Rliberni's Blog – Radical language

October 27, 2010

What are the myths of education that are clouding the focus?

#Edchat 10-19-2010 – 18:00 CET 12 PM EST

We are very grateful to have this wonderful guest summary from Larry Fliegelman (@fliegs) for what was one of the most exciting edchats we have experienced! Larry is a regular at #edchat and always provides great insight as well as lots of very useful links. I think you will all agree that he has done a fantastic job capturing the mood of the edchat discussion as well as its content. See Larry’s bio at the end of the post.

  With so much attention in the national media on education issues, it has become increasingly clear that many myths swirl about in the public conscience. If one believes these myths, then one believes that, except for those few great teachers somewhere, teachers know nothing, teachers can do nothing, teachers care nothing for children, and teachers will be motivated by nothing but merit pay. The EdChat community has, for the last several weeks, been talking about how we can counter the popular “conventional wisdom” about teachers in reaction to Waiting for SupermanOprah Winfrey, and NBC’s Education Nation. At some point, we realized that to stop the swirl, we needed to know the myths first.

We devoted a noon edchat session to listing and debating the myths that we’ve heard about.

 Here are some of the main themes from the discussion: 

  • There are SO many myths out there about education.
  • For a complete list of the myths mentioned during the chat, see the transcript (link below) or this page that lists only the myth.
  • Some ideas came up repeatedly
    • Homework is good/bad
    • Myth: Anyone can teach
    • Myth: Students are tech literate already
    • Myth: Teachers don’t need to teach tech
    • Merit pay is bad
    • Myth: Teachers don’t work hard
    • Myth: More money will solve the problems
    • Myth: standardized testing = learning

Here is a selection of some of the comments: 

With such a vibrant discussion, it’s almost impossible to do it justice in a summary, but I’ve picked out some of the comments that caught my eye.

rkiker @rliberni To move myths aside, one option is to involve community – invite them to see our efforts and dedication #edchat

Lauren_Learning I think we have myths like these because they are more convenient than the truth. #edchat

Mamacita Myth: Barbie was right; math is too hard. Some students don’t need ANY math b/c it makes them work too unfairly hard. #edchat

tomwhitby MYTH: Our teachers are all Media literate and are preparing our kids with the latest tech they need for the 21st Century. #Edchat

CrudBasher Seems to me that many of these myths aren’t 100% true or false. Like kids, there are variations. #edchat

L_Hilt Myth: Peer collaboration is scary because my colleagues will be judging me and stealing my ideas! #edchat

domi75P Myths are a way to present one side only of what really happens

fliegs @rliberni I mean letters to newspaper editors (the print kind). Also we need to write to our congressfolks. Invite them to school. #edchat

domi75P We can change the myths by showing that school has changed

fliegs @rliberni Begin at school by engaging in conversation with the teacher next door. Change the conversation in the staff lounge. #edchat

Akevy613 MYTH: Teachers don’t need D.I. when it comes2 their readiness 4 a new skill or 4 P. D. – A one size fits all model is ok 4 teachers #edchat

MikeGwaltney Myth: Teaching Creativity / Alternative Assessments in core academic courses dumbs down education, and should be reserved for arts. #edchat

azjd Myth Busting: we need to keep pushing true educational leaders / ideas to the forefront of the reform discussion. #edchat

DrSmartEd @domi75P Remember, loudest voices against us are the “Experts” who went to sch &”know.” Showing that it has changed is not enough. #edchat

thenewtag Have to truly understand the root cause/ perspective of believers in order to change “mythical” thinking re” ed or anything else #edchat

elanaleoni @ToddAHoffman Good question. We need to infuse teacher’s voices as much as possible when media covers education 2 change the opinion #edchat

MikeGwaltney Myth held by Ed Reformers in D.C. (can they really believe this?!?!): Life is just like a multiple choice test. #edchat

DanielAyres BUT MANY Teachers BELIEVE THEY are solely responsible for the success of the students = truth? #edchat @MeganLearner 😉

thenewtag     Myth: Pro-teacher accountability is the same as anti-teacher. Studies show MANY tchers support more accountable eval./ hr policies #edchat

ShellTerrell What if we all tried to get our best practices in news like @NMHS_Principal @bhsprincipal @SNewco #vanmeter have managed to do? #Edchat

ToddAHoffman #Myth- Feds determine direction of ed- Fact- Probably less than 5% of your school budget comes from Feds #edchat

Lauren_Learning Love this idea! Highlight what’s working rather than what’s not working 2 create a momentum 2 replicate best practices (@elanaleoni) #edchat

TeachPaperless If preconceptions were people, they’d surely be the critics who didn’t read the book. #edchat

GaryBrannigan Teachers need to become more active in the community and the community needs to become more active in children’s education #edchat

fliegs What are YOU going to do about these myths? #edchat

ShellTerrell Do we need a Myth Busters for Education show? #Edchat

azjd Myth Busting: Education is messy. Reform won’t fit into a neat box – one size doesn’t fit all. #edchat

davidwees Join the “Tell Our Story” project if you want to see some of these myths about education dispelled. http://is.gd/fZ7Ka #edchat

rkiker @ShellTerrell I wish society believed that teachers work incredibly hard – and that it is on of the most difficult professions. #Edchat

davidwees The best public education systems are in countries which have done a much better job of addressing poverty than has the US. #edchat

I would ask that the following question is added to the poll next week:

How can we implement what we believe to be real education transformation?


