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Showing posts from 2007

Merry Christmas!

A beautiful morning here in the Merrick household. Lots of presents, lots of love, lots of funny Christmas memories.

Fave gift? Don't know whether it was the humidor with a selection of 'gars, the new Samsung phone, or the Leatherman set, wow...

However, I have to say that my new ability to read the time on my wrist in binary has to be right up there!

I'm uploading a pic from my new cellphone as we speak :)


My RSS Feeds on Education are Achieving Consensus!

Interesting, or at least it is to me...

I use Netvibes to aggregate my RSS feeds. It's a cool tool that I would love to share with you, so here it goes on my list of "to be created" instructional videos. More on that later.

Meanwhile, I have been struck this week with how posts from so many of the education-related bloggers I follow (or "arse"=RSS, according to one particular German-British friend of mine) via my Netvibes interface are reflecting rather dramatically on how they are personally striving to re-examine the relevance of their own teaching practices, toward incorporating social networking, Web 2.0, and as-yet-unimagined new technology tools rekindle the relevance of education.

Vicki Davis, "coolcatteacher" blogger, starts with a poem, and cross-posts at the TechLearning bloggers' outlet. She argues that blogging is not the "death of writing," as many old garde have argued, but its evolution, and continues, warning about changes t…

Don't Let Go

Recorded in the hours wee, December 23, 2007. Music, guitar, lyrics, pretty much everything by Scott Merrick. Click the lyrics for a readable-sized one...

YouTube After Dinner

Okay. I don't know if anyone else's family is going through this, or if we are as unique as we'd like to believe we are. But again (perhaps for the third time in a month or two), after dinner, my senior-in-HS daughter invited us to the family computer to share a video, which turned into two sharings, punctuated by my middle school son's insistance to watch the "remix" of one fo them, which turned out to be hiLARious. Here are the links:

Charlie Bit My Finger--Again!
Little Kid Trying to Say "Blood"

and the "Blood" remix

Times have changed: We didn't even turn ON the tv tonite...

YouTube reports views in the millions for one of these and near that for the others. Clearly, times have changed...

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to Everyone

From Merrick Central in Nashville, Tennessee, I want to wish everyone on the face of the planet a Merry Christmas and a Happy (you fill in the blank). There's a lot of talk about "Killing Christmas" in the media this year, the phenomenon of "politically correctnessing" the holiday by tailoring one's greetings to embrace any possible faith or belief. Coming from a background of very uncommitted Methodism--we only made it to the occasional Christmas Eve service and always to "Sunrise Services" on Easter Mornings, I suspect because those latter were held outside in Centennial Park--I have mixed feelings about this. I do tend to agree with my friend Walter Jowers' words in a recent "Helter Shelter" column for the Nashville Scene:

You people who want retail clerks to holy up Christmas for you, listen to me. They’re clerks. They don’t make the rules. They’re just doing what the corporate weasels upstream tell them to do. It’s just like the …

Just One More Book!

Podcast shareshare time! My University School of Nashville colleague Karen Knox, also known as Comma Momma (and coincidentally the English teacher of my 6th grader son) just published an article in Borderlines, The quarterly newsletter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, reviewing a wonderful website/podcast called Just One More Book!

Whether you're a teacher of young'uns, a momma or a poppa or any other flavor of caregiver, or even if you're just a grown-up lover of illustrated books, this project, as Karen says, "is impressive in its scope. It covers the world of children's read-aloud books with an array of authors, illustrators, publishers, agents, and others involved in children's literature."* I just listened to episode number 281 of "Just One More Book" and I highly recommend it to you. The hosts are knowledgeable, clever, and literate, and it's a shortie (~8 minutes).

Podcasts are a way to learn on the go, y…

All Day CS3 Workshop

I'm sitting in what is by all early indications a marvelous Adobe CS3 workshop. All day...Mike and Liz from Compumaster will guide two tracks through 5 sessions roughly broken out into print design and web design courses. I'll focus on Dreamweaver, Flash, Fireworks, Photoshop and Illustrator. There's a team of 5 of us here from USN, well neigh the whole tech team (we left David at school to handle the flashfires that breakout every day). We're bifurcating to catch everything and I need now to shutup and start listening and working! Cheerio!

Agony and Ecstasy

So, the agony is in all the shortfalls one has regarding actual instruction and affect. The ecstasy is the good stuff (though the agony has its place in that queue). I'm doing a day long workshop tomorrow on aspects of Adobe CS3, an opportunity located by my Technology Director and supported by my school administration, and I'm reeeeeallly excited to be going. We just purchased Adobe CS3 and I want to know how to lead my teachers to places where they'll use it.

