An explanation of some topic or topics, typically made by someone known as the presenter, to a group of people sitting in uncomfortable chairs while typing sound bites into the Twitter.

Or checking their email.

On Twitter, presentations are called presos, most likely in an attempt to conserve characters, but maybe not.  I’m not really sure.

There are multiple ways to give presentations, and multiple reason for doing so or not doing so, but most involve some sort of digital tool like PowerPoint, Keynote or the relative newcomer to the block, Prezi.

With Prezi you can zoom everywhere and that’s pretty darn cool.

It will also require that a healthy dose of Dramamine be passed out to the audience prior to the preso.

If you use PowerPoint, you might be accussed of Powerpointlessness.  Design carefully!

So, if I’m in the audience, here is what I’d like to see from you, in your design:

  1. Passion, heart and soul. Believe in what you are speaking about.  Let that show.
  2. Tell me stories.  I like them, and it allows me to relate to you as a person.
  3. Convince me.
  4. Make it visual.  Not clip art.  Use visuals to communicate, not to decorate.
  5. Oh, and use some words.  But no bullet lists.  And avoid the global killer of using Comic Sans
  6. Limit yourself.  One Hour = 45 slides…or maybe just 10.
  7. I came to hear you.  So, why exactly are you up on the stage and have the big picture in the program?
  8. Practice.  I’ll know if you didn’t.
  9. Perform.  Have some fun up there.  Make me want to check my email later.
  10. Share your ideas.

And Number 10 is the big one.  Anyone willing to stand up in front of people, whether they’re good at it or not, has my respect.

Sometimes you have to step away from Twitter, and ideas in 140 characters.  Step away from your blog as well, and do it face-to-face.

Twitter is easy.

So is putting your ideas in a blog.  Easy.

But at 8:59 when your presentation begins at 9 and all eyes are on you, that’s not.

Passion. Heart. Soul.

And in person.



Posted via email from David Jakes

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Dr. Schmoker’s new book Focus recently hit shelves and has brought with it opinions ranging from love it to hate it.

You can read some of my preliminary thoughts about the potential impact of the book in Change Change.

With it being ASCD’s member book and with Schmoker’s reputation, it is imperative that educators begin discussing and understanding the potential implications of a work that is sure to be a topic of discussion in many school districts and one that may influence the pathways that schools choose to take.

For that reason, a number of us on Twitter and in person decided it is worth gathering to discuss this book with educators globally. As a means of making it an easy entry point for discussion, here is what we are thinking as a means of discussing the work.

Discussion Number One: Elluminate (#focusASCD)

Date: Wed February 16th at 9pm EST

Topic: Chapters 1-2 — tweet and discuss quotes, thoughts, questions, concerns, and opportunities (feel free to use the study guide as well)

Discussion Number Two: Elluminate (#focusASCD)

Date: Wed February 23rd at 9pm EST

Topic: Chapter 3-4 — tweet and discuss quotes, thoughts, questions, concerns, and opportunities (feel free to use the study guide as well)

Discussion Number Three: Elluminate (#focusASCD)

Date: Wed March 3rd at 9pm EST

Topic: Entire Book (feel free to use the study guide as well)

Link: TBD

If you have alternatives to the above, please feel free to share in the comment section. This is meant to be informal so we are surely not tied to the above. The key is to find a few common gathering times online that we can discuss the work.

Please complete the following Google Form so we can determine interest.

Thanks and we hope to see you there!

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Here’s something that I use in digital storytelling sessions I do as an example of a script, and I think its appropriate for posting tonight, given the State of the Union Address, and all the comments by all the Twitter “experts.”  The United States isn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but if you live here, well, consider yourself very lucky.  

From PBS, captured from one of their commercials many years ago.  It’s the best I can do with the citation, with apologies in advance to Stephen Downes.

America’s Story

Welcome to a place that is always just beginning.

That rouses itself day to day, and year to year…

To admire what it’s made, starting with nothing.

Then rushes to invent itself all over again.

Ordinary people, doing extraordinary things.

Knowing what goes on now goes on to shape tomorrow.

Welcome to a land that is never exactly what you think it is…

And will never stay that way for very long.

There are a million stories in the streets of the cities that we never finish building…

And we intend to tell them all…



Posted via email from djakes’ posterous

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Let’s say you have a buck’s worth of change in your pocket.  $1.00.

No more, no less.