To follow the complete discussion see here 

For the stats on #edchat participation see here 

As ever, there were some great links shared:

tomwhitby: Don’t Forget Diane Ravitch LIVE Today at 4 PM EDT. Presentation & Discussion. http://bit.ly/duX97e Join Us!

cybraryman1: All these myths are the reason why we need Twitter Academy to show how Ed should be http://cybraryman.com/twitacad.html  #twitacad #edchat

fliegs:  Here is a place to start cataloging myths, facts, and alternatives http://bit.ly/dgjrBC

shamblesguru:  If it is a myth then won’t it be listed at http://snopes.com  all the others are 😉 #edchat #edtech

ShellTerrell:  http://bit.ly/9eSxbo  3 column site for myth, fact, alternative #edchat

cybraryman1: @Mamacita Show the nonbelievers my Poetry page: http://cybraryman.com/poetry.html

mreduhowto: top ten youtube channels for education http://t.co/5dUtiac  via @drezac #edtech #edchat

iearnusa: Myth: “Give them a laptop & pupils will teach themselves” @OLPC [The Guardian] http://j.mp/9qDBXR  @ShellTerrell #edchat

ASCD: No. 1 read for today comes from @DianeRavitch http://bit.ly/cOVgHK  #educationnation #edchat

Qwizdom: Bowie High School demonstrates revolutionized instruction! http://bit.ly/aSVXpM  #edchat #edtech

davidwees:  Fun project. Design the computers of the future. http://is.gd/g8lYz  #edchat #edchat

jonbergmann:  @billgx Individualized lrning via the flipped/mastery clssrm http://bit.ly/3PAZ1K  http://bit.ly/bAX4dN  #edchat

Fliegs: Take a minute to add info to the myth, fact, alt list http://bit.ly/dgjrBC  #edchat

rliberni: Myths in edu a definition http://www.teachersmind.com/myths1.htm

carneysandoe:  Myths about teaching: http://www.teachersmind.com/teaching.htm

ShellTerrell:  Many great myths listed here! Please add them to this Google doc created by @twoodwar http://bit.ly/d1qlGO

jonbergmann:  The best summary of what we are doing to differentiate for all is found at http://bit.ly/aAP9UL

DUMACORNELLUCIA: Internet myths #edtech20 #edchat #etchat #elearning #lrnchat #liveclass20 http://slidesha.re/cQzb2f

MZimmer557:  Here are my 8 misconceptions (myths) about tech integration. Great conversation going. http://j.mp/cfT79S

goashland:  Would like this story framed on the positive! Celebrate innovation in education & creating schools that work… http://ow.ly/19woD8

ShellTerrell: Many great myths listed here! Please add them to this Google doc created by @twoodwar http://bit.ly/d1qlGO

davidwees: Join the “Tell Our Story” project if you want to see some of these myths about education dispelled. http://is.gd/fZ7Ka

publicagenda: How A Whisper Became A Roar: teachers talking about reform http://bit.ly/cvnydl Supporting Teacher Talent http://bit.ly/8M1S5U

web20education : Teachers guide in the classroom #microsoft #edtech20 #edchat #lrnchat #educhat #safedchat… http://fb.me/A7DMxUC3

MarjieKnudsen: Teaching solution-focused skills to #kids http://ow.ly/2VG6R  @CoertVisser #edchat #parenting

olafelch: Charles Murray on Education Myths http://youtu.be/n8GN8g0Si7Q

CrudBasher: @ShellTerrell My blog post today is about how everything is up for changing: http://bit.ly/9LieRI

ShellTerrell:  @TeachPaperless Seems like something your students could produce 😉 I think you have a studio #edchat RE http://bit.ly/9GnZp4

4thGrdTeach:  Are you the reform? I am the reform http://ow.ly/2VWrV

cybraryman1:  No myth I’m in between flights. Thanks for great chat My Myths http://cybraryman.com/myths.HTML

carneysandoe:  @fliegs School Pride on Hulu http://www.hulu.com/watch/186012/school-pride-soaring-eagles

edteck: Myth: Test prep works. My post at http://bit.ly/a2mvhH

lemino: Here’s someone who’s trying to break some myths: Greg Whitby http://youtu.be/OpIYsmRkZew #edchat talking about “a new DNA for education”

Larry Fliegelman has been an elementary principal, middle school assistant principal, and middle school social studies teacher for the last 14 years. Larry tweets at @fliegs and blogs for the Connected Principals and his Principal’s Point of View. Other ways to find Larry online are: 

Shelfari, Flieg’s Views, Diigo, email

New to Edchat?

If you have never participated in an #Edchat discussion, these take place twice a day every Tuesday on Twitter. Over 1,000 educators participate in this discussion by just adding #edchat to their tweets. For tips on participating in the discussion, please check out these posts!

More Edchat


If you’re new to hashtag discussions, then just show up on Twitter on any Tuesday and add just a few tweets on the topic with the hashtag #edchat. 

What do you think? Leave a comment!











October 25, 2010

Total immersion English courses – fast, furious and fun!

So what happens on an immersion course?

Hours of study, lots of homework, tests, grammar exercises, listening and reading and writing exercises to do in the evenings. Plenty of speaking practice of course and the teacher pays quite a lot of attention to pronunciation and other errors.

Immersion courses are a great way of getting a lot of language in a short space of time. They are tough, tiring and possibly tedious (?) but the results are worth the effort.

Most of this is true in one way or another, but tough, tiring and tedious – well not necessarily!!

Total Immersion English - Berni-style!

My group arrived at Leeds airport from Holland late on a Sunday evening. They were a little apprehensive but we launched into the conversation and headed towards the car. I had hired a car as I wasn’t sure we’d all fit comfortably in mine. The first problem was finding it in the car park! The next, trying to move the seats forward so everybody could get in and the third – how to open the boot!!

Not a great start perhaps but they all joined in working out the problems and their apprehensions were forgotten!

The journey must have seemed very long. I asked questions and pointed out landmarks where I could in the dark. We arrived they were allocated their rooms and then we all met in the kitchen for a cup of tea and a brief introduction. The chat was polite, if a little strained and we were to re-visit this episode at the end of the week. Soon we all turned in anticipating the start of the course the next morning.

Working hard - of course!

Day One

Breakfast was great with soft-boiled eggs from our hens and home-made jams and marmalade. Everyone was raring to go and trying their best to use English. Claudia, another student also staying (with her own teacher) was introduced to everyone and the day got off to a very positive start.

