Session 1: The Heroic Journey Project
Strand: 2009 Kicking It Up A Notch
URL: http://k12onlineconference.org/?p=447

Google Map at http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF&msa=0&msid=
110652178692085956286.00047cc4cf852f0cd28e0

I don't know if you can get to the Google Map i made as a mirroring in small of the work of the students in Hodgson's 6th grade class. As i made the map i ran into multiple problems so that i kept redoing the mapping and comments over and over, and in the process i see is was so intimidated by the process that i promoted Hodgson's students to the 7th grade helter-skelter in one of my points on the Google Map i entitled "Coming Home Again", the third title i tried with accompanying journeying from Ithaka off the west coast of Greece to Ithaca, NY, and the home of Cornell University, agricultural apple orchards and E.B. White hauntings. In trying to present my report in the Google Maps format i came to an enormous appreciation of the work and patience of Hodgson's students.

And this is something i run into over and over. What seems to be nifty and fascinating and playful and fine, a new tool for exploring and expressing and assessing learning, turns into a nightmare for me, and the hour toward a PLU in the Hodgson escapade of this conference/continuing ed course turned into three hours and the clock is still running for me. All these internet shazams are promoted as "just tools" for the real learning of education in the modern age....but at least to me they are not "just tools". Google Maps, for example, is not a pencil. I've had trouble with mechanical pencils, and with electric pencil sharpeners, but give me a wooden pencil of Thoreau design and a pocket knife, and i'm good to go. This is not the same, for me, with Google et al. I realize that it may be like that with my students, tho'. What strikes me as a difference is that the tool becomes a subject in itself, just as technology is now a curricular class, whereas pencils never were. Also, when i have taken internet or computer courses i have found that they seem to all have the same character: 1) things are presented quickly and as tho' they were obvious and really worked, 2) when things don't work then it is ha-ha and that's the way of technology, so shut down, reboot, or lets go see and play around...., and so, 3) the tool becomes the topic and is allowed to take the time of education, as tho' that taking time by the tool is worthwhile in itself, and as tho' that expenditure of time is a given of this new world of learning. This does not sound like just "a tool" to me, nor does the insistence of technology folks that technology is ONLY to enable the real work of learning in curricular instruction. It's rather seems like the fulfillment of Marshall McLuhan's old "The Medium IS the Message" prophecy. I know that's dire, so i'm glad to be instructed otherwise in these classes as in classes before and in our laptop school.

Still, i confess i'm frustrated by jumping into these activities, loving the Hodgson assign and imaging all sorts of things to do with this concept, and then trying to do my report in a Google Map sort of thing, and falling into the black hole of frustration -- i got something done, but not what i wanted. I wanted "monsters" with a picture of Finn and Molly at one point, and another of the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus, and so on, but the complications undid me and i collapsed into mere words, which kept disappearing! I know i am supposed to love exploring the wonders of all these new technologies, and gee whiz, and figure it out, and....but i really want to have time to read, and play with puppies, and talk theology and harp and music and weaving and poems and so on with Candy.....i don't want to spend my days "playing with" technology to see what it might do.

I never wanted to play with a pencil, either, i just wanted it to write something, which it did. Technology is NOT "just a tool", it's a devouring subject. A devouring subject is not a bad thing, as long as that is what you want, a wonderful curiosity, an endless love, a fractal fascination, like the ways of history, or of poetry, or of theology or Bible studies or puppies or whatever. But i do think it is important for technology studies to confess that a laptop is not a pencil, and technology is not "just a tool". Technology is a curricular subject, so it's not "just a tool", which is good to affirm. It is a subject which in cross-curricular studies changes every other subject, pulls it like another star into a double-orbit and shedding a new light and a new energy. Pencils, and other tools of previous learning, are different.

Ok, but i've got this assignment to get through. I trust that if you could get to the Google Maps site i created you got the basic summary points of the session. The supporting resources are the Google and Picassa sites, and the supporting documents for students to use these sites for their Hero's Journey, and the wonderful display of monsters to draw on.

Questions are above, altho' i'm most interested in further application of Hodgson's ideas to promote imagining Odyssey and Lightning Thief and such journeys to History topics, for which, see below. A question, however, is the choice of Hodgson for quick reference for the assignment of a cartoon version of The Odyssey for 6th grade students to read to get the gist, as it were, of the story. As with much digital learning this bothers me. First, of course, i wonder about the assignment of The Odyssey for a 6th grade class. Any decent translation is wildly beyond a 6th grade reading level, so what is the Literature Curriculum point? Apparently it is a) Hero's Journey, and b) technology. Unfortunately for Hodgson, it seems to me, the bare-bones cartoon story of Odysseus is a most dubious version of the Hero's Journey as outlined in Joseph Campbell or whatever model Hodgson is using. Homer is much more interesting, after all, than Campbell, or Hodgson. The assignment is an encourage to have a good time in technology and super heroes and so on. It has little reflection on the life of the hero that Homer demands. It's all cartoons. It's all virtual. And never-you-mind because we're off into Google land and.... Ugh!

What did i GAIN from the session in terms of my "own personal professional development?" What does the collapse of person into professional mean here? Sorry, but i find the question going begging. Anyway, the session is wonderful in lots of good ideas, in the introduction, so far unmastered, of Google Maps, and so on. Fine and hip-hooray, tho' with lots, as noted above, questions.

Now, THREE THINGS and then FOUR:
1) A recent request from the multicultural committee of parents and teachers asked for an assignment, where appropriate, for students to trace the varieties of their own backgrounds, their own heritage(s). A part of that assignment in U.S. History classes will be for students not just to write a brief essay but also to track a Google Map of their own "Coming to America".

2) Define and refine the notion of "hero" in the midst of the American Civil War by tracing the life, and death, of a soldier in the conflict on a Google Map and following Ken Burns' Civil War video. Is a "hero" one who dies "heroically", see Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and/or the news and more of Pat Tillman's decision to quit the NFL and to go to Iraq for his country.

3) Use the Google Map site to trace and comment on the Lewis & Clark expedition sent out by Jefferson. Use the Google Map site to drop down and see the life of the land now, and compare with descriptions from the reports of the the expedition in the early 1800's What has changed, and why?

4) Use the Google Map site to identify up close and personal the places of Lakeview and immediate surrounds in Gainesville. Go to local history sites to compare and contrast the use of land and the way of living with the way that we live now, and what comments students can make on the shape of the land and living here and now.


Session 2: Bridging History Using Web 2.0 Tools

Strand: Getting Started 2009
URL: http://k12onlineconference.org/?p=436

Jean Moore presents a 7th grade social studies unit on Asia with American connections through the Vietnam War with the assistance of media specialist, Robin Beaver.
The video presentation goes through a variety of Web 2.0 tools that Moore uses with her students, apparently with the support and assistance of Beaver. These tools begin in the presentation with a cartoon bit with Moore and Beaver as cartoon critters who return at the end -- this applications seems to me merely goofy, but fine, i guess. The transformation of Web 2.0 tools used in the curricular learning is defined as an "evolution", which adds another level of assumption to the fitness of this method of instruction in ongoing conglameration of collaboration with technology teaching.

One phrase which struck me in the Moore presentation was that the internet provided "unlimited access" to information which is, of course, preposterous. That the internet connection should be considered some omniscient as well as omnivorous "unlimited access" is a lie that needs to be undone in any and every class with internet access. Moore claims with Beaver expertise a clear back and forth in time and place of question and feedback, of "unlimited access", which is not fully realized or critically realized in the program.

Moore's push into a Webquest on Red Scarf is a neat move, and it is interesting how she, keen on internet connections, dismays solitary making Power Point, and pushes instead for Glogster, which is much the rage currently in upper school Lakeview. Moore goes on with arranging interviews real-time with the Vietnam vet and insists that this is much more "real" than any e-mail connection could be. I don't agree with this, but i know it is the prejudice of much new tech assumptions, even while the best of the lot huddle about the solitary screen and make up new worlds and connections in the old world for us all to go dance to.

The push of Moore to Glogster as so much better in its collage format than the ordinary Power Point is interesting. It's not so much "better" as it is a generic move from an individual presentation to a collage, which is "better" in the internet and Web 2.0 prejudice as learning in a collaborative rather than individual way of learning, and of expressing and producing an assessment of learning. The PPt way is admittedly dreary, which suggests to me that the Microsoft Power Point format of digital and computer in its infancy is a poor substitute for individual or even group projects worked on and presented. The Web 2.0 suggests that Glogster and other tools are ever so much more exciting, which they are, and productive, which they might be, and excellent in the 21st century of learning -- which i doubt, for "excellence" is like bread cast upon the water, and what will come back perhaps may be even more "excellence" and it may be the Kraken and it may be merely a century of red tide and infection.

Questions, i trust, are obvious. And what did i gain in terms of "personal professional development"? Well, once again a gulp and gasp. As to personal development, this session is bubbling with suggestions and the confession of cooperation with the tech person, Beaver, but the whole presentation was conducted by Moore, the teacher. Still, it seemed like the program presented was driven more by the technology possibilities than by a fully coherent curricular unit of Moore. The "personal" in this for me is that the push and pull and promotion to technology in the classroom is subliminal and yet utterly necessary, suggesting something of an H.G. Wells "Time Machine" story of the sweet teachers as Eloi and the technology folks manipulating learning in an omnivorous way, the Morlocks. That's ridiculous, of course, but the lack of definition in this session opens up channels of drift into these dangerous rapids and whirlpools.

