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In my post retirement as a high school educator I have been very fortunate to be selected as a Docent at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory working at the Lederman Science Center.  The docents help provide the very best educational experience for our student and adult visitors.  The experiences fall across a wide array of topics from High Energy Particle Physics to the restoration of the natural Illinois prairie occurring on site.  The experiences can take the form of a tour and/or a school sponsored Field Trip. Docents are there to help, guide, and explain the mission and vision of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and highlight the contributions Fermilab has and is making  to the pure and applied science sciences for the United States and the world. As a Newbie Docent I am taking it all in.  We are having an all docent meeting this week and were given a homework assignment to research two native prairie plants to share during our morning outdoor work.  I thought I would post mine as a blog.

Enjoy!

Stiff Goldenrod

Images

Description:

Stiff Goldenrod (Oligoneuron rigidum) is an Illinois native perennial that is part of the Aster family (Asteraceae) that grows to be between 2’ and 5’ tall.  Characteristically the plant has an un-branched form.  The exception to this is when the plant nears inflorescence.   A corymb is at the apex if each stem where the inflorescence occurs.  Upper side stems will develop corymbs to create a cluster of inflorescence proving a colorful display during the blooming season.   The inflorescence spans approximately 2”- 3” across while each flower measures within the range ¼” to ½” in diameter.  Moving down from the flower the leaves start out small and increase in size where the reach a maximum of 10” long and a breadth of about 5” with a variety of shapes (i.e. lanceolate, oblanceolate, oblong or oval) with blunt tips.  Leaf coloration is light green and pubescent (felty appearance) and early in the season are soft and floppy while late in the season the texture is much more rigid.  Basal leaves may remain green over winter. Blooming occurs for approximately one month from late summer through fall.  After blooming the resulting achenes are wind born due to the white or light brown tufts of hair. The plant tends to create off sets form its deep fibrous root system.

stf_goldrod1

Thanks to Illinois Wildflowers Information at
http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/prairie/plantx/stf_goldenrodx.htm

Cultivation:

Full sunlight and moist to slightly dry condition is the preference of Stiff Goldenrod.  Soil type does not seem to make a difference which can be loam, clay-loam, or have a course gravel type texture.  This plant actually responds to too much water and too fertile of soil by drooping during blooming.  This is an indicator that this plant is very draught resistant and is very east to cultivate.  Mildew (powdery) sometimes will be observed on the leaves.

Monarch butterfly forages on stiff goldenrod

Range and Habitat:

Most counties in Illinois have Stiff Goldenrod with the exception of some of the southern counties where it is rare to see them. (Map).  Stiff Goldenrod is found in a variety of habitats statewide.  These habitats include moist to slightly dry black soil prairies, clay prairies, savannas, thickets, limestone glades, abandoned fields, roadsides, and open areas along railroads, particularly where prairie remnants occur.

Dance of the Monarchs and Honeybees

Images

Switchgrass

Thanks to Wild Flower Farm
http://www.wildflowerfarm.com/index.php?p=product&id=240&parent=27

Description:                                                                                                                                        

Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum) is perennial with numerous rhizomes  is grows from 4 to 6 feet in height and as a species is very common in tall grass prairies.  The leaves are larger than most of the tall grass prairie plants.  Blooming takes place from June to September.  The flower heads are composed of very small (inconspicuous) flowers that have a delicate look to them composed of purple stigmas at flowering time followed by a large, open, finely textured, reddish-purple seed head. The culms are light to medium green, terete, glabrous, and fairly thick.  Each culm several alternate leaves spanning it length under the inflorescence.  Leaf blades are up to 2/3across and 2” long.  Each ligule has a band of white hairs, while the nodes are swollen and often dark-colored.

