Monday, November 30, 2009

on unblocking youtube

some helpful resources for trying to unblock youtube in your district via richard byrne's @rmbyrne  post:

A Second Life for Educators

and join in the survey he is doing here

here's some suggestions from him about teachertube and schooltube  - i wanted a way to show our school broadcast that is hosted on youtube (which is blocked) without taking hits away from youtube
@rmbyrne much more content on YouTube. TeacherTube has problems with slow loading times and poorly placed advertising.
@rmbyrne If you're looking for an alternative to YouTube for hosting video, try out SchoolTube.
@rmbyrne SchoolTube doesn't take anything from YouTube. It's really designed for sharing student-made videos.

and more on my previous post digital media and learning
mostly from the digital project

st vrain using blue coat ...

so from our tech - i've chosen a youtube video, to access it we go to youtube to get it, can we get that access unblocked.... (so we're still honoring youtubes business and getting what we want - per specific teacher's request - w/o having to unblock that particular video each time it's viewed at tv.) so on the video is a link that unblocks it each time a tv kid/teacher wants to use it..
look into the cookies - privacy link youtube is providing..

@rmbyrne recommends schooltube over teachertube. 
checking it out - that might be our ticket. says he thinks they pay youtube back...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

grazie - ful

the color/flavor/feel/aroma/song of grazie.
our precursor.
our postscript.
ubiquitous gratitude. 
we should celebrate. 

Saturday, November 28, 2009

digital media and learning

I just watched this 58 min video last night: What Kids Learn When They Create Digital Media.
Excellent presentation of some very good research and insight put together by the MacArthur  Foundation.

but darn - it's on *youtube, have to watch it at home.

I came away with these thoughts:

I loved their initial focus (on learning and school) -
that learning could isn't the building - but anywhere
that concepts aren't the top dog - but the experience
and that it's not the institution that's important - but the leaner.
In short - we should focus on the kids - not on school; learning - not the institution.

They said we need to understand how kids learn outside of school - socially and ethically.

...what learning looks like in the digital age, and what is the role of the adult.

They talked of the potential of universal authorship and that we need to realize this moment of potential.

They said their findings boiled down to 5 issues:
1. rethink - who are the teachers (bring in new media artists) - 
    this from me: perhaps building or school professionals are now facilitators rather than content experts

2. create bridges between all spaces kids spend their time outside of school and developing literacy skill set
3. importance of showcases - real audiences - opportunity to show work so that they iterate

4. not sure i got this one - may be iterate ?
5. create clear pathways to new media   ie: how kids learn with games - it's clear what to do to get to next level with constant and instant feedback   me: why ban games - why not learn from them

They said:
What kids learn using social media depends on how it's taught  (civil advocacy, vocational skills, ability to use print literacies and rhetoric, good at creating/imitating best and worst of what they experience in life)

They talked about the difference between authors and audience.

One guy in the audience said we need to push the envelope of CIPA filtering.

This topic was the only piece that riled me and it  keeps resonating in me. One of the panel said that she was leary of open filters and that leariness was confirmed when she talked to her daughter - who said - if they had open filters - she would never work at school - she would always be on Facebook. The panelist then added - filtering certainly needs to be a district decision.
To me - that's a time management and ethical issue - a lesson kids today need more than ever. (In fact - what seemed to be the whole premise of this research, etc, how they learn outside of school.)
If this girl is not getting that from home - and her mom is on a rigorous ed panel - you can imagine other kids aren't getting it.

We can't teach this stuff if it isn't available at school.  know it's uncomfortable. But it's what's needed.

Then I caught this on a tweet from Alec Couros:
@courosa: "If you care about kids; want to understand how they use tech; read this..."  (via BoingBoing) - and need to add this:

The digitalyouth - Two Page Summary - a summary of findings put out by the Digital Youth Project, Nov 08, via the MacArthur's says this:
In these interest-driven networks, youth may find new peers outside the boundaries of their local community. They can also find opportunities to publicize and distribute their work to online audiences, and to gain new forms of visibility and reputation. 
Some youth “geek out” and dive into a topic or talent. Contrary to popular images, geeking out is highly social and engaged, although usually not driven primarily by local friendships. Youth turn instead to specialized knowledge groups of both teens and adults from around the country or world, with the goal of improving their craft and gaining reputation among expert peers. While adults participate, they are not automatically the resident experts by virtue of their age. Geeking out in many respects erases the traditional markers of status and authority.

