Thursday, January 31, 2008

[TIPS] Stop learning science! Study for that test!

That article was mentioned in today's ASCD Brief. It talks about one school that is scrapping fully seven weeks of the usual science study to focus on reviewing for the FCAT test. How sad is that?

As the one administrator says, it's not what they WANT to do but that test is their reality. Score low on that test and it costs you money - and a WHOLE lot of time for a whole lot of people.

I mentioned this to some teachers yesterday when referring to our state's 21st Century Teaching and Learning program which is part of the Classrooms for the Future program. Bottom line - if it comes down to teaching content while honing collaboration skills, or creative expression, or authentic assessments, etc - all at the expense of NCLB considerations, then it's  no contest. The NCLB HAS to win. It IS their reality - much as we might disagree with it.

But, it ISN'T a mutually exclusive proposition. One can still teach the content while using current tools and teaching collaboration and teamwork, etc. And, I think that it might be good for us to remember the line from Daniel Pink's "A Whole New Mind" which says, "When facts become so widely available and instantly accessible, they become less valuable." The reason is, of course, that ANYBODY with an internet connection can locate and recite those facts. What does THAT mean to anyone? Will Richardson and others have spoken about this before, too. Why teach the state capitals when the students could find those using their cell phone browsers? It's the valuable person who can make the connections between those capitals and their history and who can then tell why the state may always vote a particular way, or what role geography played in the decision to put the capital there, etc. Yet, until we find a way to test that, we'll test the student's ability to recall our facts. It's just the way it is, I suppose.

So, while we can all stand by and condemn that school for its decision to scrap the new content in favor of reviewing for the test, we all know WHY they're doing that. Let's just hope that they are also spending the time and resources to train their staff on how to COMBINE the teaching of the facts with the ability to use the tools which will get them a LOT farther along in their life's goals than the recollection of those facts will.

What do you think?

[TIPS] shelfari - check this out!

Just read this in Robin Martin's blog:

Shelfari. Look at her sample on the left margin when you scroll down the page. This is something that you should send to your favorite English teacher or librarian. You can post a virtual bookshelf on which you show the book covers of the latest books you're reading, or those you are recommending to others. What a cool tool!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

[TIPS] Free blogging workshop on Atomic Learning

Want to know more about blogging? This workshop may be for you. Starting tomorrow (Feb 1), this course: will be offered FREE for the Month of February.


There are over 100 short movies in that course, ranging from some basics, to setting your options, and much more. It focuses on the blog tool at Blogger. The movies appear to average about a minute and a half in length each, so they’re easy to digest.


If you’re new to blogging, spend some time here. MANY of your questions will be answered right up front.



Tuesday, January 29, 2008

[TIPS] STOP! You can't use Google Maps! What if...

I just heard this story and I'm hoping that by the telling it will lower my blood pressure a bit.

A group of middle school teachers got together to create a cross curricular lesson. Each one would appoint a scribe for the day who would post information to a google map. The basis was that kids were going to "Walk to California" for wellness. They would do laps around the track, adding up the miles they walked and then plotting it on a google map where they stopped at each day. Other areas of the curriculum were involved, as well. Geography. Social Studies. Foreign language. It was going to be all the 6th, 7th and 8th graders building this project. Teachers were primed and ready to go.

In steps the tech director who says, "What if someone posts something inappropriate on there - and other kids see it? It's on YOUR web page!"

Full stop! End of idea.

A couple teachers wanted to go ahead with it, offering some suggestions on how to deal with that possibility. No go. It died a quick death.

By the way, that person who raised this fear factor is NOT an educator and never WAS.

Did you hear me screaming?

[TIPS] a VERY creative site

Make sure your speakers are on (and turned down a bit) when you go here. You'll laugh out loud at it.

Many thanks to Ken Pruitt for sharing this with me just now on Skype.

This won't raise any test scores - just the corners of your mouth.