We moved into the ‘classroom’ and began. A round-robin of introductions followed by telephone practice, formal/informal language and some useful vocabulary and phrases. A coffee break in the aga-warm kitchen and then back to work. Everybody was working hard and contributing well in English. At the end of the lesson I gave them each a lateral thinking puzzle. This was the real ice-breaker! Not only were the solutions annoying and funny, they also brought out a very competitive streak in the group which formed the basis of a lot of what we did for the remainder of the course!

After lunch we set off on a walk with the dogs. This was a good opportunity to get each student alone for a while and find out what made them tick and where any problems lay. A kind of individual testing – enjoyable, healthy and very productive!

An hour of email practice followed with everybody more relaxed and eager to contribute. We all decamped to the kitchen for a well-earned glass of wine.

Dinner, an amazing paella, had been prepared by my amazing business-woman-student from Colombia (and her teacher) who despite her post beginner level of English was certainly life and soul of the party!! Then the first of our two movie nights – ‘How to Marry a Millionaire’ .

The first day ended on a high with everyone speaking English and great camaraderie!

Day two:

It was cold so we had to light the wood burning stove which is always a challenge! It behaved and we got down to work. Idioms, more telephone practice, lots of office-related vocabulary and above all speaking practice!  The morning ended with a game – Word Battleships – now the battle-lines were drawn and a re-match would be inevitable. (I should point out that my group were all women in their middle years, working and teaching in a university and normally very mild-mannered!)

The magnificent Silver Swan at Bowes Museum.

Our activity this afternoon was a visit to Bowes Museum an we had to be there at 2.00 to see the Silver Swan  strut its stuff. This 18th century, mechanical, swan is wound only once a day at 2.00 p.m. the performance lasts just 40 seconds but it is well worth seeing! We made it by the skin of our teeth but all were satisfied! The rest of the afternoon was spent exploring the ceramics, paintings, rooms sets and other treasures of this amazing museum.

Tea in the museum cafe revealed that the group had amassed a large vocabulary of domestic objects and solicited information from other visitors and the curators! They were proud and I was suitably impressed! We also created our own word for an object they hadn’t managed to identify in English – a butter-float (butter dish) – this was to become the table joke at every meal!

A further lesson on emails and we joined the others for dinner. Our final activity was a trip to the village pub to taste some local beer! A great end to a busy day.

Day Three:

 Our morning sessions are very relaxed now – everybody knows what to expect and we are all very comfortable with each other. We work through the language exercises, all punctuated by laughter and joking – it’s a great atmosphere. The dogs feature large at our coffee breaks and try to join in the lessons too – I think they might be allowed but I am resolute – they are a distraction!

Durham Cathedral - a place worth a visit!

After lunch we all head off to Durham and its wonderful Cathedral. After a visit there, which includes a rehearsal by both the organist and choir – an added bonus, the ladies head off to the shops.

The return journey is quiet – it has been a long day but we have dinner (Shepherds pie) to look forward to and our second movie night. The choice of movie was left up to the group – ‘An Accidental Tourist’ which was less than we had hoped but we endured!

Day Four:

Today we are concentrating on instructions and have decided to use recipes as a launch. Food and the differences between English, Dutch and Colombian cuisine have been very much to the fore over the past few days and so it seemed an appropriate choice. I learn about several Dutch delicacies and they explain scones and christmas pudding! More email etiquette, formal/informal language and we are ready for the daily challenge of Word Battleships – this will be the final encounter!

After lunch we have a tour of the Georgian Theatre in Richmond (N.Yorks), a fish and chip supper and then off to a performance at said theatre.

The tour was excellent – the student who felt on Sunday evening that she wouldn’t say a word all week, asked several questions of the tour guide – we learnt about the theatre in the 18th century explored the auditorium, the dressing rooms and the mechanics under the stage. We moved scenery, created thunder and gasped at the tiny, yet compact little auditorium – the oldest in the country.

We had enjoyed the day immensely and thought it complete, but there were still surprises in store!

 The Georgian theatre is very small and some of the seats are situated over the stage, this makes for inevitable audience participation and the students were all brought into the performance (a play about a British comedian Frankie Howerd). In fact two of them were targeted so much by the main actor that they were in hysterics!

On stage at the Georgian Theatre!

At one point, when volunteers were asked for, my husband was frog-marched backstage to reappear centre stage sporting a centurion helmet and wielding a spear! He delivered an ode with great aplomb and this set all of us into further hysterics. We all had tears rolling down our cheeks.

At the end of the play we were invited to the bar for a glass of wine and we met the actors there. The principal actor told the students that he hoped he hadn’t embarrassed them and was thrilled to know that they had travelled from Holland and Colombia and been taken to see his play. They were bold enough to ask if he would have a photo taken with us all! He was delighted and insisted that we go on to the stage to do this!

The whole experience was thrilling for all of us and we laughed about the experience and re-lived it around the kitchen table well into the night!

Day five:

The final day – we were all a little subdued after the previous evening and a little sad to be finishing what had been an amazing learning adventure together.

We rounded off the week with more language work, an evaluation of the week’s course and some discussion about how to continue the learning process.

After a leisurely lunch I drove them to the airport and we said our goodbyes.

Returning to the house things felt a little flat and quiet. It had been a wonderful 5 days!

I read the comments they had written in a card to me and will share some of them here:

  • “Thanks for this wonderful week. I didn’t expect that English speaking would be so funny!”
  • ” Hope to be back!”
  • “I really felt at home – thanks for making me self-confident!”
  • “We learned a lot and laughed as much!”

The greatest downside for the teacher is that you eat a lot! (preparing typical English dishes and sampling traditions such as afternoon tea!)

The best thing for everybody – it doesn’t matter what you are doing; washing up, looking for lost dogs, learning new phrasal verbs or hobnobbing with actors  – you will be learning :)!!

October 20, 2010

How can Educators regain the initiative in the talks on Education Reform

#Edchat 10-12-2010 – 18:00 CET 12 PM EST


This was a lively edchat and an equally lively summary has been written for us by  Tony Baldasaro (@baldy7). Tony is  regular edchatter and has an impressive bio (see this at the end of the post). He is a great advocate for tech and practises exactly what he preaches in his personal and professional life! Thank you Tony for a great summary.

