Tuesday, August 26, 2008

A Whole New Mind

About Daniel H. Pink

Daniel H. Pink is the author of the New York Times bestseller A Whole New Mind.

Pink's articles on business and technology have appeared in The New York Times, Harvard Business Review, Fast Company and Wired. Pink worked previously as Vice President Al Gore’s chief speechwriter from 1995-97.

Conceptual Age

Pink outlines four major 'ages':

  • Agriculture Age (farmers)
  • Industrial Age (factory workers)
  • Information Age (knowledge workers)
  • Conceptual Age (creators and empathizers)

Three Trends

Pink references three trends pointing towards the future of business and the economy:

  1. Abundance (consumers have too many choices, nothing is scarce)
  2. Asia (everything that can be outsourced)
  3. Automation (computerization, robots, technology, processes).


  • People buy more than they need.
  • Self-storage has become a $17 billion annual industry in the U.S.
  • Americans spend more on trash bags than 90 other countries spend on everything.


Knowledge workers overseas can do it just as well for less money. American computer programmers earn $70,000 a year. Indian high-tech workers earn up to $15,000 a year. Each year, India s colleges and universities produce about 350,000 engineering graduates.


Computers can do many tasks faster and cheaper.

In 1989, Garry Kasparov, the youngest ever World Chess Champion in 1985, boasted that no computer can ever beat him. In May 1997, an updated version of Deep Blue, the chess-playing computer built by IBM, defeated Kasparov. In 2003, Kasparov was convinced that in few years computers will win every match.

Three Questions

These are three crucial questions for the success of any business:

1. Can someone overseas do it cheaper?

2. Can a computer do it faster?

3. Is what I’m offering in demand in an age of abundance?

If you answer YES to questions 1 & 2 and NO to question 3 – then your business is in trouble.

Six Essential Senses

Pink outlines six essential senses:

Design - Moving beyond function to engage the sense.

Story - Narrative added to products and services - not just argument. Best of the six senses.

Symphony - Adding invention and big picture thinking (not just detail focus).

Empathy - Going beyond logic and engaging emotion and intuition.

Play - Bringing humor and light-heartedness to business and products.

Meaning - Immaterial feelings and values of products.

Design -- Not just Function but also Design

It’s no longer sufficient to create a product, service, an experience or a lifestyle that is

merely functional. It’s economically crucial and personally rewarding to create

something that is also beautiful, whimsical or emotionally engaging.


CHAD– The Charter High School for Architecture and Design.

Target -- selling designer products at low prices.

Best Buy -- creatively designing their stores.

Apple -- outrageous success of their iPod and other well-designed products.

Portfolio -- Design

Keep a design notebook.

Think of something that annoys you, and send the manufacturer of that product a well-thought-out solution to the problem.

Read design magazines:

Dwell — http://www.dwellmag.com/

How — http://www.howdesign.com/

iD — http://www.idonline.com/

Metropolis — http://www.metropolismag.com/

Visit Karim Rashid’s webite — http://www.karimrashid.com/

Design Something: Your own Nike shoe, your own Vans shoe, or your own handwriting font.

Go to a Design Museum

Evaluate objects in your life for the emotions you have associated with them. See Design Continuum.

Select things because they delight you not because they impress others, but never let things be more important than people. See Animatrix.

Story -- Not just Argument but also Story

When our lives are brimming with information and data, its not enough to master an effective argument. It’s important to learn how to tell stories.

Good stories instantly connect with people on a heart level and last in both our conscious mind and our subconscious for far longer than pure facts and figures ever will. We think in stories, we live in stories, and we love stories.

Example: narrative medicine – all second year Columbia students take this course. Instead of computerlike diagnostic questions, they learn to ask: “Tell me where it hurts. Tell me about your life.”

Portfolio -- Story

Write a mini-saga, a very short story of exactly 50 words. Some examples can be found here.

Preserve someone’s story through StoryCorps.

Interview someone about his or her life and record the conversation.

Visit a storytelling festival: National Storytelling Festival.

Subscribe to One Story, a magazine that delivers one good story to your house a little more often than once a month.

Learn Digital Storytelling — Center for Digital Storytelling.

Symphony -- Not just Focus but also Symphony.

The skill of symphony is in seeing the whole as a whole, seeing pieces in relationship to each other, and not seeing the pieces all by themselves.

Betty Edwards in her book Drawing On the Right Side of the Brain claims that we tend to see the world through symbols, and this is especially evident when we attempt to draw anything.

Negative Space

Negative space, in art, is the space around and between the subject(s) of an image. Negative space may be most evident when the space around a subject, and not the subject itself, forms an interesting or artistically relevant shape, and such space is occasionally used to artistic effect as the "real" subject of an image. The use of negative space is a key element of artistic composition. Read more http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_space

Portfolio: Symphony

Listen to great symphonies: Beethoven’s 9th, Mozart’s Symphony No. 35 Mahler’s 4th Symphony in G Major, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture (with real cannons and church bells).

Visit a newsstand and grab 10 publications that you would otherwise never read. Skim them and look for connections with your own life.

