Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Breakthrough Learning in a Digital Age

I want to bring your attention to an exciting event that's happening at Google at the end of October. Google, the MacArthur Foundation, Common Sense Media, and the Joan Ganz Cooney Foundation are convening an education summit, calling for participants "to create and act upon a breakthrough strategy for scaling-up effective models of teaching and learning for children."

While the summit is open to invited guests, there will be plenty of opportunities for public participation as the event will be webcasted. People can also leave comments in the community blog, engage with participants via Twitter, and pose questions using Google Moderator. For details on this, please visit the link posted below.

I'll be present at this event along with fellow Google Certified Teachers Cheryl Davis and Kathleen Ferenz. I'm excited to learn from the many illustrious speakers scheduled to present, particularly keynoter Geoffrey Canada of the Harlem Children's Zone. I'm anticipating great conversations among participants and will share tidbits as appropriate. And, I have to admit, I'm really thrilled to have the opportunity to visit the Googleplex in Mountain View.

I've written a guest post for the Breakthrough Learning in a Digital Age blog on transforming teacher practices; look for it to be posted here in the next few weeks. The results of an informal survey given to those in my personal learning network will be made available then.

For further information, including the agenda and web cast info, please visit:

in reference to: Breakthrough Learning in a Digital Age (view on Google Sidewiki)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday 5: Cools Sites for You

I'm playing around with Google's Sidewiki tool again. This time, I'm leaving a comment on my personal blog using this new feature that's part of my Firefox browser. This might make a good way to crosspost my blog posts. I can post to a Blogger blog, Twitter, and Facebook with just a few clicks. I think you can only see the comments if you have Sidewiki installed and it's currently available for Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer.

If you're using Sidewiki, share in the comments how you are planning on utilizing this new development from Google!

in reference to: High Techpectations: Friday 5: Cool Sites (view on Google Sidewiki)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Transforming Teaching and Learning

Share your story of how technology has changed your professional practices by taking this survey. What needs to change so that other educators understand the power of technology to enhance learning? What do our public policy leaders need to do in order to support empowered learning for teachers and students?

in reference to: Transforming Teaching and Learning (view on Google Sidewiki)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Criteria for moderating comments on a viral video

Two days ago, my nine year old daughter recorded a two minute video response to President Obama's September 8th speech to students and I posted it to YouTube. Since then, in a little over 48 hours, the video has been viewed over 70,000 times, received thousands of comments and ratings, and on the first day received "YouTube Honors" as a top education video in over twenty different countries. Neither my daughter or I anticipated this type of viral response to the video. I am thankful I chose to enable comment moderation at the time I published it, but this entire experience has raised some big issues with which I'm still grappling. Marco Torres talks about how our students today have the opportunity to share their ideas and publish on "the global stage." Although I've used that phrase previously and think it about it often, few experiences have driven home the reality of our new media landscape as forcefully as these experiences moderating YouTube comments on Sarah's video the past two days.

One of the first issues which immediately arose, after I realized the video was receiving thousands of views and hundreds of comments on Tuesday, was to decide on a personal criteria for comment moderation. Initially, I decided to remove comments which contained profanity or which were disparaging / demeaning to my daughter, Sarah. While I was tempted to just approve comments which were positive and supportive of Sarah, it is true that she made some factual errors in her video which commenters were quick to highlight. Commenters also criticized her delivery, speculated on whether she was reading a script, debated whether she was being brainwashed by her parents, wrote supportive comments for President Obama, and frequently lashed out against the President or one of our main political parties. I did not keep detailed statistics, but I'd estimate about 10% of submitted comments included profanity. A much smaller percentage, probably 1 - 2 percent, were personal attacks on Sarah that were vulgar, cruel, hateful, and sexually explicit. I estimate about 25 percent of all comments have been anger-filled comments directed at other commenters, our President, or particular political parties. About 25 percent have been very positive, supportive comments for Sarah, which she has found very encouraging as well as inspiring.

