📰 Read Write Respond #033

My Month of September (and August)

There are times when the mind says go and the body says no. Last month was one of those times. The whole family was struck down. This meant skipping the August newsletter. I am subsequently late getting this month out as we have just returned from a week away with the family in Fiji to celebrate ten years of marriage.

On the work front, I have been spending time speaking with different schools about reporting. It is always good to test out the solution. However, it always raises further questions, which I have been progressively working through.

In regards to my learning, I was lucky enough to attend the Google Innovator Energizer, exploring the cultures of change. I also presented at K-12 Digital Classroom Practice Conference 2018 on blogging and ongoing reporting.

In other areas, I have been listening to Dreams, Emma Louise, Darren Middleton and Troye Sivan. I also managed to get the IndieWeb Reader working. I have used Granary to add in my Twitter feed as a means of responding from my own site. It still is not perfect, but definitely shows a potential for a future where we all own our own data.

Warwick Resort, Coral Coast, Fiji

In regards to my writing, here was my month in posts:

Reporting on Reporting – Innovation, People and the Process of Change

Thoughts on Presentations and Professional Development

Here then are some of the thoughts that have also left me thinking …

Learning and Teaching

Twenty Two Projects to Challenge, Inspire and Engage Your Students: Bianca Hewes collects together a number of her project outlines that she has created with Canva. As with Kath Murdoch’s inquiry journeys, Hewes provides some great provocations. Although some of them could easily be translated, their strength lies in thinking differently. In addition, I too like Canva and use it to create the covers for this newsletter. For a different take, check out Benjamin Doxtdator’s investigation of the history of PBL.

These project outlines are all based on my PBL model, which is explained in my two books Are Humans Wild At Heart? and Why Do We Tell Stories? Both of these are published through Hawker Brownlow Education and are full of projects for English teachers to run with their students. Please, please if you use these projects OR if you use my model of PBL (discover, create, share), it would mean SOOO much to me if you credited my work. Many of the Praxis projects below were co-created with my very creative colleagues James Blanch and Kate Munro. Please respect our hard work by being thoughtful in your acknowledgement of your sources.

Teaching Boys: Deborah Netolicky reflects on her experience of teaching boys. She highlights three aspects: boys need a safe and trusting environment with high support and high challenge, boys respond to engaging curriculum content and boys benefit from regular, tangible feedback, a mixture of role-models, as well as hope and persistence. As I think about my own experiences teaching and parenting, I am left wondering why these approaches do not apply for girls too? Another interesting read on the topic is Adam Boxer’s question of boys and competition.

Schools and teachers can play a part in what kinds of behaviours and successes are normalised and rewarded within the school environment. Those working in schools can ask themselves questions about how gender is normalised. Are boys encouraged to be alpha competitors or are quieter achievement and ways of being also noticed and rewarded? Is the catchphrase ‘boys will be boys’ or ‘he was just joking’ used to dismiss put-downs of others or the objectification of women? Is strength and success measured by sporting prowess and outward expressions of courage or by a range of possible successes in multiple arenas? What does ‘courage’ mean to the school community? Are multiple ways of ‘being a man’ celebrated and held up as exemplars?

The Game of Quotes: Heather Marshall adapts the game Bring Your Own Book for the classroom. This involves a series of prompts to help think differently about what you are reading. Marshall also discusses creating your own prompts. This activity reminds me of the Hot Seat activity, where students are challenged to think more deeply about the text. I really like the idea of the Game of Quotes as a revision activity.

I created a presentation in Google slides with a couple of prompts. I used animations so that the students wouldn’t see the prompt until it was time, and silent reading instantly became a fun game! The room was filled with laughing, and page turning, and whispers of “I want to read that!” When was the last time a reading log or an online quiz caused a stir of echoes in the classroom?

The “Always Check” Approach to Online Literacy: Mike Caulfield continues his work on fact checking arguing that we need to develop the habit of doing a check every time we engage with a new link. He makes the comparison with checking your rear view mirrors when driving. Caulfield focuses on two steps: what is the site and is this new report correct/true. In a world where abundance is only a click away, maybe we are at a point where it is time to reassess what that actually means.

Now imagine a world where checking your mirrors before switching lanes was rare, three standard-deviations-out behavior. What would the roads look like?

Toolographies — the new essential ingredient of student research?: Matt Esterman proposes extending the idea of a bibliography to include the tools used. This is an interesting idea in the evolving place of research and libraries.

Perhaps we need to have students include a toolography, a list — perhaps annotated — of the tools they used to source, to organise and to present their information.

Responding to Challenging Behaviours with Elizabeth Saunders: Cameron Malcher speaks with Elizabeth Saunders about her work on challenging behaviour in the classroom. This comes back to the right to learn and be safe. What this looks like differs based on classroom and context. Saunders points out that this often comes back to differentiation and other proctive measures, rather than having students removed and isolated. It is interesting to listen to this interview alongside those from Katherine Birbalsingh and Paul Dix.

Elizabeth Saunders discusses the issue of students with challenging behaviours and how to respond to and engage with such students in order to overcome obstacles and maintain focus on learning in the classroom.

Edtech

“Seeing New Worlds” danah boyd on Team Human: In a conversation between danah boyd and Doug Rushkoff, she explains that at the heart of our current problems with media, facts and trust is capitalism. By design, capitalism gives you what you want. The problem though is that capitalism and democracy are no longer constrained within nation states as they may have been in the past. There is neither the opportunity for ‘nationalistic paternalism’ to moderate wants nor a means of managing different groups. Media in a multi-national environment has become confusing. We are now in a world of networks and social graphs. All media companies are in the business for amplification, the problem has therefore become what is amplified, which as so many have pointed out is often at the extremes. danah boyd says that we need an intervention, but to achieve that we firstly need t appreciate all the micro-decisions that got us to here. How do we deal with these well intended decisions when they have negative implications? One of the challenges is filling the data voids, rather than blocking various search terms we need to develop the content that maybe missing. For those who may not have kept up with boyd’s work since It’s Complicated, this is a really good introduction.

If we don’t support young people in building out a strategically rich graph, they will reinforce the worst segments of our society.