Today (the Ecstasy) I facilitated a fabulous interactive videoconference offered by the Vanderbilt Virtual School, a program about classical music featuring a chamber orchestra called Alias. Wonderful. Marvelous. Underappreciated and underutilized by the tens of thousands of classrooms across the nation that might have benefited from the chance to ask questions of professional classical musicians: The agony.

This week, my kids are all creating holiday cards for homeless folks and retirement village residents who may o…

The "Big Conversation"

I thunk anyone interested in what I thunk might be interested in this, the first draft for an Enrichment Team newsletter I drafted tonight. I rewrote it for submission (interesting term) to my administration, then more or less completely rewrote it before I sent it off. But this forum is larger and I have faith it can absorb the first draft. Interestingly enough, or not, the print newsletter-posted article may lead people here. Ah what a tangled internet we weave! Here goes...

The "Big Discussion"
by Scott Merrick, Lower School Technology Coordinator

Those parents who may not be aware of the USN Lower School Technology for Learning webpage might add this resource to your set of tools to keep in touch with what’s going on with your child’s education: I have a serious interest in keeping up with the "Big Conversation" about what is needed to prepare our children for the world they will inherit from us. My developing knowledge about this c…

U.S. Students Below Average in Science and Math

From THE Journal*, a favorite source for current trends, a report that I'll add to my resource bank for an upcoming presentation in San Antonio about university outreach to K12 schools. Go read the article, and what's up with Canadian science education that places it in the top 5? Mind you, results are based on one of my favorite whipping-boys, standardized testing. But still...

And in math...

See the line at 500? That's the international median line. Clearly, something's wrong with the long-running argument that the poor performance of our students in science and math is "urban myth." We clearly need some work here. My sense is that there are a passle of well-meaning educators out there working as hard as they can with out-dated tools and restrictions to teach kids content and skills, but if they were to be set free to innovate and energize the imaginations of their students, engage them, draw them into the larger context, "performance" would follow…

Google Apps for Your Domain

My son, a 6th grade student at a progressive independent school at which I happen to teach, cratered tonight about the fact that he hasn't been allowed access (by his team members) to what should be a group-collaborated Powerpoint for a Social Studies project, and he's worried about his grade for participation--the assignment is due Friday. Early on, I suggested the three 11 year-olds use Google Presentation for the task, but the teacher said no.

There are so many things wrong with the above sentence, I won't even begin to rant: I've already ranted once today. But consider this, Google Apps for Your Domain in Education, capably and appropriately blogged by good ol' Chris at the infinitethinkingmachine. I want to say, "WTF," but the "W" is not "What" but, more to the point, "Why?"

This post is also a bit of an experiment. Check my Clustrmap in the right-hand column. There seems to be a lot of verified interest in this blog. Are…

What Teachers Need (According to David)

Sitting in an outpatient surgery clinic waiting room awaiting my love to come out of her anaesthetic swooze after some fairly minor surgery, I'm online with the practice's lobby-only wi-fi connection. How civilized!

Catching up on my Netvibes I popped into David Warlick's 2cents worth blog to note his reflections about recent conversations at the myriad conferences that make up his professional life. His bulleted shortlist of the things he repeatedly tells teachers and administrators that teachers need in order for our educational institutions to pull their virtual heads out of their virtual back rooms (hey, pretty nicely paraphrased!) deserves a reprint here, so here it goes--
"I tell them that teachers need:
Time to plan, collaborate, research, assess and adapt, build, and innovate (I tell them 3 to 4 hours a day — everyday).
Classrooms that are equipped for learning in an abundant information environment, rather than an information-scarce environment (This means wif…

Goodbeershow Number 137!

I'm laughing out loud. I was just chatting with a friend online and popped into the Goodbeershow website to check out the most recent episode so I could share the link with him; and there I was, staring out at myself from what Jeffrey T. calls "one of those one handed MySpace shots" at the tasting room of Yazoo Brewery, where...well, you can read all about it and listen yourself: Episode number 137 of the award-winning Goodbeershow podcast!

WARNING, NOT CHILD OR WORKPLACE SAFE! (due to some more or less grown-up humor).

