Monday, October 31, 2011

Share how you're occupying education - It's easy!

I'm doing it! Lots of members of my personal learning network are doing it! Students are doing it! Homeschooling kids are doing it! Teachers are doing it! Parents are doing it! And you should too!  

We are all sharing our stories about how we are transforming education and challenging the status quo in public education by creating a sign and taking a picture with it that includes our faces.  What is powerful about this is it shares the real voices of teachers, parents, and our youth, not just those of the disconnected politicians and corporate reformers.

Participation is easy!

Here's how.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

10 Reasons Schools Should Teach Text-Speak

Guest post courtesy of Phone Service

Texting in school is a very popular topic with people able to argue both sides. Some schools are teaching text speak or SMS in school. The students put together glossaries and compare their versions to the formal written language. Many might argue but listed below are ten reasons schools should teach text speak.

Saturday, October 29, 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. 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, October 28, 2011

Ideas for Bringing Your Own Device (BYOD) Even If You Are Poor

When the topic of bring your own device comes up, one of the first complaints we often hear, is "What about the have nots." Yes, there are have nots.  However, students should not only be given the freedom to do what those who have the least can do. Students are not prisoners and they are not widgets. They are people with minds, choices, and parents or guardians who can make decisions and should be empowered to use the learning devices they choose. 

While I believe schools should be wired places where community members can access the internet, I do not believe all students need the same tool nor do I believe all students need the government to provide them with the learning tools they deem best.  When we shift our thinking from demanding the government provides one-size-fits-some solutions and move it to let's empower families to take ownership of securing tools for their learning, change can happen.  

Here are some ways even low socio economic status (ses) students can acquire their own technology.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

5 Questions Every Parent and Teacher Must Be Able to Answer

While test-prep mania, quality reviews, and data driven assessments rule the roost in schools today,  what's most important is often overlooked.  If you're not able to answer these five questions for every child in your care at school or at home, than you need to re-focus on what is most important. 
  1. What are your child's passions, talents, and interests? 
  2. Is your child's talent/passion portfolio documented and used to drive learning?
  3. Does your child have a personal success plan aligned to those passions with measurable goals?
  4. How are you supporting your child in displaying evidence of learning in meaningful ways that will lead to academic, career and life success?
  5. Is your child provided with opportunities to learn with those who share his passions and interests rather than just grouped with others by date of manufacture?
So, how many of these were you able to answer?  If it's not all five, what is your plan to refocus and place your child(ren) in the center of their learning?

Listen to The Authors of Teaching Generation Text on The Brian Lehrer Show!

My Teaching Generation Text co-author Willyn Webb and I were featured today on the Brian Lehrer show on 93.9 FM and and 820 AM. The Brian Lehrer show features interviews with local, national, and international newsmakers, authors, and politicians combined with listener phone calls. 

On the show we discussed the benefits of empowering students with the freedom to learn with the digital tools they own and love and  addressed the importance of going from banning to embracing the power of student-owned technology. Listen to the show below to hear why we think it is important to help students break free from being prisoners of past in a school system designed to prepare students for success in the industrial age.  


We hope after you listen, you will leave a comment here

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How to Help Stop Math from Sucking

When in comes to math, for many Sal Kahn, the flipped classroom (if you don't know what it is skip down to the infographic below), and flipped classroom materials like this are all the rage. But for others, we're not so enamored.

Here's why:
While there are some for whom math is magical, there are even more of us that will never ever, ever get excited when you suggest we're going to learn about polynomials, integers, or slopes.  Sure, we get that fact that if we want to go to college, we need to jump through hoops to memorize and regurgitate, but we aren't learning in meaningful ways.  For that we need to rethink math instruction.  

Below are some guys who've done just that.

US News & World Report Spreads the Word About Empowering Students to Use Cell Phones

US News & World Report is helping empower students with the freedom to learn with the tools they love with a story this week called Teachers Use Cell Phones in the Classroom.  In it they feature the story of why Teaching Generation Text co author Willyn Webb isn't telling her high school students to put away their cell phones, even though they are technically banned in her district and why I support this practice.  

