Archive for Conversations

Acknowledging Bullying

A great deal of conversations have been floating around my Personal Learning Network about bullying — mostly cyber-bullying, but bullying none the less.

Bullying is not new to us.  It happened all the time while I was growing up.  It was just something you did not mention because when you did, it made matters even worse.

We saw bullying demonstrated on campuses when
……the non-favorite candidate got up to speak at the ASB election rally.
……groups were formed and certain people were not let in because other certain people just didn’t like them
…..notes were passed, whispers were whispers, flame books were passed around, and code words or signals were created…..often  silent, but harmful attacks on reputations and emotions.

And this is still happening on campuses…….but it has also expanded to the campus of the internet.

Now, many within the network will argue, “Jen, that is not bullying, it is professional discord.”    But, when you look deeper and honestly, we don’t just have bullying on on campuses, we have it within our Personal Learning Networks.

…..It has been demonstrated at conferences when the preferred speaker was not chosen to keynote.
…..It has been demonstrated when people use the comment area of a blog post to slam a person for their personal beliefs and thoughts or subtle twitter jabs that really just took a shot at the jugular.
…..It has been demonstrated through inner circles that have an unspoken “you are not welcome mat” , DM’s that are sent the crucify a person’s reputation, and eye-rolling, sighs, and “let me tell you something conversations” that happen when certain names are mentioned.

Bullying is not just happening on our campuses… is happening at our fingertips,  it is happening in our network.

I have been guilty of bullying.  Most of the time it is when I become jealous of someone else.
I have been guilty of bullying.  Most of the time is when I refuse to see another’s viewpoint.
I have been guilty of bullying.  Most of the time it is when I am trying to fit in — and to be accepted.

And I wonder, if you stop and really think this through — have you been guilty of bullying??

Bullying is not new to us.  It happened all the time while I was growing up.  It was just something you did not mention because when you did, it made matters even worse.   So, in High School, I kept quiet.

Today, I decided to speak up.  It is time to acknowledge that bullying is happening not just on our campuses…..but at our fingertips.


Memories of Texas

This past week, I was able to (finally — read about last year’s trip here: travel to Texas to speak with teachers at an inservice, share at a conference, and most importantly meet up with some “old” friends and get acquainted with some new ones!!

I flew into DFW and picked up a car and set my GPS to the coordinates necessary to meet up with Paul Wood.  We have been pals for over a year online but this would be our first F2F.   We chatted for about 30 minutes and then headed out to Dallas so I could see “the grassy knoll”.

What surprised me — still surprises me — is how small the area seemed.   I hope to go back sometime soon to visit the museum, to talk with some of the people around the area who love to share their thoughts, and to spend more time here.   It was also very interesting to hear Paul share his memories of November 22, 1963.

We then went to SONIC for lunch and I got back into the car to head to White Oak.  Checked into the hotel and then off to meet the Floyd’s for dinner and Rodeo.

One of the nicest parts of this entire trip was when we sat down to dinner, Scott prayed for the food and for thanks.  I honestly teared up.  My faith is strong but not shared by many of my PLN and I was blessed to be sharing dinner with someone who both shares my love of quality education but also a faith, respect, and love for Jesus Christ.

We then left to go to a rodeo — and note to self, do not wear brand new white tennis shoes in the rain and mud to a rodeo.   🙂

End of Day One!

Thursday AM I spent with the 3rd to 5th grade teachers in White Oak and in the afternoon I was with the Prek – 2.    The theme of the inservice was “thinking outside the box” and I had boxes of 64 crayons on each table.  Our first activity was to think of ways to use the crayons besides coloring.  And they came up with many — melting, weighing, sorting, measuring, and even one of the crayons name was “the Giving Tree” which lead into a literature activity with Shel Silverstein.   The reason we did this activity was to get them thinking beyond the obvious and “correct” usage and I think it worked.  After a break…..I then had them form teams and sent them out to take pictures around their school with a chosen theme — such as colors, school pride, etc.  When they returned, we then worked with Voice Thread.   You are welcome to view their projects here:

The evening ended with a great dinner and conversation with Gail Lovely, Stephanie Sandifer, Mark Dunk, Mike Gras, Scott Floyd, and more!!