Learn how to draw — http://www.drawright.com/

Keep a Metaphor Log (write down metaphors you encounter throughout your day)

Create an Inspiration Board: “When you’re working on a project, empty your bulletin board and turn it into an inspiration board. Each time you see something that you find compelling… tack it to the board.”

Look for Negative Spaces in logos, designs and all around you.

Empathy -- Not just Logic but also Empathy

Empathy is basically the skill of being able to stand in another person’s skin and experience the world from their perspective. It is the part of us that wants to yawn when we see another person yawn.

Empathy is necessary in this new “Conceptual Age” because people are looking for products and services that truly connect with them, and that means businesses must be able to experience life from the perspective of their customers (empathy) in order to provide the products and services those customers are looking for.

Portfolio: Empathy

Take an empathy test E-IQ (Emotional Intelligence Quotient) prepared by Daniel Goleman of Emotional Intelligence fame.

Spot the Fake Smile to see if you can spot the difference between a fake smile and a real one..

Study Paul Ekman — http://www.paulekman.com/ Emotions Revealed, Telling Lies

Take an Acting Class

Get the Mind Reading CD-ROM training materials.

Volunteer and serve someone.

Play -- Not just Seriousness but also Play

Ample evidence points to enormous health and professional benefits of laughter, games and humor. Serious is good but too much sobriety can stall a career and harm your health. In the Conceptual Age, in work and in life, we all need to play.

Laughter Club

The Laughter Yoga method was created by Dr. Madan Kataria, a family physician from Mumbai, India who started the first laughter club in 1995. He has been the catalyst for the creation of over 5,000 Laughter Clubs in 40 countries, mostly free and public. http://www.laughteryoga.com/


Play is more than a tool to be used to increase productivity. Instead, play itself is a primary industry. Games of all sorts are a major business, and the Army has turned to using video games as a recruitment tool – America’s Army.

Portfolio: Play

Playfulness, humor, and joyfulness are the cornerstones of a creative life. To develop the skill of play in your own life, Pink recommends these things:

Join a Laughter Club — http://www.laughteryoga.com/

Play the Cartoon Captions Game. Find a bunch of cartoons from publications like the New Yorker, remove the captions or punch lines, and then come up with some of your own. Preferably, do this with friends.

Test your humor on the Humor Scale.

Check out the Smithsonian Institution’s traveling “Invention at Play” exhibit — http://www.inventionatplay.org/.

Learn about video games and play some.

Meaning -- not just Accumulation but also Meaning

Viktor Frankl wrote his work, Man’s Search for Meaning after being released from a Nazi concentration camp where he saw people survive against incredible odds because they had a strong sense of meaning and purpose. Pink addresses the significance of having meaning in our lives, whether by religion or otherwise. More than that, he talks about how we need to look at life from the perspective of a higher meaning and how to do so enriches our lives including extending our actual lifespan.

Portfolio: Meaning

Write a gratitude letter or go on a gratitude visit or find some other way to develop a habit of gratitude.

Take the 20-10 test. If you had $20 million in the bank or only 10 more years to live, would you continue doing what you do now?

Measure your spirit with tests. Spiritual Transcendence Test, or the Index of Core Spiritual Experience.

Visit a labyrinth (a maze-like pathway for meditation purposes).

The Worldwide Labyrinth Locator

Picture yourself at 90. Imagine yourself as a ninety-year-old you. What has your life been like?

The Conceptual Age is dawning and those who hope to survive must master the fundamental human attributes – Design, Story, Symphony, Empathy, Play, and Meaning.


Pink, D. H. (2006). A Whole New Mind. Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. New York: Riverhead Books.





Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Online Simulations: America by Air

Today, I found great simulations for upper elementary and middle school students on the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum's website America by Air.

Click on the Activities link and explore with your students artifacts, photographs, artwork and colorful interactive simulations.

Well-Dressed Pilot
Dress DE Havilland DH-4 1926 and Douglas DC-3 1936 pilots.

Contact Flying
Navigate airplane as an airmail pilot.

Pilot Personality
Explore different documents to learn about a pilot Bill Hopson's personality.

Travel Agent
Become a 1930s travel agent.

Around the World
Travel around the world in 18 days. Follow Herbert R. Ekins, a reporter for the New York World-Telegram, who travels around the world by air using regular airlines. Track his journey around the world or make a newsreel video of his journey by adding video clips, images, maps, and sound.

At Your Service
Explore an airplane -- DC-7 model.

Learn about stewardess requirements in 1950.

Baggage Claim
Examine each item and give it to the right person.

Generation of Leaders
Learn about early leaders of the commercial airline industry.

Today's Jets
Read about today's jets.

Air Routes
Explore air routes in the United States for five major airlines between 1930 and 2000.

Price Meter
Learn what factors affect the cost of airline tickets.

