Literacy and Learning in the 21st Century

I’m here in Indian Wells with secondary educators learning about literacy. I’m asking three new questions (participants’ responses are in italics):

1. What is literacy?

Reading, Writing, Thinking, Listening. Making connections. Speaking. Using symbols to communicate.

2. How is literacy changing?

Moving from hardcopy to eletronic media. Texting and other non-traditional spelling. More of a focus on retrieving information than memorizing it. There’s new ways to access information.

3. What does this change mean for you and your students?

We need to incorporate these changes into our teaching – to relate to kids – so they can related. We have to educate ourselves as teachers in order to help our students become functioning members of society. We need to empower veteran teachers. There’s a greater disconnect with our prior knowledge of literacy. We’re learning the new symbols from our students. It’s increasingly difficult to address the access issue. We have to adjust.

UPDATE: This post was a live demo at my opening session at the CLMS/CLHS Summer Literacy and Learning Institute in Indian Wells. Visit for descriptions of my daily sessions and links to each workshop wiki.

Please leave a comment if you have any questions or feedback regarding these session.

Demo for CLMS in Maui

I’m in Maui with California middle school and high school teachers, including many teachers of the year. I’m asking these three familiar questions (their answers are in italics):

1. What is a blog?

Q & A.
Two-way communication
Electronic show and tell

2. What is the two-way web?

It’s communication
It doesn’t require being in the same space or time. It’s asynchronous. It’s 24/7.

3. What do these technologies mean for you and your students?

It’s goes beyond the four walls of you classroom.
More peer involvement.
It’s fun – it’s the techie generation’s way to communicate.
Learning is hands-on and interactive!

So we’re on the same page and off to a good start…

Photos of Clark Kelley Wagner

As Robert Craven let me know, “your entire job as a father hinges on if you did a good job getting pictures and video up, that’s it.” Finally, I’ve got a “best of Clark Kelley” photo gallery together. I chose 24 photos from the 2 gigs I took during Clark’s first days. I came across the limits of my free Flickr account for the first time, but I posted 17 of the photos there with titles and descriptions:

Clark Kelley Wagner is Born (Flickr)

And though it took much longer to upload them, I also got all the pictures posted on Picasa Web with no space limits:

Clark’s First Days (Picasa Web)

No, there’s no good reason the photo sets have different titles; I worked on it bit by bit all afternoon. In any case, I’m always happy to read comments about the boy if you care to leave any. Now to send these links off to friends and family who won’t read this blog… via old fashioned email. ;)

Welcome Clark Kelley Wagner To The World

After a night of labor, Eva gave birth to Clark Kelley Wagner via emergency c-section at 7:07am February 9, 2008. He was 7 pounds 12 ounces and 20 inches long. His umbillical cord was wrapped around his neck and tied in a knot (like a noose), but he recovered quickly and he’s a healthy little boy. His mother is recovering well, too, and they are both enjoying a midnight feeding as I write this (on my Treo) at 4:45 am, less than 24 hours after he was born. What an adventure we’ve all begun.

UPDATE: There’s a few more pictures of Clark on the Eva’s family’s blog.

I’ll be posting a best of category once I can go through the 2 gigs of images I’ve already taken. ;)

UPDATE 2: See Eva’s class blog for more fun pictures of Clark Kelley.

EduCon 2.0 Press Release (via Gary Stager)

Please pitch in by passing on this press release to traditional media, including major national outlets. See Gary Stager’s original release and list of media here.

Media Advisory

(1/23/08 Philadelphia, PA)

First-of-its-kind Educon 2.0 conference to be held in Philadelphia, January 25-27, 2008. Conference organized online by educators seeking to invent the future of public education.

More than 200 educators from 30 states will participate in the unique Educon 2.0 Conference this Friday-Sunday at the Philadelphia Public Schools’ Science and Leadership Academy. The conference will feature 45 presentations and conversations about improving public education and keeping it viable in the digital age. Unlike many discussions of schooling and education reform, Educon 2.0 provides a venue in which practicing educators will shape the future of their profession. Classroom teachers and world-renowned education leaders will travel to Philadelphia at their-own expense to share the Educon 2.0 experience. Educon 2.0 represents a grassroots movement with growing influence.

Conference sessions will be webcast and archived so others may share in the experience, regardless of geography. Web 2.0 tools, including: Wikis, blogs, Twitter, Ning and will be used to keep the conference alive long after the physical conference ends.

Educon 2.0 represents the following opportunities for members of the media:

  • Access to leading futurists, authors and education experts
  • Examples of innovative classroom practice using computers and the read/write web
  • Visit one of the nation’s most innovative and high-tech public school, The Science and Leadership Academy
  • Discuss the affordances and constraints of social networking, online collaboration, research and blogging with high school students and their teachers
  • Learn how emerging Web technologies are being used to shape the future of teaching and learning

View the complete program and pre-conference discussions at:

For more information, contact:

Chris Lehmann, Principal of the Science Leadership Academy
Address: 55 N. 22nd St. Philadelphia, PA 19103
Phone: 215.979.5620
Fax: 215.567.2809

Teaching Administrators About Blogging

I’m here with a room full of administrators from my old district, and we’re discussing these three familiar questions:

1. What is a blog? A community, a place to post information, a web log… interactive… there’s an expectation of interaction… allows people to comment… subjective (as opposed to objective)… uncensored (could be concerning if students have blogs)… how is a blog different from MySpace?