As to professional development there is for sure the encourage for a bunch of Web 2,0 tools for daily and unit construction of lessons. Glogster is the most likely of these tools to use, although the connection via Skype and Blogs are also keenly explored. The bundling of these "tools" is too enthusiastic a recommend for me. I've seen several examples of Glogster, for example, and have talked with students doing this for other classes, and the thinking seems to remain remarkably shallow, and the students are clear on this, altho' the products are all shown off as shazam and fine. I do not find students in the upper levels of high school really finding these tools as a significant way of learning and assessment. It seems instead that they are, in the upper school where i am, teacher playing with new internet tools and visiting upon students to play with and then feed back assessments that are primarily appropriate to, perhaps, 6th grade and below. I may be wrong in this, and that the products of a Glogster site and cartoon sites and such are most appropriate critical examples of excellent and creative learning, but that does not seem to me to be the case. I expect more critical thinking from my students in 11th and 12th grade History.

On the other hand, there are obvious applications of this session to my history classes in 11th and 12th grades. Students in Ethics can use Web 2.0 tools like Skype to speak directly with their congressional and state representatives to pose questions and learn about the prominent political issues of the day. They may use other tools to post their ideas and to register their opinions with their representatives. U.S. History students can develop Webquest searches on topics of central study in late 19th Century U.S. History for each other to explore and to review for further unit assessment in producing and commenting on a Glogster poster. AP U.S. History students can listen to webpods of U.S. History presentations of recent scholarship on topics of early 20th century U.S. History and concoct and present with explanatory notes for class review Glogster collage posters of key topics.


Session 3: LAN: Learning is Social

Strand: Leading the Change 2009
URL: http://k12onlineconference.org/?p=462

LAN, or Local Area Network, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Local_area_network , was adapted by the North Vancouver, BC, Canada, school system to introduce and promote the use of technology in education. The use of the LAN format gave teachers an experience of what they were learning about, that is, the social dimension of learning, through the use of a variety of online technologies. The program at North Vancouver took into account the social dimension of learning at every step. One evidence of the social dimension of learning came through the online Conference video where the presenter was listed as Bryan Hughes. Hughes was a younger and enthusiastic member of the planning team, but the video began with someone else, and although Hughes appeared a few times in the video, many other faces, voices, and viewpoints were given by other members of the planning team and the school system. One name and one presenter simply is not what the North Vancouver folks wanted to present. So, to start with, the sharing of presentation was a decision by the LAN group that demonstrated not just the strength of social education, but also the diversity and interest that is generated by social learning.

The steps of the program began with a group of people who wanted to do technology training for education, and the initial challenge was to embody in the program a social network of learning together in the school district and then in and with educators and technology experts around the world through tapping in to the K12 Conferences online and other online tools such as Skype. But how to get people interested and not only coming after school, but returning for subsequent sessions? Hughes explained that LAN was used as a local acronym to mean Learning at Night, but that the real trinity of the experience in his view was making connections, sharing ideas, and food! The emphasis on food as a kindness and generosity that opens up energies for learning together is one used in many other settings, but in the LAN program it was abundant and in different sessions themed for the time of year or the local occasion. People were invited to the first session in two ways -- first, an attractive and colorful Glogster invite was concocted and sent out, with enough mystery to entice people to come to the first session and see what was going on, and second, an individual personal contact was made to follow up on the Glogster invite, once again acting out that attention was being paid to the social dimensions of this learning event.

The format of the sessions was simple. First all gathered to watch a presentation from the K12 Conferences menu, and then a Skype connection had been set up with the presenter elsewhere in the world for a time of questions and interaction in live time, so the beginning was not a passive "taking it in" (or not), but rather offered a chance for immediate reaction and response. Then everyone ate together, a time to digest not only good food but also what had just been seen. Then everyone split into smaller groups for further discussion of the online presentations and local applications, possibilities, and questions. A scribe was appointed for each group to capture for later consideration the conversation. At the end before anyone left there was a final focus on how the next day could be different in class, a brain-storming session of ideas generated by the evening, and a forecast of the next session.

The success of the program has been monitored not so much by classroom visits, but rather by the enormous increase in teachers turning to blogs, to twitter, and to other internet ways of continuing the discussion, sharing ideas (and recipes from the meal), and posing questions. The emphasis throughout the LAN sessions was on generating ideas in conjunction with instructional goals, rather than on technology itself -- it was the using and enabling that mattered. But there in that learning and generating ideas and sharing ideas the social dimension became the fulcrum of learning, learning not the same thing together, but learning to network with one another and beyond for ongoing learning.

The LAN presentation did not follow the teachers into the classroom, for that wasn't really the point of the presentation. What would be interesting, however, would be to see how the energy and possibilities generated in the LAN program affected and changed the way learning was imagined to occur in the classroom. Collaborative learning is energizing, especially for some students, though distracting for others -- but this way of learning can itself be learned, as the LAN sessions demonstrate. This runs in the face of individual testing, at least as it is done at Lakeview. Reconciling these two very different ways of assessing learning, collaborative and ongoing questions vs. individual testing of what you already "know", whether that be content or skills, will be a challenge. Understanding through experience how collaborative learning occurs may open the door for some reconciliation of education and testing.
The circumstances of students in the classroom are, of course, quite different from the teachers attending LAN sessions. A start in closing that divide might be to provide refreshments in every classroom and an espresso machine. Just a thought....

One of the things that i got from the session was looking at more closely and critically my inbred introverted shyness. Some of that worked throughout my school career to my benefit in focusing on things of great fascination to learn and investigate further on my own. I usually could not actively take part in a seminar with any enthusiasm, for i needed to go back and consider what i'd heard from others. One of the fine things about the LAN program is the upfront content and Skyping, and then the dinner time to begin to digest before coming back to discuss with others. I like having that time. But also, i think, the LAN folks paid thoughtful attention to how to open up the social dimensions of the program, and in that way engaged in some quiet teaching of how to do this kind of learning. Teaching how to learn this way, how to think and explore and evaluate new ideas and situations this way, is one of the tasks that it seems to me a workshop for me or a classroom for my students needs to address. The North Vancouver approach made that clear over and over, and it's something i want to learn and become more comfortable with for myself and for my students.

As to Three Ideas that apply the LAN presentation, the first for me was actually looking backward to this summer's Lakeview Technology Workshop. There were elements of the LAN model, although scrunched up into a couple of days which made processing and conversational time hard to do. Having the sessions recorded and available on the wiki for the workshop was good, with other resources to go to for each session as well. The model for our workshop seemed to be the K12 Conferences Online, drawing people from different school systems who might well not work together again, although tools were presented to stay in touch and collaborate long distance. Although everyone was friendly and the ideas were good, attention to the social dimension of the workshop was considerably less than the LAN model. The Lakeview model was like other conferences, like the Georgia Social Studies or the National Council of Social Studies conferences with lots of handouts, workshops back to back, and then, well, it's done and you go home. The LAN model had more social connection from the beginning and seemed to have more follow-up. There is room for all sorts of conferences and workshops, but an attention to the social dimensions of learning within the workshop might be a good idea for the future.

A second idea, or question, is how to apply the LAN format to a much smaller grouping, i.e., the History Department at Lakeview. We have monthly scheduled departmental meetings before school when, often enough, one or more of our small group forgot, comes late, or whatever. They are not terribly fruitful nor do we look forward to them. We have some things we are sharing and talking about in terms of curriculum changes and so on, but they stay a bit foggy early in the morning with a meeting time, at most, of 45 minutes, and then off our separate ways into the hoopla of the day with little time to think, consider, reconsider, etc. Perhaps we could try the LAN format for our departmental meetings, at least occasionally. There are plenty of History video conferences available that we could tap into. Content like that is not the problem. More important is to make our meetings a social occasion, and to think of the social dimension of our working together, learning together, questioning each other, generating and evaluating ideas, to think of the social dimension as an important profession goal to explore and to enact further in our classrooms. As a department we could also adopt the communication tools, like twitter, to continue to share ideas. It seems silly to say that, since we're all in the same building. We don't even have to go outside to see each other. Still, that space and time of school is crowded with other demands and voices that interrupt the sharing of departmental questions and ideas.

Finally, i want to try the LAN approach this spring, i hope, at least once before the AP U.S. History exam. Getting AP students together outside of regular class time is very difficult, at least for the full class. The LAN approach could begin with conversations with key parents and the administration to set up a social occasion of review for my AP students. Another resource for promoting the occasion could be last year's AP U.S. History students who could come, give tips, share pizza, develop new questions and strategies with the current students. Ongoing prods and questions could be encouraged with setting up a wiki or blog for the class with individual pages for study groups. I would also look to the students themselves for further ideas on the ongoing social dimension of preparing for the AP exam. If this mini-LAN works at all, then i would like to adopt it for the year with the AP U.S. History students for next year, beginning with a late summer kick-off.



Session 4: Remixing History: The Cigar Box Project

Strand: Kicking It Up a Notch 2009
URL: http://k12onlineconference.org/?p=459

This is one of those great learning presentations, fabulous projects, brilliant ideas that leave me depressed, but i'll get over it. What i mean is that the coherence of the project is wonderful, so perhaps i should describe that first. The basic project came off of an exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Civilization put together by the curator, Sheldon Posen, on an interpretive display of old cigar boxes and their panels of art, expressing the ideas, worries, prejudices, and pride of the times. The first year the project with 7th graders in the Calgary Science School in Canada introduced cigar boxes through the Canadian Museum of Civilization exhibit and through online tours at http://www.civilization.ca/cmc/exhibitions/tresors/cigares/cigarbox001e.shtml . Elements of history, images, collage, propaganda, critical reading, research, organizational skills, graphic design, documentary movie making, and physical construction of a wooden box were some of the many parts of the year-long project. A full description of the project step-by-step with links further can be found on the blog of Calgary teacher, Neil Stephenson, at http://thinkinginmind.blogspot.com/search/label/cigarbox , with vivid examples of student work and videos of students at work.

