Monday, August 5, 2013

...and the Crown goes to...

Guest Post by Team Cange:

CO-CHAMPIONS FOR 2013!!!    Team Cange and Team Parkinson together claim the ‘first time ever’ shared first place prize in the 2013 LPG!! 

After an extremely frustrating drought over the last (how many?) weeks of only needing one plate, and after nothing but the sound of crickets from all competitors over those weeks, FINALLY today the ‘where oh where is Delaware’ turned into the ‘There oh There is Delaware’!!  

But Team Cange would not have seen the Delaware plate without the unselfish assistance of Team Parkinson who so graciously shared the big find with Team Cange.  We will not have any ‘globbing on’ as happened embarrassingly in prior years; it is Co-Champions for 2013!!

To add even more decisiveness to the shared victory, see the other two attachments for plates also seen by Teams Cange and Parkinson today: one from Puerto Rico and one from, are you ready for this: Washington D.C. (which is actually the second one from D.C. that we saw this summer!!).  We have never seen D.C. plates before during our years of playing the game.

So, John, I hope you kept that box for the crown as we advised last year so you can mail the crown back to its rightful place in Southern California.  Please mail it to: Team Parkinson.

Who will be next to get all 50???
 - - - 
Team Debbie's response:
OMG!  Congratulations!
How generous of you to share your victory with Team Parkinson.  Has Team Parkinson collected all 50 states?  If not, I believe the victory belongs to Team Cange, alone.  Sorry, Team Parkinson...get over it.  I think the "globber rule" aka "globbing on rule" applies, but I will defer to the group's decision on the matter.
(Interesting that a Delaware temporary plate is all the way in San Diego.  Can't say I've ever even given a temporary plate a second look because I've always assumed they were local.  Knuckle bump for thinking outside the box!)
I'm really surprised it took so long for a License Plate Game 2013 winner to be declared.  So many of us have been down to one plate for so long!  I'm still standing by my observation that the economy is better than the last few years because I continue to see many difficult plates.  Just yesterday, I saw West Virginia (Sorry, Team Parkinson), Delaware (Yep, Team Cange), and New Hampster. 
So, Team Cange you are proposing Co-Champions, does that mean if Team Parkinson finds West Virginia before any of us find our last plate, they are not in coveted 2nd place since they are already 'co-champions?' 

Or if they find their last plate, say after one of us, does that mean, for example:

1st place + 3rd place = 2nd place? 

Just trying to clarify where we all stand...doesn't seem quit fair, but again, I will defer to the consensus of the group.
Congratulations, Team Cange, well done!  Can't wait to see your Official License Plate Game 2013 portrait wearing the coveted crowns!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

What rhymes with banana?

You guessed it, Montana!  Team Debbie has found 49 of 50 state license plates since Memorial Day.  Will I actually find all 50 states before the 4th of July?  It's only happened one other time in the 20+ years we've been playing.  One more to go...Rhode Island.


"Team Cange is still stuck on Delaware…AARRGGHH!!"
Team Gallina, "...Rhode Island, Hawaii and Nevada for me."
Team Loretta,  "We still need Wyoming, Vermont, Rhode Island, Oregon (C'MON), New Hampshire & Hawaii!!!!!"
Team Barbara is keeping pretty quiet about her progress.
Team Parkinson, has 43 plates.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Mele Kalikimaka!

Yep, it's true!  I saw Hawaii this morning.  Happy Father's Day to me!  The really interesting thing was that it was parked next to a van with an Alaska license plate (already had Alaska).  It's June 16th and Team Debbie only has three more license plate to go:  North Dakota, Montana, and Rhode Island.  Gotta admit I'm feeling pretty confident that this is a 50 state summer.  

Anyone else willing to share their progress?  Helloooooo?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Detante on Vermont!

Wahoo!  Look what Gracie and I found this morning!   What a relief!  Down to these slick six:

Delaware - worried
Hawaii - semi-worried
Montana - not worried
North Dakota - not worried
Oregon - really?
Rhode Island - worried

How about you?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Authentic Find!

Wow!  Typically, we find Maine plates on semi trucks, but today, we actually spotted an authentic plate, lobsters and all, on a car!  Not worth any more points, but pretty impressive, nonetheless. 

On Friday, Team Cange said:

Crickets, crickets, crickets…

Any updates from anyone?

See attached that I nabbed tonight parked on the street in Escondido.  One of the fearsome fivesome for me.  Cha-ching!!

Awesome find, Team Cange!  Don't know how many plates you have, though. 
Okay, time for the big reveal!  Drum roll.........Team Debbie has 38 plates! 

Team Parkinson inexplicably says they are too busy hemming prom dresses...what?  Who is too busy to play the License Plate Game?  I'm kind of surprised Team Parkinson didn't petition to postpone the game until all prom dresses are hemmed!  I guess this means they have found zero plates????

Team Loretta had 30 plates on May 28th.

Team FastBuicks has found 35% of the plates as of May 29th.

The other teams have yet to report their numbers.  Hmmmm.  A little worried about the silence or as Team Cange said,  "crickets, crickets, crickets."

How many plates does your teams have?  Inquiring minds want to know!

