Share how you're occupying education - It's easy!

I'm doing it! Lots of members of my personal learning network are doing it! Students are doing it! Homeschooling kids are doing it! Teachers are doing it! Parents are doing it! And you should too!  

We are all sharing our stories about how we are transforming education and challenging the status quo in public education by creating a sign and taking a picture with it that includes our faces.  What is powerful about this is it shares the real voices of teachers, parents, and our youth, not just those of the disconnected politicians and corporate reformers.

Participation is easy!

Here's how.

Take a picture of yourself holding a sign that highlights a few ways you are transforming education and/or share the countless, unique ways you challenge the status quo in public education.

If you are a student, tell us what helps you learn best. Tell us what would make learning more meaningful for you. 

If you are a parent, tell us what kind of learning environment you want for your children. Tell us what schools should be focusing on. 

Below that, write “I occupy education.” or “I occupy my classroom”

If you don’t show your whole face, please show at least part of it.

Please have your note be hand written.

Please do your best to be concise.

You can reclaim your voice in education transformation now by sharing how you Occupy Education at
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10 Reasons Schools Should Teach Text-Speak

Guest post courtesy of Phone Service

Texting in school is a very popular topic with people able to argue both sides. Some schools are teaching text speak or SMS in school. The students put together glossaries and compare their versions to the formal written language. Many might argue but listed below are ten reasons schools should teach text speak.
  1. Translation. Teaching students how to translate one version of the English language into another version of the English language exposes them to critical thinking skills.
  2. It is useful. Students tend to wonder when they will ever use what they are learning. Not long ago students were required to take Latin, and a very small percentage ever applied it in real life. Texting, on the other hand, is quite useful to just about everyone who owns a cell phone.
  3. Teaches creativity. There are plenty of words or terms that have not been condensed down into SMS text language. By engaging the students to create their own versions they are not only teaching creativity, but instilling self-esteem and confidence when they come up with something useful for others.
  4. Quicker note taking. By teaching SMS text speak in schools the students can apply it to other classes as well by using it as a short hand note taking skill. Unlike formal note taking which can take too long and lead to missed notes, SMS can help students effectively take notes at a speed close to the verbal communication of their teachers.
  5. Can wrap ethics in. Classes can have an ethical or moral tone to them by discouraging students from using texting in inappropriate ways. Many kids today are using texting to bully or send lewd messages to one another. This topic can be brought in to dissuade that kind of behavior.
  6. Can prepare them for the future. Technology is improving at a rate that some of us cannot keep up with. By bringing this into the classroom you can prepare students for the ever evolving technological advances.
  7. Engages students. Since you never see a teenager very far from their phone and in some cases it seems like it is permanently attached to their fingers, it makes sense to utilize them in the classrooms as well. Using cell phones in school is a great way to engage students with something they are already familiar with and then use texting to draw them into other subjects as well.
  8. Can save future embarrassment. If texting is taught in school, then students have the opportunity to learn the different acronyms and what they may or may not mean. This can save face in the future when texting a client or other professional. Some SMS texts have different meanings and some, like in verbal communication, can be said in a variety of ways.
  9. It CAN be used to teach spelling. Most people think of texting as eliminating the bulk of a word in order to condense it. This is true but it can be used in reverse in a school setting. Teachers can use SMS text language to give the students their spelling words and then have the students send back a message with the correct spelling of the word or words.
  10. Increases participation. By integrating texting into the classroom, teachers have been using it to get students to participate that otherwise wouldn’t. Some students may be afraid to answer a question out loud in class for fear of being wrong, but by texting answers to the teacher more students can participate at once.
Some people believe that texting in school is a distraction and can lead to cheating, but by bringing it into a classroom session and properly teaching them how to use texting, it can be beneficial to both the student and the teacher.  For more ideas about effective ways to use cell phones for learning, including research-based strategies, lessons, and more order Teaching Generation Text
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What's Popular This Week on The Innovative Educator

Here’s the roundup of what's been popular on The Innovative Educator blog this week. Below you’ll see my top weekly posts along with the number of pageviews in the past 7 days. I hope there's something that looks of interest to you.  If it does, check it out. If you’re so inspired leave a comment.

Sep 28, 2011,
1974 Pageviews

Oct 12, 2008,
1865 Pageviews

Oct 22, 2011
1660 Pageviews
iPad Literacy Program Increases Reading & Writing ...
Oct 17, 2011,
1555 Pageviews

Feb 5, 2011,
1252 Pageviews

Oct 26, 20111226 Pageviews

Apr 25, 2011,
921 Pageviews
Feb 5, 2011,
800 Pageviews
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Ideas for Bringing Your Own Device (BYOD) Even If You Are Poor

When the topic of bring your own device comes up, one of the first complaints we often hear, is "What about the have nots." Yes, there are have nots.  However, students should not only be given the freedom to do what those who have the least can do. Students are not prisoners and they are not widgets. They are people with minds, choices, and parents or guardians who can make decisions and should be empowered to use the learning devices they choose. 

