Wednesday, August 27, 2014

journal topics august 25-30

I blame England.  And the precious few corporations that control our access to the Internet.  For the past two days I have tried to post journal topics, and-- after finally thinking I'd succeeded-- I learned that the posts didn't publish.

So, here in all their glory are the journal topics for this week.  Hope you're all getting caught up.  Thanks for treating the sub kindly.  See you Monday.


(Tuesday, August 26)
Reflect for a moment on your study of Beowulf. Summarize the knowledge you have acquired, summarize your research/thought processes and experience, and list any questions you have.

(Wednesday, August 27)
Given what you've learned about the first heroic epic known to be composed in English, and how it reflects the culture/values of its times, nominate an epic story from our times that will be remembered as an emblem of this culture in two thousand years. Explain your choice.

(Thursday, August 28)
Those of you in the on-the-ground course have all seen the sign: "There is glory in the attempt." Describe how this idea applies in your life.  Season your answer by reflecting on the evolution/remix of English and the stories we tell.  How does your understanding of the same idea change as you age/mature/gain more experience?

(Friday, August 29)
Does language merely describe reality or does it create a sense of reality? Do speakers of different languages just use different words to describe the same things, or do they actually think and see the world differently because of the language they use? Explain your answer.

Monday, August 25, 2014

hack to school night

(my t-shirt from OSCON)
To be clear: the word hack has been associated with definitions ("sharp cough, "cut with unskillful blows," & "illegal/unauthorized computer access," e.g.) that do not describe what we do.

We make connections and facilitate conversations that help people learn.   We build, evaluate and modify things to make them work better.

You know how they say, "[So'n'so] just can't hack it?" Well, we can.

So, at Back-- er, Hack to School night, we are at it again. Get here whenever you can. Bring whoever you want. Offer them the benefit of what you know and find a way to learn from them too. Share new ideas about technology and how you can use it to get ahead in life.

Here is the program:
1. Learner-led conference (see below)
2. Periodic "Intro to Digital Life" presentations
3. Sign-ups for "friend of the course" events and "digital drop-in" nights

Here is the process:
1. Think about these questions and your answers to them;
2. Bring an interested adult to Hack to School Night;
3. Have them ask you these questions, be suitably brilliant in your replies, and demand that they take notes so that you know they're paying attention;
4. Turn in their notes to me, get your extra credit, listen to me brag about you briefly;
5. Go home and finish your homework.

Here are the questions:

student led conference script

zip code extension

Mellany's résumé just reminded me of something important.  Including the four-digit zip code extension will ensure that: a) your mail will arrive faster; and b) whoever reads your résumé will see your attention to detail.  You can look up your extension at (the zip code lookup tool is here).  Thanks Mellany!

fox in sox curve-breaker

Thanks also to Imanie for this gem.  Rachael Garner (RHS '14) can beat box and you can find her at the Far Western-- any takers on Imanie's dare?  (I hereby double it.)

emoney... anemone... IMANIE

The email was a thunderous dunk on an asphalt court with chain nets.


Last week I stumbled and called Imanie "Melanie" (or something).  She graciously forgave my mistake, and later sent me an equally gracious email with links to her course blog and a personal blog she's maintained for some time.  She sent me these links as a way to help me get to know her, get to know her name, and help her get where she wants to go.  I read every word.

She'll never have to tell me her name again.

august 25-30

Thanks to everyone for your feedback Friday!  Per our conversations, this will be the agenda for each day this week.  I will post a new journal topic for each day.  If I've forgotten anything in #2 please comment to this post.  Have a great week!  Next agenda post will be from "across the pond."


Does language merely describe reality or does it create a sense of reality? Do speakers of different languages just use different words to describe the same things, or do they actually think and see the world differently because of the language they use? Explain your answer.

1. Journal (If you're feeling particularly collaborative you can hum something in concert as a class-- but don't get distracted from the topic or your half-page.  *Bonus if anyone captures the moment on video & posts.)
2. Break into groups and work on what you find most valuable: the art of hosting good conversations online; the elements of heroism, storytelling, and language in Beowulf; literature analysis #1; Fox in Sox and "This Life is Your Life" videos; your blogs; or [what am I forgetting? please comment].
3. Please do a quickie audit by period and make sure everyone's commented to the literature analysis posts (I think we're close; if we're still missing a few, please help 'em so you can go over questions together in class on Tuesday.)

