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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Utopian Visions? Possibilities? Something...Virtual Pioneers Closing Keynote October 30, 2010

Thanks to the folks who attended my closing keynote for the two-day Virtual Pioneers History Conference in Second Life last evening. Spiff/Andy had asked me to close with some visions for the future of education, and I kind of went wild. Though one attendee rather rudely backchatted his boredom during the opening wrap up and summary, I appear to have stifled his criticism, at least to some degree, with the following presentation. I spiffed it up (pun intended) a bit after subsequent dinner conversation with my lovely wife, who serves up the best pushback from the point of view of a parent and educator. The backchat text file is at .

Here 'tis. I may add some audio, but for now as you view it you should likely put on the Beatles "Revolution" or virtually any Ratatat, either one played very loud...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Gary Stager's "Must Read" List for School "Reform"

The esteemed Gary Stager, educational change advocate and a strong voice in the edublogosphere, last week posted a piece--on the new Huffington Post Education tab--which he, with characteristic aplomb, entitled, "Wanna be an School Reformer? You Better do your Homework!" I heartily encourage you to begin yours with a visit to that post and a thorough reading of Gary's careful and knowledgeable descriptions of the 18 books on his (though "admittedly subjective") list of essential required readings. I took a few minutes at the start of my work day to cull out just the titles with Gary's links to the books themselves, but only because I want a concise assignment sheet for myself in order to search my local public library (that "teacher's salary" issue ;).

[Posted later, a pic of my growing collection from the public library, shared with my colleagues at my cubby]:
Steve Hargadon, through whose Facebook post I became aware of Gary's article, suggests that "we need to do a book study of these." I concur. As I say, please do read the original post, but if you need the cheat sheet I submit it here, along with Gary's comment preceding his must-read list:

"The following books are appropriate for parents, teachers, administrators, politicians and plain old citizens committed to the ideal of sustaining a joyful, excellent and democratic public education for every child."
A Schoolmaster of the Great City: A Progressive Education Pioneer's Vision for Urban Schools, Angelo Patri

Dr. Seymour Sarason, The Skeptical Visionary: A Seymour Sarason Reader, The Predictable Failure of Educational Reform: Can We Change Course Before It's Too Late, And What do YOU Mean by Learning, Political Leadership and Educational Failure and Charter Schools: Another Flawed Educational Reform?

Seymour Papert, The Children's Machine: Rethinking School in the Age of the Computer

The Big Picture: Education Is Everyone's Business by Dennis Littky and Littky's biography, Doc: The Story Of Dennis Littky And His Fight For A Better School, by Susan Kammeraad-Campbell

Deborah Meier, In Schools We Trust: Creating Communities of Learning in an Era of Testing and Standardization

The Schools our Children Deserve: Moving Beyond Traditional Classrooms and "Tougher Standards" and The Case Against Standardized Testing: Raising the Scores, Ruining the Schools by Alfie Kohn

Dr. Theodore Sizer, Horace's Compromise

Jonathan Kozol, Ordinary Resurrections: Children in the Years of Hope

Herbert Kohl, The Herb Kohl Reader: Awakening the Heart of Teaching

Susan Ohanian and Kathy Emery, Why is Corporate America Bashing Our Public Schools?

Gerald Bracey published, Education Hell: Rhetoric vs. Reality - Transforming the Fire Consuming America's Schools

Not With Our Kids You Don't! Ten Strategies to Save Our Schools by Juanita Doyon

Go for it! And let me know when you're ready to have that book study group!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Sir Ken Robinson Helps Me Out (Again)

Okay, just to make sure you watch this. I've Facebooked, tweeted, emailed, and done everything but run screaming through the streets to share this 11 minutes of reasonableness with others. Here's my last effort (today, anyway) to nominate Sir Ken Robinson for a Global Reason Award. Is there such a thing? Maybe not, but there should be. I started off my MNPS SWAP session by sharing this with the 18 K-12 teachers who were really there for a Web 2.0 learning day. I said it was "to let you know where I'm coming from, here." Here:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Web 2.0 for US! Session at Martin Professional Development Center 101910

I had a great time yesterday facilitating an all-day Web 2.0 (and beyond) session for 18 MNPS teachers. The participants were a very nicely balanced mix of elementary, middle, and high school teachers and we got right into it at 8:37 a.m. The class was supposed to get underway at 8:30 but my watch (this has never before happened) inexplicably stopped at 8:16 and I kept glancing at it thinking, "we have a few more minutes" until I thought "It's been 8:16 for quite some time. Has time stopped?"

