Thursday, June 30, 2011

15 Fascinating Facts About the History of Home Education

Home education appeals to a surprisingly broad range of families, each with their own unique motivations for pursuing the method. Despite the myriad misconceptions about students’ social aptitude or ability to perform once they hit college, it remains an unyielding component of the education industry. But homeschooling gets so bogged down in theory and curricula, many take little time to ponder its extremely active, controversial history. By no means is this list even the slightest iota comprehensive, but it does pick out a few interesting, relevant tidbits.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

iCould Should Be Essential Component of Your Personal Success Plan

icould should become an essential component to every student's personal success plan.  The site gives visitors the inside story of how careers work. The icould storytellers relate, in their own words, their real life career journeys. There are over a thousand easy to search,varied and unique career videos as well as hundreds of written articles. From telecoms engineers to police officers, from landscape gardeners to web designers, from engine drivers to zookeepers; they talk about what they do, what it’s like, how they came to be where they are and their hopes for the future. They also share the times they’ve messed up, had difficulties and set-backs as well as their opportunities and experience of achievement and success. The video stories – as well as articles talk about real issues, such as problems at home, taking a year out, failing exams and coping with redundancy. In addition to being able to look at people via careers, visitors can also look by searching life themes like Making a difference, Apprenticeship, Passion, School stories -negative.

An essential component of personal success plans is finding heroes and helpers.  Heroes and Helpers are people that students believe inspire them, either the heroes who may be famous and/or helpers in their own lives that they may know personally.  This site provides a treasure-trove of real potential heroes and helpers that they may very well be able to relate to and who may expose them to ideas and possibilities they never knew existed.

Monday, June 27, 2011

You Don't Have to Be A Rhodes Scholar to Become a Road Schooler

Perhaps one of the most innovative ways to educate is by becoming a road schooler.  Yep, that's right, you can hit the road to get an education like many families are doing these days who believe the best way to learn about the world is to be in the world.  Wondering if it's legal?  It is in the U.S.  You can check out how many families are taking learning on the road at The Families On The Road blog.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Is this the future of learning?

Sophia Overview from Sophia on Vimeo.

Sophia enables innovation by connecting learners, teachers, experts and parents. They provide an academic community where everyone has access to learning that surrounds and supports the traditional classroom. They encourage variety and creativity in teaching so that everyone can learn in a way that makes sense to them.

Sophia is a social teaching and learning platform that taps the teacher in all of us and enhances the learning process by providing access to a wealth of knowledge, help, instruction, standards-aligned content, and expertise available to learners everywhere.

Sophia wants to harness technology for the betterment of the educational system as a whole. They believe we can all help others learn. Sophia’s mission is to be a catalyst in this educational movement.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

What's Popular This Week on The Innovative Educator

Here’s the roundup of what's been popular on The Innovative Educator blog this week. Below you’ll see my top weekly posts along with the number of pageviews in the past 7 days.

This week the #1 spot goes to Why Twitter is a big deal which provides a roundup of how innovative educators are using Twitter. Next up is Using Classroom publishing to teach outside the box featuring some great ideas for using this tool. Rounding out the top three was 10 Ideas for Connecting 21st Century Dads. There’s lots of great ideas for Dads and Moms too.  Check em out.  Making it to the top five was 5th Grader's Smart Advice About Standardized Testing featuring a child’s insightful editorial essay.

There’s several other interesting posts as well. I hope there's something that looks of interest to you.  If it does, check it out. If you’re so inspired leave a comment.

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Math Hater's Five Fav Math Resources

I took math in school, but never learned math and I still have nightmares about Algebra. Despite my distaste for the subject, there are some resources that I like.  Here they are. 

My top five fav math resources
1) Chat with others about math on Twitter with the tag #mathchat - I have had some lively debates doing this.
2) Lots of free and pretty good quality games with
3) This self-proclaimed "mathmusician" has a passion for math and helps others learn with passionate and witty delivery
4) Would kids rather learn math from a boring adult like Sal Kahn or other kids? If your answer is the latter, check out these "Mathcast" videos made by kids for kids at
5) I think this is my favorite math resource. Mathalicious teaches math using real world examples. Cool beans. That is what I needed if I were to learn math in school. Read all about it at

Those are my fav five. If you want more ideas visit

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Study Groups without Walls

At Peer 2 Peer University a study group gathers people who work together to learn a particular topic by completing tasks, assessing individual and group work, and providing constructive feedback.

