Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Not-So-Harmless Cannabis Story

How many times have you heard something like this: "Smoking a joint is just a harmless way to relax, a bit like having a martini"? Mostly I hear this from young adults and teenagers. It is critical that we (parents and teachers) give our teens correct information about drug use, especially when its use has graduated into harmless banality. It's a fact; my students really don't believe that smoking a joint is bad for them. Here's what I hear them say: 1- it's better than smoking a cigarette, 2- it's the same as having a martini or a glass of wine, 3- it has no adverse effects on the brain, and finally, 4- my parents smoked and they're OK! The point of this post is not to prepare a full frontal attack on the debate surrounding marijuana use but simply to pass on the latest information out of McGill University. (Points 1 and 4 should be the subject of a future separate post.)

From Science Daily, I learned that young Canadians (among the highest cannabis users world-wide) are courting mood and other emotional disorders because of daily marijuana consumption. Teens report using marijuana to deal with stress and anxiety except that the very substance they use to self-medicate is creating another problem; depression. A study done by Dr. Gobbi and published in the Neurobiology of Disease showed that" daily consumption of cannabis in teens can cause depression and anxiety, and have an irreversible long-term effect on the brain." It seems that the serotonin and norepinephrine levels are depressed in regular marijuana smokers. These two neurotransmitters are partly responsible for stabilizing moods and in the case of serotonin, lifting our moods. In other words, smoking a joint might help them feel relaxed but it is actually depressing them by altering important levels of neurotransmitters responsible for well being. (When my students in psychology study the brain, I make sure that they know how to self-regulate serotonin levels in natural ways such as exercise.)
The same study also reported that the teenage brain (still maturing until the early twenties)is more suspectible to damage from cannabis than the adult brain.

Both of these results are important information to relay to our children and students. Depression and anxiety is a serious issue for teens. These years can be difficult ones, even for the most well adjusted teenager. When I think of students who have learning difficulties, who are excluded from the 'popular' groups, who are coping with their parents' marital stress, who are trying to find their own path in life AND get the grades, I am reminded of my 'raison d’être' as a teacher: help them find their own inner resources to get through the challenging times in life.
I don't think that sharing this recent information with any of my students who have already adopted the habit of regular marijuana smoking will make any significant immediate difference. But I do think that it's part of my very important duty to make sure they hear it from me, often, clearly and honestly. I'd encourage my readers to read the study for themselves and teach the teens in their lives the 'real dope' about their beloved not-so-harmless drug.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Best Time to Learn

The prospect of two weeks off invariably has me making lists; friends to call, books to read, papers to correct and courses to plan for the new year. Somewhere in the midst of the very long 'to do' list, I indulge in my favorite activity - learning. Yesterday I discovered David Jakes. He is an educator/recent administrator of many years who recently presented at the NYSCATE conference along with Sir Ken Robinson and Chris Lehmann. I spent an entire afternoon reading his recent blog posts and listening to his keynote address at the conference. I appreciate his clear thinking and the way he reframes the urgent questions in education. David Jakes goes beyond the 'web 2.0 hype' and asks the question, "What does it mean to be well educated in the 21st century?" His presentation reviews what we already know about the virtual world and some other relatively new phenomena such as augmented reality and how that will impact teaching and learning.
His presentation slides are available here and you can listen to his keynote address here (as well as Sir Ken Robinson's musings about creativity and schools).

Monday, December 21, 2009

Why I don't watch 'teacher movies'

I did something out of character last week and in a moment of weakness, probably encouraged by the imminent approach of the holiday break, showed a movie in class that was not directly related to course content. (I'm not a grouch; I just never have enough time to cover content!) One student brought in the agreed upon movie: Freedom Writers with Hilary Swank. As they munched on popcorn and emoted for all the right scenes, I fumed, figeted and couldn't help from commenting all the way through. It couldn't be helped; it is impossible for me to watch these Hollywood renditions teacher-hero who saves the day. I hope I didn't ruin their viewing experience.

What is wrong with these movies? You know the ones; there is a long list and some incomparable actors on that list with the likes of Sidney Poitier. I'm going to risk an unfair generalization here while I try to express my frustration with these teacher-hero movies: they are simply too simple. The script that makes the teacher the unsung and misunderstood hero who turns the social tide of cultural, economic and spiritual decay away from the patethetically corrupted adolescents is too much for me to bear. Its partial truth doesn't redeem it either.

