The New Curriculum




Had a great devotion from a faculty member this morning on the three words above. Unfortunately, I tuned out the rest of the devotion and let my mind wander. As soon as they were introduced, I couldn't wait to get back to a computer and start blogging about them!

My mind was awash with how important it is to teach my daughters Rachel and Sarah those important virtues. Christmas is an especially great time to ponder these ideas because it is at Christmas that that we either find our selves practicing them (waiting/patience) or we find that there are not enough moments to enjoy them (silence).

Recently I've been getting annoyed with the "little things": Having to wait for a page to load, waiting for a video or mp3 to render, being patient in the line at the craft store waiting to buy stencils so Rachel can make her teacher's Christmas gifts.

Dare I ask: Is this a product of our digital society (I know it's just the "poor miserable sinner" portion of me acting up, but could it be exacerbated?)? It almost sounds like blasphemy coming from a school technology coordinator, but it may be time to consider ALL of the potential outcomes that our digital age is producing, positive and negative.

Amidst the awesome connections and powerful new tools of our digitally "revolutionized" world, there may be some unseen issues we need to address and be prepared to deal with. I'm not talking about students posting a "bone-headed" video on YouTube, which will always be the case, but rather the subtle changes which we are only now starting to recognize in brain development and interpersonal traits...or the lack there of (Check out iBrain by Dr. Garry Small).

Our natural times to learn and practice these skills are starting to decline with the increase of technology tools. For example:
  1. If I can get any information I want within a matter of minutes, or is some cases seconds, how will I learn patience?
  2. If I can send grandma an email instead of a "snail-mail" letter to see how she is doing, how will I learn to wait?
  3. If I spend all of my time watching videos (even the good stuff on YouTube), or listening to MP3s, or anticipating the "ding" on Twitter or an email, how will I learn the beauty of silence?
I know it is possible to teach these skills (never thought I'd ever call patience, waiting, and silence skills!) in the digital context...but the question is, "Do I?"

As teachers, do we think about the importance of teaching or modeling waiting, when our students can get what they want, when they want it? As teachers are we purposefully including elements of delayed gratification into our projects, assignments, or rewards? Are there times when we lead students into moments of silence to clear their minds of noise...maybe that's why prayer is so hard for our kids? What happens when I pray and God tells me to wait, to be patient, to slow down and listen?
  • Psalm 37:7
    Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.
  • Psalm 46:10
    "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth."
  • Isaiah 64:4
    Since ancient times no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him."
How do we handle these passages?

I guess that is what I'm trying to think through. How am I going to teach my four & two year old daughters to be patient, to wait, and be silent in a digital world that doesn't honor those values? How will I teach my students to be patient, to wait, and understand the beauty of silence in a world that draws them to the apathy of those virtues?

There is no pessimism in this blog post, only wonder...thinking...contemplating...and searching.
The tools we have at our teaching disposal have never been more numerous and more effective, but how do we push our kids ahead to a greater understanding of the life God has for them to live. It is up to us to help them make distinctions between times of loud and times of soft, when do I need it now and when can it wait till later.
  • Ecclesiastes 3:1
    "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:"
Christmas is a great time to think about such things. Blessings on your Christmas preparations was you wait patiently for the celebration of the coming Christ child!

Verses taken from NIV translation of the Bible (

Photo by vikto.loveandpeace:"Silent light in Silent Night"
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Professional development plans

The next few weeks will begin a journey of trying to put together a professional development plan. I really wish there was a class on this or some manual to follow.

It seems a bit daunting, but you never know until you try...right?

Our goal is to take results from an awareness/skills inventory (See results below), and create a kind of IEP for each staff member. Then once a month, we will offer two to four mini lessons for staff to attend based on their needs (teacher led).

The one constant, regardless of what this "program" looks like at the end of the day, is that kids need knowledgeable teachers to mentor and guide them through their learning. We want to match our high-quality teachers with high-quality technology tools.

We are not looking to reinvent the wheel, so if you have any ideas, please feel free to share. More to come...

We are starting to get there.....

My goal with blogging is to try to flesh out ideas, cause people to think, and generally process my own thinking. But in this post I just really wanted to share this new tool from Mozilla Labs. I won't say anymore. Just watch:----UBIQUITY

Ubiquity for Firefox from Aza Raskin on Vimeo.

All the extra connectivity could potentially be a security nightmare. But, I'm willing to "take one for the team" and try it out! :-) If it's as easy as the demo looks, things could get a whole lot more interesting.

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Like a fly drawn to the flames....

What's more intriguing than a "cult classic" video on YouTube? How about a live event with all your favorite YouTube "celebs!" I've been fascinated by the YouTube Live event that took place Saturday night. If you are a hardcore YouTuber, you would have appreciated all the inside jokes, videos, personalities, and dreams come true.

I only watched about fifteen minutes live, but enjoyed several clips the day after. According to the blog Digital Media Wire: " the show had about 700,000 simultaneous viewers at the peak of the event, according to NewTeeVee, and clips from YouTube Live have been viewed an additional2,5 million times in the immediate 24 hours afterwards." That's a lot of viewers! I wonder if my religion unit last week on the prophet Isaiah would draw that much? Probably not...