Monday, January 28, 2008

[TIPS] coveritlive - live blogging tool

I just read about this in Vicki Davis' blog ( in reference to some live blogging being done at EduCon this weekend.

This tool lets you embed your live blogging right into your own blog page, and the result is there to be watched live or replayed later. Embed polls, videos, images, links on the fly.

This is a cool tool for a couple of reasons. For those of you who are lucky enough to allow your students to have a blog, think what this would do for your literary circle lessons. Think of how this tool can turn your students into "on-their-toes" thinkers. Imagine a mob of bloggers at a conference (like PETE&C??) informing the world of the great sessions they're seeing.


My bet is that this will become a VERY popular tool. Live blogging has been a popular pastime of MANY bloggers. It's now become easier. This is taking us one step closer to documenting everything!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

[TIPS] Another inspirational Ted Video

How's this for a teaser: The speaker, Bill Strickland, has Herbie Hancock playing a little piano accompaniment to his speech. Want more? Bill tells his story about growing up in one of the worst sections of Pittsburgh, PA. He was befriended by his art teacher who got him into college. Now he's building centers in those same poor neighborhoods that inspire and bring hope to the same kinds of kids that he once was.

Watch this video.

[TIPS] supertimer and Blabberize

MANY thanks to Alma Row (no E) for sharing these. I laughed out loud with both of them.

Supertimer is great for when you’re giving your class a fixed amount of time to complete a task. Sure you can have a bell on a timer, but Supertimer is too much fun. Set the time, select the kind of music you want, and click start. The music plays while a balloon inflates closer and closer towards an awaiting push pin. When the time is up they make contact and POW! Time’s up. What fun! Bookmark this one to keep it handy.

Blabberize lets you upload a picture, say of a pig, highlight the lower lip and jaw, then record your message. When it plays back the jaw moves with the words. Watch the demo. Am I just punchy tonight or is that funny? (I’m willing to accept either answer to that question) The only problem is that you must adjust your microphone carefully, since louder sounds make the jaw move a greater distance. With my voice the jaw was dropping off the bottom of the image. But, it’s hysterical. Just takes some practice. Oh, and you can embed your message into your web page, too.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

[TIPS] Something very cool - student blogging

I have to tell you about the experience I just had yesterday afternoon as I "live blogged" with Anne Smith's 5th period class of 9th graders. It was outstanding!


Her 9th graders, as well as fellow English teacher Maura Moritz’s classes, are reading, "A Whole New Mind." Yes, THAT one. Not exactly on the top of a 9th grader's reading list, is it? But they did just fine. Today we discussed the Story chapter. Oh, and before I forget, they even managed to get Daniel Pink himself to pay a virtual visit to the class to discuss the book. Can you say “MAJOR COUP?”


A few weeks ago, their Technology Coordinator, Karl Fisch, sent out emails to folks he thought might be interested in in participating in this experiment. He described the project and our potential roles in it. I jumped at the chance (in my mind, at least, as I had neglected to confirm it with him, but I was still able to participate. Whew!). When you see the posts you will, I’m sure, recognize many of the names of those who participated. I was in the room with Dan Maas and Christian Long. We were to join via the site, one I'd not heard of before. In my session, since I was the only one with a camera (built-in isight camera in my macbook), I was the only one that the kids could see. I could both see and hear their class, however. The connection was choppy at times, but really quite acceptable.


The class was a live literary circle, with a moderator who began with the questions. They were the inner circle. As they responded with their feelings of what this story chapter was about, the outer circle posted their thoughts to each other and to the outsiders via the comment feature in Anne's blog. We had the comment window opened to full screen to make it a little easier. We would post a comment, then refresh the screen to see what others had typed. We'd respond to those folks, often using the @mattw convention found in twitter.


