What’s wrong with this picture?

What’s wrong with this picture?

US Treasury visits TFA Classroom (promo photo)
US Treasury visits TFA Classroom (promo photo)



SDE Talk Outline- Atlantic City Feb 25 2013

1. About me

Discussion: Turn and Tell 😀 (sorry!) Introductions

Discussion Break:

Reflection: Where am I now in my teaching journey? Frustrated? Excited? Just going through the motions? It’s ok! Accept where you are!

2. Professional development and the structure of the environment

Discussion Break:

What do the physical structures in my classroom say? How much time do you spend in direct instruction? What centers are in your room? What challenges are you facing in your professional learning?

3. Networks and the Shifting Technology of Cooperation

Discussion Break:

What is the role of Play in your room? How does play help develop the skills children need for the future? How do you keep play vital and enriched in your room? What is the current “big hit” in your room?

4. Advantages of Network in the Classroom

Discussion Break:

What are some of the barriers or successes in your school? Do you have a sharing community? Talk about the “plight of isolation” those working w children often face. How many of you work in teams? Frustrations and successes of those teams? How is your current professional network shaping you? 

5. Advantages of Network: Effects on the Professional


Open floor and cocktail questions 😀 

Reflections of #EdcampKinder

So, if you know me, I will often try to wrap my head around something by laying out the entire history of education, the systematic change we are undergoing as a society in tandem with my three week journey of an Edu-Tri-athalon all in one mega blog post that just seems to go on and on! (Yes! Yikes! I’ve got one going right now waiting to be published! :D)

But the #Kinderchat, this I just can’t intellectualize. #EdcampKinder: when I even type the words, the tears start flowing. That’s telling me all I need to know. (No! I’m NOT A SAP!) 😀 It tells me my heart is right here. It tells me I have no choice. “You had me at hello.”

Two years of work. Two years of pouring my time, energy, giving it my all in every way I possibly could to foster this little community. To spark connections, create systems, not to mention be there EVERY WEEK! Of course I didn’t do any of this alone, my trusty compadre @happycampergirl there right alongside of me as well as the amazing group of educators we call #Kinderchat shaping me and my professional direction. For me, its always a questioning and then re-questioning of myself, my motives, my perspective, my direction. An endless cycle of reflection and action. 

So here we were. In Las Vegas, no less. Ten of us. Ten people who paid their own money- THEIR OWN MONEY. To come and meet each other. We had t-shirts, we had “Dessert in the Desert”. We met, we laughed, I cried.

I cried because here we were. An online community in real life. It felt remotely strange at first and yet all at the same time, completely normal. Was this real? What were we doing at the conference table in the middle of Las Vegas? How bossy should I be or not be? Had we already said everything in over two years of online conversation? 

We had agreed on meetings from 4-6 each day no matter what. So we were all finally there, sitting at a big circle table. Long pause. Looking at each other. Slightly uncomfortable. For about exactly what was probably one minute but seemed like five. Oh God, I’m sweating, will this work out? This trip was for me, to see, in short, were we as a group, something real? in it for the long haul? how authentic were the connections? was the passion and purpose there?

Then, just like that- the skype in session started. “Hey, let’s call so and so!” someone said. “Ok!” Suddenly a massively chaotic skype-in session started. People talking to rectangular picture frames in the corner. People holding up the picture frames so the picture frames could talk to one another. People passing the talking picture frames around in a circle. It was a wonderful, distracting successful disaster. Oh God, are we never going to get to talk I wondered? Yes, if I was not a pray-er before #Kinderchat I certainly am now 😀 Do I clap my hands and insist on meeting? We can’t lose this chance to talk! But I just let go. Wait. Listen. Listen.

Soon the skyping ended and Melisssa Sheldon from the I Teach K conference made her way over to the table. A very special Thanks to her and I Teach K btw for allowing us to use that space that day and to be a part of their conference. Suddenly we were filled with stories and the sharing of the projects that we have all been working on throughout the last year came pouring out onto the table. It flowed. The conversation that came out of that hour was more passionate, focused, diverse, innovative and respectful than I may have ever heard.

That tone stayed with us over almost four full days. I can’t quite explain what was there but there was a softness, an affinity, a level of authentic respect, necessary tension, suspense and genuine interest in one another that prevailed. In short, a friendship.

Stacey kept me laughing with her telling her husband, “Ok, honey, I’m going to Las Vegas for four days to meet up with some people I met over the internet, okay?” 😀 It still makes me laugh! Tasha had decided to come and make a holiday out of it, coming all the way from Japan to spend five days in conversation with people she had never met before. Mardelle and Marya brought their husbands and they were immediately welcomed and accepted as part of the group. Everyone took some degree of risk to come and see what this was all about. That’s engagement. That’s investment. That’s passion. 

