy technology:

10. How do I make Twitter relevant in the classroom?

9. Seriously, how do I make Twitter relevant in the classroom? I mean, I love Twitter. I'm on it all the time. I have a Twitter app, I Twext my Tweets. Tweeet, tweet, tweet.
6. Include a rhyming scheme for number six to help this middle-of-the-pack item stick.

5. Bold and color-code intermittently to reveal deliberate connectivity and patterns of varying ideas.

4. Bold and color-code sporadically to mirror the hectic nature of daily life while simultaneously destroying any bolding and color-coding street cred you may have once had.

3. Link to some of your own previous posts, preferably last year's top 10 list, or your mid-year top 5 list. I don't have one.

2. For number 2, make sure you use phrases like 'so close', 'such a tough time deciding', 'this could have gone either way', or 'for poohs and chortles' to indicate that deciding between number one and number two was so close and a tough decision that could have gone either way, but for poohs and chortles, number two falls just a wee bit short, presumably because it requires a complicated sign-up process for students and doesn't yet offer up an educational version.

1. You can put whatever you want here, as it clearly trounced the other nine items on your list.

And make sure you end with a heart-felt thank you to your PLN. It's the huggy time of year, and they've earned a friendly digital squeeze.

Good luck, and thanks for being a part of my PLN. This digital hug is for you. And you. And you, that guy in Australia.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

half-naked math

This:



leads to two questions:
1. What's the real discount?
2. Why don't more people know the answer to #1?

Of note: the image really brings "50%" to life.

Monday, November 30, 2009

seasonal offering

1. Refrigerate them.

2. Eat within three to five days.

3. Think about them, the verbal hiccups, ones mentioned too quickly, under-processed and ill-advised, because they're at the epicenter of this holiday season.

4. Just say, 'thank you' and go about the business of ushering the kids out of the restaurant and in to the minivan sporty manmobile. That middle-aged woman is sincere when she tells you in passing that the children are beautiful. She's sincere when she asks if all four are your children. You offer her one, jokingly of course, because you'd never give away your children, no matter how irritating they may be. She's a cautionary tale when she lets you know that she'd love one because she misses one, her only one, the one who died when he was eight, and that she remembers his smile, his waist-high hugs, his boundless energy, his love of trucks and puddles and his father. And I'm stuck on 'puddles' because 'his father' is the dig, the reminder, the cautionary tale.

5. Carry them, one by one, to the car.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

serious bots

One of the premiere selling points for any chiclet of technology is in a particular application's ability to make life a bit easier.

So, when Jim Gates shared a link to Google Wave Extensions on Diigo today, I immediately checked them out, excited at the prospect for a host of new widgets and bots.

But then I looked at the names for the extensions. And if indeed there's something in a name, then almost all of them scream ridiculousness.

It's tough to go around promoting add-ons for any application when their names immediately create equal parts disdain and distance with end-users.

Some of the names are comical, animatedly comical. Behold:
Google Wave and The Seven Extensions:

Skimmy
Raffly
Taggy
Sweepy
Watexy
Emoticony
Othello (this one just wants to grab a pillow and suffocate the other six)
And for the grown-ups:
Polly the Pollster
Now how does one sell that?




Friday, November 6, 2009

prompted

Writing prompts demand your best, original effort.

That said, the only acceptable ready-made set of writing prompts for use with high school students would have to be:

The University of Chicago's essay portion
of their undergraduate application packet.

I want to write this essay:
How do you feel about Wednesday?
And I want to assign it to a class, and engage in thought-provoking discussions that foster meaningful argument support.

And I want that one kid to stay after class to ask if she can do a different topic:

Thursday

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

virtually an idiot

The New York Times gives us the opportunity to gauge our distraction by playing an online simulation. The game:
...measures how your reaction time is affected by external distractions.
I'm a savvy TXTR!

I switched lanes for a virtual mile, and then I received the first of three text messages. The rules said that I had to respond, and that I had to do so while driving and moving from lane to lane.



After I responded to the third TXT, the game ended, and I received my own bar graph:

Observations:
  • My driving acumen improved with each TXT, so I'll just get better and better the more I TXT while driving. Yay!
  • 23 percentage points worse than other participants!!! From a demographic angle, I thought I was on the younger side of NY Times readers...especially online readers. Shameful.
  • I have responded to, and even sent, text messages while driving with my children. Moron.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

platform diving

Do I dare switch? It's still a work in progress, or maybe not. Maybe I'm just playing around, using another tool to perform the exact same task, like that time I decided to use my Spalding basketball for the first half, and my Wilson ball for the second.

What's a lonely blogger to do?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

you wouldn't, so why would you?

Fiction:
I found it! My mother insisted that it had been thrown out, or left behind on Oliver Road. But I persisted because I once spent a year's worth of in-service learning about Dimensions of Learning and Habits of Mind. That was meaningful professional development, so much so that when I went looking for the aforementioned it, I refused to give up. I checked my basement, my dad's basement, Public Storage, and my friend's house. Okay, the last one was a way for me to get out for a bit.

But I found it. And it's a beauty. Thirteen convex inches providing the best black-and-white television coverage. It has these dials just over to the right of the screen, and whenever I want to see what's happening on another channel, I just get up, walk over, and turn that dial. It even makes a clicking sound as it goes from channel to channel. That's a bonus feature, indeed!

Oh, and did I tell you that it has these silvery appendages? They're like beagle ears, but they stick straight up, and whenever I tilt them to and fro, I'm able to control how the transmitted images appear on screen.