I have taught in schools where my life had been threatened. I have lived with fear in my guts when I walked down a corridor because the kid I just had expelled would have his possee take out their frustrations on my son in another school. I have worked in a school where my students drank bleach in a suicide attempt because no one believed what they said about their abusive step father. No need to go on. Many of us have been there. In my second year of teaching, I realized that my students didn't need me; they needed parents who loved them, police to protect them, social workers to advocate for them; but me? No, not me. What I wanted to give them didn't fit into any curriculum. It was almost too much. I almost left the profession; but happily I didn't.

I don't watch 'those teacher movies' because they distort complex solutions to incredibly difficult problems with one swipe of the Hollywood brush. We love the hero-underdog teacher. We hate the teacher-principle who is wooden, closed and reactionary. It's so stock, so predictable and so unfair to paint teachers in this way.

A teacher's heart is like a sponge; you don't see what she/he absorbs all day long and what they need to 'squeeze out' at the end of the day. (I'm aware that this analogy applies to everyone but I'm trying to make a point.) We face a diverse crowd with diverse needs and we want to be relevant and meaningful. Teachers want to make a difference. Sometimes the student is disinterested. "Am I boring?" we ask ourselves. Sometimes the student is lacking skills or simply can't pay attention because his heart is too busy worrying about the parental divorce looming on the horizon. There are too many scenarios to count but each one is important and registers in our teacher's heart. We only want them to learn. We want to help them be more tomorrow than they are today. I don't watch 'those teacher movies' because they remind me of a painful past and don't do justice to the reality of the solutions demanded of us.

In reality, kids succeed when all parts of their lives move harmoniously for their growth; this means, their parents, their peers, their teachers and especially their own inner beings. I don't think Hollywood can capture the subtleties of that one.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Skyping Existentialism

What a blast! Today's last philosophy class before the Christmas break was a whopper with both existentialism and nihilism on the agenda. (It's a high school philosophy class so the content is simple and accessible for the kids.) Two students had notified me that they'd be missing today's class and suggested that they skype in and follow along. We set it up, gave them a call and had their smiling faces (of course they're smiling; they're in Florida) projected up onto the screen. My students loved it and for the first ten minutes, the class was all about the tech, waving at one another and asking about someone's bubba in Florida. But then we settled down and got into the nitty gritty of the day. There were some microphone/sound issues but we worked out the kinks.

In my English class, another student has set her sights on getting Jeannette Walls (we just read her memoire) to skype into the class. That would be so cool.

Skype has wonderful potential for the classroom. Think of the incredible connections we can make! Guest speakers who might not otherwise make it to school can connect directly with the students via skype. Students who are not able to be physically present in the classroom can now particpate via skype.

I can see those classroom walls crumbling...

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Your Brain on Google

Most of us are familiar with this scenario: You sit at your desk to do "x". As you begin the task at hand, you decide to check your mail/facebook page for just 'one second'. Thirty minutes later, you might return to the initial task. The web and its wonders has a way of seducing us away from our work priorities and 'squandering' our precious time surfing, reading, and engaging with the virtual world. I'm always amazed at how much time I can spend in front of the computer but I'm equally amazed at how much I learn.

This study out of UCLA explains some of the reasons why the 'black hole of the internet' can suck us in so quickly. It seems that surfuring, reading, learning, and just generally exercising web literacy is excellent brain food. Internet searching involves complex tasks of reading, selecting between options, evaluation, prioritizing and in short, challenges the brain in ways that other learning does not. This study involved people between 55-76 years of age; half were already computer literate and the other half were not. The study concludes that the brains of those respondents with pre-existing web skills showed more active brain function in more regions than those with fewer or no skills. This is good news for Baby Boomers who already use the web and a powerful incentive for those who don't!

But what about our students who seemed to be plugged in 24/7? If internet searching increases the brain activity twofold (as per study's conclusions)in a way that simple reading does not, then what does that mean for classroom teaching and learning? It's true that we read web pages but we also make many other decision involved in the process of searching for information. This heightened neural activity is seen in the brains of those searching the web and not in those involved in simply reading a book. The researchers at UCLA reported thier most striking finding was that "Internet searching appears to engage a greater extent of neural circuitry that is not activated during reading."

