Friday, December 16, 2011

The Technological Influence on Population Growth Trends

After my last post 7 Billion: How Did We Get So Big So Fast?, I heard from Elaine Hirsch. She has been working on a paper about technological influences on population growth. Voila, a guest post from Elaine Hirsch Elaine gives us an academic look at technology and population growth.

The greatest single factor in the history of human population growth has been developments in technology and the associated social changes arising from it. From the first development of tools to the development of agriculture and the later rise of industry, technology has expanded the resources available for the support of large populations. A commonly-topic covered in PHD programs in economics or sociology, many academics have been looking at how the current technological landscape will affect population growth. However, the current era demonstrates how technology can also provide social influences that can reduce the rate of population growth.

The first important fact to consider is that
technological growth helps drive population which itself helps drive technological progress. This is due to the ability of technological improvements to increase the agricultural productivity of both individuals and societies, and thus allowed for a boom in available resources which provided sustenance for a larger population. Furthermore, efficiencies in agriculture allowed people to pursue other trades in academics and philosophy which helped set the foundation for many more innovations to come.

The first major era of population growth came with the rise of tool making. These were extremely simple tools, allowing the use of fire, sharpened weapons and the use of wood as a tool material. The earliest shaped stone axes may have been developed over 1.8 million years ago, by Homo Erectus. Spears made it easier to fend and hunt wild animals, while fire provided light, heat, and more importantly, the ability to cook and preserve food. This allowed early groups to
support larger populations, albeit still nomadic ones.

The development of agriculture and the subsequent rise of sedentary populations resulted in the
next surge of population growth. With the development of urbanization, agriculture allowed for the rise of specialized classes, such as scribes and metalworkers that earlier societies were not able to support. This allowed for increased population growth and reduced the average death rate. With the rise of larger urban and semi urban populations, the birth rate increased in addition to an increased average lifespan.

The rise of industry, such as mass production and mass transit systems was embodied by the invention of the train and railroad. These transformations vastly increased the reach of urbanization, the value of specialization, and the freedom to support non-agricultural workers. It was in this period that the greatest increase in human population growth occurred. In more advanced nations, the trend had also been
shifting towards urbanized, as opposed to rural and pastoral populations.

The long-term trend as we transition from the industrial age to the information age today has manifested a reversal of traditional trends of increasing population growth. In nations such as Japan and Germany, non-immigration related population growth is actually entering negative territory. Thus, technological and social change is now having a retarding effect on population growth, especially in the developed world.

The rise and fall of population growth rates is inextricably tied with technological developments. As they drive both the economy and society, transformations in technology will continue to have a central impact on population growth. The challenge for the future will be to accommodate for an increasing (albeit at a slower rate) population but more importantly devising a way to take care of an overall aging global population.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

7 Billion: How Did We Get So Big So Fast?

I first saw the 7 Billion video as a post from Phil Wagner on google+. Do you have concerns about the population on our planet? Most of us do. This video will give you a picture of where population growth is taking place. It was just over two centuries ago that the global population was 1 billion - in 1804. I think you will find this youtube video very interesting.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Teaching with Technology: Innovative Instruction or Wasting Time?

Here is another technology guest post. This one comes from Elaine Hirsch – .
When you think about the term "educational technology," you probably think about computer labs and digital presentations. You probably don't think of simple things like pens and overhead projectors, and you may not think about tablet computers and social media. However, all of these things are educational technologies. This range of examples illustrates that educational technology is a changing field that will continue to alter both what and how students learn. However, whether in elementary school or PHD online, only when used in conjunction with appropriate teaching methods can educational technology really make education more effective.

Educational Technology Then and Now

While "educational technology" may be a rather new term, teachers have always used technology, and that technology has always affected what and how students learn. Before mass-produced writing tools were widely available, students learned the techniques involved with writing using quill and ink. Next, they learned to use pens and pencils when writing by hand. Since the advent and spread of the typewriter, we have had typing classes. Film projectors, overheads, computers, iPads, and calculators are also all examples of educational technology. As new technologies are created, what educational technology is in particular will continue to change.

However, today's use of classroom technology is significantly different from educational technology in the past in one key way: today's educational technology is more social than ever before, and indeed this is proving to be a point of controversy. When teachers integrate technologies like Facebook, blogs, YouTube and text messaging into their classrooms, parents and administrators wonder how instructors could be using these technologies to do any real teaching. Aren't teachers just allowing kids to waist time?
Administrators and parents often go to great lengths to ensure "time-wasting" sites like Facebook are blocked within school networks and make sure cell phones stay off during the school day. Restrictions like these are much to the chagrin of teachers who insist students are actually learning using these technologies.

