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Wednesday, November 21, 2018


For our November 2018 third Tuesday ISTE Virtual Environments Network Focus Session, we welcomed Valerie Hill, aka Valibrarian Gregg, to the VEN Headquarters for "Digital Citizenship: Sharing Stories through a Community Drum." 

Then if you are of a resource-exploration mind, explore...

Sunday, October 28, 2018

English Learners and EdTech

In my school, in my computer lab, over 65% of the students are English Language Learners. I struggle with ways to help them. The best results are when I can literally take a knee, point to their computer screens so that they are doing the clicking, and help them one-on-one. That can't always happen, since there are so many more of them in any of my 8 sections every 9 weeks than there are of me. 

One of my classrooms working on computer programming concepts
But help is on the way: An esteemed colleague at McMurray MS shared this information last week with all our teachers. I highly suggest allotting some planning time to explore this wealth of information about EdTech and ELL. If English Learners are in your classes, and they sure are in mine, it will be a help to you! Copying and pasting his email (from Mr. Jason Smith at McMurray Middle School:
FYI: “This toolkit brings suggestions and resources for educators who want to utilize new technology-based resources to help their EL students gain proficiency in English and meet academic goals. The toolkit offers five guiding principles for educators to apply in exploring new ways of working with and supporting EL students through technology. In addition, the toolkit has a companion—The Developer Toolkit which provides guidance for developers on the needs of English learner students and their teachers, tips on supports to include with their products that may be especially useful for English learners and ways they can communicate about their products with districts and educators of English learner students to facilitate adoption.”
Enjoy, and comment here if you implement an idea that helps in this prominent area!

Monday, October 08, 2018

I'm a...

Just sayin'. Reviewing a portion of the many "DR,MR, and VR" proposal submissions. That's Digital Reality, Mixed Reality, and Virtual Reality y'all. This will be fun. It always is!

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Why Educators Must Teach Discussion

Hi, y'all,

Much better now. I slept upstairs last night for the first time since my bicycle accident. My sleep app, Sleep App, tells me that last night was the first really good night's sleep I've had in over a week, since I installed the pesky (but useful) thing. On the mend.

I actually "slept in" until nearly 7 a.m. this morning, a rarity for me. Once I carefully negotiated the stairs to the living room, I logged into my computer and of course went straight to Facebook, where I visited the ISTE Virtual Environments Network page (subscribe for updates on all things 3D and VR). That led me to our diva Mary Howard's post on, here:

which I find absolutely fascinating and motivating. Good job, Mary Mary! Somehow, and I am unable to retrace my steps, though I believe it was a recommendation on a sidebar at, I hit upon Howard Rheingold's fantastic article about student discussion, explicitly hosting them on discussion forums (remember them?) rather than on social media platforms, aka Facebook. Fascinating. Read it. Let it guide you to move into this arena for building students' thinking and communication skills.

Do you find yourself motivated to move toward this in your classrooms? Then go all the way with your time right now. Set aside a half hour or so to read the whole 21 page Edward Gallagher article Rheingold references at the end of his short piece, Teaching Students to Talk to Each Other: Improving the Discussion Board. I PROMISE your time will be well spent. Gallagher's metaphors and instructional design are completely, ineluctably, inspirational and practical! Do it. Do it now!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Unplanned Rest: How I Ended Up in Rehab

So, I know what you are thinking: His love of and indulgence in craft beers and bourbon was bound to lead him there sooner or later. Nope, it was a new re-dedication to exercise that got me to rehab. A parking lot entrance with a high curb, a rental street bike at the wrong angle, and speed, with the addition of a concrete surface and (Newton was right) gravity. All that.

I enjoyed Chicago a lot, and during the week I spent at ISTE2018 I rented bikes from DIvvY and had so much fun with that that I started incorporating the Nashville version of it into my daily exercise plans. On Friday morning I had worked out on the stationary bike at McCabe Community Center, then I rented a bike and tooled around a bit on the greenway path surrounding it and the golf course. Saturday, despite high and humid heat, I went straight for the bike, parking at Charlotte Avenue and 46th Avenue North and riding the greenway from there, passing through and along the Nashville Community College campus and then to Target on White Bridge and back through Sylvan Park after retracing my wheels. Sunday morning I set out from a parking space in front of the community center

to go all the way around the greenway trail, and I did. My bike even sported my alma mater's logo.

Panorama from the bridge at Old White Bridge--as a kid this was the road between West End and Charlotte
train track under bridge
I loved this view--see the graffiti under the bridge
It's beautiful back there, but I won't be back there for a while. Here's why: I finished my ride, pushing the heavy bike up that last hill around at the North end of the trail by the golf course, and was about to rack the bike when I looked out Murphy Road. I thought, let's just ride up to my granny's and later my mom's old house and take a close look at it. I drive by it nearly every workday during the school year and this would give me a closer, slowed-down chance to view it. 

