First Day Jitters

My wife took this picture of our daughter as she dropped her off for her first day of kindergarten.

I don't blame my daughter one bit.

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Today I had the opportunity to meet with Senator Howard Stephenson to discuss the Engaged Classroom professional development project. We met at Ft. Herriman Middle School, viewed a brief but well-delivered overview of the project by Kelly Dumont, and then watched Jethro Jones work his magic. As he was one of the participants in the program, it was extremely refreshing to see Mr. Jones in action. Clickers, wikis, and Think Before You Post - on the fourth day of school! The students (and I) were highly engaged and I'm excited to see the great things they accomplish this school year.

As for the discussion with Senator Stephenson, I was equally pleased - and quite surprised at how well things turned out. During our time together, he mentioned how far we have to go in keeping up with other states across the nation. Paraphrasing:

We're told that Utah is dead last in the nation regarding the ratio of computers to students we have in our schools. And at the same time, we're first in the nation when it comes to having computers in our homes.
No wonder our teachers seem to have such a difficult time Paying Attention. To be honest, I wasn't startled by this comment in the least. I've known for years how pathetic our situation has been regarding technology in Utah schools. With Senator Stephenson's positive words, however, I remain optimistic about our future. I just hope that I got an accurate read on his sincerity (Senator Stephenson is up for re-election and I'm slowly learning how the game is played).

All in all, it's been a refreshing day.

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The Time Will Be Now

[So this is a little something I wrote the other day when I was in "creative" mode. Personally, I think it might be a good start for a message to accompany photos or video like this, but in (brief) video form.

What do you think: Too cheezy or just cheezy enough to be good? You can be honest, I can take it. Just between you and me, one thing I really don't like about this post is how I don't really provide folks with the "how".]

I see a time when humanity is surrounded by technology.
-----A time of confusion, noise, and static.
----------A time of communication, collaboration, and cohesion.

I see a time when technology is everywhere but nowhere,

-----a kind of white noise,
---------------taken for granted,

A time when “social” means “global” and when “global” means “now”.

I see a time when schools are no longer required for learning.
-----A time when learning is


-----independent of when and where,
----------guided by why,
---------------and in answer to how.

I see a time when coming to understand is
-----never compulsory,
----------but naturally engaging,
---------------and steadily differentiated.

A time when assessment is continuous, non-threatening, and…
I see a time when purpose drives learning,
-----when topic lives unbounded by subject,
----------and when tools for learning extend far beyond their
---------------originally intended use.

A time when networks function for and with the learner:
-----diverse, highly focused, and free.

I see a time when
teachers will be
students alongside
students that are
because teachers and students will one day be as one.

The time I see is now.
Or is it?

Image Source: Flickr user fotologic.

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When Worlds Collide

Facebook hits 100 million users and I'm about to delete my account.

You see, I started my experiences on Facebook by nurturing a network comprised of people from my ed-tech world. When people from my personal world now request to add me as their Facebook friend - friends from high school and relatives alike - I'm torn because worlds collide.

I used to add people on Facebook because they were "friends" with other ed-tech-ers, many of whom I've never met and likely never will. Do I really want to expose my family members and real-world friends to a network of people that I really don't know?

I'm not so sure.

What's your take? And don't worry, of course I trust you.

Image Source: Flickr user Staredown Studios

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Jay Cross shares this graphic, citing this as an example of the impact of dense interconnections.

What do you think: Is this true in education? Are we really better off letting the students make the decisions? After all, they're the most connected, aren't they?

Sometimes I wonder.

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Google Docs in Elementary Schools

Without question, this is a fantastic learning experience.

Nevertheless, I'm wondering what to do about this (found here):

Is this a case of don't ask, don't tell - or is there really a legitimate way to allow our elementary students to use Google Docs? As an advocate for using this kind of activity in classrooms across my district, I'm hoping we can all be legit'.

Image Source: Brian Crosby

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So *That's* A Mashup

So a teacher asks me the other day,

What's a mash-up?
Wish I could have showed 'em this:

Old $k00l.

Via Six Pixels of Separation.

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So this is a slide that I really tried to cram into my last post because as fun/easy as it might be to say that we should always be using technology to teach/learn, the truth is that there are times when it may not be the best option. Here's the perfect example of what I mean.

What's your take? When does technology fail us in our attempts to teach and to learn?

