Thursday, October 30, 2008

A Day In A Sentence

I spent the first 3 days of this week in software training out in western Massachusetts. Most of my day was spent listening to someone explain how to use a particular piece of software. There was no wireless or cell phone signal in the room. Needless to say, it was a tough 3 days for me. As good as my trainer was, I found it hard to stay focused.

The good news was, thanks to my Twitter Survey (please add yourself if you haven't already), I was able to sort my Twitter Spreadsheet by city and state and find out who in my network lived out in Western MA. As a result I ended up having a great dinner with Kevin (@dogtrax), Gail (@poulingail) and Maureen (@bcdtech).

Kevin invited me into his Day in a Sentence project. Horray! something I could do without internet! I started with a paragraph and whittled it down to one sentence of 25 words. You can see my progression below. It was a great exercise!

124 words
My attention wanders it is hard to hold it still. I find it difficult to focus on only one thing at a time. It is not enough for my mind. My mind wants more, more to do, more to think about, more to look at. Not very Buddhist of me. I can’t seem to just be in one place anymore. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Many say it is bad. Am I missing out on the current moment by looking for something else? Is a divided attention a focused attention? Am I learning less than I would if I could stay in one place? Is ADD merely another name for the 21st century mind? My mind is not the same.

56 Words
My attention wanders it is hard to hold it still. My mind wants more, more to do, more to think about, more to look at. Is a divided attention a focused attention? Am I learning less than I would if I could stay in one place? Is ADD merely another name for the 21st century mind?

53 Words
My mind is hard to hold still. It wants more, more to do, more to think about, more to see and hear. Is a divided attention a focused attention? Am I learning less than I would if I could stay in one place. Is ADD merely another name for the 21st century mind?

47 Words
My mind wants more, more to do, more to think about, more to see and hear. Is a divided attention a focused attention? Am I learning less than I would if I could stay in one place? Is ADD merely another name for the 21st century mind?

35 Words
My mind wants more. Is a divided attention a focused attention? Am I learning less than I would if I could stay in one place? Is ADD merely another name for the 21st century mind?

31 Words
Is a divided attention a focused attention? Am I learning less than I would if my mind could stay in one place? Is ADD another name for the 21st century brain?

25 Words (3 sentences)
My attention wanders. Am I learning less than I would if it could be still? Is ADD just another name for the 21st century brain?

25 Words (3 sentences)
My mind wanders. Am I learning less than I would if it could be still? Is ADD just another name for the 21st century brain?

25 Words (3 sentences)
My mind jumps. Am I learning less than I would if it could be still? Is ADD just another name for the 21st century brain?

27 Words (1 sentences)
My mind jumps, I wonder, am I learning less than I would if it could be still, is ADD just another name for the 21st century brain?

25 Words (1 sentences)
My mind jumps, I wonder, am I learning less than I would if it were still, is ADD another word for the 21st century brain?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Two For Tuesday 10/28/08

1. Lexical Analysis of 2008 US Presidential and Vice-Presidential Debates — who's the Windbag?
In this post, Martin Krzywinski uses several different tools to analyze word usage in the 2008 debates. He compares and graphs noun/verb/adjective/adverb ratios, unique word count, complexity of noun phrases and what he calls the "Windbag Index" among other factors. He represents his results in a variety of graphical formats.

2. Doodle: Easy Scheduling
Have you ever tried to get 4 or 5 people together for a meeting at the same time? Doodle is a tool that helps juggle multiple schedules to find the time that is optimal for the greatest number of people in the group. One person creates a poll and sends it out, Doodle does the rest. Doodle is free and does not require registration or software installation. It also works with Facebook and iGoogle.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Growing a More Diverse Learning Network.