You can spend that change on educational change.  Remember, you don’t have deep pockets, you have a buck.

Everyone reading this knows schools today in the U.S. are mandated to change.  Not because they want to change necessarily, and not because it’s probably in their best interest to do so.  Failing schools, as identified by NCLB and AYP, have to make changes.  It’s the law in the U.S.

You can tell me how stupid that is and I will agree to a degree.  But as a school administrator, I’m responsible to our school community to make sure the school does what’s required.  

Change in a school requires energy, and it is in finite supplies, just like that change in your pocket.

So you can spend 35 cents on reform associated with NCLB.

You can spend 45 cents on the new 800 lb. gorilla in the room, RtI.  

If you don’ know about Response to Intervention, which we are mandated to address, go Google it.  Be the vaunted self-learner everyone talks about.

It’s going to swallow schools and consume their efforts.

You have 20 cents left.  Better spend wisely.  Or maybe, you know what, maybe you keep that 20 cents.  The change ends here, you say.

Schools spend tremendous amounts of energy just responding to the legal mandates that they face.  It requires a tremendous supply of energy, energy that is limited and becoming more scarce by the minute.

If you face these initiatives, you don’t really worry about Facebook, you don’t worry about social media, you don’t worry about the “conversation,” and you certainly could care less about a disjointed, abstract set of tweets on a Tuesday night in Twitter, all centered around a hashtag.

You don’t even have time for  listening to presentations from a “reform” conference.  That’s on a Saturday, and I think I’ll spend it with my family, thank you very much.  I already know about social bookmarking.

The mandates are real and you have to respond, and you have to respond in a sensible way.  If you don’t, you’ll burn out your teachers, your department chairs, and your administrators.  Wise schools find solid ways to do this, but no matter how strong your school is, you have some serious thinking to do.  You have actionable steps to develop and implement and evaluate.

So, what about technology?  For most in the educational world, technology, and understanding its application to learning, and how it might support the learning required to effectively change schools, begins to drift away.  In many schools, technology is now for data collection and analysis of testing data, data that provides the raw material for the mandated changes of AYP and RtI.  Leaders look at calls for opening up Facebook and Twitter, and using social media, and that call is met with incredulous stares, and you know what, rightfully so.  There’s some serious work to do, no choice in the matter, and that just doesn’t cut it.  Sorry, it doesn’t.

And so you see new resources emerge, most recently Mike Schmoker’s new book, Focus.

What a great title. Brilliant. Consider that title carefully, and the message that it sends…

From the book:

“What is “essential” for schools? Three simple things: reasonably coherent curriculum (what we teach); sound lessons (how we teach); and far more purposeful reading and writing in every discipline, or authentic literacy (integral to both what and how we teach).”

Here’s more:

“The status quo has to change. We insult and frustrate our teachers and leaders when we keep asking them to adopt complex, confusing new initiatives and programs that can’t possibly succeed in the absence of decent curriculum, lessons, and literacy activities. These constitute the indisputable—if age-old—core of effective practice, and of education itself.”

Pushback against bright shiny objects?  You bet it is.  

And its being distributed by ASCD, and that means just about every principal and superintendant in the US will see it, or at the very least, someone on the leadership team of every school will have a copy.

I’m betting that this book, given the current climate in the U.S, will offer the roadmap. I’m betting most schools will say:  ”Yeah, that makes sense.  That’s how we will move forward, by focusing on those three things.”

And they’ll spend that last 20 cents.




Posted via email from djakes’ posterous

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I'm a big fan of whiteboard space.  Draw, write, and show me your ideas.

I'm also a big fan of agile, reconfigurable spaces that can be used for multiple learning opportunities.

So when I saw these, I was hooked.

Small rolling whiteboards…

Notice they have two wheels on one end, one on another.  This is so they can slip between two tables-if you had double wheels on both ends, the table legs would block the whiteboard from slipping between two tables.  Ingenious.

The tray is magnetic so it can be placed anywhere on the whiteboard.

The edges are magnetic so multiple boards can be "stuck" together in a line, perhaps to define learning space in a way you haven't thought of.

Better yet, get a bunch and see what the kids do with them.  

Let them define their own space, in their own way, for their own learning.

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You may have seen this go through your Twitter feed recently…

A Twitter Rubric…

And as you might expect, it was retweeted by quite a few people. 

I’m wondering about the need for a Twitter rubric.

