Friday, November 28, 2008

Losing my tweeple

I didn't realize how easy it is to form significant contacts on the internet.  A few months ago I started a twitter account and a few weeks in a fellow twitterer started following me.  I have gotten really used to  posts and valued the funny things said.  A couple of days ago, I snapped off a couple quick responses that I realized after the fact were probably too sarcastic and that sarcasm doesn't translate well. As soon as I realized this I tweeted off an apology.  Nothing....... days without a tweet from my fellow twitterer.  Finally I went directly to the profile page...clicked on the follow button.  NO!!!! I have been blocked.  Maybe it's really not personal, but it reminds me that the interactions online can be as valuable as the face to face ones but are even more fragile, one misguided comment can lose a friend.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

World Mapper

We are used to seeing maps of the world and often use them in class.  The maps we are used to try hard to show accurately the comparative land area of each country, but what if the size of the country gew in relationship to something else??? This is the question that World Mapper is working on answering.  The maps on ths site allow you to view changes in relative size based on other criteria.  Like the one below which shows youth literacy by country.Youth literacy map from

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Shhh... no talking!

I am teaching an online course about Internet Safety and this week was about Social Networking.  One of the discussion questions was basically:  Is there a place for social networking in the schools.  The answer an ear splitting: maybe!

Seriously though.  a reoccuring comment by those who see it as negative is: 
Kids are supposed to be learning in class.  There is no place for socializing.  They can socialize on their own time.
Well sure they can, but don't we want them to do homework on their own time too?  The lines between home and work life are blurring as we see more flexibility available due to connectivity.  Additionally,  I personally believe that as long as we avoid the internet as the domain of "them" then we don't have a stake in how it turns out.  When responsible thoughtful adults and educators take back some of that territory and use the internet for worthwhile purposes I think students will follow suit.  As far as learning being more important than socializing.  Isn't learning a social experience?  I learn from what I talk to people about, from listening to their opinions and disagreeing with them.  Sometimes heatedly.  We are social beings.  Education is a social construct that is designed (at least ideally) to take the very best people in our society and have them pass on our social and cultural values. I think we learn socially and as long as we are going to help students learn we need to find ways to cultivate exceptional conversations in our learning environments.

Another person, commented: They don't have time to be commenting on someone's hair.  Why not?  We do it all the time.  In the hall, with other teachers, in the lunch room, even when a student comes in dressed a little nicer I would often ask "Why so dressed up?"  I would get varying responses, but invariably it was a time I connected socially with these people I was teaching.  I stand firm in my conviction that people learn from people they know care!  We must be social, the question is what it too socialy to effectively teach.

Monday, November 24, 2008

UEN is on the Web....and YouTube....and TeacherTube

As part of our ongoing efforts here at UEN to make resources available to educators, we have started our own channels on both YouTube and TeacherTube.  Some of or former FacultyLounge episodes as well as other tutorials are available.  We have also made the Internet Safety Videos that were produced in partnership with available.  Check us out on the web! There is a video embedded that was produced to show off Frames a product highlighted in a Faculty Lounge episode.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Extended Adolescence

Education is good, education that disengages students from life is bad! I spent 5 years teaching Science and the whole time I was I had this unsettled feeling that what I was doing wasn't helping kids. I was teaching them useful, interesting and potentially fulfilling things, but I felt like I was preparing them for a future that I wasn't sure would exist.

Then I went into Career and Technical Education. Don't get me wrong, I loved science, and I loved teaching science, but suddenly the whole focus was on definitive skills that students need to succeed. My whole being was at peace with this view. Now, this is not my whole philosophy of education, but definitely a component of it.

We need more work! Not more homework, but more actually engagement of kids with life. I know there are hundreds thousands hundreds of thousands of example of teachers in every country, state and subject area that do exactly that, for me it took the focus of CTE to make it real for me. I was in a conference (not sitting, but actually in a wood shop building rockets) when a veteran teacher approaching retirement made the comment to me that what we have done wrong is "Extended Adolescence". Something buzzed. I turned off the band saw and something clicked. We really have extended adolescence.

