Monday, September 21, 2009

Handwriting Peaks in Fourth Grade

Is technology making the ability to hand write legibly less of a necessary skill in the 21st century? Check out this Associated Press article, Cursive Writing Might Be Fading, But So What?, and let us know what you think. Image is from the AP link.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Assistive Technology

Not surprising, the emerging field of assistive technology is making inroads regarding communication tools for those with autism. Check out this Digital Dimension’s article Tech's Role in Teaching Autistic Students Evolves. In addition, the article will point you to information about specific products including TeachTown, AutismPro, Inspiration Software, and Mind Reading. Several centers involved with developing resources are noted, like Center for Applied Special Technology (e.g., Universal Design for Learning site) and the Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence, which has developed Autism Internet Modules. What have you heard about assistive technology's use to ease communication for those with special needs? What is your response after reading Tech's Role in Teaching Autistic Students Evolves and exploring information provided from the article's links? (Image from Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Are You Addicted to the Internet?

Can you keep away from Facebook, Twitter, other social network sites or online games for more than 24 hours? Have you tried it? The Diagnostic Manual used by the American Psychiatric Association might be updated to include Internet addiction as a psychiatric disorder. Here's a comment from the eNew Campus News, September 15, 2009: “Nonstop video-game playing and web surfing has led to the opening of a new internet addiction center in the United States, and experts on computer overuse say they expect web addiction soon will be treated like any other addiction, such as alcohol or drug abuse.” This newly opened treatment facility in Washington state treats addicts in a 45-rehab program during which time they must stay off the Internet. Some see the addiction as dangerous as alcohol or drug addiction, breaking up families, ruining marriages and careers, and careening a college student’s career into the abyss. Access the article, College Students Vulnerable to Internet Addiction, for details. Is Internet addiction truly serious enough to necessitate rehab centers or psychiatric treatment? What are our obligations as educators to address this societal issue in the age when the Internet is omnipresent?
Image credit: from the article, College Student Vulnerable to Internet Addiction, 9/15/2009

Textbook Graveyard

If you did not catch this ABC broadcast ipods, Laptops Replace Textbooks, check it out now. It is a continuation of at least two other blogs I have posted about the inevitable fate of textbooks as we know them today. The article got me thinking: when was the last time I used a textbook for teaching Computers in the Classroom? I can’t recall every using one, but maybe I did in the age before the Internet was pervasive. What’s to be gained by forsaking textbooks? Do we need them? Some schools have already gone textbook-free and at least one school outside of Boston is dismantling its conventional library, giving away its book collection. For those who argue that placing the technology in the hands of school children will be too costly, what about the costs of textbooks themselves that need to be furnished for the full school population and go out of date? Check the article Schools Dump Textbooks for iPods and Laptops. Is it time to dump the textbooks.

In fact, here is another article that I just came across today, Books Face Extinction as High Schools Go High Tech. It seems every day I am finding another press release on the demise of the printed page. We can't escape the fact. As teachers, how can we prepare ourselves for the inevitable? Historically, people clamoured and resisted the invention of the printing press. Are we facing another revolution in the way we communicate?

Take the time to read and study both the articles mentioned, and note that you are doing your reading online, not in print. Are you spending more time nowadays reading online or in print? Even if our students are ready for the conversion, are we as teachers willing and ready to shift our teaching strategies?

Friday, September 11, 2009

What’s Happening to Our Reading Skills?!

I found this article, Is Google Making Us Stupid, in The Atlantic Monthly and began to wonder about how being online so often is changing our cognitive processing and whether we are finding it harder and harder to concentrate on reading books in print form. The article has two premises: one relates to how spending time online has affected our reading processes and the other is the possibility that the way we think might be speeding up to accommodate working online. There are some interesting parallels made to the way the invention of the printing press changed cognitive processes, as well. Some noted scholars are cited in the article, and some prolific readers are claiming that their brains have changed sufficiently to make it difficult to concentrate on reading full-length books and retain what is read. Here is one comment in the article that sums up one of the premises: “The more [we] use the Web, the more [we] have to fight to stay focused on long pieces of writing.” The article is intriguing, so take the time to read it and comment. The image is taken directly from the article and is attributed to: Illustration by Guy Billout

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Future is Now!

To excel in the 21st century, not only do you need to excel in writing but the use of visual imagery and multimedia in general. Please listen to this YouTube video, The Future is Now, delivered to the Board of Governors of Rutgers University. Although the video is intended for a higher education audience, it has implications for all of us in the field of education. What does the video imply for teaching on the K-12 level in any area? How do we need to change our teaching to catch up to where we are now? Image from:

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Poetry Is Alive

Here is a famous poem I discovered online, but never read before. I am struck my how my literary exporsure increases just from being online. Do you find that your scope of knowledge and enjoyment of varied fields expand or is limited by the time you spend online? If you care, post your response to the poem. Also, thought this was a good poem to post in tribute to upcoming Labor Day, tomorrow!

