Thursday, February 12, 2009 My New Favorite Thing

I love TED, but my new love is FORA (as in Now before anyone gets any weird vibes, I am not referring to people. Of course, TED is the website that shows videos from the annual TED Conferences that brings together the world's greatest minds in technology, entertainment, and design. Well, move over TED (I still like ya), but FORA has some of the most interesting, intellectually stimulating, and entertaining talks on the web. The talks are wide ranging and are hosted by various organizations. I showed the following clip to my students that elicited a wonderful discussion about what should and should not be posted on the internet:

Another part of FORA that I like, which is temporarily unavailable, is the myFORA and ThinkTank sections of the website. You can save videos and invite others to see your favorites in the myFORA section. The ThinkTanks allow you to create a playlist from various videos related to a certain topic. For example, I could have a ThinkTank on talks related to social media, or American history, or any number of specific topics. Hopefully, FORA will reinstate those features soon.

I will end with one of my favorite talks. Mike Rowe, the star of the Discovery Channel show Dirty Jobs, gave a talk entitled, "Reclaiming Our 'Dirty Jobs'--Discovery, Realization, and Lamb Castration" about how modern society has a lot to learn from ordinary people who work unglamorous "dirty jobs". I did not show this to my students, even though it has a great message.

Check out You will not be disappointed.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Four of my students took part in the Student Showcase at PETE&C today at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center. They demonstrated a project entitled Writing4History. W4H is an attempt to get my students to:

  1. WRITE for an authentic audience.
  2. CREATE something so interesting that someone (other than just their parents) will purchase it.
  3. THINK creatively and be persistent in solving ambiguous problems.
  4. COLLABORATE with their classmates so the collective talents of the class allows the creation of something that no one student, no matter how talented, could create on their own.
  5. OWN the process and outcome.
  6. BENEFIT others by contributing all proceeds to charity.
Now, understand that I realize that#2 is a lofty goal. However, we need to have teachers and students THINK BIG.

If only parents and grandparents purchase the books then at the very least students will get a sense of accomplishment for publishing their own book, the book will last years longer than typical school work, and a charity will get a few extra bucks from the mental perspiration of teenagers.

Here is the slideshow that was used at the Student Showcase.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

See You at PETEandC

I'm looking forward to learning and networking at the PETE&C educational technology conference this week in Hershey.

Monday will be my day to attend sessions. I am particularly looking forward to seeing how I can better use Moodle and other free Web 2.0 tools in my classroom. I am hoping to find a gem or two from these sessions. A session that I will be attending virtually will be the "Results of Web 2.0 Tools in the Classroom" session about the Harrisburg University class I took this summer. Andy Petroski and Jim Gates will be using parts of a video I made with my responses to questions related to the course and how I have implemented web 2.0 tools in my class.

Tuesday will be the day that my students will participate in the student showcase from 9:45 to 12:00. They will be showcasing their collaborative writing project Writing 4 History, where they are currently in the process of finishing four books to be published on My day will be spent with the students, so I will be unable to attend any sessions. Besides the student showcase, the biggest highlight for me on Tuesday will be the Opening Keynote by Daniel Pink.

Between 9:45 and 10:45 I will be helping with the session "A Journey to Improve Teaching and Student Learning" in the Crystal A room. This session is about how Hershey Middle School is implementing a progressive technology initiative by facilitating technology coaching, professional development, research based teaching strategies, and open source tools with 1:1 classrooms to improve writing and thinking across the curriculum.