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Praxis in Practice: CHARMing Assessment

If you didn’t reach this post through the video, you might want to start with my first Challenge video, which leads into this conversation!

Meaningful evaluation of skill mastery is best achieved through  continuous,  harmless assessment of  relevant  mastery.


Testing kids is stupid. It’s not an effective way to truly understand what they know and how they can apply it. Beyond the form factor (multiple choice and fill in the blank responses are silly ways to truly understand a person) and the modality (people who organize information in certain ways will do better on such a test simply for that reason, and therefore discriminates against those who don’t), it’s also a single point of reference that doesn’t provide  meaningful, comprehensive data about growth as well as  mastery. In order to truly assess  skill mastery, we have to constantly assess it in a variety of ways.


Too often we forget that the purpose of assessment is to understand our kids and their skill mastery. Assessment is not about accountability, responsibility, or compliance. None of those things are content area standards, and therefore not only should not but I dare say rationally and ethically cannot be included in any kind of assessment. High-stakes and pressure-oriented tests can in and of themselves be psychoemotionally traumatic to the developing child mind. Additionally, those who manage their information and time differently than other students may be at various stages of skill mastery development at any given time. Imposing a punitive timeline on skill mastery is foolish. Assessment is not an analog to what is too often callously termed “the real world.” This is teaching and learning, not a factory. We don’t fire kids for not doing what other kids do at certain times of the day, week, or year. Behaving that way is harmful to children, and therefore inappropriate in education.


When studying composition with Dana Wilson at Ithaca College in the late 90s, I wrote a duet for Saxophone and Snare Drum called  Kölcsönhatások, the Hungarian word for “interactions” or “interrelations.”  The ways  in which an individual connects ideas, patterns, information, thoughts, and experiences are unique and sometimes unpredictable. Consequently, every individual will create meaning and relevance in the course of learning in an entirely unique way. This means that we cannot assume how our students understand and can apply a concept or skill, nor can we preconceive all of the methods they may use to do so. This has significant ramifications for the scaffolding we provide for the assessment.


The only assessment that matters is skill mastery. Ancillary and unrelated elements like “promptness” ought to be removed from the conversation entirely. This is one of Rick Wormeli’s cornerstones, and one I was slow to adopt but now champion: students must be able to fail, and fail, and fail, without being punished for it. Failures and zeros, points off for lateness and noncompliance, these are all silly distractions from the essential collaborative process of understanding a student and how that student understands and can apply concepts and skills in a relevant, authentic way.  Fans of standards-based assessment will certainly understand this point: Grading homework as late does absolutely nothing to understand a student’s skill mastery, and is therefore not only unnecessary, but I believe is an improper distraction and may go so far as to say is unethical, as it introduces mechanisms of coercion, control, and compliance where they simply do not belong. It is not our job to create a certain kind of person or ensure students behave in a certain, normative kind of way. There are plenty of people in our diverse society, and there are many, many ways of being. We all have successful tardy friends and prompt friends that are kind of a mess, and certainly every  kind in between. We need to stop injecting personal, adult ideas of who students should be into our work with them.


I believe that the only assessments we can give that account for all four of these “CHARM” elements is omnimodal assessment: Allowing any demonstration method or mechanism that works. In  Insurrection: A Teacher Revolution in Defense of Children, I outline that I do understand this involves quite a bit of work for teachers, designing rubrics and assessment scaffolding and framework that allows such a variable and unpredictable intake of skill mastery demonstrations, but I believe the time and effort can be more than offset by not loading the year with “throttle points” of testing dates, as well as eliminating a great deal of the “work” we have kids do. We’re obsessed with productivity in this country, and a productivity mindset – make more, do more, show more – lends itself to lowering quality, deep, significant explorations of ideas and understandings. This is not to say that we don’t want our kids practicing their skills; to the contrary, we do, but we cannot presuppose how much practice any given kid may or may not need to develop mastery, and certainly having a kid beat a dead horse is as useless for that kid as it is for you. Why grade things neither of you need graded?

