Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Gaming is back on my mind!!!

Here are a series of Ted Talks which sum up my feelings and thoughts about the place of games in school.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Power Still On In DC

I am awake in Bowie, Maryland this morning and happily we still have power. Sandy passed us by with hard steady rain and strong winds for the past 36 hours. The sights and sounds from the Jersey shore and New York City have revealed massive devastation. I guess we should all be glad that we have FEMA still. I have not posted in two months but hope that I can increase that frequency.

I really wonder if we should keep placing homes and businesses along the shore. They are destroyed so frequently and cost the country so much money that we need to at least consider why we allow them to go there.

We owe a great debt to all of the fire, police, and health personnel who have selflessly thrown themselves into saving everyone.

Power Still on in DC

I am awake in Bowie, Maryland this morning and happily we still have power. Sandy passed us by with hard steady rain and strong winds for the past 36 hours. The sights and sounds from the Jersey shore and New York City have revealed massive devastation. I guess we should all be glad that we have FEMA still. I have not posted in two months but hope that I can increase that frequency.

I really wonder if we should keep placing homes and businesses along the shore. They are destroyed so frequently and cost the country so much money that we need to at least consider why we allow them to go there.

We owe a great debt to all of the fire, police, and health personnel who have selflessly thrown themselves into saving everyone.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Matthews on the Offensive!!!!!!

Chris Matthews finally confronted the hidden issue in the campaign...Mitt is White and Barak is Black..

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Communication after Text

Here is a great slide share from Stephen Downes on the world after text only!!

Monday, August 6, 2012

GYOD (Grow Your Own Dinner)

A great Ted Talk that the Innovative Educator (Lisa Neilsen)brought to my attention and I thought I would bring to you. Stephen Ritz, a South Bronx teacher, made school real for his students. If only we all had his courage and imagination.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


I am a huge advocate of BYOD in school. If you have thought at all about the issue, then this video is for you. If you have not thought at all about the issue then this video is a great place to start. If you do not care about the issue, then this video may just tickle your curiosity. Give it a look. (I Found the video on the Innovative Educator Blog)


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

American UprisingAmerican Uprising by Daniel Rasmussen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

American Uprising changed the way I look at the world. The measure of a book to me is
that it teaches me something about something I am interested in and changes my mental image of this subject. In the case of American Uprising that subject was slavery. I never understood the relationship between the sugar islands and the Louisiana Purchase. I knew there were sugar plantations in Louisiana but not to the extent that they existed. Sugar Slavery was different from Slavery in the rest of American states and territories and this book illuminates that difference clearly.

The book's problem is that it lacks the usual historical method of verifying of its conclusions about how the Uprising occurred. The nitty gritty of the uprising is not what is important about this book. The real value of the book is its illumination of slavery in the new American territory. This may not have been what Rasmussen set out to do, but it is what he accomplished brilliantly.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Friday, May 4, 2012

Revolution not Evolution

I just watched a TED talk by Ken Robinson that called for a revolution in the way we educate children. I am sure the audience was filled with teachers and administrators from independent schools who think they are reforming the schools that they work in. Sir Ken called for an end to the linearity and standardization of curriculum. Everyone rose and cheered when he was finished. Is there going to be a revolution?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Listening to Clio

I know that is has been almost two months since I have posted to this blog. If you are reading it I thank you and hope that your time is considered to have been well spent when you are finished. Spring has perked me up again.

I love history, to teach it, to read it, and to write it. I like to do all of those things at the same time. Modern technology has not changed history but it has changed the way we create it, explore it, and present it.

I also love games. I learn so many things from playing games, utilizing my imagination, and creating new narratives of human history with me in the cat bird seat. I have lived and fought the American Revolution more times that I can remember and will fight it again and again as long as I play or read about it. I have sat in rooms and tents with great generals and political leaders in France, Russia, and Germany and China. I have thought the thoughts of the great thinkers of my culture. I have done most of this by reading and playing games.

In life, we learn lessons by trial-and-error. We burn our hand on the stove as children and therefore learn that the stove gets hot. Over time we realize it gets hot because its purpose is to cook food. Some of us learn how the stove works and become mechanics or industrial engineers; others of us become chefs. Most of us just realize to keep our hands out of hot stuff. But we all learn by doing and by making mistakes.-Shelly Blake-Pollock
This morning I was reading the post on Teachpaperless. It made me think of history and how we can re-write the narrative over and over inside of a simulation and and learn so much about how to exist inside of a culture. When I was reading this I began thinking about teaching and learning history which has been my passion since I can remember. Teaching history is really just telling stories about our memories, our past. Learning it is the same--a pure act of imagination based on scrapes of evidence in the present which we re-arrange into new patterns and pictures as we discover more or gain new insights from what we have. We cannot touch the stove any longer to see if it is hot. We have to trust our memory for where the stoves are. Unless we simulate the past we cannot really learn from it. We have to find someway to "re-heat" the stove.