Links for AIU Advisory Board Meeting

I'm meeting some online colleagues today (the Masters program advisory board at American Intercontinental University) via a semi-annual conference call, and I'd like to share some links to illustrate some of the discussion on the 3Di. As of now the links are scattered all over my blogs and networks, so here they are for quick reference:

SLedupotential--NECC collaboratively-contrived (by 9 educators in 9 different states)workshop proposal wiki:

SLeducation ning--recently launched socio-professional network at for stockpiling educationally relevant Second Life videos:

"Virtual or Virtually U: Educational Institutions in Second Life" Paper in the International Journal of Social Sciences, by Nancy Jennings and Chris Collins:

Kevin Jarret's Voicethread for K12onlineconference 2007:

and finally, (or not:), a prese…

Twitter and What's Going On?

Logged into my iGoogle this morning, after sitting down with the espresso I set up last night. Yesterday I'd added two Twitter widgets to my iGoogle, one to read and one to post, hoping to twit a little more productively by reducing the number of clicks it takes to perform those two tasks. Top of the read window? David Warlick, and I'll quote here: dwarlick: Just read Will's post ( I'm not sure we are even capable of answering his rhetorical questions! .

So I did "just read," and I suggest you do too.

That took me to another browser start page tab, my Netvibes, to its own "Education" tab (my netvibes tabs are, in order, left-to-right, "General, Education, Second Life, Music, News, and Technology"), where I clicked on David's most recent rss-fed entry, "Sometimes Size Doesn't Matter,", where he posts a few interesting rhetorical questions of his own.

Just thought I'd start out your day or eve…

It's all 1s and 0s

Heheheee. I don't even recall what freeware program I used to create this picture, quite a while ago, but I discovered it yesterday when snooping around on my backup hard drive. I thought I'd share. Click to see it full-sized :)

Maybe I should be using this as a profile pic...

Into four weeks of teaching before Winter break. I'm hoping to make it my best four weeks ever.

More later,

NYSACTE Video from Brian C. Smith

Here's a video from Darren Draper, a colleague of Brian C. Smith, who posted it at the NYSACTE site. The piece compiles a whole lot of current thought about education into an enjoyable, thought provoking set of comments and questions. It's resident on Brian's NYSACTE (New York State Association for Computers and Technologies in Education) conference ning. See what I mean:

Free Choices Thanksgiving Break Week!

The bar graph above illustrates (in order of their appearance in the lab) self-reported free choices exercised by my students in the Lower School Technology for Learning Lab this morning. It's the one day of classes this week, and as such I'm offering the full class session for free choice, as long as each time a student makes a selection it's noted on the board.

The graph was created in Google Documents, which we'll be using soon in the upper grades!

Everyone have a safe and fun and thankful break!

Video from Common Sense Media and the Macarthur Foundation

Just got this from friend Kevin Jarret in one of my listserv group emails. This video, archived from an intense panel discussion hosted by Common Sense Media and others, is long, but if you have an hour and 15 minutes or so to listen (the video is mainly panel discussion and audience, but you'll want to pull back to your computer and watch the examples of student work--WOW), I highly suggest you do so.

Included in the panel is USN alumna Stacey Goodstein, who spoke to our parents and faculty in an appearance on campus just last month. I'm hoping to include some audio from that talk in an upcoming Snacks4theBrain!

Here's the video:

Second Life Cross-post

Check out my Second Life blog for news of an important event Wednesday night "inworld." Educators who aren't aware of the surging interest in SL as a pedagogical tool might be well served to open up a portion of their peripheral vision to the increasingly well-documented successes of the platform.

A quick googling of "'Second Life' 'Education'" might be a good starting place. Here, I've done it for you, saving you one more click :)

I was at the Conference on Information Technology Monday, cruising around gathering information for my Vanderbilt podcast, and though some of the hundreds of sessions available drew pretty good crowds, I have to say the only standing room only sessions I peeked into were those on Second Life (and one very interesting one on a 3D software platform for crime scene forensics education. I helped out a little in a session by John Miller, from Tacoma State College in Washington, about his NESIM (Nursing Education Simulat…

A Vision of Students Today, from Michael Wesch

Michael Wesch is, as David Warlick notes today, "at it again." Wesch (a cultural anthropologist at Kansas State University) created the worldwide noted YouTube video "Web 2.0--The Machine is Us/ing Us," a digital ditty that earned him, among other noteriety, a 2007 WIRED magazine "Rave Award."

I thank David for the quick heads up on this one, via my RSS feed of his 2 Cents Worth blog. I took the time to post it here in part because it actually brought me to tears. I'd be interested to see your responses commented here.

