Why I Talk This Way

I spent quite a lot of time with my wife and oldest son looking at the dialectic survey map1 and trying to figure out which one of us said a particular phrase or pronounced a word a certain way. About half the time I answered “all of the above” while my wife was tried and true Massachusetts for just about every one.2

I figure my wandering ways are to blame so I figured I’d take a shot at visualizing that. I did recall that Google Spreadsheets would let you visualize spreadsheet data on map with no trouble at all. It’s an option under “insert chart.” All I needed was a location in the first column and the numerical value for the circle in the second column (years in this case). Said and done.3 Too easy. Mine is immediately below and is followed by my wife’s map. Turns out it has a rough time with two different data sources from one document- even if they’re on different sheets. I could have made an additional spreadsheet but I don’t like this enough. Easy-ish but not much control. I’m going to look for some other options.

Image Version

Turns out I’m starting to hate these as there are more issues than they’re worth. I don’t know how to allow access to the interactive version as I’ve published everything I can.

1 It was a good time and I’ll not apologize for it.

2 For the record, Massachusetts says just about everything wrong. It’s really sad.

3 Well, not quite. Turns out you can only have two columns of data or the whole thing errors out even if you only had two columns chosen for the chart (which works within the spreadsheet but not on the embed).

English in the Wild and Mapping Thoughts

Word Games/English in the Wild

I made a blog focused on the idea of English in the wild. The goal is to look at language and how it works outside of school, to capture the things people find interesting, odd, or broken about English as they interact with it. Essentially, I keep finding things that are interesting (at least to me)- strange phrases, interesting sentences, games comedians play with words1, even a little Scottish poetry recently.2 I thought it might be useful to aggregate content like this. Naturally, it’s just me at this point but I’ll invite/beg some people to join me at some point and hopefully it’ll map out to students as well. This content can then become fodder for all kinds of reuse.

I see aspects of it falling short of the weight of Defective Yeti’s book review posts but containing elements of them. His structure would make a grate template for larger scale project and I like his “Words I Looked Up” at the bottom of the post and his neologisms (and I had to look neologism up). So between neologisms and paraprosdokian you have some unfortunate names but interesting items.

This idea may be something that was submitted Henrico 21 at one point. Gaynell remembers it but hasn’t provided me with proof yet. I went through a huge chunk of our H21 lessons tagged English and found many interesting things but couldn’t find this.

Quantified Self

I need to be more intentional about tracking things about myself and trying to be intentional. I’m going to do something about this as part of the data visualization thing we’re doing (a major part of this thing for me is constructing a sustainable workflow for the process).

This could play a really interesting role in the idea of student efficacy and metacognition in a way we don’t even come close to currently (workflow would be key, as would at least some degree of interest but digital environments might make harvesting data interesting- especially interconnected activities like twitter/social bookmarking etc.). You should watch this video if that kind of thing appeals to you at all.

The video is from quantifiedself.com and Amy Robinson is a very interesting person in general.

1 I don’t have satellite radio but VA Beach has an AM comedy station (Funny 850) I can pick up most of the time and it inspired the Sklar brothers post the other day and has me watching Netflix standup as well.

2 Na Day Sae Dark – make sure you play the audio

Is it a lie?

So I actually taught a 55 minute class Monday. I’d give myself a C- but I think the underlying concept and the examples are decent and worth sharing.

Here’s the idea. Essentially it’s easier and easier to tell convincing lies in a digital environment.

I’m stealing from Dan Meyer here. I asked the kids to tell me one thing they knew was true and then one thing they knew was false.  The next request was for a statement that was sort of true or sort of false.

Augmenting Reality

There are four photoshopped images from various ads.


So I start with the question “Are these pictures lies?” and then try to drill down to the various pieces and apply the idea of context, intent, and manipulation.

Essentially, maybe it doesn’t matter so much if Dana Carvey is airbrushed up.  He’s a comedian.  I don’t think anyone cares too much what he looks like.  He’s not selling anything to do with looks.

