Saturday, December 29, 2012

I showed a Parent the Flipped Classroom video ... and now she expects more from her child's schools

The Benefits of House Arrest
Just 52 hours to go.  I'm under temporary meteorological house arrest in Massachusetts (along with a family) but at least I will win my freedom around 1 a.m. on 31 December 2012.  This confinement has allowed me to practice my "pitch" about transformation of schools.

A New Advocate for The Flipped Classroom
I'm convinced that the best presentation for introducing the seed of discontent (mixed with initiative) is an edited version of Katie Gimbar's video.   "She talks too fast" was one of the parents' reactions.  But I could see a flash of insight in her eye.  "I'm going to send this to Maya's teacher and to the principal of the school."  

I'm delighted that the virus of transformation has spread to another brain.  It took about three years for the transfer:  a) the parent knew about my interest in Littky's school; b) the parent lives about 90 minutes from Providence, RI (; I had previously sent the Gibar link by email to the parent's neighbor.   It took my  visit to spark the viewing.

"What is the next video that I should watch?"
The parent is hungry for the next step in the transformation of education.   Digital portfolios and projects... What dos a project look like? So we made a short video showing our understanding of the Fedex logo

The key question is "What do you see?"  An illiterate person or someone who looks at just part of the logo will say, "I see ______" but that means the right brain is working.  The left side of the brain drives us to look at the letters.  "Don't read the logo.  Just look at it."  Sometimes that helps.

More items for the 500 Videos project
I told the family about the goal of collecting videos that "students should see before they leave high school."  Please join by suggesting additional titles.  This is ON-GOING, so there will be future editions of that readers of this blog in the year 2020 might want to amend...

Vertical Farming

Hydropronics   from Squidoo 

TED talk

Grand scale visions

 a high-density aeroponic system (HDAS), with plants grown close together. Since the plants' roots aren't competing for nutrients in the same soil, they can be grown in dense plantings aeroponically. Even better, the aeroponic tomatoes were ready to produce fruit four times in one year, rather than the one or two times observed in field conditions.
article to show the Doctor in Colorado

Practical.  Let's get started. in Cambridge, Mass.

How many pounds (grams?) of greens do you want per week?  This unit might make enough for a family of 4 to supplement the salad needs... no soil, no grit to wash out of the greens, no genetically modified cabbages or lettuce...

This is a small scale aeroponics setup.  Why not start by experimenting at home?

Reference to sprouts and salmonella

It's 84 degrees in Fort Lauderdale...  30 degrees F in Massachusetts.

NOTE:  I was told about the negative space in the Fedex logo when I watched a video clip from a 2007 profile on 60 minutes of a professor of design at Harvard university.  I hope you ask, "What do you see?" when you 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

What are the challenges in Italy for School Transformation?

I participated in a skype call with some teachers from Italy 

I asked some questions

A) Where is the "modern" Maria Montessori?
b)  What schools do you admire?
c)  What have you seen in a classroom that you admire?

Here are the answers

Good questions!

A) Where is the "modern" Maria Montessori?
Here, in Italy, Montessori's method is in the dumps. There are many reasons for that: public system don't have money to promote and to finance small classes, with a so special relationship between teachers and students. Moreover, there's an impossible conflict to resolve (actually) between traditional approach and alternative approaches. 

b)  What schools do you admire?
I admire the school where students are the focus of teaching; where students finish their path with success and with a real excellent culture and qualification. For that, I think, it's necessary to create a good working environment and we've got to get student used to agreement, to a healthy contention.

c)  What have you seen in a classroom that you admire?
That I seen  in my ideal classroom  is cooperation and a good greeting.
My school is a private school: so we've more possibilities than public schools. But we've got to respect rules imposed by Ministry of Education: so we have specific programs to follow.
Taking on this new challenge means to conjugate what's better is in "old" school with what's better is in new approach.
Sorry! My lexicon is so moderate!