The reporter shares ways we are both using mobile devices to support learning.  He also shares my mantra:
"School should be preparing students for real life—and in real life, people use cell phones. If you're making an artificial world inside the school, you're not preparing them for the real world."
You can read the full article here.  

For ideas about effective ways to use cell phones for learning, including research-based strategies, lessons, and more, order your copy of Teaching Generation Text

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Why Choose Home Ed over School?

Editor's note: Homeschooling is one of the fastest growing alternatives for families frustrated with a failing school system. Here is why former New York City parent and home education expert Laurette Lynn made this choice.  

Homeschooling, unschooling, home educating, call it what you will it’s all the same thing.  So here are the reasons that our family chose to unplug from (or really never plug into) school.  Opting out of School offers the following benefits:
Access to a Free Education
I wanted my children to have unlimited access to a free education.
This is Freedom to access unlimited information which is unrestricted by time or spacial constraints, untethered by a standardized polyester curriculum  designed solely to increase scores in order to funnel more funding into a district where it can continue to be misappropriated.
Education and information that is Freely available through an unlimited variety of sources instead of a limited pre-selected, pre-chosen staff limited by their own perspective and questionable dedication.
Freedom to access an infinite plethora of financially free resources such as libraries, Internet, church,  community, family,  apprenticeships,  etc that all exist outside the limited walls of the classroom.  This experience  may or may not include the further  opportunity for reasonably inexpensive educational experience according to our family’s economic situation at any given time; such as road trips, visits to the zoo’s, museums and other cultural events etc.  The true freedom for such opportunities  only exist outside of the time and space limitations of the school day and school building are now freely available to my kids without worry of time restrictions or satisfying compulsory attendance records.
And free from monetary demands as well as monetary expectations to compensate for misappropriations of funds which require me to pay for group supplies, furnishings and useless field trips during which any true learning will be curtailed by pre-determined tours that limit time  for explorations anyway.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Simple Truth about Why Children Don’t Like School

Guest post Cathy Earle

Peter Gray says that freedom is the most important ingredient in learning. He also says that schools are prisons.

Schools are not like prisons—it's not a metaphor. According to Gray, public schools are true prisons in that most children have to go, and, once there, they have their activities — even their biological necessities — controlled and curtailed.

So, who is this guy? Why should we care what Peter Gray has to say?

Peter Gray is a research professor of psychology at Boston College and a specialist in developmental and evolutionary psychology. He has published articles on innovative teaching methods and alternative approaches to education; and is author of Psychology, an introductory college textbook now in its 6th edition. He did his undergraduate study at Columbia University and earned a Ph.D. in biological sciences at Rockefeller University. His current research and writing focuses primarily on children's natural ways of learning and the life-long value of play. His own play includes not only his research and writing, but also long distance bicycling, kayaking, back-woods skiing, and vegetable gardening.

See what he has to say in the video below.

 For additional insights, visit Peter's blog at

Cathy Earle is an educator who has worked in public schools and a variety of private venues. She has been a curriculum lab director, a managing editor at an education publishing house, and a freelance education writer working for such clients as The Learning Company, Orange County Department of Education, and Disney Software. She homeschooled her own children from birth to college, using child-led and interest-based methods rather than formal academic teaching. Her daughters are now grown and successful.  Her blog for children, Every Day Is Special, can be found at

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Powering Up in the Classroom

Guest post

Defining Mobile Learning 
In education, the words "Mobile Learning" are starting to appear more often.  Mobile learning is anytime, anywhere seamless learning.  In other words, it is ubiquitous learning.  A mobile learning device could be a laptop, net book, iPad, iPod Touch or even a smart phone. 

A Change in Thinking
Many schools have labeled the use of mobile technology as a distraction in the classroom.  Also, many schools have banned cell phones.  On the other hand, as technology has improved, many schools are seeing the benefits of using these devices in the classroom.  Educators are coming to realize that the students use these types of devices everyday at home, and then are asked to "power down" when they get to school.

