Play. It does a body good!

A weekend of play!!

Here I have two articles that have come across my digital landscape in the last week. They are of interest on a personal level as I try and navigate the options for my children’s education. It is this sort of belief about development that has helped with some of the decisions.

Both these are about the importance of PLAY!!!  Do it! It helps.

Below are two more links that I have found and wanted to add to the collection.

Tests, learning and school change at EduCon

Here is a link to an interesting panel discussion about issues that we are having to deal with nation wide and I am faced with it here in my classroom.

This panel gathered at the EduCon conference last week in Philadelphia. What a great experience the conference must have been. May be will get there one of these years.

Note that Maine is represented on the panel by Bette Manchester.

Wisdom and the 21st Century

So here we have a couple of wise videos.

What is Wisdom?

Jim Burke got me thinking with his post this week about wisdom. I made me look back to Chris Lehmann’s 5 min talk which he ended with the statement about teaching wisdom. Chris’ final point had been with me for awhile. Wow can I teach wisdom. Sounds cool but can it be done?

Jim’s link to this YouTube clip not only is it a great piece to watch but it made me think that maybe the “undefined wisdom” would not be that easy to teach after all.  No really! But as we are having to look at what we need to be teaching for 21st century learners are we not trying to move to teach less specific content and more thinking and problem solving skills.

Will this lead us to a wiser crowd in the long run? Or as Jim Burke ask can a crowd have wisdom? and or does an online crowd have wisdom?

Chris Lehmann in 5 mins.


Enjoy these and think about it!

K12 Online Conference – finally finding the time!

K12 Online Conference

It is such a pleasure to have access to this resource, to hear and see what these marvelous educators are working on, and to to it when it works for us!  Now that is progress.

The first few weeks of the month have been filled with other events and activities so it was nice to begin yesterday with a number of offerings. You can’t beat it.

Here are a few that I have enjoyed today.
K12 Online Conference schedule

The following are examples of some of those Maine teachers that are mentioned on my latest blog post.

Kern Kelly Talks about Google goodies.

Sharon Betts Talks about applications for early elementary
Sprankle,Oakes, Barr Talking on a porch with video cameras

A great talk on leadership and changes at the top!
Chris Lehmann’s Leading change talk.

There is so much there. I encourage you to check it out and find something of interest for you.

ACTEM – Teaching Past the Gaps in Maine

My recent reading has brought me to these two geographically linked posts. The first one mentions Maine teachers and technology and what others see from the outside. Check out Chris Lehmann’s blog and the K12 Online Conference where Dean Shareski made the initial observation about the plethora of great teachers in Maine who are pushing hard when it comes to technology in education.

The second is from the ACTEM conference where Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach spoke about the gaps in our learners knowledge and how to address it. I left the conference with her point on my mind and since then I have found that it has influenced decisions that I have made around my teaching. Reading Ben Wildeboer’s post reminded me what was influencing those decisions. It allowed for some reflection on my work and behavior. He clearly gets to Nussubaum-Beach’s point and shares it with all who care to read it. He was not even there but listened to it thanks to Bob Sprankle’s Podcast. That is how this thing works! Enjoy and read blogs for your health!

PLN’s and how Create and Build – ACTEM

Attending ACTEM’s Annual conference.

Just finished up sitting in on Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach‘s keynote address. For me her discussion of the personal learning network and the importance of it validates my goals on getting this network established for myself.

To follow up on this point I have ventured down the hall to Sharon Betts‘ talk on 21st centuring networking. She introduces uStream, Twitter, Ning, Social Bookmarking with Delicious and Diigo, and RSS.

Shows the ease with which you can become a broadcaster using uStream. Get an account and a camera and off you go.

Next is a Twitter talk. Explaining how and why one would want to get into twitter.

Social sites began with Ning. She recommended Classroom 2.0 ning.

Ran out of time and ended with the k12Online conference plug.

