Subscribing to YouTube RSS Feeds

I’m back in Banff and pretty happy about it. Anyone who’s been here before would understand. Here’s a link to the photos I’ve taken (and still taking) in the Canadian Rockies. On Thursday, it was TEDxBANFF, which was a singular treat for me (more here). Then, after Friday up in Edmonton, I’m back in Banff for the last day of “Alberta Future,” a conference by the CTS Council (Career & Technology Studies). I was impressed with a video that the council produced as a preview to the conference.

I’ve decided to change my closing keynote a bit, from my typical delivery of “Rebooting the Basics” to some of the learning literacies of the 21st century, specifically tapping into the ongoing and global conversations related to pathway careers being added to Alberta’s curriculum.

One of the specific avenues to knowledge I’d like to include is subscribing to YouTube videos based on a YouTube search. The barrier I’m having to question my way through is the fact that YouTube seems not to have a convenient display of their RSS feeds in the same what that Google’s news and blog searches do. So I did some blog searches, and found a post in the Google Operating System blog, “YouTube Feeds.”

So, to have a resource with instructions, I’m posting this blog entry to link to in my online handouts:

  1. If you are looking for the latest YouTube videos related to robotics, or any other topic, then you start with the base feed URL:
  2.<search term>

  3. Simply add the search term, robotics, to the end (replace <search term>) so that it reads…

    A listing of the most recent YouTube videos with robotics in the title or description, generated with Google Reader. (Click the image to enlarge)

  5. Then, using your RSS reader, subscribe to that URL. If you’re using Google Reader, then simply run your reader
  6. Click the [Add a subscription] button
  7. Paste your feed URL into the textbox, and click [Add].

And you’ll be subscribed and receive a list of the latest YouTube videos that include the term, robotics.

In addition to YouTube keyword searches, you can also construct RSS feed URLs for:

  • Search in a category,
  • Latest videos from a specific channel,
  • Feeds for favorite videos,
  • Your subscriptions, and
  • Playlists

TEDxBANFF is Now a Memory & I was Wrong about Creativity

TEDxBANFF, from the stage, about an hour before the kickoff. For some reason, I didn’t think to get my camera out, once things got started

I think I made a respectable, if a bit shaky, performance yesterday. After I was off the stage, I felt the same way that I always feel when I’ve done something for the first time — wishing I’d done things a different way and knowing that I will the next time.

I was fallowed by two other men (no women in the TEDxBANFF lineup) who talked about the future of schools and the magic of empowering unsuccessful classroom learners, and another talking about wind energy and energy literacy (Oh Gawd! Another literacy). They were all excellent presi-performances.

But! We were all blown out of the water by the 18 year old guitar player. Calum Graham has been playing guitar for four years, which was perhaps the most surprising thing that I learned about the young man, who’s performance epitomized surprise.

I had a conversation with the Calum before the TEDx about guitars — and I asked him, as one must, “What kind of music do you play?” He compared his style to Chet Atkins, I suppose because I looked like a Chet Atkins guy from his 18 year old perspective. I then told him how much I liked Leo Kottke, and he replied that he was probably somewhere between the country tone of Atkins and the folkiness of Kottke. After finally listening to Graham, I knew how uncomfortable he must have been with my question.

I do not know this for a fact, but I suspect, as a guitar player myself, that no one taught him how to play guitar. I doubt, also, that he spent a lot of time trying to sound like James Taylor or even Mason Williams (though he does a mean Calum’ized version of “Classical Gas”).

As I lay awake earlier this morning, trying to figure out what I’m going to talk about today in St. Albert and tomorrow back in Banff, and kept coming back to Calums performance, it finally dawned on me that he was playing the guitar. He was playing beautifully crafted and polished assembly of wood and strings. It was a mistake for me to try to think of guitar players I’d seen when I saw him on the lineup, because it was not trying to be a guitar player. He was playing the guitar.. he invented it!

You see, I was wrong yesterday, when I said that you had to have a goal in mind, a problem to solve, or product to sell, in order to be creative. I doubt very seriously that as Calum began teaching himself to play guitar, that he had any specific outcome in mind except the joy of making music. It was him and the instrument, and he taught himself how to get music out of the thing.

His hours of practice and experimenting for the joy of the effort, led to a performance and CDs that I know bring great pleasure to many people, and that joy seems to have led to a truly inventive (creative) way of playing the guitar.

It’s like I said to him, before he went on stage, “Surprise me!”

Is This Creativity?

OK! I honestly do not know what this invention was meant to accomplish

Lassanya en verano / Lassanya in summer time by Mònica

Woe! Talk about biting off more than I can chew. But somebody asked a question the other day, during an unconference sessions I was running, and I knew this was going to be “blog-worthy. She asked, “What would Ken Robinson say?”

We were using my idea plotting tool to try to ramp up a basic classroom activity, so that it would provoke levels of thinking higher up Blooms Revised Taxonomy. Folks were suggesting enhancements to the lesson, and, as almost always happens, we got up to creating way to fast.

Each time that I do this activity, I find myself suggesting (while admitting that I might be wrong) that in order to be creative, the student’s work or procedures should be aimed at a specific objective, problem, or audience. There needs to be a goal. On that day someone suggested we click the (i) by Creativity, where upon the following definition popped out.

Putting elements together to form a coherent or functional whole; reorganizing elements into a new pattern or structure through generating, planning, or producing.

