Rant and You Shall Receive

In Everyday Use flickr photo by CarbonNYC [in SF!] shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

While I don’t condone rants as a way of getting your way, I do support speaking your mind and not being afraid of the backlash. So I went on a rant earlier this week. And there was no backlash. Just support, ideas, innovation, more questions, communication, new connections.

For weeks I struggled keeping my Twitter chat head above water, trying to manage #ARVRinEDU and #IMMOOC feeds in Tweetdeck. The former was a bit easier, because of the number of people participating and Tweeting. The latter? Not so much. With over 3,000 Tweets in an hour, I found it impossible to stay afloat. I was drowning in information and couldn’t listen to the innovative buzz that is #IMMOOC. I could respond to the questions. But that just became speaking. Where was the listening and, consequently, the learning?

So I wrote “Connected Yet Not Connecting”, posted it on this blog, Twitter, and on The Innovator’s Mindset Facebook group. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know what my PLN would think. How they would feel. What I received from them was inspirational, helpful, and transformational.

Inspirational and Helpful

annick response

judy response


George response

And then this…

Tara was so right. If I filtered my Tweetdeck with Q1, Q2, etc. I wouldn’t have been able to listen to people’s A1, A2 (assuming people used this Twitter chat convention). And it wasn’t just transformational to me. Others found value in this suggestion.

Being connected educators has obvious advantages. But it also has challenges. Too much information exchange in too little time causes me anxiety. But thanks to George and Tara, I’m able to filter and process this information much easier. I became a better listener in the last #IMMOOC Twitter chat. This tip will certainly help me in the future. And I’m glad it helped others.


Have you #Eduheard?

LISTEN flickr photo by brittreints shared under a Creative Commons ( BY ) license

And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day, I said fifty people a day walking in singin’ a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and walking out. And friends they may thinks it’s a movement.

Arlo Guthrie, “Alice’s Restaurant” (1967)

Let’s do it. Let’s start our own movement. A movement of listening, of truly hearing and reflecting on what happens around us every day.

For me the #eduheard movement started in May 2014. It started when my colleague Jennifer Nusbaum (@NusKnights) Tweeted the following:

Not something you hear everyday in a 5th grade classroom. But this is no ordinary classroom. But you wouldn’t have any sense of our classroom community – or maybe just a limited sense – if you didn’t live and work with our team of gifted learners. Sure we post pictures and videos on Instagram daily. Sure we use Remind to communicate to parents about homework and classwork and upcoming events. But there’s something special about the words coming out of our students’ mouths that is challenging to capture at that moment. We could ask students to repeat what they said, assuming it’s #eduheard worthy, but it lacks the magic the first time it was spoken.

So how do you capture these moments? Well, it’s certainly not about tools like Soundcloud or GarageBand. It’s more about being a deep listener and taking time filtering all of the words you hear throughout the day.

You might hear something unexpected.

It might be content related.

It might be deep.

It might be how young people understand their world.

It might be something so ridiculous that you simply have to preserve the memory.

And that’s what #eduheard is all about. Preserving the words we hear every day that will disappear if we don’t listen, reflect and share. #Eduheard is not a movement…yet. That’s why we need your help. Listen to those around you. Your students. Your colleagues. Your family. Your community. Share on Twitter or any of your favorite social channels. Be sure to include #eduheard so we can all listen to what you hear and bookmark the Twitter stream.


#CLMOOC Learning Walk


The other day my mother and I had an interesting discussion about the future of their house and cabin on Echo Lake on Mt. Desert Island, ME. She told me that one day it would be a part of my family and could do with it what I needed to. I told her that I had no plans of selling the properties. Spending summers in Maine is a big part of my life and is now a big part of my daughters’ lives. Losing the lake house for some short term monetary gain would not be in my best interest, I told her.

Later it occurred to me that even though I’ve used the house and cabin for nearly 40 years, I really dont know what it takes to run either place. So today I took a walk around the property and was amazed by how much I really don’t know.

How do you take care of the beach area?
How do you take care of the wildflowers?
When should the float come out of the water for winter?
How do you maintain this garden?
Does this deck require the same maintenance as the wooden decks?

Thankfully my mother is already passing on the answers to these questions and many more to her grandchildren.


