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Our errors are surely not such awfully solemn things

Edte.ch Tom Barrett - 21 April, 2014 - 02:16

Original pic Untitled by sleepinyourhat

Categories: Planet

Successful Teams Are More Open About Their Mistakes

Edte.ch Tom Barrett - 20 April, 2014 - 19:25

A research study into the performance levels of hospital staff explored something unusual about the error rates that were recorded there. Amy Edmonson the Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management at Harvard Business School, shares more about her exploration:

“My first research project in graduate school explored the relationship between teamwork and errors (in hospitals), because errors are a critical input to organizational learning, especially in that setting. I assumed I’d find a negative relationship between teamwork and error rate.

Instead, I stumbled into quite a different discovery. The statistical results I obtained were the opposite of what I’d predicted. Well-led teams with good relationships were apparently making more mistakes; there was a significant correlation between teamwork and error rates—in what I initially considered “the wrong direction.”

This presented a puzzle. Did better-led teams really make more mistakes? I simply did not think that could be accurate. Why else might better teams have higher error rates?”

After some further exploration Edmonson hit upon what was taking place:

“In well-led teams, a climate of openness could make it easier to report and discuss errors—compared to teams with poor relationships or with punitive leaders. The good teams, according to this interpretation, don’t make more mistakes, they report more.”

Our attention is often drawn to encouraging cultures of innovation through more open mistake making – but perhaps it is more than just making the mistakes, taking risks and a have-a-go culture. We need to be open and encouraged to share them too.

Pic Western Decay by sleepinyourhat

Categories: Planet

The states of knowing and not knowing and the really interesting bits in between

Edte.ch Tom Barrett - 20 April, 2014 - 17:22

Last year I was attending a conference in Boston, US and was lucky enough to listen to Alec Couros, a Professor of Educational Technology and Media at the Faculty of Ed., University of Regina.

He described a time in a supermarket when his 5 year old son asked whether bananas on a tree grew with their tips facing up or facing down. I will let Alec describe what happened next and how he reacted to his son’s question:

“I didn’t actually know off-hand. But, being the connected father I am, I pulled out my iPhone, Googled it, and in less than 30 seconds, we were looking at photos of banana plants and we no longer had to wonder.

*We no longer had to wonder.*

I did that entirely wrong. At the very least, I could have asked my boy, “Well, which do you think son?” perhaps followed by “So, why do you think that?” But I didn’t. And because I didn’t, I messed up a great learning opportunity.”

During his talk Alec outlined how the states of “knowing” and “not knowing” are drawn together by the pervasive nature of technology.

I believe that in a time when technology provides unprecedented access to knowledge we need to be exploring the really interesting bits in between. Spending longer between posing a question / a state of wonder and the clarification of new or affirming knowledge.

We need more learning designed to unflinchingly explore the unknown, enquiry state and for much longer.

The brevity of not knowing, which Alec describes, often short circuits our opportunities for enquiry, for exploring and revealing our existing knowledge and perhaps discovering new and better ways to find things out.

It is the discerning application of technology in these instances that we should be developing with our students. To know when to ponder, mull and cogitate, working out something with others, and when to simply close the gap, “Google it” and do something with that new knowledge.

Making this type of choice will be the key to constructing knowledge in the future, alongside retaining an enduring curiosity for the world and what it is like to not know.

Pic Read, read, read. by cuellar

Categories: Planet

How Amazing Adults Are Made

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 19 April, 2014 - 22:09

Today I’ll meet my students at the school at 8:15 am to set up the Bocce Ball courts. By 10 am, the courts will be full of Special Olympians rolling Bocce Balls and yelling in triumph at their accomplishments. The orange-clad referees will work to serve, encourage, measure, and officiate the games. It is a Saturday and 60 something of the kids in my school will roll out of bed, don their shirts and smiles and come to the school even though they don’t have to.

Not one of these kids is being MADE to be here. While the National Honor Society is sponsoring it, any student grades 8-12 can come and volunteer and over half the school comes out every year to do just that.

Some Things Aren’t Just Special, They’re IMPORTANT

We’ve been going now for 11 years. It started off as an effort to host the state Bocce Ball Special Olympics games and indeed we did that for 4 years straight – running 12 hours and doing our best. But when the state games moved to a more central location – in Macon – we kept a tournament going because of how important it is for this event to happen.

You see, when students interact with each other in this way – it is a win win for all. It is a win win for the Special Olympians who get encouragement and fair officiating as well as the laughter and fun that comes from being in the presence of teenagers. One thing is for sure, we’ll all laugh (and cry tears of joy) all day today.

But my students get a great gift. They get to serve, encourage, and love those with special needs. It is to the point that many of them have been doing this long enough that they remember names and see each other far more than just at this once a year event. They become friends. 


Be the rainbow in someone else’s cloud. Helping kids be that rainbow blesses them with meaning, joy, and more. Help them serve.