Here's the link to Wesch's page containing the video, entitled "A Vision of Students Today," in turn embedded from YouTube. (Not available at USN--blocked for bandwidth issues)


Vicki Davis's "Cool Cat Teacher" blog has me playing with this now: As if I needed something else to explore, LOL

To post here, use your cell phone to text message to phone number 25622 any message beginning with "@helloscott" and followed by your message. The "@helloscott" will be stripped out of the display and the message will end up on my wiffiti screen, which is embedded below. Like Vicki's doing, I'm just exploring this: It's amazing how every day there seems to be some new clever communication platform emerging. If it's true that being a life-long learner increases longevity, we all should live forever! Wiffiti me!

"Educational Change -- an Oxymoron?"

This post is actually posting to a post about a post. A meta-post?

Tom March put up what he calls a "little rant" at Tuesday about a New York Times op-ed piece by David Brooks. I want you to read the NYTimes piece, of course, but I want you to do so by way of March's very brief review of it.

Then go enjoy Brooks' remarkable little prose all about "the Sacred Order of the External Mind," It's good for a few chuckles, as well as its fair share of thought provoking moments, especially in combination with March's take on it. My own read is that Brooks is being not "a bit tongue in cheek," as Brooks describes it, but rather incredibly sarcastic. What do you think?

Have a minute?

Innovate---Journal of Online Education Redesign!

I'm pretty proud of my very first peer-reviewed professional journal paper, released in the October/November volume 2, 2005, issue number 1 of innovate-Journal of Online Education; and this exraordinary resource for educators K-20 (and learners of any level) has gone on since then to release issue after issue of valuable research driven papers and webinars. It's just this month released a GREAT site redesign. Hence this post. See my paper, "Videoconferencing K-12: The state of the Art," at the new site. Check out the one hour webinar (a condition of publication, and a free archived continuing resource for both authors and audience) I subsequently delivered. If you're not impressed yet, check out the "About this Journal" page.

Bookmark this site! And sign up for the listserv for once-a-month receipt of new publication announcements; I've just been approved to submit an article for a future special issue on education in Second Life--more news on that l…

Got the Winter Crud but...

Lying flat on my back with a chest cold today but it does give me a chance to catch up, inbetween nappies. I've been most active in my Second Life blogging lately. So much happening there, not a great deal happening here. Excepting, well, hmmmm...
Awaiting word on the proposal applications for NECC2008 in San Antonio. I put in three: two for the School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt and one for Second Life. The first two are similar, one a session with IVC and one a poster session with IVC capability. I've done several of the former but none of the latter and I'm hoping that if one is accepted over the other that the poster goes through. I didn't even make it to the poster floor last year in Atlanta but I recall from the year before that it can be a busy place; plus it'll be a challenge for me to put together something in a new (two hour!) format. I'm so proud of the work that's going on at the school that I'd love to get the chance to share it out…

ISTE Podcasting Webinar Plug!

Hey, ya'll,

I want to share a little video I put up at TeacherTube a few minutes ago. My school's technology department is adding a little article each week on how our teachers are adopting technology, and I took the opportunity yesterday to drop in on Matthew Haber, USN's podcasting teacher and this year's Nashville Scene "Best High School Teacher" (USN's Joel Bezaire came in number 3:) just after he had attended an online webinar from ISTE. I've been to several of these, folks, and they are genuinely worth the hour of one's time and the 50 dollar fee an ISTE member pays. Visit the ISTE website to learn more. Meanwhile, here's the one minute vid:


If you're not aware of what's going on with Second Life, the huge online MUVE (Multi-User Virtual Environment), you may be surprised to know that educational opportunities abound. I maintain a fairly oft-accessed blog about education in Second Life and usually keep my posts about that area of interest at the "Oh Second Life" blog. However, I want to encourage anyone interested to visit a wiki I set up over this past weekend, one I'm calling "sledupotential."
Since ISTE's annual NECC (National Educational Computing Conference) issued a call for proposals this past month, I've been wondering what sort of offering I might make for the 2008 conference in San Antonio. I've been going to these things since 2000, and I began presenting at the 2002 conference in San Antonio, helping design and deliver a half-day session on Interactive Videoconferencing put on for the then "Office" of Science Outreach at Vanderbilt University. Since then (wi…

Online Conference October 15-19 and October 22-26

Mark your calendars and peel off some multi-tasking time during the work-weeks October 15-19 and October 22-26 for the K12 Online Conference 2007. It looks like it'll be ripe with learning and sharing opportunities for anyone who can stop by. I'm also very interested in the tools that will be used for the mega-shareshare. If you see me there, say hi!

