Downers Grove Summit

The other day, I was working with a friend at the State Department of Public Instruction on one of my contract projects. I won’t go into detail, except that she has been trying to figure out a way to work Lorenz’ “Butterfly Effect” into the theme of the project.

She wrote down the following lines, out of her head, and after reading them twice, I hurredly copied them down in my notes.

Change is Energy.
It drives the future.

Change is connections.
The future is created one connection at a time!
Cris Crissman, PhD

Maybe it’s just me, but that string of words started off a hill of connections for me. The workshop will be facilitating in Downers Grove this week will be, at heart, all about connections, strange and wondrous connections, that fire from synapses that came into existence, only a matter of months ago.

How these new connections impact how and what we teach, will be the goal of the workshop — and I do not have the answers. Answers will come from talented and dedicated educators, who start making connections.

Please visit the wiki for the “Downers Grove Summit” ( Even if you are not part of the workshop, please feel free to comment on the wiki pages (click Discussion at the top of each page), and also read the emerging blogs from the participants and feel free to comment on them.

Thanks in advance, and have a great week.

2¢ coming!


Planning for Downers Grove Summit

Planning for Downers Grove Summit

I’ve been working mose of the morning in preparation for Dave Jakes’ Emerging Technologies Workshop, which we are calling the Downers Grove Summit.

If you think about it, summit is a good term. He’s gathering a group of really smart people, educators, learn about the new information environment and then to negotiate an intersection between the new “Shape of Knowledge” and today’s classrooms. Please stay tuned.

Planning for Downers Grove Summit

Originally uploaded by David Warlick.

Keywords: Downers Grove Warlick

Emerging Technologies Workshop in Downers Grove

I have been invited to facilitate a workshop in Downers Grove, Illinois next week. The topic will be using the read/write web (web 2.0) in schools. The workshop will be unique in that it is designed not only to pass knowledge and skills on to participants, but to tap into their unique perspectives to generate new knowledge.

The workshop will employ a wiki, that these educators will populate with their ideas about integrating these new information tools into the teaching and learning process.

I want to invite, you, as a reader of 2¢ Worth, to visit the wiki during Tuesday and Wednesday of next week and even comment on the pages with your reactions and insights. The URL of the wiki will be posted here, on my blog, sometime during the weekend. We also hope to podcast some of the discussions and make them available to the larger education community.

We are “…preceding with caution”, says David Jakes, the mastermind and organizer of the workshop. He continued in a recent blog (The New Shape of Information)

…this stuff is too powerful, too cool, and potentially has a chance to change how we educate kids, and how kids view their education, that I want to do it right.”

I also want to invite you to go ahead and announce some of your ideas. If you are blogging, and have some insights about blogging, wikis, social bookmarks and photos, and other folksomous applications in teaching and learning, please blog your ideas, and include the terms “downers”, “grove” and “warlick” in the blog. We will be aggregating (through Technorati) all blog postings with those three words into the wiki, so that all can share.

It will help if your blog is registered with Technorati ( Just:

  1. signup
  2. click “account” (at the top)
  3. scroll down and “Claim a Weblog” by typing in its URL.

This causes Technorati to pay closer attention to your weblog, making it easier for others to. Also, when you have posted your blog article, you might go to the following URL: of your blog)

This causes Technorati to check out your latest postings right away.

Thanks so much for your support and I am certainly looking forward to this event. ..and thanks to David Jakes, and the new adventures in midwest steak cuisine he’ll introduce me to will in Chicago.

More on Integrating Literacy

There have been so many really smart blog comments and e-mails concerning this conversation about literacy and technology. Considering the time of the year, with most educators still in R&R mode, it seems that this is a topic worth considering further.

Information PowerSo I want to put the magnifying glass to one comment posted yesterday afternoon (EST) by Chris Harris, who is a unique character — and I mean that in a good way. Chris is a young man with a rich background in technology, a valuable appreciation for what it means, plus a fierce dedication for the importance and the heritage of libraries and librarianship. I hope that’s a fair characterization, Chris.

Harris reminds us all of Information Power, a book that, as he says, has been “…the ‘bible’ for school library media specialists.” In my early years as an independent consultant, I taught a series of workshops that were structured within Information Power, and I suspect that it still guides my mind wanderings about literacy in the new information environment.