Happy hunting and safe driving!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

West Virginia, Cha-Ching!

First full day of #LPG13, and Team Debbie (that's me) has 27 out of 50 plates.  Not too excited about most of them, but I did find a West Virginia...woot, woot!  Virginia and New Mexico are pretty good finds, as well.  How are you doing?

Friday, May 24, 2013

On Your Mark. Get Set. GO!

On your mark.  Get set.  Gooooo!  

It's official!  License Plate Game 2013 (#LPG13) has begun!  Every summer for the last 22 years, we have played the License Plate Game.  It has become our...okay, it's an obsession.  

"Hi, my name is Debbie, and I'm a license plate game addict."   

Like most addictions, it runs in the family.  There are specific easily identifiable traits associated with participation in this annual competition.  It seems to be contagious and has even spread to our circle of friends.  You can't say you haven't been warned!

Interested in playing?  First, download and print out the handy license plate game sheet to help you keep track of your finds.  If you have an iPhone, there is a really cool app to help you keep track.  Android users, I tried three of the free ones available, but deleted them all because they weren't worth the trouble.  If you find a free Android app that you like, please share!  Word to the wise, there are many states that have multiple plates, this can be annoying.          

Our rules are simple:

1.  The game begins on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend and ends the Monday of Labor Day weekend.   

2.  IMPORTANT:  Plates only count within a 50 mile radius of your own metropolitan area. 

3.  The goal is to spot cars or trucks from all 50 states (and as many Canadian provinces and any other out-of-the country plates...used as tie-breakers).  You have to physically see them with your eyes in person.  Not a picture of them.  Not hanging on the wall (like in TGI Fridays).

There have only been two years that I have not found all 50 states in the allotted time.  One year, I even found all 50 BEFORE the 4th of July!  Depending on where you are located, certain states will pose a particular challenge.  In St. Louis, for instance, Delaware and Hawaii can be very difficult.  Those are not difficult in other parts of the country.    

We hope you will join us in this fun adventure for kids of all ages!   Drive safely!

ps  On a run to the store, I found 10 plates.  Mostly easy ones, but I did nab a Wyoming! 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

(Open) Attitude is Everything, Part 2

Cross-posted at The Educators' Cafe.
Open is Welcoming

cc licensed Flickr photo by cogdogblog:

In my final reflection on #ETMOOC Topic #4: The Open Movement - Open Access, OER & Future of Education, I am going to focus on OER.  According to Wikipedia, open educational resources (OER) are:
...freely accessible, openly formatted and openly licensed documents and media that are useful for teaching, learning, education, assessment and research purposes.  OER are defined as teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others.
Sharing.  Sharing openly.  That's what OER are all about.  Alan Levine shared True Stories of Openness, an inspiring collection of true stories demonstrating what can happen when you share openly on the web.  Alan calls True Stories of Openness a celebration of the open attitude.  In one of the first stories Alan gathered, Nancy White succinctly stated,
"It isn't just about open resources, it's about open attitudes." ~ Nancy White
Attitude.  Open attitude.  Alan was inspired by his experiences with openness and wanted to provide a platform for others to share their inspiring stories.  I, too, was inspired by the openness I experienced through my interactions on the web, specifically through social media, only my 'platform' was in the form of a dissertation.  In my dedication page I stated,
I dedicate this dissertation to all of the innovative, inspiring educators who have enriched not only my learning but the learning of others by unselfishly spending hours of their own time using social media to connect, share, collaborate, and search for ways to improve their practice and in turn increase the learning and engagement of their students.
When asked why they used social media for informal professional learning, my research revealed that educators valued the community, sharing, and collaboration made possible by its use.  In other words, they valued the welcoming, open attitude they experienced online.  I highly recommend you take some time and explore the wonderful collection of True Stories of Openness on your own.  I wanted to share a few that particularly caught my interest because I have been following these particular people for a long time by reading, watching, listening to, being entertained/challenged, and learning from their work.

Wes Fryer - Open Sharing Leads to eBook Inspiration: Indonesia to Minnesota to Oklahoma - Digital BackPack Project.  "When you share openly and when you share publicly and utilize the social media channels like Twitter and blogs and other things like that, it really can be amazing and exciting to see what happens."

Howard Rheingold - Sharing Pays Back - "I am a communicator, well, why not? ... for every ounce of my time that I share with others, I often find I get a pound back."            

Amy Burvall - Nichetastic! - There's a Niche for Everything - "Weird and endearing things that have happened since posting some educational parody videos to a budding YouTube channel; History for Music Lovers.  It never ceases to amaze me that if you post it, they will come ... every niche, subculture, special interest out there.  Just do what you love and someone will invariably love it, too."  "Create.  Don't hate."  "Do it because you love it."  "I feel not so much alone."

...and my favorite, so far (True Stories of Openness is a project in process),

Darren Kuropatwa - Connecting with co-workers.  Darren shares pics via Flickr and videos.  He said after reflecting, the most important part of his sharing has to do with people and relationships.  Darren creates 'while walking videos' that he shares and people have started watching.  His coworkers feel closer to him so that when they see him during the day, there is a connection.  Darren shared a quote by David Wiley, "There is no teaching if there is no sharing."  In response, he beautifully reflected, "That's what I do.  I teach, therefore, I just can't imagine doing this any other way."