The "Remixing History" concept has more than one dimension. First, the dull study of history is suddenly mixed up with cigars and cigar boxes and very quirky collages of images where everything is thought out, yet different, inviting critical attention, which the project provides. Second, the first mix-up then leads to further examples of historical periods, events, recollection, and identity in terms of images that can be manipulated and transformed for a purpose yet to be determined -- propaganda for nations, or sales for corporations, or school textbooks to school boards, parents, teachers, and students. Attention to images as historical evidence and ways of "telling history" is a fascinating turn in this project. In earlier times when fewer people could buy books or even read, images, like Paul Revere's engraving of "The Boston Massacre", had enormous influence in shaping a colonial and then national identity. The textbook i use for AP U.S. History, Nation of Nation by James Davidson, et al, with Jim a college roommate from long ago and an ongoing friend and good historian, has just received its new "Concise" incarnation in a slick two-volume edition with a mass of images and covers that look like People Magazine. Jim was part of the movement in U.S. History to return to narrative history instead of dry and dull (tho' often insightful and revelatory) history trying to be science. It is interesting that his part in the return to narrative history has taken a turn in the textbook industry toward the graphic novel, tho' Nation of Nations is not there yet. But that's an aside out of my own reading and friendships and classes. The power of images to portray and provoke a response to an event, a story, is clear, but not much used in history studies in the past. The turn to teaching by images is a powerful notion and one that Stephenson picks up and runs with, for images are so available on the internet. To teach images, however, means to teach criticism of images, awareness of bias, of manipulation, and so on, which is much part of the project -- and students themselves take part in manipulating and collaging images to make their own points, present their own interpretations of key events in Canadian history. What's interesting especially here is that the project asks students to write their interpretive framework and bias and point, make a movie of it, and so on. An image alone, or even the Rubik's cube of a cigar box of images, is not sufficient, for images are ever mute, like Lavinia, the daughter of Titus Andronicus. Images without a word can work great harm, for they lack the personal voice. An image is not personal, although it is taken in and felt as personal, with every puff of the cigar, or wearing the same sneakers or socks or whatever as the hottest current star, local or international in images. Manipulating images is even more powerful and more dangerous. That students can take part in that choice and manipulation to make their own statements may help them recognize the manipulations and messages snuckered in through images that are going on all around them. Building in lots of peer review along the way is a good means of honing student awareness of what's going on in images and their presentations.

Third, another mix-up is mixing 7th grade students with the curator of the Canadian Museum of Civilizations via Skype in real-time reviews from his perspective of the student work on cigar box images. A sweet moment showed on the video was where he said that a student's image sent him looking to find out about the history of Martin Frobisher which he hadn't known before -- through images the student became a teacher to the curator of a major museum! Students also got to work with primary source documents in an archival setting, learning not just whatever they found in the documents, but also learning respect and care for archival materials, for the faintest whispers of the past.

The project mix-ups further one school with another, and Stephenson in this presentation with all of us, and an invite to further sharing of stories, images, educational practices and possibilities on his blog, an ongoing dosey-do. His commitment to "Inquiry Based Learning" is something i've followed out further from his blog, and tho' there are more and more things that can relate to my classroom, there are things like his post on "The Long Tail" that are significant for planning continuing education opportunities, or more importantly, assessing professional learning, and student learning as well. The Long Tail concept is one that applies immediately to students -- and for schools that are required to be assessed in terms of end of year testing, or for schools that worry, like Lakeview, about regional annual reports in Atlanta and other magazines based on their own choice of significant items and assigning grades, and who actually DOES this anyway?, weird! -- but it can make schools and school boards and administrators and parents crazy, when The Long Tail view suggests something strikingly different in our students over the long term, and teachers, too. The most significant index of an excellent school may well be not SAT or AP scores, nor college admissions, but rather long term patterns of Alumni giving and alumni news, the ways in which alumni, whatever their monetary success, still want to be identified and in touch with the school. Now i know all that sounds utterly off and away from the project, but it's not. For "The Long Tail" concept is something that Stephenson, it seems to me, draws on in the patience of a long term project, and in a project to explore and affirm the long tail, the long tale, the long time telling in many different voices of the story of Canada, and students finding the significance of their own voices in that project of being Canadian. After all, once again, the curator of a project on Canadian Civilizations through cigar boxes had to go research further to learn the story imagined and imaged in a rich context on a cigar panel of a 7th grade student.

I love this project! And i love the making of the boxes in a "shop project", which, alas, is not available at Lakeview. I both dreaded and loved "shop" classes when i was in middle school, but it got me onto Popular Mechanics and endless days of fascinating stories to imagine and make -- shop and Popular Mechanics was my MacGyver and A-Team, making anything in a moment with a bit of duct tape and..... My own shop projects never worked out quite like that. A rocking horse for my sister, 11 years younger than me, never, well, rocked, and in smoothing and trimming the rockers down and down, it ended up as a horse on peg-legs installed in a sturdy block of a base. That students made their own cigar boxes, and had the means to do so, was a great part of the project. And i loved Stephenson's making so many steps in the project that the students who excelled in art had their day, and those who excelled in reading and wondering in words had theirs, and those good with their hands, or good in interviews and conversation, or, well, on and on, a place for everyone to excel, and a celebration at the end for the work of it all.

How might i use this model? First off, cigar boxes seem, at least for me, too complicated. But over Christmas Candy and i went to a pottery & more place where they had bunches of old signs, advertisements, and so on. Those images were like the cigar box ones, tho' less elaborated, but they could be a place to start. So, after all, could state and national flags, or better yet, state crests for U.S. History. Or even, for example, to scan the websites of states or cities, including our own Gainesville, and see what comes up -- what "cigar box" panel to the makers of the website choose to show to pull people in to read further? More immediate still, of course, would be to do a similar critique of the Lakeview website and its carousel of opening pictures. All that would be just exercise into attention to images and their odd bunching, collaging, making sense in odd and shifting ways. How to critique that? The cigar box idea is a fine medium that happened along with a rich historical and available background through the exhibit online at the Canadian Museum of Civilizations. There are similar exhibits locally and in Atlanta which, although funds for field trips have dried up, virtual tours could be arranged, and local curators could come to campus. My younger daughter trained as a curator and i've always loved the notion of a museum, from the old Cabinets of Curiosity on. Making a collection, gathered virtually, of images, and then interpretive and critical tales of U.S. History, and to offer those for display is something that i love the idea of. It's hard to find time for that in an AP class, which is what i hate about AP classes, but so it goes. But there are other classes, too, in U.S. History, poetry, ethics, world religions and more. What is needed is a cauldron to contain the project, what came easily to Stephenson from elsewhere, the cigar box. Images scatter and expand wildly and crazily, which is why there are so much fun and so powerful and so dangerous. The task to apply the project presented locally is to find a suitable container, small enuf and various enuf, like the several panels on a cigar box, for not just one view, one statement in images, one version to explore and explain, but also not some infinite expansion and break-dance beneath a flickering strobe light capturing everything in a quick and separate moment, a broken mosaic.

In terms of my "personal professional development", well, the blog is a fine thing and i'm exploring further in the links that Stephenson gives in the Cigar Box tab and then further on Inquiry Based Learning, and other stuff, too. If nothing else the Stephenson connection is one i'll be going back to for good considers and possibilities.

Now three applications.

First, in a scaled down version of the project i will be asking my U.S. History students to list 10 of the most important persons or events they can think of in the two decades of their existence. And then in previous decades in bunches. Then i'll ask them to go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postage_stamps_and_postal_history_of_the_United_States and follow the links for the various decades to see what the U.S. Postal Service decided to feature in annual commemorative stamp issues. Different students will be assigned to research and follow out different decades of commemorative stamps. Finally, i'll ask them to identify, explain, and design a stamp to commemorate a person or thing or event NOT yet commemorated in postal history.

Second, i want to assign and connect students with the local history museum, and get a speaker from the museum to come talk to students about the resources for history they have locally. I especially want to get a curator from the museum to bring local artifacts to talk about local history.

Third, i want to get on Stephenson's blog and become part of the conversation there to bring back to Lakeview over the Long Tail time.



Session 5: Nurturing the 21st Century History Teacher

Strand: Week in the Classroom 2009
URL: http://k12onlineconference.org/?p=512

This presentation began with a duo of images, one of a Zen pile of stones, delicately balanced, and the other of a Scrabble scatter of tiles spelling out the notions presented by Tom Daccord in the video. Here's a first take on the point, tho' very diminished, of the presentation in a ToonDoo at http://www.toondoo.com/cartoon/1332359 . The cartoon is utterly minimalist to the pointillism of nonsense, but hope the cartoon captures at least one dimension of the presentation, i.e., the move from the front of the room in the incarnation of history only in the teacher to the turn to the differing voices of students in conversation. I would have liked to have embedded the cartoon directly into the wiki but couldn't figure or find out how, but the link address seems to work when copied and pasted into a browser window.

I loved the presentation, hooked by the Zen tottering but balanced and quite stones for a beginning, then tumbling like a throw of the letter cubes in Boggle or a draw of tiles in Scrabble to a fantasia of meaning out of chaos, the wonder of the abundance and so on. I also like and have used the National Council of Social Studies site and am now joining the Community Network that Daccord set up. I loved the data Daccord presented that the most important influence in history teacher pedagogy and in history teacher content was the company and suggestions and mentoring and modeling of other colleagues, close at hand or around the world, and ergo the Community Network. I've found the same to be true myself mostly in online serendipitous meetings of suggested resources or ideas of new learning strategies, content, and dynamics.

I dislike the drive for test authenticated learning, from the AP tests down, and it's not much fun in classes to have that hobgoblin conjured up not for educational but for political reasons over the past decade or so. Happily students are mostly unaware of this test-driven co-option of their high school learning. That is, perhaps, a minor corner of the presentation, but i was encouraged that it was taken into account.

What i took out of the presentation most was the early reporting on how 2005 saw the tipping point (a Gladwell trope now perhaps too easily employed) of college students doing more reading online than in physical books, and thus the message that teaching students now requires teaching how to use online reading skills, not instead of but in addition to hard copy more traditional reading skills. Another key question and concept in this transformation for making history is multi-media, not just print, literacy is essential. But even beyond these different media, the central point is a shift in the authority of making sense out of studies and interpretative skills. The History field has been in a turmoil for over a century on what is the real value of "History" and history studies. This is not a new turmoil for historians and the teachers of history at any grade level. The transformation of History to Social Studies is an old attempt to root historical studies in some scientific basis, "social science", with its own standards of meaning and legitimate application, which sometimes have varied from that of old time history. These confusions continue in the recent rise of "narrative history", and other specialized view and angles on historical studies and historical meaning.

I'm glad to find the company of others in navigating the new wild and white water currents of historical studies. And like a bunch of people on a raft shooting the rapids of a Colorado River adventure, so teachers are with students in the new navigation of the white waters of history, all in the same boat.

The Daccord websites posted i've gone through and like each and every one. I much liked and wandered around in the Student News Action Network at http://www.studentnewsaction.net/ , which i am going to begin using this week in my senior Ethics seminar. We've looked to news agency and Rushworth Kidder's Global Ethics weekly newsletter -- but this is much better and more various, and also more passionate, which may be one of the great virtues, such immediate energy, and also one of the dangers of student directed learning. I like that Daccord in his projects has included teachers as referees and monitors and mentors of student directed sites, tho' i'd be interested in a rubric for this in general, that is, how does the teacher assume the role of deciding accuracy and lack of bias? And is the assumption here that students are more susceptible to bias, what kind?, than teachers are?

I loved exploring the Day in the Life of a Hobo, and especially how that was expanded in the media of the day, i.e., radio. I missed a similarly deep exploration of documentary photography and critiquing that out of the days of the Depression, altho' there was a bit of that. And also of the tales of James Agee and Dos Passos and other writers. The whole project, tho', sent me looking at further sources of tales, journalism, photos, and radio of the Depression era. The Library of Congress has opened up and promoted more and more of their amazing resources which i've already begun to use with students in the classroom.

The real challenge of the presentation, tho', is the answer to what "nurtures" the 21st century History teacher. And the answer isn't technology per se or any other professional workshop or connection. The answer is the collaborative way of making sense of history in the past and in the present through internet social networking of student learning. That is, the answer is to give up the claim of authority and professionalism and so on, and to return to the old Socratic and Thoreau work of learning in company in loving your students and in the wonderings and workings of their voices and questions and collaborations with you and others all about.

It's hard to make this clear -- but perhaps one way to indicate it is the annual identification of a school's "Star Student", i.e., the one with the top SAT score, and then that student names her/his "Star Teacher", and then off they go to a round of dinner and nonsense. This whole pattern is nonsensical, of course, in the view of the presentation here and in several other presentations in the K12 Conference. The turn to student wondering and collaborative learning is not entirely new, tho' it is revolutionary more and more. What interests me most is how these ways of learning that were promoted in previous centuries and previous decades, are suddenly all new thanks to the new technology. I do understand that some, from Marshall McLuhan and Woody Allen's "Annie Hall" on -- and yet it seems that the clout of this new approach is delivered by the corporate and then educational investment in internet technology, i.e., buying into the technology, tn the media, then demands a new approach to use that costly technology to learn whatever is determined useful to learn, in the technology and in the state and national agendas. Required classroom attendance for young people became important with an influx of immigrants into the big cities, a way of indoctrination and social control. The new requirements of online savvy and making your own news and so on may also be used for indoctrination and social control. I'd like to hear that issue addressed more clearly in any of the K12 sessions i've joined so far.

In the meantime, tho', this site and session have been rich in suggestions. At the very least the session has sent me to join up on the NCSS Community Network and to find out what Ning is all about. The turn to do this revealed that my membership in NCSS has lapsed, which baffles me, so that is all in the works to check and renew, if necessary. The NCSS site, though, has already sent me to other sites of sharing ideas in Social Studies.

As to how i will apply this session to my own "professional situation", a wonderfully hilarious phrase, well? First, the NCSS hook up and sharing that with my colleagues in Social Studies at Lakeview, and encouraging sharing round and about and dosey-do. We've already done some of this, but this will surely provoke more. A second application is to introduce and utilize the ongoing "Student News Action Network" with my Ethics class. A third application will be to set up an open wiki for AP U.S. History students for 2010-2011 to contribute to out of summer reading and summer questions to kick-start their own wonderings, posing questions, and making sense into the opening of a year of AP study.

Lots of really good stuff in this session which i'm following up in a variety of ways, and one of those ways is giving over the work of curiosity and exploration to my students in Ethics and in AP and U.S. History. The company opened up in the NCSS and other Daccord websites is an ongoing "good thing" and cheer from this session. It is one of the sessions from the K12 Online Conference 2009 that i have recommend and have urged my colleagues in Social Studies to go see. I love it that all these resources for just beginning new ideas are available immediate and free, the generosity of this new world of learning and research and making sense all from the start.


Session 6: Thriving in a Collaborative Web 2.0 Classroom: The “Great Debate” and “Student News Action Network”

Strand: Kicking It Up a Notch 2009
URL: http://k12onlineconference.org/?p=511

It's probably a bit of a cheat, but i was so taken by the previous, Session 5, presentation by Tom Daccord, that i wanted to spend more time following up on his other presentation which was some repetitive, but good nonetheless, and gave more specifics on his two collaborative assignments, "The Great Debate of 2008", and "The Student News Action Network". I enjoyed the review of his basic insists that there is a new literacy abroad in the land that is not solely print based and linear, but, while including print and linear thought, also plays around in images, interaction, social networking, and more. It is not enough, that is, to teach basic grammar so that an employee, or employer for that matter, can write a grammatical memo -- she also needs to be able to critically use audio, video, and networking and interactive tools of online communication to be effective and to enlist the ideas, critiques, and enthusiastic participation of others in the collaborative project that life has become. This is not, of course, just "technology" -- it is rather, i think, a lively actualization of ecology and an ecology of learning. One recoil from technology is the Green and ecological one at a primitive base, bumbling off of old sci-fi movies or "The Little Shop of Horrors". But technology is not necessarily disembodied in a skeletal digital code. It is also transforms an ecology of relationships, of connections, of resources, and of companions in learning, as well as lots of other things.

Daccord's description of young people and the new ways of learning is lovely and heady stuff. What i love most about it is that the essential notion he over and over proclaims is that education works best when there is interaction, fascination, exchange, wondering, love, and more. I love his saying that when he came to one of the schools involved in one of the projects presented he was met with some girls giggling, and he found out that the social networking of the project had provided boy friends as part of the local news! This is, of course, perfect, and an example of how Socratic/Platonic this way of education and learning is. It's not just "new" and "techie", it is rather restoring an ancient way of entering into the world with mentors and love and connection as the energy of any learning. What doesn't connect is not learned or remembered or cared for. Care is, then, another name for learning. There are many poems and more that i love that express this central observation and conviction. The Princeton philosopher, Harry Frankfurt, famous for his essay on the discouragement of "Bullshit", has another book of essays, "The Importance of What We Care About", which is a fine commentary on what education seeks to evoke. Teachers seek to conjure up, embody, entice and more an importance for students to discover in the subjects and the skills and the stories they teach -- be they skills in shop classes or on the basketball court or in slicing and dicing a biology specimen or a poem, or performing a poem or some other wonder.

Joe's Non-Netbook YouTube show,at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkhpmEZWuRQ , is an hilarious short video which i want to show to my history classes. Today i had a student come to a test and asked if he could not take the test today because he hadn't been able to find his book for the past two weeks. This was not an acceptable excuse today! But each of the students received a CD of the text that is much more interactive than the heavy book itself, and has many more resources and links to more resources online. That, too, the student had lost. Ah well. On the other hand, given Joe's expectation of texts in Net world don't fit my student's empty hands, but does suggest that the problem is more than a single irresponsible student. In teaching a value for the means of learning it may well be, as the presentation suggests, that heavy standard and "dead", non-interactive, textbooks are thoroughly losable. The absence of the text on the eve of a test is an indication of the basic dismay of a standard textbook for my student(s). More is going on here, of course, but Joe helped me see that the problem is not entirely my student and his lack of responsibility. Responsibility is not a disembodied value, but rather arises and lives in the midst of particular occasions, and this presentation suggests that what i might think of as a responsbility to a textbook is quite different in experience from my student's sense of responsibility to information and learning. Neither of us is "right" or "wrong", not what i'm suggesting here, but rather that my student is a clue that there may be a disconnect in responsibility to....what? The presentation by Daccord helps to identify the ways of disconnect, and ways of connections with students and colleagues and the discipline.

The video presentation goes through both of the projects that Daccord sponsored, and there's no reason to go through the details of those. They both emphasized student initiation, student to student teaching and learning, and opening up multi-media creativity possibilities for students to express their questions and their learning in different genres than just writing a five paragraph essay. Daccord was good in insisting that in some of the wiki postings that grammar mattered because grammar was a way of clarity to instruct and convince others, as students sought to do with their audience of other students.

Clearly students need to learn not only how to critique and construct a five paragraph essay, a critical essay, or a speech or memo. In my Ethics class today, for example, students came with tales out of reading reports online or, once, in a newspaper, but most arose out of video presentations, or video and writing presentation, in online news sources and TV.
We are taking time this week to pull up and look at the tales that arose out of reading a newspaper article online, and compare and contrast with the tale learned from video and TV news. How are they different? What different questions do the different genres encourage to raise, and fine ways to answer? Daccord's insistence that literacy now requires more dimensions is, i think, absolutely right.

I love the Daccord title, "Thriving....", which is different from the presentation before, "Nurturing" the poor History teacher.... but this one is about really thriving, vigorous and enthusiastic, in the classroom -- that is, it's not about the teacher, nurturing her or him, or ye olde me, along, but rather about the thriving classroom. I love that vocabulary -- not an "excellent" classroom or class, but a "thriving" one. Not a classroom where what happens seeks to fulfill the demands of "excellent" testing, but rather a classroom all spangled in wishing stars and energetic in flurries of wonders, thriving in flexing muscles, making up new things, asking new questions -- the sort of thing, after all, that an early John D. Rockefeller did (and i don't like him at all, a nasty fellow, but a fine model of thriving nonetheless), or a Helen Keller out of idiot darkness into words and writing and life and socialist activism, much more daring, after all, than J.D. Rockefeller. Anyway, to embrace this as our way of rollicking ahead in this new socialism, even anarchism, of knowing and learning.

Daccord emphasized how things in both of the projects took off in ways not assigned -- and then went back to research that when students are engaged they are willing to go beyond the assigned. Duh, yeah. Why the "research" footnote i have no idea. We all know that, after all, even in the most reactionary classroom. When i was in 8th grade U.S. History in an old school in NJ, way back in 1958, i was excited about the labor movement -- my father had given his life over to promoting cooperative ventures in the U.S. out in Missouri where he grew up on a farm, and then in international petroleum relations, short-circuiting for at least some nations the rapacious exploitation of big oil companies. And so, with such an upbringing i was fascinated researching and then writing a 50 page paper on labor unions in the U.S. from Reconstruction to the First World War. Nonsense, i know, but i loved it at the time, and other writings and research and reads handed on from inspiring teachers. It's the same now in different means of handing on the enthusiasm, sharing the wonder, teasing out a friend, a question, a frolic to ask and come back finding or not, and all-y, all-y in free. I love the freedom of collaborative learning and teaching.

I began my day today with a required gathering before school with upper school teachers to discuss a few chapters in the Wong's classic "The First Days of School" book, and was struck by the wild contrast between the chapters we were required to read and discuss, all about demanding this and that, a seating chart, a firm but friendly smile in a hand-shake to welcome to class, an insist on a proper way to come into the classroom, and respectfully sending students back out to come in again in a respectful way -- Aaargh! This is such a contrast to this Daccord session. The Wong view is distrust of students and trust in the disciplines of the teacher, tho' telling the teacher NOT to trust any lively feel of teaching from her or his own experience out of the bad old days of merely legendary, apprentice teaching. Nope, now we've got RESEARCH which the Wong book waves about like Teddy Roosevelt's "Big Stick". All this seems so small and sterile in the larger context of Daccord's presentations. And i know it is not one or the other, but in our laptop school Daccord seems much more responsible than the Wong book. We had, after all, a 20 minute or so discussion of different seating policies -- huh? I am determined to get myself and all my departmental colleagues up and wondering on the Ning that Daccord has set up on the NCSS site, and then for us to blather back and forth in our own meetings and Ning.

So much fascinating stuff in this session, tho' mostly just giving some elaboration on of the projects from the Session 5 video, including a promotion for the networking of teachers, too. The connections of further websites for this presentation are the same as for Session 5 above.

And so, to apply this to my "professional situation" (giggle)? First off, i do prefer this session to the previous one about "Nurturing" the History teacher. I love the turn around of "professional" development from helping the poor muddling teacher as teacher, like the Wong folks of being in charge, and students as kids needing someone to take charge, and instead, how to help the teacher as professional to give over to students the energies to make questions, to establish connections, to wonder and more in a variety of genres, to play with and make meaning and cackle it about and juggle over and about again, and see what happens. There is an entirely different model of "learning" and of "teaching" as well as of any notion of "truth" in all of this. It's fascinating to me in reflection today that at Lakeview with our vaunted laptop program that we are encouraged, as teachers, into this course and the exposure and wondering of Daccord, and on the same day we are driven into the Wong model of teaching and education as control. I loved today the Wong demand to be ever so present on the first day of school, to settle the poor idiot kid's fears, and to be at the door with smile, described hilariously as "firm but welcoming" -- a "firm" smile seems like that of the Joker as portrayed by Jack Nicholson in the Batman movie, a rigor mortis of a smile, deadly black shade.... Daccord is much more cheering and opening time with students and finding what is alive in learning now, not just in this distant satellite of Atlanta, but in connections around the world.

So, i didn't say what my first thing was. Sorry. Ok, my first application is, as i said, to get myself and my social studies colleagues onto the NCSS Network Ning. My second application is to show the "Joe Non-Network" YouTube video to my history classes and then to our next departmental meeting to talk about what history and the ways of history study and learning are. Third, i will ask my AP U.S. History students this year to begin to construct and add to a Ning on AP U.S. History to invite and cheer next year's AP U.S. History students to learn more and further and in collaboration with this year's students. Finally, or rather, not finally at all, i want to explore further the assumption and teaching in Daccord's presentation that Meaning arises out of a) Authentic Audience and b) Social Connection, which seems to me to be mostly a collapse of meaning into a repetition, not a distinction -- all meaning collapsed into a feeling and experience of social connection. That's ok, but i want to research and explore how much that is like prior historical authorization of meaning, and how it is different. I don't think Daccord helps much with this, for Meaning held up by two legs that are much the same, or so it seems to me, is dubiously secure at best.


Session 7: Bridging History Using Web 2.0 Tools

Strand: Getting Started 2009
URL: http://k12onlineconference.org/?p=436

Jean Moore, 7th grade teacher, and Robin Beaver, tech specialist, present their ongoing collaboration in two projects that Moore does with her class, one about the Chinese Revolution based on the book, Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution by Ji-li Jiang, and the other on "Project Vietnam". The video presentation begins with an odd animation segment which happily gives way quickly to interviews and examples of the projects. The animation, with an Asian flavor, is another example, i suppose, of other ways of Web 2.0 creativity, but it's a weak beginning.

Most of the video presentation goes through the two projects which is fairly standard in using primary sources found online and e-mails to a Vietnam veteran and so on. The whole point of the presentation is not the projects themselves, nor the collaboration of Moore and Beaver per se. Rather, the point of the presentation is the way in which both projects evolve from teacher directed to student directed projects and from linear to non-linear assessments with ever new Web 2.0 technologies from year to year. So, for example, in the first incarnation of the Red Scarf Girl project students were directed to find internet sources of information on the Cultural Revolution. Students found primary sources and learned how to critique those using a sheet provided by the National Archives. Students made a time line, and produced other static responses to the book, concluding with a Power Point presentation gathering primary sources, critiques, pictures, facts, and even music. As the technology evolved, so did the opportunities for students to take more initiative in a creative response to the initial assignment. The example of the change came with the introduction of Glogster to make a Glog of the Red Scarf Girl with creative design principles, text information collaged with images, embedded videos, music, pictures, and websites. Unlike the linear Power Point, the early technology for the project, the Glogster approach was much more open, much more creative, and much more interactive, inviting response and further conversation with peers and the teacher.

A similar shift occurred in Project Vietnam with, as an example, the e-mail back and forth with the Vietnam veteran being replaced by real-time online video interaction, questions and answers, using, in this project, a feature of Google. The immediate interaction, face to face and visible as well as audible, made the exchange much more fulfilling, funny, and poignant for the veteran and the students. Students in the face to face real-time interaction were called to take risks to speak up as well as to listen with immediate accuracy. The authentic of learning was immediately apparent, and something for the students to get ready for, learn a skill, before the interview, and to learn from the interview afterward. The real-time face-to-face interview demonstrated all of the elements of increasing value of education through the use of Web 2.0 technologies including engagement, higher levels of learning, collaboration, self-direction, and creativity.

The projects presented were not terribly exciting, nor was the presentation itself. But beyond all that relatively hum-drum presentation, the central point is an exciting and lively one to make and to get clear and to remember. That is, that no project is "done" and then set in stone. The teacher's plans are constantly open to change in collaborative work in the field, say in history about new documents released from closed archives, or new conceptual tools applied to interpret historical evidence, or so on, as well as ever-evolving capacities in technology, opening new ways for students to access and to play with, interpret, explore, exploit, expand and exhibit their understandings of historical events and their own lives. Web 2.0 capabilities change the ways of learning in the classroom from the lecture of the expert to a Platonic dialogue and an Aristotelian peripatetic stroll, a walk with Thoreau in the woods of Walden, a way in process and wondering about the ways of the yellow woods, two roads diverging, and does it make a difference? What's hilarious in this image that sprung up for me is that the image itself of the way is not really a "process" and open, non-linear way, but utterly linear still. I imagine instead that moment in C.S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe where the resurrected Aslan appears and plays with Susan and Lucy, and everywhere he leaps and bounds flowers spring up in glad response and blossom. That's much more like Web 2.0 tools that flower in the moment and along no particular "way", but rather springing here and there in the different voices of students different as Susan and Lucy. All the philosophical "ways" stumble apart into a new world making in the Web 2.0 way of asking and awaking the leaps and bounds, the tumbles and laughter, the curiosity and strange visions and dreams of students in the midst of interacting with a fuller experience of other times and places than a single textbook or a single teacher's voice, however passionate, can give.

In History especially opening the "making" of history to students is to invite students into the real work of historians. Students are then able, like the most professional of historians, to ask the questions, collage the information, make rich and elaborate stories in different genres that do not climax in a silencing crescendo, but rather play about central and even various themes like Bach's Goldberg Variations. That baroque richness and playfulness is open to students, and then to teachers, too!, in the Web 2.0 interactive invitational tools. What i love, tho', in this presentation is the clear emphasis that once you get some terrific openings for students to interact and "make history", that that's not "it". Rather, these tools, and ways of interacting, "making history" and more are always in transformation, in the discipline and work of historians and artefacts, and also in the tools of the internet that do not stagnate but keep changing and morphing into new tools, new ways of seeing and saying and listening and imagining. Cool!

It's funny to me how this somewhat fuddy-duddy presentation has at its heart a message and challenge that seems to me the most revolutionary and Web 2.0 of all the presentations i've examined so far -- that is, "getting it" isn't the point, but entering into the ongoing flow, never "gotten", and so no standardized test, but rather a utility belt like Batman's and a hat like Indiana Jones, for style if nothing else, that is the equipment necessary for learning now and new and on with students and with each other. How fine to come to students and learn with students in the style of Indiana Jones and Batman! And the wonderful thing is you never know what will happen -- like grandson Ciaran says, keen on Super Heroes but a bit shaky at almost three on the details, the super powers of Spiderman is to save spiders! And Wolverine controls the rain! The same sort of jolts and surprises and hilarities arise in historical studies all the time, and how fit and proper, and what fun to be able to learn like this with students and each other.

And this is such a contrast to the dreary looming "No Child Left Behind" blather with testing galore (rather than time to explore or learn or wonder with each other and teachers and parents, too). NCLB is a nonsense category of there being "ONE WAY" to "EXCELLENCE", which this whole Web 2.0 way of education blows apart. Even with Frost's "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood....." and then as tho' choosing one over the other mattered, the way to heaven, or college anyway (?!?), or the way to hell, is blown apart in Frost, too -- it's not the WAY nor the EXCELLENCE, it's the lively company, the back and forth, the adventure of asking that makes learning matter -- back with Socrates and so with us, too.

There are several further websites recommended on the site including the fulsome link to supporting documents, http://docs.google.com/View?id=df646bmx_93fv8nzfdk , and links to the school and Robin's site. I had the best time exploring the Gloster links, and i can see their use in history classes for sure. I was thinking of doing a Gloster for my reflection here, but that seemed too complicated, and i wanted the blathering wordy time that i like to wonder about in all of this. Still, i want to submit a Gloster as part of my response to this reflection, the third of my required three for the full credit of 2 PLU's. So, i'll be attaching that as and when i succeed in creating one tonight.

But on to my professional development out of the presentation. Well, obviously, that whatever i get out of any Web 2.0 session it is provisional, on the move, like migratory birds and butterflies and caribou, or perhaps like lemmings over the cliffs, who knows til you try and follow it. So, as Lakeview insists that "lifelong learning" is a goal for our students, so it is for us to not just "model" but really do, however fumbling, in the midst of our students. No lesson is set, everything is in process, just as historical studies suggest, along with Darwin's theories and more. I really did like the reverberations of this rather dull presentation with a heart of gold with other presentations more slick and full of good stuff, but not so clearly rejoicing in endless resurrections of any thought or skill, and the gifts of Web 2.0 to exemplify and enable and cheer that sense and way of learning and being alive with others.

As to applying this in at least three ways. First, i am going to Snowmanthe Gloster minimal production as a first step to inviting my students to use this way of making a Gestalt of many different ways of learning and thinking and imagining, and in particular to use at least once before the AP U.S. History test with my students there for different Glogs of key themes of U.S. History for review for the AP Exam. Second, I taught a seminar on World Religions in the fall, and will offer it again next year. This year i used some of the tools i learned in the summer workshop, tho' Lakeview continues to have, it seems, technical problems for the best and most interesting of possibilities, but we muddled along. I want to employ further Web 2.0 tools next year, and over the summer, to open the challenge of religious belief and religious variety to my students more and more, and to teach in the midst of that ways of courtesy and kindness and real mutual learning. Third, in my Ethics class this semester i will experiment with different ways of responding to ethical questions beyond the typical and old and solitary "Journal". A Glog will be one alternative, and perhaps pairing students to construct in a collaboration such a Glog on a central issue that has arisen to respond to. The criteria for the Glog will not be to hey bingo! get what is "right", but rather to offer the richest and most engaging Glog in diversity and depth of invitation to consider and respond to the topic.

Assessment will be based not only on effective Glog construction but also on responses to the Glogs of others. I can also imagine a Glogster challenge for Honor Code presentations and an Honor Code wiki/blog allowing students and teachers to ask and interact with Honor Council members and myself as HC advisor. The possibilities of moving from a good curricular idea, like an Asian study, to the current full blast Web 2.0 presentation is giddy and encouraging. What if Sunday sermons were Web 2.0 openings? I've a senior student who is also at my church who is keen on preaching, on priestly stuff, on Christian consider and care and more. He's wanting to do a sermon not just on "Youth Sunday", but on a regular Sunday, and has asked for my help. What fun! This is a Web 2.0 opportunity of collaboration, openness, on and on, without a touch of computer key, tho' not really, for to give this student the lessons set for the Sundays ahead i'm sending him the link to the Revised Common Lectionary that we use along with many others, hosted by the Vanderbilt Theological School. But anyway, just to say, once stepping into the Web 2.0 world, believing in this ethic of collaboration and exchange and creative flummox and fun (like i had with students in poems by Wallace Stevens today, great and giddy stuff!), then everything opens up that way to wonder and to ask and invite.

And so, Snowman Glog , which i mean to count as one of my three online tools in response to the course requirements.



Session 8: Options for Building Your Teacher Website and Why You Should

Strand: Getting Started 2009
URL: http://k12onlineconference.org/?p=479

This session from University of Kansas Tech and Ed professor Cyndi Danner-Kuhn explains the need for modern teachers in a digital age to build and maintain a teacher and/or classroom website. The reasons for spending time on a website is that, in time, it is more efficient for teaching and learning, provides more resources for student learning, and provides a connection with students and parents that is not available in more traditional non-digital modes of teaching and communication. Danner-Kuhn admits that at the beginning it takes more time to set up, but once set up it is easy to maintain and gives more teaching time and more support of student learning.

The presentation is given in nifty spinning of power-point type slides which she talks from. She consistently takes the point-of-view of the teacher in the classroom and insists that resources and ways of making a website require easy access, cheap or free platforms, time given to create and maintain websites, and being user-friendly not only for the teacher but for the student and the parent who will be using the website.

Her presentation continues to introduce a variety of online resources to construct and maintain a teacher website, beginning with the inbuilt Mac resources, and moving on to online websites for PC users. She goes through the strengths and weaknesses of each website from the easiest and most welcoming, even a way to have the site make a website for you, at education.weebly.com , to kopozer.net, which is rich in possibilities but not for the beginner. For each website introduced she gives two or three example teacher websites built on that website and notes the opportunities that each website provides, as well as the possible drawbacks, like the automatic music on webs.com .

Danner-Kuhn concludes her presentation with a consideration of why to make a website, what do you want to accomplish, as a way of beginning to figure how to organize a website. Organization is the key to making a website useful, and thinking through what you want to DO with a website is the central question for the beginning teacher making a website. She gives examples from existing websites but also reminds the beginner to BE REALISTIC about your own capabilities to make a website. Begin, that is, modestly. Employing Web 2.0 tools on a teacher website is terrific, but may not be where to begin. Linking student work to websites is a fine thing, but a teacher needs to be aware of confidentiality for students on a website open to the public. Ease of navigation is another key concern, for the website is meant to be a means of communication. Duplication of navigation buttons is an obvious suggestion, tho' many websites don't do that, and checking one's website with an outsider to check ease of navigation is a good thing to do.

Danner-Kuhn provides a wealth of further resources on her own website, http://cyndidannerkuhn.info . From there you can subscribe to her ongoing newsletter and link to an abundance of websites for further exploration of technology and education. The most interesting to me and immediate i found from the presentation was Danner-Kuhn recommendation of Wesley Fryer's Moving at the Speed of Creativity blog at http://www.speedofcreativity.org/ . Just today i spent a long time after school in an Academic Council meeting where the topic of textbooks and online textbooks and the rapidly expanding varieties of textbook company manipulations of the delivery of texts was a primary topic. Fryer addresses some of the newest thinking and possibilities in this on his current blog. Candy and i spent last Friday with a couple keen on the new Kindle and showing it off when we came over for dinner. But when we settled in afterward with coffee/tea, sitting on the floor and reading poems to one another the Kindle was left in another room, and we passed around actual books. The difference is in the genre of the moment, the meeting, the use and sharing and learning in reads. We're not much instructed in that -- or at least i've missed it if we have been. The emphasis is instead on internet and interactive and Web 2.0, all great stuff, but how do digital texts work differently from paper texts, and how to help students make the transition, and to make that transition ourselves, and to keep the best of books, too. The CD version of a U.S. History text i use includes a function to go find and highlight the answer to any textbook question, saving the student from having to read the chapter. That's not what i want in a digital text, a way to avoid reading or thinking, and instead a cheer to cut-and-paste for "the answer". That is, textbooks so far don't seem to be very good in promoting real Web 2.0 learning. My experience is small in this, tho', and perhaps there are more creative and authentic versions of digital textbooks out there. What i like is that Fryer brings up these questions and wonders about them with links and further conversations.