Off we went. The session was guided by the PowerPoint/GooglePresentation embedded here and underscored by dialog in a live chat room at I have now pasted the chat log into slides at the end of the pressie and added a few replies to questions or comments I didn't see because I was sharing my little heart out up front of the room. The final slide shares a bit of my own reflection on the day's work.

Please take a few minutes (11, which you will not regret) to view the Ken Robinson presentation we started the day with, because as I said, "I want you to know where I'm coming from..."

Thanks again to all my wonderful new colleagues and my hearty encouragement to you to keep the faith and keep your change moving in the right direction. On of our main support structures at Virtual Learning is "Do the next right thing for our students." You know what it is. You are good teachers.

Here is:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Virtual Pioneers Online History Conference!

Come and join in the 3D immersive fun and learn while you do it!

 Second Life and OpenSimulator, two important artifacts of future history, are continually providing new ways to see, hear, and personally experience the past. Other 3D platforms are doing so as well, and in the course of these presentations over a two day period, as you drop in when your own schedule allows, you will see what all this can mean for learning and teaching over the next generation. Read the press release for the conference.

Andrew Wheelock (Spiff Whitfield) has facilitated into being a group of around 200 educators interested in exploring history in virtual worlds. The Virtual Worlds Pioneers has been going strong for years now, having started out in a Ning and migrating to (as did so many other communities) when Ning dumped their free-for-education policy. The new address is at and I heartily encourage you to join.

Why? Because VWP consistently offers events in virtual worlds where educators can share a passion for history. In doing so, they build friendships that can last a lifetime. Two lifetimes, even...

If you don't have a Second Life avatar, now's the time. Simply visit and get one for free. Play around with it for half an hour prior to the conference so you will be able to sit or walk without sitting on someone's head (considered rude in any historical period or culture) or bumping into others embarrassingly. 

This is the first ever VWP online history conference, but it won't be the last. Themed "Re-Create, Educate, Illuminate--Learning History Virtually," it runs Friday and Saturday, October 29 and 30, coming up in just under two weeks. I'll be wrapping up the conference with a closing keynote on Saturday, 4 pm SL (Pacific) time, to be followed by a "Closing Celebration- Socializing, dancing, prizes, and music!" The entire schedule is available online at the conference website and it looks to be a doozy! 

Heck, I'll save you a click or two:

Saturday, October 29:
 Date         Time (SL time)    Session    SLURL



Kimmer Jameson from PBS Eight will inspire us with her blend of great teacher resources that can adapt to Virtual Environment history.

Virtual Pioneer Headquarters
Csteph Submariner will lead us on a tour of this unbelievably detailed and historically accurate sim that highlights the trials and poetry of this era in world history.

Western Front


Jacon Cortes
 will take us on a tour of Antiquity Texas, an 1800's role playing sim in the Antiquty Community of Victorian Sims and ruled under the gracious hand of the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of Antiqutiy. Jacon has a superior knowledge of this time period as well as tremendous skill as a Second Life designer and builder. Please join us on this fantastic tour.

Antiquity Texas

Eureka Dejavu
- Understanding Islam in Virtual Worlds
 Virtual Pioneer Headquarters

Tamsin Barzane
- The Yoruba Light Project (still under construction) connects the past and present of the West African Yoruba people to Salvador da Bahia in Brazil and to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
 Yoruba Light

Saturday, October 30:
 Date Time (SL) Description    SLURL



BigD Flanagan- Join BigDin a discussion of team teaching Social Studies in the secondary setting.  BigD has 17 years of History teaching experience to bring to this topic.  The subject lends itself to a wide array of teaching approaches and practices.