"That's what I do.  I teach..."  That's what I do.  I share...  That's what I do.  I connect...  That's what I do.  I learn... 

Isn't that why we all became educators?  To teach, to continually learn, try to be the best educators we could for our students?  During the various chats, discussions, and posts the roadblocks to openness were discussed.  Topics such as intellectual property rights, fear of theft, copyright/copyleft, and attribution came up, and they are terribly important.  It's our job as educators to teach the importance of giving credit and to model doing so.  In the years to come, these issues will evolve, but we shouldn't wait for a resolution.  We should continue to share openly with each other. 

cc licensed Flickr image by
cc licensed Flickr image by

The following quote was shared in the Topic #4 introductory post,  
Open Education is the simple and powerful idea that the world’s knowledge is a public good and that technology in general and the Worldwide Web in particular provide an extraordinary opportunity for everyone to share, use, and reuse knowledge.  ~ The William & Flora Hewlett Foundation
That's what we do.  We share, use, reuse, remix, revise, and share, again.  This openness not only benefits our students through engaging lessons/projects and collaborative experiences, it also benefits the educational community as a whole.  During the chat of Alan's session, Glenn posted, 'I live in an area where educators have little interest in being connected.  What would I do without Twitter, Google+, etc.'  Many people agreed with Glenn, including me.  That was also one of the themes that was revealed during my dissertation--isolation reduction.  As educators we have all worked with people (or institutions) who were not open for whatever reason.  The openness of social media has provided a lifeline to those of us who have felt isolated in our classrooms and schools.  We have been able to connect as never before with others in our own towns or around the world who believe in the open attitude that Nancy White spoke of.  After all, to paraphrase Darren Kuropatwa,
That's what we do.  We teach.  We share.  We are open.  We can't imagine being any other way.

(Open) Attitude is Everything, Part 1

Cross-posted at The Educators' Cafe.

Time for change
After reflecting on the sessions I participated in, viewing the archives of the sessions I couldn't participate in, reading blog posts, and skimming Storifys of #ETMOOC Topic #4: The Open Movement - Open Access, OERs & Future of Education, my brain is once again in a state of jumbled awesomeness.  As stated in the introduction to Topic #4,

...the Open Movement is an umbrella term that describes a number of overlapping and interrelated movements that, collectively, support the idea of a free and open society in the Arts, Education, government, computing/code, research, technology, medicine, copyright/copyleft, and other key areas.

In Part 1 of my reflection on the Open Movement, I will explore the trouble I am having separating my different roles in education as I navigate my way through this particular topic with a particular focus on higher education: 

1.  classroom teacher
2.  instructional technology specialist
3.  graduate student (until December 2012)
4.  parent

First and foremost, I am an educator, whether thinking about my role as a classroom teacher for 19 years or as instructional technology specialist/classroom teacher for the last 9 of those 19 years.  Sharing is part of my DNA.  I simply cannot imagine NOT sharing resources, lesson plans, ideas, or time.  I was an early adopter of education technology, and the Internet made learning and sharing so much easier!  I curated resources and shared them on my webpage (No judging...cringe, comic sans!  This is a an early version, my oldest site is no longer available.) as a resource for students and parents.  As instructional technology specialist, I took sharing to the next level by curating resources for the teachers, students and parents in the K-8 school in which I worked, however, that was part of the job description, or that's how I understood the job description.  As Dean Shareski said, "Sharing = Accountability." 

As a student until this past December, I experienced various levels technology integration during my MAT and PhD coursework, but I wouldn't say I was exposed to open education.  I would venture to say that my experience was not that much different than most and having said that, I feel changes are inevitable for higher education.  George Siemens, in his Open Letter to Canadian Universities, states my fears regarding higher education so much better than I can:
I’m concerned that the ossification of higher education institutions, and a complete failure to build capacity for adaptation, will produce a bonanza for educational technology start-ups at the expense of the university’s role in society.

The current generation of leaders are overseeing the large-scale dismantling of the public university. Piecemeal outsourcing, growing prominence of adjuncts, and tendering key functions of the university (online course development), are creating a context where the university will no longer be able to direct its own fate.
As a parent of two young adults who each earned Bachelor degrees, one who graduated with no debt (state university), and the other with about $11,000 in debt (private liberal arts college), it is increasingly difficult to justify going back to school to earn an advanced degree when the careers they are interested in pursuing are changing at such a rate that their degrees could be obsolete by the time they graduate, not to mention the debt they would incur and the lack of job stability/opportunities in the current climate and foreseeable future.  In addition, there aren't programs of study that adequately address or explore their interests.  Colleges and universities can't keep up with the changing employment landscape.  This is where open education comes in by providing opportunities for people to gather and learn for the sake of learning, just as we do in #etmooc. 