There is no TV today that allows me to perform that type of control. Nowadays, all I do is watch a digital transmission, or something high-definitiony, pre-pixelated by 'other people'. People not in my living room, that's for sure.
Fact:
But every two years, I upgrade my cell phone. A lot of people do. Don't believe me? Go to your Verizon store.

Every thirty-nine months, I lease a new car. A lot of people do. Don't believe me? Go ask ten people. Okay, that's not a lot of people, but then multiply your answer by 736 and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Every time an appliance dies, I attend its funeral. I once delivered a stirring eulogy for my Frigidaire A-72 Side-By-Side. I'll never forget its egg-shell finish or it's sensuous hinges. Oh, and how it made me giggle. And you know what I do every time an appliance passes away, I buy an older one new one.

Whenever I can, I upgrade in every facet of my life. Am I too much of a consumer? Possibly, but you'll never get my J.Crew flat-front chino pants. Never!

I occupy a world that promotes planned and perceived obsolescence, and I can fight this if I wish (like Annie). I could go off-grid. I could worship a tree, eat, dress, and sleep organic. But I don't. I buy new, hoping for better, believing in the idea of improvement.

And I take this philosophy with me to school, well aware that I'm not really purchasing items; instead, I'm accepting a new idea or a new approach. Because if I upgrade in every other facet of my life, why would I chose not to at school?

Monday, October 12, 2009

heiny differential

Nowadays & thenanights, I sit in front of my computer and let edutech content rain all over me, drip by digital drip.

Like this morning, sitting in my gmail inbox, are today's shared Diigo items from a group to which I subscribe.

In comes Word Magnets. And I click, cut, copy, paste, and then I've magically made some interactive word magnets.

I'm thinking about how this refrigerator-free tool could find its way in to a myriad of different classes, varying grade levels. There are two impressive elements to Word Magnets:
  1. it's frill-less, welcoming techno-phobes with simplicitiy of use.
  2. it's fun, and that's not a bad word in education anymore.
So give Word Magnets a try. Or that other site you've seen. But then, take the next step, the only step that matters. Think of ways these tools can find a meaningful place in your classroom.

And you can do that thinking sitting on your heiny.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Student Says, "Well, i'll do anything once...

especially if it's homework!

And I never have to do it again.

So teachers, whack me with your hardest, toughest, most challenging open-ended conundrum. Because on October 21, the Wolfram/Alpha Homework Day will arrive, promising a:

...groundbreaking, live interactive web event [that] brings together students and educators from across the country to solve your toughest assignments and explore the power of using WolframAlpha for school, college, and beyond
And then the inexorable passage of time will triumph, ushering in October 22
(and all the days that follow), and with it, 364 days with no direct affiliation
to homework."

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

textercise

alternately titled, 'a new PE curriculum'

And I shall never leave the house again.



I'm thrilled that I found this new workout regime, and I'm confident it will replace my old workout plan:





Yep. That one.

fruit smack

alternately titled, 'time to pull the fruit off the tree'

Any press is good press, so I said 'yes' when two 10th graders asked if they could interview me for one of their class projects.

The interviewers provided me with three questions, in advance:
  1. How does the amount of technology at Springfield compare to other schools in the area?
  2. How does the amount of technology at Springfield prepare students for life after high school?
  3. How do the interactive white boards help students learn?
#1 is relatively easy to answer. In fact, I told the students that with a little research, they could gather all the data they would need.

#2 is an edutech dream question. I grabbed my inflatable podium and embarked on my amazing eighteen minute, TED-friendly, spiel. The students, awe-struck, reminded me that class is a rigid 87-minutes and begged me to answer #3.

And answer I did. And answer I do, because this question comes in many forms, from many people of varying ages.

The tool is meaningless. Its impact and value is dependent upon the meaningful integration on the part of the teacher. Students note that most teachers just 'write' on the board, doing nothing different than what they did on the white boards. However, students don't recognize that writing on the board is a positive step for teachers. Teachers are now being asked to re-learn how to write and erase. That can be a massive assault on one's confidence.

Mounting the board is unsettling for many teachers because other techy-tools tend to be small, portable, hide-able.

Teachers wonder what the board can do for them. In a way, their question is no different than #3 above.

This is low-hanging fruit, but if it's low enough, it's bound to whack a lot of people in the face.

Monday, September 21, 2009

hello faculty,

There is now a Twitter (stop laughing) feed on our district home page (why are you still laughing?).

Let's share good news via this wondrous service. To do so, email me any delectable tid-bits and I will add said updates to the Twitter (really? still?) stream (now you're just being immature).

Don't know what to Tweet? Here are some examples:
Good Tweet: Suzy Studentberg took 1st place in the District One Cross Country meet.

Bad Tweet: I ran over a squirrel. Twice.
Again, any good news that you would like 'tweeted', let me know.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

one session at a time

If I'm persuasive enough, if I offer treats that capture yummy and anachronistic elements, then teachers sign-up, and attend, hour-long interactive white board training sessions.
In an after-school setting.
Offering no extra-pay.
No flex-time.
But popcorn? Yes. And Sour Patch Kids. Mixed in for incongruity and puckering.
The training topics are basic and rarely about 'this button' or 'that Flash-based cube', even though the agenda would read otherwise. Instead, the sessions are theory, mental exploration, and pedagogical re-ignition.

Heads tilt. Eyes move up and to the right as jaws shifts just left of center. Teachers are in that moment, the welcome pause. They've reached acceptance. The IWB has something they never once considered:

Value.

And it happened thanks to conversations and questions. No one ever pressed a button.

