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Why Do You Ask?

From asking questions that require an answer To asking questions that require a conversation.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Can't view in Feed Readers.  Must click link.  Sorry.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008


Do teacher-bloggers have a reason to be afraid? Is it worth the risk to implement web2 in the classroom?

Risk is a subjective thing --What is risky to one, may be habit to another. When "the boss" or the parent or the governing bodies view something as a risk to the chilllldren, but it is a habit to me, what is my true risk? It is my livlihood. As much as I want to do the right thing for my students, I have to do even more right by my family.

I wish I could find where I read, "More teachers will be fired for trying something new with technology in the classroom, than will be fired for their students not passing high-stakes tests."  Whoever said it, I agree.  What a shame.

Based on:
http://gwegner.edublogs.org/2008/03/23/selfish-generousity/  Graham Wegner (great entry, Graham)

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Can Kids Learn With Cell Phones?

iPhone - so easy a 2 year old can master the controls.

Imagine what a 7 year old could learn to find on the iPhone...

Imagine what a 12 year old could create for the iPhone...

Imagine what a 17 year old could provide for the iPhone with SDK...

Imagine if K-12 schools would use this tool for learning...


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Thanks to Rob De Lorenzo at the Mobile Learner blog for the find.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Madness to Craziness



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Monday, March 17, 2008

John McCain 2008

John McCain's 2008 March Madness Brackets

If it is okay to vote for someone because she is female, or because he is a minority, shouldn't it be okay to vote for someone because he is hosting a March Madness Bracket?

Now who's the cool candidate?


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Everything Old Is New Again

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Is it coming to this?

Lots of talk about freedom of speech, censorship, and educational bloggers being called to the carpet for being creators of content.  Here, here, and here.

There are a couple of things I'll toss in the conversation. 

First, let me say that I think our world is serious trouble.  Currently everyone has the right to say whatever they want to say...as long is it agrees with the general consensus or status quo.  Radical thought, no matter how benign, has never been acceptable.  Writers and educators are always the first to suffer in times of change. 

Now for my "couple of things."  Freedom of speech does not mean we can say whatever we want and expect no consequences.  This concept is also, as far as I know, only a United States right (First Amendment).  It is not necessarily a democratic right, it is a United States right.  Thus, citizens who are in democratic countries may or may not have this right.  Freedom of Speech only guarantees the right to say what you want with the knowledge that your life cannot be taken from you by the government.  This right is limited, by way of restrictions from defamation, slander, or libel and public welfare (the yelling fire in a crowded theater argument).  Freedom of speech is limited, and was meant to evoke civil debate.  One would think that the arena of academia would be open to the debate of ideas, but in historically appears to be the least interested in people who disagree with their systemically created status quo.  My question is why?  My assumption is that once an educator reaches their personal goal of education level they are finished learning.  Challenge their thesis (masters or doctorate) and they will surely let you know how wrong you are; even if they completed their work in 1985.  These people suffer from Peter Principal and their low self esteem (based on a skill set that does not work for the 21st century) hinders them from wanting to be confronted with ideas that might cause them to think, debate, and defend a long-ago invalid position.

My second (and final for now) thought is that educator bloggers have a decision to make in the next year or two.  Either we will quit web 2.0 work in our classrooms (in order to keep a job), we will quit teaching in the restrictive conditions we call public education and form a new paradigm of teaching wherein parents come directly to us for the education of their child (true freelance educators), or we will do what others have had to do in times of revolution - we will go underground, keep our identities anonymous, and really tell the truth about how screwed up education has gotten in the past generation.  The truth is, the bloggers I read are very positive about the conditions of educating the young people in our care.

I'm not sure where I will end up.  For me, the easiest order is underground, freelance, or cave-in.  There really is a reason I have become a skeptic and cynic.  I do read.  I do observe.  I do talk to students who have given up on what public education has to offer, and these are the high-level students. 

Ignorance is bliss, rose-colored glasses are comfortable, and this web 2.0 network can be depressing.  By the way, I want a group of parents somewhere, sometime soon, to sue a school district for educational malpractice because policies denied their children to opportunity to be global citizens. 

Yeah, right.
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Sunday, March 16, 2008


Based on - http://alupton.edublogs.org/

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Is It Just a Joke?