Fly the mail
Deliver mail from New York to Cleveland in 6 hours; fly over "Hell Stretch" where many pilots have lost their lives, and face several challenges along the way.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Integrating Spreadsheets into Science Curriculum

Microsoft Excel and Google Spreadsheets are powerful learning tools for K-12 students. According to Pamela Lewis, the author of Spreadsheet Magic:
  • Spreadsheet assignments offer concrete ways to explore abstract concepts.
  • A spreadsheet is a helpful tool for visual learners.
  • Using spreadsheets promotes higher order thinking skills. The spreadsheet tool promotes the development of problem solving skills and supports "What if..." type questions.
  • Students make charts and graphs from spreadsheet records, learning to organize their ideas and present information to an audience. Charts and graphs add meaning to information, helping students to analyze and interpret data.
  • Students are motivated to complete tasks in a Risk Free Environment, where errors can be easily corrected or edited.
I have compiled useful ideas and links for integration of spreadsheets into science curriculum.

1. Acid Rain in Our State

Students research a serious environmental problem—acid rain―which affects many communities. They use the Internet to research pH levels of rainwater for their state, collect data from their community, and investigate the causes of and solutions for acid rain. Then, they present data in a Microsoft Office Excel spreadsheet and draw conclusions.

School level: middle school, high school.

Software: Microsoft Word and Excel.

2. How Do Earthquakes Affect Buildings?

In this lesson, students get the opportunity to simulate earthquakes of different magnitudes online and see how they affect buildings. Students will first choose the location and then the earthquake. They'll examine the earthquake-proofing construction for their building. Then, they will chart their simulated data in Microsoft Office Excel so that they can develop conclusions based on their findings. This activity works well with students working in group.

School level: middle school, high school.

Software: Microsoft Word and Excel.

3. Weather Scope: An Investigative Study of Weather and Climate

Students read a climate report about their city to make distinctions and study the differences between weather and climate reports for their particular region. Using Real-Time images or data on the Internet instead of information out of a textbook not only engages students, but also brings a real world connection right into the classroom. Students create a comparison chart in Microsoft Excel that displays both the average monthly temperature over one year in the form of a Line graph and average monthly precipitation over one year in the form of a Bar graph.

School level: upper elementary, middle school and high school students.

Software: Microsoft Word and Excel.

4. Spinning Coins

Students use Excel to analyze the data obtained by groups of pupils performing Activity 13 'Spinning Coins.' Each group of pupils spins a coin 50 times and they record their results in a table. This is the raw data that they will use for further analysis. The first stage of their analysis is to count the frequency of runs of heads which they record in a second table. The next stage is to add their results to the class results.

School level: upper elementary, middle school.

Software: Microsoft Excel.

5. Healthiest Fast Food

Students determine number of calories and grams of fat in food items at four fast food restaurants, enter the information into a spreadsheet, create a graph to accurately represent the data, analyze the information to determine the healthiest restaurant, and create a word processing article with the chart detailing conclusions.

School level: upper elementary, middle school.

Software: Microsoft Word and Excel.


I would appreciate any other ideas or useful links for integrating
spreadsheets into science curriculum.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Integrating Technology into the Language Arts Classroom

I've compiled a list of ideas for technology integration into the Language Arts classroom.

1. Integrating Poetry Annotation and Web Technology

In this hypertext writing project, "students annotate a poem, creating hyperlinks that connect keywords and ideas in the poem to related Web pages. The process of writing and creating links helps middle school students think not only of alternative textual forms but of more traditional organizational principals, only with more options. It also brings together the textual elements of color, font, image, as well as the more traditional conventions of print text. Further, students become more conscious of textual cues."

Webbing Tool Student Interactive
Google Page Creator


2. Story Character Homepage

Students will choose a character to thoroughly analyze it and create a homepage for the character. They will choose things their characters would be likely to include on the Web.

Literary Elements Map Student Interactive
Google Page Creator


3. Book Report Alternative: Comic Strips and Cartoon Squares

Students "want new ways to think about a work of literature and new ways to dig into it. By creating comic strips or cartoon squares featuring characters in books, they're encouraged to think analytically about the characters, events, and themes they've explored in ways that expand their critical thinking by focusing on crystallizing the significant points of the book in a few short scenes."

Comic Creator Student Interactive (students can draw anything by selecting backgrounds, characters, speech bubbles etc., but the comic elements are imited)
Comics Sketch Mainada.Net - Sketch your imagination (students draw online with a mouse).
QuickToons.com(students can draw anything by selecting backgrounds, characters, speech bubbles etc., but the comic elements are limited)
http://www.stripcreator.com/ (students can draw anything by selecting backgrounds, characters, speech bubbles etc., but the comic elements are limited)

4. Creating a Safe Online Profile

"In this activity, teenagers explore online names by looking at sample e-mail addresses to determine what they can tell about the person who uses the account. After this exploration, teens choose a screen name or e-mail address for themselves as well as decide on personal details to include on a safe online profile."

Child Safety on the Information Highway booklet
Online Profile Tips
Online Name Form

5. Student Blogs

Each student posts a blog entry related to the assignment.


Student Blog Examples:
Free-Range Thinking -- 11th Grade English,
Donna Hebert's Blogmeister -- Language Arts
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd -- a Modern American Literature class at Hunterdon Central Regional High School in the US has constructed a reader’s guide to the Secret Life of Bees.
Weblogs in Education: Bringing the World to the Liberal Arts Classroom -- explains how teachers and students in English classrooms are using Weblogs to effectively break down the walls of the classroom, integrating teaching and learning with local and virtual communities.
Mrs. C's Senior English Blog -- seniors in high school English weigh in on class discussions regarding British Literature. Also, teachers visit to comment on using technology in education and the language arts classroom.
English Literature 12
Senior English Reflections
HS senior English shares assigned writings via the blog.


