1 year and counting

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So the Thinking Stick turned 1 years old on Sept. 19. I meant to post something then but time just hasn’t allowed. So seeing that The Thinking Stick is 1yrs old. I thought about how blogging has affected my life.

  • First comment on post #10. One by a friend that I asked to comment. 🙂
  • Today 478 comments on about 300 postings

That alone amazes me, and then I think about where I was a year ago. Sitting in a technology lab teaching traditional technology classes for Kindergarten, 1st and 5th grade in 40 minutes blocks of technology time.

I remember first reading David Warlick’s, Will Richardson’s, and Tim Willson’s blogs back in September and being hooked. I remember loading WordPress not knowing anything about php scripting, or databases and not really sure what I was getting myself into.

I remember reading a post by David and thinking to myself that I wasn’t alone. I can’t remember what post it was, but all I could think about was that I wasn’t crazy, that others believed technology was changing education and that education needed to change to take advantage of these new tools. That was the beginning of the end for me. From that point on I was hooked. Will does a good job of capturing what blogging is all about in his recent Edutopia article.


  • Can hack up a WordPress theme pretty good
  • Learned how to use Flickr to mange my photos. (Just bought the Pro account earlier this week)
  • Use del.icio.us to manage all my bookmarks
  • Believe RSS is a gift from God.

I never imagined that The Thinking Stick would become part of who I am, part of what I do, and part of my daily life. In those early days I didn’t really understand the power of these social networks. The power of blogging, and the power of being connected to like minded people, which being in Shanghai China, was probably my biggest WOW moment.

This blog led to amazing conversations in San Diego at NECC. Where I felt comfortable walking up to David Warlick, David Jakes, Will Richardson Tim Lauer, Tim Wilson and others and introducing myself. The weird part was, although we’d never met they knew who I was. I also had 3 people at the conference come to me and introduce themselves saying they recognized me from this blog. Something that still creeps my wife out ;). The NECC Edublogger meet up was by far the best part of NECC for me. Chatting with people that up until that moment I only knew through their blogs (face to face still counts!). That also led to discussions with David Jakes and being a guess blogger on the Techlearning blog.

All of this in a year. Not to mention that my administrators are now regular readers of this blog and I am no longer teaching K,1,5 in a traditional lab. I was moved to a position that put me on both of our campuses helping teachers understand the power of these tools, and just a couple weeks ago made the K12 Educational Technology Leader. All of this possible because of interactions with you, the edublog community pushing me to rethink education, rethink technology, and come to a new meaning of what we need to accomplish in education.

As of today there are 148 readers to this blog (According to feedburner). I remember waking my wife up early one morning with “Can you believe there are 20 people who care what I write?” Then it was 50 and then in August 100. I don’t want to say that’s why I write, but it amazes me, and encourages me to keep writing, knowing that some of you actually read this stuff.

There is another reason why I find this so amazing…and I’ll tell you it’s taking some courage to write this. But there is a deeper more powerful reason why I find this whole blogging thing powerful. It’s personal and I’ve debated for awhile now whether to post this or not, but what the heck it’s my blog.

I am mildly dyslexic. Mildly meaning I have a family member that is struggles with it more than I am, and I wouldn’t wish that upon anyone. My dyslexia affects me most in language. I spell at probably a 5 or 6th grade level. My students use to (and still do I guess) tease me when I misspell things on the white board. A couple of years ago I had a spelling bee champion in my class and everyone laughed including me. There are days when I frustrate my wife because I can’t remember how to spell simple words and I can reread something a million times and still not catch typos. I still struggle with quite, quit, quiet (my goal for the past couple of months). They all look the same to me and I can’t, on a moments notice, tell you which one is which. I was a resource kid starting in 2nd grade. I cheated my way through every spelling test in elementary school, never finished a book except for How to Eat Fried Worms in all of my schooling and have always hated writing. I scored 700 on my SAT…total, and then turned around and scored a 27 on the ACT (believe the scale is 31) as a senior in high school. I was excepted to University on probationary terms and instead opted for a baseball scholarship to play at a community college for two years.

So where am I today? I’ve learned that spell checker is my best friend although you still need to know how to spell to be successful. When I started writing on this blog my posts, according to Microsoft Word’s Flesch -Klincaid Grade level scale, were around a 5th or 6th grade level. I now routinely hit 8th or 9th, before my wife gets a hold of them (Not all but some…you and can probably tell which ones!). I count on my wife as my chief editor and she deserves a MS degree just for helping me get mine, as I know she put in as much work as I did those 18 months. I now guest blog for Techlearning.com which I consider a major website and makes me nervous to the point that I’m sweeting and shaking so bad when I hit the post button that it freaks me out (Pushing myself is a good thing!). I can only think of one teacher in my 13 years of education that wouldn’t be surprised that I actually enjoy writing now and do it on a fairly regular basis. I  have read more books since starting this blog then I did my whole life prior. I’m a slow reader, usually having to read things two or three times (audio books are my best friends) but I managed to finish reading The World is Flat in 4 months last year. A 569 page book that is my reading accomplishment to date.

