Category Archives: education

Exponential awesomeness


@smeech I recently built an entire workshop around Sacha Chua‘s Teacher’s Guide to Web 2.0: Watch/Do/Teach was our mantra

@sachac Sacha! Your presentation provided a perfect, low-stress, socratic & fun contextual frame for my day-long workshop. We had a ball!


kjarrett on Twitter

@sachac LOVE your stuff! I use a couple of your slideshares for an online Web 2.0 class I facilitate. GR8 job! Keep em coming!

jdornberg on Twitter

This is why sharing is so cool. Even if I don’t have the time, ability, or network to explore the opportunities opened up by what I’ve learned, I can share those thoughts with other people, and they can go and do something awesome.

I put together the Teacher’s Guide to Web 2.0 at School because I needed to make a presentation to kick off the school year for 90 teachers. Since then, it’s been viewed over 20,000 times. More than 150 people have shared it on their blogs. I haven’t explored it further. I haven’t even posted any notes. In particular, slide #25 probably needs more explanation than the few keywords I put on there to help people remember after my talk. But it’s enough to tickle people’s imaginations, and the simplicity lets them fill in their own insights.

I like this. The more I share, the more awesome things I get to see, and the more inspired I am to share.

What can you share so that other people can build on it?

Volunteer opportunity for teachers and retired teachers in Ontario

I know Deniz from LifecampTO, and I’m all for helping newcomers with their job search. Know anyone who might be interested in this, either as a volunteer or as someone looking for a mentor?

From Deniz:

I am wondering if you can help me on a project that I am doing for not-for profit org called Skills for Change. This is a community based, charitable org. providing educational programs and settlement service to newcomers. Currently I am looking for 20 experienced practising or retired teachers who can voluntarily coach newcomer, certified teachers in their job search process. Please see the message below and let me know if you can pass on to your network.


Volunteer Opportunity for Teachers to become a Coach

Are you a practising or retired teacher? Would you share just 4 hours a month to help a newcomer teacher adjust to teaching in Canada?

On behalf of Teach in Ontario, Skills for Change is currently looking for experienced teachers to coach Internationally Educated Teachers (IETs) in their transition to teaching in Ontario.

For more information, please contact

Deniz Kucukceylan – Mentoring Recruiter
[email protected]
Skills for Change – Toronto, Canada
(416) 658-3101 ext. 203

Cat’s doing better; school barbecue

I didn’t feel well this morning either, so I stayed home with the cat. W- took care of both of us. I felt much better after a painkiller, so it turned out to be a pretty productive at-home day.

The cat bravely snarfed down her medicated food and then sniffled through the day, coming up to us for cuddles and spending the rest of the time watching squirrels and birds from her bed near the window. She used her litter box today – hooray!

We also attended the school barbecue and curriculum night. I asked the teacher what Grade 5 students typically found challenging, and how we might be able to help. He suggested checking out the Math textbook’s companion website, asking her questions about reading and writing, and looking for ways to make far-off concepts like ancient Greece be more vivid. =) Time to build a model of the Parthenon!

The Incoming University Student’s Guide to Web 2.0

Read extensively. The university library’s an amazing resource. Yours might come with access to online research libraries, too. Combine that with Internet resources such as Wikipedia, blogs, and so on. Speed-reading can help you browse through information quickly so that you can focus on the good stuff.

Write. Writing is a great way to remember what you’re learning and reflect on how you’re doing things. This will help you get better and better at what you do, and you’ll be able to recognize the things you’re good at and that you enjoy. If you write on a blog, you can use it to reach out to people. Write about what you’re learning, and you’ll help other people who are learning about it too. Write about what you’re doing well, and you’ll start building a network and a reputation that will come in really handy when you’re looking for work.

Connect. Find out if there’s a Facebook group for your incoming university class. If not, start one and invite other people to join. It’s a great way to connect with people even before the first day of class. Feeling shy? That’s okay, everyone is too. If you focus on helping other people connect and make friends, you’ll become more and more comfortable, and you’ll make friends along the way too. Don’t hesitate to look for role models online, too. Many people have blogs that you can read to get a sense of what life is like in their industry. Read, then comment, then contact them, and you’ll get a head start on growing your network.

Behave online and offline. The Internet remembers, and even sites that promise you privacy occasionally mess up and expose things you’ve shared to the world. Think twice about posting pictures of wild parties, underwear-on-your-head shenanigans, and other things things that future employers and coworkers might take against you. In fact, since just about anyone can take a picture of you and post it up on the Net where you don’t have control of it, you might want to keep clean entirely. You don’t need to posture to be cool, and you can have fun without doing things you’ll regret.

Don’t let yourself be limited by anything or anywhere. I took my bachelor’s degree in a university in the Philippines. Great school, but it didn’t have all the courses I wanted. =) I was on the Internet learning from course materials from everywhere: MIT, Georgia Tech, wherever I could find information. Now there are even more choices. Check out places like MIT OpenCourseware and Stanford iTunes for free courses. This is great not only for learning things, but also for getting a better sense of what you like. In fact, it might be a good idea to check the courses out now before you declare a major. You don’t need to understand everything. You just have to get a sense of whether you’ll like the course or not. That way, you’ll spend less time switching around to find something you enjoy and will use.

I think I’ll make a few sketches about this over the long weekend. =) Any other tips for incoming college and university students?

