Friday, July 30, 2010

Twitter Book Club: S. Craig Watkins (2009) The Young & The Digital - Chapter 2

  1. anderscj
    anderscj "But DOPA was more than anti-MySpace; it was, in many respects, anti-Web 2.0. And that, more than anything, g (cont)
  2. anderscj
    anderscj "But the ALA's greatest fear was how the sponsors of DOPA, in the rush to vilify social media, glossed over (cont)
  3. anderscj
    anderscj "we teach children to beware of strangers, their environment, and suspicious behavior. DOPA threatened to (cont)
  4. anderscj
    anderscj "The show (To Catch A Predator) typified and even fed the public panic that made social-network sites, in the (cont)
  5. anderscj
    anderscj "Social-network sites, much to the chagrin of educators, are a pervasive presence in the lives of schools." Watkins
  6. anderscj
    anderscj " As far back as the late 1990s, when policy advocates, politicians, and researchers were focusing on the (cont)
  7. anderscj
    anderscj "In addition to lacking access to broadband at home, youth from low-income households, importantly, lack (cont)
  8. anderscj
    anderscj "poor schools rarely if ever benefit from the social capital found in more affluent schools. Social capital (cont)
  9. anderscj
    anderscj Parents looking at their kid's soc ntwk profile, "are not concerned about cyberpredators or the content (cont)
  10. anderscj
    anderscj "The incessant desire to control and use their bodies as a source of pleasure and personal expression is a (cont)
  11. anderscj
    anderscj "The ubiquity of digital cameras and life-sharing media highlights how we have become our own paparazzi..." Watkins
-- this quote was brought to you by quoteurl

In many ways this chapter of Watkins' book was like reading a personal history of the past couple years. Being one of those teachers who jumped into the social networking world with my students before it became viewed as dangerous by the powers that be I was on the forefront of a lot of these issues and I have battle scars to prove it. This chapter reads like a history book but it is all stuff that is still new enough that the history is still being written.

What I did find enlightening in this chapter was the point he makes about the gap in resources for informal learning between rich and poor schools and how schools in more privileged areas benefit from a social capital not available to poor schools. This is critical and it is also a difficult challenge. We can wire our schools, provide equipment, and give children in our poor schools everything available to those in wealthy schools and more and there will still be a gap.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

An Invitation Letter to Parents

If there is one force today that I believe can break our cycles of status quo hereditary practices in education and bring us to someplace better a key to it lies in our ability to communicate and share ideas in real-time between educators and education stakeholders. The networks of individuals using tools like Twitter, Blogs, Wikis, YouTube and other social video, Skype, and countless other online communication tools that have come to be commonly known as Personal Learning Networks (PLNs) carry with them a method to let good ideas spread and take seed in even the most draconian of learning environments. Teachers who have plugged themselves into these networks and become actively involved in their own learning have felt this power for transformation. This is truly a grass-roots mobilization machine. However, for school systems to change it requires more than just enlightened educators, it requires enlightened students and parents who will support the change.

Time and again we see true reform efforts fail because the new model doesn't look enough like the common conception of school in the public eye. No matter how rooted in sound theory and philosophy the school will fail if reform efforts do not bring parents and community members with us. So, what we end up with are perestroika efforts at reform like we saw today in President Obama's speech on Education Reform. Changes that are not real change. More testing of students or more rigorous testing of students is not real change. A focus on teaching and instruction is not real change. The spread of a back to basics drill and kill model of schooling like Mastery Charter or KIPP is not real change. The spread of a "put the rich privileged (mostly white) Ivy League graduate who was successful in school in front of the classroom for students to emulate" model that is Teach For America is not real change. These are bureaucratic changes that in the end will only further to strengthen the definitions and delineations between groups of the emerging American Caste System complete with high school dropouts at the bottom "untouchable" level. Schools like Mastery, KIPP, and TFA, by the way, don't have to count their dropouts among their students and therefore can claim higher levels of success since by nature they self-select students. We all know there is a better solution, a real change that is possible. We have examples of it in schools like Minnesota New Country School and the Science and Leadership Academy in Philadelphia.