Being thrust into the role of moderating hundreds of YouTube video comments like this has been challenging. Not only has this consumed several hours of time over the past two days, since I've individually read each submitted comment and decided whether or not to approve or delete it, it's also been psychologically draining. This experience has been analogous to holding up a large mirror to our society in general. While there have been MANY submitted comments which were very supportive and edifying of Sarah, there have been an approximately equal number (which I have removed so they have not been made public) which were highly disparaging. That language, in fact, is likely too tactful to be accurate. Many comments have been filthy beyond imagining. It is difficult to understand how human beings could be so filled with hate and contempt for others that they would write such words of condemnation. By simply reading them, I felt defiled. Thankfully, my daughter has been spared the brunt of those nasty comments, but she did see some this morning on my computer which I had not yet moderated. This situation brought forth an acute and personal sense of how we want and need to protect our children from the sometimes cruel nature of the world, but at the same time need to prepare them to have tough skins and to be able to survive (eventually) independently in it. This experience has at times been agonizing, but it has also been very instructive.

As the moderator of comments surrounding Sarah's video, I felt it would not be a good idea to remove / filter out every single critical comment. Not only was I concerned that only approving comments with a positive / supportive tone would invite direct contact and criticism of me via YouTube's mail service and possibly my own email, I also became aware of the open dialog into which I was cast as a controlling moderator. While my desire to protect my daughter from cruel and profane comments is difficult to question, what about a desire to only approve / permit comments with which I personally agreed? Would it be correct to make the video's comment forum into an echo chamber of support, devoid of critiques? I didn't think so, therefore I approved many comments which were not strictly positive or supportive of Sarah.

Looking back, I wonder if I should have filtered out all the comments in which a person made a personal attack on another commenter? Frequently, those types of exchanges build on each other. In the case of comments which have been critical of Sarah, like those who suggested a nine year old has no business watching a political speech or making comments about it, it has been good to see many people rise to Sarah's defense and the defense of young people more generally in being civic minded and active.

One of the most common themes commenters have addressed is Sarah's opening story, regarding a student in her class who declared he was "not allowed to watch the speech because we're Republicans." I definitely agree with those who take issue with a closed-minded approach like that, and I am proud of Sarah for being willing to share that story and bring it to light. While it can be depressing at times to hold a mirror up to our society, seeing the hate and ill-will which is there in the hearts of some, it also is valuable to hold a mirror up and reflect attitudes like this one which are unfortunately common. This is an important role of journalists in our society, and today we can all become citizen journalists. In this context, Sarah is serving as a storychaser, and I think the window into our schools, homes, and communities which she tried to open is important to consider.

Looking back, if I was to re-live the past forty-eight hours and again moderate all the comments being shared on this video, I think I would make one change: I'd remove all comments which included any type of personal attack on someone else, in addition to removing those with profanity and those disparaging to Sarah. I would again remove comments which were inflammatory, racist, and disparaging to our President -- not all of those which are critical, but certainly all those which step over a line of respect and disrespect.

These YouTube comment moderating experiences reflect how much individuals in our society want to discuss, to debate, and to be social. Many, many people want to be RECOGNIZED. As Michael Goldhaber noted in 1987, we live in an "attention economy." YouTube is many things to many people, but predominant among those is a space to seek and vie for attention, not only with shared videos but also with posted comments. Many comments are clearly written with an intent to provoke. The same can be said of some blog posts as well, I suppose, but this is even more common in the world of YouTube commenting. Whether good or bad, it seems to be a fact: We want recognition. I'm reminded of the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who addressed "recognition" in the context of becoming a servant. Visit the homepage of the King Center to see these words and hear them in his own voice.

Is it dangerous and undesirable to garner worldwide attention via YouTube, even if it is fleeting, when you are nine years old? I have had some close acquaintances suggest that it is.

Is it amazing and positive for a nine year old to be able to share her perspectives and ideas with tens of thousands of people around our globe, all within the space of 48 hours? I'm inclined to think it is.

How would you establish a personal criteria for moderating comments submitted to a politically-charged viral video, like Sarah's? I could close off comments at any time to the video, but for now I'm keeping them open and still moderating. If you have suggestions and guidance for me, I'm all ears.

The global stage is here, and while we may not like everything we see and hear on it, it reflects our society as we are. Are we doing our best to help our children as well as ourselves to not only remain SAFE, but also thrive in this opportunity-rich environment? If not, it's time for us to BECOME the change we want to see, to quote another leader I deeply admire.

Cross posted to my blog, "Moving at the Speed of Creativity."

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Open Source in K-12 -- Two Great Conference Opportunities

OK, here are two great opportunities around Open Source Software for K-12 that are coming up SOON!

1. The K-12 Open Minds Conference in Indiana, which had an uncertain future after changes in the Indiana Department of Ed, is BACK ON! Not only is it on, but the format is changing in some really GREAT ways.