While I believe schools should be wired places where community members can access the internet, I do not believe all students need the same tool nor do I believe all students need the government to provide them with the learning tools they deem best.  When we shift our thinking from demanding the government provides one-size-fits-some solutions and move it to let's empower families to take ownership of securing tools for their learning, change can happen.  

Here are some ways even low socio economic status (ses) students can acquire their own technology.

  1. Business Refresh - Reach out to companies to see when they refresh equipment. Ask if they would consider giving old devices to students.
  2. Craigslist - Students can use tools like Craigslist to announce that they are in need of a device that someone might be throwing away. Also, look at who is getting rid of devices. Some will give away technology if it is helping a student.
  3. Facebook for Tech - A teenager I know needed a computer. She put her request on Facebook for anyone who might have an old computer. She had several responses. Students, parents, and teachers can use social media to share requests.
  4. Mentors as resources - Establish a mentoring program. When I did this students developed relationships with their mentors, many of whom advocated on their behalf which included helping them secure resources for learning.
  5. Entrepreneurs raise money for tech - The cost of tech has gone down tremendously. It doesn't take a lot for the entrepreneurial student to raise enough money for his or her own tech.  
  6. Tweet for Tech - When I noticed a young girl with autism in a rural neighborhood could benefit from an iPad I tweeted out a request for anyone updating their iPad 1 with an iPad 2 to donate a device. The young girl had a new iPad that week.  
  7. Recycle School Tech - I've seen schools dump tons of tech because they couldn't sort through the bureaucratic red tape required to give devices to kids.  Ummm...gimme a break! Let's reduce the red tape and help schools figure it out.
  8. Payment / Layaway plans - There are schools that have figured out layaway, leasing, or school discount programs. Schools should be doing their best to provide these options for families for hardware as well as internet access in the home.
  9. Community Tech Day - Invite the community to come to your school and donate technology for children in need. 
  10. Hold a fundraiser - There are fundraisers for all sorts of things.  Let kids work to raise funds for technology.  Be creative. Hold a race, a car wash, a tournament.  
Yes, there are naysayers who can shoot down every single way I've shared to empower students to secure devices, but when we stop thinking about why we can't and start thinking about how we can, the digital divide narrows before our eyes.

To find out how to break the ban where you teach and much more order Teaching Generation Text
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5 Questions Every Parent and Teacher Must Be Able to Answer

While test-prep mania, quality reviews, and data driven assessments rule the roost in schools today,  what's most important is often overlooked.  If you're not able to answer these five questions for every child in your care at school or at home, than you need to re-focus on what is most important. 
  1. What are your child's passions, talents, and interests? 
  2. Is your child's talent/passion portfolio documented and used to drive learning?
  3. Does your child have a personal success plan aligned to those passions with measurable goals?
  4. How are you supporting your child in displaying evidence of learning in meaningful ways that will lead to academic, career and life success?
  5. Is your child provided with opportunities to learn with those who share his passions and interests rather than just grouped with others by date of manufacture?
So, how many of these were you able to answer?  If it's not all five, what is your plan to refocus and place your child(ren) in the center of their learning?
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Listen to The Authors of Teaching Generation Text on The Brian Lehrer Show!

My Teaching Generation Text co-author Willyn Webb and I were featured today on the Brian Lehrer show on 93.9 FM and and 820 AM. The Brian Lehrer show features interviews with local, national, and international newsmakers, authors, and politicians combined with listener phone calls. 

On the show we discussed the benefits of empowering students with the freedom to learn with the digital tools they own and love and  addressed the importance of going from banning to embracing the power of student-owned technology. Listen to the show below to hear why we think it is important to help students break free from being prisoners of past in a school system designed to prepare students for success in the industrial age.  


We hope after you listen, you will leave a comment here
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How to Help Stop Math from Sucking

When in comes to math, for many Sal Kahn, the flipped classroom (if you don't know what it is skip down to the infographic below), and flipped classroom materials like this are all the rage. But for others, we're not so enamored.

Here's why:
While there are some for whom math is magical, there are even more of us that will never ever, ever get excited when you suggest we're going to learn about polynomials, integers, or slopes.  Sure, we get that fact that if we want to go to college, we need to jump through hoops to memorize and regurgitate, but we aren't learning in meaningful ways.  For that we need to rethink math instruction.  

Below are some guys who've done just that.