Instead of a traditional framework of percentages like this…

  • Tests 30%
  • Quizzes 20%
  • Homework 20%
  • Projects 20%
  • Classwork 10%

…consider a revolutionized CHARM-based omnimodal framework like this…

  • Skill Mastery Demonstration 100%
    • Standard 1 20%
    • Standard 2 20%
    • Standard 3 20%
    • Standard 4 20%
    • Standard 5 20%
  • Formative Assessments (Quizzes) 0%
  • Practice (Homework) 0%
  • Classwork & Collaboration 0%

Notice that I’m not saying “don’t use quizzes to check in with your kids  formatively” or “homework has no use as practice.” I’m just saying don’t grade them. Numbers are terrible reflections of the comprehensive understandings of how kids learn and what they know and can do, but if your district or school requires them in the gradebook, so be it. Just don’t count them for anything. Give them a weight of “zero,” and stick to the only thing that matters: skill mastery.

We will evaluate and respond to anything a kid does, but the only things that “count” are their authentic, relevant skill masteries within the standards we are charged to instruct. If we do this, their summative post-tests that the state imposed upon them will take care of themselves.

In omnimodality, we need to create rubrics that are comprehensive enough to take any form of skill mastery  and yet flexible enough so as not to exclude any form of skill mastery. Consequently, instead of talking about the features of a project as we do in many rubrics, instead create a framework around the standards and skills within the intended scope of learning.

Here are two previous videos of mine that might help if you’re struggling   with this idea:

Teach for mastery, and assess for mastery, free of preconceptions about how your students may truly, deeply understand and apply.

Be a Revolutionary Today, as well as Tomorrow

Don’t have the book yet? Get yours now! Visit and snag your copy and join the revolution!

Insurrection is a big book about big change, and that unintentionally intimidates, scares, or dissuades some people from believing my ideas and work translate to immediate classroom application. I owe you explicit elucidation when I say that if you read it through, and get it, you can hit the ground running today with revolutionized ideas.

Let’s take assessment as an example.

We complain a lot about grading, both the amount of grading we have to do and the way we have to report grading. So what does the Insurrection-ist (or the Seditionist if you’re a fan of the videos I do with Rob Furman, or whatever other revolutionary badge of honor you prefer) do to make that better?

Stop grading things that aren’t ready to be graded.

When you give an assignment, it should be designed in a way that, no matter how big or small, your individual students are showing you what they really understand and can do with the unique knowledge and understanding they’ve developed. A multiple-choice quiz doesn’t do that, because it shows no significant comprehension or deep critical thinking about the subject, and show can’t really tell you anything other than a superficial snapshot.

Why bother with superficial fluff? Dump the quiz. Dump the multiple choice test. Throw ‘em out. Don’t waste time with Scantrons and that factory-model nonsense. (It’s literally a machine-grader. How much more industrial can you get?) Instead, offer students a genuine opportunity to show unique, individual skill mastery.

“But wait,” you might be saying, “I use multiple-choice or fill-in-the-blank quizzes and such because they’re quick and easy. I thought you said you were going to lessen my work load?”

Even if you did use that method, just let kids opt out if they’re not ready to demonstrate mastery. We’ve all done this: “Did you do your homework?” “Yeah!” “Did you really?” “Well, no…” “So are you going to do well on the test today?” “Well, no…”

Why bother putting the kid through that, and while we’re at it, why bother grading it? If you both know it’s not a good evaluation, don’t grade it. In fact, by moving to an entirely voluntary, entirely un-coerced “hand it in when it’s ready” system of evaluation, you’ll be stunned by the amount of time you’ll save from having to chug through substandard materials.

What do you do with the kids who aren’t ready to hand anything in yet? Well, there are several options. The instinct of the traditionalist will be to give that kid a zero, because no skill mastery was demonstrated. While this may make strict mathematical sense, for me, I’m more interested in no grade at all: Why penalize a kid when we don’t really know what the situation is yet? There are a few variations on this theme that come to mind for me. One that stood out as I drove here was the idea of saying “these assignments and assessments need to be turned in by the end of this quarter,” and doing that for each quarter. At the end of quarter one, missing assignments go unpenalized: you evaluate what’s handed in, and the grade is calculated exclusively on those grades, with the other assignments being unweighted and unpenalized. At the end of quarter two, that “placeholder” grade becomes a 75%: you have a baseline in your score, but your being “behind” is starting to creep in, as an incentive to ensure that the prerequisite skill mastery items are being addressed. A kid has a lot of latitude here to still get a great grade, but has the flexibility not to freak out about things yet. Next quarter, 50, next quarter 25, and finally at the end, no skill mastery yields no credit.

