Have you ever had one of those days that it seems like every link you click on is perfect, makes you think, or say to yourself “Thank god….I’m not crazy”?

That was yesterday for me. I feel like yesterday I might have actually met my 25% PD Time. This is a series of blog posts that I started back in February of 2006 after I finished reading the Standards for Staff Development by the National Staff Development Council (looking over it again I see a lot of what Dan Pink talks about in his book Drive and motivation). 

Anyway…here is the brain thumping blog posts, articles, research, and videos that I found yesterday that have my mind in a swirl.

1) Conrad Wolfram’s TED Talk video: Fantastic stuff that I can’t wait to share with my math teachers. Also check out his computerbasedmath.org site. 

2) Project Red: Do 1:1 Right or Don’t do it at all: ZDnet has a good take on this and it’s always great to have research that shows that 1:1 computing works when implemented correctly. I think this goes with Conrad’s video above about using computers the right way! Complete PDF of research here

3) The Future will be Personalized: Techcrunch has a good article on what the future looks like and how technology will play a role in our personalization of information. 

4) Facebook Messaging, Teens and School Work: Can Facebook Be a Social Learning Network?: Someone actually asked Mark Zuckerburg about Facebook and education. From Mashable:

5:50: Is education an opportunity for Facebook? Zuckerberg responds that if someone builds a great application, there’s a huge opportunity.

We’ll see where this goes…and is this a call out to developers to build an educational app for Facebook? We’ll see what happens.

5) The 21st Century Learner: Sent to me by my IT Director this morning.


Now you can see why my head is spinning. If we’re looking at the future of education, there is a lot of stuff we can take away just from this one day spent on the Internet. There are so many possibilities and I would even say that many of us know it needs to change. So what’s the problem? I think Conrad Wolfram has a great visual at the end of his presentation that sums it up. We need something completely new, not just an improvement on education, a whole new idea on school and the possibilities we now have with the amount of information we have available to use today. I’m still thinking through this, but from the articles above I come away with this.

Education must:

  1. include access to computer with educators who are properly trained in understanding how to use them.
  2. be student centered.
  3. be challenging, real world, and fun.
  4. be social not individual. 
  5. process based not content based

Really…nothing new there…..so what’s our problem?

Back at it again. Yesterday was the kids first day at school and even thought it was a short week for them, it seemed long to the rest of us. The last couple of days before kids show up is always a tug of war between meetings and class prep time. But some how, some way, we always find a way to be ready when they come walking through the door.

So here I am with my first 25% PD of the 06-07 school year. If you are wondering where this comes from you can read my first post here. I didn’t keep track this week but I’m probably close to 300 minutes of PD our of the 525 I need to make 25%. Not bad, but I’ll do better!

At the techlearning blog there has been a good debate on Flickr and the use in schools.


In two weeks my 7th graders will be making a digital story on some aspect of the history of computers or the Internet which makes David Jakes Photostory 3 Screencast Tutorials a must!

David Warlick posted about Karl Fisch’s presentation Did you Know. (Which I was able to get to now that blogger is unblocked here! YEAH) A must have for anyone giving PD at the beginning of the year. A powerful way to get people thinking. Thanks for sharing Karl!

On the bus this morning I listened to David Warlick’s Connect Learning podcast #69 The conversation part at the beginning was so good that I got to school and promptly e-mailed it to my admin.

Steve at Teach42 has a great entry on cheating that every teacher should read.

Placed around with Elgg.net for awhile. It Moodle and Elgg get together…I want it!

And my favorite this week comes from Alicia via Bud the Teacher:

I was smiling walking into the building thinking about the minds that I
would get to meet and mold and form. I looked over the balcony, down at
the kids, thinking that those were the students I would get to know
over the next nine months. Months from now I will look down and know
who they were, but for a few moments they were just a mass of khakis
and polos, tucked in. They looked sharp. They were potential.

This is why we teach, why we come to work everyday, and why we love what we do. There is potential in our students. It’s our job to find it, make the most of it, and teach them how to use it.