#CLMOOC Sticks and Stories

Photo Credit: Sean Rogers1 via Compfight cc

Thanks to Bart Miller for giving me the title to this post. In fact I’ve hacked his title just so it had a ring to it. Get it, sticks and stories? Kind of sounds likes sticks and stones, which turns out was a hack to a game I wanted to create with my #clmooc PLN. It’s like our own six degrees of separation.

I went into Cycle 2 of the Making Learning Connected MOOC full of ideas. It started out in my parent’s basement. It’s a tinkerers dream, full of tools and scraps and whatchmajigits and doodads and thingamabobs.

Want a sneak peek at the Toyhack Workshop?

In a small basket I found 10 small sticks, slightly longer than ball point pen and slighty squarer than said pen. They reminded me of another game using sticks where players throw them on the ground. What happens next? I don’t know. I couldn’t remember the game – which I figured was a good idea. I could create a game from scratch. But I wanted to add a twist. I wanted to embrace the idea of connected learning by inviting my #clmooc colleagues to collaboratively build this game from the ground up. Turns out this is much more challenging than I anticipated. I envisioned a game that was a hack between Yahtzee, Farkle, and Rummy. But I didn’t want to share that with my PLN. I figured that would be too leading. So I just sat back and watched Kevin Hodgson, Chad Sansing, Jennifer Denslow, and Stephanie West-Pucket add titles, remix game objectives, modify rules, and generally have some fun with my idea. The game is certainly far from completion and it may never happen. And I’m okay with that. Turns out my little social experiment worked. A community of like minded individuals came together to help hack an idea. And I appreciate each one of them for doing so. And if you’re interested in adding to the game now called “Splinters, here’s the link to the Google doc: http://goo.gl/rEZEg

I’m on vacation in Maine and I thought I would be able to play a bigger part in this MOOC, but Internet connection is hampering that goal a bit. Plus, it is vacation. Time to tune things out a bit even though I find it incredibly difficult to disconnect from my professional life. But some things don’t need technology (even though I used my phone to capture the moments).

While we’re on vacation we always have dinner with my Aunt Vickie and Uncle Jim and he always has something unique to share. Maybe it’s a set of books he wants to read to his nieces. Maybe it’s a new game. This time it was a story…sort of. More like a story hack. Each person at the table would take turns making a noise. The rest of the table needed to remember all of the noises. Once each person had a chance to make a noise, any person could start a narrative based on the sounds. The trick was to incorporate as many sounds as you could remember. Once a person stopped, others could start a new story or add onto the one already started.

Here is our first Sound Story.

Now we didn’t get too far with this game since it was getting way late and my daughters were having a hard time keeping it together after my wife made armpit farts. But I’m sure we’ll be coming back to this in the very near future.

These two experiences reminded me that the process of the Making Learning Connected MOOC is not perfect. It’s messy. It’s unplanned. It’s organic. An idea for an original game may or may not pan out. The game might go through several iterations before it’s ready for public consumption. A series of silly noises can inspire a community of storytellers to connect at a whole new level at the end of a great meal.

And shouldn’t this be how we all learn? Unprescribed. Intuitively. Connected.

The Purple Rattlesnakes

I am the coach for my seven year old’s soccer team. I started out as her coach when she was three because her team was without one. I thought after that first season that I had completed my penance. But here I am. Four years later and I wouldn’t change a minute of it.

Probably the most important part of starting a new season (at least it seems it’s important to seven year old girls), is picking a team name. One year we were the Dolphins. I think every kid is on a team named the Dolphins. Another year we were the Puppies. Very intimidating. Still another year we were the Longhorns. A great name for University of Texas alums. Last season we were the Crush. It seemed fitting since our jerseys were orange.

Photo from Wikipedia Commons

At practice today when my U8 team shared ideas for team names, several of the girls said, “But we don’t know what color we are.” So over the years, rec teams have been conditioned to pick names based on jersey color. The Dolphins were blue, the Longhorns were orange (as were the Crush). The Puppies were blue. Wait, that doesn’t fit the jersey color-team name rule but I guess neither do the Detroit Lions.

After quite a bit of deliberation, the team decided on the Rattlesnakes. Then one of the girls asked, “But what if our jerseys are purple?”

So it’s clear that one of two things need to happen. Either we need to encourage coaches and their players to pick team names that aren’t associated with the color jersey they wear. Or we need to discover a purple rattlesnake.