Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Which led me to wonder, what inspires me - or maybe more accurately, what is it about the people who inspire me? I will start with what inspires me and I hope readers will comment with what inspires them.
Thinking back to speakers I have heard, I think of the things that they said that are still with me. I think I have come up with some common threads to share.
1- One strong memory I have of being completely inspired--and in fact, changed, was when I heard Bill Page who was a speaker at an "At Risk" conference. I remember him saying, "it all comes down to what you believe in?" He said (paraphrased), if you get done teaching a lesson and the kids fail the test, what you do next depends on what you believe in. If you believe the kids are dumb and didn't learn what you so excellently taught, you move on. If you believe that all kids can learn if you could teach it in a way that they learn, you reteach and you do it in a different way. I can't tell you how those words have practically haunted me. When dealing with kids, I frequently hold decisions up to the "Bill Page" test. Not that I give tests, but it is a great way to approach problems.
2- Next, I would point to Peter H. Reynolds (I know, not a surprise). I had never met Peter until 2006 at the Iowa Technology Education Connection Conference when he was the keynote speaker. I had known the company and Peter's books, but I hadn't met the man. I had the priviledge of meeting Peter and Bill Norris in person. You could go through a lot of life without meeting people as genuine as Peter and Bill.
The true inspiration of Mr. Reynolds lies in watching him interact with people. I believe I have watched him interact with people for dozens of hours between the Iowa conference and the two NECC's I attended. I am amazed how 'present' he is when he talks to people. Total and complete chaos can be occurring around him, but he focuses on the person he is speaking to. It inspires me. It makes me want to be more like that. He is a person who has hundreds of projects going at the same time and deadlines that have to be always looming, and he takes time for people.
The other facet of the inspiration comes from the walk-the-talk nature of his personality. The first time we were out to dinner with a huge group of people, I am sure my jaw dropped when Peter took out his water colors and using a little wine, embellished a picture someone down the table had drawn. He is everything that the website says he is, a truly rare commodity.
4- A few years ago, I heard Debbie Silver, author of the book Drumming to the Beat of a Different Marcher: Finding the Rhythm for Teaching a Differentiated Classroom, which ironically did NOT have a cover by Peter Reynolds when I bought the book (but it does now and I have that copy too). What amazed me about Ms. Silver was that she was keynoting at the Iowa Technology conference and seemed to ignore the technology part and just speak about her educational experiences. I laughed...I got misty....and best of all, it made me think. It was early in the days of differentiation, or at least the word, and she spoke compassionately about kids and learning.
5- I have also mentioned Dr. Peggy Healy-Stearns a bunch of times and, trust me, she is deserving of every mention. She inspires me through her honest love of learning. Let's face it, Stationery Studio is an amazing piece of software and if Peggy did nothing, people would still buy it. That software is how I got to know FableVision. But watching Peggy talk to people about the software is an amazing and beautiful thing. She encourages them to send her projects and share what they are doing with kids...because she loves to learn how kids are impacted by the software and enjoys seeing the creations. The fact that she is one of the nicest people I have ever met is just icing on the cake! She also listens to every suggestion about possible changes to the program...the only thing that could motivate that is wanting it to be the very best and the most useful.
In terms of inspiration there are many other people who inspire me. Sylvia Martinez, Diane Cordell, and Karen Janowski all used Skype to present to the college class I am teaching. First, they were all inspiring because they had so much knowledge and experience to share. Second, they were so inspiring because they all either volunteered, or jumped at the chance to help out. It takes a special person to share their knowledge in a non-traditional format. There literally wasn't a moment of hesitation for any of them to jump in and help, which I attribute to being great people and to loving what they do. I won't go into the entire social network again, but I am constantly inspired by my learning network.
I am also constantly inspired by my wife. She teaches in a large school (for Iowa -- 1800 in 9-12) and she sincerely cares about the students in her classroom. It is easy for me in a small school, but her classes are sometimes stretched to fit more than 30 students, it amazes me that she knows all their names and can work with them all to bring out their best writing. I can't tell you how many times she has cried over something her students have written or how many times she has gone above and beyond to help them.
Now, for the common thread that all of these people share -- they all have a passion for learning, people, and kids. They are all immensely creative people who care about other people and share their talents.
People with passion and creativity inspire me.... What inspires you?
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Twitter friend Damian Bariexca (Twitter @Damian613 told me about a song that was in his blog post here. He said, "try not to cry when you watch the video..." Not feeling particularly brave today, I decided to hold off.
