Discovery Education Part Duex: Beyond the Textbook Continues.


Instead of making you watch a projector slideshow of my trip to Washington (old school reference), I thought I would just share my thoughts about my experience at Discovery Headquarters.Discovery Education.

First, I love a free trip.  I’m not sure which I love more – the free or the trip.  Combine them and I’m in heaven (if you are reading this and in charge of giving away free trips, please keep me in mind).

If you recall and I’m almost positive you don’t, I was invited by Discovery about this time last year to take part in a forum on digital textbooks (I’m told it’s the wave of the future).

The way this works is Discovery pays your expenses for two days and then they own you.  Sort of like a college athletic scholarship except there aren’t coaches from Discovery screaming at you.

Discovery flies or trains you in, provides a hotel room, feeds you, and then asks a lot of questions.

Their purpose is to learn the thoughts and ideas of people who may one day implement digital textbooks (or techbooks) in their school districts.

My purpose was to be helpful but most of all to learn something.

This is harder than it sounds.  Think about all the workshops, webinars, speeches, curriculum groups, etc. we’ve all sat through.  More times than not we all leave these experiences dumber and angrier than when we walked in.

Going to Discovery is just the opposite of this type of experience.  These people are so happy with their jobs  it’s almost creepy.

It is hard to be around them and not take something positive away from the experience

When the forum was over, I felt much smarter.  I’m sure I’m not, but the feeling is nice.

I would like to feel taller, but that’s a different blog.

Participating in an event like this at Discovery is fun for several reasons.  The biggest for me is I’m not in charge.  And it’s nice to be part of a group where you don’t hold any responsibility (other than being there on time and eating Georgetown Cupcakes).

It’s also nice to be asked questions instead of being the one asking.  Plus, anytime you find yourself in a situation where everyone else in the room is smarter, you should take advantage of it.

For two days, we were quizzed by the good folks of Discovery Education on a variety of topics.  The main one being what a digital math techbook should look like.

I’m often asked my thoughts about buying textbooks, but no one has ever asked me to help design a very preliminary version of one.

I guess I can check this task off my bucket list.

When Discovery comes out with their Math Techbook, I’m sure I won’t recognize it.  It will likely not look anything like the one our group came up with, but that’s okay.

We were there when they started.  And that’s pretty cool.

Comments: 20
Tags: , ,

Beyond the Textbook Forum Attendees: Weird.


I’m assuming if the good people at Discovery read this, I’ll be banned from corporate headquarters.They Put Up a Sign to Welcome Me.  I Thought That Was Nice.

That would be bad.

But, it would be neat to walk in, only to be wrestled to the ground by a gang of security guards (I don’t know how many they would need, but I’m guessing 7… I’ve been working out).

Plus, it wouldn’t be the first place where I’ve been uninvited.

And what are the odds they would invite me back anyway?

The Textbook Techbook Forum was interesting.

Interesting to say the least.

I got to meet an amazing group of people who are quite famous in the education/technology world (still not sure why I was there… they must have needed a token Superintendent).

If you read blogs, tweet, or stalk this kind of educator, you would have been impressed by the lineup.

Dembo.  Jakes.  Warlick.  Whitby.  Becker.  Sheninger.  Couros.  Laufenberg.  Maiers.

And the Godfather.  Shareski.

Why is he the Godfather?  Because he is.  You don’t get to question why.

It was a Who’s Who of famous educators.

And I discovered something (get it… discovered?).

They are weird.

Every last one of them.

Really weird.

What kind of person is obsessed with the education issues of the day?

Technology.  Curriculum.  Teaching styles.  Textbooks.

Who are these people and why don’t they get hobbies?  Maybe they should take a walk or something.

I would like to think they attended the forum for the free trip.  Maybe even to raise their profile in the Twitter universe?

For all I know, nuzzling up to the people who brought us American Choppers and Shark Week raises their fee for presenting on various educational topics.

But I don’t think any of this is true.

I think they are just weird enough that they were there in the hope of helping provide students and teachers a better textbook (techbook) for 2012 and beyond.

Told you they were weird.

The good kind of weird.

Top 3 Questions I get when I attend these types of events:  1.  Why don’t I attend these types of events more often?  2.  Are you going to make fun of me in your blog?  3.  How’s Buddy the Dog?

Answers:  1.  I like my house.  2.  Yes.  3.  He’s great.  He’s Buddy the Dog.

Comments: 2
Tags: , , , , ,

A Flight, a Free Trip, Discovery Education, and Food Posioning. It Was a Very Busy Day.


The superintendent’s life can be a busy one.Discovery and Shark Week.

But I know it’s the same for principals, teachers, secretaries, custodians, parents, students, and Buddy the Dog.

