Taking a Chance on Tech

I am in Dublin, Ohio, in the hours before the start of the Dublin Literacy Conference. Last night, I had a wonderful dinner with Mary Lee and Franki, and also my new blogging friend, Tony, but it was a conversation on the way into Dublin from the Columbus airport that sticks out with me this morning. The organizers of this amazing conference — which is in its 21th year — have really put the focus on technology this year, using the push from NCTE into New Literacies as their guide post.

The keynote speaker this morning will be Tim Tyson, who has done some amazing things with technology when he was a middle school principal (including having all teachers blog and using moviemaking as a core element of the curriculum). Many of the sessions, including the ones I am leading around digital picture books, webcomics and stopmotion movies, have some technology element to them.

And the organizers have set up a “tech playground” area where teachers can wander in and play around with a Kindle, an iTouch, Flip cameras and more in a non-threatening fun environment. Plus, I believe there might be some student work on display that shows technology in action.

I think this is all wonderful, and important for teachers to see, but I know some of the organizers are crossing their fingers, hoping that it is not too much technology for the teachers coming to the conference. A good number are from outlying rural areas, where technology may not be prevalent, and the last thing you want to do is to alienate your base (see Pres. Obama for details on how that goes for ya).

As a presenter, this is good to know. I hope to pitch my presentations to the middle of the spectrum and try to help teachers see how you might get from here to there, even if it is baby steps. What we can’t lose sight of is that the use of technology and media is part of the lives of our students, and sticking our heads in the sand and hoping it will go away or never enter our classrooms just won’t work (this seemed to be the approach of a large regional literacy conference I went to in Providence in November). So, I salute the Dublin folks for being brave and I hope the teachers here today take advantage of the opportunity to see ways to using technology to enhance student achievement and engagement.

Peace (in Ohio),

The Class: must-see video tv?

If you, like me, love The Office, then you have to see this funny knock-off called The Class, which pokes great fun at the teacher trying to “catch up” to the students when it comes to using technology. Yeah, he’s clueless. This is great stuff.

Peace (when the board is not technology),

A Band Director, dissected

This comic made my morning, as it brought me back to the one high school teacher who went out of his way to nurture my creative side — our band director, Mr. M.

Thanks to JohnBogey for making this comic.

Dissection Of A Band Director

Peace (in the band),

Meep This!

I just ran across an interesting article in the Boston Globe (should have this motto: We’re still alive!). Erin McKean, a writer for The Word column about language and use, tackles a news story in which a principal banned the word “meep” from school because too many kids were saying it too often.

For those muppet fanatics, this is cool. “Meep” is what Beaker says most of the time and so for young kids to be appropriating invented Muppet language for their own world … wow, cool. I guess the principal had some other ideas about it (“We wouldn’t ban a word just to ban a word,” he explains), but as we all know, banning a word only makes it stronger and more valuable as language currency so I am guessing there is more “meeping” going on in that school than ever before.

My older son, looking over my shoulder as I was reading the column, said, “We meep at our school, too. Well, some kids do.”

Honestly, I have not heard one of my own students doing a “meep”  but maybe I haven’t been listening close enough. And maybe there are connotations that I am not privvy to knowing (quite likely, as I am an adult).

McKean closes the column out with this:

All words mean only what we all collectively agree they should mean, no more and no less.

I leave you with a video of Beaker singing a meep-filled “Ode to Joy.”

Peace (meep),

Back to School Funnies

Today, we start the year. I found this link to a collection of funny school cartoons in my RSS feed. It’s worth a look and a chuckle.

Peace (on the first day, the second day ..)


Things Your Kids (and mine) May Never Know

This is an interesting post by Wired Magazine about things that modern kids may never know or experience. The full list is here: http://www.wired.com/geekdad/2009/07/100-things-your-kids-may-never-know-about/

But these pop out at me from their list:

  • Playing music on a audio tape using a personal stereo
  • The scream of a modem connecting
  • Wondering if you can afford to buy a RAM upgrade
  • Recording a song in a studio
  • Newspapers and magazines made from dead trees
  • Typewriters
  • Getting lost – with GPS coming to more and more phones, your location is only a click away
  • Not knowing who was calling you on the phone
  • Writing a check
  • A physical dictionary (either or spelling or definitions)

Peace (in the changing world),

Home Movies: The Squop

I blogged a few weeks about the movie that my son was making. Well, I helped him finish it this weekend and it is a hoot. It is all about an imaginary creature called The Squop that first allegedly eats our cat and then our youngest son. He even wrote lyrics to a song based on We Three Kings for his cast of animated Pea Detectives that we all sang.

Meanwhile, we decided to set up a blog for him to showcase the movies he has been making. Check out Crazy Cartoonz.

Peace (on video),

Making Math and Science FUN

One of my neighbors — a high school student who sometimes babysits for us — and his friends recently won a top prize in a competition with the National Math and Science Initiative for the music video they created that celebrates math and science, in a goofy geeky way. I get a kick out it, and they did a fine job with the production.

Check it out:

Peace (in numbers),