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803 Downloads to cap off a week to remember

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(Prepare yourself it’s a long one!)

(Read to the bottom to find out why it took me over 12 hours to post this reflection!)

What a week this has been and with the launch of the book today, it’s made it all the more amazing of a week.

As of this writing, Reach was downloaded 801 times today. My networks and communities once again surpassed my expectations. As I told my wife yesterday, I’d be tickled if 200 people downloaded the Free PDF. To have 800+ do it in the first day alone is just mind boggling. As I say in the book, once you become connected to this network, professional development like you have never known before starts to flow your way. This book as been as much a part of my own professional development this year as anything else. On top of that I get to reap the benefits from people posting about it, quoting it, and thinking about it on their own blogs, twitter updates, and everywhere else on the network.

Some have asked if the book is OK to share with others. I have released Reach under a Creative Commons 3.0 License as found on the copyright page of the book. Meaning you are free to distribute it as you wish to your school community or to your own network within the guidelines of the Creative Commons Copyright.

Part of what I wrote about in the book, and part of what I believe overwhelms people, is this idea that you have to be everywhere and that every site is a silo. When really, once you understand the connectivity of the Internet, it can all come to you in one place, and you can talk to your network through one channel.

So in sharing Reach today I decided to do a little experiment on where my network and community (and yes they are different….you’ll have to read the book to learn how) are coming from and how they are connected.

So I released the Free PDF within all my networks and communities. This blog, the U Tech Tips blog, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Here’s how the downloads panned out (as of 10pm June 15th).

This Blog: 511

Twitter: 228

LinkedIn: 0

U Tech Tips: 32

Facebook: 32

I was surprised at first that more people downloaded Reach via my blog than via Twitter. I was expecting the ReTweets on Twitter to help push that to the top spot.

But here’s what I forgot. My blog is connected to everything. So when I posted the link to download Reach to this blog it went to Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Plus to a lot of RSS readers. My blog has always been the center of my connected universe and still is today. LinkedIn surprised me. I don’t use it that much, hardly ever post anything there, and although there are a lot of people there looking to connect, not too many people are reading that stream. Of course my LinkedIn network could have used any of the other links as they all feed into LinkedIn, again that’s how that site fits into my personal learning network.

Why give it away for free? It’s my first book and we’ll wait to see what you all have to say about it as a book and me as a writer. Some of you have commented already that you can hear my voice in the book, and I found that I’m a much better writer of my thinking than a technical writer. We’ll see if it translates to a book.

Let’s be honest. If I wouldn’t have given this book away for free, I’d have been lucky to sell 100 copies (thanks to the 15 people who bought copies today!) and I have a day job that pays. It was more important to me to get the message out there. To basically throw my writing out there and see what you all think about it in a different form. My “Reach” is much greater with the free copies than it ever would have been with a book that had to be bought.

Yes…some of you will still buy the book. As Seth Godin (who’s idea and thoughts on this I have followed) has said, “We buy books as a souvenir”. I believe in that. Some of you might buy the book because you’ll want it as a souvenir, and for that I’m greatly honored. But, for most of you it will be a one time read and never thought of again. It’s information that will be out of date as soon as Facebook decides to change it’s privacy settings again. πŸ˜‰

The PDF passwords will work until Friday night around 10pm PST. After that I’ll shut them off. The first two chapters will always be free via the Reach website. If you come to any of my 8 presentations this summer you’ll be given a code for the free PDF as well…and who knows I might always give it away free again at the start of school. πŸ˜‰

Of course this has me very excited, that I was able to give something back to the community. But the launch of Reach today was over shadowed by a more amazing gift this week. A gift that….well…..can not be topped.

Last Tuesday I sat in a crowd of about 200 people watching the Class of 2010 from Aberdeen High School recieve their scholarships and awards for the year. I had been invited down by a former 4th grade student of mine, Claire. She had written me a letter saying there were a bunch of students that I had taught who are now graduating that would like to see me again. Little did I know that Claire and my wife had been planning for months to get me to Aberdeen for something very special.

I sat there in the crowd listening for names of past students, trying to recognize my little fourth grade students in these now 18 year old bodies. Some were easy, others I couldn’t believe the changes.

Claire had received a couple scholarships and awards and then without warning she started giving a speech.

“Each year the Renaissance Action Team senior members along with many other seniors recognize teachers that have made a difference in their lives. This year 21 seniors participated in the program started by the Renaissance team called honorary diplomas. This program allowed these seniors to dress in cap and gown and go visit a teacher that made a huge difference in their life. These seniors prepared brief speeches and presented diplomas to their teachers while telling them exactly what it is that changed their outlook on life.

For some seniors this was easy, they just walked down the hall, into a classroom, and made the presentation. Six teachers at Aberdeen High School were honored this year. For fourteen others, they went back to their elementary or junior high school to tell a past teacher of the impact they had. With thirty pairs of eyes watching them these seniors presented diplomas to their teachers. For one, the process even included tracking down a retired teacher’s family and making a surprise visit to him, and then, there was me.

In this audience is a man who has no idea what is about to happen, in this audience is a man who changed my life. For the past month or so I have been working to make this moment happen, and right now, as I stand here, I really hope he is out there, and possibly catching on to why his wife was so insistent on him making the trip here.”

About this time Claire’s mother takes a picture of me and I catch the flash out of the corner of my eye. I look at her and she’s smiling….and then it hit me.

I’m not going to share the whole 3 page speech that Claire gave…it’s way too special and humbling for me to share it (sorry…but true).

I will share my favorite two sentences out of the speech and the two that sent tears rolling down my own cheeks.

“Mr. U found things we liked, and created a way to learn around them. He talked to us as if we were equal, not like we were ten, and Mr. U was always smiling. It was obvious and still is that Mr. U is passionate about what he does, and he cares about the students he has.”

That meant more to me than anything…for the simple fact that it was my own fourth grade teacher Mrs. Hubble who always referred to us as “Ladies and Gentleman”. She told us that we are all equals and should be treated as much. That has stuck with me through the years and to this day, I have always only referred to a class as “Ladies and Gentleman”. I do believe we are all equals in a classroom, and sometimes it’s as little as how you refer to people that makes all the difference.

Claire, if you’re reading this, know you have made my teaching career. Your speech was simply perfect and how you remembered ever project we did in such detail after all these years I’ll never know. Please know that for all you feel you have learned from me, I learned from you ten fold! Thank you for being such a special person in my life.

It’s been one amazing week that has reminded me why I love learning.

“Education is not the preparation for life; It’s life itself” ~John Dewey

As I’m ready to post this last night I get a phone call from my brother. My nephew was on his way. At 4:40 this morning I became an Uncle for the second time. I’m not sure one person deserves this much amazement in one week. What a week to remember!

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. Glad that bounteous blessings are coming your way. Every one of them is well-deserved, even if unexpected.

    See you in Denver!

  2. Pingback: Vendere o diffondere? « Insegnare Apprendere Mutare

  3. Jeff, glad you’ve had such a great response to your book. I just read it at a bar on my iPad (hey, I’m on vacation!). I suspected that it’d be an ‘awareness level’boook, but I also had a strong suspicion that I’d still find a new gem or two in it. Sure enough, you’ve passed on the concept of ‘networked literacy’ to me… so now I guess I have some more digging to do. Thanks, Jeff. Enjoy your vacation.

  4. Ashley Johnson Reply

    Jeff I am so glad that you had many responses to your book. I think that you have opened the eyes of many people. Thank you for sharing everything that you do! Thanks Jeff and good luck in all you do!

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