Monday, May 17, 2010

Everything I Know About Technology Integration I Learned from Watching 90's Nickelodeon: Episode II

  Episode II: Revenge of the Orange Couch

Here is Episode II of the Everything I Know About Technology Integration I Learned from Watching 90's Nickelodeon. I was inspired today for some reason to sit and write and outline for Episode II. The next thing I know, I'm typing away and searching for Youtube videos that will match up with each post. These posts are a labor of love and I hope you enjoy reading these as much as I enjoy writing them. I know that some of the ideas seem to repeat themselves, but I feel like they are good ideas that can never be stressed enough. Also, some of the other posts might not appeal to others and these might be reach a different audience. Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride as we take a trip back to Nickelodeon circa 1990's.

Hey Dude!

Hey Dude was such a fun show. I've been able to watch some of the old episodes on YouTube and they still make me giggle from time to time. Like many great shows in the 90's, the theme song still resonates in my head long after the opening credits have ended. When thinking about tech integration, it wasn't very hard to see where Hey Dude fits in. You see, Mr. Ernst is the ultimate Digital Native. Follow me on this one. Mr. Ernst left his comfy accountant job to run a ranch. He had no idea what he was doing and it would have been very easy for him to give up and take his son Buddy and their dog Cassie back home. Mr. Ernst was smart to surround himself with people that knew what that were doing and could teach and help him along the way. He had Danny Lightfoot who worked as a ranch hand that helped with all of the small problems that would come up in the day to day work of a ranch. He had Melody, played by the amazing Christine Taylor, who could take care of the pool as a lifeguard and run the fitness classes. Mr. Ernst could rely on Lucy to take care of the major issues at the ranch and act like a Mom to the rest of the kids on staff. Ted was a pain in the butt, but he could be counted on in a pinch if necessary. Lastly, there was Brad. Brad was the rich girl from Grosse Pointe that could ride and take care of horses. I hold a special place in my heart for Brad because she is from the town I currently teach. Grosse Pointe is an affluent suburb and Brad would fit right in there. I wonder how the town found a place in the script? :-)

Anyway, as teachers of technology, it is our job to help the Mr. Ernst's in our building as they struggle with new technology. We need to make sure there are many of us in the building with various strengths to help these teachers through the tough transition in their lives so they don't pack up and quit integrating technology into their lessons. Running a ranch is not an easy chore and neither is integrating brand new educational tools to something you have been teaching for 20 or 30 years. As teachers, our job should not be limited to helping our students learn. Our role as educators needs to expand to help all of the people in our district and across the globe learn about integrating technology into the classroom. If it weren't for the hired help at the Bar None Dude Ranch, we never would have experienced 3 great seasons of Hey Dude.

You Can't Do That on Television

Before people start sending me emails and leaving nasty comments I just want to say that I'm aware that these shows are Canadian and originally aired in the 80's. However, these shows were rerun through the early and mid 90's on Nick and thus can be included in this post. Also, I have an awesome correlation I want to make so it's staying in. :-)

YCDTOT was a solid sketch comedy show by kids for kids. Alanis Morissete was on the show for a little bit and was very funny. There were many memorable characters, Barf, and many memorable skits, all of the Locker Jokes, but the sliming is the one thing that Nick took and ran with. Whenever a character would say, "I don't know", they would get a large amount of slime dumped on them from above. It was always funny and you knew it was going to come eventually. Sometimes, if we were lucky, the cast member who was slimed would follow it up with a "What are you talking about?" and they would get doused with a gallon of water. I'm not embarrassed to admit that that type of humor appealed to me over and over again. Heck, I turn into the Kid's Choice Awards to see what celebrity will get slimed. It's who I am. :-)

I truly feel that there are teachers out there that feel like they will get slimed if they utter the words, "I don't know." It the jobs of the tech friendly teachers of the world to reach out to those teachers and reassure them that technology integration is a slime free zone. I have always said that teachers are the worst students. We are just as afraid to ask questions as they are. Many teachers think they need to appear to know everything and never ask questions around our peers. I spend the first couple of weeks of class telling my kids how silly those ideas are in the classroom. I try to make sure that I provide a comfortable environment for teachers that are interested in tech, but are a bit skittish. If they feel the slime hovering overhead, they will never be honest about understanding new tools. It doesn't help anyone if they smile and nod at me for an hour and leave and never use it in class. For the tech teachers out there, make everyone comfortable and take it easy as you walk people through these great tools out there. If you don't, I might send you to Barf's for a specialty burger. :-)

Roundhouse and All That

Roundhouse was an amazing sketch comedy show that filled a wonderful niche. You were not quite old enough to stay up and watch/understand SNL and you were too old to go to bed at 9pm. Roundhouse had a very diverse cast that tackled everyday problems of young and pre-teens. Parent issues, peer pressure, bullying, etc were all addressed in a combination of skits and songs and dance. They were always able to bring everything back around to the topic of the episode and end on a positive note. Also, don't forget about the motorized recliner that the "Dad" would drive around in on the stage. That thing was awesome!

Technology Integration needs to be approached the same way that Roundhouse approached serious issues for teens. If you try to sit a teacher or student down and try to walk them through GoogleDocs, Blabberize or Prezi, they will lose interest very quickly. I'm not suggesting that teachers start doing a song and dance about the value of Web2.0 tools in the classroom. However, it might not be a terrible thing to put together and become a YouTube sensation. :-) Actually having the teachers or students actively involved in exploring these tools would be a great way to show them value of these tools without lecturing to them. The songs, dances and comedy made the messages accessible to the audience and memorable. It's been 15 years, but I still remember those episodes like it was yesterday. Do you remember anything valuable from a staff meeting from last year? 2 years ago? 5 years? Using fun and interactive ways to pass important information along is vital if we want more and more teachers to start using Web2.0 tools in their lessons. Otherwise, these ideas will be ignored like our parents ignored our requests to go to Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida to be on Super Sloppy Double Dare.

