From “On the Internet” towards “Of the Internet”

creative commons licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Sean MacEntee We’ve talking a lot in our group about how people move towards more complex uses of the Internet. We started with a discussion around Internet1 search skills and dispositions. It’s simple stuff2 in a lot of ways but putting it in writing might help someone else and it tends to help me get it straight in my head. It’s not sexy but I think there’s value in thinking it through. Reactive/Algorithmic > Proactive/Human > Participatory/Reciprocal The initial orientation for search tends to be reactive. You have a need for something. You go look for it. It’s a one time act. The finding of the item often has no real longterm benefit. Google3 is your sole opaque lens on the web. The search is driven entirely by your interaction with algorithms. Limited curation/bookmarking occurs in browser providing no benefit beyond the individual. I want to call this inefficient but that’s not quite the right word. Maybe it’s an Internet mind monoculture. I think that getting people from this point to something else starts with getting better at searching. If you help people improve their search strategies they can find better things faster. The Internet becomes more interesting. That’s an initial pragmatic step that helps people justify spending further time/energy […]

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Sharing Ed. Content In Ways That Don’t Suck

I work in a decent sized school system. We have 69 schools and about 50,000 students. That means we have a lot of teachers, a lot of teachers teaching the same content, a lot of teachers struggling with the same problems, a lot of teachers re-doing work that’s already been done. At a district level we spend untold hours and untold amounts of money trying to provide support for teachers and trying to promote best practice. We have teachers who exemplify the concepts we’re trying to share but they are, too often, unknown outside their school, or their grade, or their subject, or their classroom. So our current goal is to end anonymity, to effectively publicize best practice on a global level. One of the ways that we’d like that to happen is through online content distribution and building conversation around that content. The ability to put multimedia content online is nothing new. What has changed is the facility with which it can be done and the ability to easily have conversations1 around very specific pieces of media. Changing the concept It’s important to look at how educational content sharing has failed in the past and present if you’re going to try to get it right. I looked at as many different online sharing options as I could find.2 I’ve […]


The Academic Achievement Team

The Academic Achievement Team is a group of people that have a series of meetings at schools in danger of not making AYP. This movie is an attempt to help individual schools organize these meetings effectively and make sure they’re looking at the right things and having the right type of conversations. Chris Corallo, our director of staff development, was the guiding force behind the whole thing. Academic Achievement Team from Tom Woodward on Vimeo. I have mixed feelings about this video. I think this is the right way to do this kind of meeting, I just worry we’re working hard at doing the wrong things well. I’d really prefer these meetings addressing real learning rather than SOL test scores. The video itself is ok. I’m slowly learning some stuff about Motion but I’ve got a lot to learn on a lot of levels before I make a video I actually like. I would really be happier with a second cameraman. The amount of pre-planning that needs to be done to get this kind of thing right is pretty insane. We had to shoot the interview portion later to provide context for the meeting and then add voice over as well.

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The Three Buckets of Staff Development

Disclaimer—- believe it or not this is really worth reading and thinking about if you have anything to do with staff dev or have been the victim of hit and run staff dev in the past. Arm yourself and be ready to counterattack in the future. 1 This idea is the brainchild of our director of staff development, Chris Corallo2. I believe that this structure has the potential to really change the conversation around staff development in schools. We are putting it out into the wild under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike license. Which is a cool and good thing for him to authorize. So I’ve excerpted the document below. It’s available in full here. There are three types of staff development- experiences, training and professional growth. These simple buckets will help you have a conversation that gets you somewhere else. Most people want to provide professional growth but deliver experience or training. These buckets allow you to show people that and move towards staff dev that’s longer term and more focused on changing practice and impacting learning. Experience This is an opportunity to explore new learning without making any commitment to implementation or change in practice and/or with no expectation of impacting student learning. Training This type is typically required to carry out management or process tasks. There is […]

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From Good to Outstanding-PD on Steroids

From Good to Outstanding Follow teachers as they work to improve their practice with a team of experts. Each teacher delivers an initial lesson, observed by school inspector Clare Gillies, then using her and other expert feedback, they fine-tune their skills and try deliver an outstanding second lesson a few weeks later. This is one of those things that makes me want to move to the UK. If you have anything to do with professional development at your school this should really get you thinking. So basically- the lesson is filmed and observed by a master teacher they post the raw class footage people can then offer suggestions etc. online the input from the master teacher and online suggestions is analyzed expert feedback is given the lesson is retaught a compiled version showing before, expert mentoring and the after lesson is posted I’m looking at it like this. Classroom visits– You want teachers seeing other teachers teach. The way they capture the raw footage and put it up on the site is awesome. If you’re doing this you’re building a library of visits for people to use whenever and wherever without the additional overhead of providing subs etc. Modeling classroom skills– Perfect, real-world demonstrations of skills teachers want to learn done with your population. The video may need additional aspects […]


Flight or Invisibility

This clip from Heros would be a fun way to start a conversation about questioning, right/wrong answers etc. with some teachers or students.1 On the technical side, I had no idea you could do this on Hulu. A nice feature. 1 Yes, I know it’s not perfect but it’s a decent start.


