Toys For Tots

Toys For Tots

My friend runs the Veterans’ Center at the local university where her SVA (Student Veterans of America) chapter is collecting funds and toys for the Marine’s Toys 4 Tots Campaign, as well as transporting toys and purchasing toys. In SL, where I spend some time, Toys4Tots is run by Rocky Hillburton (rocky.hillburton) and his wife, Shannon Hillburton (shannon.dubratt). This charity in both RL and SL aims to collect or purchase new toys, wrap them, and get them into the hands of needy children as Christmas gifts in each community where Toys4Tots is active.

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Tools versus Pedagogies

[This is written as a response to a class discussion based on the CoolCat Teacher’s blog post]

Wanting to read this 2015 OECD Report mentioned, I did a quick search and found “OECD Skills Outlook 2015” which I presume is the report in question. I read the summary of the report in English.

I was trying to locate the exact study cited and there is so much from the OECD….but in my travels I read, “in 2012, 96% of 15-year-old students in OECD countries reported having a computer at home, but only 72% reported using one at school. “

I think the point is, just having the computers and/or just sitting down at the computers to use without explicit instruction will not improve educational outcomes. The summary points out that a majority of students are leaving the educational systems of their countries without the necessary tools/skills/mindsets to contribute to their economies. The reports states this is, “the root of this unacceptable waste of human potential. “ (para 3)

I think it was Dewey who said the purpose of education is to prepare citizens to lead successful lives (Dewey, 1938, p.18). I believe he was emphasizing that education devoid of social change is not useful. Reforming educational pedagogies, not just tools, will bring about social change. It’s not the technology that makes a difference, but the “mind-set” of the one using the technology- the pedagogy.

One thing shines through as I read Vicki’s post and it is not the content at all. She models. She takes it personally if a student isn’t achieving the objectives. She believes it is her job. That is a mindset, a viewpoint that is not shared by most teachers.

It is our job to prepare these students, to teach them the skills, to ensure they possess the strategies, to begin the avalanche of social change. Oh here I go on the soapbox…someone knock me off!

A little story, during one of my courses, I had to a little project with how teachers viewed emerging versus obsolete technologies. I had difficulty getting interviews set up with one school and when I investigated I found out why. The teachers did not consider the overhead projectors (the ones you write on and they project on a screen) obsolete, as they had taken them back out of the storage closets to use daily in their lecture based classrooms. The district had purchased interactive whiteboards for each classroom. The teachers did not consider these to be emergent technologies, but just screens for their overheads. I still remember the IT director groaning, holding his head in his hands, and apologizing to me profusely. Like Vicki says, “Technology is here. It can make a massive difference if you HAVE the know-how to teach with it effectively.”


Davis, V.A. (2015, September,25).  Why technology in classrooms doesn’t always boost education results [Web log post]. Retrieved from URL of blog post

Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and education. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.

OECD (2015), OECD Skills Outlook 2015: Youth, Skills and Employability, OECD Publishing, Paris.


Nik2[This post originally appeared on Durff’s Blog:]

I was reading a post on Intrepid Classroom’s Ning about character. It occurred to me that character is a summation of who we are. It equals not only the ‘good’ points, but ‘bad’ points. The terms ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are defined across cultures in pretty much the same general way.

Displaying etiquette is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the conduct or procedure required by good breeding or prescribed by authority to be observed in social or official life.” Now I’m not saying I’m Ann Landers or anything. But others who fail repeatedly to display etiquette lack good breeding & education. It is important to treat others with respect.

This is how we should treat our learners – those in our classrooms. We need to model this behavior in our own interactions. When others consistently fail to do so, others cease to listen. For a twitter analogy, they unfollow you.

But how do I address this is the classrooms where I lurk? What is the best way to guide young hearts and minds toward developing character? I’m sure I don’t know the definitive answer. All I know is that I do insist on kindness, courtesy, and a reverence for all humans as better than ourselves. I attempt to provide many opportunities for co learners to practice kindness, courtesy, and reverence throughout the school year.

To this I must add, it is impossible for people of character to work for people who lack character. I do not mean they are characters, like the Laurel and Hardy characters. I mean they are ethical people, not concerned only with themselves, but are consumed by the passion of serving others. I was recently shocked to discover that my housemate works with unethical people while at the same time impressed at how she handled the situation. I know me, I would be screaming, ranting, spouting in German; it would not be pretty. But she displayed why veterans’ services at her university is moving up the military friendly ranks with her at the helm. Just a note that the university she left does not now appear on the military friendly list at all.


but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God 

Critical Literacy for this century in three part harmony

TrioCritical literacy is a way of thinking, not only about text (the traditional view), but a way of thinking about any message conveyed via any medium. Literacy is a “21st Century Skill” that is comprehending meaning and creating meaning using a medium. In this participatory culture of the web, it could be photographs, drawings, animations, podcasts, vidcasts, or live presentations using audio and/or video. Three areas (the harmony, if you will) converge to create understanding of literacy: What you get, what came before, and what you make of it.
Simply put what you get is your immediate, right now understanding of the message, whether it is text, audio, video, macropost, or micropost.
What came before is what you bring to the message, your insights, your knowledge, your connections, what resonates with you. And what you make of it relates to the higher levels of Blooms’ Taxonomy.

A while back, I read Critical Literacy: Enhancing Students’ Comprehension of Text by Maureen McLaughlin and Glenn DeVoogd. The authors state that critical literacy is a way of thinking about text. Since I consider literacy to be about of comprehending and creating in a medium, I would extend their meaning of critical literacy to be a way of thinking about everything. I often tell the learners in my room to question everything. Many are surprised when one of them questions me and is praised! It is simple math, really. There are 19 of them and 1 of me. Now where is the brain power? Yeah, exactly.

One of the techniques for enhancing critical literacy is called “Problem Posing”. Using this method, the learning leader poses questions after learners have experienced the medium. These questions include


  • Who is named in the medium? Who is missing?
  • Which viewpoint is represented? Which viewpoint is ignored?
  • What does the author intend by the piece? What does the author want you to think?
  • What are the alternative views?
  • How could this piece promote freedom from bias?


Using just this one strategy with fiction mediums and nonfiction mediums, we could encourage learners at all levels to think critically. Being able to think critically is the hallmark of freedmen/women. It is sad when our students are afraid to question teachers/professors and then grow into adults afraid to question all authority figures.
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