Archive for nextgenteachers

Today the York School hosted CAISAP – the Canadian Association of Independent Schools’ Advancement Professionals and their annual share and collaboration day. Advancement professionals from around the Canadian Independent School system came to reflect on the year that was and compare notes. I was asked to talk about the role that social media could play in the advancement of schools. We had a great breakout session following the presentation which was really interesting. Here are the slides from my talk.

Search Engine is a weekly podcast hosted by Jesse Brown of the CBC . It focuses on current issues surrounding technology and social media. A few weeks back this episode was aired which revealed some interesting findings from a US wide study on the online solicitation of minors. The finding are really interesting. I have edited the podcast down to just the segment dealing with internet safety to save you time. I recommend adding this program to your regular listening list. It is always quality.

Internet Safety

Click on the link to play the clip: The State of Internet Safety

Some interesting quotes from the show.

“Kids do encounter frequent sexual harrassment, abuse and solicitation online but it is far more likely to come from other kids.”

“We could find no cases where solicitation of minors occurred on social media sites like Facebook and myspace”

“Law reinforcement is far more successful at luring predators than predators are at luring kids”

“Some at risk teens actively seek out attention online and engage in risky behavior in unmonitored chatrooms”

What do you think?

Are we starting to come out from under a veil of conventional wisdom that has led us to believe that the internet is full of predators and is unsafe?

If our students are the ones causing most of the problems where should we be directing our energy?

Filed Under (nextgenteachers) by on January 8, 2009

Cross posted at

Greetings from Canada and happy new year!

Before I get started on my new years resolution of posting here on a regular basis I wanted to make some predictions for the coming year. A chance to peek into the crystal ball and make some educated guesses as to what will impact schools, classrooms and learning this year. I can look back in 359 days and see if I was missed the mark or hit things right on.

Here are my top 5 predictions for 09′

1) Location, Location, Location – Geography will heat up in 09′

2009 will be the year of GPS. Camera, phones and computers are all starting to come loaded with GPS devices and this will dramatically change the way people think about place and location. “Geo-tagging” will gain more momentum this year as tools are developed that allow users to attach geographic information easily to just about anything. Student will gain a new and authentic appreciation for latitude and longitude when they are able to geo-tag their iphone pictures and throw them into google earth with one click.

2) “We have to do things in a new way” – 2009 participatory government begins

If you havn’t visited the site since the U.S election wrapped up a few months ago then its worth visiting just to see how this new administration is already using social media tools of all kinds to engage to the public, stimulate discussion and create open and transparent lines communication with the population that elected them. If there was ever a doubt about the power these tools have and their relevance in todays classrooms one need only read and watch this address to see that a new age is upon us and we should all be running to keep up.

3) Twitter and micro-blogging will be solidified as news sources this year.

For those of us who use Twitter or any other micro-blogging platform on a regular basis the power is easy to see. For the vast majority of people these tools are still no more than strange words lacking context or application. This will be the year that changes all that. The recent events in Israel and Gaza have seen participatory media applications like Twitter and Youtube used not only by individuals on the ground to describe what is going on but now also by the states/governments in conflict to shape the news for their own purposes.

Media literacy for our teachers and students has never been more important.

4) Net Neutrality will be a major issue in 09′

You wouldn’t know it but in Canada there is a war going on over the internet and who controls it. It might be going on where you live as well. This year will see this issue bubble over and leap onto the front page as governments, business and the public all wrestle for control of this frontier.

What is Network Neutrality?

Network neutrality is the principle that all information that is sent over the Internet should be treated equally. What does that really mean? It means that ISPs should not influence the content that you see or the applications that you use. Network neutrality is a design principle which aims to allow the transmission of all kinds of information and the use of all kinds of applications. It also means that all sites will load the same, and users are free to go to sites of their choosing.

For more info see:

5) MUSIC will be set Free – DRM will die this year.

Since the birth of the MP3 teachers, students and parents have all shared conversations about downloading music and the right and responsibilities surrounding the distribution of this art form. Itunes sold its 6 billionth song last year however until now all songs had DRM or digital rights management attached. I believe this year will see the end of this which has MAJOR implications for the future of copyright, creative commons and creativity accross the globe.