Our classes are composed by 15 (up to 35) students: it's impossible for us making school with student at time. We guide a full group, very heterogeneous about knowledge and competences.

For us the problem is to be very pragmatic: our students have to take and to pass an important exam at the end of lyceum. So they must be really prepared! 
Our programs are so vast! They can't choose what's necessary to study (there's not optional courses: all is core curriculum). 
As you observe, our scholastic system is limited.


I find that there is some strength in sharing information with students.  You can say, "This is a procedure that students in a school in the USA use."

Did you see the web page?

Can you put posters in your room to encourage discussion by the students?   

Monday, December 24, 2012

Warning about efax -- Malware can come through an email message

  1. Malware Phishing Alert - Fake Email Posing as eFax Corporate ...
    Sean Doyle
    Nov 6, 2012 – Malicious emails have been surfacing disguised as eFaxCorporate that contain links to malicious content such as malware and viruses.
  2. Email Scam/Malware Alert: “Corporate eFax message” « Fraud ...
    Oct 4, 2012 – I received this message yesterday afternoon (links have been removed, but are shown in blue): * * * From: eFax <[redacted]> ...
  3. New Malware E-Mail Tactics Pose Security Threat
    Aug 16, 2012 – Many spam and malware messages are obviously easy to spot but a new trend ... Considering that eFax is a sizeable company, I would have ...
  4. Beware of Emailed Faxes Allegedly From eFax Corporation. They ...
    Oct 4, 2012 – Beware of Emailed Faxes Allegedly From eFax Corporation. They Could Result in Malware Infection - Virus! Summary of the eRumor: This is a ...
  5. Fake eFax emails – Corporate eFax message Core Web Solutions ...
    Aug 16, 2012 – Warning – scam alert Fake email from eFax with the subject similar to ...Essentials as well as a full scan using Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.

    This warning came from one of my cousin who was hit by a horrible malware attack that arrived via an efax email.

Teachers: Why not add an additional purpose to CURATING?

I think it would be a nice gesture to become a curator of information for a family in Cuba.....

it doesn't matter which side of the debate about the embargo you support.  
Perhaps you believe that keeping tourist dollars away from Havana will weaken the Castro government.

Perhaps you believe that engagement and more information is the way to empower the people of Cuba.  

The Diamond Media Reader
(note the input places for media card
and the USB)
There is something that both types of people can do, at least three times a week:  Become a curator of information for Cubans.

Dan Pink, the author of books about business (and the transformation of schools), has an exercise that he offers in his latest book To Sell Is Human.   He recommends that we each spend thirty minutes in the practice of CURATING information.  He suggests that we will learn more about curating by visiting a website managed by Beth Kanter called      You can learn more about Dan's workbook and new book by going to his website...  

The procedure is to  capture articles, rate information that comes across the computer screen,  and then make recommendations.   This process causes the brain to give more weight to certain types of information.  which in turn helps reinforce synapses (because we repeatedly review the previous articles when we look at a new article.  "Is this article about Russian activity in Syria as important or more important than the article about Indian cooking that I found interesting?").  Pink suggests that doing 20 minutes of "collecting, then rating, then sharing" should be called "curating."  ... and he suggests that this is a useful brain-building activity.   

Instead of looking at all information as equal, we can rate and weigh the information.

We know that adding more purpose can sometimes make an activity more meaningful, so I'm going to ask that you offer the following service.   Why not curate for a Cuban family?  My friend Miguel can find a friend of a friend of a friend (such links are common in the walk-around Internet of Cuba).  You could collect useful information for that person.  The curating can be three forms:  text, photo and video.   You can sign up by writing to and ask to join the "Mail for a Family" network.  Miguel gives me these guidelines.