These thoughts remind me of Jane McGonigal's incredible book, Reality is Broken, which reminded me that reality is constructed and can be re-constructed through gaming, which re-heats the stove. Games

allow us to re-do the past in terms of our present and learn about who we are as human beings. Games allow to re-heat the stove without real burns. Games allow us to practice for life! Games allow us to teach!!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Students have rights. School treat students as if they do not have rights. They are forced to attend, have little or no no choice over what is included in the curriculum,and no choice over what technological tools they are allowed to use to learn. As to political rights, they are non-existent. The Bill of Rights stops at the school house door. I find that to unacceptable. Everyone should read Justice William Brennan's dissent in the schoolhouse rights case, Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier. The text of the decision and Brennan's dissent can be found here. Schools also can search students person and lockers (personal spaces) without a warrant. Right now the Bill of Rights stops at the schoolhouse door. We are in a new age now and students more than ever also need a technology Bill of Rights. Here is one that I believe fits the bill very nicely . +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

posted by Lee Crockett on Twitter Feb 3, 2012

Educational Technology Bill of Rights for Students

by Brad Flickinger

The following are what I believe are the rights of all student to have with regards to using technology as an educational tool, written as a student to their teacher:

1) I have the right to use my own technology at school. I should not be forced to leave my new technology at home to use (in most cases) out-of-date school technology. If I can afford it, let me use it -- you don’t need to buy me one. If I cannot afford it, please help me get one -- I don’t mind working for it.

2) I have the right to access the school’s WiFi. Stop blaming bandwidth, security or whatever else -- if I can get on WiFi at McDonalds, I think that I should be able to get online at school.

3) I have the right to submit digital artifacts that prove my understanding of a subject, regardless of whether or not my teacher knows what they are. Just because you have never heard of Prezi, Voki, or Glogster, doesn’t mean that I should not be able to use these tools to prove to you that I understand what you are teaching me.

4) I have the right to cite Wikipedia as one of the sources that I use to research a subject. Just because you believe the hype that Wikipedia is full of incorrect information, doesn’t mean that it is true -- besides we all use it anyways (including you). I am smart enough to verify what I find online to be the truth.

5) I have the right to access social media at school. It is where we all live, it is how we communicate -- we do not use email, or call each other. We use Facebook, Twitter and texting to talk to each other. Teachers and schools should take advantage of this and post announcements and assignments using social media -- you will get better results.

6) I have the right to be taught by teachers who know how to manage the use technology in their classrooms. These teachers know when to use technology and when to put it away. They understand that I need to be taught how to balance my life between the online and offline worlds. They do not throw the techno-baby out with the bathwater.

7) I have the right to be taught by teachers who teach me and demand that I use 21st Century Skills. Someday I am going to need a job -- please help me be employable.

8) I have the right to be accessed with technology. I love the instant feedback of testing done technology. I live in a world of instant feedback, so to find out a couple of week later that I didn’t understand your lesson, drive me crazy. If you were a video game, no one would play you -- feedback is too slow.

9) I have the right to be protected from technology. I don’t want to be cyberbullied, hurt, scared or find crud online that I would rather not find. Please help me use technology responsibly and safely. Please stay up-to-date with this kind of information, and teach me to make good choices. I am not you and we don’t see eye to eye about what to put online, but help me to meet you in the middle.

10) I have the right to be taught by teachers that know their trade. They are passionate about what they do and embrace the use of technology to help me learn. They attend trainings and practice what they learn. They are not afraid to ask for my help; they might know more than me about the Civil War, but I know Glogster like nobody’s business.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Learning Hive

I created a post where I outlined what I thought should be the guiding principle for 21 century learning centers. In what follows in this post I intend to present what the philosophy of teaching and learning that I believe should guide the learning environments that we create.

I believe in learner-centered learning. A learning environment exists for the learners. I am an unrepentant constructivist. I define constructivism as developmentally appropriate learning that is learner initiated and directed that is supported by the connected physical and digital network of the teacher and partners of the learners. Like Huzinga and Piaget, I see play as instrumental to human learning as it is quite literally, practice for life. I also believe, like John Dewey, that learning should have a practical aspect to it and relate to the learner's world. Learning should be hands on, touch and try rather than the prevalent mode of tell and test. I believe in dialogue and story telling as the primary structure for communication in a learning environment. Like Jerome Bruner and Roger Schank, I believe we organize our world with narrative order by telling stories and that we should encourage learners and teachers to interact in this way. Learning environments should prepare us for the world by allowing us to interact with the world to, as Sir Ken Robinson encourages “find their element”. In this technological flat world this is very possible, necessary and doable.

The primary task of a teacher is to discover the passions of the learners and to connect those passions to the curriculum in the learning environment. The learners need to feel safe so that they will try things and risk failure. Learners should proceed at their own rate and not be penalized for failure but rewarded for success. Assessment should reward the learner for what they can do rather than penalize them for what they cannot do yet. The feedback loops need to be as immediate as possible much like in a video game so that the student will continue to “level-up”. Progress is marked by benchmarks set by the teacher and learner and should proceed at an individual pace and design in collaboration with classmates ( games). I believe that the learning environment should be a constant dialogue between the members of the learning reality with each other and the world around them. Technology should play a large role in expanding the world of learning. Students should be engaged with the real world.

