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All banner artwork by Brady Johnson, college student and (semi-) starving artist.

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My book Machines are the easy part; people are the hard part is now available as a free download at Lulu.

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EdTech Update





The School Librarian: Your Ultimate Digital Resource

Just published:

Johnson, Doug. The School Librarian: Your Ultimate Digital Resource, Educational Leadership, February 2019

Abstract: School librarians have expertise in using education technology—but many teachers don't realize how much a school librarian can help them understand and use tech tools for student learning. The author describes six supporting roles librarians can play in this regard: curating resources for individualized instruction, sharing expertise in locating/evaluating resources, helping students produce digital content, advising on issues of copyright and avoiding plagiarism, teaching digital citizenship, and managing school makerspaces.

As always, very proud to be published by ASCD! 


10 tips for long-legged flyers

This came during my recent trip to the Philippines:

I read lots of clickbait titles like "3 things every flyer should do before take off" and "Never drink this on a flight" and "Why you should never attempt to open an outside door while in flight" - I am usually pretty disappointed that rarely, if ever, I learn anything new. 

I am 6' 3 1/2" tall with a 34 inch inseam. Modern airline seats are designed for people whose legs have been amputated - at the waist. So finding leg room for a long flight is important. Having flown that many miles over the years, I hope have some experience that maybe helpful to we taller type travelers. So here are...

10 things tall people can do to make their flights more comfortable.

  1. Take of your shoes. Wear slip-ons. Slip them off and put them in the overhead bin. Wear heavy socks. Try not to step in any wet spots in the lavatories. You gain the thickness of your soles and heels in leg room without your shoes.
  2. Remove everything from the seat pocket in front of you. Take out the magazines and barf bag and whatever garbage the last passenger may have left and stuff it either in the seat beside you (most likely your neighbor will be shorter than you) or toss it in the overhead. Next to your shoes. You get the thickness of the catalogs back in leg room.
  3. Put your bag under your knees not under the seat. On take off your carry on must go under the seat, but after that it can go righ against your seat under your knees. More room for you feet to move around under the seat in front of you is the happy result.
  4. Sit by a window. Three advantages: Your knee sticking in the aisle while asleep won't get whacked by the drink cart. You can rest your head against the window. You get to bother your seat mate when you have to get up.
  5. Don't recline. While this seems counter-intuitive, it seems to me that when your seat goes back, your butt moves forward, thus shortening your leg room. At least in some planes.
  6. Get an exit row or book Economy Comfort. It's going to cost you, but sometimes paying a little extra for Economy Comfort (what Delta calls it) or for an exit row, may be worth the $$$. I do it on long flights when I am feeling rich. Which is not that often.
  7. Hope no one sits beside you so you can extend your legs into the next space. Ah, the days when entire rows in the back of the plane were empty and you could lay down like you were home on the couch. Today's flights are nearly always full - damn algorithms! You can increase your odds by sitting as far back in the plane as possible and choosing, online, a seat in a row that looks empty shortly before the flight. Good luck.
  8. Hope anyone sitting beside you is not real wide or real tall. Good luck with that. I always ask to be put near a crying baby when I get the chance too.
  9. Get up and stretch regularly. This doesn't help leg room, but it can alleviate some of the problems a lack of leg room can cause. Stretching is good. Stand around a little. Just don't look threatening.
  10. Repeat the mantra: I am not on a sailing ship. I am not in a covered wagon. I am not on a bus. I am not having to drive. Complaining about leg room on a flight that takes you half way around the world in less than 24 hours is truly a first world problem. Be amazed and grateful at just how little discomfort and for what a small amount of time is involved in seeing amazing things and having wonderful adventures.

Hoping to rack up my next million miles before my membership and I expire.


BFTP: My 5 rules for being a grown-up

As I believe I have mentioned, I am bad at math. When splitting a check in half — half! — I reliably figure it out wrong. (How is this possible? I don’t know either.) I do a lot of crying while balancing my checkbook, and not just for the usual reasons. I chose my college in part because there was no math requirement. I now muddle by with the help of calculators and software, though if I’m doing basic figuring – money, distances – I usually try to do it manually first, to stay in the habit of doing the actual work of math. Why? Because a grown-up needs to be able to maintain a budget and not run away when her kid asks her to check her homework. That’s just how it is. Mary Elizabeth Williams

Ms Williams writes on Salon (Nov 18, 2013) about her 5 rules for being a grown-up. The genesis of her article was a reflection on a Atlantic piece by Miles Kimball and Noah Smith that proposed that when considering competence for something like math “inborn talent is much less important than hard work, preparation, and self-confidence.” 

Williams rules are, that as grown-ups:

  1. We have to move [exercise]
  2. We have to feed ourselves [cook and eat healthily]
  3. We have to be able to write a coherent sentence 
  4. We have to think about other people
  5. We have to do the math [maintain a budget and help with homework]

I have two problems with this list.

First, with the exceptions of numbers 1 and 4, these tasks can be outsourced. Yes, given enough time and energy, a human being can become competent at nearly anything. The question is if the time spent in gaining competence is worth the pay-off. I could learn to become a great pastry chef, although that is not an area in which I have much interest or talent. I could indeed take classes, practice, and probably get pretty good at baking a world-class pumpkin pie. Or I could use my time to write and earn enough from that writing to buy a pumpkin pie at Bakers Square. I can hire others to cook, write, and do math - if I have other talents I can trade in exchange. 

My understanding is that psychologists have demonstrated that we are better off spending time developing our strengths than trying to compensate for our weaknesses. Such an approach seems to me to be one that would lead to greater productivity and a happier, more fulfilling life.

The second problem I have with this small list is that it seems terribly modest to me. I have much higher expectations of adults (grown-ups). In my eyes, true adults:

  1. Are independent and take responsibility for their own lives. They have left blaming one's parents, teachers, circumstances of birth, physical make-up, etc. behind. They play the hand they've been dealt - and play it for all it's worth. "Responsible adult" is redundant. An adult also recognizes when he/she needs help - and seeks it without shame or embarrassment. (I write this recognizing that I myself have been very fortunate with my "circumstances of birth," the beneficiary of white privilege.)
  2. Take responsibility for being as healthy as possible. 90% of good health and physical well-being is probably genetic. One doesn't have a lot of choice of being tall, short, fat, thin, pretty, or plug ugly. But the other 10% can make the difference between an active, fulfilling life and one spent on the couch. 
  3. Recognize that their actions have an impact on others - including future generations. This ranges from taking the last scrap of toilet paper and not replacing the roll to using environmentally unfriendly detergent to using bad language around children. Adults live lives of purpose, and the best purpose is making the world a better place for others in some large or small way. And to make the world a better place for one's grandchildren.
  4. Understand that monetary wealth does not necessarily bring happiness - and that the sources of happiness may be different for different people. Real adults don't use money as a means of calculating personal value. Relationships, adventures, creative projects, and service are the big parts of one's obit, not the size of the estate. But then if adults honor the right to pursue happiness in personal ways, far be it from me to criticize the savers and the hoarders. I don't understand monster truck or ballet aficionados either.
  5. Develop a spiritual life and live by a set of personal values. Whether through organized religion, mediation, literature, appreciation of nature, or commitment to the Star Trek fan club, adults seek meaning. And they think about their values - and their value.

Schools should find ways to allow student practice in acting in adult ways - making independent choices, experimenting, and, yes, making mistakes and living with the consequences. Good teachers, like good parents, work themselves out of a job when they are effective.

And I know, at 66, I am still trying to become a grown-up. 

What in your experience is a rule for being an adult?

Image source 

Original post 12-4-13