Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Journal Entry 1-September

Journal Entry 1-September 26th, 2008


Pink, D. H. (2005). A whole new mind: Why the right-brainers will rule the future. New York, New York: Riverhead Books.

Daniel Pink's book A Whole New Mind is a book that could fit into any category. I also feel that this book is so monumental in what it discusses that I planned on using it for each possible category of journal entry. I have later come to the conclusion that that might not be a good idea and could possibly cause damage to my grade. In this entry, I will be discussing what Pink calls the Conceptual Age. I have heard many people say that we are in the Information Age, which is true. But the world is shifting into the Conceptual Age. Pink discusses many things that make up the Conceptual Age. The first thing is the idea that the work place is changing. If your job can be done by someone in India, Singapore, China or the Philippines or your job can be done more quickly by a computer, in the very near future your job may not exist. The work place is shifting in another way. There was a time when left brained thinking was king. Things like remembering facts, repeating procedures, and analyzing details were and still are important. But right brained thinking is becoming more in demand. If you are using your right brain, you may analyze details, and synthesize those details to create a "big picture." The left side of the brain is good at sequential things like counting or the alphabet. The right side of the brain is good at weighing all pieces of information and rendering a decision. In math, the left side of the brain would be good at counting and the right side of the brain would be good at geometry. The last way that the work place is changing is the idea of High Concept and High Touch. High Concept has to do with creators and High Touch has to do with empathizers. High Concept has to do with the world of design. Did you know that in America the number of graphic designers has "increased tenfold in the last decade; graphic designers outnumber chemical engineers by four to one" (55). High Touch has to do with the idea that people need quality time from one another. Pink calls the High Touch abilities as a "capacity for compassion, care and uplift" (59). Pink goes on to say, "that the number of jobs in the 'caring professions' --counseling, nursing, and hands on health assistance--is surging" (59).

I believe that much of what Pink says fits into learning very nicely. The first thing that comes to mind is the idea of the new Bloom's Taxonomy. When we teach we strive to get into the top of the Bloom's pyramid. The top of this pyramid fits nicely with the idea of what Pink call design. We are in a time of great abundance. In this day and age we can go to Walmart and buy a toilet brush. It will not be fancy and it will get the job done. We can also go to Target and buy a designer toilet brush. The brush may be ergonomic with a cushy handle and cost $26 dollars. Pink says that people who design, like the people who designed the designer toilet brush, will be in greater demand. People who design create and creating is at the top of the new Bloom's Taxonomy. If we as educators want our students to get good jobs we need to teach them how to create. That requires us to constantly get students to create in our classes. We must strive for the top of the new Bloom's Taxonomy.

What does this mean for schools? How does Pink's Conceptual Age effect school policy and procedures? I think that Pink's ideas will effect every part of education. The one thing that jumps out in my mind is the idea that schools may actually be killing creativity. With the push of standardized testing and No Child Left Behind, what some people call "specials" are being cut to make more time in the school day for Math and English Language Arts. I am in schools all the time and I see no public speaking class, no computer programing and very few graphic design classes. It just does not seem that these classes are emphasized as much as other classes and are often labeled a fluff. In fact, these so called "fluff" classes may be the key to the future success of our students.

One of the reasons that these right brained classes are being cut is because they cannot be easily assessed on a state examination. Whatever happened to differentiation of instruction? Isn't a speech class a form of differentiation? I was a student who is very good at expressing myself orally and found public speeching class to be very beneficial.

