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Archive for June 2010


You can be a Constructivist

I am at ISTE 2010 and attended The Constructivist Consortium with Tech4Learning, Fablevision, GenYes, LCSI, Ispiration, and I had so much fun I wish I could share the excitement I felt. Well, maybe I can by sharing what I created with Frames by Tech4Learning.


Constructivist Consortium

Constructivist Consortium

I’m still new at WordPress and cannot figure out how to play the video right from this post – I hope you click on the link to check it out. What I learned from Gary Stager is that making things is the best way to learn. More and more we will see books, TV shows, craft events, websites about making stuff. When you do something learning is not passive.

Gary showed us a video from that was inspirational – please check it out and share. Talked about books we have to read. I’m buying Making Learning Whole by David Perkins for our book club. Never heard of before.

Will be sharing more and adding more to this when I learn more.


Using iPads in the Classroom (Edubloggercon session)

Working on iPad

What works is the power of no power. Devices last 10+ hours without a charge. Portability and ease of use. 1:1 initiatives may cause a problem with the purchase of iPads, because of the investment in laptop labs. Apps are either free and are available and can be shared with 30 devices. Unfortunately the cost may be prohibitive: $699/device. Consider the low end iPad at $499. This is a great investment to get kids to read. One comment was about the cost of apps for the Droid are free where for iTouch and iPad most educational apps cost – wants to wait and see if the Droid will create an iPad device. China is already knocking off the iPad with Android. 2012 Negroponte is creating the X03 as an iPad knockoff for 1:1 global netbook for $100. Apple started a revolution with the bar set very high. It will be very interesting to watch what the next generations and knockoffs will be like in the next few months or so.


  • Used to use iPhone to follow online course and now iPad is a larger iPhone. Keyboarding was a t first a challenge – now no problem.
  • Ability to finally move into differentiated instruction
  • Much better than a traditional textbook
  • Multi-touch changes how school is done -
  • Laptop is used for production mode: iPad is easier to read – do iPads motivate kids to learn to read? Step in the door to motivate students to read, to learn music, to learn a language.
  • iPad launches quickly while waiting for a laptop to load.
  • First generation device – along with knock-offs will be coming.

Questions or concerns with the iPad:

  • How do students hand in work?
  • Not able to edit in Google Docs, Google Sites, and Wikispaces.
  • As a teacher how would you use the iPad in your classroom? Follow on twitter about educational apps Poundedapps. Examples of different apps teachers use:
    • National Geographic
    • Blogpress
    • Dr. Zeuss’s ABC
    • PBS apps
    • Pocket Universe
    • Me Muves
    • NetGeo
    • Instapaper – takes articles
    • SimpleNote
    • Animoto
    • Dictation by Dragon
    • Sonic Clicks

When you use iPads, use $2 silicon cover to protect from dropping. Don’t worry about fingerprints.


Being or Bring in a Consultant (Edubloggercon Session)

With leaders that are struggling and need help, consultants can help craft a vision. It’s a function of time. If they want you for a day, then it is difficult. In order to make a change, it has to be sustained. Be flexible for different teachers because they have to decide what they want in their classrooms.

This is how we are going to it for now but after we learn more, tweak it.

Being the Consultant

  • Be aware of culture. It is difficult to know the culture. The person who brought you in wants you to be their voice.
  • Do a complete needs assessment.  Online survey before we meet. Data we need before we start: Strategic plan, student data, and teacher data.
  • What is going on with your curriculum?
  • You cannot win everyone over.

Best PD is job-embedded, small groups, and ongoing. Yet, bringing the inspirational speaker lights the spark and conversations. Try to get people to think about the reflection. If we come in and work with you in June, is this really be the best time for your teachers to have PD?

What should schools expect from consultants?

  • Being honest.
  • Be clear about expectations.

Question – why do we need to bring consultants in if the teacher leaders can do the PD?

