Friday, September 28, 2012

Brace Yourself for Banned Books Week!

If you're at Harker's Upper School campus, you're probably already aware that this is coming, thanks to efforts by our library staff to get the word out through their creative bulletin board in Manzanita.  (It's across from where you grab a tray.)

Sandra Wozniak, whom I met this summer at ISTE in San Diego, is a wonderful and witty educator from my home state of New Jersey.  I enjoyed her blog post on Banned Books Week.

Online Discussions with Students

Catlin Tucker knows about class discussions.  She knows that the kind we normally do really don't work well for many students.  Were YOU the kind of student who spoke up in all your classes?

Catlin discovered that taking the discussions online changed and expanded the dynamic of the discussions and gave more students the opportunity to participate a bit more within their comfort zones.  AND it caused more students to start speaking up in class who never had before.

Read all about it HERE.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hook, Line, and Sinker

(You can click the cartoon to view an enlarged version.)

TED Ed does it again with Carolyn Mohr's "The power of a great introduction"

Thanks to James Sanders and Sean Williams for bringing it to my attention on Google+.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Yet another reason to "Go Google"

Google recently shared some information about colleges and universities using their Google Apps for Education suite of tools.  Given how many of the nation's top schools are using these tools, it's clear that we need to be as well if we're going to prepare our students for life on campus.

Edudemic listed a few of the newest Google schools in a September 16th article

Their column was based on a Google blog post from a few days earlier in which it was revealed that seven of the eight Ivy League schools use Google Apps for Education.

We can all do a little bit to Change the World

Change the World
(Click the above image!)

We can all do a little bit to Change the World, just by going to this website and clicking the giant penny.  While you're there, click on the world also, and learn more about what my friend Adam Bellow is doing to get EdTech professionals involved in using just a little change to make big change.

Adam Bellow runs a free website for educators called eduTecher. He helps people find the resources they need to hone their craft as educational technologists.  Any teacher, self-proclaimed techie or not, can find some really great resources at eduTecher.  And Adam himself has done some pretty amazing stuff, including his recent launch of eduClipper (like Pinterest for education).

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Why am I so excited about "The Black Death in 90 Seconds"?

No, it's not some new song out by a Ska-Punk-Indie band.  I don't even know what that means.

The Black Death in 90 Seconds is a charming little video, made by a local teacher, that makes me so proud to be an educational technology professional.

You see, I was there at the birth of this beauty.  Barb Luis, a teacher at Serra High School, is a member of the current cohort of the MERIT program at Foothill College's Krause Center for Innovation.  I'm the Assistant Director of that program, and next year will be my first of three years as its Director.

The second half of July is our annual Summer Institute.  This past July, Barb made this adorable (about the Black Death? I know, just stick with me...) video as an assignment during the Summer Institute.  I got to help a little, though MERIT faculty member Sean Williams really helped Barb the most.

Long story short (too late, I know), Barb entered her video in a contest at Next Vista for Learning, and SHE WON!!!!!

But wait, THERE'S MORE!  There's this charming bloke in Britain who runs an EdTech blog, Free Technology for TeachersRichard Byrne has reached celebrity status in EdTech circles for his vital work through his blog.  He has started and shared so many great ideas, and then gone on and blogged about other people's wonderful contributions to EdTech.  Appearing on his blog is high praise indeed.

And now, the point of all this: Barb's lil' video was the star of Richard's blog yesterday.

And, if you REALLY love the Black Death (no judging), you'll also like the video by the History Teachers:

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Peter Jackson kicks off Tolkien Week!

If you're anticipating the upcoming release of The Hobbit film, or if you're a lover of all things Tolkien, you'll want to check out this quick video of Peter Jackson and maybe poke around his YouTube channel at the video production diaries and other items, including a trailer for The Hobbit.

Who says you don't know Scratch?

My good friend Chris Betcher in Sydney, Australia, works with students much younger than mine.  In the spring semester, I'll be teaching a course called Digital World.  It's a half-year computer science course aimed at the kids who don't want to learn programming.  I see it as a perfect fit for me, since I am not a programmer, and I don't understand most of what is said by my colleagues during Computer Science Department meetings.

But a part of this course I'll be teaching needs to help students think algorithmically, the way a programmer has to.  I'm sure any kind of programming will be met with resistance.  And that's fine with me.  Enter Scratch, a fun response to fear of programming.

I defy you to look into the enthusiastic eyes of these Aussie schoolgirls and fight my introduction of Scratch!

Monday, September 17, 2012

How does the other half live?

Greetings, esteemed colleagues!

You may not know this about me, but where I started my teaching career two decades ago was a junior high in East Orange, NJ — about as different a place as you can find from The Harker School.

For that reason, when I watched the video and read the eloquent article that followed, this message truly resonated with me.  What was true in EO twenty years ago is still true in BedStuy today: young men and women of color are discouraged by their peers from the simple joy of reading.