Learn more...

The official conference website has Wes Fryer asking bloggers to post three things they hope to gain by attending this year (remember, this is all online--all virtual--all digital).

Here are mine:
1) Making/renewing friendships with educators who are interested in making education better2) Seeing how all this works, when facilitated by some of the best practitioners in the field, and discovering new tools or at least valid new use for tools I already know about3) Adding one more thing to my already overwhelming to-do list! Okay, the last one might be a little sarcastic, but since number 2 is really two things, I feel co…

(4)Hundred Dollar Laptops to be Sold in US for Two Weeks Only

eSchoolNews reported today that the much-media'ed "Hundred Dollar Laptop," the product of Nicholas Negroponte's long crusade to level the global computing playing field, will be sold in the US for a two week period in November, ONLY.

Negroponte, as we know, is famed for thinking out of the box, some would say, "off the planet." I much admire this strategy, which offers the US public to purchase the $188 retail machine, running a souped-down Linux operating system, sporting built-in wireless, and chargeable with a hand-crank, for 400 dollars. The additional revenue from each sale will be applied to the purchase of one of the little laptops for a child in a third world country.
All the details are at the eSchoolNews article and I highly recommend the read. Now who's gonna pop me 400 bucks so I can buy one of these things!? If nothing else, it can keep my Kaypro 2x machine company as a collector's item. And, hey, that little 64K, 5 1/4 inch dual floppy d…

"Musings--Just Learning" shareshare

I just discovered Sharon Peters' blog, "Musings--Just Learning," a refreshing set of posts from a long time English teacher-turned-consultant for LEARN, an arm of the ministry of education in Quebec, Canada. Having happily added it to my Netvibes rss aggregator, I just wanted to pop out and share it with you. Thanks to twitter pal Durff!

Now to investigate the new Google Presenter. There's always something!!!!!!!!!!

Oh, and before I forget it, an NSTA listserv email pointed me to its marvelous "Behind the Books" podcast series. Any educator can benefit from listing, especially if connected to the sciences!

Practical Theory--A View from the Classroom

"We need school and district administrators to create a culture of innovation where teachers and students can bring new ideas, new tools and new ways of thinking to the subjects we have at hand and be rewarded for their innovation. When that happens -- when teacher learning through non-traditional means is valued -- then we can a) expect to really see change and b) hold teachers accountable when they don't. Until that day, we will see the early adopters and the risk-takers bring new ideas to bear on the classroom, but I don't think we'll see wide-spread adoption of any tools at any rate faster than general society."

--Chris Lehman, Principal of the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia.

Chris is an award-winning educational technologist who has taken his views on the potential of new teaching and learning tools to turn around the decline of our schools into his work at SLA. I will be spending this week catching up on his blog archives. Want to join me? Visit P…

Doonesbury on Second Life

Okay, this may properly belong on my educators' Second Life Blog, but it's on so many of those that I feel I need to pipe it out to a more general audience. My shareshare is motivated by a comment made by one of my Vanderbilt colleagues Monday morning. As he passed my makeshift workstation in the conference room, noting my laptop display, he huffed, "Oh, you're playing games."
What I was doing, actually, was looking around Max Chatnoir's fantastic "Gene Pool" island on Second Life, a build completely dedicated to helping global citizens understand the finer points of genetics research. It's a much-heralded site and I was taking a look at it toward sharing it with the kids in the new School for Science and Math.
This is a technological savvy man I highly respect, and he just doesn't "get it" that MUVEs can inspire, motivate, and educate. "I have to admit I'm not at all impressed by Second Life," he told me. I sighed. I…

The School for Science and Math Profiled at the Learning Sciences Institute

Happy Saturday.

In the "the sun never sets on fun education news" department, I direct your attention to the most recent news posting at the Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach's website, which in turn sends you on over to the Learning Sciences Institute 's website's article on our new School for Science and Math at Vanderbilt. According to the news announcement at, "the Learning Sciences Institute (LSI) is a Vanderbilt University-wide center dedicated to stimulating and supporting interdisciplinary research and development in the learning sciences."

"The School" is an innovative project to bring 100 Metro Nashville Public School students to Vanderbilt University campus research laboratories for one day a week the entire school year. For this year's incoming freshmen it's a four year commitment that will culminate in a special notation on their high school diploma and provide them with skills and…

Writing to Communicate--David Warlick's Notes

Friend David has done it again, succinctly given us the short course on communication. Check out his notes about communicating in the 21st century here, at his 2cents Worth blog.
Want some justification for why we should be emphasizing communication (not just 'writing") in our classrooms? Read this article at the Partnership for 21st Century Skills website. It's about the critical lack of same in the sadly lacking emergent American workforce.
Finally, I'd submit that blogging is one Web 2.0 technology that can enhance our students' communication skills in inumerable ways. See for much more on the topic.

