Saturday, January 24, 2009

Response to PrincipalsPages

PrincipalPages had a recent blog post regarding Punishing Parents which I posted a comment to. You can see his post here:[csuccess]=true#feedback

My response is listed below.
I do have to slightly disagree. It isn't always parents making excuses. My son had a book he wanted to return to the library. He knew it was going to be late. I told him that I was too tired and that I wasn't able to drive him down there. Could my 9 year old have left the house and walked down to the library to be responsible? Not if he wanted to stay safe. Sometimes it really isn't a kids fault and it really isn't a parent's fault. We have so many constraints on our lives that sometimes life just gets in the way of living. Why must everyone comply? Does there have to be only one due date? Does everyone have to arrive at school at exactly the same time? Yes I know there must be order but with a world that is living 24/7 when are schools going to stop functioning like it is still a 9 to 5 world. It bugs us when kids are annoying after we have had a long night, what about the parent that suddenly got a double shift dumped on them and simply can't get their child to school safely. Who should be punished? Maybe nobody.

While I like the visceral response I get when I think of parents being punished, I am much more about figuring out ways to get us all to collaborate rather than the masses to comply with the hierarchy.

His post referenced the 1% that were chronic behavior problems. I feel like it is more like 5% but I have no good data (yet) to support the actual numbers. After leaving the classroom I realized that most of my students were completely acceptable in their behavior. I frankly only remember the really good ones, the really bad ones, and the few whom, I know I made mistakes with and regret the possible hurt I caused. If only 1% or 5% are really chronically problems maybe a bit more flexibility in how we address rules is more effective.

Teach people correct Principles and they can govern themselves. (adapted from Joseph Smith Jr.)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Assumptions, Assumptions

This image was found on flickr but must originally have been in a Junior High Shop class.

Isolated Adolescence

few weeks ago I wrote about how we have extended adolescence right into the late twenties. Another great failing of that is that we have also isolated adolescence. For years in the classroom, I noticed that kids are very focused on engaging with each other. That is normal, natural and probably good. But in the 10 years I was in the class room I watched the growth of the cell phenomena. Cell phones were considered a nuisance item when I started teaching in 1998 but not a student in the K-8 School I taught in had one. Then I moved into a 7,8,9 Junior High. Cell phones were still banned as a nuisance item but were uncommon. Maybe 12-15% of the students had one and I don't remember confiscating many. Eventually that number moved up and I started ignoring the ban.

"Mr. Jorgensen, I need a calculator"
Do you have your cell phone?
"Mr. Jorgensen there aren't enough stopwatches"
Do you have your cell phone?"

Eventually the ban changed and students were allowed to have phones in the hall before and after school, but I was actually told personally that I was required to confiscate if I knew they were in my class. I get it. The technologies we have actually allow us to choose who we interact in based on common interest without regard to geography. If I don't like the class then I can engage with someone else somewhere else! That makes teaching hard because I need them to engage with difficult high level questions right now with me that aren't nearly as emotionally connected as sending out a quick

rlly! :)
pizza yeah :)
I've been reading the book Emotional Design by Donald Norman. He is a psychologist and Computer Scientist who studies design for human-centered products. He has a lot of good things to say and was involved with the design team at Apple. He made reference in his book to the fact that by using the Cell-Phone we can escape the loneliness of the crowd. I can be walking downtown amidst strangers who I am afraid will judge, condemn and ignore me, but if I start chatting on my cell phone then I am connected.

I am afraid this happens too much with adolescence. Kids are connecting with kids. We have a 20:1 35:1 40:1 adult to student ratio in the classroom. When you connect the kids to all of their online interactions kids daily interactions are probably approaching 150:1 ratios of adolescents to adults in their lives. And I am thinking I am being very conservative and only talking about the other adolescents they actually engage with regularly for more than just inconsequential interactions.

This troubles me. There has always been a generation gap, but even with one there was not the same possibility for an underculture to develop so completely unsupervised as we know have. We have seen it growing for years with the rise of gangs, bing drinking parties and other stuff, but I honestly think there is a solution. There has to be a more concerted effort by adults to engage in this world that is already engaging our kids. We can't abandon the territory to 'them' because if we do they will engage with others and there will be some of 'them' that are adults, but not necessarily the adults that we want with our kids.

I really didn't want this post to sound so gloomy. I am actually very excited about the ability to connect. I am having a lot of fun with it and excited to see good things happening. I just look at the ratio that existed at one time during an older age based on apprenticeships and mentoring that put young adults firmly into a situation where they were expected to work with and alongside more experienced adults as being much more secure for all of us. I see so many adults who feel out of touch with teens. They are like we were when we were teens. They are people with hopes, dreams, ideas, fears just like adults. Less mature, less experienced possibly, but also more hopeful, less cynical, and jaded. We are all people and we need less isolation. The technology can create that but we have to shape it to our needs, desires and hopes. We can connect all of us.

Friday, January 9, 2009


C-Forum has been great today. Good people and good activities.

We used Pixie2 for Tech4Learning to create digital fables/fairy tales. It was a great activity. The tool wasn't the key really it was the process. It would be great activity regardless of the tool. It would be possible to create the fairy tales with PowerPoint, Keynote, MovieMaker, or others.

