Wednesday, March 30, 2011

E-Mail Makes Us Stupid??

We now have research that shows E-mail makes us stupid! A study done in Great Britain found that e-mail lowers our IQ by 10 points. Hewlett-Packard commissioned the study which found that the constant interruptions of e-mail, instant messages, and cell phones temporarily lower a person’s IQ. The 10 point drop is more than double the IQ dip associated with smoking marijuana—a mere 4 points.

Is it really e-mail that is the culprit? I certainly don’t think so, at least not when e-mail is used correctly. E-mail can be one of the best tools we have going for us. We ignore it and take care of other business. At some point in the day, we turn our full attention to our e-mail, handle every message, and get “in” to “empty.”

On the other hand, there are those who check their e-mail constantly to see if anything new has arrived. They read and re-read messages without ever making a decision about what needs to be done with any of them. Their in-boxes grows with each passing day. I don’t doubt that their IQs drops and their stress levels rise.

Likewise, the cell phone can be a blessing. You can make calls from anywhere. The problem is people can track you down anywhere and at any time. (We have probably all had the experience of being in the restroom and hearing the phone ring in the next stall.) That’s where technology can become a curse.

Our challenge is to be sure that our technology makes our lives easier, reduces our stress levels, and functions as the wonderful servant it can be. Technology can trap those calls in voice mail, quietly hold those e-mails until we choose to handle them all, and beautifully organize our to-do lists so that our minds can engage in creative thought.

Technology—a valuable tool or terrible distraction? As technology becomes increasingly important in our culture, we had better determine its function.

What are the challenges that you face with e-mail? 
What solutions have you found?

Monday, March 28, 2011

"Five Tips for a Clean Desktop and Peace of Mind" ASCD Conference Daily

If you are visiting here for the first time as a result of the ASCD session, welcome! Thanks to everyone who came out at 8:00 AM on a Saturday morning to hear "Get Organized: The 5 Keys to Organization & Time Management." I was blown away by the article which appeared the following morning in the "Conference Daily." Robyn Gee really captured the essence of the presentation in her article, "Five Tips for a Clean Desktop and Peace of Mind."

I hope you will come back often as we take the 90-minutes we spent together and use it to begin a conversation that will last as long as you choose to participate. Each time I compose a new blog post, I also post a link to it on Twitter shortly thereafter. If you would like to follow me on Twitter, you will automatically get a "heads up" when new material appears here.

For all conference attendees, you will begin receiving a set of six weekly e-mail newsletters, each one reviewing one of the major pieces of the presentation. After that, a newsletter each month will continue to bring you tips on improving organization and time management while decreasing stress.

Data That Matters

Do you find yourself drowning in data yet starved for meaning? Do you have filing cabinets filled with data, yet you are at a loss as to how to organize and communicate what the data is showing? If you are coming to Tampa this April, you can get some help!

“Data That Matters” provides a single, specially-formatted spreadsheet into which schools can enter and track all group or individual data. You will be able to see at a glance past performance, current performance, goals, and the degree to which the school is accomplishing its goals.

Join me for “Data That Matters: Using a Balanced Scorecard to Summarize and Organize Data” and learn the following:
  • The purpose of a balanced scorecard.
  • The types of data which can be tracked using a balanced scorecard.
  • The difference between leading and lagging indicators.
  • How to set and record student achievement goals.
  • A variety of uses for the balanced scorecard throughout the year.
  • How to download and begin using the balanced scorecard.
  • How to use the balanced scorecard as the centerpiece of a strategic plan.

This session will be held on Saturday, April 9 starting at 4:15. 
Hope to see you there!

NAESP has selected this session to be recorded
and made available to all attendees.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Social Media Revolution

Is social media a fad?

Or is it the biggest shift since the Industrial Revolution? You be the judge
This video is produced by the author of Socialnomics.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Handling Social Media

During March, we have taken a fairly basic look at Twitter and Facebook. If you are a newsletter subscriber, the issue you received at the beginning of the month also dealt with social media. If you are not already a newsletter subscriber, you can read that issue here.

To join the subscription list, follow this link. You will receive a set of six introductory newsletters, one each week for six weeks. You will also begin receiving the monthly newsletters.

Monday, March 21, 2011

An Organized Approach to Rigor

If you are like me, the thing that stands between hearing about good practices and implementing them is a step-by-step approach. As long as it's fuzzy, I am going to devote my energy to the many tasks at hand that are clear. My friend Barbara Blackburn is well known for her work on rigor. In this guest post, she provides concrete steps for how a school can begin the journey.

Dr. Blackburn writes:

The question I'm asked most often is, "How can I get teachers to understand what rigor is? How do we move past 'rigor is giving students more work'?"

