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EdTech Update





Odds and Ends - Spring thaw 08

Been a busy, busy time for me with trips to Iowa to see my mom who is on the mend from hip surgery, to the state legislature where it is still on the waiting list for a brain donor, and to the DuKane Library Institute near Chicago where I had a chance work with outstanding area school library media specialist. (Pam Kramer runs a class act!) School board reports, workshop handouts and a column are sort of rounding out my evenings.

But the weather seems to be moderating! 

Anyway, I've not had the chance to explore entries in my GoogleReader as deeply as I'd like. Here are a few I need to get back to soon:


Sorry to start with a negative, but Seth Godin is overrated. But now and then he does peak my interest. Like in this post:

Encyclopedia salesmen hate wikipedia...

And CNET hates Google
And newspapers hate Craigslist
And music labels hate Napster
And used bookstores hate Amazon
And so do independent bookstores.

Dating services hate Plenty of Fish
And the local shoe store hates Zappos
And courier services hate fax machines
And monks hate Gutenberg

Apparently, technology doesn't care who you hate.

LMSs and TLCs (Technology and Learning Coordinators) whom do we hate? Or do we just hate anything that asks us to examine what value we add to education - and then realize we must change as a result of what we find?


 Wonderful blog entry by Pete Reilly on the need and content for a Students Bill of Rights. Check it out.

I took a little softer approach on this topic when second grandson Miles was born a couple years ago. Here are his "Bill of Rights."

Miles will start school in 2010 or 2011. Here’s what I hope he finds:

    1. A place that cares as much about his happiness as his education.
    2. A place that cares more about his love of learning than his test scores.
    3. A place where he feels safe and welcome and can’t wait to get to every morning.
    4. A place that honors creativity more than memorization.
    5. A place that has a library full of stories and a librarian who makes them come alive.
    6. A place where technology hasn’t taken the place of playing with blocks, finger-painting, naps, graham crackers, or a teacher’s soft encouragement.
    7. A place where he learns to work and play with kids who make not have been given the blessings of a middle-class lifestyle or a fully-functioning body or brain.
    8. A place that teaches kindness along with math, tolerance along with history, and conservation along with science.
    9. A place where teachers are excited about teaching and passionate about encouraging the passions in their students.
    10. A place where he is never compared to his older brother, Paul.

What would you put on a Students Bill of Rights?


NCTE is going high tech on us! From its Toward A Definition of 21st-Century Literacies.

Twenty-first century readers and writers need to

  • Develop proficiency with the tools of technology
  • Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and
  • Design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of
  • Manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous
  • Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multi-media texts
  • Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments

Sound like any other sets of standards you've been reading lately??? Looks good, English majors!

(Full disclosure - I was an English teacher in my career's larval stage.)

Still have found no organization adopt my Bullshit Literacy Standards and I don't quite understand why. 


I was very flattered to be tagged for a Blogs That Make Me Think Award by Carolyn Foote at A Not So Distant Future.

The rules of the meme are:
  1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
  2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
  3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote

In addition there is a note: “Please, remember to tag blogs with real merits, i.e. relative content, and above all - blogs that really get you thinking! ”

Thanks, Carolyn. My guess is that what most people think while reading the Blue Skunk is "Why am I wasting my time reading this stuff?" Anyway, here are 5 folks who, as much as it makes my head hurt, really make me think:

  1. Pete Reilly at Ed Tech Journeys
  2. Paul at quoteflections 
  3. Joyce Valenza at A Never Ending Search
  4. Scott Adams at The Dilbert Blog. (Recent observation: Women prefer taller men. That’s probably a good thing from an evolutionary perspective. If the preference worked in the other direction, eventually our descendants would evolve smaller and smaller until squirrels ate them.)
  5. Stephen Abrams at Stephen's Lighthouse

 Ok, I actually have 68 subscriptions in my Reader and if all of them didn't make think at least once in a while, I wouldn't still be subscribed. Thanks to everyone who writes and shares...



