My Decade


“Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need Roads”

Twenty years ago a movie came out that changed the way I looked at the future. This movie was Back to the Future II. Back to the Future II was different than any future movie my adolescent eyes had ever seen. My only comparable film was 2001: A Space Odyssey, but at the ripe age of nine, Stanley Kubrick was not really appealing to my audience. I remember watching the previews and hearing about some of the “future” scenes in the movie. It took place in 2015. At the time, that seemed so distant and I could not even imagine the calendar year starting with a 2 and a 0 instead of a 1and a 9. In the scenes where Marty McFly and Doc Brown travel to the future, we get a brief glimpse of what is awaiting us down the road. It all seemed far-fetched, but you still watched, and you still held that thought in the back of your mind that said, “hmmm, maybe this could happen.”

In 1989 we imagined a future where cars fly, hover boards are the must have toy for kids, NIKE shoes glow and your jacket air-dries and talks to you. There are vintage shops that house relics of a time gone by and there is baseball in Miami. Who could have ever imagined all of this? Robert Zemeckis did. Did it all come true? (Baseball in Miami happened and the Marlins managed to win two World Series titles since Back to the Future made this bold prediction) we don’t know yet, we are only approaching 2010.

I see this vision of the future and think about what has come in the past ten years and look forward to what will be greeting us in the next ten. This image in the New York Times today really struck a cord with me as to how fast things have progressed over the last ten years. Since 2000 the way we communicate and collaborate has changed so fast that it is hard to keep up with it all. Think about this, ten years ago we did not tweet, check facebook or use an iPhone. The web was still lingering in 1.0 and we used lots of bullets on MS PowerPoint and thought flying text and toasters were progressing us forward.

Today, the average person wakes up, checks their phone, sends a few texts, checks e-mail, brushes his or her teeth, sends a tweet about it, updates facebook status (blah Monday morning), sends a reply to previous text, eats cereal, sends a tweet about an article you are reading via an RSS feed on your iPhone, check e-mail again, grab your iPod and update it with your favorite podcasts to listen on the way to work and finally, you are out the door. Think about what just happened…THINK ABOUT IT!!!!

So my question is, “What is next?” Where does all this lead? We can connect to copious amounts of information and communicate faster than ever before. We have even started condensing our language in order to express how we feel in 140 characters or simply to show laughter. Have you ever thought about what it means to write LOL? I once asked someone if they actually laugh when they reply back to a text or an IM conversation with LOL. This person said, “Well when I write LOL that means I really laughed out loud, when I write “haha” that means I’m not really laughing hard, but you received some funny points and when I type “hehe” that is just a giggle.” Yes, this is where we are! This is our future.

When Doc Brown said, “Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads” he was sending a message to all of us here in 2010. We still need roads, however, maybe by 2015 we might not need them. While we might not need roads anymore we still have become reliant on so many tools that govern our daily lives. Imagine your day without your smart phone, e-mail, facebook, ATM card, Google, and your standard Internet connection. Imagine this world, because at one time this was reality and all the terms I just mentioned were not even invented yet. And someday my grandchildren will probably wonder how we lived without teleporters, “Wow Grandpa, you mean you actually had to drive places!? Weird.” Don’t laugh. It will happen.


And here are five things that I predict will happen in the next ten years.

1. Everything will merge and condense further

In a few years, we will all carry one device that can do everything. It will be an iPhone on steroids. One will be able to perform every daily function aside from eating and breathing on this device. It will control the lights in our house; it will start our cars, pay our bills, give us every bit of news, connect us with everyone and house every document we need. It will simply be called “Awesome”.

2. Print media will fade

I still like the smell of an old book and enjoy walking out on Sunday morning to get my newspaper, however, this medium of spreading news and information will soon fade into the past. With the advent of the kindle, the RSS feed, the podcast and the constant stream of news there will be no need for print media and the cost of producing it.

3. Google will prove George Orwell right

Google has grown and expanded faster than any company over the past ten years (save for Apple, so I may be wrong on this one). In the next few years Google will be releasing its own operating system along with its own smart phone. Google will think for us and take care of all our daily connectivity needs. Eventually Apple will revive its 1984 Super Bowl add and this time market it at Google, not IBM.

4. Text to Speech

As we continue to condense our language via twitter and text messaging, our speech and usage of words will continue to denigrate as well. People will communicate less through verbal means and more through cryptic texts and tweets. Eventually language will be obsolete as we condense every word into one character that has yet to be invented.

5. The Ubiquitous Classroom

School will change greatly over the next few years as technology becomes fully integrated and a necessary means for learning and teaching. Teachers will have to demonstrate the knowledge of content along with technology skills in order to get hired. This will go far beyond understanding MS Office Suite and blogging. Skype and the advancement of video conferencing will tear down the classroom walls and allow students to see the world and learn globally and locally. Standardized assessments will be taken out back and shot. Yes! The age of standardized tests will fade along with the failed No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Education will finally differentiate for all, students will learn in forums that suit their learning styles best and they will be assessed in a way that is authentic, rigorous and diverse.