Adopt a Cuban by email

My friend Miguel checks his email at a teleposto.   He tells me that he looks forward to any news that I can send him.  No photos, no links to youtube, but pages and pages of text.  Better to have one long email message (which can be saved quickly to a USB pen drive) than to have fifteen messages, each with an attached PDF.   Remember when there was dial-up?  Modems could transmit 56,000 bits per second.  Often the rate of transfer was lower, so a typical photo of 100 kb took five or ten seconds to appear.  Today it's common for friends to exchange larger photos 2MB or 5 MB, which would take more than two minutes to download for Miguel.  Since computer access can run $6 to 8 per hour of use, a digital photo can cost  25 cents to receive.

1.  Be selective about sending photos -- You can transmit 10,000 words in the same time...
2.  Think about news that is likely to be highlighted by the Cuban press.   Anything about Venezuela and most of Europe is well-covered, especially if the article depicts a negative aspect of life in the USA.
3.  Positive news of Cuba is likely to be shown in the Cuban press, but MIguel often likes to see how Cuba is reported in the world.
4.  Don't send information that could be inflammatory.
5.  Articles from blogs and professional journals are often appreciated.
6.  Look for articles about Cuba in international papers, such as and newspapers in Spain

If you find a TED talk, download the transcript ... and then find the translation in Spanish and download that, too.   Miguel has a "walk around" web.  He carries a device that reads videos from a USB drive a shows them on a standard TV.  The device turns images and even PDF documents into something that can be seen on a TV.

It's called a digital media player:  
Micca MPlay Digital Media Player For USB Drives and SD/SDHC Flash Cards - Plays MPEG1/2/4, DivX, Xvid, RMVB, AVI, MOV, MP3, MP4 On All TV and HDTV

I prefer the DIAMOND
Diamond HD Media Wonder Mini Media Player

  • Supports RM, RMVB, AVI, MPEG1(VCD), MPEG2(DVD) and MP4 video formats
  • Supports JPEG, M-JPEG, BMP, TIFF and PNG photo formats
  • SD, MMC and hot-swappable
  • Support USB and card insert at the same time, and can switch to each other


It's not the $180 Hard Drive (Western Digital has an expensive item that stores materials...)
Product Features
  • A high capacity 1 terabyte hard drive and network HD media player in one
  • Play media from USB drives, home network, and the Internet on your TV
  • Beautifully simple user interface for everyone in the family to use
  • Access your Netflix unlimited membership or Blockbuster On Demand and watch movies and TV episodes instantly.
  • Collect your media in one place and stream it anywhere in the house.

This is the MICCA kit.  The
 Diamond kit is more versatile 

How to Send Smiles to a Cuban Family

1.  Find a travel agency Varadero Express.
2.  In a nearby office or in that travel agency, you'll find "paquetes a Cuba" and the words "envia a Cuba"
3.  Some shippers have a different rate for food, so bring the clothing, shoes, medicines in a separate plastic bag.
4.  Shipments are bundled, often in suitcases.  your 8-pound package of coffee, dried fruit, nuts and canned fish might  be next to a color TV or a computer monitor. 

A shipper contracts with a "mule," a passenger who flies with few personal items so that his baggage allowance is available to the shipper.

When the ticket agent at the airport asks, "Did anyone give you a package to carry?," the mule has to say, "Yes."


Procedure for images and videos:  
This image shows the size of the device.
At some point you will find a way to collect the videos and images on a disk or USB flash drive or compact memory card (the kind used for cameras, often called an SD card).  If you are in the USA, you can search for a "Havana envios" service and you can arrange for sending the disk or drive to your contact in Cuba.  Or you can contact me at and tell me the list of items that you want placed on a hard drive.  I'll download the items from a drop box (or you can email the images in batches) and put the items on a drive.  The next time I send a package to Miguel's family, I can include the collection of media and directions for delivery to your penpal in Cuba, with directions for getting the materials delivered.   It might take a while, but your family can contact Miguel's family and get the information through.

What are you waiting for?  I hope you are starting to collect materials to send to your Cuban family today.

Write to with your request.
This is another useful device.   The INCREDIsonic
You can ask for a particular profession or you can say, "I'm ready to curate news and information from the Internet for anyone in Cuba.  Send me a profile of someone, showing the type of information that they are interested in learning more about..."