The Greatest Joys and the Most Wealth

You can teach a child all the knowledge in a thousand books, but if they don’t know how to love and serve others – they’ll miss out on the greatest joys this life has to offer.

Today everyone involved will become wealthy beyond their wildest dreams. NO, no one will put anything in our wallets — but our hearts will be showered with richness in every way. Joy. Love. Happiness – pure unadulterated happiness.


The Tide of Compassion

Some of these kids will start off today a tad fearful. You can always see them at the beginning, hanging back just a bit and watching. But when they see their friends cheerleading, hugging, interacting and laughing with the participants – that love just spreads like a wave breaking down the beach. The tide of love and compassion comes crashing in and after just an hour or so, those kids who started the day are all in. By the end of the day you’ll see them, eyes shining working until the last court is put up hanging around sort of wishing it was still happening. They don’t want to leave.


Each person is amazing. Help children shun the world’s view that your worth is determined by how smart you are or how fast you can run or how much money you have.

The Purpose in Personhood

Then they’ll know one of the great secrets of life. When you spend yourself in a worthy cause – your heart becomes full of great riches that you cannot comprehend. As a Christian, there are many verses I can share with these kids about why we do this — but the biggest thing is that each and every one of us realizes we’re not the center of the universe. We see our fellow human beings full of purpose and shun the world’s view that your worth is determined by how smart you are or how fast you can run or how much money you have. 

They can see clearly that each person is a person of worth, merit, and importance. They’ll see a spirit of true sportsmanship and why we play sports at all and that you don’t have to win the Super Bowl to be a winner in life.


How Amazing Adults Are Made

OK, I’ve got to go get dressed and meet these winners. For the kids who come to this earn my respect and admiration. Other kids at our school are great kids — but these are the ones who really get an education.

These are the kids who will change the world because even as teenagers – during a time of natural inborn selfishness – they set their alarm on a Saturday to get up and do something worthwhile. And that, my friend, is how amazing adults are made.

The post How Amazing Adults Are Made appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog.

Categories: Planet

The Design Principles Behind Google Glass and the Social Influence It Could Have

Edte.ch Tom Barrett - 19 April, 2014 - 14:47

I have always found it interesting to peer behind the veil a little of nascent technology and learn how it is developed. On these Google Glass developer pages you can dig a little deeper into the design principles behind one of the four current Google X lab projects.

Aimed at developers building on the Glass platform, or as they coin it developing Glassware, they outline the simple design principles needed:

  • Design for Glass - Don’t try to replace a smartphone, tablet, or laptop by transferring features designed for these devices to Glass. Instead, focus on how Glass and your services complement each other, and deliver an experience that is unique.
  • Don’t get in the way - Glass is designed to be there when you need it and out of the way when you don’t. Your Glassware must function in the same way.
  • Keep it relevant - Deliver information at the right place and time for each of your users. The most relevant experiences are also the most magical and lead to increased engagement and satisfaction.
  • Avoid the unexpected - Unexpected functionality and bad experiences on Glass are much worse than on other devices, because Glass is so close to your users’ senses.
  • Build for people - Design interfaces that use imagery, colloquial voice interactions, and natural gestures. Focus on a fire-and-forget usage model where users can start actions quickly and continue with what they’re doing.

But what is most revealing and consequently most fascinating for me is the focus on language and how this is being tailored as an integral feature of this type of technology. It is being coined as “wearable tech” but in many ways the proximity to us, to our physical persons means that the device or platform has to work with our own language settings.

The “natural speak” commands will be the most potent way these devices will become closer to our everyday lives and influence them too. We can wear them, however until they work seamlessly with the idiosyncrasies of our spoken word, they will always fall short.

The developer pages offer some of the following examples for voice commands needed to develop on the Glass platform:

Guideline Good Example Bad Example Is general enough to apply to multiple Glassware, but still has a clear purpose “ok glass, learn a song” “ok glass, learn something”, “ok glass, learn a song on guitar” Is colloquial and can explain Glass features in a conversation “ok glass, take a picture” (“You can use Glass to take a picture”) “ok glass, take picture” (“You can use Glass to take picture”) Is comfortable to say in public “ok glass, find a doctor” “ok glass, find a gynecologist” Brings the user from intent to action as quickly as possible “ok glass, find a recipe for” (this allows users to speak “chicken kiev” and immediately see the recipe) “ok glass, show me a cookbook” (this forces users to look through a list for what they want) Avoids brand words “ok glass, make a video call” “ok glass, start a hangout” Is long enough to ensure high recognition quality (at least three syllables) “ok glass, make a video call” “ok glass, hangout” Fits on a single line (less than 600px wide at 40px Roboto Thin) “ok glass, add a calendar event” “ok glass, create a new calendar event”

One of the most interesting directions these sorts of guidelines take us is the way that such a device or tool may influence our use of language and consequently the way we think. For example the focus on the commands being “colloquial”, “comfortable to say in public” and how they should strike a balance for technical purposes by being “long enough to ensure high recognition quality (at least three syllables)”. In a way this is describing how Glass users will have to talk to interact successfully.

