Really Cool With Wolfram Alpha

I’ve never really played all that much with Wolfram Alpha, but Alec Couros posted this link on twitter last night and I the resulst floored me.  Simple, I may be, but this really tells me that there is something really amazing going on over at WA.


Transcript from “Building a Community of Literacy” from Edscape


  • Welcome. Patrick 
  • hi Michelle 
  • Are your students turning away from printed books and materials. Dr. Timony 
  • Yes, but the printed materials are also turning away from us. eBooks, mags &news online etc. Laurie 
  • Teachers have to be readers. Admins too. Sisyphus 
  • Kids need printed books. Experience all sensory inputs. Become attached. Love books.Dr. Timony 
  • Don’t make them read for a grade. Sisyphus 
  • Let students have access to information. Vivian 
  • Students need instant access to info. Laurie 
  • I would like everyone to stop typing and listen. Not PHiggins 
  • Having a print-rich environment, especially for younger students. Laurie 
  • Reading rich environment across all content areas. Vivian 
  • Opportunities to read and comment on others’ work. Laurie 
  • This room is a no-tie zone. Not PHiggins 
  • Recirculate books. Laurie 
  • I LOVE taking my daughter with me to the used book store in Philly. She loves it. Dr. Timony 
  • Bring the classics to kids, like bringing them to lima beans ;)! Jennifer 
  • Saturday morning. Newspaper. Pipe. Tea. Dog. Heaven. Not PHiggins 
  • Readicide- systmatic killing of reading in schools.- need to read. Vivian 
  • Exposure to words has far-reaching effects, some of which have no effect on literacy but on development. Dr. Timony
  • More books in the home = more appreciation for the printed word, ideas, diversity. Sisyphus
  • thanks for ruining Mockingbird for me. #onmylist. Dr. Timony 
  • Students lack knowledge capital. Vivian 
  • Number of books in the house persists as a predictor of academic achievement. Indicator of many things. Dr. Timony
  • Viral books. Creating mini-cults of book personality works. Dr. Timony 
  • Reading can catch fire! Give kids ‘buzz books’ and also asked teachers to read them as well. Jennifer 
  • If schools looked more like barnes and noble and less like government block houses, we might all read more in education. Design inspires. Sisyphus 
  • Dr. Timony 
  • I do not coordinate bullying in my district. Not PHiggins 
  • Showcase reading and literature in every venue – websites, fb pages, etc, Sisyphus 
  • shelfari; good reads. Vivian 
  • Online comics are great for reluctant readers. Dr. Timony 
  • Letting you go early. Grab an extra sandwich, would you? Not PHiggins 
  • Thanks for all of the dialogue! Resources to follow. Patrick 
  • Writing for authentic audiences: Patrick 
  • The “choose your own adventure” using Google Forms: Patrick 
  • The “choose your own adventure” using Google Forms: Patrick
  • Penny Kittle’s video with her Senior English students: Patrick 

Why Does Change Cause Problems?

Today, I have the great honor of speaking to our Eighth grade students as part of their “Last Lecture” series run by Anne Bergmann, Gina Doane, and Lisa MacDonald.  Monthly, they ask a member of the school community to speak to their students in the format of a “Last Lecture” to try to impart some wisdom upon the students.

My charge today is to speak to these students about the idea of change: how it affects us, how it changes us, how we respond to it, and most importantly, how we make it.  I’ve invited the students here to discuss their answers to the question “How does a big change in your life make you feel?”

This post is open to any and all to respond to, but I’d love for the students and their teachers to drop in their views.

Slides from the #140edu Conference

My role, other than being a learner, at the #140edu Conference, was to share our work with summer reading and the changing of the culture of reading as a whole in our district.  My slides are below:

I love the format: you have ten minutes to make your point or tell your story–and the clock is right there in front of you.  I remarked to the crowd, only half-jokingly, that I am going to make all my meetings behave in that way. Ten minutes and you have to deliver the goods.

Pedagogy v. Andragogy

Take a look at this chart shared by Marc Ecko during his presentation at the #140edu Conference on Tuesday.

His point here, one among many that came through during his ten minutes, was that we are missing the mark with our conversations about learning and education reform in the United States.  We are talking about teaching, and not necessarily about learning.

Granted, the conversation needs to be much larger than the short time frame he was given, and I hope it will be, but the descriptors in the chart really stirred me to think about some things.

As much as this is a system-wide issue, I truly believe its more of an elementary/primary issue.  What I mean by that is exemplified in the last box under pedagogy:

Students arrive at high schools, even middle schools driven by the idea that the sole reason they are in school, for the most part, is the process of getting good grades thereby getting into a good college and ensuring a quality life.  By the time they reach middle and high school with those motivating factors, breaking that idea apart is very difficult.  Re-structuring the nature of learning and its motivations at the elementary level is key to any change being implemented going forward.

At one point, Jack Hidary described a student interview his group did where a student described school as a place where:

“they feel like they are being transported back to a time when their parents went to school–”you shall learn as we shall learn–” so that they understand what school was like for their parents”

And later in the day, Dale Stephens, founder of the UnCollege Movement, talked about “Majoring in Life” rather than the protracted process of getting into and going to colleges we can’t afford.  In my house, we often talk about what school will mean to our kids as they get older, and what role it will play in their adult lives.  For my wife and I, both educators, it has played a huge role in shaping who we are and how we approach the world.  But for our kids, when what I see happening in schools often is so steeped in ideas that don’t work well anymore, I wonder.