This is exciting news. This is a powerful argument in favour of one to one laptop initiatives and against the technophobes who think that 'technoignorance' is bliss. While laptops in the classroom may still only be expensive pencils that don't engage the young brains to their fullest potential, it still is a step closer to integrating the web into teaching and learning in a way that is dynamic and relevant. The future is theirs - the students - so let's step up and do the techno dance together.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Remembering December 6th, 1989

Sometimes it's good to take a step back and remember the past. Today is the day I remember fourteen young women and the bright lights that Canada lost on that day when an angry man took revenge on the innocent. The gunman turned his hatred loose on the female engineering students and believing that these 'feminists' were the cause of his pain, he murdered them. Every year I remember and every year it feels the same; sadness for their families, amazement at how much pain the human heart can carry and hope that this next generation of young women will not suffer the hatred of men.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Making Math Real

I'm always on the lookout for resources for the math and science teachers. Not only do I want to show them how to use the wiki in their classroom, but also to share cool web 2.0 technologies to help make math 'real'. The oft heard, "But what do I need this for in real life?" is a challenge to every teacher, especially the math ones. Current educational reforms address the need to 'make content relevant' with the shift from content to competency. So, with that in mind, I'd like to share a few cool resources.

1. Tim Fahlberg's Math24/7 wiki is the result of his dream to assemble 500 plus mathcasts made by teachers and students alike. (A "cast" is a recording of the computer screen.) Check out his wiki and request access if you want to join the team.

2. My PLN (Personal Learning Network on Twitter) gave me this website this week by TRC, an architectural firm that designs real life scenarios where math is essential. These short videos are wonderful and show how math is 'real'. (I love the cake artistry one myself!)

3. If you just google 'math wikis' you'll see plenty of public wikis that teachers are ready to share. This one has lots of mathcasts made by students at the secondary one level. Alan November reminded the us at the recent Refresh, Rethink IT conference in Montreal that students should be making screen casts themselves. This is a great learning evaluation situation for them and easy to do. With free screen recorders such as JING and the screen recorder option on Smart Notebook, making a screen cast is easy.

4. If you haven't already started using Twitter, you should seriously consider it as a powerful learning network. Don't feel intimidated by the volume and noise of the traffic. Decide on how you want to use your Twitter voice and be selective about who you follow. For example, on the home page, type in math related key words searches and see who comes up. I'm following 'mathmadesimple', a teacher from Indiana. Look at who they follow and learn from their PLN! Twitter is a very powerful search engine that can connect you with like-minded educators.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Presentation Notes & Resources

Thursday's presentation for the QAIS Rethink , Refresh IT conference was proof of Murphy's law, especially as it applies to tech. Everything that could have gone wrong did. My own laptop seemed to be in the throws of an existential crisis and of course it waited for Wednesday afternoon (presentation was Thursday!) to show symptoms of its impending implosion. The borrowed laptop (thanks Mr. H) kept on crashing in the middle of the Prezi presentation as I practiced the night before. I fixed that. The next day at the conference, the laptop and the LCD projector decided to boycott my presentation and one another. I couldn't get an image! Just as I was ready to present cold and sing the praises of teaching with wikis using only the narrative and stand up comedic techniques, a kind man graciously offered me the use of his tiny weeny netbook. Houston, we have connection! Finally, I was up and running. That close call was a good reminder of the importance of plan B and C.

The presentation notes were also subjected to Murphy's law. They mysteriously disappeared and consequently I could only verbally refer to what I offer now.

1. The fabulous picture of a candle burning itself at both ends is the work of Terry Border. The picture is called "Busy, Busy, Busy" and you can find more great pictures at The Secret Life of Everyday Things.

2. I spoke both about Karl Fisch's blog and his viral video "Did You Know - Shift Happens". He is one of the blogger I read regularly and responsible for connecting my English class with another class in Colorado. We are going to share our essays and help make This I Believe go global. My students are very excited about this.

3. The TED talks have become a staple in my own learning and I referred to the following visionaries: Jimmy Wales (founder of Wikipedia), Clay Shirky (I'm reading his latest book, Here Comes Everybody), Kevin Kelly (who asks the question, "What does technology want?" and Ray Kurzweil (his book The Singularity is Near is next in my reading pile).