[tags]My 25% PD[/tags]

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My 25% PD came in the form of an hour bus ride this morning. There was enough thought provoking information in that 1 hour, I feel, to be considered my 25% PD for the week.

I’m really starting to love this hour bus ride I have in the morning. Of course I’m not driving which makes all the difference, and I’m finally getting a system down for loading podcasts on my Palm T5. So yesterday I read Will’s post Engaging Teachers, and then went to Ewan’s site to get the link to the Marc Prensky podcast (There’s connectivism for ya!). So this morning I was excited to jump on the bus sit back and listen. Listen I did, but the sitting back part lasted about 2 minutes as I found myself quickly scrambling for a piece of paper to take notes on.

A Flat World: This hit me about 5 minutes into the podcast. Here I sit on a bus in Shanghai listening to a presentation that I would have never had the opportunity to listen to with such ease just 5 years ago. On top of that we talk about how information is becoming free, but in this case it’s actually saving me money. If I were to fly to Shropshire to actually attend Prensky’s presentation the flight alone would have cost me about $1,000. That doesn’t include hotel, food, etc. So I’m sure it’s about $2,000 by the time everything is said and done. Instead, I’ll spend that $2,000 while in South Africa this summer and still get the information. I thank Marc and the Shropshire County Council for saving me $2,000 and allowing me to listen in on the presentation.

“If people want to learn, they will find a way.”
Prensky says this at one point at the beginning of the podcast and makes reference to China. He is absolutely correct. I’m telling you, if you want to test out just how strong your firewall and proxy servers are, have an exchange student from China join your school. I have learned way more than I ever wanted to know about ways to get around a proxy or firewall. China is doing all it can to filter the information, but if you want to learn something or really want to go to this or that site, there’s a way to do it. If we engage our students in the learning process, make learning meaningful for them, they’ll learn it. It’s that “If you build it, they will come” attitude. If you put in place the educational structures for students to be engaged in learning, to have fun and for the learning to be relevant to their lives, than education takes on a whole new meaning.

Immigrants vs. Natives:
I know that most people feel this analogy is over done, and it probably is. But it still hits home with me. I wonder if that’s because I’ve been an immigrant and can relate to what Prensky is talking about. Have you ever been an immigrant? I was an immigrant to Saudi Arabia and now to China, and so maybe I have a different take on the message. When Prensky talks about ‘having an accent’ and that we carry that accent with us I understand what he’s talking about. I’m sure that others who have immigrated do as well. For me I think of it as taking a piece of the homeland with you. My favorite one lately is, “E-books are OK, but they’ll never replace a paper book.” That’s an immigrant that can’t let go of the homeland and has an accent. They’ve tried the new way, but it just can’t beat what they know. When you are immigrating to a new country, your home country all of a sudden doesn’t seem so bad. I only remember the good things about living in American and now in Saudi Arabia. Yesterday when it was raining my wife and I said on a number of occasions “I sure miss Saudi!” something we never thought we would say. We talk about customer service and how back in America the customer service is ‘wonderfu’ ‘awesome’ ‘customer’s always right’ etc. But we forget the three months it took just to get our cell phone bill’s address changed.

Not only do you have an accent the old way becomes better over time.

Will e-books ever replace paper books for immigrants? Not for those who have an accent in paper books. For them the hard to read, always looking for the right light, loosing your page number paper book is the only proper way to read a book. Immigrants have accents in different areas. We don’t all harp on the same thing. Some still print off e-mails, others will never use SMS, and Wikipedia will always be an unedited unreliable source. So maybe it’s because I live as an immigrant every day. The difference in language, in communication, and in knowing your way around, or your lack of it that leaves you with an accent whether it be technology or another country.