Resolving the Controversy

The solution to this controversy, surprisingly, comes from looking not at what technologies teachers use but at how they use them. If technology is used appropriately, it can greatly enhance learning. In fact, the learning needed to succeed in the 21st century working world isn't possible without educational technology. If students don't learn how to use computers and even social networking sites effectively, they won't be able to communicate with coworkers and bosses or do research when they enter the real world.
Further, with so many of today's students being exposed to technology at home long before they come to school, learning via technologies such as video games, blogs, and online activities can help students better understand concepts and become more engaged in what they learn. In fact, Facebook can be successfully integrated into the classroom in a number of ways that would engage at-risk students as well as better facilitate most other students' learning as well.

However, teachers also cannot teach effectively when they use technology for technology's own sake. Instead, they must harness the power of technology to present information in a useful and education-centered way. Allowing students to text, play on Facebook, or blog during class is obviously pretty pointless unless students are doing it in conjunction with a lesson. For example, English teachers could have students compose text messages as part of a grammar lesson, showing students how texting grammar works in the context of a text message but not an academic paper. Lessons like this can be hugely effective. Simply turning a blind eye while students text their friends is not.

Whether they are using computer labs or Facebook, teachers need to embrace educational technology to be effective, but they must embrace it in the context of good pedagogy. Technology without substance is just as ineffective a teaching tool as substance without technology is to this digitally native generation.
Let’s hear from you. Innovative Instruction or Wasting Time?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Great American Teach-Off

GOOD is hosting the Great American Teach-Off.
Ten inspiring teachers are competing for one $10,000 CLASSROOM GRANT and it's up to you to decide who will win! From October 3 through October 30, we'll upload a new video every Monday at 9AM (PST) from the finalists. Come back here each week to watch teachers responding to questions about education, then vote for your favorite educator to advance.
Yes, I do have a favorite but the most importantly we need your vote.
My favorite:
Pernille Ripp
Grade 5 at West Middleton Elementary School, Middleton, WI
Pernille Ripp is a fifth grade teacher in Middleton, Wisconsin. Passionate about having students find their voice, she gets to have the best job in the world. She blogs fervently about education at
Help Pernille win $10,000 for her school and classroom! Vote today and each day until Oct. 30, 2011

"The world we have created is a product of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking."
-Albert Einstein
"If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn."
-Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Estrada

Saturday, September 3, 2011


My last post was on relationships trumping data. I was not saying to forget data because it is a tool that successful teachers learn how and when to use. I was saying that relationships are more important to student learning than data. I now have a wonderful example of what I was trying to convey. Mrs. Ripp is one dynamic fifth grade teacher in Madison Wis. She knows that to maximizing student learning she must connect with her students and build personal relationships. Look at the activity she has for her students on the first day of school. Do you think these kids will be jumping out of bed on day two just to see what will be happening at school? Wouldn’t you love to be in this classroom? What relationship building activities have or did you plan for the first week of school? Wishing all teachers and students an exciting, engaging year of learning!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Relationships Trump Data

Those of us growing up in the card-playing era of Bridge and Pinochle really understand the value of trump cards. These cards rule in other words they have the most value. To be successful at these cards games you must not only having trump cards but also knowing how to play them. I see the same connection with the ingredients that make for successful students learning in our classrooms. Most of us as parents and educators would agree that planning, curriculum, data, organization, and relationships are essential elements successful teachers use to assist students with their learning. As an educator, my mantra over the years has been that to maximize our effectiveness as teachers we must make connections and build relationships with our students. As a principal, my charge to teachers was to have their students tightly bonded as a family unit by the end of the first three weeks of school. It is so affirming when one’s belief is validated by others and especially in this day and age of research based demands. Valerie Strauss of the Washington Post offers a new report from the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago giving key findings on the value of relationships in school. Others in education feel the same. Salman Khan on the Forbes Names You Need to Know: Khan Academy video has this quote, “Internet-based video lessons are great to help ….., but it takes a relationship with a real teacher to educate deeply.” This is why I believe the relationships you build with your students to be the number one factor in their successful learning while in your classroom. I observe most schools today living in a data driven mode. What do you think will promote the following: a warm, supportive classroom climate; students taking responsibility for their own learning; an environment where students feel safe, take risks, and make mistakes; a place where play in valued; honesty and openness is observed between students and teacher; and most importantly students that are happy and enjoy coming to school; data or relationships? The answer comes to me loud and clear: RELATIONSHIPS!