I’d like to take a moment and try to fold Chris’ points of Information Power into my description of the new information environment — that information is networked, digital, and overwhelming (NDO).

Networked Information

Chris says that students must be able to:
1) access information efficiently and effectively.
2) evaluating information critically and competently.
4) pursue information related to interests.

These elements of literacy are certainly more critical and more on-point today than they were even in 1998. In a world where Google is processing a billion searches a day, people have become incredibly dependent on information, and finding valuable and appropriate information within networked environments requires skills that we must align more with literacy than with technology. It’s a skill of finding valuable information, not operating Google or an RSS aggregator.

We must expand our notions of literacy from simply being able to read and understand text on a page, to being able to expose and understand true content from within a global networked environment.

Digital Information

Chris also includes that students should be able to:
3) use information accurately and creatively.
5) appreciate information in various forms.
9) participate in group information efforts.

Ok, information is digital. This means that all mediums of information can now be expressed using the same language, binary. Digital (binary) information can easily be taken apart, put back together, mixed and matched, and inventively assembled into unique, value added information products. It’s what we do. It’s what we’ve always done, building on the information of others. Today, however, it is more akin to playing with Legos than spending years in research and writing. The act of building new information products is an ongoing experiment in conversation.

Again, the skills are new (word processing, image enhancing, spreadsheets, video editors, audio editors, etc.). However, again, their focus is much more akin to the Chris’ points — literacy — than to learning to operate software. Kids don’t need us to teach them how to operate the software. They need us to learn how to work the information, how to Employ the information.


As I mentioned in an earlier blog, this has much less to do with managing an avalanche of information, and is more about our ability to send messages that compete for our audience’s attention within that avalanche. Communicating in a cave was easy. How do you communicate in a storm?

Chris says that students must:
6) strive for excellence in information seeking.
7) contribute to the learning community & recognize importance of information in a democratic society.

We communicate for reasons. We are trying to solve a problem or accomplish a goal. You successfully build a house with the best tools. You successfully accomplish your goals by communicating with the best information.

This element of information literacy is the one that is going to require the most work as Information Power evolves with the changing information environment. The library has traditionally been a place where we consume information. As information increasingly becomes a matter of a mouse-click, the function of the library must evolve, perhaps becoming a place where we also produce information, and produce information that travels effectively through the storm. Think Kinkos for Kids.

We must all learn not only how to write, but how to Express ideas compellingly.

Ethical use of Information

Chris shares that students must:
8) Be ethical about information.

It comes not from the nature of the information environment, but from the nature of how we have come to depend on information and its reliability. We drive across the bridge because we trust its reliability. We must also be able to trust the reliability of the information and its infrastructure. This is why we should become outraged anytime that we find that people we are supposed to trust (politicians, journalists, corporate executives, or any body else) have abused information in any way.

  • We should address the nature of networked information by focusing on the literacy of:

    Exposing the Truth

  • We should address the nature of digital information by focusing on the literacy of:

    Employing Information

  • We should address the nature of overwhelming information by focusing on the literacy of:

    Expressing ideas compellingly

  • We should address the nature of our increasing reliance on information by focusing on the literacy of:

    Loving and protecting the truth (ethics in information).

    Two more pennies for your thoughts.


Integrating New Literacy (cont.)

Chris Lehmann (A View from the Classroom), posted a blog yesterday responding to my recent post, The Problem of Integrating Technology.

This may sound like semantics to lots of folks, but it’s not. As long as we talk about technology integration, then we run the risk of ghettoizing what we do… putting it in the corner, if you will. It remains too easy for technology to remain what “those” teachers do in “that” room that no one else in the school ever goes to…

I delivered the address yesterday, to almost three-hundred principals and central office folks in Charlotte. Many of them got it, commenting that this was a new way of thinking about modernizing classrooms. Other principals (whom I grew to respect after discussing the issues with them) did not initially get it. They said, “But you are integrating technology, you are bringing technology in.”

True. We come from a century that was defined by its technology (cars, planes and jets, satellites, space craft, computers, the atomic bomb. However, as our students are playing their video games, it’s not the machines that they’re thinking about. It’s the information. The technology is as much in the background to them, as paper is to us. This is where we need to be. Like our students, we need to be thinking about the information and adopting into what and how we teach — the changing nature of information (networked, digital, overwhelming [NDO]).

Chris goes on to pose the following questions for us to consider as professional educators.