The culm ends in an inflorescence about 8-20″ long and 4-10” across. This inflorescence is an airy panicle of spikelets; is broader toward the bottom than the top (pyramidal or conical). The slender branches of the panicle are ascending to spreading and fairly straight. Each branch terminates in a small spikelet about 4-5 mm. long that is ellipsoid or narrowly ovoid in shape. The spikelets are initially light reddish purple, but they later become light tan. Each spikelet has a pair of glumes, a single fertile lemma, and a floret. The blooming period occurs during mid-summer. Pollination of the florets is by wind. The floret of each spikelet is replaced by a grain that is 2-3 mm. long; this grain is ovoid-oblong in shape and somewhat flattened on one side. The root system is fibrous and rhizomatous; the fibrous roots can penetrate more than 10 ft. in the ground.

Fields of Study: Switchgrass Breeding

Cultivation:

Reproduction is by seed and vegetatively through rhizomes.  As a result of the development of rhizomes switch grass tends to grow as a “sod” rather than in clumps.  Switch Grass grows best in sand to clays soils that are medium to dry with regards to water content in partial to full Sun. This grass is very robust and aggressive in its growth.

Switchgrass Research

Range and Habitat:

Native Panicum virgatum Switch Grass grass is one of the dominant species of the tall grass prairie and occurs in habitats including black soil prairies, clay prairies, sand prairies, typical savannas and sandy savannas, open woodlands, rocky bluffs, sand dunes, marshes and sandy pannes, rocky banks of rivers, prairie restorations, areas along railroads and roadsides, and abandoned fields. Because of its above-average tolerance of salt, this species can become the dominant grass along little-mowed roadsides where salt is applied during the winter. Like other prairie species, this native grass recovers readily from occasional wildfires.

References

Voigt, John W., and Robert H. Mohlenbrock. Prairie Plant of Illinois. Springfield: State of Illinois, Print.

Hilty, John . Prairie Wildflowers of Illinois. 2013. Photograph. n.p. Web. 21 Aug 2013. <http://www.illinoiswildflowers.info/prairie/plantx/stf_goldenrodx.htm&gt;.

Switchgrass – Panicum virgatum. 2013. Photograph. General Image, Coldwater. Web. 20 Aug 2013.

Klips, Robert. Monarch butterfly forages on stiff goldenrod. 2012. video. YouTubeWeb. 20 Aug 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBVgDAVJH5I&gt;.

Buslaff, Joy. Dance of the Monarchs and Honeybees.m4v. 2010. video. YouTubeWeb. 19 Aug 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sp0favZ5Ng&gt;.

wiscplantbreeding, . Fields of Study: Switchgrass Breeding. 2009. video. YouTubeWeb. 19 Aug 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8j56s_sdGs0&gt;.

UNLresearch, . Switchgrass Research. 2012. video. YouTubeWeb. 20 Aug 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mRTiXPJay_E&gt;.

Glossary

achenes – a small, dry, one-seeded fruit that does not open to release the seed.

clay-loam – soil tyoe consisting of equal parts clay, silt, and sand

corymb – a flower cluster whose lower stalks are proportionally longer so that the flowers form a flat or slightly convex head.

culms – the hollow stem of a grass or cereal plant, esp. that bearing the flower.

floret – one of the small flowers making up a composite flower head.

glabrous – (chiefly of the skin or a leaf) free from hair or down; smooth.

glumes – each of two membranous bracts surrounding the spikelet of a grass (forming the husk of a cereal grain) or one surrounding the florets of a sedge.

inflorescence – the complete flower head of a plant including stems, stalks, bracts, and flowers.

lanceolate – shaped like the head of a lance; of a narrow oval shape tapering to a point at each end.

lemma – In a grass floret, the lower of two bracts enclosing a flower

ligule – a narrow strap-shaped part of a plant, esp., in most grasses and sedges, a membranous scale on the inner side of the leaf sheath at its junction with the blade.

loam – a fertile soil of clay and sand containing humus.

oblanceolate – lanceolate, with the more pointed end at the base.

panicle – a loose, branching cluster of flowers, as in oats.

pannes – Salt pannes and pools are water retaining depressions located within salt and brackish marshes

rhizomes – a continuously growing horizontal underground stem that puts out lateral shoots and adventitious roots at interval

spikelets – the basic unit of a grass flower, consisting of two glumes or outer bracts at the base and one or more florets above

terete – cylindrical or slightly tapering, and without substantial furrows or ridges

