Mar 21

Save the National Writing Project

I cannot believe I have to write this again.

The National Writing Project is under attack again.

Let me add my voice to the more eloquent pleas of people like Zac and Bud.

This program works.

It is about reflective practice.

It is about inquiry.

It is about writing your life.

It is about teachers teaching teachers about how to be better at our craft.

It has profound benefits for teachers, students and schools.

It just works.

Please read the words of the many other outstanding educators who are calling on President Obama to save the NWP.

Please take a moment to call your elected officials to urge them to fund the National Writing Project.

Let’s do the right thing and save the National Writing Project.

Feb 01

EduCon Reflection – Seriously Silly


I take the work that we do at SLA incredibly seriously.


I take the work that all of us in the ed-world do to try to make schools and learning better incredibly seriously.


I take the purpose and goals of EduCon incredibly seriously.


I do not take myself seriously.


Remembering to sing and dance and be silly and have fun is a lovely way to remember that we are human.


Singing and dancing with our colleagues and with our kids is a lovely way for them to remember that too.


And singing and dancing in one moment and to have a seriousness of purpose in the next is a wonderful way to remind myself and my colleagues and my students of the richness of the human experience… that we can be whole people… that we can see each other as whole people. And that’s a good thing to remember in our schools.


And besides, singing and dancing is fun, too.


Nov 08

TakingITGlobal Job Opportunity

Got an email from the folks at TakingITGlobal today, asking for help in recruiting an amazing person for this position. TakingITGlobal are great folks… so it was my pleasure to pass this along:

TakingITGlobal is seeking a Youth Media Challenge Coordinator to join our vibrant team in New York City.


TakingITGlobal (TIG) is a non-profit, international youth organization with headquarters in Toronto, Canada.  TIG connects youth to find inspiration, access information, get involved, and take action to improve their local and global communities.  From tiny islands in the Pacific Ocean to the mountains of Nepal, TIG’s popular online network ( connects thousands of young people to discuss issues, take action, and get involved in their community. Scaling out from its original vision to serve individual youth, TIG has grown to become a network of youth networks, supporting the online presence of thousands of youth-led initiatives, youth-serving organizations, and educational institutions across regional, thematic, and linguistic networks. TIG has leveraged its online community tools and community management expertise for dozens of networks and organizations worldwide.  For more information please see our About Us Section:

TakingITGlobal is seeking a Project Manager and Community Engagement Coordinator to engage a global social network of youth as part of a project that encourages young people to both create digital media and think critically about the role that it plays in their lives.  The project will have an initial focus on reaching youth in the United States and several countries in Asia.  Project partners include Global Kids and Asia Society, both based in New York, who will contribute expertise in the areas of youth engagement, digital media and global education.  The project is supported by the MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning Initiative.

This position is perfect for a dynamic, insightful, well organized, detail-oriented individual with a passion for using online social networking and participatory digital media to foster youth engagement, international development and social change. The ideal candidate is goal-oriented and able to work well both independently and collaboratively. TakingITGlobal staff is comprised of a young, dynamic, professional, international, and passionate group of leaders. 

Roles & Responsibilities


·         Planning & preparing for the launch of a new online social network for youth in which youth can participate in constructive, educational activities, and exchange views and create media projects related to the role of digital media in their day-to-day lives. Once the site is launched, managing the implementation of ongoing improvements and innovations based on user feedback.

·         Outreach & partnership development with the aim of directly involving at least one thousand youth from around the world, with a specific focus on two of the following three countries in Asia: China, India, and South Korea. Representing the project and identifying effective methods for promotion at both online and face-to-face events with a particular focus on connecting with youth media groups.

·         Developing learning modules with partners  that facilitate individual youth and teams of youth critically reflecting on global issues and the use of digital media.

·         Engaging educators and supporting their involvement in the project and providing additional support to TakingITGlobal’s education programs including

·         Facilitating community engagement around five major themes related to international perspectives about youth and digital media.

·         Monitoring and evaluation of the social networking site and engaging advisors and leading experts in the field of digital media and learning to document the dialogues and content created by youth using the site so that they can be examined and repurposed to inform current thinking and research. Evaluation of the project also includes exploration of options for growth, scale and sustainability.

Required qualifications

Experience with instructional design; strong understanding of the uses of Web 2.0 tools for teaching and learning
Demonstrated knowledge of youth engagement in global issues
Strong understanding of existing youth media initiatives
Bachelor’s degree in a related field (e.g. Communications, Media, Education, International Development, Information Sciences, etc.)  Masters degree an asset
Leadership skills, facilitation experience (in both online and offline settings)
Excellent writing and editing skills, in English (writing sample required)
Understanding of and experience using online community, digital media creation, and social networking tools. Knowledge of HTML and photo editing tools is a plus
Experience working and/or volunteering in the non-profit sector
Cross-cultural sensitivity, ability to work under pressure and resolve conflict
Strong ability to think creatively and implement projects from the idea phase
Ability to work in a fast paced office environment, managing multiple shifting priorities with strong time-management skills
International work or volunteer experience is an asset
Fluency in languages other than English is considered an asset
Application Process:

This position is based in New York City and is offered as an initial 10 month consultancy earning $2500 – $3000 per month.

Start Date:      January 2008

Application Deadline:  November 23rd (Applications will be evaluated on a rolling basis)

Please submit a resume, cover letter and writing sample to:

ATTN:           Human Resources


NOTE:           In your email, please include the title of the position as the Subject.