4. I also referred to Don Tapscott's book Grown Up Digital. You can watch him on TVO's Big Ideas lecture series (another staple in my iPod).

5. In the prezi presentation, there is a screencast of Tim Fahlberg's Math247 wiki that you can find here.

6. Of all the blogs I read, here are two I would not do without: TeachPaperless (he irreverent, provocative and really, really smart) and Dangerously Irrelevant.

And last but far from least,

7. PBWorks is my wiki engine of choice. There are many other, such as Wetpaint and Wikispaces. Last summer I took an online course with PBWorks and connected with an international group of educators using wikis. That was my first, but not the last, experience with an online course. The bonus was a premium wiki upon successful completion of the course. I recommend it highly and suggest you look for it in July of 2010. You'll be able to find it (Summer Camp) on their site.

Click here for the link to the public wiki that holds my prezi presentation and other goodies.

I've embedded the prezi presentation below.

Good luck with the wikis!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Power of Prezi

I recently spent some time discovering the marvels of PREZI and have decided to use it instead of PowerPoint for classroom presentations. The beauty about PREZI is in non-linear and zoom functions. This on-line presentation tool is easy to learn and FREE. It's a web-based application but you can download of copy of your presentation to your computer for that extra assurance. (We always need plan B when working with tech.) Prezi easily uploads photos, videos, screencasts and can embed a web link. Think of mapping your ideas on infinite space. No slides. Freedom from bullet points.

My next step is to show my students how to use it for their own presentations and then learn from them! PowerPoint is dead. Long live prezi. Here is my presentation on using wikis in the classroom. It's mostly images but you'll have an idea of the powerful visuals, infinite mapping space and zooming techniques.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Help for Power Pointers

With the tsunami of presentations ahead of me next week and in an effort to avoid 'death by PowerPoint bullets', I shared some of Garr Reynold's tips about making effective slides with my students. (I didn't share Guy Kawasaki's motto: 10, 20, 30; ten slides, twenty minutes and font size thirty buy you should look him up on Google authors. He's hilarious.)

Here's my top ten:
10. Don't use the power point bullet
9. No animations or transitions or if you absolutely must, no more than one type.
8. No cartoons and even worse, clip art.
7. Use the image on the slide as the eye's 'candy' for what the ear will hear.
6. Cool colours for the background and warmer for the foreground
5. Text should be minimal -think Zen flower arrangements
4. Slides should be a visual support - they don't tell your story; you do.
3. Use large font - Kawasaki says size 30 because this guarantees minimal text. (Also good for older teachers!)
2. Remember the power of the negative space on the slide. Don't fill every corner.
1. Never, ever, ever read from your slides.

I also recommended they make the slides interactive when possible and to this end, is an easy tool for them. You can make a variety of interactive maps, charts and diagrams in seconds, grab the embed code and paste it to your blog or wiki. (Here's a short tutorial I made for the students on using Cartle.) Of course, Chartle is great for teachers too which is why I've posted it here. Try it out and pass on these tips to your students.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Powerful Sharing with

Today I spent some time with and want to recommend it as a powerful tool for private and very easy sharing of files. Just think of your own URL where you can 'drop' any type of file and invite people to view, add, comment, upload to it, download from it and tons more.

You can keep this URL private for yourself or share as you want with co-workers or friends. You can also password protect drops, set expiration timing and additional permissions like whether others can download, delete, add, etc.
You add files or media to drop by clicking the 'add' button on the top of the drop page (can also add files from the homepage) and from there you can add files, notes, website links and even voicenotes via the drop's unique voicemail number. I haven't tried this one yet but you can even use the's conference call number for meetings, email address to email text and/or attachments into the drop and fax coversheet to fax into the drop - try them out! It's super easy to share files and/embed them in a wiki (web/blog) page. To test it out, go to and see what I've put there.