I read lots of blogs, I read blogs on Web 2.0, I read mommy blogs, I read triathalon blogs , and I read blogs about my favorite TV shows. My Twitter and Plurk networks include people outside the world of education. The more diverse your learning network, the more likely you are to stumble upon something that everyone else hasn't seen already. I recently blogged about 10 ways to Grow Your Learning Network. Today I found this excellent post by Chris Brogan on how to Reach Outside Your Fishbowl to Build Community. Chris himself is outside of my fishbowl and I have learned a lot from him. I particularly like number 2 and 3 on his list:
1. Go to Delicious and search for topics that are just outside your blog’s main subject, or that are at perhaps tangential. Do the same thing as step 1.

2. Write posts about an industry vertical using your blog’s perspective instead of just writing about your main focus. If you’re writing a running blog, write a post like “Top 5 Runner-Friendly Companies in Seattle” or if you’re a food videoblogger, shoot an episode called “Election Day Dinners.” In these cases, make sure you’re using tagging and that you’ve claimed your blog in a search site like Technorati.
How diverse is your network? Do you follow only educators? How do you find people to learn from? Please let us know.

Image Source: Namaqualand Wild Flower Carpet.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I had an idea today..

What if a teacher asked her students to find an image each week representing their learning. Fridays the class could go through each of the images and students could share why they chose them. Students could use Flickr to find their images where pictures are tagged with words like "citizenship" and "courage."

This might also lead to discussions about tagging and about copyright and Creative Commons. It would engage students in some right brain thinking every week and I'm sure would lead to some interesting conversations.

What do you think? Please share if you try it and let us know how it goes.

Image Citations:
Day 27 - I Voted! []
Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion in Wizard of Oz at the Wax Museum at Fishermen's Wharf in San Francisco:
Light Bulb []

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Two for Tuesday 10-21-08

1. 5 Ways to Visualize the U.S. Elections
This blog post includes links to 5 interesting graphics which visualize some important trends. It includes graphs of political contribution by industry, earmarks, election polls, the presedential election in the blogosphere and an electoral prediction tracker. All of these graphs provide a different way to look at our political climate as we approach a presedential election in November.

2. UCLA study finds that searching the Internet increases brain function
"UCLA scientists have found that for computer-savvy middle-aged and older adults, searching the Internet triggers key centers in the brain that control decision-making and complex reasoning. The findings demonstrate that Web search activity may help stimulate and possibly improve brain function."

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Spreadsheet of Educators on Twitter

(If you don't know what Twitter is, please check out this post: Getting started with Twitter)

I have seen several lists of educators on Twitter, like this one and recently I discovered this wiki which organizes us by subject area. It inspired me to create a list that could be sorted across different criteria like country, state, subject or grade level. In an attempt to create a more malleable list I made a Google form for educators to fill out. I then made the corresponding spreadsheet public, so that anyone can sort it. If you haven't already, please complete the form and add yourself to the list.

I took the data that we have collected so far and used Many Eyes to create a treemap of the results. If you click on the image below you can see the results so far.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Say Hello If You Know Me

My creation

I had a wonderful time at the ACTEM Conference in Maine this week. I got to see many of my Maine Tweeps, including Alice Barr, Bob Sprankle, Cheryl Oakes, Michael Richards, Mike Arsenault, Sarah Sutter, and Maria Knee (who is actually from New Hampshire) face to face. I met Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach in person for the first time. I also attended Geek of the Week and learned about a lot of new tools including the Big Huge Labs which I used to make this badge.

I love this badge idea. When I go to conferences I want to see the people I know online in real life, but often they don't recognize me and I don't recognize them. Wouldn't it be fun if we all created badges with our avatars and/or profile photos so that people can connect our online identities with our real life selves. I have seen people do this with their second life avatars, and I think it is a great idea. Look for me and my new badge at the Christa McAuliffe conference in New Hampshire, the MassCUE conference in Massachusetts and the Educon 2.1 conference in Pennsylvania. Please don't be shy, say hello if you recognize me. I was so excited to add Page Lennig, Sharon Betts and Cathy Wolinsky to my face to face network this week.

Sheryl's keynote was wonderful. I have never seen her in person and she has such a great energy and puts things so well. Here are some of my favorite quotes:
"Social and intellectual capital are the new economic values in the world economy."
"We need to go from mandated accountability to mutual accountability."
"What are you doing to prepare your students to be Googled?"
"Don't change your teaching - change the way you learn. Become a networked learner, so you can own it and give it away."
I went up and said hello and she actually knew who I was. That was really cool.