6. Wikispaces

Michael McGrann, a Latin teacher, created a Latin B Culture Wiki for his 8th grade students.

"Part 1: At the beginning of the year, I had students write questions that they would ask a Roman if they could travel back in time. I've assembled these questions, organized them into broad categories, and posted them on a wiki. The students have an ongoing assignment to peruse the questions, do some research, and respond to the questions. They may include images, weblinks, etc. in their response.

Part 2: In the same wiki, I have a space for students to discuss elements of Roman culture they see in their own lives - in literature, art, architecture, etc. Again, they can post images or weblinks if appropriate.

Activities: I plan to use some class time to teach those who aren't familiar with using wikis - or can't figure it out - how to edit entries. We'll also use class time to see what students have entered and have discussions around these topics. We'll also have to discuss how to cite sources correctly.

Tools and Resources (software, hardware, websites, books): I am encouraging students to use any resource information they can to research the questions: the internet, books, people, etc. I will also encourage them to post and photos that they may have that are appropriate. They can access the wiki from any computer that has internet access. There is no special software.

Assessment: On occasion, I will ask students to work on this for homework or make it one option of several for a homework assignment. I may use high levels of participation as extra credit or as a way to improve the participation grade or a way to wipe out other missed homework assignments" (printed with permission from Michael McGrann).

Visit Wikispaces
Take a Tour

Wiki ideas for language arts from TeachersFirst:
  • A continuing story in which your class adds sentence suing new vocabulary words and writes and adventure story in collaboration with the entire class. They will NEVER forget the meaning of the words as they read and re-read their story each time they visit to add. The story can be a single version or branch off into multiple versions and endings.
  • A collection of mythological allusions found in “real life” while studying Greek/Roman mythology: Ex. Mercury cars- why are they so named?
  • An online writer’s workshop or poetry workshop with suggested revisions from classmates. Start with drafts and collaborate. Make sure students use the notes tab to explain why they make changes.
  • Summary and discussion of a scene of a play, a poem, or even chapter by chapter of a novel, with groups taking responsibility for different portions
  • Literary analysis of actual text on the wiki- with links to explanations of literary devices, a glossary to explain vocabulary, etc. Try it with a scene from Shakespeare or a sonnet! Each student or group could be responsible for a portion, then ALL can edit and revise to improve the collaborative project. You will be amazed how much they will find and argue.
  • Collaborative book reviews or author studies
  • Creative projects, such as a script for a Shakespeare scene reset in the 21st century
  • A travel brochure wiki- use wikis to “advertise” for different literary, historical, or cultural locations and time periods: Dickens’ London, fourteenth century in Italy in Verona and Mantua ( Romeo and Juliet), The Oklahoma Territory, The Yukon during the Gold Rush, Ex-patriot Paris in the Twenties, etc.
  • Character resume wiki: have literature classes create a resume wikis for characters in a novel or play you are reading. Both creativity and documented evidence from the literature are required (use notes to indicate the evidence from the text).

Friday, February 8, 2008

An Idiot's Guide to Web 2.0.: Alan November's Presentation

Launa Schweizer, Head of Lower School at Poly, shared with the Technology Department her well-organized and informative notes from Alan November's presentation at NYSAIS Mohonk Division Heads Conference. Launa suggested to change the title of this blog entry to "An Idiot's Guide to Web 2.0."


First, think about our core values when making decisions about how to use technology. Any new idea that you try to “add” to your practices does not match our core values will not stick.

However, our mere unfamiliarity with technology should not hold us back, as there is a big world out there being created, and our students WILL be a part of it. It is our responsibility to give them the critical thinking skills to use it critically and effectively (the same responsibility we have when they use paintbrushes, pens, books, etc!)

As a leader, I have to help my teachers manage fear so that they can do this job!


  • Use “Alta Vista” to find text from another nation, (i.e. Turkey) using Host:tr (Want to know how to find this for other nations? Search “Country code” internet. On Google, it is “site:country code.”) To search text and find results that are truly Global, you can’t do a “regular” Google search – that will connect you mainly with US sources.
  • If you want to pull together the results of lots of blogs or news in one place, you use their “RSS feeds.” All the blogs can be pulled into one website. This is great for a class, a committee, or an organization that needs to operate from the same information. Once the students come to class, they have already read each other’s stuff. This is like connecting everybody’s bookbags!
  • Alan November has his own weblog (connects to people he has interviewed around the world). He then gets comments, emails, and he grows. What is a blog in an educational context? It is like the scaffolding we do for our students. A blog is a way to ask people to have a real conversation, then publish it so that you get feedback for the rest of your life… The work has “wings,” and learning does not stop with the graded product. For example, producing a podcast is not the “end,” educationally. You need commentary from around the world to help you make meaning.
  • SCREENCASTING: Jingproject (Free download for Macintosh or Windows.) Get a 12 year old to download it for you, and then come back and teach you how to use it. With this software, you launch any program you want. Then you launch Jing, pull it across the screen you want to capture, and start talking. Whatever you do on the screen ,while you talk, your voice is recorded to the clicks of your fingers. When you are done, Jing project gives you a free website. You click “publish,” and the video becomes a website. Also saves it to your hard drive. Can put it into “imovie” and add another movie to it. The free one is 5 minutes. You can buy “Camtasia” for 179.95$ which is unlimited, “professional level” Screencast.com is a similar, cheap tool ($69.50 per year) our kids can use to make the tutorial. Adobe also makes one called “Captivate” with high-end tools.
With this technology, the tech guy at your school (because he can’t be everywhere all the time) can also use this to capture the steps necessary to do basic things. (How do I retrieve my password, how do I use Jing?) The guy who runs the help desk makes an accurate movie of it, and emails that!