End of Day Two!

Two of my sessions were pretty much standard, powerpoint, blah blah blah sessions.  They were good but not anything exceptional.  But my last session was probably one of my top 2 favorite sessions ever.

It began with this question — WHY?  Why use Tech?  Why blog?  Why anything regarding tech?  I had a picture of Math Blasters and a wordle and asked how are these the same.   And then basically shared that both CAN be powerful or both CAN be a waste of time if there is no “Learning Goal” (thanks Dennis Grice for continually reminding me of this).

We had a spirited, lively, controversial, argumentative, compromising, enlightening, challenging, and changing conversation.  I think the aha moment for the teachers was when they realized that the purpose of their BLOGS was not because they were told they had to BLOG but that a blog provided conversation.  And maybe that conversation could come from their students as bloggers.  It also was cool that Scott walked in about this time and immediately confirmed their plans for student bloggers.  It was like watching a puzzle come together — it was grand.

The conference ended with a Cool Tool Duel moderated by myself with David Jakes and Randy Rodgers as the duelers — and it was fun.

Then off to dinner and conversation with Paul, Scott, Gail, David, and myself.

There is NOTHING — absolutely NOTHING — I enjoy more about conferences than spending time talking with friends about everything!!!!

End of Day 3!

Saturday am I woke up and heading out to Chik Fil A with Scott, Paul, Christian (Scott’s son) and David.  Then off to drive back to the airport and home!

Arrived home at 6:30 to a very very happy but meowing cat who let me know for the next 2 hours about HIS time while I was gone.  (smiles)

Ahhh Texas — it was grand.  Thank you for all who were a part of it.   I was blessed.


You can visit the Conference Moodle here: for session handouts and links

To Karl — because you asked…..

This blog post is at the request of Karl Fisch ( asking me to extend my thoughts:

I recently attended a ustream keynote with @AmberMac (Amber MacArthur: and here is the link to the keynote:

Here are my thoughts on why I thought she presented a good keynote.

1.  She started the conversation as a conversation and not a speech.
She needed the lights lowered, she requested that.
She spoke casually with her audience before beginning.
She made a few references that showed she knew where she was, who she was talking to, and though her talk might have been given a dozen times before — she personalized it down.

2.  She laughed WITH her audience……several times.
It was not that she had planned jokes or did the “insert humor here” routine.  She really laughed with her audience.  And they laughed with her in return.

3.  She laughed AT herself.
She wanted to showcase how easy it was to make a video and called up an audience participant.  She and he made the video — went to show it — no sound.  And she laughed at herself.
Sure, there were a zillion things she could have made sure that this went 100% right but often, even after you do that, tech does not work — and you have to laugh……..and she did.

4.  She stayed beyond the keynote to talk!!!

5.  She did not talk as an expert — rather she talked as a friend.
And she invited someone else to share the mic and invited questions from the audience.

6.  She used smaller clips from longer videos to make a point and then moved on.
She never allowed the audience more than 1 minute to wander from her conversation……she opened up thought opportunity but not too much that people’s thoughts went elsewhere.

7.  If this was a rehearsed and given over and over speech
— you would never know.  It did not seem polished.  It seemed comfy.

8.  She started with the past, moved into the present, and then shared a glimpse of the future.
But the future was NOT a blurred vision ahead… was visible, achievable, and believable.

9.  She personalized it with her son.
She showed a picture of an ipod next to her week old son.
I don’t know about you — but when I can interact with a keynote on a “family” level……and see them more than just a “edtech guru”, I listen more, I respect more, I identify more.  Again, I don’t know what you think — but for me…..I seldom talk to tech people about tech.  I talk about them more first, get to know them…..for me, tech is always secondary.

10.  She was informative but she was not hoity-toity.
She probably has tons of credentials, a well known and respected blogger, and makes more money than I can imagine — but she talked casually, comfortably, and concise.
I understood what she shared, I believed her information — not because she had shared her degrees and everything but because what she presented was correct.