1. Tie up loose ends.
2. Post to your blog about your day in independent learning.  Title: MY UNIVERSITY

Saturday, August 23, 2014

thanks for feedback on "learning networks"

Thanks to everyone for your observations and questions yesterday-- I'm grateful to be in your network!  Below is the Prezi, please feel free to peruse and add any comments.  Mark's contact information is included, so if you're interested in Cal Poly, architecture, or in collaborating with his students this coming winter & spring, please feel free to drop him a line.  I'll be online all week, see you in person a week from Monday!

Friday, August 22, 2014


I don't normally use capital letters in blog posts, and I don't know if I've ever used the word Zowie.

But Lupita Pliego's résumé just hit me right between the eyes.  Hers was the first one I read (I still have about 20 to go) that included a link to her course blog!

Here I talk about this all the time--just talked about it yesterday to teachers in San Luis Coastal Unified School District-- and yet I didn't think to remind you to include a section on your résumé where you can direct your reader to your authentic work portfolio.

Hats off, Lupita, that was awesome.  Everyone else: do likewise.  Showing what you can do (instead of just telling people about it) gives you what business-school types call a competitive advantage.  Including your blog will also remind you of who's reading it, which will in turn give you ideas about how to tell the story of you: pictures of your volunteer experience, interviews with people who love your ideas/work, etc. etc.

general résumé feedback

Most of you have great stuff on your résumés-- now let's talk formatting and basic strategy.

1. Your objective should be tailored to each specific opportunity.  (This means that your résumé document will be a template that you'll change slightly for each use.)  If you're submitting your résumé for a job opportunity, your objective should be to use what you know to do that job well.  Example: "To apply my skills and experience in [working with people] as a [customer service representative] at [ACME Corporation]."  The idea is that the sections in brackets are easily changeable for each opportunity without causing you writer's headaches each time you apply for something.  As many of you see on the résumés I edited this week, the same thinking applies for scholarship opportunities.  Example: "To apply the [Smith] Scholarship toward my study of [Biology] at [Harvard University] as I pursue a career in [medicine]."  NOTE: Please feel free to customize the objective and write it in your own voice.

2. Suggestion: use a single, simple, clear format for your employment history, school activities, and extracurricular/volunteer activities.  Example:

Teacher, Righetti High School (2006-Present)
  • Develop curriculum and provide instruction
  • Create and maintain safe, productive, creative learning environment
  • Guide learners through self-directed, interdisciplinary, digitally enhanced experience
Generally speaking, it's a good idea to stick to three descriptive bullets that each begin with a distinct, active verb.  If you have more to say, consider including it in a cover letter or saving it for the interview.  Whatever format you choose (some of you have equally clear styles), be consistent.  If you use italics/bold/periods at the end of phrases/etc. make sure to do the same thing in the same way for each entry.  Also, if you're still engaged in the job or activity (as in the example), use the present tense in your bullets.  If the gig is over make sure to use the past tense.  Remember: what looks like style to you may look like a DQ-worthy typo to the reader.

3. With regard to Awards, less is more.  Name the award, the organization that granted it, and the year you received it.  It's great conversation bait if you're interviewed, and if it's an Award the reader will assume positive things (and may even be subconsciously grateful for your conciseness).

Golden Warrior Award, Righetti High School AP World History (2012)
Scholar Athlete Award, Righetti High School Varsity Basketball (2011-2013)

4. Include the last section:

Available upon request.

You want your reader to know that you have this information if it's helpful.  Some of you already have terrific references; save them for when they're needed.

5. No one is perfect, so please proofread your résumé after you make the first round of edits and show it to at least a couple readers whose perspectives you respect.

Hope this helps.  I'm happy to look at future drafts, and I wish you the best of luck with your applications! 

Up Next: The Personal Essay.

august 22

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Wankatakiya" by Spirit Nation; "Resignation Superman" by Big Head Todd & The Monsters]

Given what you've learned about the first heroic epic known to be composed in English, and how it reflects the culture/values of its times, nominate an epic story from our times that will be remembered as an emblem of this culture in two thousand years. Explain your choice.