  • Podcasts, blogs, Googledocs, etc. all fit together. There are no books for how this all works. This is “the printing press” being invented!
  • The myth that “kids know more about technology” is false. They are using it more, perhaps, but the teachers know critical thinking. We should not be afraid to use technology.
  • “English is the language of the internet” (for business, etc.) In 15 years, China will be the largest English-speaking nation in the world.
  • The role of the teacher is not to provide information, but rather to ask provocative questions and to design exercises that sharpen your mind and give you skills (see: Socrates.)
  • The role of the teacher is also to build the intellectual scaffolding so that the students can make meaning.
  • Memorization should not be the end-point of any test or assessment. Now his tack is to have students bring the internet to the test, and to design assessments that require critical thought, research skills, and synthesis.
  • “Literacy” must now include research skills to help students to connect to new and rich sources as they make meaning: Technorati for the blogosphere; scholar.google.com; websites in the global context.
  • For the first time, “a lot of the world knows that they are poor.” Then they find out that education is the way to get there. Our world (particularly the college-prep world) is about to change.
  • Don’t focus on the technology as you plan work with students or with your colleagues. Instead, focus on – what is the understanding you want to achieve that can translate to other domains?
  • Idea: have a team of students advising us (show them the tools. Get their views, before we talk with the teachers.) Do you want to podcast? Do you want to build a search engine?)
4 terms in technology:
  • DATA: Raw
  • INFORMATION: Data that has been refined into a readable form (Charts, etc)
  • KNOWLEDGE: The ability to take information and figure out what to do
  • WISDOM: Willingness to ask questions we have not asked before; paradigm shift; systems redesign.

We would like children, whenever possible, to get to the knowledge level: to apply what they have been taught, out of school. Knowledge means transferring information to a new context.

DESIGN IDEAS for any tech-based assignment:
  • You have to talk to somebody “on the ground.”
  • The work should “live beyond the grade” (in a blog).
  • You have a feedback loop (responses to the blog).
  • Students work in high-performing work teams. Organizing many students doing many given tasks. Discipline and organization to work with others. Everyone gets every job in a rotation.
  • The product makes a contribution to everyone in class (the children can get the weekly podcast, notes, or “how-to” application.)
  • It should be a gift to the world: designing something that people can use.


In Alan November’s classroom world, students are involved in making meaning in a class. There are SIX JOBS assigned everyday in every class, jobs that pass along some crucial responsibilities and engage students more fully:

Internet researcher of the day (anytime there is a question, that person answers it and puts it in a search engine for that class.) What’s the change? THE TEACHER DOES NOT ANSWER FACTUAL QUESTIONS, but the teacher does know a lot about CRITICAL THINKING. Instead, therefore, the teacher is teaching research skills and empowering kids to answer their own questions. Involves a shift in control, and teaches good research technique.

Tutorial design team for most important skills. (Teacher guides) You have to do homework anyway, so you might as well have them create a tutorial that all the children can look at. (The teacher supports the team to breaks it down a problem into small units, and this helps kids to understand.) Put all the tutorials on a DVD so the kids can take it home. The teacher OK’s the “best one” to provide to the class. “Screencast” is the tool our students can use to make the tutorial (see above for more information on this.)

Scribe team: the teacher asks students to take notes on particular topics that he or she knows is important. These “Editors” take notes, including webresources that are strongly connected to what is being discussed in class. To do this, use a tool called “Googledocs” which you find on igoogle, under “more.” It’s a “wiki,” for shared writing. In this method, different kids take notes on different topics. As a group, the kids are pulling together information from the web on topics that are being discussed. Through “Googledocs” we as teachers can see how the revisions of the notes progress. Notes can be assembled on one powerpoint or on a central word document. Hitting the “revisions” button helps us as teachers to know who thought/wrote what. He also finds that the notes actually EVOLVE after class.

The team dedicated to adding to a class-wide search engine tailored to your group’s needs (Again, we find this application on Google: under “More” is “even more”) A variety of contributors (up to 100) can continue to add new sites into one search engine. Tell the kids, at the start of the year, we are going to build a search engine, by adding, to the search engine, new sources and websites. This can last into the next year, and alumni contribute even later! Now students are not just using search engines, but building them! (See below for a great idea on how elementary schools can use this to create safe search engines for young kids.

