The Problem with Exemplars

Years ago while working on new curriculum, I spent a great deal of time with colleagues collecting and identifying exemplary work. Usually attached to rubric, these artifacts were intended to showcase the highest quality of work and present students with something to aim for. We often would reference these with students to the point where these became more than guides but the ultimate goal. It’s one the problems with rubrics. But it’s not just within curriculum where exemplars can be an issue, it happens all the time.

There’s no question that exemplars can be useful and even motivating. But often they are unattainable or perhaps not even desirable.

Let me share a few examples.

In Curriculum:

While I believe showing examples of quality work can be useful, many students immediately shut down when they perceive too great a gap between their current ability and what is deemed exemplary. I’m certainly not against the use of high quality exemplars but caution against too few examples as well as a lack of scaffolding to see where incremental success can be found. In addition, the power comes when the student decides what they want their work to be.

In my pre-service … Read the rest

Understanding Sharing

Sharing in 2103 is one of the easiest things to do. Understanding sharing is not that easy.

selfie of me looking at my Diigo acct
selfie of me looking at my Diigo acct

Ever since I asked about over sharing on my blog several years ago I’ve stopped worrying about it. That said, I’ve used several spaces with very specific intentions. I know others have different purposes, criteria and use different spaces to share but learning that is a critical information literacy skill. This became clear to me as I was redoing my Diigo network feed. As I pruned my list of 75 down to 9 I asked if anyone had any suggestions about who to follow. That’s a bit of a loaded and perhaps dumb question to ask. First of all, I gave no indication of what I was looking for. I suppose people might think I’m interested in education or technology, which I am but that’s far too broad to be of much use. Maybe 15 years ago when I began online bookmarking using broad terms like “education” + “technology” may have been useful, but not today. Then as folks began to suggest people, I looked at their sites and they were okay but I’m … Read the rest

Searching for Voices


With the demise of Google Reader it seems I’ve been in a bit of a funk when it comes to my regular reading. You see I’ve been using RSS for almost 10 years and it was truly a transformative technology for me, opening up my eyes to passionate learners around the world that formed the basis of my thoughts around educational over this past decade. They’ve become my teacher and in some cases my friends. While twitter has replaced for many the regular routine of reading blogs and writing them, I’ve been pretty firm in knowing that for me, getting to know someone over time by reading their blog is much different and I believe more powerful than a random sampling via twitter.

So in my search for a new reader, I decided to ditch my feeds and start fresh. That said, there are a few folks that get added back quickly because they continue to punch out awesomeoness. There were sadly a few subscriptions that haven’t seen a new post for years and some of these people had wonderful stuff to share. Back in 2004 I would pretty much subscribe to anyone educator who blogged. I want … Read the rest

A Tweet For Customer Service

While what I'm about to  share is pretty common place, i still find it fascinating largely because so many people and businesses haven't figured this out. 

Friday I left for Florida. Delta lost my luggage. This is the first time I've ever had my luggage lost. According to stats, airlines are 99.5% effective in getting people their luggage to the intended destination on time. I wasn't too worried. After all, I had my golf clubs which was really most important given I had a tee time the next morning. I knew my luggage was in trouble because it never showed up in Minneapolis where I have to claim it after I clear customs. The flight to Orlando had wifi on board so while in the air, I tweeted Delta's twitter account and they tracked down my bag letting me know it wouldn't make it to Orlando until the next day. They also instructed me to go to the baggage claim immediately after I got off the plane. I filed a claim and was told the luggage would be delivered to my Dad's place the next day between 6-10 PM. As the 10 PM hour came close it was evident the Read the rest

Why you can’t explain twitter in 140 characters

I’ve identified myself as a closet twitterer. Like RSS, I have a hard time explaining twitter, so usually I don’t even try. I can’t articulate it. So when Common Craft came up with their latest video, some have seen it as being a great way to show others what twitter is all about. I don’t share that enthusiasm. Don’t get me wrong I think the work of Lee Lefever is great but this one misses the mark. I know, he can’t share it all in the time constraints of that format, but I’d have to say that if I didn’t know what twitter was, I’d watch that video and say, “that sounds stupid”. That’s how I‘ve always felt about any explanation.

Today I listened to the TWIT podcast with guests Dave Winer and Steve Gillmor. The last half of their podcast, they address twitter and really begin to uncover its power and potential. There are some pretty significant reasons they address including the ability to select your network, its political and social change implications as well as the appeal of the short, concise bytes of information that lead to larger and more significant learning.

So while … Read the rest