Saturday, May 26, 2012

MAC Week Four: Wimba Post

I was so sorry to miss Wimba this week, these have been some of my favorite sessions this month.  We had graduation practice Wednesday afternoon, a carload of sponsors took the kids over to the convention center and we ran through the ceremony twice.  Afterwards, we stopped for a margarita (or two) and the next thing I knew I was missing Wimba!

I listened to the archives, sounds like a good session.  And I appreciated the clarity on next month's assignments, I was confused about what was going to happen as well.  I've gotten my letter of submission from the conference where I applied to present, so one assignment down!!

In the Wimba session, we were asked to compare The Art of Possibility to the Power of Positive Thinking and Oprah's Secret.  I only have experience with the Power of Positive Thinking, which I was raised with, and I do see some similarities.  Both point out the benefits of approaching life with a positive attitude, but I thought Zander's book gave more concrete examples and illustrated the "how."  I really enjoyed the book, in fact, I've recommended it to my principal as his summer read.
My favorite chapters in the book were chapter 6: I just love Rule No. Six.  I plan to make myself a sign to go on my desk that only I can see, to remind me to take it easy on myself.  My other favorite chapter was chapter 7: The Way Things Are.  I need to constantly remind myself about this chapter.  It's so easy to get bogged down and dispirited when things aren't going according to plan, it's easy to lose your way when that happens.  I just have to remember that this is the way things are now, not forever.

This book is definitely my take-away from this course.  As I said, I've already passed it on to my principal to read for inspiration and motivation this summer.  I'm planning to get a hard copy for myself that I can make notes in.  Next year, I hope to use several strategies in my class, namely Rule No. Six, giving A's, recognizing The Way Things Are, white sheets and leading from any chair.

MAC Week Four: Leadership Post

Who are my role models?

I would have to say at this point in the evolution of my teaching craft, the teachers at Full Sail and my cohort are my role models.  My professors this year have opened all the doors and windows for teaching technology, well, and teaching in general.  I've learned things from them that I never really thought I wanted to know! And my cohort, where do I even start?  Obviously we are all like-minded individuals, since we all joined this program because we wanted to change or improve our teaching methods.  There are many lessons that I'll take away from this year of intense learning, here are a few of my favorite memories:
Bill's professionalism,
David's heart,
Cindi's courage,
Dara's faith,
Shrav's mad skills,
Golda's persistence,
Kristen's conviction,
Faith's dream,
Katherine's enthusiasm,
Rodolfo's music,
Irving's spirit,
Duwaine's attitude,
Rosa's swagger,
Alyson's talent,
Tricia's conviction,
Kim's intelligence,
Joe's ability,
Bryan's tunes,
and the memory of everyone else that I missed, and all of their talent!

On a high note, my principal told me this week that if I get accepted to present at the conference in New Hampshire, he'll buy my plane ticket! So here's hoping....

Friday, May 25, 2012

MAC Week Four: Comment to Bill

In his blog, Harris' Helpful TechEd Tips, Bill wrote about his new job this week:
"In my weekly reading of The Art of Possibility this week I was attracted to the chapter on creating frameworks for possibility. After seven years in my current dream position I will be moving on to another dream position. I will be the Educational Technology Director for a PreK-12 private school. The school is a technologically progressing institution seeking advice, ideas, and leadership to be forward thinking and not downward spiraling in technology adoption.

I see my initial challenge, not yet knowing the political landscape; as working with educators some who may be reluctant to immerse themselves or their students into technology and others who are ecstatic. I will need to find the sparks that will ignite them. In fact I will be seeking the enrollment, for some, in something they may not have complete “buy-in” yet."

Bill, I can't imagine anyone better for the job than you! Our coursework at Full Sail has certainly prepared you for a bunch of teachers who are stuck in a rut! After all, how many times in the past year have we been faced with coursework that we had no idea how to do or even begin to approach?? But look at us now, ready to go out there and light the spark in our co-workers.  I wish you were coming to my school!

MAC Week Four: Comment to Katie

In her blog post this week, Katie Ross wrote:
"Excuse me, does anyone have a lighter because I have a light that needs to be sparked!

