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Greg McVerry

I broke one of the most important promises I heve made to myself

1 min read

Not one minute. Not one dime. I made that promise May 19th, 1999 when I woke my brother Perez up from his slumber at the midngith release of Phantom Menace.

I would never watch the first prequeln or give George Lucas any of my money for the movie.

For sixteen years I kept that promise. Last night the credo blew up as predictably as some planet size laser.

My boys really wanted to watch Phantom Menace. I had avoided this day knowing it would come. We had watched every other movie and some of the Clone Wars. 

My kids are not nuts on Star Wars. Still haven't seen the Force Awakens with them.

Yet they asked. I could not say no. And yet somehow they like the Full House meets CSPAN and F-Zero. I mean really liked it.

I now understand why it is pointless to argue with a millenial on how bad this movie turly is.

Greg McVerry

I get to teach High School classes!! #GearUpWorks #NHV #connectedlearning

2 min read

flickr photo shared by Hldrmn under a Creative Commons ( BY-ND ) license

We held  our first session of Power and Passion-Writing for Change as part of . I am always inspired by the scholars who join us.

This semester Gear Up New Haven is offering after school academic programs on our main campus. New Haven Public Schools has donated the transportation and SCSU has donated the faculty time to run classes in math, English, and the Arts.

As literacy and technology coordinator I curate the learnign opportunities in the literacy strand. Mainly I just show up and learn.

In our first session we completed a challenge in the "Letters to the Next President" series. Specifically we completed a "Do Now" that had students define what it meant to be politically enaged. We recorded our definitions using iPads and I will be remixing these into a video.

Next week we will have two tasks:

Words have power. They are shaped by those with power to mantain a narrative and words provide power to the powerless. In our class this semster we are asking youth, "How will you use your words?"

Greg McVerry

@slamteacher @mcjsa @KrisGiere @Bali_Maha @edtechinsight Or do we need to cause some disruption and be empathetic to struggle?

My students demand rubricized and structured online learning modules. They want step by step walk-throughs of every task.

Is it more empathetic to build the learning space that gaurantees success or do we just provide support when students fall in the inevitable pits of non-linear learning?

Greg McVerry

@mcjsa @KrisGiere @Bali_Maha @slamteacher @edtechinsight What about when learners want or expect linear. Is empathy sometimes a straight line of design?

Greg McVerry

To my #edreform friends we need to rebalance teacher evaluation rubrics

1 min read

I know the goal is to have one universal rubric of effective practice for each school district. Yet after evaluating over 200 teachers and working with numerous rubrics and frameworks I have come to realize the instruments are tilted heavily towards better performance in lower grades.

Especially if classroom climate is an entire domain. I am sorry but it is easier to keep 2nd graders enraptured in content than it is a classroom full of thirteen year olds.

Same holds true at high school if classes are leveled. An AP English Lit class is just going to have a different environment than a "level 2" class.

Not sure the solution, just recognizing the problem.

Greg McVerry

#RIPTwitter? Fanatical Fans need a better Funeral

3 min read

The end of the chronological timeline means nothing for most people complaining about the change. For those who may not know last week the Internet blew up when rumors swirled of an algorithim based timeline over at Twitter.

It came out today. For those loudest during the protest please stop talking. You have not been to the Twiiter web applciation in years. You do not use the official Twitter app on your phone. This change is not meant for you.

In fact your home feed has been pretty much useless since 2009. You may dip your toes into the stream when you have a second, but when you follow more than a few hundred people the stream is too fast.

You should not care about changes to the Twitter Timeline because you use tools like Tweetdeck or Tweetbot. You have 37 columns open and use 13 lists of of the different "-ists" you follow.

The changes to Twitter are for new users. To those complaining have you actually tried to onboard someone to Twitter?

Twitter Onboarding. Its Hard.

I have introduced and trained literally hundreds of new users to Twitter. I can firmly say for most people the onboarding sucks and they will abandon Twitter soon. 

At and different conferences around the country I have run Twitter 101 and Twitter 102 sessions (except the year when I presented, "Why Google+ Kicks Twitter's ass a PLN" that one wrong). We take never before users and turn them from eggs into active accounts.

And we have it easy. EduTwitter comes with community baked in. There are hundreds of well established hashtags and dozens of weekly chats that occur on a regularly scheduled basis. We  tell users follow ideas not people. Ignore follower counts and find hashtags.

Now think about a normal user. Someone who saw a hashtag on the Super Bowl and wanted to jump into the conversation. They sign up in their living room. They go through the "onboarding" process provided by Twitter. Then the user is lost. They are introduced to a blank timeline or followed a few celeberties suggested by Twitter. Maybe a friend or two. 