It’s a matter of achieving a balance of model 21st century instruction so teachers can do that with their students. Sometimes bringing in a consultant supports what you are doing in your school. Sometimes you as the teacher leader you are not a prophet in your own land.


Speed Demo: Edubloggercon (ISTE 2010)

Have you ever heard of Smackdowns? These are quick under 2 minute demos of cool Web 2.0 tools. Here is a list of some of the sites people shared.

Wikispaces Sandbox new features

  • can paste in word docs without unformatting
  • new editor – flash-based digital storytelling tool – social tool = can do collaborative projects

  • select a collection
  • can add their own stories
  • grab pictures and add text – combines a Google search and Wolfram search on same page. Try Wolfram as a knowledge search. Compare Snickers vs Baby Ruth bar.

QRCode – make your own barcode reader.

Gmail Labs – go to the green beaker – enables Green Robot to see who else has an Android phone.

Mashpedia – the Real-time multimedial social encyclopedia – fills in with YouTube videos, twitter feed, Picasa and Flicker galleries, news posts, blog posts, eBooks. – helps you create a twitter as a newspaper – create a start page on what you are researching – attractive feed

Search posters – using Glogster to help with links (Joyce Valenza) – share all of your sites and social networking

Add to your tool bar Rd (readability) and IP (

Smart Notebook Express BETA – – lets you use notebook files online – Smart Exchange – find lesson plans for your SMART Board

Yolink education: – see behind links – sweet search ( embedded yolink into the search engine. Helps student find what’s relevant. then search within the search results keywords. then opens summaries of search with links – another URL shorter along with custom urls – get what the shortened URL and points to the long url

If you use Twitter alot, you can read it later. – icon that sits in toolbar that you can click to save to read later. Works on every browser and iPad. Bookmarking service that lets you. Twitbit lets you save your Tweets to readitlaterlist.

Jumpcut – lets you multiclip up to 40 clicks

Edmodo – – share content and realtime . Teachers can set up groups and then can enter into private social network with their students. Grades. Library with folders and interactivity. Co-teaching with multiple teachers managing groups, subgroups. – in case you need to make a bing and google search at the same time.

Share Google Squared again:

Wordle tip – use a tilde as spaces to keep words in a phrase or sentence together

Thanks to Steve Hargadon for hosting Edubloggercon and all the people that shared during this demo. Was not able to get all the names of presenters so don’t feel comfortable listing names unless I can list them all.

Another site I heard about during the conference: - make your own iPhone apps
Free Technology for Teachers: Aviary for Education

I’ll be sharing more that I hear about. Putting together a column for OnCUE about cool tools so if you have any new tools you would like to share, please leave a comment.


Balancing Act

Most people that become coaches tend to be nurturers. They usually became a teacher or coach because they like to help people. A good coach sets up the guidelines for an effective relationship with the people they coach. Agreeing on a contract for meetings, communication and due dates will ensure the relationship will work. A relationship between a coach and the coachee needs to be built on trust: trust that both will show up on time, tasks are done in a timely manner, questions are answered and materials are created when needed.

Contracts need to be reconsidered for a successful coaching relationship. Coaches especially those who are teachers have trouble saying no when someone needs them.

eCoaching takes coaching many steps further. How do you set up a contract based on time when virtual coaching can be at anytime from anywhere? This is where the coach and coachee set up a contract that is really clear on products, tasks, and feedback and what is realistic between them.

This is where you need to be realistic about your time. Think of your clients, where you live, where they live and the time zone differences. I received calls at 4am when working with people in Europe. I live in California. I used to answer the phone and jump whenever someone called. If someone wrote an email or tech support, I was right on it. Unfortunately, there was no balance in my life. I was at the mercy of my clients. It is important to set up contracts and realistic expectations on how you will support the people you coach.

  • Set up a contract for you and your coachees.
  • Put that contract on your team page so everyone can refer to it.
  • Build in realistic expectations on how soon you will respond.
  • Negotiate with your coachees roles and responsibilities.
  • Monitor the progress of your relationship.
  • Update and change the expectations when needed.