Prensky, with a couple slides, tells teachers not to waste time mastering new technology tools. That change is too rapid and by the time we learn how to use the tool and then how to implement the tool, the tool will be out of use. Instead allow the students to learn and use the tools. Something I’ve been thinking about is focusing on short term content. With content changing at such a rapid pace, should we not be teaching students how to find the information they need, use it, and then forget it? Isn’t this what we do in real life? A perfect example is my trip to South Africa this summer. Right now I can give you the best web site for finding flights, the different routes to and from Cape Town and who has the best rental car rates. But ask me in 3 months, I probably won’t be able to remember. That information is only relevant to me at this point in time. Another example: The 5th graders are deep into a Million Dollar Project created by the 5th grade team. These kids have to spend 1 million dollar with the only stipulation that they have to “do good” so we’re saving the tiger in India, building orphanages in China and bringing medicine to children in Zimbabwe. But after this project is over in two weeks what will they remember? They learned everything they needed to know about starving people in Zimbabwe, what they need, and how to help them. But when the project is over will they need that content? Or better yet, will they remember that content 1 year from now? Probably not, but will they remember the skills they learned about Excel and PowerPoint; how to create a graph and use multiple worksheets and how to put together a presentation that you don’t read slide by slide? Those are the skills they will walk away with. The content is just the vehicle to learn the skills. I’m not saying that content is not important, just less important than the skills learned. When this project is said and done the presenter might remember something about Zimbabwe, but there’s a pretty good chance the audience won’t.

We need to engage students in the learning process. Every good teacher knows that, but what we fail to do is engage them using their tools, their skills, and their knowledge. Instead we take our immigrant accent and how we believe things should be, and force it on the natives…I’d make an analogy here, but I’ll leave politics out of this. 😉

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Time got away from me today. But here is what I consider my PD for the week.

Doug Johnson’s Blue Skunk Blog
Doin’ something about DOPA  (and all the links that go with it!)
Interview questions

David Warlick’s 2 cents worth Blog
Why Kids Blog
The Cost of Information

Christopher Harris (Infomancy )
School Library 2.0

http://www.overduemedia.com/ If you’re a librarian and not reading this you are missing out on a daily laugh. My personal favorite:

From gapingvoid


imagination allows.jpg

http://www.bitsplitter.net/vagablog/  a piece of software I’m trying to get to work on my Palm T5 for moblogging at NECC so I don’t have to carry around my laptop. So far I’ve been unsuccessful. Not sure if it’s the schools network or if I have something set up wrong.

Using RSS feeds and RSS feed readers  A screencast I made this week for U Tech Tips. No better way to learn something than to teach it to others.

I didn’t pose my 25% PD last week. For some reason I am finding it harder and harder to actually sit down and write. I find it really easy to sit down and read. I’ve probably read more in the past year then at any other time in my life. That’s a good thing I guess, I just have to remember to take time to reflect on what I’m reading.

Healthier Testing Made Easy : A great article on assessment from Edutopia and a related link to a Grant Wiggins video interview .

Miguel Guhlin : Do I have to say any more? Will somebody please go over to Miguel’s house and take away the Deep Change book…and then ship it to me. 🙂
If you haven’t been reading Miguel’s blog lately you are missing out on some great postings. Everything he writes is worth reading but here are a few of my favorites over the past two weeks.

Absolute Surrender


Not a Whisper


3 Simple Ways to Bypass Filters

and just so there is no mistake about it myspace.com myspace.com myspace.com . The thing that I find interesting about this whole filtering conversation is, shouldn’t I be the one complaining? I live in China, which has been in the headlines a lot lately about the filtering of content. Funny thing is, I think I have less content blocked here in China then most schools in the United States. Interesting.

Bud the Teacher: Podcast: Myspace, Myspace, Myspace

Learning Is Messy (Brian Crosby): Response To: Powerful Beyond Measure I lost this blog for awhile, but glad I found it again. So much great stuff here!

TechCrunch: Update on Pandora/Last.fm Mashup for the latest and greatest in web 2.0 tools you have to love TechCrunch. I am a huge fan of Pandora and will have to look at this mashup a little closer.

2 Cents Worth: Just read everything here!

Weblogg-ed: Will’s back and at the Milken conference. Some great reflections from a non educational gathering of brains.

Because we are celebrating TV Turn Off week here I am only on the computer during school hours. So at home the TV and computer have stayed off all week allowing me to catch up on some of book reading.