Over the past 11 months I’ve put a lot of things to the side to focus on school so that I could get the most out of it. I can now say, since I can see the end so close  ( No worries Professor Joe, I’m not taking a break yet)I”ve been thinking what I’m I going to do with all of my free time.  The answer finally came to me over a short vacation last week and it’s, volunteer for the Big Brother Big Sister organization here in Orlando. I want to spread my spark out to children who are just looking for a spark to follow. Who are looking for assistance lighting their own spark. As a small speck on this big universe I always try to give back. However the time has come for me to give back to another person.  The ending of the EMDT program is a great time for me to pick up another life changing torch."
I can't imagine a better testimony to the power of our program than you carrying the torch into a place where young people are yearning for a spark! What a great use of your skills, and a great way for you to pay it forward, in a way.  Those kids will be in "our" classrooms one day, and they will be carrying your motivation and spark with them.  Thanks, Katie, for being you!

MAC Week Four Blog Post: The Art of Possibility

In my reading this week, chapters 9-12, I was struck by several of Zander's stories and how his openness to possibility changed so many people and situations.
In Chapter 9, Lighting a Spark, Zander details his trials when trying to find a corporate sponsor for his youth symphony.  By being open to the possibility of an answer that was slightly different than the one he was expecting, Zander ended up helping out Arthur Anderson, so that they in turn could help him.  And more importantly, all of them were able to impact the lives of a thousand needy children! I was at the point of tears thinking about those underprivileged students and the spark that Zander and his orchestra brought into their world.
In Chapter 11, Creating Frameworks for Possibility, I was again moved to tears by the letters that the orchestral students wrote to the NASA scientists, and the letters that were sent back to them.  What an awesome exercise, to connect music and science and let them both see the incredible value inherent in their work.  And the idea that those letters will be available on the space station for all the astronauts to read as needed? Awesome!

Here's a story worth watching, if you missed it the first time it aired:

Thursday, May 17, 2012

MAC Week Three: Leadership Post

Leadership Project: Presentation of Action Research Findings

I have applied to present at the Christa McAuliffe Technology Conference.  My presentation on increasing student motivation, attendance and authentic learning through the use of technology should fit right in with their overall theme:
Engaged & Personalized Learning ~ Authentic & Innovative Strategies
Emerging Technologies ~ Social Media, eLearning, & Mobile Computing
21st Century Skills & Global Citizenship ~ Expanding Horizons
Data-driven Instruction, Assessment, & Policy Issues

Leadership Blog Post #1

Leadership Blog Post #2

Presentation: Motivating Students with An APPle a Day!

MAC Week Three: Comment for Katherine

In her blog, Katherine Olivar also commented on Rule Number 6! She said:
"For chapter 6, all I could think about was the movie Singing in the Rain with Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O'Connor. One scene Donald O'Connor's character is trying uplift the spirits of his best friend Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly). He performs a song and dance routine to the melody of Cole Porter's Be A Clown, memorably renaming it to Make 'Em Laugh. I saw the movie before I could go to school and noticed my mother laughing and having a good time watching that particular scene. At that moment, I wanted to be able to make people laugh and appreciate a good time while in my presence. To this day, that mentality is part of my everyday nature.

Here is the scene and have the best ____ ever!"

I love Singing in the Rain! If you can watch Gene Kelly sing and dance without smiling, something is wrong with you! I loved your story about your Mother...reminded me of mine.  I'm not sure that I shared with you that my mom is currently serving in Romania with the Peace Corps.  She just got the Mother's Day box that we sent her today, and in it an iTunes gift card so she can go shopping for her iPod Touch.  She said she lost Carol King's Tapestry in an update, and she just can't start her day w/o hearing "You've got to get up every morning, with a smile on your face and show the world, all the love in your heart!" 
Keep smiling and laughing, Katherine!

MAC Week Three: Comment for Shrav

In his blog, classmate Shrav Krishna comments on this week's readings:
"Are you enjoying 'The Art of Possibility' yet? Did you think it was possible to remove yourself from a seemingly constrictive and incessant bind to rack up accomplishments and enter a convalescence of enjoying a life full of zest and free will? I live in Chicago guys, where this week into next the NATO summit will literally be invading all aspects of my world. My family and I received letters of bizarre announcements, such as our mail being delayed and to avoid bringing backpacks or water bottles onto the public transportation services. Yet, rather than complain, I have bestowed upon myself the opportunity to practice Rule Number 6 (to lighten up), succumb to a newfound appreciation for the global leaders from 28 countries visiting Chicago, be in the present and embrace the silver lining, and give way to what is to come. This book we are all reading is changing my life completely."