I was very impressed with the willingness of the kids to talk about this chapter. Sure, maybe sometimes they were missing the point, but they are 15 yrs old and I’m sure they were feeling the pressure of the camera and live audience. They would soon come back to the focus of the book. (As you would expect in ANY class, yes?) The blog discussions were a different story, I think. I think we had a very good discussion. Overall, the willingness of the class to speak freely and candidly and intelligently about this topic was impressive. Here’s some of the exchange:


Me: I like this comment from the book, "when facts become so widely available and instantly accessible, each one becomes less valuable.

Do you agree with that? Cite an example?


Macm: Mr Gates-
I do agree that rarity increases the value of items. It's the basic theory of supply and demand. But with ideas and facts the case could be different. Perhaps having a bunch of facts that coincide are more valuable and certifiable than a single fact on a subject. I think that when you put them together they increase each other's value.


Morgant: Mr. Gates- I definitely like that quote. It jumped out at me when I was reading. It is very true. I don't know if I can cite an example, but I can try to bring real life into it. If someone finds out a fact, say about a celebrity, and nobody else knows about it, then that is a valuable fact. But, if someone knows a fact about a celebrity, and everyone knows it, that's old news. Everybody knows about it, so it is not as valuable.


Me: @macm - but the point is, everyone has access to the facts, so the person who stands out will the one who can put it together, right?


Macm: Mr Gates-
Exactly. And to relate it back to the book I believe that putting together facts and seeing the big picture is a strength of the right brain.


Morganw: @ Jim Gates -

While knowing facts straight facts becomes considerably less important, or well-to-do, with the increase of technology I believe that the facts themselves become much more important because everyone has access to them. We tend to over-look them. Just because we have more facts out there doesn't mean we don't need them. But with this comes the problem of knowing the facts. That’s where twenty-first century learning comes into play. We need to incorporate story, play, meaning, design, empathy, and symphony into our learning so we can remember and apply all that we have learned.

An example of this would be problem-solving. You cannot teach problem-solving, but in order to problem-solve you need a background of facts and knowledge to work from.


Melissaz: Jim- I think these 2 quotes from the book can support that idea.
" Story represents a pathway to understanding that doesn't run through the left side of the brain."(115)
"...what stories can provide-context enriched by emotion, a deeper understanding of how we fit in and why it matters." (115)
These quotes I see show how stories have more value than a plain fact. Stories add other aspects that facts can't supply. Also,
"Story is high concept because it sharpens our understanding of one thing by showing ot on the contex of something else."
If one can take the facts and add a story, it shows an even higher level of understanding to be able to apply it to another aspect.


Me: Try this: How does THIS NOTICE from NASA apply to the idea of stories?


Christian Long (adult blogging): @melissaz: When you speak to Dan Pink, ask him about the combination of right and left-brained skills/senses...rather than a left vs. right decision. My gut tells me (as well as having read the book several times) that Dan is in favo of an 'and/and' choice where we are 'response-able' to use both/either sets of senses to respond when we need to any situation in the future. I like your "need each other" point very much.


Morganw: @Jim- I agree with you, the creative person would get my vote to be hired, but his creativity would have been a waste had he not already known the 50 states. What I mean is, facts do not become obsolete, they merely take a step back to creativity.


Dan (adult blogger): @Alexf
You got it! Your GPA, your test scores, your transcript gets you the interview (the left-brain piece still matters, as Dan Pink suggests), but it is the story you tell in the interview that gets you the job, the scholarship, the college entrance...

Here's another thought to trip your noodle. The interview questions are not terribly important. I see them as openings for you to tell your story and why you are the best choice...


Me: @macm - Did you catch this line: "Creativity. Ambition. Teamwork. A sense of daring. And a probing mind. That's what it takes to join NASA,..."


Macm: Mr Gates-
I did actually. That was the line which was the most surprising, because to me, jobs in NASA are left-brained. Although, if you have read the book Deception Point by Dan Brown, there is much more to NASA than meets the eye. Is it a good thing that they want to hire people with creativity and ambition instead of those with expertise? This could mean the loss of important discoveries or the loss of lives.