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21st Century Teaching and Learning

Of the 21,015 words used in the above post, 21,000 of them have been provided by the following Flickr users under Creative Commons licenses: Unhindered by Talent, shapeshift, Jim Sneddon, ckaroli, ★ Wim, Leo Reynolds, carf, Waldgeist, F3R/n@nd0 (FJTU), Pablo Baslini, Cayusa, Duchamp, Sidereal, Aislinn Ritchie, One Laptop Per Child, Old Shoe Woman, A Boy And His Bike, Sidereal, santheo, woodleywonderworks, Cayusa, texasgurl, phoenixdiaz

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First Impressions

Harry K. and Rosemary Tripi Wong (1998) have emphasized how important first impressions can be in establishing successful classroom routines:

The first days of school can make or break you. Based on what a teacher does or does not do, a teacher will either have or not have an effective classroom for the rest of the year. What happens on the first days of school will be an accurate indicator of your success for the rest of the school year. (p. 3)
To be honest, I'm not quite as convinced that poor first days will unequivocally translate into horrible years. Nevertheless, because what happens on the first days of school can be an indicator of future success, I thought it would be interesting to see how many of my teachers - educators whose blogs have helped me to learn - chose to begin their classes, at a time when they weren't yet my teachers and at a time that they most likely were not even aware that their blogs would eventually become a classroom for many.

Here's what I found in perusing a few first posts, as well as some of the impressions that these teachers have passed on to me. Presented in random order, this list is definitely not comprehensive and I apologize now for leaving out your favorites:
  • In a series of interesting anecdotal experiences, Wesley Fryer (2003) states in his first post that "the global village is real." He can say that again.
  • Joanne Jacobs' first post (2003) was about vouchers and the costs of public versus private schools. While she claims to be "free-linking and thinking on education", I wonder if it's possible to slant the message sent in posts that substantially quote other works.
  • Twenty people subscribed to Stephen Downes' OLDaily newsletter before it had even launched. Even though I think his focus has expanded in seven years, his first four entries (2001) centered entirely on higher ed. In producing such a newsletter, Stephen has demonstrated that he has read literally thousands of blog posts. I wonder what he has learned in doing so.
  • In 2004, David Warlick wrote about how it's not about the technology - it's about the information. He's been telling an ever-changing form of the same story ever since.
  • I agree completely with the closing paragraph in Clarence Fisher's opening post (2005). "Even (and probably even more importantly) in a small, isolated town in the middle of nowhere like ours; we are part of the global society and we need to prepare our kids for global society."
  • Vicki Davis, the queen of teaching with wikis, first wrote (2005) about what she calls "wiki wiki teaching." Little did she know that a wiki would one day become, in a very real sense, a school-like gathering place for students and teachers from all across the globe.
  • Clay Burell (2007) quotes Time magazine in his opening post. The topic? Getting beyond schools and how non-American students will likely take the jobs of American students. At least he's stayed on topic.
  • The first website Larry Ferlazzo shared (2007) on his Websites of the Day was his own. I wonder if the move from producing a monthly email newsletter to writing a blog has been worthwhile. I also wonder if the feedback has been more frequent.
  • The opening paragraph in Scott McLeod's first post is as true today as it was in 2006. "We know - we know! - that sustainable success in schools never occurs without effective leadership. And yet, when it comes to digital technologies, our nation's school leaders are sorely lacking."
  • Ed Darrell does a nice job teaching about history in his opening post (2006) to Millard Fillmore's Bathtub. His final plea to help him correct any errors that he might make on his blog also helps the reader understand that the best teachers are those that have learned something from history's mistakes.
  • In David Jakes' first post (2005), he explains the meaning behind the name he has chosen to call his blog. "'The Strength of Weak Ties,' is taken from Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point... Gladwell talks about the power of acquaintances, or weak links, to connect people into different worlds... It is my belief that being able to link to individuals who are interested in educational applications of technology but operate in slightly different areas of instructional technology than I do, could be extraordinarily powerful." Undoubtedly, Jakes can touch 'em all with that one.
  • I think Kelly Dumont feels the same way today as he did when he wrote his first post to The Educational Mac (2005). "Is Apple perfect in the way they do things, no, but in education it seems they make it work much better and easier for students and teachers than anyone does for PCs." I don't know anybody that knows Apple better than Kelly.
  • Sue Waters began blogging just days before I did. In her first post (2007), she began by admitting how hesitant she was to take the blogging plunge (writing, not reading). Little did she realize how many people she would be able to help through her continued blogging efforts. Admittedly, I was impressed with how Sue displayed a tremendous amount of great taste for quality ed-tech content - even in her first post. :)
  • In his first post (2005), Doug Johnson begins by discussing what makes a good blog. He references Alice Yucht, Stephen Downes, and Kathy Schrock and tips that he has learned from them related to successful blogging. I think that by now Doug has found the right recipe.
  • Kim Cofino started her blog (2006) "as inspiration for [her] grade 6 students that will soon be blogging about current events." Similarly, Karl Fisch appears to have begun his blog (2005) in an attempt to teach members of his faculty about blogging. I suspect that many blogs are started this way but wonder how many actually persist beyond the initial posts.
  • In his first blog post (2003), Alan Levine claims, "I blog therefore I am." He also gives a nice explanation behind the name CogDogBlog. I really like the way he has woven his theme throughout the site. "Dog-egories" takes the cake.
  • In Dean Shareski's first entry (2005), he declares that it's time for him to take the plunge. He then questions how it will go. Over a thousand readers later, I'd say it's been a good ride.
  • I love thinking about sledgehammers and computers at the same time. George Siemens discusses this topic in his first post (2002), getting me to wonder if this has something to do with his theory of Connectivism.