That'll be the next session.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

day one, now what?

Didn't take long for the copier to break down.



Now, if everything goes according to current anti-technology sentiments, no one will ever use the copier again.

(aerial coverage provided by chair)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Monday, August 31, 2009

not a moment too soon

My angry voice, at home, to my four-year old:
You better find a way to share that chicken!
I'm ready to get back to work.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Friday, August 21, 2009

presenting, formally

I'm available for corporate functions, in-service days, Bar & Bat Mitzvahs, and the occasional Bris. I tend to shy away from birthday parties, but if you are willing to provide a complimentary 10-framer, then I'll gladly pay for the rental shoes.

Recent presentation offerings, each 45 minutes long (title, location, door prizes/preso favors):
  • "Daddy, Being"; Southeastern Pennsylvania (literally); StrideRite BOGO card
  • "DI&IT: Arriving at the crossroads of Differentiated Instruction and Instructional Technology"; School District of Springfield Township; Chipotle sauce
  • "No Hitting Your Sister! Hitting Hurts. And I Know That I'm Yelling and That I Used The Word 'No' and I'm Well Aware That Every Parenting Magazine or Advice Columnist Condemns The Overuse of Negative Words Because Words Like 'No' Lose Their Meaning, But These Rainbow-Coated Parents Espousing Discipline-esque Phrases Like, 'Tumultuous Times Call for Peace and Hugs and Good Deeds So Give Your Sister A Hug That Reminds Her That Love Is The Goal and Maybe, Just Maybe, Your Hug Will Help Cure Cancer. Now Go Play With Homeless Children' Are Unrealistic and Time-Consuming; Anywhere/Anytime; Pez
Sometimes, I'll double the time and the repetition up to a 90 minute session, but only for ed-tech workshops. I hear they love those long sessions. And hate the word 'no'.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

students without sprinkles

alternately titled: what have we created?

When an incoming senior/would-be college applicant need to craft an essay that addresses:
an event or experience that has left an impact
she desperately wants to shine. She chooses from extra-curricular activities, trips to foreign countries, or kitchen time with grandma...her wizened hands kneading the dough as she passes along memories and experiences with every chocolate chip added to the luscious batter that she learned how to craft in the military kitchens during World Wa -

Sorry.

But she is reticent to write about the first time she ordered a pink frosted doughnut, with sprinkles, without the aide of a parent. She misses that this 'event' is initiative and independence, replete with empty calories. She mistakes the title of 'President' of her youth group as a synonym for 'Acceptance' to her desired colleges.

In short, she misses what writing is all about.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

all google-y

Six students. One question:
Do you have a Google Docs account?
Four, from Springfield, say 'yes'. Two, from other schools, say 'no'.

This made me feel good.

Sent through a vast network of cables and satellites.

Monday, August 10, 2009

EPS

I love emails that end with origin stories:
Sent from my iPhone
Very satisfying, but this one's just as good:
Sent via my BlackBerry
No iPhone for me. No BlackBerry, but I feel like I'm leaving people in a void. They don't know what instrument I used to craft electronic messages. No idea as to what tool I used.

So I've made the following to let people know more about my emailing locations:
- Crafted in my kitchen; a kitchen that could use some fresh paint, and perhaps a new range. Viking, of course. Via Lenovo SL500 laptop.
- Composed in the library open lab. Computer #22. The one with the free-standing speakers. Courtesy of Dell desktop.
I hope these help people as much as their origin stories have sated my locational queries.

Sent via public access wifi network at Saxby's in Lansdale.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

involuntary mutism

Remember me? There was a time, not too long ago, perhaps around the eeew-aaahh advent of the miraculously wonderful world wide web version two point oh, when I never had a moment’s rest. Talk, talk, talk, that’s all you ever did. You would talk to your friends, coworkers, even select members of your family. Chatterbox, you were. And yes, at times you spoke like Yoda.

But you started blogging. You joined Twitter. Delicious. Diigo. And I hate saying that one, so if you ever choose to talk again, I’m okay if you don’t ever say that non-sensical, meaningless jib-knock of a word. Honestly, any other words with the double i? After Hawaii?

Didn’t think so.

You stopped calling people. Texting all the time. It seems, just from my unused point of view, that you’re afraid to talk. Too much commitment on the, proverbially speaking here, ‘line’. Sure, you’re not alone. You’re living in a terse, scatological world where everyone, at least people like you, mired in technology and education, promote communication in all forms digital. Not a lot of talk about, well, talking.

And that’s one venue, but with your friends and family? Honestly, I’d love to talk to them? Remember awkward pauses? Jokes…with punchlines? Maybe you should pick up the phone, the land-line one. It rings. Real rings.

Anyhow, just wanted to check in. And I had no choice but to meet you in your digital wheel-house. I despise typing. Everything here could have been delivered in a fraction of the time if we could just talk.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

thinking about thinking

I hear this a lot from people:
This won't work with what I do.
This is what I' hear':
I won't change. I will continue to teach in the manner and fashion which I've done.



Monday, July 13, 2009

flavor danger

Dear 7-11,

Mutant Berry? Ate one in college. I'll never do that again.

Apocalyptic Ice? Seems Smirnoff-y, higher-proofed.

Liquid Artillery? Exists, and shame on you for serving it to minors.

You've inspired me to retreat back to my early, safer childhood; full of corn syrup and cross-promotionless freezy treats.

Curiously, do you have a flavor in line for this?

Ken

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

dungeons and donuts

Had I had an answer as we drove through the tunnel, I would have surely had a better response to my son's question:
Do donuts live in tunnels?
And once again, I'm thinking about the creativity death clock that governs much of education.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

why now?