So that’s what this blog has done for me in a years time. Where will it take me, where is this all going? I don’t know. Life for me is about experiences. Whether diving with Great Whites in South Africa, skiing in Bulgaria, or celebrating New Year’s in Venice, Italy. I just try to take it all in and enjoy life. My wife has a shirt that says “Live it Like you Love it” which has become our saying as we travel the world and live our lives. Experience life in every way possible. If that means blogging then do it, if it means playing with your kids, do it. If it means siting on a street corner and people watching, do it. Just experience life, and enjoy every minute of it!

I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


  1. Jeff-

    That was a powerful post in many different ways. In the two+ months I’ve read your blog (and Will’s and David’s and others), I’ve never had the boost to get over my “fear” of writing a comment.

    Moreover, for those two months I’ve been developing blog themes and ideas – but never actually posting on them. Again, the fear, for some unknown reason, took over. But your post today was powerful in a way that got me over that hump.

    I hope from now on to dive into this amazing discussion of the blending of tech and ed – to contribute to the collaborative voice that drives my philosophy of education.


    p.s. once my basic conent is finished on my wordpress blog I’ll send you the link. Enjoy your vacation.

    • Dear Jeff,

      Thank you for sharing all this. Even several years later, this post is meaningful as it meant a lot to me. Look at the impact you are having on students around the world through their teachers. The fact you have to overcome dyslexia in order to do it (reading blogs and writing blogs) is a credit to your tenacity and perseverance. I’m proud to be a part of what you are doing.


  2. Post 480:

    Jeff, I know you’ve enriched my “reading life” over the past year. Keep up the good work.


    Oh, I’d guess a number of us have English teachers who are rolling over in their graves.

  3. Jeff,

    My community college Reading 088 students (the ones who didn’t qualify to take credit-bearing classes) are just stepping into blogging this week. I can only hope they get a little spark in their 10 week exposure to grow from the experience as much as you have.

    A great testimony to the power of words and lifelong learning!


  4. Congratulations Jeff!

    As I always tell my students: I don’t care who are, and I don’t care what you’ve done in the past, but who you are, and what you do today and tomorrow is what I care about.

    Congtaulations once again. Take a well deserved break.

  5. Wow! I hope that I can be writing similar things in a year’s time. I am so amazed at how much you have accomplished, and how quickly!

    I’m also teaching internationally (currently in Malaysia, previously in Munich) and you have inspired me to implement as many new tools into my teaching as I can. It’s always a little more difficult to find like minded colleagues when moving from country to country, so finding your blog was quite an exciting discovery.

    As the middle school IT integration specialist, I just started blogging with our sixth grade social studies students, and my study skills class is working on documenting our curriculum on a class wiki. I’m working on developing my middle school IT integration wiki for teachers, and soon will start one with my students. I would love to start a project similar to your TeenTek site with my IT students as well.

    Thanks for being such an inspiration!

  6. Your story reminds me of one of my past 7th grade students who came to visit me the other day. She was in resource room throughout her schooling and a great kid to have in a classroom. She was a bright, thoughtful, sincere, hard working, optimistic kid… the kind of person you love to teach. It’s true that she had some weaknesses, but she had learned how to compensate for those with strategies to keep material and information straight and by working harder than other people. It helped that she believed in herself. It also helped that her resource room teacher was one of the best in our district and a great advocate as she negotiated the material. But, as anyone who knew her understood, it was her character made the real difference. She wanted to succeed at the highest level she could, and she never gave less than her all.

    At the end of 7th grade, I went to her resource room teacherabout the possibility of putting her in advanced English. It was the first time that a resource room student in our district had been recommended for the advanced class, but we knew that with the additional support, she’d do just fine. She did beautifully that year and continued to work hard through high school and college (She’s currently a junior at Fordham).

    My husband says that people create their own luck… that they attract to themselves what they put out. When I look back on it, I recognize that my student created the conditions that put her in advanced English, as well as the ones that got her accepted into Fordham and help her every day to meet her goals for her own life. She always had my admiration… even when she was a 12 year old girl. And you have my admiration today.