    An early demonstration of Connectivism.

  • In Miguel Guhlin's first post (2002), he writes about cleaning windows and the four principles of NCLB. By now I wonder how many teachers wouldn't like to wipe that tainted lens clean of its defects.
  • Chris Lehmann begins his blog (2003) admitting that it took him three hours to install Movable Type. I wonder if he realized then how much time it would take him to continue using what he successfully installed. Nobody ever said blogging doesn't take time.
  • In his first post, Alec Couros (2004) wondered where blogging will take us. And here I am still wondering.
  • Steve Hargadon's first post (2004) discusses Linux use in schools. He poses two questions and solicits his readers for a response. Ironically, the post has no comments, forcing me to wonder what responses he might get if he asked the same questions now - both on his blog and on any of his growing social networks.
  • In A Blogging Classroom, Konrad Glogowski introduces his blog (2005) by discussing how he blogs with his students. He closes with an interesting statement. "The number of trips to my desk with the question 'Is this good?' has been steadily declining." I wonder if he realized then how many people he would eventually inspire by telling of his classroom blogging adventures.
  • Christian Long's first post (2005) was the longest first post I've found. In this hidden gem, he questions the future of libraries. Bookless? Only a website? "Perhaps the question should be turned around: would a traditional library with endless shelves of books be the 'logical design solution' if we were to create the first-of-its-kind based on what we know now...and what is coming our way?" Great twists of logic here.
  • In his first post to Teach 42, Steve Dembo (2004) discusses what, in my opinion, makes blogging so compelling. "I must admit, I’ve been dying to do more writing, and I have so much built up inside that I want to put into words that I’m having difficulty deciding what to write now and what to set aside for another entry. In particular, I’ve read so many blog entries that I want to respond to, but first I need to learn how to do it. I keep reminding myself, one step at a time. Rome wasn’t built in a day." Neither was a successful blog.
  • Graham Wegner's first post (2005) explains why he has decided to blog. "I’m hoping that this blog will be a workspace that I can use as an evolutionary tool in my role as an ICT Coordinator." In that sentence alone, he has described my experience with blogging: evolutionary and workspace, although I like the word "thinkspace" better.
I hate to admit it, but I've run out of time and energy before running out of great blogs. I know there are many that I've left out but I'll have to leave it to you to continue my list.

So at this juncture, what do you think, which blogs have I missed, and what are your first impressions?

  • Wong, H. K., & Wong, R. T. (1998). The first days of school: How to be an effective teacher (2nd ed.). Sunnyvale, CA: Wong Publications.
Image Source: Flickr user decaf.

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What Is The Edublogosphere?

The Wikipedia community provides a decent enough definition of the term blogosphere:

Blogosphere is a collective term encompassing all blogs and their interconnections. It is the perception that blogs exist together as a connected community (or as a collection of connected communities) or as a social network.
That said, I still can't wrap my head around this one:
  • What is the “edublogosphere”?

I realize that the answer to this question may appear obvious on the surface, but deep within lies a beast yet to be fully discovered. These few questions illustrate what I mean.
  • Is the edublogosphere a social network?
  • Is the edublogosphere a social network for every member that hopes to participate?
  • Do members of the edublogosphere form a community or simply a network of learners? Perhaps the term community of practice is more fitting or even pseudo-community: a stage in which many of us may find ourselves?
  • Is the edublogosphere really a sub-division of the blogosphere itself or merely a concoction of those that claim to be a part of it?
  • Isn't every blog post educational in at least some sense?
  • How does one join the edublogosphere? Are there dues to be paid and other rites of passage? I don't remember formally joining but I'm pretty sure I'm a member of it.
  • Are members of the edublogopshere inherently friends or does the golden rule really not apply here?
What do you think?

Image Source: This image is a Wordle tag cloud created from the RSS feed for the Google Blog Search of the term edublogosphere. Yeah, I thought it was odd that it placed the word community off to the side, too.

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