Monday, April 8, 2013

Iowa 1:1 Institute 2013

I attended the Iowa 1:1 Institute in Des Moines on April 4.  There were some fantastic sessions, and a lot of great people with whom to network.

Here is a link to the Institute's official wiki, with presentation notes from every session.

Here is a link to the notes that I took on the five session that I attended.  It's a long Google Doc, so be sure to scroll down.  If you dig through it, there are some good nuggets of info, and some useful weblinks in there.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Rethinking Acceptable Use Policies

Here's a great collection of articles relating to school online safety, and the creation of Acceptable Use Policies, from Scott McLeod's blog Dangerously Irrelevant.

Below, I've included a few of my favorite lines.

You never can promise 100% safety. For instance, you never would promise a parent that her child would never, ever be in a fight at school. So quit trying to guarantee 100% safety when it comes to technology. Provide reasonable supervision, implement reasonable procedures and policies, and move on.

If your community is pressuring you to be more restrictive, that’s when it’s time to educate, not capitulate. Overzealous blocking and filtering has real and significant negative impacts on information access, student learning, pedagogy, ability to address required curricular standards, and educators’ willingness to integrate technology. It also makes it awfully tough to prepare students for a digital era.

When you violate the Constitution and punish kids just because you don’t like what they legally said or did and think you can get away with it, you not only run the risk of incurring financial liability for your school system in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars but also abuse your position of trust and send messages to students about the corruption of power and disregard for the rule of law.

Don’t abdicate your teaching responsibility. Students do not magically gain the ability at the end of the school day or after graduation to navigate complex, challenging, unfiltered digital information spaces. If you don’t teach them how to navigate the unfiltered Internet appropriately and safely while you have them, who’s going to?

Will their schools pro-actively model and teach the safe and appropriate use of these digital tools or will they reactively block them out and leave students and families to fend for themselves? Unfortunately, many schools are choosing to do the latter. As a technology advocate, I can think of no better way to highlight organizational unimportance than to block out the tools that are transforming the rest of society. Schools whose default stance is to prohibit rather than enable might as well plant a sign in front of their buildings that says, “Irrelevant to children’s futures.”

Jeff Dicks, superintendent of the Newell-Fonda Schools in Newell, Iowa, thinks not. In his 500-student district, almost everything is open and encouraged as a resource. As Dicks notes, “Our students spend less time trying to get around the filter and more time on learning.” David Doty, superintendent of the 32,000-student Canyons School District in Sandy, Utah, concurs. He believes “students are more creative, more engaged and more dedicated to learning if they can access the full array of information available to them and the tools that allow them to share their knowledge with others.”

Our world demands digital fluency. By creating policies based on behavior rather than technologies, we can open up the world to educators and their students.

Suskind uses this phrase to describe Vice President Dick
Cheney’s (and others’) thoughts about the war on terrorism:
If there was even a 1 percent chance of terrorists getting a
weapon of mass destruction — and there has been a small probability of such an
occurrence for some time — the United States must now act 
as if it were a certainty.
This seems to capture the beliefs of school administrators, school
communities, and parents pretty well: if there is even a 1 percent chance of
something bad happening online, we need to act as if it were a certainty. Of
course the concurrent question that administrators and parents should be asking
is What do we lose when we operate using the One Percent Doctrine?
The AUP could be an opportunity to involve parents in your vision of technology, itcould be a way to communicate the passion and importance of building a learning community that values 21st century thinking, and it could be a way to help parents understand that despite “To Catch a Predator”, your school is thoughtfully using technology to benefit their child.
Highly restrictive Internet and mobile policies in the school environment provide only a false sense of protecting kids," write Jim Bosco and Keith Krueger of the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN). Cheating, plagiarism, and online safety—not only from predators and bullies, but also from invasive marketing—are real concerns; but banning devices will not change behavior. "Rules for tools don't make sense. Rules for behaviors do," says Whitby.
"At the end of the day," writes Richardson, "high school graduates need a clear sense of both the potentials and the pitfalls of interacting online. They should be able to create their own connections in safe, effective, and ethical ways. For schools, this means far more than just doing an information literacy unit. Rather, we must envision a K–12 curriculum that seamlessly integrates these new skills and literacies in age-appropriate ways and gradually moves students into more public interactions online. Not doing so would be akin to handing teenagers the keys to the car without having taught them to drive."

Saturday, March 16, 2013

SSDC13 Pictures

I'm gathering all the pictures I take at the competition into a shared Google folder.  Click the link below for access.  I'll be adding new pictures through the rest of the trip, until we arrive back in Newell on Monday afternoon.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013


Tomorrow morning, three current students, a former student mentor and I leave for Sioux City to board the buses to the 2013 Space Settlement Design Competition at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.  This is Newell-Fonda's fifth year in the competition, and it's shaping up to be a good one.

I'll be posting updates and pictures as often as possible, both here and on my Twitter feed (@limbert65).