Global Communication Team builds community around the world by finding people across the world interested in the topic at hand. The students are responsible for finding people thinking about the same thing in other parts of the world. (using alta vista, the country code.) Type in, on alta vista, the topic, plus host:ac.country code (“ac” means academic.) You have to teach the kids how to search for a nation; then how to find university professors around the world. The students then use google docs to write emails to professors around the world, and you use SKYPE, which is free software that lets you make a call anywhere in the world to anywhere in the world. This team then builds a network of people (University professors around the world, for example) you can talk with. This globalizes the curriculum.


• Create an assignment to go to a Blog and interact with a political commentator. Then, ask the students themselves to create a “balanced” blog using at least three sources. Use SKYPE to interview journalists in other countries. Put those podcasts in itunes, so that anybody in the world searching for your topic in itunes will find it… the responses will go on forward into time, and the students will continue learning beyond the grade. Important to have students build a “balanced blog” to represent the issue (three sources are important.)

• Have students listen/monitor different podcasts

• A good lesson students can learn from seeing the differing points of view available on the internet: The intention of words is not the same as their impact. This is as valid at the level of the Pentagon as it is at the level of first grade!

• Find something that doesn’t have a wikipedia entry, and write an entry for it to be submitted to the largest encyclopedia in the world. Teachers can then click on the “History tab,” which shows how this has evolved. The children can put in very simple content, starting with what they know. Then, as people continue to rewrite it; the teacher can set up the “RSS feed” so that while the wikipedia entry evolves, the kids can reflect on what the third graders have started. (It’s important for an elementary school teacher to have an account with Wikipedia so that any content added is not connected to the children’s names or the school.) Wikis (like wikipedia, or the technology behind Google docs) are not going away. We need to teach kids how to use them.

• Since students are going to “blog anyway,” we as teachers should give them a “blog for life” that will connect them to our learning environment first.

• The question is not: will the kids use these tools; rather, how do we teach them to use them safely and well? We should attack the problem of teachnology, use it well, give students rigor and skills!

• We can’t allow fear to be the deciding factor of how we use technology. Instead, we need to show students the impact of their choices. (Often, we keep kids off of the internet because we are afraid they will be targeted by adults they do not know. However, statistically, the problem for kids and technology is not kids being taken advantage of by adults. Instead, it is kids taking advantage of other kids. This is an issue that Alan has studied.)

• It’s also possible for a teacher to teach kids “levels” of communication. When a teacher creates content (video, picture, etc.) that teacher (or student, or writer) can choose a level of interaction. We need to teach children: when do you publish for yourself (like a diary) and when do you publish for the world? The child needs to learn when to push the “right button.”

• Kindergarten assignment: Install SKYPE on the classroom computer, then give the Irish grandmother SKYPE so that she can read a Irish children’s book in her accent! Capture the reading using screencasting, and make a DVD. Then, send books to all the other grandparents! In fact, use SKYPE to make every day Grandparent Day – each child’s grandparent reads a book, or do something “live” in class everyday. Have them tell the stories of their lives!

• ELEMENTARY FACULTY can build a Google custom search engine (only the websites our faculty put together, and the kids can use those, rather than Google!) Parents would be so grateful, and we would feel safe having kids search it!

• At the elementary school level, we can use technology to reinforce what students are learning. For example, in one class, every Monday at snack, the children produce a podcast summarizing and reviewing what they learned last week. Every class should produce, created by kids in a high-performing work team, a podcast reviewing what they have learned. You just need an MP3 player with a microphone. (!)The teacher gets it started, and the child wants to put out her own show about Art. Another wants to talk about writing, etc. Developmentally, children need to feel that they are making a contribution. Sense of ownership. A podcast can also expand the family’s involvement in curriculum as well!

Want to see examples?

Try also www.screencast.com/users/MarcosMath, which shows a student tutorial of a skill that he has learned. (The program where they solved the math problem is called “Screencasting”) In class, the teacher keeps this on the corner of the screen, and “just do it.”) These screencasts can be sent as an email.


Here’s a fun lesson!
Teacher: “Have you heard of Myspace?”
(Kids look at you as though you are an idiot.)
Well, you know – one day, you might run for congress, etc. this won’t be good to put stuff up.
Show the students a “dead link” (through www.archive.org)
In the “WaybackMachine,” you can discover the content – when it came on the web, when it left the web, and you can get the content (even though it has been gone for ten years.) This is true no matter how long the content has been off the internet.
The internet is being stored, in its entirety, every few months.

Another important caveat for this lesson: The copyright at bottom of the page is Myspace – any music and art you put up there, you don’t own it. Those who put work on Myspace have lost all the intellectual rights to their work, and Myspace sells this content (to be searched by their future employers) to big companies.

Facebook owns all that content – facebook sells content to big companies. They have no rights to their “own” content.

The payoff of the lesson? Kid raises his hand – “You’re trying to tell us not to ruin the rest of our lives today.”

Our Lesson?


Questions: How do you retain your intellectual property rights to things you put on a blog?

Answer: Copyright it first independently. Write a draft on your own, copyright it, then put it up.


