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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Leading and Learning with Technology Spot

Hey all,

I just learned this evening that I'm to be the member profile for this upcoming month's ISTE Leading and Learning with Technology print magazine. Realizing that folks may come here from that wonderful publication I just want to say thank you to Jennifer Ragan-Fore, ISTE's Director of the General Membership Program, for aiming the editorial radar my way. As whatever the editors do with the profile info I sent them will doubtless reflect, I'm just a teacher, flailing about in as organized way as my own teaching and learning styles will allow, doing my best just like all tens (hundreds?) of thousands of other teachers do every day. I am at once heartened and humbled by this weird, brief spotlight.

Scroll down and check out sidebar links here. It's a rich place, in undefinable ways. If I have any words of wisdom for you it's the same ones I share with my kids: Be Good and Have Fun.

I have a new focus that I'm examining for my own non-masters thesis: Seek Balance.

Cheers, and let's have a fun and kind summer...

Graduation Pics

Very fun. Very family. Very proudmaking:

Monday, May 26, 2008

Quick-flic! "Without You" video from April's Cabaret Night

Well, using DVDx to rip the video from the DVD sent to our family from the school, then editing the resulting .avi file with Windows Movie Maker took a while, but even though the video is iffy after all the compressions it's pretty tasty. Have at it:

It's a relatively long download, so I'll just link to it here:

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Yippee! I just finished adding "Reserved" signs on the last of the realworld attendees' chairs (the tie-dye ones on the floor) in the SLedupotential Virtual Room high above ISTE Island. Here's a snapshot--the little white signs all say "Reserved for a San Antonio SLedupotentialer, click for more info" and a click will take the clicker to the workshop wiki, already populated with more stuff than we could get thru in 3 days, much less 3 hours. Neat!

Attendees will be getting a brief pre-conf. survey the first of the week to help us narrow focus a bit to tailor the learning experience, which this will definitely be, and for all of us! Check back here for a SLurl the "day of," Monday, June 30, at 6:45 SL time!

At present, the workshop will be open inside Second Life to anyone, although I'm sure the ISTE Island Managers reserve the right to close the teleports if we get too busy. I currently have seating for 24 (the red "unreserved" chairs) and off in the corners I've placed 3 dance floors for the breakout sessions, which I'll name soon. Any suggestions for names?

Stay tooned!!! Oh, here's the NECC page that brought me the news:

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Last Half-Day of School--It's MOVIE TIME!

Toward fulfilling the state's mandatory 175 days of instruction, we're gathered together today to dork through the last half-day of school. Getting out of Dodge at the end of the year is especially pressing this year because our entire Lower School wing is getting a fresh coat of paint and new carpet on the floors during the summer months. I've already spent hours moving the PC towers off the floor onto the tables and made sure that the cables are free so that as soon as the last class of kids has walked out of the lab door for the last time this school year, I can begin coiling cables so that each computer table can be picked up and carried into the room across the hall so the carpeting can proceed apace.

I recalled sharing this wonderful video a couple years ago, and it's still there, so I'm sharing it out here. Enjoy "Warriors of the Net!"

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Redeux--My Talented Kids

Hola, friends,

Proud dad here, sharing mainly for family but also for anyone who wants to listen or view. The end of the school year is of course bringing all kinds of opportunities to celebrate our children. My lovely daughter, Miranda, received her school's annual Vocal Performance award in a school assembly this past week, and she sang at Convocation evening a beautiful song called "The Wish," from an anonymous poem, and accompanied by her much loved choral teacher, Ms. Judy Yeaworth. Of course, did I record it? Nope.

I did, however, have my digital camera with me today at Christ Church Cathedral's Youth Day celebration service, and I flipped it to video mode and set it down in the pew while she sang the same song, solo, this time accompanied by Michael Velting, the Cathedral's stellar organist and Choral Director. It's an odd recording in the sense that her solo picks up just as the first few rows of the large congregation are shuffling out to communion, and that gets louder as other rows follow. There are coughs, sneezes, and such as you'd hear in any big group of people; but somehow they just make the central lyrical performance that much more beautiful. I'll add the lovely lyrics as soon as I get them.

Enjoy, "The Wish," sung by Miranda Merrick, Sunday morning, May 18, 2008.

And far be it from me to spare my son from the spotlight, a location I feel he'll frequent often and long. Take a look at the wonderful year-end recital put on by Ma. Murphree's Creative Movement class. Colin's the last boy entering.

I'll doubtless brag more later :)

Friday, May 16, 2008

"High Schools at the Tipping Point"

From ASCD, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, comes a detailed and thought provoking challenge to our institutional models for teaching and learning. It's well worth a read and so very insightful that I cannot but share it.