For now, check out the SSDC website for detailed information:

The travel itinerary is here:

Thursday, December 6, 2012

21 Things That Will Be Obsolete in 2020 (?)

Click here for the article.

  1. Desks
  2. Language Labs
  3. Computers (as we know them)
  4. Homework
  5. The role of standardized tests in college admissions
  6. Differentiated instruction as a sign of a distinguished teacher
  7. Fear of Wikipedia
  8. Paperbacks
  9. Attendance offices
  10. Lockers
  11. IT departments (as we know them)
  12. Centralized institutions
  13. Organization of educational services by grade
  14. Education schools that fail to integrate technology
  15. Paid/Outsourced professional development
  16. Current curricular norms
  17. Parent-Teacher conference night
  18. Typical cafeteria food
  19. Outsourced graphic design and web design
  20. High school Algebra 1
  21. Paper

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Alfie Kohn's talk on Performance vs. Learning

I wanted to embed this video, but didn't have permission. Here's the link, followed by my notes.

  • Focusing on “Performance” is not the same as focusing on “Learning”.
  • The educational structure affects the parents’, as well as the students’, approach to education.
  • When it’s all about “achievement” and “excellence”, that’s all at the expense of learning.
  • When we get kids to focus on “Performance/Achievement/Higher Standards”, a number of negative things can happen:
    • Kids who are constantly thinking about how well they’re doing in school become less interested in what they’re doing in school.
      • Any strategy, or policy, or program in a classroom or at a school wide level that sets kids against each other in a contest to see who’s best is possibly the most powerful technique we have yet come across to destroy children’s interest in learning.  And it destroys the winner’s interest in learning as surely as it destroys the loser’s interest in learning.  Everyone loses in a race to win.
    • What predicts to excellence later is not the behavior the kid engages in now, but the REASONS he thinks he did what he did.
      • The behavior you can measure, and collect data on, is not what’s most important.
      • The four ways we can make sense of success:
        • effort (I tried really hard.)
        • ability (I’m really smart.)
        • task difficulty (the task was easy.)
        • luck (I got lucky.)
          • Most people say that effort is the most important one to believe in.
          • the more you get kids focused on how well they’re doing in school, the more likely they are to attribute those results to factors over which they think they have no control.
    • Kids pick the easiest possible task, if you give them the choice.  They avoid challenge not because they’re lazy, but because they’re rational.
    • Negative emotional effects.
      • The problem isn’t where we draw the line between “ok performance” and “not good enough”; the problem is the line itself.
      • These emotional effects manifest themselves when achievement-oriented kids are put into situations (college?) where the challenges are greater, and the competition stronger.  The often implode.
    • Negative effects on social interaction.
      • Performance goals lead students to perceive one another as obstacles to their own success.
    • When you overemphasize learning, you paradoxically get lower quality learning.
    • The more ambitious your outcome measure, in terms of thinking, the more shallow the students’ thinking tends to be.
  • If these are the effects of overemphasizing achievement, what are the causes?
    • What specific practices and policies, at a classroom or school-wide level, are likely to lead kids to constantly be thinking about how good they are at school?
      • grades?
      • competition (the only thing worse than a re-ward is an a-ward).
        • an award is a reward that’s been made artificially scarce
      • you show me a list of what creates performance-oriented, achievement-based, excellence-demanding schools, and I’ll show you a hit-list of practices and policies that we ought to spend every day of our career trying to undo in order to rescue learning.