The Reading Solution, and thoughts on education

If you’ve read my blog posts from the past few weeks, you know that
I’m entirely in favor of convincing impressionable young children that
reading is fun and worthwhile. Similarly-minded people may want to check out The Reading Solution: Make Your Child a Reader for Life, an excellently-written book by Paul Kropp that shares strategies on how to help kids fall in love with reading – from infancy to adulthood.

The main points are: read with your child every day, reach into your
pocket to buy books, and rule the media (TV time, etc). Kropp shows
the importance of reading with kids every day, even when they seem old
enough to read on their own. Check out Kropp’s must-have lists by age for
ideas, and add your own favorites.

I don’t know how feasible it is to ask people to read together every
day, but I think it’s a great idea even for grown-ups. My mom told me
stories of how she—not a nanny—would read to me over and over and
over again, and I still think my automatic warm and fuzzies come from
that time (yes, even when I’m reading gnarly research papers!). When I
moved on to reading – and not just the Dr. Seuss books I also loved as
a kid, but the communication and business books she also had around
the house – I remember occasionally talking about good books with her.
I wish I had more of those times. There’s something about sharing the
experience of a book with someone, talking about what you’ve learned
from it and what you think about it… It’s a way of fully
experiencing the book and bringing it into yourself. Someday I would
like that to be part of my daily ritual – to quietly read for fifteen
or twenty minutes, and then share what I’ve learned from that and from
my day with whoever’s around (or my blog, although I don’t quite get
the fun immediate social interaction that way).

Kropp says that it’s important to continue that ritual of daily
reading even when kids can read on their own. Reading with other
people makes reading fun, because it’s so much more than reading. It’s
asking questions about words or stories or life. Let kids interrupt
you and go off on tangents. Point out connections. Reading together
also shows kids that you value reading. And let them see you reading,
too! I remember my mom reading all these books and talking about them…

I liked the chapter on how to deal with excellent, average and
ordinary schools. Kropp has good advice for dropping by a school,
evaluating the environment, and suggesting best practices, such as
daily quiet uninterrupted reading time. I remember how my mom was
involved with the Parent-Teacher Association in our grade school,
pushing for gifted education programs and making sure that we were

Another thing that struck me about the book was Kropp’s advice to
have children do their homework at the kitchen table or some other
central place in the house. This shows them the value that schoolwork
has to the entire family. One of the comments that J made about her
homework made me think a bit; she once shrugged and said, “Well, my
teacher doesn’t check it anyway.” At some point I want to explain to
her why teachers give homework (so that you test your knowledge and
maybe come up with questions for grown-ups or for the next class) and
how she can make the most of it.

If you’re wondering why some of my recreational reading and reflection
has been about reading lately, it’s not just because of J. I used to
read my mom’s gifted education books when I was a kid. =) I can’t help
it even now. Part of me steps back from conversations and thinks of
phonemics or problem solving or science and what else I can fit into
those teachable moments that happen. Put me in front of someone who
wants to learn, no matter what age they are, and I’m going to rack my
brain for a way to help them learn.

There’s an updated version of Kropp’s book, if you’re curious.

While you’re reading about reading, check out my mom’s blog posts.

(Isn’t it *so* awesome that I can refer you to my mom’s reflections?)

Random Emacs symbol: search-forward-regexp – Command: Search forward from point for regular expression REGEXP.

My mom reads my blog

My mom reads my blog, and that’s absolutely terrific. =) I love
hearing her insights into the things I’m trying to figure out, and it
makes me feel even warmer and fuzzier because she’s my mom. Here’s one
of her recent comments:

“I want small groups, so no one can hide in the anonymity of crowds. ;) I’m tired of audiences. I want participants. I don’t want to hear presentations. I want to be part of conversations.” This kind of thinking is what is setting you apart as a teacher and as a student. I am proud that this is the way you think and feel, and I know you will try your best to bring out not only the best in you, but also the best in others, and you will acknowledge that the others are doing the same to you. We should approach each other, like you said, not in the traditional manner of teacher teaching and student learning. There is no reason why they can’t be both teachers and students at the same time. I believe that the most exciting times are when teachers and students discover “lessons” (learnings?) at the same time. When a teacher helps to bring a student to where he is by teaching him what he knows, the teacher is still where he is; and save for the additional information, the student is!

probably still where he is, but when they discover something together, both move at least a step higher in the quest for knowledge.

So many of my thoughts on education and other things come from my mom.
She checked out practically every grade school in the area looking for
the best school for my sisters and me, choosing St. Scholastica’s
College because it offered small group instruction with individualized
pacing. She pushed for the creation of a gifted program and then for
its expansion to include all students. She read to me until her voice
cracked: The Three Little Pigs, the Big Fish, One Fish Two Fish Red
Fish Blue Fish… And when I moved on to more complex material (having
figured out how to read The Three Little Pigs upside down), she left
interesting books lying around: kid-friendly encyclopedias and
references, books on business and career, even books on parenting
teenagers (which naturally I read from cover to cover).

She never dictated a career for me, but instead helped me learn how to
listen to the world and to myself. She never emphasized grades, but
instead emphasized the learning experience. That said, when I got
three Ds (got bored in my merit English classes for fiction and
poetry), she warned me that I’m going to have to work extra hard to
get people to overlook that on my record. ;) But she taught me what it
was like to love learning and to want to fill other people with that

I love my mom. =) Give your mom a hug today.

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Random Japanese sentence: 猫は闇で物が見える。 A cat can see in the dark.