Time is that quality of nature which keeps events from happening all at once. Lately it doesn’t seem to be working.
~ Anonymous

This was posted to me this morning, it absolutely blew my mind on a variety of levels.  The messages were amazing, the animation – some of the coolest i have ever seen, it had me questioning myself, my perspective, the time varied time perspectives of the places i have lived, my profession, my students, my kids…and all that before my second cup of coffee…

It was posted by my friend as essential viewing, i really could not agree more.

RSA Animate – The Secret Powers of Time

of course in the spirit this quote:

There is a vibrant debate among scientists over whether technology’s influence on behavior and the brain is good or bad, and how significant it is.

I really suggest that you take the uninterrupted time to read this article

some random links…

“Game shows are designed to make us feel better about the random, useless facts that are all we have left of our education.
– Chuck Palahniuk

A couple of random but powerful links came to me this morning.  As is often the case these links came to me from all over the place; some more surprising then others.

The first was sent to me by the elementary literacy specialist here at CMS.  This was a little surprising as she is an admitted technophobe (and my wife).  It was one of the many posts that my NetVibes had marked as unread.  Take a quick look at the “Seven Stupid Mistakes Teachers Make Using Technology” from the always fantastic Blue Skunk blog.

The Second was this video, which i think does a fantastic job of demonstrating what i believe should be our goal in EdTech:

I love the focus on Personal Learning Networks;  I really feel that this is the term that we should all be using.

Finally this video found itself in front of me this morning (found here).  I find it to be a great little motivator if you are in need of a “pick me up” today.

the SMART table

“just when i figured out all the answers, they changed all the questions”
– unknown

The quote above was on a poster hanging in our back entrance way for most of my public school years.  It was brought back to my mind today as I watched this video:

Looks like a pretty incredible piece of technology.  Released as this school looks to further our school-wide plan for outfitting each teacher with the technology and training to integrate SmartBOARDS.  I think that the price tag ($8,000 in the states) will keep it out of our classrooms here … at least until the bugs are worked out.

img: http://aaronforgue.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/01/thinking_monkey.jpg

GoogleDocs & Moodle: match made in heaven

The greatest good you can do for another is not just share your riches, but to reveal to him his own.
– Benjamin Disraeli

If you are one of the people who read this blog regularly then you know that i am pretty high on Google Docs these days.  Likewise i am blown away by the things that i see my teachers doing within Moodle.  Then there are the real high flyers (according to Bloom) – the synthesizers.  The ones who have asked, “what would happen if i linked my Moodle directly to my GoogleDocs?”
Would it be like crossing the beams in GhostBusters?  OR would it allow me to continuously modify my documents without worrying about losing information or linking to a previous (outdated) document.  would it allow me to save mountains of server space by hosting the file in a Google’s public area?  would it allow me to link to collaborative student assignments as they develop?  There are so many advantages that i could literally sit here and type them for the rest of my day – something i would quite seriously love to do, but instead i return to budgeting…

img1: http://www.profoundlearning.com/
img2: custom

is the grass really greener over there?

The grass is not, in fact, always greener on the other side of the fence. Fences have nothing to do with it. The grass is greenest where it is watered. When crossing over fences, carry water with you and tend the grass wherever you may be.
– Robert Fulghum

It seems that my techy friend Nevin has come up in many of my most recent posts, and why shouldn’t he, he is a great guy; generous with his knowledge and always makes himself available for a quick skype session or even just to compare tales of fatherhood.  In fact it is he who introduced me to TeamViewer and he has been an invaluable component of our Moodle implementation here at Carol Morgan.  Indeed, this post started to bounce around my head when we were talking about some ideas for Moodle training.  He revealed to me that a number of schools in Eastern Europe or even Zagreb will send people to other shools simply because they find their staff more attentive to the “new face.”  I had never thought about it, but i must say i have experience times when it is somehow easier to listen to the “expert” you know little about then to the (perhaps more qualified) “friend” that is just down the hall from you.  This notion was at the forefront of my mind this week as i re-presented a workshops on using blogs to increase writing, reflection and assessment across the curriculum to my “home team.” I felt it was received well in both locations, the feedback i have received has been great and i have reports of more then 500 student blogs that have been created by students of the teachers in the three workshops – will they stick?  This morning i received a wonderful email from one of the teachers in Costa Rica and i appreciated her feedback and knowing that she is diving headlong into the blogosphere.

Please take a second and check out some of these great teacher blogs that are taking off – comment and help expand and extend their experience…

Google Presentation…

Junot Diaz, Pulitzers, Heart Care Dominicana & Construction…

“In some ways I think that this book waited for me to become a better person before it wrote itself”
– Junot Diaz on The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

It isn’t everyday you get the opportunity to meet a Pulitzer prize winner, it also isn’t everyday that he comes to do a workshop at your school. This novel was bounced around in Junot Diaz’s head for more then a decade and last night the jurors confirmed what anyone who has read the novel already knew – that the time spent polishing and perfecting was all for the betterment of the readers’ experience. A couple of months ago we reached an agreement with Junot Diaz to come as our artist in residence. Last night he was awarded the Pulitzer for Fiction. What an opportunity for the students! Something tells me the students who get to work closely with Junot will have the opportunity to learn about patience, revision and not settling for anything but their absolute best. Pending approval from Mr. Diaz we will look to broadcast some of his time on Ustream and on CMS Radio so stay tuned – i will put more details up here. (New York Times article, Slate interview).
On a personal note not only am i happy to see this award going to a Dominican but also my book club read this book in December and the discussion was one of the best that we have had.  When i asked one of the more well read members of the group to comment (for this blog) on the committee’s selection of Oscar, he responded with this:

The choice of Oscar Wao for the Pulitzer for fiction evinces a sensitivity for the peculiar by the Pulitzer nominating committee at Columbia (they chose Middlesex, too!). Oscar’s skewed narrative structure, delightfully esoteric pop-culture references, and hipper-than-thou wordplay cast it as a somewhat unlikely recipient for what will now assuredly be even wider appeal than it has achieved up to this point. The book’s increasing success is a great endorsement of the level of literary appreciation in the states right now. 

