Little Copyright Thugs

Okay, so Alan Levine was kidding in his comment to the post introducing this video to me when he called them “little copyright thugs.” One has to kid about the topic after seeing the following video posted on Alec Couros’s blog. But let me say before you watch it, art and music are SOOOOOOO important for all of us to be able to express our emotions and life lessons in a format rather then keeping them pent up inside and not letting the world see how great a person each of us can be on the inside. We all have our favorite picture or song or poem that means the world to us for personal reasons. I think this teacher and many of the kids just found one of their own. 

With that being said, here are the “little copyright thugs.”

Can you see the engagement in the song that the kids had? It was not “hey we’re making a movie” or “watch me be the star of this thing.” It was a genuine expression of engagement brought out by an educator that we all hope to see in our classrooms (albeit, I never had poetry written or recited in my class with such passion as these kids shared). Oh, and the kicker is that these kids have been invited by Stevie Nicks after she saw this video on YouTube to sing it in Madison Square Gardens. Feel free to drop by the kids’ blog and let them know how great they really are: Not bad for a campus where 3 out of 4 are on free/reduced lunch, huh?

Quick point here. Notice they blog. Notice that we now notice how great these kids AND their teacher both are. Enough noticing. Read on.

Now, let’s consider what Alec was getting at. This explicitily shows why we should be publishing our kids’ work. They are going to experience things because of this short 2 minute video that most of us only dream about. Why? Their teacher thought enough to show off what they can do to the world. Sure, it might all be a fluke that Stevie Nicks saw the video and invited them, but the fluke was not possible without that teacher making that concious choice to publish the work. Also, think of the lives this can touch with those kids. Already fighting their way out of a hole poverty-wise, they can now see they have value, skills, hope, and a teacher that obviously loves them very, very much. Did you catch his commentary at the end? It was three words: “That was goooooood.” I have not seen a bigger smile on any face than he had on his at that moment. Even Darren Kuropatwa zoomed in on that part of it. It just says so much.

So, let’s review here. The kids practice a Fleetwood Mac song. The teacher decides to record them singing it. The outcomes:
1. We are inspired by what these kids can do with a passion.
2. The parents obviously know their kid’s teacher loves his job and his students a TON.
3. Stevie Nicks sees the video via a social networking video site, cries, falls in love with the kids, and invites them to perform at Madison Square Gardens.
4. Ed tech guys and gals jump on the story as a way to motivate their own teachers to do such things as publishing more (any) student content.
5. The students see a new value in school and learning and that there is light at the end.
6. Teacher gets a book and movie deal and becomes Mr. Holland’s Opus II: The Modern Version (I made that up, but it could happen).

I hope Alec finds a way to weave this post and video into his time with us in White Oak on June 12th. Did I mention he is one of the keynoters and a featured presenter? Feel free to join us.

In the meantime, fire up your class blog and get your students’ work out there. The world needs to see just how good they (and you) really are.

Constructing Modern Knowledge


Last year I had the honor of attending Gary Stager’s conference Constructing Modern Knowledge. It was time very well spent. If you have the time and resources to make it to his event this summer, you will not regret it. He and his presenters will make you think, discuss, experiment, and collaborate like never before. If we are lucky, NECC will invite Dr. Stager to be a part of the debate at NECC, and you will be able to get a preview of what you have ahead of you.  Here is what you need to know:

Dear Constructing Modern Knowledge Pioneer,

I hope you are well!
are less than 2 months away from the 2nd Annual Constructing Modern
Knowledge institute and this year’s event promises to be even more
amazing than the fantastic time we spent together last summer. Folks
are registering for CMK09 and I want to make sure that as many
educators as possible know about the event. The talent assembled for
this year’s faculty humbles me. Where else can you collaborate,
experiment, think, tinker AND spend time with the likes of:
Deborah Meier –
a Macarthur Genius honored for her decades of service and innovation in
urban public education. Ms. Meier is the “mother” of the small schools
movement and her Central Park East in NYC and Mission Hill in Boston
provide stunning examples of creative, compassionate, competent public