1. Journal
2. Beowulf & preview of coming attractions/next week's schedule
3. Guest speaker: Cal Poly Architecture Professor Mark Cabrinha

1. Study vocab
2. Read "The Art of Hosting Good Conversations Online" 
3. Please sign up for Literature Analysis #1 by the end of the day

the art of hosting good conversations online

(original online here)

The Art of Hosting Good Conversations Online

By Howard Rheingold


scholarship meeting reminder

Please plan on being at the College Office today at lunch for an informational meeting regarding the Elks and Chamber of Commerce scholarships. Mahalo.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

august 21

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "St. George and the Dragon" by Stan Freberg, "Knights of the Round Table" and "The Knights Who Say Ni!" by Monty Python, and "Knight Rider" (TV theme) by Glen A. Larson]

How do modern representations of knights and honor differ from ancient/traditional ones? What do modern portrayals of knights and honor suggest about the culture(s) that produced them?

1. Journal
2. Use the period to collaborate on notes, catch up if necessary, read your literature analysis book if desired, and exchange at least one amazing idea with one amazing person. 
3. You can also get a jump on the HW.

1. Study Beowulf by reviewing the resources under the Beowulf post and answering the comprehension questions. Post questions and comments this post.
2. Find your own resources.  (I just found this one.)  There are many, many sites dedicated to Beowulf... if you find something amazing/insightful/truly awful, please share in a comment to this post.


Here are some resources to help introduce you to Beowulf. Please read/listen/read some more, then answer the comprehension questions at the bottom of the post. [*You may want to read these first.]

The Norton Anthology of English Literature is an outstanding reference work.  We don't have copies, so I am embedding pieces here.

First, an introduction that provides some historical context.

beowulf commentary from norton anthology


[These are cut/pasted with gratitude from the following URL with thanks to Prof. Boyer and St. Xavier University of Chicago:

The best beginning procedure is always to read the assignment all the way through, keeping track of characters, so that you know what's happening. If possible, read the whole work first. Try to get the

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

literature analysis #1 sign-up (period 6)

Please comment to this post with the book and author you chose.  Mahalo.

literature analysis #1 sign-up (period 5)

Please comment to this post with the book and author you chose.  Mahalo.

literature analysis #1 sign-up (period 4)

Please comment to this post with the book and author you chose.  Mahalo.

august 20

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Celluloid Heroes" by The Kinks, "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner" by Warren Zevon, and --depending on time-- "Heroes" by David Bowie]

What does it mean to be a hero? How are heroes depicted in modern movies and literature? How do you think these portrayals are different from classic and ancient ideas of heroes?

1. Journal
2. Vocabulary Q/A
3. Heroes in literature/intro to Beowulf

1. Begin reading here; read the first section of the modern text (Prologue-Chapter X) and take reading notes
2. Read the excerpts in your textbook (pp.31-60) and take notes.  Then, assuming you've finished reading/taking notes on pp. 4-14, you can return your textbook to the library. :)
3. Please comment to the literature analysis #1 sign-up post for your period as soon as you choose a book/author.  If you have one already please bring it tomorrow (Thursday).

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

elks and chamber of commerce scholarship info

Please plan on joining Mrs. Dirkes in the College Office this Friday at lunch for information and application materials.  (*In the meantime, I promised her I wouldn't post details.  I also told her that motivated, capable students like yourselves might find the link to last year's course blog post.)

august 20

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Freedom of Choice" by Devo; "Freewill" by Rush]

We use phrases like "pay attention" and "make a decision" all the time-- what do they mean to you? How would you teach a child to do either?  How might you improve your own abilities in these areas?