With such high constraint the written form that is displayed needs careful thought on Glass and in many ways is some of the most influential aspects of the product design as, in some way, it makes real the experience and relationship you have with the wearable device. It becomes a response to your commands. Here are some of the guidelines for the written form:

Keep it brief. Be concise, simple and precise. Look for alternatives to long text such as reading the content aloud, showing images or video, or removing features.

Keep it simple. Pretend you’re speaking to someone who’s smart and competent, but doesn’t know technical jargon and may not speak English very well. Use short words, active verbs, and common nouns.

Be friendly. Use contractions. Talk directly to the reader using second person (“you”). If your text doesn’t read the way you’d say it in casual conversation, it’s probably not the way you should write it.

Put the most important thing first. The first two words (around 11 characters, including spaces) should include at least a taste of the most important information in the string. If they don’t, start over. Describe only what’s necessary, and no more. Don’t try to explain subtle differences. They will be lost on most users.

Avoid repetition. If a significant term gets repeated within a screen or block of text, find a way to use it just once.

Again we might explore how these simple guidelines strongly influence a user as they depict the character of the technology being worn. BJ Fogg has written about the social cues we pick up on from technology and their social influence. Bear these elements in mind when we are learning and experiencing more everyday about personalised or wearable technology.

…people respond to computer systems as though the computers were social entities that used principles of motivation and influence.

As shown in Table 5.1, I propose that five primary types of social cues cause people to make inferences about social presence in a computing product: physical, psychological, language, social dynamics, and social roles. The rest of this chapter will address these categories of social cues and explore their implications for persuasive technology.

We have had a quick look at how the Language cue is being carefully tailored on the Glass platform (and elsewhere in Search and Siri of course) and it is pretty easy to begin to understand how the other elements appear in the user experience.

Psychologically we pick up on how a device such as Glass can learn our preferences and begin to provide hyper contextual information to us, as explained earlier in one of the design principles: “The most relevant experiences are also the most magical and lead to increased engagement and satisfaction.”

The psychological connection here is linked to the social dynamic and how it would seem our technology is cooperating positively with us. The reciprocity of our interactions would fall in line with some of the research BJ Fogg outlines in his chapter – the more helpful technology is to us the more engaged we become and the more likely we are to reciprocate.

The social role of the device is an interesting one – my son would happily call Google Search his assistant or guide and so it would not seem too big a step to appreciate a wearable technology being a close ally in getting life done more efficiently.

The physical cue is perhaps the most curious because it is not so much a floating disembodied AI head doing our bidding but something that is closer to being part of us. Physically it would seem the cue has in fact become much more subtle in the fire-and-forget notifications and the seamless in-vision experience. Yet the overt nature of wearing the technology has caused some interesting consternation, raising questions about privacy and safety.

Funnily enough I have not had the chance to play with the device or even experience it yet, but the developer pages have certainly helped me to better understand the direction things are heading in and made me reflect about the influence this type of technology will have on the way we speak and think.

If you are a Glass Explorer I would love to hear your thoughts on some of the subjects raised in this post – please share a comment below.

Pic: Google Glass by wilbertbaan

Categories: Planet

“An upper-class school”

Darcy Moore's Blog - 19 April, 2014 - 00:46

A comment – as I negotiated customs at Sydney Airport with a large party of students on their way to visit our sister school in Korea – keeps swirling round in my mind.

The official scanning bags engaged me in small-talk asking where we were headed. When I explained our excursion was to Korea to visit our sister school she said, “you must work at an upper-class school”. The “c-word”, as many of you would agree, historically, was not much used in Australia, especially while making small-talk but I suspect that this is changing. I explained that we were a proudly comprehensive school like most students attend in Australia. She didn’t believe me, “no, you must be an upper-class school” to be going on an overseas excursion to Korea.

I hesitated to blog about this small incident but I just keep thinking about what it means in the context of what else I know about Australian education and societal attitudes. Schools appear to be increasingly using techniques employed in advertising to ‘brand’ themselves as providing a particular product in the education ‘market’. By definition, some brands to not convey the same status or prestige. Parents are making choices about the schooling they want for their children, conscious of the apparent choice on offer and the enhanced status such decisions about education may bring.

Often, as you know, it is challenging to distinguish between the perception of the brand and the reality of the experience. Sometimes brands with a lower profile offer better value for money – or are morally and ethically sounder choices to make.

Reflective questions

What do Australians want for their children? Happiness, health, opportunity and a good education would be the answer for most. I trust, if the question was slightly re-phrased to, what do Australians want for other people’s children? the answer would be the same.

