Thursday, March 27, 2014

Let's Get RE@L with Our Mobile Apps for Learning!

The times are a-changing in K12 learning, and faster than ever before. More is being asked of our teachers and students, and there's less time in which to do it.

Do what?

Take K12 teaching to the next level so that it better addresses the needs of each of our learners.

Create better learning tools so that each student has both the motivation and the resources to better learn what's needed.

Step right up, folks! There's a new leader in land of learning tools. A RE@L leader!

RE@L is a highly-experienced team of educators and developers with a proven track record developing game-changing educational technology products. This is the team who brought us the classic Oregon Trail, the most played learning game of all time. They're a team of state-of-the-art experts in app development, digital marketing and gaming. In 3 words they are a team that provides "Innovation with Experience".

Why is this important to educators? Why is RE@L worth following on Facebook and other social media? In short, RE@L is a learning game changer in K12 teaching and learning.

RE@L provides a useful array of tools that address different teaching and learning needs, from basic skills reinforcement, to STEM-based project based learning on real world topics like the importance of Water Quality, to their latest mobile app "Babysitting®" which helps kids build their own quality babysitting business, to exciting new simulation game-based products in their pipeline which will take team-based learning to the next level. Here are their current mobile apps and the RE@L beginning of what's to come:

These products are now all available from our: RE@L Website . Click to see more.

Stay tuned to this blog. There's more to come! More to help you and your students find new, exciting  learning tools that address standards and bring more fun and games into your classroom where RE@L learning happens.

If you have any questions, comments, input....please take a moment and pass them on to me below. 

Dr. Tom King 
RE@L World Blogger
Email me:

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

High Flight

John  Gillespie Magee, Jr

"Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, --and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of --Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air...
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew --
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God."

Friday, May 3, 2013

On MOOCs and Mastery

Savoir-Faire Is Everywhere!

Savoir-Faire in Search of the Cheese

There was a TV cartoon mouse character from the distant 60's who, in pursuit of the cheese, would say, "Savoir-faire is everywhere." And he was. He had the know-how, or the savoir-faire, to steal those delicious cheesy lumps right from underneath the nose of the cat.

Now, learning isn't cheese. But it is something desired and pursued by many. It can be found in many places too. Not in traps, although some of our students think of it that way. Still, it takes know-how to find it and even more effort to make the knowledge your own.

We are told that Abe Lincoln, as a lad in the 1830's, found an education in the many books he read by the light of the fireplace. His mother, Nancy Lincoln, urged him to read, and she was there to help with difficult words and passages.

Socrates had such a teacher's touch that he could elicit knowledge from the brains of his students by just asking the right questions. He believed all knowledge was innate, and it only took the right questions to free it. Even if that were true, and I doubt it, not many instructors have the gift of Socrates. 

When Edison invented talking movies back in the early 1900's, he opined that films would soon put most teachers out of work. The same was expected of TV in its early days. It never happened. I remember "The Continental Classroom" on public TV back in the early 60's. It helped Sputnik-era math and science teachers improve our skills. But those TV lessons had to be followed up by onsite classes at a nearby campus where we could get answers to our many unanswered questions.

100 years, post Edison, with all its promises to revolutionize education for the better,multimedia has never fully delivered what many promised. Neither did the ancient scrolls in Aristotle's time, nor the books that fill the libraries of the world. Reading them wasn't enough. We had to connect ideas, extrapolate, explain, apply, recreate in order to make the knowledge of others our own.

The latest proposal is MOOC's (Massive Open Online Courses) which open the televised lectures of thousands of fine teachers everywhere to the public to view anywhere. It does provide an opportunity for forums of questions and some answer, but far from the personal and often helpful connections students find in a typical classroom.

I don't know about you, but had I not the help and interaction of other learners in the courses I took, I doubt I would have learned it as well as I did. The more abstruse the content, the more necessary the access to a community of learners to ask, share, puzzle, solve and resolve. 

So, how well will these MOOC's work for learners today? It first begs the question of one's motivation to learn. Without wanting to learn, you can proceed to not learn from any source. We have many K12 learners today for whom this is a serious issue.

How do we connect and enable all those who will need help organizing, understanding, asking, solving, and showing that they know? Texting is about as much help as Twitter. Videochats show promise, but you need to find a suitable study-buddy. Helplines could help, but could be costly. Retired teachers could assist if we can find a way to share their expertise.

One thing is clear: we need far more know-how to know how.

So what's your savoir-faire that can help more learners learn more?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

My Response to Opinion Column from:
The New York Times:
"The Kids Are (Not) All Right"
Published: April 17, 2013

Sunday, April 14, 2013

In Search of Commonsense: It's Far Less Common than It Once Was...

Having recently celebrated my Golden Anniversary as a teacher/educator in K12 and Higher-Ed, I find myself more puzzled than ever. You'd think experience and training would reduce my puzzlement, but for me, it's only added to the growing list of my unanswered questions.

