Technology and Changing Teaching Practice

Thanks to Bud the Teacher for this one.

I am a co-editor on a book (which will be published sometime in the future by Teachers College Press in partnership with the National Writing Project) on how technology is changing teaching practice in the writing classroom, and how teachers are assessing such work in light of national and state curriculum standards. It’s been very interesting to read the chapters as they filter in (mine is about a digital picture book project).

The NCTE is also looking for stories of how technology is impacting our teaching practice and what it means. Here is what they write on their website:

We’re interested in how your teaching has changed—in how you have altered, adjusted, or shifted your habits and expectations—since the time you began teaching. For example, what has changed in your approaches to reading? Writing? Evaluation of students? Use of technology? Confidence level? Rapport with parents? Balance of personal and professional life?

Whether you are a 30-year classroom veteran or a new teacher, you have a story, and we’d like to hear it!  Email us 150 words or less describing changes you have made in your teaching and your teaching life. Please include your full name, school name, years of teaching, and a preferred email address or phone number in case we need to contact you. Send stories to

You might want to consider writing up a piece about your classroom. I, for one, am thinking of something along the lines of podcasting.

Peace (in reflection),

Matt’s Rip Van Winkle

My good friend, Matt Needleman, put together this video about the state of education, using animation and the story of Rip Van Winkle. Matt tries to show, in a creative way, how much the world has changed but not our schools.

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Thanks, Matt!

Peace (in waking up to the real world),

Meanwhile … a hyperlinked graphic novel

I am not sure what to make of this. I discovered this graphic novel via my Delicious feeds, and graphic novels interest me to no end. This one is different. It clearly was composed for the Web 2.0 World, with story arcs and hyperlinked narrative paths all over the place.

I can’t tell if I am amazed or confused by it, to be honest.

Take a look at the graphic novel called Meanwhile.

Also this week, I caught the end of a story on National Public Radio on the art of comics and graphic novels about the art. It seemed interesting to get the glimpse inside this world of comics.

Take a listen at NPR and see what you think.

Peace (in frames),

Women of the Web 2.0: Darfur Project

I had the pleasure of joining some very smart teachers on the Women of the Web 2.0 Webcast this week (the second one I popped into — I also checked out It’s Elementary Webcast with good friend, Matt Needleman, earlier in the week,. If I make it to tonight’s Teachers Teaching Teachers, it will be a three-fur, but I don’t think that is going to happen. Some of the family is going away for five days and we need to some family time).

The WOW Webcast was all about the Many Voices for Darfur Project and it was great to hear Wendy and George talk about how they connected and then brought other teachers into the mix.

You can listen to the webcast here.

Or head to the WOW page at EdTech Talk and take a look at the chat room transcripts.

The hosts were gracious and open and accommodating to all of the guests, and I am still hoping to move my students into some kind of social action beyond the blogging. This was part of the conversation last night: what next?

Peace (in webcasts),


In 30 minutes this morning, my three kids barraged with me these questions (I actually wrote them down once I realized the question attack was on, although it was a coordinated venture, as far as I can tell):

  • Can you get me a bowl (me: cereal)? Can you get the milk? Is that a spoon? (7 yr old)
  • My pajamies has milk on it. Can you get it off? (3 yr old)
  • This spoon is too small. Can you get me a big spoon?( 3 yr old)
  • Can you read me a book? (10 yr old)
  • What’s that right there? (me: it’s a crock pot) I don’t like crockpots. (3 yr old)
  • What’s chili? (me: kind of like soup, but spicy) It’s not soup! I don’t like chili. (3 yr old)
  • Can we see Lord of the Rings? (me: no, too scary) You always say that! (10 yr old)
  • Can you help fix my shade? (me: your shade? what’s wrong with your shade. Who yanked it all the way up?) Me. (me: why?) Don’t know. (7 yr old)
  • I don’t have my other sock. Daddy, can you find it? (3 yr old) — sock found in bed.
  • Daddy, when you are done, can I go on NBA.Com? The Celtics play tonight. (7 yr old)

Me: It’s gonna be a long day.

Peace (from the answer man),

Networked Teacher

This is from a Flickr site:


Does it speak the truth?

