Cell Phones & iPods Cause Stress

I saw this sign today one as I entered the Main Office of one of our district's high schools. Talk about ROTFL.

As the secretary was watching me take these pictures, I was thinking, "You think iPods and cell phone's cause you stress? Lady, you oughta try teachers around the world to use them in their teaching. Talk about stress..."

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The World Without Teachers?

Alan Weisman makes a compelling argument about humans and our impact upon the environment. He has summarized his recent book as follows:

Along those same lines, I think that the world without teachers might also look scary:

Yep. Time to get back to work.

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Too Olive Two Daze Stew Dents

[I thought it time to share a little more poetry - from deep within the archives. I wrote this back in 2001 for the Brighton High School Community of Writers. Seems just as applicable today.]

Too olive two daze stew dents:

Weir rare lee board with hour knew pee see
Pea seas re-mane reel help full-
Pay purrs, e-male, lynx too clique
Yore a bout two heron ear foal.

Watts knot too lava bout pee seize?
Hour pea sea’s reel league rate-
Eye mien, hours makes cool reel ease see
Sew aura sign mint sir bear lee turn din late!

Aisle of two yews mice pale Czech her,
Aisle of two cotton paced!
Caws win eye masked two right ins cool
Eye have note I’m two waist.

Sew eye jest serf the intern net
Two sea watt eye confined
Thin cotton paced a weigh awl day
Caws hour teach her rare lee mines!
(Oar sew eye mite think!)

Since eerily,

Missed Hair Dare Run Drape Her

Pee. Yes. Czech the comments four uh trans lay shun.

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Eliminate The Digital Divide? It's up to you...

Recent comments on this blog, as well as several emails recently received have left me thinking more about the infamous Digital Divide. Admittedly, there exists such a chasm - a quick glance at the participants involved in the newly created EduBloggerWorld social network can attest to that glaring fact.

Even from this crude representation of global Internet activity, the glaring absence of participants from Africa is absolutely staggering. So I heartily admit it: The Digital Divide is real.

Nevertheless, the Digital Divide isn't what keeps teachers in my district from using technology with their students. Nope. That honor would go to two huge F's that exist within the personalities of many Jordan School District teachers: Fear and Fatigue. While there are certainly many excellent teachers in our district, there are also many teachers that are afraid to try anything new in their classes. An even larger population are too tired to take the time to learn new techniques and technologies.

"Why _____ when what I've been doing has worked for years?"

Hence, Pay Attention was born - because, truth be told, the teachers in our district have a plethora of technological resources at their fingertips (labs, computers, technology a plenty). The choice to eliminate the Digital Divide that may or may not be present within their classrooms is theirs, and theirs alone.

In other places, however, such technological (also translated: pedagogical) autonomy for teachers and students sadly doesn't exist. The teacher in Nigeria doesn't use technology with her students because it's non-existent (at least within a 100 mile radius) - not because she's chosen to leave the laptops locked up in the hall closet. And the sad fact of the matter is that such a divide will continue to exist until the "Haves" chose to give a little of their bounty to the "Have nots".

Like it or not, there is no other way.

That said, however, I don't think that the entire process of eliminating the Digital Divide has to be completely painful. Here's one solution that I think has definite potential, given that participants actually choose to eliminate the divide, rather than direct once-used funds in some other direction:
According to the COSTP website:

COSTP will employ the advantages of open sourced content and innovative licensing tools to significantly reduce California's K-12 textbook costs — eventually turning K-12 curriculum and textbook construction from a cost into a revenue generator for the State of California.

Three - amongst many — COSTP benefits will be 1) the complete elimination of the current $400M+ line item for California's K-12 textbooks; 2) a significant increase in the range of content afforded to California's K-12 textbooks; 3) a permanent end to California's textbook shortages; and 4) creation of fully portable content holdings database that scales with classroom technologies as they are introduced.

It is important to note that COSTP's mandate does not replace printed textbooks; it simply makes them less expensive to produce; and, in doing so creates many additional benefits, economies, and efficiencies that will fully leverage California's activities in the K-12 textbook publishing domain.

If COSTP can really save California anywhere from $200 to $400 million dollars in textbook costs, let's do it everywhere - then divert saved funds in the direction of those students/teachers/countries with greatest need.

Granted, even after several years, the COSTP project is still in its initial stages. Nevertheless, I can't help but think that Open Source is the answer. Again, if the Digital Divide is to be narrowed, those of us that are actually reading this post (and posts like it) must be the ones to make it happen. There is no other way.

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Postcards From Afar - A Request From My Daughter

[Quick note: This blog post has been written by my daughter.]

My class is doing a project. We're learning about the world. We're trying to get postcards from all over the globe. I think it will be really neat to learn about places I've never been. It will be amazing to see all the beatiful sites. If you send me a postcard, I will write you back when I get the card.