Good Music from David Spencer

A brief commercial for my son's guitar teacher, David Spencer.

Wow. If "Lady Lover" isn't a single I don't know what is. "She Walks the Streets Alone" might be the B side, or then again maybe that's the single.

David, a brilliant and amazingly centered young fellow, originally (I do believe) from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He's been giving my beautiful son Colin guitar lessons every week for about a year, to the point at which Colin's already writing songs and has performed one of them in concert in front of his 5th grade peers (Colin's either stage-bound or just picking up valuable life skills with performance--he's the only pre-teen in the amazingly successful "Shakespeare in the Park" series this summer) and considers noodling on my guitar (a sleek black Scotty Moore-signed Gibson SG-Standard which he may not know is now really his) as natural a free-time choice as watching Spongebob or surfing Club Penguin.

Anyway, gi…

Freyer Calls for Textbook Purchase Moratorium

Want to think outside of the proverbial "Box" today? Go visit Wesley Freyer's "Infinite Thinking Machine" and join in the conversation he's started about mounting a moratorium on the purchase of dead-tree-based textbooks. Note that he's not advocating the end of their publication, but calling for a movement to break the textbook industry's stranglehold on educational budgets. I'm wondering how much better my 1000 for my two kids texbooks this year might have been spent on a new laptop for each of them...

Vickie Davis bellied up her counter-opinion in her blog, CoolCatTeacher. What to YOU think?

Comment here (or anywhere--just comment!).

MSNBC's The 10 Best Actors on TV!

I have to shareshare: This recent MSNBC article by Larry Carroll, describing "The Ten Best Actors on TV," includes my boy James and places him number 3 (though I'd put him higher, of course). The text is right on target, from my very biased POV. Can't WAIT to see the upcoming 24 season, which premiers November 6 on FoxTV.

Congrats, brother. It's about time!!!

Grab a visit to Jimmy's official website from the navbar to the right!

FlipVideo Hits Classrooms!

I have to cross-post this, knowing that not everyone reads my USN Lower School blog but wanting to shareshare with as many folks as possible. Here's a post I just slapped up on that blog for parents at my school:

Watch for more video from our Lower School, after Technology Director Kathy Wieczerza put one FlipVideo camera device in the hands of each grade level, K-4 during our final day of start-of-the-year teacher inservice on Tuesday. These handy little devices record internet-ready video at the touch of a button, store 30 minutes of video instantly uploadable to one's computer via the flip-out USB plug, and host the imaging software on the device, so there's no software to load on your computer, PC or Mac. Best of all, they can be bought for about 90 dollars at Costco and other local outlets, a much better price than the 139 dollars they retail for at the company's website.

If you're a teacher, the fine folks at FlipVideo offer a 10 dollar rebate per unit on purc…

Starting the School Year 2007-8!

Wow, so it begins. All over the country, teachers are making ready their classrooms for an influx of new teachers--or they've already met them on that ground. My wish for all of us is that this year be the most inspiring for our children, the most pivotal in their path toward achieving the motivation to seek learning for the rest of their lives.

In my own school, it has been a great treat for me to be around the most dedicated group of educators I can imagine. I'm going to pop in a little video from the first inservice day breakfast, in which our fearless leader Vince Durnan cajoles us out into the 100 degree heat for a mass portrait on our front steps. One reason I'm doing this is to have a readily accessible video to share with my teachers when I hand out the grade-level FlipVideos we're buying, one for each grade level K-5. The other is for the world to see our professonal community at a rare moment of rest. We'll all be at work soon enough! Here's the video:

The Workshop's Done, but We're Not

Wow, what a gratifying week, working with 12 (10 at the end, due to injuries and illness--you didn't think Web 2.0 was so dangerous, did you?) talented, dedicated colleagues to puzzle and explore, query and tease out meaning, discuss, absorb, and generally mine the gold from at least a portion of what the new online collaborative tools have to offer educators and students.

If there's one terminology that could supplant the now hackneyed "Web 2.0," maybe it's that, Online Collaborative Tools. There you go: "OCT for Us." You heard it here first.