I heard a for-profit person say “free isn’t sustainable” once. Maybe. Maybe we will die out one day. I know, I know, for-profits uniquely live on for an eternity. 😀 But for now, at least for now and for the last two years, #Kinderchat is lighting a fire. A big fire. One that burns brightly. One that has lots of wood cut and stacked for the winter. One with passion, purpose, and remarkable PEOPLE at the helm. One that has a community around it, cooking, talking, learning, laughing, sharing, throwing glitter at each other. No, the #Kinderchat not going anywhere for quite awhile. The #Kinderchat is here to stay.

The New Shape of Teaching and Learning

So I just completed a three week Tri-Edu-Thon :D.

It started three weeks ago when I was invited to be a panelist at the #NYSAIS at the Lower School Heads and Early Childhood Conference held at Mohonk Mountain House in NY. Wow! Such a beautiful location. I met some really wonderful, unique and “with-it” people. It was a true pleasure to be a part of that group and help lead an “unconference” session. I want to Thank Josie Holford, Head of Poughkeepsie Day School for connecting me to this fantastic group of Educators and to Barbara Swanson for welcoming me so warmly and for organzing such a remarkable event.

There I talked about tech fluency, literacy and “the app trap”. You can see my talk outline here.

From there I beat feet to #ISTE12 I had never been to Southern California before and I decided to make a two+ week adventure out of the journey. #ISTE12 was great because I had the chance to meet up with other colleagues from both my online connections as well as my own school. My school, for those who don’t know, is part of an International Network of Schools. We spent the better part of Sunday meeting with Tech Coordinators and Teachers as well as having time to talk with people from my own school.  It was interesting to hear their point of view on technology and realize, in general, how isolated the tech integrators are from the classroom. In fact they are often two entirely different skills, as they generally deal with the “hardware” problems “my computer won’t work” or “what are the intricacies of a 1:1 ipad program” or “what are the advantages and disadvantages of a BYOD program”. All were discussed at length that day.

However, the other topic that came up over and over and over again, and one that I have come to simply shake my head at is “how can we all communicate with each other better?” Over and over I hear this question from people still living in the silo-ed world of not actually USING technology to communicate and ie to become connected.  There are gigantic and complex Narnia-ic worlds of which the majority of folks have no knowledge of- even tech integrators!  WHEN to use a doc vs a form vs a blog vs a wiki vs a livebinder vs a chat vs an app, not to mention the how of each of those applications.

As for which #ISTE12 I had a new approach this year and I spent way more time networking than attending sessions. Don’t get me wrong, I floated in and out of multiple sessions from: Allen November, David Warlick, Sylvia Martinez, Gary Stager, Adam Bellow (who took the place by storm!) But I focused more on meeting up with many of the people I have been chatting with on a regular basis as well as meeting up with  new friends. I even stumbled into presenting in one of Steve Hardagon’s famous “off-grid” presentations on BBCollaborate, though I am told the recording  cracked out halfway through bc of internet connectivity issues. haha, at #ISTE.

I also attended a “Birds of a Feather” SIG (Special Interest Group) for Early Childhood Technology. That part was probably one of the most interesting of the conference and continues to be so as I wade into the waters of learning the politics, history and special interests of those living in the space of  Early Childhood education and Technology. I felt really proud and keenly aware of #Kinderchat unique voice in this area as well as the scale of innovation that is happening within this (IMHO) incredibly unique Network.

Network. It always loops back to  Network! I find this particularly interesting as, looping back, my school is a Network school and thinking about how these things are formed and what it actually means has become a definite fascination for me.  (See more below)

One of the most humbling parts of being a connected educator is realizing how fortunate you are to receive such support for Professional Development. So many of my #Kinderchat colleagues must pay their own way to conferences. I would never have been able to participate in #ISTE12 without the support of my school and I  am very grateful to my school for sending me out to San Diego.

Now for #EdCampKinder

The Quickdraw: Matt’s, The roster: Michelle’s, The reporter: Karen’s, The group: Stacey’s, The wonk of meeting f2f: Mardelle’s  Michelles second post: the ripple effect
Owly Images

From Michelle in British Columbia:

Our meetings spanned the entire time we were in Vegas, but instead of being in a conference room, they had multiple locations…the airport, the hotel lobby, the street as we walked around the city, the pool, the restaurants we ate in and everywhere in-between. It was a four day, intensive conversation that had started on twitter and finally resulted some very special personal time.

