Archive | February, 2012

GET OUTTA TOWN: From The Daily Beast

29 Feb

32,000-Year-Old Dead Plant Revived
The narrow-leafed campion sure looks good for being dead for 32,000 years. The Arctic flower—stored by a squirrel in a burrow in Siberia, and permanently frozen until uncovered a few years ago—was used by Russian scientists to grow a plant. The researchers took cells from the plant’s placenta (the organ inside the fruit that produces seeds) and grew them in culture dishes. If the study’s radiocarbon dating is to be trusted (it will most definitely be quadruple-checked by an independent group), this will be the oldest plant ever to be grown from ancient tissue. What will scientists do next? Study evolution in real time using the old and new campion plants.

Read it on the New York Times:

Originally Published: February 20, 2012 8:12 PM

More Pinterest

27 Feb

I noticed this post while scanning my twitter feed tonight. Very applicable given the day’s conversation:

37 Ways Teachers Should Use Pinterest – Best Colleges Online.

Another Tutorial:

Pinterest for Education

27 Feb

This weekend, my wife spent some time creating decorative tiles to be used as coasters throughout our house.  A few months ago, she found an old wooden ladder that has become a picture frame holder, which is now mounted on a wall in our living room.  The appearance of these, among other projects springing to life in our house, have coincided with what seems like an addictive tool for her and most of her friends, Pinterest.

Pinterest is an online bulletin board; another social networking tool used to share ideas and preferences.  What is different about Pinterest, though, is that it is very visual.

We were talking about Pinterest the other night, and Megan mentioned how one of her friends is using it as a professional development tool–to share ideas and resources.  This tool, which so many of you may be using already, can be used to organize your thoughts, ideas, professional development and network with other educators trying to accomplish similar goals.  Click the link below for Principal Eric Sheninger‘s exploration of this topic.

A Principal’s Reflections: Exploring the Educational Value of Pinterest.

See the SlideShare below for an introduction to Pinterest.


View more presentations from Michael Litman

The Textbook. Reinvented for iPad.

20 Feb

This is an advertisement from Apple for a new innovation to their iBooks app. I mentioned the idea of interactive textbooks in one of my previous posts, and this video helps explains Apple’s vision. It really is exciting, especially when you see some of the giant text book publishers on board and expressing their agreement. Traditionally, they have been hesitant because they did not see the cost benefit to their industry.


Vodpod videos no longer available.

Remaining Awake Through A Great Revolution

18 Feb

Remaining Awake Through A Great Revolution

The link above is the audio file and below is an excerpt of a sermon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave at the National Cathedral on March 31, 1968.  The content is as applicable today, on many levels, as it was then.  In addition to the content he provides, just hearing his voice, his rhythm, his oratory style is enthralling to me.  Please see the questions below for your replies or comments.

How does this excerpt speak to you?

How is his sentiment applicable to today?

What does this have to do with education?

I need not pause to say how very delighted I am to be here this morning, to have the opportunity of standing in this very great and significant pulpit. And I do want to express my deep personal appreciation to Dean Sayre and all of the cathedral clergy for extending the invitation.

It is always a rich and rewarding experience to take a brief break from our day-to-day demands and the struggle for freedom and human dignity and discuss the issues involved in that struggle with concerned friends of goodwill all over our nation. And certainly it is always a deep and meaningful experience to be in a worship service. And so for many reasons, I’m happy to be here today.

I would like to use as a subject from which to preach this morning: “Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution.” The text for the morning is found in the book of Revelation. There are two passages there that I would like to quote, in the sixteenth chapter of that book: “Behold I make all things new; former things are passed away.”

I am sure that most of you have read that arresting little story from the pen of Washington Irving entitled “Rip Van Winkle.” The one thing that we usually remember about the story is that Rip Van Winkle slept twenty years. But there is another point in that little story that is almost completely overlooked. It was the sign in the end, from which Rip went up in the mountain for his long sleep.

When Rip Van Winkle went up into the mountain, the sign had a picture of King George the Third of England. When he came down twenty years later the sign had a picture of George Washington, the first president of the United States. When Rip Van Winkle looked up at the picture of George Washington—and looking at the picture he was amazed—he was completely lost. He knew not who he was.

And this reveals to us that the most striking thing about the story of Rip Van Winkle is not merely that Rip slept twenty years, but that he slept through a revolution. While he was peacefully snoring up in the mountain a revolution was taking place that at points would change the course of history—and Rip knew nothing about it. He was asleep. Yes, he slept through a revolution. And one of the great liabilities of life is that all too many people find themselves living amid a great period of social change, and yet they fail to develop the new attitudes, the new mental responses, that the new situation demands. They end up sleeping through a revolution.

There can be no gainsaying of the fact that a great revolution is taking place in the world today. In a sense it is a triple revolution: that is, a technological revolution, with the impact of automation and cybernation; then there is a revolution in weaponry, with the emergence of atomic and nuclear weapons of warfare; then there is a human rights revolution, with the freedom explosion that is taking place all over the world. Yes, we do live in a period where changes are taking place. And there is still the voice crying through the vista of time saying, “Behold, I make all things new; former things are passed away.”