They will log into Twitter every day but rarely Tweet. To most norms Twitter will be a source of news and entertainment and not a community platform. For these users and the future of Twitter an algorithmic timeline makes sense.

For the rest of us there is Tweetdeck.

So you want a place to direct your rage? How about the lack of a mobile Tweetdeck client. I am "forced" to use third party clients because the Twitter app is useless for power users.

Maybe that should be the point. Let an ecosystem of thrid party developers resetablish itself to support Power Users. Open up the API even further. License (and profit from) access to the full firehose. We will, just like when Twitter was created, find interesting new ways to push the boundaries of what Twitter can do.

I personally welcome the algorithmic change to Twitter mainly because I know I will never see it and it was never meant for me.

Greg McVerry

Planning the YouthZone for Feminist(Inter)vention Conference on Gender and Technology

3 min read

flickr photo shared by hackNY under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

The Good Fight

Fighting for diversity at Southern Connecticut State Univisity looks a little different than it does at other universities in New Haven.

While debating the use of words like "headmaster" or discussing the balance between free speech, safe spaces, and halloween costumes matters our diversity efforts focus more on the lived experience of those who have long felt the shackles of oppression. 

Our fight for diversity means ensuring the class schedule coincides with city bus routes. Our challenges lie in ensuring a smooth pathway from community colleges to four year insitutions. It means providing greater online classes and child care for single moms with two jobs.

We fight for diversity by working tirelessly with Gear Up students who also want to become first generation college students.

 I do not want to undercut the efforts of other universities nor their student bodies. Its just the fight for diversity looks different at schools of access rather than those of affluence.

I am a firm believer that words do matter. Every student should feel safe. Yet to truly overcome the issues around diversity, wealth, and society we must first focus on educational and economic stability.

Diversity and Technology

For those who follow the tech scene you know that we have a diversity problem. Yet this cannot be solved in Silicon Valley. It must be solved at places like Southern who work closely with New Haven Public Schools. It must be solved by Open Source projects such as Mozilla's efforts to .

It can not be solved in your board room or with the right hire. Equity comes from opportunity. Opportunity comes from education and economic stability.

Thus I am proud to serve on the committee for the 22nd annual Women's Studies Conference: (ter)vention: Women, Community and Technology. I am charged with creating the YouthZone.

Using lessons I borrow from the YouthZone I want to create a space that uses production based learning to empower young women through agency. Together we want to see how young women from Connecticut can change the world.

My original design sketch

GitHub Repo

I have created a github repo for anyone that would like to follow along with our progress. I will probably also mae a gDrive folder with the latest files so those who can't navigate the intracacies of GitHub are not excluded.

I will need the most help with the hackathon. I am a non-technical volunteer for many edtech projects. I can markup pages but I have never really coded. Please feel free to jump in.

Have an idea or question? File an issue. Want to get involved file a pull request or reach out to me on Twitter. I need your help.

The Closing Pitch

We are 100% a self-supported conference. We try to offset fees by finding local donations. If you would like to support our efforts feel free to reach out via email. We need swag, money, and volunteers. Any level of involvement will be greatly appreciated.


Greg McVerry

Should We Share Racially Tinged Memes? #HipHopEd #literacies.

2 min read

We love to laugh at them. Writers parody them in theme songs and television. Yet I wonder are we laughing at the individuals or drawing humor from a deep well of intentional and hidden bias?

I am talking about memes featuring people of color who do not come from affluent backgrounds. They usually act in grandiose ways speaking local dialects that would not be recognized as standard academic English. The most famous being:

This video, with over 62 million views sparked it all for me . I won't lie. I even had the auto-tune version as a ring tone for a minute. This video went so far it served as the inspiration behind the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt theme song.

Then earlier this week we saw the explosion of "Ain't Nobody Got Time for That"

The original video is over three years old, and it took off recently.

Do we have a responsibility to not share these videos?

Laughing at uneducated black people is nothing new.

I just wonder is it as racist now as it was with Mammy Two Shoes?

Are we simply putting a digital jocko to welcome you to our online front doors when we share these memes? The auto-tuned voices no different than the exaggerated white features painted on to dark skin.

Greg McVerry

Can I use javascript to surface additional file types? if those file types have some kind of keywords or metadata attached.

I have a friend with a ton of downloadable materials. She wants people who download here stuff to get a "If you like that you may also like..."

Is there a tool that will search either by file type of div id?s

The files are mainly pdfs.

Greg McVerry

IndieWebCamp NYC - Aaron Parecki excited to attend the Friday of