Thursday, July 21, 2011

Your child's mind on Google

Recently a member of the professional talking class blogged about the downfall of our educational system, and she blamed Google and other technologies for contributing to our collective demise.

Her thesis is "we are a nation losing the ability to think," in part because we are outsourcing our memories and minds to Google, etc.

It was a bit ironic that she spread this blog post simultaneously on her Facebook page and Twitter account. I also wonder how many times she used Google to google data for her post.

But to the more important point, she's wrong.

I am teaching History for the first time this year, and just talked in-depth with the guy who taught the course last year. The level of critical thinking his 9th graders were engaging in was extremely impressive - awesome, actually. He's great with tech in the classroom: Actually our entire district is, and leading the charge is a group of tech facilitators greatly enhancing our learning community.

And about Google - it's called progress and it can't be undone. It is - we have to adapt and deal. I love Google - I use it dozens of times a week; heck, I've used it a few times just to write this short post.

Yes a lot is broken in our system. No, it's not Google's fault. A far too simplistic answer to a very real, complex problem.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Teaching Like a Poet

Reflecting on our two week, intensive Pinnacle training, it's time to step back from the technology tool trees ... and take a look at the entire forest.

I became a teacher as part of a personal search for meaning. For me, it's always been about the big picture - how to live a life of meaning and purpose. I've consistently put content second to addressing the first order of business: How should one live his or her life?

Our Pinnacle facilitators repeatedly brought up the concept of meaning these past two weeks, in one form or another. I see that they get this concept ... to them tech tools and wired classrooms are wonderful.

But they, too, seem to understand we are here for a greater purpose.

By nature, we are spiritual and self-reflective creatures. I want to show my students the mystery in life. I want to dig deep into the good and bad, the beautiful, the wicked, and the sublime. I want to explore the depths of human nature with my students, and help mold them into self-aware, creative, reflective individuals.

Our world would be better off if we encouraged more poets. Forget "outside the box," let's leave the entire box behind.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Twitter Made Super Simple

Twitter can seem overwhelming for new users, as the stream of information appears never-ending in a firehose-like blast.

Here's a simple solution for more comfortable Twitter browsing: Just log into The Tweeted Times with your Twitter account.

The program will pull together a newspaper-looking page for you, so you can browse through your tweets in a comfortable, leisurely fashion. It's similar to Google Reader's Player, actually.

This application also shows off some Web 3.0 features - it pulls together the tweets most appropriate for you, to give you the most relevant reading experience.

Happy tweeting!

Manage Info Overload with Google Reader

Information overload can be very real for those of us attempting to find and digest the latest trends in our field.

Thankfully, in steps Google Reader to save the day.

By simply subscribing to website / blog RSS feeds (clicking the little icon below), we can view all of our favorite info sources in one spot - when it's convenient to us. Just click the icon, and choose the reader of your choice.

Reader even has a cool player feature, which makes viewing info an even more simple, pleasant experience.

Online Business Card ... Sort Of

With so many different social platforms, it's nice to have one place that captures and organizes everything.

With one simple link, I can share my social networks with the world.

Perfect for signature files, "about me" sections of blogs, etc. And it's free!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Google Sites 101

Need a free, simple class website?

Google Sites is probably worth a look. In a few minutes, you can build your site and have it live to the world.

Neat features include a file cabinet system, where you can upload, organize and store documents like parent permission forms, your class syllabus, etc.

There are several templates from which to choose, including this neat classroom template.

My only reservation is the long, awkward url Google will attach to your site. You can, however, direct your Google Site to a custom domain, if you want to put down the ten to twenty bucks a year.

Lots of plug-in gadgets, and even an ability to edit html, make Google Sites another great, free product from the search giant.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

GoAnimate brings Macbeth to life

I helped create this in a group project at Pinnacle, while searching for ways to bring literature to life.

GoAnimate is a cool tool - fun, easy to use, and free ... I plan on using it in the classroom next year.

(this project is a bit sarcastic; the characters are purely fictional!)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Why I'm rejoining Twitter

Who is Twitter good for?

In my opinion, anyone engaged in a specialized community (such as education) can benefit enormously from Twitter.

The average Joe with a Facebook account will probably find the experience redundant; however, people seeking specialized information related to specialized fields can strike gold with Twitter.

To get started, find some education bloggers you like, and follow them. It's really that easy.

Then it becomes like connect the dots ... you will notice other interesting education thought leaders, and soon, you'll enjoy a strong stream of engaging tweets every time you log on.

As for getting your own followers ...

This is a social network, so be social! Comment on other tweets, and provide thoughtful, relevant, engaging tweets of your own. Soon you'll develop your own network of followers.

Why I'm back

As an online PR guy a few years ago, it was my job to stay abreast of the very latest trends in Internet marketing and social media. When I left for education, this entire 2.0 world lost a great deal of relevance. I had no need to be hyper-connected to the latest 2.0 trends as I hit the books for 2.5 years.

Now, immersed again in technology - but this time through the education prism - it makes good sense to once again engage with thought leaders in my field. 

And that's Twitter 101 in a nutshell. Happy tweeting!