Thursday, December 22, 2011

"Doing School" - A Book I Suggest

Winter Break has always been such a great 'catch-up' time for me and reading. Just finished my third book this week and still have 14 more days of vacation.

I heard about 'Doing School' by Denise Clark Pope during an administrator workshop and checked it out from my local library. The format was very easy to read and the stories about each student from Denise's study were fascinating. Click this link to read more about the book.

Some questions that I'm thinking about....

1. Do you believe our current education system is preparing our children for life? Work? Relationship? Healthy living?

2. If not....What will it take to change our current systems?

3. What can adults do to help students like those featured in the book.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Instead of Recess

An interesting article in the NY Times School Book section this morning talking about enrichment classes during recess. A school in Queens, NY offers enrichment classes during lunch recess, instead of having the kids play on the yard.

There are students who don't enjoy recess, don't run around and play kickball, don't enjoy being outside for fresh air. Should this be an option at schools for students with different interests other than recess?

Read the full article here....

Sunday, December 4, 2011

10 Ways to Change the Minds of Tech-Reluctant Staff

How do we move our colleagues into the 21st Century mindset? A great article on the Committed Sardine Blog about moving a staff/colleagues/yourself.

Here's a recap of the 10 ways, read the article for additional information and strategies.

1. Use technology for personal reasons first.
2. Emphasize how it helps them specifically.
3. Take small steps.
4. Pair off staff members with a knowledgeable co-worker.
5. Let students lead.
6. Allow paid lead for educators to get up to speed.
7. Be sure to offer continuous training and support.
8. Plan a fun event.
9. Realize technology can be intimidating.
10. Make sure the technology works - and is easily available.

What's on your list?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Building Blocks

A GREAT article in the NY Times School Book section about using blocks to play, learn and discover. My older brother and I would play with wooden blocks for hours and hours on end!

Smarter Every Day

Came across a pretty neat YouTube Channel this morning called Smarter Every Day. Some great looking videos and because we always have hummers in our backyard, check out the video!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thoughts on this Sunday....

Was going through some old bookmarks and a great article on the Mind/Shift blog came to mind for a re-read.

21 Things That Will Be Obsolete by 2020, you can read the entire list here, and my thoughts on three are below.

Desks - This shift should have already happened five years ago with the boom of laptops in schools. My current school is only five years old and many of the planning decisions in my opinion were very short sighted.

aka: Desktop computers were purchased with the school, only to be replaced by laptops this year. Overhead projectors were purchased initially, with LCDs and Doc Cameras coming soon after. Desks are still being purchased for classrooms we're adding, despite our vote for moveable furniture, or simply comfortable chairs to 'learn' in throughout the day.

Wikipedia - My teaching career spanned from 3rd grade, to Junior College, and Wikipedia was always a discussion for my class. Not a good place to start with research, 'the' place to start your research. If you can cross-reference on two other sites, you can use the original information from Wikipedia. Many teachers I talk with are still reluctant for their kids to use this resource, even Google is/has changed their search algorithm to utilize current trends and social suggestions for their results. Come-on, hop on board with Wikipedia.

I.T. Departments - Probably the touchiest and for sure the costliest if we don't change. Touchy because jobs are at stake, which brings unions into the picture. Costly, because districts are spending lots of money on hardware and personnel when there are free or discounted options available.

What are your top three from this list?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Chromebook - Set-Up and Mini-Review

A great Chromebook video! I've also been reading a lot more about them lately and they seem to be gaining steam.

I have the Acer Chromebook ($350) and I've tried to be subjective in my review of the laptop, but it's seeming more difficult than I though. The 11" MacBook Air is my go-to laptop throughout the day, as well as the iPad2. The Chromebook is definitely not the MacBook Air, but, does have some great features that can't be discounted.

- The price is amazing!
- It's light and very easy to transport
- As the video above says, it's VERY simple to set-up and start working
- There are no software issues, or updates that need to be maintained.

Of course there are some negative aspects, but I'm focusing on the positive.

Playing the College Game

A great article in the NY Times Education section today about college and the hoops/loops our kids are jumping to just get in.....

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Flash Mob - We Need an Education Version

The Flash Mob is not a new concept, but this somewhat recent mob in Copenhagen really caught my eye. First, love all the bikes around the train station, the family who heard the music and sat down to listen (would that happen in the U.S.?) and the fact they're playing some classical music and not hip-hop!

Then, I'm thinking about an Educational Version of the Flash Mob. What does that look like? Fast, quick, innovative? I've been at some meetings lately where conversation was about how slow education moves and changes. There isn't a clear picture in my brain, just thinking out loud and trying to find a muse.....more to come next week when we're on holiday break.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Earth Time Lapse and Open Culture

Open Culture is a favorite learning resource of mine and they posted a great new Time Lapse Video of Earth this morning. It is absolutely beautiful and you can watch via Vimeo below. After the video, be sure to check out all 125 Great Science Videos that Open Culture currently has published.

Earth | Time Lapse View from Space | Fly Over | Nasa, ISS from Michael K├Ânig on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

I like this!

If our teachers can't speak this 'language' how will we prepare our children for success?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Programming With Kids

During my undergraduate work there was a 'required' programming course that I actually took during the winter session which was much shorter and higher speed. I can't remember which programming language was taught, nor can I write any code. Much of this is changing and the NY Times ran a great article about Programming With Kids.

The article talks about a site called Scratch which teaches kids to create their own interactive games and such. It's more of an 'intro' to programming and another option as young children develop their 'language' skills.

Alice is another option from Carnegie Mellon that was mentioned in the article. If we're going to bridge this Digital Divide and our App Gap, it's our responsibility as educators to open these options with our students and to bring them along!