Finished Redefining Literacy for the 21st Century : My favorite part of the book was the stories at the beginning. I’ll put this book in my professional library to give to teachers as a resource and starter book when talking about the new skills needed in the 21st century

Millennials Rising : I’m about half way through this book now and enjoying it. There are a lot of good stats in the book that can be used for presentations.

The Search: Should finish this book tonight. A great look at the history of search and Google. I graduated in 1994 from high school, so to think that 95% of this book forces on changes and inventions since I left high school is weird. I remember in the late 1990s when search was growing and before the dot com bust that every day I was using a different search engine. A friend would recommend this one, or that one. Search was everywhere. I remember using Google for the first time in Saudi Arabia in late 2002 when someone in my Master’s course recommended it as a search engine. The rest as they say is history.

It has been a couple weeks since I’ve posed my PD entry. The weeks around Spring Break are always hectic. This week is conferences which has given me some free time to get back into the swing of my goal of 525 minutes of PD a week.

This week I accrued about 400 minutes of PD time. Helped by 2 one hour bus rides where I listened to The Search by John Battelle. A recommendation from Doug Johnson a couple months ago.

Other PD this week:

Netvibes : I wrote about this a week ago, but have really enjoyed this site. I have now moved all my bloglines feeds over to my netvibes account. I now have easy access to all my e-mail accounts, my del.icio.us account, my writely account, and box.net account. Netvibes even now has a tabbing feature so I have a tab of feeds to follow the Mariners, a tab for world news, etc. All this information in one place. I now can read up to 100 sites without leaving my netvibes home page. I can see this becoming a great tool for students.

Techcrunch.com has become another favorite site. Keeping me up to date on all web 2.0 happenings. A couple good finds this week from techcrunch are feedostyle and tunefeed.

Feedostyle: Turn RSS feeds into javascripts that you can put on your blog or web page. Still in beta with a couple bugs, but looks promising. Very easy to use.

Tunefeed: Haven’t played with this one yet, but could be a great way to add different podcasts to your site for students to listen to.

Kto8.com: “The goal of K to the 8th Power is to provide an easy-to-use platform for developing computer literacy and applied technology skills. School lab directors and classroom teachers can use this curriculum to develop computer literate and technology savvy students while at the same time reinforcing National and State academic standards. This powerful combination assists the lab director and classroom teacher with practical computer lab activities and exercises that reinforce not only what is being taught in the classroom, but also what is being tested and measured annually.” As my school works through creating a scope and sequence this site is going to come in handy!

Jumpcut: Christopher Harris (Infomancy) keeps going on about jumpcut a new video editing program on the web. I’m just reading now, hopefully I’ll get to take it for a test run soon.

Doug Johnson: A great discussion started this week by Doug and his friend George.

David Warlick: David started two new wikis this week (Flat Classrooms and New Stories) along with a great conversation about flat classrooms.

utechtips.com: A blog that I run that gives news and tech tips for teachers moved to its own domain this past week, so I spent time learning more .php scripting. I’m to the point now where I can really screw things up! Also, started using a mailing list program to keep track of subscribers to the weekly newsletter that highlights the blog. I want to use RSS, but educators (for the most part) are not there yet.

30boxes.com: Started an account with 30boxes just two days before Google released its calendar. I’m looking for someway to keep track of where we’ll be this summer and allow friends and family to know where we’ll be for the 5 weeks were back in the States. Now if I can find a way to sync it with my Palm T5 I’d be set.

Thornburg: Ed tech stalled by ‘fear’: A great article from eSchool News and David Thornburg. How true is this:

eSN: In closing, what do you think is the most important message to leave educators with?

THORNBURG: I would like to see these people … with a renewed sense of enthusiasm, a rekindled sense of joy. Educators today are being treated like they would be treated in a kennel. You’ve got this situation of the No Child Left Behind Act, which is perceived to be a hammer that is bashing teachers down. Whether that’s true or not, the perception is the reality for people who are under the gun. As a result, a lot of the joy has been removed from people’s lives–administrators especially. They’re just the walking wounded. They need the opportunity to explore new ideas, and go back with a positive vision of the future and with enough resources.