...New media allow for a degree of freedom and autonomy for youth that is less apparent in a classroom setting. Youth respect one another’s authority online, and they are often more motivated to learn from peers than from adults. Their efforts are also largely self-directed, and the outcome emerges through exploration, in contrast to classroom learning that is oriented by set, predefined goals. 
Contrary to adult perceptions, while hanging out online, youth are picking up basic social and technical skills they need to fully participate in contemporary society. Erecting barriers to participation deprives teens of access to these forms of learning. Participation in the digital age means more than being able to access serious online information and culture. Youth could benefit from educators being more open to forms of experimentation and social exploration that are generally not characteristic of educational institutions.
much more insight and reading if you're so inclined.

I've seen this first hand. All I'm saying - all this report is saying, all the findings are saying - that maybe being on Facebook all day is the way to learn - today. Maybe our role is helping to structure that and feed that.
ie: talk-ed in CO and english for class 3a in Croatia.

*Youtube is another example - a site that is often blocked. kids are creating all kinds of amazing videos - on youtube. (just like the MacArthur foundation)
Our school broadcast is housed on youtube. It has gotten acclaims from top news casters - ie: Ron Zapollo. Is that not the new way of assessing? Professionals in that field - giving feedback?
So - kids can work on all these things at school - in video class - but viewing them - and working on them for any other class - pretty  much has to be done at home. 
Check Richard Byrne's insight/efforts

One guy said we shouldn't be spending so much on whiteboards in every classroom but more on cameras and laptops and editing software ( I would add ipods.)
money is another hot issue.
1) Money is keeping things blocked (ie: cipa to my best understanding) - if what kids learn using social media depends on how it is taught, and the two main ways that need to be taught - socially and ethically  - are not visible at school - how can they be addressed - and taught - with the authenticity kids need to engageand
2) Money spent with great intention - but on the wrong things - is keeping us from optimizing learning as well. whiteboards are incredible - but one idea to a board - when we could have 4-5 laptops googling research or producing tutorials, via video, etc.
I'm sorry textbooks - but if we have the capability for kids to learn through social media, and we do, then why not furnish them with tools they are dying to use - as opposed to tools hosting only one idea at a time (ie: whiteboard) or tools they rarely crack (ie: textbooks.)

My takeaway from Dan Meyer's post today in regard to learning from other's blogs:
It's a process that boggles me a little bit, that makes me want to break out into song a little bit, that I recommend wholeheartedly to new teachers who now have the luxury of selecting mentors from all around the world.
This is huge – and what we should be offering our students…the luxury of expert tutors (young and old) from all around the world.
That way – we’re reaching all of them. not just three in the middle, or some at each end.
the web is allowing this for the first time ever – in public school.

The final note of the video - we have to learn to become mentor/colleague/learners ourselves. That means learning how these kids learn outside of the classroom - and going there with them - rather than insisting on how we learned. Here's a short jing - if you're so inclined. not a masterpiece - i'm being usefully ignorant

And a look at cool stuff happening...innovators of 2009
We need to be doing more - talking less... yes?

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

highlights from an incredible paper on teaching

here's the paper:
unlearning how to teach
by Erica McWilliam
here's the random - still kicking it around in my brain - summary:
1.The disposition to be usefully ignorant:
In simple terms, we are much more ignorant in relative terms than our predecessors.     

But Leadbeater makes a further point about our increasing relative ignorance that is highly significant for teaching and learning. It is that we can and must put this ignorance to work – to make it useful – to provide opportunities for ourselves and others to live innovative and creative lives. “What holds people back from taking risks”, he asserts, “is often as not …their knowledge, not their ignorance” (p.4). Useful ignorance, then, becomes a space of pedagogical possibility rather than a base that needs to be covered. ‘Not knowing’ needs to be put to work without shame or bluster. This sort of thinking is echoed in Guy Claxon’s (2004) call for a pedagogy for knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do (p.?) . Out best learners will be those who can make ‘not knowing’ useful, who do not need the blueprint, the template, the map, to make a new kind of sense. This is one new disposition that academics as teachers need to acquire fast – the disposition to be usefully ignorant.   

2. Teacher not adding value will be bypassed:
In blunt terms, this means that the teacher who does not add value to a learning network can - and will - be by-passed. The rhizomatic capacity of networks to flow around a point in a chain means that teachers may be located in a linear supply chain of pedagogical services but excluded from their students’ learning networks. That would be an effect of being perceived by students to be doing things that do not add value. And digital technologies can and are being used both to identify value-blocks and options for getting around them. Once again, this is not a just matter of how much take-up of technology is evident in the pedagogical work (Sassen, 2004), but whether or not pedagogical processes bring student and teacher together in their shared ignorance and mutual desire to make something new of their world.