The problem with open education at the higher education level is how do you prove your learning in these platforms?  Portfolio?  Badges?  Who is going to judge what a badge is worth?  Someone (sorry) mentioned something to the effect, 'It's not what you know, but what you do with what you know.'  Who is to judge?  Questions of quality abound!  I find the prospect of corporate funding of MOOCs extremely disturbing.  As Will Richardson recently stated in his post, We Need More Democracy in Education, Not Less, we need to protect our “freedom to learn…about the things we think you should learn in the ways we think you should learn them.”  It all goes back to the basic media literacy themes of authorship, format, audience, content, purpose, and eventual effects.  Replace the word 'message' with 'course' when considering the following media literacy questions:  Who created this message?  Why (profit? persuasion? education?)?  Who paid for this message?  How do you know? 

I know.  I'm sounding pessimistic and paranoid, which is out of character for me.  It's just that I care deeply about education at all levels, but somehow what is happening (or not happening) at the higher education level is really bothering me.  Paul Signorelli was wrestling with open education and rhizomatic learning the other day and wrote the following that I think applies to learning at all levels:    
For at the heart of all this is a wonderfully philosophical question that also has tremendous potential repercussions for how we develop, deliver, and facilitate training-teaching-learning in our onsite-online world: what can we do to build upon the best of our traditional models of learning while incorporating the techniques and tools that are quickly becoming available to us, show no sign of slowing down, and may have evolved further by the time you’re actually reading this?
I know a lot of people feel we need to turn the traditional models of learning upside-down or throw them out completely.  Admittedly, the existing model is struggling to stay relevant, but exactly how do we reform our educational system?  Who gets to decide what changes take place?  Who will these changes benefit:  corporations, institutions, society, or learners?  In a recent post, Hacking at Education:  TED, Technology Entrepreneurship, Uncollege, and the Hold in the Wall, Audrey Watters offers the following review: 
But what happens, when we “hack education” in such a way that our public institutions are dismantled? What happens to that public good? What happens to community? What happens to local economies? What happens to social justice?
Harold Jarche wrote an interesting piece, Keep democracy in education, where he stated,
I think we may soon get invited to another shotgun wedding, this time between techno-utopians, with financial speculators as bridesmaids, and libertarians, who feel the state and teachers have screwed-up education. It’s education as socialization, but socialization to the dominant business paradigm.
Okay, now that I've got that off my chest, what do you think:

1.  about the state of higher education?
2.  about open education?
3.  we can do to make education at all levels more relevant?
4.  about the corporatization of our educational institutions--from charters to universities? 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Our Right to Forget and Be Forgotten

Originally posted at The Educators' Cafe.

By Giulia Forsythe

I watched the last ETMOOC Topic 3 Digital Literacy – Information, Memes & Attention webinar "Who Owns Your Education Data? (and Why does it matter?) by Audrey Watters last night.  Audrey opened the session by saying that she hoped to drop a few 'THOUGHT BOMBS' in our heads about who owns our data.  Well, she succeeded.  As someone who feels pretty knowledgeable about digital, media, and/or information literacies, Audrey's session revealed the fact that I have a lot to learn on the topic of 'who owns education data.'    

Why it is important to know 'who owns education data': 

1.  Educators, students, and people love using apps.  Let's get interactive.  Raise your hand if you have signed up for an interesting app or Web2.0 service only to be asked if you read the Terms of Service (TOS), and checked, 'Yes.'  My hand it up, too!  Why don't we bother to read the TOS?  First, of all, who has the time, and if you tried to read them, would you even understand them?  They are purposefully difficult, long, and boring to read.  Audrey suggested checking out Terms of Service; Didn't Read a "user rights initiative to rate and label website terms & privacy policies."  Good stuff!  I'm feeling pretty good about my Flickr account but not so good about my WordPress account.

2.  There is an increasing corporate ownership in technology, which also means in education.  Does this bother you?  Should it?  THOUGHT BOMB

If you aren't paying for the product, you ARE the product. ~ Audrey Watters

Have you ever asked a student to sign up for an app or websites without really giving them a choice?  I worked in a school that wouldn't allow us to use real student data, so I usually signed up for EDU versions of sites that provided classroom accounts, or I allowed the students to use my account.  The problem with this is that the students do not have access to their work at the end of the school year.  There were some pretty cool projects that the students produced that represented many hours of work.  Who owns that learning?  I still have access to it, but who actually owns it?  What will happen to it in the years to come?  What about LMS?  Do students and their parents only have temporary access to their 'work'?  What happens when a student transfers schools, towns, cities, states, countries? 

Audrey posed the question, "Are we storing our digital content or data in a place that we can control?"  Some people in the chat suggested that students set up their own blogs, wikis, etc., so they have control over their data.  I imagine that some teachers, schools, districts will not like this because then they will 'lose control.'

What counts as education data?
What data is being collected?
How is it being used?
By whom?

3.  Think about copyright, licensing, control, privacy, security, control over our identity, anonymity, the ability to control our memories, and THOUGHT BOMB:

. . . our right to forget and be forgotten.  ~ Audrey Watters
Seriously, our right to forget and be forgotten should not be out of our control.  If someone posts something they are not proud of, do they really want to be reminded of it forever?  Shouldn't control of our memories be a right?  What about books checked out in the library, grades, absences, visits to the health room, suspensions, lunches purchased?  The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) "is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education."  This law might apply depending on what counts as education records.  Could work being done on a Web2.0 site be considered part of a student's education record?  Lots to consider.