Now whenever anything new comes into history it brings with it new challenges and new opportunities. And I would like to deal with the challenges that we face today…

Click Here for Full Sermon Text

City Rivals Band Together for Student Population

17 Feb

Traditionally competing schools banded together to improve their students’ reading performance through sharing and collaboration. Chelsea Clinton reports on Rock Center about these schools in Rhode Island. The following is the most compelling to me.1. The students’ ability to state the reading strategies they use and what they mean.2. The interviewed teachers’ willingness and passion for working together for the benefit of the city’s children.This school is finding success through collaboration, sharing, and being open to new ideas; a true success story in an environment that is not.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Questioning Your Assumptions

16 Feb

It is important to reflect about the assumptions we make about our students.  It is inevitable; part of our job is to anticipate students’ thinking and their feelings, and to be successful at this task, we must sometimes assume.  But, as Margaret Berry Wilson explains in her thoughts below, it is also important to reflect about your assumptions and be sure that those assumptions are as accurate as possible.  She wrote this post for the New Year, but it is equally valuable now as it was then.



Questioning Your Assumptions

by Margaret Berry Wilson on December 28, 2011
students raising their hands to answer a question

Winter break can provide teachers a bit of time and space to reflect on how the school year has gone so far, and to decide what adjustments to make in January. This year, in addition to thinking about classroom routines and procedures, progress toward learning goals (for yourself and your students), and so forth, I encourage you to take some time to consider the assumptions you’ve made about your students.

We can’t help but make assumptions. We judge students continually based on what they say, how they behave, the way they respond when they are upset, and all sorts of other clues they give us each day in school. But sometimes the conclusions we draw are wrong.

I learned this lesson during my second year of teaching, when a gift from a first grader spurred me to question my assumptions about him. In December of that year, this student was one I wasn’t sure I was reaching. He was often quiet, sometimes sad, and easily frustrated. His frustration was often directed at me, as I tried to help him move forward socially and academically. Because he was so often angry at me, I assumed that he didn’t like me or school, and that my efforts to help him had failed so far.

However, after dismissal for winter break, this student lingered behind in our classroom and shyly pulled a small pinewood derby car from his backpack. He told me he wanted me to have it because it was the most special thing he had, and therefore, the best gift he could give me. I realized this was the car he’d told us he’d spent hours making with his mom, the one that had won his Boy Scout troop’s pinewood derby race. Of course, I tried to give it back, but I quickly sensed that I was hurting his feelings by doing so. So I kept the gift, which sits in a place of honor on my bookshelf to this day.

I was surprised by this child’s gift and by the feelings that were clearly attached to it. I had wrongly assumed that frustration was all he felt towards me. However, the truth was that his feelings were much more complicated. Even though it was frustrating for him, he understood that when I pushed him to do more, encouraged him to stick with tasks that were difficult, or held him to a high standard, I did so for his benefit. I had misjudged him.

Children and their behaviors are often more complicated than what appears on the surface. One might assume that a child who is fidgety and seems distracted during whole-group instruction isn’t paying attention, but sometimes it turns out that she can repeat what was said almost verbatim. Or it might seem that a child who frequently questions or refuses to follow your directions dislikes school. But questioning authority may be his way of figuring out the world. A child with a strong sense of justice and fairness can exhibit what seems like defiant behavior.

So, as you enjoy some well-deserved rest during this winter break, take some time to think about your students. Are there some you don’t know as well as others? Are there some whose relationships with you or their classmates seem troubled? What assumptions have you made about them? As you rejoin your class in the New Year, try to look at your students with fresh eyes. I’d love to hear what you find out.

Textbooks: Now and Later

14 Feb

Without a doubt, textbooks are changing.  Below is a digital representation outlining and highlighting some of the most outstanding innovations occurring in the textbook world.  There is a portion in Part 4: Reinventing the Textbook, that stood out the most to me – Interactive textbooks.  What more could we ask for at the primary level?  The experience could eliminate the need for both workbooks and textbooks while also making learning more accessible and engaging.

The Digital Classroom
Via: Accredited Online Universities Guide

Students Acting as Salman Kahn of Kahn Academy

7 Feb

BYOD Class Takes Their Learning to YouTube — THE Journal.

Click the link above to read an interesting article about students making instructional videos for each other.  Teacher Vito Ferrante began creating his own instructional videos to help students and parents solve and understand mathematics problems.  Met with great success, he expanded his practice and garnered greater praise when his students began explaining their thinking via videos of their own.

The most notable piece of this practice is that he did not stop  here.  He asks the students to proceed one step more, further evaluating their process and thinking; they create, critique, and collaborate.


Questions to Consider:

1. How could we use this at the primary level?

2. Can we garner similar support from parents and families?

3. What format could be used that is appropriate for our students?

Personalization in Action

6 Feb

I am always in pursuit of a quality video that helps describe or define my expectations. This video does just that. Pay close attention to the specific vocabulary the students are using in their demonstrations. It is straight forward and simple to identify at least some of the learning goals this teacher had in mind when she asked her students to complete this task. Enjoy!


Vodpod videos no longer available.