What an awesome opportunity, Shrav! I hope you definitely take this moment to live in the now and enjoy the way things are! With your skills and talent, all those world leaders could be there just for the off chance of bumping into YOU!


MAC Week Three: The Way Things Are, and don't forget Rule No. 6!

As I read the next four chapters in The Art of Possibility this week, I couldn't help but reflect upon the discussion board topic that we were also give for this week.  I'm pretty sure Dr. Joe knew what he was doing this week.  Our discussion this week had to do with the barriers to integrating technology in the classroom.  We were supposed to discuss, from our experience, what it is that keeps teachers from embracing new technology.  Our answers varied from time commitment to fear of failure, lack of PD to lack of support from Admin. Since most of us are classroom teachers, we hit probably the top ten roadblocks, easily.  But after the reading this week, my eyes are open to some new possibilities!

In the chapter, The Way Things Are, the authors discuss our tendency to see the negative in a bad situation, instead of seeing it for what it really is...just another situation.  They also discuss the tendency to express problems as a downward spiral, I hear this all the time in the Teacher's Lounge!!  The same teachers who balk at integrating new technology are typically the same people who express their frustration with "these" students, who are always the worst students ever, and Oh! Just wait! The class coming up is the worst EVER!! It's so frustrating, and disheartening, if you buy into all that talk.  Why would anyone ever want to dedicate their lives to teaching? It's much more encouraging to think of these kids as being different from previous generations, not better or worse, and to think of ways to reach them that weren't available in previous generations.

Where are you speaking from:

And finally, lest we all forget, remember Rule No. 6!!

{Not to give it away if you haven't read the book, but Rule No. 6 simply states: Don't take yourself so goddamn seriously!}
{PS: There are NO other rules!}

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

MAC Week Two: Leadership Blog Post...To Present or Publish?
So I checked out a few more nearby conferences this week, and couldn't find one that fit my needs.  It hadn't occurred to me that many conferences only allow members to present, and membership isn't cheap!  So I went back to look at the three organizations that I already belong to: NEA, NSTA and NABT.  All three have publications, and all three are accepting manuscripts at this time.  I'll need to take a few days to look over the submission requirements.  I already see that NSTA wants you to state that your manuscript has not been submitted anywhere else before they review it.  At this point, I will start working on a paper and fine tune it as I decide where exactly to submit it.

MAC Week Two: Comment #2 to Katie's Blog Post

On her blog, Katie Ross posted about her reactions to our reading assignment this week.  In part, she said,
"The statement which Benjamin Zander states at the beginning of The Art of Possibility he talks about two salesmen going off to sell shoes in Africa, this is a fantastic example of how teachers should think of their teaching opportunities. You see, in his story he states that one of the salesmen sent word back home that the idea of shoes is hopeless because no one there wears shoes, but the other salesman sent a more optimistic letter back full of hope stating that he has the opportunity to get people to start wearing shoes. In the classroom we have to think the same way about our students. We should not focus on the fact that we have a large group of students who do not want to learn; rather we should focus on the possibility of finding new ways to get the students more excited about learning. This is what the EMDT program has taught me over the past 11 months. We have been given the tools to sell shoes to the shoeless, an amazing opportunity to teach those who have not yet discovered the joy of learning."

Katie, you hit the nail on the head! We have been given the tools to sell shoes to the shoeless!! In fact, when I first read that paragraph I thought about some of my fellow teachers who only want to complain that kids these days are somehow less able to learn than kids in the past.  Because they want to use video, music, computers, technology...those same teachers label them as lazy, or somehow less than previous generations.  I'm so proud to be part of a group that can see the shoeless for who they are! Not more, not less...just people waiting for us to come provide the shoes for them to journey through life in!

MAC Week Two: Comment #1 to Cynthia's Blog Post

On her blog, Affecting Eternity, Cindi wrote about her reaction to giving students an "Easy A" before the assignment is graded:
"I contemplated for a long time on what is meant by “The Easy A”.  At first reading, I thought that it doesn’t make sense to just pretend that all students are the same and they all get an A.  Pretending that my students will all rise to the challenge and do things they can’t do.  