There has been a lot of discussion lately about education reform.  Fueled by the debut of Waiting for Superman, the $100,000,000 donation by Mark Zuckerberg to Newark Public Schools on the Oprah Winfrey Show, NBC’s much ballyhooed Education Nation, and most recently the Superintendents’ Manifesto along with the rebuttals like the ones offered here and here.  With the exception of Brian Crosby, who wrote this piece in rebuttal to Education Nation in the Huffington Post, what has been missed is the authentic voice of the classroom teacher.  As Brian noted, “Teachers and other actual educators were almost completely absent from nearly every “In-depth” discussion — as were parents and students.”  Thus, on Tuesday October 12th at noon, a group of educators from all around the world met virtually in Twitter.  Using the hashtag #edchat, teachers, administrators, parents, and perhaps even a policy maker or two, all of whom share a passion for education reform and thirst for continual learning, shared their perspectives on how teacher can regain the initiative in the talks about education reform.  

Here are some of the main themes from the discussion: 

  • Practicing educators need to provide more voice to the bigger conversations about education reform.
  • Educator fight the perspective that all adults attended school, thus they “know” how school should be.  However, educators have done little to be proactive in re-educating their respective communities.
  • While teacher unions themselves were not directly criticized, there was consensus that any teacher-led movement should be independent of any professional organization – it should be more grassroots in nature.
  • There was a lot of discussion about the role of media in any grassroots effort, although is often discussed that web2.0 tools could allow teachers voices to be heard without an organized media group involved.
  • Concerns rose of the history to educators to not maintain a consistent voice, while other suggested that a diversity of voices was need to provided multiple dimensions to the issues.
  • Great educators and schools are there to be modeled from.
  • Communities need to be accountable, not only teachers.
  • As per usual, there was much discussion about the role to test scores in the reform process.
  • There is a political process to reform, but true reformers have the courage to step beyond the politics and lead based on principles.
  • Educators need to involve community members and make sure they understand they are stakeholders to the process.

Here is a selection of some of the comments: 

 With such a vibrant discussion, it’s almost impossible to do it justice in a summary, but I’ve picked out some of the comments that caught my eye.

CoachB0066:  Focus on the students, their needs and the world they will enter. And be comfortable w being uncomfortable! Well worth the risk #edchat

 Fliegs:  @Pen63 Unified would be nice, but whatever they say, teachers need to be a driving voice nationally and locally. #edchat

 Ms_Shhh_mala:  I believe public profiles of teaching professionalism, thoughtful commentary on EdReform from T’s are key #edchat

 ShellTerrell:  It seems that more & more public relations is a part of the job description of being an educator #Edchat

 baldy7:  #edchat accountability must be embraced by admin, school boards, and communities too

Pen63:  RT @slaggyc: Its going to take alot of strength. This a battle weve not had to fight before. TRUE – thus the difficulty #edchat

baldy7:  #edchat the problem with inviting community in our classrooms is that they don’t look any different than they did when they were in school.

 ShellTerrell:   #Edchat @rgriffithjr I think solutions most likely coming fr grassroots movmts w teachers taking lead as transformers of the current system

 tomwhitby:  The more we educate people about education the less the sound bites and polls from non educators wil have an impact. #Edchat

baldy7:  #edchat What if we stopped educating the community and started educating WITH the community? Would that challenge our system too much?

 Tina_Barr:  RT @GaryBrannigan: RT @tkraz: Policy makers know what parents want to hear, teachers know what they need to hear. #edchat

 ShellTerrell:  RT @baldy7: #edchat if we can’t get educators to use connective technologies, how do we get them to be transparent

 Nunavut_Teacher:   RT @Pen63: @drdouggreen I only want to be lumped in with those that have the sam e ideas as me, not just the same union dues as me.

 @jgmac1106:   #edchat You don’t take a temperature with a stethascope (sp?) can’t measure learning with standardized test

 Fliegs:   @ShellTerrell Teachers should be using all kinds of media. There are so many of us from several generations and every part of US #Edchat

Teachingwthsoul:  Very cool idea! Imagine the power…RT @baldy7: #edchat we need a million teachers telling a million stories

Lemino:  RT @malcolmbellamy: I think that we need to consider that the media is changing… social media can play a key part in delivering a message #edchat

tomwhitby:  Everyone who has gone to school has an opinion on EDU Reform.We need to examine the foundation of those opinions and dispel the Myths.#Edchat

 JasonFlom:   RT @davidwees: So who’s willing to tell their story? What if each of us contributed a 1 minute positive story of education to our library? #edchat

 Carter_Learning:   embracing technology will enable organic reform; educators often resist it #edchat

 Tomwhitby:  I’m asking for blog posts of positive Edu Reform to be published on Oct 17 with Links on a wallwisher wall. http://bit.ly/a3fH2c #Edchat

To follow the complete discussion see here 

 For the stats on #edchat participation see here 

As ever, there were some great links shared:

ShellTerrell: #edchat @johart “Anyone who has been a student feels that they are more qualified to speak on (cont) http://tl.gd/6erv7l

malcolmbellamy:  we need to have more media attention on gr8 practitioners like Brian Crosby see http://malbell.wordpress.com/?s=brian+crosby  #edchat

smartinez:  Interview with @smartinez (me!) tonight on LearnCentral w/ @stevehargadon 8PM/5PM EDT/PDT http://bit.ly/draI5t  #edchat #edtech

for #edchat discussion – share your successes with policymakers at local, state and federal levels. http://bit.ly/M0bLT  ETAN  for ed tech

carolynstarkey:  Education Week: Number of Ed. Civil Rights Complaints on the Rise http://t.co/phmUf2K  via @educationweek #edchat #highered

SloanConsortium: Habitats for Academic Freedom – http://bit.ly/d2w0ec #highered #edchat

davidwees:  We could create our own documentary on the positive change education can make. http://is.gd/fYRcc

edReformer: The Incentivized Principal http://bit.ly/9Beiw 

jonbergmann:  More info on how we are changing ed http://bit.ly/akGOEW  http://bit.ly/bAX4dN http://bit.ly/bE6TCC  http://bit.ly/99NdZh

heoj:  btw here’s a lesson plan in which students make documentaries about their own schools http://nyti.ms/dnC7gR