Personally, I wouldn’t use this system, as I don’t believe in penalizing students for time-based phenomena: The only truly required mastery level benchmarks are, usually, at the End of Course (EOC), or in some jurisdictions or for some classes, at the Semester. For me, I say no penalty for having a brain that procrastinates and does everything at the last minute. That is a legitimate form of time management. There are innumerable articles floating around the literature right now saying that some procrastinators are brilliant, have a ton of skill mastery, and are fully capable in ways their more incremental classmates might not be.

Is it our right, is it our place, to punish certain kind of thinkers? I maintain that it is not, and if you’ve read Insurrection, you know this is one of the center-most themes and core pillars of my revolutionary proposal. (If you haven’t read Insurrection, but you agree that nobody’s thinking style is innately “better” or “worse” than another, you should definitely pick it up and power through to the midway point, where these themes really start to pick up!)

However, while it might not be my personal cup of tea, do I think that a teacher who implements such an incremental system is doing far, far better than those who aren’t?

Yes, I do.

Not only that, but I believe you could (if you were so inclined) cite some significant research to back up your position that there may indeed be justification for building such time management scaffolding into your curriculum and assessment methods, because the vast majority of students regardless of thinking style, aptitude, individual preference, or future plans, will be living in America after they graduate, and in America, there is a case to be made that executive function skills necessary in many segments of our society may benefit from such scaffolding. (See, I can be on your team on this!)

Do I want you to understand the etiology of the socioeconomic and psychosocial structural violence that has coopted our schools for two centuries? Yes, I do. But I also want you to help your individual kids, right now, and Insurrection will equip you not only with future-proof pedagogy, philosophy, and history, but with core principles that you can use right now in your classroom.

I’m going to continue to try to outline these Praxis in Practice skills throughout 2016, as I did in the latter half of 2015, as I genuinely believe that the real revolutionaries are already among us, the teachers “on the ground,” doing the work in our classrooms, for each one of our kids. I believe in you, and I’m here to help.

My Freire Moment Today

“The story emphasizes on the mechanically quantitative comprehension of knowledge, which is absurd. The girl could have asked, ‘Teacher: look how many envelopes of knowledge you have deposited in me today.’ This understanding of the act of teaching – and that’s why he says with humor – that what somebody can learn with Paulo Freire is exactly the opposite of this. I am the antagonic pedagogy. I am the antagonic epistemology. I am the opposite ethic. I am nothing of that because I am the antagonism of that. And I insist, I don’t like discourses. I am not a ‘good boy.’ I try to be a good person, but ‘good boy,’ God forbids. If somebody wants to hurt me, call me ‘good boy.’ I am an educated person, very educated, polite, disciplined, courteous, that I am indeed, and even more, I try to be even more respectful, but ‘good boy?’ For God’s sake, no. So I am antagonistic to all this. I am the contrary, the opposite of all this.”

– Paulo Freire, discussing education with Seymour Papert

Rock on, Paulo. Rock directly on.

Sex and Gender… Re-Unified? Fascinating Take from Lane Silas

My friend Jeannie linked me to a terrific blog post by Lane Silas called “Sex and Gender Are Actually the Same Thing (But Bear With Me…)” What a kick-in-the-pants title! I tore in, fresh off of Julia Serano’s “Excluded: Making  Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive,” so I was fired up from the start, super-excited to engage on this topic.

Here’s a link to Lane’s original post. You really owe it to yourself to read it!

Sex And Gender Are Actually The Same Thing (but bear with me…)

Also, I have to spoiler one of the best paragraphs in the whole thing, because I shouted a more-colorful version of “HECK YEAH!” out loud when I read it:  “It’s almost as if the gender/sex binary was invented by people who then manufactured artificial qualifiers to reinforce it, which then became woven into our study of biology, medicine and psychology. Huh. Weird.” – Lane Silas

“HECK YEAH!” ^_^

That said, I admit that I was initially alarmed at the big “NOPE” on the splash graphic, the Genderbread person, which I like. As a [ insert appropriate descriptor for me here ] person who experiences gender as a continuum, and as a person who has had the fortune to get to know of every rainbow stripe – trans*, genderqueer, nonbinary, etc – I like the disengagement of one element of gender from another, making them independent of (among other things) brutal social categorization.