For me, the best performance came from a young man named FunTwo. He had been posting videos of himself playing guitar for a year or so... and he is REALLY good. During the live event he got the opportunity to play with metal, guitar legend Joe Satriani. What endears me to this story is that a young Korean kid goes to school in New Zealand, uploads videos of himself playing and is now jamming with a guitar virtuoso on a live international event.

I wonder talents our kids have hiding inside that the world is waiting to hear from? What thing are just swimming around in their heads waiting to get out? And what are we doing in schools that help students develop those skills?

I'm sure we can all do with a little less Fred, Charlie the Unicorn, and Will It Blend, but the one thing we should never do with out is providing opportunities for our students to be creative and inventive.

Just a thought...

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iBrain--Are we losing interpersonal skills?

I'm about half way through an interesting book called iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind by Gary Small and Gigi Vorgan (Thanks to Dave Black for mentioning it in a Twitter post).

Was intrigued to read that the technology revolution isn't the greatest thing to have happened to the human brain since sliced bread! The first six chapters outline volumes of research from universities, organizations, and foundations regarding technology use and its effect on the human brain. Frankly, the book puts forth some information that sounds a bit troubling. 

Hearing that technology use by young children causes underlying symptoms that are consistent with autism is very unnerving information to a technology coordinator. I've spent my 11 year career convincing teachers, administrators, and school boards that the computer and other technologies are such transformative tools that students shouldn't learn with out them!  Now brain research is telling use that we are causing autism, aspergers, ADHD, and ADD! Has our pendulum swung too far to the side of technology use, away from face to face interactions that we are raising up a generation with under developed interpersonal skills (making and maintaining eye contact with individuals; recognizing, analyzing, and deciphering body language cues; able to delay gratification; generally being a "people person")? 

Mind you, this research isn't based on anecdotal evidence and surveys, it's done by observation and repetition within the context of a PET scan or fMRI (functional MRI--where they can scan the brain in the process of working). That's hard to argue with.

Despite all the negatives, I'm not ready to to hang up the proverbial cleats yet!. The authors do go into great detail about the positives of the digital/media revolution, but they have strong words of caution.

 The book is not anti technology, but it brings up many great points that all teachers, parents, and concerned citizens should be aware of. The number one finding: BALANCE! 

God calls us as Christians to lead a balanced life! 

After googling "Living a balanced life" bible I stumbled on a blog post titled, "Living a Balanced Life" at (Couldn't find the authors name to go with the blog).  More interesting than the blog itself where the comments.  Most of them revolved around the idea that balanced living is a matter of knowing God. Knowing God is tantamount to having a balanced life. The Bible doesn't spend much time calling us to live a balanced life, but rather calls us to know Christ. Isn't that what Jesus busted Martha for after her questioning of Mary? (In case you forgot the story) is what I'm taking away from iBrain so far:
  1. Technology is physically changing the brain in ways never before documented. The neural circuitry is physically being altered.
  2.  It's not always being altered to the best outcome of our society. Many of us are no longer developing the social, life skills we need to be successful (HOW you say something is just as important as what you say)
  3. We will never get away from living in community with one another. Not just a network, but a community (I think a community carries with it a lot more baggage than a network...the theme of another post). We need certain skills to function together in a face to face community that technology doesn't teach us.
  4. We have to help students learn to do both: Be learners in the technological/media context as well as interpersonal.
I'm excited for chapters seven and eight because they outline what we can do to help our brains balance a tech heavy load and bring balance! We'll see how this shakes out!

Photo used under a Creative Commons license:
alles-schlumpf, "alles-schlumpf's photostream." FLICKR. 10 SEP 2008. 24 Nov 2008 .       


As a student, I hated writing. I don't know what it was, but I've always had trouble putting my thoughts down in a timely manner. If you haven't noticed...or maybe you have...there hasn't been a post on TECHILC since September. It looks as if nothing has changed.

With that being said, there are 15 posts sitting in my account unpublished, waiting to be either finished (because drafting them took so long) or deleted. I've just been having trouble "pulling the trigger," so to speak, with the publish button! Does the article say exactly what I want it to say? Is everything worded correctly so as I am not misunderstood. Could I say something that could come back and "bite me." The saying that keeps coming back to me is:

Tis' far better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are fool, than to open your mouth prove them right!
Besides the nefarious spelling, grammar, and usage mistakes that I'm prone to make, there just the feeling that I don't want to come off sounding like an arrogant fool, which I'm sure I do every now and again...or a lot! Now I'm beginning to understand why some of my students hate to write.

Maybe there is some unconscious fear in publishing? Is blogging really just my thinking in a public place? Am I OK with that.....? Bob Sprankle addresses this issue with a Techlearning blog article, "I'm Still Rezzing"
Like it or not, much of our lives are now like those walls, whether by choice, or by chance: open to review and examination on the Internet.