2. What is the read/write web? you can read stuff… and then write!… is that like IM? or Blackboard?… wikipedia.. you can edit and collaborate (in a document)… visionary…

3. What do these technologies mean for your students? unlimited access to information (or opinion)… they have to learn to filter all this information… we may need to focus on this element more…

I can tell it’s 2008, but we still have our work cut out for us. Please leave comments for these administrators sharing your thoughts.

Steve Jobs’ Keynote

I’m here at the Steve Jobs keynote. The speakers just got escorted in – including the Educator Academy speakers. We’re about half way back. There’s about a dozen computer-to-computer networks, but no free wifi, so it looks like I’m moblogging it. I’m on my treo – a real ghetto phone here. Sadly’ twitter seems to be down, but I’ll keep checking it. Oh, lights dimmed.

UPDATE: It turns out live blogging and thinking is tough. This is just a chronical of events right now – and only rough notes at that.

Four Things

1.) Time Capsule – A backup appliance. Airport Extreme 802.11 N and server grade HD. Time Machine with no wires. 500 GB for $299 and 1 TB for $499. Backup the whole house… Or classroom?

2.) iPhone – New features… Maps with location, weblips, customize homescreen(s), SMS multiple people, chapters subtitles lyrics.

Maps is Google… With a location featuee… GPS?… Directions… Pins. No GPS. Skyhook wireless mapped and triangulated wifi hotspots to get location – and Google does the same thing with cell towers. Wow.

Webclips also highlights Google. Add shortcuts to websites to your home screen. Webclips remember zooming and panning.

Customize home screen… Cool jiggling icons! Dock and multiplt “pages.”

All a free software update.

iPod touch gets mail, stocks, notes, weather, Maps, customizable… For $20.

3.) iTunes… a better way to deliver movie content – rentals. Less expensive and doesn’t take up HD space when you’re done. All major studios and releases. Great library titles. What’s the deal? 30 days after DVD release. Watch instantly. 30 days to start. 24 hours to finish. Transfer while watching. Cost… Library title $2.99, new release $3.99. Launches Today.

What about TV? Apple TV didn’t really succeed… People want Movies… No computer required for Apple TV! Rent movies on your TV in DVD or HD quality – $1 more for HD. Also audio and video podcasts. Photos from Flickr and dot mac. And youtube 50M videos. Buy shows and music – and synch with computer. New GUI… Long demo.

Flickr connections are cool. Includes friends feature. Uh oh… Tech glitch – blamed on flickr.

Free software upgrade to existing Apple TVs! New ones are only $299… nope – $229. Shipping in two weeks.

Now chairman of 20th Century Fox Jim Gianopulos now on stage.

Apple’s definitely in the entertainment business.

4.) There’s Something In The Air – best notebooks on the planet: Macbook, Macbook Pro… Now Macbook Air. Thinnest notebook.

Thinness .76 to .16 inches.
In a “district mail” envelope!
Full size keyboard and screen
Mag latch
13.3 inch display LED backlit instant on
Backlit keyboard
Generous Trackpad with multitouch
iPhone like gestures incl. Zoom.
Me: Best blogging machine ever?

iPod HD 80 GB
or 64 GB solid state.
Intel core 2 duo – same as macbooks
1.6 to 1.8 GH – but 60 percent smaller

Paul Otellini, CEO of intel on stage.
Was challenged a year ago!
What are they doing now?

mag pwr adapter smaller
usb2 micro Dvi and headphones
802.11 N and Bluetooth

a new superdrive $99 dvd drive
no need
wireless rentals for movies
time capsul for backups
ipods for CDs
remote disk for installing software
share disks from othe macs and pcs

battery life 5 hours!
2GB ram standard

shipping in 2 weeks

environmental inniatives for all future releases
case is recyclable alluminum
display mercury and arsenic free
circuit boards more eco-friendly
50 percent less packaging

That’s four… one more thing?

A special treat…
Randy Newman
A VERY political song!

A president once said there’s nothing to fear but fear itself… now we’re not supposed to be afraid.

More soon…

UPDATE: On initial reflection there are not many initial educational benefits of these announcements. Many are entertainment focused, and the hardware is priced out of schools’ budgets. However, the technology behind the iPhone and Macbook Air – and behind the iTunes content distribution system, paint an engaging picture of mobile educational technology in the future.