Embracing Mobile Technology
St. Marys City Schools in Ohio has decided to embrace using smart phone technology as an educational tool.  In St. Marys, the smart phones are referred to as a "Mobile Learning Device" (MLD).  The term "MLD" is used because of the negative connotation of the word cell phones in schools.  The texting and the phone capabilities are turned off, which essentially makes it a small computer.  This coming year, every student from 3rd to 5th grade will have a mobile learning device in his or her hand. There will be over 500 devices within the school district.  Also, they will be incorporating BYOD, Bring Your Own Device, as a pilot for the upper grade levels.  The goal of the district is to have a mobile device in the hand of every student from 3rd to 12th grade.

SMCS is "leveling the playing field".  Now every student has Internet access, word processing capabilities and many supportive applications.  The GoKnow applications that are being used allow the teachers to create and "sync" lessons to the students' devices.  When the students complete the assignment, they simply "sync" their work, and the teacher can grade their assignment at their computer.  These Mobile Learning Devices are not an add-on within the classroom.  The students are able to take them from class to class and are with the students throughout the entire day.  The students also have the ability to use video, audio and camera aspects on their device.  Many teachers allow the students to take their MLD on field trips to take pictures and to record notes. 

This so called "disruptive technology" has had a positive impact on the students.  Unmotivated students have become motivated.  The use of these devices has enabled educators to reach all learning styles.  The students are completely immersed and engaged in their learning.  St. Marys has noticed an increase in mathematics and writing achievement. With the ongoing improvements and changes being made technologically, St. Marys City Schools is making an effort to change along with the times.  St. Marys has had great success implementing Mobile Learning devices into the classroom!  To find out more about St. Marys Mobile Learning Technology visit their website

For more ideas from teachers like Scott Newcomb about effective ways to use cell phones for learning, including research-based strategies, lessons, and more, order your copy of Teaching Generation Text

Saturday, October 22, 2011

7 Free and Innovative Ways to Capture Learning, Lessons, Lectures, & Live Discussions

group of educators, principals, superintendents, IT administrators and community members were brought together by Dell to share thoughts and ideas about education transformation during a think tank session moderated by New Jersey Principal, Eric Shenninger.  The day flew by as participants came together for six hours to share provocative insights. While the day proved to be insightful and informative there was something else going on.  There were a variety of free and innovative tools used to capture the day that if used in schools could be quite useful to
1) Give others an window into what is occurring in the classroom with tools like UStream and live chat.
2) Capture what occurred for reflection.
3) Provide an anytime/anywhere archive of what occurred for those who were not there or want to review at another time.

Check out how the day was captured through video, a Twitter archive tool, Google docs for notes, a website and below you'll find a Twitter fountain, Storify, and graphic image of each topic using Flickr created by ImageThink. All of these are free ways any event can be captured. (Note: Flickr is free. The artist is approximately 2k).

If you missed it, now you can experience it. If you were there, now it is captured for reviewing, reflecting, and sharing.  As you take a look, think about how educators may want to incorporate some of this into their practice as
1) A learning tool
2) Their digital portfolio
3) A tool to evaluate work and practice
4) A way to build the home school connection

Join The Innovative Educator via Live Stream Today to Discuss Possibilities with Tech in Ed

Join me and some of my favorite innovative educators via a live stream on Saturday, October 22, for a day of listening, collaboration and discussion about possibilities with tech in Education. This small group of educators, principals, superintendents, IT administrators and community members are interested and active in social media. We are coming together in person to discuss topics such as the move from print to digital, data driven instruction, access to technology and an engaged community in and out of the classroom, learning and collaborating no matter the time of day or location, the benefits of social media in education and the notion of students having more influence over their own learning.

The conversation is hosted by Dell and will take place in person at the Scholastic offices in New York City. You can sign up here and tune in on October 22 at 9:30 a.m. EST via live stream here where you can contribute, follow-along and extend the conversations via Twitter using  #DoMoreEDU. You can follow the participants on Twitter here.