I was thrilled to have that at least partially debunked with the explicit statement early on in Lane’s piece that this was not an “essentialist rant.” Thank goodness!

My first re-raising of my alarm flag, though, came immediately thereafter: I don’t think that the disengagement of sex and gender as (co)dependent aspects is “pro-trans.” Indeed (here comes a neologism for the ages), that strikes me as transcentric. (O, Irony!) The separation of sex assignment, biology, expression, identification, attraction, and the other elements of the multiple continuua that comprise what we all experience, variously, as gender is an effort to understand the individual. At least insofar as I as a person who cares about gender, sexuality, and sociopolitical empowerment am concerned, I’m not sure I am   on the bus that separating the two reinforces anything static. Indeed, I think discussing all aspects of gender as variables promotes fluidity. I’m a little unsettled   by the idea that fusing them back together into dependent elements would be less static, not more.

I suppose it’s because I already reject, out of hand, the idea of “immutable biological sex” as a fallacy to begin with, which I suppose is the same position that Lane takes. They seem to have a very clear understanding of the sociopolitical power problem created by cis privilege and the nightmare of what Vidal called the “ghettoization” of people into preconception camps, but I still take issue that multiple variables on a continuum could be static. One’s ignorant interpretation of those certainly could be, but isn’t that back to the core problem of cis privilege?

I completely agree that the concept of sex is a societal construct. I get the point being made and it resonates with me and I agree with it. I don’t want to sound contrarian: I really do think Lane is on to something. I mean, one in two thousand births is genitally atypical. Clearly the fact that anybody thinks there are “two and only two” versions of human genitalia shows that society has whitewashed over the complicated and I daresay (to reinforce my point!) continuum nature of all aspects of humanity. There are innumerable variations on human genetics and the expression (pardon the pun) of those genetics, and I take no issue whatsoever with calling the fallacious categorization of any aspect of humanity into “two bins” as “societally constructed.” It certainly is, and Lane is totally right about this, I think self-evidently so.

I also like that they call out “gender identity” as a “nicey nicey” form of invalidation. “I’m a woman” should stand of its own accord, and trying to in any way shade that by saying “you IDENTIFY as a woman” is an insult and an alienating form of verbal violence that has no place.

Lane cites the idea of sex assignment as “unchanging objective fact” as tremendously harmful. I completely agree, again, with this spot-on assessment. But is that not all the more reason why the promotion of fluid thinking as opposed to concrete thinking is preferable? Lane writes, “The concept [of] biological sex reinforces the homophobia and pathologization that are integral to upholding institutional transphobia and transmisogyny.” I could tattoo this on my ribcage it’s so true. It’s why I think the more elements of the human condition we can individualize, within the reasonable scope of using language to describe things as related at all, is important.

So I guess what I’m left with is, if we are going to refer to sex and gender as identical points of language reference, are we not also saying – we must say, yes? – that this is a multi-dimensional fluid continuum?

My  fear is that in fusing these ideas entirely we might   lose the variability, nuance, gradient, interstitial elements of any individual’s identity in the process. I understand the need and the desire here to combat transphobia and transmisogyny, but I’m always oriented to more gray, not less gray. I don’t think Lane is promoting anything binary; to the contrary it’s clear they desire precisely the opposite. I just have to do some serious thinking about the language part. Conceptually, I’m there: We must actively, vehemently combat the damnable and inaccurate social and political constructs around sex that are used as weapons against non-binary people, and must actively eradicate the binary-reinforcing  elements of language, psychology, and society.

I’m so on that bus!

This is a truly inspiring an thought-provoking post that I’m going to have to re-read many times to digest, but one thing is for damn sure: I’ve got a new blog to which to subscribe!

I’m also really looking forward to discussing this further with my trans* and non-binary friends, so if that’s you, hit me up!

From My Cold, Dead Thumbs

Please stop telling me that I am “too connected” to my devices. It is my sovereign right, as a free person, to learn, organize myself, process information, and experience the world as I choose, so long as I do not infringe upon your right to do the same. I have every right to supplement my naturally-lacking memory with a digital device that helps me remember things. I have every right to supplement my naturally-lacking sense of date and time with a digital device that provides this information on-demand. I have every  right to gain instant access to answers and information as I live my life even if you would prefer that I have those answers and that information available off the top of my head. I will live my life, and you may live yours.

