Pulling the Thread

This week I heard Will Richardson speak at the Mohonk Mountain House.

I have to thank Will for putting the Web 2.0 social networking technologies in a context that opened my eyes to the opportunities they offer to educators. He asked us two important questions, “Who are your teachers?” and “Do your students know how you learn?” These are important if you believe, as I do , that becoming a life long learner is a key outcome of a public education today.

I felt pretty good about this since I presently have two incredible teachers in my life. The first, Thomas White, CEO of Profoundly Simple, works with me over the phone each week. Once a quarter I travel to Chicago to work with him in person.

I am also a fifth year student of Aikido. I began studying Aikido to improve my leadership effectiveness. I learned about Aikido and its relationship to leadership through Richard Strozzi-Heckler, founder of the Strozzi Institute.

My teacher for the last four years has been Douglas Firestone, known among some of his students as the “happy sensei”. Both of these teachers are at the heart of my success. They are tremendous teachers because they are exemplars of learning. They “do”, they “practice” and they”teach”.

I came home from the session at Mohonk excited about familiarizing myself with the Web 2.0. I set up RSS feeds from the blogs of people I respect and subscribed to De.licio.us and Flickr. But that was the tip of the iceberg. I found a social web browser Flock and the more I pulled on the thread the more I found:

Suprglu
HearHear
Blinklist
digg
Fark
Netvouz
reddit
Simpy
Tailrank
Technorati

I think what has really caught me off guard is the powerful sharing going on within these social networks. The Creative Commons really exemplifies what is happening on the Web 2.0 today.

This has tremendous implications for learning. Will gave an excellent example. As a learner, rather than read a textbook or an article from a master teacher, I can subscribe to that master teacher’s blog and keep up with what he is thinking and teaching on a daily basis. I can also see what he is reading by accessing his shared bookmarks in de.licio.us and his photos in flickr. More importantly, through his blogroll, I can access his teachers and their blogs, and their teachers, and so on.

The more I pull on the thread the further down the rabbit hole I go.

Pete

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Will Richardson’s blog post about the Mohon Leadership Retreat

Live Blog of Will’s Session

Will’s Presentation Links

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10 thoughts on “Pulling the Thread

  1. It has been a week since the Mohonk meeting of the TLI. It may be true that I was the only school Principal in attendance. With that mindset, I find myself thinking it is a privilege to be exposed to visionaries. The trick is to take what has been learned and apply it to a less visionary world. November is generally a month of grant writing and I have considered the following: an evening program that allows ELLs to use our SuccessMaker software to strengthen students’ native language, through both reading comprehension and mathematics (Vamos a Leer and Math Concepts in Spanish). Not a bad concept for us because this has nothing to do with improving students’ ELA (although transference is the endgame). This simple idea is a result of a conversation with Madalyn Kozlow and Mike Kohlhagen on a walk to the lighthouse, overlooking the great valley below. I also wrote to Gary Stager and a contact at Explore Learning and have conceptualized a semester long after school enrichment program that includes digital photography; spacial and geometric concepts through software; robotics through either Gizmos or Leggos; and either creating music through software or using a soldering gun to create 3-dimensional figures. Gary Stager’s comments on using technology without reliance on Microsoft Office really stuck in my mind. The challenge is to make it apply to the 3-5 graders. I will also write a grant to develop a weekly or bi-monthly television program for mathematics instruction featuring students from grades 3-5. We will use the smartboard to cover topics from the 7 standards and subskills, with a live audience of approximately 5-7 students, equipped with lapel mics. We will cover problems that have traditionally caused our students the most difficulty, which can be easily substantiated via Data Warehouse. Data Mentor will allow us to cut and paste easily, thus supporting a more modern approach. If done properly, this will be fun and serve many purposes to support math instruction and the good work going on in our district. Plus, what parent/grandparent does not want to see their child on television? Finally, I am considering a district-wide Math Team. I expect it will be if I am given permission to do so. At the elementary level, this could be a lot of fun and constructivist in nature. One might ask what some of these ideas have to do with Mohonk? I think you know the value of freedom of thought and exchange of ideas. Peter, what you can do for me is to bring me into the world you are speaking about in your comments above. I could use a tutor to help me negotiate the world of blogs, wikis and all the possible avenues to get into this new world that we were exposed to. None of us will have the time. We will have to make the time (it is midnight). Is there a spell check to this?? Good night, and thanks again for Mohonk. Lou

  2. I too have listened to Will Richardson and visited many of the sites to which he refers people. I have his book and have used it extensively to teach others. I believe, once we can find a balance between “open” communication and “protected” communication, we can use wikis and blogs with all of our young students, without fear.

    One caution I wish to impart.
    I have reviewed and used a number of startup sites this past year such as those listed in this posting. All were very useful and quite remarkable. However, many have a tendency to be “Beta” by definition, and disappear. Some, even released as full-blown systems, will not stand the test of time.

    It was disappointing to me to point numerous educators to a nice audio production site only to have it taken down within a year. We found an alternative, but it too says “beta” in its header, leaving doubts about its longevity. Several sites in Will’s book no longer operate.

    We need to be cautious as we experiment that we do not commit production elements of classroom instruction to sites that may go away at a moment’s notice. This may be a real message about change, but it is a tough one when the tools are means toward instructional goals that must then be modified or changed too!

    Of the list from Will’s teachings that I see here, I would venture a guess that better than 80% will be gone by Christmas of 2007.

    And yet I like most of them and see useful purposes for them!

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  4. The Web 2.0 concept of content creation and sharing, as well as the building of individual learning networks, is very relevant to us in education. Primarily, it is a social network that we are re-purposing. Whether or not the specific tools stick around, and whether or not these tools are appropriate for kids is open to debate. The benefit of learning and sharing with trusted masters, like yourself, is not.

  5. Dear Peter:

    I do appreciate your willingness to work with me to get started in the use of blogs and other educational/informative ways to use this end of modern technology.

    I did write those grants during this month (inspired by the LTI conference).

    Lou

    Happy Thanksgiving.

  6. Dear Peter:

    I wanted to take a moment to tell you about a meeting I attended earlier this week.

    We had our monthly Tech Committee meeting and both Michael and George presented to our group.

    Michael and George were just great in their discussion and support of our district’s plans. I am the one who is blessed with three years of Mohonk meetings, so I know how far we have all come, from vision to planning to reality.

    Anyway, I just wanted you to know how wonderful it felt to be able to listen to and witness the vision and plans for our district.

    I hope you are well.

    Lou Cuglietto
    JFK

  7. I went to Mohonk for the first time this year. It was a rewarding experience and I am greatful to be part of the LHRIC which made the sessions possible. A comment that was made by a district technology leader summed up the whole experience….”I am considered an expert in my district regarding technology. I came to Mohonk and realized how little I know and how much more I have to learn”. Reading these posts and others reminds me that there is so much to learn and so many ways to do it. Wikis, blogs etc. and the links Pete mentioned are all ways to help in the process of life long learning.
    Thanks for the opportunity.

    Madalyn

  8. Sorry about Paxil. How did that get in there??

    Peter, I had a great conversation with both Leslie Accardo and Mary Lynn Collins last week on Educational Leadership, as it applies to Principal’s supporting Technology instruction. You should be very proud of both of them, as representatives of your organization and as extremely bright colleagues.

    Found out today that an article we wrote to Educational Leadership was accepted for their March publication. I wish we could collaborate on an article. Pick a topic… There are plenty to choose from.

    Happy Holidays.

    Lou

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