Watch live streaming video from theuptake at

Educators, perhaps Obama and Duncan are right to beat up on us. This situation may be our own doing. By focusing so much on ourselves and our students we have neglected to invite a very important stakeholder into the fold, parents & community members. So, what follows is what I propose every Teacher Tweeter, EduPlurker, and Edublogger come this school year send home with their students, an invitation letter to parents (altered to include your information) to join in the discussion:

Dear Parent or Guardian,

I am excited to begin a new school year learning with your son or daughter. I say learning with because I have found to be a teacher today requires one to also be a learner both in and outside the classroom. It is undeniable that the world your child is growing up in is in many ways different than the world you or I grew up in. Much of these changes mean necessary changes in school. For one, we did not have the Internet and fingertip access to the wealth of human information when we went to school. Having such a device in my classroom has meant my role there has been altered. It has removed the necessity for me to always have the right answers for the students and has created a greater need for me to help them develop strategies for finding the right answers on their own.

Things in school are different now than they even were when I went to college. Nothing in my teacher training addressed some of these issues we face in education today. Therefore, I have found a community of other people interested in helping each other find their role in this new world through tools like Twitter, blogs, and YouTube. This community consists of not only teachers but also school administrators, education researchers, graduate students, and other parents. In this space I make my learning about education transparent and you are welcome to follow me in my exploration of new technologies and new ways of thinking. I also invite you to join the conversation. The real education reform happens because of what happens in the classroom and for your son or daughter's classroom what happens will be greatly influenced by the shared dialog happening in this digital space.

I invite you to follow me on Twitter, read my blog, or watch my YouTube videos and join the global conversation influencing your child's education. There are a few things you should know first. This digital space is my learning environment and as such community building activities both serious and lighthearted occur. We have fun in this space and we are serious. The fun elements hold us together and maintain our community and the serious elements help us to progress our learning. Both are necessary for learning both online and in the classroom.

I am @anderscj on Twitter and my blog is Please join me in trying to make your child's education great.

Carl Anderson

Twitter Book Club: S. Craig Watkins (2009) The Young & The Digital - Chapter 1

"Indeed, by the late 1990s the Internet was the primary motivation for purchasing a computer, as the two, (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

Citing a 1995 Carnegie Mellon study by Robert Kraut, "Of all the variables that the researchers (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"It turns out that teens were especially attracted (in 1995 study) to the applications that allowed them to (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"By 2004 more than half of American teens reported that they created content for the Web." Watkinsless than a minute ago via Twittelator

"If you have done any of these things (uploaded a video, crafted a Flickr scrapbook, blogged, or managed a (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

RT @anderscj Twitlonger: "If you have done any of these things (uploaded a video, crafted a Flickr .. than a minute ago via web

"It turns out that the (TV) networks aggressively target young viewers not because they watch more (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"In computer-mediated environments made especially for them, children are learning to build, create, and (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"The truth is that Americans watched television more out of habit than any innate desire for the medium." Watkinsless than a minute ago via Twittelator

I am finding this to be more and more true for myself. Last week my family got the unique pleasure of being a Nielsen Family. We had to keep a detailed log of when the television was on, if anyone was actually watching it, and which family members were watching it. Our family television set was on an average of 2 hours a day but our individual average was more like 30 minutes of actual television viewing. My 2 year old by far watched the most by watching 2 episodes of Yo Gabba Gabba each day (20 min ea). Everyone else's viewing was eratic. I don't think anyone else watched a whole program from start to finish. I know this would not have been true even three years ago. I remember getting home from school when I first started teaching, being burned out, and watching television sometimes 4-5 hours in a row. But, I feel like I consume far more media today than ever before even though the Nielsen survey showed clearly that I only use the television for 2-3 hours of viewing per week now. Now, how much am I paying a month for this?

@anderscj Link or citation . . . interesting info.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck

@akamrt Watkins, S. Craig (2009) The Young & the Digital: wht migration 2 soc ntwk sites, games, & anytime anywhere media means 4 our futureless than a minute ago via Twitterrific

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Weekly Tech Tip - Metacognition

Weekly Tech Tip:

Please share your story or example of a non-school learning experience you have had and what made that experience so powerful for you. You can share your responses by adding a comment on this blog post.

