Flaxmere Students will Buzz

Educating the Dragon » Blog Archive » Flaxmere is buzzing:

Flaxmere (is) having a kids conference, where the children will have opportunity to share some of the things they have been doing this year with the interactive whiteboards, skype, wikis, blogs, digital movie making, etc etc. Not sure who the keynote speakers will be for that, but again you’ll know when I know.

..I wonder where in the world something like a ‘kids ICT conference’ has happened and what it looked like.

What a wonderfully appropriate idea.  I would also like to see kids talking about, and/or actually presenting about their outsidetheclassroom information experiences — with World of Warcraft, MySpace/Xanga, Club Penguin, IM, etc.

It’s Not What I Said

That article from Associated Press is circulating again, and I’m finding the need, once again, to correct my quote there. The impression people seem to have from the article is that I am suggesting that we should celebrate IM-speak as a new grammar. That’s not what I said. I believe that we should celebrate that our children invented it, how they invented it, and why. They found themselves with a new avenue for communication and needed a new grammar. So they invented on, casually, in collaboration. That is what impresses me,
that they did it,
without us.

All that said, I think that we should respect IM-speak and understand that it is a part of their future. What they need us to do is to teach them how to decide when it is appropriate to use formal language to accomplish their goals and when it is appropriate to use IM-speak to accomplish their goals.

A Good Day in Utah & Learning Something New

First of all, Wireless is down here at the Holiday Inn Express, and the desk clerk can’t help me since I’m using a Mac and he desn’t know where the hotel server is and wouldn’t know how to reboot it if he did. So I’m in the hotel business center typing this directly into my WordPress Dashboard without the use of a spell checker and text reader. It’s going to be rough!

I am entirely impressed with the turnoutBut I’m happy. It was a good day yesterday and I was so sincerely impressed that so many people turned out with winter weather that was bad, even by Utah standards. The auditorium seated 900 and there was an overflow. The address, Teaching & Learning on the Edge of Change was very well received. I did three more sessions on Video Games (turning into a great presentation), wikis, and digital media.

I learned something new and immensely useful. Kelly Dumont told me about a piece of freeware software and a web site that is solving a constantly vexing problem that I have experienced. Please forgive me if you’ve known about this for a long time. I live a depraived life. My problem is YouTube. There are some great videos on there that I love to use in my presentations, but they have to be downloaded to be viewed, and sometimes, it’s even blocked. So here’s the process:

Go to http://keepvid.com/ This web site will take the URL of the YouTube video you would like to “get” and then give you a URL that you can click to download the video to your hard drive as a flash file. Then, if you are a Mac user, down load iSquint (http://isquint.com/). ISquint will convert the flash file into a QuickTime movie (.mov), optimized either for TV or for iPod. So now I have my favorite YouTube videos on my hard disk and can embed them directly into my presentation slides.

To cool for school!

Finally, try concentrating on a conference when this is what you see out the window!

What a Sight

Oh No! It’s Snow! & Relevant Assessment

I’m waking up to snow this morning, here in Salt Lake City.  Schools will be closed.  The conference will be canceled.  Bread and milk will disappear from the grocery store shelves.  The entire city’s going to — Oh Yeah!  I’m in Utah!  It’s going to be business as usual.  They’re going to pick me up at the hotel at 7:00, I’ll deliver my keynote to over a thousand Utah educators (a sizable percentage of this state’s teachers) and deliver workshops about blogging, podcasting, wikis, and harnessing the digital landscape.
It was nice to get to my hotel early yesterday.  I’ve redone several of my slide shows, which is not necessarily a good thing.  It means that for much of my presentations, I’ll not know what slide is coming up next.  A little un-nerving — but heck, it’s snowing out side.   I think we’re all going to be up for an adventure.

While at the METC conference, earlier this week, I took some time off and had a conversation with Christina Gordon from the National School Board’s Association.  She’s writing an article for one of their publications and asked me a few questions.  I spoke at one of their conferences a few weeks ago in Washington, and was evidently in “the zone” that day.   In the presentation, I talked about what kids need to know today, what, and how they need to be learning.  She asked…

What do school board members need to know today?

I answered with three things:

  1. They need to know that change is constant today.  The market place is changing, our customers (the students) are changing, and the information landscape with which and within which we teach is changing dramatically.  All of these drastically challenge the act of schooling.
  2. Our outcome has not changed.  We must continue to have generations of literate, knowledgeable, and inventive citizens.  What all of that means is changing, but the outcome is the same.
  3. All stakeholders in education must understand that teaching the creative arts (music, art, drama) is as critical to our continued prosperity as teaching the practical arts (science, technology, and mathematics)

Another question was about policy, which is a tough one for me since I have never been that much of a policy wonk.  But I told her that I believe that No Child Left Behind has done far more harm to education in the U.S. than good.  It is an industrial age solution to an information age problem.  But NCLB is correct in that schools, teachers, and students must be accountable to their communities. 

I think that we need to find new ways of assessing the success of our education endeavors, methods that are more relevant to a changing market place, changing customers, and a rapidly changing information landscape.  I found a perfect example this morning when I ran across a podcast program from the Pudong Campus of the Shanghai American School.  One of their tech people, Mr. Torris simply walked into grade 5 classrooms and started interviewing teachers and kids about what they were learning.

What’s different here is that rather than relying on numbers that describe learners as products, the community is almost literally invited into the classrooms to learn what and how their children are learning and what they are doing with it.  This is what I would like to have known about my children’s schools.  I’d like to have been part of it — not just an outside inspector.

2¢ Worth

Enterprise, Alabama

Hear me, four quarters of the world – a relative I am! Give me the strength to walk the soft earth, a relative to all that is! Give me the eyes to see and the strength to understand, that I may be like you. With your power only can I face the winds.

— Black Elk

Image Citation:
Brent. “IMG_0934.” Brentorbrent’s Photostream. 1 Mar 2007. 1 Mar 2007 <http://flickr.com/photos/brentorbrent/407288829>.

Why do we wear Black

Bernajean Porter, Gail Lovely, David Warlick, and Hall Davidson

Here’s a rather interesting picture taken at the end of the METC conference yesterday.  Most of the attendees had already left and Bernajean and Hall were waiting for the shuttle to the airport.  Gail and I were on our way for dinner, both flying out this morning.  My question is why do we keynoters always wear black.  Rem Jackson once called it the “out of town speaker look.”  I can only speak for me, and, as a keynote speaker, I tend to order lots of pizzas to be delivered to my room, because I’m just too tired to go out.  I find that black reflects less light from my constantly fluctuating bulk.

I’m on my way to Salt Lake City for the UCET conference.  It’s been one of those conferences I’ve been after for many years.  Utah is such a magnificent state and unique in its population.  I’ll also get to match ideas with Kelly Dumont again, which is always a treat for me. It’s certainly going to be an interesting conference for me. They have me presenting just about my entire menu of topics. Hey, just by the book 😉