Then I was reading Jim Gates' Blog and noticed remnants of that earlier conversation. So I had to go check out the song. I went to the site for a CyberBullying video on YouTube which had the same song as Damian's post. I was blown away. What an amazing piece of work that I think captures the despair of cyberbullying and its seemingly innocuous beginnings.
Thanks to Damian and Jim for leading me to this song and video. ALL educators must watch it and we ALL must work to stop cyberbullying.
UPDATE: I learned there is a teacher guide here along with the original video post.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Imagine my surprise when I learned in a magazine from Tech4Learning last summer, that the Taxonomy had a facelift! I was please when I learned that the update had been orchestrated by one of the original framers!
The NEW Taxonomy Organized from Lower to Higher Order Thinking Skills-
Remembering - Recognizing, listing, describing, identifying, retrieving, naming, locating, finding
Understanding - Interpreting, summarizing, inferring, paraphrasing, classifying, comparing,
Applying - Implementing, carrying out, using, executing
Analyzing - Comparing, organising, deconstructing, Attributing, outlining, finding, structuring, integrating
Evaluating - Checking, hypothesizing, critiquing, Experimenting, judging, testing, Detecting,
Creating - designing, constructing, planning, producing, inventing, devising, making
My question is, are there now two different versions of an excellent resource to ignore. Think back to the classrooms that you sat in as a student, then look at the classrooms around you....what is the difference? Sure, there is a lot more stuff in classrooms, but how has instruction fundamentally changed because of the new stuff? Typically, when I ask my college students this question, they say there is no difference between the classes they observe and the classes they attended as students.
The reason I fell in love with using technology was because of the power it had in my classroom. First, because technology was motivating. I used to jokingly say that kids would sell their mom to be able to do something on a computer (sorry, mom). Twenty years later, it is still the case. How can we have school buildings full of computers and still have kids hungering to use them? I believe it is because they want to do REAL things with the technology. They want to learn, collaborate and, ultimately, create.
Last year's revised ISTE student standards: uses Creativity and Innovation as standard one.
"Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology." In the June 2008 edition of "District Administration", Peter H. Reynolds said, "If the ISTE's creativity and innovation standards are embraced and supported, we'll see some fantastic things happen in teaching and learning."
We need a revolution and I think looking at the revised Bloom, ISTE's Student NETS and listening to visionaries like Peter H. Reynolds we know that CREATING is a very powerful and important part of learning. WE must embark on a new era of change. We must start in our own classrooms. WE must share the new Bloom, the works of great thinkers, and the standards that have been created. We all must look at our own practice and share the excellent products that our students create.
Andrew Churches has an article on the correlation between Bloom and Technology here
Comparing the two versions of Bloom, here.
Anderson, L.W., and D. Krathwohl (Eds.) (2001). A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching and Assessing: a Revision of Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives. Longman, New York.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
I’m a professor, there should be some lessons learned and how you can use the stuff you hear today to achieve your dreams or enable the dreams of others. And as you get older, you may find that “enabling the dreams of others” thing is even more fun." From the Last Lecture by Randy Pausch.
When I heard words, "Enabling the dreams of others," I was amazed at how it touched me. It described part of my journey so well! I remember sitting in my office at school one day and I had read somewhere about the talk. I watched....and I was swept away with emotion. Perhaps I might be too good at the empathy thing.
The resounding message for me aligned with the "North Star" philosophy from my friend, Peter H. Reynolds at FableVision. Dreams and vision are big in the FableVision world and in mine.
This print, available at PeterHReynolds.com, is one example of the message I want to share with kids. How do we, as teachers, enable the dreams of our students. An interesting concept to consider.
Here are my thoughts on how we enable the dreams of others:
1- We give them creative and exciting lessons that encourage exploration and deep thoughts. I know none of the kids in my class are going to run off to be music historians. However, we spend time in sixth grade exploring music history. In part to make connections to the past, in part to learn how to find out about more things that are interesting, but mostly exploring new tools and ways of thinking.
2- We LISTEN to their dreams...We provide realistic opportunities for them to connect to the dream. Sometimes, this leads to uncomfortable talks. When I was working with struggling students in school, one of the things I asked them was, "What do you want to do after high school?" Then I would ask, "What do you REALLY want to do after high school....If there were no limits." ALWAYS a different answer. Always a disconnect between the behaviors exhibited in school and the final dream goal. That was a starting place for a conversation that would continue. No judgment, but a lot of, 'how does the path you are on get you where you want to go.'
3- Help kids to see beyond the small town dreams. There isn't anything wrong with any dream a kid has. I think it is important to not let students settle for an easily attainable dream when their potential is greater. "Dream Big" as the poster states. The trick to this is that it isn't up to us to judge who has greater potential. So, we must give kids opportunities beyond where they are and let them see what else is out there. Of course we need to encourage ALL kids and ALL dreams.
