Monday, April 25, 2011


SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - OCTOBER 14:  Artwork of th...Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Just returned from the Google Teacher Academy in Sydney and I am completely begoogled. They say you only use 10% of your brain; I'd say the same thing about my use of Google.  I thought I had a good handle on most of Google's tools, but I found I hadn't come close.

There really isn't any big secret.  It's all there in front of you whenever you use any Google application: Docs, Calendar, Gmail, Sites, Groups, etc. etc.  Just pick your way through any one of these carefully and follow the  links on the periphery.  What you'll find is that the application you have grown accustomed to can do so much more.  One common theme that you shouldn't overlook is the connectedness of all of the tools.  You can embed a calendar in a doc and get a gmail notification if an event is added.   I guess I'd say that I had all the dots laid out before me and connected in a way I hadn't seen before.  It's a lot of dots.

As far as Real World Math is concerned, let's just say that I filled a notebook with ideas on the plane ride home.  If you liked the recent Crop Circles' lesson, I started working on a part 2 that evolved into a part 3.  Part 3 I think could be the best activity I've produced for the site yet.  I'm anxious to put these new ideas out there for you.

Sydney was a fantastic city to visit; of course, it didn't hurt that the weather was perfect.  The Academy lasted 1 1/2 days and was led by a great team of presenters.  The participants came from around Australia, New Zealand, and surprisingly quite a few from the States.  If you're interested in attending one of these events, my best advice for you is to set a Google Alert for "next Google Teacher Academy".  You'll get Gmail notifications whenever similar results are posted on the Internet.  These aren't planned too far in advance and so you have to stay on your toes.  You might want to check this page also from time to time.  I'll send out a tweet if I hear of one.

Side notes:
  • If you haven't noticed RWM is now on Twitter.  I'd have to say I'm not a huge fan of it yet, but I joined so that I can notify you whenever new material is posted on my site or blog.
  • If you are attending ISTE 2011 in Philadelphia, I have a Poster session scheduled for Wednesday 6/29 from 11-1pm.  I hope to meet you there!
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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Brilliant Prezi by Alison Blank

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sure it's stupid, but...

Kudos to you if you made it past the 2 minute mark; it's not that hilarious or entertaining.  Sure it's stupid, but think about what the kids are trying to do: use a computer to order a pizza.  They know the sequence of questions typical in a pizza order: where do you live, what is your phone number, what would you like, etc.  I'm assuming they've set up some of these text-to-speech phrases in advance and are playing them at times in the appropriate moment.  How stupid would they be if they set up an actual working system where people can use a computer to order a pizza in a city?

Well guess what; it's already been done.  In some cities there already exists online ordering systems for restaurants, grocery stores, movie tickets, and yes, pizza.  So what's my point?  Mark Zuckerberg started off by creating an online beauty ranking program.  His social network, Facebook, is now estimated to be worth $50 billion.  The ability to "think outside of the box" is considered to be a great asset in today's rapidly changing world.  So don't be so quick to dismiss students' ideas on how to use technology.  Of course there are boundaries of decency and what not, but we should encourage creative thinking and not be so particular on one true solution.

The trick would be trying to harness the kid's prank into something productive.  He's halfway there already.  He has the idea.  He knows the questions used in pizza ordering.  So how does he put it in a usable format?  What if the order is from outside of the delivery area?  What are the pathways the system uses when there are different options?  Can he draw a diagram of this system?  Can he express it in a spreadsheet?  Do you see where I'm going here?  Teachers also need to think outside the box and devise thoughtful lessons that stimulate young minds.  The prankster of today could be tomorrow's billionaire.
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