Leave No Dark Corner: Matthew Carney provides an insight into the digital dictatorship that China is exerting over its citizens through the use of “social credit”. This is a part of the wider global push of surveillance to use facial recognition in schools, universities and shopping centres. Yu Hua provides a different perspective on China’s rise, looking at the changes in generations. Foreign Correspondence also reported on the topic.

Social credit will be affected by more than just internet browsing and shopping decisions. Who your friends and family are will affect your score. If your best friend or your dad says something negative about the government, you’ll lose points too. Who you date and ultimately partner with will also affect social credit.

Are All Voices Equal?: Dean Shareski reflects on the place of voice in education. Whether it be students in the classroom or educators online, he argues that there are times when some voices are more important than others. This continues the argument that Thomas Guskey recently made about merely searching the web. I wonder where this leaves participatory culture, comments and blogging? Is it a reminder that such acts are first and fore-mostly selfish? Nick Jackson argues that it all depends on context.

I’m grateful for the advent of the web and social media by providing me with a voice. I’ve been able to publish many ideas over that last 12 years that previously would have only lived in my head. Through that publishing, I’ve been able to think through some things and had the benefit of others to add their thoughts as well. However, as much as this has democratized knowledge, it has also diluted the importance of expertise. The barriers of the previous publishing world lacked the ability to include all voices but it did help identify expertise. As adults and educators, I think we have to work harder to identify the smart people and allow their ideas to be heard over the din of social media. Expertise is not found in followers but on the quality and evidence of ideas that have proven the test of time.

Big Tech’s problem is Big, not Tech: Cory Doctorow provides a snapshot of the world of Big Tech we are in. He asks the question, why would we ask people to code if as it is becoming so it is illegal to do so? Doctorow puts forward the plea that human dignity and flourishing are bound up in the ability to act rather than be acted upon. If technology monopolies lock us away, this is clearly restricted. For more on Big Tech, read how Facebook is tackling moderation or how Google is controlling Android.

In this keynote address, author and advocate, Cory Doctorow, argues that Big Tech is a problem, but the problem isn’t “Tech,” it’s “BIG.” Giants get to bend policy to suit their ends, they get to strangle potential competitors in their infancy, they are the only game in town, so they can put the squeeze on users and suppliers alike.

The New York Times Fired My Doppelgänger: Quinn Norton discusses the complexities of online identity and the associated context collapse. She shares her experience of being hired and fired by the New York Times after a Twitter account was created that retweeted the past out of context. This is a fascinating insight into the world we are now in when, right or wrong, the past never sleeps.

Don’t internet angry. If you’re angry, internet later.

Your DNA Is Not Your Culture: Sarah Zhang discusses Spotify’s move to team up with AncestryDNA to provide richer results. To me, the strength of Spotify is big data, whether it be in choice or collections. Through the use of algorithms this data can uncover some interesting and sometimes novel patterns, but the move to inject ancestory into the mix surely is stretching it too far?

It’s a nice message. But it elides history. Mixed ancestry does not necessarily mean a harmonious coexistence, past or future. African Americans have, on average, 24 percent European ancestry. To take a genetic-ancestry test is to confront a legacy of rape and slavery—perhaps to even recognize one’s own existence as the direct result of it. There is a way to use genetics and genealogy to uncover injustices and properly account for them. The 23andMe-sponsored podcast Spit, for instance, has featured some nuanced conversations about race. But it’s not through feel-good ads that paper over the past.

Storytelling and Reflection

Virginia Trioli on being a difficult woman in a difficult world: In a speech at the Women In Media Conference, Virginia Trioli reflects on the challenges of being a women in the media. She shares a number of anecdotes that remind us that even with the #metoo movement, that we still have some way to go in regards to gender equality. Some of the advice Trioli recommends are to learn from your mistakes, own who you are and regularly take stock of where you are at. These lessons are useful for anybody (man or woman.) This post and Emma Watkin’s story are also reminders that so often there is more at play that goes unrecognised.

Much like the principles of building muscle mass — the way your body repairs or replaces damaged muscle fibres after a workout by forming strong, new protein strands — your mistakes do not you weaken you, they build you up. They solidify you. They give you emotional and mental muscle. Or at least they should. Because you have to own your mistakes. You have to claim them and allow that destruction/reconstruction process to take place. It’s incredibly empowering.

Our Daily Bread | Eat This Podcast: Jeremy Cherfas explores how an ordinary grass became the main source of sustenance for most of the people alive on Earth. Through this month long series, Cherfas assembles a narrative combining history, biology, definition, technology, sociology, politics, religion and innovation. Some of the questions I was left wondering were the place of Indigenous Australians in this story. Maybe these ideas and more will be unpacked in a longer book version of the series?

A history of wheat and bread in very short episodes

5 thoughts on self-help: Austin Kleon shares a handful of thoughts about the self-help genre. This includes being skeptical of the genre, the association with individualism, often such books are accidents and advice is autobiographical. This reminds me in part of the idea of bibliotherapy.

The joy and luck, for me, of writing my books, is that I’ve stumbled my way into a form (specifically: the illustrated gift book) that is not only commercial and popular, but also allows me to be as weird and as visual as I want to be. (I really do think of the books as fancy zines.) If they are shelved in self-help, so be it!

Hope Stands Tall: Kate O’Halloran breaks down the incident which involved Moana Hope walking off the stage during a panel discussing women’s football. The problem, as O’Halloran explains, relates to control and power of bodies. For me, I have concern about the expectations placed on AFLW. Like many forms of change and innovation, people often want their cake and to eat it too. It would seem that there is an expectation of parity on the field when I doubt there is parity off the field. O’Halloran wonders if the answer is breaking free from the AFL’s shackles?

It should go without saying that men who participate in Australian rules football (or rugby league, or any other sport for that matter) also put their own bodies at such risk. Those choices, however, are not questioned in the same way women’s are, because men are seen as having autonomy over their bodies and their decisions, while women’s bodies – in the minds of dinosaurs like Malthouse at least – are still subject to men’s control.