Tina_Barr: @teachingwthsoul Oprah and Facebook CEO have been advocates. http://bit.ly/dt3lDT

davidwees:  @EMGonline High school dropouts are much more expensive. http://is.gd/fYRXW

veletsianos:  #edchat re: teacher videos: would LOVE to include your video stories in a project we are doing launching this weekend: http://bit.ly/cMJbbm

tomwhitby: I’m asking 4 blog posts of positive Edu Reform 2 be published on Oct 17 w/ Links on a wallwisher http://bit.ly/a3fH2c

AdobeEdu:  @Adobe booth presentation schedule for #EDUCAUSE10 can be found here http://bit.ly/dgV3Yl #edchat #edtech #adobe

ShellTerrell:  Stay tuned! We will be posting soon how to involve yourself in Youtube proj here http://bit.ly/cM28Mm  #edchat We need ur help!

lemino:  Here’s a video on #edreform created using google docs http://youtu.be/dGCJ46vyR9o

tomwhitby:  Pls take the time. This video is one step in Edu Reform. Dean Shareski>”Sharing: The Moral Imperative” http://bit.ly/ba6YRN

ToddAHoffman:  More schools are using video games to get students moving #edtech #edchat http://sbne.ws/r/5QS7

ShellTerrell: Wow! RT @NZWaikato: Students available to Tutor other students via Skype in Maori Language/Culture http://bit.ly/czrDCW

ShellTerrell: Fantastic ! #Edchat RT @veletsianos: we have a similar project looking @ teacher roles & memorable teachers: beta site http://bit.ly/9XQ36x

christal_t:  Bill Gates is funding novel Ed Tech ideas & online courses via @berniedodge http://tinyurl.com/36a6ckg #edtech #edchat #elearning #mlearning

veletsianos:  Teacher Ed reform recommendations from UT: http://bit.ly/alb9Cu  #edchat #edtech #edreform

ShellTerrell: Goes nicely with the today’s topic! A Culture of Blame? http://bit.ly/deBfQx  via @JoHart #edchat #edreform

Hello, my name is Tony Baldasaro. I am the Chief Human Resource Officer and Personalized Pathways Administrator at The Virtual Learning Academy Charter School. In addition to supervising the school’s rapidly growing faculty (The school opened with 40 teachers in January 2008. We now have approximately 125), I partner with local school to help students meet competencies (NH is moving away from the traditional Carnegie Unit) and develop Experiential Learning Opportunities which allow students to earn high school credit through a blend of experiential and online learning. VLACS has very quickly become a disrupting force in New Hampshire public education as our enrollment has exploded from 450 in January of ’08 to an estimated 9,000 at this time. This has not only triggered many debates at the state level relative to funding, but also pushed conversations in the education community toward a more flexible approach to educating New Hampshire students. It is an incredible feeling knowing that you are part of a team of educators changing the way students are educated. Intoxicating really.

In addition, I have worked hard to expand my professional learning network.  I tweet regularly, bookmark on delicious and diigo, contribute to my photostream in Flickr, write in my blog, and continue to develop a presence on Linked In. Finally, like many other people, I have developed a particular addiction to Facebook- although I don’t understand why people who would give me the time of day twenty years ago in high school suddenly think we are now friends!

In my personal life, I spend a lot of time with my wife (Kelli) and three kids (Ben, Beth and Emma). We live in Stratham, NH which is ten minutes from the New Hampshire seacoast, and an hour from the lakes and mountains to the north or Boston to to the south. If I am not at work, I am usually at a hockey rink, a horse barn, a soccer field, a football field, a basketball court, a baseball/softball diamond, or cross country meet cheering on my kids in some sort of sporting event. Like many kids, my kids like to be active and be with friends and Kelli and I feel really lucky to have three healthy children who enjoy doing the things that kids enjoy doing. When we have time, we enjoy going to Lake Winnipesaukee and the beach (I much prefer the lake over the beach), going geocaching, cheering on the Red Sox and Patriots both on TV and in person, and taking short, family-friendly hikes. We also really like going to Boston for an afternoon or weekend to try to absorb some of the energy that at big city exudes.

So, let me leave you with my contact information:
Twitter: baldy7
skype: tbaldasaro
email: tbaldasaro@gmail.com
delicious: tbaldasaro
diigo: baldy7
posterous: tbaldasaro
blog: www.transleadership.wordpress.com
Flickr: tonybaldasaro

New to Edchat?

If you have never participated in an #Edchat discussion, these take place twice a day every Tuesday on Twitter. Over 1,000 educators participate in this discussion by just adding #edchat to their tweets. For tips on participating in the discussion, please check out these posts!

More Edchat


If you’re new to hashtag discussions, then just show up on Twitter on any Tuesday and add just a few tweets on the topic with the hashtag #edchat. 

What do you think? Leave a comment!

October 18, 2010

“How should the observation procedure be made a positive, teaching, and coaching model?”

#Edchat 10-5-2010 – 18:00 CET 7 PM EST

This is the second of David Wee’s #edchat blog posts. Thank you David! See David’s bio at the end of the post.

So many teachers struggle with the observation procedure; especially our newest members of the profession. Many school districts have adopted rigid formats for observations which are inflexible and have stopped being a learning tool for the teacher being observed. While there are other possible secondary purposes of teacher observations, our primary purpose should be to help teachers improve their practice.

Our discussion today is especially relevant given the push to use standardized tests to evaluate teachers. While we know this is educationally unsound, our systems of teacher observations in many schools leave a lot to be desired. It is important that we share best practices about the teacher observation process since this process is something which should eventually happen to every teacher and could be a counterweight for the undesirable effect of relating teacher performance to the performance of their students.