But meanwhile get thee on over to the wiki (see the blog if you'd like--it's really cool to watch the clustrmap to see the dot or two that gets added on the world map every day) to see (especially) the Individual Report-Outs, the Links and Files, and the News, to which I added just today.

Perhaps your fellow teachers could benefit from a week (or a day, or two, or three) of this kind of learner-drive…

"Web 2.0 for Us" Update

Just made it past "hump day" in the University School of Nashville "Web 2.0 for Us" workshop running Monday through Friday and I have to say I am sooooooo proud of these folks. They have embraced these valuable teaching tools more warmly than I could have predicted or hoped for. The blog is cool, but the wiki is cooler, maybe a statement that might summarize the whole ding-danged effort. See 'em both. Me? I'm goin' to bed.

A GREAT Day in the "Web 2.0 for Us" Workshop

I have to admit I was freakin' out last night--what if the model doesn't work, what if my theory that smart and creative teachers given time to explore tools will become energized and enthusiastic is all balderdash and tommyrot, what if our internet connection goes down, what if, what if, what if...?

Well, predictably, I suppose, the day came, the moments of excitement came and went, and it all worked out the way it should have. See the results of the first day from the USN Web 2.0 for Us workshop here. Especially check out the Report-Out pages on the wiki. Very good stuff.

Kudos to my friend David Warlick who came in via Skype video (we lost our own video due to some un-troubleshootable problem with my webcam and my laptop, but we forged ahead) to deliver most of a marvelous talk of his about Web 2.0 and Literacy. See the page he created for it here. Wow, I say, just Wow.

New Snacks4theBrain! Podcast Features NECC2007!

Hey! Just finished posting episode number 58 of Snacks4theBrain! and thought it might be good to let everyone know here. The 20 min. podcast features snippets from Peggy Sheehy, Kathy Schrock, and Chris Dede--all three of whom presented stellar talks at the National Educational Computing Conference in Atlanta, Georgia (Chris's excerpt is from his keynote the subsequent "online learning institute" tagged onto the tail end of NECC). Go visit the S4theB! blog to listen and learn more.

Oh, for those monitoring for news of the new podcast "uber-device" to which I alluded in my Windows Podcasting talk at NECC, the current news is that its release is set for October of this year. As soon as I have leave to let out more I promise I'll do so right here (though you'll probably hear of it elsewhere as well--it's too big an innovation to escape large press).
If you haven't already, check out and keep an eye on the developments that will blossom over at the We…

My Brother's Website

Heavy sigh.
I have two brothers by birth and I love them both dearly. We've been through some times together, we have. That said, I've been blessed with another brother in my life: my dearest, closest, most distant brother, James Morrison. He's a poet, an actor, a musician, a daddy, a seeker, a producer, a director, and he's as close to my heart as anyone in the world. Heck, he taught me to juggle, ya'll. Aside from Jimmy's most recent gig on Fox's 24, he's done a great deal of work over a good many years. Funny how people meet and bond; but spending time with Jimmy as apprentices in the Alaska Repertory Theatre's fledgling apprentice troupe, improvising imaginary journeys for schoolchildren in Anchorage, Alaska, may have directed my life in more profound ways than I can say. He's recently revised his website "Links" page to send people here, to my "life's work." Funny. Go to his own website to get a taste of the most rema…

Second Life NECC 2007 Birds of a Feather Video!!!

It's at the Scott in Second Life blog. Have at it! Oh heck, let's repost it here!

Thank you Zsuzsa Thomsen! You ROCK! I SAW you with that videocam. You did a great job of grabbing pieces of the hour and a half fun-fest that Jeremy and I did before he lost every electronic connection he had when his power went out from the San Antonio thunderstorm. It's always something!!!

Chris O'Neal at the "online learning institute"

Chris O'Neal, University of Virginia, working with the Virginia Dept. of Education to provide professional outreach to teachers. He also teaches classes at UV and is pursuing his doctorate in Research and Evaluation. He also is presenting the Panel introduction to the second set of roundtables here at the ECB/SERB "online learning institute."
Some notes:
"If my 11 year old is so tech savvy, what about her little 4 year old cousin who's doing things Chloe didn't do until she was 8? The question I want to ask is "are we ready for these kids?"
Chris showed the video I shared with my teachers just three weeks ago, Mike Wesch's "The Machine is Us." .
I like him already.
Teachers need to ask these questions about 2.0 tools: applicability to classroom--content, needs, standards
ease of use
student safety and information literacy
teacher tech savviness and student media literacy
copyright and…

online learning institute!

