Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Top Ten Things Steve Jobs Taught Us

This is a good article by Eric Jackson, a contributor to Forbes magazine. Sadly, not enough educators think the way Jobs thought. We are too cautious, too set in our ways, too caught up in the way we learned, too afraid of change, too afraid of being wrong, too afraid of making a mistake, a bad decision, too afraid of being visionaries. We are in a critical time in education, I believe. Societal changes, technological changes, and economic changes are all impacting education as never before. Hopefully, we will find the kind of leadership in education that Apple, Google, Facebook, and other technology companies were blessed with.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Napster, Udacity, and the Academy

Clay Shirky is an American writer, consultant, and teacher on the social and economic effects of Internet technologies. Here is an interesting article by him forwarded to me by Exeter history teacher Bill Jordan. It is well worth the read.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

iPads in Education

Here's a nice website, iPads in Education, developed by Ian Wilson, a freelance Apple Education Mentor who lives in the northwest of England. It is filled with information, links, and APPS.

Mathematical Association of Western Australia

Spent a bit of time in Fremantle and Perth, Western Australia, over the recent Thanksgiving break. At the MAWA 2012 Secondary Convention I did a keynote address entitled Secondary School Mathematics: Why should we teach it, What should we teach, How should we teach, and Who should teach it. It was a nice opportunity for me to vent about the state of mathematics education halfway around the world. In summary, we put too much emphasis on teaching calculus, and preparing students for calculus, when there is so much good and relevant mathematics that could be studied. Every student should have a course in statistics and discrete mathematics before graduating from secondary school. As for how we should teach mathematics, my twenty plus years at Exeter have convinced me that a problem solving-based curriculum taught via a student-centered approach is the best. Learning mathematics is a participation sport and teachers need to get out of the way and put students at the center of their own learning. As the adage goes, teachers need to be the "guide on the side as opposed to the sage on the stage." Moreover, student-centered learning can take place in any classroom with some creativity...you don't need a fancy, oak Harkness table. Check out this video made at Pritzker College Prep in Chicago, IL last summer to see student-centered learning in action outside of Exeter and sans Harkness tables.


video

After the keynote, I did three 50-minute sessions entitled "A Non-Text, Problem-Solving Approach to Secondary Maths." These were about our problem-based mathematics curriculum at Exeter and were very well attended. Once again, many participants requested copies of the teaching materials and were very thankful to Exeter and, especially, the mathematics department, for making these materials so readily available. 

I also made a presentation to the entire faculty at the St. Mark's Anglican Community School in Perth on student-centered learning or what we at Exeter call the Harkness plan. These presentations always produce lots of interest and questions about how we teach. And, finally, I made a two-hour presentation on student-centered learning and our mathematics curriculum at the Hale School in Perth.


California Mathematics Council Meeting

I was at the CMC-South Conference 2012 from November 2 - 3, 2012 making a presentation on the Phillips Exeter Academy mathematics program. There continues to be great interest in what we're doing and many participants requested copies of our teaching materials. 

A highlight of the conference was a keynote talk given by Dan Meyer, a Ph.D. candidate in mathematics education at Stanford University and definitely a leader in mathematics education. Here is a link to his very popular Ted Talk. And, I'm pleased to announce that Dan will be giving one of the featured evening talks at the Anja S. Greer Conference at Exeter in June of 2013.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Expanding Learning Horizons in Lorne, Australia

In August, I attended the Expanding Learning Horizons (ELH) Conference sponsored by Computelec and held in the beautiful seaside town of Lorne, on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia. Computelec is the leading educational technology company in Australia and is responsible for the implementation of many 1:1 computing programs in schools across Australia.

While I was quite busy giving four workshops in three days, I was able to attend a number of sessions. Donald Brinkman, a program manager for Microsoft, gave the opening keynote address on Structured Signifiers and Infinite Games: Serious Play for Lifelong Learning. He highlighted Microsoft's history with serious games and their Games for Learning Institute, as well as using badges as signifiers that have the potential to transform the way we learn skills and record experiences. An offshoot of the Games for Learning Institute is the Just Press Play project at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY.

