Tech Salad

With Crunchy Bits and Bytes

Month: June 2011

Keynote Disappointment

A keynote session sets the tone for the conference. A knowledgeable, relevant, and inspirational speaker will get everyone excited, ready to learn and take home new ideas.

Today’s keynote session was so far removed from that ideal that I walked out.

The speaker, Stephen Covey, didn’t think ISTE was important enough to show up in person, or to even read his speech in advance so it would sound more natural. He just plopped down in front of the TelePrompTer and tried to sell us his books with cliches and platitudes.

Yes, we are “just teachers” but we can tell the difference between a keynote and an infomercial.

Unfortunately, the good part came in after I left. The kids should have been first, before we all snoozed through the over-long videos, or were creeped out by an introduction more appropriate for a cult leader than an educator. The kids, the real focus of education, should have had the full audience, not what was left after so many of us walked out.

Alice Movie

This week we’ve been in Hopewell working with Scratch and Alice. Today we finished our Alice animation, and here is my version.

You may download the zipped world and see how we put it together.

What’s the Point?

I LOVE data visualization. I can’t remember numbers, but pictures always stick. I’m probably not the only one, but the last time I discussed data visualization with a teacher, I failed to make my point. I could not think of an example. Today, the example came via NPR (yes, again, I heard it on NPR).

This morning, while listening to the NPR story about the wildfires in Arizona, my daughter wanted to know why people would refuse to leave their home and risk their lives. Why would the people in Apache County be so reluctant to evacuate? I remembered something very important about Apache County. It is the county with one of the highest percentages of population enrolled in Medicaid in the whole United States. People probably won’t have too much money to replace anything that might be burned.

Wait…How did I know this off the bat? I know I’m a bit of a trivia pack rat, but that statistic is not a fun one, like knowing how many Beatles songs had girl names in the titles, right?

Here’s the image that came to mind.


This is a screen shot from Stats of the Union (free iPad app on iTunes). The app lets users explore data from the Census Bureau, the Department of  Health and Human Services, and other federal agencies visually. Counties across the country are highlighted green or blue based on how they compare to the median in statistics related to health and wellbeing(low birthweight, smoking, life expectancy, etc.).

If a teacher had told me this statistic verbally, or shown me a list of counties and their percentage of Medicaid enrollees, I probably would not remember. Neither would your students.

Got Plans?

This is it. Graduation last Friday, teacher work day today. School’s done. Now what?

There is still time to sign up for any of the amazing classes we have planned for you this summer. We have sessions for everyone, Moodle, Google Apps, and most importantly, come find out about the new features in the latest versions of iMovie, GarageBand and the iWork suite. There are lots of fun little surprises in your new laptop.

Hop on over to John Hendron’s blog and sign up.

And if you are already thinking of next year’s G21, check out our G21 Ideas blog. Let us know if you are looking for collaborators. We will post your project so others can learn about it.

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