“Whatever it Takes” I’m not sure…

This post was born out of a conversation I had with teachers a few weeks ago. I was sitting in a computer lab with about a dozen top-notch educators who had either been using Discovery Education’s Science Techbook or were just being introduced to it. After exploring it for an hour or so and having lots of dialogue one teacher said something to the effect of, “I don’t see why any teacher wouldn’t use this. It’s got everything you need, aligned to the new curriculum. Not only is it an amazing resource, but it’s also a real time saver.” To which another teacher replied. “It is a time saver but in order to get there, you likely need a couple of days of PD or just time.”

I suddenly had an image in my cost benefit analysis scale.

It occured to me that this is essentially … Read the rest

Stop Being Bad with Names

This post was last updated on February 4th, 2019 at 10:02 am

Stop Being Bad with Names

“I’m terrible with names.” It seems like a very common statement. Maybe you’ve said it yourself. I’ve always prided myself with knowing people’s names and yet I’ve never been as intentional as I ought to be.  There have been 3 sources that I’ve found recently that have addressed this theme to the degree that it’s now become a personal mission of mine to pay better attention to people’s names. 


The first is a reading of a classic book by Dale Carnegie “How to Win Friends and Influence People” The book, while focused on business, offers some simple, timeless truths about relationships. Most of it seems like common sense but the depth and specifics stated in the book are great reminders not only for business folks but anyone who works with people. 
Specifically the chapter on names. Here are a few quotes:

“Most people don’t remember names, for the simple reason that they don’t take the time and energy necessary to concentrate and repeat and fix names indelibly in their minds. They make excuses for themselves; they are too busy.”

Of course, … Read the rest

Going Gradeless

I’ve written and presented on assessment many times in the past 2 decades. The trend in education is clear: Most people, if not all, believe grades are a poor representation of learning and yet many can’t figure out how to either de-emphasize or get rid of them entirely. My current grading gig is with Wilkes University. I play the game but I’m clear with my students from the onset I don’t value them at all. To that end, I’ve shifted to full-on self-assessment. Unless someone is completely delusional, whatever grade they justify, they get. I’m not interested in quibbling over a few points here. As graduate students, I’ve yet to find any that are delusional. To that end, my course and I believe any teaching comes down to 3 questions:

What do I know now I didn’t know before?

What can I do now I couldn’t do before?

Why does it matter?

That’s it. For the most part, grades have not been an issue … Read the rest

What Do You Mean by “Knowledge”?

This post was last updated on January 8th, 2019 at 07:13 am

One of the most frustrating things in education is the tendency to have conversations about ideas and issues when we don’t share the same definitions. We also make false assumptions about what others believe. We spend a lot of time talking past each other. Add to that a tendency to create false dichotomies and instead of working toward understanding and meaning solutions, we follow the ugly trend of today’s political world and polarize people.

Among the topics and questions that fall into this trap include:

I acknowledge that I’ve simplified these debates and those invested in them would likely argue my statements themselves are flawed but you get the gist. One of the challenges falls in how we define things. It’s always a good idea to begin any discussion with the question: “And what do you mean by _____________”

Certainly, the idea of inquiry learning has gained traction worldwide in the past decade, largely because of the Internet. I used the term “inquiry learning” … Read the rest

2018 Year in Photos and Video

Once again, it almost didn’t happen. Not only have I been less diligent in my photo a day effort but realizing this year’s photo has been dominated by my new love made me thing it would be too boring. Then my wife reminded me how boring other years have been with golf and conference images.

If you doubt how boring those other years were check out the previous 10.

2008
2009
2010 (aka, the year I tried something crazy)
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017

After reading Alan’s annual post I was reminded that it’s not about a streak but a meaningful method to document life. It works for me. I will say the challenge was much greater in the first 4-5 years before mobile phones. Using a camera was sometimes awkward as well as it was far less automated in terms of uploading. Back then, my focus was to be mindful of my world and try to capture things some may find routine. While I still try and practice that, it certainly has become harder after 10s of thousands of photos later. Travelling lots makes this easier. This year was all about Harriet and I have … Read the rest