Wednesday, March 11, 2015

BurnBook - An App Created for Bullying?

Photo from 10News:

I shared the below information with my management team today as Burn Book seems to be the latest and greatest way for high school students to cyber bully. Feel free to modify and use if needed.

But more importantly, I encourage you to read this blog post by a high school student about the impact these types of apps have on people:

By now, most of you have probably heard of an app called BurnBook.

Burn book allows students to anonymously post comments about anything. They choose their school, and then start posting. There are a lot of mean comments about other students and teachers being posted on the app, and occasionally threats to the safety of the school’s campus.

I began monitoring the app the other day, and so far, it seems to be focused on high schools. 

The high school district personnel have started a campaign to talk to students on all their campuses about the seriousness of posting threats on the app. Because of this, there may be a temporary increase in student curiosity as older siblings come home and share the information. And this morning San Marcos responded to a school threat posted via the app ( so that will be on the news this evening. 

Unfortunately, we can’t block access to the app because students are using their own devices to access it.  What we can do, however, is remind students about the impact cyberbullying can have on others. And also let students know that anonymous does not mean untraceable – IP addresses are recorded by the app and can be used to trace people posting serious threats.

More Information: 

Burnbook App CEO Promises Change After School Threat - 

Burnbook: Can An Annonymous App Have a Conscience - 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Technology is Not the GrandMaster of the Ticker Tape Parade

High School Student's FB this morning

On #CAEdChat Sunday night, we discussed ways to "pimp" our lessons so that students walk in the door jazzed to learn. Dave Burgess, author of Teach Like a Pirate, shared that he always asks, "Here's my how can I make this come ALIVE?! How can I create an EXPERIENCE?" 

So often, I see teachers who drag the technology out of the cupboard and expect the students to start the ticker tape parade. 

But students are bored, just like the high school student who posted the above FB pic this morning from his class.  Technology is not a ticker tape parade for them. But learning should be!

As student Alex Bockert explained during #CAEdChat, "Don't start with all the actual work/research to be done - start with why this project will rock."

So how will you make learning rock today?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Bringing the Heart to Education

I love Angela Maiers. I think I love her because she values what should be valued: the person. Yes, technology is fabulous, and it allows us to do fabulous things, but if we aren't valuing the person, then it's all for naught. I first started following Angela when I saw her "You Matter" manifesto. It resonated. Deeply. Who we are to others doesn't matter until we realize that we have to matter to ourselves. It is a powerfully simple concept. But one which many of us don't take the time to own.

Recently I came across another one of Angela's blog posts that also resonated with me.

The Heart: An Underused Tool for Digital Learning discusses the need to challenge students to "work together to solve problems that break their heart." Can you imagine the impact this approach to education would have? Not only would students find meaning in the work they were doing, but they'd be making an impact on the world. They'd be saying, "Hey, I matter and so do you!" 

So how do we make this a reality? I'm curious to hear from those who are putting Angela's call to action. 

Some quotes from "The Heart: An Underused Tool for Digital Learning":

  • "Students today are technologically savvy. Yet it is too often the case that students, and teachers, are using technology simply to do old things in new ways. When a student submits a PowerPoint file to a teacher discussing an assigned topic, instead of a set of sheets of construction paper, learning is not advanced, and genius remains with its head in the sand."
  • "Nonetheless, teaching students how to pursue a task that matters is essential to their finding their place in the world today."
  • "Let’s be the educators who start with what matters."

Thursday, February 19, 2015

#STUVoice - 2015 East County TechFest Keynote

My daughter, a high school junior, recently keynoted an ed tech fest. Because I feel odd talking up my progeny, I'm going to copy/paste a write-up shared in her district Superintendent's newsletter: "she shared her school experiences with technology and challenged the teachers in the theater to provide a wide array of technology-driven opportunities. She emphasized that students need to be prepared for a digital world and our schools are an essential part in that development."

There was a lot of great feedback from the teachers that participated, but in an effort to make the conversation global, I'd love to hear what you have to say as well.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Engaged Learning Does NOT Look Like This

I came across this posting on a school's Facebook page the other day. Am I the only one who is sad by this photo, and the accompanying caption? I don't see a single engaged student in this photo. On the contrary, I see a lot of body language that denotes the complete opposite of engagement.

What message does this post send to students, parents, community members? What message does it send to you?

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Times They Are A-Changing, But Not in That Classroom

Come mothers and fathers, 

Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’
- Bob Dylan

My daughter is dual enrolled in high school and college. Today was her first day of the Spring term for her college class. I'm jealous, because she chose "History of Rock Music" for her history elective. To spend time learning about Jimmy Plant, Ringo Starr, and Janis Joplin instead of reading the Louisiana Purchase agreement? Heck yea, sign me up!

In my mind, I pictured her walking in to an eclectic environment hosted by an aging wannabe rock star, or perhaps even Jack Black. I expected to walk home to a daughter spouting off about hidden messages in lyrics, or sharing about the seedy underworld of the British rock movement. Or perhaps we'd argue if the Beatles had a larger influence on American culture than Elvis or Jimmy Hendrix. I wanted to spend the evening dusting off my record player and sharing Led Zeppelin, relishing in the sound the needle makes as it swoosh, swoosh, swooshes across the record. But alas, that is not how the day transpired.

Instead, this happened:

I know I shouldn't be surprised, but I still have to ask how long we are going to fight against technology. And in doing so, fight against the learning needs of today's students? In the words of Bob Dylan, "The Times They Are A-Changing:"

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’

Friday, January 23, 2015

Text to Speech Makes Reading a Snap

Have students who struggle reading? The iPad can help with that.

Text to speech is built in to iOS 8. Go to Settings > General > Accessibility > Speech