I’d also love it if you’d stop telling children the same thing.

Prescriptions for “kids” as a bloc, as if they are all the same, nauseates me. The inherent oppression of categorizing all children as the same is repugnant to my sense of individualism, and is wholly incompatible with any thoughtful form of pedagogy.

Very few of the studies I’ve read on the subject of screen time, as one example, control for two major variables: the individual child’s thinking and learning modalities, and the content of the activity in question. I’ve seen pro and con on both sides published in respectable places, and think we must be very cautious as professional educators – especially those of us in educational technology – in making overgeneralized statements like “too much screen time is bad for kids” or “kids are too reliant on their devices.” In fact, some of the decent studies I’ve read on the subject that do control for content have found significant benefits to kids in the study, but not even that means it’s suddenly okay to say “X is true for all kids.”

There  are few things that are universally anything for all kids. Oxygen is pretty important… we’ve got some good data on that… Food and water, shelter and security, a sense of belonging and inclusion… things like that, we can probably safely generalize, because those are essential aspects of, yanno, living…

But you won’t find “the ability to recall names and dates off the top of one’s head” on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

I’m not “too” reliant on my device. I do rely upon it, though, and I have every right to do so. Why is a child any different? I contend that attitudes that reduce children to lesser people or grant them fewer rights are inherently unloving and therefore anti-child attitudes. I also contend that the suggestion that just because a child is at an earlier developmental stage – intellectually, morally (vis-a-vis Kohlberg), or otherwise, as may be the case – that that child does not have enough knowledge of self to make decisions for self is also inherently misguided and inappropriate. In short, we must not require kids to learn, organize, and live as we do or as we would have them do, but instead must empower them to make decisions for themselves to be their best authentic selves.

Sure, there are basic social norms that our particular society does strongly prefer and expect: Don’t hit people, for example. But our society is not diminished by a kid using a smartphone to look up a date while learning about history. That child is not necessarily damaged or inherently disserviced by doing so. It is not hyperbolic to say that many teachers I know believe they must mandate conformity to an artificial and outmoded social norm of sitting up straight in a desk-chair, looking up, taking notes with a writing implement on paper, and giving other outward appearances of some idea of “paying attention.”

That act may very well be exactly the opposite of what that child needs, and we have a responsibility to respect, empower, and meet the needs of our individual learners.

That starts with not telling people what they should and should not do with their technology. It’s not your place to tell me how to  access, navigate, search for, and organize   information. It’s not our place to tell children how to do so, either.

Without constantly-connected digital technology, I would be largely lost as a person. I would have to re-invent new systems of learning and organizing to overcome such a loss. The idea that this makes me “weak” or “vulnerable” is absurd to me. It seems to presuppose   some kind of apocalypse… “Well, what if your battery dies?” Yeah, I figured out a long time ago I needed spare batteries, and I charge regularly. “Well, what if you forget it?” Then I go back and get it. People forget things sometimes. That’s part of the reason I need my devices. I also got a Tile and can GPS-track my devices if I misplace   them. “Well, what if you can’t find the thing you’re looking for quickly?” Then I need more time. Sometimes people need to give other people a little latitude. These are not reasons to deny me my right to organize my life as I choose. These are just things that happen in life. I could say basically the same thing about other non-digital tools, couldn’t I?

Let’s get over, as thinking people, the idea that everyone has to be the same. Sameness is not intrinsically desirable in the human condition, so I find. (And man, I was a marching band teacher, so trust me; I find some kinds of uniformity, especially artistic, to be valuable, but that doesn’t make me a homogenizing categorizer!)

You do you, and I’ll do me, m’kay?

Teaching and assessment that is fundamentally compromised by a student using a personal electronic device in a way that does not compromise the learning or assessment of others raises my concern level to astronomical heights.

Teaching does not require micromanagement of personal learning behaviors. Indeed, that philosophical and pedagogical shift is at the heart of the Insurrectionist’s individualized teaching.

My devices are mine, as is my use of them, and I’ll thank you to stop telling me I shouldn’t live my life as I choose, ’cause I’m certainly not going to tell you you shouldn’t live yours as you choose!

New Book in the Pipeline

I’m very excited that my second book,  Paperless Research Writing, is in the pipeline! My beloved friend, colleague, and co-author Dawn Moulen and I have been working with editors Diana Russell and Martha J. Axiotis to produce the definitive work on our paperless research paper model. We’ve instructed this model all over the place, and it’s finally time to put pen to paper. Er, ink to printer. Er, no, I mean, pixels to… Well,  you get the idea.