Does it matter more that they’re changing Beyonce’s skin color dramatically?  Why would they do that? Does it matter? Interestingly, the students seemed to feel that this was done with lighting and wasn’t a big deal.

With Demi Moore, I tried to add complication.  Would this be a lie if this picture was used to sell a beauty product?  That seemed to trigger something for the students and they stated that manipulation of the audience was what made these “augmentations” of reality acceptable or unacceptable.

A worker at Foxconn died after working a 34 hour shift image of Daisey speaking


Now I brought in Mike Daisey and his comments about Foxconn.  What was interesting to me was that most of his lies were simply adding himself into the story.  Matthew Baldwin illustrated that really well in this post. I tried to illustrate that by starting with the entry statement above (which is true) and then adding the lie portion in red (below). “It’s a lie but the important part is true. Does it matter?” The students seemed to feel that if he’d add himself to manipulate you that stripped him of any credibility.

It’s important to emphasize that he’s an entertainer.  That’s his excuse. It’s entertainment but the important parts are true.

Contrasting OJ Simpson covers on Newsweek and TimeSo now we have “real” news and they’re certainly altering things to make a more compelling story.  I didn’t seem to convince them that this mattered. The observation that the Newsweek title ought to have been on the Time magazine. The feeling was that the Time magazine looked like a movie poster.  I should have drilled down more on why the image was darkened. What is the purpose?

NYT's graph of the housing crash


Only the bottom $100,000 measure is showing initially.  I then ask them to guess how much the house would cost at the peak.  The red money markers appear sequentially and then we talk about how you might manipulate the axises to make graphs more dramatic and why you might want to do so.  I’ll stress again that this is accurate.  The question is then “Is this a lie?”

masterpiece quote



Now we get into quote mining or decontextualizing phrases. This was a quote used to promote the movie Se7en.1  The more complete quote is below and it turns out Owen was not very impressed by the movie.

So we got most2 of that done semi-decently in about 25 minutes.

I wrapped up with the idea that we were going to impugn the reputation of a historical or fictional hero.  The goal was to come up with two images- one that uses a partial quote from the character/person and then one that uses actual data in some way to discredit them.  My examples were from Star Wars.


I originally had Hitler stats in the chart. I replaced them with the Khmer Rouge. It is strange that one mass murderer feels more acceptable than another but it seems that’s the case.

Place I got media or information

Dana Carvey
Demi Moore
Ralph Lauren
Daisey quote
Daisey image
Foxconn death
OJ Simpson covers
NY Times graph
Comparison for the NYT graph
Se7en quote excerpt
Yoda image
Deathstar population
Civil War
Khmer Rouge
Cultural Revolution and Mao
Skywalker image

1 That’s for you Alan!

2 I skipped a few slides that I used but I’ll put all of the links to stuff below.

Random Thoughts and Examples of Student Dashboards

This collection of dashboards1 was brought on by a tweet2 from Dan Meyer but precipitated by the fact that I am struggling to figure out what matters in terms of a future LMS and how the data we present (or don’t present) to students and teachers impacts education as a whole.3

While we4 often say we5 want a balance between multiple choice assessment and other types of assessment, if the only data that teachers see and talk about is related to multiple choice we probably shouldn’t bother talking about other types of assessment. There’s also the idea that assessment data may just be the tip of the iceberg. I’m not sure what exactly would make a difference but there are lots of other things that ought to be looked at.

In the end I see the data displayed to students and teachers as being pretty important but it means nothing if it’s not set within the right context and used in the right way by both parties.

All that aside, let’s see what’s going on right now.

Delaware Insight Dashboards

Fairly traditional, I’m not sure these dashboards are even meant for student view but many of the systems I’ve seen lately just give students access to their own data with the same views they give teachers and call it a student dashboard. One of the things that concerns me here is the green/red binary system. There is no room for even a yellow in this world view? Even if your focus is purely on test scores, this kind of thought disregards the importance of scores that fall immediately below and above the cut score. Those scores can easily go either way so seeing green may lead to unfortunate degrees of over confidence.