As you can tell, I have taken a liking to BitStrips.  It's easy, fun, and believe it or not, more difficult to edit than a Twitter post.  140 characters is a bunch compared to a single-panel comic.

My dad printed comic books for years.  I learned to read by reading comics.  Every Friday, dad (and other people from his work place) would bring home the overruns and errors as they printed the DC Comics, Marvels, and Archie comic books.  The hindsight thing comes to mind.  When I finished reading a comic, we usually just threw them away.  So I suspect I disposed of probably $100,000 dollars worth of comics from age 4-13.

I am a fan of Dilbert.  Scott Adams makes great observations about the business workplace in just a few panels a day.  I'm not claiming that I have the skill of Adams, but I plan to address EdTech issues with the use of Sticklers.  I used to do this in the 80s in the church world, and my characters were stick figures who discussed "sticky" issues.

So, I hope you enjoy the comic, based on the collective information from the edublogospere and perhaps some personal experiences as well.

To answer the title question...no I do not think that education is a joke, but if I don't laugh at some things I may have to cry.

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008


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Sunday, March 09, 2008


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Saturday, March 08, 2008


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Playing With BitStrip - Very Fun

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LifeGem: Create a Diamond from Ashes

Hey guys!  Here's the deal.

My 25th anniversary is coming up this year.  My wife wants a big diamond ring for putting up with me this long.  I worry about the expense.  So I'll be taking on a second, maybe a third job.

Now, I know 25 years is a long time.  She deserves the ring.  But paying for it could kill me, especially since I'll have to take that second job.  Or do I?

Seems that in the process of the second-third job killing me, I can be cremated, and my ashes (carbon particles) can be transformed into a diamond so my sweetie can remember my "undying love" for her.  I'm telling my wife about this right now.  She asks, "How many carots do you think you'll melt down to?"  As big as I am, I figure I can produce about a 2carot diamond for her.  My life insurance should cover the cost of the conversion.

LifeGem is the company to make it happen.  Thanks to Kiltak from Geeks are Sexy for the information.

"I'm just an old lump of coal, but I'm gonna be a diamond some day."

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Sunday, March 02, 2008

Thank You David Pogue

How Dangerous Is the Internet for Children? - Pogue’s Posts - Technology - New York Times Blog

The answer; not nearly as dangerous as adults think it is.  Personally, I have thought for years that the reason adults blow the "Predator Behind Every Keystroke" out of proportion is because adults still find it necessary to CONTROL kids instead of TEACH them. 

That which we do not understand, we fear.  If the fear is unwarranted, we lie.  If the lie is told often enough, we believe.  That which we believe to be true, leads to the desire to protect the 'truth.'  In order to protect, we must develop an environment of control.  Such is the cycle of li(f)e.

For crying out loud...we are TEACHERS...ones who teach!  Quit being controllers.  A goal of an education should be to allow students the freedom to pursue their happiness and dreams.  If you want to keep people from pursuing their dreams, instilling fear is one way to do it.  Then again, perhaps the issues edubloggers discuss so frequently is based on the idea that education is more about controlling what students learn (standards & testing & therefore student placement) rather than teaching student what they need and want to know.  Again, I say, KIDS WILL LEARN WHAT THEY WANT TO KNOW. 

Schools can either assist in the ethical and appropriate use of the technology that is ingrained into the lives of the 2st century student, or schools can dismiss, ignore, and/or declare it evil (by filtering, we say it is evil), thereby forcing young people to learn it on their own.  Then we must accept that the odds a student will use online opportunities ethically and appropriately is but a crap-shoot.

Is it any wonder younger generations have laughed at the generations who preceded them?  I laugh so I don't cry.

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Saturday, March 01, 2008

Don't Plan for the School of the Future...Here It Is!

Clay Burell and Jeff Utecht show the landscape of 21st century teaching.  It is not a "what could we do if..." wouldn't it be cool if we could..." "If only..." world anymore.  It is not something to consider doing in a 5-year plan.

And, by the way...I learned some things I want to do too.  Thanks Clay and Jeff.

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Engage or Enrage

I still don't like the word "engage" as it relates to a student's attraction to a lesson.  I'm not fully sure why it bothers me...I just don't think the word fits.  I think someone was trying to do the old-timey sermon alliteration, and they had two other words that started with the letter 'E' so "engage" became the word to sell something.