4- We must chase our own dreams...even if we don't know they are dreams yet and we must search for talent and believe in people. We need to live life to its fullest and take opportunities that are presented. If you would have told me three years ago that I would write lesson plans for new software, I wouldn't have believed it. The fact that I now call my favorite software designer, Dr. Peggy Healy Stearns or favorite author/illustrator, Peter H. Reynolds friends, is truly amazing. What made those dreams happen??? Someone believed in me. Someone saw the talent I might have to share and asked me to be a part of something great. In this case, Bill at FableVision. An absolutely amazing person who saw a spark and then believed.
5- WE act as mentors. Both to each other and to our students. We are all in this together and we must be unphased by a broken system and the oppressors of creativity and caring. We must support each other on our journeys. We must believe in ourselves and others. It is important to show appreciation to our mentors so that they know their impacts on us. We also need to 'pay it forward.' We need to take all of the belief and praise others have invested in us and provide it for the next group of leaders and dreamers.
Thank you for Randy Pausch, who inspired me greatly from afar. Thank you to Dr. Peggy Healy Stearns, who through her gentle kindness, has brought out the very best in me. Thank you to Peter H. Reynolds who has turned loose the creativity monster in me....you inspire me more than you know. And, finally, to Bill Norris who had believed in me and launched the greatest phase of my journey so far. Thanks to my blog readers and social network followers who inspire me to write and create!
Randy Pausch passed away from Friday at the age of 47. I am a few days from being 44...I have a lot of dreams to fulfill and enable before my last day....and since I don't know when it will be, I better keep on down the path.
What do you do to enable the dreams of others?? Please comment.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Tired of the old stale PowerPoint backgrounds that come with the program?? Make your own. These were made with a Wacom Tablet and Corel Painter Essentials.
Be BRAVE and original. Deep down we are all artistic, we just need to experiment and play.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Original "artwork" created using Corel Painter.
We have been discussing how teachers evaluate media/software on this blog. Now it is time to stop talking and start creating!! I think we all can agree that good software is only as good as the teacher in the room with the student creators. So, today I am throwing out a suggestion/challenge. If you have been reading my blog, you have noticed that I have done a lot with Animation-Ish. What would you have kids do with it if it was in your room?
Please comment with an idea of how the animation program could be used BY kids in YOUR classroom (school) to demonstrate something they have learned. You may not copy my former posts here or here, but you may use them for guidance! I will (voice shakes as he says it) try animating some of the best suggestions (hence the out on a limb) or you can download the trial and do it yourself. Either way, I will be posting some animations in the days to come.
Now dream big here! Think outside the box. I am expecting ideas from all my social network friends! I will be out here on the limb waiting.
Monday, July 21, 2008
In the middle of dispensing advice on evening dinner plans to my friends, Michele and Kevin, I realized that I have no business giving them advice....You see, I have never met them! I have been dispensing advice and pearls of wisdom to great people like Michele, Kevin, Ben, and Dedra on Plurk. I think I know them from their online persona, but we have never had the pleasure of meeting. I also have 'met' wonderful people on Twitter like Diane, Linda, Lee, Dee, Cossandra, Sylvia, Andrea, and many others. I consider them all great friends....But, the thing is, I have only met Diane and Sylvia face to face. I have shared a part of my summer and life with these wonderful strangers, but do I really know them? Tonight, it occurred to me that perhaps this is how my students feel about people they have met on social networks like My Space. They are probably sure they 'know' someone, even if they haven't met.
I started a conversation on Plurk when this epiphany first hit and had some very interesting responses. A common one was, "but we are all in the same profession." Which is true....as far as we know. You can imagine that a clever person can be whomever they want to be on a social network....Just as a student might befriend someone that is not who they say they are. I am not delving in to the stranger danger or the whole fear mongering angle. Studies show that most crime that comes from Internet relationships is in fact a person that the student has let into their lives. If you look at your online relationships, would you be thrilled with you child or your students spending hours of time talking to complete strangers and sharing personal information?
I do not regret any relationship I have made online. I have learned the fierce protection of Diane and Linda when I got some rude messages from an adult bully. Firsthand support was mine when I blogged about how to know when to give up blogging. I learned from Dedra and Michele, that people online can pick on me like the people in my real life (Especially Dedra!). Mostly, I have learned that the online people are far more supportive than most of my school colleagues. Not that the people I work with are bad people, they are just not as 'in' to the technology world as I am. Most are not as driven to change the world of education. I originally started doing Twitter so I would know a few people when I went to NECC. I got to make some new friends, like Kat. I am hoping next year in D.C. I will be able to meet many more!