June and I'm asking the type of question that frustrates, confounds, and leads to coffee binges:
  • Do we (teachers) want to figure out how to leverage technology or do we just want to have someone mandate its use?

Friday, June 12, 2009

does this count as transformative?

Can we consider what follows a case study for the Code of Best Practices for Fair Use in Media Literacy Education?



The premise is:
Ever wish songs just sang what was happening in the music video?
I'm sure there's a good writing project in all of this, but are we really in a position to foster and encourage creativity?

Wait...I've said too much.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

sifting through farts








My wife told me that Totlol is vanishing as of July 1.

Totlol lauched in May 2008, and one year later, the founder of the site notes in his farewell message:
I find myself running a website that is loved and growing but has no future. It needs a long term sponsor and I can't find one. I just can't support and develop it all by myself anymore.
There was an option to submit a message to the site's creator, Ron.

So I wrote:
Ron,

Thank you. I wish that I knew of some massive sponsor that would help preserve your site. I don't. I teach. So that makes me unqualified-squared as a source of help.

Like you, my now four-year old son always 'wanted to see'. There are only so many 'where the hell is matt' videos worth showing a toddler. And a 16-second clip of a panda sneezing loses its power of captivation after a few viewings.

My wife and I have shared this site with other parents, with our families, and even with coworkers at teacher in-service workshops. Please don't tell my administration.

If not you, I hope someone, somewhere, with a wallet stuffed with Costco-sized funds, recognizes that there is an audience in need of a site like Totlol. And that audience is growing.

Heck, since you launched the site, my progeny has doubled.
I know that there are other places to find content. Miro and Joost come to mind, but they're not designed for children, they just happen to have secured the rights to show certain kid-centric programs.

For now, DVR will have to do. And a little something we like to call reading. It requires adult participation, but with summer right in front of us, I should have some free time.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

any(one) can tweet

Sitting at lunch, sodium pretending to be 'soup', Joyce and I talking about Sesame Street turning forty. And since we've already limited our conversations to 140 characters a piece, we're now discussing Twitter. And Sesame Street.

What would Cookie Monster tweet?
"Cookie 'sometimes food'? Sometime this! Myum-myum, myum-myum!"

What would Elmo tweet?
"Mr. Noodle creepy to Elmo. Keep window shade down from now on."

What would Ernie tweet?
"@Bert. Thank goodness for twin beds."

Like Historical Tweets, I think that asking students to create tweets for the Sesame Street gang would be a quick, engaging activity, perfect for our creative writing cour -

Maybe we have bigger issues than access to micro-blogging platforms.

Monday, June 8, 2009

on fostering collegiality

It started with an email. Six people responded, and all of them agreed to participate in the 2nd Annual Rock, Paper, Scissors tournament. But one of the respondents suggested that I forgo the invitation to play; instead, put every teacher in the tournament. He noted:

Some will play, but they won't respond.
True.

Some will play, but only if they're approached to play.
True.

And those that won't play, well, each one is a forfeit that counts as a win for those willing to participate.
I'm loading my division with naysayers!

This is an attempt to foster a greater level of faculty collegiality. I'm all for it. But there's this part of me, reticent, skeptical and wary, that I'm on the verge of receiving a plethora of emails from those offended at being included. They'll demand that they not be involved. And their emails will more than double the number of emails from those who have previously accepted the invitation to participate.

But I'm going to try, because I don't mind taking a longer, more competitive road to the championship.

Friday, June 5, 2009

an email for maternity return

So sweet of you to offer to bring lunch for us still here in the building. The things a new parent will do just to have some time away from those little wondrous creations that smile at us while wearing a poop-filled Pamper.

I want:

A Coca-Cola!!!

And I know that Dan wants the Panini of the Day, but it's rainy out, so I'm not sure I want today's offering, all rain-soaked and tepid.

So I'll take a:

Turkey hoagie!
with provolone!
and some lettuce, pleasantly laid upon aforementioned meat and cheese.
and quite literally, 'a little bit of mayo', because a healthy dollop will lead me to gag, maybe even vomit. And no mayo is stupid.

Bring on the calories. Leave the diaper.

Chomp-chomp,
Ken

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

dead messages

This is the email that I sent to the teachers:
I'd like to thank all of you for a great year. As we move ever-closer to the celebratory last day, and as you begin the process of collecting text books and other items distributed to the students, I'd like to remind you about bringing order and closure to your classroom set of laptops.

Please insure that all laptops are in their correct locations in the cart. Additionally, please make sure that all power cords are placed on their appropriate shelves, and that they are plugged in to the computers.

In advance, I thank you for maintaining the presentation and physical condition of your classroom set of laptops.
This the email I would have sent to my colleagues if I still taught a class:
Some of your laptops see those books on the other side of the room. They've noticed that when you collected them, you put them in neat stacks. In fact, they've noticed that you went so far as to take your left hand and smooth the stack from top to bottom, just to make sure that the books were in perfect order.

But some of your laptops are blind. Some of them are powerless. Some of them are lost. Let's listen to computer CFF-5:

Where am I? What shelf is this? I'm so tired. I'm running out of energy. Usually, I'm on a shelf, feeling myself getting stronger every minute, but recently, I feel depleted and soporific. And I can't see. There are all these cords dangling in front of me. But as bad as I have it, my buddy CFF-20, well, he's facing the wrong way. He can't even see out of this cart. And CFF-12, he's put one of his corners on me and he won't move. He can't move. He's not even in straight.