Here's a tutorial to help you get started. Happy dropping!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Twitter for Francophones

Just a pittance of a post to signal this recent discovery: "Twitter" for the Francophone network! Here's a descriptor from the sender:
Depuis la fin septembre je suis abonné au service de microblogue (offertpar le Recit) EnDirect. Il s'agit d'une plateforme de microblogue (toutdoit s'écrire en moins de 140 caractères) destinée à l'éducation etdisons-le, à l'utilisation des Tics dans notre pédagogie.
Vous pouvez y jeter un coup d'œil

We always need help when learning a new technology so here are the links:

Et pourquoi pas? Le microblogue est pour tout le monde!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wolfram Alpha Project

Imagine this: You are standing at the portal separating you from infinite knowledge. All you have to do is knock and ask your question. Like the protagonist in Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist, you can only ask objective questions of your portal. (He had black and white stones that provided him with answers to objective questions while he searched for answers to ultimate questions!)

That portal is the Wolfram Alpha Project and from what I can see, it appears to be the most interesting and powerful computational program on the web to date. Go to it. Test it. Ask it any quantifiable question you can dream of and then test the answer. It's simply breathtaking in its abilities to provide speedy and accurate answers. Next Wednesday, Oct 21st is its Homework Day Launch Project. Be a part of it!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Math and Science Online

In recently gave a workshop to my colleagues about using the wiki. We encountered some small obstacles but the final result was a success. However, I left with a haunting feeling that these workshops should be tailored differently for the math and science teachers. My colleague, a math teacher, was insistent on first knowing how she could use a wiki in a math class before walking through the steps of building it. I understood her concern and left the workshop with a firm promise to myself to find high quality and easy-to-use web based resources for the math and science teachers that can easily be incorporated onto the wiki.

Then I came across this article in 'Elearn Magazine' by Maria H. Andersen at Muskegon Community College who writes about the reluctance of math and science teachers to adopt new technologies. She says, "Faculty from almost every discipline are interested in using new technologies and teaching online, except the people in math, science, and engineering." It's not because they don't want to learn something new or that they are busier than teachers of any other discipline, Andersen concludes. It's simply that they can't see how that new technology applies to their discipline. (I can hear the art and music teacher saying, "Hey, that's what we think too!)

Andersen offers a simple solution: give these teacher six powerful tools and examples for how to use them. I will only list the first three and encourage you to read the article yourself.

1. Tablet computers: The tablet PC is like a digital notebook with the additional capability that the screen can also be used for input. Tablet PCs are usually equipped with a stylus that allows the user to write on the screen. Handwriting recognition software converts this input into text for use with software such as internet browsers and email programs. As an educational tool, two of the most important features of the tablet PC are annotation and wireless communication. The annotation feature allows the user to write on almost any document much as one would annotate a printout of the same document. The wireless communication feature allows tablet PCs to share information with one another. She mentions Wacom's Bamboo Tablet for under $100.

2. Recording and editing software such as Jing (there's a free version) and Camtasia.

3. Training in equation software such as Mathtype. Andersen points out that most math and science teachers don't receive formal training and "if instructors perceive that creating equations in documents is too time-consuming, they are unlikely to try teaching online, where typing an equation is often the quickest form of communication."

I recommend Ms. Anderson's blog where she writes about teaching math and technology online.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Students Blogging

Today's sociology class was my first adventure with student blogging. I spent plenty of time looking for a good blogging platform and considered the different reasons for blogging. Should I have one blog with different authors? How do I control the content if students all have their separate accounts? Why do I need to control anything? Why not encourage them to develop their own voice and have the confidence in them? So, I took the leap. The students got gmail accounts and are entering the blogosphere through the blogspot portal.

As many of my classes this year, this is a work in progress and my students are 'guinea pigs' for the cause. I'm excited to see how this progresses. We will be experimenting with cool web tools and widgets that will make the blog interesting as well as embedding pictures and videos. But the most exciting thing is that they will have the sense of writing for an audience and not just for the teacher. Keep posted to see how this develops. The students will post a link to their individual blogs on our class wiki .

As a word of advice to other teachers, have the students sign up for the gmail account from home instead of all at the same time in class. I lost at least 25 minutes with problems in the sign up process. (More than ten requests for a blog coming from the same IP address will be a problem for Google.)

Monday, September 28, 2009

It's not the tech - it's the connection

I'm not a wiki evangelist, nor do I glorify any tech tools above the real connection between people which is where true learning begins. It's not about tech for tech's sake; it's what these powerful tools can do in the hands of teachers and students who dare to be creatively different and change with the times.

