Learning Without School

Go read:

The Innovative Educator: I Learned How To Write Without School: It sounds too simple. How can people learn things if they aren’t taught the proper way? If information isn’t broken down for them into bite-sized, manageable little chunks? It’s almost like magic, and no one seems willing to believe in it. No one seems willing to believe in how much children are capable of learning and doing when they’re permitted to exist in a world where everything is interconnected.

Made me cry…

And reminded me that I “learned” about God as a kid (out of my own curiosity) even though I didn’t set foot into a church until I was 13. Not only that, I ended up realizing that I should learn more about God (in the academic sense) than most folks around me, so I did. The same happened with my personal study of science (mostly physics and astronomy) that happened completely outside of my middle and high schools.

I’ve never put together my own background with how I view/practice education in general.

Yet, the very way that I teach is completely informed by that inner voice telling me to “let go” as a teacher and let my 13 and 14 year old students learn about their world like I learned about religion and science (and coding and marketing and computer hardware or anything that I really have been interested in enough to master)… on their own and at their own speed.


Thoughts on Implementing iPads in a School

Below are my/our notes from Friday’s visit to Saint Andrew’s School iDiscover21c 1 to 1 iPad implementation:

iPad Implementation Thoughts

The visit was coordinated by Apple, so it was also a great chance to pick their brains on both the technical aspects of iPad deployment in schools as well as broader philosophical questions about what the iPad means for education (though, of course, they wouldn’t speculate on iPad 2).

One of the most interesting observations I made while seeing 5th-12th grade classes of different disciplines work with their iPads was that the 8th graders in particular seemed much more competent at typing and manipulating objects on the iPad (without bluetooth keyboards). The 5th graders were still hunting-and-pecking on the iPad keyboards and the 10-12th graders seemed to prefer “thumb typing” with the iPads in portrait (vertical) orientation. I think that has everything to do with the technology those 13-14 year olds in 8th grade have grown with in their lifetime and they aren’t in the same transitional group as older kids. That’s also why I love teaching 8th grade.

As much of an Apple “fanboy” as I am and as much as I truly hope we do move ahead with something of an iPad implementation for our Middle School or even just a grade level (8th!), I’m far from sure about which path we’ll take. However, this whole process is making me a better teacher and parent as I weigh concepts like digital literacies. For that, I’m glad.

Headed to Apple Seminar at 1 to 1 iPad School

Four of us from Spartanburg Day School are headed to Savannah on Thursday/Friday to see how St. Andrew’s School is running their 1 to 1 iPad program…

Apple – Education Seminars & Events – Digital Learning Environments in Action!: “St. Andrew’s School is one of the only K through 12 independent schools that is currently implementing a 1 to 1 iPad program for all students, preK through 12, as part of their new digital learning environment. During your visit, you will see how iDiscover 21c has engaged students and allowed them to take more responsibility for their own learning. You will meet with faculty, students, and administrators who will discuss the planning stages, infrastructure changes, rollout, and the overall impact on student learning.”

I’m sure I’ll be sharing more reflections before and after the event as we process our next steps in (hopeful) iPad implementation (at least for Middle School or 8th graders).

Exciting times.

I’m Sure @Jangro Would Appreciate notes.pinboard.in

On my iPhone home-screen I now have a link to a “2 Do” file that is a Pinboard Note…

Pinboard Notes

Pinboard is the bookmarking service that fills the hole Delicious left in our hearts years ago by selling out and becoming too bloated.

However, Pinboard now has a notes function that allows for quick note jotting and has Markdown support.


I had kept my years-old “2Do.txt” file in Dropbox up to this point but for some reason this seems easier. We’ll see how it goes!

Initial AppleTV Thoughts

On much less than a whim and much more of a two year deliberation, I decided to take the $99 plunge and buy an AppleTV tonight.

After an initial 10 mins, I can say that it’s a game changer for how I consume and consider media.

Many people like to say that the iPad is a “consumption” device and is meant primarily to entertain rather than create. I think that is completely false and operates on assumptions about the creative process that aren’t valid in 2011.

The AppleTV, however, is a consumption device that does integrate well with the family of Macs, iPhones, iPads and Mac Mini’s that make up the neural network of computing in this house. It is a fantastic aggregation device for consuming the media that exists on those devices.

So yes… great purchase.

More reflections soon.

Folding Cranes

From one of my students, Jesseca about another one of my students who fell ill this week…

Tree Frog Science: “These stories show us that hope can go a long way and can be exhibited in many forms. Meredith deserves our hope and our support every waking moment, so I challenge you. All of you 8th graders, and any other griffins or friends alike, to take a stand and join me in folding a thousand cranes to send to Meredith to remind her that even though we are not physically with her, we are with her in spirit.”

Let’s fold cranes indeed.

Trusting Students and Teachers as Servants

Yep and yep…

In a New Training Program, Students Teach Teachers – NYTimes.com: “As a teacher, it’s really hard to give up control of your classroom,” he said. “I think we have to trust our students more to work together.”

Interesting read of how some schools are putting students in charge of teacher “trainings” but I’d also like to see more students having a sense of control, ownership, value and purpose in their own studies.

That’s when we’ll have true “education reform.”

Teachers as servants… dangerous and revolutionary proposition, eh?

There’s something to the whole servanthood thing, of course.

What to Do on Monday


Science teacher: The Bambification of Dr. King: “Read ‘Letter From a Birmingham Jail.’
Take a walk outside and watch the grace and agony of life around us.

Yes, it’s complicated. Life is complex,

Bambi’s just the celluloid illusion of a corporation that owns a good chunk of the airwaves today, including ABC. I’m betting you won’t hear much about King’s letter from jail Monday.”

As always, do something that won’t compute and practice resurrection.