Reclaiming Educational Reform: Benjamin Doxtdator continues his critique of Ted Dintersmith. Picking up where he finished last time, he explains that Dintersmith and Tony Wagner are not the alternative to the personalized education movement that we may be hoping for. I always feel conflicted by such conversations wondering if I am trying to have my cake and eat it too?

You might think I’m overly critical of Ted Dintersmith, who probably really cares about education and the future of young people. When you watch Bill Gates tour High Tech High which he invested in years before it featured in Dintersmith and Wagner’s film, you get the sense that he probably really cares about young people, too. But we must not base policy on personality. Hoping that Dintersmith may be the anti-Gates we’ve been waiting for confines us such a superficial analysis of personality. When billionaires like Dintersmith get behind efforts led by private schools to reshape admissions to colleges, we need to put these education reform agendas through a rigorous, historical analysis. Maybe you will enjoy Dintersmith’s book for the tour he takes you on of schools across the U.S., but you’ll need to look elsewhere to understand what’s really at stake in the movement to ‘disrupt’ ‘obsolete’ schools.

Why Did America Give Up on Mass Transit? (Don’t Blame Cars): Jonathan English reflects on the demise of public transport in America. Although it can be easy to blame cars, the real issue is the lack of investment. Build it and they will come. It would be interesting to take a similar look at transport in Australia.

Service drives demand. When riders started to switch to the car in the early postwar years, American transit systems almost universally cut service to restore their financial viability. But this drove more people away, producing a vicious cycle until just about everybody who could drive, drove. In the fastest-growing areas, little or no transit was provided at all, because it was deemed to be not economically viable. Therefore, new suburbs had to be entirely auto-oriented. As poverty suburbanizes, and as more jobs are located in suburban areas, the inaccessibility of transit on a regional scale is becoming a crisis.

FOCUS ON the Modern Learning Canvas

Modern Learning Canvas - Instructional Model

The Modern Learning Canvas has been developed to support schools and teachers to design and implement innovative, evidence based learning and teaching. Influenced by the Business Model Canvas, it is designed to paint a picture of context. Here then are a collection of resources and examples associated with the Modern Learning Canvas and Richard Olsen’s Inquiry Oriented Innovation process:

Replied to Issue [#318]: Blisters a-go-go (Doug Belshaw's Thought Shrapnel)
You have to watch his keynote at the Decentralized Web Summit last month. It’s not only a history lesson and a warning, but he puts in ways that really make you see what the problem is. Inspiring stuff.
I agree Doug about listening to Cory Doctorow speak. Along with Audrey Watters and Douglas Rushkoff, he is one of those authors whose performance really brings new life and urgency to the text.

In regards to forwarding your newsletter on, it is just not something I do. I usually share via social media if I know something might be of interest. Hope that makes sense.

Replied to Daydreamers Mindwanderers Unite! - Issue 98 by Tom Barrett (Dialogic Learning Weekly)
It would be great to get some feedback from you about what you are enjoying about the newsletter and what hits home the most, what more can I do to improve it?
What I like about your newsletter Tom is the way that you bring others along with your own journey. Associated with this you share resources associated with your thinking.

My only wondering is your inclusion of other voices. Although you discuss some of the great work being done by clients, sometimes it would be nice to hear celebrations from beyond, however that may not be your intent.

Hope that helps.

P.S. I referenced your archive rather than this weeks newsletter out of respect.

Liked Commonplace Reading - Issue #24 (newsletter.onemanandhisblog.com)
Johnny JohnnyYes PapaReading Clickbait?No Papa.Hello, everyone. I hope you had a great summer. I took the most extended summer break I’ve had since university (20 *cough* years ago), and am feeling both recharged and slightly intimidated by my return to the frontline.With a little distance, it's easy to see just how the internet has become a battleground for ideas and minds, as different groups wage InfoWars on each other (pun intended). Tracking and understanding that, and then figuring out what

📰 Read Write Respond #031

Read Write Respond Newsletter 031

My Month of July

LinkedIn recently reminded me that it has been two years in my current position. I was shocked, time has flown. As I touched on recently, it has been a whirlwind of an experience as is the nature I imagine of working within a transformational project. The biggest lesson learnt is that in a lean environment (or at least an attempt at a lean environment) you sometimes get stuck doing what needs to be done, rather than what you may prefer to be doing, which in my case is working with teachers and schools. I am currently working on refining a scale-able implementation process associated with student reporting.

At home, the common cold came back, again. I swear we had overcome it for this season, but no. Also, new term and new song for my daughter’s school. So I think I am up to 20+ listens of Try Everything from Zootopia. Another great growth mindset anthem. Might also say something about the algorithms at play.

I am learning through practice that the easiest way to learn something is to watch and copy somebody else. Scary how quickly our youngest picks everything up. Understanding Mal Lee and Roger Broadie’s point about the young being digitally proficient by the age of three.

I attended DigiCon18. Although I went to some interesting sessions and sparktalks, what was great were the conversations in-between. This included discussing the Ultranet with Rachel Crellin, the pedagogy associated to ongoing reporting with Chris Harte, connected learning with Jenny Ashby, parenting and partnerships with Lucas Johnson, implementing the Digital Technologies curriculum with Darrel Branson, purpose and leadership with Riss Leung and direct instruction with Richard Olsen.

In other areas, I have been listening to Amy Shark, Florence and the Machine, DJ Shadow, The National and Guy Pearce. I started reading Adam Greenfield’s Radical Technologies. I also updated my site, moving back to ZenPress and adding in a new series of header images developed by JustLego101.

In regards to my writing, here was my month in posts:

REVIEW: New Dark Age – Technology and the End of the Future

My Life in Black and White

Here then are some of the thoughts that have also left me thinking …

Learning and Teaching

Bill Cohen on Authentic Learning

Teaching Game Design with Bill Cohen (TER Podcast): Cameron Malcher interviews Bill Cohen about game-design through play-based learning. Cohen goes beyond the usual coding and computer-aided approaches to focusing on ‘low-tech’ games. This included engaging with board games and outdoor games. This play-based approach focuses on developing clear metalanguage, feedback for mastery and working with an iterative design process. This reminds me in part of Amy Burvall’s notion of ‘rigorous whimsy‘ and BreakoutEDU. Some resources Cohen shared include Boardgame Geek and Lady Blackbird, while in a seperate post, Clare Rafferty shared a list of games associated with History. For a different take on games, in a recent episode of the IRL Podcast, Veronica Belmont and Ashley Carman take a look at gamification in everyday life. Some examples of this include notifications on smartphones, likes and retweets on Twitter or the endorsements on Linkedin.

