Are School Better?

I just finished reading this section in the April 2007, Learning and Leading with Technology. This is the “Point/Counterpoint” section that is in every month. Just so you know, if you are not an every month reader of this section trying to follow the PDF version of this document might be a bit confusing. I am not advocating for you to print it, I just want you to know that the top on page one goes with the top on page two. The prompt of the article is, “Are schools better than they were 20 years age.” The secondary or more detailed prompt on the same article is, “Has the introduction and proliferation of educational technology improved teaching and learning.” I have got to say, over all, no. Schools in our area are still sterile, cold and uninviting places to try to learn and the introduction of technology has not changed that. I am not sure that teachers have any better relationships with their students than they did 20 years ago.  I am not saying that all teachers do not have relationships with their students.  I am not saying that. 

When I wake up in the morning, I am excited to go to work.  They actually pay me to learn about technology and influence teachers to use technology in their classes to make the lives of students better.  It is like a baseball player that wakes up and realizes that he or she gets to play baseball today and they are going to pay him or her for that.  Teachers need to wake up and feel the same way.  I look at my environment at work and my work place looks nothing like the classrooms that I attended at school, except for maybe my graduate school experience when I went to school on-line.  My environment at work is inviting.  I have pictures up of my children.  I often drink coffee and snack.  I collaborate with colleagues on the phone or via the computer.  The first thing you are told in a school is, “please don’t talk to your neighbor” and you get better grades if you don’t talk to the people.  I am rewarded at work if I collaborate.  Collaboration is what makes the gem stone a jewel.  When you come up with an idea and others discuss it and mull it over the idea becomes practical and something that can have life breathed into it.

I really agree with what Marc Simmons say in this article.  I particularly like this quote, “We cannot afford to put rubber tires on the oxcart; rather we must upgrade the cart into a tool relevant for today’s society.”  Actually, the school should not look and feel like the work place of today, it really needs to look and feel like the work place of the future.  We need to be putting rubber tires on schools that promote collaboration, meaningful relationships and environments of innovation and conceptualization.

Defining Blog Love

I first heard the term from Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach. And I kinda under stood what “blog love” was. But it seems there are really a few definitions of blog love. For some, subscribing to many blogs via RSS is blog love. I got this definition on Daniele Capistrano’s blog. Daniela brags of collecting blogs via rss with the same veracity as a child of the 90’s collected pogs. Then there is the definition of “blog love” that kinda just means to love blogging. I think this bumper sticker sums it up.

One person defines blog love as leaving comments on other people’s blogs and particularly on people who are new to blogging.

So, I’ve been trying to do this little blog love thing, rather than just flying by some of the blogs I read, I’ve been making more of an effort to post a couple comments here and there, and I’ve especially been trying to stop in and give a hello to new bloggers… spreading some blog love… I’d love to see others spreading the love, but I’m afraid my little blog just doesn’t have the power… but I’m trying anyway

I think the definition that Sheryl was talking about is the idea that if you get some information or a quote from a blog that you should site that blog. But you not only site the blog but you hyperlink to the blog you got the information from. It has been a little over a week now and I am a blogger. I am, and I know it is too soon, getting a bit disappointed that I am not getting people that I don’t know to comment on my blog. That does not mean that I don’t extremely appreciate the people who have left me comments. I have been doing acts of blog love and I would hope that some of the love would come back my way.

Also, from what I understand from my short tenure as a blogger, blog love is an unwritten rule much the way you don’t bunt in baseball when you are up a lot of runs. Just like you don’t steal bases when you are beating a team by many runs. Blog love is the same way. You just don’t mention someone’s name in a blog without linking it to his or her blog. You also don’t copy and paste something from someone’s blog with out citing it and hyperlinking to the original blog.
To get more people to comment on my blog, I have been doing self-serving things. I have been commenting on blogs and I have been hyperlinking in people’s comments to my own blog. What would you call this type of self-serving blog love? What ever you call it I feel a little un-clean.

Am I missing anything? Should I be doing other acts of blog love that I am not doing or I missed in this post? I’m asking for your guidance.

