Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Cell Phones That Read

In keeping with the theme of change, and rapid change at that, check out this article about a cell phone that reads to people who are blind and visually-impaired by clicking here.

As assistive technology continues to make life easier for many people with a multitude of disabilities, we are just in the beginning stages of what is to come.

Personally, I really like my voice-recognition software which is enabling me to write the book and some of these blog entries. As someone with a severe disability, it's very exciting for me to see these new products.

Yes, change is inevitable, and we best embrace it. Learning is truly a life-long process, and as we see products like this new cell phone, and the Kindle, we need to recognize we have the process in place to address that change.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Kindle is Here

The latest, greatest technological device is here and from what I've read and seen, it will eventually change reading books, newspapers, magazines and blogs just like cell phones have changed the way we communicate with telephones.

Granted, amazonkindle is in it's first generation, and carries a $399 price tag, but like all technology, we'll see that price drop and maybe even disappear.

Imagine students not having to carry heavy backpacks full of textbooks, schools not needing to buy those textbooks because they can just download the books on to their students' Kindles, walking through a park on a nice day and watching people reading their Kindles instead of books, newspapers or magazines, or riding the train or bus to work while reading your morning newspaper on your Kindle.

Amazon.com says about Kindle: "We wanted Kindle to be completely mobile and simple to use for everyone, so we made it wireless. No PC and no syncing needed. Using the same 3G network as advanced cell phones, we deliver your content using our own wireless delivery system, Amazon Whispernet. Unlike WiFi, you’ll never need to locate a hotspot. There are no confusing service plans, yearly contracts, or monthly wireless bills — we take care of the hassles so you can just read."

Check out the extended video demonstration by going to the amazonkindle link in the second paragraph and scroll down to the video.

The paradigm keeps shifting as change is happening faster and faster. For example, my 30 gigabyte iPod which is less than a year old has already been replaced by the 80 and 160 gig models!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Bullying in Schools

"Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never harm me." We've all heard it, and we all know it's not true. Yet, bullying has become a HUGE issue in schools across the country. In fact, it is such a concern, some schools have instituted anti-bullying campaigns. I was in one such school on January 7th.

Little Chute Middle School in Little Chute, Wisconsin had me spend the day to help kick-off a week-long program to eliminate bullying in their school. Based on the conversations I had that day with both teachers and students, and the emails I received from several students, they are off to a good start.

I found these statistics startling and I think you'll agree:

(Click on image to enlarge.)

In one of my classroom visits that day, I asked the class to raise their hand if they have been bullied, and the vast majority raised their hands. The same response was true when I asked them if they had ever bullied anyone. Even the teacher raised his hand to both questions!

The old adage "Boys will be boys," doesn't cut it any more. In fact, it's not just boys doing the bulling these days. Some researchers are finding girls to be just as big a problem when it comes to being both the bully and the person being mistreated.

Here's a very informative article on Girls Bullying Girls. Check it out. It introduces us to the phrase "relational aggression." This article is based on a longer article written by Marina Skowronski.

The last piece I'd like to take you to is Bob Chase's column dated 3/25/01, the President of the National Education Association in Washington, D.C. He offers some insight into what needs to be done to help curtail the problem.

Bullying is a problem young people are coping with and they need direction. We, as parents, teachers and concerned adults need to help them however we can. If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment. Thank you in advance.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Aaron Cross is "Motivation on Wheels"

The school assembly speaking fraternity is losing a very good motivator today. Aaron Cross is retiring from speaking in schools to move across the pond to start a new life with his wife, Katrina, who is from the United Kingdom.

I've known Aaron since he was in school at Augsburg College in Minneapolis. He called me one day and wanted to know if I would be interested in working with him for an internship. I agreed, and he spent a couple of months helping me and learning the ropes in becoming a professional speaker.

Aaron is also a world-class archer and on September 23, 2004, he and his teammates shot their way to the Bronze Medal; the first team medal for the U.S. Paralympic Archery Team.

He has an incredible story and John Gross, a photojournalist at KSTP TV, the ABC affiliate in St. Paul, MN, does a great job telling us about Aaron in this piece which aired on January 4th:

As you watch the video, watch what Aaron accomplishes with the close-up shot with the second arrow as it hits the target. He's still got it!


I wish Aaron and Katrina all the best as they move to England and begin their life together a long ways from Minnesota.