Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Phone Books? Really?

     So I arrived home this afternoon to a brand new phone book in a plastic bag dropped on my front porch.  I could see if I had ordered it, or if someone had called from the phone company and asked if I was in need of one, but there it was, unsolicited and definitely unwanted.  Okay, now I admit to be a bit over the hill.  I even remember pulling the yellow pages out of the kitchen junk drawer to find a plumber, but why are they still printing phone books today? Or at the very least, why are the printing them and distributing them to everyone?  So maybe today's kids' alphabetizing skills are not as developed as mine and most probably couldn't tell you what a guide words is, but so what?  Obsolete is as obsolete does (a twist on Forrest Gump). 
     Now don't get me wrong, I wouldn't classify myself as a tree hugger or environmentalist (although I faithfully recycle), but what a waste of natural resources!  I've got myself on no call lists.  How do I get on the no phone book list?

Are you a 21st Century Teacher?

You first reaction is likely, "Why of course I am!"  I read about the latest innovations in teaching, learning, and technology.  I follow a number of bloggers, collaborating on promising practices.  I own and iPad and an iPhone and I have an iTunes account.  In order to ensure you are setting the bar high enough, check out this post from Lisa on the blog, I Love EdTech.  I thought I was pretty savvy, but I have a lot of room for growth.  How about you? 

Technology Underutilized?

    So I'm sitting in an airport on my third weather delay (one delay was because we had to wait to swap out our airplane for a different one because the windshield wiper was broken -seriously) and I am sitting across from four elderly ladies (yes much older than even me), each of which have their own iPhones in their respective zebra, mirror, bejeweled, and one understated plain case, and I'm thinking to myself, how cool is that?  Are they surfing the internet for up to the minute weather reports to calculate when we might be able to take off, checking the markets to see how their annuities are faring after a third day of world-wide declines, getting the latest from CNN to see if those pings might really be from the lost Malaysian flight? Uh, no.  They are sharing YouTube files as Facebook friends of a dog dancing to Pharrell William's Cause I'm Happy.  At first I was aghast.  What a glaring under utilization of technology! How could the amazing power of this innovative technology wind up in the hands of old folks content that would use it solely for promoting a good belly laugh while watching a dancing dog?  
     I asked myself, "Would Steve Jobs be rolling over in his grave if he were to view this spectacle?"  I'm going to go out on a limb here, not personally knowing the man, but I think he would be smiling.  Shouldn't the value of technology be determined by the user?  Who am I to sit in judgement of what is a worthy use of technology?  Technology is a tool to be used to support the needs of the user.  For me, it's about accessing information and collaborating with like-minded people across the world.  So what?  Technology is transforming so many aspects of our lives.  From how we access our favorite shows and movies, to how we bank, to how we do our shopping.  In addition to shaping how we communicate with family and friends, social media has sparked and supported uprisings and revolutions around the world.  Maybe instead of poo-pooing these ladies watching dog videos, I should be celebrating they (1) have way cool devices, (2) know how to use them, and (3) are social networkers, which I might add appears to be working quite well for them.   You go Grandma and your Facebook friends!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Carolina Voyager Charter School Link

Ooops!  Forgot to provide you with the link to the school mentioned in my last post...  Carolina Voyager Charter School. 

Check them out and keep an eye out.....  

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Carolina Voyager Charter School

Have you heard about the new charter school opening this fall in Charleston, SC?  This new school, Carolina Voyager Charter School, is one you will want to keep your eye on.  Blended learning, project-based learning, a focus on social emotional intelligence.  This school will change the landscape of education, not only in Charleston, but well beyond.  Stay tuned.....

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Is your Blended Learning Model built on a House of Cards?

With so many folks jumping on the blending learning wagon, there is a tendency to put the cart before the horse, focusing on selecting digital content and determining the BL model before ensuring a solid infrastructure is in place.  Francisco Castillo-Fierro, Director of Blended Learning at Cristo Rey San Jose Jesuit High School in California gets it.  Check out his piece, "How to Build a Rock-Solid Blended Learning Infrastructure - Avoid the biggest disasters of new blended schools by getting these 3 things right.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Looking for Digital Content? KISS (Keep It Synthesized Stupid)

     Are you in the market for digital content to support your instructional programs?  Well, KISS (Keep It Synthesized Stupid). By synthesized, I am referring to the dictionary definition, “combining (a number of things) into a coherent whole.” Digital content should not be an add-on or an afterthought to the teacher’s plans for an individual student or group of students.  The teacher’s goals must always be “driving the bus” when considering the use of digital content.  That content needs to complement, extend, or enhance the teacher’s instruction. Otherwise, why bother? You might as well be pushing worksheets (or as I prefer to call them – shut-up sheets) at kids.
     John Rice, Manager of Blended Learning for the DC Public School System, gets it.  His recent post in EdSurge News outlines a thoughtful four-step process for selecting digital content (Determine goals; Which features are important; See it in action; and Make sure users approve).  I might add a fifth – Make sure it works!  At the risk of sounding a little pretentious, I think John’s second step would be enhanced with the use of an objective, validated tool to evaluate the quality of the digital content, like maybe the Evaluation Rubric for Mobile Applications? (see earlier posts).
     You can read John’s piece at this link: