Hacking Education Week: Connected Educator Month Satire

Ed Week Hack Connected Ed Month
Over at DS106, the Daily Create the other day was to create a fake news story in the vein of The Onion., with satire dripping off the page. How could I resist that? I decided to poke fun at Connected Educator Month, particularly with the idea of technology and what seems to be an overabundance of commercial/advertising tweets now in my Twitter stream for #ce13 (the hashtag for Connected Educator Month) each day.

I used Mozilla’s xRay Goggles to hack the front page of Educational Week, using the text from the Daily Create prompt for one story and then concocting a few more (including recess for teachers!).

As you can tell, I have mixed feelings about Connected Educator Month. On one hand, it is a fantastic way to create awareness about the power of networks, sharing and connecting beyond the walls of your school. There’s real power and authenticity in those experiences, in my opinion. On the other hand, it seems like commercial ventures see the Connected Educator Month as a way to target teachers for their wares. I just went through my Twitter followers and removed about 15 to 20 accounts that were pure business ventures trying to sell lesson plans, interactive boards, technology solutions, etc. That rubs me the wrong way.

Thus, the hack.

Peace (in finding balance),
Kevin

 

I Don’t Know What the Fox Says


Maybe this is your story, too.

The other day, one of my sixth graders came into school and said, “We have to show this video to the class.” Now, my policy is that I am open to suggestions for videos, but I need time to check it out and make sure it is appropriate. I don’t ever just cold-show a video. She insisted this video about the fox was hilarious. I had no idea what she was talking about and then, promptly forgot about it. She never followed up with me again (she probably thought I had nixed it, not forgotten it).

Then the other day, we were on our whitewater rafting field trip, waiting on the bus, and one of the guides stood up and asked the bus of students, “What does the fox say?” and the kids all start singing, ding ding ding. I had no idea what was going on but I had a inkling yet another viral pop cultural train had pulled into the station and left before I even knew it was there.

And I have three kids at home, too. You’d think I would have known about the video “What the Fox Says” by the band Ylvis. I see the video has 116 million views. Yes, 116 MILLION.

But somehow, consistently, I find myself weeks behind the loop around viral pop culture. It may be due to my refusal to join Facebook. It may be I have my teacher head in the sand. But it is an odd, disjointed feeling to sit on a bus with kids you know and nurture each day, and feel completely left out of the picture of what is holding their interest at any given moment. It made me feel old. And it made me realize just how fast and furious pop culture is these days, and how surprising the memes and viral videos can be, taking root quickly and fading fast.

And it once again reminded me that we need to value the digital lives of our kids outside of school. How to do that, in a meaningful way, is what is still difficult to navigate. Of course, once your teacher thinks something is cool, that means it is no longer cool. Such is the dichotomy of being the adult in a land of connected kids.
:)

Peace (ding ding),
Kevin

Spoof Documentary Intro: The Connected Country

Connected Country Spoof
(Created with Mozilla’s XRay Goggles)
Yesterday’s Daily Create for DS106 asked us to “Write an intro for a documentary on culture and traditions of a fictional country.” Since we are kneedeep into Connected Educator Month, I thought I would amuse myself (at least) with a spoof intro for a fake documentary about The Connected Country, and the search for the Most Connected Person in the World.

Here is what I wrote:

In this geographically distant yet technologically connected land, people find themselves drawn to each other by shared interests and expertise. Perhaps it is the hyperlink tattoos that adorn their foreheads or the hashtags each inhabitant wears on their left and right cheeks, but this land is a wondrous place of connections. Here, friends lend a hand or share an idea with strangers. Neighbors offer refuge to the confused who wander in from the outlands of the greater world. Everyone is looked after. There is trust here in this Connected Country. There is a sense that all of the residents here are in this life together, learning as they go along and sharing their learning without trepidation. Notice how each inhabitant wears a sharp-looking vest with multiple pockets. Each pocket contains a different mobile device, tuned to a different interest channel. At night, when the specially-designed lights of the Connected Country are turned on, one can literally visualize the threads that connect each person to the others. The colored webs are another indication of the tapestry of their lives. It is here that we begin our journey to find the Most Connected Person in the World. Come join us as we venture into the Connected Country.