Using Google Forms And Wikispaces

If you have been following along with my recent blog posts, you know that I have been incorporating a classroom wikispace into my sophomore English class. The class is composed of students with very low reading levels. Thus far, they have really enjoyed the wikispace and I wanted to share two items (The second item will be featured tomorrow) that I have incorporated into the space that anyone can use in their own classroom wikispace.

The first item we use daily is Google Forms. Each day I create a new Google form and embed that form into my wikispace. The form has a prompt and a space to answer the question. You can select from a variety of response options such as, check boxes, multiple choice and text responses.

In the span of two days into the new trimester, my students have come into class, opened their laptops and logged on to the wikispace. I had them set their browser homepage to our class wikispace (NOTE: THIS IS A MUST! OR ELSE YOU WILL BE SPELLING OUT YOUR URL EVERYDAY!). Once the bell rings they read the prompt on the Google Form and begin working. Once they finish the prompt, they hit submit and their answer is sent to a Google Doc Spread sheet that I can view. It is simply amazing! When my students finish we have a brief discussion about their responses and this usually leads into our daily lesson. In the span of 10 minutes you have students reading, processing, responding,verbalizing and making connections. All the while, students are consistently engaged.

This also sets a great tone for the class and will help me organize for upcoming exams and quizzes. I can easily access the Google Doc Spreadsheet that contains all of their responses.

I really urge you to try this method if you have the ability to do so in your classroom. Here is an example of my “Do Now” prompt from today.

As I mentioned in my previous post, if you would like to join our wiki and observe the process, please feel free to contact me via e-mail. I will send you an invitation and you can be apart of the learning process. Let’s call it “Classroom Observation 2.0”.

My Letter To Parents

To Whom It May Concern:

This trimester in English Literature and Composition, my class will be taking a new approach to learning. We will be utilizing various technology resources to communicate, collaborate and differentiate instruction within our classroom.

Each student will be setting up their own free e-mail account for my classroom. We are utilizing the G-Mail platform through Google Applications. This e-mail will only be used for our class. I told each student that they will have the opportunity to communicate with me through this e-mail and I ask you to do the same regarding any questions or suggestions you have for this venture.

Secondly, I have created a classroom website that will only be used for my class. It is a completely separate platform from the school’s webpage, but serves many of the same functions. Our website is created through a wikispace. A wikispace is a site where we will communicate, collaborate and engage in a variety of classroom activities. The wikispace is a private platform and can only be accessed when you are invited by the organizer. I briefly showed the students how to use this site and informed them that they now will have 24-7 access to their classroom. If students miss class or are absent for some time, they can keep up with their work simply by accessing this site. All that is needed is a computer and an internet connection.

We have created classroom rules for this venture and on Wednesday, I had the students come up with their own rules for technology use in our classroom. They know these rules will be enforced and you can view our rules on the reverse of this page.

Finally, one of my primary goals for this venture is to include everyone in the learning process. I invite you to join our wikispace and become a part of the learning process. If you have any questions please feel free to e-mail me or call me (e-mail and number to follow). If you would like to be a part of our wikispace learning community, please provide me with your primary e-mail address so I can send you an invitation to our page. Please provide your name, signature and e-mail at the bottom of this page.

Sincerely,

Mr. Andrew P. Marcinek
e-mail: amarcinek@boyslatin.org
Phone: 484-416-0424

Parent/Guardian Name (Printed):__________________________________________________________

Parent/Guardian Signature: ______________________________________________________________

Parent/Guardian e-mail:_________________________________________________________________

ACCEPTABLE USE POLICY FOR TECHNOLOGY

The Following Rules were designed by periods 1 and 2 at Boys’ Latin Charter School of Philadelphia

  1. No social network sites in school
    1. Myspace
    2. Facebook

  1. No games
  2. Laptops are not to be used for notes
    1. When teacher is talking, laptops are down
    2. Notes can be written and transferred to computer
  3. No Youtube unless it is being used for a presentation or reference
  4. No inappropriate searches for images
  5. Background must be a solid color


Consequences

  1. First policy offense – cannot use laptop for the rest of the day. Parents and Administration notified
  2. Second policy offense – cannot use laptop for the week and assignments will be done through another platform (i.e. pen and paper). Parents and Administration will be notified. Student will also have an after school detention.
  3. Third policy offense – student will lose laptop privileges. Parents, Administration, teacher and student will have a conference. Student will have to earn his laptop back by completing the following:
    1. Write a laptop reinstatement letter to teacher and administration detailing why they broke policy and why we should let them have their laptop back. **


**If student has his laptop reinstated and break a policy rule again, the laptop will not be used for the rest of the year.**

This is my letter to parents. I welcome your feedback and ask you to share your own experiences with incorporating technology into your classroom. How did you involve parents? Administration? What was the experience like with parents working within the website? I look forward to hearing your experiences and I plan on writing about mine as we progress in the classroom. Also, if you would like to join our wikispace and become an observer, please feel free to get in touch with me at the e-mail listed below.


Let’s make learning ubiquitous!