On the positive end of the spectrum, an example of this may be how many of us are now learning in public in ways that were never before possible, through tools such as blogs, wikis, podcasts, etc. Though this approach of putting your learning out there for all to see can be daunting and challenging, I firmly believe the rewards are enormous. As a personal case in point, I believe that I am a better teacher by reflecting on my practice in public, opening up my professional development to a larger network of participants ---my learning network--- for feedback, challenges, and even accountability.
If that's the case...well, I'll just have to start pressing the Publish button again!

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Learning As You Go

Wouldn't it have been nice to have a class in college on how to be a presenter. Now I did have a public speaking course at River Forest, but that doesn't neccessarily guarantee the ability to provide one-time, effective professiona development (or parent development which was this weekends case).

Anyway....the point being was that this coming Sunday, as well as last, our Next Generation Ministry will be hosting parent "Hot Topic" sessions. I have the blesses opportunity of being the presenter for both of those (UStream of the first session). Feel free to critique my performance. I find myself being a bit scatter brained when it comes to presenting so much material. Basically it boiled down to present more information than I had time. Was caught between wanting to share with parents how the Web is still developing and how that impacts families and then the more practical, "Hey, this is what an average 3rd grader should be doing with the computer or online." When I do the presentation this week, I think I'll focus more on the latter.

Here is the wiki link to my notes  They are pretty "sparce" right now, but will have everything

full updated before Sunday. Feel free to add anything that you'd like! Will definitely add more of the spiritual components this week.

Being a presenter isn't easy. I used to envy professional ed tech conference speakers (I know they do more than that :-), but it's hard work! 

Isola! [with SD14], "Heavy Work." Isola! [with SD14]'s Photostream. 20 May 2007. 23 Sep 2008 

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I Love This Stuff....

Can I just say that I appreciate more and more the Internet and all the awesome possibilities it provides!  For example, I twittered earlier this week about teachers using Shutterfly for classroom photos and issues pertaining to privacy. Later that day, some one from Shutterfly had replied to my tweet.


That was awesome! The folks at Shutterfly have someone watching Twitter for comments about their product. Talk about effective marketing and strategic thinking. I'm not teaching my students to think like that yet, do you? I've got some work to do.

Also learned  today about a new tool called Glogster. At least it was new to me!

Cindy Lane twittered about using Glogster in a grad course, so I thought I'd give it a shout. Maybe a presenter for the upcoming K12 Online Conference will create poster as a promo using Glogster (Quick reminder that the conference starts October 13 with a pre-conference keynote. Be there or be square)?

Thought I'd play around a little bit. This is a poster for my sectional at the MO District Professional Church Workers Conference this November (If you'd like to contribute to the presentation, feel free). What do you think? 

You've Gotta Love This Stuff!

Missing some pieces.....

I've made the mistake of trying to prepare too many presentations at one time....yet another sign that I'm not ready to leave full time teaching and become an Ed Tech Consultant :-)

I am missing some pieces for my Missouri District Professional Church Workers Conference in November. My sectional is about defining a professional learning network (PLN) and all the stuff that goes with that.  The only problem is, I've dabbled in a TON of tools, but don't feel a specific expertise on any of them. That's not to say that I don't learn a lot on a daily basis, but there have got to be some better ways of doing things. There are pieces about Twitter that I'm sure would make my life easier! My Diigo account is going by the wayside untouched for a lack of understanding, and I am no where near ready to adventure into Plurk or any of the other microblogging sites (besides Twitter of course).  So this is an open invitation to any experts who would be willing to spare a half hour to walk me through their favorite PLN tools  or hold my hand through the more advanced features of the tools below.

Below are some sites I feel pretty comfortable with, but would like to know more about:
  • Ning--I have a decent handle on Social Networking, although if you are an admin, I'd love some pointers! Technology in Lutheran Schools Ning--just in case any one's interested
  • Delicious--Feel comfortable with social bookmarking, don't have people jumping out of the wood work to share links with me, but I try to help others out when I can. By the way, feel free to tag me in on any bookmarks.
  • Twitter--I've been using Twitter more and more. Just would like to see if I'm missing something?
I'd love to have someone sit down (or SKYPE in) with me and go through apps like Diigo, PageFlakes, or anything I haven't mentioned. 

If no one comments back or had time....I completely understand! I just want to fill the wholes in my knowledge before I stand up in front of a group of educators and explain why they should take a risk to collaborate online. I can only say it has been one of the most rewarding thing I've ever done!

If you interested in how my sectional prep is going, feel free to check out the wiki.

Image by:
Woody Thrower, "Puzzle pieces." Woody Thrower's photo stream. 06, Sept 2008. FLICKR. 15 Sep 2008 .

px; color: #333; font-family: verdana" align=right>Technorati Tags: href="" rel="tag">pln href="" rel="tag">tools

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As someone who used to love working out and exercising (Lettered Varsity football my freshman year at Denver Lutheran High School...Go Lights!), it is becoming increasingly harder to force myself to get up and get moving. The next best thing is taking my dog Sadie for an evening stroll. Thus the reason for this blog post!