Well, not Buddy.  He’s not that busy.  Unless you count 17 hour naps  as busy (I’m so sick of holding a mirror under his snout to see if he’s still breathing).

Everyone is busy, so I’m not complaining.

But lately, I have been unusually busy.

School.  The Evil Spawn’s athletic career (I use athletic… and career… loosely).

This week I added to my troubles by throwing in a one-day trip to Discovery Education in Washington, D.C.

One-day and trip should never be used in the same sentence (and I just did it twice… idiot!!).

I really didn’t have time, but I knew I needed to make the time.  After all, it’s Washington D.C. (you can never turn down a free trip to your nation’s capital… unless you are a communist… and if you are… I’m not judging).

The trip was good.  Not great.

Blog sarcasm karma reached up and slapped me in the face.  Again.

When will I ever learn?

Note to self:  Don’t write a blog about what type of person you don’t want to sit next to on a flight because karma will mock you by sitting someone worse next to you the very next day.

I get on the plane.  Take my window seat (which is an opportunity to be the first one to notice an engine is on fire).

And then it happens.  Nope, not a lady with a baby (that’s a different blog),

Worse.

A young strong woman (freakishly strong) sits down and announces "I’m the worst flyer you’ve ever met.  I apologize in advance for screaming and I’ll probably grab you at some point".

Well, thanks for the warning.  And for cranking up my stress level because people with brand new vasectomies always hope to be grabbed by perfect strangers on a plane.

Here’s a sentence you almost never hear people say… "I wish I had MORE swelling!"

The worst part?  She screamed so loud on take off there was no way anyone was going to hear me crying like a little girl when she grabbed my man parts like a grocery bag.

Let’s just say, it was a long flight.

But it got worse.

The airline "misplaced" my luggage.  Which I’m told (by them) is better than "losing" it.

I should have known there was going to be trouble.  It’s never a good sign when you get off the plane on the middle of the tarmac.

The good news is they "found" my luggage.

Since I arrived at the hotel late, I got to eat dinner by myself in their ridiculously high-priced restaurant.

Who pays $14 for a hamburger?

After dinner, I retired to my hotel room to get a good night’s rest before going over to Discovery Corporate Headquarters.

I was excited.

And cramping.

You see, the $14 hamburger turned on me.

It’s 1:00 am.  I’m in Washington by myself.  And I’m face down in the bathroom eating tile.

I thought I was dying.  At one point I was hoping I was dying.

I just knew I was leaving this world like Elvis.

How sad.  A small school superintendent found alone in a hotel in a compromising position.

People were bound to talk.

I didn’t care.

Just stop the cramping.

Luckily, I eventually fell asleep.  In bed, as far as you know.

I got up and felt like a million bucks.  Food poisoning evidently doesn’t last long on the East Coast.

Maybe it’s the time change.

I made my way to Discovey and had a wonderful time.

But that’s another blog.

I’ll get to the Techbook Discovery people.  I promise.

Comments: 3
Tags: , , , , ,

Fear of Flying.


Tomorrow, I get on a plane for Washington, D.C.

I will be visiting the headquarters of Discovery.

I’m very excited.  I’m hoping to meet Mike Rowe, the Mythbusters, or maybe the nut jobs from Storm Chasers (really… it’s pouring down rain… go inside already).

Meeting important people (even unstable ones) will be the fun part.

The bad part is flying.

I don’t fear flying, I just have some concerns.

On the list is the inevitable groping I always have to endure at the airport.  This time could be especially painful since I’m still trying to bounce back from my "vacation".

Another thing I always worry about is changing time zones.  It’s confusing.

When I travel and have to go from one time zone to another, two things invaribly happen.

One, I’m always hungry.  And two, I’m always doing math in my head to figure out why I’m starving at 9:30 in the morning.

But the biggest thing that scares me about flying is the unknown.

And I don’t mean how does a giant metal tube hurtle through the air.  Or will a flight attendant slam a metal cart full of nothing good to eat into my elbow just as I doze off?

My biggest concern is who I will sit by.

I can’t be the only one who gets on a plane and then waits.

Waits while passenger after passenger boards.  I check them all out to see which one I might not want to sit by.

Don’t get me wrong, 99 out of 100 people I’m good with sharing a row.

It’s the one percent that concerns me.

And you know who I’m talking about.

The mom.

The mom with a baby.

The mom with a newborn baby.

The mom with a newborn baby who has never flown before.

The mom with a newborn baby who has never flown before and the baby has a terrible ear infection.

There’s one on every flight (or maybe it just seems like it).

My only hope is they won’t sit by me.

It’s not that I dislike this mom. In fact, I feel sorry for this mom.