You can send it to my dad's work (and then he'll pass them on to me):

Darren Draper
9361 S 300 E
Sandy, UT 84070-2998

Thank you so much!

[My take: While I'm happy to see that my daughter's teacher is thinking globally, I have to sigh because post cards are so Web 0.0. Nevertheless, I have passed my daughter's request on to you because I think that we have an opportunity here to show this teacher exactly how powerfully effective online communication can be. Furthermore, knowing my daughter, she'll gladly send you a postcard in return, post a comment on your blog, or even babysit your kids - if that's what it takes to get a box full of postcards from wonderful people around the world.]

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Window to the EduBlogger World

Today is the first organized, participatory event emanating from the new social network called EduBloggerWorld. As a part of today's events, I have been asked to share a few of my experiences blogging.

  1. Where do I blog? I blog wherever I can find an open Internet connection. At times it is during an important meeting and at other times I blog at home or at the office. At this point in my blogging career, I've blogged in one country (the U.S.) and three states: Utah, California, and Georgia. I wonder who holds the record for blog posts written in the widest range of locations.

    The following are pictures of a few of the views I enjoy while blogging:

    Easily my favorite blogging view (from my front yard).
    My office at work. You may view notes here.

  2. How often do I blog? I blog as often as I can, but never feel guilty for not having posted in a while. As a personal rule, I think that blogging once a week is required, but will rarely post more than once a day.
  3. What do I blog about? Technology and its impacts on education. What else is there?
  4. Why is blogging important to you? Blogging is important to me because it is a way for me to reflect on my teaching practices. It is also a way for me to communicate with other like-minded educators. For that matter, I think that every teacher should blog.
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Football & Learning

During the past month, I've enjoyed a free preview of the Setanta Sports channel. Translation for me and my children: "Football", 24/7. In experiencing this kind of entertainment, I've learned that there are actually a number of different sports that share the name football.

In addition to learning about the different kinds of football, I've also learned that (depending on where you are) the term football really only refers to the football of that region. In other words, when I speak of playing football, the experience I have had (and am picturing in my mind) may not be the same experience you might be familiar with. This kind of "experience by location" is also inherent within our school systems.

As our world continues to flatten, and as I've continued to interact on a global level, I've learned (and am continuing to learn) that experiences, policies, customs, and activities associated with education vary from location to location - far more so than I had originally imagined. Consequently, I think it would be helpful if we had a (friendly) place where we could discuss such distinctions, hopefully learning from each other's experiences, hopefully closing in one that "one best system". I think that EduBloggerWorld can be just the place to hold such important conversations.

As and example of the kinds of things we could discuss, I will begin by posing a question about attendance policies. Currently, attendance policies have become a rather "hot-button" issue within our district (I work in the Jordan School District, Utah, United States). Some schools in our district have adopted school-wide attendance policies that are rather strict. Bingham High School, for example, has implemented the policy that:

To earn credit a student must be in class a minimum of 90% of the days of the quarter (no more than 2 absences of the 22 to 23 possible class periods per quarter). If a student has three (3) or more school absences that are not made-up or excused through the appeal process, the student will receive no credit for the quarter grade in that class.

Other schools in our district are not nearly as strict, while even others have no formal school-wide attendance policy (leaving consequences for student lapses in attendance in the hands of individual teachers).

So, on to my question(s) for educators world-wide:
  1. What kind of attendance policies does your school implement?
  2. Where are you from?
  3. In what kind of school do you work (level, public or private, etc.)?

Your thoughtful responses are greatly appreciated.

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[Cross-posted in the EduBloggerWorld forums.]

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Tagged For Randomness

It appears that I have been tagged - thank you for your thoughtfulness. Therefore, having never been accused of not being of random mind (meaning that I have been accused of having what Steven Wright terms "HD-ADHD") - I accept. Nevertheless, I choose to play by my own rules (I'm kind of a rebel like that).

Here are my rules:

  1. I will not post the original rules. I told you I was a rebel.
  2. I will list as many random facts about myself as I can think of - eight, while somewhat random itself, is no magical number for me.
  3. I may or may not tag anybody else after listing my randomness - we'll see (1) how long it takes me to write this post, and (2) if I want to subject anyone else to such an experience.
Here are my "random facts":
  1. I think that rules are important but have found few that actually apply to me. Really. Just ask my wife if you don't believe me. Any teacher, principal, or prison warden will tell you that 95% of the rules have been created to control 5% of the population. Oddly, that 5% of the population has no idea who they are.
  2. I'm actually 35 years old. Really. Just ask my mom if you don't believe me.
  3. I love to take pictures of clouds and mountains. I'm not exactly sure why (other than their beauty), but I think it's their elevated status that attracts me to both subjects. I took both of these pictures (Mountains is actually a stitch of several shots) and have found them to be perfect for my desktop background.