Despite having one of the worst icons I have ever seen, EquipSchools has some interesting pieces to this dashboard.

Note the motivation/stress/energy/engagement/homework chart on the right. I’ve seen some people6 encouraging students to input those kind of data that through Twitter like status updates that use emoticons to indicate the emotional state but this is the first I’ve seen of something more sophisticated. It would be interesting to have those kind of data as a student and as a teacher but it seems like they have an awful lot of categories. I can’t think of a way to gather those data without it being either burdensome (and thus not done) or ineffective. Their method, multiple strand Likert scale ratings, seems to be presented in a way that ties it too loosely with time and too tightly with projects for it to be as useful as it could be.

I like the idea this seems to support. Students ought to set goals and the software ought to facilitate that as well as the tracking of progress towards those goals. While that’s a relatively obvious idea, it’s not often done. Most student data dashboards are purely passive visualizations of test data.7 If you’re lucky you might get a mouse over for more information or a dynamic chart.

Ten Marks

This is one of those dashboards that seems to creep up too often in education. It tries to make the data fun by letting you fill up these wacky body shapes with blood.8 It’s pretty much useless for student reflection and really only shows progression along a predetermined path.

You can also see some attempts at “gamification” going on in the sidebar. Apparently you can earn presents. This type of thing would prepare your children well to succeed in College Apprentice where they can accomplish feats and win awards by generating points by attending “events hosted and supported by College Apprentice.”

Read 180

Read 180 pulls out all the stops on the “gamification” bandwagon. I almost expect to get some virtual chickens for my virtual farm if I read enough. Personally, I don’t like this mentality. I fear it’s going to catch on and I imagine it motivates certain kids. I don’t think it does anything to help them learn or reflect on what they’re doing that might impact their learning. I don’t think it’s aiming too high to expect that.

1 A pretty imprecise word that appears to mean quite a few different things to different people.

2 I will never like that word.

3 Someplace I have an interesting way that someone was visualizing learning along five thematic branches (content, critical thinking, etc.) and displaying it as a star/pentagram in order to help reflect the idea of balance. For some reason I thought it was an NSF grant but I’m not finding it currently.

4 I have a frog in my pocket.

5 Yep, frog is still there.

6 I think it was eSparks but their website tells you nothing. I’m also pretty sure Dell’s new personalized learning environment does this as well but I can’t recall if they aggregate the results for student reflection.

7 CosmicMath seems to be a good example of that.

8 It’s bright red, apparently liquid, and in a body. What else could it be?

Based on Faulty Information

Their opinions are based on faulty information .

I shot this quick clip in one of the classrooms that was doing the performance based assessment. The audio is terrible but what this student says is perfect.

It’s actually kind of scary because there are people who don’t do this out in the public- like they don’t check their sources and stuff, therefore their opinions are based on faulty information.

Now if we can create more assessments that cause students to come to those simple, yet powerful, conclusions I’ll be very pleased.

UMW Faculty Academy 2010 prt.1

cc licensed flickr photo shared by bionicteaching
Here are a few of the things I’m thinking about after a great time at Faculty Academy. Raw notes are below.

The big picture stuff is pretty simple. Work that is student driven, public and has a real audience results in all kinds of good things happening.

We really ought to begin working on defining and publicizing best practice around blogs a lot of this stuff. And by “stuff” I mean things like student driven classes, online conversations, etc.

Simple things like “when/why does it make sense to give people feedback as audio? ” Kevin McCluskey gave his theater students feedback via audio files and saw his language being reflected when students did in class critiques. So there are a variety of times we ought to be recommending this type of feedback for reasons far beyond simple convenience.

Melanie Szulczewski had a really interesting look at how the action words her students used changed over time and focused on the idea that blogging allowed them to reflect as they progressed rather than after. So it’d make sense to make this kind of data visible and encourage people to look at it. Maybe a blog plugin that showed comments by user sequentially with chunks of additional information- maybe word count, links to outside content etc. Graphs of that information? Per user? Averaged? Probably both.

cc licensed flickr photo shared by bionicteaching
John Morello really broke down his commenting stats over a series of classes based on different required comment numbers. I need to compare data more between classes while playing with different requirements. I still fight a lot with the idea of requiring posts/comments. It’s unfortunate but I don’t see many alternatives.