The notes from NYSAIS Mohonk Division Heads Conference are printed with the permission from Launa Schweizer. Feburary 1, 2008.



Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Recently, in my Education in the "Flat World" post, I've mentioned Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement Speech in 2005. Today, thanks to the Fishbowl post, I watched a video of this inspirational speech with my students.

8th graders watched this 15-minute video with great interest. First, we discussed Steve Jobs biography and Apple’s cool gadgets (iPod, iPhone, MacBook Air…). After watching the movie, we discussed several quotes from the movie:

"You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever."

"For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

"Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish."


Stanford Report, June 14, 2005. “You've got to find what you love,” Jobs says.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

What is an ePortfolio?

An eportfolio, also known as an electronic portfolio or digital portfolio, is a type of learning record that provides evidence of student achievement. The eportfolios were originally used in arts, music, and architecture instead of traditional exams. Today, eporfolios are used across the curriculum in K-12 and higher education. ePortfolios are widely used in schools, higher education, continuing professional development, as well as for job applications and professional advertisements.

I have my professional portfolio at Interfolio. This online portfolio offers one place to store cover letters, resume, confidential reference letters, transcripts, etc. and to distribute these materials on demand to any organizations and institutions. I also have my personal eportfolio, which includes my resume, educational philosophy and teaching goals, transcripts, recommendation letters, samples of my work, and samples of my student work. I have it online and more extensive version on DVD. ePortfolio allows to present your work during an interview or show it to a potential employer online. This is also a useful tool for self-assessment, self-promotion, and advertisement.

How to Create an ePortfolio? 

Based on the Rubric for Electronic Portfolio, the process of an eportfolio development could be divided into 7 steps:

Step 1.
Selection of Artifacts and Written Communication
All artifacts and work samples should be well-organized and directly related to the purpose of the eportfolio.

Step 2. Reflections
All reflections should identify and describe short-term goals and include goals for continued learning as well as effectively critique of work.

Step 3. Use of Multimedia
All of the high quality photographs, graphics, sound files or video should enhance ePortfolio. All files should be properly linked and displayed. They should be easily viewed or downloaded.

Step 4. Captions
Each artifact should be accompanied by a caption that explains the importance of that particular work including title, author, and date.

Step 5. Ease of Navigation
All of the portfolio navigation should have links back to the main table of contents or Home page. All external links should connect to appropriate websites.

Step 6. Layout and Text Elements
The ePortfolio should be easy to read. Fonts, point size, bullets, italics, bold, and indentations for headings and sub-headings should enhance the presentation. Horizontal and vertical white space should be used appropriately. Background and colors should enhance the readability and aesthetic quality of the text.

Step 7. Writing MechanicsThe text should have no errors in grammar, capitalization, punctuation, and spelling.

What to Include in a Teacher's Professional ePortfolio?

I. Background information
  • resume
  • background information
  • educational philosophy and teaching goals
II. Teaching artifacts and reflections documenting
  • overview of unit goals and instructional plan
  • list of resources used in unit
  • two consecutive lesson plans
  • lesson podcasts
  • videotape of teaching
  • links to websites, blogs or wikis
  • student work examples
  • evaluation of student work
  • reflective commentary by the teacher
  • additional units/lessons/student work as appropriate
III. Professional information
  • list of professional activities
  • letters of recommendation
  • formal evaluations

Tools for Creating ePortfolios

Microsoft Word -- word processor
Microsoft PowerPoint -- presentation builder
PDF document
Websites in iWeb or Dreamweaver
Audio – recorded in GarageBand or online program Audacity
Video – edited in iMovie, Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere
WikiSpaces.com -- wiki
WordPress.com -- blog
GoogleDocs -- online word processor
Google Pages -- online web site builder
GoogleDocs -- online presentation builder
ProtoPage -- web 2.0 web page

My Portfolio -- online software

ePortfolio Examples

Scott Merrick's portfolio includes his teaching philosophy, curriculum vitae, professional development evidence, and even a teacher toolbox page to share resources with other teachers.

Need More Information about ePortfolios?

Helen Barrett's site - Electronic Portfolios and Digital Storytelling for lifelong and life wide learning. This site provides links to information about electronic portfolio development, digital storytelling and other useful resources.


Monday, February 4, 2008

Word of the Week: Zippies

In 1960th, America had hippies. In 1980th, young urban professionals were dubbed yuppies. Thomas L. Friedman, in his book “The World is Flat,“ introduces zippies.

Who are the zippies?

Zippies are young city or suburban residents, between 15 and 25 years of age. They belong to Generation Z -- people born in a digital world. Zippies can be male or female, studying or working. They exhibit attitude, ambition and aspiration. They are cool, confident and creative. They seek challenge, love risks and shun fears (p.215).

India has 54 percent of population under the age of 25 --that's 55 million people. 6 out of 10 Indian households have at least one zippie.

Think about it -- in several years, many of these zippies will be doing American white-collar jobs for a fraction of the pay...