3. World of remix - edit reality:

4. Take play seriously - the opposite of play isn't work, it's depression:
Play’, Kane tells us, “will be to the 21st century what work was to the last 300 years of industrial society – our dominant way of knowing, doing and creating value” 

5. One is strong enough in one world to be prepared to be uncomfortable and ignorant (at least temporarily) in another:

And now (a few days later) an additional emphasis, after reading a post by Todd Williamson titled: We're Talking ...But Who's Listening?.
I'm thinking - maybe we should stop talking so much. Maybe we just dig in more. Start modeling our dreams. My whole comment here.


e2t2 reflections

Cool jets comments from presentations after a tech grant:

on moodle: I'm not talking to the kids, i'm talking with them.

It took me about 3 hours to create the podcast, but I'm no longer tired at the end of the day. No more lectures.II'm getting to know the needs of my students through these conversations.

One of my girls, I would never call a deep thinker, wrote in a way she never talks. Great insight for me.

Great peer feedback.

Kids bringing in extra resources.

Read 180 kids finding better ways to present themselves. Ones that never talk are presenting great thinking.

I was amazed at how independent they became.

They've never emailed a teacher before, they liked that opportunity, so that was a good experience.

They planned, they pre-planned, learned how to chunk notes, all on their own. Became much more inidividualized in their summarizing skills.

They actually started using their notes as a resource. And started using resources period, without prompting.

They actually stretched beyond use of a graphic organizer.

Forums are not just about having fun, but about increasing their meta-cognitive abilities.

They now have mutliple levels of assessment.

I would never ever be able to hear a lot of this thinking without blogging.

The moodle account actually became theirs. The no longer needed paper and pencil or assignment. It was all in their space. It was almost paperless.

Moodle is a great way to supplement. A nice back up plan.

Now my kids are going to collaborate with other kids in our district on the moodle.

learning is messy

My first introduction to this phrase came about one year ago from Brian Crosby. I had emailed danah boyd asking for some insight on internet safety - particularly in regard to using Skype. She suggested I visit Brian Crosby's blog site - Learning is Messy.  Reading through the activities Brian has been doing for quite some time with his elementary students (yes - little ones) was very inspirational and motivational.

learning is    m e  ss y .
I've shared this phrase several times to convince parents, admin, peers, etc.... that messy is ok and not only ok, but often a sign that something is happening.

Just this year, I've experienced the joy of sharing that phrase with students. What's so different about having this conversation with students (as opposed to adults) is that it means we've finally moved past the phase of defending craziness in the classroom, flapping about trying it in the classroom, and we are swimming in it instead.

It would be ridiculous not to admit to the many moments that I question the craziness myself. Wondering if I'm losing my mind - or doing my kids a disservice. I must say that everytime I've felt that despair, in the end - the learning part has won out.

I'm finding that everyone of us - even the kids - needs to get used to the idea that true learning happens in unconventional ways...even though in reality - learning unconventionally is the most natural process. We have just programmed ourselves and our children that there is a "school" way to learn. 

So - to adults - thank you for learning with me and staying strong through the messes.
       - to young people - thank you for the messes - the energy you put into them - and most of all - what you (we) are getting out of them.

Let's embrace this  m e  ss yness.

watch this very cool showing ...of learning...of pure beauty...found in messiness (splashes of water) if we just dive into the drop.

my own kids keep trying to convince me that this explains the state of our house... and of my classroom. 
not buying it. 
cleaning up messes is half the fun.
and a worthy art.  

Sunday, November 15, 2009

my heart breaks

they say this:
"If we get an education we can have a normal life."
because of this:
we complain about ridiculous things.
and abuse our free education.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

loving this compilation by @ehelfant

Just read a most incredible post this am.

At first - it looked too long - I had too much to do. But to my pleasure/reward - it was the best read ever.

For almost a year now - I have been immersing myself in learning - via very smart people, via Twitter, via Triiibes, via many Ning plns, via blogs/books, via face-to-face conversations, via open ed courses, via experimentation, via listening, ...etc.

Elizabeth seems to have put all my findings together. As I kept reading - I was amazed at how she had woven all this learning into one article. Thank you dear Elizabeth Helfant for that.

Please find her most incredible post here.

Her post is most certainly worth the time and the read - but for those who just can't spare it - you have to see these:
Piano Stairs - The Fun Theory:-Volkswagon (1:48) 
VW is advertising through sharing creative ideas of how to get more people to use the stairs via fun....getting more people to throw away trash via fun. 
We need to turn work into play for the student, for us... yes?