What happens to your data upon your death?  Should we have a digital will?  Someone in the chat suggested listening to Death and Digital Literacy.   

4.  THOUGHT BOMB:  "Who owns your clicks?" ~ Audrey Watters

5.  THOUGHT BOMB:  "Data is the new oil." ~ Audrey Watters

6.  It all comes down to transparency vs privacy.        

So many THOUGHT BOMBS and questions to ponder, however, the one that keeps haunting me is:

". . . our right to forget and be forgotten."
Now, onto ETMOOC Topic 4:  The Open Movement--Open Access, OERs & Future of Education!  

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sharing Your Voice & Digital Storytelling

Bella & Jules 

I've been teaching digital storytelling to middle schoolers for the past nine years, and the tools have been getting easier and easier to use.  I began by using Pinnacle Studio on a standalone desktop computer--not connected to our SLOW school network.  I liked it, but always ran into issues with rendering...crashing, taking FOREVER, formatting, etc.  Eventually, we bought Flip cameras and were able to also purchase Adobe Premiere Elements and a new, much faster computer.  What a difference!  The only problem is that we only had one editing computer in the school and of course each of the groups of students needed the one computer at the same time.  This was always frustrating because I only had the students three times a week for 30 minutes each day.  I was excited to learn about new online editing options through #etmooc Topic 2 Digital Storytelling.  Unfortunately, I was distracted by #edcampstl and #metc13 and haven't been able to explore some of the activities I was really looking forward to.

The video I created for the #etmooc project "Bella & Jules" is my first attempt at using iMovie.  I was inspired to give it a try by the Digital Storytelling for K12 webinar by Darren Kuropatwa and his unbelievable demonstration of creating a video, using iMovie, called "etmooc Beauty" during the webinar.  So, I filmed my granddogs playing, stripped the audio, found a piece of royalty free music, added some sound effects to key action, adjusted the audio to make the sound effects stand out, adjusted the sound effects file size, duplicated a couple clips and used slow motion to enhance them, and added popup messages.  I've done many of those things before, but not in iMovie.  From a review standpoint, iMovie doesn't have the functionality that Pinnacle or Adobe Premiere Elements have, but does it really matter when you are working with students with such a limited amount of time?  Some students ask to use my movie editor before or after school or during their lunch periods, but some students don't have that kind of time.  That's why I wanted to explore some online movie editing applications.  I am still going to checkout PopUp Video and PopcornMaker.  

Below are the tasks I did complete and my reflection of each:   

1.  Consider Many Forms (Define and Collect):

Definition:  "To address the most important issue first: there is no such thing as digital storytelling. There’s only storytelling in the digital age. . .Digital is not the difficult part in digital storytelling. Storytelling is."  Totally agree! 

4.  Six Word Stories:  
Social learning--friends educating each other (adapted from Basil Yeaxlee, 1925).  
Social media--friends educating each other (adapted from Basil Yeaxlee, 1925).
Passionately curious educators inspire and engage.
Inspiring educators say, "Let's find out!"

4a.  Six Songs of DebbieFuco - "From your first song to your funeral song, what music makes you, you? Handpick your tracks and help us uncover the music that matters most."  I don't know where I found out about this sort of storytelling site.  I thought it was through the #etmooc resources, but I can't find who initially shared it.  It was an interesting journey trying to pick songs that fit each stage of my life.  

5.  Five Card Flickr Stories (Visualize):  Loved playing this addictive game.  Could use this with students as young as 4th grade for all subject areas.  I really want to try this as a poetry writing exercise.

Five Card Story: Evenings with ETMOOC

a #etmooc story created by @debbiefuco

flickr photo by cogdogblog

flickr photo by debbie.fucoloro

flickr photo by cogdogblog

flickr photo by mrsdkrebs

flickr photo by cogdogblog

Spicy beverage, warm fire, ready to cuddle, connect and run!
Storytelling is a way to share this human experience we are living, to document our time here on Earth.  The ability to digitize our stories makes storytelling much easier to share, whether with family, friends, colleagues, peers, or the world.  Sharing our stories gives us a voice.  Our voice can be negative or positive; defeating or inspiring.  Through our storytelling others might learn, laugh, cry, reflect, and/or become aware.  The possibilities are endless!


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Let's Find Out!

I recently read the following comment by Ms. Edwards on Denise Krebs' post Connected Learning, Thanks to My Neighbors as Denise was contemplating self-determined or rhizomatic learning:

"I think you show part of self-determined learning when you say 'I don’t know yet.' Isn’t that powerful? Let’s find out!"

"Let's find out!"  Those ARE powerful words!  The innate curiosity of the educators I have the privilege of being connected with online inspires me every day.  It was the people in my PLN who inspired me to go back to school and earn my Ph.D.  I wanted to shine light on and honor these innovative and passionate individuals who unselfishly share, discuss, reflect, and collaborate with other like-minded educators on their own time, to advance their own professional learning and that of their students.  Their generosity, acceptance, encouragement, support, and humor took me from isolation to connectedness, and I dedicated my dissertation to them.