Hold tight!

A look ahead
Image credit: Solfrost

The students at ISB have just returned from their Songkran break (Thai new year) energized and ready for ISB’s Earth Week.Lots of great events going on.

You can find out about them all on the ISB Green Panther Blog :

This year our Earth week will culminate with two concerts, which will be broadcast out to the world via Ustream:

Green Panthers

Thursday April 24th

ISB Middle School Concert for Climate Change
Time: 12-2 pm Bangkok Time
Hosted by: Dennis Harter and the MS Green Panthers

ES Earth Day Festival

Friday April 25th

The ISB Elementary Earth Day Festival for Global Cooling
Time: 8am – 1pm Bangkok
ES Event Guide -

Hosted by: Justin Medved , James Denby and Kim Cofino

You can catch all the action both days at:

More news to come but a BIG thank you has to go out to Global Cooling Guru Clay Burrell  for all his tireless work in coordinating and getting this off the ground. KUDOS!

Look out Wikispaces and Wetpaint Google just entered the wiki market and their product is SLICK!

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There is HUGE potential with this one!

Check it out here.

News Master Robin Good does a great review here.

Check it out.

So where do we (Justin Medved and Dennis Harter) go from here?


Over the past week we have taken some time to reflect on our process of creating a meaningful and usable framework for embedding “21st century literacy” into our school curriculum. Part 1, 2, 3, 4 sought to guide you the reader through our thinking and seek out feedback and friendly criticism. Blogs are such a great venue for conversations like this.

Our final post asks for advice on how to make it a reality.

Our framework was designed with the International School of Bangkok and its teachers in mind. While we feel it could apply to any educational setting we are not bound by any external curricular limitations other than that which the International Baccalaureate sets out in grades 11 and 12. Our school is heavily invested in the UBD (Understanding by Design) approach to unit/curriculum planning and as a result we have chosen to use “essential questions” to guide our framework.

To quote from an earlier post:

“Looking at Wiggins and McTighe’s Understanding by Design approach to curriculum and unit design we liked how big “essential questions” and “enduring understandings” had helped us plan and design units when we were teaching math and social studies. What if this same “best practice” approach could be applied to the way technology was used and talked about in the classroom? If this was good curricular design practice, why should technology and thinking curriculum be any different? What if that same approach was used in the way we looked at connecting technology and learning across the curriculum? What if there were only a few manageable questions that even the most tech-resistant teacher could see value in?”

Best practices regarding meaningful technology integration vary world wide. As technology is a real and relevant teaching and learning tool, we felt that our approach should leverage internationally-recognized best practices and current research if it was to truly gain acceptance in our school. Whether you use the new NET Standards as a framework or something else, it is important that you meet your teachers where they are and stay consistent with what is accepted and established practice in your own school environments.

When we walk into school every day we are confident that kids are learning how to read, write, and do math. Our teachers are trained to teach these subjects. We trust in their professionalism and in the belief that these teachers want to prepare students for their futures.

In our embedded curriculum model, we have tried to ensure that the nature of “what teachers have to teach” seems accessible to them and just as importantly doable – that the conversations involving technology are conversations that teachers are already having about truth, safety, communication, and collaboration.

But theory is not practice.

  • What are the best ways to get teachers not only on board and trained, but fundamentally believing in the importance of including this curriculum into “the way they do business”?
  • How do we get to a place where we have the same confidence in students learning information literacy skills as we do in the other subject areas?
  • If your school is on the right track and doing this, how have you made it happen?
  • What has been the tipping point to go from talking about it, to doing it?

This is where we want to go. We would like your input. It’s time for the collective intelligence of the Web 2.0 world to kick in.

“None of us is as good as all of us”

Please chime in.

Thanks for joining us this week. In particular, thanks to Scott for lending us his audience.
We’ve enjoyed the conversation.