Small Plane In The Snow

I’m about to board this plane in Denver. There’s snow on the ground here… and on the ground in Kearny, Nebraska. Chris Walsh and I are headed to Kearny and then Hastings, Nebraska (slowly by car) for a full day hands-on workshop… Search, Learn, Share: Getting The Most From Google Tools in Education. I’ll post a link to the wiki tomorrow morning when we go live, but this is meant to to be a fast paced train-the-trainer day based on the Google Teacher Academies. Meanwhile, Chris and I are talking the future (or next steps) of Professional Development in education… I’m sure there’s more to follow. For the time being, we’ve got to board this plane and hope these men aren’t looking at anything serious.

Not Blogging Out of Obligation (and Proud of It)

I’ve been doing a lot of link blogging here, but I’m conscious of how much time passes between substantial posts here. I’m trying to resist blogging out of obligation… I’m sure that would be unhealthy, and in some ways I think I need to actually be proud of my lack of blogging lately. Most importantly, I haven’t had anything new or unique to contribute.

Also, when I originally started blogging, my primary purpose was to be able to share the writing I was already doing (for work or for school) with others. I’ve continued to be faithful to that mission over the years, and I’ve often written quite a bit specifically for the blog to boot. My link blogging continues to meet my initial purpose because I am sharing the annotations on my bookmarks – and this is working well for me. Other than email and procedural communications, I’m not writing much else right now. I expect this will change as I start to collect data for my doctoral study in the coming weeks. :)

Even so, there is no doubt that I’ve missed some excellent opportunities to blog lately. I’ve often reflected on my experiences and begun composing a post mentally only to never make the time to actually post it. My experiences during a full day blogging workshop at Salem, a keynote (and full day) at the San Diego CUE tech fair, and with recent readings in new literature about video games and learning have all cried out to be blogged (not to mention a new Tablet PC Sharing Session and hosting my first videoconference – it’s not archived yet).

While part of me wishes I would’ve made time to write these posts, in some ways I’m glad I haven’t. I’ve remained focused on my priorities during work hours and I’ve done well in my continued efforts to lead a more balanced life. (I read recently that asking a workaholic to get over his problem while still working is something like asking an alcoholic to get over his problem while having a Margarita every night.) I’ve spent more time with Eva (and other family), more time outdoors, more time relaxing, and more time reading for fun. And I can still play more video games for fun. During this period that I’ve been waiting for approval to proceed with my study (from various parties at he University) I’ve actually enjoyed weekends for the first time in a long time. So, while I’m sure I would’ve learned some things by composing posts about my experiences, I think it’s healthy for me to give some of that up for the time being. Since I’ve been working on living a more balanced life for nearly as long as I’ve been blogging, I think I can be proud of it too.

So this is what I have to share and contribute this evening… a few introspective reflections of an educational blogger trying to live a balanced life. Since the questions “how do you make time for this?” and “how do teachers make the time for this?” come up often in my workshops, I guess this is a relevant topic.

It seems the trend toward posting less often is gaining in popularity (especially as practices such as twittering seem to replace shorter format blogging). Perhaps I’ll be posting (at least in this way) less often for a while. Also, I’ve often seen bloggers I read declare that they write the blog more for themselves than others. I suppose this is true for me in many respects… it’s certainly why I’m writing this post… but it’s definitely not the whole story. I wouldn’t share this here if I weren’t hoping that others might share the same experience or benefit from my sharing. I hope you’ll comment if either is true.

All that being said, I also know that not blogging as often means I’m not forcing myself to think as deeply. And even if I am blogging regularly, I know I can think more critically on a more regular basis than I do. I can make a more committed effort to find new connections, ask new questions, and make contributions.

Of course, if blogging is important to me professionally, I should make time for it during my “work hours.” And if it’s important to me personally, I shouldn’t feel bad about evening and weekend hours invested in it. :)

I need to reconsider making a “blogging time” in my workday. I’m considering the last hour of the day… to reflect and wind down. Tomorrow, though, I’ll be back to focusing on priorities during work hours. I forgot about the holiday on my Calendar… and I saved a lot of prep for this coming week until Monday, so I have to work (and focus).

For now, it’s been a full Sunday of hockey, taking care of my pregnant (and sick this weekend) wife, academic reading, reacquainting myself with Second Life, and now even a little blogging. Now I’m off to do a little fun reading and relaxing with Eva before turning in. I think there’ll be another link or two posted from tonight, too. :)

PS: This post comes the same weekend I pruned my RSS feeds down from over 700 to only about 178. I hope I have more similar focusing changes ahead in the coming weeks.

Link: The Art of Letting Bad Things Happen (and Weapons of Mass Distraction)

The Art of Letting Bad Things Happen (and Weapons of Mass Distraction) (Via The Blog of Author Tim Ferriss.) This was the first – and last – post I read in my aggregator this evening. Tim Ferriss brought us the Four Hour Work Week (which has already impacted my work flow, and which could revolutionize my work flow if I let it). Now he brings us these words of wisdom.

Oftentimes, in order to do the big things, you have to let the small bad things happen. This is a skill we want to cultivate.

The rest of the post is worth reading, too, so be sure to click through. For my part, I’m off to relax right now – and tomorrow I’m starting the day with a workout and then some reflective blogging. ;)