This is really cherry picking from the comments, but isn’t it an interesting exchange? The actual list is a bit harder to read as you must scroll to find the original posts, sometimes. But, after all the sifting is done, are you as impressed as I was with the conversation? Check this out for yourself. Here is Anne’s blog:  You can see all the sessions with Anne's classes so far here:  Read the comments, of course. That's where it all happened. Here is Maura’s blog: Check out the names of the folks who participated in this.


What did I learn from this? First, I didn’t do a good job following the conversations of the other two adults in the “room.”  I was too concerned about trying to follow the students and being able to reply back to them quickly so that my conversation wasn’t lost in the shuffle. I really wish I could have responded to some of the things that THEY had said. I missed as much if not more of the conversation that I picked up.


Second, I would like to know if Anne and Maura will go back through the comments to find some of the good points that the kids had made and bring them back to the whole group when they debrief the event.


Third: the technology for showing the live broadcast is GREAT to have!


Want to hear what some of the others had to say about their experience? Here are some of the other links:



[TIPS] vegetable orchestra?

You bet! Check it out. I, of course, learned about it from my blogs.


Want to see more, check out: and explore.




What? You say you can’t read blogs in school? Question: How much longer do you think this should go on? Isn’t it time we get past this misplaced fear?


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

[TIPS] twenty for tech podcast

Many of you read Dave Solon's blog, the k12geek ( Dave is a teacher in PA and a GTO (Getting To One) mentor. Well, he has begun a weekly podcast called Twenty For Tech. Twenty minute podcasts - short enough that you can listen to them on the way to work.

This week I had the pleasure to talk with Dave for his podcast. I was pleased with how it turned out. Usually when the mic turns on my brain turns to silly putty (look it up) but I didn't stammer too much this time. :-)

Check out his podcast for a few weeks. I think it's going to be a good one.

Education Jargon Generator

This is too much fun. Do any of you remember the "bogometer?" Or, "Bogosity?" Well, this one will PEG the ol' bogometer when you through out some of these terms at the next faculty meeting.

How 'bout some of these:
extend strategic niches
empower subjective manipulatives
exploit developmentally appropriate higher-order thinking (my personal favorite)
deploy inquiry-centered synergies
disaggregate holistic network paradigms

Just click the "Generate Jargon" button to get phrases of your own. Memorize a few of these and take 'em on the road. :-)

Powered by ScribeFire.

[TIPS] Flying through Google Earth

I LOVE my network of friends. Just hint that you're not sure of something and someone helps you out. Wonderful.

So, when Alma Rowe read my post about flying through Google Earth she sent me this link to a page that will give YOU the controls to fly through Google Earth.

Alma is also doing a PETE&C pre-conference workshop on Google Earth. If you're going to the conference, she's a pre-conference you may want to check into.

[TIPS] writing prompts from Writers Digest

I stumbled upon this today while looking for something else. What a find. Perhaps the English teachers already know this one, but I'm guessing not ALL of them do.

The Writers Digest site puts out a weekly writing prompt on that page. They're very good, too, as you might expect. I don't know that I should republish any one of them here, but I CAN HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you go to check them out.

I LOVE the one for January 15th. A mysterious text messager. How would YOU handle that situation? Check it out.

[TIPS] Musicians on Google Earth

The gearthblog is fantastic for learning about the great work being done in Google Earth. This article talks about a project that is working to plot the birthplaces of the world's most famous musicians. It's well under way and this should be one that music teachers around the world will want to watch.

Pass this along to YOUR favorite music teacher.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

[TIPS] skype - don't fall for the emails

It happened again today. I received another email SUPPOSEDLY from Skype, asking me to update my profile. That's at least half a dozen such emails of one kind or another. They were all hoaxes. Hovering over the link that you're supposed to click to update your profile shows that it's going SOMEwhere, but NOT to skype.