In this video, Sir Ken Robinson discusses how schools are killing creativity.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Connie Finney and Moodle

Yesterday, I had two appointments in my calendar. One was a chapel service recognizing a college professor who teaches pre-service teachers at a local educational establishment. Her name is Connie Finney. Connie, this past spring, decided to take a sabbatical. And she decided to take the sabbatical with us at Cattaraugus Allegany BOCES in the department of Professional Development. This seemed like a very logical place to take a sabbatical, especially with all the talk now in New York State about a p-16 initiative. Connie is also the kind of person who would feel bad for not preparing her students to be not only ready for the educational challenges of today but future, undiscovered challenges for students of all levels. You should see what Connie's students say about her. While Connie was with us she really embraced technology. She even went as far as to have her own professional development offering for the Houghton College community called “Google, Gadgets and God.” Yesterday, Connie was being recognized for her excellence in teaching, which, unfortunately, I can’t find mention of on the Houghton College website. I did find Connie’s faculty profile page. Connie is a professor and from what I saw yesterday, she is good at it. She spoke with candor and grace. Like an artist it is not always what you paint, sometimes it is the dark areas or things you don’t paint that are very powerful. Connie is to speaking as Frederic Church is to the art world. It was her pauses and her “blank space” that made what she was saying so powerful. She showed me that she thinks in three dimensions. Connie’s award is beyond well deserved. The second thing that I had on my calendar was a Moodle Focus Group meeting. I was part of the meeting and a representative of the professional development department. Moodle is open-source software. I have heard people say that one of the big concerns with open-source software is that there is really no one to call if things go wrong. I was at a training last year, at the beginning of school, and I mentioned teaching on-line. And this one teacher was brave enough to say that, teaching on-line scares me to death. She was concerned that she would loose her job to someone teaching the same thing she was teaching but on-line. And my retort was, “What if you became the expert on-line teacher?” The teacher went on to say, “but I don’t know how to do that.” This is where the tool, and in this case Moodle, and professional development comes in. Some schools are requiring students to take an on-line course before they graduate. There are also schools requiring students to do some kind of community serve before they graduate. I think, and it may exist now, that students may eventually be required to combine entrepreneurship with some kind of web commerce. Why can’t we require students to make some kind of profit using the Internet? The web is becoming more and more ubiquitous now that the end user’s device is in their pocket in the form of a cell phone. Should some type of web commerce or business be a requirement for students to graduate? Why can’t a web business be a type of internship? I know I have mentioned this before, but wouldn’t teaching students web commerce teach students how to fish and not just give them the fish? I have digressed again on my own personal little tangent. My point is let’s empower people. Whether its teachers teaching with Moodle or students having their own web based entrepreneurial endeavor. Knowledge is not just power, but knowledge can empower.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Internet Rudeness Spill Over

On my way to Long Island, New York last month, I stopped in a McDonalds somewhere on the road. I had my normal grilled southwestern chicken salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing and Diet Coke. On my way out of the restaurant, I stepped aside to let this beautiful family come into through the door. There was a mom and dad, grandma and grandpa and a brand new baby that was crying in this very young baby cry that is not yet annoying and sounds something like a young whitetail deer in need of it's mom's milk. The mother of this child had beautiful, long dark hair and was wearing sunglasses. The dad was young and what I can remember about him is that he had blue jean shorts on, you know, the ones that are a bit faded and come down to the knee and are hemmed and not cut off. When this family entered the McDonalds I could not help but smile, and spending a little time thinking about my own family, which I was apart from. I was so mesmerized by this sight that I never opened the door for this new mom that had her hands full. "That's ok....I got it," is what she said as she entered the MacDonalds. It is really not what she said, it was how she said it. She said it with the most sarcastic distain that really hurt, and I thought this is not normal rudeness. Now I know I should have helped her, but did I deserve her rudeness? Maybe I did. But I don't think so. I just have this feeling that the Internet rudeness that seems to have grown out of the anonymity of the web is spilling over into our daily lives. I'm not sure I can prove this but I read Dave Moulton's Bike Blog and he seems to agree.