While taking a brisk school night stroll, I noticed the hazy sky shining only a few evening lights. That struck me as a bit odd. Why when I looked at the sky, could I see such few stars. For some odd reason, this prompted me to think about my professional learning network. When I sit back and critically analyze who is part of my PLN, there are only a few bright lights shining, dominating my "night sky". I loved living in Denver (haven't been back in years though), where I could drive for just a short time and see what seemed like millions of stars. While I am impressed at the brightness of the few stars that are able to cut through the city lights, there is real beauty and joy in the multitude.

This post isn't meant to demean any of those folks who I consider a vital part of my PLN (Dave Black, Dennis Grice, Lisa Durff, to name only a few. There are a host of contacts in Twitter, and on SKYPE who are also critical to my learning). I've just noticed that my RSS feed is filled with "the few, the proud" and the"rock stars" of Ed Tech-dom: Dave Warlick, Wes Fryer, Wil Richardson, Vicki Davis, etc.

I guess I'm looking for more variety, if not more variety, then more voices (Especially around Presidential campaign time. I tend not to share similar political views with many of my colleagues).

If anything, I'd like to be able to share more and have deeper conversations. I love reading Dave Warlick, but he's not likely to comment on my blog. Maybe I should dive more into our Technology in Lutheran Schools Ning.

Flickr image:
greefus groinks, "The north star goes wobbly." greefus groinks photostream. 11 Jul 2007. FLICKR. 27 Aug 2008 .

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A Little Fun...At Least Before School Starts!

Got this from a colleague and wanted to try it out! If you click on the video it should allow you to create your own! I know it's a bit narcasistic, but it is kind of funny.

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Preparing For School

Every year about this time, there is a lament about how I've squandered my summer. Now when I say "squandered," I don't mean WASTED. Believe me, watching my daughters at swim lessons, or getting to the myriad of home improvement projects (unfortunately, not much improvement this summer,only maintenance.) are not "wasting" my time. But it is a bit sobering if I think about what could have been achieved if I'd spent all those "deck staining" hours putting together a professional development plan or aligning PD with the new NETS for Teachers.

All of these thoughts are of primary concern as I'm starting to put together my MO District Professional Church Worker Conference presentation on the importance of building a professional learning network. Struggling with how to counter act the whole, "I don't have time" excuse. Here was an interesting blog post from The Twain Blog. Be sure to check out he comments below the article. The main idea behind the article is that the average teacher won't take the time to be part of and use many online tools because they just can't spare an more hours working. There are a couple of interesting arguments for and against using a variety of different PLN web applications.
Just some thoughts....It's off to swim lessons!

image: Flicker User--InkSwamp (CC Licensed photo)

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5E Lesson Model in MOODLE

LIVE BLOGGED POST: Please be gracious with my misspellings and grammatcial errors.

5E Lesson Model in MOODLE--sectional is like a movie trailer just a short introduction to get you coming back for more
Charles McCall and Charles Ackerman

Presentation is a model classroom lesson on tariffs. Walk through how the 5E lesson is put together and flows using Moodle.

Typically there are key learning points about a topic, but this is more of a show and tell (or show and do for some of us IN the model classroom).

There seem to be SO many modules for Moodle, that it almost makes you head spin!

Discussion tips: Only allow 2 posts in direct discussion posts (students are required to post an opinion), that way the discussion doesn't digress into a "Hey, what are you having for dinner?" kind of stuff.

Moodle Quizes--Students LOVE the immediate feedback. Said that students hate doing things on paper. The don't complain about the writing or it's "cooler" than paper, but they like the immediate feedback.

Emphasis on mixed presentation--both lab-based(in class) instruction/interaction and web-based(online class) instruction/interaction. Research based on ISTE study (can't find reference to research.

Good ideas in terms of how to create a lesson using the 5E model with Moodle.

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DysFUNction--Reaching Your Staff with the right Prof. Dev.


Chris O'Neal

Convincing Admins-
Give them data-how you approach different positions with different sets of data
For in-services, pull out only what they need. Find out what keeps them awake at night and speak the “language” of the life
Pew Internet-great resource for data

Which kids in your classroom are not engaged, and why aren't they engaged? Essential question for helping teachers see the "need" to use technology in their teaching.

Common Excuses
Tough Units
Hard to reach students
Communication with parents

Encourage teachers to use something like TeacherTube to upload student content. It's easy.

Board Members
Consider image of the school system. What are the issues that the board cares about and tailor "tech talk" to their needs. Examples below

  • Public perception
  • Money
  • Data
  • Troublesome

Public image--Using SchoolTube to create a specific picture of what our school looks like

Central Office--Doesn't appy to Lutheran Schools (Could this apply to convincing District Ed. Execs?)

Central Office folks "tend" to not unify prof. dev. Connect technology to all the other core curriculum areas and value what they have to offer. Intentionally include others who are incredibly focused.