This is just a little FYI. NEVER NEVER fall for emails like those. NEVER click the link in the email. If you think it may be legit, go to the website YOURSELF, by typing the address in manually. DO NOT CLICK THAT LINK IN THAT EMAIL!!

[TIPS] Having Their Say


Many thanks to a post from Jennifer Dorman at Cliotech ( for this one. It takes a while to load, so be patient.


I’m curious as to your reaction to it.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

[TIPS] How good is google earth layers?

This is amazing. In this post you'll see two videos. Well, not if you're at school. They're on youtube. The top video is an actual video that a pilot took while flying over the Swiss Alps. The second video was created by "flying" over the Google Earth Swiss Alps Terrain. What an amazing program Google Earth is. And, what an amazing job this guy did on this video!


[TIPS] Companion tools for YouTube

Once again I owe this great tip to Sue Sheffer via email. Thanks, Sue!

This article points to six great tools for use with YouTube. Bookmark it and check them all out!

Another indication of how the world is busily creating TONS of content. In the new version of Karl Fish's 'Did You Know" presentation (now it's version 4) it says that soon the amount of new information on the web will be one YOTTABYTE, which is... well... it's a heck of a yotta, er LOTTA bytes!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

[TIPS] flickr- commons


What if you had thousands of pictures that you wanted to categorize. How would you do it? The Library of Congress has such a collection and they’re asking the Flickr community to help them categorize (tag) their photos to make them searchable. How ‘bout that?


The images are licensed under a new Creative Commons license called, “No Known Copyright Restrictions.”


There are two collections. Why not stop in and add some tages, if you think they would be helpful.


How clever is this? Invite the public in to do the work – and they DO it! Gladly!!!


While you’re there check out this page to search through millions of photos that you might be able to use.


[TIPS] eyejot

In browsing the screencasts from demogirl I saw the one she did for eyejot. It looked interesting, so of course I had to set up an account.  VERY cool tool, it is, too.


Not only can you create and leave voice and video messages on your pages, but you can post messages on OTHER pages, too, via a little frame at the top.


Teachers, check this out. What a cool way to introduce pages, or even to introduce yourself on your own webpage. Check out demogirl’s revised demo of it here:



If this one makes it through all the filters, you’ll love the site. Here’s an example of one of the posts:


Molly McDonald is the voice behind all the screencasts you’ll find there. The perfect voice for it. Check out the about dg page to see the microphone she’s using.


Spend some time in there. You’re SURE to find a demo of something that will be JUST what you’ve been looking for.


[TIPS] missing link

Thanks to all who wrote to tell me about the missing link. ::sigh::


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

[TIPS] another great Ted video

This one was recorded in 2004 but here it is now. I think it was first published in 2006, but I can't confirm that. Anyway, this is fascinating. A co-author of this presenter infiltrated a drug gang and discovered all sorts of interesting things. Turns out that the life of a drug dealer, at least at the street level, isn't glamorous at all. Quite the contrary.

This one is just for your FYI. Not for the students. Rated R for occasional adult language. But, very interesting.

[TIPS] MySpace to offer more to protect youth

This just in...,141366/article.html

This agreement between the US Dept of Justice and MySpace will make it easier for Justice officials to catch and prosecute child predators who prey on the MySpace kids.


Do YOUR kids have a MySpace account? Do you know how to find out? I remember that Kim Komando had a couple articles on how to find out if your child has a space. You need to know!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Pileated Woodpeckers - Off topic

OK. This one is way off topic. Nothing to do with education or cool sites, etc. I was just lucky enough to capture this video of two pileated woodpeckers and I thought I'd share. We've seen one at a time, but never two at once.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

[TIPS] Underwater images that will take your breath away

Have you seen the latest TED video from David Gallo? If not, rush over there and check it out.
Send this to your earth science and biology teacher friends. If you're looking for something that will once again bring back the mystery of our world to your students, this just may do it.
And he says that we've only explored three percent of what's there. Will it be one of YOUR students who will make the next amazing discovery?