After sleeping on it and being back in school with my 8th graders after thinking about it, I read that section again.  Maybe what he meant is that giving out The Easy A brings out what is unique in students, rather than how they fall when “standardizing” kids against each other.   Grades (and of course the high-stakes testing I just administered) are all about how my students measure up against all other 8th graders in Ohio.  Grades and OAA scores do not take into consideration the environment and unique talents of my kids. The Easy A however, allows students to face their own unique challenges and tell why and how they deserve their A.  This would give a teacher richer information:  not how they stack up against others, but how they stack up against their own hopes and dreams.  This concept aligns with the Social and Emotional Learning program my school has instituted, and I can see how it can have great benefits.  However, my district says I have to assign grade cards and administer OAAs.  To find how The Easy A can be used in my classroom is a challenge I will have to think more about."

I know exactly what you mean, Cindi! I have to give grades with categories and weights decided on by my district. I have to give district assessments and prepare my kids for a state test.  I'm really not sure how the idea of giving A's to students fits in with those district policies.  I do have some flexibility on the more creative projects though, you might think about giving A's there and seeing how your students respond when they can express their ideas anyway they want to express them!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

MAC Week Two: Blog Post "Giving an A"

In reading the first four chapter of The Art of Possibility by Roz and Ben Zander, I was struck by several interesting ideas.  First, the beginning of the book appears to be about positive thinking, and the power of positive thinking.  I recognize it immediately because that is what I was taught growing up.  All you have to do is picture yourself doing....or being...or wearing...My mom was especially good at helping you channel your wants and desires into positive thoughts.  To this day, my grown children will still call her (or me) and ask us to help "think" them into (or out of) a situation.  My mother also taught me the opposite side of this coin, be careful what you ask might get it!

The second thing that resonated with me is the idea of giving all of my students an A in the beginning, to break down the barriers to learning.  Several years ago I had a very diverse class, with every level of learner and every kind of student, it was a real challenge.  There was a lot of competition, both real and imagined, between the "A" students themselves, and between the "A" students and everyone else.  I was an "A" student myself, but as a teacher I've found that I have a real affinity for those students who work hard but don't ever seem to reach that "A" level of work.  So I gave my students the assignment of bringing in a 3-D cell model, made of any material they wanted to use, as long as they could properly interpret the required parts of the cell.  I gave the class three days to present the project to their classmates, and of course the "A" students signed up for the first slots.  All of their projects were elaborately done, made with purchased materials, some even commercial grade look-a-likes.  At the end of the second day, I held two of my basketball boys back and asked them if they had gotten some ideas for their project so they could present the last day.  They hemmed and hawed, it was too much money, too much work, too much time, etc.  You've all heard it.  I jokingly said, "Oh come on guys, I could buy a 99¢ hamburger from Wendy's and present it to this class as a cell two have to be able to come up with something!"  Well, the next day they showed up, one with a hamburger still in the wrapper (a plant cell) and one out of the wrapper (an animal cell) and they did a perfect job explaining how they'd arranged all of the add-ons, condiments, etc. to represent the cell.  They both received A's on their project.  Now, I thought it was a fair grade, but don't for a minute think that my traditional "A" students liked it.  They thought it was cheating, or that I was playing favorites.  I tried to explain to them my reasoning for the A, but in the end I decided that it didn't have to be justified.  According to the rubric, the two boys earned an A.  In my heart, they deserved an A.

Maybe I should try giving them all an A in the beginning and see what they can create when the grade isn't the most important thing.

Friday, May 4, 2012

MAC Week One: Leadership Post

To Present? or not To Present?

That is the question! My first thought was, heck yeah! I'll present, I'm much better at that than at writing a paper.  Then I had to think about where, and when, and how to get there.  Then I was back to my original question.

To Present? or not To Present?

Of course, I've always dreamed of presenting at an NSTA conference.  My district paid for me to attend conferences for the first ten years I was a teacher at my school, that was my first introduction to the possibility of technology in the classroom.  In fact, I clearly remember making a list at one session, a "wish" list if you will, and bringing it back to my principal.  I'm pretty sure I have everything that was on that list now, and a few things that didn't even exist back then!!
 Unfortunately, all of the NSTA conferences for 2012 are closed for submission of proposals.  And the 2013 conference submissions won't open until September.  So, I guess I'll be trying to get published.  I'm going to start looking into the NSTA publications, The Science Teacher is the one that I have been reading for years.

Stay tuned!

