Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hello 140edu, It's me, John

If you're reading this, chances are you're participating in #140edu 2011 in New York City. You may even be watching me at this very moment as I stutter through another response as part of a panel moderated by Shelly Terrell on alternative methods to the outdated educational model. So if you're new to my blog, or just new to me - welcome!

Yesterday was opening day of #140edu and it was an experience. I made balsa wood airplanes with Jack Hidary, watched in amazement as Adam Bellow managed to work both the Twitter Fail Whale and the Windows BSOD into his presentation, and was humbled by high school students who had the courage to sit in front of an auditorium filled with educators and explain what is wrong with education. But I had a problem. Every idea sounded great in the context of our happy little conference, but I struggled to see it realistically applied in my own classroom.

I made it a point to try and talk with some of the presenters, and many of them did help me visualize the key points of their talks. It helped to know their background, what they do, and most importantly, who they are.

So if you're watching my panel discussion right now, and you want to know more about me, here is a quick top ten list of random facts about myself. Hopefully they will either supplement my responses in some way, or at the very least give us something to talk about if you see me going for coffee in the schmooze lounge (yesterday I consumed 4 cups before the conference came to a close!).

1. I teach 7th and 8th grade English Language Arts in a semi-rural district near Niagara Falls, NY. I loop with my students so I have the same cohort two years in a row. It's a concept that, in my opinion, every middle school should adopt.

2. I also teach a graduate level course for Medaille College called Information Technology and Literacy. It's inspiring to work with pre-service teachers who are excited about educational technology. Plus, it's always nice to have a captive audience to talk nerdy to.

3. I am co-host for a podcast called The Tightwad Teacher. Past guests have included Shelly Terrell, Richard Byrne, William Chamberlain, and more. I am always looking for people who are invested in educational technology to come on the show and chat. Chances are, if we talk at some point during #140edu or you give me your business card, I'll probably solicit you for an interview at some point in the future!

4. I can play several instruments, including guitar, drums, clarinet, piano, and saxophone, but I really want to learn to play the accordion. Why, you ask? My wife asked me the same question and because I couldn't come up with a good enough answer, our house is still without the melodious sounds of a squeezebox.

5. I am a big advocate of open source software. We are living in a collaborative society, so it's amazing to me that we don't embrace the product of collaboration more readily. I'm also a fan of Linux, and if you're not sure what this is, I encourage you to read my post How to Try Ubuntu Linux for Teachers.

6. I have my masters degree from Buffalo State College in Educational Computing and I am currently enrolled at Niagara University earning a degree in Educational Leadership. I like the idea of becoming an administrator some day so that I can make a difference on a larger scale (although this won't be for another few years - I'm not quite ready to join the dark side yet).

7. I love typewriters. In fact, I have this crazy hypothesis that using typewriters in school could actually improve student writing. Read about it here. I have about 15 working typewriters right now. I just need a few more and then I can create a very noisy typewriter lab for my students.

8. I'm a big fan of punk rock. In fact, I kind of pride myself on having poor taste in music. The louder and sloppier, the better. I have two kinds of music on myiPod - the stuff I'll play when someone else is in the car with me, and stuff reserved exclusively as solitary listening material. I've played in punk bands since I was 15 (just think how cool a Sex Pistols or Ramones song would be if it were played on an accordion!).

9. My wonderful wife bought me an iPad for our fifth wedding anniversary. It's inscribed with a line from my favorite 80s movie of all time. Want to know what it is? Come find me at the conference and I'll show you.

10. I'm extremely proud of my students and what happens in my classroom. I love to share it with anyone who will listen, and I love hearing about the excellent work you do as well. Let's talk education!

So that's me. Hello.

I would love to know more about you too. Come say hi after the panel discussion, or leave me a not in the comments.

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4 Responses:

Jenn said...

I stumbled upon your blog today and was reading about your desire to have students use typewriters in the classroom. I know a teacher in Phoenix, AZ who has been doing the same thing for a couple of years now with a huge amount of success. You should definitely talk to him about how to do this. I believe his blog is He could probably give you some good pointers.

Adam Cross said...

Great job as part of the panel at 140edu. After reading your bio I was in the mood for some Punk-Accordion fusion. This is what I found:

Unless you are also passionate about the polka I suggest going with a much cooler instrument like the electric ukulele, or as the hipsters say "elecuke".

John said...

@Jenn, Ryan Adney already sniffed out my blog and made contact with me! In fact, he is an upcoming guest on my podcast, The Tightwad Teacher (!

Thanks for visiting, and if you know Ryan, tell him I said hello!

us vpn said...

This is really a great idea, thank you very much for sharing.