The ending keynote was given by Jason Ohler, author of the book Digital Community, Digital Citizen. His presentation focused on how "new media and digital storytelling fit into the greater scheme of curricular objectives and the world of emerging technologies."

iTeach 2012 at the San Domenico School

It's been a busy summer and a while since I've updated the blog. So, here goes...

In June, I attended the iTeach 2012 conference hosted by the San Domenico School in San Anselmo, CA. San Domenico is a 1:1 iPad school.

Some highlights from the conference included sessions on creating powerful presentations with Keynote, an app similar to Powerpoint. As the speaker, Ted Lai from Apple, stated, "Edward Tufte once wrote, "Powerpoint is Evil." However, effective presentations can be made by focusing on design, content, and delivery."

Krista McKeague presented a session on interactive iPad textbooks for algebra and geometry. HMH (Houghton Mifflin Holt) FUSE is an iPad app, not an eTextbook which is simply a digital version of a printed textbook. 

On the second day of the conference I attended a session with tech leaders from various bay area schools regarding 1:1 iPad programs. Issues such as infrastructure (access points, bandwidth, saturation points, Apple TV...just how much does one want to manage?), video storage (YouTube for Schools, Safari Montage, Vimeo, Google Docs, and SchoolTube), and how to implement a 1:1 program were highlighted. The 

The overall impression I got was that going 1:1 with iPads should be a motivation to make curricular change in schools, to shake things up. At Exeter, we are in a position to begin implementation with a curriculum we are already proud of, one in which the learning is student-centered. But, a 1:1 program will allow our students to be more productive without any loss of critical thinking. Regarding the issue of iPads vs. laptops, the iPad allows for more individualism as opposed to a laptop, the iPad has a much lower profile at the Harkness table, central to our teaching and learning at Exeter, the iPad can be multiple learning tools - calculator, note-taker, music maker, art producer, language tutor, and textbook. 

Another important point that was made at the conference was that of parent education, specifically making parents comfortable with modern learning methods. Technology is ubiquitous in the 21st century and it is important that we guide students with best practices for using this technology, and keep parents abreast of what we're doing.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Distractions of Social Media...1673 Style

You hear many people bemoan how much time is 'wasted' on social media sites, preventing people from getting 'real' work done. Guess what? It ain't new! In the 17th Century it was coffee houses. Here's a link to an interesting article, an extract from a forthcoming book on the prehistory of social media...written by Tom Standage.

Tom Standage is digital editor at The Economist, overseeing the magazine’s website, Economist.com, and its smartphone, tablet and e-reader editions. He is the author numerous books including The Victorian Internet, A History of the World in Six Glasses, and The Turk.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Using Apple TV to Display iPad

At San Domenico School in Fairfax, CA, teachers are using Apple TV to display their iPads, wirelessly. Read about it here.

Responding to 20 iPad Implementation Questions

Regarding iPad implementation, here is a link to an article with answers to some common questions. Written by Miguel Guhlin, Director of Instructional Technology for a large urban district in Texas, it was posted on the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) webpage.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Choate Rosemary Hall Moves to iPad 1:1 Program

Choate Rosemary Hall, a secondary-level college-preparatory boarding school located in Wallingford, CT, will require that all students have an iPad when school begins in the fall. Click here to read about the program. Be sure to read the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page about how the program will be organized.

Choate, to my knowledge, is the largest boarding school in New England to adopt an iPad 1:1 program. Choate is a boarding school with approximately 850 students in grades 9 - 12 plus post graduate and approximately 150 faculty members. Dr. Alex D. Curtis, headmaster, remarked, “I am proud that our community of learners is seizing this unique moment in education and am excited to see what will unfold as teachers and students at Choate Rosemary Hall become the movers and shapers of 21st century teaching and learning.” Amen.

Monday, May 14, 2012

High Tech vs. No Tech

Two schools, two different approaches... a good read in the Washington Post. Click here.

Friday, May 11, 2012

San Francisco Bay Area


Last week I was in the San Francisco bay area to visit schools using iPads for classroom instruction. My first visit was to Howard Levin who presented his vision of mobile technology in education at our opening faculty meeting last September. Howard, who was at Urban School in San Francisco for the past 10 years, is now the Director of Educational Innovation and Information Services for the four schools which comprise the Schools of the Sacred Heart in San Francisco. Currently, 6th grade girls and 4th grade boys, as well as 9th and 10th grade girls have iPads for daily use. Next year, all 3rd through 7th graders and 9th through 11th graders will have iPads.