1. Journal/check lit analysis books
2. 1987 AP Exam feedback from partners (for Wednesday)
3. Resume (REH-zoo-may) -- click this link for reference
4. Vocabulary
5. Read pp. 2-14 in textbook / review note-taking strategies and foundations for study of English lit

1. If you haven't already, please post your notes from last Friday's Socratic seminar (and/or your "Right to Your Opinion" reading notes) to your course blog (title: MY OPINION ISN'T (A) RIGHT)
2. Finish reading & taking notes on pp. 2-14 in the textbook
3. Study vocabulary
4. Choose lit analysis novel (by Friday)
5. Post your recital of "This Life Is Your Life" (by Monday, August 25)
6. Nudge your partner :)

Monday, August 18, 2014

thanks siera!

Siera Betts has kindly posted a vocab resource for everyone-- check it out here.

posting videos to blogs

Have any challenges or ideas when it comes to posting videos?  Today we had some interesting questions and answers about compression and using third-party sites like YouTube, FB, and Vimeo.  Bailey made a cool suggestion re: using iPhoto.  Please ask questions and offer ideas in the comments.

p2p evaluation

If you're interested in participating in the conversation about how we set up a [something] to help us share, analyze, evaluate, and improve each other's work online, please join the conversation with a comment here or tomorrow in 608 at lunch.  Mahalo.

doh! inadvertent lesson in digital security

Hey, you know that feeling when you realize you went too fast and left out something important?

On Friday I goofed.

You have all adapted so quickly to doing things for this course online that I should have said, loudly and clearly and several times, "Please do NOT post your resumes on your blogs-- bring hard copies to class."

My reason for this is simple: I don't want your addresses, phone numbers, and personal email addresses available to anyone who stumbles across your blog. (And neither do you.)

  1. Please forgive my oversight;
  2. Please delete your resume and/or college worksheet from your course blog; and
  3. Please bring hard copies to class on Wednesday.  I will hand-edit and return them by Friday.
I apologize for the inconvenience.  Mahalo.

fox in sox

Some of you did a wonderful job reading Fox in Sox.  I'm extending the deadline: you have until the end of the day on August 31 to post your video.  Mahalo.

(Way to go, Cameron! :)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

august 18

JOURNAL TOPIC: (today's tunes: "Learning to Fly" performed by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, and "Learning to Fly" performed by Pink Floyd)

What did you learn in this class last week?

1. Journal
2. Observations on Week 1/feedback on journals, assignments, and overall performance so far
3. Literature analysis requirement
4. Vocabulary and grammar
5. Poetry
6. "The Right to Your Opinion" follow-up & implications

1. Read your partner's 1987 AP essays and evaluate according to the AP Scoring Guidelines (due Friday, August 22)
2. Define and write sentences around the words in vocabulary #1 and post to your blog (title: VOCABULARY #1)
3. Select a novel and bring it tomorrow
4. Answer the following questions in a post on your blog entitled REFLECTIONS ON WEEK 1
  1. Are there any factors that you think are going to affect your participation or experience in this class? Access to a computer?  Mobile/smart phone?  Transportation?  Friends/family? Schedule?
  2. Think of an awesome best ever learning experience that changed you. What did you learn? Where were you? What happened? Who else was there? Did it teach you anything about how you learn (or pay attention... or remember, or think?) How did you know what was happening? 
  3. What are you most [excited/concerned] about in this class? What do you look forward to in learning?  How do you think it can/will make a practical difference in your life?

vocabulary: fall list 1

faux pas

Friday, August 15, 2014

august 15

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Little Know It All" by Iggy Pop and "Words (Between the Lines of Age)" by Neil Young]

Consider the following image (courtesy of the fine folks at BoingBoing). What issues, problems, or challenges in your life once seemed HUGE but got smaller as you gained a larger, more mature, better-informed perspective on things?  Does this matter in your life?  How?  Does the diction detract from the message or strengthen its impact? [UPDATE: Watching students, re-reading this, and thinking the topic needs more seasoning: a) How does gaining a greater perspective motivate you to make the world a better place; and b) When is it appropriate to use words that are not appropriate for every social context but nevertheless have the desired emotionally charged and/or cathartic effect?