There are more ideas but the main thing is to protect you and your time, your space, and your personal life. There has to be a balance in your life. You are modeling what you want for the people you are supporting.


Determining Value of Community

Ning is ditching their free service and according to Jon Dale this is a brilliant move. Educators and non-profits are ranting all over the Internet about how this move is going to destroy all the work they have been doing for so long. Just think of all the free networks set up for educators. Ning is going to provide a paid option for educators and non-profits that is supposed to be affordable. Ning has grown so large that their premium users have suffered.

The economy is affecting everyone plus big and small companies including Web 2.0 and social media. Facebook is under attack for its privacy policy. Four senators called on Facebook to stop automatically sharing user information with select websites and to streamline its complex privacy settings.

So what do you think will be happening with Internet companies that focus on education?  They will be setting up more closed communities with or without a free version, more ads on free sites, and user information sold to third parties. It is happening because companies cannot continue offering free access without ongoing and sufficient capital to run their businesses. Venture capital only goes so far. People cost. Servers cost.

Nothing is free. Look at the total cost of ownership and how much you invest into a particular tool or website. Your time needs to be valued. How much time did it take you to create the website, add content, and update your lessons online? Take time to research and plan how you will use social media or an online community. Be aware that the free site you are using may change their revenue model and budget for it. There will still be free sites and applications. Just be aware that those companies may be selling your private information. Nothing’s free.


Just Do It

I read Seth Godin’s blog post But what have you shipped? and thought about how that relates to teachers. If you just sit there and think about what you should do or not sure you can do something, then nothing will happen.

I write because I love writing. I write even if no one reads my blog posts, articles or columns. I hope you do and they give you some value, but that’s not why I write. My mother was an artist who had to draw or paint. It was in her blood. When times were tough, she still painted somehow. Then her talent opened doors for her and she became a courtroom artist. I think of her when I sit down to write. It just spills out of me. Sometimes in my dreams, I’m thinking of the next thing I want to write.

Now it’s time for me to write a book.

I find that everyone has something that they can ship, share, talk about, get the buzz out. No matter how tough times are, follow your dreams.


Technology's Impact on Learning

Technology may not make the difference in how a student learns. What makes a difference is the learning environment: how the teacher designs learning, and how they use and integrate technology appropriately. In some cases, maybe no technology is appropriate. In-class discussions may work better. Think-Pair-Share where students are looking into each others’ eyes works well and may increase their self-esteem. Maybe going outside or on field trips. However, there are wonderful opportunities for technology where there is no access to valuable resources.

Add video conferencing for a field trip to a museum outside of your school, state or country where your students could talk to the curator. Add web conferencing to connect classrooms in collaborative projects. Add a website to publish interactive projects and links to resources. Technology allows you to connect, share, and learn beyond classroom walls. If used correctly, the technology with multimedia and interactive capabilities, the student can become more engaged in the content and wanting to learn and share.

No matter what the teacher does, it is important to start with the student. I believe that each student can learn. The problem is motivation and engaging students in the learning process. Much of the curriculum is designed around what we believe children should be doing by a specific age. I believe we need to rethink how we learn, when we learn and how the brain works. Having a teacher present content in front of a class with or without technology where we force feed facts into our students is not going to work anymore. Today, students have access to all the facts they need on the internet. The problem is how do they know these are facts, opinions. or lies. Our students need critical thinking skills to determine authority, bias, and credibility of the facts they find.

