Science History

On Friday morning I leave home early and meet some guys for breakfast. I have been doing this for essentially my entire career. It coincides exactly with the broadcast of the weekly Storycorps project on the radio. Most days I would rather hear the news. But every now and again these are gems.

I teach in a school that does not yet celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day. If you, like me, would like to somehow celebrate the day while you teach science, the story of Ronald McNair offers a great opportunity. 

Google URL Shortening and Bonus QR Codes

This week we will be brainstorming classroom uses of URL shortening, along with a bonus advertisement for QR codes. Both offer you the chance to do some learning analytics and just in time teaching. I have not gotten a physical news paper in a long time, but this Sunday I was at my parent's house and all through the automobile section were QR codes. Making short URLs and QR codes has never been easier. I will show you how to make short URLs and QR codes. We will also explore how educators are using them. How could we use them? Comment at the event or on the comments below.

Update: Here is a link to the video of the presentation and conversation.

Update 2: Here is a great QR Code infographic (via @dkuropatwa).


During Christmas vacation I have a tradition of doing something different professionally. I hole up in the basement or in a coffee shop and work on a tangentially professional activity. Last year I wrote an article. This year that activity required a video and part of challenging myself was to create the video in GarageBand. I loved it.

Apple's own tutorials are a great place to start. I think they hit the nail on the head with the real power of GarageBand: their first four tutorials say it all: make a song, capture a performance, create a podcast and score a movie. These reasons made it powerful for me.

Atomic learning (which our teachers can access at school) also has great tutorials, and a digital storytelling guide.

How will you empower student expression with GarageBand?

I might have the confidence to share my project after March 1.

A note to my out of district readers. Every week we offer Tech Tips and Treats on Wednesday. It is an optional short introduction or reminder of a technology available to teachers and students followed by brainstorming how the technology could be used to enhance learning. A recent survey of my faculty showed a need for an online component to the training, which seems obvious but before was limited to some little trafficked moodle pages. Since then we have been trying to expand options for teacher who prefer to explore on their own. This post is one of those opportunities. As often as possible the meetings are aired and archived at our ustream channel.

Are we educating for now or later?

I have read two articles in the last 24 hours that ask the same question, I think from possible completely unrelated sources. Read them both.

To me these article articulate so clearly a question I have struggled to put words to. What is the best education? Does it prepare kids for now with standards written by older people who know what made them successful or does it prepare them for the future that has unknowable standards other than it will be filled with creative, broken, and communal people?

A theologian I follow was evidently a Teach For America participant. I did not know this. He was at their 20th Anniversary Conference and picked this quote out of the opening session from Wendy Kopp,
In aggregate, we have not seen a meaningful closure of the achievement gap. Where a child is born still very accurately predicts whether she’ll ever have a shot at college…there are still whole neighborhoods that put more students in prison than college.
Perhaps we need to rethink what we are educating for?

Each student, in fact everyone we meet, has some unique piece of the image of God in them, that will be lost until time ends if it is not brought out. As a teacher I help students explore what that piece might be and express that to the world. I think this is educating for the future.

I have to admit that when face with a room full of student who are not getting some concept the first instinct is to make it more basic. Instead perhaps we need to make it more life like, more of an exploration, more likely to reveal the unique people in our classrooms. This is messy, but so is life.

Green Screen

A little project to get ready for a film class next year is to experiment with putting green screens around school. We have picked some walls to paint (green is one of the accent colors in our school) and made this portable storable frame. What other solutions have you found? I would love to have a half dozen locations always available to students and teachers.