Wes Fryer has done a great job (which is quickly becoming an expectation for many of us - so keep it up!) outling Marc Prensky's recent NCCE speech.  It is Prensky's Engage Me or Enrage Me speech from a couple years ago, but we all need to be reminded of things...especially if we were not engaged the first time through. :-)

Highlights from Wes's notes: followed by my personal reflection of the brief comment in bold italics.


Our kids will either cry or laugh at the education we gave them in 2008 [30 years from now].

Our kids are already doing this.  The cry and get sick before color-the-bubble tests because teachers tell them their life depends on how well the kid does on it.

We can do on today’s cell phone what people did with room-sized computers in the 1960s.

This is incorrect in a couple very important ways.  1) Phones are portable, not confined to the room.  2) There is more information available to us today (on the phone) than was available to the room-sized computer.  These two ideas put together make the cell phone more powerful than the 1960 room-size computer.

Quoting Charles Handy: "Walking backward into the future helps us keep looking at familiar things…”

This might become my favorite educational quote.  We tend to do many things bass-ackward.

We can be a big part of the solution to the digital divide...
Almost every student already has a powerful computer
- we are far along with 1:1, because a great percentage of your students has a powerful computer in their pocket: a cell phone
cell phones are
- powerful computers
- inexpensive
What is missing here is often our imagination.

Here, Here...Amen...I hear you talkin'...
What is also missing is the fundamental belief from adults that students can use cell phones responsibly.

I think the digital divide is bridged with the cell phone.  I think the money schools waste on buying computers only to spend more money to filter content to the point of censorship and constitutional violations should be redirected to getting cell phone providers to offer unlimited access to their data networks during school hours.

I believe in open phone tests
The teachers who give open phone tests can ask harder questions
- high school senior said after a presentation: most of our tests are already open phone tests, you guys just don’t know it….

Or move away from the concept that a test is the only way to assess.  The idea that a student would call a parent for the answer to a simplistic, knowledge-based question (like a state capital) is only valuable as a way to assess the student's network.

Metaphor for today’s education
- kids used to grow up in the dark intellectually, until they went to school
- at school we started opening up the door, showing them the light, helping them learn about the world
- so in the past we were the people who showed kids the light

What happens today?
- kids grow up in the light:they are connected with their cell phones, computers, etc
- when they come to school, we make kids turn off all their connections to the LIGHT and essentially make them work again in the darkness

Not a bad metaphor...perhaps could become a good parable.  The dark-light allusion would be better with more character development - at least more than "we" as a descriptor.  I might have something to work on this month...stay tuned.

“I’m bored all day because the teachers
“it’s not attention deficient, I’m just not listening”

From Office Space - It's not that I'm lazy, it's that I just don't care.  On my own kid's Facebook page of favorite quotes.  The not listening aspect of school is as old as education itself.  My concern about the use of technology taught by schools, is that teachers will make the wonderful world of tech as boring as they have history, science, reading, math, and language arts. 

The new paradigm is kids teaching themselves, not all on their own but with the teacher’s guidance
- you don’t even need technology for that, but technology helps.
Technology isn’t the answer
- we are going to have to change how we are teaching before we introduce the technology.

The Everlasting Dream...that kids would just teach themselves.  The teacher will always have to provide more than guidance.  Constructivism works...but only when the student has basic skills, available resources, and motivation.  The teacher might need to study to characteristics of great public speakers.  Revival (religious or otherwise) always occurs on the heals of great oratory.  That is why people are currently enamored with Barak Obama.  Teachers could learn a lot from using YouTube to critically evaluate the great speeches throughout the 20th century. 

I am currently working on how educators/counselors have taken the burden away from themselves by creating a new vocabulary.  Really, we have taken the words motivation and manipulation and talk of intrinsic motivation vs. extrinsic motivation (and tried to get rid of the negative, but effective use of manipulation).  We've done the same with the word discipline (which is from always from within - self-discipline is redundant) and punishment...stay tuned for this one too.


Welcome to my party Wes.  I have spent the last two years out of the classroom.  Prior to that I taught students how to use technology, because that is where we truly were in 2001.  It's time to get back to the Social Studies classroom and go back to the work of teaching.

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