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And I will tell you, Class of 2013, whatever success I have achieved, whatever positions of leadership I have held have depended less on Ivy League degrees or SAT scores or GPAs, and have instead been due to that sense of connection and empathy — the special obligation I felt, as a black man like you, to help those who need it most, people who didn’t have the opportunities that I had — because there but for the grace of God, go I — I might have been in their shoes. I might have been in prison. I might have been unemployed. I might not have been able to support a family. And that motivates me.

President Barack Obama
Commencement Speech Morehouse College
May 19, 2013

Text of entire Speech @ http://tiny.cc/72eexw

President Obama gave a heartfelt commencement speech yesterday in the style that only he can present. He was more open, honest and direct about his life and his short comings than I can ever recall from the past. That being said the above quote resonates with me regarding the double speak coming out of Washington D.C.

His reference to whatever success I have achieved, whatever positions of leadership I have held have depended less on Ivy League degrees or SAT scores or GPAs, and “have instead been due to that sense of connection and empathy”

This is a great disconnect for me when I tried to reconciled President Obama’s educational policies such as Race to the Top and the selection of Arne Duncan as his Secretary of Education who is an advocate of the reform movement that is decimating public education and the middle class. How does the drunken frenzy over data collection and high stakes testing maintain that sense of connection and empathy. Testing has moved away from being the diagnostic tool used to determine the academic skill and abilities of the student. That information was critical to the teacher who in turn would create individual learning plans to help mitigate any learning deficiencies. The ultimate goal was to, as a result, optimize the students abilities to integrate with their world across multiple academic and social domains. Instead in today’s world the tool of testing has become the primary venue to identify a teacher’s aptitude for successfully getting students to a prescribed level of academic prowess no mater what may impact that student along the way. This was never the purpose of testing and it design does not begin to reveal usable data for that purpose. This is not a realistic approach to helping/teaching students on how to improve the human condition as an individual as well as a society.

The intangibles that tests can not provide in getting a quality education as well as establishing enduring understandings of the world in which we must live, work, and protect is grounded in developing that sense of connection and empathy. No series of tests can help create curiosity or develop the ability to reason with others as we live to make ours and others existence in this world of a higher quality. He has described in his short phrase what I have always considered the “art/craft of teaching” which in his own very powerful words is something he values above all else. His actions of providing academic/social opportunities for his children further embrace the “art/craft of teaching” so as to create that sense of connection and empathy within them speaks even louder than his own words to his fervent belief that there are multiple desirable/essential facets to a quality education. His actions are congruent with his words on a personal level and yet, in my opinion, are a great disconnect where his educational policies are concerned both in the policies themselves and his choice of whom to implement them.

If he is truly speaking from the heart yesterday, and I believe he is, how can he meld his policies with what he is conveying to the graduation class. Many references to the great men who have graduated from Morehouse College as guiding lights to the graduates as they create their future goals and aspirations included multiple references to Dr. Martin King Jr. and what he learned, how he assimilated his learning’s and understandings into actions of change through non-violent civil disobedience and tenacity. I would find it difficult to believe any of the great alumni would agree with the action of the federal government and it’s support for the erosion of the public education and the mutated (re)form it now taking across the country as a viable way out for anyone that has the inordinate challenges of poverty and lingering prejudice to be able to identify reachable and sustainable aspirations for their and their family’s future.

If I had the opportunity to ask I would ask the following:

Mr. President what must be done so that all children can be engaged in the endeavor of developing that sense of connection and empathy that serves the whole child starting deep inside of themselves and manifests itself in the actions you so strongly challenged the Morehouse Men to take on as they make their mark on the world that awaits them … and how can I best give my energy to help? For you see that 1948 graduate’s insight into the world has never been stronger than today and he agrees with your assertion that education is about developing that sense of connection and empathy when he said:

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically… Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”

“The time is always right to do what is right.”