Herbert Kohl – a
National Book Award winner and author of more than 40 books on
teaching, learning and parenting. Herb Kohl is one of the most
important educators of the past 50 years.
Brian Silverman 
a gifted recreational mathematician, scientist, bricoleur and raconteur
who has his DNA on nearly every version of Logo created over the past
30 years. Brian played instrumental roles in the creation of
MicroWorlds, LEGO TC logo, Scratch, Turtle Art, the Phantom Fishtank
and is now the president of the Playful Invention Company, creators of
the Pico Cricket. Brian even built a working tic-tac-toe playing
computer made entirely of TinkerToys.
Peter Reynolds 
the award-winning author, illustrator, animator, software developer and
inspirer will host a CMK Reception at his famed FableVision Studios at
the start of Wednesday night’s Night Out in the Big City (Boston)
That’s right, the Boston trip will begin with a rare reception at
FableVision Studios, high atop the Boston Children’s Museum.
Complete biographies of each speaker and the rest of the faculty may be found at
addition to other surprises I’m working on, each participant will again
receive a collection of open-ended tool software for their personal use.

TCEA Area 7 Technology Conference

As the director for Area 7, please accept my invitation to the following:

Area 7 TCEA is accepting proposals for presenting at our annual TCEA Area 7 Technology Conference to be held June 12, 2009, in White Oak ISD at White Oak Middle School (outside of Longview, TX).

Scheduled to be featured presenters are Dean Shareski, Alec Couros, and Jennifer Wagner along with great Texas talents Maria Henderson, Stephanie Sandifer, Randy Rogers, the GIS team from Bishop Dunne High School (Christine Voigt, Kyle Stevens, and Paul R. Wood), Diana Benner, 2009 TCEA Educator of the Year Pam Cranford, Janet Corder, and Joan Gore

One of the highlights of the day will be the closing session where some of the featured presenters will face off in a “Cool Tools Duel” sharing what they feel are the best online Web 2.0 tools available for educators in a rapid-fire style event (60-120 seconds per tool). This will allow all attendees to leave with a list of new things to try over the summer in preparation for the new school year.

Our local staff who were 2009 TCEA attendees are being asked to present at least one session at our conference sharing what they learned and implemented. Maybe you are asking your teachers to do the same in your district, and this is their chance to present to others. We already have sessions lined up for wikis, paperless classrooms, tools for the primary teachers, and Nings. But we need more!

The session might be a round table discussion about how to use different technologies in the classroom now and in the future, or it can demonstrate how you have used technology with your students, campus, or district this year. We would love more sessions on opensource software use, electronic portfolios, technology assessment (both educator and student), core area technology integration, elementary technology sessions, remote hosting/cloud computing, classes that have switched to electronic textbooks, and more.

Since we have all levels of educators that attend (admin, network directors, multiple grade levels, multiple levels of experience, etc), you can present on pretty much any tech topic at any level of expertise. If you presented at TCEA in Austin this year, submitted a proposal to submit (that did not get accepted), or are working on one to present at 2010 TCEA, feel free to use that same session in Area 7 for our conference. We anticipate having 50 minute sessions with 250 attendees.

We have a web form created for you to submit your session proposal online. This helps us organize the conference much easier than paper. We need to have your submission within the next three weeks in order for us to get our programs created and printed. We ask that you have everything submitted no later than the end of the school day on May 22, 2009. You will find the form here:

If you are interested in just attending the event, that is okay, too.  Registration is $25 for both members and non-members (free for presenters), and it includes the conference, Bodacious BBQ luncheon, a vendor area, and plenty of door prizes. Watch the Area 7 page on the TCEA site for registration information.  I also have updated information in the Area 7 Tech Conference Moodle located at  There you will find an agenda, session listings (as they come in), vendor information, registration information, directions, and any updates to the conference including presenter handouts.  We will have on-site registration at the same $25 rate as well, but we prefer at least a heads-up on your anticipated attendance so that we can have plenty of promo bags and lunch for everyone.

We look forward to a great conference on June 12th and hope to have your participation. Email me for more information –