My own sessions (I did the same one twice) titled, "Making Things Happen, Tapping in to the Power of the Network," were attended by just a few people, but they seemed to go well. I tried to engage people in some goal setting exercises and then show them how to use a personal learning network to help them achieve their goals. I included some visualizations, some writing and some talking. It really wasn't about the technology, but more about the network. I always feel that we need more structured ways to meet each other face to face at these conferences. I tried to do that in my session. I'll be doing it again in New Hampshire. Here is a link to my slideshow from the conference.

Overall I had a wonderful time. Thanks to everyone for being so gracious and so welcoming!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Two for Tuesday 10-14-08

1. Visual Search Engine: Search Cube
This search engine shows your results as a three dimensional "rubik's" like cube. A preview each website, video or image is shown as an individual square on the cube. You can rotate the cube by using your arrow keys or by holding down the shift key and using your mouse. Mouse over each square to see a larger preview and more details about the site. Whether or not you find what you are looking for, it is pretty cool to watch the sites drop in to the cube.

2. The Growth of Walmart Across America: Flowing Data
Thanks to my colleague Mr. Sherman for sharing this website. Watch as Walmarts spread across the country. Starting in 1962 and running through 2007, this website visually tracks new Walmart Stores as they expand across the country. Notice the year in the lower right corner of the map and the number of Walmarts in the upper left corner.

The Flowing Data Website features many more examples of ways to visualize data.

Flipping for my Flip Video Camera

I just received my new Flip Mino video camera and so far I am loving it. It worked right out of the box, just turn it on and press record. It is easy to use, works in low light and the sound quality seems pretty good. Connecting it to my Vista PC was easy, I could see and make simple edits to the clips using software running right on the camera. The software is fine for basic editing and sharing, but not robust enough for a more intricate video project.

On my Mac running Leopard I had to install a Quicktime patch (right from the phone). The Flip software ran on my Mac, but I was also able to import the clips to iMovie 6 and edit them from there. (I downloaded iMovie 6 from the Apple Website, since the new iMovie is really bad). Here is a short video I made, my kids (Ben - 6 and Abby - 4) star in the video (with me in a supporting role) and they did all of the filming.

Take Me Out To The Ball Game (Go Sox)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Reflections on BlogHer Boston

Yesterday I attended the BlogHer conference in Boston. This was the first non-edtech conference I have attended in a while. The conference opened with an ice breaker which allowed us to meet and talk to many of the attendees for a few minutes. This was a great way to start, it opened up the possibility for many future conversations throughout the day. Everyone had a business card. There was a lot of exchanging of cards (I felt somewhat out of my element, as I don't have a business card). It was interesting to discover that there are so many other kinds of bloggers out there. This was definitely the "periphery" of my network.

If you add keywords they will come:
The focus of many of the sessions was on building a following for your blog, how to do "SEO" - Search Engine Optimization, how to get advertising on your blog, how to syndicate your blog, how to build a blogging community and how to add bling to your blog. I learned how to include key words in my posts, for example: technology and network and education and learning and schools, so that my posts will come up higher in Google searches (now I'll be #1). I learned a little about how to tweak the code in my blog to change its look and feel.

Shameless self promotion:
One thing that stands out the most to me is the focus on self promotion. Teachers don't tend to focus on themselves this way. We are always doing things for the kids, for the learning, for the community, not usually for ourselves. It was really interesting to see how unabashedly these women talked about building traffic and making money off of their endeavors. It was empowering to be in this atmosphere, it helped me see that it is OK to focus on yourself sometimes.

The HER in BlogHer:
It was surprising to me that there was no discussion specifically about gender. We may have been a group of primarily women (there were a few men present), but there was no official discussion of feminism or the role of gender in the blogosphere. I was surprised by this. I'm sure I could have brought up the topic myself, and maybe I should have (next year!).