And sometimes I think I don’t wonder loudly enough.

Transcript from Backchannel at UbD By the Sea

What follows is the backchannel transcript for my presentation of “The Lecture is Dead.  Long Live the Lecture!” at Authentic Education’s UbD by the Sea Conference this morning.  There will be more coming about this shortly, but I did want to publish this for those in attendance.
  1. Yes, you’ve found the backchannel for “The Lecture is Dead. Long Live the Lecture!” at #ubdbytheseaPatrick at 01:51 AM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  2. Some resources we’ll discuss: Pecha Kucha: at 12:04 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  3. Takahashi Method: at 12:05 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  4. Lessig Method: at 12:05 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  5. at 12:06 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  6. Can you send the actual right/left story? I would like to use it with my staff.Karen at 13:04 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  7. do you advise to use the backspot blog only during brief breaks or at any time during the lecture. I’m not focused on you right now as I wrFrank at 13:05 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  8. limiting to 140 characters is a great feature!Frank at 13:06 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  9. I am not able to follow along. Am I in the wrong place?Bernadette Orsita at 13:11 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  10. You are in the right place. Its just a way to communicate and ask questions.Nicole at 13:13 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  11. Thank you for the idea to have students compare notes. Something I hadn’t considered..Kevin at 13:14 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  12. Less(ig) is more.paul at 13:14 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  13. Now that would be a great idea for note-taking. Very dynamic #tradenotesCharlie G. at 13:14 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  14. I enjoyed the e xtension of tps to not taking. Student to student communication increases engagemnt and establishes an environment of peer rpj bekanich at 13:17 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  15. In my school, kids have tech. at home. If I ask them to take notes on my device, I bet they will bring their own for the next time.Charlie G. at 13:22 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  16. Pecha kucha poetry slam. I would challenge teachers to empty it as a performance taskpj bekanich at 13:22 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  17. Prof. Higgins! Great talk!Maddy Rolston at 13:23 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  18. Thanks!! Great ideas for us to use.Anita at 13:24 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  19. Awesome!Frank at 13:24 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  20. Awesome!Frank at 13:24 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  21. Awesome!Frank at 13:24 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  22. Awesome!Frank at 13:24 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  23. Great points! Thanks!Barb at 13:24 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  24. I liked your presentation. Can you send it to me at xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx  ? thanks! CindyCindy at 13:24 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  25. Great points! Thanks!Barb at 13:24 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  26. Great job! I have too much stuff.Karen at 13:25 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  27. Great job! I have too much stuff.Karen at 13:25 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  28. Great job! I have too much stuff.Karen at 13:25 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  29. Very engaging. Well done!Joaquin at 13:25 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  30. sorry-don’t know why my feedback posted so many times, but, ironic.Karen at 13:26 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  31. Right-left story: at 13:26 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  32. Here’s the link to the original presentation: at 13:27 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  33. Thank you for this. It was extremely helpful and will help me give more specific feedback to some of my teachers.Kevin at 13:29 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  34. Who wrote “Tribes”? I think the book you referenced?Karen at 13:32 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  35. I’ll post this transcript to https://chalkdust101.wordpress.comPatrick at 13:32 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  36. @karen: it was Seth Godin.Patrick at 13:32 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  37. @Kevin: great! Thanks for your feedback.Patrick at 13:32 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  38. per what Grant’s talking about: check out mikeroweworks.comPatrick at 13:37 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  39. I liked your presentation. Can you send it to me at xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx at 13:39 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  40. Will you post your press. on Authentic Education websiteMichael at 13:52 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  41. This was great! I plan to use these techniques in my opening with my staff.Tonya at 13:55 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  42. @Tonya: thanks! Glad you found it useful.Patrick at 13:57 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web
  43. @Michael: absolutely. I’ll talk to Sam about that.Patrick at 13:57 PM, 08 Jul 2011 via web

Following Up

In the last post, I had indicated that there was some more reflection coming regarding the #140conference in mid-June, and given the fact that my life has been scrambled as of late due to some interesting elements coming together, I figured now was as good a time as any to try to pull together some clarity.

The format of the conference was like a mini-TED in that each speaker was given such a small window to develop their point and deliver their message to the crowd in a fashion that would let us into their world and make us want more.

The first of the presenters to really pull me in on something other than starpower (see @anncurry) were AJ and Melissa Leon.  A husband and wife team, they go to change the way that NGO’s approach not only how they raise funds, but also how those that donate the funds for use in developing nations see their, for lack of a better term, “return on investment.”  They are part of AJ and Melissa Leon and equipping NGO’s and relief organizations with the tools to be transparent, but in a way that takes advantage of social media and some surprisingly available technology.

The work that AJ and Melissa spoke about took place in a village called Ola Nagele in Kenya, not unlike other villages that have seen the benefit of foreign money or foreign aid in the form of NGO’s and Western volunteers.  However, through the work that AJ and Melissa did in setting up the Ola Nagele blog and system of “on-the-ground” reporters.  They used the ubiquitous penetration of 3G signals in Kenya to equip several of the villagers with mobile phones and a tumblr account so that they can chronicle the events that occur as aid from the western world arrives and projects are completed.  Go check out their work.  They do more with a mobile phone and a broadband connection than most of us do with our $2000 laptops and blazing connections.

And we worry about allowing our students to use their phones for meaningful work?  As if…

Next up: Tim Armstrong and the birth of hyperlocal.