Learners should have real world experiences in their learning worlds. We should strive to put students in situations where they are practicing being what they are interested in. Rather than being lectured to about history for instance, learners should practice being historians by writing history whenever possible. Learners should be journalists by creating newspapers and magazines, not just reading about it. If a learner wants to write, the learner should publish short stories and novels or magazine articles and journal articles. Learners should be encouraged at all times to share what they learn with the world, to find an audience for what they know. The purpose of the learning environment should be to put the learners’ names in lights. The environment should be a dialogue and have no physical limits or time boundaries. The learning world should be a place where learners and teachers share stories about the world around them with each other and with the larger world through the use of digital technology. The learning environment should be as interdisciplinary as possible. Curiosity should be encouraged rather than destroyed as it is so often in learning environments. Learners' interests should drive the learning, within a broad curriculum. Every group is different and every member of the group different from the others. No groups should be taught the same way and no learners learn the same! Learning is an active verb, something you do yourself and not something you have done to you. Learning is empowerment.

Everyone in the learning environment should be encouraged to see the world from as many vantage points as possible. That is how a community begins to join together into a new vision of sharing and collaboration. Imagination creativity, group formation are the special traits of human beings that learning environments should be trying to encourage in everything that they do. Learning is a social activity!

I believe everyone in a learning environment is a teacher and a learner. Human beings learn best by example. Our every action presents a way of being to those watching us. That is a tremendous responsibility that I have always been anxious to shoulder. When we leave learning environment at the end of the day we should all have sore shoulders from all of the students standing on them and leaping into the new world.

Monday, January 9, 2012

I just finished reading an interesting Blog post in The Real Mr. Fitz, A Teachers letter to Obama: A Lesson in Irony. I found this post to be just another argument to find a way to protect, preserve and encourage the present school paradigm. School doesn't work and needs to replaced with new ideas. I offer these ideas and encourage response from anyone.

First, make school non-mandatory!!

Second, end the physical tyranny of buildings, schedules, and classrooms.

Third, design learning around what the learners want to learn about.

Fourth, Improve feedback loops through Gamification and play which is essential for learning and needs to be part of learning networks.

Fifth, Embrace Bring Your Own Digital Device(BYOD) and Robust Universal Broadband Access(RUB) to create de-centralized digital learning networks everywhere.

Sixth, Make knowing something more important than certification, the prime qualification for teachers.

Just a start! Call this revolutionary irony!!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Character is demonstrated in many ways by a teacher. One of the most important is showing up everyday and doing your job. In my last position I have showed up every day. In the three years that I worked at Wakefield School I did not take a sick day. I have taken very few sick days in my 32 years of teaching. You can count on me to show up everyday and getting the task completed. A second indicator of character is dedication to the vocation, to service to the students and faculty. I am dedicated to what I do. I am defined by what I do. A colleague, Mr. Thomas Bazar, writes of me “I can honestly say, like James Brown, who was considered the hardest working man in show-business; Mr. Constantine is the hardest working man at Wakefield. He always was available, or made time, for students, colleagues, administrators, parents, etc. His patience and ability to multi-task is astounding”. I have always tried to improve myself through professional development including conferences, seminars and graduate school. I owed it to the teachers and students of my community to always be the best that I could be. Character generally leads to excellence. I have received several teaching and service awards in my career demonstrating excellence. They include The Tandy Technology Scholar Award and the 2006 Maryland K-12 Distance Educator of the year and several service awards, from the Newport School, The University of Maryland, and the Wakefield School.
One of my primary goals as a technology integrator is to find ways to knock down the classroom walls and expand a teacher’s ability to reach students using digital tools. I worked with a Russian language teacher preparing students for a competition in Russian called the Olympiada of Spoken Russian. We set our goal to provide the students with on- line rehearsal examples of the set poetry recitations for the competition and on-line written free conversations. Essentially we were trying to make an on-line language lab with the resources at hand. The teacher and I recorded several video tapes of her reciting the set pieces for the competition. We then placed the videos on a web site which was accessed by the students. They watched the videos and then recorded their own which they emailed back to the teacher for evaluation. We also set up a list serve for all of the students to converse with her in Russian as well as established a class network on AOL instant messenger. We were making vidcasts and podcasts way before they became popular. The students had spectacular results at the Olympiada winning several gold medals in the competition. It achieved the results we were seeking and expanded Russian instruction way beyond the classroom. We extended both the student’s digital skills and language skills.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!!! Let us work together to make this a better year for the bottom half of society which many are rapidly falling into....making it more like the bottom three fourths of society. It all reminds me how my dad once told me...there is not a real middle class in america...most workers are a pencil eraser away from poverty. There is more and more eraser dust on the social scene!