Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Last summer Mary Forney called me at the ALC to book me ahead of time to speak to the AAUW (who is responsible for putting on our honor's banquet) about technology.

A subject that is near and dear to my heart of course!  With our school board approving our move to 1:1 last week, I thought it would be a perfect chance to show the ladies of the AAUW some of the amazing things teachers will be able to do with the iPads and MacBooks.

However, Mother Nature had to send us yet another blizzard and my speaking appointment has been cancelled.

Well, Mrs. Patel asked me a few weeks ago if I'd speak to another organization, so hopefully I'll be able to channel this into that speaking engagement.
I love what first John Merrow has to say about the three reasons behind schools.  Schools were constructed with the things in mind: 1. to give children access to knowledge. 2. to get kids to socialize and meet different people. 3. to keep kids occupied and out of trouble while their parents work.

Merrow also notes that within the past few years, the only one that applies is the last one.

School isn't where knowledge is kept anymore.  When I was in school, I either had to talk to a teacher, go to the library, or hope we had magazines or books in the house that had information for me to learn about something outside of the expertise of my parents.  That's a joke today.  Any kid with an internet connection has more information at their disposal than I could ever dream of when I was a senior in 1992.  

Now that's not saying kids today use their devices for the sole purpose of knowledge.  But that's where we can as schools help students see how to use technology (and how we can use it ourselves too) to model how to acquire knowledge and construct meaning.

School isn't where students go to socialize anymore.  As Congressman George Miller observed a number of years ago, "School is rapidly becoming a process, not a place.'

In terms of just socializing, students have a number of apps for that!

Yet, we still function as daycare for a majority of kids.  To keep them pent up inside our walls and to limit their access to the outside world and all the expertise and knowledge that lie out there is foolish.  And that's why I'm so excited for use to go 1:1.

The second book above is Thomas Friedman's classic The World is Flat.  This drives home just what Merrow talks about in his book.  The world has been flattened by all of our technology . . . and to deprive students of the opportunities they have in a flat world is foolish.  And a great disservice to them.

I always ask the question, "Where were you when you discovered the world was flat?"

I was sitting at our dining room table grading papers when I made the discovery.

Kristie was reading on the couch.  KoKo was upstairs.  Casey was in his room playing video games.  I was just happy that several of his gaming buddies weren't over eating our food, drinking out pop, and using our electricity.

However, I thought I kept hearing Casey talking to someone.

"Hon," I asked Kristie, "Does Casey have any friends over?"


Still I kept hearing him speaking.  

So I got up and knocked on his door and opened it.  There was Casey in his chair in his boxers with the space heater at his feet.  A bottle of Mountain Dew by his side and a plate of pizza at his side.

He had his Xbox headset on.

He smirked and said, "You want to know who I am talking to?"

"No I don't, Smarty," I said.  "I want to know to whom you're talking.  Don't end your sentences with prepositions!"

He then explained to me that he was talking to his 'team members.'  They were his friends who were in their rooms and hooked up using Xbox Live and working on line to play the game.

I was just happy that they weren't over at our house eating all of our food and drinking all of our pop!

Then I head German speaking and commented how they were playing a World War II game.

Casey said yes and then explained, though, that they were actually playing real Germans.  In Germany. In real time.

Then I heard more German and saw Casey's team obliterated.

"I hate when they do that!" Casey said. "You see they speak fluent English when we talk on line and agree to play.  But then when they're on the battle field, they speak in German and shout out their tactics.  Since they know English, we can't share tactics and they wipe us out."

I thought, of my Lord! If Casey can do this with the money he's cobbled together from working part time at Brent's carrying out groceries, and the money and technology we give him from his birthday and Christmas, what must CEOs of billion dollar companies be able to do?

Somehow showing up at work and handing out a reading guide for To Kill a Mockingbird seemed lacking to me from then on out.

And that began my millennialization.  In the lower left of the picture above is a screenshot of the Education folder of my iPhone.  Apps such as Youtube, TED Talks, Khan Academy, Lino, Vimeo can deliver world class content and lectures and presentations to my students.  Apps such as Evernote, Google Drive, and Dropbox let us all share documents and assignments on any computer or device.  Flipboard is an app that allows me to customize news feeds based on my interests. Finally, Audioboo and ThreeRing are ways for me to capture pictures, video, and other media of my classes and store it on line.  Then I can share it on other media sites (such as Facebook, Twitter, and Blogger).   I can also use the Scan app to scan QR codes (I can use online QR code generators to record stories, websites, syllabi, and other media).

If this is daunting to educators, I refer you to the quote just to the left: "If you don't like change, you're going to hate extinction."  

We are going to see massive changes in education in the next few years (and even months here at LHS).  And I cannot wait.

Here are a few of my students using technology to - gulp, gasp, and shock - learn.

More uses of technology.  First, the author Penny Kittle, whose book Write Beside Them, I read on vacation this summer and Tweeted my thoughts on it, found me on Twitter and offered the chance for me and my class to Skype with her.  Below that is a highlight of my year last year when a former student gave me a nice compliment via Twitter.  And below that are two infographs my students created and shared with me to chronicle their 48 hour cell phone hiatus.

Again, more students using technology to learn and thrive.  I especially like the quote at the bottom of the page.  And it's so true.  Unfortunately.

The power of Twitter in the classroom and in professional development.

The power of blogger in education to publish student work and to give them a real world audience.

How I use cell phones in my classes.

Again, if you don't like change, you're going to hate extinction.  I've had students type papers on their iPhones or iPods.  People are shocked by this.  Yet, would any of us like to use a traditional typewriter?  That's how the world functioned for decades!

Then there is the image on the bottom lift about helping Grandma with the controller.  And on the lower right is a new potty chair complete with a station to hold the toddler's iPad.

My contact information.  I heard on a podcast that a teacher had 16 different ways she could communicate with students and share information.  I took that as a challenge.

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