I survived (barely) 6 months of a colicky Evil Spawn.

And I don’t want to go back there.

Ever.

So keep a good thought for me.  I know I can’t avoid the groping, so I’ll just ride that out.

But the crying.

I can’t take the crying.

"Please walk by me… please walk by… please… I promise you God I’ll be good… if they just walk by… please… please…"

Comments: 6
Tags: , , , , ,

Discovery Education: Beyond the Textbook Forum.


The easiest blog to write is on the topic of how I love free stuff (but I think I’ve already written that blog… a couple of times).

Any day I get free stuff is a good day (for the record these days don’t come nearly often enough).

A free trip to Washington, D.C. is a very very good day (I’m a patriot after all).

So when I received an invitation to attend the Beyond the Textbook Forum at Discovery Communications in the District of Columbia, I immediately thought one thing.

There’s obviously been a mistake.

When I saw a list of the other attendees, it confirmed there had been a huge misunderstanding.

I could list the other attendees, but I want to protect their reputations at least until I meet them.

In Discovery’s words, the forum was put together to bring an eclectic group of educators together for a conversation about digital textbooks (I think they just called me weird).

It’s a full day of brainstorming.  Not sure how much I can help, but I know this.

If you pay for my flight and hotel, I’m more than happy to share my thoughts on just about any subject (note to others putting together forums or conferences… I can be bought and I’m really quite cheap).

Best case scenario, I fly in, stay at a fancy hotel, and share my thoughts on digital textbooks.

Better case, Discovery offers me a job (I prefer to start out as a Vice-President of Something… with at least 16 weeks of vacation.. and hopefully very little actual responsibility).

Perfect case, they buy my "Road School" televsion show idea.

Actually, who am I kidding.

Perfect case is my flight is on time.  They feed me.  And I get some dirt on 20 of the top educators in the world that I can use in future blogs.

I’m pretty sure no one will sit by me or talk to me in fear I will disparage their hard-earned reputation in a future blog. 

They would be right by the way.

Comments: 7
Tags: , ,

TV Show Idea: Road School.


I have an idea. RV1.jpg    

An ingenious one.

It may sound like I’m full of myself, but if you don’t think your ideas are ingenious, who will?

You have to give me the benefit of the doubt because I could be delusional from the massive amounts of Advil coursing through my veins from my recent snowboarding accident (I fell… hard… on my caboose… now I must blog standing up… sad really).

In the past few years, I’ve watched my share of reality television.

Survivor. American Idol. Shows with angry unhappily married fake rich ladies. All the junk on E! and VH1.

Some of it’s good.

Most of it isn’t.

Usually, I come away with even lower expectations for the human race.

I’ll often watch and then go through a period of self-loathing and abdominal cramping.

Just recently (after my last blow to the head while snowboarding/falling), it occurred to be there is an untapped reality show market.

Education.

The great thing about a reality show about education is 100% familiar with the topic and issues surrounding it.

Most of us went to school. Some of us even graduated (8th grade counts).

It’s hard to find a family who doesn’t have at least one member who is a teacher, so the education reality television market could be a gold mine.

Here’s my idea.

A show called “Road School”.

It’s homeschooling, but in an RV.

Two things I know nothing about.

You take an average family with two educators, an Evil Spawn, a handsome beagle, big fancy motor home with internet and satellite television provided by the production company and you got yourself a show.

Hit the open road and let the high jinks ensue.

An entire school year learning from the land.

The family visits national parks, monuments, and also interacts with regular people.

They stop by the homes of astronauts, veterans, and inventors.

Each week the family goes to a new state, does charity work, has a new experience, and learns a valuable lesson.

At the end of each episode there’s a quiz on the places and people they visited and the things they learned.

The curriculum could be put out in advance so schools and homeschool students could participate along with the show.

It would be education for the next century.

Not confined to a desk or classroom, but learning by being out in the real world.

I see a blog, YouTube updates, lots of Tweeting, and possibly a Discovery Education tie-in.

The family not only learns new stuff, but grows closer.

There’s laughter. There’re tears. There are long speeches about the greatness of the American people.

It’s The Amazing Race, Dirty Jobs, American Pickers, combined with a life-long education.

It’s ingenious.

At least, I think think so.

Now I will just sit back and wait for some education organization to recognize my genius.

And throw massive amounts of cash at me and Buddy the Dog (because he doesn’t perform unless there’s money involved… or a carrot).

Comments: 10
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Disclaimer

While this site operates with the knowledge and awareness of the Tuscola CUSD #301 School Board, Tuscola, Illinois, the content and opinions posted here may or may not represent their views personally or collectively, nor does it attempt to represent the official viewpoint of Tuscola CUSD #301 administrators or employees.