1. Journal/turn in
2. Socratic seminar: "The Right to Your Opinion"
3. "This Life Is Your Life"

1. Post the MONTAIGNE/AUSTEN ESSAY to your course blog by Monday, August 18
2. Read the Personal Statement Worksheet and complete the Senior Resume Worksheet by Monday, August 18
3. Take the 1987 AP Exam and write yourself notes about which questions you found easy, which questions you found challenging, and which questions will haunt your dreams until you pass the exam.  Exam answers and notes also due Monday, 8.18 (answers can either be on your course blog or hard copy, notes should be on your blog, title 1987 AP Exam).  Full disclosure: I think this is the exam I took.  And I think I got a 3.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

preview of montaigne/austen essay

Here is the prompt for the essay you'll write over the weekend:

As David Foster Wallace wrote in his 2001 story "Good Old Neon": 
What goes on inside is just too fast and huge and all interconnected for words to do more than barely sketch the outlines of at most one tiny little part of it at any given instant.

Do Montaigne's techniques and topics support Foster's notion or contradict it?  How does Montaigne's style provide a window into his thinking?  Compare with Austen's style in Pride & Prejudice.  Include examples.  Avoid summarizing or rehashing the original text.

august 14

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: Fela Kuti's "Teacher Don't Teach Me No Nonsense"]

How would you go about writing a satire of The Poisonwood Bible? Would you focus on the same issues/themes as Barbara Kingsolver? What techniques would you use to draw the reader in and cause him/her to think differently?

1. Journal (or use the time to review summer reading notes for the essay)
2. Return/discuss summer reading notes
3. Essays/critique thesis statement
4. Treasure hunt
5. "This Life is Your Life" with bonus

1. Brush up on "The Right to Your Opinion" for tomorrow's Socratic seminar
2. Review Montaigne & Austen (spoiler: essay/s this weekend)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

"i never learned to read!"

You know, as much as we talk about reading, it's easy to overlook the fact that some of us didn't grow up with books and occasionally have a hard time with the basics.

Consider poor Wayne:

So, how do you know how well you can sound out words and get through a text without mistakes?

Here's how:
1. Watch the video below;
2. Get a copy of Fox in Sox by Dr. Seuss;
3. Set up a phone or a camera (or get a friend to help);
4. Read the book as fast and as well as you can;
5. Record your time and the number of mistakes you make;
6. Compare your numbers with mine.  Don't forget to count my mistakes--I just learned that I've been mispronouncing the author's name my whole life!
7. Post your video and your stats on your blog under the heading I CAN READ!

UPDATE: In reply to questions from the email bag...
  • If you're having trouble finding the book, here is the text without the pics. 
  • My reading was a one-take job, but yours doesn't have to be.  You can practice all you want before posting your best effort.
  • To earn course credit you must post I CAN READ! by 11:59 P.M. Sunday, August 17. (Bonus for add'l. renditions with friends/relatives :)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

don't take my word for it

august 13

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: Mozart's Symphony #25 in G Minor]

There is a story about Thomas Edison in which one of his assistants said something like, "We've tried this a thousand ways and it doesn't work! We've accomplished nothing!" Edison reportedly replied, "Nonsense. We've learned a thousand ways it doesn't work." What's the moral of the story, and what is your perspective on the idea?

1. Journal
2. Collect/account for course agreements & summer reading notes
3. A word about Big Questions
4. Treasure hunt
5. Essays & P2P evaluation

1. Poetry #1
2. Begin reading "The Right to Your Opinion" for discussion on Friday 8/15

the right to your opinion

It's such a simple way to end an argument: "Well, I'm entitled to my opinion."

Not according to logic. As author Jamie Whyte points out, one person's entitlement creates another's obligation. Think about it: if you are entitled to cross the street safely, I am obligated to not run you over in my car. But what if you're wrong in your thinking? What if we're in London, about to cross the street, and you look the wrong way and think the coast is clear? Am I obligated to watch you step off the curb and get crushed? This will be the focus of our first Socratic seminar this Friday (8/15). Make sure to gather and evaluate solid evidence; your opinion isn't nearly as important as (the way) you think.

The Right to Your Opinion -

august 12

JOURNAL TOPIC: [today's tunes: "Move On Up" by Curtis Mayfield]

"Action expresses priorities." -Mohandas Gandhi

What are your priorities?  Specifically, what are you doing here?  Why are you enrolled in this course?   What actions can your colleagues and I expect from you this year that will express your priorities?  What does success look like to you?  How will we know when you've "made it"?  If you've ever set bold goals at the beginning only to accept less at the end, how can you prepare your mind to see things through this time around so you won't have any regrets next June?