Intensely frustrated by the repeated reaquaintance with the error message balloon "This connection has limited or no connectivity and the Windows message [insert image], I'm typing this post in notepad to insert later, when I can achieve a connection at someplace that has a clue about wireless connectivity. Shoot, I'd give an arm and a leg for a CAT5 jack. Days Inn Atlanta staff are friendly and helpul and very very nice, but their "we're working on it" reply is getting stale now that the technology conference is over and their explanation that too many people are trying to use the hotel wireless at once is no longer available.


The SREB (Southeastern Educational Review Board) "Online Learning Institute" in the Omni Hotel is going great guns. NECC 2007 officially concluded with the stunning 2:45 keynote address by Dr. Tim Tyson, principle at Mabry Middle School here in Atlanta, a school where administrators and technologists (and, more important…

Big Announcement for Attendees of My NECC Windows Podcasting Tools Session!

(part of the audience!)
I had so much fun sharesharing yesterday for the ~240 dedicated teachers, administrators, and technologists who packed my Windows Podcasting: Tools, Tips, and StraTegies for Success (ISTE dropped my internal cap on the last word in its title but I thought it was cute, don't you?) and want to thank you all for being there. Please feel free to add my feed to your RSS aggregator of choice for that podcasting device announcement I teased you with! The winners of the two giveaway FlipVideo devices (THANKS, Simon at!!!) were Bruce Dale, Technical Support Specialist at Rabun County Schools in Tiger, Georgia and Brenda Thompson, teacher at Madison County School District in Flora, Mississippi. Congrats! Seven other lucky winners took home items from FTC Publishing and some random other things from my office, including a Works Suite package and a 2003 Britannica Encyclopedia on CD (the boobie prize, to be sure but most likely a bonafide antique worth kee…

Okay, I'm Done!

Led what turned out to be a FABULOUS Birds of a Feather session with Jeremy Koester from San Antonio yesterafternoon. Followup from that experience will mostly be at the Second Life blog, but I can assure you a fun time was had by all (well, "most" anyway!).

I fnally feel like my "Windows Podcasting: Tips, Tricks, and sTragegies for Success" session today is fleshed out enough with talking points and resources for me to talk non-stop for 50 minutes without making a complete fool of myself. Going to take a walk through the conference center after uploading those resources to the ISTE site.

Most of what I'm sharing is now on my new page, so if you're busy elsewise feel free to learn from there!

Had planned to give away two flipvideo recorders but since they haven't arrived from the company yet that plan may be thwarted. I do have some books and other fun stuff from a commercial company that contacted me to offer them, as well as a Griffin iMic an…

Kathy Schrock's Presentation

Okay, ya'll, I'm here in a HUGE Murphy Ballroom in the Georgia World Conference Center with friend Kathy Schrock, and sheesh, she's got a full house. She's doing a workshop on Web 2.0 and you can see her presentation slides at her presentation webpage.

Approaching Grantgivers: How to Write It, How to Sell It!

In the workshop led by charismatic Sheryl Abshire, sweat drippin' off me just like perspiration, since I took the wrong turn in my walk here, walked around the longest block in Atlanta, and ended up running part of the way in the already hot Georgia morning. Sheesh.

Sitting in a room with ten white linen-draped tables each populated by four or five teachers or administrators so interested in learning how to get some of the millions and millions of available grant dollars that they got up early on Sunday a.m. to come to this three hour seminar/workshop (heck I already told you I ran here) and I'm going to bullet some points as Sheryl talks:

collaborate when you write grants--there's power in collaborative thinking
think strategically and intentionally
bring people into the process who have expertise in the field
her district just got the million dollar Teaching History grant from the USDE
review the literature and identify funders--this is hard but it's the easiest thing you&…

Day1, Saturday, the Edubloggercon "Unconference"

Made it down for the start of the edubloggercon "unconference," a jewel of an experience that was so inspirational it may as well have been the entire motivation for my driving down here. The morning session saw me chatting with Vicki Davis, a premier blogger who's CoolCatTeacher blog is a great resource for everyone. The room was full of active conversations as bloggers paired up to "interview" one another in order to flesh out the profiles on the edubloggercon site.

The session broke out into smaller ones and I gravitated to the Second Life session where I got to meet in person many of the amazing new friends I'm meeting in my avatar as "Scottmerrick Oh" inworld. We made some great progress, I think, toward gelling as a group to further investigate how SL can be used in the service of learning. See "Scott Merrick in Second Life" blog for more on that! Will be blogging there a bit later this evening, after finding some food.
That session…