Martin Luther King Jr.

During the tenure of Governor Quinn the Illinois legislature and the Civic Committee of  The Commercial Club of Chicago led by Ty Fahner and his big business cohorts have organized an aggressive campaign that leads to what only big money can afford … massive advertising media campaigns of fear mongering and misinformation regarding government employee pensions.  Apparently in their minds the only solution to the fact that the Illinois legislature has purposely failed to make their annual contributions knowing full well what the future would bring to the people who are/will be dependent on this income (social security is not an option available to government retirees) and to all citizens of Illinois is to only look at cutting the benefits of a class of Illinois citizens that have done nothing wrong and everything asked of them by the state to ensure their pension would be there for them when it was time.  The contract between the teachers (State employees) and the State of Illinois was so much at the center of a common set of core values that constitutional language was ratified to acknowledge and protect the rights of state employees now and in the future.  My concern is such that I took this opportunity today to send Governor Quinn a letter through the State of Illinois website.  I am still hopeful that the facts of what other states are doing , the prevailing logic of  the entities listed below and what is clearly the greatest good for the vast majority of Illinoisans will overcome te juggernaut of big business and irresponsible government. To date I have not had a response from the the Governor …

The Future is Now! and In the words of Howard Beale , Network (1976)

Dear Governor Quinn,

As I write this I believe it is very unlikely it will ever reach your eyes … but instead be directed to an aide where the response will be very canned.  In the days of the Citizens Utility Board (CUB) I would not have believed this … I remember your presence in the media fighting for the middle class citizens … proclaiming your efforts to stop the abuses of corporate utilities thrust upon those that had little power to stop the financial aggression.  I believe you applied a very personal touch to those days and the people you worked hard to protect.  It looked as though there was something very right about the David vs. Goliath of those days … and I was heartened to believe that there was someone out there willing to use their energy and position to serve the good of all no matter the strength of the aggressor.  Alas that image and understanding has been undermined since the attack on teacher pensions has started completely under your governorship.  What I presumed and thought would arise as governor from your actions in CUB would be even a greater warrior due to stronger position of influence combined with the tenacity displayed as the head of CUB, but unfortunately that is not to be… instead of the warrior you have transformed into a minion who is completely compliant to the whims and desires of like of Ty Fahner of the Civic Committee… rest assured you are not alone.  There are plenty legislative colleagues of yours that have gulped the Kool-Aid and are ready and willing to trash constitutionally protected guarantees and in the process to throw citizens who have done nothing other than follow the rules under “the school bus”.  What you do to some you can do to all under the right circumstances and incentives and that should be enough to scare anyone in Illinois …  if it is the teachers today who will it be tomorrow?

I have always had an unbridled faith in our country, our laws, the sense of fairness, compassion, and high moral ground that were the core values of our country and our state.  I find it incredulous that legislators can be blatantly irresponsible, unethical, and without conscious with their deliberate delinquency of payments (knowing the future outcome) and then come to the conclusion that the ONLY solution is to take away from the very group they pillaged from to begin with.  If this was the kind of behavior I supported, as an educator, with my students I would be fodder for parental complaints and administrative concern to the severest extent.  The practice of economic and partisan ethics is becoming far too familiar within government …. I don’t believe it was ever the intent for such close partnerships between government and big business … it is like having the fox guard the henhouse.  

All I ever hear about is the reform of pensions aka reduction of benefits and forced decisions between bad choices and a very bad choices (hence no real choice) regarding benefits.  I have never heard in the statehouse or in the mainstream media anything regarding revenue streams and/or enhancements. Might it be because the logical conversation focuses on a revenue shortfall and the solutions represent a significant decrease in the taxes of the vast majority of Illinoisans while at the same time requires large corporations to pay in their fair share into the state coffers for the benefit of the whole?   How many of the Civic Committee members stand to benefit from the reallocation of investments dollars forced upon teachers when TRS is dissipated and the undefined benefit of the 401K is the rule rather the exception?  When is a profit margin a reflection of capitalism alive and well and for the civic good vs. one that serves the few, is debilitating to the majority and forces decisions between bad and very bad!  When will we be able to tell the difference between a good government/business partnership and the abusive economic kidnapping and hostage holding that is eroding the core of ethical representative government for all?