TCPK--No more tech workshops: must overlay the areas of tech, content areas, and pedagogy to create. Connectedness, Content-driven, Pedagogical

**Aside--Chris would be a great person to present to Lutheran Tech Coord. group about how to bring along unwilling teachers**

Great resource--Edutopia

REALLY effective communication! Student satisfaction. Child's committment to school (These are important to parents)

Encourage parents to be advocate technology use in the classroom.

How about you?
Google Calendar--Using SMS reminders/email reminders. Calendar for a class (How about for a sports schedule?)
--Time Saving tools (Blog)

How are YOU using technology to make your position or office more effective

  • Get your time in order
  • Survey your landscape for: Unity, Effective communications, Data
  • Step back and look what you are doing

IT people also should be talked to in a specific way!

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NETS-T--Technology Standards for Teachers


Panel discussion about the NETS-T
Panel: Christine Greenhow, University of Minnesota with Jay Pfaffman, Andrea Prejean and Neal Strudler

What are the challenges to fully incorporating teaching standards:

Model, Model, Model

Not enough computers
We don't model enough for preservice

Must validate the importance of these standards. Consensus between pre-service teachers and regular schools. Disconnect between what's being promoted. Field experience is important for preparing teachers. It takes a village to prepare a good teacher.

There is a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the computer and the Internet

What are some practical strategies to integrating these new standards?

For example: Copyright--never use software that CAN be stolen (plug for the open source community). Creative Commons

Partnership for 21st Century Schools Lesson plans and activities for teachers, so they can see what these things look like.

Discussion is turning into a discussion about how to integrate, model, force, coerce, convice, assess, and market the standards.

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1:1 Laptops and Seamless Integration--NECC 2008


Howard Levin
Director of Technology for Urban School in San Francisco

Head of school who supports 1:1--#1 factor in success of 1:1 program--
My principal understands the need, but I don't know how much yet and to what length he'd be willing to go to get there? Everyone Captures-Begin to see devices in the future, not as they are now (Check out the movie "Born Into Brothels")

Seamless=making the technology disappear

Communication (Collaboration via communication)-laptops actually encourage communication, not move away from it. Foreign language dept. loves it Sending audio files back and forth from students to teachers. Nature of homework is changing, not just text. Nature of teacher prep and student prep is changing. Cross grade level dialogue. We are starting email accounts for 5-8 grades, need to address the fear of communication with peers, and teacher and peers. Use of SMARTBoards w/ 1:1--archiving of notes with student ability to access Great for study notes. Use of discussion boards to increase communication, peer editting, etc.. Commenting

Organization-No more losing information (linear organization may not be necessary?) Student videos about how laptops help organize their life. Using Inspiration for non-linear concept mapping (ultimate note-taking tool for visual learners)

Information-Using the laptop to collect informatoin using sensors for science. Teacher can capture screen casts for students (recouping class time because you no longer need to take classtime to continually explain stuff

Production-Re-thinking assessment (end product--no longer traditional test) Teaching opportunities for students. Text to voice capabilities (especially for those students with disabilities or motor development issues). Producation as evaluation

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Talk Radio--Ed. Tech. PR Problem

Saturday mornings are turning into a ritualled time in our household. I’m accustomed to getting up at 5:30 a.m. on normal school days, and since my body can't make distinctions, 5:30 on the weekends it is! Our typical breakfast fare is pancakes. My goal is to get up and get the process going before our two girls wake up and come down to “help.”

As part of the morning breakfast preparation, I indulge myself with a little talk radio from a local FM talk station called 97.1 FM Talk. Most all of the commentators are politically conservative (I by nature am politically conservative. When I was growing up, I remember handing out President Reagan door hangers and campaign flyers with my dad! To give you some ideas as to my upbringing, my dad thought President Reagan was a moderate). But I digress…..

The 7:00 to 10:00 a.m. time slot on 97.1 is dominated by Dr. Randy Tobler. I will say at the outset that my own views are almost always in harmony with Dr. Tobler, politically speaking. The only real issue I have had with Randy, causing a rather passionate response from myself, wasn’t actually political but rather educational. Educational technology to be exact. He proposed that the Internet was not a viable tool for and held no educational value for children before the age of fifteen years of age. As matter of fact, the use of the Internet was detrimental to child development (cognitive, social, and emotional). He sighted the current Megan Meier Case.

Now many of you who read ed tech blogs on a regular basis recognize the absurdity in the reality of this opinion (maybe "absurdity" is a strong word?). I respect Dr. Tobler immensely, except when it comes to this opinion.

Before I go into a more specific argument, I’d first like to apologize to Randy. I’ll admit that I was a bit too passionate on the phone that morning (not "I" over "E"). I am always nervous when I call, and then feeling a bit “hot under the collar” didn’t help matters any. Another caveat is that talk radio is not a good forum to discuss such a broad topic as “educational technology.” During the course of our brief conversation about five different topics where raised and each one is uniquely important to the total conversation of ed tech. When he took my phone call I stated that I wasn’t likely to change his mind because he didn’t have a full grasp on the intricacies of the ed tech conversation and I meant it. It's hard to have a "sound-bit" conversation without time to dive in.