  4. I love living in Utah. I've been to many other places but always long to return home.
  5. I'm a Mac guy - except when I'm using a PC - then I'm a Linux guy - but then again, Vista's nice, and me + Office 2007 = TLA.
  6. I enjoy keeping what I call a "photographic journal". Wherever I go, I try to take a self-portrait containing an important element of where I've been. Below are a few examples. Bonus points will be awarded if you can guess where I've been (from the pictures below).

  7. I love the outdoors - particularly the beautiful Uintah mountain range. These two shots were taken last summer (and comprise a part of my photographic journal).

  8. I love to sit in my driveway, listening to the iPod or reading a book. The view is one of the reasons why (below, taken right from my chair while sitting in my driveway).

    One Of My Favorite Views

  9. Numbers intrigue me - and so does writing. Even though I spent seven years of my life teaching kids about math, I find that the challenges of writing (and writing well) are now more enjoyable.
  10. I love my family most. Behind that come (in no particular order) all things technology, baseball, Journey, Ray Romano, the smell of freshly cut grass, flip-flops, enchiladas, soccer, Man versus Wild and Survivorman, Johnny Cash, fleece when it's cold, Jerry Seinfeld, Mozart, whipped cream instead of ice cream, watching movies in the middle of the day, Kenny Chesney, learning, Ray Charles, lasagna for breakfast, and calm summer nights.
  11. Elementary school was innocent, middle school was lame, and high school was little more than a false sense of reality. I finally began to find myself as an undergraduate, proved I could do it during my Master's program (graduated with a 3.98), and am hoping to simply survive my doctoral studies.
  12. That's probably enough for now. I told you that there was nothing magical about the number eight.
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EduBloggerWorld - Initial Meetups

Things are shaping up nicely at EduBloggerWorld. As on online community for educational bloggers around the world, we're approaching 285 members (representing somewhere around 48 different countries), and have experienced tremendous activity from several "sub-communities" within our community. It's all very exciting.

I'm please to announce that there have been several virtual meet-ups scheduled. The first will take place on August 23. Various activities have been planned throughout the day (some synchronous, some asynchronous) and on a variety of platforms. This will be an excellent way for members of the community (and potential members) to become better acquainted and discuss educational issues emanating from their location. Please visit the EduBloggerWorld wiki for a listing of specific activities, times, and virtual locations.

A second event has also been scheduled for September 18 using the interactive platform implemented at EdTechTalk. Additional details are forthcoming.

As an introductory explanation of the purposes and functions of EduBloggerWorld, we've created this brief video. All in all, it's pretty good - as long as you skip the last 30 seconds. : )

In conclusion, if you are a blogger that is passionate about education (wherever you might reside), we'd love to see you at EduBloggerWorld.

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No Teacher Left Behind

Interesting conversations are still taking place about Pay Attention. Four months later, I would have thought that we'd exhausted the topic (I'm certainly getting tired of the same questions), but it has occurred to me that there are many educators still that are extremely interested in our conversation, but just don't know that they are interested yet.

I was once that kind of educator.

As I have stated earlier, I have been a techie all my life. I've also been a teacher for nearly ten years. Nevertheless, I didn't attend my first NECC until last year (I honestly didn't know it existed). Furthermore, I didn't learn about Karl Fisch's Shift Happens presentation until six months after he had created it. Therefore, my question of the month:

  • How do we ensure that no teacher is left behind?
Take the email I received yesterday as an example. Gary W. stumbled upon Pay Attention the other day and decided to post a link to it on a listserv he belongs to. As a result, he discovered that while many teachers embraced its message, there were also many teachers that were less than enthusiastic. I responded to Gary's questions and concerns with the following:
As I published "Pay Attention" several months ago, there have appeared two opposing schools of thought: those that understand the message it brings and those that prefer to make excuses.

I suppose the best way to address many of your questions (and those posted on your listserv) would be to direct your attention to the conversations that have already taken place. I think a good starting point would be a blog posting that I made back in May.
Now, back to my original thought. Why is it that Gary and the multitude of teachers connected through his listserv are so late in joining the conversation? What can be done to eliminate the lag?

Now, don't get me wrong: I'm not blaming Gary. I'm blaming the process. As fast as Internet communication can be, it is simply not fast enough - especially given the fact that not every teacher is aware of our efforts. In fact, I would estimate that we've only scratched the surface. How many would you say? 10%, 25%, 50% of teachers? Do you think that over 50% of our world's educators have joined in on our conversations? Hardly!

I would appreciate your thoughts on how we can better leave no teacher behind.

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