Monday, November 26, 2012

"Why School?" takeaways

My notes on “Why School?” by Will Richardson, Kindle edition.
Purchase here -

  • “According to the latest Pew Internet survey, 95% of 12- to 17-year-olds in the U.S go online on a regular basis.  Sixty-seven percent use social networks, and 77% have cell phones.  These numbers grow to 84 and 97 percent, respectively, in the 18-to-29-year-old bracket.”  [Location 90]
  • “MITx, for example, is a program that lets students take MIT courses for free, then pay a small fee for a certificate of completion after passing a test.”  [Location 119]
  • “We have to stop thinking of an education as something that is delevered to us and instead see it as something we create for ourselves.”  [Location 127]
  • “A recent IBM survey of CEOs asked them to name the most crucial factor for future success, and their answers had nothing to do with state assessments, SAT scores, or even Advanced Placement tests.  Instead, they cited creativity and ‘managing the growing complexity of the world’.”  [Location 143]
  • “We have an amazing array of tools we can use to create and share beautiful, meaningful, important works with global audiences.  We have vast opportunities to connect with and learn from and with authors, scientists, journalists, explorers, artists, athletes and many others.  We have immense storehouses of primary-source information that we can literally carry in our pockets.”  [Location 154]
  • “Access doesn’t automatically come with an ability to use the Web well.”  [Location 166]
  • “21st Century readers and writers need to”:  [Location 180]
    • develop proficiency with the tools of technology,
    • build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally,
    • design and share information for global communities to meet a variety of purposes,
    • manage, analyze and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information,
    • create, critique, analyze and evaluate multimedia texts,
    • attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments.
  • “Our schools, classrooms, assessments, and the policymakers and businessmen at the forefront of education reform have not fully come to grips with this reality.  They’re operating from a worldview that says our connected kids still have to come to school to learn algebra or Shakespeare or the (fill in the blank) War well enough to pass the test - that we absolutely know what every child needs to learn, when they need to learn it, and how they’ll learn it.”  [Location 199]
  • “I believe there remains a great deal of value in the idea of school as a place our kids go to learn with others, to be inspired by caring adults to pursue mastery and expertise, and then to use that to change the world for the better.”  [Location 210]
  • “What doesn’t work any loger is our education system’s stubborn focus on delivering a curriculum that’s growing increasingly irrelevant to today’s kids, the outmoded standardized assessments we use in an attempt to measure our success, and the command-and-control thinking that is wielded over the entire process.  All of that must be rethought.  Now.”  [Location 214]
  • “If we just looked at the test results from U.S. kids living in high-income homes, we would be first in the world in just about every category.  Our scores reflect our very deep issues with poverty, not inherent problems with schools.”  [Location 230]
  • “The emphasis shifts from content mastery to learning mastery.  That means students have more ownership over their own learning, using their access to knowledge and teachers to create their own unique paths to the outcomes we, and they, deem important.” [Location 275]
  • “I’m not saying that a foundation of content knowledge isn’t still important.  To communicate, function, and reason in the world, students need effective reading and writing skills, as well as a solid foundation in math, science, history and more.”  [Location 286]
  • “We desperately need to revisit the thinking we’ve developed around assessment that, as Harvard researcher Justin Reich says, ‘optimizes the measurable at the risk of neglecting the immeasurable’.”  [Location 287]
  • “The simple equation is that money moves politicians to promote policy that serves business.”  [Location 295]
  • “In the near term, schools need to do both: to prepare kids for old-school expectations and new-world realities alike.”  [Location 303]
  • “Go to your board, superintendent, and principal and tell them to convene a long-term conversation about change that isn’t focused on test scores and traditional practice.”  [Location 311]
  • “With few exceptions, all the things our children are using to connect and learn outside the classroom -- social media, cell phones, Internet connections -- are banned inside classrooms.”  [Location 324]
  • “Education author Jay Cross says that ‘knowledge is moving from the individual to the individual and his contacts’.”  [Location 328]
  • “Remaking assessment starts with this: Stop asking questions on tests that can be answered by a Google search.”  [Location 328]
  • “A popular quote paraphrased from psychologist Herbert Gerjuoy predicts that ‘the illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write.  The illiterate will be those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn’.”  [Location 365]
  • “Wouldn’t we want educators who are constantly unlearning and relearning their practice?  Why would we want teachers (and students, for that matter) to just get ‘better’ at what they’ve been doing all along?”  [Location 370]
  • “As Clay Shirky notes, ‘Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution.’  And schools and policymakers still perceive the problem as being how to educate every child to get a factory job in a world where both content and teachers are scarce.”  [Location 376]
  • Six unlearning/relearning ideas:  [Location 385]
    • Share everything (or at least something).
      • “How can you make sure that every student who walks on graduation day is well Googled by his or her full name?”
    • Discover, don’t deliver, the curriculum.
      • “We have to stop delivering the curriculum to kids.  We have to start discovering it with them.”
    • Talk to strangers.
      • “We have to learn how to break with that most elemental of parental commandments: Don’t talk to strangers.  It turns out that strangers have a lot to give us that’s worthwhile, and we to them.”
    • Be a master learner.
      • “In times of great change, learners will inherit the earth, while the learned will be beautifully equipped for a world that no longer exists.”
      • “Tony Wagner recently said, ‘There’s no competitive advantage today in knowing more than the person next to you.  The world doesn’t care what you know.  What the world cares about is what you can do with what you know.’  And, I’ll add, the world cares that you can keep learning.”
      • “The adults in the room have to be skilled and literate by those 21st-century standards the NCTE is touting.  And they have to exhibit the dispositions that will sustain their learning:
        • persistence
        • empathy
        • passion
        • sharing
        • collaboration
        • creativity
        • curiosity”
    • Do real work for real audiences.
    • Transfer the power.
      • “Don’t teach my child science; instead, teach my child how to learn science -- or history, or math, or music.”
  • “What do we value enough to make us ensure our children take it away from their ‘school’ experience, in whatever form that takes?”  [Location 584]
  • “The irony is that Tucker, his friends, and many other kids are loving learning and are using technology to solve real problems and think independently -- without us.  Just imagine the learners they could become if we made these skills the focus of our work; if, instead of passing the test, we made those ever-more important skills of networking, inquiry, creation, sharing, unlearning and relearning the answer to the ‘why school’ question.  Imagine what our kids could become if we helped them take full advantage of all they have available to them for learning.”  [Location 602]

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

ITEC 2012 Presentation Handouts

Here's a link to a page containing all the session and workshop handouts used in ITEC 2012.  Some great stuff in here!