There are plenty of opportunities to tap into revenue streams that are typically used by other states for the benefit of their citizenry.  Glen Brown has very simply and directly described them in his blog (http://teacherpoetmusicianglenbrown.blogspot.com/2012/06/duress-and-few-reminders-about-most.html):

There are practical alternatives that will enable the state to uphold its contract with public employees, and they are also constitutional. Have we already forgotten what these practical alternatives are and what the General Assembly can do instead of misappropriation? Here is a recap:

  • According to the National Association of State Retirement Administrators, policymakers must “keep in mind that state and local pensions accumulate and pay out assets over decades. They have an extended investment horizon.”  Therefore, the focus should be on structural tax reform and not pension reform; 
  • There needs to be a modernization of state and local budgets and their revenue systems. “The structural problems that have built up over time in these systems need to be addressed” (The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities);  
  • “At the core of the budget crisis facing [Illinois] is [its] regressive state tax structure… that is, low-and-middle-income families pay a greater share of their income in taxes than the wealthy…  [A regressive tax] disproportionately impacts low-income people because, unlike the wealthy, [low-income people] are forced to spend a majority of their income purchasing basic needs that are subject to sales taxes” (United for a Fair Economy);
  • “Since the rich are able to save a much larger share of their incomes than middle-income families – and since the poor [can] rarely save at all – the taxes are inherently regressive” (The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, ITEP). Illinois income tax uses a single-rate structure that results in low-income wage earners paying more taxes than the wealthy. Note Illinois is among 10 states in the nation with the highest taxes paid by its poorest citizens at 13 percent (ITEP);
  • Tax services. Illinois is one of five states with sales taxes on fewer than 20 services (The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities);
  • Establish a financial transaction tax or “Robin Hood Tax”: a .50 cent tax on every $100 of transacting. “We used to have a financial transaction tax in this country from 1914 to 1966” (Bill Moyers); 
  • “Broaden the sales tax base to include selected consumer services for an estimated new revenue of $550 million a year” (Illinois Education Association, IEA); 
  • Increase taxation on the wealthy: Illinois is in the top 10 of regressive state tax systems where the wealthiest taxpayers do not pay as much of their incomes in taxes as the poorest and middle-income wage earners (The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy)
  • Close tax loopholes for corporations, especially oil companies and their offshore drilling “for an estimated new revenue of $75 million a year” (IEA); 
  • Eliminate the tax loophole for “Tax Increment Financing Districts” and save “$1.2 billion a year” (Greg Leroy from a national policy resource center for corporate and government accountability in Washington, DC, GoodJobsFirst.org);
  • Eliminate “Edge Tax Credits” for large corporations and save “$347 million a year”; eliminate “Accelerated Depreciation” or “write offs” of all assets and save “$333 million a year” (Leroy);
  • Eliminate “Single Sales Factor” that “allows large corporations to cut their taxes 80-90% and save “$96-217 million a year”; eliminate “Vendor Discounts” that allow companies “to keep an uncapped part of their state taxes as a ‘processing’ fee” and save “$126 million a year” (Leroy);
  • Reinstitute “fund sweeps”: surplus revenue should be added to the General Revenue Fund “for estimated new revenue of $300 million a year” (IEA);
  • Add “exceeded revenue” from the Road Fund (motor vehicle and driver’s license fees) to the General Revenue Fund “for an estimated new revenue of $250 million a year”; reduce aggregate transfers/eliminate “some statutory transfers” from the General Revenue Fund “for an estimated new revenue of $200 million a year” (IEA);
  • Eliminate or cap the “retailers’ discount” that businesses keep: 1.75% of sales taxes paid for by the rest of us “for an estimated new revenue of $100 million a year” (IEA);
  • Implement a more timely system of payments (cash management practices are greatly affected by budgetary practices in relation to deferred liabilities which place additional pressures particularly in the first and second quarters of the year to pay those expenses; timing of tax payments also affects the state’s cash flow and should be adjusted accordingly);
  • Examine and improve the efficiency of the state’s government;
  • Finally, with a constitutional amendment, “given an appropriately designed graduated-rate structure, Illinois could cut the overall state income tax burden for 94 percent of all taxpayers—on average providing a tax cut to every taxpayer with less than $150,000 in base income annually, raise at least $2.4 billion more in revenue, and keep the effective individual income tax rate for millionaires well below five percent…  Illinois taxpayers with the bottom 94 percent of base income collectively would receive an annual tax cut of $1.06 billion… [T]he combined effect of this policy would be a stimulus to the economy from tax cuts and additional state spending (assuming that the additional revenue is used to fund current public services that would otherwise not be funded) that would create at least 36,000 private sector jobs in communities across Illinois…” (The Center for Tax and Budget Accountability).