What if we redesign our learning environments so students can work together and even alone, at school or at home, from anywhere, anytime and at any age. The Internet, social media, and cell phones are changing the way we live, learn, work, and play. When you look at how students are interacting online, they share everything, play games collaboratively and connect with whoever they want. What if…

  • teachers learned how to be the facilitator of their students learning?
  • curriculum designers made up of curriculum specialists, teachers, librarians, and students designed critical thinking strategies that scaffolded what students were learning?
  • students had individual learning plans based on prior knowledge and not their age?
  • classes were composed of people from age who want to learn the content?
  • students would have to provide evidence of learning with artifacts, reflections, videos, audio files, and interviews from peers, teachers, and parents?
  • learning environments could be designed around a concept where you could use multiple places on-site and online?

My 2 year old granddaughter has been using an iPhone since she was 8 months and knows how to call me on Skype. She knows her ABCs and counts to 50. She sings the lyrics to several songs in key. She understands sequences and how things build upon one another. I believe she’s brilliant because I’m her grandmother and she is smart. However, she has parents that work with her and give her opportunities to learn. I believe all children can have this opportunity to learn early, to reshape how they learn. All children have gifts and can reach their fullest potential.

What if we started working with parents when their children are at an early age showing them where they can get the support they need to prepare their children for their future?

Technology will be part of our childrens future because they already have cell phones and access to the internet, no matter if we teach them about technology or not. Even if we continue to ban these technologies, our children will find a way to get access. What if…

  • we designed community learning centers where the entire community was involved with the learning process?
  • our students were also the faclitators and helped other students learn?
  • each learner created their own learning plan based on their learning goals?
  • each learner requested support from different mentors or facilitators based on their goals?

Around the world schools may continue to look like they have for over a hundred years. That’s all we know and continue to build. Yet, if we want our children to reach their fullest potential, we need to redesign learning environments that meet their needs so they have rewarding futures. Putting them in the traditional school environment will give them the same education that we had and the same opportunities that we give our students today. It’s time for all of us to put our heads together to think of new ideas of learning environments for all learners.


Trusting your Social Network

Since Facebook made changes to their privacy issues, users have made some drastic moves like removing themselves from Facebook. Trust is a big concern online. Dan Martell in his study on Flowtown by Pew wrote:

The way that people interact and conduct themselves online is changing, and with the discussion surrounding privacy and social networks escalating in recent weeks, it seems that we have reached a tipping point. Pew Research recently released a study that focuses on individuals’ online identities, which takes into consideration reputation management and what people are really using online social tools for. We decided to highlight the most interesting findings from these reports in the graphic below. Perhaps the most interesting of these findings was that, ” the most visible and engaged Internet users are also most active in limiting the information connected to their names online.”

If you cannot trust your network, then what type of information will you be sharing? How can you trust your network or an online community?


Are you indispensible? Seth Godin Interview about his book

I was one of the lucky few who was given an advance copy of Seth Godin’s book: Linchpin: Are you Indispensible? His book hits home for me especially involving education. To see all of the interviews, go to I asked him how his ideas fit with schools today and how we can better prepare for our students’ future:

Q. Since I work with educators, I am curious how you see teachers leading this change to more of a gift-giving and artist model? How do you see teacher education in the future as it relates to this model?

Seth: Teachers are the key to the whole deal. All successful people I know can name one or two or three teachers that had a huge impact on them. But why three? Why not thirty? Why is it that the rest of the teachers were competent at giving exams and getting us to do well at those exams, but didn’t teach us enough to change us?

The system has hamstrung teachers, handicapped those that want to stand out an make a difference. And yet a few still stand out.

What happens when more teachers realizing the opportunity and start challenging the status quo? Until that happens, we’re in real trouble.

I think we can’t wait for the teacher’s colleges to change, or the schools to change. We need teachers to care so much that they can’t stop pushing until they create change in the students who really need (and deserve) it.

Q. Universities take the longest to change. Does everyone need to take classes with information they mastered already? How can university students set their agenda, challenge material they know already, and demonstrate what they understand?

Seth: Here’s what’s going to make universities change: we’re going to stop going. We’re going to stop paying. Once people realize that Full Sail and the U of Phoenix can deliver the same thing (or better) for much less money, the panic will set in, for the first time in five hundred years Universities are going to have to do something new. I think this will happen in the next thirty years.