My questions and ideas on from the presentation include pursuing more of Fryer, and also trying to make my own website for a class using, from what i've seen so far in looking at the different websites Danner-Kuhn recommends, the simplest tool, education.weebly.com . What i also find useful in the presentation is the insistence to define what you would want to do with a website. That question pushes, website or not, to define what i would want as a teacher to share, provide, propose, etc., to my students and then to their parents, and to my colleagues in the school cross-curricular and around the world if anything gets really online. I love, that is, Danner-Kuhn posing that question without answering it, only giving examples and elaborating possibilities. This is good teacher-training, website or not. Suppose i've got no internet connection at all -- what do i want my students to have access to every day, and what do i want the parents of my students to have access to? In the past the obvious connection of a classroom and a parent was work sent home to post with magnets on the refrigerator. Instead with one of the websites the assignment and then the whole class of work was scanned in and posted on the website,

In terms of my own professional development, if i live that long, the presentation made a powerful encouragement to make a website for each of my classes. This is something that could be hosted on the Lakeview website, i think, but two classes i've had so far in making such a website have left me baffled and not pursuing it further. I want to try to compose a website for each of my classes for next fall, and try one for an elective class this semester. I've done a pageflake for my AP U.S. History class for the past two summers, but neither of these sites have been actively used by most of my students, and the transformation of pageflake into another buy-out hasn't helped my confidence in these free website tools. But i do want to try this again now, and then into the summer.

As to three applications of the session -- the first is what i just said, i.e., making up a website for one class this semester, and then, assuming that works well, or even if not well, works curiously and interestingly, then to make websites for each of my classes for next fall semester, and use them with each class. A second application is to take time to talk with my students, and even with their parents, about what would be useful and interesting for them on a class website, or even if the internet collapsed, what is it they would most like to have available for information and then further for interaction with me and each other for learning. A third application is to introduce my AP students to the education.weebly.com website and work with them in making individual and group websites for AP study and review, gathering resources, web links to AP review and practice, and to build these websites for themselves this year to get ready for the AP exam, and to show and recommend these class websites to students signed up for AP study for next fall.



Session 9:

Whither ePortfolios

Strand: Getting Started 2009
URL: http://k12onlineconference.org/?p=526

At an Academic Council meeting just this week, a gathering of upper school department chairs and other mugwumps of distinction a discussion of final exams for Lakeview students and how much they count and alternatives of projects and so on was a fascinating time, tho' scattered with quick comments and little follow-up time -- no time as so often for real discussion and learning together from each other. One comment was a chance one as the topic of portfolios came up as an alternative to final exams about having doubts about, wondering about portfolios, and then in pinball fashion we ricocheted onward. That comment sent me to Drew Buddie's presentation of ePortfolios, just to see what might be possibilities and problems to consider for my own classes, especially upper level electives. Since i am personally and educationally antediluvian i've had no experience as a student, all the way through graduate school, of the portfolio option.

My first delight was in Buddie's (did he make that last name up for teaching purposes?), a) British accent, and b) scribbled and scrambled presentation which worked just fine. I immediately identified with his confession of abominable penmanship, just as mine, and the consequent reluctance of teachers to display Buddie's work, or to even read mine. This set the tone and value for the whole presentation. It was a chip on the shoulder presentation, but also a generous urgency of opening up ways of showing off one's work and self for students who might be otherwise ignored or discouraged, and to open up as well new avenues for traditionally fine and terrific students.

Buddie's ambition in the presentation then turned to ways of giving students the opportunity to show themselves off, but even more, to give students authority over their own work. The point is ownership of one's own work, but that ownership is not a thing that is crabbed and grasping and self-regarding anxious, but rather is a kind of authority to share in the name of the student and for the purposes of the student. As i heard this over and about in different ways in Buddie's presentation i took it more and more to heart. He built up slowly and genuinely with wonderful examples to challenge the teacher as the owner of the student's learning. That also raises the question of what "learning" in terms of assessed products is, and who "owns" those products. Buddie's presentation is a wonderfully subversive and democratic thing, and that i'm writing about this on the day reporting the death of Howard Zinn, a great promoter of undermining authorities and freeing expression and telling stories new in history and in every way, well, it somehow feels to me like this whole episode of my wiki reports here is dedicated to Zinn, and i figure Buddie might be pleased. But if not, i am.

Buddie presents a variety of internet programs that provide students with platforms of demonstrating their learning and risking authentic assessment from not only their peers and teachers, but from others "out there" in the world. Buddie tells the story of a student who worked with the Aviary program for a project on tattoo's, and then got feedback from one of the founders of the Aviary program cheering the student and pushing to better work using the Aviary program and others.

Buddie suggests different online programs, with examples from his students, that can provide ways of student demonstration of their learning and creativity, and insists that ePortfolios can mean different things to different people, whether students or teachers or parents or peers or the outside world. He is careful to insist on confidentiality for students posting work on the internet. The internet is potentially dangerous for students, but it also is an open door, if carefully instructed and used, for students to get authentic assessment and further teaching from real-world experts.

I also loved the way that Buddie used examples of his own work, and his own children, to emphasize the personal power of the ePortfolio possibilities.

But, of course, the big question that Buddie raises is, What IS an ePortfolio, what qualifies in any educational setting, and for what purposes? Buddie is terrific here by suggesting this and that along the way of his tour of examples and programs, but then turns to reference and introduce educational work on ePortfolios as superb educational tools for the freedom and creativity of students. He references Dr. Helen Barrett, an expert on ePortfolios, and Andrew Churches' tying ePortfolios to his adaptation of Bloom's Taxonomy to a Digital Taxonomy, a fascinating reconfiguration of the infamous Bloom.

Toward the end Buddie insisted that an ePortfolio is much more than merely a "place" to deposit student work. Students get to choose what they want seen, and by whom, some things can be seen by the teacher, some by teacher and parent, and so on -- the central thing is that the students get first to offer what THEY consider is their BEST work, and to show it to whom they choose. Students begin as creators and then are also critiques of their own work, but in this whole process are the authorities over their own work.

Buddie concludes with a review of his own teaching of eCompetancies for students graduating from secondary schools. It's a fine list with explanations, tho' i wish Buddie had had more time to expand these points, from Managing to Judgment, but happily i'm onto his further online discussions and presence, as well as to those of Barrett and Churches and more. A referencing to Buddie's online presence are through the k12online.ning.com/profile/DrewBuddie website and on Buddie's own digitalmaverick site and Twitter.

Buddie is my favorite so far of the presentations because he is insistent in the midst of technology he's not quite able to make work for the fancy k12 conference on the power of the student, and that granting such power is the engine of learning for the student. He's a very political fellow in his teaching and his presentation. I like that energy in considering and working with the internet and education.

Key supporting resources/sites, like those of Barrett and Churches, offer up not only the adaptation of earlier sorts of educational models transmogrified by the Web 2.0 world, but also give examples and then links to further examples and ideas, including ongoing blogs or twitters like Buddie's. As with nearly any of these presentations, following out all of the links and resources is like falling down the rabbit hole in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, with the added vertigo of falling down multiple holes, a great adventure of endless transformations, and also the possibility of imploding in the depths of a black hole. This is, of course, one of the dangers of the new ways of communication and education and everything else, that is, far too many choices. Running hither and yon to "try them all" is a recipe for disaster and overload, or so it seems to me. That is why a course like this or conferences like K12 Conferences Online or, to fall back on the old technology, talking with experienced friends, is valuable and an anchor in a storm of new notions, proclamations, and dizzying and swirling archetypes, self-proclaimed paradigm shifts, and in general the rapid expansion of new digital and networked gospels of revelation and transformation, dubious as Yeti's or Yeats' "rough beast" slouching toward a new Bethlehem to be born.

My questions about Buddie's presentation scatter around the edges of the wonderful examples he gives of student work, and then of his own. He seems to me some shy in claiming a valid ePortfolio authentic assessment for his students, but that is perhaps a misapprehended British shyness, and the downplayed is the most demanding of all. One oddity of the presentation was in making the shifts between the styles of English and American education and evaluation of learning. As with listening to the Beatles for the first time, or watching for the umpteenth time Monty Python's "Dead Parrot" and "Ministry of Silly Walks" sketches, or even the actual Frost-Nixon interviews, the British perspective is both more liberating than much of American music, humor, reportage, and education, and more individual. It blows away much of our self-congratulating notions of ourselves as Americans, which is a bit disorienting and very good and liberating, it's like in Buddie we're getting a whiff of the real winds of independence and democracy blown back and better across "the pond". So, that's one thing i want to consider and attend to further. My questions mostly are about going on to explore the various online tools and formats that Buddie uses with students. And i also want to consider and listen further to the tensions of the laudable activity of letting the student control ownership of her or his own work, and the dangers of the internet openness. Connie White at Lakeview teaches kids and teachers and parents and the community about the dangers of internet connections. That's a problem, it seems to me, in fully adapting the openness, however guarded, of the ePortfolio model as promoted and exemplified in Buddie's presentation. I want to try out some of these things for myself and see what happens, what pops up, before directing students to utilize these programs and platforms for their own work.

As to my own professional development, Buddie's presentation pushed past the paper portfolios that i've been familiar with and even used now and then as a way of encouraging and developing and evaluating student work in learning. I am convinced that the internet is a much better buffet of ways of exhibiting and sharing and evaluating student work. This is a distinct move on from what i've felt pushed to before, that is, to use technology in a laptop school in the classroom. So, students bring their laptops to class, altho' some don't work just quite right, some have loaners, or the internet connection may be slow or thoroughly down during the class period. I find using and having open laptops in class is still a dubious proposition, regardless of various programs to capture or control student laptops as long as they are logged on. I don't have time for that. In a Poetry class today a student who had a laptop open could check up on vocabulary unfamiliar even from the days of William Carlos Williams, or pull up a picture of a Locust Tree, or find bits of interesting info to fill out our limited senses and imaginations for reading poetry. Taking notes in class, however, seems to me less interesting and useful by far, and an invite for gadding about all over the place in the midst of class. I embrace the idea of ePortfolios as a way of creatively using the laptop technology to produce and to share student "makings of meaning" in a variety of internet forms, from essays shared to images, wikis, blogs and more. Also, professional development is more valuable providing, as this course does, instruction and temptation into platforms and programs of interactive learning than in the elaboration of websites for information about this or that curricular subject. A real change there, which should also shape professional education in the future.