Conrad Wolfram
Despite the fact that many of humanity's most thrilling creations (from rockets to stock markets) are powered by math, many of us lose interest in it. The problem is not the students.  Instead, as Conrad Wolfram explains, its how we teach math...
Calculation by hand -- isn't just tedious, it's mostly irrelevant to real mathematics and the real world. Watch Conrad as he presents his radical ideas for teaching math in a different way. 

Sol Garfunkel and David Mumford
In their New York Times Op Ed, "How to Fix Math Education," Garfunkel and Mumford explain that the current curriculum is not a good way to prepare a vast majority of high school students for life. 

Unfortunately, as they point out, our ineffective method for teaching math has been codified by the Common Core State Standards. They explain that this highly abstract curriculum is simply not the best way to prepare a vast majority of high school students for life. They suggest that instead of an abstract curriculum with mysterious characters like "x," we should imagine something different:  Replacing the sequence of algebra, geometry and calculus with a sequence of finance, data and basic engineering.

Read the complete article here.

Flipped Classroom
If you don't know what the flipped classroom is, read this infographic to find out.
The Flipped Classroom
Created by Knewton and Column Five Media

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US News & World Report Spreads the Word About Empowering Students to Use Cell Phones

US News & World Report is helping empower students with the freedom to learn with the tools they love with a story this week called Teachers Use Cell Phones in the Classroom.  In it they feature the story of why Teaching Generation Text co author Willyn Webb isn't telling her high school students to put away their cell phones, even though they are technically banned in her district and why I support this practice.  

The reporter shares ways we are both using mobile devices to support learning.  He also shares my mantra:
"School should be preparing students for real life—and in real life, people use cell phones. If you're making an artificial world inside the school, you're not preparing them for the real world."
You can read the full article here.  

For ideas about effective ways to use cell phones for learning, including research-based strategies, lessons, and more, order your copy of Teaching Generation Text
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Why Choose Home Ed over School?

Editor's note: Homeschooling is one of the fastest growing alternatives for families frustrated with a failing school system. Here is why former New York City parent and home education expert Laurette Lynn made this choice.  

Homeschooling, unschooling, home educating, call it what you will it’s all the same thing.  So here are the reasons that our family chose to unplug from (or really never plug into) school.  Opting out of School offers the following benefits:
Access to a Free Education
I wanted my children to have unlimited access to a free education.
This is Freedom to access unlimited information which is unrestricted by time or spacial constraints, untethered by a standardized polyester curriculum  designed solely to increase scores in order to funnel more funding into a district where it can continue to be misappropriated.
Education and information that is Freely available through an unlimited variety of sources instead of a limited pre-selected, pre-chosen staff limited by their own perspective and questionable dedication.
Freedom to access an infinite plethora of financially free resources such as libraries, Internet, church,  community, family,  apprenticeships,  etc that all exist outside the limited walls of the classroom.  This experience  may or may not include the further  opportunity for reasonably inexpensive educational experience according to our family’s economic situation at any given time; such as road trips, visits to the zoo’s, museums and other cultural events etc.  The true freedom for such opportunities  only exist outside of the time and space limitations of the school day and school building are now freely available to my kids without worry of time restrictions or satisfying compulsory attendance records.
And free from monetary demands as well as monetary expectations to compensate for misappropriations of funds which require me to pay for group supplies, furnishings and useless field trips during which any true learning will be curtailed by pre-determined tours that limit time  for explorations anyway.

Unencumbered Opportunity for Intellectual Growth
To freely learn how to think and reason, and to foster intellectual curiosity and stimulate intellectual creativity, without the limitations and restriction that has lead to a pandemic of intellectual atrophy.
To have the opportunity to exercise critical thought through a pursuit of knowledge and understanding (through unlimited resources)rather than a spoon feeding, which requires no critical thought and only compliant absorption of limited information subject to filtering and alterations by the board or the agenda of the individual performing the feeding.
To be free to peruse personal goals now rather than be dubiously convinced to wait for an imaginary age based rite  in order to begin living out ones dreams or entrepreneurship.
To have the support, encouragement and guidance from a support system that truly has the child’s best interest in goal rather than  an elusive bureaucratic board reliant upon scores, existing to perpetuate itself and having no knowledge of or genuine interest in, the personal intellectual growth or well being of the individual child.