Worth Watching

Not technology relevant....but Worth Watching for obvious reasons. We average fifteen bikes in our rack each day, with 1,120 students enrolled, that's a very low percentage.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Disney and YouTube

Disney and YouTube have announced a partnership for a video deal that will be based on an app called, 'Where's My Water.' Disney will produce a series of web videos, and of course the partnership means they'll be hosted on YouTube.

The YouTube partnership with Disney is coming off some recent announcements of additional channels on YouTube covering numerous topics. It will be interesting to see how YouTube grows and what they grow into? Will they someday take on television? Apple TV?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sesame Street - Video Production With Our Kids

It was 4:00am this morning and my seven-month old daughter decided she wanted to hang out with dad and work on the computer. I was browsing some Sesame Street videos on YouTube and had some nice flashbacks to my childhood when my older brother and I would watch the show. (We only had seven channels growing up and the public station was one of them!)

Browsing the videos which are all on YouTube had me thinking about video creation at my school and that our students should be doing much more video creation. I'm going to talk with our Student Council president about ideas and creating a weekly/monthly video for our school!

Here's the expert from this YouTube video....

The Sesame Street Muppet from the hit song "I Love My Hair" now sings "Change the World," an inspirational song empowering children with the idea that they can be anything they want to be!

Another 'all-time' favorite of mine :)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cellphones - Lift the Ban

Cellphones are everywhere, in most backpacks at school and nearly every teachers pocket or desktop. There are SO many articles/opinions out there about allowing cellphones in schools, and how to utilize them in class.

The NY Times has a newer section called SchoolBook that I've written about before, and there was an interesting article yesterday about lifting the cellphone ban in public schools. Lifting the ban is a great idea, in any district/city, however there needs to be Professional Development provided or in place in order for this to be successful. This is the missing piece in many cases....

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

S.T.E.M. Careers

I'm not reading quite as many books as I like these days, but I was checking out the ISTE store and a new S.T.E.M book looks good. There have been so many articles in many different newspapers about S.T.E.M. careers and the huge deficit our country is going to face with not enough of our students going into the field and choosing a S.T.E.M. major in college.

Connecting our students to those careers is the first step, and I'm hoping this book does just that.

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.

Friday, September 30, 2011

20 Things.....

When students speak out, we should listen! The Mind/Shift blog had a great article from the 'Voices of a Nation' meeting, and the top 20 Things Students Want the Nation to Know About Education.

You can also watch the panel discussion here. Are we asking our students how they learn, what they want to learn, the tools they want to learn with? If not, we should be!

Happy Friday

Thursday, September 29, 2011

iPads in the Classroom - Success Story

This is late notice but there's a great looking Q & A with a district in Michigan about their success with iPads in the classroom. Check the link for more details, the Q & A happens today.

1:1 - I'm Still On the Fence

1:1 programs (either laptops or iPads) are becoming more prevalent in schools, and also VERY expensive. All schools fund them differently.....some with parent money, others with district money and I'm guessing some with grants. I'm Still On the Fence with 1:1 programs and honestly have yet to see it done really well, and be fully supported.

Came across a good article in Edutopia about 1:1 programs, and they have some great resources near the end of the article.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Very soon......

Moms With Apps - Looks Like A Good Resource

Moms With Apps is something that I've been checking out and you can also see all their recommendations here in the App Store, and it Looks Like A Good Resource.

Moms With Apps is a group of developers that make kid/family friendly apps for young children. I was browsing them this morning and there are some great resources for use in lower elementary classrooms.

Should the School Day Be Longer?

I have mixed views on this topic, but you can read/join the debate here.

The NY Times has asked this question to a panel of eight people, and also opened the forum to public comment, check it out.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Learning Network - Web Filters

I know there are still many districts across the country who don't allow access to YouTube for their students/staff. Web Filters are a pressing issue with educators/parents/students and there was an interesting article about Banned Websites Awareness Day which actually takes place on September 28th.

With the announcement of the YouTube Teacher channel last week, I'm hoping this will bring awareness and will force educators to teach acceptable use and not just 'shutting off' websites that have significant educational value.

Simple K12 - iPad Webinars

Simple K12 is offering some great looking iPad Webinars that start today! They're offering two more next month and check out their blog post for all the information and how to sign-up.

Today -
- Use Your iPad to Share Resources, Collaborate, and Eliminate Paperwork

October -
- Using Your iPad to Break Free : Don't Be Chained to Your Desktop Computer
- Digital Storytelling Using the iPad

TED Youth Day - Excellent Concept

TED Talks are of course part of my weekly life, they offer such great conversation and insight into so many different areas of life.

Was just reading the TED blog and learned about TED Youth Day which is coming up November 20th. It sounds like an Excellent Concept and make sure to visit their website and stay tuned for more info! Visit their attend page to join an event near you.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Tech Talk Podcast - Texting, Hacking and More

The NY Times weekly Tech Talk is always interesting and I especially liked this weeks talk on Texting, Hacking and More. You can listen to the podcast here.

Follow the main Tech Talk page here.

Tablet War Intesifies

The Washington Post has a great interactive looking at 14 different tablets now on the market. See the interactive here, and about the new Kindle and very mild threat to the iPad.

National Book Festival Podcasts

The National Book Festival is going on now and they have some great podcasts that would be a nice addition for your daily story time in class. Check them out!

Good Work Comcast

Comcast offering discounted internet access if you qualify for free school lunches, Good Work Comcast!

Schools For Tomorrow - Excited to Read More

The NY Times has a featured section about Schools For Tomorrow and Bringing Technology Into the Classroom. Lots of archived videos and discussions and I'm Excited to Read More.