The P2PU is a grassroots open education project that organizes learning outside of institutional walls and gives learners recognition for their achievements. P2PU  creates a model for lifelong learning alongside traditional formal higher education. Leveraging the internet and educational materials openly available online, P2PU enables high-quality, low-cost education opportunities. P2PU - learning for everyone, by everyone about almost anything.

Check out a course here

DIY U: Build a Personal Learning Plan

Check out the video about P2PU here.

Peer 2 Peer University 2010 from P2P University on Vimeo.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Midlife Crisis Begins in Kindergarten…

with labels such as ADD, ADHD, slow, dyslexic, learning disabled, just average, and even gifted!

Guest post by Mariaemma

Did you know that midlife crisis begins in kindergarten? Yes, it's true! It is in kindergarten (and sometimes in preschool!) that our society begins the process of teaching children (see how this happened to The Innovative Educator and Aaron Iba here) that they are not smart enough, not quick enough, not working to potential, not high enough on the bell curve, not as good as the next guy...just plain not measuring up!

Midlife Crisis is the term we use to indicate a trauma experienced in the middle years —usually having to do with the question, “What am I doing with my life?” There are stories of extreme reactions that all of us have heard: like the guy who is a doctor, quits one day, and goes to live in the woods; as well as less dramatic cases like the financial consultant who enters the ministry.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Why Twitter is a big deal

It seems every week I'm asked or told by illTwitterates that they don't get what the big deal is with this whole social media thing.  They don't get the idea of powerful conversations and connections.  They don't get that many of those I've connected with through social media become friends IRL too.  They don't understand that if f-2-f can occur with those with whom I've connected, it does.  They seem perplexed as to how I can develop enough trust with folks through social media that I actually have had many of these people in my home for a visit or overnight stay if they happen to be in my city.

This week there were three interesting articles The Innovative Educator Daily Newspaper that did a great job of summarizing my thoughts on the topic. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

5th Grader's Smart Advice About Standardized Testing

Fifth grader Joel has a message for schools and politicians.  
"State testing is bad for the tax payers of New York because they waste 11.1 billion dollars a year."
Joel shares that some countries have stopped and have saved a bundle. He also lets adults know that sometimes tests make kids nervous and they bubble the wrong answer.

Joel shares a graphic in his article that illustrates that tests are not really important to the children being tested.  For those who want to know if students were listening in class, he advises, “That is what a report card is for.” He explains that it makes more sense to judge students using this report of their performance than does judging children from one test.  

Sunday, June 19, 2011

10 Ideas for Connecting 21st Century Dads with Their Kids This Father's Day

When it comes to tried and true advice for Dads (young and old), most will agree in the importance of face time, throwing a ball, playing a sport, listening deeply and all those good things that great Dads have been doing for centuries. In the 21st century though there are some new and important ways for Dads to connect with their kids and there's no time like Father's Day to begin thinking about and implementing some of them.  

You can check out my ten ideas for helping 21st century dads connect with their kids here.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

What's Popular This Week on The Innovative Educator

Here’s the roundup of what's been popular on The Innovative Educator blog this week. Below you’ll see my top weekly posts along with the number of pageviews in the past 7 days.

This week the #1 spot goes to 5 Reasons Why The Class of 2020 Won't Go to College.  The post tells why colleges need to completely re-think their models if they don’t want youth lured away by new income and actualization opportunities. Sites for Using iPads in Education also makes the top three for another week in a row! iPads are hot, hot, I’m not surprised this post with recommendations from Apple made it to the top.

There are three posts in the top ten that look at using Facebook in learning environments.  They are:
  1. Using Facebook in Education features a Prezi presentation which highlights one school leader who bans and blocks and another who empower and prepares.  It moves on to show how Facebook is being used in primary school and secondary school.  
  2. Facebook Doesn't Make you Dumb - This post features an info graphic that does a nice job of explaining this as it relates to education.  
  3. 8 Real Ways Facebook Enriched Ms. Schoening’s 1st Grade Class - This article explains how and why first grade teacher Erin Schoening uses Facebook with her first graders.
Rounding out the top five is You and Your Students Can Be The Next Sal Kahn with ShowMe. ShowMe is a terrific new iPad app that lets you do Padcasting which is similar to screencasting which means capturing what you are doing on your iPad as a tutorial that others can watch and learn from.  Number five this week is 10 Proven Strategies to Break the Ban which provides real examples and insights from teachers who were able to successfully break the ban on tech use in their schools.  