And how shall i apply in at least three ways Buddie's presentation? One of the most interesting things to me in Buddie's presentation, which does not require technology at all, is his insistence that one of the great works of teachers is to hand over to students control and critical choice of the product of their learning content or skills (altho' i am not keen on or believe in that either/or notion). Today students in my AP U.S. History class had a reading quiz on an essay on Business History and its usefulness for a richer sense of U.S. History from 1850-1930. The quiz was a standard multiple choice quick one which filled the class with arguments, explanations, proposals otherwise, tales and images, and so on. The old tool of a multiple choice quiz exploded into a variety of recollections, making sense this way and that, and a lot of fun and laughter in the midst of learning together. We did that face-to-face, saving face for one another, including me, as we hilariously bumbled along. It was a good time and exercise. As for the quiz itself i gathered them up, handed them about again anonymously, and then we all made paper airplanes to send flying off in search of other ideas over the weekend. We'll return to open up laptops and follow out some of the convictions of late 19th century business into internet explorations that the students will turn into presentations in any of a variety of internet forms to connect the late 19th century with the late 20th century notions of American identity defined by contemporary regnant visions of Business. What i want further to do in another year with more time to arrange is to have student presentations of business in the changes of U.S. History to be reviewed and evaluated and responded to by business leaders in the Gainesville community. So, that's one thing i want to work on.

A second application of the presentation is to show bits of it to students and to suggest for teacher reflection, that is, how Buddie offers up his own bits and pieces of his own work, his delight in videoing his children, opens up his own experience as a model of how to learn and compose and share authentic assessments of learning. I have in my classroom abundant images of my own life, that of those of my family dear to me, and representations of my many beloved interests, from Edward Gorey to Karl Marx to Darwin and Blue-Footed Boobies, to African masks, photos of poets, Tigger, and so on. These all become ways of teaching out of my life with a passion to my students, a passion that is often full of laughter and of recollected stories of their own, and connections with our studies so that Tigger became for one class a Disney incarnation of that famous American politician....well, i won't tell. But their insight was really right-on and opened up more curiosities and conversation and research.

Finally, of course, i want to work with simple ePortfolios with my students this semester, inviting their evaluation all along the way. Especially for elective classes the ePortfolio seems a vast and more interesting improvement over the paper portfolio of previous years. An ePortfolio also seems to me to be an ideal approach to a "final exam" for AP U.S. History students who are currently driven through an ordinary gauntlet of battering exams, whereas they could instead be working on an ePortfolio to prepare for the AP Exam and to display and share their proficiency in historical thinking. In the past i've asked AP U.S. History students to construct their own DBQ questions with images and documents. This is, i think, one way of asking students to think as historians. But there are so many more. I want to invite my students this year into concocting and reflecting on ways of more realistic and engaging learning and assessments, something they can not just get through and then toss in the recycle bin, but rather something they not only can but want to remember as a basis of learning more.

I would have liked to record these ideas in Audacity, but it refuses to download on my laptop. Vocaroo isn't being very friendly or cooperative either. Spending so much time TRYING to utilize these old online tools is depressing, and not, perhaps?, in line with the choices of self-expression of students, like me, of my ways of learning and sharing.



Session 10:

Googlios: A 21st – Century Approach to Teaching, Learning, & Assessment

Strand: Kicking It Up a Notch 2009
URL: http://k12onlineconference.org/?p=478

I chose this session because it seemed to follow up on the previous session, Buddie's "Whither ePortfolios", which i found so interesting and engaging. I commented in that last entry on the style of Buddie's British engagement with technology, with students, and in his own learning as well as his teaching and engaging us. My first response was immediately that presenter G. Alex Ambrose was seriously more full of himself and far less engaging than Buddie. His presentation was, as far as i could tell, cannibalized and scaled down from his earlier presentations. The rapid fire skip and jump in his basically Power-Point presentation was far too fast to copy down anything for further consideration, or even to listen very clearly along the way. I thought this presentation was really crummy and that while Buddie's presentation encouraged freeing students and teachers as well in learning, that Ambrose gave up nothing of himself learning with me, nor engaged me where i am. I found his presentation arrogant, plastering about this and that, in quick Power-Point slides rapidly shown then disappearing. The contrast with Buddie's slow and flickering and engaging postings on his presentation video was entirely different, and his teaching along the way entirely different from Ambrose's pontificating with much prophetic threats. Ambrose is, alas, the American voice, while Buddie is the Scot's Brit voice, and the two are enormously different. I do not like the Ambrose voice.

I tried to keep up with the video of Ambrose, tho' it was difficult to do. I have scrambled and so quickly scribbled to be illegible notes. Ambrose seems to have had no intention of anyone actually getting a chance to understand and process and remember whatever he had chosen out of his other teaching to scramble into this K12 Conference bit. I've got lots of scribbles, but i finally gave up, and clicked off the silly rapid-fire deadly K12 Conference bit that Ambrose offered, and went looking elsewhere for his slide-show, which i found embedded in a slide-show at http://www.slideshare.net/ edvibesproducer/googlios-next- generation-eportfolios-at-the- university-of-notre-dame , his Notre Dame Googlio show. There's lots in this, along with sending off to other websites connected with other schools. More to the point for this presentation, tho', are the slides and an audio track giving what his K12 show was about with a bit more time to digest, or at least more easily go back and gather again.

One of the more interesting things, tho' not new, that he presents in a visual and clear way is the various ways in which people of different ages, capabilities, and willingness live in the digital age -- the nomenclature of young folks growing up digital as first language digital folks who have no knowledge of a time before the internet, and then those, like me, who learn the digital world as a Second Language, immigrants, that is. A third category are those who seek to ignore the digital tidal wave, want to find a place to hide, deny, live out a life without digits tattooed on their arms, digital refugees. And finally those who are determined to have nothing to do with the digital age, who are, in the overwhelming growth of digital citizenship and identity, more and more aliens. This categorizing is that of Ambrose and his ilk, so it is not necessarily a new definition of citizenship, but more like club rules. Still, the surround of digital life is very pervasive, and the importance of digital education for connecting with students where they are in ways of learning and assessing and sharing learning, for assessing students and cheering them on, and so on, is undeniable. It's exciting.

The more general pronouncements skittering across the screen in Ambrose's presentation were depleted by the presentation itself, which is curious. This feller who insists on the importance of the learner and digital styles of engagement and so on is remarkably unengaging and even off-putting. He doesn't care, it seems to me, whether i connect with what he has to say or not, he's just in a scramble of a rush to get it up and done on the K12 Conference website. Nor does he give readily found sites for listening to what he has to say in a quieter and more engaging time. The medium of this presentation is in conflict with the message -- quite different from the Buddie presentation on eProfiles before.

It is difficult to bother to track down and summarize Ambrose's presentation. Why should i bother if he doesn't bother? Sigh.... What i did find useful were the links to all the slides he flashed by in his quick PPt, looking at college or university websites, looking at further translations of Bloom's Taxonomy into the digital age, and so on. Lots there to go back and consider and play with in quieter times.

Ambrose's quick little tale of the development of folio's as repositories of student work for teacher evaluation to ePortfolios and Webfolios of student chosen, displayed, and published work amidst self-evaluation is a nice summary of changes in educational practice that schools like Lakeview have not caught up with. Nor, for that matter, do the standard evaluations of schools via standardized testing and AP Exams as exit standards and school cheering requirements to achieve, well, these have little to do with the practice and evaluation of learning in this Web 2.0 world or via ePortfolios. This whole model of education as the only one that teaches students for the world they are entering is fine and exciting, but it's not what school administrations or Boards or parents count. I loved, for example, Buddie's talk about letting the student go, just as parents let their children go, a necessary rite of passage and a primary rite of learning -- but that's not what school seems to value. So, it's a puzzlement -- and a frustration.

Most i was disappointed in Ambrose's slap-dash rush of a presentation in jamming in most of bits and pieces from another and more authentic presentation elsewhere, and providing very little direction, examples, play in learning, in the advertised Googlio way of learning. Ambrose provides lots of further explores, like his exploring twitter video on his blog, accessed through his Googlio account. The Googlio website connection of further resources for ePortfolios using Google was full of stuff and much to explore.

Perhaps the best thing of the presentation was, as a last minute hiccup, sending me off to really explore more of the possibilities offered on Google for myself and for my students.

One question i have is why Ambrose should be so obnoxious for me and Buddie so engaging. That's something i want to consider further in terms of what engages me to learn, and what, in contrast, puts me off, even tho' it's obvious Ambrose is bright and has lots to teach and lots to learn from. A spoonful of Buddie, tho', is more delicious and nourishing into further learning and experimentation and so on than an Ambrose Supersized meal tossed out of the disembodied voice and window of the drive-by window. This has applications, obviously, to teaching in the classroom and learning in the classroom with or without digital technology. It makes me realize how what matters in teaching and learning is an immediate personal relationship, impression, enthusiasm, all of which digital does not provide. Technology is like a can of catfood -- wonderful stuff inside, but it takes a cat meowing to ask and someone willing to risk a finger sliced to open and then share....

In terms of my personal professional development i've got lots of sites to follow out to get examples of eProfiles and Googlios. I also have more Google tools and possibilities to explore further with my students. I also, flogging a dead horse again, got a better sense of what effective digital learning can be, and fails to be, in the contrast of Buddie and Ambrose. This is true for both teachers and students.

As to three ideas arising out of the Ambrose presentation, please refer to my Googlio website at http://sites.google.com/site/puddlegloom/ . Cheers & Amen!