Recommended tools for constructing your response:
  • - If you can type, you can make movies. Text-to-Movie
  • - make still pictures talk with comical moving mouths.
  • - Add your own subtitles to clips from Chinese movies.
  • Add subtitles to foreign language films (like Chinese Movie Creator).
  • - Generates videos of your Google Searches to tell a story.
  • - Free online audio recorder and audio publishing
  • - convert text to speech (spoken by a cartoon avatar)
  • - upload your photo, record your voice, share with friends
    - Innovative online presentation program that nicely integrates multimedia from other sources.
  • - - The zooming presentation editor
  • - Turn your document files into an online books & magazines
  • - Collaborative storytelling for families and friends (perfect for creative writing)

Twitter Book Club Lineup

A few people on Twitter have asked me what I plan on reading for Twitter Book Club in the near future. While I reserve the right to change this linup, below are the books I intend on reading as Twitter Book Club reads:

Some of these books are books I have already read, like Experience & Education, and What Schools are For, but did so at a time when my thinking about teaching and learning were different than they are now. I think rereading them now I will find new and different interpretations of them. Others, like Pedagogy of the Oppressed, I know of and am very familiar with the essence of the work but have never actually sat down to read the book myself. Still others, like The Young & the Digital, Hamlet's Blackberry, The Machine Stops, and Deschooling Society are new to me. I am also open to suggestions for future Twitter Book Club readings.

Twitter Book Club - Seymour Papert's "The Children's Machine" Chapter 10

"For many people the restrictions of poverty, prejudice, and our own forms of bureaucracy make a mockery of (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"We are living with an educational system that is fundamentally as irrational as the command economy and (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"His (Bush) remedies (national system of tests) were the remedies the bureaucratic mind proposes (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"Nervousness about being tested on subjects that feel alien is the surest way to turn off what little (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"tests would reinforce in her a very strong and distasteful image of science as a list of facts to be memorized like a ritual." Papertless than a minute ago via Twittelator

"Nervousness about the test could make the teacher reticent about spending time on any but the testable aspects of science." Papertless than a minute ago via Twittelator

"If the tests are inherited from the past or imitated from the rest of the world, they will inhibit us from (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"The way to be first, therefore, is not to play catch-up but to take the lead in new directions." Papertless than a minute ago via Twittelator

"I have seen children in 'special ed' classes use it militantly to assert their real identity against (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

I was one such child. When I was in 2nd grade I was placed in "special ed" because of my handwriting. By 3rd grade the computer was introduced in the school classrooms and I was able to use it to express myself where I was unable to with my pencil.

"while many alternative schools define themselves by a domain of interest such as art or writing or (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"On their model, researchers should develop large numbers of different ideas, test them rigorously, select (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"The ridiculous situation where supply and demand exist but cannot meet comes from the commitment to uniformity in schools." Papertless than a minute ago via Twittelator

"The bureaucrat thinks you can make people believe something by issuing orders." Papertless than a minute ago via Twittelator

"This belief is supported by the rationalist, who believes that you can make people believe something by advancing convincing arguments."less than a minute ago via Twittelator

"A central feature of the little school idea is that it permits a group of like-minded people--teachers, (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"The design of a learning environment has to take account of the cultural environment as well, and it's (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"A typical parent's reaction will be much more positive to a child coming home and saying, 'I did math with (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"Even the always more or less illusory belief that in a large school there is a better chance to have a (cont) than a minute ago via Twittelator

"public school has paid the heavy price of bureaucratization without adequately protecting those in greatest need." Papertless than a minute ago via Twittelator

This concludes my reading of Seymour Papert's 'The Children's Machine.'less than a minute ago via Twitterrific

Tomorrow I will begin reading S. Craig Watkins, "The Young & the Digital" for Twitter Book Clubless than a minute ago via Twitterrific

RT @anderscj: Tomorrow I will begin reading S. Craig Watkins, "The Young & the Digital" for Twitter Book Clubless than a minute ago via TweetDeck

@anderscj Twitter Book Club? How did that come about?less than a minute ago via TweetDeck

@briankotts Twitter Book Club came about 12 days ago as an experiment of mine to see if I could synthesize soc contruction of knowledge,less than a minute ago via mobile web

@briankotts Twitter Book Club has a membership of 1. Its an activity, not a club.less than a minute ago via mobile web

@anderscj It just sounded like a great idea.less than a minute ago via TweetDeck