Though it has its share of gloomy statistics, Bog Wise's timely article is far from doomsaying. He proposes three positive initiatives to begin change:

*Align what schools expect of students with the demands of college and the workforce

*Offer a rigorous, option-rich curriculum; personalize learning; and provide necessary supports

*Improve instruction by mining data and using digital technologies

Bob Wise is former Governor of West Virginia and the President of the Alliance for Excellent Education. The article's lead-line should give you a bit more motivation to pursue reading it:

The United States faces a choice: Do nothing to fix a broken high school system and watch our competitiveness further decline, or summon the political will to demand change.

Thanks to my twitter group, AngelaMaiers in particular, for pointing me to this must-share.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Chris Lehmann on Classroom 2.0

Woowoo, another nifty presentation attendance option this morning, getting to sit in on (much of) Chris Lehmann's tidy and thought-provoking intro to 2.0 for classrooms via Here's the link to the archive video. the clip you're looking for is SchoolDesign--5.14.08.

A quote from his Practical Theory blog:

One of the questions I've started asking when I present is this -- "How is it that we have so many idealistic, intelligent, dedicated people in our schools and yet have so many problems in our schools?" We have to start questioning the system that cannot harness all this energy and intelligence.

Oh heck, let's just embed that thang:


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

End of Year "How am I Gonna Get It Done" Blues

Weeeeeeeeeee! It's zoning down on us, ya'll, the end of the school year. I don't have any earthly idea why it so takes us by such surprise every year. This year, of course, with my lovely daughter graduating high school, a major project going on at the CSO, and two summer workshops for Vanderbilt plus a week in Mexico, a week at NECC in San Antonio, with its SLedupotential workshop in planning stages, I've hardly had a chance to post. I think this may be the longest I've gone between posts, since, well, since ever...

That said, there's not a lot to share (isn't that enough? it seems not). I will mention that we got word last week that every classroom in the Lower School will have new paint and new carpet over the summer, which means that every book and pencil needs to be packed into boxes ready to be moved out of the room before the end of inservice. That means, as well, I'll need to label every single cable (I think--I'm still sorting out the plan) for re-assembly of my 22 computer lab. Neat.

We're going to Puerto Vallerta the second week in June, so if anyone has any suggestions for the trip, aside from don't drink the water ( :)), send 'em along.

I'm introducing my 3rd graders to Keyboarding for Kids today and for the rest of the week, toward subliminally implanting prior experience for access the first of next school year. Sure, they won't remember, but they'll "remember" and it'll make things go better as we get into serious keyboarding learning next year.

Buckle up, keep the faith, and hold on tight. It'll be summer before you know it. Picture is roses from my back yard. :)


Monday, May 05, 2008

Why Schools Don't Educate--"Disaster of Ignorance"

I sometimes wonder why I put so much of my time and energy into maintaining a network of learning that so floods me with information. This morning, sorting through my email, I noted one from the "Independent Schools Collaboration Group at" and its content drew me to investigate the bit of information it was sharing. This, I think, is why I network with other educators, the lagniappe learning that a sharing online teaching and learning community provides.

- Tag: education independent teaching - Shared By: Sarah Hanawald 2008-05-03 03:19:45

is how it displayed in my email. I clicked to read, and though I don't always completely "read," more likely "scan" full documents, this one is so thoroughly thought-provoking I had to read it word for word. It was only when I reached one passage that mentioned "today in 1990" that I realized the comments from New York's "Teacher of the Year" were made by the 1990 recipient, that I was reading an 18 year-old document.

In part, he said,

I don't think we'll get rid of schools anytime soon, certainly not in my lifetime, but if we're going to change what is rapidly becoming a disaster of ignorance, we need to realize that the school institution "schools" very well, but it does not "educate" - that's inherent in the design of the thing. It's not the fault of bad teachers or too little money spent, it's just impossible for education and schooling ever to be the same thing.

Schools were designed by Horace Mann and Barnard Sears and Harper of the University of Chicago and Thorndyke of Columbia Teachers College and some other men to be instruments of the scientific management of a mass population. Schools are intended to produce through the application of formulae, formulaic human beings whose behavior can be predicted and controlled.

I'm not sure I agree with everything Gatto had to say, but I'm less sure when I consider it in the light of my personal very powerful push-back to the "homework" my son has been so thoroughly saddled with in his sixth grade year of "schooling." If you can read this in its entirety without having something to say about it, you're perhaps a very well-developed product of what John Gatto describes as an "anti-human" process of education. If you'd like to share what you have to say, please comment here.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

VOTE for my High Schoolers' Safe Driving Video!

From stellar teacher and friend Steve Smail:

My film class put together two 25 second "safe driving" PSAs and entered them in a contest sponsored by Fox17, Ford Motor Co and Westfield Insurance.

One of the two - "Confessions" - was chosen as one of 4 finalists, viewable at

The finalist receiving the most online votes between May 1 and May 10 has their PSA aired during American Idol and of course fame and fortune come our way.

So, visit, vote for the USN entry (Clip 1, Confessions) if you feel so inclined, and send along your friends and family to do the same.

Now go vote!


Gus by Scott Gardner Merrick  I wear these navy slacks I found behind O'Shaugnessy's, in the dumpster there. And they'r...