There are a variety of ways to address this question, but I recommend a five-step approach. You can use this process with your entire faculty, or your site-based leadership committee, or any stakeholder group:

1. Begin by asking your teachers or stakeholders their views on rigor. This can be done through a discussion, but it may be more helpful (and honest) to ask them to answer these questions anonymously.

1. What is rigor?
2. What are teachers doing in a rigorous classroom?
3. What are students doing in a rigorous classroom?

2. Compile all the answers and distribute them to your group. Be sure to keep the answers anonymous. Go ahead and do this now, so there will be time to reflect on and discuss the responses.

3. Work with faculty/stakeholders to review the relevant research on rigor. You can do this by asking small groups to read differing perspectives of rigor, then sharing what they learned with the group. As a starting point, try this chapter from my book, Rigor is NOT a Four-Letter Word that is available online.

4. Either in small groups, or as a whole group, compare the research to the teachers' answers. Discuss which elements are most important, and which are validated by research.

5. At this point, introduce a comprehensive view of rigor. Rigor is creating an environment in which each student is expected to learn at high levels, each student is supported so he or she can learn at high levels, and each student demonstrates learning at high levels (Blackburn, 2008). Facilitate a discussion of how the differing elements fit within this definition. Then, come to a consensus as to an appropriate definition of rigor. Feel free to use mine, or adapt it as needed!

The process will take time, but it will also foster a deeper understanding of the true meaning of rigor. After all, just because "rigor" comes between "rigmarole" and "rigor mortis" in the dictionary (a quote from James Beane) doesn't mean we can't use it to help students learn at higher levels.

For more information on Barbara Blackburn and the books she has authored, visit her Eye on Education author page. For further reading on the subject of rigor, visit Barbara's blog.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Facebook for BlackBerry

Part of the fun of Facebook is being able to view it from anywhere. Free apps for your mobile phone make that possible. I use Facebook for BlackBerry. Click the link to visit the site where you can download it. You can download a similar app for the iPhone or one for the Android.

My Facebook app allows me to match my Facebook Friends with their contact in Outlook. The profile picture for the friend then appears in Outlook as well as other information being shared between the two records.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Final Project...Personal Learning Network

Though I am retired from public education, keeping my Alabama administrative licensure alive is a priority. To fulfill the requirements, I am participating in several technology-related online courses. This latest is entitled “Developing and Growing Personal Learning Networks.” The final project for the course is to answer this question on my blog, allowing classmates to comment, while I in turn comment on their responses:

Reflect on how your personal learning network has changed and grown during the course of this workshop. Discuss your plans for how you plan to continue to grow your learning network and how you hope to contribute to the professional learning of your administrative colleagues.

The change in my personal learning network can be summed up in one word…growth. More people are following me on Twitter, I am following more people, more have visited my blog, and I have subscribed to additional blogs. The larger the network, the more valuable the network becomes for all of its members. My recent post on the value of the first fax machine illustrates that concept.

Like a snowball rolling downhill, a PLN gathers momentum and volume. Just before beginning this post, I started following @RickWormeli (and if you have ever heard Rick speak, you know what a leader in the field he is.) How did I even know he was on Twitter? Fellow author and friend @BarbBlackburn retweeted @ToddWhitaker who was letting everyone know about @RickWormeli. So I started following both @RickWormeli and @ToddWhitaker. I look forward to the insight I can gain from both of these giants, and learn while sitting comfortably at home, waiting in line at the grocery store, or awaiting boarding at the airport. Learning can now happen anywhere.

The course has caused me to focus on why I do what I do. In the forum, I have found myself talking about why I blog and why I use Twitter. I also found myself expanding those thoughts into blog posts earlier this month. March has pretty much been social networking month on this blog!

Eye on Education picked up on this thread and posted a reference to three of my blog posts related to Twitter. A retweet of “How Can I View Twitter? Four ways to view/compose content on #Twitter” was one of Eye on Education’s 5 most popular tweets of the week.

Perhaps the most significant new concept for me is a very practical application of QR codes. You will see an example on the right-hand column of this blog…that black and white square that probably makes no sense. What is it? What does it do? Stick around. Those are other posts for other times, but they are coming…

Where do I go from here? Stay the course. Continue to play in the bigger game and do my best to say things worth hearing and hear the things too significant to miss. Come join me!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Facebook Privacy Settings for Teens

In the last post, you heard about a comprehensive guide for parents. This post references the same organization which brought you that guide. This chart provides a chart listing recommended privacy settings for teens.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A Parent's Guide to Facebook

Both Facebook and online safety are hot topics in today's society. This guide, written by Anne Collier and Larry Magid of, ahev written A Parent's Guide to Facebook. Click the link to download this free, 34 page guide. calm your fears by increasing your knowledge.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

So Why Do We Have Daylight Saving Time?