How would you rate relationships on your value scale? I look forward to your comments.

To help with building relationships @tombarrett offers this google doc: “20 Interesting Ways to Get to Know Your New Class”.
PS: As I am finishing this post on relationships, what should appear in my google reader? Mrs. Ripp aka @4thGrdTeach posting this: “Kids Shouldn’t Feel Like Tourists: How Every Classroom Should Be a Tribe”. This feels, smells, and taste like relationships to me. What is your take?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Summer Fun and Technology

Kevin Jarrett is a dynamo technology teacher in Northfield, NJ. He loves kids and technology. This is a perfect combo for connecting with his students. Knowing that learning doesn’t stop at the classroom door or when summer vacation comes along, Kevin is busy creating a fabulous site for kids to use during the summer. Here is the title of his recent post: Summer’s here. You’ve got plans. Amplify the fun with technology! He is creating a place to share FREE technology tools so that kids and their families can use the technology they have to create wonderful digital memories of the Summer of 2011. What an awesome idea. Don’t you just love teachers with passion!
Check out the summer tech fun at: and then share it with your family. The first post is coming soon and he guarantees it to be a hit!
Photo Flickr - Creative Commons

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Your Birthday Can = Clean Water For Someone

When I first came across Nathan Hidajat and the plans he had for his eighth birthday, I was touched by this young boy’s desire and commitment to help others obtain clean water.
Nathan Hidajat, a second grader at St. Cecilia School in Iowa, has something different planned for his recent eighth birthday. He is dedicating his birthday to a campaign to raise money to get people clean water. His goal of $1000 is to help 50 people have clean water for the next 20 years. Instead of a party or gifts, he is asking for donations to the cause.
I was moved but did not make a contribution at the time thinking I will come back later to make my donation. Before getting back to Nathan’s web site, I am checking my google reader and find this from Digital Literacy Resource/e-Learning Today TV via Tips, Tools and Technology for Educators.

Nathan Hidajat Charity
· Little boy who is dedicating his birthday to a campaign to raise money to get people clean water. His goal of $1000 is to help 50 people have clean water for the next 20 years. Instead of a party or gifts, he is asking for donations to the cause.
· Donors will see their name on the Donors page of the website that Nathan’s parents helped him make. They will also receive a signed picture from Nathan, mailed using stamps from his own savings.
· In his plan, he states that for every $100 of his goal reached, he will play the piano, another passion along with drawing, at the retirement home in his area.
· This is a great example of how a little bit can go a long way. This young child is already passing on his generosity and kindness to the people around him. More acts like this in the world will hopefully make a lot more people more generous too!
Through exploring e-Learning Today TV, I come across what I think is the source of the inspiration for Nathan Hidajat’s birthday charity project. It is Charity:Water and Scott Harrison. This is a must view video from Omaha of Scott giving history of Charity:Water.

Scott Harrison - charity: water from Big Omaha on Vimeo.

Friday, April 15, 2011

10 Pictures of Longs Creek Elemenatry School

I followed the five easy steps suggested by Cale Birk, principal of South Kamloops Secondary School BC Canada, as he called for educators to post 10 pictures of our school. This sharing will give us an idea of what learning environments look like. Here are my pictures of Longs Creek Elementary, a K-5 school, in San Antonio, Texas.

The front view of the Longs Creek

The view as you enter the school The commons area
The first grade hallway

A Flat Stanley project bulletin board

4th Grade "Got Milk" writing project

3rd grade brochure project

The Library

2nd grade Leaping Into Books project board

2nd grade work displayed

I found it difficult to limit my picture selection to ten pictures. In keeping with the request, I reluctantly followed the directions. As visitors come and go at our school, the most often heard comment is, “This feels like a happy school”. I cherish that observation. Schools should be happy places. It should be a vibrant place where students are living, loving, and learning. Remember children are little people. They deserve the same respect and attention that is given to adults. Thanks for viewing the Longs Creek picture tour.