There is no judgment intended in this post. I am NOT sorry that I have met a lot of friends I have yet to meet in real life.... I think I just understand the connection kids might feel when they are online, finding people who have interests that are similar to their own. Perhaps the freedom of not being encumbered by the awkwardness of a social situation or their physical appearance is as enticing for them as it is for us. I believe we need to think about this and use it in our discussions with students. Not sharing the personal details of our online relationships, but we can shape the ideas we share by the knowledge that a life online can be very intense and satisfying, but there is risk and they must be careful with who they allow into their life.
Early on in my Twitter experiences, I was telling my wife how I was talking to Diane, whom I called, "this person I know from Twitter." My wife said, "you don't know her." Which I took as an admonition of the time I had been spending online and not as the prophetic words they turned out to be. Man, I hate it when she is right!
Thanks to everyone who has been part of my online life! I look forward to your comments.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Almost looks like a beautiful sky....but it isn't. I created it on my computer using Photoshop. Blue background and a Free photoshop brush. The clouds brush is here, but you can find a lot by using a search engine and typing, "Free Photoshop brushes." You might need to also check out the directions for how to put them in your brush folder (apparently different for certain systems).
For the record, guess how big Mr. Technology Masters got this new information? From the phenomenal Mrs. Master's Ed. Psychology - wife! Who is also a yearbook adviser.
As always, if you try this, please send me the picture! You can be featured on my blog!!
Thursday, July 17, 2008
So, proving that the world is truly flat, I asked Sylvia to Skype into my classroom and join the discussion. I should probably mention that I have had Skype on my computer for a year, but never used it for a phone call. This is the sort of fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants that either makes me look brilliant --- or a fool! Lucky for me, it was brilliant. I was lucky to have a brilliant guest!
For those who might not know her, Sylvia Martinez is the president of GenYes and has years of experience in software development. Her insight is phenomenal and was just what this rather quiet class needed. Before the call, we had a mini-conversation on the four vastly different pieces of software we had looked at. The students enjoyed the interactiveness of some and wondered about the breadth of others. When Sylvia was on the phone, she talked about the great promise of "blank page" software. She quoted my hero, Peter H. Reynolds, who is also a proponent of the blank page. Peter owns a bookstore and if anyone asks him what the best book in the store is, the international famous - New York Times best selling illustrator points to the blank books that they sell. So both of these marvelous mentors point to the wide range of implications of the blank page to curricula. Sylvia wowed the class and provided the impetus for a great conversation.
After the call, there was an excellent discussion about software and what to look for. When I went back to Twitter after class, I noticed that Dr. Gary Stager had asked me why we evaluate software. He questioned why we don't apply that same scrutiny to items such as textbooks. I replied with, " The reason I talk about software eval is because some people let software dictate curricula-instead of the other way around." I think my job, as an instructor, is to get students to evaluate all media. Whether it be a Web 2.0 application, a piece of software, a video used in class, a textbook, or any other media. I think most techie-people will agree to that.
Dr. Stager's point seems to include why we use a canned, out of the book type rubric to evaluate media. Do we use that same rigid and generic criteria to evaluate textbooks? Good and thought provoking question. Truth be told, I start the conversation with such a rubric. The rubric in our book asks students to look at things like content and navigation. The reason I extend the conversation is that there are a LOT of things that are not in the rubric. Many good pieces of software would NOT rate well on that rubric. An example would be the new software Animation-Ish. Blank page software does not fall neatly in the package of the rubric. The student doesn't receive feedback from the software and there isn't any teacher monitoring.
So, the question is, how do we start the conversation with future teachers about evaluating media. Seems to be a tender balancing act to help distinguish between the groundbreaking achievements in software development and the slick and/or shiny objects that people become enamored with. We must provide guidance in selection so that the objectives/education drives the media acquisition and not the other way around.
I sincerely want to thank Sylvia Martinez for her participation. I also want to thank Gary Stager for asking the tough questions. My favorite undergraduate teacher, Dr. Berg, quoted one of his instructors when he would say, "Anything worth believing is worth questioning." It is critical in this education/information explosion to question why we do what we do and how we choose what companies and materials get to be viewed and explored by our most valuable asset....our students!
I encourage you to leave comments!
Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
- Diane @dmcordell http://dmcordell.blogspot.com
- Sylvia @smartinez http://blog.genyes.com/
- Lee @teachakidd http://macmomma.blogspot.com
- Andrea @edtechworkshop http://edtechworkshop.blogspot.com/
- Deanna @dstall http://itsaboutcontent.blogspot.com/
I created this animation to honor my network. I apologize if I have left anyone off.
For me it IS about the Network and the Learning. The blog is called, "TJ On a Journey" and I am honored to have such great people on the journey with me.
Thursday, July 10, 2008
The first level is pretty much self-explanatory. It is a very simple three step animation. Make a doodle, click the next button, trace it, click next, trace it a third time and hit Play.
Level Two: Flipbook-Ish has controls that are similar to Wiggledoodle-Ish. In this level the user can create as many frames as they desire. Click on the green plus sign for a new blank frame or click on the duplicate button to create an exact copy. When I first started animation, I used the duplicate button a lot and then moved items in the frame a little.
Level Three: Advanced-Ish adds the possibility of a background layer. It operates much the same as the foreground layer. There is a mover tool in this level and there is an excellent tutorial on using that feature in the "Lessons" section of the website.
Hope this is helpful! I am hoping for some reader submissions to put on this blog!! Get animating!
Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Thank you for sharing this great animation! I love to see what kids are creating! I am always willing to show student creativity.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
"Some parts of the journey were easy... ...and some were very difficult."
"Ask yourself where it is you want to go and then follow the signs you already know..." from "The North Star" by Peter H. Reynolds.
Sunday, July 6, 2008
You have been watching my efforts with Animation using Animation-Ish. Now it is your turn! Go here and download the trial, then get animating. Animate your classroom rules, an algebra problem, a funny mockumentary....anything you want and then email it to me! I will put them on my blog, or if you would rather not, I will just enjoy it privately.
All you have to do is create your animation, click the 'share' button, and save as a QuickTime video.
Today I lay down the gauntlet... Anyone can be an animator and you are going to prove it.
At the very least, leave a comment that includes an idea of how you could use animation in your classroom!
Saturday, July 5, 2008
I am going to depart from my usual blog-about-my-class-projects style today...
I feel truly fortunate to have met and hung out with super-illustrator, Peter H. Reynolds, Peggy Healy Stearns, and the FableVision crew at NECC. As opposed to most people in the world, I met the company (FableVision) before I met Peter. Both blow me away! Above are my name badges from the last two NECC's with Peter Reynolds' artwork.
In a strange set of circumstances, my trip to NECC was a completion of a full circle. Readers know that I am a huge fan of FableVision, Stationery Studio, Peter Reynolds, and Dr. Peggy Healy Stearns. You might wonder what the company and these people did to earn such affection.
A few years ago, I was at the Iowa Technology and Education Connection Conference in Des Moines. I went to a session from Alpha Smart that was led by a very energetic woman by the name of Arlene. I was impressed by the AlphaSmart, but BLOWN AWAY by the program she used to demonstrate the ease of copying the text you had entered on the AlphaSmart to the computer. She showed a program called, "Stationery Studio." Just from looking it at it, I could tell that someone had spent a lot of time working with educators and had thoughtfully developed a great tool. One tool, the black & white button, made me want it all the more. By clicking one button, you remove the color for printing. You are no longer forced to look at poor gray-scale imitations of art.
I stalked Arlene at ITEC. I went to her booth....I followed her around. I had to find out how to get the program. I ended up calling FableVision and getting a copy. I went home and showed the software to the elementary where I work and they bought it. Wow!
Later, I learned about more of their products. Eventually, I was asked to be an Ambassador which was a new group that would review and promote software programs. I suggested that they come to the Iowa Conference and that happened!!! Peter Reynolds was the keynote and Bill Norris came and set up a booth. I was so excited. I read everything on the FableVision website and everything on Peter Reynolds' website. My first thought on reading the website is that no one could be THAT sincere. I was SO wrong. After the Iowa conference and two NECC trips, I can tell you that everyone at FableVision follows the company mission. Everyone loves kids and wants educators to be successful.
Now, for the full circle..... I was privileged to be asked to be a guest presenter in Peggy Healy Stearns' NECC session. Peggy Healy Stearns designed Stationery Studio and is one of my heroes! After the presentation, I had the opportunity to meet some wonderful people from Tom Snyder Productions. One of those people was Arlene--- from the Iowa conference where I first found Stationery Studio! I could hardly contain myself. I had just hung out with FableVision friends, presented with my hero, Peggy Healy Stearns, and I was meeting the person who helped set it all in motion!
The North Star, a Peter Reynolds story about journeys and following stars really had extra strong meaning for me! My journey as a teacher/professional/person has been impacted by meeting all of these amazing people.