Some link love:
As always, the best part of the conference was the people I met. I had great conversations with Sherry Pardy (a freelance writer and blogger) and Tracy Rosen (a fellow edtechie), Cora Sedlacek (a food blogger), Vera Smeddling and Doreen Cable (both "mommy bloggers"), Liz Henry (a blogger of many things who also works for BlogHer and did an amazing presentation on how to "bling up your blog"). I also met Lisa Williams who blogs in my hometown and attended a great presentation by Beth Kanter on how to handle information overload and how to build a blogging community. It was wonderful to converse with and learn from so many bloggers outside of my small world.

Coming up:
Next week I venture back in to the edtech world where I will be attending and presenting at ACTEM in Maine. I'm looking forward to seeing many of my friends and feeling at home, but I will also try to bring along all I have learned from stepping outside and seeing a wider world.

What do you think?
Have you stepped out of your conference zone? What was it like for you? I'd love to know.

Image Source: Core/Periphery Network From the Flickr photo stream of Ross Mayfield.
Image Source: Love is all around From the Flickr photo stream of Kliefi (on holiday)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Ten Tips for Growing Your Learning Network

1. Start big and small. People with smaller networks are more likely to interact with you. Do a Technorati blog search on a topic you are interested. Look for blogs that have authority below 50, these tend to be people newer to the blogosphere who are more likely to interact with their readers.

2. Check people's blogrolls, find some one you like and then check their blog roll and so on and so on.

3. Go to and look at the education feeds. Again, don't limit yourself to people in education.

4. Join Twitter or Plurk and look at followers and fans, check out the bios of the people you follow and take a look at their blogs and Websites. If you are new to Twitter and/or Plurk be sure to add a bio before you start following people.

5. Check out the education related groups on Ning. Try Classroom 2.o, Library 2.0, Ning in Education, and Global Education. Check out the Members page. Look at individual pages for people who share your interests.

6. Attend some conferences, be brave and say hello to people. Introduce yourself to presenters after the session, look at the conference Website and check out the attendee's page. Attend K12 Online and follow the links to the presenters blogs and Twitter pages.

7. Use your social bookmarking network. When you find a link you like, tag it and look at the other people who have tagged that link, then check out their bios, add them to your network.

8. Set up an aggregator. I use Google Reader to keep my network in one place. I subscribe to blogs, bookmarks, news, podcasts, and Twitter.

9. Listen Live to EdTechTalk shows and participate in the backchannel chat.

10. Participate, don't just lurk, you have to give to get. Don't be afraid to share your ideas, comments and links. We are all both leaders and followers. Let your voice be heard.

Thanks to Lisa Thumann for inspiring this post!

Image Source: Power Law of Participation From the Flickr photo stream of Ross Mayfield.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Two For Tuesday 10-7-08

1. All Your Election News in One Place: PageFlakes
Pageflakes allows you to collect the feeds from your favorite news sources in one place. You can create your own page or a "pagecast" to share with others. This is an example of a collection of election resources including news, videos, blogs and podcasts. You can make your own pagecast at

2. Loans that Change Lives: Kiva

Kiva allows you to read through business proposals created by entrepreneurs in the developing world. Pick your favorite proposal and make a loan of as little as $25.00, or create a team and work together to fund a larger venture.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Mark your Calendars for the K12 Online Conference!

The K12 Online Conference is free for teachers, administrators, librarians, and educators around the world interested in the use of Web 2.0 tools in classrooms and professional practice! The 2008 conference is scheduled to be held over two weeks, October 20-24 and October 27-31 of 2008, and will include a pre-conference keynote during the week of October 13. The conference takes place entirely online, and includes Keynote speakers Chris Lehmann, Bob Sprankle, Alice Barr, and Vicki Davis, and four learning strands. Even after the conference, all presentations will be available online.

This is a great learning opportunity for educators all over the world. Learn in your PJs! You can check into the conference on your own schedule, participate live or download sessions to listen to or view later. Please help spread the word!

I hope to see you there!