Should you really have to buy education just like any other product? Have Australians really said ‘yes’ to that? What if you do not have the personal resources to do so in a competitive market place? What is the unfolding impact of such clear commodification of education on opportunity for children? What happens in a democracy when the market controls all spaces – including art, academia, sport – and politicians are courted by all for financial gain (as recent ICAC hearings have brought into sharp focus)? What happens when democratically elected political leaders cannot have these conversations as they will be personally undermined by vested corporate interests?

How much have the all-encompassing market-based philosophies that have taken root since the 1980s changed the nature of our society and and core democratic values? Has our historical fondness for egalitarianism in Australia truly dissipated or are citizens just starting to realise that we run the danger of losing what made Australia a ‘paradise’  in the eyes of others for more than a century?

New book

A must-read book for Australian educators is Marion Maddox’ new tome which has a great deal of hard data that shows how funding results in bastions of privilege being supported from the public purse. There is abundant data to suggest that decisions made by politicians in the last few decades are resulting in Australian children being grouped increasingly by socio-economic or religious background in our schools in what is effectively, as Maddox effectively details, an assault on egalitarian ideals.

Democratic societies need to be careful about making all decisions based on perceived market value. It may well lead to many knowing the price of a good education but not its collective value in both maintaining and extending a just, civil society where all children have opportunity. The ‘Gonski’ recommendations recognised that funding of our schools needed to be fairer. Polling, and this gives me great hope that our national values remain sound, indicated that a majority of Australians agreed.

There is much I could say about these issues in the context of the challenges for Public Schooling but will save that for another, more considered, post.  What I do know is that Australian students need to learn more about other nations in Asia. We need to make friends, contacts and understand the cultures of our nearest neighbours. It is an opportunity that all our children need and I’d suggest it should be a national priority for all, not just those who attend “upper-class schools”.

Maybe you would like to wade in with some thoughts, perceptions and challenges for me to consider before I write another post about the issues raised in this one?

Featured image: creative commons licensed (BY) flickr photo by jonthor6

The post “An upper-class school” appeared first on Darcy Moore's Blog.

Categories: Planet

School’s out Friday

Lucacept - Jenny Luca - 18 April, 2014 - 22:44

I admit it. I’m a Spiderman fan from way back. I remember being so desperate to see the Toby Maguire film version when it was released that I took my then three year old son along with me, thinking it would be reminiscent of the cartoon version I watched religiously as a child. Not a good idea in hindsight. There are moments of your life when you fall into the category of #badparent, and that was one of mine.

Your three year old will be fine with Improv Everywhere’s latest ‘Movies in real life’ version of Spiderman. I love the crowd reaction when he jumps off that building. Even better, read what really happened as this was their annual April Fool’s day hoax video. I admit, they got me on that one – I replayed that jump a few times trying to work out how they pulled it off so effectively!

Enjoy the weekend ahead. Soak up the days before the return to school next week. (if you’re a Victorian, that is!).

Categories: Planet

Google accused of playing favourites

The Age Technology - 18 April, 2014 - 10:54
Security experts are accusing Google of waiting too long to report the serious Heartbleed security bug
Categories: Planet

4 Types of Leaders You Shouldn’t Be

The Principal of Change George Couros - 18 April, 2014 - 05:34

First of all, I am going to challenge my own title in this writing as the qualities that I am about to list are not usually people with influence, but people with titles and authority.  Leadership and administration are sometimes not synonymous and if an administrator does not make those around them better, they are not leaders, they are bosses.

Working with many different organizations, I have heard either the frustration from educators within the organization that feel like they are running on the spot, while also working with administrators that are more focused on holding down the fort as opposed leading with vision.

Here are some styles you should avoid being or working for if you want to really move forward.

1.  The “Blame Everyone Else” Leader

Ever tried to do something that is new to an organization only to be stopped by an administrator saying that “others” are holding things back?  Often times, they will say things like, “if it were up to me, I would love for this to happen”, or even act as if they are a martyr and trying to save you from getting in trouble from others.  Whatever the case, if someone is blaming others in the organization for not “allowing” you to move forward, trust will be at a minimum.  Most administrators are part of a team and although they might not always agree with one another, they will never blame others for a lack of opportunities for educators.

If you think about if, if  they are going to throw someone else under the bus, including someone on their own administration team, what do you think that they do when you are not around?

2. The “Driven by Policy” Leader 

Policies are often put into place to ensure that students and teachers are safe, yet the process to create them is often long and arduous.  With education moving so quickly, some policies are simply outdated and they are not in the best interest of organizations, and more importantly, students.  Sometimes policy interferes with doing what is right, but sometimes, doing what is right is hard.  It is easy to hide behind policy in this case.

Sometimes obviously we have to stick with policies to ensure safety and I am not saying that we throw them all out the window, but when policy trumps common sense, there are issues.

3.  The “Dead-End” Leader

You come up with a great idea that is new to an organization that you are willing to put in the work and effort.  You approach your boss and share it with you and they tell you why it probably won’t work.  You wait for suggestions.