The Spirit of New Humanities: Richard Miller (4 minutes)
No time for the video? - best take away for me:
The real problems of society don't have solutions, they have ways to deal with them and to move. Encourage students to rest in ambiguity. If a student starts in clarity, works in clarity, and finishes in clarity, they have learned nothing. Confront confusion, ignorance, lack of understanding - your ability to do that is a sign of your success as a student.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

incredible minds - we should listen more - yes?

conversation via blog with d.sunday evil of croatia:
sunday=purple, me=tan

nice job girl. i especially like this: 
Now when I'm older I'm happy as long as I'm not described. Can you answer me? Why are we destroying ourselves like this?? 
i wish people cared more about people than labeling people. 
maybe some day. 
maybe if we listen to young people more... 
I'm trying my best with this writing thing....because I don't just want to write posts because I'll get an A....I want to take that from my soul and show the people how I think and feel.

wow...more to school than an a. ...loving it. listen on...

all about erin

what is this new disease called?..

freedom writers

My class just watched Freedom Writers, as did this cool class in Croatia that is corresponding with us via ning/skype/etc. We're hoping this experience will spark some conversation. Conversation about being change agents.

If you haven't seen the movie, go rent it, buy it, or download it, borrow it, ....then come back for a challenge. Once you have seen it, read on.
Here's my thinking...
We all need to make a toast to change. Perhaps Thanksgiving is a perfect time to do that. Perhaps tonight at dinner, perhaps this Saturday at 3pm, perhaps next math class. Whenever suits you, get some Sparkling Cider - and make a toast for change. 

But please, realize what you are doing. You are saying -  that you have noticed a change that needs to happen and that you are the one to do it. Daily.

I'm thinking anyone who watched the movie must feel in some degree.... - thank goodness that's not me. My first thought goes to kids who actually experience that, or kids in Uganda - part of the Invisible Children. I start thinking of ways to help them. Because it seems so unfair - the hardships they endure.

But in reality, (absolutely no disrespect or triviality placed on ones who do go through true hardships), we all experience some type of roadblock. Sometimes I wonder, in America especially, if we are less fortunate, because our roadblock isn't so blatant. I'm thinking that for most of us, our comfort, our abundance, our perfectionism (fear of failure), our system, our isolation, our freedom,.... are the things that, while they aren't life-threatening, keep us from caring enough to do better. Or that keep us from just taking notice that we need to and could do better.

What is your/our roadblock? What's keeping you from becoming remarkable. What's telling you that you can't really follow your dream. 
Or, what's keeping you from dreaming... I mean dreaming big?

Look at Mateo. Mateo trains 7 hours a day for swimming. 
Now Mateo's life is not in danger if he doesn't train. Mateo won't lose his family's love and respect if he doesn't train. There is no hardship forcing Mateo to swim. 
So why does he do it? Seven hours a after day?
Mateo has a dream. Mateo has a deep love for swimming. Mateo makes a choice daily that his dream is worthwhile. And nothing can overcome that. 

We need to capture that.

I'm thinking - for most of us, roadblocks would disappear if would listen and pay attention to things/people around us more. When students don't listen to students, teachers don't listen to students, students don't listen to teachers, that limits us. We let it go, because it's not life-threatening. But I wonder, how much the reality of our dreams would change, if we only worked on that one thing...listening.

We have so much to learn. We have so much to learn from each other. We really should listen more, whether it be through words, writing, song, art, music,.... We should treat each other's voice - like it were our only meal for a week, or our ticket to freedom, or a scholarship to college, or pay for rent. 

I think if we listened to each other more... 
teachers might learn how to better steer their students;
students might see a bigger dream, a bigger purpose, more direction in their life;
admin and parents and stakeholders and presidents might realize that the system and comfort and tradition should not only be questioned, but continually morphed, ...sometimes overhauled.

I wish we could see the need for change as clearly as people who face death, or hunger, or whatever, daily. I think if we felt that urgency, the world would would change. 

So please... like in the movie - where they toast to change... celebrate your fairwell to everything that has ever told you you can't. 
Make a toast to change. we did
And then every day, decide again, that it matters.

examples of people deciding daily:


Monday, November 9, 2009

on seat time

post that vividly depicts good use of seat time:

tom's shoes

if you're doing something good - you never have to advertise - your customers (students) will spread the word and the business.

another key - do it in a simple way.

blake mycoski

there is no tom. just like there is no ted. tom stands for a better tomorrow. and - if you buy a pair today - we'll give away a pair tomorrow.


Sunday, November 8, 2009


i absolutely love this post: fabulous

thank you seth godin.

school that works...?

dan meyer's idea for motivation

voicethread: school - on rich use of web in school

a group effort - we are more together -  help build this

my crazy ideas so far:

all students must pass csap like-test.
        **until they do they are either:
              - in a regular classroom
              - in the student achievement center getting prescribed remedial help
         **once they do
              - take ap classes
              - take tech infused classes

tech infused classes:
1. teachers wherever have one pod(?) of about 100 students that they facilitate
2. students are grouped according to passion with whoever they choose - including one expert tutor

Thursday, November 5, 2009


via @courosa