Shenlei Flasheart-Overview of the 1:1 simulation of the Gettysburg Battlefield being developed in the openSim-based ScienceSim grid. Discuss how educators can become involved in this large-scale, big picture project to fully simulate the critical, 3 day Battle of Gettyburg.

Virtual Pioneer Headquarters


Norma Underwood
 -Historical Building by Students. Come see the Lincoln Memorial and a Holocaust Memorial built on a Second Life Teen Estate and moved to the Reaction Grid. If you are interested in re-enactments or role-playing, this shows what 13 and 14 yr olds are capable of doing.

Reaction Grid



DrM Magic- Connections Through Cultural Dynamics DrM & Students will present a cultural quilt of history and familial dynamics that bring educators and students together through a historic poster presentation blanketing their comforting past, gingerly gifting it to 21st Century learners! 



Ydnar Seljan-A Walk Through History with Language


Nany Kayo
- Dias de Los Muertos-The Day of the Dead -Exploring this unique Mexican holiday.

Smithsonian Museum of Latino Music



Closing Speaker- Scott MerrickOh- Will wrap up our conference as only Scott can, by inspiring us with the future of virtual environments and education.



Closing Celebration- Socializing, dancing, prizes, and music!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Marc Prensky on digital_nation: life on the virtual frontier

I'm cruising around looking for resources that will contribute to understanding for attendees of my Web2.0 for US! professional development session next Tuesday for Metro Nashville Public Schools teachers and came across this wonderful just-over-4-minute snippet from the PBS project digital_nation: life on the virtual frontier. I think it says a lot of what I'm moving toward in my own thinking and I thought I'd share it out with you, dear reader. I'd also like to point you to a recently published Education World interview with my colleague-in-change Will Richardson (well, okay, he's really an idol). In it he points out some obvious areas for change and admits frustration with the snail's pace rate of it. Here's a sort of a "re-tweet" from Twitter:

 Scott SIGVE Merrick 

Thursday, October 07, 2010

artclectic preview, ya'll

I'm just sayin' -- if you are anywhere near Nashville the 3rd week of October, and you fail to visit artclectic 2010, you're playin' de foooooooool.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

"Lives" is now available on Kindle!

From Amazon today!

Lives relates one soul's journeys through three times: the American Civil War, mid 20th Century middle-class America, and a post-holocaust future in which the protagonist might well be the only man left on the planet. (Contains sexual references and scenes of violence in a dramatic context.) It has been described as a contemporary-historical-sciencefiction-futuristic-fantasy. The author welcomes categorizations from readers...


Congratulations! The book(s) you recently submitted has published to the Kindle Store. Please note that while the title is available for readers to purchase now, the product description and links to the book’s physical counterpart may take up to 48 hours to appear on the book’s detail page.

Here’s a link to your book(s) in the Kindle store:
Lives |

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Live Interactive Event Monday--Come Join the Discussion!

From, an invitation: 

Date: Monday, October 4, 2010
Time: 2pm Pacific / 5pm Eastern / 9pm GMT (international times here)
Duration: 2 hours
Location: In Elluminate. Log in at The Elluminate room will be open up to 30 minutes before the event if you want to come in early. To make sure that your computer is configured for Elluminate, please visit Recordings of the session will be posted within a day of the event at the event page.
Event and Recording Page:
Hashtag:  #elev8ed
Charting the Course of Teaching and Learning in a Networked World