Those Winter Sundays

Sundays too my father got up early
And put his clothes on in the blueback cold,
then with cracked hands that ached from labor
in the weekday weather made banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I'd wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he'd call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love's austere and lonely offices?

by Robert Hayden
Explication of the Poem, image of the poet is from this site.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

All the World’s A Stage

This quotation from Shakespeare's play "As You Like It" comes to mind when thinking of Obama's planned address to the nation's school children this Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2009. The speech has not even been given, and yet there is already a nationwide and perhaps worldwide hullabaloo. What's your take on the issue? In the meantime, I have posted four resources to check out. Two are activities sponsored by the government to get school children engaged in the speech, and the third is an editorial from the New York Times blogger column, "Opinator," and as of today, Sept. 5, noon, had 144 posted responses. Lo and behold, even the White House has a Facebook site set up to converse about the speech, and I posted that link, or click on the image "White House Live."

The speech has engaged a country in dialogue and dispute. Weigh in before or after the speech, and let us know what you think about the issue. How is the discussion surrounding the speech both educational and perhaps counterproductive to education for those who oppose the open airing? Recall this is not the first time that a US President has made a speech to the school-aged children, but it seems to be the first-time there has been such a world-wide fuss. How has the Internet contributed to this stream of response? I have also posted information about various ways to access the speech online.

Menu of Classroom Activities, President Obama’s Address to Students Across America
(Grades 7-12):

Menu of Classroom Activities President Obama’s Address to Students (Grades Prek-6):

Weekend Opinonator: Obama Goes Back to School:

And for Facebook online voyagers, check out this WhiteHouse Live on Facebook for more discussion.

Information on When and How to Watch:

When: Tuesday, September 8th, at 12:00 PM (EDT)
How to Watch: The President's message will be streamed live on, and broadcast live on C-Span; for school districts hoping to access the satellite feed, it will be available beginning at 11:00 AM (EDT) using the following coordinates:* Galaxy 28/Transponder 17, Slot C (9 MHz)* Uplink Frequency 14344.5 Horizontal* Downlink Frequency 12044.5 Vertical
Obama image from: Barack Obama Speaking at Philadelphia's ConstitutionCenter, March 18, 2008

I just found this link online to a Bill O'Reilly 8/9/09 article in Parade Magazine, What President Obama Can Teach America's Kids, and thought I would add the link to present a viewpoint of a conservative Republican who supports Obama's reaching out to America's school children.

Photo by Erin Patrice O'Brien For PARADE

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Testing, and More Testing....

I don't ordinarily post a full article in the blog, but believe you won't be able to access this Education Week article online without a password. The following is verbatim right from the journal. After you skim the article, post your comments about how you feel about another national test to assess students' literacy skills. Is this a wise idea? Should we have such a test? What might it tell us, and how might we use the information? If you want to see if you can access the article, as well as the posted responses to it, try clicking on this link.

"Draft Unveiled on Technological Literacy for NAEP
Test to Gauge Knowledge of Tools and Their Use and Impact on Society"

By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo

A discussion draft of the framework for the national assessment of technological literacy, the first to gauge students’ understanding of and skill in using a range of tools, has been presented to the board that oversees the testing program.

The computer-based National Assessment of Educational Progress in technological literacy, scheduled to be administered to a representative sample of the nation’s 4th, 8th, and 12th graders for the first time in 2012, will evaluate students’ understanding of technology tools and their design, the ways they can be used to gather information and communicate ideas, and their impact on society.

The goal of the technological-literacy assessment should be to help students “understand all of the implications of living in a highly technological society,” said
Alan Friedman, a physicist who is a member of the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for NAEP. Mr. Friedman is the vice chairman of the board’s assessment-development committee.

Those implications, he said, include not only the advances to society that have been created by technology, but also the drawbacks, such as concerns about privacy, as well as the challenges society will face in the future in energy usage and other areas.

When it is made final, the framework will guide the design of the assessment. The draft defines technological literacy as the “general understanding of technology coupled with a capability to use, manage, and assess the technologies that are most relevant in one’s life, such as the information and communication technologies that are particularly salient in the world today.”
The committee embraced a broad definition of technology that ranges from automobiles to computers, including many of the tools that are used in daily life.

Limits to Measurement

Students may be tested on their knowledge of the kinds of tools that are available and how they are used, along with their abilityto apply technological concepts to solve problems. They may be given tasks that demonstrate their ability to use various technology platforms to communicate information or collect and analyze data, evaluate information, and suggest a technology solution to a given problem.

While the assessment is meant to gauge a broad range of skills that are considered essential to technological literacy, the test design may be limited in its ability to measure some areas, the draft states, such as the habits of mind and critical-thinking skills that are considered essential to a deeper understanding and use of technology.