Ren and Stimpy 

I love Ren and Stimpy and own every episode on DVD. I could write multiple posts all of the great characters and their role in the integration of technology in the classroom. I decided that I would focus on one part of the show that really stands out and people are most familiar. Log from Blammo is an excellent example of selling something that is not exciting through marketing. As a teacher, I need to constantly market the themes and symbols of various stories that students want nothing to do with. I need to convince them that Romeo and Juliet and To Kill a Mockingbird is relevant to their life and they need to understand them and even love them. This is never an easy trick to pull off. Some classes jump on board while others make me work for it. Technology is one great way to market ideas to students. Just presenting kids with the facts is not good enough anymore for the tech hungry student body. There are many different ways to spice up any lesson like Blammo did with Log.

I started by eliminating Power Points from my class. I still have some, but over time the will all be gone. Students relate "boring" to Power Point. The minute I dropped my first Prezi on them, they were excited. It was one simple change using new Web2.0 tools that allowed students to experience the same old material in a new and exciting way. I have also started to use the concepts of Facebook pages for characters and Fotobabble shots of characters to bring the lesson alive. The students have been more engaged and have started using some f these tools for their presentations in my class and even other classes. A students used a Prezi in French class and the French teacher was excited to try it herself. Other students are starting to use Prezi in other classes as well. By simply using some simple, but new, tools, the students have been more engaged in lessons than previous groups of students.

As silly as it seems, the Log commercial can teach us many things about how to reach out to students and hook them on our content. It's never an easy battle, but there are tools out there that can make it easier for us and more fun for the students. It is not a coincidence that Log is in the term Blog. Well, maybe it is. Anyway, start selling those Logs by Blammo to students. :-)

I've come to the end of Part II with the realization that all good things truly come in threes.It is only natural that I wrap up this series of posts with a solid third post. I say solid because the third part of anything is never as good as the second and can never hold a candle to the first. (Star Wars, Godfather, back to the Future, etc.) I think the Saved By The Bell post might have to be pushed back a bit so I can think about Part III. Now calm down. It will be some time before Part III makes an appearance, but here are some teasers that should hold you over until I get to finish my Epic Trilogy. Enjoy!

I loved this show. Trashing a house was something we all wanted to do and some of us did and got grounded for. Sorry Mom.

A combination of two of my favorite things at the time: Clarissa and Video Games.

History and Obstacle Course? Why can't your History class be like this?

Bring on the Crag!

This one is too easy to blog about.

Here are some old Promos to hold you over.

I realized that all of those videos were game shows. Hmmmm. Maybe Episode III will have a game show vibe. You will just have to wait and see. :-) Thanks for reading and being awesome educators.

- @TheNerdyTeacher


  1. This is amazing - as usual.

    I love all of it - especially the connection between YCDTOT and teachers being afraid to say "I don't know" - you couldn't be more right.

    I also like your question about how much is remembered from staff meetings and how they need to be engaging to all learners (staff!). Definitely food for thought. And I wonder how I can help make them more excited.

    I really want to share this with my teacher friends, but being canucks, they won't get 98% of the references, so I shared with my sister (who has an equal love for all things Snick, but does not get the teacher stuff.....)

    Looking forward to the next instalment!


  2. Thanks for the comment Lindsay. I'm glad you had fun reading it. Maybe I'll write a post about Kids in the Hall or hockey. :-) Thanks for being supportive of my silly posts.

  3. Another epic post. Seriously, I can't get enough of these :) I have seen the "I can't say I don't know because I might be slimed" face! Maybe we need to introduce a little slime to liven things up and teach our kids that it is okay to say, "I don't know".
    You should start writing sketches for your classes and sharing them with teachers as anticipatory set, you would be rich in no time!

  4. Wait, I can make money teaching? What am I waiting for? :-) Thanks for the kind words Kelly. These posts are a nice distraction from the daily grind as I get closer to the end of the year. I'm worried if I keep posting I might not have anything good to offer at ISTE. Ha!

  5. I totally wish I could offer intelligent commentary on these posts of yours! But, alas, I had two (yes - TWO) channels growing up on the farm (make your jokes now) and did not get to fully experience the epic Nickelodeon TV shows that my friends talked about. *sigh* Thanks for reminding me that I was deprived as a child ;)

  6. This post was a bag full of awesomeness! Thank you.

    I have not seen Hey Dude! in 15+ years and I mouthed the entire theme song like I just heard it yesterday. It's amazing what sticks in your brain.

    You are right on with the YCDTOT thoughts. It can be hard to ask for help at times, but the key is having a comfortable and safe environment. We make it for students, we need to make it for teachers, too.

    Your ideas about marketing and Log definitely have me thinking more about presentation. It is not so much the content, it is just how it's delivered. My 4th graders love Prezi too. One student asked me a few weeks ago if I had one of those "spinning, zooming, shows" for us.

    Can't wait for part 3!


  7. I was just writing a post on Augmented reality.. For some reason, as I was doing that this post kept popping into my head. Then I realised that Augmented reality was reminding me of one of my favourite kids TV shows from the UK! "KNIGHTMARE"

    I'd like to think that we're all inspired by our childhood!! lol

    Here's the link to the post if you're interested..
    Mentioned this post in there :)

  8. I was just writing a post on Augmented reality.. For some reason, as I was doing that this post kept popping into my head. Then I realised that Augmented reality was reminding me of one of my favourite kids TV shows from the UK! "KNIGHTMARE"

    I'd like to think that we're all inspired by our childhood!! lol

    Here's the link to the post if you're interested..
    Mentioned this post in there :)


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