March 30, 2008

I'm Back!

After sadly (and apologetically) missing two presentations while I came to terms wih my new Type II diabetes, I gave a keynote last Friday at the NECTFL (Notheast Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) conference in New York City. As I am both a former French teacher and a native New Yorker, this was like a homecoming for me

Many in the audinece called the talk "wonderful" (in person and by email) and even the trechnician called the audience "mesmerized." I say this not to blow my own horn (other than to let people know I'm back in form) but rather to illustrate the power of new ideas, whan presented in a context that teachers can understand and appreciate

In this case I was talking about language learning, and as always, I looked at it from the kids' point of view. My message was that today's kids learning languages already have experience communicating with the world, and if they are not doing that in the language they are learning -- as an integral part of their classwork -- there is no point for them. Technology is incredibly important in language learning becuase it allows this worldwide communication to happen. The students in the student panel that accompanied the talk backed this up -- they want to use the language they are learning to communicate with their peers arund the world who speak that language.

It is, of course, up to each teacher, worrking in conjunction with his or her students, to actually set this up. and use it But an important point is that the teachers don't need to know how to actually use the technology, unless, of course, they want to. This is because, in almost all cases, we can turn over the actual setup and use of the technology to the kids, while the teacher fills the role he or she does best: assuring contrext and quality, filling in the blanks, and correcting mistakes. Knowing often helps teachers calm their fears about using technology they don't totally understand. In a workshop, several teachers confirmed that they are extensive users of teachnology, but turn over all the technical details to their students.

Another key point I made was that, as teachers, we have to do a better job of sharing with each other what we do successfully. It is disappointing to me when a teacher has figured out something realy great, but other teachers, whether in the same shcool or around the world, can't easily learn about it and use it if appropriate. My strong ecommendation to teachers is that whenever they come up with somehing that works successfully, they make and post (with the help of their students if need be) a 2 minute You Tube video describing it. Some of these already exist on You Tube (I showed a couple in the presentation) but not nearly enough - there should be thousands, even millions. So if a teacher were to type "teaching Spanish ser estar" into the You Tube search box, they would find a dozen innovative ways to teach it, described by the teachers who invented them.



Posted by Marc at 04:02 PM | Comments (3)

March 27, 2008

New Articles

May I call your attantion to three articles that have been published in this first quarter:

Turning On The Lights -- Will we continue to trap our kids in the past? (in Educational Leadership, March 2008)

The True Twenty-first Century Literacy Is Programming (In Edutopia, Feb 2008)

Backup Education? -- Too many teachers see education as preparing kids for the past, not the future (in Educational Technology, Jan-Feb 2008)

As always you can access all my writings at

Happy reading! Again, I'll leave comments open until the first spam.


Posted by Marc at 09:55 AM | Comments (2)

March 26, 2008


Hi all. Let’s catch up.

2008 started out well – I spoke at the Defense Intelligence Agency in DC, and then headed to Tokyo, where my wife, Rie, celebrated her 40th birthday, stopping by Tokyo Disneyland with our almost 3-year-old son Sky.

In February I went to Rome for the launch of the Italian version of my book “Don’t Bother me Mom – I’m Learning” (“Mamma non rompere – STO IMPARANDO!”), which is particularly relevant over there since they are having a big debate over videogames as being the root of all evil. In addition to some good eating, got to stand in awe of the Colosseum and the Pantheon. I spoke at the American Association of Publishers in Sacramento, at the Promethian World Meeting in Florida, and at NCEE in Seattle.

But March was the month that was! (and still is!) I managed to make it to Abu Dhabi (extremely interesting – more in a separate post) but was already getting sick. I had to cancel a speaking engagement in Texas (first time, and I hope the last). I tried to speak in New Jersey, but by the time I got there I was really sick. My blood sugar reached 1500, which for those of you who know, is not a good sign.

So they sent me to the hospital for two days, where they declared me an official diabetic. This is not all bad news, because I also lost 30 pounds, diabetes is a very manageable disease, and I have great care. I am even hoping for a good deal of remission.

But I do apologize sincerely to the two groups where I was scheduled to speak but couldn’t – I plan to go back to both at full energy later in the year.

And I very much appreciate all the messages of sympathy that many of you sent.

Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to closing March on Friday with a great keynote at NECTFL in NYC – my home town!


(Note: I will leave comments open for a day or so in case anyone wants to comment, but I will close them at ythe first spam)

Posted by Marc at 01:51 PM | Comments (2)