First, the conference is now free. Really, free. No registration fee. :)

Second, Michigan City Area Schools are hosting the event (significantly contributing to the "fre part!). So join us on October 6th and 7th, 2009 in Michigan City (Indiana) for the third annual K-12 Open Minds Conference about Open Source in K-12 Education.

Third, the conference will now include both formal sessions and informal sessions--including conversations and gatherings around topics of interest in various areas of Open Source. So come to learn and/or present, and to share experiences and projects related to open technologies on a variety of topics such as teaching and learning, leadership, and technical issues.

Conference Website: to register (presenters still wanted and very much encouraged!)

2. For the fourth year in a row, the 2010 Computer Using Educators (CUE) annual conference will have an Open Source Pavilion and formal speaker series. Yeah for CUE!

AND there is only 1 week left to submit a proposal to speak at CUE. We need great speaker proposals on Open Source in K-12 at this conference, so please consider submitting to present! Please submit online by next Friday, September 11th, at:

(Cross-posted from

Global Awareness Panel September 10th

Part of the interview series.

Date: Thursday, September 10th, 2009
5pm Pacific / 8pm Eastern / 12am GMT (next day) (international times here)
Duration: 90 minutes
Location: In Elluminate. Log in at

Lucy Gray hosts a virtual panel on global awareness with an all-star line up (see below). The primary focus will be to highlight the work of many organizations including iEARN, ePals, and the Asia Society and to discuss the concept of global awareness in relation to the Partnership for 21st Century Skills' frame for 21st century learning. Post your pre-show questions below.


Shari Albright

Bio: Shari Becker Albright serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Asia Society International Studies Schools Network, a national network of small, internationally-themed secondary schools dedicated to preparing college ready, globally competent citizens for the 21st century. Prior to joining the Asia Society, Shari served as the principal of a public, magnet school in the North East Independent School District in San Antonio, Texas – the International School of the Americas which was the recipient of the Goldman Sachs Prize in International Education.


Kim Cofino

Bio: Originally from the US, Kim has spent the last ten years teaching internationally, beginning in Munich, Germany, continuing in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and currently in Bangkok, Thailand. An Apple Distinguished Educator, Kim regularly consults with other international schools interested in implementing 21st century learning, has been profiled on a number of educational websites and journals, and has spoken at conferences and professional development sessions throughout Europe, Asia, and the United States. Her professional blog, Always Learning, is an invaluable resource for teachers seeking examples of authentic student engagement.


Westley Field

Bio: Westley is Managing Director of Skoolaborate, a global initiative, involving over 40 schools and community organisations, that uses a blended environment including online units and virtual worlds to produce engaging student learning experiences. In his day job, Westley is the MLC online learning director leading a 1 to 1 program that is recognized by many as one the best examples of blended learning world wide. Westley presents around the world on topics such as Making 1 to 1 work, Heuristics of implementing elearning, Second Life in Education, Educational Technology, Connecting Students in a Web 2.0 world and Leading in a Flat World.


Lucy Gray

Bio: Lucy is the founder of the Global Education Collaborative, an online community designed to connect educators and organizations while promoting global awareness. She is currently employed by the Center for Elementary Mathematics and Science Education at the University of Chicago as an education technology specialist. She is an Apple Distinguished Educator and Google Certified Teacher.


Carol Anne McGuire

Bio: Technology Integration Specialist, Apple Distinguished Educator, Discovery Star Educator, ISTE Teacher of the Year Carol Anne McGuire is an award-winning educator who began her career teaching blind and visually impaired students over 20 years ago. She is the founder and “Lead Rocker” of an international project called “Rock Our World.” ROW connects students on every continent to collaborate in music composition, filmmaking and meeting each other in live video conferences. Carol Anne has worked with companies such as Apple, Discovery, Disney, American Film Institute, Google and Will Smith.

Carol Anne Keynotes all over the world on topics such as Global Collaboration, Accessibility, Digital Storytelling, Podcasting, Technology in the Classroom and Movie Making for the Non-Techy Teacher!


Diane Midness

Bio: Diane Midness is Director for Professional Development for iEARN USA. She is a former high school Media Specialist and Coordinating Teacher for Technology Integration and program coordinator for The University of North Carolina’s Center for International Understanding’s International School Partnerships through Technology.