Q. Education tends to be a top-down driven model where administrators, standards, policies, and test scores drive what teachers teach. How do you see education changing with this model where the individual sets their agenda?

Seth: As a student in a digital world, tell me again why I need the building? The administration? The system?

I don’t. And as accreditation becomes less meaningful because it’s easier to test the student than to test the system, the top heavy organizations will falter. And fast.

Q. There is a movement in social networking and Web 2.0 circles where individuals are responsible for their own learning. They build their personal learning network, use and share free resources, and find information from their connections. Is this an example of how individuals will set their agenda for their own learning? How do you see emerging technologies impacting teaching and learning?

Seth: I think this is going to happen, but I think it’s more likely that individuals with something to teach will set up their own digital schools. I offered an MBA last year to nine students, and it had an enormous impact (on me and on them). Multiply this by 1000 people in each field, and you have both an industry and a new way of learning.

Q. Schools today tend to require that everyone is on the same page. What age or grade level do we start teaching children to see? How would you teach individuals to find the artist in each of us?

Seth: Is there a number less than zero?

The job of school should be to teach people to solve interesting problems and to teach people to lead. We should start doing both in Kindergarten. The job of parents is to augment and amplify this, and, at the same time, stop yelling at schools about test scores. Test scores are a sucker’s game, the refuge of systems that can’t imagine a better way to measure, encourage and push kids to be brave and essential.

Q. It seems like you may have to create some models demonstrating how a school can prepare their students for the 21st century. Do you know of any schools that already use your model?

Seth: Some schools and some teachers have been doing this for a long, long time. The Putney international program in Vermont, or certain classes at the School of Visual Arts. We often find pockets of innovation, long-suffering teachers or small counter-culture institutions that seem like oddities until you realize that what they do actually works. Loren Pope wrote about 40 Colleges That Change Lives, and I think he had it right. We know how to do this, but we often don’t have the guts.

Q. Do we need to continue the industrial education model (school buildings open 9-3, students at specific grade levels, teachers in classrooms, and summers off), or do you have new models for education based on your ideas of giving, sharing, and artists that set their own agendas?

Seth: I think the reasons for the model you talk about left the building a long, long time ago. We need a system that permits parents to work, kids to grow, problems to be solved and a difference to be made. IT’s not clear to me why we decided to leave so many gaps in the system we’ve created (oh, no school today, see ya!) and at the same time, why we’ve insisted on a deadening march to mediocrity. It’s sort of pathetic how we’ve abdicated responsibility to a leaderless system that’s actually accountable to no one in particular.

Q. How do you see job training in the future?

Seth: I guess it depends on how we see jobs in the future. I think there are some things that the jobs of future have in common, and I hope that we can start measuring this and focusing on this and stop obsessing about the length of the hypotenuse.

1. Solve interesting problems.
2. Be self reliant.
3. Find the information you need from the Net and other places.
4. Connect.
5. Lead.
6. Invent.
7. Fail.
8. Learn from #7 and repeat.

How much time do we actually spend on that agenda today?

Q. If everyone gives their products and ideas away, then what is the revenue model for this new type of artist?

Seth: If everyone did anything, that thing would be pretty worthless. Even brain surgery. Here’s the thing: everyone’s NOT going to do it, not for a long time, because people are ill-trained for it and afraid of it.

Right now, the more you give away, the more you get. People flock to things that are wonderful, and pay to cut the line, pay to get access, pay for souvenirs and bespoke. It’s not a theory, they do. Once you cut overhead (and how much of higher education is essential?) there’s plenty of room to generate income.

I’m curious what you think of this new type of artist that we will need. Comments are welcome and encouraged below.

I recommend this book for anyone interested in change, the future, and what type of person we will need for our future. Check out my Squidoo Lens: The Future of Learning. You can set up your own Lens. This article was cross-posted on The Environmentalist