Showing posts from June, 2011

In a pub, laptops open, silent

As part of ISTE11, on June 27 some #EngChat participants met upstairs at a pub and participated in the weekly discussion together.


I am not gonna lie. It felt awkward sitting upstairs in a pub with about 15 others, laptops out and open, participating almost silently in a virtual chat. The quiet was purposeful. We were reflecting on reflecting and writing about it.
But we weren't just online with each other (which would have added strange and unusual to the awkwardness). We were chatting and writing and sharing with others from all over the world. We would have been quiet at home doing the same thing but we were in a social gathering place meant to foster face to face discussion.
Did this make a difference? As a matter of fact, all of us had done the same type of chatting weekly on #engchat and various other Twitter chats throughout the week. But this time some of us were physically together for the process and it just felt strange. 
The group, both in the room and …

Don't flip out over Khan

Unfortunately, I have been hearing a lot of negative conversation about Khan Academy recently. It does not seem right to put down someone who has done so much to help others in an extremely proficient way. There are so many great uses for what he (and others) have created. If not at the center of a flipped classroom model, the videos can be used as reference by students who may not have completely understood a topic initially. In this example, Khan becomes the classic textbook example on steroids. My daughter occasionally watched a Khan video this past year to help her with a calculus topic. It must have been useful because she recommended the site to friends.

One of the tasks of students (and teachers) in the near future will be to keep track of the virtual teachers who may provide them the best outside help. It would be great to have a site similar to Netflix for learning, with suggestions and recommendations based on your "favorite" virtual teachers. Along with teachers, …

20 Years of Summer Goals

It occurred to me the other day that my 20 years of teaching has led to 20 summers of to do lists, big plans, and usually stress as the days ticked away and the list did not get much smaller. That experience has given me a little insight and I have made some changes to my approach to the summer.

The problem the first several years (16 or so!?) was that I just planned a little too big - organize the house, figure out a method to avoid large stacks of essays to grade, raise the Titanic, etc. The chance of getting any of these items complete during the summer was the same, zero. There were MANY items like this on my list and I was always frustrated by the time the school year rolled around again because I was still behind on my tasks!
I heard a saying years ago that went something like - if you expect nothing, you have all things. Now that is a mantra I can head into summer with! Unfortunately (and quite reasonably), my wife did not quite get as excited about that quote as I did. I needed …