Sunday, October 30, 2011

Open Culture and S.T.E.M.

I've written about Open Culture before and I'm hoping most educators have at least heard of the resource, or have used their content in class or for professional development.

I've also been reading a ton about S.T.E.M. learning and careers, and the huge deficit our country will be facing in the many years to come if we don't promote and develop those fields of study for our students. With that being said, Open Culture has an amazing library of Science Videos that offer amazing content to excite young learners and potentially push them towards a degree/career in science. See an example below from NASA!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Trade for relevance

An interesting article in the Washington Post got me thinking about a trade for relevance in our schools. Titled, 'Trade Geometry Class for Entrepreneurship' the article looks at certain courses taught/required in high school and if those classes can/should be traded for something more relevant.

Our ever changing work place and skills needed for those jobs, have not kept up with what's being taught in our public schools, and probably our universities as well. The idea of a class teaching skills for entrepreneurship, or simply skills for professional success is exciting and much needed.


Bits Tech Talk

The Bits Tech Talk had a good podcast this week, listen when you have some time.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

South Korea Goes Digital

The Minister of Education in South Korea wants ALL curriculum materials for schools to be digital by 2015. You can read the entire article here on the BBC News site. I did some searching and haven't heard that proclamation from Arne Duncan......

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Steve Jobs - 60 Minutes

Steve Jobs on 60 Minutes.....

App Gap

A very interesting article in the NY Times about screen time for young children and the developing app gap between affluent households and low-income families. Kids of all ages are spending an increased amount of time in front of a screen of many different types, especially with the huge increase in tablet technology and apps geared towards younger children.

TED Turn 2

I can't remember the exact day I discovered TED Talks last year, but they've been a very favorite resource of mine since then. TED is celebrating their second birthday and they've posted their first six talks which you can watch below. I'm going back through their archives and bookmarking my favorite talks, will post those soon.

Monday, October 24, 2011


An interesting article in the the NY Times this morning about homework, and how some schools are easing up the load for their students.

How much homework is enough? How much is really beneficial for all types of learners? Should homework be differentiated to cover the needs of all your students?

As a kid, my dad would always tell me that if I studied or did homework half as long as I practiced baseball, I would have had much better grades and gone to Standford. I'm not entirely sure how accurate that is, but that comment has always come back to me as a teacher and now as an administrator. I don't believe I was meant to attend Standford, and spending hours doing homework/studying maybe would have laid a false path for me.

There has to be a balance, and all homework doesn't need to be rigorous academic training, or drill based assignments. Thoughtful, relevant, reinforcing and fun activities can lay an excellent foundation for work that is completed at home.

My district has an actual homework policy which has been a great guide when talking with parents/teachers about homework expectations and limits. There is a nightly time limit depending on what grade your child is in, which helps when structuring homework for the class.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

You Tube Trends

If you don't know about You Tube Trends it's really something you should check out. Video is of course such a powerful learning tool and not all the Trending videos are education related, but they have such great content on You Tube it's a great resource nevertheless.

Justin Beiber was trending two days ago :)

Education in Finland

A great article about Education in Finland and a few books/movies that are coming out soon. (Posted from The Washington Post)

Transporting Finland’s education success to U.S.

This was written by Mark Phillips, professor of secondary education at San Francisco State University and author of a monthly column on education for the Marin Independent Journal.

By Mark Phillips

Finland is dominating my educational radar screen.

When I read Linda Darling Hammond’s excellent “The Flat World and Education” (2010) a few months ago, her description of “The Finnish Success Story” fascinated me. Watching the film American Teacherlast month, the most hopeful piece of information for me was that in Finland teaching is the most admired job by college students. In the Q and A that followed a local showing of the movie, questions and comments about the Finnish system dominated. A few days later The Answer Sheet reprinted a compelling letter from Diane Ravitch to Deborah Meier reporting on her visit to Finland and on the Finnish system of education. Finland. Finland. Finland.

And now comes a book by Pasi Sahlberg, the leading authority on Finland’s educational reform strategy, “Finnish Lessons,” to be published next month by Teachers College Press. A former teacher, leader of professional development for the Ministry of Education and then with the World Bank, where he wrote a definitive report on Finnish education, Sahlberg is now the leader of one of Finland’s major organizations in the field of innovation.