So, what I’d like to do is write a series of blog posts to lay out my arguments for engaging ECC, Elementary, and Middle School students with the Internet and utilize the web as an effective learning tool. Hopefully Dr. Tobler will be able to "tune-in" to my future blog posts!

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Professional Learning Networks

Here is a link to a blog post from the TechLearning blog by Bob Sprankle, "I'm Still Rezzing."

It is incredibley well written and puts many of my thoughts into words (so I don't have too!). I am greatly indebted to my network of colleagues who keep me update and still "learning!"

I wish there where more hours in the day to read all the blogs in my RSS feed, listen to all the podcasts, and attend all the meetings in Second Life, but alas there is not. That's where the network comes in. There are really too many people to count who have contributed to my knowledge. Thanks so much, we couldn't have done it with out you! What ever I can't learn first hand, they are able to know and share.

Remember, the world doesn't belong to the "knower," but to the "networked"

Image: Flickr: "Groups V. Networks." Uploaded on September 28, 2006by leekraus

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St. Louis Earthquake

I now can say I've been through an earthquake : ) The 5.4 magnitude earthquake sat me up out of bed this morning. There was some wrestling going on with my snooze button around 4:15am this morning, but an earthquake has a way of getting you up regardless.

The cool thing, besides going through it, was how fast information spread. I was a bit disappointed that Google News had only one news story available roughly 20 minutes afterwards.

BUT....the earthquake site already had all the available data. They even had a KML available for download in Google Earth (image to the right). How powerful is that information in a classroom! Wow! I know what we'll be doing today!

It was cool to even get access to maps that our local news service was using before they started broadcasting them!

Our friends in California might not be impressed with a 5.4, but to those of us in the Midwest, it will be the topic of conversation for a while.

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He if you can think it, you can speak it!

Ran across this post from Stephen Downes about a device that can capture nueral impulses sent the vocal chords and interprets them according ot 150 preprogramed words that are then retransmitted as speech. So...if you think about saying it, the computer will say it! It's obviously in its infant stages, but how cool is that? The below video was taken from a recent Texas Instrument conference in Dallas this year. Created by a company called Ambient, it has tremendous promise for those suffering with ALS or other degenerative diseases that affect the vocal chords. all good inventions, it's a bit depressing to think about how our depraved world will misuse this one! For example, I was really excited when the MS Surface computer came out. I was telling everyone how cool that would be to use in the classroom for virtual math manipulatives, painting, photograph, etc. Then in a comment on the video some guy wrote, "They say there is a camera underneath the surface that reads where your fingers are on the screen(?) does it record your fingerprint(?), is that fingerprint sent to some database?Who gets hold of that info? Seems your movements can be tracked 24/7 if you keep using these things." Wow...thanks for ruining that invention for me dude!

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One of the areas schools have tried to stay away from, and churches for that matter, is doing business with people, like a business. I've heard many a congregation member scream, "This isn't a business, it's a church!" Especially when it comes to the matter of internal infrastructure, money management, and the effective distribution of resources.

Now we could debate the merits of having congregational meetings every other month versus utilizing an administrative board to make decisions. Or how much oversight a school board should have over an administrator. Many of you could probably argue one side or the other very eloquently.

I do think however, teachers could learn a little bit from the executive world about how to run their classrooms. I know it's a pretty bold statement, but one that I think deserves a little fleshing out. This is especially true when utilizing technology to reshape "teaching" for the 21st Century! As the Ed. Tech. community spends time and energy focusing on how to prepare students to be 21st century learners, we should be equally on task (if not more) talking about what do great "teachers" in the 21st century look like. Because it's those 21st century teachers who are teaching, facilitating, and mentoring our learners.

Below is a link to an interveiw with J.P. Rangaswami from the FASTforward Conferene (a leading business and technology conference here in the US).

I especially liked his ideas about control. The same thing could be said about classrooms. Innovation shouldn't be seen as a loss of control, as long as it achieves it set goals. Because a teacher's classroom is a little more noisy and more inquiry-based, doesn't mean she's lost control. On the contrary, there may be more "control" their than the average person recognizes.

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Spring Break!! AAAHHHH......

Most people revel in Spring Break...or any break for that matter, but I often spend my breaks catching up. While I've been working in the classroom there are blogs not getting read, or when I'm participating in my personal learning community, there is school work that needs attention. It's a labor of love!

Having online A.D.D doesn't help either. There were 364 new blogs sitting in my reader waiting to be skimmed and I've only managed to get through FOUR before stopping to add a FeedJit widget to my blog and waste 30 minutes clicking on links. Some 147 of the posts are from Stephen Downes OL Daily feed and I'm afraid to start reading them for fear of spending two hours listening to a conference sectional on Connectivist learning theory (of which I am believer in).