In speaking with Howard, I learned of Onlive Desktop which allows iPad users to “access a secure, reliable, high performance PC desktop in the cloud.” We also spoke about cloud storage vs. server storage and the comparison of Box vs. Dropbox as file sharing APPs. Cloud storage is far less expensive than purchasing and maintaining servers and Box seems to be more versatile and secure than Dropbox. Howard also explained how they are using Apple TV as the projection device for the iPads. With Apple TV and a flat screen TV, one can wirelessly project from the iPad.

I next visited San Domenico School, a boys and girls pre-K through grade 8, girls grades 9-12 day and boarding school. It is located in Fairfax, a small community north of the golden gate in Marin County. They are currently implementing a 1:1 iPad program in grades 6-12, with a pilot project in 5th grade. As part of the implementation, each student is charged a yearly Technology Fee of $395. Each student is given an iPad, case, stylus, and wireless keyboard. When a student reaches 12th grade, they are given a new iPad. The thought is that four years is too long to keep a device as currently technology rapidly changes. All APPs are given to students as part of the technology fee and all of the student and faculty iPads are managed using Casper Suite, a “unified and extensible framework for Mac OS X and iOS client management.” Christopher Sokolov, Director of Technology, explained that the vast majority of development in software is now for mobile devices. In June, I will be attending iTeach 2012 at San Domenico. The conference is designed to deepen one’s understanding of iPads and integrated technology.

My next visit was to Henry M. Gunn High School in Palo Alto. Gunn in the Palo Alto School District, is a very strong public high school in the south bay. Many parents work for Google, Apple, and other high tech companies in Silicon Valley. Gunn is beginning an iPad pilot in which every ninth grader has an iPad. Each classroom also has a set of MacBook computers for classroom use. Kristin Owen, an English teacher, explained that pilot has been a bit frustrating, especially for the students, as not all teachers allow students to use the iPad in their classes. For your viewing enjoyment I include a video from the Gunn website entitled 18-Month Old Ben Demos iPad. How do you stack up against Ben?

As I conclude my second year as the Bates-Russell Professor at Phillips Exeter Academy, I am more enthusiastic about the iPad than ever. Given the number and quality of APPs being released daily, improved screen resolution, and the ability to share information more readily, the iPad looks to be the education tool of the century. Bold statement because, gulp, it’s only 2012. Moreover, while laptops and tablet PCs are very cool, they are just not as mobile as iPads. As I visit schools and see 3rd graders using iPads, all I can think of is that in six years they could be attending Exeter. As I said in a earlier post, will we be ready? Expanding on what I’ve stated many times about calculators in mathematics, mobile technology is not going to go away and will just get better, rather quickly.

At Exeter, we are fortunate to have a ubiquitous teaching style – entirely student centered. Moreover, we are blessed with Harkness tables, which embody the student-centered learning style and motivate so many wonderful discussions throughout the curriculum. Some at Exeter are worried that technology, specifically iPads, will hinder these discussions or, more seriously, destroy the Harkness classroom. I don’t believe this for a minute. I see technology – iPads – adding to the Harkness experience. Again, we are blessed with Harkness tables but we must be careful that these very tables don’t bind us to a teaching style that cannot change and prevent us from taking advantage of technologies that can make the Harkness experience even better.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Karen Geary Reports on the iPad in Mathematics

Karen Geary, member of the Exeter mathematics department, has been an avid user of the iPad. Last term she taught a class in which every student had an iPad, then reported to the faculty on her experience. Karen is very innovative, more than willing to experiment with new teaching technologies,  and very willing to take risks with new teaching strategies. She has contributed much to the discussion about iPads in education over the past year. Here is her latest message...

