Sunday, November 11, 2007

Not enough answers

12:00 flashingDiscovery Education Streaming has a monthly newsletter that (I'm assuming) they mail out to all the DEN members. This month's newsletter seemed rather brief (perhaps I'm just confusing it with a different monthly email from Discovery - one that had Steve Dembo's picks in it), but the thing that got me was a survey question near the end:
1. Which statement best matches your relationship with Educational Technology?
*I have it working right now, so don't touch anything.
*Blogs, RSS, Web 2.0, Wiki - that's what I do before school starts.
*My VCR still flashes "12:00," but it works just fine.

There you go- that was the only question, those were the only answers.

When I'm teaching, I'll often have kids ask me "Can I go to the bathroom?"

My answer is usually along the lines of "I don't know. Can you?" Then in response to their confused expressions I tell them "You have to ask the right question to get the right answer."

Granted, there's a big difference between a 3rd grader who doesn't know the difference between "can" and "may" and Discovery Education - but in both cases I don't think they've asked the right question. Or, more accurately, I don't think they've provided the right answers.

ConfusedI know a lot of teachers who could look at that survey, answer it, and move on without wondering about it at all. Four(?) years ago, I would have proudly selected the second answer. (At the time I didn't think it was a good idea for students to be given blogs as school assignments. How wrong I was!)

But I've gone beyond that. I do have students using wikis, blogs, and all kinds of cool stuff in the classroom. When new ideas come out, I want to hear about them and try them out. I'm not saying this to pump up my already over-inflated ego, because I know there are others like me who are pulling it off even better than I ever could. (I'm looking at you, Mr. Eric Langhorst! Let us know how those new iRivers work out.)

So you see, my problem with the survey question is that there's no answer I can pick that fits what I do with technology, and I know a lot of people who are in the same boat.

Maybe I'm not Discovery Education Streaming's target audience, I don't know.

I wouldn't think this was worth a whole blog post, especially one as long as this one's becoming, if I wasn't seeing this all the time in education. I've had more than one employer over the years, and in most cases they were more than happy to get you up to a level that allowed you to copy, paste, and find Microsoft Office on your hard drive. "Advanced" classes showed you how to input pictures into a word document. (I actually attended one of those, and will speak no more about it other than that the presenter asked me how to open PowerPoint.)

And true, a lot of digital immigrants need classes like that - but that's just the starting point and if we don't go on then our students will surpass us in the "how-tos" without ever learning the "whys" or "shoulds."

PUWT ConferenceI suppose that's another reason why I'm looking forward to this weekend's Powering Up With Technology conference. There I'll find educators on every level of the technology spectrum, but we'll all have one thing in common.

It won't matter if our VCRs are flashing 12:00, our current tech is working, or we love to use blogs, wikis, rss, and more outside (and inside!) the classroom.

Every single one of us at that conference will be there because we want to do more.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Build My Presentation!

As I mentioned in my last post, I'll be presenting at next weekend's Powering Up With Technology conference. My topic of choice this year involves using cameras in the classroom.

Any classroom.

Now I've used cameras to help me teach all kinds of subject areas, and I have ideas for even more ways to use them, but I also know a lot of you have used digital cameras in your classrooms in ways that I haven't.

So I would like your input. If you have a moment, please check out my Digital Photography in Any Classroom wiki and see what I've left out.

I'm not asking for you to complete everything, of course, but if you have a lesson idea that worked well I'd love to hear about it. Hey, if the results of that lesson (or at least an example) are posted online, why not just add in a link to wherever they are?

I fully intend to continue editing this wiki up until (and including) (and past) the day of my presentation, but I would love to stand up there and tell my audience that the resource I'm providing was not just written by myself.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

I'm in!

Just got this in my email today, and I'm very, very happy about it.
Aaron Smith

We are really looking forward to your presentation at the Powering Up With Technology Conference on Saturday, November 17, 2007. Registration will begin at 7:30 a.m. You are scheduled to present Digital Photography in Any Classroom in Classroom E 314 from 12:15-1:15. A computer and projection device will be provided in each room. You will also receive a continental breakfast and a complimentary box lunch.

This year our conference will again be held at Northwestern High School, 7000 Adelphi Road, Hyattsville, Maryland 20782, 301-985-1820. Northwestern High School will be available for a trial run Friday, Nov. 16th from 5-8pm and for set up Saturday Nov. 17th from 6:30 am.

The conference schedule on Saturday, November 17th:

7:30 - 8:15 Registration
8:15 - 9:15 1st Concurrent Session
9:30 - 11:00 Introductions & Keynote Address
11:15 - 12:15 Lunch & Vendor Walk
12:15 - 1:15 2nd Concurrent Session
12:15 - 2:30 2 Hour Hands-on Session
1:30 - 2:30 3rd Concurrent Session
2:45 - 3:45 4th Concurrent Session
4:00 - 4:30 Prize drawings in the Auditorium

A hospitality area will be set up in the Media Center where coffee and light refreshments will be available and materials may be stored.

This year, we would like to make conference handouts and presentations available online after the conference. If you would like your materials posted, please email them to PGCPS.PoweringUp [at]


Exit Beltway at New Hampshire Ave/Rt. 650, South, towards Takoma Park. Continue on New Hampshire Ave. to Adelphi Rd. and turn left. Continue on Adelphi Rd., cross University Blvd and pass the University of Maryland. Continue on Adelphi Rd. to school on the right.

I look forward to a very successful conference.

If you have any additional needs or concerns please contact me at: Christo.Fuller [at] or 301-386-1608 ext. 2250

Christopher Fuller
Conference Chairperson