Sunday, October 29, 2006

Information Overload?

Did you know...
• It's been said that a single issue of the Sunday New York Times contains more information than a person living in the 18th Century came across in their lifetime?!
In researching the source of this factoid I found several references, such as an article by Ian Jukes ( ) who cited the Richard Wurman book, "Information Anxiety."

• There are more than 2.7 billion searches in Google each month, and a total of 6.4 billion searches asked of the top Internet search tools!?
To whom were these questions asked before the Internet?

If information about information is interesting to you, check out "Google Trends" (
With Google Trends, you can compare the world's interest in your favorite topics. Enter up to five topics and see how often they've been searched for on Google over time. Google Trends also displays how frequently your topics have appeared in Google News stories, and which geographic regions have searched for them most often.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Google for Educators!

In July I attended ISTE's National Education Computing Conference (NECC) in San Diego. There was a Google booth and some folks taking names and email addresses for a new "teacher" connection planned for Google. This week, I received my first "Google Teacher Newsletter" which stated, in part,
Visit us at: for a teacher's guide to 12 Google products. You'll find information about each tool, examples of how educators are using them, and lesson ideas. You'll also find lesson plans and videos from our partners at DiscoveryEducation focusing on two of our most popular teaching tools: Google Earth and Google SketchUp.

We think of the site as a basic platform of teaching resources -- for everything from blogging and videos to geographical search tools and 3-D modeling software -- and we want you to fill it in with your great ideas. You can explore a Google tool you've never tried before, then tell us what you think about it. Or road test our lesson ideas, then follow the links to submit your own. And if you'd like to share your expertise with fellow educators, we encourage you to send us your story -- we'd love to feature it in this newsletter or on the site.
Google Earth's direct education link is Visit this site for some exemplary education examples, including using resources from our subscription-based video on demand server, unitedstreaming, and an inspiring message from the Discovery Educator Network Directory, Hall Davidson, "Google Earth enables teachers and communities to easily create tremendous collections of work integrating video, 3D buildings, photos, podcasts, or NPR stories."

Monday, October 02, 2006

PLCs in Pinckney... they "get it!"

Many schools across the nation are either investigating or adopting the Professional Learning Community model, based on the works of DuFour and Eaker. As a regular listener of David Warlick's podcasts, I recently learned about one such school in Pinckney, Michigan (Episode 70, David Gets Geek!ed!). I followed the show links and discovered a wonderful posting by Tom McCurdy and Michael Partridge on "Podcasting and Professional Learning Communities" -- which details their work on adopting the PLC model at an administrative retreat:
"This summer (2006) we were able to apply podcasting to Professional Learning Communities at a leadership workshop in Pinckney, Michigan. We had small groups of school leaders collaborate on questions that challenge PLC’s. We started by using traditional group strategies. Groups discussed a PLC question, recorded their responses on a flip chart, and reported their result to the bigger group. Then we turned on the tech! We gave each group brief instructions in the use of recording software and clustered each group around a microphone and laptop. We let them know that they had twenty minutes to discuss the next PLC question…and the resulting audio file would be posted for the world to subscribe to! The results were stunning. When the groups shared their reactions to being recorded, they unanimously responded that the quality of the conversations increased. The groups were more focused. They were not burdened with trying to record on paper what was being recorded for them. They also felt that they had to rise to a more professional place in these conversations. They reported that they were less likely to verbalize 'stream of thought.' Instead, they more carefully constructed their thinking before speaking. They also reported that they listened to each other more carefully. After the activity, when it was announced that each school would receive a microphone, there was an audible expression of excitement from them. Imagine that."
Thanks for sharing Pinckney! Yours is a great model for demonstrating how technology can enhance the learning of our students (or our adults). Podcasting (and blogging) allow students to experience truly authentic learning by providing them with a "real" audience -- not to mention that it's a global one. Students will be challenged to be more focused, concentrate on a higher standard of conversation, and enhance their listening skills. Why would you NOT want to try this in your classroom?

Also, worth a listen: Geek!ed! Podcast Episode 034: