Doug Johnson @ TEDxASB

How did I miss these TEDx Talks? Guess I had my head down “in the trenches” when they were posted, but I truthfully don’t even remember reading about them!

In March of last year, several of my favorite thinkers spoke at the American School of Bombay, and the resulting videos are posted at the bottom of this page as reference. The theme of TEDxASB was Identity, and (one of my professional heroes) Doug Johnson‘s 18 minutes are embedded below–he muses about how our “digital natives'” identity must change what we do as educators.

The part that resonates with me is near the end of Doug’s presentation, when he recounts Clay Shirky’s story about bringing home a huge new LCD TV for his family. His young daughter, rather than being impressed, immediately asked, “Where’s the mouse?”

Engagement rather than entertainment is what our students demand from schools. Johnson’s challenge to us is that we all create a environments in our classrooms, libraries, schools that foster engagement–active interest. Our kids deserve that.

I wonder if my library program is engaging to all my students. I don’t really think it is. I know for certain that it isn’t for some students–especially those who are so thoroughly unengaged in the entire school experience.

What does that look like in an elementary library with a fixed schedule? I’d love to hear from others what they think!

Here are the other great TEDxASB presentations. They are all very much worth your time and thought! These are some amazing people! Engaging and entertaining! 🙂


Access Justified

Working in a district that typically employs what Wes Fryer refers to as “draconian” filtering policies, I am acutely aware of the frustrations caused by such uber-control. Our students can’t access any sites labeled by the filtering company as “social forums,” making it impossible for them to utilize Flickr, Voicethread, Glogster, Animoto, Google Books, public wikis/blogs or any number of web resources that could engage them and make their learning tasks more authentic, or current.

Recently, however, the district has begun to loosen the reigns on teacher logins, finally treating us slightly more like professionals than kindergarten students. Of course, even we can’t access YouTube at school, even the entirely appropriate videos that might provide a rich resource for our students. Whether this restriction is for reasons of limited bandwidth or mistrust, I am not certain–perhaps I should give “them” the benefit of the doubt on this. Interestingly, teachers are now able to access Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, etc.–although we have been trained by the district that actually USING those tools at school is discouraged, as that would be unprofessional–as if banal posts are the only posts possible on Twitter. Go figure. They obviously do not connect with the people that I do on Twitter–professional educators who collaborate and enrich each others lives daily, and in real time, through this “dangerous” and “frivolous” social forum!

I relate this story because this past week, one of our administrators found that her access to Facebook was a crucial link in defusing a cyberbullying situation that popped up with some of our 5th graders.* Because she could access Facebook and determine that a threatening message had indeed been posted, she was able to deal with the bullying and confer with parents of the students involved before the situation spiraled out of control. She later came to me and voiced her relief that she is now able to use this tool. I asked her to please remember this situation, and to talk about it with her peers in administration. Slowly, I hope that the message might spread, that social networking and social learning is not inherently bad. Students and adults are going to make mistakes in its use, but if we adults aren’t in the mix with the kids, how are we ever going to guide them to make better choices and learn from their mistakes?

*Yes, we all know that 5th graders aren’t old enough to legally use Facebook–and we’ve discussed this fact with them and with their parents–but we also know that they use it anyway. Many of them have accounts that their parents set up for them, according to a recent informal survey that I did with our students.

Community Outreach to the MAX!

Wow! What an amazing example of effective community outreach! This gives me so many ideas! Kudos to Starkville, Mississippi’s schools!

Starkville School District “Believe” from Broadcast Media Group on Vimeo.

Sir Ken Robinson on The Element

I discovered Sir Ken Robinson through my PLN a couple of year ago, and he is one of the people that I most love listening to and learning from. What a mind he has. I would love to hear him at a conference one of these days. He’s very eloquent and always makes me think differently about the world.

The video below supports his latest book, The Element, and in it, Robinson explores what element it is that elevates us to greatness. He contends that those who have a passion for our job are the more successful and fulfilled. Our task as educators is to connect our kids to their passions and engage them through those passions. Sounds a lot like a differentiated modern classroom to me–a goal/dream for many of us.

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