Saturday, December 22, 2012

About the use of new technologies (reply to a request for a list of recommended readings)

A secondary math teacher in my school asked: "any recommendations or suggestions about any readings on the use of new technologies in the classroom and student learning?" and I wondered if the collective experience of this group could help me generate a list of good resources?

-- Seen on a Facebook group...

How do you use videos in your classroom?
What technology do you use?
What procedures do you use in your classes with technology?
How do you use technology in your classroom?

Short answer:   if you read just one article, make it  Clark's 2005 article about  five common Misconceptions about multimedia learning
These are the types of questions that principals usually ask about technology.

Here's what most people expect as an answer:
Links to articles
Links to videos that demonstrate what to use and how to use it.
How to Flip the Classroom
Katie Gimbar's presentation

Here's my attempt to describe the Flipped Classroom  How I use ipads to teach (to make presentations)
That's what most people want.  "Tell me what kind of devices to use and tell me how to use them."

But ... we have to ask other questions FIRST:
Reading about technology in the Nova ITDE program has made me want to focus more and more FIRST on the general principles of instruction used in the classroom.
What does the teacher assume about learning?
What do the students assume about learning?
What is the link between presentation (direct instruction) and learning (what happens inside the student's head)?

Start with getting the "right mindset" in the teachers and students
Dr. Fischler's book about commentaries concerning the transformation of schools
FREE BOOK     <<< GO HERE for insight into the transformation that is needed to support the new technology.
the one page list of quotations that are used in training for the transformation of education

Dan Pink's chapter about schools in Free Agent Nation (which appears as an article in Reason magazine, online)

The mindset of students can be altered by asking teachers to study this website and by bringing those quotes and exercises into class.


Then get the Clark readings (Richard Clark's "Media are mere vehicles" article is summarized)
 Clark's point is clear:   a focus on technology needs to begin with a focus on "what are your methods?"  and "What do you hope to achieve?"   Technology does not cause learning but it can be used to make the learning more efficient and long-lasting.

then Clark focuses on the 2006 findings about projects 
This article has been reworked into a popular format, published in American Educator in Spring 2012.
"Putting Students on the Path to Learning."
This article helps build understanding that there are limits to the use of videos and technology to assume that project-based learning will achieve results that are needed.   

Rosenshine's Principles of Instruction (distributed by UNESCO) are available online
Clark recommends this article.

Rosesnhine's 1997 article about "the case for teacher led instruction"  -- which is one strategy for the use of technology (since the teacher is in charge of the learning with the flipped classroom and videos presented  before classes)
 by Rosenshine

Clark's readings are collected here at USC (Univ of Southern Calif)

Another key reading is Clark's 2005 article about  five common Misconceptions about multimedia learning

Bio info on Clark

Center for Cognitive Technology


once the mindset is established, then the issues about the "best technologies" can be discussed
A good overview of Principles of Distance Learning (and technologies in general)
 see the TEACHERMAN, here is the link....

Procedures in Classroom (what technology should we use?)
and (What procedures should we use?)
Katie Gimbar lays out some good points
Search:  "katie gimbar why i flipped my classroom youtube"
  1. Why I Flipped My Classroom - YouTube
    May 2, 2011 - Uploaded by pocketlodge
    FAQ - Katie Gimbar's Flipped Classroom by pocketlodge 8,109 views · Thumbnail Katie Gimbar - Flipping ...

  2. Katie Gimbar's Flipped Classroom - why it has to be me! - YouTube
    Aug 6, 2011 - Uploaded by pocketlodge
    What If Students Don't Watch The Videos? - FAQ - Katie Gimbar'sFlipped Classroomby pocketlodge20,440 ...

  3. Katie Gimbar - Flipping The Classroom - Blended ... - YouTube

    Jul 6, 2011 - Uploaded by pocketlodge
    Why I Flipped My Classroomby pocketlodge97,682 views; Katie Gimbar's Flipped Classroom - why it has to be me...  