And here is the podcast I created for it:

 

Peace (in the land),
Kevin

 

Humor: Commencement Address for Preschoolers

Over at our National Writing Project iAnthology writing space this week, our writing prompt host (Jeanne) asked us to consider Commencement Addresses, and she urged us to write what we would say if we were chosen. Well, I decided to spoof the concept, with an address to the younger set: preschoolers.

Hello preschoolers!

I know you are jumping over the seats and crawling under chairs, but if you could just take a moment to listen, I’d appreciate it, because I have important things to say, and you won’t get to the snack table until I am done. Thank you. Parents! That goes for you, too.

Preschoolers, I am honored to be here tonight, dressed up as Big Bird, in order to give you some advice on your journey into kindergarten. No doubt you have had a delightful year here. You’ve had snack times, nap times, read aloud times, play time, and plenty of time to build towers, knock them down, just like David did a few minutes ago — we all saw you, kid — and build them up again. This rebuilding of your ideas is going to be important in the long run. You’re going to fail a lot. It’s OK. You don’t need to cry about it. Instead, see the crumpled blocks as potential for building something even better.

I understand you used a lot of crayons this year. That’s good. Your vision for the future is going to be important. In fact, your parents and teachers and I all expect you to save the world. I know, it’s a lot to ask of a four year old. But we have faith in what you will be able to do. Those crayons make you visionaries, and I urge you to move beyond the colors of the rainbow when you create the world. Don’t be afraid of the names you can’t pronounce. Sometimes, the most unimaginable ideas are the most wonderful. So, grab that Maize and Raw Umber and draw, draw, draw!

Now, I know, you’re thinking: why is Big Bird here, talking to us? One reason is that we wanted to get your undivided attention during this Commencement Address. But, also, can you find a more gentler, kinder soul than Big Bird? I don’t think so, unless you happen to catch re-runs of Mister Rogers on YouTube. Which brings me to another point, preschoolers. Don’t spend all of your time staring at a screen. Oh sure, your parents’ iPads and iPhones and other devices make nifty sounds and have interesting animation. And what your little fingers can do — other than smudging the screen with crumbs from snacktime – is pretty amazing.

But you need to live life first, in the moment. Preschoolers, the one thing I can give you is this: imagination. Invent new worlds. Imagine new places. Create invisible friends and head off on adventures. Talk to yourself. Don’t be afraid of taking chances, because just like that tower we built earlier that David kicked over, there are always ways to improve upon what we’ve done, and sometimes, it takes a setback to move forward.

Now, I know you are all a little antsy, so I will end by saying this. Believe in yourself and find strength in your family. And leave at least one brownie for me, will you? Thanks, and good luck in Kindergarten.

And you can even listen to the address:

Online recording software >>

Peace (in the Big Speech to Little People),
Kevin

The iAnthology Prompt: A Fake Awards Ceremony

This week, my friend Janet is host to our weekly writing prompt at our iAnthology writing space (where National Writing Project teachers hang out and write). She suggested we create fake acceptance speeches for awards. I decided to go the funny route, using Voki to accept an award for most blog posts in a single day (I do write a lot, I know).

Thanks, Janet, for the great prompt. And while I am not a big fan of Voki, it worked for what I wanted for this prompt.

Peace (in the words),
Kevin

 

Check This Out: A Computer-Created Movie Script

Have you heard about Cleverbot? It’s a computer program that answers questions and has a pretty advanced algorithm (for a machine). Sort of like Siri’s cousin but with more of an attitude. Filmmaker Chris Wilson used Cleverbot to create a script for a short movie, and then created this amazing (and funny) video.

Peace (in the share),
Kevin