The aggressive behavior of Civic Committee and who they represent has a momentum that will gain in power and will continue to influence the erosion of individual rights, constitutional guarantees, and core values of family and security… I am mad as hell and not going to take it anymore without a fight! (Howard Beale – Network – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ao3FuGEGcU8) I implore you to reflect back on the good fight during your CUB days and ask yourself the question is the vast majority of Illinoisans means and welfare more important that your alignment to the Civic Committee and the greed they represent?  I strongly urge you to bring the agencies (listed in Glen Brown’s bullet points above) together that can give an unbiased look at the state’s budget and elevate the conversation to strategies and actions that serve the greatest number of Illinoisans and respectfully and passionately protects all individuals’ rights and guarantees (present and future) while at the same time allow for more than respectful earnings by Illinois businesses.

Respectfully,
Mark Pennington

  It has been a month and a half (April 17, 2012) since I blogged about the issue I have had using Posterous with a private domain name.  Trouble with Posterous Accounts Since Purchase by Twitter?   I am sorry to say that after multiple email requests through the Posterous  help desk with out a response I looked up a previous helpdesk email I had where I did get a response and it happen to be with Sachin Agarwal (co founder of Posterous).  What ensued was a 7 email (my contribution to the email stream) conversation with Sachin … with his last request to send him some screencast of the issues I was experiencing.  The issue arose immediately after Twitter purchased  Posterous.  At that very moment one of my Posterous blogs (I have 11) and the only one using a private domain name would not respond to any editing and that obviously became problematic for the 503c charity the blog was serving.  I immediately sent Sachin the requested screen casts (April 9, 2012).  To date I have had no response from Posterous and/or Sachin.  I know that he has moved into a new position at Twitter what I do not understand is how Posterous does not respond at all to a clients requests for help nor why Sachin has not responded to what was a request made by him.

Since I started using Posterous I have been a very big fan and advocate of the product.  I have pushed it to  members of my professional and personal learning networks and it was always something I shared during conference presentations and participation.  My patience and needs could not withstand anymore indifference, at best, or blatant ignoring of the dilemma I was facing, at worst.  If this is their approach to users of Posterous I can only imagine that a very nice product will eventually die on the vine.   As a result I have moved the blog to WordPress.

Has this been your problem?  Have you moved your blog as a result?  Where have you moved it? Has Posterous made the decision for you?  Let me know….

Virginia Glass, Technology Director at Bannockburn School District 106, Bannockburn, IL and I had the privilege to facilitate a roundtable discussion that focused on the Use of Social Media in Education at the TechForum – Chicago 2012 hosted by the Technology & Learning magazine and website.   I want to give a heart-felt thanks to Virginia for all of her collaborative efforts!

The roundtable had approximately 25 participants that represented all domains in education including but not limited to administrators, Instructional Technology Coordinators, Teachers (across a variety of disciplines), and educational consultants. We had approximately 45 minutes to have a conversation about the use of Social Media in education.  The discussion was lively and new questions were generated, reflections on personal and professional experience grounded the participants for their contributions to the conversation.