When we think about expanding the notion of literacy to include all of the ways we expect students to digest, synthesize and create information, then the questions we ask become different. Just a few that come to mind are…

* How will our students learn when they leave our classrooms?

Me: They’ll learn from and within a new information environment (NDO).

* What is the revelance to how we learn in the classroom with the way we learn outside of it?

Me: There is little relevance, unless we are teaching from the new information environment (NDO).

* Will our students be prepared to be information providers, not just information consumers?

Me: If we teach them from the new information environment, where content becomes as much a conversation as it is a product to be consumed.

* What are the new modalities of information storage / retrevial / transferral, etc… that our students will face and how do we prepare them for it?
Me: It’s all in the new information environment (NDO).

My usual 2¢ worth

Principals Leadership Conference

Principals Leadership Conference

I’ve arrived very early to speak at the Principals Leadership Conference, in Charlotte, North Carolina. Last night Brenda and I wandered around downtown Charlotte looking for a restaurant, and I was very impressed with what a beautiful city it has become.

This morning, I will be talking about technology, information, and literacy. This afternoon, I will lead a discussion about technology concerns, barriers, solutions, and the changing nature of information.

The theme of the conference is NASCAR, which I’m very comfortable with, having grown up only about 30 miles from here.

I suspect that the time has come, during the summer months, where many teachers are beginnning to think about the coming school year. I’m curious about this prossess today, in the new information environment. How ha it changed, now that we have access to so much information? h How has it changed in terms of the content and skills that we teach in this rapidly changing world? Please comment.

I’d love to hear your 2 cents worth.

Principals Leadership Conference

Originally uploaded by David Warlick.

The Problem of Integrating Technology

I’ve been working on this one for a few days. So it’s a long article.

Several weeks ago, I published two podcasts that featured the amazing work of elementary school teacher, Bob Sprankle, in Wells, Maine. Bob hasn’t had a vacation yet. Since school dismissed, Mr. Sprankle has begun two new podcast programs: The Bobby Bucket Show, for children, and Bit by Bit, a more professional commentary on technology and education. I must admit that I could only take about three minutes of Bobby Bucket. Well, 30 seconds to be honest. (Sorry, Bob. If I were six years old, I’d love it.) But Bit by Bit is much more to my liking, and he’s already posted five shows. The topics mostly orbit around technology in the classroom, and more specifically, podcasting, about which, Bob has much to share with us.

But for his latest episode, Sprankle attended the keynote address for the ending finale of Maine’s SEED (Spreading Educator to Educator Developments) project, at outstanding program and ending conference, for which I had been asked about keynoting. Alas, they informed me that they would not need me after all, and I’m not too unhappy, because they got Angus King. I can’t feel bad when they choose the former Governor of the state, and the master mind behind Maine’s 1:1 initiative.

And, yes, Bob Sprankle recorded the address, and got permission to podcast it. It is an amazing speech, that I highly recommend your listening to. It’s the Bit by Bit, Show 05, July 13, 2005.

Governor King talked a great deal about flatism and urged his audience to read Thomas Friedman’s book before the beginning of the school year. He made a compelling and humorous case, and explained that the legislature of Maine is extraordinarily accessible (“Five letters is an avalanche.”).

But he said one thing that I would like to take exception with, as a way of clarifying something that I talked about in my last podcast. At one point, in talking about an X-factor, Governor Kind said, “the kids (must become) totally comfortable with the technology itself. It’s how the solve problems. It’s the first thing they think of to solve a problem to, work together, to collaborate, to gather data, to present data…”

I am very glad that he said this, and he said it very well. ..and I’m especially impressed that King tied the use of technology in with teaching students to be innovative. But the idea that I want to explore and talk about, and have been talking about for a few years, is what goes between the technology and the curriculum.

Computers are hard. They have sharp edges. The Internet is mysterious. It’s difficult for many of us to wrap our minds around technology. We know curriculum. Many of us have taught it for many years, and the rest of learned it for half of our lives. The place where they come together is not obvious, and it’s slippery. Some ed techers say we need to blog. Other say, collect and analyze data. Others say that instructional management systems are the way to integrate. Where and how does it fit together?

I have often said that we should stop integrating technology and instead, integrate literacy. If you hear this in my keynote address, then you may get the picture of what I’m trying to say. If not, and technology scares you, then you’ve got a big smile on your face because you can forget the computers and get back to reading instruction, something you are comfortable with.