If there is one thing that I have learnt as a teacher is that nothing leaches out fun more than dropping a layer of education over the top of it – Bill Cohen

Encountering harmful discourses in the classroom: Ian O’Byrne discusses the challenges of engaging in harmful discourses. He provides some ways to responding, as well as a number of ways to be proactive. This touches on what danah boyd describes as the weaponisation of worldviews.

Howard C. Stevenson from Penn’s Graduate School of Education indicates three steps to address these harmful discourses as they enter your classroom.

  • Start with you – Process your own feelings, and address your own vulnerabilities before entering the classroom. Develop a support system with your colleagues.
    Practice – Classroom reactions usually happen in a split second. Prepare yourself for these instances by role-playing with colleagues in your building, or online with your PLN.
  • After an incident – Resist the urge to condemn the action or content. First try to understand the motivation if is disseminated through your classroom or building. Allow the school’s code of conduct to address instances where students actively spread this information. Strongly explain to students that these harmful discourses and the messages being spread about individuals and groups are not accepted. You will not accept the silencing of voices.
  • Keep talking – After these events, the best course of action is to keep talking. Difficult discussions will often ensue, but children and adults alike need to be able to process their feelings and reactions. This is an opportunity to shut down and be silent, or engage and promote change.

How well do we ‘face up to’ racism?: Anna Del Conte provides some take-aways from a course on racism. Some of the activities included what racism is, a timeline of diversity in Australia and listening to stories. Another resource I am reminded of is Dan Haesler’s interview with Stan Grant. In part this stemmed from Grant’s speech addressing racism.

Multiculturalism is not an outcome but a process. Racism may not be deliberate BUT anti-racism is always deliberate.

Can Reading Make You Happier?: Ceridewn Dovey takes a look at bibliotherapy and the act of reading as a cure. Some argue that readers are more empathetic, while others suggest that it provides pleasure, whatever the particular outcome maybe, reading has shown to provide many health benefits. As Kin Lane suggests, when in doubt, read a book. Zat Rana suggests that this reading is not about being right or wrong, but rather about being open new ideas and lessons.

So even if you don’t agree that reading fiction makes us treat others better, it is a way of treating ourselves better. Reading has been shown to put our brains into a pleasurable trance-like state, similar to meditation, and it brings the same health benefits of deep relaxation and inner calm. Regular readers sleep better, have lower stress levels, higher self-esteem, and lower rates of depression than non-readers. “Fiction and poetry are doses, medicines,” the author Jeanette Winterson has written. “What they heal is the rupture reality makes on the imagination.”

Historic Tale Construction Kit – Bayeux: This site allows users to recreate the Bayeux Tapestry. Clearly this is a great resource for history students, but it is also an interesting approach to storytelling.

Two German students originally wrote the Historic Tale Construction Kit, with Flash. Sadly, their work isn’t available anymore, only remembered. This new application is a tribute, but also an attempt to revive the old medieval meme, with code and availability that won’t get lost.

Edtech

Background Image via JustJego101

Webmentions: Enabling Better Communication on the Internet: Chris Aldrich provides an introduction to webmentions. This includes unpacking the specification, the notion of mentions, the idea of kinds and way in which sites are potentially able to connect two-ways. This continues Aldrich’s efforts to document the IndieWeb, which has included a thorough overview of the IndieWeb, the future of feed readers and reimagining academic research. This introduction is different to Aaron Parecki’s guide to sending your first webmentions or breakdown of the oAuth standard.

Breaking down the walls between the internet’s many social silos, Webmentions offer a new level of freedom for web interactions.

Twenty Years of Edtech: Martin Weller looks back at twenty years of EdTech, highlighting the various moments that have stood out across the journey. This brings together many of the pieces that he has written for his 25 years of EdTech series that he has written to celebrate 25 years of ALT. As he points out in his introduction, we are not very good at looking back. This post then offers an opportunity to stop and do so in a structured manner. Another interesting take on history is Ben Francis’ post on the Firefox OS.

What has changed, what remains the same, and what general patterns can be discerned from the past twenty years in the fast-changing field of edtech?

Learning To Code By Writing Code Poems: Murat Kemaldar discusses the connections between coding and poetry. He re-imagines the various rules and constructs in a more human form. This continues a conversation started between Darrel Branson, Tony Richards and Ian Guest on Episode 234 of the Ed Tech Team Podcast about whether everyone should learn poetry and coding. This is also something Royan Lee shares.

In all languages, there is probably a word for love. You kinda know what it means, but not really, because it is so subjective. But still, there is a word for it. But in JavaScript, there is no “love,” until you say there is. It can be whatever you want it to be.

18 best practices for working with data in Google Sheets: Ben Collins provides a guide for working with data in Google Sheets. Some of the useful steps that stood out were documenting the steps you take, adding an index column for sorting and referencing, creating named ranges for your datasets and telling the story of one row to check the data. This is all in preparation for his new course on data analysis. Another tip I picked up from Jay Atwood has been to import data, if moving from Excel to Sheets, rather than simply copying and pasting.

This article describes 18 best practices for working with data in Google Sheets, including examples and screenshots to illustrate each concept in action.

Zuck’s Empire of Oily Rags: Cory Doctorow provides a commentary on the current state of affairs involving Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. Rather than blame the citizens of the web, he argues that the fault exists with the mechanics in the garage and the corruption that they have engaged with. The question that seems to remain is if this is so and we still want our car fixed, where do we go? Doctorow has also recorded a reading of the article.

It’s fashionable to treat the dysfunctions of social media as the result of the naivete of early technologists, who failed to foresee these outcomes. The truth is that the ability to build Facebook-like services is relatively common. What was rare was the moral recklessness necessary to go through with it.