Past the round-about, I picked up some speed and decided on a whim to turn into the parking lot in front of the now-defunct Local Taco. I veered in that direction, only too late to realize there was a 2 inch curb at the entrance. I caught that curb at speed at a bad angle, bounce off it and back onto it, and over went my bike. 
I clearly remember thinking I was in trouble, tucking my head into my left shoulder, the higher one, and hitting the curb solidly on my right hip, knee, and elbow. Once I came to a stop I moaned, pulled out from under the bike, and stood up. The pain was incredible, deep, and certain. I shifted weight to my left foot and tried to catch my breath. I was leaning on the bike, looking up eastward Murphy Road, and seeing a slight lady in tee-shirt and shorts hurrying my way with a large leashed dog. She got to me and asked if I were okay. Long story short I gave her my car keys, pointed to my car not 40 yards away, and asked her if she would bring me my car. When she did, I asked one more favor, would she rack the rental bike? She did. "I'm not sure I am okay with you driving," she said. "I'm okay," I replied, the adrenaline clearly in charge. "I'm heading to St. Thomas ER." I muscled myself around the car to the open driver's door and got in. I drove. On the way to ER I phoned Lee Ann, "Don't be mad at me," I started off...
At the hospital I phoned ER from the parking lot. During the drive I realized I was injured more seriously than I had thought. Initial x-rays failed to show the damage, then a Cat-scan did. I had broken my acetabulum, the cup that holds the ball of the femur, that large leg bone that dogs so love to chew on. 
As one doctor described it, I slammed so hard on the pavement that the femur acted like a hammer and impacted so hard into the acetabulum that it created two large breaks in it. However, the x-rays showed that it was not "disaligned," which means in short that surgery was not indicated in my case. I would need to stay off of it for some weeks, but no surgery, "probably."

The nature of the injury required I be transferred to Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where "they have a trauma unit that deals with this kind of injury all day, all night long." If, as was still possible, surgery was indicated, their doctors did it several times daily. 

Off I went in an ambulance. The driver asked me a number of questions to gauge my awareness in light of several doses of morphine. When he asked, "Who is the President of the United States," I responded, "Do I have to answer that?" He told me he got similar responses every day. I complied, but I did say "Donald J. Drumph," to keep my pledge not to speak or write the evil one's name. #resist 

The nice ambulance attendants rolled me right into ER and they put me on a bed in the nearest room. The clock said 9:50am. I would be in this room until around 11:00pm. While there, I ventured out once for one more session of x-rays, these a much longer set which included new angles; once for a CATscan; and finally to go to a room in the hospital. They attempted around 5:00pm to send me home with drugs and crutches, but I failed so painfully and miserably to walk on the crutches, my hip spasming with any motion no matter that I kept from putting weight on it, that they resorted to plan B--get a room.

In the room, I was told not to eat or drink anything after midnight in case doctors decided to exercise the surgery option the next day. After a mixed night's sleep, I awoke to medications and blood work and spent much of the day waiting. I worked on blogging ISTE18. Around 2:00pm I was informed I could eat: no surgery! The attending team had prescribed immediate rehab, we decided on Stallworth (only blocks away) and an ambulance was ordered. One nurse said that in the 3 years she had worked there she had never seen anyone so fast-tracked out. 

I arrived at 3202B in Vanderbilt Stallworth Rehabilitation Center around 4pm, and began a series of schedules to get stronger. When a Physical or Occupational Therapist told me to do 20 reps of any exercise, I did at least 25, sometimes 30. When I did a timed session on the tabletop hand-cycle I inserted one-handed sets and sprints. When a tech was called away for some reason and I finished my assigned activity I repeated it or did another one my position would allow. I worked hard. Today, it's my "Independence Day," and I finish this as I am awaiting the discharge papers to return home. Lee Ann has borrowed or bought all that I need to function at our home and you can rest assured that I will keep pushing. I have to be at school by August 3 and teaching in my temporary portable lab by the first of the next week. I'll do it. Thanks to all my friends and family and to literally everyone at each of the three facilities that nursed me through to the path of healing. In all my time this past week there has only been one doctor, nurse, tech, or service person of any sort who seemed any less than completely present and dedicated to caring and helping. I won't point that person out, because everybody has a bad day and who knows what challenges that person was facing that day/night. #kindness #bekind
flag waving, hoping for a new America post-Drumph

4th of July fun (Channel 2, Nashville)

Going ahead and posting and will clean up later. My ride's here. Play this game:

Where's Scotty?


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