Although this is not currently the case for me, I personally feel that teachers are not observed often enough. Many educators wait years for formal observations and rely on their students as their only source of feedback as to their practice. Even an informal observation with feedback can have a huge improvement on an educators practice. Feedback is an integral part of the learning process; every educator needs to be given timely, high quality, and constructive feedback on a regular basis.

Here are some of the main themes from the discussion:

  • Peer observation is a powerful tool; administrators are not the only ones who should be doing teacher observations.
  • Observations must include constructive feedback for the teacher on an ongoing basis.
  • Some models of teacher observation are stressful experiences with a much diminished opportunity for improvement from the teacher as a result of the experience.
  • Observations need to be done frequently with timely feedback provided.
  • Self-reflection is an important part of the teacher observation process.

Here is a selection of some of the comments:

With such a vibrant discussion, it’s almost impossible to do it justice in a summary, but I’ve picked out some of the comments that caught my eye.

  • @corriekelly – #edchat Peer observation/reflection can be powerful after trust is established. Can lead to better tchg & more collaboration.
  • @Akevy613 – I think it should be teacher driven; ask the teacher for areas that they would like for you to particularly observe- #edchat
  • @andycinek – Teachers should never feel like their job is in jeopardy when being observed, and admin needs to create a culture of growth #edchat
  • @mrdfleming – I wish I’d be observed more frequently. #edchat
  • @gfred33 – Peer observation needs to be part of the process. #edchat
  • @MoYChang – As a principal I learn a lot by asking the students what are you learning and why –the teachers appreciate students response also. #edchat
  • @Talkinitupagain – An extremely powerful tool is to have someone video record u. Really shows if u look and sound like u think u do. #edchat
  • @kylepace – Admins in my district use an iPod Touch app to do more informal walkthroughs/observations. #edchat
  • @ChrisVacek – #edchat shouldn’t all procedures, in all fields, be built to function as positive teaching & coaching opportunities? don’t we want this?
  • @tkraz – Observation of one class is like judging a coach based on one practice throughout an entire season. #edchat
  • @cybaryman1 – I would love to see administrators teach lesson & have teachers do observation reports on their teaching #edchat
  • @danielespejo – teacher observation/assessment should be for the purpose of student learning. Observations should be openly discussed #edchat
  • @Nunavut_Teacher – Observation does not have to be a “formal” time. Admin should be dropping by and saying hi each day to every class. #edchat
  • @math2go – All evals should include ‘opportunities to improve.’ We are none of us perfect. #edchat
  • @MrFoteah – Admins often have so much going on that it’s hard for them to get around to visit. How about inviting them in, though? #edchat
  • @TheDSCWay – Lesson Study is a PD process that engages in systematically examining their practice, with the goal of becoming more effective #edchat
  • @monk51295 – what if the convos between admin and teachers were simply .. what did you learn this week..accountability to learning #edchat
  • @jswiatek – I was disappointed when none of my admins stepped one foot into my classroom last year. I WANTED them to see what my kids were doing #edchat
  • @blujayy – I think teachers should be observed once a week if time permits. An honest critique is very helpful. #edchat
  • @oline73 – I think we should observe our peers too. I’d love to get feedback from more experienced teachers and visit them as well. #edchat

I would ask that the following question is added to the poll next week:

What should be the role of art & multimedia in today’s classroom?

To follow the complete discussion see here

For the stats on #edchat participation see here

As ever, there were some great links shared :

justintarte:  http://bit.ly/b1dT37 – Check out my blog – helping educators grow through sharing and collaboration! #edchat #edtech #edreform #cpchat

gbengel:  Just blogged on thinking outside the ban http://bit.ly/9H8UWg. Thanks #tsetc and @innovativeEdu. #edchat #mlearning #nyscate

sinetpd360:  Blog: Free ELL Webinar from WestEd http://bit.ly/bojt1Z  #edchat #education #cpchat

briankotts:  October 5, Happy World Teachers’ Day! http://bit.ly/9Uvy23  #teachertuesday #edchat #ukedchat #edtech #education #edu

cybraryman1:  My Observation page (Walkthroughs, tips, forms & Tom Whitby pictures): http://bit.ly/9HbM7Z

MarjieKnudsen:  The Fake Revolution | Huffington Post – http://huff.to/aXUtA3  #teaching #edreform #edu #edchat #education

getideas:  #Edchat in re peer observation, Jim Lengel / Hunter College case study: http://bit.ly/aJrWoq

4thGrdTeach:  So you think Student Blogging is just for Fun? http://ow.ly/2P37d  #edchat #cpchat #ntchat #elemchat

Wkingbg:  Attend or Present at TEACHMEETKY on Oct. 22 at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY http://tinyurl.com/teachmeetky

kylepace: @eliza_peterson Here’s the link to the walkthough app I was talking about: http://bit.ly/aQg48V

getideas:  #Edchat – Is this the @NPRnews story on teach eval folks are looking for? http://bit.ly/bPq0Pl

cybraryman1:  Check out @bhsprincipal post on Walkthroughs on my Observations page: http://bit.ly/9HbM7Z

dannymaas: Some nice examples of student Voicethreads http://ow.ly/2P0l6  #edchat #edtech #cpchat #elemchat

#edchat yes to @tkraz‎: Better to video a teacher and *watch it together?* Again, see the Lengel/Hunter success case: http://bit.ly/aJrWoq

SafinaN:  @thenerdyteacher In Ontario leaders must meet certain competency reqt’s http://bit.ly/aK90nJ

n2teaching:  #edchat http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bp6jzqfLE_8: an adaptation of the Critical Friends Group; learner.org

kylepace:  @oline73 For walkthroughs? http://ow.ly/2P3XM

colonelb: We just finished first year pilot of system modeled after Danielson’s work. http://is.gd/fMUKL Conversations were strongest part.

web20classroom:  Thanks everyone for a great #edchat. Remember to keep conversations going on FB: http://on.fb.me/dBHUOq  and on http://edupln.com

thenerdyteacher: Project PLN Issue #2 is here. Check it out! #edchat – http://bit.ly/9AMH5m

tomwhitby:  EDU WEEK leadership Panel. http://bit.ly/at5XYH  Using Ed-Tech Tools for Individualizing Education. @NMHS_Principal and @tomwhitby #Edchat

gcouros:  Eight habits of highly effective 21st century teachers http://bit.ly/bKSxE8  #cpchat #edchat

David Wees has taught in Brooklyn, London, Bangkok, and Vancouver in public, parochial, and private education. His diverse experiences have given him a unique perspective on education systems worldwide. He has written an out of date textbook on Mathematics and blogs regularly at http://davidwees.com.