I guess just rudeness in general is increasing. I have observed many times people going into a store and at no point did they acknowledge people around them not even saying hello or smiling to the checkout clerk. I was in Parkview, a local grocery store, during lunch just a couple days ago. And the woman infront of me talked on her cell phone during the entire grocery store check out process. I asked the cashier if she has many people who check out while they are on their cell phones. She said that about 4-5 people do it each shift.
I also heard the other day that an airline was considering allowing people to use the Internet in flight. At the time, I said, I'm not sure how I feel about this. Now I know how I feel about it. People should be talking to people. Have you seen many of today commercials? Count the acts of rudeness in commercials. I remember a few years ago, discussions about violence on television and how many random acts of violence children see, and how it desensitizes them to violence. Well, how many times do children see people being rude to each other and are children being desensitized to rudeness. I think so.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Rusted Red Wagon

I spent $15.08 yesterday for lunch. I actually spend $15 dollars for lunch often, but this day was different. I have never really been good with money. It seems if I have the cash in my wallet I will spend it. I ate at Subway in Friendship, New York. My sub and small drink only cost $5.08. I gave the other $10 away to a total stranger. As I sat to eat my sub, I watched a man with two small girls, which he pulled behind him in a red wagon, walk toward the mini-mart/Subway restaurant. The wagon had a flat tire and the two girls were under three years old. One girl had an eye that I'm not sure she could open. She did not open it all the while I watched them. The father pulled the rusted, red wagon close enough to the store so he could reach into the garbage can to see if there were any cans or bottles he could turn in for money. He did not find any.

I noticed that a nice, clean cut guy with his baseball cap turned backwards, got out of his car and struck up a conversation with the dad. Some time went by and I notice the capped man gave the father of two $10. Next, the father and the two girls entered the store, leaving the wagon behind, and the father asked to girls to pick out whatever candy bar they wanted. He spent part of his $10 bill to buy a king sized Almond Joy and Snickers bar for his daughters. While they were in the store, I actually took my cell phone outside and snapped a picture of their wagon. The family came out and, I guess due the embarrassment that I felt about taking a picture of this dilapidated form of transportation, I slammed my phone shut before I actually saved the picture.

All the normal things crossed my mind that would cross anyone else's when giving people money. Is this dad going to spend the money on alcohol or worse drugs. He could do much worse than just buying some sugar filled candy bars for his girls. I also thought about how he would feel if I just tried to give him money. Would he feel devalued. Would he not accept my money because "he was not a charity case." I did it anyway. After I gave him the money, I thought wouldn't it be better for me to take him to the library and teach him how to sell something on eBay, or maybe teach him some kind of technology skill that could somehow help him earn a living so he could better support his girls? If I see this family again, I just may help them with more than just $10.
A fisherperson is born

You know, you never can be sure what kind of impact you are having on people. When ever I provide a professional development opportunity I feel it is my job to explain what I do and what I feel my job is. Just about every time I state that this professional development opportunity has a duel purpose. The first purpose is to give you ideas on how you can use technology to engage, educate and facilitate student learning in the classroom. The second thing that I say is that this professional development opportunity is to help provided professional growth for you as a life long learner, which in turn will help you improve your craft. Last week when I was asked by Cindy Crandall to present Google Tools to Franklinville Central School teachers, I basically had the whole day to show them things that they could use in education. I created a workshop wiki with embedded videos so teachers could refer back to it if they had questions long after I was gone. The videos didn't load well and the wiki did not go as smoothly as I would have liked. But something great happened. Many times when I show a teacher a tool they really just want to know ideas on how to use the tool in the classroom and I often have a tough time with that. No one knows their curriculum and how the tool fits into it better than the classroom teacher. I try to show examples of how it is used in the classroom and often they can think of ways to use it. Rarely, does the teacher think about how the tool can help them with their professional growth. Well, it happened. After the training was over, one of my participants from my Google Tools workshop went to Tim Clarke's offering and he asked participants what they wanted to go over the next day. One teacher, Diane Watkins, who was in my workshop earlier, said, "I would like to go over some things in Excel." And actually, Tim is really an expert on Excel. So the next day came around and Tim decided to write on the white board things people wanted to work on during their "work day" and of course Tim wrote down Excel. Well, Diane who had suggested it the night before said to Tim, "I really don't need you to go over Excel with me." Tim ask, "why?" And the teacher said, "Well, Rick showed me YouTube so I looked up an Excel tutorial and learned it myself." When I heard this I was thrilled. I felt like an artist had painted a master piece that was inspired by me.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

My new vocabulary

I have always told everyone that the time in which I learned the most was when I was blogging. And I think the reason for that is because whenever I learn something new, I think about it in context of how am I going to explain this new information on my blog. We have always told our students that if you really want to learn something then teach that something. Blogging is a form of teaching.

