I got back from my honeymoon in Quebec yesterday. It had been decades since I had been in Quebec, and it was a joy returning after all these years. The Central Planner kept peppering me with questions about how to say this or pronounce that in French, which led to a discussion of my summer project to use Duolingo everyday to learn some German. Of course, being the rotten linguist that I am, I’m struggling with German. But the CP installed the Duolingo app on her iPhone, tested into Level 7 Italian, and has been spending five times as many minutes per day working with the app as I am. Despite my jealousy of her superior foreign language acquisition ability, I’m eager to have another person to bounce thoughts off of as I try to evaluate Duolingo.
Meanwhile, the tech that has been blowing me away lately is Google Now. After resisting it for a year, I went ahead and starting using it about three weeks ago. (I’m an Android guy — HTC One — whereas the CP is an iPhone woman.) Sure, Google Now will remember where I parked for me and anticipate that I am going to drive to the Newtown Athletic Club today, but it really surprised me when my phone buzzed last night to inform me that it had turned all of my honeymoon photos into a cool album/travelogue. I’m also using Google Keep, which most people outside the Connected Educator world probably don’t know exists, and that integrates with Google Now, too. I’m leery about Google sticking all of my photos in Google+ where everyone might see them, even though I’ve carefully adjusted the settings so that shouldn’t happen. We shall see.
While I was away, I wasn’t able to check on Class of ’17 summer blogs as much as I’d like. I’ve looked at all of them in the last 24 hours — leaving lot of comments — and I’m pleased to see how many students have finally gotten started. The blogs are delightful, and I’m just so jazzed to see the students’ reacting to excellent books like Wolf Hall, The Art of Fielding, and Skippy Dies. Their poetry responses are excellent, too; maybe even better than their novel responses. Hopefully many of my colleagues read about the project on the school web site and have had their curiosity whetted. I can’t wait to get up in front of them at our opening meetings to show what the kids have done. I need to pull in more colleagues to leave comments for the students this week and over the next few, so I may have to send a lot of individual emails to advisors with blog links included. That will be time consuming, but I’m on vacation, right?