Sunday, April 13, 2008


My first search was to look up Newton’s Laws of Motion – which I just finished covering with my class. The search was as easy as “Google” and boom! A wealth of information at my fingertips in Wikipedia. The question – is it reliable, comprehensible, and does it address the information needs I have? The answer is pretty clear that it seems quite reliable – the portions I reviewed in detail in any case. It is also well organized and seemed to provide the depth that covers initial interest to “deep dive” if required. Highly recommended as a jumping off point to get context for anyone doing work on the web.

Second search I went to the Spanish Wikipedia and searched “Batalla de Puebla,” I was trying to find a tie for Mexico in the mid 1800s as we study French history in my Primary Language Word History class. The historical resource I found was very rich and very useful for the purposes of my class. The links to explain the battle in its larger context was powerful. The link read, “…durante la invasión francesa de México.” This led to a new page where you can find the details of the French invasion of Mexico and the establishment of Maximillian the I under Napoleon the II’s rule. The complementary paintings and portraits enhance the discussion. A quick historical check proved to be accurate and balanced.

The paradigm of Friedman’s “The World is Flat” is true within the digital solution like Wikipedia. Without repeating the arguments of Dean Shareski’s “YES – to Are Wikis Worth the Time?” (ISTE’s Learning and Leading with Technology December 2005-2006) I am convinced that the contributions of Wikipedia to the democratization of information and knowledge will have a tremendous impact on the world at large. The privilege of a library or a set of encyclopedias are no longer necessary – as even people across the globe in remote locations of the world will turn-on their portable devices to connect to the world of information. See the One Laptop Per Child web site at:

Saturday, April 12, 2008


What are learning styles? At first glance it seems that learning styles are really preferred “living” preferences. For example “visual learners” probably enjoy a movie rather than a book, yet “auditory learners” probably enjoy a concert (Classical or Acid Rock), and “Kinesthetic learners” probably enjoy an outdoor restaurant with delicious food steaming and a good glass of wine. But can we really make that much of styles as a mark of distinction? I am not sure.

I have always thought myself for example as a “visual learner” – and I am! I like to see graphic organizers, seeing a complete context, seeing the “big picture.” At the same time I like to walk by the beach (Kinesthetic – dig?), enjoy the beauty of the ocean sights (Visual – see?) and listen to my iPod (Auditor – hear?). I could add that if I pick up an ice cream from a vendor, then I taste and enjoy the smell of that fruity treat as well….ahhhh, heavenly! All of this to say that, in my case at least, I have been blessed with five senses to enjoy the moment: a beautiful beach stroll. My wife on the other hand seems to have a sixth sense which most men lack – but that is another story.

I think we all have preferences but we use all our faculties to learn. We use our senses to create context, to form knowledge, problem solve, analyze, and achieve a thorough understanding of a subject – mastery – if you will. I think that the answer in the classroom is balance. We have to address all the senses as input venues into the student’s processing centers. Ultimately preferences need to be taken into account and addressed - this could perhaps be done using differentiated instruction. What do you think?

Picture Courtesy of LA Fitness