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Friday, July 1, 2011

The Little Engine That Tried

Several months back, I suggested  we should be demonstrating our newest technology tools at school board meetings - specifically - Promethean boards. After all, we've spent a lot of money over the last 5 years purchasing and installing these devices in every classroom to "improve" learning. Wouldn't it be great for the public to see how these devices worked?

My thinking was  when a question was asked, the presenter could go to the smart board and pull up answers from their files and/or internet. This would be much better than a power point presentation where the data couldn't be changed and answers could be given on the spot. It would also demonstrate that the folks in our district office were well versed in the latest technology  they require their staff to use - you know - a little walking the talk.

A couple of months ago - a portable Promethean board was added to the board room and I look forward to our staffs creative use of it. Which brings me to this post from the tech the plunge blog:

Are Too Many Educators The Little Engine That Couldn’t?

by JEFFREY THOMAS on JUNE 24, 2011
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”
— Henry Ford
In the past week or so there has been a friendly exchange of dueling posts between Scott McLeod and Paul Bogush about incorporating social media into teacher’s lives.
The above posts are interesting takes on social media and where they belong or don’t belong in education. I’m not going to try and speak for the authors–they do that for themselves quite capably. That being said, I think they are both right!
How can they both be right? I believe that educators need to not only incorporate social media into their lives but all of technology. I also believe that time is limited and it is indeed difficult to find the time to do it correctly and lead a “balanced” life.
What I don’t believe is that you shouldn’t try! How can you evaluate social media and/or edtech if you don’t try? How do you know if you don’t have the time if you don’t try? Obviously both McLeod and Bogush have tried and come to two completely different ways that they will incorporate social media into their lives. That’s their right and they tried! What I don’t understand is all the educators who have strong opinions about social media and edtech without ever trying to learn about it. What are their opinions based on? Many resort to the “I am not remotely interested in knowing about what someone had for lunch” about Twitter and don’t even realize that they are illustrating their complete lack of knowledge on the subject. Why? They haven’t tried!
We supposedly learned about trying way back in elementary school. I’m not sure that anyone is not familiar with “The Little Engine That Could.” It has been a long time since I’ve read the book and I sure didn’t have it laying around the house. So I searched for it on Google and found that YouTube has the animated feature split into three parts. (The old 10 minute rule)
I remembered that it was possible to combine YouTube videos but what I didn’t remember was how. I did remember that Larry Ferlazzo has a “Best” list for almost everything so I searched and found “Drag On Tape” Lets You Easily Splice Together Portions Of Different YouTube Videos
Here is the result:

The Little Engine That Could

Maybe it’s time we watch or read The Little Engine That Could again. We all have students with different skill sets in our classroom. We know that each student will take a different approach to learning and end up with different results. We’re all fine with that as long as they try! Shouldn’t we expect the same thing from educators? It’s amazing what you can do when you try–just ask The Little Engine That Could!

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