Search this site
Other stuff

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

My latest books:

   

        Available now

       Available Now

Available now 

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

 The Blue Skunk Page on Facebook

 

EdTech Update

 Teach.com

 

 

 


Tuesday
Jan312006

Significant day

Sent to me this morning by a friend who has retired to Spain. Sorry, couldn't resist sharing it...

This year, both Groundhog Day and the State of the Union Address fall on the same day. 

As Air America Radio pointed out, "It is an ironic juxtaposition: one involves a meaningless ritual in which we look to a creature of little intelligence for prognostication, and the other involves a groundhog."
Saturday
Jan282006

I Will (as a librarian)

If you haven't seen it, Jacquie Henry has continued the "I Will.." series on her new (and very good) Wanderings blog.

This is how it goes so far.

Great fun, and thanks again, John Pederson, for getting the ball rolling and Jacquie for keeping it rolling. Where else might this go? I Will (as a parent), I Will (as a school administrator), or even I Will (as an engaged member of society)?

Reminds me a little of an early poster to LM_Net who made the comment: computers won't replace librarians, but librarians who know how to use computers will. (If you remember who first authored this, please let me know or I will keep claiming it as my own.)

________

Thanks to the great educators in Indiana who attended the ICE Conference this past week. I had great fun and hope you did as well. 

While at ICE, I got to sit in on the last bit of Annette Lamb's session on blogging and grabbed a handout that pointed to the fabulous school blogging resources on her escrapbooking website. Generous soul that Annette is, she gave me permission to point other people to this resource that she shares.

This was the first time I've had the opportunity to watch Annette at work. She is one of the liveliest and best organized presenters I know, and is extremely practical in her approach to the classroom use of technology. A genuine delight. 

Annette is also teaching an online class on blogging. I'm sure if you e-mail her <eduscapes@earthlink.net>, she'll send you more information.

________

I loved the entry Imagine: Blogging for People Who Don't Read by  Christian Long over at think:lab. He writes, in part:

"Learning without passion is not learning.  They make velcro-closure sneakers and spell check for all the rest.  Or they simply outsource it (skill, knowledge, 'fact') to India or via TurboTax. Period.  Without something profound pushing your soul, without a journey, without a Bilbo returning the ring, without a blind turn in the woods, without finding your absolute best self facing the blind trust fall of adventure, there is no learning worth fighting for that should divide communities based on bond increases or place technologists against administrators within the professional debate hamster-wheel or incite home schoolers to mock public schoolers (vice versa) or to ask anyone to worry about 21st century skills (and the tests that will get you there).  No, until the 'epic' is returned to the learning experience, until we all become part of the Story, until it matters more to the learner than the Superintendent, until learning answers the 'why do I need to know this?' quandary, it's all velcro-enclosure sneakers."

I am such a sucker for passionate writing and articulated epiphanies, such as this. Somebody besides me, gets it! How exciting! I am a firm believer that you gotta have your own aha! experience, your own moment of zen, your own conversion on the road to Damascus - nobody can have it for you and then tell you about it.  Nobody can teach the same awakening an epiphany brings. But it's cool reading about them anyway.

Enjoy your weekend. 

Saturday
Jan282006

Can 4th graders search?

Under the mistaken belief that I actually know something, people often tend to write asking my advice. Now I love giving advice (solicited or unsolicited) as much as the next guy, but there are lots of areas where any suggestions I can give should be considered extremely suspect. And just having an opinion is not the same as having a something valuable to say.

Here's a good example that came in yesterday's e-mail:

Our district recently purchased NetTrekker to help us in "filtering" inappropriate websites.  Some people believe that upper elementary students (4th - 5th grades) have the capability to search for valid information by surfing.  My experience has been that NetTrekker should be used by the to find specific websites and direct their students to those sites. I have found that most elementary students have a difficult time just reading the information - let alone distinguishing the difference between legitimate and illegitimate information.

What is your opinion regarding this issue? 

And here was my lame reply...

Good question. Since I don't work with elementary students on a daily basis, take my response with a grain of salt.

 

First, I DO think we should be teaching 4-5th graders to do effective Internet searches. Personally, I hate the word "surf" which implies a recreational, casual approach to finding websites. Can 4-5th graders do effective searches - yes, but only if we take the time to actually teach them strategies for doing this. Should they be "surfing?" No.

 

Is there a place for using pre-selected sites found with Nettrekker or elsewhere with 4th-5th graders? Absolutely. If the focus is for kids to learn about a particular topic rather than learn to do effective searches, this is probably the best strategy - not dissimilar to creating a webquest (or in the olden days, pulling a cart of books for kids doing research on a particular topic.)

 

I'll put your question on my blog too and you can see if other people have an opinion.

 

 OK, educators who work with upper elementary students on a daily basis, how should I have answered this question?