Intermission check out the coffee and the vendors. Who needs a pair of Google Sketchup socks?

Next, a presentation with Dr. Tim Tyson.  Putting your class on the Grid.

Using blogs with your classrooms. This tool allows you to share everything that you are doing in your classroom.  How to get teachers started on a blog. Fried Chicken and a quick demo.

Gets homework home, gets class news home, and allows that communication to get started.

So blogs are easy to set up and then one can use RSS feed for blogs that you want to read.

I am keeping a blog not to give me more work but to give you the parent some work to do. The parents are then responsible for reviewing with their day with their child.

Mabry Middle School an illustration of how they used a blog in their school.

Teachers each had a blog and needed to post at least once a week. Also hosted field trip blogs, and podcasts blogs.

He then demoed the use of ScreenFlow. Looks like an amazing way to get material from class out on the web.

(ECTO, ScreenFlow, wireless mic)

Lunch on the fly and a visit to Doug Snow sharing the latest from Noteshare.

Workshop of wiki use with Terri Dawson.

Easy, Collaborative, Global connections

Terri uses and recommends wikispaces. The discussion, history tabs look like a nice feature that I need to investigate in PBwiki.

Interesting comment was that it is easier for students to do comments in a blog rather than a wiki. Something I will need to think about with the staff wiki that we set up.

And so that was the day in a nut shell! Now time to answer my new questions and start putting some of this new information to work in my teaching.

MLTI Meeting Samoset 2008

These are my notes and thoughts on the fly from the gathering.

Began with the 20 min introductions. Why?  Hey, the views are great from the lobby!

TPCK and SAMR are the latest stuff from MLTI/DOE I can’t wait to hear what they are about.

Jeff M mentioned that they did look at our NoteShare notebooks from last year. Glad to hear that!

Jim M with inquiry….!   purposeful questions get it going.


Be creative!

That is what the world wants from us. Are we up for it?

How many students at AVS are making regular and effective use of technology as a tool for improving their learning? (Rich, regular, and effective use of technology) “The Moulton effective”

I would say that we are good at regular and effective use of technology K-8 but my interest is around the rich, creative use of technology. That is where we struggle and I struggle on ways to get it out to teachers so that they will be able to comfortably work with it in their classroom.

The admin needs to be the leaders and allow an environment where there is improvement around this even though it maybe a voyage through some rough waters.

Teacher questions student’s decisions to reflect on their work. That allows students to review what is involved in being creative and working with that “new” opportunity.


Learn how to ask questions!  That is what you need to do as a humans.

Google/internet is giving us all the “knowledge” that traditionally was a huge part of school.

Is Google really doing this to us?!


Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition

That is SAMR – now I’ve got it!

This framework needs to be looked at by our schools.

How can we get teachers comfortable with this technology if there is a lack of interest or resistance.

Phil is asking that we merge SAMR and the TPCK and now we are hearing Ruben Puentedura share ways that we can share these models with individual school staffs. Not a lot of questions.

I still am looking for an answer to the question as to how to get individual teachers into these models and feel comfortable with it. Looks like a higher ed source but not for middle school.

Ruben’s resource for ideas on how to transition into the models.

Lunch has got a hold on me.


After great conversations around the table about what actions we need to take to get technology connected to the classrooms and the students learning it was time to head out. But not after Barb and Carol had signed me up for a wiki collaboration project that we need to flesh out this week using video chat and skype or whatever works.

Thanks to the Appleton/Hope/Rockland teams for the conversations.

Where are we headed?

Posted by samzenpus on Tuesday September 23, @11:26PM
from the think-of-the-children dept.
Pittsburgh Public Schools officials have enacted a policy that sets 50 percent as the minimum score a student can receive for assignments, tests and other work. District spokeswoman Ebony Pugh said, the 50 percent minimum gives children a chance to catch up and a reason to keep trying. If a student gets a 20 percent in a class for the first marking period, he or she would need a 100 percent during the second marking period just to squeak through the semester. The district and teachers union issued a joint memo to ensure staff members’ compliance with the policy, which was already on the books but enforced only at some schools. At this rate, it won’t be long before schools institute double extra credit Mondays and Fridays to ensure students don’t take three day weekends.