My Twitter Birth Certificate says I was 'born' on June 30, 2008.  This was in the middle of my course work, which was focusing on educational technology.  At that time I was the instructional technology specialist at a K-8 school.  Having attended many educational technology conferences where numerous sessions focused on 'how to get teachers to integrate technology,' I wanted to study 'how to get teachers to integrate technology.'  Twitter changed that for me.  Like many other people, it took me a while to understand the power of Twitter.  Once I found #edchat and began using Tweetdeck, I was hooked.  The spirit of "Let's Find Out" and finding so many educators willing to share their advice, expertise, and resources was mind-blowing.  By the time I was to choose a topic for my dissertation, I knew I wanted to study these early adopters, who were already using social media to informally connect for professional learning, in order to expand our understanding of how to better support all educators professionally.  It is my hope that one day soon reformation regarding how educators engage in professional learning and the important role social media and the development of a PLN play in this endeavor is taken seriously by stakeholders and educators, themselves.  Today, no better example of informal professional learning exists than #edchat (and the many other specialized education chats) and #etmooc.            

Let's find out!  I feel so blessed to live in a time and age where being able to connect is so easy, so life-changing, and where possibilities for educators, students, and their families are endless.  It is hard to imagine what today's students will be like when they are our age having been taught by educators who lived and modeled the "Let's find out!" spirit.      

Monday, February 4, 2013

Writer's Jam
It happened, writer’s block, or maybe I should call it writer’s jam because that might be a better description. Like this image, I have numerous connected learning logs trying to squeeze through into one coherent, flowing post but nothing is getting through. For the past two weeks, the #etmooc ‘Topic 1 Connected Learning – Tools, Processes & Pedagogy‘ has inspired and consumed me, from Alec Couros’ Introduction to Connected Learning, to Dean Shareski’s Sharing As Accountability, to Sue Waters’ Introduction to Blogging (and I haven’t even had time to watch George Couros’ Becoming a Networked Educational Leader!), but Dave Cormier’s Introduction to Rhizomatic Learning is the one I am having the most trouble with.

“What is the purpose of learning?” I love that question posed by Dave Cormier the other day in his session on Rhizomtic Learning. I’ve been wrestling with the question, “What is the purpose of education?” for sometime. Are these two different questions, or are they the same? Merriam-Webster defines each as:

Learning – knowledge or skill acquired by instruction or study
Education – the knowledge and development resulting from an educational process

According to these definitions, learning occurs throughout an education, or something like that. So, they are different but related questions. Symantics?

1. ‘Learning is preparing people for uncertainty.’
Cormier said, ‘If we believe we are preparing students for a future we don’t yet understand, an uncertain, unknown future, then, our whole learning process should be about preparing people for uncertainty, preparing people for decision making and giving them the skills they need so that when they are in those situations they know how to respond.’

I love this, but I’m having trouble processing it and figuring out what this would look like in K-8 settings. Could there be rhizome days where students were allowed to dig deeper into a topic? Would these be bi-weekly? weekly? monthly? I know I am being pragmatic, but that’s how my brain works. I immediately want to do this and begin thinking of ways to make it happen, but at the same time be able to ‘sell’ it to those who will be skeptical.

2. Community can be the curriculum
Where you learn is the curriculum. Informal learning. This reminds me of communities of practice, the apprenticeship model, only it is much broader in scope. According to Cormier,
In the rhizomatic model of learning, curriculum is not driven by predefined inputs from experts; it is constructed and negotiated in real time by the contributions of those engaged in the learning process. This community acts as the curriculum, spontaneously shaping, constructing, and reconstructing itself and the subject of its learning in the same way that the rhizome responds to changing environmental conditions.
Amazing stuff! Informal learning. Where you learn is the curriculum. When the ‘community’ is enabled by Twitter, learning potentially reaches around the globe. Cormier said he doesn’t think he has seen anything as wonderful as Twitter for informal learning . . . I totally agree! Not necessarily the tool, Twitter, but what the tool that is Twitter enables. Today it is Twitter, tomorrow, or next year, or five years from now, who knows? The informal learning that is enabled by Twitter is the engine driving #etmooc and most other connected learning experiences.

However, as a K-8 educator, I am back to some kind of structure or framework, two words that kill rhizomatic learning. Well, I need to leave it at that for now, not an easy thing for me to do. If I don’t move on, I will miss the exciting learning opportunities that are awaiting me in Topic 2 Digital Storytelling – Multimedia, Remixes & Mashups.