New to Edchat?

If you have never participated in an #Edchat discussion, these take place twice a day every Tuesday on Twitter. Over 400 educators participate in this discussion by just adding #edchat to their tweets. For tips on participating in the discussion, please check out these posts!


More Edchat



If you’re new to hashtag discussions, then just show up on Twitter on any Tuesday and add just a few tweets on the topic with the hashtag #edchat.

What do you think? Leave a comment!

October 16, 2010

Is the rapid development and use of of technology in education shifting educators from a desire for change to a need for change to stay relevant and literate?

#Edchat 10-5-2010 – 18:00 CET 12 PM EST

Firstly apologies for being so long in posting this blog (Virtual Round Table duties and teaching two courses this week) – a brilliant summary from David Wees (see bio at end of post) @davidwees, who has provided blog posts for both #edchats on October 5th (2nd one following )!! Great work David. David is a regular at #edchat and always has great links and information to share. I’m sure you will agree that  two posts from David we are truly blessed! Thank you for the dedication and enthusiasm David!

It is absolutely essential that educators remain up to date on current developments in our world. It is amazing how fast change is occurring and it will not be long before the content based curriculum we have will no longer be relevant. Changes in our society and the technology we use which once took centuries to develop and unfold now happen in the span of a single year.

So I would say that we should not be talking about a desire to change as we have already moved into a definite need for change. There was very little disagreement about this in our discussion in #edchat today which was definitely encouraging for me, given that I have already written about this topic and formed my own opinion. It was nice to have my opinion validated though.

We should be teaching our students a curriculum based on the skills they will probably need to be successful in their future. Most of the content we teach can be easily learned when necessary and does nothing to prepare our students. Worse, much of what we teach is out of date and does not reflect the reality of our rapidly changing world.

Here are some of the main themes from the discussion:

  • Educators are afraid of change and of the future.
  • Students need to learn how to learn more than they need to learn what we know.
  • Time in our schedules to actually implement these changes is essential.
  • These skills cannot be measured with a standardized test.
  • We need to share more of what we know as a profession.

Here is a selection of some of the comments:

With such a vibrant discussion, it’s almost impossible to do it justice in a summary, but I’ve picked out some of the comments that caught my eye.

  • @davidwees – Within a few years the human knowledge base will be increasing faster than our ability to match curriculum to it. #edchat
  • @shellterrell – I believe there is the need to change the system to include tech, but adding an IWB in every schl & no support not the solution #Edchat
  • @jonbergmann – Many tchrs today are too afraid of change. But their kids have changed. It is time for change #edchat
  • @EdTechEvolution – In other words, is change serving as a means to an end, or is it becoming an end unto itself? #edchat
  • @bhsprincipal – There must be models where teachers are give time within traditional schedules. We need to share them. #edchat
  • @schoology – Perhaps there needs to be more #edtech training brought to the curriculum in training to be a teacher #edchat
  • @rliberni – Is there a danger we may put put tech before the learning/content if we move too fast? #edchat
  • @L_Hilt – #edchat And let’s give time for “Tech” when it connects to meaningful learning. Show me how time spent on the initiative will benefit kids.
  • @hadleyjf – Teachers sharing with each other is very powerful PD! #edchat
  • @BLicata – Why do we need traditional schedules? Why cant we be creative instead of confined to time #edchat
  • @andycinek – At the end of the day, whether we use tech or not, we need to create a dynamic learning environment for students #edchat
  • @MaggieSwitz – Admin needs to use “carrots” to encourage teachers to experiment with tech, not sticks if they fail #edchat
  • @Carter_Learning – tech moves SO fast; can education as an institution possibly keep up? #edchat
  • @schoology – We need to get the idea of “FAILING” out of our vocab. Turn education to experimenting/exploring #edchat
  • @tucksoon – Exponential growth spur by tech as seen on “Do you know” video reminded us that tech is not an option in edu #edchat
  • @MaggieSwitz – We only move forwards when the student eventually overtakes the teacher #edchat
  • @vickicobb – @rliberni we need to change the image of the teacher as an authority with answers to a learning facilitator not afraid of mistakes. #edchat
  • @hakan_sentrk – when teaching tech to newbies do not use your own language but the language of your audience. they will be grateful. #edtech #edchat

I would ask that the following question is added to the poll next week:

  • What changes have we seen to our understanding of the world are critical that our students know?

To follow the complete discussion see here

For the stats on #edchat participation see here

As ever, there were some great links shared:

bcnpaul1: running shoes or no running shoes… coursebook or no coursebook… http://bit.ly/aSbGNC

davidwees:  Read this article I wrote about the desperate need to change how we structure schools. http://wees.it/needtochange

EDUCATIONCEO: Who are the education “experts”? Celebrities or those on the ground? http://wp.me/pFMKw-mv

AmpChats: Working Smarter in Berlin, with @JayCross and @Hjarche > #lrnchat #edchat #collaboration #learning http://bit.ly/dibXNr

jonbergmann:  @bhsprincipal Chk out our model of blended learning: http://bit.ly/3PAZ1K and http://bit.ly/dwA6to #edchat to see how to make it work

bhsprincipal: Our last PD Day gave teachers time http://bit.ly/bXKBCF #edchat – They loved it!