We moved on to ScreenFlow and other options for creating tutorials. Screenflow is Mac only but does have the option for creating HD videos that we are making available through UEN's eMedia catalog and on YouTube.

We also spent time looking at iPod Touch and iPhone apps. As a group we are especially interested in free apps for educaiton. If you have any suggestions please add them as comments.

There is a google doc listing the apps.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Response to Jeff Utecht: It's about the Tools

I recently read and posted some comments about Jeff Utecht's piece regarding the why and how of teaching technology. I thought they were worth putting up here:

I heartily agree that we need both “why” and “how” and just in time. Two challenges I have found are that often people hear about something and then must do it. Dreamweaver is a great example. We have lots of folks who take the Dreamweaver courses my organization offers when what the really need is something like Google Page creator (Which I am still upset they have dropped by the way) They take Dreamweaver because they have heard of it not because they need that level of complexity. The other side is when people want too much 'how'. They want step by step detailed instructions for an essentially immersive experience. Some want us to hold their hand through every step of subscribing to every blog they choose to put in their reader, when they would do better ‘just signing up and trying it out’ There really needs to be a balance between the two and especially the ‘just in time’ help. Because we need both a reason to do something new, skills to accomplish our goals, and support along the way.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What if......

I hear a lot of what if regarding social networking and the school environment. The basic concern is all about safety and influence. The concerns are along the lines of
  • Teachers shouldn't have contact with students
  • Teachers shouldn't ever text message students
  • Why would anyone want to have this kind of contact
  • What if a teacher has an inappropriate relationship/influence on a student
  • What if... What if...
Basically, what if something bad happens... maybe we shouldn't do this. It is the reluctance to adopt. Technophobia is common and probably at some level necessary and appropriate. Early adopters often jump in and start to use a tool or technology without worrying about the while the

My what if is....What if we don't connect this way?

What will happen if we don't connect? What will happen if students begin learning from other sources? What will happen if students form relationships online only with their own age peers? What happens when the only adults online are those trying to harm young people. What if the only example of online behavior are those who aren't accountable for their example. What if students really want to stay connected to a teacher that was a positive influence on them. What if we shut down the personal connection because of the fear of inappropriate connections? What if we become so out of touch that we become irrelevant? What if this has already happened?

I honestly believe there is a perception that all relationships online have the potential of being sinister. I guess that is true. There is a certain sense of freedom or license and anonymity. But every f2f interaction we have has the potential of turning sinister too. Look at the headlines, how many loving trusted spouses have turned on the family?

What if we don't use the technologies? What if?

Response to Drape's Takes: Social Media

This is my response to Drape's Take on Social Media
Ummm... don't know if this qualifies as used, but it sure was frustrating. I have only recently started blogging, I held off on it mostly because I was uncomfortable with being to visible to students. I wasn't so much concerned with them finding me, but much more concerned with the reaction of parents and adminstrators finding out that students were finding me. I personally think that many adults still are firmly convinced that there is something inherently siniister about an online presence or any online interactions. I don't agree but I have to admit that there is much more license in the online world.

My example of being used comes from my son watching me blog about books. He thinks it is pretty cool. Now, how long will that last? Well, I wanted him to join in but typing up his ideas is harder so what am I to do. Out comes photobooth and up comes YouTube. He posted his first book report online. He loved it! But yesterday two separate people had watched it and responded with not just negative, but down right mean comments. I think it is very true we don't realize what we are putting out there.

Students without guidance and mentors who are also in the world with them are unlikely to learn how to maturely respond to immature reactions to their work. My son did something he cared about, do I let the negative stuff kill his enthusiasm, affect his self image? I sure don't want to, but the more I put myself out there the more I am realizing the need for there to be good mentors in the online world.

book report link:

Monday, January 5, 2009

Google your way to deeper learning!

Many teachers are frustrated with the prevalence of as a research tool for students.  Usually there are two major problems with student googling their research topic.  The first problem is finding too much stuff, either there are way more results than you can ever get through or the information reveals much more than you want for your 3rd graders.  The second problem is not finding enough.  Not finding enough reputable and unique information that can contribute to a unique project or learning opportunity.

Luckily Google has two solutions to solve this problem of doing an open Google search.  Of course there are other alternatives to using Google, being my favorite.  But if you want some other options Google provides these two tools to really help.

  • Google Books:  Google Books allows searching of the text of thousands and thousands of digitized books.  Many books are not available in their full version and other projects are working on the same thing, but Google Books is nice because it does integrate with other Google tools you may already use.  You can save books, search the full text, even read entire books that are in the public domain.  I found an obscure Horatio Alger book that I read entirely online.  The pic below is an example of the book I read.

    [caption id="attachment_116" align="aligncenter" width="390" caption="google book search"]google book search[/caption]

  • Google Scholar: Google scholar allows you to search topics with less likelihood of poor quality results.  For example a search for 'teens online' didn't yield anything like the results might have on an open Google search. The result returned the list below.  Much better than what I would have gotten just googling 'teens online'.

    [caption id="attachment_115" align="aligncenter" width="390" caption="google scholar results for teens online"][/caption]

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.