What's Wrong with Reading? by Anthony Turner

Friday, September 14, 2012

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Helpful Resources about Presidential Elections

My buddy James Sanders does it again!  He has gathered some fantastic videos to help teachers explain the nuances of our election system when the topic comes up in class.  Because you know it will.

Raising a Math Genius?

I have struggled with math for a long time.  If I want to set a good example for my son and the students around me (who could ALL school me big time in the quantitative arts), though, maybe I should stop telling the story about how they wouldn't let me take calculus in college until I first passed a non-credit pre-calc class.*

*Long story short, I was an English major and took the easiest two for-credit math courses available and never got anywhere near pre-calc or calculus.

So I admit to lacking confidence in math.  But I am now armed with some healthy ways to avoid instilling math phobia in my son.

I enjoyed this article, because not only does it give me some sound advice as a parent, but it speaks to some other important messages we need to convey about embracing struggle (and even failure) and enjoying the process just as much as the end result.  (The right answer isn't the most important thing.)

Raising a Math Genius

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Any 30 Rock Fans Out There?

Here I am, sneaking into your Inbox to tempt you once again to come play with me in the Google world.

If you like 30 Rock, you'll laugh at this.  If you don't like it, or you've never seen the show, you'll still appreciate this.

Yes, you can have a group of people contributing to the same document at the same time.

It's not magic; it's Google Apps.

Video: ( )

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

This is why I do the work that I do.

This guest post that takes the form of an open letter to "tech-fearing teachers everywhere" is very positive in its tone, and it makes excellent points.

I especially like where the author recommends that teachers start slowly by just trying one new thing.  That is what my job is all about.  I help match up each teacher with a tool or resource that aids him or her in stretching just that little bit at first.  I think it's the best job in the world!

Professional Development Opportunity at Foothill College

Here's the details from the folks at Foothill:

Foothill College in conjunction with Innovative Educators in hosting a FREE conference at Foothill College this Fall on October 12, Leveraging Technology to Support Students, Faculty, and Staff (

Our goal is to provide several innovative technology programs and information that our faculty, staff and managers can use to support student success.

We have 3 strands in the conference: Teaching & Learning, Student Services and Workforce and Career Development. We have a variety of technology-based tools, programs, providers and experts who will be participating that day including Coursera, AdaptCourseware, MERLOT, Open Courseware Consortium, Financial Aid TV, Credentials Solutions, LearnUp, InternBound, IntelliResponse, Innovative Educators, SARS, Go2Knowledge, Student Lingo, After College and more. We are continuing to add more speakers and programs. We are also committed to making certain that all participants provide accessible programs.

We hope that you will find time to join us. Please register online to reserve a space at

Sharing is Caring

So, I decided that since I created this blog to have one place where my colleagues could go to look back at things I've shared out with them via e-mail at work, it wouldn't be a bad idea to go back and post all the stuff I've sent out to them since school started.

Problem is, very little of it is my own original work!  I guess I've been using the CASE model (Copy And Steal Everything) -- in fact, I stole that acronym as well -- and just publicizing at my school the stuff I've found by reading others' tweets and Google+ posts.  Since that is not completely a bad thing, I will summarize some of my early shares here.

Really great examples of perspective and point-of-view, thanks to James Sanders:
(With warnings about language and violence, thanks to Quentin Tarantino and Breaking Bad.)

20 Things You May Not Know You Can Do with Google Search:
Great tips in this article!

Advertising through storytelling:
My friend James Sanders put together a quick blog post on this idea.  I thought many of you would enjoy the ideas and the video examples.

Science in the Nick of Time (also thanks to James Sanders):
Lest ye mistakenly believe that my background in the humanities leaves me lacking awesome resources in other areas, I bring you……
ASAP Science (see
These quick videos explain specific topics in science in a way that makes them easy to understand, without sacrificing on technical specifics of the content.

Tolkien reads his own work:
Listen to J.R.R. Tolkien read poems from The Fellowship of the Ring, in Elvish and English:

21st Century Bloom's Taxonomy:

I sent this to the Upper School Librarians:
(more from James Sanders)

Desks Found to be Harmful to Education:
(from Jaime Casap of Google)

World History on YouTube:
(I sent this to the Upper School History Department)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Cool Tool for School: Remind101

Greetings, esteemed colleagues!

I wanted to share with you some information about a very cool FREE tool I use with my advisory, my grad class, a cohort I direct in a summer program, and the class I'll be teaching in semester 2.

It's called Remind101, and it allows you to have students "join" a class using their cell phones (or e-mail if they prefer), and you can send out broadcasts to the whole group from your cell phone or from the web.  However, PRIVACY is insured in that the students never have YOUR cell number, and you never have theirs. The students also cannot text you back through this service.  It's one-way and controlled by you.

Here are a few links and more information:

Remind101's Back to School Blog

Top Ten Ways to Use Remind 101

A PDF explaining what Remind101 is and how it works can be found HERE.