–All notes likely to be flawed in a variety of interesting, but more likely horrific, ways. If you’re concerned about spelling, grammar or anything else annoying don’t bother reading below.


-simplify GIS w Google Earth
-direct link in data via gadgets from google spreadsheets
-using flickr/youtube to concatenate in the media info

-knowledge and inspiration freely distributed – interesting concept to apply more globally
-understanding into action and change
-2 linked first year seminars
-student constructed syllabus, grading etc.
-how difficult was getting students to take this role in their learning?
-pre and post blog commenting after class discussion
-2 students from each class met to discuss how to structure the class and then comments from two classes recombined
-texting was the main way students communicated with each other across sections
-twitter and facebook rejected
-twitter bc no students used it
-facebook bc their parents were on it

-TED works bc of interconnectedness of knowledge
-connects spoken word and new media technology
-textbook liberal education example
-spreads knowledge of human culture and natural world
-inquiry, analysis, critical thinking, teamwork, problem solving etc.
-inchoate personal and professional learning

-student reflection on their final ted talk one of the more powerful components in that they realized how much work was involved in condensing the topic to 18 minutes
-back channel and technology was encouraged, used to broaden conversation

-18 min limit on TED

So Easy a Caveman Could Do It or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Blog
Jason Davidson


-goal was to bring students more into the class
-theoretical texts
-wanted students as creators of knowledge
-wanted policy relevance
-each student would have a pet alliance
-contemporary alliance they’d report back on
-couldn’t figure out a traditional way to do this so opted for a blog
-wanted following and info back but w/o presenting etc in each class
-allowed currency and analysis that tied back into scholarly reading
-not a tech guy, doesn’t like learning about technology
-believed it required more start up costs bc needs to learn the tech
-took 2 hrs and made the blog, shocked at how easy it was to make and maintain
-became credible when talking to students (only 1 student had a blog prior to this)
-only problem he had was problems with passwords
-student feedback was good
-tied into course more
-found analysis of pet alliance led to more understanding of theory readings
-led to policy understanding which was seen as more concrete and useful knowledge
-keep healthy skepticism but w an ear cocked to potential solutions
-referred to posts a handful of times in class
-skimmed student work

Good Intentions, Unintended Consequences, and Some of the Perils of Web 2.0 Teaching
John Morello

teaches off peak hours – nights and mornings
non-major classes related to gen ed requirements

attempt 1
-set minimum of comments but phrased to encourage more
-engage in points/subject not in speech analysis
-attempt to engage with students as part of current political conversation

attempt 2
-presidential campaign
-involve with what was actually going on

-minimums may drive max participation if you’re not careful
-spring 08 min 6 and avg 6.35 (range 5-8)
-fall 08 min 10 and avg 11.45 (range 5-19)
-spring 10

-deadlines promote in the nick of time blogging
-127 posts 53% at deadline (last 10% of available time or after deadline)
-198 59% at deadline
-98 33% at deadline

-collective intelligence doesn’t happen
-37 initial posts – 65% drew no response
-30 initial posts – 50% drew no response

—-me- less about collective intel and more about community/conversation

-beware over contributing
-146 total 19 his most by student 8

-hurry up and contribute
-6 posts 27 mins
-6 in 34 mins
-6 in 41
-6 in 50
-4 in 21
-total interaction w blog in total

where to next?
-guidance for blog discussion (essentially best practice for using blogs for X)
-communication issue not a tech issue
-what’s the equivalent of room arrangement w blog discussion
-equiv of ice breakers for blog
-roles for blog facilitation
-feedback management
-blog equiv to nonverbal dynamics

The Googlization of Higher Education
Siva Vaidhyanathan (University of Virginia Law School)


Neil Postman – critic of media and tech (had an asst read his email to him, never looked at computer screen (possibly))