Here Are The Education Think Tank In-Person Attendees

Eric Sheninger, @NMHS_Principal (Moderator)
Tom Whitby, @tomwhitby (Online Correspondent)
Lisa Nielsen, @InnovativeEdu
Kevin Jarrett, @kjarrettAdam Bellow, @adambellow
Dr. Brian Chinni, @drbpchinni
Erik Endreses, @erikendress
Aaron Eyler, @aaron_eyler
Renny Fong, @timeoutdad
Adam Garry, @agarry22
Michele Glaze, @PMicheleGlaze
Erica Hartman, @elh
Kathy Ishizuka, @kishizuka
Michelle Lampinen, @MichLampinen
Susan McPherson, @susanmcp1
Mike Parent, @mikeparent
Mary Rice-Boothe, @Edu_Traveler
Ken Royal, @kenroyal
Sarah Thomas, @teach2connect
Snow White, @snowwhiteatdell

What's Popular This Week on The Innvoative 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. 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.

iPad Literacy Program Increases Reading & Writing ...
Oct 17, 2011, 4 comments2,384 Pageviews

20 Things Students Want the Nation to Know About E...
Sep 28, 2011, 46 comments1979 Pageviews

5 Easy Ways to Get Started with Using Cells for Le...
Oct 16, 2011, 2 comments1763 Pageviews

Why I Agree That Our School System Results in Teac...
Oct 14, 2011, 17 comments1737 Pageviews

Tweeting in the Library
Oct 15, 2011, 2 comments1611 Pageviews

Instead of Globally Competing, Let's Collaborate!
Oct 13, 2011, 1 comment1451 Pageviews

Five Reasons I'm Not Flipping Over The Flipped Classroom...
Oct 8, 2011, 18 comments1329 Pageviews

Have Your Voice Heard! Are Schools Making Us Stupi...
Oct 17, 2011, 3 comments1263 Pageviews

Friday, October 21, 2011

Every Day Is Special - Great Blog for Learners!

Editor’s note:  I asked Cathy Earle to share information about her wonderful blog with other innovative educators. I think you are going to love it.  Thank you Cathy!!!

Guest post By Cathy Earle

I used to love magazines! My kids and I would greet each new-come publication with enthusiasm, often leafing through the pages right away to look at the pictures,  always looking forward to the reading session that night.

At bedtime, I would read one article from each of our magazines before diving into whatever novel served as our current bedtime story. We subscribed to at least one magazine about animals or life science—such as ZooBooks or Ranger Rick—and one primarily about physical science—such as Kids Discover. We loved National Geographic Kids and New Moon, a magazine by, for, and about girls. American Girl magazine always had articles about history. In any given year we would subscribe to four or five different magazines, and on any given night we would be read from three or four of them! 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Readin, Writin, & Listenin to Learn

When I'm not reading and writing, I'm listening. My two favorite people to listen to as I get ready for work, sit on the subway, do chores, or exercise are Brett and Laurette. Laurette Lynn is the host of The Unplugged Mom Podcast. Brett Veinoette hosts the School Sucks Podcast. They both share provocative and refreshing insights into schooling, learning, and solutions to real education reform. Below is each host's description of their podcast and a link to a podcast each of them have done with a student frustrated by school.
The Unplugged Mom Podcast
(visit in iTunes at this link)
Centered on home education and independent learning, this is the Podcast for the active parent, out-of-the-box thinker and anyone who lives, thinks and thrives outside the current of the mainstream flow – and wishes to “unplug” from school-paradigm living and thinking.

Unplugged Youth – Challenging the Current with Luke!

Hear from a schooled kid who unplugged himself despite his schooling! That’s right folks, this is a special interview with Luke Lawerson, a schooled teen who defied the status quo from inside the status quo! This young man has the unconventional skill of seeing the forest from inside the trees and used his unusual view to put the challenge to the school faculty. Luke was ‘expelled’ from the perceived “smart” program for his audacity but presses onward. Listen to his story and you’ll agree that young Luke is destined for something spectacular!
(Luke’s essays are referenced in the recording, you can review them here)