Why are those books treated so well? Don't we deserve equal treatment?
There are some parts of my new job that I dread. It's killing the joy of composing emails.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

dilettantes of a single domain

They've rehearsed their script. They're ready to record. The microphone is plugged in. MovieMaker is open.

They're staring at the screen. They're immobile, the entire group.

I walk over and inquire about their statue-esque manner.

They respond in unison, chanting, as if they've been in front of this altar before:
It's not working. It's not our fault.
They tell me they plugged in the microphone and nothing happened. I want to stop right here. I want them to repeat themselves, but with passion and conviction. Instead, I direct their attention to the icon bar at the bottom of the screen:

They're staring at the screen. They're immobile, the entire group.

I ask:
Which one?
They're staring at the screen. They're immobile, the entire group.

And this is where I tell you that they are not tech savvy. They are not light-years ahead of us. There is no techno-gap that separates them from anyone in my demographic. They don't know more, and even more apparent to me is the fact they don't do more with technology.

The class is bound in an 87 minute capsule. Time is ticking, and I point to the clock. Then, I direct them to look at the microphone.

And one of them asks:
But what happens if we press it?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

expiration dates

Perused the 'draft' section of my yet-to-be published post list. Some of the titles have some meat beneath them; others, boneless and skinless.

Are any of the following titles post-worthy?
  • twitter is stupid
  • drawn & daughtered
  • even nicholas biddle's on FB
  • all warped up
  • too much info makes a bad pizza
  • take that, olweus
  • worried about thursday
  • look ma, no 'no'
  • a bit on the hi-fi receiver
  • fast nickels, slow death
  • 12oz confidence builder
  • words, unutterable
  • full-frontal lighting
  • speaking through purgatory
  • how to poop during a crisis
  • do you see yellow?
  • student up
  • meals for a hypocrite
  • the 5th trimester
There's a part of me that wants to tend to all 19, because, if left unfinished, then 19 more thoughts/ruminations/opinions have been left unfulfilled.

But if I go back and complete these would-be posts, then I feel fraudulent; as if my own thoughts no longer qualify as original or my own.

A blog is a terrible, wonderful thing.

Monday, May 18, 2009

extracting quotes, like a witch

I found this article on CNN interesting and, this quote, shockingly accurate:
"One day, I took a broom to hit him and he started crying. Then I knew he was possessed by demons. ... Nigerian witches are terrified of brooms."
At first, I thought:
No brainer. He saw you brandish a broom and come at him. No wonder he cried. But making the jump to 'he's a witch' seemed absurd. Until I realized:
  • When I was eight, my mother came at me with a spatula, and when I screamed, 'Aunt Jemimah!', my mother was convinced that I had been a ruffed grouse in a previous life.
  • At my Bar Mitzvah, I inadvertently burped halfway through my torah portion. My uncle lept from his seat and cried out, "Unicorn!" Everyone kept their eyes rooted on me, but no one saw that there really was a unicorn walking in the back of the sanctuary. A pretty, beautiful unicorn.
  • As the principal handed me my high school diploma, I dropped it on the dais. As I kneeled down to pick it up, the assistant principal bellowed out on the microphone, "He's a C student!" This one, I have to admit, has followed me ever since.
  • I cried when I first saw 'Titanic'. No one talked to me for three months.

Friday, May 15, 2009

short haircuts

We hold the door open because the man is in the process of leaving, and we are in the midst of entering.

He's probably my age. I've been spending a lot of time recently Price-Is-Righting my way around everything. I'll best-guess that guy's income, how many boyfriends she's had, his accumulated frequent-flyer miles, and any other quantifiable spec of personal data that I know I'll never know, but take pleasure in the best-guess gymnastics of it all.

The man says 'thanks', and then he continues, addressing my two sons, as if this tiny interior-exterior switcheroo at the precipice of the Hair Cuttery is cause for conversation:
Are you two going to get your hair cut? Be careful not to get it cut too short, I mean, I know our mommy is going to be a bit upset with our hair cuts. Right Sammy?
We hold the door open because the man is in the process of leaving. And his son, Sammy, sitting in his motorized wheel chair is right behind him. And there's no mistaking his breathing tube, or his slightly askew facial features.

Sammy smiles and uses the joystick on the right arm rest to move the wheel chair toward the door. He's what? No more than six. And he, like his father, wants to talk:
I like my haircut. I bet their mommy will like their haircuts no matter what. Right daddy?
And I know that he's talking to his father, but I'm certain that he's asking me something.

As Sammy starts moving toward the door, my youngest son, Brian, steps in front, blocking the path, and asks:
What's he doing?
Brian's asking more than he can articulate, but I answer literally:
He's leaving, and he can't do that with you standing in his way.
And as if Beckett penned the denouement:
Sammy: Bye.

Brian: Bye.

Sammy (to his father): I like those boys.

Brian (to his father): I like that boy.

Monday, May 4, 2009

yearbook quotes mean something?

Instead of this one, how about:
When we make our teaching transparent, we become accountable.
It's slightly more profound than my quote (circa 1989):
Could be worse, could be raining.
Or maybe there's no difference whatsoever.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

what would cookie do?

Never thought about how he'd react.


As seen on thenextweb.

Monday, April 20, 2009

as always, state standards apply

The better narrator: cat...or roomba?