CBS News composed this piece giving the history of Daylight Saving Time. The piece also questions whether or not the practice really saves anything.

Friday, March 11, 2011

TED Talk on Twitter

In the year leading up to this talk, the web tool Twitter exploded in size (up 10x during 2008 alone). Co-founder Evan Williams reveals that many of the ideas driving that growth came from unexpected uses invented by the users themselves.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Interview on Eye on Education Blog

I am featured today on the Eye on Education blog. Eye on Education had these questions:

  1. When did organization, technology, and education first begin to overlap in your career?
  2. As a teacher of the 21st century, do you find digital organization tools or physical organization tools to be more useful? Is there still a need for both?

You can read the interview here.

The interview continues tomorrow, where I answer these questions:
  1. What is your new favorite time-saving online tool?
  2. At what time in your life were you the most unorganized? Were you ever a procrastinator?
  3. Please describe a student who impacted your life as a teacher. Why did he/she have this effect on you?

How Can I View Twitter?

The last post was designed to get the beginner started with Twitter. In this post, we will look at four ways to view and compose material on Twitter:

At the the Twitter Website
Simply go to and log into your account. You can view your Twitter account from any computer with Internet access.

From Your iGoogle Page
"TwitterGadget" is free and allows you to read and compose tweets right on your iGoogle page. Click here to see a more detailed description and to add TwitterGadget.

From Your Smartphone
I use a free program called "Ubersocial." The program allows me to compose and read tweets on the go. One feature I especially like is the ability to e-mail a tweet. As I am reading tweets, if I see one which will require a little time, such as viewing a link, I e-mail the tweet to myself an handle it when I return to my desktop computer. Another excellent, free, Twitter client for BlackBerry users is TwitterBerry.

 The Ultimate Tweet Organizer
TweetDeck is a free program that you download to your computer. It is also available for the iPhone and Android. TweetDeck allows you to organize your Tweets into a series of columns.

For example, I have a column of tweets from personal friends, another from people I have designated as "national figures," another for tweets which use the hashtag "#timemanagement," and another for those who use the hashtag"#eyeoneducation." I can create a column for any upcoming conference in order to follow discussions among people who use a hashtag for that conference. One columns holds the direct messages to me. Another one lists all of the tweets where I (@drfrankbuck) am mentioned. I even have a column that brings in my Facebook newsfeed and another with the newsfeed for just my closest friends.

One of the great features about TweetDeck is that you can compose a tweet now and schedule it to post at a particular future day or time. TweetDeck is a favorite with more advanced Twitter users who follow many people, track a variety of topics, and need a tool to organize it all. TweetDeck does a nice job in this arena.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Twitter and the First Fax Machine

What is the most useless invention you can think of? For me, it is the first fax machine. After all, if you are the only one with a fax machine, just who are you going to fax? And who is going to send a fax to you? When the second machine was sold, it had a little more value than the first. There was at least the possibility of  receiving a fax from one other person. Moreover, the second fax machine added value to the first machine by giving it a machine with which it could communicate.

Likewise, the third fax machine added value to both of the first two. And so it goes--every fax machine adds value to all of the others in existence.

So what does that have to do with Twitter? Twitter is dumb, or Twitter is extremely valuable. Which situation rings true for you or me has little to do with the tool itself. It has everything do to with the audience which embraces it.

To illustrate this point, just look at Facebook. When asked if they had a Facebook account as little, as three years ago, most adults would have called it a "teenage waste of time." Now it seems everyone uses it. And everyone uses it because...well, everyone else uses it. Facebook hit the "Tipping Point" somewhere in the last couple of years. Twitter has not, at least not yet.

What's the difference between the two? On the surface, what is striking are the similarities. "Following" someone on Twitter is the equivalent of being a Facebook "friend." You see the list of "tweets" from those you "follow" in the same way you see the "newsfeed" of all of your friends. You can "comment" on Facebook or click "reply" on a tweet. You can click to send a "message" to just one person (which only that person will see) on Facebook, or send a "direct message" (which only the one recipient will see) on Twitter.

With all of the similarities, what are differences? Why would someone have both?

First, to get more familiar with Twitter, here is a a very good introductory video. YouTube is full of similar Twitter videos.

So how is Twitter different from Facebook? To be "friends" with someone, you must send them a request and they must approve it. You are then friends with each other. You see what each other posts. With Twitter, you "follow" whoever you like. You do not need their approval (although they can block you if they like). When you follow someone, they are not necessarily following you.

