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Not Becoming the Road Block

George Couros:

For example, if you want teachers to use social media, how would a 50 page document sharing the guidelines actually help them?  With every page that is turned, you lose teachers who just see that it is not worth it to go through all of the roadblocks to even start.  Or the computer that takes “only two minutes” to log on because of network protocols. Yet two minutes, times 30 kids, can be an eternity, especially if one of those computers doesn’t work as expected.

With every page, every policy, every filter, many teachers just choose to do what they have always done and do not see it is worth the time to do something new.  We encourage “risk-taking” yet we have created such a risk averse culture in education.  We can say “take risks” all we want, but actions will always be louder than words.

Some really great points by George, here. How often we or our policies stand in the way of moving forward. My assistant principal Damon Hargraveshas a great technology philosophy that we should let those who are willing to be at the forefront run as fast as they can and spend our administrative energy bringing those up that are lagging behind. We still need to be wise, but we also have to make sure we are not the ones holding people back by our draconian policies.

New Mac Mini

Described by Phil Schiller's as "the world's most efficient" desktop computer, the new Mac mini comes with two Thunderbolt 2 ports, new fourth generation Intel Core processors,  and 802.11ac WiFi. Packing an "entire Mac experience" in a small  7.7-inch-square frame, the new Mac mini will come pre-installed with OS X Yosemite and also offer four USB 3 ports.

I've been eyeing a new Mac Mini for quite some time now. I have had my current Mac Mini since 2009 and it is just about time to update it. I've installed a new hard drive in it a couple times, and it has been a great little computer. The only question now is, do I buy one of these new models, or buy a refurbished 2012 model?

For me, I have a FireWire Drobo connected to my Mac Mini and if I buy the new one, I will have to buy something to convert the FireWire to Thunderbolt.

By the way, the coverage of the new operating systems for iOS and Mac OS by Macstories has been incredible.

✓ Pancakes

Anyone who knows me knows I love to make pancakes on Saturdays while my wife sleeps in.

I typically find a pancake recipe and stick with it until I get sick of it or forget it. Then I find a new recipe that looks good.

I've learned a few things to make good pancakes from scratch:

  • Buttermilk is key. The acid mixed with baking powder makes fluffier pancakes. Think vinegar and baking soda from when you were a kid.
  • Heat: depending on the recipe, between 250 and 300 degrees is best. Fluffier pancakes do better with a low heat to slow cook the pancakes, while flatter pancakes cook faster with the higher heat (and you don't need the cook-all-the-way-through low heat as much because they are thin).
  • 1/4 cup measuring cup for putting them on the griddle is best for any kind of pancakes. Fluffier pancakes don't get too high and result in doughy insides. Flat, runny pancakes don't turn into a huge blob. Heavy pancakes don't get too big and impossible to eat (or cook through).

This is my latest favorite recipe from

To get a new recipe, I usually just search on Google and find the top 1 or 2 results. The results change often enough that I can't find a previous recipe unless I saved it somewhere.

Do you have a good recipe I should use? Leave it in the comments or contact me on twitter.

Drafts 4 and Javascript on my iPhone

Gabe Weatherhead at MacDrifter:

Here's a keyboard script that scratches my lizard brain just right. It takes a list like this:

    5. Cat Food
    3. Binoculars
    2. Pebble to suck on
    1. Lefty scissors

and converts it into a list like this:

    1. Lefty scissors
    2. Pebble to suck on
    3. Binoculars
    5. Cat Food

This is the kind of stuff that makes me think that maybe I am not nerdy enough for some of the cool things available now on iOS. I don't know how to code, so maybe Drafts is no longer for me.

I do, however want to use my phone in a better way, so maybe it is worth learning (or stealing) some of these things so that I can be better at what I do.

A Uniform Definition of Bullying

The uniform definition describes bullying as "any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or group of youths who are not siblings or current dating partners that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated."

It adds: "Bullying may inflict harm or distress on the targeted youth including physical, psychological, social, or educational harm" and that the behaviors could be verbal, physical, or relational. Relational bullying includes attempts to damage a peer's relationships or reputation through ignoring, isolating, or spreading defamatory information.”

May be behind a registered-wall.

A definition for bullying is very important to have. All too often I have spoken with kids who assumed that bullying was "another student doing something I don't like" on one extreme and some things that are much worse on the other extreme.

I appreciate having a definition (although this is still pretty complex for kids and maybe some adults to understand) that is shared between researchers and practitioners so we can make wise decisions as to how to deal with it.

(H/T to Damon Hargraves)

Update: Some schools down in Utah will be the beneficiaries of funds to provide anti-bullying programs. Having worked in two of those districts, I know that bullying means different things to different people. This underscores the need for a uniform definition.

Getting Things Done with David Allen on Mac Power Users

I've known about and been a fan of the idea of GTD for a long time. But I have always struggled implementing it in my life. I've gone through phases and tried different things, but it hasn't ever taken. I think I am really starting to see how it could help me. This episode came at the perfect time and I am really digging listening to it as I walk to work.

My wife's GTD philosophy is "always write down something you have already completed so you feel like you have accomplished something." Not a bad idea!

✓ Making this Blog More Meaningful to YOU!

I've been blogging for a long time, since 2006! As I transition to this new home, I know there are a lot of people who follow this blog, but don't comment. If you don't mind, I would love to hear what you have to say.

I want to continue producing valuable content for this blog (and my other blogs) so I would like to get to know what you want from me.

Please take a couple minutes to give me some information about yourself and what you want to see more of on the blog!

Take me to the Survey!!

Private Vs. Public via @ddraper

Darren Draper:

“When she announced her excitement on Facebook, I replied with a less-than-popular response. In my response I mentioned that I thought this move was good for her, good for the company she was joining, and good for all who would embrace the privatization of Ed Tech everywhere. (After all, she IS highly skilled and would finally be making the kind of money she deserves.) I then clarified that I also thought this move was bad: Bad for Public Education, bad for the organization she was leaving behind, and bad for the taxpayers in our state who had invested so heavily in her throughout her career – to ultimately make her the high quality and coveted technology trainer that she had eventually become.”

Yes, sometimes public ed loses great people. Darren has always been all about the public education and open source. So, he has that bias. Personally, I'd say that if "Public Education" wants to keep those highly trained, highly skilled people, "they" need to create an environment where those people can thrive. And when I say "they", I mean me and every other leader and policy maker in education. This is really a difficult question, but one that is important to ask and discuss.

I do also take issue with the idea that private and public are enemies and fighting against each other. I don't think that has to be the case. We set up this adversarial relationship, and then pay these companies hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for their services. That doesn't help things either.

As always, I appreciate Darren's pushback.