How do you feel after the tour? Will you be next to share a 10 picture tour of your school?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

ISTE11 Newbie Project

Beth Still, a passionate educator, from Scottsbluff Nebraska started the ISTE Newbie Project in 2009. She started the project to show the value and power of a Personal Learning Network (PLN). Each year for the Newbie project, Beth finds someone that has not attended an ISTE conference and organizes a fund-raising campaign to raise money to help that person attend the conference. Look at the first two selections she made: Richard Byrne and Jason Schrage. You can see she has a great eye for educators that are making a difference with kids! Richard and Jason are both social studies teachers. They are making a difference not only with kids, but they are also making significant contributions to educators’ worldwide.

This year Beth has chosen George Couros, a principal from Stony Plain, Alberta Canada. Here is what she has to say about this year’s selection:
I had a feeling I would face some tough questions about why I selected an administrator to be the Newbie for 2011 and my personal learning network did not let me down. Over the past 5 months quite a few people have asked me to defend my choice. Since this project would not be possible without your financial support I am more than happy to explain my reasoning. I cannot emphasize enough that I really believe in George and his ability to have a positive impact on education. He is a role model for both teachers and administrators. He is passionate about sharing, learning, teaching, and communicating and I believe he deserves the opportunity to attend ISTE. If you believe in either this project or in George Couros please click here to make a donation to help send him to Philadelphia this summer.
The magic equations to make this year’s Newbie project successful:

A Small Donation From All = The Project Goal

Add your support to the Newbie project by making a comment.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

My Tech Teacher Was A Fifth Grader

Mather cafe plus computer usersphoto © 2007 faceless b more info (via: Wylio)

I have read it on twitter and seen it in many blogs: Let’s let the students take the lead with teaching some of the Web 2.0 tools. It recently happened in a large suburban San Antonio, Texas school district, North East ISD. Each semester the district sponsors a Saturday staff development day called Super Saturday. The technology session included the GT class of Mrs. Kimberly Ball from Wetmore Elementary School. These fifth graders were very excited about having the opportunity to present to teachers. They were so pumped in fact that they spent hours on their own time during the weekends creating a web site titled “Teachers Come to Learn”. The Saturday before the Super Saturday presentation, the fifth graders held a class for the teachers of Wetmore. According to their principal, Wilbert Morgan, the Wetmore teachers increased their knowledge of web 2.0 tools and enjoyed being taught by their own students. This was an excellent ice breaker for the students and they were now prepared for the twenty NEISD teachers that had signed up for the Web 2.0 technology class that include: Animoto, Voicethread, and Weebly. During the Web 2.0 class, with coaching and assistance from the fifth grade students, teachers logged on and created their own accounts for Animoto, Voicethread, and Weebly. During the class the teachers also created a short animoto video and voicethread. They also received instruction on setting up blogs for their students on Weebly. This was a terrific day for the Wetmore GT class and they can be very proud of the quality presentation given to the NEISD teachers. This was certainly a win-win for students and teachers.
A short video from class

What are your experiences of students teaching a tech class for teachers? I would enjoy hearing from you.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Reform Symposuim January 8, 2011

I attended the July Reform Symposium 2010 and could not have been more pleased with the weeklong presentations. I expect the same from the one-day conference on Saturday January 8, 2011. Mark you calendars and don’t miss this educational experience. The following outstanding educators have planned this free conference just for you: Shelly Terrell, Chris Rogers, Kelly Tenkely, Greta Sandler, Lisa Dabbs, and Melissa Tran.

This worldwide education conference will take place on January 8 (and 9th depending on your location), 2011. The conference is free to attend from the comfort of your home or anywhere you have Internet access! The Reform Symposium offers the opportunity to connect and learn with educators and professionals in the field of education worldwide. Over 2,400 educators from 59 countries attended our last conference in July! This year the conference will focus on interactive presentations that help teachers with creating engaging classrooms and lessons, building relationships with students, improving literacy, working with interactive whiteboards, and much more! We look forward to 2 keynote speakers, 18 presentations, an open discussion on classroom management, a panel discussion on parental engagement, a mentor program, and an open lab for hands-on support in helping you continue your professional development in online educator communities. You have never attended a conference quite like this one! Join us by registering below for the conference and start connecting and participating now! View the linked video for help.

Home « The Reform Symposium

Check out these videos for a sampling of the presentations:

Joan Young

Pernille Ripp

Kyle Pace

Let’s get ready for a fabulous day of learning and sharing. I’ll see you on Elluminate Saturday January 8, 2011. Share this exciting news with those in your PLN.