And to think, I used to develop my own writing prompts.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

updates have their place

This is what immediate guilt on Facebook looks like. For maximum enjoyment, read from bottom to top.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

fringe faculty

What I think I know (as told by those students):

They're just a phase. In fact, if I hold my breath long enough, by the time I'm ready to exhale, they'll be gone. Over the course of any given school day, they're just a blip on the radar; visible for a second and then gone.
Don't tell me to create. How about you create something? Instead, you're dumping your own lack of preparation on me and every other student in this classroom. I show up, I do my job. That's what it's been about. That's what it's all about. Honestly, I'm not sure what you're trying to accomplish.
They're just a fad. Campy little things. Even the other teachers think they're ephemeral. So I'm not about to invest any seriousness in their courses when I know that their colleagues think their instructional methods are of no greater interest than circus menagerie.
Don't tell me to interpret. That's your job. I read. I turn pages and stop at the assigned destination. I show up. You tell me what it was about. Ask a question, I'll silence the answer right out of you. You can't handle wait time. I know that, and so do you. You only have 87 minutes. 90 days. You can't wait. So just give me meaning. Give me the vomit and I'll regurgitate it on the quiz.
They're trying too hard. Ning here. RSS there. Wiki, wiki, wiki, and what have you got? Pretty, password protected accessories. Ning will go away. RSS will pass. And no matter what, in another year I'll be out of here. So keep your Nings. Create a new wiki. I've been there. I've done that. I'm done.
Don't tell me. Anything. I show up. I do my job. This institution celebrates 'B Giveaway Day' every day of every year, and I've got a transcript chock full of B-infested evidence. My written work is inferior. My interpretations are literally literal. And my 3.0 GPA does little to inspire me to change. I'm the majority. And you, teacher, asking open-ended questions, assigning projects high-up Mr. Bloom's taxonomy, you're the minority. Ask any other teacher.
What I think I know I think is true.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

relationships, tricky

Okay, so in the two years I've been on Twitter, I've experienced more relationship fluctuation (read: 'followers' and 'qwitters') than the whole course of my Twitterless life.

Normally, the loss of a friend is followed by some period of emotional mourning:
Why? Please, let me make it up to you!
or an anger-infused binge of self-justification:
I'm better off without that pebble-chucking misanthrope anyhow!
But with Twitter, the celerity in which I've seen followers come and go leaves no time for reflection. And I have no desire to find out why people 'qwit', and even less need to mend any severed connections.

I guess that's the real power of Twitter.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

better than juicy

Need a poem for your pocket? Well, it's April, so you should have some latent iambic desire tugging at your poetic soul.


It's a lot better than some of the current word-inspired fashion choices:

Friday, March 27, 2009

bathing suits in the dark


Earth Hour allows:
people of all ages, nationalities, race and background...to use their light switch as their vote...
Fair enough. And like any bipartisan light switch, you are able to cast one of two votes:
Switching off your lights is a vote for Earth...
Good. I like Earth. But I hate the dark. So I could leave the lights on. Doesn't mean I'm against anything, right?
or leaving them on is a vote for global warming.
Guess that new bathing suit I bought makes me look even more insidious.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

a tweally twifficult twest

The future of education depends on your mastery of this.


I'm constantly reminded why I despise multiple-choice tests.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

10 minutes or less

According to Delicious, 667 people have tagged this one:


World Builder from Bruce Branit on Vimeo.


And 107 people have tagged this:


The Age of Stupid: final trailer Feb 2009 from Age of Stupid on Vimeo.

Feel free to be #668 or #108.

Monday, March 23, 2009

where's my yearbook?

Two quotes, seemingly unrelated, but you know better:

Michael Scott:
Truth be told, I think I thrive under a lack of accountability.
Anonymous Caller:
Some educators are running into the 21st century landscape of teaching and learning; others are walking; most are crawling, and many need to be carried. And then there are the ones who brag about not moving at all...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

guess who's not proctoring?

State testing underway here.


I'm in total agreement with Wellington. There must be more ninjas. They're so good at hiding, even Google can't find all of them.

Ninjas are their own search engines.

Friday, March 13, 2009

the photo album

Can you believe that we're all standing here? Six of us, varying in height and balance.

Mark is walking over to the photo album. He finds the picture of the two of you. Can you see him? Feel him? I think he has some memories tucked away in his four-year old brain. When I remind him of moments past, he focuses on my eyes. His head skillfully positioned, and he is, I'm certain of it, listening. These stories matter to him. You matter to him.

You and Brian overlapped one day. A eerily perfect 24 hour cross-over. Brian, fading in. You, fading out. And both of you in the same building. Remember the picture we brought to you? He was so new, his eyes were still shut. I like to think that he was looking at a picture of you. His mind, coming to form, plowing through a familial rolodex, perusing images of those that came before him. Maybe that's what really happens at birth, a pre-loaded picture show begins, rooting each and every one of us to our ancestors.

And you're not seeing double. They're too young to understand. But they have the same cushy, padded photo album that's been passed down from child to child, and they see you. They see you holding Mark. They bite on the plastic protecting the pictures. It's just their way of exploring the world around them, of making meaning. I like to think it's there way of connecting. To you.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

does it come with a gym membership?

Job opening alert!

Here are the "physical and mental requirements":


I knew The Director of Information Systems position required vision, data collection and analysis. But this grueling? This physically taxing?

And is there a difference between 'must be able' and 'able'?

Lastly, I have one last question for you, employee seeking district:
What do you mean by 'occasionally'?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

dear facebook person,

So I'm not sure where I left off, but I've been at Springfield HS for over a decade (gasp!), I have four kids (gasp!) all four and under, and I don't think I would change much.

I live outside of Philly, no different than any other year of my life, except my wonderful home is a twin, and I live in a town where people hang NASCAR flags.