How the Blog Broke the Web: Amy Hoy reflects on the early days of publishing on the web, where people would handcraft pages and connect them using a contents page. This was superseded by Moveable Type and the chronological blog, subsequently killing off the non-diariest. I was not really engaged in the web back then so it is hard to comment as Jeremey Keith, Duncan Stephen and Kicks Condor have, but it does remind me of the current debates around blogging. I think that all these spaces are forever changing and developing. Sometimes this is based on wholesale changes, but usually people have their own particular reason. Maybe some people will drop off with Gutenberg, but then again sometimes these things have their day.

Movable Type didn’t just kill off blog customization. It (and its competitors) actively killed other forms of web production.

Are We Listening?: Jose Picardo argues that the question about whether we should have more or less technology in schools misses the point. What matters is how it is used. For example, those who argue for more knowledge often fail to put the effort into actually understanding how technology is used in education. This comes back to the importance of why and having a framework to guide you. For a different perspective on technology in the classroom, read David Perry’s thread.

The very teachers who read William and nod vigorously about the need to know stuff before you can understand or do stuff in the context of curriculum are unable to draw parallels between their dismissal of digital technology and their own lack of knowledge about it. Rather than finding virtuosity and pride in learning about how what technology works best and in what context—so as to be able to discern the best tool for particular tasks—we seem happy to eschew whole new toolkits on the dodgy grounds of ignorance and misconception.

Storytelling and Reflection

Throwing Ideas Under the Bus

Throwing Our Own Ideas Under the Bus: Ross Cooper discusses the idea of putting your worst foot forward taken from Adam Grant’s book Originals. This involves trusting the idea at hand and starting with reasons why it might fail. Cooper suggests that this can be useful as it disarms the audience, critique involves effort, helps to build trust and leaves audience with a more favourable assessment. He also looks at this alongside Simon Sinek’s concept of ‘start with why’, highlighting the reason why and the challenges that might be faced. I wonder if the challenge in focusing on the why and why not is about finding balance? This reminds me of Malcolm Gladwell’s discussion of Generous Orthodoxy.

As an elementary school principal, here’s the approach I’ve been taking with change: “Here’s what we’re doing, here’s why we’re doing it, and here are some of the ways I will support you!” Now I’ll be toying around with the idea of also proactively addressing the elephants in the room. Furthermore, we should allow for teachers and staff to respectfully and honestly discuss these obstacles, as opposed to us trying to sweep them under the rug. After all, flaws will be talked about in one way or another, and critical conversation that gives everyone a voice is preferred to potential venting in the faculty room.

The future will be dockless: could a city really run on ‘floating transport’?: Alex Hern discusses the rise of floating transport, something that I touched on recently with the demise of oBike in Melbourne. Hern captures a number of stories from around the world of hope for efficiency, but also issues associated with shared spaces. I am taken by Hern’s closing remarks concerning reliability over flexibility. This leaves me thinking that sometimes what is required is community and sometimes that involves patience. What is the cost to the public/private transport industry when everyone relies on private personal transport models like Bird or Uber?

Ultimately, floating transport is going to have to learn another lesson that conventional transportation bodies have taken to heart: flexible may be fun, but cities run on reliable.

i am sorry: Pernille Ripe reflects on life as a connected educator. She discusses the stress, anxieties and perceived responsibilities that come with being an educelebrity. Although we often talk about the technicalities associated with being (digitally) literate, what is sometimes overlooked are the social consequences. This is something that Austin Kleon also recently reflected upon.

So it is time for me to step back a bit. To do less work publicly, to share less, to not be so immediately available. To be just Pernille, the person who doesn’t have all of the answers necessarily. That only creates something because she cannot help it. That gives all of her when she is in a public space, but then steps back when she is private.

Facebook’s Push for Facial Recognition Prompts Privacy Alarms: Natasha Singer discusses Facebook’s continual push for facial recognition. She traces some of the history associated with Facebook’s push into this area, including various roadblocks such as GDPR. She also looks at some of the patent applications. This made me wonder how many patents actually come to fruition and how many are a form of indirect marketing? Elsewhere, Doug Levin explains why facial recognition has no place in schools, especially the way Curtin University is using it.

Cameras near checkout counters could capture shoppers’ faces, match them with their social networking profiles and then send purchase confirmation messages to their phones.

The anti-cottonwool schools where kids stare down risk in favour of nature play: This article from the ABC discusses a couple of schools in Western Australia that have reduced the rules on outdoor play. This reminds me of Narissa Leung’s use of old bricks and Adrian Camm’s use of odd material to engage with play.

Mr Smith said whereas students would previously come to the office complaining of injury, they are now too busy to make a fuss. “Students are becoming more resilient and getting on with it.” The school has just three rules — no stacking milk creates, no walking on the large wooden spools and no tying rope to yourself.

The Dangers of Distracted Parenting: Erika Christakis discusses the challenges of parenting in a digital age. This all comes down to distractions and as I have touched on before, this is not always digital. I really like danah boyd’s strategy for dealing with this, that is to say why you are using a device. This openness offers a useful point of reflection. I think that the conclusion to this article says it all though, “put down your damned phone.”

Parents should give themselves permission to back off from the suffocating pressure to be all things to all people. Put your kid in a playpen, already! Ditch that soccer-game appearance if you feel like it. Your kid will be fine. But when you are with your child, put down your damned phone.

FOCUS ON … SPACE

Murdoch on Noticing

I was recently challenged on the place of space in regards to learning. I recorded a microcast on the topic, but I haven’t had the chance to put all my thoughts together. In the interim, I have collected together a number of posts on the topic. If you have any others to add to the mix, I would love to read them.