I was married at 21 with a full expectation that now I am responsible for myself and my wife and future family. It seems from the messages of the media-ated culture that now, not only should I have waited until I was completely done with college, but waited until I was well established in a career before I 'settled' down. I think one major flaw in this is that we are seeing more and more parents wanted to intervene for their adult, but not yet mature children. 22 year olds who haven't yet taken any responsibility for themselves. I have actually even read articles about how to set rules, and guidelines for our college children. What???? Aren't they in every legal sense adults and independent? By the time my kids get to that point, I don't want to have to enforce rules and guidelines, I hope by then that my children and by extension the students I taught can govern themselves.

So, how do we do this, I think the same way my folks and their folks did. Expect accountability. I started feeding the pigs when I was not yet in school. My job was to collect the bucket of table scraps my Mom collected and walk out to the pig barn and 'slop' the hogs. My son has to slop the 'dogs' but the principle is still valid. I think we must do more to reinforce to our young people, and more in our schools to provide opportunities for the students to contribute meaningfully, significantly, financially, and morally to the communities. I believe this is possible through more, better and deeper work study and apprenticeship programs. Young people should begin earlier exploring career options and doing the actual work. We teach all the time that students need to experience lots of variety so they can choose what interests them. I agree and this includes doing the actual work! Students need to work, as young as junior high (7th grade or 12 years old) Students should have options to work as part of their curriculum, and not contrived simulations, but actual work. I believe I became a teacher at least in part, because I spent a portion of my High School career as a student aide, and found that I liked the work, I liked copying papers, I enjoyed grading assignments, I liked talking with the younger students when I was a few grades older than them.

Students need to experience work. They need to be expected to contribute! We need to reduce not extend adolescence. I do believe kids should still get to be kids, but when 24 and 25 years olds are still having parents call their "teachers" to explain why they didn't get their homework done we have reached the ridiculous. Lets bring back work!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Response to Drape's Takes : Immersion

This analogy of taking the plunge is a vital one. It is impossible to teach someone to swim if you are on the side of the pool. How can I help kids learn anything if I am not still learning myself. Immersion is what helps us become learners.

Originally posted as a comment by Jorgie on Drape's Takes using Disqus.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Tech Tools for Every Educator

Ok,  I have been insanely busy with getting my Internet Safety class online.  Several people find it ironic that I would teach and Internet Safety class online, but come on what's better than learning to swim in the water right?

Anyway, I have been thinking a lot about what Drape's Takes has to say about education and I think it's my turn.
Tech Tools for Every Educator 
These are tools and skills that I believe every educator should be actively developing

  • Multimedia editing: Whether it is PowerPoint, iMovie, Keynote, MovieMaker or some other tool every educator needs to be able to create, and remix their own multimedia.
  • A sanctioned online presence:  Every teacher needs a safe place to create an online presence.  A place that no administrator/board member/legislator/parent is going to "call" them on.  A place that no one is going to say: I don't know if that is a good idea.  A place that they can post links, documents, and events relevant to their class.
  • The ability to create readily readable reports:  Teachers should be able to create documents in the following formats and know what they are and why they should use them.  csv, pdf, rtf, txt
  • A portable web presence:  Every educator should have a web address that belongs to them.  This is different than the sanctioned site listed above.  This is a place where you have stuff that you might want to move with you.  Your other site could/should have a portal to this online real estate, but this one you take with you if you move schools, are promoted or retire.
  • An online learning community:  Every educator should cultivate a group of like-minded (and sometimes opposite minded) colleagues.  Whether this is developed through list-serves, twitter, blogger, edu-blog or some other method, we should be able to collaborate with colleagues who have similar jobs
  • Online messaging:  this relates to the above entry.  Every teacher should be able to communicate with an instant messaging service.  There are many.  Windows Live Messenger, GoogleTalk, and Skype
  • Web Based Email:  Every teacher should also have a secondary web based email.  Pick your flavor.
Well, let me know if  what I left off.

Welcome to Jorgie Learning

I really am learning and this blog is maintained both as a record of some of what I am doing as well as a place for me to train and teach others about creating an online presence. So please don't mind the dust. We aren't remodeling we are learning!

Visit some of my other blogs or the other blogs I find mildly entertaining for a more polished feel.