We started the roundtable with a set of open-ended questions to get a conversation started on the how might the use for Social Media’s impact education.  (Describes the roundtable facilitators incentive for the question)

  • What is the ultimate goal of schools? (looking from the value with the end in mind)
  • Is education adapting to today’s digitally savvy students? (Are we keeping up with lasting and evolving societal influences?)
  • What is Social Media? (working with a common understanding)
  • Is the use of Social Media a breakthrough in helping students engage with content or is it a distraction that undermines traditional forms of discussion? (What is the impact of Social Media on learning … if there is a benefit does it out weigh the potential risks?  Even if there are risks is that a reason to shy away from Social Media in education?)
  • Does the use of Social Media provide a more authentic learning experience? (intended to compare and contrast the in school learning experience to the out of school learning experience – i.e. gap analysis – where are we … we do we want to be, the difference is what needs to done)
  • Does Social Media give students a voice to be heard? (Is student work and opinion part of the collective discourse? If it is how does it impact the quality of student work?)
  • What does the use of Social Media look like in your school today? (If Social Media is used in you classroom or your school … who is using it and how are they using it)
  • Does it/will it make a difference in the learning experience? (what are the participant’s opinion regarding the use of Social Media on a student’s learning  based on the end in mind established in a previous question)
  • What should it look like in the future?  (Based on the gap analysis what should/could Social Media in education look like?)
  • What are the apprehensions about its use? (Another look at the comparing and contrasting pros and cons of Social Media)
  • Is it worth the effort?  (Even if there are risks is that a reason to shy away from Social Media in education or is it an obligation based on the use of it in society and the value with the end in mind)
  • What is necessary for Social Media to be widely used in your school? (If it is deemed important {essential} … what do we need to close the gap?)
  • How important is it for your leaders to embrace its use?  What should that look like? (If essential, how should Social Media be promoted as a core value to education … how can we insure that it has a systemic sustainable presence, therefore an expectation for all to be well versed in its use as a tool for learning and communication … how do we assess the competencies of faculty and students in their use of Social Media in their teaching and learning?)

We created a couple of Social Media Roundtable Prompts to act as prompts for our discussion.  As I look at the tone and tenor of the discussion it was apparent to us that the participates recognized that Social Media is a vital part of the fabric of the world around us and that those savvy in its use will have advantages in being successful in a global information society.  That being said it was apparent that as educators there is an obligation to prepare our students for the world outside of the school, therefore tooling up our students to have a high comfort level and willingness to engage in Social Media.  This includes participating in the dialogue for theirs and others learning and providing information to be consumed by anyone in the world.

The conversation never veered far from the acknowledgement of the critical role the teacher plays in the development of the skills and perspectives of the student in the value and use of Social Media.  There was recognition that students experience a much different world outside of the school than inside.  Also acknowledged was the need to provide more authentic experiences that take advantage of these external experiences and this generation’s ability to multi-task to increase engagement and interest while at the same time prepare for the reality that exists outside of the school.

Getting teachers to see the value of a Social Media use in their classrooms and to   achieve common threshold of expertise and comfort with its use points to a serious professional development need.

We shared how Social Media can:

The roundtable time flew by much too quickly and the conversation could have continued and hopefully through this blog it can and others can join the roundtable that did not attend TechForum.

Since the roundtable I have been connected to other resources from my PLN about Social Media that can add to the conversation.

Are we ready?  Are our students being prepared for the world in which they must function and find personal and professional success?  Let conversation continue…

Image Has anyone had problems with their Posterous accounts since Twitter purchased them?  I have 10 Posterous websites that I use for a variety of personal and professional reasons; one of them has a personal domain instead of the Posterous domain.  All of them were working beautifully and to date all of them are still functioning as they always have with the exception of one, the one with the personal domain.