There is nothing that can kill enthusiasm for someone at work when they are simply told “no”.  Great leaders want people to take risks, and although they are trying to protect others, a simple “no” can have harsh repercussions on an individual and ultimately school culture.

This does not mean you need to say yes to everything.  But you should ask for further explanations and help people look for ideas, alternatives, or give them the opportunity to take risks.  A yes rarely needs an explanation, but in my opinion, “no” always does.  But even with the explanation, it is still important that we try to create opportunities to keep that creative flame burning in others and getting involved with an idea or project, or at least offering guidance, says much more than “no”.

4.  The “Lack of Knowledge is Power” Leader

With all of the changes in our world, society, and culture, schools need to change.  With many administrators, this change leads to not only differences in the classroom, but in their own practice.  If administrators do not continuously learn and grow, students lose out.

Yet learning and growth take time and effort, and for some, doing what is comfortable is an easy option.  Some of my best administrators were not people that believed they knew everything, but those that actually showed vulnerability and that they actually didn’t know.

Yet when we admit that we don’t know everything, that means we have to trust others and give our “power and authority” away.  This model of distributed leadership is very tough on some and they end up hiring great people only to micromanage them.  A person that pretends that they know something is much more dangerous than those who can fully admit that they don’t.

So instead of showing humility and a willingness to learn, they often pretend they have an understanding of things that they don’t, which often leads to poor decisions that impact many.  The interesting thing is that those that are willing to get into the trenches and admit that they don’t know always have more credibility than those that pretend they do.

Weakness is not knowing, it is not being able to admit it.

I am sure that everyone of us (including myself) that is in a position of authority has done this.  No one is perfect.  But when these things become the norm, any one of them can be highly detrimental to the culture of a school.  It may not impact students directly, but long term, they will lose out the most.


Categories: Planet

Astronomers discover Earth-like planet

The Age Technology - 18 April, 2014 - 04:30

Scientists have discovered a planet outside our solar system that is, so far, the closest contender for Earth 2.0.
Categories: Planet

How to Make It to the End of the School Year

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 17 April, 2014 - 21:16

Yesterday after school I earned my dumpster diver 101 merit badge as a senior and I went through the school’s trash looking for an unmarked photo cd that had been accidentally tossed. (They may doubt my sanity but they can’t doubt my love.)

After it was found I drove home quickly to take a hot bath. (I was reminded of a word I haven’t used in ages but we used often in the 1980′s “grody” – not even sure if that is a word.) All the while,  I started thinking about the crazy days that these are.

How to make it to the end of the school year

It is the end of school for us — April and May are nuts. These are days apt to be described by the first paragraph of “A Tale of Two Cities.” Right now I have 3 planning periods a week. (Not kidding.) Plus Special Olympics Bocce Ball. PLUS NHS Blood Drive. PLUS Senior Slide show. PLUS Graduation movie. PLUS Bidding out pulling cable for the new building. PLUS the Technology plan and budget for next year. PLUS tech support. PLUS my book launch for Reinventing Writing to coordinate. PLUS graduating my second child and getting her off to college.

MINUS sanity.

I say this because tens of thousands of you live this every day. This is your life. You totally get this.

To bad no one else does. Don’t expect them to either.

People are going to start casually saying

“Aren’t you glad things are winding down.”


The school year doesn’t wind down! It crashes. 

The School Year Doesn’t “Wind Down”!

And you know they are among the clueless. There is nothing “winding down” about the end of the school year. It is more like a complete and total crash. You accelerate until you run into a brick wall and you hope your seatbelt lets you get out of the thing intact so you can limp off to your summer. The first week or so of my summer is spent sipping coffee – staring into space and reading books where stuff gets blown up. I’m worthless because I’m spent. Every shred of everything I had to give is given.


You’re Going to Make This

But as one teacher to another – you’re going to make this.

If you’re a new teacher and you’ve never experienced this side of the “end of school” – the jolting, nerve wracking, exhausting, ridiculous side of “ending” school – then it is OK. You’ll make it. It is one of the toughest most taxing things you’ll experience.


The Fallacy of Summer “Vacation”

Then, everyone in the world is “jealous” of teachers but they don’t understand that we are hurting, exhausted, and often wounded by this time. We don’t fault new Moms for staying at home for 6 or 8 weeks after having a child. They’re not “getting time off.”

We aren’t either. When the summer starts, we’ve just come through something – to me – as taxing and exhausting as childbirth. I may not feel as close to death as I did when I had my 10 pound baby girl (who is now 6’1″ and graduating) but in terms of wondering if you can do one more thing – it is the same thing.


Hold On, Hang On, Yell For Joy In the Wind

So, just know that you’re going to find yourself doing all kinds of things over the next 6-8 weeks. You may even find yourself in the dumpster – or even worse, the proverbial dumps. But hold on, you’re going to make it. Yell in the wind as it whips your hair. Enjoy it for what it is.