Ravitch, Darling-Hammond, American Teacher, and now Sahlberg, have sold me. There’s something happening there and what it is is exactly clear. The Finnish approach to education has something to teach us.

Here is a system in which teaching is highly valued, teacher recruitment is highly competitive, teacher education and continued faculty development is supported by the state, there is minimal testing, decent teacher salaries, and high student achievement. Phew! Find me something here that isn’t compelling.

As Sahlberg writes: “The Finnish way of educational change should be encouraging to those who have found the path of competition, choice, test-based accountability, and performance-based pay to be a dead end.” He also notes, that education policies there are the result of “systematic, mostly intentional, development that has created a culture of diversity, trust, and respect within Finnish society in general and within its education system in particular.”

It should be noted that for Finnish teachers it is not primarily about salaries; it is about status, authority, autonomy, and respect.

Of course there are differences between the challenges in each of our countries and no one, including Sahlberg, argues that we should adapt the Finnish system. The question is what can we learn from Finland that we should adapt and how can we make that happen?

Here we get stuck. “Yes but” responses seem to dominate.

“Yes, but we don’t have the money.” Wrong, we just choose to distribute our money differently and don’t tax fairly. Besides, most of this has nothing to do with money. It has to do with cultural values.

“Yes, but we have more cultural challenges and far more poverty.” We do, but we can still do far better in reaching our culturally and economically disadvantaged students.

“Yes, but our Congress is so stalemated that no reforms are likely to pass.” Wrong, changes do not require federal government action.

So then I think, why is it that when we have agreement among many of the best minds in education, people with high visibility, and now a world respected leader in educational and social change, Paso Sahlberg, that there is a model that can help guide educational change here, so little happens?

My dad once taught me that while it’s very important to have hope, hope is passive. His words have stayed with me. “It’s important to act, to do something to make things happen. Life is too short to keep hoping someone else will do it.”

So then I wonder if my columns and others like it are really out of the Don Quixote playbook, tilting at windmills. I know words are not passive but they clearly aren’t enough. I want us to act, not just talk, and not just “hope that someday…” Are we all just preaching to the choir and tilting windmills? I want to do more and I think we can.

Then I think, why not capitalize now on the ideas coming from Finland? We need a ground swell and perhaps that could start with a high profile “summit” meeting that includes prominent leaders like Ravitch, Darling-Hammond, and Sahlberg and, perhaps, some enlightened policy makers as well. I think it needs to also be well publicized, with extensive use of the media.

The task should be to come up with a visionary and realistic action plan, utilizing what has been learned from Finland. Perhaps someone who is an effective facilitator of change, like Peter Senge, could lead the meeting.

Most importantly, it needs one of our prominent leaders to step forward and organize this. Pasi Sahlberg will be in the United States in January. Is this plan to ride the waves coming from Finland too grandiose? I don’t think so. It certainly beats just writing and hoping.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

NY Times Tech Talk Podcast

You can listen to this weeks podcast here....

Lots of tech updates and news!

Khan Academy Expands

Khan Academy has a few announcements from their blog.....

- They're expanding from math lessons to include Art History with more being added all the time.
- Sal is not the only teacher for Khan anymore, they've hired Dr. Beth Harris and Dr. Steven Zucker to write the Art History lessons, very interesting.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Our own TED

TED Talks have been a favorite resource of mine for a couple of years. Reading their blog they've come out with a TEDx in a Box, to assist people who want to host their own event, but don't have access to the technological equipment to do so. I'm going to talk with some colleagues about hosting our own version of TED, we won't need to box but it gets me thinking about different ideas!

TEDx in a Box from on Vimeo.

Monday, October 17, 2011

TED Talks - 1,000+

Just found an amazing spreadsheet on TED with 1,039 of their talks in a Google Spreadsheet. What a great resource, check it out!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Some Change....

Been thinking about some changes to this blog, and then found a great video on Free Technology for Teachers that really validated my thoughts. I'm going to start posting a little less and writing a lot more. The first draft of the 'new' blog is almost done and coming soon! Thank you for reading....

Friday, October 14, 2011

Google Students - New Look

The Google Students job page has a new look and it's pretty slick. They have so many job offerings and internships that you should explore.