This week my Professional Development came in the way of conversations. Conversations in person, via e-mail, and through the new course I’m running on Moodle. 6 Teachers taking the course this time bring the number of teachers now using Moodle at our school to 33 with 600 students registered. 0-600 students using an online tool in less then a year…not a bad start!

I was reminded through out the week about the power of conversations and how conversations have the power to change your thinking, to alter your perspective, and to allow you to consider another’s point of view.

I would like to point to the one blog where I did spend the majority of my week. Remote Access was my blog this week. Clarence Fisher had some great reflections about things happening in his classroom and I found every post this past week pulling me in and making me want to read more.

I calculate this weeks PD time at around 400 minutes. 125 minutes off the 25% mark, but probably 350 more minutes then most educators.

Not sure how much time I’ll get for PD next week. Well professional PD that is, as my learning will turn to the NCAA tournament and winning the pool here at school.

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So this week I managed about 300 minutes of PD time. I like using minutes rather then hours just because it looks like a lot more time. 🙂

Arvind Grover posted this to my original 25% PD and it had me thinking this week:

Jeff, although I never thought of it in the way you describe it, that is exactly how my professional development works. I have been avoiding relaxing by the TV and have been relaxing by reading, reading and reading more blogs and educational technology news all the time. I think the transformation of the web from singular websites, to those connected with all types of social-networking strategies has let our exploration of the web explode.

I can relate! During the night my wife and I sit down to relax, she grabs a book or watches TV, I grad the laptop and read or watch videos or listen to a podcast. I don’t remember the last time I watched a TV show. We watch movies together, but other then that the TV doesn’t interest me. There is no NCAA basketball or MLB baseball games on here in China so I get my sports fix from the Internet as well. I also go thinking about the 300 minutes that I quoted earlier. This is just time I spend at school. If I was to add up the amount of time I spend before and after school reading and learning I’m sure it would be well over 1000 minutes each week. Further more, I find the more blogs and websites I visit the more ideas I have for the 6 different web sites I’m trying to keep up with. That is way this week I included in my PD the 2 hours I spend working on a site figuring out .php and css pages. The little php coding I know I’ve learned through maintaining this and the other blogs that I’m now running/overseeing. Should I also count the hours I’ve put in this week putting together a class I’m teaching starting next week on using Moodle in the classroom? I’ve been collecting, reading, reviewing, and thinking about how I want the class to be structured.

All of this added up to a lot of learning, all individualized and all ready waiting for me when I’m ready to learn. To tired? Go to bed. Can’t sleep? Get up and learn. The information is just waiting to be processed. I’m just realized that I haven’t watch news on the TV for months now; I keep up through my rss feeds of the news channels that interest me.

What does this mean for our students? How can using blogs, wikis, rss feeds, course management systems, and other web applications allow for our students to have this same access to personal individualized information in an educational manner?

This weeks sites:

Seedlings Podcast @Bit by Bit: Show 02

Great music for podcasters

For all my library friends

Batch geo code address into longitude and latitude to be placed on Google maps.

Ticker like on CNN only runs RSS feeds. For Macs

Great article on myspace

Chris Harris has a great posting about myspace and other thoughts

This is great, but according to the site “Playback is not available in my country” shucks!

Add voice to your e-mail

Cheap legal music downloads from Russia

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OK, so this week I missed my 525 minutes of PD by 205 minutes. It was a bit of a hectic week. Hopefully next week I can make up the minutes.

Here are the highlights from this week:

Podcasts via iTunes
March of the Penguin Podcast from David Thornburg-Moving at the Speed of Creativity
No shortcuts podcast by Rafe Esquith-Moving at the Speed of Creativity

http://www.edtechlife.com/-Mark Warner
Most of these links came via Mark Warner. I can’t keep up with that guy. Every day I swear there are 10 postings.

How to measure distances in Google Earth I was just trying to do this the other day.

Intro to blogging workshop @ ETC

Teens gain social skills online

Worth a good long read, especially the literacy skills part

Great resources to get started, or to learn from one of the best.