  • Imagining Different Learning Spaces: Jon Corripo provided his suggestions for redesigning a classroom space which again sparked my imagination.
  • Flexible Seating: What’s the Point?: Chris Wejr reflects on his experiences in reviewing flexible learning spaces. This includes the reasons to re-design, as well as a series of thoughts associated with the process of re-imagining.
  • Why I Hate Classroom Themes: Emily Fintelman reflects on classroom themes and wonders what impact they are really having on learning. She suggests that our focus should be on how spaces are structured and strategies that can be used to give students more voice.
  • Flexible Classrooms: Research Is Scarce, But Promising: What is interesting about this report is that rather than discussing furniture in isolation, it is considered as a part of a wider conversation about learning and environment. The impact of flexible spaces though can be almost incidental at times, as is with the case of Maths. This speaks of agency as much as it does of the chairs in the classroom.
  • Adding the Learning Back to Space: A reflection on an outdoor learning space and the potential of technology to increase learning and engagement.
  • Benefits of Flexible Learning Spaces #1 Teaching in Teams: Stephen Rowe explains that teachers working in teams is a significant benefit that arises from teaching in an open learning space.
  • Designing Learning Spaces – putting the cart before the horse: June Wall and Jonathon Mascorella define learning environments as a set of physical and digital locations, context and cultures in which students learn.
  • Learning Space Design Inspiration: Steve Brophy collects together a number of ideas and inspirations associated with learning spaces.
  • Beanbags in Space: Matt Esterman suggests that what most teachers want is a more shiny version of what they have, because they are not trained as designers (usually) and are so often hemmed in by the expectations of current reality.
  • Inquiry, noticing and the changing seasons… A tribute to the late Frank Ryan: Kath Murdoch reflects on the potential of the environment associated with inquiry.
  • Coalescent Spaces: Dave White considers the impact of digital technologies on the creation of coalescent learning spaces.
  • Seeing Spaces: Bret Victor reimagines the makerspace built around tinkering and argues that it is in ‘seeing’ that we are able to make this a science.
  • Communities, Networks and Connected Learning with Google: Technology enables us to easily develop digital communities and networks inside and outside of the classroom. The reality though is that connected learning is as much about creating spaces for learning and building on that.

READ WRITE RESPOND #031

So that is July for me, how about you? As always, interested to hear.

Also, feel free to forward this on to others if you found anything of interest, maybe you want to subscribe or buy me a coffee? Archives can be found here.

Read Write Respond Newsletter

Cover image via JustLego101.

📰 Read Write Respond #030

Background image via JustLego101

My Month of June

I moved departments and subsequently desks. It is interesting how the space you work can influence you. It has provided me a totally different perspective on the project, as well as feel more at home as I was the only one in my old team bridging the gap between the learning, teaching and the central management system. In my new team everyone is involved in integrating with the system, it is therefore helpful in developing a more systemic view.

In regards to the family, our youngest continues to excel with swimming. It seems like the centre questions her age every second week, assuming that she is ready to move up. In part this is confidence, as well as having an older influence around.

The oldest one has turned into a walking karaoke machine, pumping out song after song. She has also continued to develop her own songs on keyboard, mashing up her practice tunes with her own hook lines. Only three chords away from being a star!

Personally, I have been reading James Bridle’s new book New Dark Age. I have also been listening to the latest offerings from Father John Misty, The Presets, Soulwax and Snow Patrol, as well as way too much Baby Shark.

In regards to my writing, here was my month in posts:

  • Being Analogue: Often we talk about ‘being digital’ but what does this imply in reverse? What might it mean in today’s day and age to be analogue?

Here then are some of the thoughts that have also left me thinking …

Learning and Teaching

Digital Portfolio

Digital Portfolios and Content: Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano unpacks a number of questions and considerations associated with digital portfolios. This includes being open to authentic audiences, reimagining the idea of branding, creating a consistent habit and ethically using content. In a separate post, Diane Kashin reflects upon the interpretative nature of documentation. It can be so easy to discuss the use of technology to support the process, however this is often to no avail without pedagogy and a purpose.

Don’t create content for content sake. The content of your digital portfolio needs to be seen as an attempt in learning, evidence of learning, the process of learning, and/or growth in learning.

Lessons from the Screenplay: In this YouTube channel, Michael Tucker breaks down the art of film and scriptwriting. A useful resource for exploring various techniques associated with storytelling. Australian Centre for the Moving Image and Amazon also provide some other useful resources associated with films and storytelling.

With Lessons from the Screenplay, I make videos that analyse movie scripts to examine exactly how and why they are so good at telling their stories. Part educational series and part love letter to awesome films, Lessons from the Screenplay aims to be a fun way to learn more about your favourite films and help us all become better storytellers.

Using Picture Books With Older Students – A How-to Guide: Pernille Ripp provides a detailed guide to using picture books in any classroom. This includes choosing the right picture book, how to display them, their place in supporting fluency and how they can be used as introductory texts. This is all a part of knowing yourself as a reader. I too have used picture books in the past to support teaching comprehension.

Which book I choose to share depends on the lesson. I treat it much like a short story in what I want students to get out of it so it has to suit the very purpose we are trying to understand. I introduce the concept by sharing a story and then I ask my students to come as close as they can to the rocking chair in our corner. Once settled, whether on the floor, on balls or on chairs, I read it aloud. We stop and talk throughout as needed but not on every page, it should not take more than 10 minutes at most to get through an average size picture book. If it is a brand new concept I may just have students listen, while other times they might engage in a turn-and-talk. I have an easel right next to me and at times we write our thoughts on that. Sometimes we make an anchor chart, it really just depends on the purpose of the lesson. Often a picture book is used as one type of media on a topic and we can then branch into excerpts from text, video, or audio that relates to the topic.

Effort and Achievement Charts: Emily Fintelmen reflects on the co-construction of charts and culture in the classroom. This approach offers an opportunity to unpack various myths, such as whether a silent classroom constitutes a good classroom. Maria Popova provides a lengthier introduction to the concept of growth mindset, while I have written about effort and encouragement in the past.

Once we have determined what effort looks like, we map out what kind of achievement we would expect to get out of it using real scenarios.

Learning in and with Nature: The Pedagogy of Place: Diane Kashin discusses her interest in nature as a space to learn and play. She shares the story of collecting beach glass on the shores of Lake Huron. This reminds me of Alan Levine’s reflection on ‘106‘ and Amy Burvall’s focus on looking down. Kashin’s story of collecting that which was once rubbish reminds me of Shaun Tan’s picture book The Lost Thing. Kath Murdoch also shares a series of ideas and activities for noticing nature.