My own property remains flagless.

Writing messages in Facebook is tricky for me b/c I'm looking at all the 'I's in this message, and shame is washing over me. Maybe it's because I think that my blog is my all about me place.

And then there's Twitter.

I'm going through some sort of tech crisis, and to make matters worse, the anchor on the local news just directed viewers to look at his blog.

And now there's a story about Twitter!

On Facebook, we can write as much as we want. On Twitter, we're limited to 140 characters. There's something dystopian about all of this, as I think the next app will, in true Orwellian style, truncate our language even more.

They'll release Sputr, and we'll be limited to 100 characters.

Then, in about a year, KerTale will invite us to express ourselves in 70 characters.

And the eradication of our text-based communication will be complete in 2011 when our 6" Dell Mini computers come equipped with a direct link to '?'

And the question won't be 'what are you doing?', but 'what can you say?' in four words.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

gotta question

Latent Frustration Level Three has moved into Overt Frustration Level One, thanks in large part to posts by Peter and Will.

What really irritates my knuckles, gnaws mercilessly upon my less-than Promethean-like liver, is the gut feeling that if there are schools that want to transform, that want to see change, then they need to do something drastic about their hiring practices.

There's a question that schools could ask teaching candidates. It's a question that must be asked:
How do you plan to evolve and grow as a proponent of, and an example of, life-long learning?
Study their reaction, their body position, their eyes (thanks, Dina).

And hire accordingly.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

of choices 2.0

Quick:

You are leaving. You are never coming back. You are allowed to bring your laptop. You are guaranteed enduring internet connectivity, BUT...

The Devout Network Administrators (DNA, which when you think about it, is both creepy and telling) will only provide/grant/unblock access to one social networking app,tool,thingy.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

what notes may come

In his first sixth months of pre-school, Mark returned home every one of those days with one or more of the following:
  • odd-shaped contruction paper-based items posing as art
  • things laminated, accessorized with ready-to-mount-on-fridge magnets
  • leaves, pine cones, rocks, pebbles
But only twice have hand-written note by his teacher made the journey from school to home. They've included, in highlight fashion:
  • anecdotal retelling of negative behaviors evinced by Mark
  • recounting of steps used by the teacher to allay behaviors
  • request for parental assistance in curbing the behaviors
I don't condone the behaviors identified; the lack of sharing or the tantrum that rendered him inconsolable for over an hour.

But just six months into his school career, and already, the pattern of recognition has been established.

It's just so disappointing.

Friday, February 20, 2009

strollers on escalators - v.1

The Bugaboo Bee is replete with features. It boasts a reversible seat, a retractable sun-cover, and a ventilated backrest that provides "a safe, ergonomic fit". Additionally, the Bee possesses a "swivel-wheel system and one piece handlebar" that makes steering nothing short of simplistic.

In stroller circles, the Bugaboo is a top-notch product. It screams status, shrieks prestige. But silent is the Bee when confronted with the inexorable movement of your garden-variety down escalator.

Just beyond the off-ramp of the escalator is a large fountain, a circular piggy bank that collects penny thoughts and nickle fetishes. We are sitting on the edge of the fountain pool, struggling to maintain conversation as the jet-powered sprayers vaulting up and down, up and down, dance their aquatic routine.

I'm social-gawking, watching people travel the concourse, and having a splendid time predicting who will enter particular retailers.

- You sir, portly and bearded, surely you are in the market for a retro Randall Cunningham. Why, Champs is the place for you. Just past the Yankee Candle. Pick up a tea light for your wife. Purify her olfactory glands with a pleasant scent, lessen the severity of the hundreds you just unloaded.

- The shoes are BOGO, for a limited time only. Don't think, just enter. ALDO, ALDO!, ALDO! It's fashion you seek, all leathery and heeled, and it's just beyond the Chick-fil-A. There you go, I knew you could do it.

- Money's no issue for you, young mother, pretty and well-fed. Time is important to you. It's obvious, for surely you would have taken the elevator. A stroller on an escalator is an idea not worth-

The front wheels pause, then they jostle left and right, but they are rooted firmly against the edge of the escalator off ramp. The downward angle of the escalator, the hockey-rink smoothness of the concourse, and the constant forward pushing of the handlebar by the mother ratchets immobility up to somersault, and the stroller leans forward. The mother, still gripping the handlebar, still pushing forward, exacerbates the inevitable. She is almost on top of the stroller, and the baby, five-point harnessed to the ventilated backrest, is staring at the floor.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

call huxley, rand

Oh, to be back in the classroom.



How I miss the dystopias.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

eyes like chocolate

Vendor Village is all about call-backs. The proliferation of blue eyes. Intermittent green eyes. Women, tall and slender, promoting interactive white boards, network security software, and projectors. Lots and lots of projectors.

They smile, teeth shimmering with techy glee. Heads titled by design, psycho-sexual angles that have been studied, pre-packaged, and practiced at training sessions. They are alluring, captivating, and they're standing close to trays and trays of chocolate.

I smile in kind, head tilted, but at a lesser degree; a practical angle; approximately four degrees.

I'm looking past them, eyes on the prize.

