Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lost Generation - Student Video

This student-produced video came to me in my iLearn Technology RSS feed. I very much want to share it with you. The message of the piece is fantastic and the clever presentation is stunning.

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase

I've finally gotten Twitter to the point where it has become a useful tool and not simply a recreational social network. It took a while to find the people I wanted to follow, but I have garnered so much good stuff from those people that the development process has been decidedly worth it.

During that process, I've drawn some conclusions about what constitutes a good member of the Twitter community.
  • You should bring something to the party which adds value to the network. Share. If you've found a good web site or interesting video, share a link to it.
  • Provide a little description of what you are linking to. Tweets like this, "Take a look at this" are often going to be ignored.
  • If you get something good from a post, don't tweet it as if you found it yourself, retweet (RT) the original post. Give credit where it's due.
  • Avoid serial tweets. If you need more than two or three tweets to get your message across, use something like TinyPaste to enclose your message in a single post.
  • Don't carry on protracted personal conversations as if Twitter were an IM service. There are better, more appropriate tools for this.
  • Use direct messages (DM) for personal posts (using d + username + message).
  • Thank people for following you. They don't have to you know.
  • Please don't be a persistent whiner or complainer. If 2 out of every 3 tweets you post is a complaint, you won't stay on follow lists too long.
  • If you post a tweet that solicits responses, acknowledge those responses with a DM.
I know I've broken every one of these rules at least once, but by trying to follow these principles as much as possible, I hope to be a good, valued member of my Twitter community.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and Education

This fact sheet regarding the provisions for education in the recently enacted American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was provided by the White House.

February 17, 2009

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act:
The Largest Investment in Education in Our Nation's History - to Prevent Teacher Layoffs, Make Key Education Improvements and Help Make College Affordable

* Preventing teacher layoffs and education cuts in every state. A recent study by the University of Washington found that states are likely to cut nearly 15 percent of their education spending over the next three years, which could eliminate 574,000 education jobs. The ARRP will help prevent devastating cuts to education by providing $53.6 billion to states and school districts to prevent layoffs and cuts in critical education services and $25 billion in support for educating at risk students and those with special needs.

* Investing in Early Head Start and Head Start - programs that work. Doubling the number of children in Early Head Start and expanding Head Start. The ARRP will provide $1.1 billion for Early Head Start and $1 billion for Head Start, thereby providing services for approximately 120,000 additional infants and children over two years. Taken together, investments in Head Start and Early Head Start are estimated to create at least 15,000 new jobs, many of which are held by low-income women.

* Providing enough funding to support quality child care for an additional 150,000 children and keep 200,000 children from being dropped from care. The plan's $2 billion investment in the Child Care Development Block Grant will help an increasing number of families during the downturn who are struggling to afford care and allow parents to hold onto their jobs.

* Providing a new higher education tax cut to nearly 4 million students. Helping people afford college is particularly important during an economic downturn. When people are unable to find work one of the best investments we can make is to improve the skills of the workforce. The ARRP will create a new $2,500 American Opportunity Tax Credit that is partially refundable. As a result, the nearly one-fifth of high school seniors who receive no tax credit under the current system will receive a tax cut to make college affordable for the first time.

* Increasing college affordability for more 7 million students by funding the shortfall in Pell Grants and increasing the maximum award level by $500. Demand for the Pell Grant has surged during the economic downturn. The ARRP will ensure the Pell Grant is available to those who need it and make the award more generous.

* Investing in data systems to improve student achievement. The ARRP will enable States and school districts to put in place comprehensive data systems that provide teachers, parents, and students with the useful information they need to support student achievement and growth. These critical, one-time investments will enable policymakers to continually measure the progress of students, schools, districts, and States in meeting high standards.

* Maintaining key education reforms during the economic downturn. The ARRP ensures that States, districts, and schools can continue pursuing important education reforms enacted by Congress that have effectively closed the student achievement gap. The plan will ensure that there are high-quality teachers in the classroom, especially in low-income and minority communities and for high-need subject areas such as science and math. The plan will support compensation and incentive systems that fairly reward educators for their performance. And the plan will invest in school systems and organizations with track records of success to expand their work and share what's working with educators and policymakers across the nation.

Listen to this article ...
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and Education This fact sheet regarding the provisions for education in the ...

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

How does he do it?

Mathematician and magician Arthur Benjamin combines his two passions in "Mathemagics," a lively show in which the mathemagician races a team of calculators to find 3-digit squares, solves a massive mental equation, guesses a few birthdays and performs other feats of mathematical agility in this video from TED. How does he do it?

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Opposing Pennsylvania House Bill 363

The Pennsylvania state seal.Image via Wikipedia

House Bill No. 363 of the General Assembly of Pennsylvania was referred to the Committee on Education, 11 February 2009.

This bill prohibits the possession by students of telephone paging devices, commonly referred to as beepers, cellular telephones and portable electronic devices that record or play audio or video material on school grounds, at school sponsored activities and on buses or other vehicles provided by the school district.

I strongly OPPOSE the passage of this bill. It is at odds with 21st century educational theory and conflicts with the goals of the Commonwealth's Classrooms for the Future initiative. I see this bill as a backward step in the quest to make Pennsylvania students nationally and globally competitive.

If you agree with me, please sign the online petition which is directed to the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
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Monday, February 2, 2009

Shiny New Toys

Web 2.0 will save usImage by bensheldon via Flickr

I recently saw this post in my Twitter feed -
Need something new for a 5th grade teacher who has done a lot with tech - moodle, wikis, glogster, animoto, mixbook - ideas
I don't know the teacher being referred to or anything about that teacher's classroom practices. I am not judging that individual teacher in any way.

However, the suggestion of this post is the kind of thing that sometimes frightens and concerns me about the infusion of technology into the 21st century classroom.

There are people I have met in the course of my work who are completely and absolutely enamored with the technology. They have lost focus on the pedagogy and it has become all about the tech. They can't wait to get to the next shiny, new thing in the Web 2.0 toy box.

The post precipitates the question, "Has the teacher who has 'done a lot with tech' also done a lot with math, English, science, and social studies?" I hope the answer is yes.

Furthermore, are this teacher's students benefiting demonstrably from all of this immersion in technology? Is it sound and cogent? Is all this tech enhancing the learning process in this classroom?

We need to be thoughtful and cautious in all this experimenting we do in the classroom with our sparkly toys. We need to keep our eye on the prize, stay focused, do no harm to those we are pledged to teach.
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