Rita Oates

Bio: Rita is Vice President of Education Markets for ePals, a global collaborative community with more than 18 million users in 200 countries. Earlier in her career, she was director of ed tech in Miami-Dade Public Schools, the nation's fourth largest, serving students born in more than 120 countries. She won a FIPSE grant for ed tech professional development in the district. She has also been graduate program chair in Computer Education and Technology at Barry University, and earlier taught high school English and journalism in three schools in Kansas -- rural, urban and suburban. She was the Education Editor of the first online service in the U.S. with color and graphics, called VIEWTRON, in the 1980s. She has keynoted and given workshops at major ed tech conferences from coast to coast and has written ten books and more than 100 articles about ed tech and school reform. As a child, she lived in Costa Rica and attended a public girls' school in Spanish. Just before joining ePals, she helped create an ed tech plan for the public schools in the United Arab Emirates.


Sharon Peters

Bio: Sharon Peters is the Director of Technology at Hebrew Academy in Montreal, Canada. She recently won ISTE's Online Learning Award for the Darfur Video Project. In 2008 and 2009, she led teams who facilitated ICT workshops with an NGO, Teachers Without Borders Canada, to educators in the townships of South Africa and rural Kenya. She has presented keynotes at conferences and workshops throughout North America about new media literacies and global collaborative projects. Her students have participated in several award-winning international web-based collaborative projects with classes around the world using technology to support the learning goals.


Julene Reed

Bio: Julene Reed is the Director of Academic Technology for St. George's Independent School in Memphis, TN. She is on the advisory boards of: Apple Distinguished Educators, Dr. Jane Goodall's Roots & Shoots, Polar Bears International, and the Tennessee Distance Learning Association.

Julene keynotes and leads workshops on Global Education, "Going Green," Web 2.0 for Education, Podcasting, Technology Integration, Digital Storytelling, Laptop Learning, Videoconferencing, 21st Century Teaching & Learning, and much more.


Michael Searson

Bio: Michael Searson is executive director of Kean University's School for Global Education & Innovation. He is chairperson of the Xi Hu Conference on 21st Century Learning, to be held in Hangzhou, China in November 2009. His work often connects local school districts with international partners. Searson is a vice president for the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education; a member of the Global Learn Asia Pacific Executive Committee; a member of the Apple Distinguished Educator Advisory Board; Curriki Hearst Faculty Fellow. Searson has authored or coauthored a number of grants focusing on the integration of technology into educational settings.

Educational Social Networking with Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach

Part of the interview series.

Date: Tuesday, September 8th, 2009
5pm Pacific / 8pm Eastern / 12am GMT (next day) (international times here)
Duration: 1 hour
Location: In Elluminate. Log in at

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach is a 20-year educator who has been a classroom teacher, technology coach, charter school principal, district administrator, university instructor and digital learning consultant. Currently, she is in the dissertation phase of completing her doctorate in Educational Planning, Policy and Leadership at the College of William and Mary.

She is the owner and founder of 21st Century Collaborative, LLC, a digital learning consulting business through which she gives keynotes, workshops and supports nonprofits in their grant work. Find out more at

Through the Powerful Learning Practice Network which she co-founded with Will Richardson, she works with states, districts, and schools around the world to re-envision their learning cultures and communities.

Additionally, she is the co-founder of the K12Online Conference, a free, annual global gathering of educators, hosted on the Web and packed with cutting-edge ideas. In 2008, K12Online attracted more than 100,000 participants world-wide. Find out more at

Sheryl is a published writer and regular presenter at state, national and international conferences speaking on topics of homelessness, teacher leadership, virtual community building, educational leadership and 21st Century reform.

Sheryl lives near the Atlantic Ocean and spends her spare time playing on the water with her four children.

Some Past Clients Include:

Alabama Best Practices Center
Belize Ministry of Education
Center for Teaching Quality
Center for Teacher Leadership
Miami-Dade Public Schools
National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth
National Education Association
Project Hope
Standford Research Institute
Telecommunications User Association of New Zealand
The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research
Teachers for a New Era
Teacher Magazine
Virginia Community College System
Virginia Department of Education

Friday, September 04, 2009

Friday 5: Back to School 2009

As a follow up to Lucie's great post, here's a quick list of links to support your back to school efforts. Share your best resources in the comments of this post!

Check these amazing statistics!

The purchase of a desk lamp at IKEA can help children around the world!

Lots of resources for all aspects of back-to-school time.

Very creative ideas for incorporating math into classroom activities. Make sure you check out the pictures of various morning math routines.

Another great list of resources from the National Education Association.

NASA has a rich variety of projects, games and videos for classroom use.

Particularly good resources for parents.