To follow are several other interesting posts. I hope there's something that looks of interest to you.  If it does, check it out. If you’re so inspired leave a comment.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Using Classroom publishing to teach outside the box

Guest post by Kay Tracy

Once Upon a Time…
I was practically in

a box.

I recently read a statement made by the character Leo in The Key to Rondo by Emily Rodda.

“And suddenly, unwillingly, he wondered what it would be like to have grown used to your parents talking about you as if you were a problem no normal person could solve.”

What is normal? The myth that success resides with the Joneses needs to be expelled from school. This heartbreaking query should be rewritten:

“And suddenly, he wondered what it would be like to have grown used to your parents talking about you as if you were the solution to the problems no normal person could solve.”

When children are given the opportunity to shine in whatever skills and interests they possess, the box of normal will be turned inside out.

Using publishing as a teaching tool can involve the entire classroom in ways that do not belittle or discourage students.

Many teachers use publishing as a way to display student work, but not many let the students have control of the publishing process. This process, which involves acquisitions, editing, design, production, and marketing, allows every student to participate. The collaborative effort of publishing takes diverse interests and skills, and using publishing as a teaching tool will involve the entire classroom in ways that do not belittle or discourage students. Reading, writing, editing, calculating, programming, marketing, selling, acting, and modeling are just some of the skills used in different types of publishing. Other opportunities exist for students skilled in photography, videography, costume design, illustration, radio broadcasting, and production. By allowing students to take charge of each stage in the publishing process, they will find areas where they excel and specialize in them. Classroom publishing is one way to teach outside the box.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Facebook Doesn't Make you Dumb

Facebook is a tool that can be used for a multitude of purposes.  There's been talk about the link between Facebook and learning success.  I don't think the outcome is related to the tool but rather to the person using the tool.  Someone like me turns Facebook into a personal learning network machine.  New parents may turn it into a place to celebrate their new baby.  Social teens may use it for socializing.  The point being that Facebook doesn't turn people into "things" but rather it is a tool to suit the needs of the user. 

The following infographic does a nice job of explaining this as it relates to education. 

Facebook & Education.
Infographic by College

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

You and Your Students Can Be The Next Sal Kahn with ShowMe

Regardless of whether you buy into or are critical of the whole Kahn Academy concept, most people  agree that providing on demand learning resources is a good idea.  With the new ShowMe App, any teacher can become the next Sal Kahn making educational tutorials for your kids or for the world. Or you can do what math teacher Eric Marcos does on his terrific site and let kids be the movie makers.

What's nice about the ShowMe App is that they take care of all the details.  Just open the App on your iPad and all the tools are built in and upload is a piece of cake.

Here's a video to ShowYou how it works.

ShowMe iPad App from San Kim on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

State Regulations Get In the Way of Teen's Learning

I recently was at an inner city school in Harlem where students were empowered to work independently making podcasts about topics of deep personal interest.  Stations were set up around the room and students knew what to do and could move through the stations at their own pace.  The children were very proud of their work and the work of their classmates.  I spoke to a student and asked her what she thought about learning this way. She said that she loved working at her own pace because she was no longer slowed down by the teacher and/or class.

Brycen R. R. Couture, a teen who has opted not to go to school and instead achieve success in the world, expressed a similar sentiment in a recent post on his blog where he complains about state requirements that are holding him back sharing this.  
When I have to stop living in order to please the State, I don’t feel good about it. It doesn’t feel right. Why should I have to stop living because you tell me I have to prepare for a future that I am living now? I’ve released my first CD at 17 years old, now. I perform my music now. I’ve written a book which is in the editing stage now. I’ve been interviewed for a movie now. I do children’s rights work now. I’ve booked myself on the radio, now. I’m part of NH Media Makers now. I started a club and ran my own business from ages 12-15. I’ve been speaking to the public full of professionals since I was 12. I can’t count how many times I’ve been in the newspaper for my community activism, now. I like to bike, socialize with friends, make chain mail, calculate dice probabilities, invent games, build forts, cook, play Dungeons and Dragons and I have a close relationship with my Mom, all now. I am writing this to New Hampshire now; I’m not waiting around for the future!
One-size-fits-all assessments work well for easily checking off compliance boxes, but they don't work well for people.  Whether learning from school or learning from life, personal success plans, not standardized compliance tools are what best serve our children.  