“are students all want to work in media. we are critics of media. how would you negotiate that?”
response: job is not unlike clergy – feel just guilty enough about damage they are about to do

clergy as large illicit copiers and distributors of knowledge – making judgment about worth of knowledge

arguing against DIY U and What Would Google Do? books

google as mimic of academy
-google founders are faculty kids
-met as phd students
-google depends implicitly on higher ed produced talent
-surplus of $ allows for long term “waste” research/work – so do you need $ to do this? k12?

google offers pervasive life long email account
-perm connection to University (lots of marketing attractiveness)
-trapped into affiliation with a specific company

google scholar
-increased importance
-ever study compared to library searches shows scholar as far inferior
-students use them first anyway

if google is predominant search then we need to train faculty and students regarding source analysis (basic info fluency needed for faculty? where does k12 fit then?)

non-semantic search is kind of like memorization of process vs understanding

We Are All The Pretender Now: Learning In an Age of Just-in-Time Instruction
Mike Caulfield (Keene State College)

banking model of ed – store info, use somewhere down the road (maybe)
-inefficient- maybe need it, maybe not
-theor. unsound- no retention if not relevant

just in time instruction back then
-small learning modules
-kind of like choose your own adventure leading to direct instruction

if we live in a world of just in time ed, what is our purpose?
can learn whatever on the internet based on need
front of the room is gone
information is everywhere

nice activity to compare going veg vs cutting % of electricity for reducing carbon footprint
-why is this so hard?
-trust, info fluency etc.
-what is truth? how do we know? how do structures of power influence this information?

liberal arts ought to have more relevance bc it’s about all these things . . .

the place of ed in a world of just in time- ed is focused on information fluency

Wolverine poems and other gifts from the Internet

Picture CC from DuneChaser

Four people got to this blog today searching for “wolverine poems.” I hate to leave people disappointed.
I’m not sure which wolverine they’re looking for so I’m covering my bases.

Wolverine: The Haiku
Wolverine is the
man with adamantium
bones and sharp claws.

Wolverine: The Animal
Carcajou, skunk bear,
you glutton! I call you out
as a big weasel.

This did inspire me but it also got me thinking about how many fun sources for poetry/writing prompts that are out there just begging to be used.

I’d love to do things with Google Trends. Take today’s (at around 9-10 PM Eastern) trending topics- No. 1 with a bullet is “applebees menu1.” I would also be forced to use #44 “goonies 2″ Then it’s on to #64 “agent cody banks” and finish it off with #47 “19 pound indonesian baby” and #48 “sycophants definition.”

I consulted the Applebee’s menu yet again. It had answers, but not the ones I wanted. I was hungry . . . for knowledge.

Is Goonies 2 an actual possibility? Am I getting my hopes up for an inevitable disappointment?” I wondered again. My mind tends to drift when I am stressed.

I tried to relax. I knew Agent Cody Banks was on the case. I had no way of knowing that a 19 pound Indonesian baby had already changed that plan.

A man approached and sat down. He stared right at me.

“Do you have the sycophant’s definition?” he asked in an accent I couldn’t quite place.

“What is the animal with the highest blood pressure?2” I wondered. “FOCUS!” I screamed internally.

I had no idea what I was in for.

Just good, clean3, chaotic fun.

The fun thing about stuff like this to me is it’s low cost for you time-wise and has a lot of flexibility.

  • roll dice to see which numbers you’ll use
  • pass on the story with each subsequent writer picking from the list for their sentence or have them go in order
  • mix this with your vocabulary word to create some challenge and interest

Picture 4
Another random thing I’d love to do with English. On Twitter, Peter Sokolowski4, posts popular searches from Merriam-Webster’s site. He also explains why the search is popular based on what’s going on in the news. I’d love to have the kids trying to figure out why the word has suddenly become of such interest. It will also, likely, give your kids an ego boost when they know words that the English speaking world apparently does not.

Presto, change-o, you’ve got context, current events and all sorts of other interesting possibilities with absolutely no work on your part.