To me, the biggest difference is the "hashtags" Twitter uses. Hashtags are a way to designate the tweet is for a certain group or about a certain subject. For example, I usually include #GetOrganized! at the end of my tweets. If my tweet relates to a particular conference, such as the ASCD conference later this month, I will include #ASCD2011 at the end of the Tweet.

The advantage of using hashtags is that it allows people interested in a certain subject to find tweets others have written on that subject. It allows people who write about a certain subject to be found by people interested in that subject. People interested in the ASCD conference can search Twitter for #ASCD2011 and find tweets from people who are presenting and learn more about their topics, talk with others who are attending, and share their experiences with people during and after the conference. It's sort of like having a large conference call.

The whole hashtag idea is very informal. There is no formal directory of official hashtags. One gets started, and others simply adopt that. Here is a collection of hashtags commonly being used in the world of education.

As a next step, I would recommend deciding what it is you want to do with Twitter. Do you want to communicate with a certain group, such as the rest of the teachers in your school? On the other hand, are you wanting to use the tool to follow topics of interest?

How will you use Twitter? If Twitter is going to be a tool to communicate with others in your school, the easiest thing would be for everyone to establish a Twitter account one day, exchange user names, and then start following each other the next day. One person "Tweets" and all of the others see it. Used in this way, Twitter would be similar to sending an e-mail to a distribution list. The difference is that instead of you adding people to your e-mail distribution list, they add themselves by following you.

The tweets you send could be announcing that school has been canceled due to weather (replacing the telephone tree many schools used previously), the current score of the basketball game you are attending, or the link to a great article you read that you think your colleagues would like.

In you want to join in the bigger game, you can use hashtags. Create a tweet and include the #edtech hashtag, and others interested in educational technology will likely see it. Create your own hashtag for your school faculty and it will be easy for your colleagues to find tweets related to the school.

Of course the best way to learn about Twitter is to jump in and learn as you go.

In the next post, I will talk about four places you could go to read Twitter.

Friday, March 04, 2011

A Thought to Begin National "Music in Our School Month"

I look forward to an America which will reward achievement in the arts as we reward achievement in business or statecraft. I look forward to an America which will steadily raise the standards of artistic accomplishment and which will steadily enlarge cultural opportunities for all of our citizens. And I look forward to an America which commands respect throughout the world not only for its strength but for its civilization as well.
—John F. Kennedy

A Resolution from the Alabama State Board of Education proclaims March as "Arts Education Month." The Resolution can be read here.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Talladega Chamber Ambassadors

I enjoyed speaking to the Talladega Chamber Ambassadors tonight, a fine group of high school students who are doing great things to make their community a better place to live.

As promised, this post recaps what we talked about:


  1. Set up your free account at
  2. After telling reQall what phone numbers you would be calling from and giving reQall your e-mail address, put reQall's number (1-888-973-7255)  in your phone as a contact and make it a speed dial.
  3. You can get a free reQall app. Click for BlackBerry, iPhone, or Android.
    iGoogle is like your own personal dashboard of all of your "stuff" every time you open your browser. You can also log in to your iGoogle page from any computer that has internet access so that you now have access to your tools from anywhere.

    How do I get an iGoogle page?
    1. Go to
    2. In the upper right corner, look for "iGoogle" and "sign-in." Click "sign-in" to sign in to your Google account. If you don't have one, create one. It's free. You have to have a Google account in order to have an iGoogle page.
    3. Go back to Google and click the link that says "iGoogle."
    4. You are now at your iGoogle page.
    5. Look for a link somewhere on the page that talks about making iGoogle your homepage. You will want to click that.
    6. Now the fun starts. You get to choose the design for the top of the page and the "gadgets" you will have on your page. Look for "Change theme" and "Add stuff" at the top right.
    7. You can get rid of any of the "stuff" by clicking on the "x."
    8. You can re-arrange where each window is located by clicking and dragging it somewhere else on the screen.
    9. Many of the gadgets have a little down arrow you can click to edit the settings. That way you can get the weather for your specific zip code, driving directions with your home address already filled in as the starting point, etc.  
    As a starting point, you might want to just add the things I have on mine. If you click any of the links, it will take you right to the spot where you can click to add that gadget to your iGoogle page. Remember, if you don't like a gadget, you can always get rid of it. Here goes:

    Google Bookmarks
    Google Reader
    Facebook URL Shortener
    CNN Technology
    MapQuest Driving Directions
    Area/Zip Code Lookup
    Document to PDF
    Google Map Search
    Portfolio Monitor
    Flight Status

    If you have more than one computer, be sure to log into your iGoogle page and make it the home page on your other computer. When you are in a library or at some other computer away from home, you can go to Google and log into your iGoogle page. There's all of your stuff just like you were sitting at home!