Let me try to clarify here. We have technology, coming up against currculum, and the scraping is irritating not only to us, but to those who pay for it. We need a gasket in there. We need something that smoothes the friction and eases the connections. That gasket is information.

For educators, information means a lot of things. What I’m talking about is its shape. There’s all kinds of information around us. We live in an information environment. But more than anything else, the shape of that information has changed — dramatically.

There are three ways that the shape of information has changed. It is:

  • Networked,
  • Digital, and
  • Overwhelming.

Each of these changes has had a dramatic impact on how we access, use, and communicate information.

  1. When information is networked, then its direction becomes an issue. During most of my life, information traveled in one direction, from points of assumed authority to the consumer. Now it travels in all directions, from millions of sources — from points where we cannot assume authority.
  2. Digital information doesn’t sit still. It glows, grows, shrinks, travels at the speed of light, and in its abundance, information is simultaneously diverse, and at its roots, very much the same. Digital information is also gloriously malleable. With the skills and tools, we can shape information into almost anything we want — or need.
  3. Information is also overwhelming, where managing that information is not a biggest problem. It is having your message compete for attention amongst a growing glut of other messages.

This new information environment is much better. There’s more of it, there’s more that we can do with it, and we can have access to most of it while enjoying a coffee at Panera Bread.

Rather than trying to master technology skills, I believe that teachers should be working to understand this new information environment and the new literacies that it requires. As they seek to understand and harness it, they should teach from that information environment and its literacies. Integrating that literacy will get us further toward making classrooms more relevant to today’s students, than efforts to integrate technology.

Integration Model

This requires an enormous investment. It requires:

  • Visionary leadership,
  • Access to the information environment (appropriate and reliable technology), and
  • Time to reflect and retool.

Exactly 2¢ Worth!


IM-speak in Web Blogs

I received an e-mail this morning from Brett Moller, a teacher in Australia (I assume from reference to OZ). Brett has a very impressive personal/professional web site () and has begun, what will doubtless become a valuable professional podcast, thanks in no small measure to Steve Dembo’s example and assistance. I just love listening to british accents.

Brett has just started a classroom blogging project, which I will share if I receive permission from Moller. But in his latest podcast, he expressed some concern about how students lapsed into IM-speak as they wrote their comments to their teacher’s blog articles. I’ve written about this before, I’m sure, but I thought I would just pass on to you my suggestions to Brett and the other teachers at Emmanuel College.

I just wanted to share my 2¢ worth on the issue of your students spelling and use of IM-speak in their blogs. My first thought is something that I often share in my public addresses and workshops, and that is the amazement that I feel at what these kids have done. We tend, especially as educators, to see all of the abbreviations as lapses in good writing. Instead we should treat it as a different style of writing. The point is that these kids, in less than one schooling generation have invented and implemented a new grammar that works much better for IM communication than standard grammar does. And what’s even better, is that they did this in collaboration. It wasn’t one personal or one standards board setting it all down, but these kids shaped it in mass. That is an astounding feat.

That said, I’m the last to believe that standard or formal writing should go away. I also think that it would be less useful to start assigning students to do all of their writing using an “academic style.” It sounds too much like an assignment. They love blogging because they’re communicating, not because it’s an assignment.

The criteria for how the students write should be the audience. For some assignments, students will be writing only to be read by other students. In these cases, I would suggest to students that they use IM-speak. For other blogging/writing assignments, structure the blogging topic as something that adults in the community or even abroad might read and respond to. For those assignments ask the students to describe how they should write for audiences other than other students. This should result in their writing in more formal styles.

That’s just my 2¢ worth.

Day trip to Fort Macon

Day trip to Fort Macon

Brenda, Martin and I took a day trip to Fort Macon, near Atlantic Beach today. Brenda, during summer vacation, take the kids on field trips to places of interest in North Carolina. I am usually on the road, but today, decided to tag along.

Fort Macon was constructed in the early 18th century. It was occupied for most of the Civil War by the Union army. The fort was also garisoned during the Spainish American War, as well as WWII.

It was intriguing to see how the fort was designed to defend against a number of types of attacks.

Well that all I can type now. My thumbs are beginning to spasm.

Day trip to Fort Macon

Originally uploaded by David Warlick.