I regularly describe Dawn as “the best teacher I know.” She’s done it all, and I have never met a more consistently passionate, committed, reflective, and brilliant child-centered revolutionary-minded educator. She has been a steadfast compatriot in the battle to do right by every child, a phenomenal colleague when we were at the teacher level together, and has been a great source of   inspiration to me over the years. I’m very lucky to have had her at my side for so long, and I’m excited that we can share our model with the world in this form.

It will, OF COURSE, be available as an eBook. It is about going paperless for the writing process, after all! That said, even recognizing that many “print” resources do, in fact, end up on paper, the process is even valuable for ultimately physical projects, as the amount of paper actually used in the course of writing is zero until the finished product is produced.

We’ve finished editing and layout and anticipate availability very soon. I’ll keep you posted!

On Immigration and America

I’m 3/8 Dutch, 3/8 English, 1/8 Prussian, 1/8 French Canadian.

Great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandpa Thomas emigrated from Southampton, Hampshire, England to Springfield, Massachusetts. His son Thomas II moves from Roxbury, Massachusetts to Southampton, New York, where he was the progenitor of the “Northern” line of the Reeves family in America. In terms of direct blood line, my family was here 150 years before America was America, so I think we get to at least weigh in on the subject of America and immigration. And yanno what? As the family genealogist, I’m gonna go ahead and claim a little seat at the table on the subject of this particular history trip!

Great-great-great-great-great grandpa Jacobus Rima, Sr. emigrated from Rheinland-Pfalz in Prussia (Germany) to Rome, New York at the end of the 18th century, right about the time America was becoming America. He stayed forever, as did his descendants, including me.

Great-great-great grandpa Abram A. Fisher came to Wayne County, New York from Holland right around the turn of the 20th century. Again, the United States opened its arms and doors, and helped found a family that thrives to this day in and around Red Creek and Lyons.

Great-Great-great grandpa Jacob C. Buckler emigrated around the turn of the century as well, also from Holland (or more accurately, Zeeland), settling in East Williamson in Wayne County.

Yet again… without immigration, my family doesn’t exist.

I have nine Revolutionary War compatriots in my direct bloodlines. My family has served in every branch of the armed forces, and in every sphere of public service: education, healthcare, fire fighting, police, sanitation, construction and transportation, and more. It’s true, I’m proud of my people, but the far more important point here is that we are America. From literally a century before there WAS an America, we’ve been a come-together troupe of everyday working-class people who have come from all parts of the greater globe, coming here to try to make a go of it and make things better for their progeny.

And they did. I’m proof of that. As are many of you.

I don’t show my papers.
I don’t prove my whereabouts.
I don’t go through checkpoints.
I don’t have to pledge my allegiance.

And I don’t, because this country doesn’t belong to me, and it sure as hell doesn’t belong to anyone else. It’s all of ours, an ongoing experiment in assembling common cause through a loose coalition of cooperation. It had never been done, a secular, godless constitutional representative democracy. It was kind of a cool idea: Come together, you do you, I’ll do me, and we can totally disagree about everything, but we’ll use reason and logic, dialectic and debate, legislation and jurisprudence, to make our laws together. No divine right of kings. No totalitarian edicts. No papers. No proof of allegiance. No fealty to the crown.

Just plain old freedom, bare and naked and unembellished. Working class liberty.

The next time you consider, even for a moment, saying “yeah, but those [insert a way of labeling people here] are [insert generalization here],” remember that you are that person. You’re them, to someone in power. You’re that group, to someone who doesn’t like your group.

Even leaving aside the staggering white privilege, ethnocentrism, and ignorance of structural violence it takes to say something stupid like “Muslims are more dangerous” or some variation of “brown people are scary,” even the non-ethnic logic of shutting the doors fails, when there are cities anxious for entry-level labor and an influx of stable roots-sinking families into their post-industrial economies. I mean, if you’re gonna make a stand, try holding up a couple of neurons in the process.