Thursday, January 10, 2008

[TIPS] In search of a particular story

Who better to ask than all of you?


Some time ago I listened to a report about a school in New York City. It was founded, I think, by Thomas Watson, Sr and was located on the second floor of a building there, and the report said that the building still stands.


The way I’m recalling it, the story goes that after the War Thomas Watson, Sr had the idea for a school unlike any other. It was equipped with all sorts of electronic equipment, radio equipment, chemistry equipment, etc. The kids, whom I believe were middle school age students, were brought in there and allowed to explore freely. There was no curriculum.


The report said that at first the students just drifted from one area to another, just playing with all the cool stuff. The instructors were there purely as facilitators and to be sure that the students didn’t mix something that would blow up or otherwise be harmful, or didn’t do something that would risk electrocution, etc.


Gradually the students began to stay in one area, deciding to concentrate on the chemistry or electronics, etc. They began to ask how to do certain things and where they could find out more about how to do what they were trying to do. They explored on their own. No grades. No tests. Nothing but access to the equipment and to books, etc.


The story went on to say that they accomplished amazing things, often staying late to work on their projects. It also said that EVERY ONE of those students, boys and girls alike, went on to become a CEO or President of a company in that field.


I THOUGHT I had heard it on NPR, but I searched the site and even wrote in and asked someone to help me find it, but to no avail. Maybe I didn’t HEAR it, but maybe I had SEEN it on TV years ago. But, my memory doesn’t include any images that would likely be included from SOME part of the story, don’t you think?


So, I’m asking YOU. Did you ever hear (or see) that story? Might you be able to point me to it again? I’ve been trying to refer folks to that story for a long time, but have nowhere to send them. Thanks in advance for anyone who makes the effort.


[TIPS] The results are in.... THREE

In today's Technology Director's Meeting I was recognized for the Edublogs award. That was very nice. But, I asked the question, "How many of you can see my blog in your district?" Out of the 21 districts represented, only THREE could see it. The rest block all blogs.

I don't know what to say. I'm just so HUGELY disappointed. I know that MANY block wikis, as well.

Oh my...

[TIPS] latest bits 'n' bytes

For those of you local, the latest Bits 'n' Bytes newsletter is ready. Here it is:

[TIPS] more "in Plain English" videos

CommonCraft (Lee Lefever and company) have done it again. I just saw two.. no, THREE.. new videos. Maybe not new, but new to me. You can see a nice collection of them here on teachertube: Nice Album. You’ve likely seen the first several, but I hadn’t seen the last two before.

Nor had I seen this one: That’s one about photo sharing sites, in this case Flickr

I’m going to embed these in my blog, but I can’t do that in email. (Another reason to learn how to make an aggregator.


I just discovered that this template isn't wide enough to fully display the teachertube player. Because of that you cannot see the right arrow to display the "Blogs in plain english" video. I'd choose a different template but then all the customizations would be lost. And, I just don't want to mess with the coding of this one for fear of trashing it completely. So, unless I can rescale the player, you won't be able to see the Blogs video.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

[TIPS] Bill's last day

Thanks to Alma Rowe for pointing me to this one. It's a video that Bill Gates (and a host of guest stars) put together to represent what his last day at Microsoft might be like. What a HOWL!!

[TIPS] PETE&C Blogger pre-con cancelled

I'm sad to report that we're going to have to cancel our planned Edublogger Pre-Con event for PETE&C. A couple things have contributed to this decision. First, most of the bloggers from PA are also involved in the Classrooms for the Future program and they're already committed to a pre-conference activity that day. Second, the event that Chris Lehman planned for January in Philly has made a second trip for such an event just a month later to be unnecessary. (I'd love to be at that one, as well, but I just can't get there.)