Lately, I find myself a Popeye (if needed, you youngsters out there can Google it), wondering what to do about the blustering Blutos and irresponsibile Wimpys of the K12 world who still don't get it. 

The Man of Spinach was fond of saying when he had been forced to his limits, "That's alls I can take! I can't stands it no more!" I can't either. 

There is no free lunch, folks You have to earn it. If you want a hamburger tomorrow, you'd better work today.

Likewise, if we want skills we can use tomorrow, we need to learn them today. We are, each of us, responsible for earning our own education. 

I found this inspiring and insightful video courtesy of my Twitter colleagues this morning. Watch it. It's what we want our learners to be able to do instead of taking more standardized adieus about nothing.

If you can teach, you truly know it. No standardized test, no test, period, can ever show what learners know, better than the learners actually showing what they know. Listening helps a learner and so does watching. But nothing beats doing. When you do, you understand. Show us what you know.

Let's be clear: It's not about more testing of non-standard learners. It's not about trying to make students more standard by using useless bits from tests that are standardized. We are all different. Our needs are different. So are our goals.

Lack of learning is not the fault of parents, although they can help. It is not the fault of teachers, but they can assist us too. We all need to work today for what we want tomorrow.

The responsibility to learn falls first in the hands of the learners. Each and everyone of them needs to create, own, follow and report on their own personal learning plan. They need to tell us what they know (who knows better than they do?), what they don't know (repeat the last question) and what help they need to master their learning goals.

Mark Twain said, "Commonsense isn't near as common as most folks think." We've been looking in all the wrong places. If you want commonsense, or even uncommon sense tomorrow, you've got to start working on it today.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Want Kids to Learn? Put Them in Charge - Well, Almost!

Want to know a secret?

Something that will have more kids learning more?

Something you can have your students do that takes only a few minutes a day.

It's so simple you won't believe it. And if you pay it forward, it could change the K12 world for the better in an iFlash! It's called iLearner. Short for I'm the Learner. I'm the one in charge. I'm the only one who can make my learning happen.

It's the answer to the question: Who's responsible for my learning?

The answer is, altogether now, "I am!"

Riddle me this? Why have we left the most important part of learning out of the learning equation? The answer is at the bottom of this rant.

Back in the early 21st century someone thought that quality in K12 education was like quality in producing widgets. It was all part of what was called the Total Quality Movement or TQM. The thinking behind the production of excellent widgets was to standardize them. It makes sense.

But I have a revelation for the millions of us pursuing TQM in our schools today: our students aren't standardized. They are all different. Their needs are different.Their desire to learn is different. The resources they need to learn differ. Their goals in life are different. Their talents are different and so are their limitations.

But we treat them as if they must all be the same. They must know the same things and meet the same standards. Everyone needs to be above average, regardless of talents. Way back in my teacher-prep days...OK, it was way back in 1958, our education Prof put this clarifying piece of satire in our hands: "Animal School." Read the link below.

In a nutshell we each can't do all. Nor can we each meet all the same standards at the same level. Nor should we.

So why do our teachers have to give up so much learning delivery time to standardized testing? The answer, I believe, is that our educational leaders have been sold a promise in a poke. The promise, incidentally, is worth millions to test-makers and investors and politicians and educators in chief who support this nonsense. The promise is that testing will help make all learners learn all equally well.

That promise is patently false and anyone worth his or her educational salt knows it.

Here's a promise that is patently true: Put learners more in charge of their own learning and their learning will (almost always) improve. I added the parenthetical caveat because nothing is perfect, no matter how good it is. I call it iLearner.

Require each learner, with the help of parent, advisor, mentor, teacher, create a Personal Learning Plan and Portfolio. Keep it terse and pithy. The basics: What do I need to know; what resources and help do I need to learn it; here's my plan to show you that I know. Visit the plan daily with a member of your team and update your progress. When ready, show by a test or a project that you really do know.

If someone wants to make an app out of this million learners idea, share the profits with the schools.

PS: The rant answer is that we have left the learner out of the learning equation because we missed a simpler, less costly answer: Make each child the key part of the teaching/learning team.

PPS:  "Animal School"-- by George Reavis, originally published in 1940's. Will we ever learn?

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Educated Man (And Woman)

56 years ago I was a sophomore at the College of St. Thomas. Msgr. James P. Shannon was President and frequently held convocations that dealt with topics important both inside and outside the classroom.

One that I will never forget was titled "The Tradition of Respectful Argument." As you listen to the upcoming debates along politicians, or read current political articles by many axe-grinding journalists, you will find far more disrespectful argument.

Like most ad hominem, personalized attacks, all these diatribes do is cause further diatribe.

Read Shannon's piece below and reflect on it. Pass it on if you find it worthwhile. I did. That's why I saved it all these years. As it yellows, it still holds its truths.