1 Which tells you it’s Friday and people have poor taste in restaurants.

2 #52 – I’m forcing myself to stop now.

3 Cleanliness not guaranteed. Consult Google before blindly giving this list to a class of k12 students. Make sure you know why certain searches are in the news because while it may seem innocent it may not be. I would never want to be responsible for exposing someone to Tardy to the Party, today’s #3?!?

4 Editor, lexicographer and all around interesting guy

New(ish?) Exhibit 2.2 API is Sick Fast

OK, the new1 Exhibit API is crazy fast. It still takes a second or so to load but once it’s up and running the selection speed is dramatically improved. DRAMATICALLY2.

I’ve been pitching the Simile project3, especially Exhibit, for quite a while for all sorts of educational uses. It really is fairly simple and allows you to create the kind of powerful data-driven interactive websites that would simply be impossible if you aren’t able to write code. You need to create these kind of interactive database sites because they are interactive and allow students to manipulate data and see it in a variety of contexts. That enables, and encourages, all sorts of processing and helps students see connections.

David Huynh and the rest of the people who are working on this BSD licensed project have really made some incredible speed improvements.

To change to the new API, just replace the original API reference in the header of your page (http://static.simile.mit.edu/exhibit/api-2.0/exhibit-api.js) with
http://api.simile-widgets.org/exhibit/2.2.0/exhibit-api.js = instant speed jump4.

As a way to force myself to do it, I’m going to take this pretty new API and attach it to this interesting data set on X Box games5. Why? Well, because I can and it’s awesome.

1 How new, I’m not sure. Allison C. from UR mentioned it in relation to the Confinder database last night and after seeing the speed improvements I’m changing all my Simile projects over ASAP.

2 Please note that I do not use all caps LIGHTLY.

3 Yeah, it’s like I work on commission for them but sadly they send me no money.

4 I didn’t have to rewrite anything so as far as I can tell you won’t have to change any of your main page but I’m not promising anything.

5 Check out the rest of their free data sets. A very interesting source which Dan, no doubt, has already found.

Why I loathe Portaportal

The following is an attack on an idea and a structure. I am in no way trying to attack you if you use Portaportal but I would like to change your mind. I encourage you blasting back in the comments but if you call me names, I’ll likely cry.

Sure, I get a lot of dirty looks from educators when I loathe Portaportal1. Portaportal is, after all, the educators friend.

“Look how easy it is!”

“I can share links with my students!”

“It’s free!”

Yes, yes and yes but just about everything is easy and shareable these days. I have two2 main problems with Portaportal.

Round One – The Surface

I’ll deal with the minor stuff (relatively) first.

The thing is hideous. It is appallingly unattractive- everything from the color schemes to the jagged icons. Who in their right mind comes up with a flesh tone and pink color scheme?
Picture 7

“But,” I can hear the rebukes, “Craigslist is ugly and look how popular it is.” or “I don’t care what it looks like as long as it does what I want.”

First of all, Craigslist is ugly but it’s taking you to free things you actually want. Portaportal, especially in an educational context, is taking you to something you’ve been told you want. That’s a big difference. I’ll put up with ugly if it’s free, bringing me to things I, in my heart of hearts, want and there’s no more attractive3 solution.

Secondly, there’s no reason for educators to eternally accept and be happy with 3rd tier solutions. What would you think of a business using Portaportal? Maybe you wouldn’t notice or care. I would. I’d look at it and wonder with all the more powerful and more attractive ways there are to share links on the web, why in the world would they choose this one. I would then assume they didn’t know about anything better or they decided this was the best. Either way, I’m not drawing good conclusions4.

Round Two – The Core

This is the big one.

Teachers shouldn’t have to double up on work. It’s a waste of time and energy. Portaportal is an online parallel of the old school organization of bookmarks/favorites. I set up my categories (folders in everything but name). I can have categories within categories. If I want a link in two categories, I have to enter it twice. If i need to remove it, I need to remove it twice.

The fact that there’s no real way to aggregate and separate is a key issue. If the link is in my site, I can’t easily make it appear in your site or elsewhere.

