Drowning in Rice and Other Deep Subjects From CMK 08

Thinking. It is the one thing all of us either don’t do, take too little time to do, don’t have the time to do, or just plain don’t know how to do. So how are we expected to put more time into an already tight school day schedule.

This and more is part of our quest for knowledge at the Constructing Modern Knowledge conference here in New Hampshire. Our first day was loaded with theory, shared wisdom, and even some practice.

Paul Wood and I visited the MIT Museum on Sunday with Gary Stager. Among the things we found were some truly awesome feats of engineering from Arthur Ganson. An incredible thinker and visionary himself, Ganson had multitudes of examples of his “tinkering” on display. When you look at these items of work, you might wonder why someone would spend so much time creating these little glorified table decorations. Some might say, “Why?” I say, “Why not?”

The physics, engineering, math, research, and above all, thinking involved in these pieces of work is astounding. One can look at each and decide it is a simple machine. True enough. But what is so simple about the entire process from vision to creation? Not a whole heck of a lot. Take a look at some of these things in the short videos I shot:

These babies are like throwback to what I did with Legos, but I didn’t have the motors and, oh yeah, Ganson’s worked. But, now I’m an adult who can think, and by golly I want to make one of my own. So, when it came time to “tinker” during the exploration appointment of the day, Paul and I decided we wanted to replicate the rice river piece utilizing the Lego robotics kits, some rice, and a handkerchief. This is what you get with a couple of southern folks get together and attempt to think really hard (pics and video):


So there you have it. Three minds, a few cups of rice, a hanky, and some Legos. One simple machine. Maybe we made Ganson proud. Maybe not. But what I do know is that we thought our way through this entire process as a group, out loud, internally, through trial and error, with outside comments, and with pride.

We thought.
We designed.
We created.
We thought some more.
We redesigned and recreated.
And then we thought some more.

Yep. It was a wonderful day, and I’m pooped. Can’t wait until tomorrow. We promised Tally from Israel that we would do whatever project she has dreamed up tomorrow. We might need to rethink that decision. That girl is some kind of smart.

NECC in Our Neck of the Woods!

I had the privilege to be a part of a conference call (Yes, land lines. Oh the embarrassment.) with several other Texas educators who blog as well as a few of the important NECC people at ISTE. We spent an hour or so batting around ideas of what was going to happen at NECC 2008 and what could/should happen at NECC 2008, which happens to be in San Antonio this year. From an educator’s perspective, I do not think NECC could be more open and willing to meet our needs and interests.

With the online conference planner to pre-schedule your session and the online planner as a place to create this agenda to print or retrieve online (is this thing iPhone/iTouch friendly I wonder), any participant can be organized and prepared for a full schedule of events.

Check out these things on the NECC site:
Schedule at a Glance
Program Search (to find which sessions interest you, has one touch adding to Planner)
Featured Events
Volunteer Possibilities

One really neat thing that came out of the conversation was about the opening social. If you are going to be in San Antonio on that Sunday, do not miss it. If you are not going to be there yet, you won’t have to miss it. You see, ISTE has taken the steps to recreate the event in Second Life. Yep, you will see other SL’ers and the atmosphere, and my favorite part, even the band will be in SL. What a deal! These folks have gone out of their way to show the power of collaboration with these tools. Only if other organizations would pick up on that. Sigh.

So no matter whether you are into iPods, leadership roles, open source software, higher education, tech products, or even just online communities, NECC has a place or a session for you. EdubloggerCon and the Blogger’s Cafe are already in the works to make a return trip to NECC. I assure you, it will be very difficult to stand in the convention center (or any of the hotels) and ask out loud “Who wants to discuss (insert ed tech topic here)” and not find a willing participant or two. It is the perfect conference to unconference.

As for me and my conversations, we will be all over the Riverwalk. After dark, you will find me by the pool with some BBQ, Cokes, and great educator friends during the evening solving all the world’s problems (or at least Texas education’s). Welcome to Texas!