Be noble. Work hard. Keep your commitment to excellence. It is never OK to go on autopilot. These kids can watch movies all summer – don’t give into the temptation to be sorry – you’ve still got things to do. Teach until the last day. Find your beautiful moment every week.

You rock teacher and often your nobility is observed and measured these last weeks when many slack off and head on summer break early. Finish well. Do incredible things. Be epic. Never settle.

We get one chance at this life and everything we do in the classroom is important. Have fun but have fun with purpose. Be intentional about everything. Make memories. These are hard times but they are sweet times.


When we try to sit down, we must pull each other towards excellence as the school year ends.

Pulling You Forward

So, as I emerged from playing in the trash yesterday it was with a laugh and a high five and the joy at knowing that I showed love by my willingness to play in the trash. And that, my friends, is why you and I are here. For the lessons we teach in our classrooms are important, but the lessons we teach with our lives are never forgotten.

And this is just another one of those lessons. The hope that if I share this little piece of myself and my own struggle, that it will encourage you.  We can do this, my dear friends. I’m so happy to be a teacher even though it is hard.


The magic never happens inside your comfort zone. The end of the school year is the time we must push past the comfort zone and rutt and be “awesomer” than we’ve ever been.

So, how to make it to the end of the school year?

Pull each other forward, friends. We’re going to need each other in the coming days. For we can’t expect the world out there to know what this is like, but we should expect support, encouragement and a magnetic pull of excellence from our PLN and colleagues to finish this year in awesome ways.

And remember this one essential point — the magic always happens outside your comfort zone. So of all things you can do, don’t get comfortable. Get better and better and end in amazing ways.  You can either be memorable or you’re forgettable. The same applies to what you teach.

Live it. Be it. Be noble. We’re in an important profession. Teach on till the last day. Let’s rock!


Picture Credits:

End of School  Year Baby: http://www.pinterest.com/happyteacher/end-of-the-school-year/

Keep Calm Poster: http://www.keepcalmandposters.com/poster/keep-calm-because-school-is-almost-over

Where the Magic Happens Venn http://www.thecitrusreport.com/2011/headlines/the-vennesday-diagram-where-the-magic-happens/

The post How to Make It to the End of the School Year appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog.

Categories: Planet

24 People Who Applied for the World's Toughest Job Were In for Quite a Surprise | Adweek

Oz/NZ Educators Diigo Group - 17 April, 2014 - 13:49


  • "The Boston agency posted this job listing online for a "director of operations" position at a company called Rehtom Inc. The requirements sounded nothing short of brutal:" - Roland Gesthuizen

Tags: jobs, career, parenting, webinar

by: Roland Gesthuizen

Categories: International News

A quality education for all

Bluyonder Greg Whitby - 17 April, 2014 - 10:24

Professor Stephen Dinham has been a strong and vocal advocate for greater equality in Australian education.  He wrote an excellent piece in the Melbourne Age recently on how the ineffective quick fixes to improve teaching would actually lead to greater inequity and decline in educational performance.

These simplistic approaches ignore decades of research on what makes teachers and teaching effective.  According to Professor Dinham:

Australia is becoming a less equitable society both generally and in respect of education and as has been demonstrated, inequality in society is actually worse for everyone.

Our collective failure to address the inequality that exists within our education system is a national shame and as Dinham warns if the profession remains ‘silent and passive’, we will only have ourselves to blame for what ‘might eventuate’.

It’s a national shame that we cannot address the inequality within our own education system.  But then I began thinking about the inequality that exists for our marginalised.  There are more than a thousand children living in offshore immigration detention centres.

Former UN secretary general Kofi Annan said education is the foundation on which freedom, democracy and sustainable human development rests.  Australia offers all of this yet we fail to close the gap for our most vulnerable – the indigenous, the poor and the marginalised.

Picking up the paper to read headlines such as ‘Selective schools ‘the most socially exclusive’ in NSW‘ distract from the critical work of closing the gap.  We become polarised by the private v public debates and discussions on whether selective schools are the most socially exclusive.

A commitment to a quality education is a commitment to all students regardless of race, circumstance or background.  Closing the gap requires us to address the issues with open eyes and hearts.








Categories: Planet

Human microchipping: under your skin

The Age Technology - 17 April, 2014 - 08:19

Forget smartphones, tablets and even wearable gadgets - get a microchip implant instead.
Categories: Planet

4 Step SAMR Model of Technology Integration Explained by Richard Wells

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 16 April, 2014 - 21:07

Richard Wells @ipadwells gives a masterful explanation of the SAMR model of technology integration. He is from New Zealand but his charts on the SAMR model have spread worldwide.

All technology integration is NOT the same. Having tablets in a classroom doesn’t make the classroom any better than if Einstein sat in the corner. It is not the presence of a person or thing that makes the classroom better but the interaction with it that does. That is what the SAMR model helps us understand: how technology is actually being used to teach.