Web Activity Flower Graph

article on web literacy- what is it anyway? from dml 

The Curiosity Cycle by Jonathan Mugan

Summer is here and I just had the pleasure of reading a new book for parents by Jonathan Mugan, Ph.D, entitled, “The Curiosity Cycle: Preparing Your Child for the Ongoing Technical Explosion”. Though the book is geared towards parents, it is applicable and essential reading for anyone working with Young Children or to those longing for greater insight on how the world is changing so quickly.

First and foremost, Jonathan’s writing style, natural curiosity and good naturedness shines through and makes the book accessible to everyone. A Ph.D in Computer Science with a focus on Developmental Robotics, Jonathan writes directly to the parents of young children and leads us through his thinking in a gloriously enjoyable read. How he manages to make such a dense subject light and airy is a testimony to his deep thinking, sense of wonder and expertise in learning.

In the first chapter, “Constructing Intelligence” Jonathan shows how Children Construct Their World through concepts, models and the testing of those concepts and models. He shows how the cycle of curiosity leads a child to construct, deconstruct and reconstruct a continuous web of knowledge that underscores the importance and uniqueness of supple thinking in the human animal. The Curiosity Cycle is filled with everyday conversation models to engage in with your child in order to further his or her thinking.

The Curiosity Cycle gives parents specific games to play with their child that explains why Tic-Tac-Toe is such a wonderful game to play with Young Children and even more importantly, why parents shouldn’t let their child win. “Problems lead to Transformation” Jonathan explains. “Think of an argument as a cooperative job to get to the truth” andIt’s funny how in order to learn something you have to admit you were wrong.”

Jonathan explains how “Embracing the Absurd” and finding “Everyday Magic” helps develop creativity, an essential skill for the future as robots will not be able to replace that quality easily. He shows why and how talking about complicated world problems and systems become accessible to children by creating metaphors and soap operatic stories. He emphasizes the importance of these metaphors as leading children to develop more supple thinking, a skill, he points out over and over in The Curiosity Cycle, as essential for success in a future increasingly dominated by automation and robots.

“If you were to walk up next to a guy in the year 100 and tell him about boxes that play music by pulling invisible energy out of the air, you would be called nuts.”

“A seed is an incredible machine. It somehow converts dirt matter into a tree that can be 100 feet tall.”

“If you get a cut, the skin amazingly heals itself. It is like the new terminator in Terminator 2.”

Jonathan cites a motorcycle racing contest in which a favored designer failed to launch his motorcycle because he forgot to flip a switch. He points out a colleague noted, “The real mistake was not forgetting to flip a switch…(but) in designing a system that forgetting to flip a switch could so easily end in failure.”

His insights on computers and robot “thinking” help us see humanness in a completely different way. He shows us “why a toddler is more creative than a computer” and the unique ability of human potential for creativity. “Computers don’t know it only rains outside” he points out, again adding to the differentiation between simple knowledge and supple thinking.

“To be safe from robot replacement, your child should consider a career that requires a lot of either creativity or manual dexterity.” Jonathan Mugan leads parents, teachers and anyone interested in the nature of learning through the internal dialogue of the mind of a human and gives concrete examples, games and anecdotes to help parents and teachers nurture these qualities in their children.

Jonathan Mugan’s fresh perspective, accessible writing style and natural sense of wonder immediately capture the reader. His funny matter-of-fact manner delightfully captivates and draws you into a new view of the world. This book is essential not only to parents, but to teachers who are looking for what qualities are needed in working with young children who face a world in rapid change. The Curiosity Cycle is an essential bridge of dialogue between parenting, learning and teaching in today’s world.

NYSAIS Outline

Tech and ECE

Educators: We Are All in Process of Becoming Literate: It’s Overwhelming to Do yourself (Working in Isolation)



Talk: April 15, 2011 at Poughkeepsie Day School NYSAIS

Keynote Speaker: Will Richardson (@willrich45)

Afternoon Workshop Talk:

Heidi Echternacht: The Tale of Two Kindergarten Teachers and The Power of A PLN

1. Founding Story of #kinderchat

  • AKA: Lost in space, water seeks its own level and the digital footprint
  • Resume– Meet Heidi
  • Meet Amy
  • metamorphosis: caterpillar–> chrysalis—>butterfly and round again
  • learning vs learned (@willrich45) : online job training

2. PLN’s

3. Why a Kinderchat?

4. Changing Organizational Structures

5. Connection Is King (meaning internet connection @willrich45)

6. Modeling Digital Citizenship

7. Back to Blogs: Reflective thinking vs Class Info

8. “Teachers must be Public Intellectuals…write, blog, letters to editor, comment on blogs…” @DianeRavitch