Tech Forum Southwest – Wes Fryer Keynote

While I cannot take notes for sessions as well as Wes, I will still try my best. Ironic his note taking skills are a benchmark and here I am trying to notate his session. This was Wes’s keynote address titled “So the World is Flat. Now What?” Again, all notes/interpretations/reflections/etc are mine:

Wes Fryer Keynote – So the world is flat? Now what?

showed “vision of students” by Wesch @ KSU – audience laughed at 26.5 hours per day of activity (multi-tasking)

played Allentown – No they never taught us what was real (from song): whose responsibility is it to teach them what is real?
Wes is a witness, partial view of incident,
China puts up a new building of 30 or more stories every 6 days.
80% of cranes are in China
(personal note: I am chatting in UStream, Tweeting, and focusing on Wes all at the same time here; gotta love it; I can relate to the 26.5 hour day deal now)
20% of population is from China
Southwest Christian school in Texas is offering Mandarin for a language
Showed Skype pic of conversation with kids from last night
Called out Jakes for Tweeting during presentation, example of multi-tasking
“For those with access, the world is flat” – digital divide is real, and many do not have access
World is Flat book – show of hands
Dan Pink book – show of hands, causes fight or flight amongst people
Read Richard Florida – Creative Class Group
Shared Shanghai trip – K12 Online Conference – 2nd year offered 82 free PD sessions based on tech integration
divers group where common interest is students
superintendents listen to supers, teachers listen to teachers,
showed ClustrMap of K12, cannot see US for all of the red dots; 88,802 visits since 9/16/07
Anyone scared? – wife heard FBI talk to girl scouts about Internet predators – scared, keep eyes open to realities,
“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” Alan Kay
“Most people try to predict the future by preventing it.” Alan Kay
focus on creativity – listen to Sir Ken on TEDTalks
my neighbor in session shows concern about assessment of creativity
DaVinci Institute – www.davinciok.org
Wes is worried about creativity in kids, not academics of his kids
AT&T is going through the change – 2 weeks ago AT&T 2.0 – “Connect people with their world everywhere they live and work, and do it better than anyone else” – phone, data services, entertainment,
Miguel & Wes are demoing the unconference – offered to help TCEA start one
30,000 level prescriptions:
time – change the bell schedule – (Note: MS has 80 minute blocks with us)
money – stop paying for seat time
standards – cut back, Robert Garzano “If you take every national standard in Nat. content area and talk them all in the time required, K12 turns into K22.”
recess – do not give it up
assessments – authentic, differentiated, messy (focussed on relationships)
metrics – perfection is not the minimum standard, students are not specifics, wealthy students score well on tests
PD – need more and in whole group settings less, differentiated
leadership – inspired, visionary, change agents, transformational leaders
creativity – 21st century show and tell
open content – open web publishing

differentiated content filtering – shows more trust to teachers than students
learn personal digital tool use: Flickr, Wikipedia, etc.
educators must experience the tool and think about it in their own contexts
NASB – Creating and Connecting Report – we have an opportunity in school to leverage social networking tools in school for learning (Google API recently released) – Look at stats for student usage of Internet tools
Great Book Stories – add to it
Ken Burns’s War – Wes is going to VC live from Pearl Harbor to OK schools to help teach students and document war and interview veterans
Use visual media – mind processes it over 60,000 times faster than text
peer work – easier for students to get involved
minimum expectations for collaboration – one internet based collab project per term per teacher

(Note to self: I did not do this justice since I do not do the Wes Fryer style of notes)

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy and the expression of knowledge – al einstein

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Free. Quality. Self-selected. Your pace. Your place.

What else can I say about the technology sessions offered in the k12online conference? Check out the poster below, and then check out the site. This is your chance to learn new technologies and the pedagogy behind them without having a class full of people sitting around you. No pressure to move on until you are ready. Yet, there is a ton of free support offered in this as well, so you are not left stranded. The conference is one I highly recommend.

Oh, did I mention it is free?

If you need help getting an RSS feed reader set-up so you can follow the conference happenings easier, let me know. I am always more than happy to help out.


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