“This is an important development, I can say that without reservations because technological literacy is such a critical element of being a successful 21st - century citizen,” said Valerie Greenhill, the director of strategic initiatives for the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, a Tucson, Ariz.-based advocacy group. “The progression being made in the technology community away from the notion of just technology competence, such as how to use a computer, to … developing that literacy with the use of technology in daily life and in core academic subjects as well is incredibly important. To the extent that the NAEP is developing a framework that guides the development of these competencies is a welcome move.”

A number of states have implemented tests of technology or information literacy, and most have adopted the national K-12 standards in the field produced by the International Society for Technology in Education.

The NAGB committee that has been devising the framework has reviewed state technology standards, studies on assessing technology skills, and the guidelines and recommendations of ISTE and other organizations.

“We want students to undestand that technology is not just computers,” said Senta Raizen, the director of the National Center for Improving Science Education, who co-chaired the framework committee. The center is based at WestEd, a research organization in San Francisco.
The goal, Ms. Raizen said at a meeting earlier this month where the draft was unveiled, is to understand “the human design world, where do things come from, where does our technology come from.”

She and others involved in the project say the material represented in the framework could becovered in science class, but also in subjects across the curriculum, such as mathematics, history, social studies, and language arts.

“We’ve seen movement for reading across the curriculum, writing across the curriculum,” Mr. Friedman said. “Well, technology across the curriculum makes as much sense as those do.”

Assistant Editor Sean Cavanagh contributed to this story. Vol. 29, Issue 01, Page 9, Education Week

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

We Are All Geeks

According to a new survey to be released in the Wednesday, September 3, 2009 New York Times, household across the US are pretty well wired, and mobile technologies have taken over, making us geeks wherever we go. Check out the article, The Race to Be an Early Adopter of Technologies Goes Mainstream, a Survey Finds. If homes are wired and we can expect more mobile technologies, what does this movement and change in our culture imply for the educational setting and schools on the K-12 level? Have schools kept current of societal trends? Where does your own household fall in the survey data? Are you yet a frequent user of mobile technologies, wired wherever you go? If so, how has being wired affected your philosophy of teaching? Does all the technology increase or decrease your comfort level as an educator?

image from:

English Only!

I have posted several blogs in the past about the English Only legislature. Take a look at this MSNBC video, and let us know what you think about bilingual education and English immersion programs. On another matter, do you think Spanish should be a required subject in schools for all students? What do you think should be done about statistics that suggest that 25% of our students soon will have Spanish as their first language. How should we be teaching these students in our schools? Should both English and Spanish both be used in schools where a high percentage of students speak Spanish as their first language? How does the video help you understand the intricacies of the current legislature regarding English only?

Students Teaching Teachers

In the digital age, it is not unusual for students to be teaching their teachers. Some school systems have a well organized approach to students conducting workshops for teachers. Other schools have a more informal system. In one school system reported in a EdUtopia article, California Kids Use—And Teach—Digital Storytelling, we learn that students are teaching both their teachers and younger students in the school the intricacies of using Photo Story 3 to create digital stories. Read the article, and post your comments. Also, check out Generation Yes, a program promoting students teaching teachers. And if you have not yet downloaded the Microsoft free software program Photo Story 3, you should visit the download page. If you don’t yet know how to use this simple program, take the opportunity to do so, as many young students are already using it to create school projects. What is your response to students teaching teachers? What do you think of digital storytelling?
Image from the California Kids article.

Students Teaching Teachers

In the digital age, it is not unusual for students to be teaching their teachers. Some school systems have a well organized approach to students conducting workshops for teachers. Other schools have a more informal system. In one school system reported in Utopia article, California Kids Use—And Teach—Digital Storytelling, we learn that students are teaching both their teachers and younger students in the school the intricacies of using Photo Story 3 to create digital stories. Read the article, and post your comments. Also, check out Generation Yes, a program promoting students teaching teachers. And if you have not yet downloaded the Microsoft free software program Photo Story 3, you should visit the download page. If you don’t yet know how to use this simple program, take the opportunity to do so, as many young students are already using it to create school projects.

Image from the California Kids article.

Facebook’s Future

Will Facebook continue to be the go-to site for social networking? Will it have another face in the future? According to a recent New York Times article, Facebook Exile, Facebook has reached its peak and is seeing people sign off for a variety of reasons. As of today, September 2, 2009, 85 comments were posted to the article. The topic remains controversial. What role does Facebook play in defining the new sociology of online social networking? Will it see the same kind of decline that sites like MySpace have experienced? Are young people signing on? What about the generation of students in the K-12 population? How does their time on Facebook affect their learning in school? What does their membership on Facebook imply for classroom teachers? Let us know your thoughts, and check out the NYT's article and some of the commented posted about the article. Post any links to other articles you have read about the future of Facebook or its impact on student learning today.
Image from By VIRGINIA HEFFERNAN, from the Aug. 29, 2009 NYT article.

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