Is it about connections or is it about overload?
Peace (in networks),

Mentoring from Afar

This morning, after reading Sue Waters’ Edublogger post, I followed a link to a classroom site in Australia. The teacher — Al Upton — is looking for virtual mentors for his classroom of young bloggers (called MiniLegends — love that name) and so, I signed up. I felt a bit strange about having to choose one of the kids from the selection of photos but sort of randomly chose one from the list. I decided on a boy named Sam. (Hi Sam, if you are reading this — you will probably now get a “ping” from my link to your site)

Photo of this year's class of miniLegends

The idea is that educators from around the world follow the student blogs, offer comments and suggestions, and encourage them as writers. I think this is a fantastic idea and I am interested to see how it all pans out for the Australian students, who know they are writing for a real audience out in the world.

I am also involved in a distant mentoring with a high school student (hi Bryan) from Kansas, who is working on a year-long project around claymation animation. He has been emailing me questions and giving me updates on his progress, and I have been trying to give feedback and answers as best as I can. It’s interesting and I hope he will share his final project with me.

This concept of mentoring from afar demonstrates another wrinkle of possibilities in the Web 2.0 World, where the ability to reach out and support others is as simple as a connection to the Internet. It is a pleasure to find a way to support both of these young men, Sam and Bryan, in any way I can, and I hope that if you are given the opportunity, you will take it.

And you can: just head over to Al’s blog and sign up as a mentor. I’d hate to see any kids on his list left out of the program.

Peace (in support and encouragement),


The Giants Win!

Some of you know that I am a die-hard New York Giants fan and they won the Superbowl last night in an amazing game all around (as the underdogs trying to keep the Patriots from securing a spot as completely undefeated).

Funny school story: I live in Patriots territory and on Friday, the Student Council hosted a fundraiser spirit day to support your favorite sports team. I, of course, wore my New York Giants tie but I was surrounded by Patriots fans.

In the middle of a lesson, a fifth grade teacher marches his entire class into my room, with a megaphone, and they begin chanting “P A T R I O T S” as loud as they can. The kids are all armed with balloons and then they pop them, and drop them on the ground, and march right back out. It was a nice laugh (I’ll remember those faces for next year, I am thinking)

Then, at the end of the day, a preschool teacher walks in and gives me a Giants helium balloon. Apparently, they had a Patriots and a Giants balloon and NOT ONE KID wanted to take home the Giants balloon. So they decided to give it to me (my kids have had great fun with it).

So, today will be sort of a fun day. I need to buy a few New York Posts and festoon the fifth grade teachers door with some good headlines. (all in fun)

Peace (in the Superbowl),


Ben, over at the Esoterium, had been wondering why there were not more collaborative teaching blogs where many voices from the teaching of English and writing can come together to share knowledge and interact. There are some models of this out there (including Lifehacks, which is how Ben got inspired to think about this idea) in other fields.

Well, Ben is now launching a site called and he is looking for a wide range of English teacher-bloggers who may want to get involved.

If you are interested, Ben asks that you drop him an email at ben(at)esoterium(dot)com.

Peace (in further collaboration),

Two Million Minutes in the Flat World

The Flat World is on my mind these days, as I just finished the book by Tom Friedman, and then I came across this trailer for a documentary about the emergence of math and science in China and India and, the concern about lack of these skills in the US, and the future for our children. Friedman makes the same point although he remains optimistic that our creativity and ingenuity will give us a competitive edge. He does warn that the increase in funds and government interest in technology-related fields in India and China, along with a lack of support here, could forebode some shifting of global power in the future.

Friedman calls on the next president to galvanize the country to invest in the future, through technology. We’ll see, won’t we?

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Education Week also profiled the documentary, which you can order as a DVD from the creators of Two Million Minutes (I did, because this idea of the world getting smaller and more competitive as technology comes into play both excited and worries me as a teacher and a parent).

And then there was the Frontline special this week — Growing Up Online — which I missed but found online via another blogger, Kate — and I have only watched the segment on education and technology/social networking in school environment. It was interesting and seemed fairly balanced between teachers and the pros and cons of using technology as a means of engagement of students. It was kind of depressing that one teacher feels she that is “outmoded” because she does not embrace technology and is not ready to give up the traditional classroom — discussions, reflection, writing.

It is disheartening when one boy says he never reads books anymore and uses only online activity as his “reading,” zipping through sites with summaries (such as Sparknotes). Then, in a moment of reflection, he admits that he is cheating himself (and blames lack of time). Also, the aspect of”collecting friends” in places such as MySpace and Facebook bubbles up and shows it for what is: just another social status tool and not what it should be: creating a sense of interconnected communities.

Peace (in smaller spaces),