Wesley Fryer, “Advocating for Educational Deregulation!”

Wesley Fryer (a Texas educator you should keep your eyes on) wrote a powerful blog entry several days ago. He is Advocating for Educational Deregulation!. Fryer discusses the primary text of his current (and final) course in his doctoral program. The text is Integrating Multiple Literacies in K-8 Classrooms, and he addresses the chapter, Toward a Theoretical Framework of New Literacies on Internet: Central Principles (authored by Donald Leu and Charles Kinzer). Wesley paraphrases…

…the definition of literacy is dynamic, and in order to remain relevant, educators at all levels must begin (or continue) to study, understand, and utilize the wide variety of multimedia as well as text-based communicative mediums available inside and outside the classroom to help students become successful 21st century communicators and netizens.

In my reflection of this statement, I see a world where the nature of information is changing. It’s the “New Shape of Knowledge” as philosopher and NECC keynote speaker David Weinberger says. In this world where information changes, our definitions of literacy must also change. They must be viewed as dynamic, adapting to the changing information environment. Yet coming out of an education environment (In my 30th year) where curriculum was set by textbooks on a five-year cycle, we are going in the opposite direction from the one that should be directing our classrooms. Instead of relying on the textbook industry, curriculum is now set by departments of education (not necessarily a bad thing) who are directed and managed by legislatures, appointed state boards, and the sensationalist rhetoric of partisan politics (a very very bad thing).

I agree with Fryer that we need to rescue education from the amateurs, and give it back to the experts — our teachers. We live in a time where trained, creative, and passionate educators with the resources, technology, and time to do their jobs, might be just the force that we need to move our society into a century were we will remain a “great nation” instead of a “declining nation”.

2¢ worth.

Podcasting in the Classroom — Sounds from the Edge

If you are interested in the possibilities of using podcast production in your classroom for helping students develop communication skills (writing & vocal presentation), then pay attention to Bob Sprankles latest podcast (Bit by Bit). He recorded a few minutes of one of his class’ podcast sessions. Students are writing the scripts for their programs, and Bob is helping them with a variety of ideas on choosing words, and some mini lessons. A very nice piece.

Home from The Downers Grove Summit

I just got home from an exhilarating two-day workshop in suburban Chicago, the Downers Grove Summit. We called it a summit, because the ultimate goal was not necessarily to teach new skills to Downers Grove educators (and education leaders from other area districts), but to help them to negotiate an intersection between the new information environment and 21st century classrooms.

Downers Grove SummitI arrived back in North Hills about 4:00 AM this morning, so my wits are not quite with me yet (such as they are, they never have far to come). But I have read through a number of the closing blog articles and wanted to share them with you, my seven readers.

I won’t say that they Got It, because I do not believe that any of us really know yet what It is. However, these teachers have definitely gained the courage to jump off the diving board and start to rethink and redefine what they do in preparing children within todays new information environment.

I am very proud to have been part of this, and many thanks to David Jakes, who asked for it, got it, and contributed tremendously from his perspective as a thinking educators who is close to the lines. Also thanks to Steve Dembo, who was with us during the second day, and shared many new tools and many new ways of looking at things. It is always a enlightening pleasure to work with both of these educators.

…at the Downers Grove Summit I feel more strongly than ever that the success of our educational system in the 21st century hinges on a new way of doing business. The vast amounts of information available is only an asset if our students have the abilities and the understanding to make use of it. They need to be able to find the wheat from the chaff!

Chris Gales at The Wheat from the Chaff

With the emergence of the technologies we’ve been discussing and describing over the past two days I have come to a general conclusion. The way I do my job as a teacher had better change. (snip)

The skill set that is most likely the most important and authentic for my students is that of what has been termed “information literacy”. Students need to know how to find what they want to know. They also need to be able to distinguish the bullshit from the truth. How the hell do I teach them that? In more appropriate language, I ask, “How do I teach my students to be good discriminators (between) misinformation and information”?

Jamie at Concentration Gradient

No longer are the guidance counselor and school catalogs be the only source of information. Students now have the ability to communicate independently and collaboratively while the get information directly from the source, those who lived it.