Screening Screen Time

I just completed reading Antonio Scorto’s blog. This is what he had to say:

Paper Mario, Wii virtual console (N64). My son (he’s almost seven) loves this game. He, however, like many boys his age, does not enjoy reading, and complains when we have him read to us, but this game has a lot of reading, and I mean, a lot of reading. It’s mostly at his level . . once in a while we have to help him with a word . . and I’d say that it’s very similar to if we had him read a comic book, except that it’s interactive. There is also a lot of decision making and higher order thinking going on. The best part about this is that he is limited to 30 minutes of TV time a day (including this). He can earn another 30 minutes by doing “talking to mom time.” Talking to mom time comprises of him actually reading a real book, and/or working on his writing for 30 minutes with my wife (she teaches HS). He begs to do this “talking to mom time” so he can play Paper Mario, which is mostly reading, decision making, problem solving, etc.

I took it upon myself to do some research. I did some looking and found that children under 2 years old should not have any screen time. And children over 2 years old should have no more than 2 hours of screen time. These facts are from the American Association of Pediatrics via

What bothers me are companies like Baby Einstein. Check it out. Look at their website. You tell me if they are promising parents that their children will be getting into Ivy League schools or elite private schools that contain the word “friend” in their name. I think this is wrong. This situation reminds of what the federal government does with tobacco in this country. On one hand, the government subsidizes tobacco farms because smoking and tobacco sales are down, which of course is good for the overall health of country. Now, on the other hand, the government gives money to agencies to promote anti-smoking campaigns. What Baby Einstein is doing is no worse than Crown Royal having a billboard advertising their liquor that faces a high school. What makes Baby Einstein worse than Crown Royal, which I don’t know for sure advertises near a high school, is that Crown Royal is not promising to make you smarter.

Tony, I think it is great that you limit how much screen time your son get. I’m just not sure how many parents limit time for their children.

Do You hear that…It is the sound of our jobs going over seas.

“Our schools are delivering an education that is preparing kids for the information age (the same jobs that are being outsourced)– the problem with that is we are currently transitioning to a new age…the age of conceptualization.”

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach stated the above quote on Niel Rochelle’s blog. I don’t think our schools are there yet. I think schools are not preparing students for the information age. Our schools are still preparing students for industry and in some cases a society still based on agriculture.

Ah…The age of conceptualization. I agree that our students need to be prepared to compete for jobs that have to do with conceptualization. Where on Bloom’s Taxonomy is conceptualization?  I have tried to teach teachers to use technology were they had to create a project that involved a great deal of conceptualizing.   Many teachers can’t do it.  Now I will try to be fair.  You can’t do a project that requires conceptualizing in just a 6 hour one shot professional development secession.  But many teachers that I deal with don’t want to put the mental energy to work that high on Bloom’s Taxonomy.  I guess I can’t blame them.  If I was in a classroom everyday and had to prepare students for high stakes testing and I had a day where I could refresh by learning things, how much effort would I put into it?

I have got to say the number one skill that students need in the 21st century is that ability to communicate.  And we don’t test for that.  I’ve got to say that we have worked with students in our entrepreneurial program.  Students completed, with the aid of a great teacher, a business plan that had to do with real businesses coming into our area.  Students had the opportunity to present to state senators and some real prominent people in our area.  The students had to explain their project.  I will take some blame for this for not knowing the students’ abilities, but the students could not do it.  They did not have the skills to communicate their projects, concepts and ideas.  I felt bad for them.  Communication is where we need to start.

OK…OK You Convinced Me

I am now a blogger. Will Richardson convinced me that I have enough to say. Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach said it could be easy and you don’t have to talk to the empty room for long.  And Kimberly Moritz convinced me that I will have enough time and that someone local can do it.

Why am I doing it?  Why have I chosen to blog?  I am a technology professional developer for teachers in 22 school districts and I would be a web 2.0 hypocrite if I did not use the tools that I urge teachers to use.  I am trying to be a model for the teachers that come to my workshops.

I have much to learn about being a blogger.  One of the things I am going to talk about in a future posting is about web 2.0 etiquette and unwritten rules.  Please stay tuned.