Oops! No mention of “why.” I do not recall where I got that definition, because I hadn’t added the citation feature at the time that I added that scale. But Anderson & Krathwohl say pretty much the same thing in their description of Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy, defining creativity as:

Putting elements together to form a coherent or functional whole; reorganizing elements into a new pattern or structure through generating, planning, or producing. ((Anderson, L.W., & Krathwohl, D.R. (Ed.). (2001). A Taxonomy for learning, teaching and assessing: a revision of bloom’s taxonomy of educational objectives: complete edition. New York: Longman.))

OK, I guess I was shot down. Both definitions described process and outcome but not intent or goal. No mention of audience. No mention of the “why.”

Then someone asked, “What does Ken Robinson say about creativity?” ..and someone else in the group, within a minute read out,”

Creativity is “the process of having original ideas which have value. “((Robinson, K. (Speaker). (2006). Ken robinson says schools kill creativity. [Web]. Retrieved from

I had to go to the Sir Ken Robinson TED Talk video to find his definition, for the sake of this blog, and I felt vindicated, because Robinson says that there needs to be value — implying that it needs to do something for somebody.

It seems to me that to create (invent, innovate, etc.) you must have direction, and sense of where you are going, what you’re trying to solve, who you are trying to make a little happier. You my student combine ideas, objects, or procedures that accomplish the goal in a way that surprises me, then she has been creative.

But doesn’t come easily, and it doesn’t come without mistakes. How often do we give our students permission to make mistakes. As Robinson says later in his TED talk,

“If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you wan’t come up with anything original.”

What we do not want our students saying, is what I friend of mine’s daughter said recently when ask about the purpose of school. She said,

School is the place where you do not want to get caught being wrong.

Don’t Touch That…

Star Spangled Banner

It’s the way we take vacations these days. I’m flying off somewhere, that’s best flown to from a major airport like New York or Washington. In this case, it’s  Washington.  So Brenda rides the train with me to the nation’s capital, we spend a day or two being tourists, and then we split, she training back down to Raleigh, and me taking off for some far off exotic land that I’ll be too busy and jet-lagged to enjoy.

Yesterday, we walked around (a lot) and visited some of the Smithsonian museums.  It had been many years for me. Brenda had a special interest in seeing the Star Spangled Banner, the huge flag that flew over Fort McHenry after the British fleet withdrew, unable to enter the harbor of Baltimore.  This was what we call “The War of 1812.” The flag has been undergoing conservation procedures and has only recently been brought back out on display at the National Museum of American History.

The line outside the museum was long, but moved fairly quickly. The line outside the SSB display route moved much less so. But we finally got through, got a multimedia background of the war and battle, saw the flag, and then got to play with a huge video display of the flag. The image moved slowly up from top to bottom, with circles around specific spots. You could touch those circles and a pop-out window would explain something about the spot — a shrapnel hole or some patchwork from a previous conservation project.

Near the center of the display was a larger circle with arrows pointing out in four directions. It appeared to me that you could grab the flag there and change its direction. But no one was using it. Most of the folks in line were adults, most of them middle aged to older. There were a few kids who were anxious to get on with it.

Finally, a kid, about nine or ten, reached up to that circle, grabbed the flag image, stopped its move up, and reversed the direction, dragging it down. His mother (I assume) gasped, grabbed her son by the shoulders and pulled him away from the display. It was such a perfect moment, one that probably repeats itself every day as our children seem so much more comfortably with an information environment that is central to how we do things today.

But it’s not about digital natives and digital immigrants.   It’s simply about all of us realizing and acknowledging that we’re all learners — and we should practice it in the light of day…

It Was Good Enough for Me

Our classrooms require a better window on the world than this… ((Han, Churl. “My classroom in Frieze.” Churl’s Photostream. N.p., 29 Jan 2006. Web. 8 Apr 2010. .))

I frequently receive comments and e-mails from readers expressing their agreement with something I’ve written or said. And then they lament the realities. “But, I have only one working computer in my classroom.” “But, interactive white boards are a pipe dream for us.” “But, Internet is too slow and/or too filtered for practical use.” ..or “We’ve been told to stop using technology or any supplemental materials after March and use only materials designed specifically around test prep.

We are not working under these conditions because of our zip code or because of some unavoidably cyclical function of our reality. These constraints do not happen like weather patterns that we simply have to hunker down and wait out. They happen because of decisions that people make due to greed, misinformation, politico-social agendas, or ignorance.

That we continue to try to prepare children for the future under these conditions is not the problem. The problem is that there are some (many) who still believe that these conditions are good enough.

“What was good enough for me is good enough for ‘your’ children.”

My advice?

  1. Dream and decide:
    1. What you want your classroom to become?
    2. What kind of access to information you need, in order to facilitate learning?
    3. What kind of access to information does your classroom need for relevant learning to happen?
    4. What kind of access to information do your learners personally need to drive their own learning?
  2. Answer the questions,
    1. “What will your community’s children be able to learn in this classroom?”
    2. “What kind of relevant and compelling learning experiences might your community’s children enjoy?”
  3. Reject any technologies from item 1 that do not directly contribute to item 2.
  4. Take the answers to item 2 and turn them into a story.
    1. “Here is the classroom that is possible.”
    2. “Here is what your children will learn in this classroom.”
    3. “Here is how they will learn and what they will do with what they learn.”
    4. “Here is the classroom I want, the classroom your children deserve, the classroom that our future requires.”
  5. Tell that story. Set up a page on your web site called “My Dream Classroom.” Update it regularly. Share it with other teachers. Share it with your students, your friends, and the parents of your students.

    Make its upkeep part of your personal professional development.