High Speed Film Making

We had a pretty interesting staff development team meeting on Wednesday. We met Lucas Krost the director of a local film company who’d won the 48 Hour Film Festival1 and had their film screened at Cannes. So we spoke to him for a while. Lucas wasn’t a fan of school (if I recall correctly he was thrown out of five high schools). He told the story of how he eventually found editing and film work. It was a good story but nothing you haven’t heard in variations a number of other times. What was interesting was hearing how this group communicated and worked together to make a film in only 48 hours. So here’s what we did following the conversation. We drew a genre from a hat and got our topic- 21st Century Skills. We then had 48 minutes to write our scripts and 48 minutes to film and edit. My group of 6 drew cop/detective for genre. The hardest part for us was coming up with the idea which took pretty much the whole 48 minutes due to differing ideas as to how to attack the project. We never wrote a script so all the dialogue is freestyle2 We then shot the thing in about 25 minutes leaving a grand 23 minutes for editing. It took a frustratingly long […]


Killing People with Bronze Axes

Bronze Age Orientation The “lessons” in the video are funny because they’re true (I think I’m quoting Homer Simpson)- don’t be a pompous ass (period, but especially not when advocating for a major change) positive version – Be humble. You don’t know everything and your way is not the only way. don’t make change a threat or tie it to a threat (the tribes with the bronze axes will kill you, the kids won’t learn etc.) positive version – Tie the change to positive outcomes for those involved. Focus on how it will improve their life. Why is it worthwhile for them? don’t put down the old ways (and then they’ll throw away your stone axes because they’re rubbish) positive version – Honor the past*. Even if you hate the old way, insulting it will tend to increase resistance to change. In education, the focus should be on adding tools and exploring options rather than in taking them away. The bronze shoes and window are also pretty similar to the “must use twitter based podcasts wikis” in class mentality too often seen in EduBlogosphere Land. Tools are tools and each has its place. This video shows the hypothetical meeting held to discuss changing from stone age technology to bronze age technology. You’ve got the reluctance you normally see (funny but […]


Creating a Safe Space: Hacking WP

60% of my teachers have been in our county for less than 3 years (and, most of these newcomers, have never worked with a 1 to 1 initiative). More than 40% of my teachers have put less than 3 years into this vocation. With this in mind, I have created a space, online, for teachers to discuss instruction, vocation, and solutions for our school. I hope it will be a community building experience that gives teachers as much time as they can to the process without having to commit to meetings. Following the lead of Alan Levine with Tom’s guidance, I started by sketching out my vision. I wanted a place that was password protected and required unique usernames for participation. This site would be a  safe place where teachers could speak their minds in a professional manner. At the same time, I wanted to foster open communication, so anonymous responses would not be an option. I didn’t want a traditional blog format. The U/I needed to be as intuitive as possible, and I wanted meta-data to be presented in a way that encourage conversation. I sketched up two different layouts and solicited some feedback from my faculty.    The overwhelming response was for the second layout. After sifting through themes that mirrored my sketch, I decided on Blue Earth. […]


Technology Mistakes

This question on the MACUL Ning space got me thinking (you may be wondering why I’m part of a Michigan edtech group when I live in VA- answer Ben Rimes). As a School Board Trustee in Lapeer Community Schools(6500 students) I am very excited about passing our first Bond in 34 years!!! With the passage were looking at $6,000,000 for technology. The big question now is…where do we spend the money and how do we get the biggest bang for our taxpayers hard earned dollars. Certainly we are involving the teachers, administration, students,etc…but I dont want to just dump computers and white boards in every class only to see them sitting in the corner not being used. Has anyone observed mistakes when purchasing technology, or have any success stories about implementing teachnology in their schools? So here’s my two cents based on my experience in Henrico county with our 1 to 1. It’s not exactly coherent or ordered but I think there’s some truth in there. Am I missing things? Too paranoid? Plain wrong? I think these concepts seem to get left behind or only partially implemented far too often. 1. Staff development– this isn’t just how to use the computer/white board etc. (although that is important) the focus should be on why you’d want to use it, ways to […]