A message to all members of The Future of Education

Between the NBC "Education Nation" SummitWaiting for SupermanThe Oprah Winfrey Show, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's $100 million gift to Newark city schools, there has been a lot of media attention focused on the topic of education reform. Unfortunately, much of it has excluded actual educators, let alone students. Furthermore, and perhaps as a consequence, the dialog has become divisive, blaming, and ultimately counter-productive. and Edutopia are collaborating this coming Monday on a two-hour live and interactive look at "Elevating the Education Reform Dialog"--an online discussion with special guests and specifically for educators,  to help move past the bashing and to engage in a constructive conversation about the best way forward.  Connection details are at the bottom of this post.  Confirmed speakers include:
                             Julie Evans is the CEO of the national education nonprofit organization, Project Tomorrow ( whose mission is to ensure that today's students are well prepared to become tomorrow's leaders, innovators and engaged citizens of the world.
Alfie Kohn writes and speaks widely on human behavior, education, and parenting. The author of eleven books and scores of articles, he lectures at education conferences and universities as well as to parent groups and corporations.

Chris Lehmann is the founding principal of the Science Leadership Academy, a progressive science and technology high school in Philadelphia, PA. The Science Leadership Academy is an inquiry-driven, project-based, 1:1 laptop school that is considered to be one of the pioneers of the School 2.0 movement nationally and internationally.

Deborah Meier has spent more than three decades working in public education as a teacher, principal, writer, advocate, and ranks among the most acclaimed leaders of the school reform movement in the U.S.

Diane Ravitch is Research Professor of Education at New York University and a historian of education. In addition, she is a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.  She shares a blog called Bridging Differences with Deborah Meier, hosted by Education Week. She also blogs for and the Huffington Post.

Will Richardson considers himself an "evangelist" for the use of Weblogs, RSS and related Internet technologies in classrooms and schools. Over the past six years he's had the chance to speak and work with thousands of educators from around the world on the merits of "The Read/Write Web." He was a classroom teacher for over 20 years who integrated these technologies into his curricula for over four years.

Sir Ken Robinson, PhD is an internationally recognized leader in the development of creativity, innovation and human resources. He has worked with governments in Europe, Asia and the USA, with international agencies, Fortune 500 companies, and some of the world’s leading cultural organizations.

Since 1982, Gary Stager, PhD, an internationally recognized educator, speaker and consultant, has helped learners of all ages on six continents embrace the power of computers as intellectual laboratories and vehicles for self-expression. 

Friday, October 01, 2010

I'm on for ESBOCES Webinars in February


ESBOCES in New York is setting up a cool year of professional development for their administrators and teachers, and I've been asked to belly up for a 4 week series of weekly webinars on the general topic of Leadership in education. Cool!

New! Model Schools Virtual Technology Leadership Series
Get inspired from the comfort of your own home! 

All administrators and interested teachers are invited to join us for this exciting and inspiring technology leadership series.  Participants will be given the opportunity to learn from and interface with technology subject matter experts.  This Leadership Series is designed to broaden your perspective on technology and its application to improving teaching and learning.   Each series will run once a week for four weeks and will feature a different technology expert. Weekly webcasts will be followed by additional on-line interaction (blogging, discussions, etc.) and will allow you the chance to interact with technology leaders from other districts as well.

Here's some info on my contributions to this innovative effort, and I'll post links for participation here once everything's set in virtual stone:

February 2, 9, 16 and March 2, 2011, from 8-9pm EST, facilitated by Elluminate

Scott Merrick--Innovative Leadership: a Contradiction in Terms?

An essential element of effective leadership is making sure our academic institutions improve and thrive. Or is it? For example, maintaining an ongoing plan for Professional Development can be well nigh impossible: What works one year may not work the next. What one school needs may not be what another needs. Are our schools and our school districts missing something important that may, if not "save the day," at least help in particular settings? This four-week set of hour long interactions will focus on several general topics through the perspectives its presenter has developed over the last decade of teaching, teacher training, volunteer work, and professional practice. The topics are at this writing subject to change, but they will likely include the following:

  • The Read-Write Web and what that means for teaching practice, professional development, and personal satisfaction
  • Personal Learning Networks, Professional Learning Networks, and the big question--"Why Bother?"
  • 3Dimensional Immersive Environments--Sense of Presence at a Distance and Why You Want It
  • Distance Education in K12--"Disantiquating" Schools and Schooling with Virtual Learning



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