Other Issues

  • It doesn’t integrate well into a work flow. If you’re going to use this as your main bookmarking tool then you’ll need multiple portals and keeping things separated is not something I even want to contemplate. If it’s not your main tool then you’re eternally taking something from your bookmarking option of choice and then manually adding it to Portaportal
  • This isn’t the way I want my teachers thinking about bookmarking. It’s on the web but it’s not networked. There’s no social aspect I can easily harness to see who else might be an advantage to me.
  • There are no RSS feeds to let me know when things have changed.
  • This site is eternally outside my other web presences. There’s no way to break off categories from Portaportal and put them on other websites or blogs I have.

So this all started because of a brief twitter conversation with Craig Nansen. Here’s how I use delicious (but really, I could use any bookmarking service with a tag specific RSS feed) to do things that mimic Portaportal in some cases and far exceed it in other cases.

Level One
Delicious has a built in “linkroll” generator although it’s hard to find now. Here’s a direct link. Once you’re there you can set up all kinds of specificity in your feeds based on single tags or a combination of tags. You can then cut and paste the code into WordPress or Dreamweaver or whatever.

You’ve got the option to include your notes and tags. I like that. I can add or remove metadata based on intended audience.

A Few Examples
The first, and easiest, is just putting the delicious feed into a sidebar or blog post. You can see that in the sidebar here. There are a number of plugins that can help as well. To put a similar feed in a blog post or page you’d just paste the link roll code into the editing window in html view. To mimic what Craig did in Portaportal5, I’d set up pages for grades and then child pages based on subject. The interesting thing about doing that would be having a multi-subject list on the grade page for most recent stuff for general interest browsing and then a more direct subject based option if you wanted more specificity. That’d be especially relevant in k-5.

You could get fancy, customize the CSS and make things expandable with some javascript like we did here at the bottom of the page6

Level Two
Secondly, you can use FeedWordPress to autopost from specific tag combinations. You can do that for a specific user account or do it more generally based on a tag (or tag combo) from any delicious user. I’m using that with my tech integration class. They’re posting links of interest to delicious with the URedtech tag and it auto posts them here.
Picture 10

Level Three
The third is a page I built about 4 years ago. I freely admin it’s not particularly attractive but it’s ugly in a way that I can control. There are all kinds of feeds coming in via a variety of delicious linkrolls. Additionally, there are feeds coming in from a flick RSS feeed and one from a Technorati search. Granted, this is far more than most teachers would want to do but it’s an easy thing to set up as a template.
Picture 9

Other Things I Like
I use the send option all the time in Delicious. Once again, it cuts out steps for me. Instead of cutting and pasting into an email and then that person going from email to browser, it’s all in the browser and all in the context of bookmarks. It keeps things clean and concise.

I find lots of things through my network of strange bookmarkers. I’m not really interested in the increased community available on diigo or other sites. I just want to skim the data here. For me, and you may differ, bookmarks are about harnessing collective energy. I don’t need or want the extra layer of conversation around these bits of data.

In the end, of course, you do what works for you. Different people need and want different things. I just hate to see educators following technologies that are essentially dead. Portaportal doesn’t build skills or help expand people’s thoughts on how information should be shared and organized effectively and efficiently in a world where information can flow. It’s still stuck in the box mentality. It creates the illusion of progress while still maintaining the exact mindset of the past. Maybe it’s a necessary middle step. I don’t think so. I’d rather see a clean break with that mentality and its related inefficiencies.

1 It may be because I say it in a really low voice and really draw out the looooooaaaaaathe part.

2 Three if you count the name.

3 By attractive I don’t mean glittery and bespangled but well designed and thought out in terms of a variety of design elements.

4 Harsh, I know but most kids and parents are pretty harsh in their appraisal of teachers and education.

5 I do want to be clear, I’m in no way attacking Craig. He does great things and is an amazing educator. I have the utmost respect for him and what he does. I just really, really don’t like Portaportal.

6 Yes, yes, I know. Purple and green. Not my choice.