Here are some words I have just learned in the last few days since I've been blogging. Frenemy, vetting, staycation, gap year and sesquapadalian are just a few words that I have learned this past week. I want to take a couple minutes to explain each of them.

I got the word frenemey from following links from Liz Kolb's blog. Liz is really into cellphones in education. From Liz's blog, I went to and guess what there is a wikipedia definition of a frenemy. Vetting is a word I just learned today from Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and there is a wikipedia entry for this definition. But basically the word came up when she suggest that we try to get an international presenter from Australia sometime around the National Educational Computing Conference to add a "global" flavor to summer workshops we offer. Vetting just happened to be a word I was not familiar with. Staycation I heard on and it is kind of this "green" way to take a vacation. Actually, staycations were taken a lot in the 1970's they were just day trips, but the idea of staycations being, well, green is a modern idea. You just travel near your home and see the sights. And the last word I learned is really two words and it is "gap year." I too learned this from A gap year is where students take a year either during college or before college to explore the world. Many 21st century skills are learned in these "gap years." And someone who is prone to use long word are are considered sesquapadalian. It seems as technology expands so too do the collective vocabulary. And as the collective of vocabulary grows so does our own vocabulary. I wonder if you have learned an words recently and do they have to do with technology? Are they words that were discovered by using technology or words that were invented because of technology?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Top 10 Cyber Things I Want to do Before I Die

This is my first true blog post in over a year. Sometimes it takes a while to really have something to say. After going to NECC 2008, I have been thinking about somethings. When I was growing up I was taught and I learned that I could be anything. I could have any occupation I wanted. I could grow up and be the President of the United States. I guess now that I am older, I don't really think I could be, well, anything I wanted. Also, I didn't know it, but I am what I wanted. I do feel, however, that social mindedly (if that's a word) I could do whatever I wanted. For example, If I wanted to have a competitive eating competition for St. Jude's hospital to raise money for their work and research, I could do it. I wonder if kids think they could have any occupation now-a-days? Also, what occupations do or would they think about when many of their jobs or careers have not yet been invented. I also wonder if children are socially minded? Do they think they could raise money for an organization that they felt passionate about? If I understand Daniel Pink correctly, empathy is an important "skill" that students need to know now to be prepared for the future.

Now, since just 7 long years ago I decided to go to graduate school, buy a computer and attend college online, I feel that I can do anything in the cyber world. This blog post discusses the ten things that I haven't done all ready that I want to do before, well, I depart. Is that too morbid?

This list is not in any particular order:

1) be a chacha guide
2) work on the cyber/Internet aspect of a future presidential campaign
3) sell something on ebay and make a profit
4) co-teach a class where student cell phones are used as an educational tool
5) present at NECC
6) not let my Karma go to far over 50 on Plurk
7) run my own online professional development for people all across the world
8) upload an education video to youtube or teachertube that I created
9) create my own mash-up that works with a social networking tool
10) in second life, ask a question during NPR's Science Friday

I am not sure how all these things help students, but they are all things I want to do. I really wonder what your thoughts are?

Monday, July 28, 2008

Saturday, July 26, 2008

After my training this past weekend i really wonder if there is a difference between U.D.L and differeniation of instruction with technology?

Mobile post sent by rickweinberg using Utterzreply-count Replies.

Mobile post sent by rickweinberg using Utterzreply-count Replies.  mp3

Mobile post sent by rickweinberg using Utterzreply-count Replies.  mp3

Thursday, July 24, 2008 im trying to post to my blog with my mobile phone