Please don’t tell me, “yeah, but this is different.” No, it’s not. Every generation has had to face the things they’ve had to face. Yes, technology has changed. Globalization and telecommunications and even ordinance has changed. Sure has. Yup. And? So what? Nobody is saying “let’s let everybody who wants have a bazooka,” except the NRA, which is an entirely different argument that we should probably frickin’ tackle, but this isn’t about bad people doing bad things. It’s about saying an entire sector of humankind is predisposed to doing bad things, despite the facts saying otherwise. (No matter what nonsense un-facty-non-facts certain pundits want you to gobble up because people seem chronically incapable of independently fact-checking the things they read. I mean, seriously, at least Google this stuff…)

Are there practical concerns? Sure. Am I saying “no order at the border?” No, I’m not. We have refugee, asylum, immigration, and naturalization processes, but those processes do not and should not include police state action to cleanse the incoming of undesirable-ness amid the bigoted fad of the month.

Reasonable security is reasonable to reasonable people.

But it says “give me your huddled masses yearning to breathe free” on the Colossus. It does’t say “the way is shut.”

I hate to rant, but… oh, who am I kidding. No, I don’t.

Racism is racism, ethnocentrism is ethnocentrism, and I’m getting pretty darned tired of some of these fizzled-out non-starters in the news and on social media.

Aren’t you?

Preview: #VSTE15 Conference

I’m gearing up for the Virginia Society for Technology in Education Conference again this year, held this time around at The Hotel Roanoke in Roanoke, Virginia.

I’m especially delighted to be participating in a joint book signing with fellow educational revolutionary (and all ’round stellar dude)   Dr. Rob Furman, whose new book  is  Technology, Reading & Digital Literacy: Strategies to Engage the Reluctant Reader, winner of the  2015 PASCD Outstanding Research and Publication Award. As you might know by now – teehee – my book, Insurrection: A Teacher Revolution in Defense of Children,  is available now from Information Age Publishing.

Rob and I will have copies of our book and will be available to sign them and discuss our work on Sunday, December 6, at 3:15 PM, following our  2:00 session entitled “Relevance in the Revolutionized School: What Really Matters?” (If you missed our first episode on this subject, click here to check it out on YouTube.)

This year, I’m not presenting  nearly as much as I have in years past. (Last year in Virginia Beach I presented, spoke, or facilitated TWELVE TIMES in three days. Are you kidding me? I need  a break!)

Here are my events if you want to catch up with me. Each event links to the corresponding Sched entry, so you can add it to your Sched!

It looks like I OWN the Wilson suite on Tuesday, LOL…

Update:  And yes,  Paperless Research Writing: Effective Digital Scaffolding of Academic Writing using the Moulen-Reeves Model  is out now! Click on “Books” at the top to order!

Shaping up to be an exciting few days in Roanoke. I look forward to seeing you all there!

The Seditionists: Episode 7 (and Bonus Track)

Episode 7 tackles (no pun intended) the physical assault of a student in South Carolina after she refused to volunteer her cell phone and stand up. The brutalization of children at the hands of adults for noncompliance is nearing epidemic proportions.

Rob and Keith are really, really frustrated with the antiquated idea of “compliance” as a desirable and central idea in schools.

Episode 7: Classroom Brutality

If you have not seen the video of Officer Ben Fields assaulting the student in South Carolina, the original student-filmed video is available on YouTube by clicking here. (Warning: the footage is violent and may be disturbing.) According to recent reports, the officer has been terminated for his conduct in this incident.

KDR referenced his book, “Insurrection,” which is available now from Information Age Publishing.

Rob referenced “CPI,” which is the Crisis Prevention Institute, and I referenced Helping Hands, which is actually “Handle With Care,” another training group. These are organizations that work with healthcare providers and educators to safely and non-physically intervene and de-escalate situations, but also include the safe and un-harming restraint of individuals in crisis. If a child has a serious mental health issue, for example, it may be part of being a good “Mama Bear” to put your hands on a child to prevent, for example, self-harm, but there are healthy, loving, non-violent but physically-restraining ways to do this.

As a bonus track, here’s KDR riffing on the stupidity of school rules that presume homogeneity despite the neurobiological reality of student individualism.

As an extra track, I wanted to be sure to address the racist element I cannot help but see every time I turn around.

Bonus Track 1: Patterns, Individualism, and Stupid Rules

KDR references the latest RadioLab episode on Musical Language, available online here.

Bonus Track 2: Racism in the Child Mistreatment Epidemic