    Live it like you love it

  7. I reckon there must be a whole bunch of education based blogs around the place that have hit their one year anniversary over the last month or two. Mine was an August baby and like your good self, reviewing the journey is an important reflection to undertake. I even turned my blogging journey into a presentation for a conference back in July, because blogging is an incredibly personal journey but it allows you to touch others in both their professional and personal lives. Seems to be the season for revealing vulnerable details via blog – I’ve been grappling with becoming more open and actually responding to a few challenges set for me on my blog – thanks for sharing yours. It must be something you do to celebrate the milestone!

  8. Jeff,
    Congratulations on your blog’s anniversary. Your blog is one of the select few I follow on a regular basis. Keep doing what you are doing, and keep sharing!! I only started my own blog about 4 months ago and can’t believe how my relationship with knowledge, information, and the Internet has changed because of it. If only we could get more teachers to see the power of the Read/Write web…

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  10. Sam Grumont Reply

    Dear Jeff
    It is great to read your thoughts on blogging after 1 year. I’ve just begun and still don’t really know what I’m doing but we often learn best by doing.
    I’ve been teaching and consulting for over 30 years, including a 2 year stint in Guiyang Medical College, China, and at times feel a bit overwhelmed by the rapidity of change. However my experience tells me that one of the key things for kids to experience is that learning can be fun, which is missing from all of the high stakes testing and accountability that seems to be increasing. I think I’ll use your experience to inspire kids who think they can’t read or write well. Thankyou.

  11. Eileen Utecht Reply

    Congratulations on your one year anniversary. You have done amazing things over the past several years – it boggles the mind. Your ideals and values are evident in your writing. Keep teaching and learning. I always knew you had special talents and your ability to talk through everything would serve you well.

    Mom & Dad

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  13. Wow, Jeff. This post really moved me. I have been reading your blog for about 7 months now, and have learned so much from you and so many others. I remember meeting you at NECC at the Edubloggers meet up and feeling embarrased when I met you to let out a “Oh my, you are Jeff from The Thinking Stick!” I was so honored to meet you! That night, meeting all of the amazing bloggers I so admire and respect face to face will remain one of my fondest memories.
    Yours is one of those that I always click on first in my Bloglines account because I love to think about what you have to say. I always feel guilty that I don’t write much. I don’t think I have the time, nor do I think my writing skills are what they should be. But now I know I need to make the time. …
    Thanks for your inspiration and dedication to making a difference.

  14. Jeff,

    Congratulations! A comment from your Mom and Dad! That blew me away! I am convinced that it’s not about good minds and bad minds. It’s different minds. Can you imagine a world were everyone had “good minds?” What a boring place that would be without, Albert Einstein, Charles Schwab, Henry Winkler, John Lennon, Winston Churchill, Henry Ford, Woodrow Wilson, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, John Kennedy, Whoopi Goldberg, Dustin Hoffman, Robin Williams, Steve McQueen, ….. All LD

    — dave —

    Clinically diagnosed Attention Deficit Disorder

    “Famous People With Attention Deficit and Learning Disorders.” OneADDplace.com. 8 Oct 2006. OneADDplace.com. 8 Oct 2006 .

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  17. Jeff–I find your blog impressive too. Enjoy reading it as frequently as is updates. (I watch my bloglines, and immediately open this when there is new stuff, and I follow techlearning too. I used to be a great speller. I was pretty good at word processing too. But when I bought my first laptop four years ago, my typing skills (and spelling) went to pot. I love to respond on the fly, and would become very impatient waiting on spellcheck. So I disabled it, convinced it was holding me down and keeping me back. But I had a really good friend recently pull me aside and ask me to turn the spellcheck back on for email, and to try to proofread my material. She said you have great things to say, Cathy, but a lot of people are turned off by a Masters Plus 30 professional having so many spelling issues. She said short, quick emails are easily forgiven, but the epistles and soapboxes I tend to respond with are not forgiven, and rather make the reader lose interest or judge me in a less than flattering light. So I have recently turned it back on, and am trying to make myself proof read (which I don’t enjoy). I also have difficulty seeing my mistakes, and I blame the ‘puter. Let’s see if I find any in this post before I click “say it.” I’ll come back at the bottom and tell you how many issues (grammer, spelling, punct.) I have to fix.

    I found nine things that needed corrections. Most were spelling. Did I mention my “t” doesn’t seem to like to be used anymore. Time for my new Powerbook!

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  22. Always a pleasure to read your post. Gives me plenty to think about, plenty to explore with my kids and keeps my motivation levels high. Thanks for the great work.
    New Zealand

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