Recently found … 12/30/2009

  • “For students and teachers, the Google Docs collection provides a streamlined, collaborative solution to writing papers, organizing presentations and putting together spreadsheets and reports. But besides the basic features, there are lots of little tricks and hacks you can use to make your Google Docs experience even more productive. Here are 100 great tips for using the documents, presentations and spreadsheets in Google Docs.”

    tags: google, docs, organization, collaboration, productivity, google docs

  • MyFoodapedia is a comprehensive food database brought to you by the USDA Center for Nutrition.

    tags: nutrition, food, calories, wellness, government

  • “The Art of Manliness proudly presents the “35 Greatest Speeches in World History,” the finest library of speeches available on the web. How did we compile this list?

    Great oratory has three components: style, substance, and impact.

    Style: A great speech must be masterfully constructed. The best orators are masters of both the written and spoken word, and use words to create texts that are beautiful to both hear and read.

    Substance: A speech may be flowery and charismatically presented, and yet lack any true substance at all. Great oratory must center on a worthy theme; it must appeal to and inspire the audience’s finest values and ideals.

    Impact: Great oratory always seeks to persuade the audience of some fact or idea. The very best speeches change hearts and minds and seem as revelatory several decades or centuries removed as when they were first given.”

    tags: history, politics, inspiration, speech, oration, speaking and listening, literacy

  • Why? Because … we can’t resist these headlines: “Babies Living on Board Titanic!” and “Redneck Vampire Attacks Trailer Park”

    tags: newspaper, news, google

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Another way to do High School?

Seth Godin‘s post from yesterday has been rolling around in my head:

It’s not the rats you need to worry about

If you want to know if a ship is going to sink, watch what the richest passengers do.

iTunes and file sharing killed Tower Records. The key symptom: the best customers switched. Of course people who were buying 200 records a year would switch. They had the most incentive. The alternatives were cheaper and faster mostly for the heavy users.

Amazon and the Kindle have killed the bookstore. Why? Because people who buy 100 or 300 books a year are gone forever. The typical American buys just one book a year for pleasure. Those people are meaningless to a bookstore. It’s the heavy users that matter, and now officially, as 2009 ends, they have abandoned the bookstore. It’s over.

When law firms started switching to fax machines, Fedex realized that the cash cow part of their business (100 or 1000 or more envelopes per firm per day) was over and switched fast to packages. Good for them.

If your ship is sinking, get out now. By the time the rats start packing, it’s way too late.

As we start 2010, the most important issue I am wrestling with: whether to continue sending my daughter to our local public high school. She’s not a typical student, and we’ve determined that less than 50% of her school day is spent in worthwhile learning (the rest is sheer compliance). An artist and musician, she is drowning under the worksheets (40 isolated algebra equations per night!), the “surprise” assignments due first thing tomorrow morning, and the minutes wasted during the school day traveling, copying, listening, and waiting.

As my kid struggles (and I know she’s not alone), I have to ask myself – is our “good enough” suburban public high school actually “good enough” anymore? Should we make the leap and find an alternative – now that one exists? Enter 21st Century Cyber Charter School … the only online PA school to make AYP in the last five years. It’s a mastery learning model that permits students to work at their own pace and is highly differentiated in the three ways that matter most (learning style, interest, readiness) . Kids who graduate from 21st CCC tend to be motivated, highly organized, and independent. My daughter attended the open house and after the presentation turned to me saying, “this is what I want. I can get my school work done quickly and take time off to write music or paint.” How can I argue?

Are there drawbacks? Sure … like I mentioned earlier – about 50% of the traditional school day isn’t bad. I worry about a teenager at home alone all day – will she really get up and focus on school while mom and dad are working? This kind of education isn’t for everyone.

And then I think of Seth Godin’s post (above). We are the “heavy users” of education. We ask a lot of our local school, and their inflexibility is no longer acceptable now that there is an alternative (and more alternatives are being devised every day). Why shouldn’t we take our tax dollars (and, I might add, our daughter’s nice “Advanced” score on the PSSA) and vote with our feet? When will the traditional “good enough” schools realize that they need to hold onto their heavy users?

I think the ship is beginning to sink …

Recently found … 12/29/2009

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Learning and Working in the Collaborative Age

Very interesting video (well worth 10 minutes) from Randy Nelson of Pixar University. In it he describes how to determine if graduates have the skills for 21st century employment:

Pixar harnesses the principles of improv:
1) accept every offer (because every offer can go one of two ways: somewhere, or nowhere – which is better?)
2) make your partner look good (true collaboration)

raises the question of depth based hiring …
-how to hire? most interesting jobs involve doing something that’s never been done before
-need something to determine future success … need a parallel/predictor of success of failure recovery, resilience, adaptability:
What are those predictors?
-mastery in previous activity is a good predictor of mastery in a new activity (proof in the portfolio vs promise in the resume)
-someone who is more interested than interesting
-involves translation; it’s a destination, not a source
-requires outside affirmation from someone saying “I understand”
4) (most important of all) COLLABORATION:
-NOT simple cooperation – that matters, but a cooperative enterprise (á la assembly line) is not optimized by people working together
-must in result amplification – people interested and listening to each other to create something new and better

I find this fourth the most interesting: how many activities do we assign students with the label “collaborative” when in fact, we are just asking them to cooperate?

Recently found … 12/24/2009

  • “To track Santa, visit starting at 2am ET on Christmas Eve. There, you’ll see a Google Map that will display Santa’s location over the course of the day. To visualize Santa in Google Earth, just click “Track Santa in Google Earth” and you’ll see St. Nick flying through Google Earth in your browser. If you don’t have the Earth plug-in, click here — it will be installed automatically when you download Google Earth 5.1.”

    tags: holidays, santa, christmas, geography, google

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Recently found … 12/22/2009

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Recently found … 12/21/2009

  • “Hotseat, a social networking-powered mobile Web application, creates a collaborative classroom, allowing students to provide near real-time feedback during class and enabling professors to adjust the course content and improve the learning experience. Students can post messages to Hotseat using their Facebook or Twitter accounts, sending text messages, or logging in to the Hotseat Web site.”

    tags: collaboration, social media, twitter, instructional strategies

  • “The purpose of is to increase public access to high value, machine readable datasets generated by the Executive Branch of the Federal Government. Although the initial launch of provides a limited portion of the rich variety of Federal datasets presently available, we invite you to actively participate in shaping the future of by suggesting additional datasets and site enhancements to provide seamless access and use of your Federal data. “

    tags: data, government, statistics, research, social studies

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Recently found … 12/20/2009

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Recently found … 12/18/2009

  • “The education brains here at Scholastic have named 10 Big Ideas in Education from the first decade of the 21st Century–10 groundbreaking ideas that changed the landscape of American Education.
    -alternate paths to teaching
    -transformative technology
    -data-driven instruction
    -charter schools
    -the rise of digital content
    -focus on adolescent literacy
    -books are the new black
    -it takes a village
    -the American recovery & reinvestment act”

    tags: educational reform

  • “This First Look report presents data from a fall 2008 district Fast Response Survey System (FRSS) survey on the availability and use of educational technology. This includes information on networks and Internet capacity, technology policies, district-provided resources, teacher professional development, and district-level leadership for technology. “

    tags: educational technology, NCES

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.