From the beach as place to the forest as place, what is important is the meaning making. Cumming and Nash (2015) discovered that not only do children develop a sense of place from their experiences learning in the forest, they also form an emotional attachment to place that contributes to place meaning. Place meaning can help to explain why people may be drawn to particular places. Place meaning helps to support the development of place identity, and to promote a sense of belonging. I am grateful for the opportunity this summer to experience the beach and the forest. It is my hope that children will be given the gifts of these places too.

Edtech

Rise of the Machines

Rise of the machines: has technology evolved beyond our control?: In an extract from James Bridle’s new book New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future, he discusses the evolution of the machine. This includes the place of the cloud, algorithmic interactions within the stock marker, the corruption of the internet of things and incomprehensibility of machine learning. It is one of a few posts from Bridle going around at the moment, including a reflection on technology whistleblowers and YouTube’s response to last years exposé. Some of these ideas remind me of some of the concerns raised in Martin Ford’s Rise of the Robots and Cathy O’Neil’s Weapons of Math Destruction.

Our technologies are extensions of ourselves, codified in machines and infrastructures, in frameworks of knowledge and action. Computers are not here to give us all the answers, but to allow us to put new questions, in new ways, to the universe.

GitHub Is Microsoft’s $7.5 Billion Undo Button: Paul Ford unpacks Microsoft’s purchase of Github. This includes an account of the history of both companies. Dave Winer shares a number of points to consider associated with the acquisition. Louis-Philippe Véronneau and Doug Belshaw suggest that it might be a good opportunity to move to other platforms, such as GitLab. I wonder what this might mean for Github in education? It is interesting to reread Ben Halpern’s predictions for Github from a few years ago. He thought it would be Google or Facebook, wrong. For those new to GitHub, read Jon Udell’s post from a few years ago.

GitHub represents a big Undo button for Microsoft, too. For many years, Microsoft officially hated open source software. The company was Steve Ballmer turning bright colors, sweating through his shirt, and screaming like a Visigoth. But after many years of ritual humiliation in the realms of search, mapping, and especially mobile, Microsoft apparently accepted that the 1990s were over. In came Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella, who not only likes poetry and has a kind of Obama-esque air of imperturbable capability, but who also has the luxury of reclining Smaug-like atop the MSFT cash hoard and buying such things as LinkedIn Corp. Microsoft knows it’s burned a lot of villages with its hot, hot breath, which leads to veiled apologies in press releases. “I’m not asking for your trust,” wrote Nat Friedman, the new CEO of GitHub who’s an open source leader and Microsoft developer, on a GitHub-hosted web page when the deal was announced, “but I’m committed to earning it.”

How (and Why) Ed-Tech Companies Are Tracking Students’ Feelings: Benjamin Herold takes a dive into the rise of edtech to measure the ‘whole’ student, with a particular focus on wellbeing. Something that Martin E. P. Seligman has discussed about in regards to Facebook. Having recently been a part of demonstration of SEQTA, I understand Ben Williamson’s point that this “could have real consequences.” The concern is that not all consequences are good. Will Richardson shares his concern that we have forgotten about learning and the actual lives of the students. Providing his own take on the matter, Bernard Bull has started a seven-part series looking at the impact of AI on education, while Neil Selwyn asks the question, “who does the automated system tell the teacher to help first – the struggling girl who rarely attends school and is predicted to fail, or a high-flying ‘top of the class’ boy?” Selwyn also explains why teachers will never be replaced.

For years, there’s been a movement to personalize student learning based on each child’s academic strengths, weaknesses, and preferences. Now, some experts believe such efforts shouldn’t be limited to determining how well individual kids spell or subtract. To be effective, the thinking goes, schools also need to know when students are distracted, whether they’re willing to embrace new challenges, and if they can control their impulses and empathize with the emotions of those around them. To describe this constellation of traits and abilities, education experts use a host of often-overlapping terms, such as social-emotional skills, non-cognitive abilities, character traits, and executive functions.

Hacking the ISTE18 Smart Badge: Doug Levin reflects on the introduction of ‘smart badges’ at ISTE. Really just a Bluetooth tracking device that then allowed vendors (and anyone for that matter) to collect data on attendees. Levin hacked a badge to unpack their use. He explains that with little effort they could be used by anybody to track somebody. Audrey Watters suggests that, “ISTE has helped here to normalize surveillance as part of the ed-tech experience. She suggests that it is only time that this results in abuse. Gary Stager concern is the “denaturing of educational computing’s powerful potential.” Mike Crowley wonders why in a post-GDPR world attendees are not asked for consent, while David Golumbia wonders if we really know what personal data is? If this is the future, then maybe Levin’s ‘must-have’ guide will be an important read for everyone.

There are three points about the risks of what ISTE deployed at their conference to know: (1) the ‘smart badge’ is a really effective locator beacon, transmitting signals that are trivial to intercept and read, (2) you can’t turn it off, and (3) most people I spoke to had no idea how it worked. (I freaked out more than a few people by telling them what their badge number was by reading it from my phone. Most of those incidents ended up with ‘smart badges’ being removed and destroyed.)

How to Fight Amazon: Robinson Meyer unpacks the story of Lina Khan and her investigation into Amazon and the antitrust movement. This stems from a paper, “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox,” Khan wrote in the Yale Law Review. Although Meyer focuses on Amazon, this has ramifications for all the platform monopolies. It is also increasingly having an influence on education. Mike Caulfield puts forward another response, arguing that rather than worrying about the Walmarts and Amazons, we should use the money saved to fund an organisation that supports your aims.

When a company has such power, Khan believes, it will almost inevitably wield that power far and wide, distorting not just the market itself, but the whole of American life. With sufficient power, companies can commission studies, rewrite regulations, bulldoze neighborhoods, and impoverish education and welfare systems by securing billions in sweetheart tax cuts. When a company comes to monopolize a market—when it grows so big that it can threaten other industries just by entering them—it ceases to be merely a company. It becomes an institution so powerful that it can rule over people like a government.