So where are we headed?  Would this policy work at your school or district or classroom?

Does it make sense in the long term or is it a short term fix for students who are not meeting the goals of the school?

Are there not other ways get students to invest in their learning that might be more meaningful?

What is the “value” of a grade?     Especially if it is artificially set!

I personally don’t like the solution that they have arrived at but on a district wide, urban setting I certainly see that the options are limited. School size and class size playing a larger part I am sure. As I sit here with my class of 18 students I realized that we are fortunate to have a setting where we can avoid a policy like this. Our situation allows us to intervene in a more personal basis and that is the bottom line. If we can get to a personal 1to1 or small group setting the issues of students giving up due to grades is greatly reduced.

On the other hand why do we need a grade? Are there alternatives that could sidestep this issue if grades were not in the equation?

Writing Matters? Really?

Writing online with students.


This appears to be a super resource for teachers and students around writing.  As a teacher it appears to be not only a resource with ideas and lessons but also a platform for publishing work online.

There are a multitude of ways to put material on the web (this blog is an example) but when working with students it is nice to have an environment where teachers and students can feel comfortable with access to the published material. This seems to be one of those “comfortable spots” on the web.

When you have time explore and see if this might be a fit for your classroom.

Let me know if you found this site to be useful in your classroom.

Bumper stickers, science teachers, principals, and the economy.

This weekend while on my way to the Common Ground Country Fair I read a bumper sticker (not new, just a reminder) that says “The Best Things in Life are not Things”.

Last night I read a post from Chris Lehmann (principal in PA) about considering a new economic model that gets away from the “growth” based economy and tries to rework the great features about our present system but is based on “sustainability”. Chris concludes his post with:

“Because I am concerned that without a new model, the macro-level rapaciousness of a corporate capitalism as that legal organism is currently constructed will lead us into a need for more and more where we must hope that technological innovations stretch ever-dwindling resources and increase the efficiency with which humans interact with their environment outpace the need for the market to grow. And that is a frightening end-game that, to me, we are destined some day to lose.”

This morning I just finished reading Mr. Doyle’s (science teacher in NJ) reflection on the action on Wall Street and the placement or misplacement of value. Pointing out that his basil in the garden still has the same value that it had before the Dow dropped 500 points. (The frost got mine this weekend so there was some depreciation on the crop here in Appleton) He concludes with

If children truly learned what’s worth anything, I fear expect our economy would collapse.”

These two readings point out some fairly clear limitations in the “value” system of our society. Can we plan on always getting more from the environment even if our technological progress makes our “environmental interaction more efficient”? And if as educators we educated on value and what is really worth something would it move us towards a “more sustainable” economy from the ground up? I would like to think that yes, the American system does need some reworking and that these students that we have are the ones who are going to have to get it! (We did not!) They need to be realizing that “Ultimately everything of value is connected to the ground, the sun, the air, the water.”

My 8th grade class just finished up harvesting corn from that garden that they planted last May. They had a choice of what they wanted to do with it and interestingly they did not choose the money route they did not give it away to a needy organization. The value for them in that corn was to cook it up and eat it as a class, sharing the experience with each other. Now there was some value! (and a good thing in their life)

The visit to the Fair was an annual pilgrimage that many Mainers make every year. Is it to be reminded of what is really valuable! I think it is. We go not to shop, not for entertainment, (not that it does not have either of these) but for that reminder of the important things of real value. We can see and hear about the connections to the ground, the sun, the air and the water. That is what it is about! On an individual basis we tend to get so caught up in the “Wall Street” value and marketing of things of little value that this annual gathering is a great way for us to educate ourselves and reflect about things of real value.

And remember that the good things in life are not always things!!