1. Journal (normally we'll complete this at the beginning of each class period, but since you're writing all period today, please get a spiral notebook-- if you don't already have one-- and write/edit today's journal entry in it before class on Wednesday)
2. Intro to the course and Open Source Learning: lenses, bridges, needs, wants, and opportunities
3. Essay
4. Collect &/or account for summer reading notes

1. See
2. Finish your essay and post to your course blog by beginning of class on Wednesday, August 13 (title: ESSAY #1).
3. Please read & complete Poetry Assignment #1
4. Research the following quote, translate it, and explain its relevance to this moment/course in a brief comment to this post:
dimidium facti qui coepit habet: sapere aude, incipe
(due by the beginning of class Wednesday, August 13)
5. Please read and comment to "Will this blog see tomorrow?" (due by beginning of class Wednesday, August 13)

essay #1

Here is the prompt. Please comment with any questions, and post to your blog this evening. If you can, try to limit yourself to 40 minutes. We'll talk about working process and outcomes in class tomorrow (Wednesday, August 14).

*UPDATE: This is really hard to read on my machine, so here is the text of the prompt.

(Suggested time-- 40 minutes.  This question counts as one-third of the total essay section score.)

Palestinian literary theorist and cultural critic Edward Said has written that "Exile is strangely compelling to think about but terrible to experience.  It is the unhealable rift forced between a human being and a native place, between the self and its true home; its essential sadness can never be surmounted."  Yet Said has also said that exile can become a "potent, even enriching" experience.

Select a novel, play, or epic (THE POISONWOOD BIBLE-- ed.) in which a character experiences such a rift and becomes cut off from "home," whether that home is the character's birthplace, family, homeland, or other special place.  Then write an essay in which you analyze how the character's experience with exile is both alienating and enriching, and how this experience illuminates the meaning of the work as a whole.  You may choose a work from the list below or one of comparable literary merit.  Do not merely summarize the plot.

poetry #1

This commercial below was produced by Levi's (and then pulled from the airwaves in the UK due to the image of the young person staring down riot police), and it raises questions. Here are the ones we will discuss on Thursday, August 14.  Please post your responses to #1-4 on your course blog & title your post POETRY #1.  Question #5 will, natch, be an impromptu live performance.

1. From what poem/author does this commercial borrow (without credit)?
2. Why might the use of this poem by a corporation be considered ironic?
3. Does the poem reflect the reputation of the author? Why/why not?
4. How did you find the answers to #1 & #3? Describe your research process and your sources in detail.
5. Memorize the poem and be prepared to recite it on demand.

from one second to the next

"I can't say 'go play.'  Any mother understands.  I can't say 'go play.' We pray that another child doesn't get taken from a family member's hand."

Take the pledge.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

genius goes to h.s. for a decade

Can you imagine a genius with an I.Q. of 150 going to high school over and over for 10 years so he can "perfect the experience"?  He exists.  Naturally, this raises questions: What is a genius?  What is the significance of an I.Q. score?  Why does getting high school right take so much work? (thanks, boingboing!)

Friday, August 8, 2014

uc personal statement worksheet

Time to get started.  Here is the link.

the power of the network

We like to imagine that successful entrepreneurs, inventors, successful professionals, and creative/athletic talents are the products of individual genius.

They're not.

Sure, each person has gifts that enable her to do things in the world, but social and economic success depend on access to information, resources, and-- most importantly-- each other.  This is the true power of the network. 

Last week I had breakfast with my networking mentor, and I was again reminded that networks are about relationships-- not technology or social media.  Over the past 45 years Carl Terzian's public relations firm has helped more than 5000 clients.  He has represented mayors, senators, college presidents, business leaders, and a variety of professionals, including me.

Networking is about providing value through relationships.  Sometimes you will receive value, and more often you will help someone else with an idea or a resource. This has nothing to do with computers and everything to do with the people who use them.  We rely on blogs and other social media simply to amplify and accelerate our ability to build networks, and to compensate for the fact that there is no physical public space where we can spend time with each other and the experts we want to learn from most.