Storytelling and Reflection

Your ABC

Your ABC: Value, Investment and Return for the Community: In response to the recent call to sell the ABC, Michelle Guthrie presents a speech explaining the value of the Australian Broadcasting Commission in today’s world. I must be honest, I don’t listen to ABC radio as much as I used to, however I follow a number of podcasts, such as RN Future Tense, and often turn to their website as a first port of call for news. In a time when there is a lot of discussion about the ownership of core infrastructure, it seems strange to sell the ABC. I wonder if this is a reflection of the changes to the media landscape that my nostalgia is overlooking?

What price do you put on public trust in an independent, commercial-free news organisation at a time of fragmentation and disruption? As the Prime Minister himself noted at the Liberal Party council meeting, it is difficult to establish the facts in a disputed media landscape full of echo chambers and “fake news” outlets.

Are You Blithely Unaware of How Educational Research Impacts You?: Peter DeWitt reflects on the place of research within education. He makes a comparison with the Devil Wears Prada and the way we assume fashion changes and trends. I find this interesting as both fashion and research are often outside of the reach people and pedagogues. This is epitomised by the story of Aaron Swartz who died campaigning against research hidden by paywalls. Is it possible for all educators to feasibly have access to research or is this another example of have’s or have not’s?

There are teachers and leaders who believe that researchers have little to do with their classroom practice, but the reality is that what researchers do has a direct effect on everything that happens in the classroom. We may think that we work in silent protest to research but the reality is that it all trickles down into our little casual corner called our classrooms and schools. And we should stop being blithely unaware of it all.

How Informal Learning Gets Misunderstood (And Misinterpreted): David Price responds to the criticism that creativity is dependant on a cache of knowledge. Referring to his experiences with Musical Futures, Price explains that it is creativity and passion which lead to an interest in knowledge and theory, not vice versa. Something he also discusses in his book Open. This reminds me of a post from Amy Burvall who also discusses the importance of having dots to construct ideas. Interestingly, Brian Eno suggests that such ‘dots’ can grow out of shit. Reflecting on the growing trend to ban devices, Mal Lee and Roger Broadie suggest that banning will have no impact on students digital learning and will instead have a detrimental effect on agency within schools.

The inconvenient truth is that students don’t need ‘experts’ the way they used to. Knowledge is ubiquitous. Any teacher that thinks that they don’t need to change as a result of this truth is doing their students a disservice. Make no mistake: the real learning revolution has already happened, it just doesn’t involve those of us who teach. Because they real revolution is in the phenomenal growth in informal and social learning — as practised by the Beatles and, now, all of us.

Team Human: Don’t have to look like a refugee: Douglas Rushkoff reflects on the current crisis involving children been taken off their parents. He suggests that it is less about politics (or the Bible), and more about propaganda with the creation of dehumanising images of children in cages. Rushkoff’s answer is to focus on the intimacy of the sounds. Bill Fitzgerald wonders how much of this is spoken about at events such as ISTE? It can be easy to think, ‘that is America’, but Australia is no better. Whether it be the stolen generation or detention centres, Australia has had its own examples of abuse.

Forget the reality — that Mexicans are actually emigrating from the US back to Mexico: there’s a net decrease. That more immigrants come from China and India than the south. The only way to understand the Trump administration’s proposed wall is as a safety play for global warming. Instead of admitting there’s an environmental crisis underway and reducing carbon emissions, just accept the inevitable climate crisis, and barricade the nation from the inevitable flow of refugees from the south. Whatever we’re doing now is simply priming the American public for the inhumanity to come.

The 12-month turnaround: How the dumpers drove oBike out of town: I remember when I first saw an oBike in action, a guy rolled up to a train station and dumped it near the on ramp. In this article from The Age, Simone Fox Koob reflects on their rise and fall in Melbourne. The dockless bike share scheme is managed by a mobile app. After concerns were raised around Uber, I was sceptical of the data collected by the company. I feel the disruption may have gone too far and caused the creative revolt. It will be interesting to see how competitors respond and what – if any – changes they make.

The ET oBike

FOCUS ON … Why Domains

Alan Levine put out a call for reflections on ‘why domains’. This touches on many of the ideas associated with Domain of One’s Own and the #IndieWeb. Although Levine has had a go at collecting together the various responses, I decided to create a list of my own.

  • Interviewing CogDogBlog.com: Alan Levine provides the back story to ‘cog’ (interest in bikes), ‘dog’ (interest in dogs). He also unpacks the numerous hallways and secret chambers that make up CogDogBlog.
  • The Story of My Domain: Chris Aldrich explains the meaning behind ‘BoffoSocko’ and the ways he uses his site as a commonplace book. He also shares his belief in the #IndieWeb and the ability for everyone to self-publish.

  • Interviewing my Digital Domains: Ian O’Byrne shares his interest and focus on documenting his learning openly online. This exercise has evolved through many iterations. Associated with this, Chris Aldrich wrote a post build around the use of Hypothesis to capture and curate highlights and marginalia. A post which Ian annotated in response.

  • Interviewing My Domain: Tom Woodward provides the stories and choices associated with his domains. He suggests that the biggest challenge with maintaining your own domain is sustaining it over time.

  • Why Domain: John Stewart discusses the association between domains and being found on the web. Although you can write a book or publish an article, a domain allows us to be found on the web.

  • Interviewing my Domain: Colin Madland shares the freedom and flexibility associated with having a domain. What comes through with Colin’s reflections is the crossover between purpose and process.

  • Interviewing my Domain: Sandy Brown Jensen shares her domain journey associated with DS106. For Sandy, a domain offers a way to talk back to the world

  • A Kingdom of One’s Own?: John Johnston discusses his journey AOL to his own site. This has come to include his blogs, various web experiments and custom shortcuts to other sites.

READ WRITE RESPOND #030

So that is June for me, how about you? As always, interested to hear.

Also, feel free to forward this on to others if you found anything of interest or maybe you want to subscribe? Otherwise, archives can be found here.

Read Write Respond Newsletter

Cover image via JustLego101.

Replied to Doug Belshaw on Mastodon (Mastodon)
I don’t really pay much attention to the ‘format’ of a newsletter, I am more interested in the person and the story told. I love the personal nature of Laura Hilliger’s rambling reflections and the structured collections provided by Ian O’Byrne. I am sometimes sceptical of newsletters which are really means of summary and self-promotion. I think that Austin Kleon is someone who gets that balance right.