If you have yet to read it, go out and get it.

As for this week we have kicked off Heart Care Dominicana week. Last year we raised just less then 300,000 pesos this year we have a school-wide goal of 320,000 enough to provide 4 lifesaving surgeries to children in need. Our high school students have a wonderful service based relationship volunteering at the hospital but this annual even literally saves lives and is the stuff that makes a school community proud of its students. This student created video was shown at the launch assembly yesterday:

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/8SDE-IYBDtY" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

follow our progress through this page on our HighSchool Wiki

Wow lots going on here…and all the while construction of our new media center continues:

April 7, 2008

img from: http://www.republicaupdate.com/images/2007/09/03/junot_wao_cover.jpg

back at it…

The shortest distance between two points is under construction.
– Noelie Altito

Spring break is over, it was fantastic; relaxing, sharing time with family, unplugging and the week was really marked by some pretty massive waves and some good wind (despite being off-season) – in short everybody wins!

When is the last time you truly unplugged? For how long? I had this discussion with a number of seniors last week and the results kinda scared me. Then i looked inward to see the time that i am spending looking at a screen every day – yikes. After a full week away i must say that the screen break was nice and needs to be scheduled more regularly.

Well we were off on the north coast relaxing the school engineer was overseeing the real beginning of our new media center’s construction. It is pretty exciting stuff to see the footprint start to take shape. It is going to be a tangible expression of the link we at CMS see between library and technology and the fact that the new building will be located at the physical heart of the campus couldn’t be scripted any better. So with construction back underway i return to a weekly image to share our progress with you:

March 27, 2008

So as i slowly work through a weeks worth of posts to get caught up on i found these two particularly thought provoking and thought that you might too:

Diligence on the School of EverythingEveryone has something to learn, everyone has something to teach
Education 4 Well Being
‘s recent video on fear, original music, great quotes and the slick finish that is becoming synonymous with ED4WB’s postings.

Huge News!
Our Artist in residence program for 2008 is confirmed. It is one that is not going to be forgotten any time soon, Junot Diaz author of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007) and Drown (1996) will be working with our students and staff on April 30th. The opportunity for our high school students to work with a writer of Junot’s caliber is nothing short of incredible. The hard work of deputy head Ernest Peterson to bring Mr. Diaz to Carol Morgan while the “buzz” surrounding him and his recent work is peaking is nothing short of incredible! It is work that will pay off ten fold in providing students (and their teachers) with a learning experience far beyond anything they could ever imagine. I am looking forward to seeing him at work and attending the evening teacher/parent session. If you haven’t read Oscar yet, i highly recommend it (goodreads).

img src: http://www.nydailynews.com/img/2007/10/10/amd_viva13.jpg

still moving forward…

“Come to the edge, he said. They said: We are afraid. Come to the edge, he said. They came. He pushed them and they flew.”
– Guillaume Apollinaire

The original student response to our announcement that we would be streaming their oral defenses live through the internet was shock and panic. Simply put, no students wanted this event captured or shared. Four days into seven, the mood has completely changed. Grandparents, friends, cousins and strangers are watching, and commenting. Students have been asking how they can capture the footage for use on everything from FaceBook to college and job applications. I am receiving multiple calls everyday; family members preparing to see their son, brother, and/or friend shine (and they always end up watching more then one!). I feel strongly that the audience is part of the reason why so many of these oral presentations are so well rehearsed, and so well delivered.

See KaKui’s great work from today here.

Join us live until Friday here (schedule here)

raising the bar…

Set high standards and few limitations for yourself.
– Anthony J. D’Angelo

Often reminders come to you when you least expect it. Today is the beginning of a celebration of seventy-five years of the Carol Morgan School. We had a long assembly which was classy, entertaining and a good reminder for us gringos about the bigger community which we are a part of. It made me proud to be a part of Carol Morgan. This however is not what this blog post is about.

It’s about something far simpler.

At the beginning of this year the band program at CMS was big. Class sizes were at or near to their maximum. This didn’t last long as the new director made it very clear that students would work for every grade that they received. Class sizes dropped, dramatically. Students rumbled about fairness and change but the experienced director had a vision and held the students that remained to it. He has worked tirelessly this year with his students and with his instruments towards that vision. Today i heard the band for the first time since early October and they blew my mind away. They were tight, they were focussed and they sounded great.

It’s a simple model really – but one proven time and time again: have a clear vision, expect lots, work tirelessly towards it and never settle. It’s also a model that is not only applicable at all levels – administrators with their teachers, teachers with their students, directors with their staff, students with their work – but its also highly contagious.

not much of a ed-tech post, but for certain this works here too. The reminder just hit me powerfully today and i wanted to write it down.

(gracias a dios es viernes)