Friday, February 1, 2008

Education in the "Flat World"

Bill Gate in his speech before the National Governors Association states: "When I compare our high schools to what I see when I'm traveling abroad, I am terrified for our work force of tomorrow.... In math and science, our fourth graders are among the top students in the world. By eighth grade, they're in the middle of the pack. By 12th grade, U.S. students are scoring near the bottom of all industrialized nations. . . . The percentage of a population with a college degree is important, but so are sheer numbers. In 2001, India graduated almost a million more students from college than the United States did. China graduates twice as many students with bachelor's degrees as the U.S., and they have six times as many graduates majoring in engineering. In the international competition to have the biggest and best supply of knowledge workers, America is falling behind."

According to Thomas L. Friedman, the author of a book “The World is Flat,“ our parents were telling us: “Finish your dinner. There are children in China and India who are starving.” Now, we should be warning our children: “Finish your homework. There are students in China and India who want your job.”

Number of American students earning science degrees has fallen to 17th in the world. Science and engineering degrees represent 60% of all B.S. degrees in China, 41% in Taiwan, and 31% in U.S. According to 2004 Trends in International Math and Science Study, 44% of 8th graders in Singapore scored at the most advanced level in math, as did 38% in Taiwan, and only 7% in the U.S.

Bill Gates in his interview with Friedman speculates that thirty years ago, if you had the choice between being born an average person in Poughkeepsie or a genius in Bombay or Shanghai, you'd take Poughkeepsie, because your life opportunities would be so much greater there, even as an average talent. Today, you'd much rather be born a genius in Bombay or Shanghai, because in the flat world you can plug and play, collaborate and connect from anywhere.

Princeton economist Alan Bliner notes, “It is clear that the U.S. and other rich nations will have to transform their educational systems so as to produce workers for the jobs that will actually exist in their societies… In the future, how we educate our children may prove to be more important than how much we educated them."

Friedman considers that the most important skills for students in the "flat world" are: learn how to learn, navigation skills, curiosity and passion, a solid foundation in liberal arts, and right brain skills.

1. Learn How to Learn

According to Friedman, the first, and most important, ability you can develop in a flat world is the ability to “learn how to learn” – to constantly absorb, and teach yourself, new ways of doing old things or new way of doing new things (p.309).

During one of the meeting, a ninth grader asked Friedman: “…how do you learn how to learn? What course should I take?” Friedman suggested the student attending popular teachers classes who could teach students to get excited about learning. “To learn how to learn, you have to love learning—or you have to at least enjoy it—because so much learning is about being motivated to teach yourself. And while it seems that some people are just born with that motivation, many others can develop it or have it implanted with the right teacher (or parent).

2. Navigation

As the world flattens, more information will reside on the Internet. Teaching students how to navigate that virtual world, how to find the real sources of knowledge becomes more important than ever. Students often consider any information on the Internet as a valid source and often use it in their research papers. Some schools forbid students to cite Wikipedia, but Joel Cawley from IBM disagrees with this policy because teachers missing an opportunity to teach their students to navigate and to distinguish between valid sources of information and misinformation (p.313).

3. Curiosity and Passion: CQ + PQ > IQ

IQ is an intelligence quotient, and PQ is curiosity quotient. Friedman writes: "Give me a kid with a passion to learn and a curiosity to discover and I will take him or her over a less passionate kid with a high IQ every day of the week. Curious, passionate kids are self-educators and self-motivators. They will always be able to learn how to, especially on the flat-world platform, where you can both download and upload."

"Work matters," said Searls, "but curiosity matters more. Nobody works harder at learning than a curious kid."

4. Liberal Arts

Since the new middle jobs require great synthesizing skills, students should be encouraged to think horizontally and connect disparate dots, and, according to Friedman, liberal arts could help students to make connections among history, art, politics, and science.

Steve Jobs shared his story with Stanford University students at a commencement speech. Jobs decided to drop out from the Reed College and started taking classes, which were not required, but interested him. Jobs took a calligraphy class and learned about serif and sans serif typeface, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. After ten years, Jobs used his calligraphy knowledge in designing Macintosh computer fonts. If Jobs didn't take this course, Mac would have never had multiple typeface or proportionally spaced fonts (p.317-318).

5. Right Brain Skills

According to Daniel Pink, the author of "A Whole New Mind," students should learn how "to mesh together different perspectives and disciplines to produce a third thing."

In the new flat world, we have to teach our students right-brain skills "such as forging relationships rather than executing transactions, tackling novel challengers instead of solving routine problems, and synthesizing the big picture rather than analyzing s single component," argues Pink.

India is a largest English speaking country in the world with millions of skilled workers who are capable to absorb most computer coding, accounting, legal research, and financial analysis jobs. However, the plenty of opportunities remain for less routine work for programmers who can design new systems, accountants who serve as life planners and bankers experts in the art of the deal. Pink argues that "Now the foreigners can do left-brain work cheaper, we in the U.S. must do right-brain work better."

One way to nurture the students' right-brain is by encouraging them to do something that they love, because students will learn to bring something intangible into their work, something out of their right brain, which cannot be easily repeated, automated, or outsourced.

We should teach our students how to be a good collaborators, leveragers, adapters, explainers, synthesizers, localizers, and personalizers. These are the most important skills, which help our students to survive the competition and succeed in the "flat world."

Thomas L. Friedman (2007). The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century