Read Brycen R. R. Couture's Blog at

Monday, June 13, 2011

5 Reasons Why The Class of 2020 Won't Go to College

Over at Future BloggerAlvis Brigis tells us five reasons he believes "College for All" won't be the mantra by the time the class of 2020 is ready for college. As our environment undergoes changes, so too must the methods and structure we employ to teach our youth to navigate it.  Will colleges keep up or will they continue to stay stuck in the past?  Unless they completely re-think their models, youth will be lured away by new income and actualization opportunities.

Here are five reasons why kids probably won't be going to college in 2020.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ten Ways to Audit Proof your School, District, or Educational Office

Guest Post by Jacob Gutnicki

“Audit” is a 5-letter word that sends shudders to many individuals both in the education and corporate world. A panic erupts, as the individual must quickly gather the required documentation in a short span of time.

Regrettably many schools, districts, and other educational organizations are ill prepared for the audit. This is because educators often feel that they are “too little to be noticed” or that only the “bad schools” get audited. Unfortunately, in this age of accountability the prospect of being audited has increased exponentially. With this in mind, the following are a few guidelines to consider:

Saturday, June 11, 2011

What's Popular This Week On The Innovative Educator

Here’s the roundup of what's been popular on The Innovative Educator blog this week. Below you’ll see my top weekly posts along with the number of pageviews in the past 7 days.

This week the #1 spot goes to Using Facebook in Education. The post makes a case for schools to embrace the #1 social media tool used in the world rather than banning and blocking it. Next up is a piece I wrote based on Sir Ken Robinson’s latest TED Talk What we need is not evolution, but a revolution in education. Rounding out the top three is Blocking and Filtering Leaves Our Children Behind ... which features Tom Whitby’s recent post How do we fit the policy to the need? in relation to the issue of internet blocking and filtering.

There are several other interesting posts as well. I hope there's something that looks of interest to you.  If it does, check it out. If you’re so inspired leave a comment.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Stopping Out or Opting Out of College May Be the Key to A Successful Future

Peter Thiel's 20 under 20 program has ruffled a lot of feathers with the 21st century "College for All" mantra.  Thiel is paying 20 entrepreneurs who are under 20 100k to pursue their passions.  From the reaction of some, you woulda thought he told a world, that believes there's no life without college, that there is no Santa Claus.  The reality is that if someone is paying you 100k to invest in yourself, rather than charging you to do so, it's a no brainer.

Part of Thiel's case is that colleges aren't keeping pace with the demands of society.  I have first hand experience in that area.  Back when I was working as a library media specialist I was advised to go to library school.  I looked at the outdated curriculum and knew there was nothing such a program had to offer me.  I had far surpassed the clunky and outdated masters degree.  That was more than a decade ago and my colleague Deven Black who blogs at Education on a Plate has faced the same destiny.  He is putting in his time, taking classes required to keep his job, but is still waiting to learn something he didn't already know.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

iSchool Students Present TED - Style Talks about Issues Important to Them

jspevack Students at the iSchool will present TED - style talks on topics they care about ranging from the impact of natural disasters on the spread of HIV to is there a 'We' and 'Them' in terms of age of first marriage to the causes of high suicide rates in Japan.   These students are a part of the school’s Gapminder course led by Jesse Spevak.  The course is designed to help students develop a framework for asking questions based on data and then find answers to their own questions.  Students build their capacity to analyze data, research, write analytically, and speak publicly.

The students will be presenting their talks live on June 10th and 14th from 10am - 11am EST. You can find the talks live online at  You can learn more about the project on the school’s website here.  

Please watch the students and spread the word by inviting others to check these students out live.  You can do so by sending out a Tweet such as this one tomorrow morning before 10 a.m. "Let kids know u care abt what they say. Watch iSchool students do TED - like Talks live. Details @ #edchat"

Confronting Fears and Dispelling Myths that Prevent Us From Thinking Outside the Ban

This presentation addresses myths and fears when it comes to using social media and student owned devices in school.

Sites highlighted are: 
Check it out.  Use it. Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Join The Innovative Educator in a Passion Driven Summer Book Club

I bought The Passion-Driven Classroom last month and regrettably I didn't finish reading it. Here's why.  For me, with the internet, reading has become a conversation.  I love to read, discuss, and write. Lately, I have found I'm less likely to finish books when I can't discuss it with others like I can online.  It's just not as much fun as the conversation that can happen when reading on the web.