133 Open-Source or Free software applications for Windows

Teachers work 11 hours unpaid in the U.K. interesting article.

Open-Source TV for your computer. Just downloaded it we’ll see how it works.

“Identity Production in a Networked Culture: Why Youth Heart MySpace”

Is Your Firm Ready for the Millennials?

My favorite of the week is Pandora. What a great web 2.0 tool! I’m having some fun with this one.

Last week Christopher D. Sessums left a comment that I thought was interesting.

I am curious what your school’s administration feels about this.
Here in Florida, PD for teachers requires certain approvals and formalities that makes your model somewhat unlikely for those teachers needing to renew their teaching certificate.
I suppose if the school district could formalize a similar approach it would go a long way and make many practicing teachers quite happy.
Should your model include some kind of assessment of your learning?
Will reflective blog entries suffice?
Could this work its way into a community of practice where other educators respond to your reflections?

Wouldn’t this be great if teacher really could get recognized for the PD they do online? Instead you have to attend a conference and sit through sessions. Gee, kind of reminds you of seat time needed to graduate high school don’t it? It doesn’t have anything to do with learning, just as long as you attended. Could this from of PD be assessed? Sure, I could create a portfolio, or give an in-service in my school teaching others what I’ve learned and have been exploring. Would reflective blog entries suffice? Not in today’s word, but we can hope. Reflecting on ones learning is how you show understanding of concepts and stretch your own knowledge. How far away is education from this model? We talk about changing education for the students, but what about the way we learn as educators? There are some new ways popping up here in the blogoshpere like Shifted Learning and other PD opportunities on the web. But will teachers get the paperwork and credit they need to renew their certificates? We talk about a shift in education could it start by shifting the way WE as educators learn, attend conferences, and apply reflective models and social connections to our own learning? Could that be the key, to first change our model of learning before we change it in the classroom. HHHMMM, makes you think don’t it?

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After reflecting on the amount of PD teachers should be receiving, I’ve decided that I have to control my own PD. I have been for most of this year. But it hit me today as I had a light class load that I am in charge of my own PD and so I did what you do at any good PD opportunity. I poured myself a big cup of coffee (Starbuck’s Coffee and used my French press, the only way to have coffee I’ve decided) and started on my PD for the day. Where did I start you ask? Simple, in my bloglines account.

This has been the best day of PD I could ever hope for. I was in control of my learning. I was able to click on links that were interesting and ignore the information that I felt didn’t apply to me. I read, commented, reflected, bookmarked, and just felt the excitement inside me grow as I found some great stuff. So I’ve decided to make it my goal to spend 25% of my time doing my own PD. That adds up to 525 minutes of PD a week or 8.75 hours of PD a week or 1.75 hours of PD a day.

Today being a slow day in the lab I spent roughly 4 hours of PD time today.

So in my first Weekly PD post here is what I found today that inspired me:

Their Circular Life, an exploration about human behavior

Brandon’s Online Magazine: A magazine that is a blog created and maintained by a class of 6th graders.

Who’s the Scientist: Seventh graders describe scientists before and after a visit to Fermilab.

From the Shifted Librarian a look at Google and libraries in 2015.


The Techsavvyed forum of educators finding great sites on the web.

Heard about this place but actually went there today and looked around. Wheels are spinning of how to use this.

My admin wants to do a survey of technology use in our school. So if you are going to collect information you might as well do it right. The LOTI survey is still a great tool at looking at technology implementation within a school.

Rethinking Learning: George Siemens makes available his presentation. This was a well spend hour of my time today. Can’t wait to share this with others.

I was here once a while back, but forgot about it. What a cool site!

Revisited my own thoughts on PD in schools and what we should be doing vs what we are doing.

Can’t wait to get my 5th graders playing this, hopefully in March.

What a fun way to practice math facts

A list of math games on the web for all ages

National Library of Virtual Manipulatives

What a great way to practice parts of speech

All this and going through my bloglines account. I’m sorry, you just can’t beat this type of learning. I caught myself a couple times today just thinking about what I was doing, clicking here, going there, coming back to this page, reading that, linking to this. What a wonderful world of information!

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