To me, this represents an attempt to force fit the use of a dynamic social media tool into a familar, comfortable, and safe structure, the rubric.  Fit, jam, prod and force the tool into something that is articifical and constraining.

Why must a teacher define what represents exemplary use of Twitter for a student?

Exemplary use is using tinyurls to effectively stay within the 140 character limit. 

Seriously?  What if I don’t want to use a URL shortener?  So what if the tweet gets too long.  What about a second tweet?  The last time I checked, tweets were free.

Why do teachers have to own the tool?

If I’m a student, I now have a choice, but the wrong one.  Use the tool as I see fit for my needs, or succumb to the wishes of the teacher who wants me to use it as they have defined it, all in the name of giving the use a grade…

We all know what they’ll do.

But why not give them a real choice?  Maybe they’ll use Twitter, maybe they’ll use Facebook, maybe they’ll use index cards.  Why limit choices?  Why limit how they use a particular tool?  Why be so prescriptive?

I’d rather think that educators would give students a palette to choose from.  You select how you want to represent your ideas, and you describe for me how well they worked, or didn’t work.  Describe for me your growth throughout the learning experience, and the role that the particular tool or tools of your choosing had in that experience. There’s your assessment.

If you haven’t see the work of Dave Cormier, George Siemens, Stephen Downes and Rita Kop in their PLENK2010 course, I highly recommend it.  It’s a refreshing and innovative approach that emphasizes student choice and empowerment in how they choose to learn, and how they choose to represent their understanding.

If connective technologies and networking experiences have taught us anything, they should have taught us about the freedom to connect, engage, and project our ideas, in our own ways.  They should have taught us about how important individual choice can be in learning.

Why don’t we offer the same to our kids?


Posted via email from djakes’ posterous

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My article on learning spaces was recently published in TechEdge, a publication of the Texas Computer Education Association

You can read it here.

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Phemonmenal.  Unbelieveable.  Astonishing. Amazing things fill you with wonderment.

Many things on Twitter are also amazing.

Or are they?

You see that word a lot.  Everything new is amazing.  Seeing the word amazing in a tweet generally causes me to raise an eyebrow.

Because it’s simply overused and applied to things that are not.  At least not for me.

But I guess I can admit that some might have a lower threashold for what’s amazing, and that’s ok. 

“One small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.”

That’s amazing.

A set of links on a wiki page is not.

Watching someone battle cancer with courage and grace, in spite of everything, is amazing.

Meeting your network at a conference is not.

Watching a child take their first step is amazing, watching them learn something for the very first time, that’s amazing.

A Glogster poster is not.

Being unselfish enough to run up a staircase in a burning tower to save your countrymen despite the odds that you won’t be making the return trip, well, that’s about as amazing as amazing can get.

You only have a 140 characters.

Reserve those 7 for something of meaning.



Posted via email from djakes’ posterous

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Taking a tweet in Twitter by someone else and resending it out through your network, often with an RT in front of it.

If you’ve been around Twitter long enough, you know that there was a time when retweets didn’t exist.


And probably many of us long for those days, a time when people in your Twitter network actually shared what they thought, rather than just repurposed someone else’s ideas.

Is your Twitter stream constipated with multiple RT’s of some idea, by the same people?  RT RT RT RT RT RT RT, yeah I get it, OK!!!!!!

Ah, but there are no rules…

But, eventually, you have to have your own ideas, don’t you?  

Retweeting gets you noticed.  Retweeting gets you followers.  Retweeting amplifies your presence on Twitter.  Retweeting associates your name with someone who actually might have an idea…

But habitual retweeting is not a sustainable behavior over time.

You see, original thought is still important.  In fact, original thought is even more important today in the everyone-connected-everyone shares-copy and RTpaste world of digital networks.

Ideas ultimately get you noticed.  Ideas matter.  Your ideas.  

So before you hit the R and T keys, think, what can I offer that is original, what can I offer that reflects what I believe in, what can I offer that challenges or extends the ideas of another?

How can I be original?




Posted via email from djakes’ posterous

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I recently completed a Webinar for ISTE on visual literacy which was based on a framework I’ve developed for understanding visual literacy beginning with the brain and extending the concept through networked learning. It’s something that’s been through a number of revisions and I think it works well. You can see the hyperlinked text on my presentation Web site, and I’ve embedded the corresponding slide deck here. My thanks to ISTE for offering the opportunity to give four Webinars this fall. If you are interested, ISTE Webinars can be found here.

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