Thank you, blue-eyes, beacons calling me in from afar, providing refuge, security, and what matters most of all:

chocolate

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

filling a cavity

As he's about to leave your class, here is the best line to use if you want to gut the thoracic cavity of your Tech Coach:
Thanks, coach. Now students, let's get back to some real work.
Can someone pick up my inferior vena cava, please?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

the naked divide

I'll tell you about yesterday. How a student overheard me talking to another teacher about 'sexting'. About how this student rolled her eyes. How she noted that 'sexting' seems to be something adults are all up in arms about. So I presume she is fine with the notion of sending naked images of herself to friends, and of friends sending nude images to her. And she responds:
It's just so interesting that adults have a problem with it. That it's all over the news.
And if I were in her shoes (if she wears them), I'd point to this site and I'd have no choice except to agree with her. We're teaching about abuse, about manipulation, and violations of privacy, but we're overlooking the ones disrobing with glee, who digitize and transmit their privates with no sense of the word privacy.

They are voluntary participants in a network of naked transmissions, and we're powerless against a naked divide that we can neither mend or clothe.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

all sextd up and no one to phone

Teens are sending nude images of themselves via their cell phones. Maybe you know this already. If so, you recognize that sexting is better than texting, and way, way more enjoyable than texting-with-benefits.




















But there's a downside. According to an ABC news story:
In Alabama, authorities arrested four middle-school students for exchanging nude photos of themselves.
Reminds me of middle-school, when I traded my Candy Maldanado card for a Dan Quisenberry and my friend and I wound up violating a bucketful of MLB proprietary guidelines and next thing you know, we're both under arrest, splashed across television screens, plastered all over local and national papers, mired in ignominy and embarrassment.

Thank goodness we didn't have cell phones.

Monday, January 26, 2009

loglines

An email from the yearbook:
According to legend, Ernest Hemingway was challenged to write a story in six words. The acclaimed writer’s response was, “For sale: baby shoes, never used.”

Here’s where you come in. The yearbook staff would like you to compose your own six-word memoir, to be featured along with your picture in the 2008-2009 Retina year book. It can be about your own life, your experiences as a teacher, and your time at Springfield, or anything you want.
Examples:
"Could be worse, could be raining." - Igor

"I tawt. I taw. Puddy tat!" - Tweety
Need to trim my list (below), select one that deftly captures, evokes. That, in six glorious words, exudes marketability. Something Hollywood folk would green light and plaster on 16oz fountain drink cups.
Rainbows flow from me like syrup.

Don't judge anyone on six words.

Everyone breathing? Congrats! Here's your diploma!

Fragments are for grammar. Not experience.

Pregnant teen. Adoptive parents. Hilarity ensues.
I think one of them would make a great movie. Though, I'm not sure about the fountain drink cross-promotion.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

of an english exam unfinished

Finals here today, so I hope you studied, because if you neglected to prepare, you may find yourself storming out of an exam room exclaiming:

The teachers is here's not preparing us is all!

And while you may say something a bit different, you'd be hard-pressed not to agree with the fact that when it comes to grammar, this student's invective may be spot-on.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

with or without you

Goodbye,'Whopper Sacrifice'.

Monday, January 12, 2009

crude-i-tes

















Mark's first snowman.
  • Snow, from car windows.
  • Facial features, courtesy of refrigerator.
  • Arm (just one), yard detritus.

Friday, January 9, 2009

phew! he said 'university'



Thank goodness. For a minute there (literally), I thought we (read: high schools) would have to change.

Just for poohs and chortles:

Good message, timely, no doubt. But everyone 'learning' outside - on the train, on the roof, in the kitchen - seems, oh, what are the words here?

Isolated.
Alone.

ijohnpederson...thank you. You inspire me with your embedding.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

hammock 2.0

The camera is connected. The dialog box reads, 'Found new hardware'.

I'm in a read-aloud mood:
Found new hardware.
And a student across the room asks:
Did you just say 'Found new underwear'?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

OTC irony

Sudafed PE is an over-the-counter cough medication. It's readily available at all pharmacies and grocery stores. It costs about seven dollars. If you're a fruit-flavored soul, grape and cherry flavors have been provided.

Three months ago, Sudafed PE would glide down the check-out conveyor alongside its good friends, Oreos, butter, and okra. It felt equal, like it belonged. The cashier would scan it with the same indifferent celerity she used on every other product. In short, Sudafed PE felt like part of the grocery family.

But the silent sense of acceptance and equal treatment it basked in no longer exists. Today, Sudafed PE, an over-the-counter, grape or cherry flavored cough suppressant, can not glide over the scanner with roller-coaster glee. Today, the cashier holds it up, looks at the customer wanting the medicine, and asks for identification. Because today, the supermarket needs to make sure that the customer is of age. The customer needs to be older than 18. The customer, in the scanning eyes of the supermarket, needs to, at the very least, be chronologically old enough as to convice the grocer that he is beyond the adolescent stage where Sudafed PE is truly medicinal, not recreational. In short, Sudafed PE is a quick 'high' and the supermarket wants to cover its cough-suppressant ass. It does not want to contribute to an escalation in OTC drug-abuse.

Sudafed PE is a cough suppressant that is available in two flavors, grape and cherry. It costs about seven dollars.

Your supermarket may card you when you go to purchase it. The supermarket is being proactive. The supermarket is 'fighting the war on drugs'.

But the boy bagging the groceries, well, he's a student at a local high school. He offers to take my bags out to my car.


Does he want my Sudafed? Is he looking for an easy high?

Nope.

Because as we're walking through the parking lot, he's laughing at the new 'carding policy'. And I'm laughing as well. Because in our conversational silence, we both know that Sudafed PE is not the recreational drug the market seems to think it must be. We both know that weed is the culprit. We both know that weed is pervasive. And we both know, though we'll never share this thought out loud to one another, that he's earning eight dollars an hour right now and he's stoned out of his gourd.