I started Open Source Learning with the idea that learning communities are more effective when they function as networks instead of as one-to-many broadcasts.  In a classroom where only one person holds the talking stick and takes responsibility for content and discipline, we miss out on the value of everyone else's thinking.  Since we're constrained by the school's bell schedule, not everyone may get a turn to speak in a 50-minute period, so the only way for everyone to contribute is to use asynchronous learning channels like Twitter feeds (we'll be using the hashtag #dplitcomp).  This is why I'll suggest that you keep your phones/tablets/laptops on and available during class. It's also not a substitute for interpersonal interaction, which is why I will also ask that we pay more attention to each other than our devices. 

The benefits of networks are unpredictable.  New voices can mean new ideas, which can shift the topic, the outcomes, and even the purpose of a conversation.  You may meet a mentor, form a community of interest or critique, or even create relationships that last a lifetime.  On Wednesday, November 10, 1999, Carl hosted a networking breakfast at The Regency Club in Los Angeles to promote my management consulting practice and introduce me to prospective clients.  Why do I remember the details of that particular event?  That was where I met my wife. :)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

why plagiarism is about the stupidest thing you can do in today's world (III)

Sometimes people cry plagiarism even when it's not clear that there is an actual case of plagiarism.  When is something plagiarism and when isn't it?  (Thanks, boingboing!)

active reading notes

Some of you have asked me about how to take active reading notes. I suggest that you focus on three categories of ideas: 1)passages that significantly contribute to your understanding; 2)passages that illustrate a particular literary technique or characteristic of the text; and 3)passages that elicit a personal response or question from you. As you can see from the example below, when I read the first chapter of Like Water for Chocolate I underlined passages and made notes about (1) symbolism, foreshadowing, and other hints that helped me "get" what the author was trying to say; (2) examples of magical realism, characterization and plot development; and (3) actions or dialogue that made me sit up and take notice (you may find yourself asking questions or vehemently agreeing/disagreeing, but any time you have an intense reaction signifies an important moment in the text).

Because many of you will be taking notes on a book you don't own, use your blogs or paper to write the notes-- and keep track of the page numbers! That way when we discuss them you'll be able to refer to the context.

active reading notes lwcf jan -

melissa is crushing it

Imagine for a moment that you're a stereotypical, frustrated/frustrating high school teacher who is stuck in a classroom full of stereotypical, frustrated/frustrating high school students.  You're watching them suffer through another standardized test on [whatever] while they stick pens up their noses and watch the clock.

The air is stifling and you yourself could swear the clock is actually starting to tick slower.  So you open an Internet browser in the hope of discovering something, anything, that will help your mind forget where your body will be incarcerated for the next hour.  You enter search terms that won't offend the school's digital guardians: "Amazing English Student."  If you're using a search engine like duckduckgo that doesn't base results on your search history and therefore gives you more than cute pictures of cats or links to products you don't need, you might just be lucky enough to enter a parallel learning universe that looks like this:
Studies have suggested it takes approximately one-tenth of a second to make a first impression.  Here are some first impressions based on a glance at Melissa's blog:

there is no 'them'

Thought for the day:

There is no Them.  There is only Us.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

apparently this kid is awesome

"I've never, ever, been on live television," says Noah Ritter, "and apparently sometimes I don't watch the news." Right there with you, Noah, but if the news was like this every day I'd start. (thanks, boingboing!)

how do you feel about losing your freedom?

One of the reasons the Internet has become so important to young people is that your generation isn't allowed to go anywhere else without adult supervision.  Is this justified?  My daughter is five. How old should she be before I let her walk to school alone?  Twenty? (thanks,!)

rules of english you won't learn in school

Why are you more likely to say "big brown dog" than "brown big dog"?  Read this article to find out, because you're not going to find the answer in a high school textbook. (thanks,!)

spotlight: breanna's blog

Thanks to everyone who has started sending in their blog URLs.  They are already proving valuable-- take a look at Breanna's and start thinking about your college/scholarship applications.  Looking forward to seeing more and reading your notes on Montaigne, Kingsolver, and Austen. 

See you next week!