I can:

  • log into the site on Posterous as I always have
  • see the site with all of its pages and links.
  • click on a page to edit and it takes me to the WYSIWYG editing environment
  • click into a spot on the page where I want to edit

The result … the cursor just stays there.  I cannot make any changes at all to any part of this site.

I have tried:

  • a different browser
  • a different computer
  • contacting and  having a conversation with GoDaddy http://www.GoDaddy.com where the domain was purchased to see if communication between GoDaddy and Posterous, at their end, was working. They responded in the affirmative.
  • contacting Posterous multiple times through their Helpdesk by Contacting Support and sending an email with the specifics of the problem (I have done this in the past and received immediate and very helpful support).  To date I have not received one acknowledgement or reply to my request for help.
  • contacting Twitter multiple times through their Help Center.  To date I have not received one acknowledgement or reply to my request for help.
  • contacted the Posterous respondent from one of my previous Contacting Support email requests and was in a dialogue with him and responded to his last request to send some screen casts (his email on 4/4/12).  Since them I have sent the screencasts and to him and 2 additional emails asking him to please respond… nothing to date

All of this leads to me to the following observations:

  • customer service is nonexistent since the purchase by Twitter
  • I am left with a problem that I cannot solve
  • the 503c organization that I built this web site for is High and Dry and is void of a functional website
  • the inability to contact a person on the phone and begin to climb up the ladder to get this resolved is a huge problem and now appears to be a control issue

This brings me back to my original question: Has anyone had problems with their Posterous accounts and/or customer service since Twitter purchased them? 

As I watched and listened to this video clip …. I was moved to share it with my colleagues … all too often in the hectic day to day of doing what we do … the routine can sometimes can cause us to lose sight of why we do what we do for students, families, and community…

Dr. Goldstein and Jeff Boswell have captured the essence of the challenges of the journey we participate in with our students…

I their words, the video is A heartfelt thank you to teachers across America for their unwavering dedication to the next generation.

By sharing this it is in my own way of saying thank you for all you do!

If interested in more information regarding the video you will find it here

Australian Gary Hayes has created this Flash app that informs and amazes me about the exponential growth and immersion of social media.  The growing numbers force the acknowledgment that social media is not only here to stay … it also screams that that those that can successfully navigate it, discriminate good from bad information from it,  and take an active role in participation  to leverage it will have a selective advantage over those who do not.

Australasia Summer Trip

Margaret, Nathan and I are very excited about the upcoming trip this summer

This site will be the place we capture our adventure in word and media. We love to share … please feel free to comment…

Originally we planned to go to Caloundra, Queensland, Australia to be with Margaret's Mum Lois.  That will still be the whwere we spend the majority of our time.  We will leave Jun 4th and return August 13th. The change that has occurred happened suddenly this last week we Margaret's brother Bill calls and invites us to Indonesia for a week of Island hopping, SCUBA diving, and snorkeling followed by a week visit to his home in Jakarta.  Then it will be of to Caloundra for the rest of the summer

Posted via email from The Penningtons Walkabout

Will Richardson asked the following question…

http://tinyurl.com/24z6vdu

So let's see who is paying attention…what phrase in the above quote needs to be changed so as to reflect the reality of what happens in the classroom?

My response…

Raise the bar on administrative leadership: New administrative-evaluation plan must be only a start.

There has to be 1) an acknowledgment of the need for change to prepare our students for what awaits them in the world they live 2) A cogent action plan to transition in to practices that will prepare students for that world

To date we are sorely void of both … there are pockets but no critical mass …

Teachers in the trenches are left to fend for themselves in an environment that lacks administrative understanding, support, and modeling. This "head in the sand" approach ignores the world in which students will be expected to function. This has created a lack of expectation on teachers (that demands support in the domains of professional development) and the way they should integrate modified pedagogical approaches that would leverage technology tools in more authentic ways for students. We loose the curiosity, energy, and creativity of our clientele as a result and do not prepare students for the world/society and the expectations it will impose on them. Grass roots approaches to change is not enough to move us off our status quo.

My $0.02

Posted via email from The Nexus for the 21st Century