PBS Kids Lab

PBS has just released some new apps and games that look great. You can play the games directly from their website, and visit the iTunes store for all their app offerings. The PBS Kids page supposedly has 12,000,000 hits every week, which to me is an amazing amount of traffic. The games are for students ages 3-8 and be sure to check them out!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

School Lunches - Not Technology Related but School Relevant

In case you didn't know, it's National School Lunch Week and I've been reading some articles in parenting blogs and came across an interesting website. This is Not Technology Related but School Relevant, and I wanted to share. 

There's a great website called Fed Up With Lunch that chronicles an adults adventure of eating the school lunch....everyday....for one year. To be honest, even though I worked in the cafeteria during my 5th grade school year, I've NEVER eaten the lunch as a teacher or administrator. Mrs. Q has also written a book about her experience and I'm going to track it down and write a review. 

You Tube Space Lab - Excellent Idea

You Tube and NASA are offering a joint venture to have students 14-18 years old come up with a science experiment for space. You have to explain your experiment on video and then upload to You Tube, the winning idea will actually have their experiment tested on the International Space Station, wow! See the official link for all the details.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Columbus Day - On the History Channel

I've never been a fan of Columbus Day, but this video is more intended to showcase the YouTube History Channel and all their great videos.

Friday, October 7, 2011

So far....

They've/we've come so far!

So has someone else....

Getting Students of Color Hooked on Math and Science

Mind/Shift had a great article and video series about a program called SMASH. The purpose of the program is Getting Students of Color Hooked on Math and Science. This concept could/should be applied to all students, but I appreciate the effort with students of color.

Exposing kids to college, math, science, higher level thinking and simply other options in their lives is so important, and an opportunity that many students probably never have.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Global Education

Finding/making time to reflect is often difficult.

Is the work we're doing really beneficial?
Should we invest in more laptops or iPads?
Am I building the leadership capacity of my teachers?

Then.....I read an article in the Guardian UK about Global Education and the hope to reach ALL students in the world by 2015, and you realize there is always more work/reflection to do. It never stops, not enough hours in the day, resources to support, more parents to call, meetings to attend.

Make your 'field of impact' smaller and you'll be more effective on a daily basis. Continue to teach and lead and enjoy the day!

Startup Weekend

Straight from the Startup Weekend website....

Startup Weekend is an intense 54 hour event which focuses on building a web or mobile application which could form the basis of a credible business over the course of a weekend. The weekend brings together people with different skillsets - primarily software developers, graphic designers and business people - to build applications and develop a commercial case around them.

This event is designed for adults, but how exciting it would be to have high school students and their ideas.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Grooming - I Like the Concept

A very interesting article in The NY Times really caught my eye and I Like the Concept!

A program in North Carolina called the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Program is preparing college students to be classroom teachers, if they're top academic learners and attend a public college. Many other countries have this type of program and something at the Federal level in the U.S. would be nice?

Sunday, October 2, 2011


The Department of Education has released an Educational Snapshot of State-by-State performance in education. I've been looking for an Educational Technology Snapshot and haven't been successful. Who's computer literate, what they're doing with these devices? Does anyone have any leads?

Saturday, October 1, 2011

You Tube Myths....

The You Tube blog had a great post on clearing up some You Tube myths. Some great information for you, your students, your school. Check it out....

If you haven't....'s time to Go Google. Get Google Apps for your school/district, even cities are moving to the cloud! Read about a Mesquite, NV and their migration to the cloud!

Student Opinion

If you're 13 and older, be heard with your Student Opinion.


As a kid I always enjoyed a 'Fill-in' the blank activity. Those type of activities have changed, and for good reason. The 'old' type of fill-in the blank activities were probably based on prior knowledge, or fun questions that your teacher was asking.

21st Century 'fill-in' activities can/are much more complex and should incorporate effective search techniques to build the search capacity of your students. The Learning Network had a fun October Events in History 'fill-in' activity.

You can either use the scrambled words at the bottom of the article, read the archived article from history, or I would recommend a Google Search to find the answer. Either way, this activity teaches Relevancy Skills for your class.

Enjoy....and also build your own fill-in to boost your students search capacity!

Open Culture - 125 Great Science Videos

Open Culture has been a favorite resource of mine for a long time. I just discovered a great resource within Open Culture....125 Great Science Videos.

A quick 30+ second video to give you a taste of their content.