Monday, August 4, 2014


How many times have students been told: "Use your own words."

The problem, as George Carlin and so many of us have observed, is that we don't actually have our own words.  We all use the same ones.  Sure, we all think we're original/unique in our diction, and maybe some of us use jargon because of a specific interest or cultural identification, but we all drink from the same word well.  Understanding the options makes us better communicators.  That's why we'll be discussing the origins of English and early literature like Beowulf.  For now, here are a few words that aren't as new as you might think.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

"hey! why should I be on the internet?"

Are you smarter than a (1995) 5th grader?

the art of communicating the art of communicating

My Dad recently discovered a box in the garage full of old high school and college papers I wrote. There was even a Hamlet essay from my senior year AP English class. (I got a B-.) Then there was this one, from the master's degree program at UCLA's Teacher Education Laboratory. I didn't include the date (one of many errors-- check out the "the the" in the 2nd paragraph), but I was in that program from 1992-3, so I would have been 22 or 23 (or 4-5 years older than the average high school senior) when I wrote this. Please read it and then scroll on.

on teaching as an art

Modern learners need to be masters of both content and media. Thought and symbolic representation/communication of thought is amazing and made all the more so by technology-enabled communities. And it's important to be mindful of what we don't know. Although physiology and neurology shed more light than ever before, we have not been able to find or explain the little voice within. So we can't exactly account for consciousness or how we think, which means learning is still a lot like love: an intimately familiar mystery that each of us experiences differently. And love is one of the most popular stories in human history. How many novels, plays, movies, poems, songs...?

Learning is just as intuitive and just as abstract, and it merits just as much freedom of expression. Consider this installation art piece depicting the estimated 857 students who drop out each hour. This is far more powerful and persuasive than an op ed essay: "Presidential Candidates Should Address Education Issues." [yawn.]

So why should an inquiry-based assignment come with a predetermined outcome ('this will be a paper,' 'that will be a poster')? Last year a research team began using mind maps. They wrote all the usual MLA-style text, but they were also able to create a living document with links, pics, vids and other media, and they were able to invite communities to view and even participate.

Start looking into online tools (pick at least three to start, I'll post a list soon) that enable the user to convey an idea or tell a story. As you evaluate them, ask yourself: How do you learn? What makes you lose track of time? Do you agree with the idea of teaching as an art? (Feel free to disagree, it's a free country.) Looking forward to your comments.

thinking ahead to week 1

I'm stoked!  School may take summer off but learning never stops. It's been a great summer for Open Source Learning.  Many learners around the globe are trying new things with technology and they are eager to share and learn with us.  Last month I joined RHS/OSL alumni Gabi Pereverziev and Nik Koyama & former Creative Commons CEO Cathy Casserly for a webinar on trust in connected learning environments (sponsored by the Macarthur Foundation and the Connected Learning Alliance).  Later in August I'll travel to London to give a talk on learning networks at the Royal Geographical Society.

Part of the success story is the way the Class of 2012, the Class of 2013, and the Class of 2014 accepted the challenge.  Each year has brought new challenges, triumphs, and LEARNING.  In the first year everything was brand new and students were international trend-setters.  Over time the success stories became more personal, as students gained confidence in asking their own Big Questions and taking the opportunity to take charge of their own education (if you haven't already seen these, here are a couple examples from the Class of 2014 courtesy of Melissa Steller and Matt Reynolds).  Lisa Malins and friends developed an online academic support system. Others have created games and even peer-to-peer evaluation platforms (yes: that means you can "grade" your colleagues).

But even though you'll have alumni and virtual TAs as a resource, remember the "etch-a-sketch" factor. You are completely different people and this is a brand new year.  Times have already changed. There are tools and ideas on the Internet that didn't exist yesterday, much less last year. The political and economic climate around us changes day by day.  So, even though I have some idea of how this might go, and you're certainly welcome to build on and expand the ideas and ventures of past years' students, I invite you and I encourage you to build from scratch. Imagine how you can connect your goals and your passions to the course in meaningful ways.  We're all in for a surprise as you discover what ideas and tools move you to action as you learn your way through this experience.  Incoming students are already designing new learning experiences and ventures.