Skimming...a skill that has become really helpful! Or should I call it: hunt, kill, and devour. That's how I've been consuming most of my information lately. Let me search for what I want, skim it for key words/facts/points, and then move on. I've even noticed that my online research skills work in the REAL library:
Over this summer, we will to have to refinish our back deck. It is a massive beast, and neither my wife nor I are looking forward to it. The main problem is that it has some boards that are badly in need of replacing. Not a problem, I built the deck on my last home, how hard can this be? The problem is, the decking is made of 2x4's standing on edge. How do you replace a board that is nailed horizontally to five other 2x4's? No Sweat! I'll go online and surely there is a contractors forum or google/yahoo usergroup for this kind of stuff; I'll us my "expert search" techniques and have a plan formulated so that on June 1st, we are ready to go. Wow...can I tell you that I couldn't find squat about "on edge 2x4 decking." After trying every search term, term combination, term variation, I gave up. The stark realization was that I didn't have the vocabulary skills needed to even begin searching. Without proper terms, search was useless. So I did what I hadn't done in about 15 years....I went to the public library! To make an already too long story shorter, I spent 20 minutes finding the books I needed and about half that time skimming their indexes (which by the way where useless), tables of contents, and pages for topics, keywords, and pics that would give me somewhere to go. The only thing I got was the phrase "on edge." Which was not previously one of my search terms.
The point of that story was how the online skill of skimming content transferred over into the print media. I shouldn't have been suprised, but I was none the less. That skill for me is turning out to be so valuable and the worst part is that I can't quite figure out HOW I developed it (other than just shear volume and time)? Could students be taught to duplicate it? How many wasted hours will students spend trudging through hoards of junk just to find one nugget of truth only to find it isn't really the truth? This sounds like a very real and strong connection between study skills and literacy skills.

Well...with those blogs staring at me, I had better get reading....or should I say...skimming :-)

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Sorry the RSS Worksheet!

After setting Google Docs to publish my "are you paying attention" worksheet to my blog, it dawned on me that wasn't a great idea. There are 22 people reading my blog...or listening to my non-existent podcasts...that will look at the worksheet and go "what?" Sorry about that! I had not yet published to my blog from Google Docs and wanted to give it a try. Thanks for your patients.

On the non-apologetic other side, the video is great to use with Middle School kids as an introduction to Copyright, Fair Use, and Public Domain. I originally got there from Wes Fryers PBWiki Copyright page.

The video was created by Eric Faden of Bucknell University and is posted on the The Center for Internet and Society (CIS) website from Standford Law School. It uses scenes from Disney films to tell the story of copyright. How ironic because Disney is most likely the worst business in America when it comes to safe-guarding intellectual properties.


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Copyright and Fair Use--Thing for students to think about!

Copyright Definition:

Copyright is a __________ fixed _______ ________in some form that can be ________ or heard

Only the ______________ _______________ has the right to __________ their ____________.

It is _____________ to use a coyright work without being granted ____________ by the

___________ _____________.

Anyone who threatens the copyright of an owner has __________ _________ __________.

You'd better be able to __________ for that copyright ______________.

What things can be copyrighted:





you CAN NOT copyright an _______

Culture thought it would be __________ to limit the power of a _________


You can only __________ the _______ an _________ takes.

Copyright Duration & the Public Domain:

A copyright only ________ for a fixed amount of _________

For example, a copyright may originally last for ______ ___________

The ________ thought that would be long enough for a copyright _________ to make _________ off of their work.

After _____ years, that copyright work will enter the __________ _________.

Works in the _________ _________ are free for _________ to use!

The ________ _________ is essential because our culture created _______ ideas by building on earlier works.

So the public domain is necessary for a living thriving society.

Unfortunately, copyright law is getting longer and their seems to be no limitation on how long a copyright can last.

Currently, a copyright lasts a _________ plus __________ years

A company's copyright can last over a __________ years

Fair Use

There are ____________ on copyright law.

Fair use are limitations on copyright.

You can ____________ a small amount of copyright work for __________________, ___________________, ____________,

and _____________________.

Guidelines that demonstrate fair use: the ______________ of the work borrowed, _____________ you borrowed,

_______________ ________________. doesn't change the original works value in the _________________.

Fair use is not a right, only a legal, defensable position.

I've Officially Lost Control...

I've officially lost control of my Computer Science elective class (i.e. learning to program using ALICE). I've never taken a CS or a programming class before in my life, so I thought I could just stay one step ahead of the class by reading through an ALICE textbook and everything would be OK. I could fake it :-)

Well, after much reasoned conclusion (and lack of time..our dishwasher is on the fritz and I've been tasked with the time consuming duty of hand-washing), there is no way I can keep up the charade any longer. So today I bit the bullet and officially announced that the class is smarter than Mr. Jacklin and from here on out, we'd be learning together!

OH, the look on their faces! I got several looks of disbelief. Several, "OMGoodness, did he just say that out loud?" looks. Finally there were those kids who have been past me for quite some time now making video games, interchanging object parts, and generally "owning" ALICE. They looked at me with a gentle smirk, saying with their eyes: "It's about time! Tell us something we didn't already know!" I couldn't snow these kids even if I tried. It was if I was at an AA meeting and just announced, "Hello, I'm Mr. Jacklin and I don't have anything else to teach you about ALICE."