Justin Medved, Dennis Harter, Guest Bloggers @ Dangerously Irrelevant

Cross Posted at: Thinking Allowed and Dangerously Irrelevant

Yesterday we (Justin Medved and Dennis Harter) spoke about our efforts to broaden the conversation that we had been having within our department with our wider school and the leaders within it. It became very clear to us early on that unless there was a shared understanding of concepts like “21st century literacy” and why our classrooms needed to educate for it then we would be stuck in a curricular holding pattern. There is lots of talk about the need to broaden student literacy to encompass and address the skills needed to navigate the new visual and information landscape, but what does that look like in practice and how do you write it into the K-12 curriculum in a way that is manageable and meaningful.

Our initial work led us to form five essential questions that we felt met the needs of a 21st century learner. It was our feeling that a curriculum focused on just five questions would be much more manageable for the average teacher. These questions speak to thinking, critically evaluating, analyzing, and communicating. They value responsible behavior and knowing yourself as a learner. In a world in which it is impossible to predict what technology children will be using as adults, it is the “answers” to these five questions that will provide students the opportunity to succeed and thrive in the 21st Century. The power of these Essential Questions, lie in their applicability to all ages and to discussion more important and broad than technology standing alone.

A grade 1 teacher can and should have valuable discussions with students about being safe or recognizing truthful information. Who are the people you trust? What about them makes you believe what they say? Whatmakes one “source” more valuable than another? Those same questions can be asked throughout a child’s schooling, but the answers begin to include more sources and more critical examination of their world. And eventually, they begin to include technology. If experimentation and data analysis is a way to know something is true, then you will have to learn how to use the technology needed to analyze that data. If being safe is valued, then learning about responsible use of social networking sites, issues of privacy, and web 2.0 technologies inevitably will be discussed at a time appropriate to students’ use.It was our feeling that the broad nature of these questions makes them accessible to teachers whose responsibility it is to embed this curriculum into their students’ learning.

Teachers believe that they can teach effective communication but they don’t believe they know much about PowerPoint. Nor should effective communication be limited to a software title anyway. The answers to these Essential Questions are higher-order thinking skills and issues of global citizenship. These are the skills we NEED students to have and the ones that will serve them well once they leave the arena of formal education.

These were our beliefs and they had come from hours of conversation and reading about the subject. If we wanted to move our ideas forward others would have to own them as well. So we gathered some key players and leadership from around the school to come together on a number of different occasions to refine our idea.
Our google collaborative document was the perfect venue to allow this to happen. It was fascinating to watch as 12 people debate and edit the same at the same time. What a powerful tool!Our first challenge was to answer the question “What do we want our students to learn?” Our framework provided much of this information but it was also important to try and outline what we wanted our students to be able to do once they were finished at ISB. From the perspective of this framework we all agreed that the ideas could be synthesized down to three areas.We wanted out students to be:

  • Effective Learners
  • Effective Communicators
  • Effective Collaborators


From this starting point and as a result of much discussion and collaboration, we all agreed that our ideas and five essential questions could be refined further down to three new questions.

  • How do I responsibly use information and communication to positively contribute to my world?
  • How do I effectively communicate?
  • How do I find and use information to construct meaning and solve problems?

With these questions we then proceeded to flesh out the enduring understandings that went with them. It was our feeling that these should always be evolving to address the changing face of communication, collaboration and information. The curriculum frameworkwould be in constant beta. A testament to the ever expanding nature of the skills it was attempting to map.

Click to enlarge

What do you think?

  • Do the 3 questions miss anything?
  • Is this accessible to the classroom teacher?
  • Could you sell this to your admin?
  • What barriers do you see?
  • Justin Medved, Dennis Harter, Guest BloggersCross Posted at: Medagogy and Thinking Allowed
    Tomorrow’s post: Part 5 – Moving forward – from rhetoric to reality.