"While doing the Babylonian algorithm problem in math 410 this morning, we were talking about the usefulness of using simple operations like addition, multiplication and division to find a square root back in 1600 BCE. The question of what numerical system the Babylonians used came up. A student suggested that I could google it on my iPad. In about ten seconds, I had an image of their system up on the document camera and we spent 5 minutes or so looking at it and noticing how cool it was, that it was base sixty but with elements of a base ten structure, and looked pretty intuitive. I don't think it added anything measurable to their understanding of calculus. But it is the kind of rich classroom experience I want to provide for my students. I've taught this problem 5 times or more, I think. I've never felt as good about it as I did this morning."

Education as we know it is changing rapidly. Today, with current technology, anyone can learn anything at anytime. Will schools become obsolete? Hopefully not. But, will we need to rethink how and what we teach? Hopefully yes. Helping students to learn how to find information, how to sift through the information, and whether or not the information can be trusted is becoming a large part of our role as educators. As the technology improves, more and more apps are developed, more books are digitized, and more information is made available, this shift in education becomes more and more urgent.

Jenny Oakley Wows Students with iPad Art

Jenny Oakley of Cedars School of Excellence in Greenock, Scotland presented her iPad artwork at assembly on Tuesday, April 10th. Ms. Oakley, who teaches art and drama at Cedars, spoke to students about how the iPad has influenced her teaching of art. Moreover, she spoke of how the iPad allows students to experiment with design, texture, and color without fear of making mistakes. While at Exeter, Ms. Oakley visited with art classes and with members of the art faculty. Becky Longley, member of the Exeter art department, taught an art class over winter term in which each student had an iPad. In January she gave a very impressive presentation to the faculty. This spring, Tara Misenheimer is teaching Art 444 with iPads. To see more of Jenny Oakley's iPad art, and that of her students, click here. Below are some pictures from Ms. Oakley's visit...



iPad painting of Danbo

Art teacher Becky Longley thanks Jenny

Students speak with Jenny about the iPad after her talk

Jenny "coaches" batting practice with legendary baseball coach Bill Dennehy

Thursday, March 1, 2012

San Domenico School

The San Domenico School is a boys and girls pre-k through grade 8, girls grades 9-12 day and boarding school in Marin County, California. The school has implemented a 1:1 iPad program and there are many excellent links on their webpage. I have listed some below and they are well worth exploring:
Why integrated technology?
iPads in education: apps we are using
iPads in education: websites we are following at San Domenico School
iTeach 2012 conference at San Domenico

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Visit to Nido de Aguilas in Santiago, Chile

Just returned from a week in Santiago, Chile where I, along with fellow Exeter teachers Chris Matlack and Jane Cadwell, worked with teachers on teaching around a Harkness table. Nido de Aguilas is a very successful, high-powered International school located in the Lo Barnochea region of Santiago. Besides being able to earn Chilean National diplomas and American secondary school diplomas, students can obtain the International Baccalaureate diploma.


On Thursday morning, Jane held a class for 14 history and mathematics teachers who read and analyzed a poem while Chris and I charted the discussion. In the afternoon, I led a class for English and science teachers on fair division while Jane and Chris charted the discussion. At the conclusion of each class we took time to discuss what the teachers had just experienced, how it might work in their classrooms, and what were the pluses and minuses.

Nido biology students discuss DNA
On Friday, we each worked with teachers in our disciplines; Jane with English and Humanities, Chris with science, and I with mathematics. I also made a short presentation to their technology committee on the iPad experiment we are doing here at Exeter. On Monday, we visited the school to see classes in action. This was the first day back from the two-month-long summer break…southern hemisphere, people.

For me, the “Harkness method” of teaching means having classrooms where the learning is student centered. Traditionally, classrooms consisted of rows of kids; their heads empty vessels, waiting to be filled with information delivered by the expert, the “sage on the stage,” the teacher. Students need to be more involved, participate more in their learning. The Socratic style of question and answer, with questions coming from the teacher and answers coming back to the teacher is better but, true student-centered learning requires the teacher to take a back seat and encourages discussion between members of the class with the teacher serving as a guide. Much about the Harkness table, the Harkness method, and how it all came about can be found at the Exeter website.
Nido mathematics class 

So, student-centered learning is the big idea but each school is different and “Harkness” classes have to be done on their terms. It’s not likely that other schools will have the luxury of having 12 students around a beautiful piece of furniture in every classroom on campus as we do at Exeter. Nevertheless, student-centered learning can happen, and is happening at Nido. It takes teachers who are confident in their discipline, comfortable with not being the expert in the front of the room, and supportive administrators who encourage teachers to try new strategies. Nido has all this in spades.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Grading The Digital School

Pretty good article in the New York Times today...to read it, click here.