So, to make a long story short, we'll be learning together. I will learn from them as much as they will learn from me. To be's very liberating and...I'm OK with it. Not being the expert is a position that is quite uncomfortable for me, but it's a posture that we will all take on sooner or later as teachers.

I've come to understand that my role as a teacher is not one of "expert," but one of mentor, facilitator, and leader. These kids aren't "empty vessels" anymore (if they ever were). They have a depth of knowledge in some areas that surpasses mine.

The one area in which I have an advantage over them is that they don't know what to DO with the stuff they know. That's were I come in! As teacher, I can help them order and interpret their world; help them put together the pieces of a chaotic information, knowledge landscape.

Now that...I feel comfortable doing!

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Time to get Going!

It's been a while since I've last posted! Time to practice what I preach!

The only problem is that there's so much going on inside my head that I don' t know what to write about first! So, we'll just start...

Had the great privilege of taking our entire faculty to METC this year. With a tight budget, the LEA Convocation was a little too expensive for us (not conference itself, but the travel, lodging and all that stuff). So the next best thing? Take them all to a technology conference. METC was a wonderul compliment to our technology focus this year...and it was "easy on the eyes," in terms or our budget!

The great thing for me was that our staff finally got a chance to see first hand what kind of "crazy-foolishness" I've been filling my mind with, and trying to sell them, these past four years! I kept telling them, "Just keep drinking the Kool-Aid."

No really, it was a great experience. I have a hunch, that many of our staff were really forced to consider their own teaching practice for the first time in a while. We also tried to impress upon them that a lot of educational reform is coming out of the ed tech community. Technology tools enable teachers to easily create a classroom environment where learning is diffferentiated, collaborative, connected--nationally and internationally, and interactive. The ed tech community is forcing teachers to return to student focused teaching. My gut-feeling is (only because I know from experience) that many Lutheran school teachers rely way too heavily on textbooks to define curriculum. Technology tools are helping redefine what curriculum is and also redefining what it means to be an effective teacher. Curriculum isn't as much about content knowledge as it is literacy skills (a topic for a different post).

Teachers are comfortable with knowing that they are the only person in the room with all the knowledge, and it's their job to "impart" that to students (What Dave Warlick aptly labels as the "gravity method." Knowledge flows from the top down). Image taken from Dave Warlick's presentation slides (slide23) on the "Flat Classroom" Wiki

Many teachers aren't comfortable not being the expert in the classroom.
Will Richardson blogged about some students who wanted to help repair the wing of a monach butterfly they had found only to be told by their teacher that it COULDN'T be done. Not missing a beat the kids said that it could indeed be done and pointed the teacher to a YouTube video showing him how!

Will does not go on to tell the reaction of the teacher AFTER watching the video, but you can imagine the excuses given about why he wasn't the expert on that one. What makes you as a teacher the expert in the classroom? Is it content? Why are you valued as a teacher? Are you valued because of the amount of content knowledge you have? Are you valued for your ability to lead, manage, mentor, and facilitate? Are you valued for your inventiveness? Creativity? Willingness to take risks?

Check out this digital story from Marco Torres' Cine De La Gente site about what one NY school looks for in great teachers. What suprises you the most about what adjectives are used to describe great teachers? Do those words fit the bill of your staff?

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Things you SHOULD let your kids do!

I'll let this TED video speak for itself! I'm planning on showing this to our 8th graders to generate discussion. The logical extention of this video would be things like where kids should go on the Internet. Outside of bandwidth concerns, should you let you students go to YouTube? Should we encourage kids to be part of a social network? These are just thoughts.

I won't forget about teaching kids self limiting skills. Kids don't have the capacity to say no yet, so teachers and parents don't ever go away, but their role becomes more hands-on.

What do you think?

METC 2008--Tuesday

Another conference...another day of great conversation. Had a wonderful dinner with some colleagues, making the conference extend beyond the walls of the convention center. If you'd like to follow the blogs from METC check out Dave Warlick's Hitchhikr site.

For me the big idea has been about networks. Not necessarily social networks, but people connecting with people. The unofficial theme is "how many Web 2.0 tools can you fit into one sectional."

During Warlick's sectional helped me reach the conclusion that what Web 2.0 tools do is connect people. The biggest issue I hear from people about sites like Wikipedia is, "Can you trust the people who edit that encyclopedia?" Interesting, that the arguments start out with objections to the content, but eventually are left with wanting to know more about the author.

When it comes to the information landscape, we are so used to not having to question the veracity of content that it didn't matter who the author was. Did you ever wonder who the author of the Encyclopedia Brittanica was?? But with everyone and their "cousins uncle" producing content these days, discernment is the key to successful research and online living. Reinforcing the idea that Web 2.0 is simply and plainly about people and their connections to each other. We can pretend it's about information, but we are brought back to the "social" nature of the web.

This was kind of a revelation to me today after listening and reading a couple of resources earlier in the week:

Each of these sources within themselves are individual topics for a blog. They've begun to inform my view of how our world is being put together online.

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