chalkdust49:  Replace ‘baseball’ with teachers http://chir.ps/7T5  #edchat

ShellTerrell:  According to Seth Godin we need to continue rooting Tchrs new to tech on, esp when they struggle http://bit.ly/9ZNHV3

jonbergmann:  We have a model that is working and catching on: the “flipped classroom” Daniel Pink referenced us http://bit.ly/b5mu5r

cybraryman1: @rliberni One Computer in a Classroom links: http://bit.ly/bjFq3d

patgrove:  We need to help our students become independent learners that means change http://bit.ly/bXAJMV #NMS30 #NMSPLC

jonbergmann:  Our sch (sci dept) has moved to a mastery blended flipped classroom. Very effective for student learning http://bit.ly/bE6TCC

andycinek: We also need to understand that tech integration WILL inevitably fail! But must persevere http://bit.ly/9nMz1D

Mr_Johansson:  Ready for a tear-jerker example of what students can do? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eeR-YKj05_M

Carter_Learning:  We can use technology stdnts already bring with ’em http://bit.ly/dzDq0Q

NMHS_Principal:  Here is @tomwhitby in a suit #edchat http://mypict.me/cQ4De

markbrumley: If you have seen @ijukes presentations, you know change is necessary or we are in trouble! http://ow.ly/2OPov

andycinek:  Hey #edchat I must B on my way, but if U R looking 4 exciting tech lessons 4 your classroom check the #iTeach180 Proj. http://bit.ly/TpB8

EdTechEvolution:  Must leave – be brave and celebrate it, everyone! Thank you for the insights today. http://bit.ly/6hLhDY

RobertBorgersen:  @ImagineLearning Just got an article published on being open minded 4 using tech for ed. http://tinyurl.com/3y427fy

tsetc:  Great article about #teachers coming together to learn about #edtech http://ht.ly/2OPUe

cybraryman1:  My Tech Integration in subject areas page: http://bit.ly/9AB2tS

schoology:  To learn more about how to collaborate & engage students while implementing #edtech chk out http://ht.ly/2OQbc

MissCheska:  @monicamalpas77 This blog post by @TeachPaperless (tips on tech snafus) might help http://bit.ly/93IFLO

vmc_teachers:  Thank you all for the #edchat Don’t forget to thank the teachers that don’t give up! And share your photos of WTD! http://bit.ly/cGxQ5c+

hakan_sentrk:  first presentation I had for our “frightened” teachers: http://bit.ly/952UXy

ShellTerrell:  Several tutorials, lessons, and more for using a variety of #edtech tools effectively with students http://bit.ly/c2vE2I

yongclee: Great call to action from @chrislehmann: This isn’t an education debate http://huff.to/9VPuDK


David Wees has taught in Brooklyn, London, Bangkok, and Vancouver in public, parochial, and private education. His diverse experiences have given him a unique perspective on education systems worldwide. He currently teaches in a small private school called Stratford Hall in Vancouver where he is the Learning Specialist for Technology. He has also written an already out of date textbook on Mathematics and he blogs regularly at http://davidwees.com

New to Edchat?

If you have never participated in an #Edchat discussion, these take place twice a day every Tuesday on Twitter. Over 400 educators participate in this discussion by just adding #edchat to their tweets. For tips on participating in the discussion, please check out these posts!


More Edchat



If you’re new to hashtag discussions, then just show up on Twitter on any Tuesday and add just a few tweets on the topic with the hashtag #edchat.

What do you think? Leave a comment!

October 1, 2010

Sharing diaries – Writing from the heart

This is the 3rd and final part in my series on writing for a wider audience. In this final piece I want to look at diaries and how, although more intimate and certainly very authentic pieces of writing, they can still be shared.


Writing Diaries

From time immemorial diaries have been an obvious genre of writing for use with students. There are many different ways of approaching diary writing from formal work schedules through daily records to very personal commentaries.

A recent development of the diary format can been in the use of Learner Diaries. This is an excellent and personal way for a student to record their learning both in terms of  progress and also personal reaction to the process and results. It can be at once a practical and a reflective piece of writing. As such it is highly personal and allows the freedom to be more creative.

In a classroom situation students will share their learner diaries with the teacher and perhaps with each other too. When students are studying alone, it may seem pointless to keep such a diary as there is no one to read it (this is not necessarily a good reason not to write one) and who is going to correct it?

See Nik Peachey’s piece on Learner Diaries

I think there are two things to say here.

  • Firstly, keeping a learner diary just for yourself is a valuable thing to do. You will develop a record of your learning which can be very revealing about your journey through the process and it will help you to develop and progress your skills in the future.
  • Secondly, taking into account my previous suggestion in posts 1 and 2 about joining communities online, you can share your diary if you want to. Being an independent learner does not mean being an isolated learner and finding these groups can be part of the e-learning  process.

A personal experience of sharing a student’s learner diary.

So, I’d like to share a diary with you which was written by my student (face 2 face) after staying here for a week in the summer. I hadn’t actually asked him to do this as part of the learning (although I do often ask my face to face and online e-learners to do this).

The student is a dentist and we  had spent a pretty intensive week on a mix of general English and work on several presentations that he was going to be giving internationally.

When the week was over I realised that I had forgotten to get him to give me an evaluation on the week and some thoughts (which I could publish) on the efficacy of the immersion experience he had spent here in Yorkshire.  However, I felt that we had built a good working relationship and that I could ask him for a sentence or two retrospectively.

Imagine my great surprise when the week after the course I began to receive, via email, instalments of his diary that he had written each evening after the day’s work. I was gobsmacked!

It is an amazing piece of writing, full of life and energy and it really captures the week we shared together. When I asked if I could share this on me site he was delighted! I feel so privileged to have been sent this and I feel even more honoured that I am able to share it with you here.

I have made very few changes (although I did go over it thoroughly with him) as I think it it’s ‘raw’ state it has a great deal of energy that I could only spoil.

This a great learner diary!

Ezio’s Diary

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

I was lucky enough to have others share their experiences in blogs and videos too. Here is a collection of their reflections and another way that students can share their learning experiences with a wider audience.

More reflections on learning experiences



Part one of the series – Using blogs to help your writing skills, the how, the why and the what

Part two of the series Getting your voice heard – authentic writing for English language students

 Other posts in writing:

Warning, mistakes cost marks!

7 Deadly sins to avoid in your writing.

7 Great virtues to help you write well in English

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