“This is not about the technology, it’s not about the box. It’s about changing the culture of instruction — preparing students for their future, not our past.” Mark Edwards, superintendent of Mooresville Graded School District in Mooresville, NC.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Three Videos by Exeter Music Faculty

I recently reminded the faculty at Exeter of the link to this blog. In response, Jon Sakata, a music teacher at Exeter, sent me three links to videos that he and his wife, Jung Mi Lee, produced using only the iPhone camera and iMovie. Very cool. The first video includes music by the avant-garde American composer, Robert Cogan. Videos two and three use original compositions of Jon and Jung Mi, one for nine double basses and the other for multilingual voices and percussion. Enjoy.

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Macworld|iWorld 2012

Saturday, January 28, 2012


Went to another quite amazing session this morning on Visual Note-Taking on the iPad by Rachel Smith.To see a video of Ms. Smith explaining visual note-taking, click here. For examples of completed notes, click here. Of course some people will not see the worth of this and prefer to take notes the old fashioned way...writing them down, even with the iPad. But, for kids, or adults, who are very visual, this is pretty cool stuff. 


One other thing...Jenny Oakley, who will be visiting Exeter in April to speak to students in Assembly and with the Art department, was one of twenty featured artists, worldwide, at Macworld|iWorld 2012. And, she was the only one featured who produced her artwork entirely on an iPad. 

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Macworld|iWorld 2012

More from Macword|iWorld 2012...


Thursday, January 26, 2012


I attended an amazing session on Zen and the Fine Art of iPhone Photography by Jonathan Marks. It will take me a bit to get all the links to the apps he mentioned entered here but click on his name and check out his website. And remember, each and every image was photographed then manipulated on his iPhone. He did not, as most do, download his photos to his computer and use Photoshop or iPhoto to manipulate his images. I am hoping to bring him to campus to speak with the kids.


Friday, January 27, 2012


I attended a session entitled The Future of Learning by Nick Floro. Again, it will take me a bit to enter in all the links he mentioned but you can actually access all the slides from his talk here. I love the statistics he quoted, "There are 1.6 billion Internet users, 1.5 billion TVs, 5 billion cell phone subscriptions, and 2.5 billion toothbrushes in the world today." Of course, today was yesterday, so these numbers are no longer valid. Hopefully the number of toothbrushes has increased!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Macworld|iWorld 2012

Reporting live from the Macworld|iWorld 2012 Conference in San Francisco.


I attended an all-day workshop for educators yesterday which was sponsored by CUE, Computer-Using Educators, Inc. As I sat there from 10 am to 5 pm three things struck me: (1) the number of incredible, amazing applications out there for all levels of education, (2) the number of amazingly talented teachers putting these applications to use, and, (3) how little I know about any of it.


The following is a list of sites you can access to find out about the various presentations that went on throughout the day...
Slam Poetry
Keynote Address by Peter Reynolds


As the second grade teacher was presenting how he uses the iPhone with his kids I began thinking about how his students, or ones in similar classroom situations, will be at Exeter in just seven years. And, in just seven more years, they could be teaching at Exeter. How will we receive them? I'm confidant that in seven years, if not before, we will be embracing the mobile technology that our students have grown up with and have used throughout their entire pre-secondary years. 


In the Fall 2011 edition of OnCUE, the publication of the CUE organization, there is an excellent article entitled Disruptive Technologies in Education by David D. Thornburg, Ph.D. The three disruptions are (1) the phonetic alphabet which gave the storyteller, or lecturer, control of the educational process; (2) the invention of the mass produced book, and, (3) mobile technology, or the smartphone, which we are in the midst of. In the first two cases, "education" and educators were slow to accept and adopt the change, so there is no reason not to expect the same reluctance today. But, as in the first two examples, the change will happen and education will be altered drastically.


More later...