Two good posts this week with more realistic takes on Internet dangers:

Worth reading and sharing with the person who controls your Internet filter.


And finally, I'll leave you with this inspirational quote

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Give a fish a man, and he'll eat for weeks! - Takayuki Ikkaku, Arisa Hosaka and Toshihiro Kawabata, authors of Animal Crossing: Wild World


Join us Tuesday

This Tuesday, March 4th, at 8PM CST, the Women of the Web2.0 program on EdTalk will be about school library media programs.

Famous person, Joyce Valenza, and I will be guests on the program. (Cathy Nelson has a great description of what's happening and how to get involved here so I don't think I need to repeat all of it here. Thanks, Cathy!)


So, Blue Skunk Readers, what should be the main topics of conversation on this program about the future of school library media programs? Issues? Problems? Ideas? Let me know and I'll work them into the show.

Oh, as I understand it, men who are confident about their masculinity are welcome to participate as well.


Local control and other educational myths

  • Hope didn't do it.
  • Logic and research didn't do it.
  • Testimony from librarians, students and parents didn't do it.
  • Over 50 school library supporters crowding the hearing room didn't do it.

Our state school library/technology association's bill that would have given all Minnesota students access to the services of a professional library media specialist throughout the school day didn't make it out of yesterday's Senate Education committee yesterday.

We lost.

If this blog post sounds like sour grapes, it probably is. Even after 50+ years of rejection of one type or another, I still can't find a way to take losing very well. Sorry.

Here are some of the major reasons given by senators for not supporting our bill:

1. Local control. Legislators felt the decision whether to have a good school library program is best left to local school boards. Despite taking away control over little things like the length of the school year, testing, number of credits needed for graduation, transportation, special education, and a host of other big ticket items, one senator stated he did not want the legislature to act like a "super school board."

Counter: We still need to convince our legislators that good library services are an essential core program for every student in the state, not just in the wealthy districts. While good math skills are see as a necessity, I guess little things like information and technology literacy and life-long reading skills are not - yet. Do we need signs that can be hung on closed school libraries in this state saying, "Closed - but at least we have local control." I am sure we can make those third graders who can't find a good book or Internet guidance understand how important this principle is. (OK, sarcasm isn't becoming.)

2. Unfunded mandates. In the past, I have not been a fan of mandates. I've changed my mind. We can't have a system in which some aspects of education are mandated and others are not. My sense is that 95% of our education dollars are locked into requirements set down by the state with 5% left to be divided among the "extras" like technology, libraries, guidance counselors, elective courses, etc. If nothing was mandated, we could compete for dollars. When most of what schools can do with state dollars IS mandated, our programs need to be mandated as well. As one legislator put it, "as the waterhole dries up, the animals around it start looking at each other differently." And given today's expected budget forecast for Minnesota of about a billion dollars, the waterhole will continue to shrink.

Counter: If there are any state mandates, all important services need to be mandated. Or sufficient educational dollars need to given to all schools to provide basic service. Our waterhole can't continue to shrink. 

3. "Protected class" of employee. One legislator felt this was a bill to protect library jobs and make librarians a "protected class" of employee. But by requiring three years of math for all Minnesota students, haven't we created a "protected class" ofmath teachers? I can see how our bill might look like job protectionism by school librarians.

Counter: I see this bill as "service protectionism" - assuring all kids have available to them access to programs and professionals who will teach them essential skills. We can't frame this as a problem of fewer librarians. We really need better data about school library programs as well. We could not answer the simple question, "How many schools don't have professional librarians in them." We can't complain when we are asked to submit state library program surveys.

I am sadder than I thought I would be. I knew this would be an uphill battle. I wasn't even sure we should have taken this on, given its odds of passage.  But yesterday convinced me that is a necessary fight and we can't surrender. As the Blues Brothers would put it, our profession needs to be on "a mission from God."


Thanks to all who testified and all who showed up yesterday in St. Paul. 

To paraphrase another famous movie line, "We'll be back."