What is the SAMR Model?

Standing for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition, this model demonstrates and helps those supporting technology implementation understand the different ways technology can be implemented in the classroom. No, technology integration practices are not all the same.

I would argue that technology is MORE disruptive if a teacher is only using it for Substitution and Augmentation. If your teachers are saying the devices are a distraction and not worth having, it is likely, that they haven’t changed their pedagogy and practice. They’re just substituting the technology for what they are already doing and not using the technology to do what they couldn’t do before.

Understand the SAMR model to help coach change. Richard is adept in this show and while every ECM show is special, this one has to go up there as one of the best of the best. It is one of those you’ll want to email to people.


Who should listen to this show?

Everyone. Period. Teachers, technology integrators, principals. School Board Members for sure. If you want to have a 21st century school or classroom it is vital that you listen to this show. I’ve listened to it 3 times already and have shared it with my administration – his explanation is that profound and yet simple..

Listen to Richard Wells explain SAMR”

You’ll want to visit Richard’s blog and follow him on Twitter and I hope you’ll share this conversation with others to help them understand that ALL TECHNOLOGY INTEGRATION IS NOT THE SAME!

The post 4 Step SAMR Model of Technology Integration Explained by Richard Wells appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog.

Categories: Planet

The Myths of Technology Series: “Technology Dehumanizes”

The Principal of Change George Couros - 16 April, 2014 - 03:35

For ISTE 2014 in Atlanta, I will be presenting on the “Myths of Technology and Learning”. As I am really thinking about what I will be sharing at the conference, I wanted to write a series of blog posts that will help myself and others “rethink” some of these statements or arguments that you hear in relation to technology in school.  I will be writing a series of blog posts on different myths, and will be posting them on this page.  I hope to generate discussion on these topics to further my own learning in this area and appreciate any comments you have on each idea shared.

“As the Internet has become more central in our lives, we have begun to witness a revival of the importance of being human.” Jamie Notter and Maddie Grant

One of my favourite books that I have read in the past few years was called “Humanize”, and it really helped me to think of technology in a much different way than I had in the past.  As an assistant principal years ago, I remember actually arguing against the use of technology because of the way that I had seen it used.  Students would often go to a lab, which became an event, and teachers would often have students interact with websites or programs, instead of people.  I watched kids focused on a screen and losing connections with one another.  If I continuously talked about the importance of relationships in schools, it didn’t make much senses to talk about technology this way.

When I became a principal however, Twitter started becoming all the rage amongst educators, although I never really understood it.  Once I started connecting and sharing with real people, I was hooked.  Not only were these people brilliant educators, but they were great people that I connected with.  I learned not about their philosophies and thoughts on education, but about their families, their likes, their interests, and who they were as people.  I don’t come back to Twitter for the technology but for the connection.  If you build relationships in any area of your life, online or offline, you are going to come back.  Relationships are built with people and the people are what brought me back.  The ability to show one’s self was the draw for me.

Although I was proud of all that my school was achieving, while also sharing my own thoughts on education, I decided to show other aspects of my life as well.  People saw through the sharing of my love of basketball, music, and humour, that I was not just a “principal”, but a person who happened to be a principal.  But it was not only the “good” times that I shared.  When I lost my first dog Kobe, or went through another stressful time in my life, and even lost my dad, I felt that the Internet cried with me and gave me a virtual hug.  People came together to help me through trying times, many that would be considered “strangers”.  My willingness to share myself made me more than an avatar, but a human being.  This past weekend when I got engaged to the girl of my dreams,  I got another giant virtual hug.  Because I have been willing to share my ups and downs, I have been able to connect with so many people that I would consider good friends.

I have experienced this, but I have also seen these stories over and over again online.  John Berlin, made a video asking Facebook for his deceased son’s “Look Back” video, and when it was picked up by a Reddit user, people shared and reshared the video, which quickly caught the attention of Facebook and led to the video being released.

There is more good than bad in the world and the Internet has given us the opportunity to really tap into one another as human beings.

As a school administrator, I think often about the opportunity social media gives us to connect in ways that we couldn’t before.  If you look at large school districts such as Peel District School Board in Ontario and Surrey Schools in British Columbia, they have made their world a lot smaller by their use of social media.  In large geographical areas, they have used social media to create a “small town” feeling within their communities. Although you might see their leaders only once in person within the school, you have the ability to connect with them often online.  It is all in the way that you are willing to use the technology.