Real World, Real Life Experience
To have access to the real world wherein the child can explore real places and events, solve real conundrums, ponder real-life perplexities, experience real situations and learn from real experiences.
To take part in real celebrations, parties and events with friends and family rather than canned, ritualistic and out-dated compulsory set ups.
To experience the reality of trial and error for the sheer experience of reaching a goal or falling short – not for concern over a red ink letter on a report card.
To understand the feeling of grief and frustration through genuine loss and defeat so that they can learn how to emotionally process these feelings more authentically rather than hearing about them or being subject to replicated and controlled holographic situations.
To learn through visiting live geographical places, touching tasting, smelling and experiencing the real and natural world that exists only outside the limited time and space of the classroom.
To understand language, physics, math and science by engaging in tasks in which these skills are needed, and then accomplishing an end goal after having executed the skills to reach the desired outcome.
To understand history through conversation, enactment, experience and from a variety of sometimes conflicting opinons and views.
To learn to listen, reason, judge, hypothesize and eventually formulate a unique opinion based on a variety of information from a variety of real sources.
To grow up in the real world, rather than the one dimensional artificial reality deliberately pre-constructed by the compulsory classroom environment where young humans assimilate only reproductions and pathetic replications of reality and where genuine experience is replaced by fake hypothetical delivered by forced mental intravenous on a mass scale.   An experience that is the very antithesis of real life.

To learn how to get along with others: aka “socialize”
To have the opportunity t meet a variety of people, variety of ages, backgrounds, cultures, ethnicity, religions etc in every day real life encounters.
To learn how to spontaneously cooperate with other human beings in natural and real life circumstances rather than the manufactured situations inaccurately demonstrated according to a replicated reality.
To naturally form meaningful relationships rather than being forced to endure artificial social conditions, which have no doubt fostered the current nationwide (perhaps wider) phenomenon of social apathy.
To enjoy the benefit of growing up with a true appreciation for fellow human beings and respect for variances in other human beings.
To freely engage in discussions that they find interesting without restrictions or time/space limitations.
To freely initiate and foster relationships and friendships with others whom they choose to befriend, and have the freedom to avoid friendship with anyone who is uncomfortable to their personal chemistry; rather than be constrained and forced to spend the majority of their youth in a limited physical space,among a limited amount of pre-selected youth of similar age, ethnicity, economic background and grouped according to the modern illusion of per-fabricated social class.  This is an experience that both defies and suffocates authentic social experience and relationship building opportunities, which we wish to avoid.
To acquire debate and dissent skills through real-life arguments over real situations with an unlimited and uncontrolled  variety of real people that will offer honest contrast and challenges to their notions.  Rather than set up situations and theatrical performances of controlled disagreement in a supervised false reality environment.
To be free to disagree and voice their disagreement without worry of being sent to an authorities office for reprimandation for failing to forcibly comply with the  collective.

To enjoy the freedom to choose
Freedom of choice is respected and encouraged rather than ignored,  denied and eventually replaced by conditioned environmental and social  responses and compulsive compliance with a collective.  Our family is free to deliberate, explore and then make personal decisions without the encumbrance of making a grade, fitting a falsely perceived social mold, complying with ulterior agenda’s or adhering to standards.
We are free to learn by exploring free access to unlimited information while living our lives in the real world.  This helps us to make informed, intellectually evaluated and well considered decisions regarding our relationships, our spirituality, our health and wellness and our future goals and dreams.

Because it’s better for the community and the world
This personal freedom of choice, this unlimited opportunity to learn, this unrestricted time to develop and thus more deeply understand love ourselves, this unfettered opportunity to get to know, appreciate and love our fellow human beings all thereby enables  us to make more significantly positive contributions to the whole of humanity.
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The Simple Truth about Why Children Don’t Like School

Guest post Cathy Earle

Peter Gray says that freedom is the most important ingredient in learning. He also says that schools are prisons.

Schools are not like prisons—it's not a metaphor. According to Gray, public schools are true prisons in that most children have to go, and, once there, they have their activities — even their biological necessities — controlled and curtailed.

So, who is this guy? Why should we care what Peter Gray has to say?

Peter Gray is a research professor of psychology at Boston College and a specialist in developmental and evolutionary psychology. He has published articles on innovative teaching methods and alternative approaches to education; and is author of Psychology, an introductory college textbook now in its 6th edition. He did his undergraduate study at Columbia University and earned a Ph.D. in biological sciences at Rockefeller University. His current research and writing focuses primarily on children's natural ways of learning and the life-long value of play. His own play includes not only his research and writing, but also long distance bicycling, kayaking, back-woods skiing, and vegetable gardening.

See what he has to say in the video below.

 For additional insights, visit Peter's blog at

Cathy Earle is an educator who has worked in public schools and a variety of private venues. She has been a curriculum lab director, a managing editor at an education publishing house, and a freelance education writer working for such clients as The Learning Company, Orange County Department of Education, and Disney Software. She homeschooled her own children from birth to college, using child-led and interest-based methods rather than formal academic teaching. Her daughters are now grown and successful.  Her blog for children, Every Day Is Special, can be found at
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