If you want to go beyond "what technologies should we use?," then you can ask, "How should we approach teaching in general?"

The issue of automated knowledge is overlooked, according to Clark

Here is an interview on YOUTUBE (excerpt) where Clark discusses automated knowledge
SEARCH:  youtube clark automated knowledge

This is my training workshop that brings together Daniel Pink, Thomas Friedman, Deming, and the insights of Clark, Fischler, Rosenshine and the innovations of MOOC and distance education.

Deeper Mindset work:  
W. Edwards Deming

Neil Postman and Teaching as a Subversive Activity, especially chapter 12

Quotations to drive the new mindset.  


I hope this list helps the math teacher see that the benefits of the technology depend on the quality of the school system...
Or the math teacher can read some videos and articles about "how to use ipads in math class" and avoid the stretching that Dr. Clark's articles will require.

How do we train teachers to use technology in schools?
That's a bigger question... 
Can we get the same or better results without the added technology?  Perhaps, if we follow Clark's focus on methods.   Improve the methods and you'll get improvements.

Teachers need to be coaches
Practice Makes Perfect: Teachers Need to Be Coaches.

See also the NY Times article in 16 January 2005 by Gopnik


Nightingale Initiative Phase 1 (get the PDF)
b)  Learn at their own pace

Students take charge of their learning.
Sal Khan: Making Personalized Education Possible

"taking ownership of your own learning..."


Look for information about Distance Education.
How to Organize Online Courses
Unit Module Topic
3 units, 5 weeks in a 15-week semester
5 Modules in one unit (one module per week)
3 to 5 Topics in one Module (learning objects, learning experiences)
3 units, 15 modules, 45 topics
3 topics per week, 15 weeks  -- M. Simonson

Learn about Equvalency Theory in Distance Education

How should we grade discussions?
Threaded discussion promote thinking about critical issues
1. post a meaningful question
2. direct response, post a comment about another student's response, then post a comment about other comments.
3.  eliminate meaningless postings.
4. grading:  outstanding, acceptable, poor
5.  rule of thumb:  10-20% of course grade's weight comes from the threaded discussion
-- M. Simonson

Nightingale Initiative Phase 1 (get the PDF)
In other words, the "Big Picture" shows the impact of technology on the Transformation of Education.  Using technology without transforming schools will miss some of the advantages that technology offers.

Transformation of Education
Christianson (Disrupting Class)
Transparency by Biennes, O'Toole and Goleman
Get the Manifesto PDF

Future of Learning by Maria Andersen

Personalized Learning Maria Andersen

Free Range Learning  (Maria Andersen)

Dan PINK and transformed Schools       the REASON article
search:  reason dan pink school
Paradigm shift described by Ken Robinson

Sugata Mitra and the "Grannies in Birmingham" teaching students in India.

View these at the Network of Educators Website
Dennis Littky's procedures to personalize high school
Nightingale Initiative Phase 1 (get the PDF)

The relationship of schools to neighborhoods
How can technology help shape a school into a community center?
Enrique Gonzalez
What is the Nightingale Initiative?
What is the D3 Lab?
How can technology support these programs?
What could your school do with this information?
Is the Nightingale Report more valuable than any information about "how to use technology in the classroom"?
Tony Blair Community Schools and the Ethos of schools

New Learning Institute  (How can technology support the community center?)   GET THE PLAN

New Procedures as described in 
Dennis Littky   page 34 of Big Picture

Edutopia asks the right question

To get an overview of how these books might fit together, see this two-minute presentation
Nightingale Initiative Phase 1 (get the PDF)

Our Unexamined Assumptions

Youtube Channel for Every Teacher who Wants One

Send suggestions for additional links and videos.

Nightingale Middle School with former Principal Enrique Gonzalez
If we want to personalize learning, as advocated by Salman Khan, then let's spend twenty minutes listening to Enrique on a tour of Nightingale School to learn how a school can turn into a community center, pulling in the resources of mentors in the neighborhood.