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?