I do have to share one more thing I learned from a fellow #etmooc blogger, Jeannine St. Amand. It is advice from Stephen Downes to a reader who asked, “I would also like to know if there is any advice that you could give me as I attempt to make a meaningful contribution as an academic and perhaps even have some influence on the quality and availability of education around the world?” Here is Stephen’s brilliant advice that I plan on framing:

Stephen Downes (03.02.13) by Jeannine St. Amand, on Flickr”>Advice from Stephen Downes (03.02.13)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My Awesome Classroom Door

Participating in #etmooc has my brain bouncing from one great idea and challenge to another.  One challenge that is resonating with me is the idea of accepting the responsibility of sharing and connecting more purposefully and deliberately with other educators more often, inspired by Dean Shareski

At the same time, the idea of a personal/professional learning NEIGHBORHOOD (PLN)—started by Ben Wilkoff who inspired Sheri Edwards who in turn inspired Laura Coughlin (who named me as a person in her personal neighborhood—I am honored) and shared the concept with me—caught my attention.  This interaction resulted in the creation of Connect in the Middle Neighborhood a place where middle level teachers of students from grades 5-8 can connect and share on a deeper level.  Sheri created the wiki because she was inspired by what she has learned so far from #etmooc and Ben, to create a neighborhood where residents could “support each other in efforts to transform education, to make changes for our students’ futures.”  Wow!  It amazes me that such meaningful connections have occurred in such a short amount of time, but do you see what I mean about my brain bouncing from one great idea or challenge to the next?     

None of this interaction would have been possible without technology, particularly, Twitter.  Twitter via Tweetdeck is my classroom door.  When I walk through it, I have unlimited learning possibilities.  From January thru March I will be learning with and from other #etmooc participants.  At the same time, I can walk through my classroom door and follow and virtually participate in such awesome learning experiences as last weekend’s #educon and/or numerous #edcamps (thanks, Cybrary Man).  Through my classroom door I am able to volunteer to help out at #EdCampSTL, which takes place on February 9, 2013 (shameless plug).  My classroom door also allows me to participate in #edugood A Project 365 to Focus on the Good in Education begun by Krissy Venosdale.  Yes, Twitter is a pretty awesome classroom door. 

So, when I walk through my awesome classroom door:

Am I in the ‘…process of establishing myself as a node in a broad network of distributed creativity’ (paraphrased Joichi Ito)?


Am I a resident ‘…in a neighborhood who rather than demonstrating the far reaches of my network, should be introducing my connections to the "locals" or my neighbors’ (paraphrased Ben Wilkoff)? 

Are these two views of connected learning saying the same thing, or are they vastly different?  Is it important to distinguish between the two? 

Monday, January 21, 2013

Social Bookmarking vs Content Curation

I just finished watching the archive of "Introduction to Social Curation."  The session opened my eyes to yet another reason why the development of a PLN is important and why it is so important to 'give back' or 'pay it forward.'  One of the slides shared during the session stated, "It is based on reciprocity and a level of trust that each party is actively seeking value-added information for the other."  As the instructional technology specialist for a K-8 school, I considered it my job to collect (or curate) information for my teachers, parents and students on a variety of topics and subject areas.

I first began the process collecting websites for students and posting them on a static webpage called Mrs. Fucoloro's Favorite Websites (actually my second website).  Those sites took a long time to find as search engines weren't what they are today.  Then, wikis burst onto the scene.  I moved all of the content from my old webpage to the interactive Mrs. Fucoloro's Wiki.  I began using the social bookmarking tool, Delicious, instead of saving my bookmarks to my computers at home and at school, a very confusing process.  Not to mention the panic that would ensue if a computer crashed and all of my bookmarks were lost!  Then, there was a rumor that Delicious was going out of business, and I switched to Diigo.  I am a Diigo fan because Diigo allows for highlighting and commenting, my favorite features.  The problem with Diigo is that it is a bunch of words.  I find that I rarely go back and revisit or browse the content I have saved unless I am specifically looking for something.

Enter, Pinterest!  I LOVE Pinterest!  It is visual, fun, and easy to browse.   I am not a fan of Learnist, though I am giving it a shot.  I am also giving EduClipper a try, which is a safe space for younger students and is similar to Pinterest in usability.

So, what's the difference between all of these tools?   What's the difference between social bookmarking and content curation?  Well, honestly, I think I have been using the social bookmarking tools, Delicious and Diigo, for content curation as well as simple bookmarking.  However, content curation according to the session seems to be more deliberate and focused, where as social bookmarking is archiving content over time.  During the session, Jeffery Heil said that Pinterest represents a hybrid of the two.  I actually save all pins to Diigo, but I don't save all Diigo bookmarks to Pinterest.

I don't know, the lines seem to be blurred to me.  Perhaps the difference is the manner in which content is shared.  Shared.  That is the key word.  That reminds me of what Jeffery said at the beginning of the session, 'It's not about the tool--it's the community.'  Adam Bellow once said, "Date the tools, marry the abilities."   The important ability is that you can connect with a community of people who you trust, collaborate and laugh with, and learn with and from.  It doesn't matter which space you choose as long as it has the ability to be easily accessed, explored, and shared. 


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Day 2 of #etmooc - Like your first ski jump?

