The Stick turns 3!

I told this story as my 10 minute TED talk at Learning 2.008. As September 19th was The Stick’s 3 year anniversary. The Thinking Stick turned 3 a few days ago and it’s hard to imagine that it’s been 3 years since I installed WordPress and just started writing. As I started looking back through those first posts I started thinking about the journey that this blog has taken me on. My first blog post was about a 5th grade classroom called the Polar Bear Class. The website no longer exists but this was my beginning into blogging. Talking about a class that was creating there own website. The website was not another subject, but was just what they did. It was apart of their classroom, it was a part of their learning. My first comment came on post #10. Made by a good friend who at the time was teaching in Dubai. It was at that moment that I realized people where reading, even if only my friends….people were reading. Post #14 Titled: Microwave Popcorn. One of the great first posts. Those of you that blog you know this post. The one that is going to get lots of comments. The post that will make people want to write, want to respond, want to engage in a discussion. The post talks about how technology works it’s way into our daily lives. How in 1982 I remember my father driving a combine in the Palouse all summer to save enough money to buy our first microwave and how today it is a part of every kitchen. My wife and I just moved to Bangkok, Thailand and our first major purchase…..a microwave. The post was great, well written, well scripted. Guess how many comments……0! Post #21 The Stick gets its first comment that is not from my friend Reece. The comment was left by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach. Little did I know at that time that Sheryl would become part of my learning network and over the next three years I would learn more from her about building virtual communities on the web than from anyone else. You see, The Stick was the start of our connection. Post #25 I recieve my second comment from someone other than my friend Reece. This one left by Dean Shareski. My favorite part of the comment was this: PS. Did you know your flickr zietgiest...

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What's your focus teaching or learning?

So many times we use the phrase “Teaching & Learning” but really we need to be asking ourselves: Are we focusing on teaching or learning? This came up in a discussion with Kim earlier today, (BTW….the two of us in a room for longer than 10 minutes is enough deep conversation to keep me going the rest of the day) that what we are focusing on is not necessary student learning, but instead teachers teaching. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and take our eye off of what we’re really here for. As we continue to support teachers using technology tools in their classrooms we need to realize that teachers’ use of technology is not the same as supporting teachers teaching with technology. In these early days I’ve been supporting the use of technology. Answering questions about SmartBoards, Entourage, Office 2008, OSX 10.5, etc. Although it’s important to support teachers in the use of technology it’s much different then supporting teachers teaching with technology. Supporting the use of technolgy Supporting the use of technology focuses on the tool itself. Not on the learning or the students. When we support teachers by helping them with a SmartBoard Notebook file, or teaching them some new trick in Office, we are supporting their use of the tool, not their use of that tool for learning. One can easily get sucked into supporting the use of technology full time (such as I have lately) and not make a true impact with technology in the classroom as a learning engine. As long as we continue to think of technology as a tool for learning we are going to get caught in this circle of supporting teachers use of the tools, rather than focusing on student learning. Technology as a tool worked when the impact on learning was small. I think of the use of Word or any Office application for that matter. It was a tool that we used to replace a way we had/have always done things. Technology for Learning is Bigger than the Tool! Technology for learning is about connecting students to information and using applications that allow students to manipulate data, ask questions and interact with information. I think of the use of Google Earth…not to study the Earth being round (using the tool like a globe) but instead using Google Earth with an overlay of migration patterns...

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A Lesson in Connections

(Cross posted at Techlearning.com) I’ve learned a valuable lesson this week. One that shows the importance of teaching our students that the connections the web creates and the content you put on the web becomes a part of you. Last year, I was reading a lot about digital stories in the blogosphere. I saw some good examples of how they could be used in education and decided that I should try this whole digital story thing out for myself. At about the same time, YouTube was becoming more popular and I was intrigued by the power of this new social site. So I downloaded a free trial of Camtasia and set out to create my first digital story. I was still trying to wrap my head around Web 2.0 at the time and decided that a digital story on Web 2.0 would be a good start. So I went to Wikipedia, printed off the Web 2.0 article, did some editing to make it flow a little better, and used it for my script. I then went to the web and found pictures that matched what I was talking about and made, I thought at the time, a decent first attempt at a digital story. I created myself a YouTube account and shared it with the world. The video had received very little attention, only being viewed just over 1000 times in the last 14 months. That is until Michael Wesch of Kansas State University decided to post this video as a video response to my Web 2.0 video. I received an e-mail when he posted it and went to have a look. Like many others, I found the video to be very well done. I linked to it on The Thinking Stick to share with others and then didn’t give it another thought…until the next morning when I checked my e-mail to find 20 new people had subscribed to my Web 2.0 video. In the past week and a half, I’ve seen my first attempt of a digital story go from being a little unknown corner of YouTube to having over 48,000 views. Now my poor little attempt at creating a digital story is getting knocked around with comments. Michael’s video has surpassed 1 million views, but because his video is connected to my video, I’m getting visitors as well. We often forget about the power of connections on...

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Looking into the eyes of our students

Friday was a half day at school. A little extended weekend for the Thanksgiving Holiday. Our High School took part in a couple different sessions. One of those sessions was by me giving a talk on “The Flat World”. I would have titled it “Your World” but the title doesn’t really matter. I had 20 minutes with every 9-12th grader at our school I started by saying, “You are very fortunate. You get to grow up in an amazing time in history.” I then played Karl Fisch’s Did You Know presentation with the follow slides added. There are 57 Million Blogs 100,000 new blogs created daily 1.3 million blog articles created daily That’s 54,000 articles being published every hour. Who’s verifying this information? Who’s telling the truth? Last year more students in China took the SAT in English than did so in the United States. The information comes from the latest report of the blogosphere from Technorati and from this update from Karl Fisch. After the PowerPoint was over we had a discussion about what all this information means. One student shouted “Shift Happens” the rest of the students laughed and I said “Exactly!” Another student spoke up and said “Everything we’re learning now doesn’t matter.” To which I said, “I know all your teachers standing around here are going to hate me, but you are absolutely right.” I then talked to them about the skills they need to learn while in high school starting with learning how to learn. We then talked about their generation. I asked the students “What’s the name of your generation?” a student spoke up and said “Millennials.” I then talked about the book Millennials Rising, and how in 1997 abcnews.com ran a poll on their website where this generation got to choose what to be called. They were proud of it, laughed, and thought it was cool. I asked them how many of them had a myspace.com account. To which over half raised their hands. I asked how many of them had a cell phone and a mp3 player. Every single student raised their hand. I asked how many had their own computer. All but a handful raised their hand, but when I asked who had access to the Internet in their house? Again it was 100%. I asked these questions for one reason and one reason only. I wanted the 20+ teachers...

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