Just a couple of thoughts of what she could do next time:

1.  Get off the stage…..and talk on the same level with the audience.
Or sit on a chair instead of standing behind a podium.
I think that adds a sense of comfortableness

2.  Ask the audience what do they think — not just invite those you know to speak
She gave out websites — “do you know this or that” and left the audience with her idea.
Perhaps to have the audience share possibilities too.
HOWEVER, this does allow the flow to get interrupted.  Perhaps a wiki, backchannel, etc to share further ideas??

3.  Make sure you mention the correct company.
I will go back and watch the video — but I think she mentioned 1 company’s name (about an event that did not go well) and then the video said another company.
This was just a mixup with names — but you want to always make sure you namedrop the name you mean to.

Smiles, does this help, Karl??


Special Guest Blogger: Cherie Daniel

I challenged you — and I challenged myself on my blog post: to listen to teachers more…………so here goes:

Please enjoy Cherie’s post:

I’d like to introduce myself. I am a Stage2newbie to the world of technology.  Last year was my first year in the computer lab at my school.  With jobs being cut back, I was happy to be assigned to my new position.  But little did I know, how little I knew!  My iddy biddy feelings were hurt when I overheard our tech support person saying, “Oh, no! and she knows nothing about computers!”  Well its not that I knew NOTHING. I could email and use a web browser, and mail merge, and use some office documents, like Word, and Excel and powerpoint (a little).  And I could play lots of games and run simple programs for the students.  Never mind that my own high schoolers could run circles around me on the very basic desktop computer we had at home.  And talk in a strange foreign language that only their techy friends could understand.  Yes, a new, exciting world was about to open up to me, and I really had no inking even of the possibilities.

I came from teaching fourth grade most recently, so the first thing I did was set up the lab to make it friendly.  And since I was going to marry the class lab time with individualized instruction for struggling students, I decided to call it The Cowboy Computer Class-(Where Kids Can Learn with Technology and Can Get Help to Catch Up, Keep Up, and Giddy Up on Ahead). Well, I had a vision, anyway.  Next I had to get to know all of my equipment.  I learned how to turn on and off all of the machines and what to do when they didn’t work like they were supposed to (besides panic, that is).  Then, I had to establish all of my procedures and plan my curriculum for grade levels K through 6.  We had 2 keyboarding programs to learn, a drawing program, and Kidspiration, which turned out to be a goldmine. With our school technology genius, Jen,  as my cheerleader,  I was off and running.

Through out the year, I tried lots of different things, some successfully and some definitely not to try again.  But to sum it all up, I had an exciting year.  Here are some of the things I learned:

1. There are lots of fun buttons on a keyboard and keyboarding skills are essential to teach and practice. Kids catch on really quick!

2. Paint programs have an amazing capability to draw out the artistic and creative sides of even the most distractable learners.

3. Programs such as Kidspiration can be used very effectively to supplement the curriculum in almost any subject matter as well as to directly teach subjects, such as writing, in an engaging way.

4. Computers,  smartboards,  ipods, and Web 2.0 environments are the tools of THIS generation, so it is time for me to catch up.

5. Internet safety is very important and my kids need me to teach them ahead of time what to avoid so they can make full use of technology tools with the wisdom and guidance of their teacher.

6. There are tons of  resources available on the Web, that can be used to teach any subject. Teachers and students are willing to share a wealth of knowledge and experience that I could never gain on my own with the limited time and resources I possess.

This year I want to continue to grow and to share the marvelous discoveries I have made with my colleagues. I want us to move from doing “old things the old way” to doing some of the old things a new, more engaging, effective way with the tools of technology.   But that’s not all.  There are ways students can contribute to their own learning and the learning of others, when we teach them to use tools that we didn’t even have access to even a few years back.  Attending some of the technology conferences and taking a peek at what some of my colleagues are doing has been truly inspiring to me.  You know what? I think I’ve gone from being a NEWbie to a WOWbie!  Next is a DObee.   If this is something you’ve been thinking about it, why don’t you just jump in and get wet?

Cherie Daniel  11/19/2009