MAC Week One: Comment to Kristen's Blog

See Kristen's entire post on Copyright here:

In her post, Kristen said: "Although I am happy to have covered this subject, again I am questioning the order of class sequence along this journey at Full Sail.  I knew what copyright was and that there were some rules, but I never really knew all that entailed until embarking on my Full Sail journey.  I was first made aware of it when I made my introduction video, Week 1 of Month 1, when I had looped the introduction to a Darius Rucker song as my background music.  I had JUST used iMovie for the first time, the music files wouldn't show because I was missing an update, and my iTunes library was nicely showing right there.  Since then, we have been been constantly reminded of the rules of using your own photographs or making your own clip art.  It wasn't until Full Sail that I was introduced to Creative Commons, a site that I now use often.  Since I have to make up ALL of my own curriculum, I used to always just do a Google search for images and use those throughout my lessons.  Now that I have been made aware, I always try Creative Commons first.  Maybe it is just me, but I think that this lesson and the lesson on iMovie would have been INCREDIBLY helpful in month 1; I had to find out with a marked down assignment."

I couldn't agree with you more, Kristen! I, too, got docked early on for using music that was my own property and then again for using music that I had mistakenly identified as royalty free.  And, it seems that some professors are more lax about deducting those points! I have to admit that I've been guilty of Google-ing images that I need for my classroom presentations as well.  That's one reason that I've never made my presentations public on a school website, I knew that getting the images straight from Google wasn't exactly kosher.  Maybe we should put in one of our evals that we would have really benefited from this class earlier in our course of study.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

MAC Week1 Comment to Cynthia's Blog

See the original post in it's entirety:

"...I found the Good Copy / Bad Copy video to be very fascinating.  I think the Nigerian filmmaker summed up how copyright laws are to be followed succinctly:

“If you don’t have permission, you can’t use it.”

I learned that it is all about getting permission, not about money at all.  I often wonder about showing movies at school. I have seen schools who host family movie nights.  They rent a DVD, and project it in the gym for families to watch together.  I am hesitant to participate; are they breaking copyright laws by showing the video in a large gathering like that, with over 100 people viewing?  Most teachers reply it is OK because they are not charging for it.  I question if they have permission.

Another quote I pondered from Good Copy / Bad Copy was “We don’t want to look at this from the negative angle…copyright is not about stopping people from using your work, but getting them to use your work legally and giving you money for what they have done with your work.”

I think that makes so much sense.  I am not opposed to sharing lessons I have created with others, in fact I believe collaboration is the most crucial tool for teachers today.  However, I do want to be recognized for the work I have done in creating these lessons.  A site like allows for teachers to share lessons, be recognized as the creator, and make money for the intellectual work provided."

I couldn't agree with you more, Cindi! Our school shows AP Films every couple of weeks and I always think the same thing. I thought there was a limit to the number of people who could view a video at the same time or it violated copyright.  I have used other teacher's work before, found while scouring the internet, but I always try to include their name on the work somewhere.  Or, if I change it up to suit my class, I give them credit for the original.  I didn't think that was such a big deal when I first started teaching.  Then I went to a county-wide science teachers meeting once, and a former co-worker was there passing off one of my worksheets as her own.  After that, I put my name on all of my work!

MAC Wk1 reading: Copyright issues, parts 1 - 3: O Brother!

My mother is fond of saying: there’re no new stories…it’s all just the same story, retold.
I’m reminded of one of my favorite movies, “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”  The movie is essentially a remake of Homer’s The Odyssey.  Of course, the copyright on The Odyssey must surely be up by now and who would own that copyright anyway?  A fellow teacher just told me that she uses “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie” to teach The Odyssey. Same story. Who knew?

If it’s all just the same story, retold…then maybe it’s all just the same music, remixed? I still have my old mix tapes from the ‘80’s, in a box somewhere, and I have CD’s that my girls and I made over the years with music mixes (of our own purchased music) on them.  Things are much easier now with digital media, our iPods are just one big mixed device.  In one of the videos we watched, they blamed piracy for killing the record stores.  I think that’s a stretch.  Digital media has been a game changer for lots of industries and only those willing to change with the times are going to survive.  I still buy whole albums on iTunes, most of the time.  And I still buy real books to enjoy the total sensation of reading for pleasure. But I think that re-mixing may be here to stay, in fact, I really enjoy some of the new mixes that use some familiar 80's tunes!

Now I’m off to watch my legally purchased copy of “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”