Monday, February 18, 2008

Becoming a 21st Century Literate Educator

This post by David Warlick is in answer to the question from a teacher - How do I get started with learning how to use technology? He lists 12 suggestions, including finding the tech support person at your school and making friends with them. Actually, he says bake them some cookies! Other ideas include finding other teachers who are interested in the same thing and working together, reading blogs and sharing information, and creating a wiki to share notes. Seeds of a learning community.

Another interesting post I read today was from Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach at 21st Century Collaborative on reflection as an agent of change. Having that time for reflection is so important, and teachers are "on" so much of the day, it's hard to find that time to think about how things are going, what direction to go from here, what went wrong and how to make it better. Sheryl's point is that collaboration really helps nurture that process. When we are in our own separate classrooms by ourselves, there is no one to reflect with. When we are engaged in collaborative projects, f2f or virtual, we have a posse to talk with, think with, reflect with. That makes life so much richer because we are learning as we go.

And Sheryl linked to a post by Jennifer Jones at Injenuity on Viral Professional Development. I think this is the direction we are going in adult education in California, away from the big workshop and towards supporting teachers at a site to work with each other to learn what they need to learn. Can you make this happen? If you have even one or two excited and enthusiastic early adopters, you can. If not? Maybe you have to wait until those people show up, and they will. Jennifer gives a really nice description of viral PD, and a list of steps to get it going.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Time and Attention

I listened to Merlin Mann's presentation at Mac World about how we manage the constant flow of information and interruptions, how overwhelming it is, and how to take steps to manage it so that we don't stay at work until 10 at night, or work for 8 hours on the weekend in order to catch up on email. This really resonated with me. I don't want work to take over my life, and his message was that if you keep doing the next thing that's in front of you instead of stepping back and making some decisions about what to focus on, you will never be caught up. I want to bring this to the next staff meeting and talk about maybe having a designated time when none of checks email or interrupts others, and we just focus on our highest priority tasks. It's hard to do, but if you don't keep trying to do it, you get buried by things that aren't the most important things, and then your life becomes about those things, because time is finite. We have to make conscious decisions about how we spend it.

Friday, February 15, 2008


Aviary is a whole suite of media editing tools - online and free. I have a new computer at home with Vista on it, and I was thinking I would need to buy PhotoShop Elements or something like that to edit my photos, but I got a free invite to the beta of and it's great! It's not PhotoShop, but I don't need anywhere near that level of complexity. I just want to resize, rotate, crop, adjust brightness, etc., and a.viary did everything pretty easily. Go there and sign up for an invite. They will send you three so you can spread them around. Be sure to look at some of their examples.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


Saw this on Twitter also, a site that searches Flickr and serves up the photos in a seemingly endless stream. I searched for the tag "eggplant," probably because I had some really delicious Thai eggplant the other night, and got a stream of photos that included the color eggplant and many plates of eggplant cooked various ways along with the vegetable itself, but what I nice way to find images. Here is my eggplant stream. I also tried egret, ballons, and henna. What would you look for, or what would your students want to see?

You can save your search results as a link, which could be handy. Let's say you're teaching about Presidents Day. You could get a stream of Lincoln photos and show them while you are introducing some information or an activity.

And just for fun, check out FlickrVision. Like TwitterVision, it shows you on a map of the world where photos are being uploaded, with a thumbnail of the photo that you can click on the make it larger. This is I guess a lesson in how small the world really is.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Just saw this on Twitter, a social bookmarking site just for educators. It might be a good way to introduce students to social bookmarking. Looks like the content is reviewed before being posted, as not all posters have 100% of their submissions published. It's a new service and needs support, so check it out and see if it would be useful for you.

The biggest drawback - it's K12. Why does everyone think only kids are learning to read and do math? I found an amazing site on Edutagger, ESL-Kids. Unfortunately, yet again it's designed for kids, but it's free and has a worksheet function that lets you pick a topic, generate a random word list or select your own, and then choose from 18 different worksheets. It's very low level, for example some worksheets are for tracing or copying the letters, but this could work for non-literate students and those from other alphabets. Musical instruments has a nice selection of words, and so does weather. Worth checking out for beginning low ESL.