    In our last post, we (Justin Medved and Dennis Harter) shared with you our 5 essential questions for the 21st Century Learner as well as our thinking behind how and why we felt the need to re-shape the way “technology” curriculum is embedded into classroom learning. We built our work on our new literacy wiki – as a collaborative environment for us, but also in anticipation of wanting needing to share our work with a greater audience for feedback and ultimately contribution at a later date. The wiki was the perfect environment for this. By documenting the evolution of this curricular journey in a public venue we hope to garner feedback and critical friending that will hopefully lead to a better and stronger framework.Besides isn’t this “shift” all about the power of sharing and networks?

    While it’s focus is on making “technology integration” more accessible to teachers and more meaningful to students, it actually attempts to articulate an approach and create a through line that run beside all other subject curricula. Finally an answer to the question “who is going to teach these skills?”……….. Everyone is.

    We called it Curriculum 2.0.

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    Once we finished the initial framework it was time to get some feedback.

    Involving our Curriculum coordinators, Technology Director and our new colleague, Kim Cofino (how lucky were we?!), the conversations that emerged were awesome. We felt it important to shop the concept around to as many different people as possible in order to get a balanced perspective. Teachers ultimately want to know “what will this look like?” and “how will be it be supported?” and we had to have some answers ready. Through conversation, challenging questions, and true collaboration, we were able to fine tune our original 5 questions into three focused roles of technology in 21st century learning. More on this and the on the philosophy behind our structure in our next post, but until then you can ruminate on the diagram below.


    In this post, we wanted to focus on the conversations that got us here.

    In addition to working with key people at ISB, we presented our work at the Learning 2.0 Conference in Shanghai in mid September. The feedback was very positive. It was validating to see that other technology coordinators were experiencing the same sort of difficulties with past IT integration scope and sequences. And it was energizing to see that our work was striking a chord. [side note: Dennis will present the work further at the EARCOS Teachers' Conference in Kuala Lumpur in March. If you are there, it'd be great to see you at the session.]

    With positive vibes flowing all around, the next step was to include our school leadership. As we mentioned in an earlier post, we work closely with our school Leadership Team in a distributed leadership model with them often looking to us for guidance – leadership in a different direction. Over the past year, we have been presenting various technology tools and ideas to the LT to give them a better sense of what to look for in classrooms and what to expect in educational change in the coming years.

    Here in the edublogosphere, we often preach to the converted. In general, there is a lot of agreement on how education needs to change and technology’s role in that change. We recognize the shift that is happening and the impact that will have on our students and should have on their learning. We commiserate on how administration or faculty just don’t get it and celebrate together when they do.

    We seldom talk about how important the process to bring them along is – that is a conversation that matters.


    Our work with the LT brought this to light for us. To a large degree, they trust us. And that’s a great start, but to enact major curricular change, we had to first convince them of the need. We had to describe an inevitable world that required innovators, thinkers, collaborators, and communicators. One in which knowing something was less important than creating something and in which working in a group meant talking to people around the world and being able to communicate in more than one way.

    We had to create a shared understanding of what 21st century learning is and why it’s important. We had to allow them to help frame the context in which this could work at ISB. With that individual, personal input, you can achieve buy-in. Then you can challenge them by asking, what are we going to do about it?

    Our point: you can’t skip these conversations.

    As other schools or technology folks begin to use our framework to develop their own integration plans, we remind them, make sure you have the conversations. Use our work as a starting point for conversations that encourage questioning and challenge thinking. If we can’t defend our rationale for a curricular model like this, then it isn’t worth doing. Give stake holders a chance to process, question, and understand. (sounds like good teaching!)

    Whether it comes via top leadership or from another direction, in order for school change to happen, buy-in has to come from shared understanding. And that only comes from conversations that matter.

    For us, the next steps are to flesh out our framework and bring it more formally to teachers, where again, conversation will lead to shared understanding. It’s what didn’t happen at T.C. Williams and why all the tech in the world isn’t improving student learning there.

    No matter how “right” we know we are, you must get buy-in and shared understanding.

    You can’t skip the conversations.

    Justin Medved, Dennis Harter, Guest Bloggers
    Cross Posted at: Medagogy and Thinking Allowed and Dangerously Irrelevant

    Tomorrow’s Post: Refining The Idea