The following questions were posed by Alec Couros in the Welcome & Orientations session held on elluminate:
  • How do you make your learning visible? 
 My learning becomes visible as I develop a digital presence.  It doesn't have to be anything formal, and it doesn't have to all be in one space.  My learning is visible when I participate in the #edugood365 project on Flickr, share images on Instagram, presentations on Slidesare, videos on YouTube, pins on Pinterest, bookmarks on Diigo, and infographics on Infogram.  My learning is visible when I comment, post updates and share interesting links on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.  It is visible when I write a new blog post.  Most of all my learning is visible when I write a reflection, which is the transformational piece that takes all of my thoughts and experiences and produces something new or creates change.  "Small tools loosely joined" will allow me to share my #etmooc learning journey as I explore Educational Technology and Media with other curious educators around the world.     
  • How do you contribute to the learning of others? 
 I contribute to the learning of others when I share knowledge and resources, comment on postings, discuss ideas, collaborate on projects, challenge to think deeper, encourage and support when needed, and celebrate the victories of the educators that I work with as an instructional technology specialist, the people in my PLN, and hopefully some participants in #etmooc.

  • What are your learning goals for #etmooc?

I am most interested in the digital citizenship piece of creating change in the world.  Alec spoke of using this 'collective privilege' for good, and this speaks to the social re-constructionist part of my being.  Teaching all of the #etmooc participants how to use our 'collective conscious' for good reminds me of the 'butterfly effect' only more powerful because we are already a global community of learners.  So, here are my goals for #etmooc: 

Goal #1: I will learn how to use digital citizenship to create change in the world, country, state, city, community, or school; Goal #2:  I will learn more about the open movement; Goal #3:  I will learn more about the new digital storytelling tools available.

Alec showed this video for inspiration as we begin the #etmooc journey.  Enjoy!

Monday, January 14, 2013

#etmooc Introduction

Here is my introduction to #etmooc. MOOC is the acronym for massive open online course. Educational Technology and Media or #etmooc was started by Alec Couros. I originally signed up to be an organizer and was able to see the planning of such an endeavor in action, but I think I will simply be a participant/observer this time around. There is much excitement and buzz today, the kickoff day for the course. I am enjoying seeing everyone's introductions. There is so much creativity being shared. I am impressed and inspired!


So, what am I doing to procrastinate from writing letters for jobs that don't exist, yet? 1. I have created a new professional blog - goal is to write posts about education technology, technology integration, professional development, social media, curriculum & instruction, and media literacy. 2. I've created a new group on LinkedIn called #phdchat - an extension of the Twitter group - mainly a way for people to stay connected after they have earned their Ph.D.s 3. I am co-organizing the after lunch activities to be held at #edcampstl on February 9 at Hixson Middle School in Webster. - LOVE this unconference platform. 4. I am sort of an organizer (there are many) but really just an observer/participant of a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) that begins today--called Educational Technology & Media or #etmooc Just like the title says, it is an open, online learning experience. Can't wait to see what it's all about. Might be the future of higher education. I might be procrastinating, but I am also still learning because that is what I do. It's what I like to do--learn.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Reflection: Favorite Things of 2012

Celebrating @ Cyranos after my successful public dissertation defense

Inspired by Kelli Refer, here are my 10 favorite things of 2012:
  • After 6 year, I completed my Ph.D. I am so thankful to my family, friends, students, and co-workers who encouraged and supported me throughout the process. Hopefully, I will have much more to report on the career front this time next year. I am looking forward to participating in the graduation ceremony or hooding in May 2013.
  • "Congratulations. Your submission, 10545 has cleared all of the necessary checks and will soon be delivered to ProQuest/UMI for publishing." December 18 message from SLU. This means my Ph.D. is almost published.
  • Public Oral Presentation of the Ph.D. Dissertation: Successfully defended my dissertation on December 4. This meant that I presented my findings to my committee and anyone else who was interested. I invited Steve, Gwyn, Lynn, and Mary Jo. The girls went out to celebrate at Cyranos afterwards.
  • Participated in my first photo challenge (November): The 30-day gratitude challenge. Really enjoyed taking time to look at the world through a 'different lens.'
  • Celebrated my daughter's wedding with lots of friends and family--many of whom traveled from places like San Diego, Las Vegas, Denver, and Seattle (Tom & Kelli, yippie!). We were blessed with a beautiful day, ceremony, and reception.
  • Attended four lovely bridal showers for Katie (and Matt). The first one was given by the Pollihan's, the second by the bridesmaids, the third by Gwyn, Lynn, and Mary Jo, and the fourth was given by the Fucoloro's. Katie and Matt are certainly loved and supported by many wonderful people.
  • On June 18 we decided to commit to visiting with Tom via a weekly Skype turned Google+ Hangout on Thursdays at 6:00 p.m. This has been awesome! As Steve said, "We have our son back." We also often get to connect with Kelli on these 'visits' making the distance between St. Louis and Seattle seem a little closer.
  •  After 19 years as a classroom teacher and 9 years as an instructional technology specialist in K-8 Catholic schools, I have chosen to move onto the next stage in my career. I'm very thankful for all of the students I have had the extreme pleasure to have learned with over these years.
  • Advance to Candidacy: Passed my doctoral oral exam (proposal) on February 16. This meant that I was was allowed to perform the research necessary for my dissertation. The proposal consisted of the first three chapters of my dissertation.
  •  Participated in my first #edcampstl. An edcamp "is a FREE event that brings together those interested in learning and sharing more about best practices in education in an "unconference" format. This innovative format allows the knowledge and interests of those in attendance to lead the conversations of growth." 
What are your favorite things of 2012?