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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





BFTP: Lit teachers, don't despair

On a recent morning's windy walk, I caught our neighborhood red-tailed hawk on her raptorial patrol. The first few lines of Gerard Manley Hopkins's poem "The Windover" came to mind when I saw this regal creature...

I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-
dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding 
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding 
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing 
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing, 
As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding 
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding 
Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of, the mastery of the thing! 

I was introduced to this poem in either high school or college and don't remember being particularly impressed by it. But yesterday, more than forty years later, the sound and images came back. Imperfectly. Probably misinterpreted. But strongly, adding depth to my walk and my life.

English teachers, librarians, poets - don't give up. It just takes some of us a little longer to get it.

 Image source

Original post October 27, 2013


Filtering unsolicited email

I intensely dislike finding unsolicited email in my sparkling clean Gmail inbox. I am suspicious of "unsubscribe" links, worried they simply let marketers know they have a live fish on the hook.

So everyday at least two or three times, I play whack a marketer using the Gmail filtering option. It's pretty easy.

Open an unsolicited email. For example:

Next click on the three dots next to Reply link, bringing up the option of choosing Filter messages like this.

Now build the filter. The key here is to filter by @domainname not by the individual sender. That way the filter will work for everyone in the company that tries to send you email. Cool, huh? (Don't do this if the domain is,, or other mailing services.)

Click on Create filter.

Chose the check box by Delete it and Also apply filter to matching conversation. You can edit filters in your Gmail settings at a later date if needed.

That's it. Never see email from this company in your email box again!

I can't be sure that this has reduced the amount of garbage I get, but it is satisfying at some level.

Have a nice weekend.



12 tips for getting students to hate technology

This generation of students, by nature it seems, loves technology. Too much perhaps. With faces in phones, they text, talk, research, read, game, photograph, and buy - having great fun in the process. Humph.

But of course all dedicated educators know that education should not be fun and allowing enjoyment of technology in school is antithetical to best practices. (I am positive there is a university study somewhere about this.) If it doesn't hurt, it probably isn't doing one much good in learning as in exercise..

Here then are a few tips for sucking the pleasure right out of those iPads and Chromebooks that your school may have issued to kids:

  1. Block all games (or try).
  2. Block all social media (or try).
  3. Install classroom control features that lock students into a single application.
  4. Block chat in all programs.
  5. Create complicated login procedures and demand complex passwords that need to changed often.
  6. Use "digital citizenship" lessons to scare the snot out of kids about predators and privacy instead of discussing common sense practices.
  7. Give lots and lots of online assessments - pre, post and during. No reading without a following quiz.
  8. Block all streaming media including YouTube, Netflix, and Pandora.
  9. Send reports to parents on a regular basis about students' browsing habits.
  10. Discourage using applications for creativity and problem-solving. Stress following instructions!
  11. Find ways to shame students who might damage their devices.
  12. Eliminate or restrict reading choices, online as well as off.

Come on, folks, let's get creative here! I brainstormed these in only a few short minutes. Add your most effective techniques for draining the joy from computing right out of school. Kids will realize in the future we were only doing it in their best interest.