So, I'm hopeful that next year we can plan to hold that event in conjunction with the PETE&C conference. But, in the meantime, the one that's scheduled for pre-con at PETE&C is canceled. Many thanks to Ken Pruitt for his work to get it started.

Hope to see many of you at the conference!

[TIPS] wiziq - virtual classroom

These folks have been doing some very aggressive publicity work. They even posted something on the site for the teachers there. I'm not sure how folks will respond to that, but it was effective, as it did get me to get back in there and set up a class. I'll use it with an online course that I teach in Moodle.

So what is it? "WiZiQ is a platform for anyone and everyone who wants to teach or learn live, online. With a virtual classroom, educational content and a session scheduler, WiZiQ works best for anyone’s online teaching and learning needs." So you see, it allows you to schedule a meeting, create and share content, and even schedule an event. It allows you to include audio or audio and video.

Others have written about it, of course. Here's Jeff's discussion on it at The Thinking Stick:

But, for the folks in my area, the point of this is to first show you the tool. But secondly, it's to again show you that the tools are there that will allow you to EASILY connect to others outside your four walls. If you've been afraid to try something like this because the tools were just too complicated or clumsy to deal with, it's time to take another look.

Friday, January 04, 2008

[TIPS] A wonderful TED video

You'll LOVE this:

It starts out funny and ends with tales of passion. This is good listening - although maybe not for the students. But hey, remember, I've always said that I learn more from my blogs than I learn from almost ANYwhere.

[TIPS] The silence is very telling

A couple of days ago I posted (in the blog only) an article that was written by a teacher who is taking an online class entitled, "21st Century Teaching and Learning - The Need For Change." (

In that post I asked for folks to leave comments as to how they would reply to the person who had written the original article. To date only ONE person has responded. (Thanks, Tim)

What does this say? Could it be that nobody else has read that post? I don't know... SURELY with the Clustr Map as it is that SOMEBODY else would have read it. Could it be that nobody else has an opinion? Nahhhhh. People have opinions about everything. Could it be that they are too shy to STATE their opinion. Hmmmm, maybe. Or, could it be that nobody is submitting a rebuttal because they can't argue with the teacher's position?

Here's a nice chance to engage in a little conversation about this very important issue. I hope that I'll find more comments soon. Come on, tell us what you think.


Here's a tip for those of you who love your imovie. DO NOT UPGRADE TO VERSION 08!! SOMEONE, whom I HOPE is out of a job at this very moment, decided to remove all the special effects from the new iMovie. No more slow motion or fast motion. I even tried to figure out how to remove the audio track and, while it MIGHT still be there, it's NOT easy to find. I STILL haven't found it. Yes, you can move your mouse over a clip and see it in action, but WHY ON EARTH would you REMOVE tools in an upgrade?

So, if you loved the special effects in iMovie 06, guard that version! DO NOT UPGRADE!

I will happily print a retraction if someone can show me where this stuff can be found, but the message boards are FULL of questions from horrified users who "upgraded" only to make this discovery.

Hey Apple - What were you THINKING???

Thursday, January 03, 2008

[TIPS] The Good Stuff on YouTube

Once again my blogroll teaches me something that I think others would like to know about. Tim over there at Assorted Stuff , had this post: that pointed me to THIS article:

That article lists ten channels on YouTube that have REAL content! It mentions that even the Education channel doesn't have much in the way of education, but the OTHER channels DO have some excellent material. Check it out.

[TIPS] MoodleMeet

Edited: 1/4/08

I just realized that I didn't mention that I learned of this from Ann Fife! Thank you Ann for sharing this with me via email.


I know many of you are Moodlers. You either maintain your own moodle installation or maybe you just have your own class. You know, then, that it’s tough finding answers to questions. Yes, there’s the site, but it’s not the best in spite of its efforts.

Enter – a social networking site (YIKES!!!) for moodlers.

Started by Laurie Korte from Northbrook, IL., this site is trying to get a foothold with the MANY moodlers around the world so that we can find answers to our questions and to get ideas for creative uses of the tools.