Sep 14

Playing with Serendipity, Flickr,

Well, I’m resistant to change… and I’m moving to Philadelphia, starting a new job, changing my web site and my email address — so needless to say, I’m a little out of sorts these days. Changing my blog software could possibly have been the last straw.

But Serendipity is quite a cool piece of software. I love their plugin manager, and because I can’t just install tons of software on this new server, I’ve actually had an excuse to try Flickr and Fun stuff!

(Now, if only I could figure out what I did wrong when I imported all the old entries so that the line breaks weren’t recognized…)

As much as I usually prefer using a program like Gallery over Flickr, mostly because I just like hosting stuff myself, I admit that I really like the social nature of this software — same with It is interesting to see what friends of mine are posting on flickr… and it’s fascinating to see who else has linked to sites and what sites they link to.

Anyway… I’m bought in. And as I think about designing the new school’s technology program, I need to think about how these new programs might fit in.

Aug 26

When It Is All Worth It…

I just picked up a message from the mom of one of my students. Anyone at Beacon can guess who the student was. For anyone else, it’s still just wonderful.

Beacon was never easy for this student… in large part because her life outside of Beacon was never, ever easy. She didn’t make it to a June graduation, but now, she’s on her way to a two-year college where she’ll be on the basketball team, and her dorm room is bigger than any room she’s ever lived in.

Her mom just called to say that the family saw her off at Port Authority… and to say thanks. And the student came by the apartment this morning so we could hang out and talk about life one more time before she left.

Those are the moments when why we do what do really are crystalized.

Aug 23

Two Years

I just realized that I’ve been keeping this blog for two years now. It started back in August 2003. In the last two years, I’ve written 410 entries, and at least one or two of them have had some substance to them.

Fortunately, this one doesn’t.

Here’s an old one that I was just rereading that actually does have something to say: What makes a great teacher?

Jul 21

Summer Philosophizing

Most teachers I know spend at least part of their summer working on their craft. Whether it is taking summer courses or writing curriculum or journaling or grant writing, most teachers use the summer to step back from the day to day grind of teaching to think about their practice.

And that’s a good thing.

There really are very few professional jobs out there that expect you to be on every day like teaching. Lawyers spend weeks preparing for court, for example. Actors reherse and reherse. Even university professors take semesters off to publish. Teachers are expected to be on every day, and it’s too easy to lose the notion of reflective practice.

But fortunately, there’s summertime.

And the reason I’m writing this is all just to give you a reason to go read what Ms. Frizzle has been writing lately. It’s clear that she’s really using the summer to think and write about our profession… as this post on assessment suggests.

Jun 26

Student Yearbooks

As I was catching up on blogs today, I ran across a picture of Dan McDowell signing a student’s yearbook. It’s a fun picture, but what struck me was that his officemate would find that funny.

Beacon kids love having their teachers sign yearbook. It’s one of the things I love about the place, is that we are very much a part of their experience. And a lot of us don’t just give it a quick "Good luck in college" signing, rather we really try to take the time to write something about our experience with the student. Heck, we write anecdotal reports twice a year, so maybe it stems from that, but it is something a bunch of us try to do.

I take it one step further. The first year I was at Beacon was our first graduating class, and I bought a yearbook and had all my seniors sign it. And I’ve done it every year since then, and it’s been a lovely tradition. Early on, some of the teachers thought it was a bit weird — and I am sure some still do — but I’ve managed to get some folks to adopt the tradition with me.

For me, I have them all in the bookcase right near my desk at home, and yes, I do take them out and look at them from time to time. It makes the kids come alive again as they were then — and for many of them who come back — it’s an incredible contrast to think about who they were then and who they are now.

It goes back to something I really truly believe — for high schools to be effective, there must be a transaction. We cannot expect to change our students unless we allow them the chance to change us. We cannot expect them to care about the four years they spend with us unless we do too. That’s why I keep having kids sign yearbooks because it is a measure of the time I’ve spent with them and the memories I have with them as much as anything else. Each yearbook is a reminder of the kids who changed my life in those four years, and that’s a wonderful thing to have.

Jun 11

Beacon Film Festival 05


I got home a few moments ago from the 2005 Beacon Film Festival. It was over two hours of original films by Beacon students from Kate Reed’s New Media and Advanced Digital Film classes. Kate has put up the trailer for the festival online. It hints at the variety and talent of the films, but really they have to be seen to be believed. (And yes, you can order the DVD of this year’s festival for only $20!)

What tonight reinforced… aside from the fact that Kate is a much better New Media teacher than I was… is what students can do when they have a dedicated teacher to inspire them and the equipment they need to carry out their vision. Tonight reminded all of us in the room of how technology can transform education, not just because it’s technology, but because it can provide the tools students need to achieve a vision.

Anyone who ever doubts what students can do when they are empowered… both by a progressive pedagogy and the equipment to back it up… come by Beacon. Let us show you what our kids can do.

Jun 08

Unqualified Good

Just got off a two and a half hour phone conversation with a former Beacon teacher from the early days of Beacon. She is someone who usually spends six months of the year in Thailand, and ever since the tsunami, I’ve been worried that we’d lost her. For various reasons, I’ve been unable to get in touch with her.

But we finally found an old "Emergency Contact" phone number for her, and her dad called me back with her cell phone number, and a few phone tag messages later, we caught up.

I love that there are people in our lives who we can go months and years without talking to, and one phone conversation makes it feel like no time at all has passed.

Great to hear from you, Iona Michelle. Very glad to know you are doing well.