Well, I'm soooo excited to share that Heidi Hayes Jacobs and her leadership team at The Curriculum 21 Ning have selected the The Passion-Driven Classroom for their summer book club study.  How awesome is that???!!!  I'll be able to read the book and have conversations with amazing educators like Heidi as well as the authors of the book.  I'm so excited.

It is free to participate in the book club.  It begins on June 14th, with a discussion about the Preface and Chapter One. I hope readers of this blog will join me in what promises to be a powerful conversation about the role passion plays in teaching, learning, and student achievement.

How I Made Leaving School Work. Maybe You Can Too

Deven Black a successful grown high school “Opt Out” is a contributor to “The Teenager’s Guide to Opting Out of High School.” Deven recently shared his experience about when he decided high school was not the place for him on his blog.  

He explains it this way.  

I grew up in Manhattan and in late 1967, when I left school for the first time at age 14, Manhattan was, for me, a 12 mile long, 1.5 mile wide educational experience. A brief subway or bus ride could deliver me to any one of dozens of museums of art, natural history, craft or occupation. Or I would emerge from underground into what seemed like a different city where the people spoke Chinese, Italian, Spanish or Ukrainian and the foods in the restaurants were the best kind of spoon-fed learning.

Eugene McCarthy was emboldening and enlisting young people to become the driving force behind his idealistic campaign for the Presidency and against the Vietnam War. I had already worked on some political campaigns and, when the cold January winds blew, the NYC campaign headquarters at Columbus Circle became my second home; second even though I spent more time there than at my family’s apartment where I went only to sleep and shower.

Read the rest of his post on his blog here

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Do not teach this stuff to your kids

This morning I did something that would not have been possible a few years ago. My daily reading included Rafael Parente's blog which is written in Portuguese. I was able to do this courtesy of Google Translate. I was brought to his blog as a result of looking at who was coming to my blog and discovered he had linked to my article "Five Back to School Must Haves for Innovative Educators."

I found Mr. Parente was also a fan of Scott McCleod's blog and he had shared a post that he translated into Portuguese and Google Translate turned it back into English.  All of this would never have been possible if we had listened to Scott McLeod's tongue and cheek advice in the English-turned-Portuguese-turned English poem I read there.

The poem addresses a topic I write about often.  "Thinking Outside the Ban."  This excerpt includes some of my favorite stanzas.

Breaking Free From The Boring Prison of School

Former students like me and Aaron Iba felt like school was a sentence.  This Prezi gives some insight into why.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Blocking and Filtering Leaves Our Children Behind and Unprepared

Photo from
In his post today, Tom Whitby asks How do we fit the policy to the need? in relation to the issue of internet blocking and filtering.  He explains that when we create a sterile, artificial world in schools we are not adequately preparing students for a real, unfiltered world. 

Here's a nugget from the post. 
"Access to, and understanding of the internet is becoming a needed skill if one is to compete in a technologically competitive society.  The sooner we educate our children to be responsible digital citizens, the sooner we can hold them responsible for their actions. Internet awareness must begin on the elementary level. We cannot hold children responsible for that which we have not taught them. Education is the key to safety.
Filtering eliminates the ability to teach children to be responsible. It may allay the flamed fears of parents which are fanned by software companies and TV producers, but it does nothing for preparing kids for the technologically competitive world in which they must live, compete, survive, and thrive. The educator’s job is to prepare kids for the world in which the students will live. It is not the world in which the educators lived. It is not the world in which the kids’ parents lived. It is the world yet to come. There are many pitfalls and safety precautions kids must be aware of, and that cannot be denied.
Teaching rather than blocking is a better strategy to defend against these pitfalls. Fear-mongering to parents may sell software to schools, and build big TV ratings, but in the long run it does not address the issue. We cannot educate kids about content that is filtered and blocked."
You can read the whole post at this link

Tom has a great audience as well so don't forget to check out the comments too.  There you will find nuggets like this.
"We don’t allow IT and the legal departments to make decisions on textbooks and other classroom materials. Why should they make decisions about the internet?"

Consider the Student Loan Scheme Before Going the Traditional College Route

At the same time that many school systems are advocating college for all, experts, analysts, and the media are warning teens and their parents that the college bubble is ready to burst leaving their children behind as carnage. This info graphic does a great job of outlining the issues with student loans that should be considered before children and their parents head down this path.  Beneath that is a recent story on NBC News documenting the corruption involved in the students loan scandal.

Student Loans Scheme.
Infographic by College