So, as soon as you can, check it out.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

How Would YOU Respond to This?

I'm facilitating an online class regarding "21st Century Teaching and Learning - The Need For Change" One of the reading assignments was to read this article by Marc Prensky, and comment:

Below is the comment from one of the teachers. I've received his permission to post this here. As you can see, it's a very thoughful response to the article. I'm wondering how YOU would respond to him. Your THOUGHTFUL comments are welcomed and appreciated. If you'd prefer to send your response to me outside of the blog, you can find me at jgates513 on gmail.

Actually, this article seemed to contain everything wrong with educational "research" and "thought". As usual, some people working on their doctorates in education (who probably have about 1 years' teaching experience, if that) take a simple concept we all could agree on like, "we should use multimedia tools in our teaching to connect with students when necessary" and have turned it into a lot of rubbish about how students think differently and can only learn in disjointed, multitasking sorts of ways, which is patent nonsense.What all does this article get wrong? let me enumerate:

1. "The most prevalent change in how we use the Internet in the 21st Century is not as much in the ability to publish information as it is the ability to share and connect with others from around the globe." - Perhaps true as to how people use the internet in their day to day lives, but not true for teaching. The problem with constructing a "student-centered" curriculum where the students spend their time "learning" by connecting with their peers all over the world through blogs and whatnot is that this only works if the student knows the material already. Unless Plato was right and we are born knowing everything and simply need to remember it, then this is clearly not true. The whole point of a teacher is that the teacher knows more about the topic than you do, and you need them to impart their knowledge to you before you can really do anything with it. Certainly, using online tools like blogs to potentially allow students to demonstrate their knowledge of a topic AFTER they have learned it initially is a fine idea. The expanding/refining stage is where authentic assignments should be used, whether they are electronic in nature or not. But before that point, when all is said and done and all the bells and whistles are examined, nothing beats a well-constructed, focused lecture (with an essential question, mind you) and nothing ever will, I dare say.

2. "According to Diana and James Oblinger (2005), today's students learn differently than previous generations and as a result they feel disconnected from schools that were designed for another time." Balderdash! As if students loved school in the past! That would of course explain why my father, who went on to eventually graduate from college summa cum laude, dropped out of high school in 1959 and joined the army - he felt disconnected from the lack of technology being used in school . . . oh wait, never mind! Seriously, I could find you writings from ancient Romans bemoaning how little they understand about their kids - so just because kids seem disconnected in school doesn't necessarily have to do with technology. More likely its the usual reasons - they see us, like their parents, as authority figures trying to "keep them down".

3. "Students are coming into our classrooms ready to learn in digital ways that are familiar to them and instead they are just sitting there with pencil and paper in hand not engaged and not learning." - Not necessarily true at all. The mistaken premise here is that if a student isn't on a cell phone or a lap top, they're not learning, and if they are playing with a techie doo-dad, they are. I've had some of my best results getting students to think critically by having them write an essay or by doing a role play, neither or which involves technology at all. I have been involved in classes that were very technology rich, but little learning was going on, because everyone was playing Tomb Raider or IMing each other. What matters is not necessarily how much technology you are using. Instead, what matters is if you are moving past pure memorization to higher level thinking. If you can use technology to do that, so be it, but if not, it doesn't make it any less authentic.

I should note that according to the activity that goes with this course, I am a pure "digital native". I am not a Luddite. I can certainly see the importance of relating to students and the way they think outside of school. I often look up their lingo on the Urban Dictionary. I can sing much of Kanye West's "Stronger", and I can even dance the "Soulja Boy" dance, much to the amusement of my students. However, I don't think that having my students make up a rap video about the French Revolution would be a good idea. It might be a very technology rich activity, but most students would rightly regard it as silly busy work, and little actual learning would take place.

This article confuses the "technologically rich" muddle most of us find ourselves it with higher level thinking, and the two are NOT the same.