Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Students Aren't Anecdotes, They Are People

I was in my first full year teaching at one of the rougher junior high schools in the city. It was the year Tupac and Biggie both got popped, and the ominous feeling that violence was right around the corner lay on the campus and community like a thick fog. I lost a handful of students that year. Some were killed, and many times death was communicated to me with a great nonchalance. Others did the killing and disappeared into the justice system. The students had seen so much violence and many expected that to be the way they went, sooner rather than later.

There was one girl I have told stories about over the years. I will refer to her as Dee. She was roughhewn, aggressive and funny in her own way. I didn't realize it at the time, but she quoted the movie Friday almost every time she opened her mouth. She rarely came to school, when she did she was obviously high. I know she was searched on more than one occasion, with no contraband in her possession. But her drug use was written on her heavy eyelids, and many times on the reek of smoke that permeated her. I never knew her story, why she was missing school or any details of her life. Dee was just that girl that showed up roughly a third of the time, and when she did she was stoned.

But I did have that story about Dee.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Why I Don't Like Digital Learning Day

Admission: the title is a little clickbaity.

I love digital learning and have built my classroom and career on Instructional Technology and would plug my brain directly into the
Internet if I could. I think that we have a tools to change the world with modern Information Technology and we have to teach our students to use those tools in a world in flux.

But whenever I hear talk about Digital Learning Day (DLD), I think of some of the arguments I have heard to end Black History Month. These arguments usually posit that the role of African Americans in our country is too great to relegate to one month. Black History is an integral part of learning American History. The story of African Americans is one of the important facets of the story of Americans as a whole. But relegating it to a particular month, we are segregating and labeling it as a subset of the bigger picture.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Thoughts on Wearables, particularly SmartWatches

Yesterday was Apple's grand unveiling of their new watch offerings, that has people both praising and mocking the concept. The new Apple watch is impressively designed with the sort of polish to the interface we have come to expect from Apple and iOS.

But do you need a watch that interfaces with your phone? That seems to be the question. Being an Android guy, the iWatch (Apple Watch? aWatch?) will not be for me, but for the last three months I have been the proud owner of a Moto360 that is paired with my (still) trusty Nexus 5. I have never been much for watches and since cell phones became de rigueur I have always had the equivalent of a pocket watch, but I wanted the Moto360 when I saw it. So my wife bought it for me for Christmas from CostCo so I could have a nice long return window and it has changed the way I use my phone and made my relationship with my technology more personal (who knew that was possible?) and visceral.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Test Driving Weo.io: the "simple" LMS

On r/edtech last week, some developers wanted to get some people test driving their new LMS, Weo. Always a sucker for a good LMS, I decided to give it a spin.