Bill Gebhards, a guidance councelor at Beyond the Drop Slip

The fact that information can be pushed and pulled in these new ways from so many sources that were not available until recently presents a new set of challenges to educators. My students really are growing up in a world that is connected differently than the one I did. One of the things we strive to do is make connections between what we do in the classroom and the “real world”. I wonder if the real world that many of us teachers are connecting to is a different one than the real world our students are growing up in.

Charles Sprandel at Disrupted Equilibrium

What once took place in a card catalog now takes place on the Internet. The new environment won’t change the library – it will expand the concept of a library. People talk about having a “personal digital library,” or “tagging information,” how it warms my heart to hear all this “library talk” out of “regular people.”

I do like the phrase, “information environment” – Maybe that’s what I’ll call the library from now on – the DGN Information Environment.

Rebecca Briskey, a Librarian, at Can ‘o Words

In that first entry I explained my feeling that I have basically grown up with computer technolgy. Everything from the complexity of computer/video gaming to educational applications of technology have evolved at a point in time that seemed to fit pretty well with where I was at (in terms of being a grade school student, high school student, college, and now a high school teacher).

This workshop has exposed me to … “Web 2.0” tools for the first time. I had heard of (them) and had a basic idea of what they were supposed to do but … I became discouraged pretty quickly when I tried to figure it out in the past.

(The Downers Grove Summit) has not only opened the door to these emerging technologies, but … we have been given practical applications and suggestions for directions to explore in. We have been given a set of tools to work with, and some places to start in terms of building our own useful information networks.

Bill Miller at Coffeehouse Ears

These young people live in a technology rich world and are connected in many ways outside of the classroom. These “strange connections” as David Warlick puts it, drive the information consummation of individuals. Simply stated, as educators it is our responsibility to educate students on how to be discriminatory user’s of information.

Ted Glazier at Personal Yardstick

All of the material from the workshop is available through the summit wiki, including information from many of the discussions, and links to participants’ reflective writings (weblogs). The site is at:


(some audio from the summit is on the way)


Final Blog

Final Blog

The workshop is nearly over. Summit participants are writing their final blog, a reflection on teaching and learning in the 21st century.

We had an exceptional discussion after lunch, negotiating the intersection, and they exceeded all expectation. Please visit the DGS wiki (http://dgs.davidwarlick.com) and read some of the ideas. We also recorded the discussion and will be posting it as well.

It’s been a great workshop.

Way more than 2 cents worth.

Final Blog

Originally uploaded by David Warlick.

Sharing Nrw Conections

Sharing Nrw Conections

Charles is sharing with the rest of the summit participants a new connection the he has found. Blew them away to learn how Google now searches the print.

Very soon, the real negotiations begin as we start to build ideas able the new information envionment and the classroom.

Excuse the typos. I’m on my mobile phone.

Sharing Nrw Conections

Originally uploaded by David Warlick.

Assignment 2…

The participants of the Downers Grove Summit are now writing their second blog article, sharing their initial impressions of RSS. They have been taught how to find blogs on the Net, using Bloglines and Technorati, and how to subscribe to them with their Bloglines account.

This is an amazing group of educators. They are carrying their conversations, as I listen, into direction that they have no right to be going in, with the limited information we have shared. I am, indeed, impressed.

The Difference between Information and Knowledge

This is the first assignment for the Downer Grove Summit, and I thought I would just add my 2 cents worth.

Information is the content that is around me. It’s numbers, words, video, sounds, pictures — it’s all around me. That that information becomes something that helps me to answer a question, solve a problem, or accomplish a goal, then it becomes knowledge.


One of those “Yes” Ideas from Will Richardson

It’s 5:31 AM (CST) and I’ve been working for the last hour-and-a-half preparing for today’s workshop here in Downers Grove. During a minute taken to read a bit, I ran across one of those blog posts that sort of stops you in your tracks and makes you say, “Yes!”

It should be no surprise that the post was by Will Richardson at Weblogg-Ed. Responding to a story at New Jersey.com about a school grappling with student web publications, Richardson makes three recommendations about schooling in the new information environment. I will paraphrase, so do get it the whole story from Will’s weblog.

  • Schools need to start blogging and inviting the community into conversations about what’s going on.
  • We need to in-service teachers, hold courses and community nights for parents, and teach every student the acceptable uses of these new technologies.
  • Stop blocking and start teaching.

My two cents worth is that when schools are seen by students as a place that blocks their access to information and gags their voices, then those school stop being relevant to them.

Nicely done, Will.