If a school leader uses social media as a way to simply share messages, and not engage with their community, it will not be very beneficial and does not create much more than existed without the technology.  Recently, I saw my good friend Jimmy Casas (who I met in person first but have become very good friends with because of technology) share a post about being vulnerable.  In it, Jimmy shared an anonymous tweet that was targeted against his work as a principal:


Jimmy could have simply ignored it and moved on, but instead showed his vulnerability and addressed it openly.  That is courageous leadership.  The ability to openly share and discuss a criticism in a space that is totally open.  The irony of the post is that technology was used in an anonymous way from someone who was not willing to be brave enough to address Jimmy in person.  If you think about it, people dehumanize one another, not technology.  We have to always remember that on the other end of that Twitter, YouTube, Facebook account is a person, and when we choose to use technology in such a manner, we do more harm than any social media account ever could.

I often hear people talk about losing special things such as handwritten cards because we are often focused on teaching technology to our kids.  There is something sweet and sentimental about a card, but then I think about the video my brother shared of my dad below:

I wouldn’t trade seeing my dad in this video for any handwritten card that he could have ever  written.  His humanness shows here and I am reminded of his loving, goofy, and caring heart even though he is not with us anymore.

If you think about it, this type of technology can makes us even more human than we were before, it’s simply on the way we choose to use it.

“One of the reasons social media has grown so fast is that it taps into what we, as human beings, naturally love and need and want to do—create, share, connect, relate.”
Jamie Notter and Maddie Grant

Categories: Planet

Programming Languages Are Horrible

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 15 April, 2014 - 23:34
A bunch of my students in my honors programming class made the same error yesterday. Remarkably today Bertrand Meyer had a post about the very same error in the CACM Blog (Go read it – it’s great - Those Who Say Code Does Not Matter) The short version of my student’s problem revolved around how C-style languages handle if statements with multi-statement actions. Take for example the following code:
1: if (booleanExpression) 2: DoSomething(); 3: DoSomthingElse(); 4: if (!booleanExpression) 5: DoAction();
Students have a tendency to assume that if the expression in line 1 is true that both of the statements in lines 2 and 3 will be executed. Not so. The compiler assumes that (regardless of indentation) only the statement in line 2 will be executed if the expression in line 1 is true. The statement in line 3 will always be executed. This caused my students no end of trouble. The right way to do this is to enclose the two statements inside curly braces.

1: if (booleanExpression) 2: { 3: DoSomething(); 4: DoSomthingElse(); 5: } 6: if (!booleanExpression) 7: DoAction();
This removes ambiguity. I try to get students to use the curly braces even for single line code blocks but it is not an easy sell.

This problem doesn't occur in all languages of course. Visual Basic, derived from that ancient of languages BASIC, doesn’t allow this to happen as easily. Trying to do this line for line conversion in Visual Basic gives me errors.

1: If (booleanExpression) Then 2: DoSomeThing() 3: DoSomethingElse() 4: If (Not booleanExpression) Then 5: DoAction()
The compiler refuses to deal with this code until End If statements are added to make things clear.

1: If (booleanExpression) Then 2: DoSomeThing() 3: DoSomethingElse() 4: End If 5:   6: If (Not booleanExpression) Then 7: DoAction() 8: End If
Now I am not saying that Visual Basic is not without flaws. All programming languages have flaws. But we do have to be aware of these flaws. The flaw that Meyer wrote about was the same basic error my students made but was made by professional developers in a product that impacted millions of people. It is so easy to make “rookie mistakes” in many languages.

So does this impact the tools we teach with? Honestly, not really. The APCS exam is based on Java which has all the same problems of other curly brace and semi-colon languages. [Let’s be honest – are those curly braces and semi-colons there for the programmers or the complier writers?]  Especially in high schools where we are largely at the whims of things outside our control (APCS exam and pressure from parents and students to teach industry languages) wind up using Java, C++, and maybe C# for many courses.

Oh sure a lot of us get by with various versions of BASIC (and take flack for it from “experts”) but there is always the pressure to “move on.” Most of us at the high school CS level have barely heard of Eiffel (invented and promoted by Meyer) or other languages that have been invented in academic institutions. These languages sometimes do influence the development of other programming languages but seldom seem to migrate into industry intact.

What does that mean for us as educators? It means we wind up teaching students have to solve bugs that they’d be better off if the language did not permit to happen in the first place. This problem has, I believe, contributed to the development, popularity and use of drag and drop block programming languages for beginners. But eventually we all push our students to learning crummy languages.

I don’t see an easy answer. It will probably have to be the universities who solve this first. High schools are allowed to follow trends in higher education. And I have seen a lot of professional development organizations influenced by language choices of recent graduates. Though that almost always requires a common choice by many top universities which seems to be less common all the time.

For a lot of professional developers, especially those who are self taught, seem to view doing things the hard way as a point of pride. Looking for tools (or languages) that make creating bugs harder is seen as a crutch by the “brogrammer” crowd.

Ah, well, maybe when the current generation gets to be my age and loses the desire to spend time tracking down easy to prevent bugs things will change.
Categories: Planet

Tackk in the Classroom

Classroom 2.0 Diigo Group - 15 April, 2014 - 20:43


Tags: collaboration, tool, PBL

by: Dimitris Tzouris

Categories: International News
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