We all know, or have heard stories of expensive tech toys and tools that sadly 'collect dust' because of under use. If we were honest with ourselves, we could probably think of ten ways to better use the tech that we have at our disposal. (Come on now, admit that you don't really know everything that you can do with microsoft word.) Buying bigger, better and faster tech won't make us better teachers but the desire to grow beyond the boundaries of who we are today and what we know now certainly will. Tech (laptops, smartboards, wikis, blogs, podcasts, screencasts, whatever) is a powerful way to grow. When students see their teachers leading them into new and exciting waters, they become adept swimmers. OK, enough with the metaphors I can hear you saying. Now it's time for the video that illustrates my point.

This is the story of PS22, a public school in New York replete with all the budget and social problems you can image an inner city school faces. But one teacher with one guitar and his video camera had an idea; he filmed his kids singing Landslide by Fleetwood Mac and sent it to Stevie Nicks. She was blown away by the gesture and invited the choir to sing for her at Madison Square Gardens. Listen to the song and be prepared for goosebumps.

This teacher is an example of low tech and high creativity blowing the walls right out of the classroom. He made a direct connection between the learning in class and the 'real world'. He could have filmed this with a digital camera! You see, it's not the tech; it's the creativity and the desire to grow and be as much as we can be. So, what tool can you use to help your students grow and what challenges are you going to present to them?
Go to Youtube for other PS22 choir videos and check out their blog at:
In times of change, learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists. ~Eric Hoffer

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Assessment for Learning

Anne Davies' presentation/workshop on 'Assessment for Learning' today at the QAIS conference was a real eye opener for me. Assessment FOR learning is nothing like assessment OF learning. As teachers, we live under the 'plague' of assessment/evaluation. What if there were other ways to assess our student's progress would also encourage their natural desire to succeed?

Here's what I took away from today for immediate implementation in my classroom: involve the students in generating the criteria for assessment and they become powerfully 'engaged' in their own learning. It makes sense because involving them is the bridge to 'intrinsic motivation'. If students know that they have generated (or at least partially generated) the criteria for assessment (the rubric), they become true 'stakeholders' in their own learning.

In the land of educational theorists, vocabulary can be a deterrent in the effective communication of powerful concepts. Don't be fooled by the language. To become engaged is to care about what happens to you and around you. I can't think of a more important quality for authentic (OK, real) learning than 'owning' that learning. If students participate in generating the criteria, not only will they be more 'engaged' but this will nurture and encourage intrinsic motivation...and THAT is what separates those who succeed from those who don't. Talent and brains don't guarantee success if the motivation is not intrinsic! (If you don't believe me, listen to Dan Pink talk about the science of motivation on Ted.)

I look forward to reading her book and working with my colleagues on how to improve our assessment tools so that our students can become better learners.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Blogs, Wikis and Web 2.0

Here it is - my maiden voyage into the blogospere. In the summer of 2008 during the Campus Technology conference in Boston, I discovered blogs, wikis, the semantic web, cell phones as pedagogy and much more. After one year of tinkering with wikis and thinking about blogging, the time has come to put post to 'paper' and publish.

I'm not sure about how this blog will evolve but I know what I want to do with it: this will serve as a repository for the amazing sites and tools that I've found over the past several months. I offer this to my colleagues and other teachers on their learning curve.

My first offering is Helen Barrett and her site at I listened to her presentation at Classroom She was very compelling in making a case for e-portfolios as both a learning and assessment tool. E-portfolios are the next step in my own education and they are completely compatible with le renouveau pedagogique, final complex tasks and evaluating competencies. A student who is building their e-portfolio must make complex choices about their digital documents that most describe their learning curve and unique story.

E-portfolios have uses for teachers too! You never know when you'll be looking for a new posting, applying to another school or even taking on a different direction in your learning career. Administrators appreciate them for performance evaluation tools.

But what most captured my attention about her presentation was the idea that the e-portfolio is a living legacy that the 'new middle-aged' should have. Think of how much have we created over the years! All those lesson plans! To heck with that, what about all those poems I wrote? And all those great pictures! And what about those fabulous ideas for books (now blogs?) that I want to write when I have time and 'retire'? She gave me lots to reflect on and I'll be following her closely.