Wednesday, April 30, 2008

MICCA Keynote 2008

Kathy Schrock is today's keynote speaker. Naturally, her handout is all online. As such, I'm not going to blog too much about it - She does a much better job than I do.

Multi User Virtual Environment - the great-great-grandchild of the old Multi User Dungeons (or MUDs) that I used to play in college.

"We never say 'fun,' we always say 'engaging.'"

Tapped In


"Second life: It's like The Sims but not a game."

A lot of info on 2nd life. I've podcasted my opinion on SL before, and my opinion hasn't really changed. It's nice, but I can think of other educational online environments that use less bandwidth and do the same thing.

At MICCA, before it starts.

Taken with Photo BoothI'm sitting here at my Podcasting Booth, which is unfortunately right next to the conference bookstore. I say "unfortunately" because, as a bookworm, I've already found two that I will be buying as soon as they officially open. It's like those books held a vaccum cleaner up to my wallet and sucked the money right out!

... I have no willpower at all.

Here's my assessment of what's going on so far.

+Only took 7 minutes to realize that the horrible beeping noise I was hearing at 4AM this morning was my alarm going off. That's not much earlier than my usual wake-up time, but it usually takes longer for me to get out of my more primitive "ART GUY SMASH SNOOZE BUTTON!" stage of regaining consciousness.

+Found a good parking spot in a garage right next to the conference hall.

-After trying two other parking lots.

-And it'll cost almost $30. Ouch.

-When I got here Registration had no list with my name on it.

-Nor did they know where the podcasting booth was.

+A few minutes later they got their computers up and were able to answer both questions.

+Kathy Schrock signed in right next to me.

+She recognized me.

-This boosted my already overinflated ego.

+The wifi for the conference is working.

-For now.

So all things considered, I'd say I'm off to a good start. There are a few obstacles, but most of them are either already resolved or will be soon.

More to follow...

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Academic Aesthetic 158: MICCA Freebies

This time around I might sound a little different - that's because I'm using my Creative Zen again, rather than GarageBand. I figured since I would be demonstrating it tomorrow I should get back into he process of actually using it.

The books I ramble on about in this episode are Kidcast: Podcasting in the Classroom and Kidcast: Creative Podcasting Activities.

I was a bit hesitant when I got an email from the publisher asking if I wanted to give these books away at my presentation, mostly because I'd like to think I have some level of integrity and I don't want to look like I'm stooping low to hawk anything that comes by.

When the books showed up, I opened up the first one to give it a read-through.  I have to say, the only thing I didn't like about them was the fact that they have those plastic ring bindings.  Other than that, I'd say they answer 90% of the questions I get asked about podcasting.  I wouldn't recommend the Podcasting in the Classroom book to someone who's been podcasting for a year or more, but if you're just getting started I'd say it's definitely worth it to have one of these.

As for the activities book ... I didn't read that one, mostly because I was unsure if I should take the shrink wrap off of it or not.  These are door prizes for people who will be attending my session, after all.


Does this make me a sell-out?

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Audio Overload

iTunes OverloadAs I write this, my wife and I are listening to one of the 80 unplayed podcasts on my computer, while even now iTunes is downloading more. This is after I've gone through and unsubscribed to many podcasts, some of which I miss already, complete with twinges of guilt. The "fat," so to speak, has been "trimmed."

I would feel like I'm treading water here, but with over a day's worth of audio (not even counting the video, mind you...), It's more like I'm in way over my head.

[Insert a few paragraphs where I whine a bit more, here. I wrote them, then deleted them in a moment of temporary sanity.]

As I see it there are three reasons why I have this problem:

  1. Some people are releasing daily content and others seem to have turned podcasting into a full time job. And alas, practice makes perfect. The daily episodes I listen to are very, very good.

  2. Believe it or not, I have a life outside of the edu-blogo-podcasto-sphere. I know, I know, even I find that comment to be suspicious. But still, not every activity allows me to listen to podcasts while I'm doing it. Teaching, reading, and sleeping are among these activities. (And I'm too old to cut back any more on my sleep.)

  3. We moved back in August, cutting over 15 minutes off of my commute. That half an hour (counting the round trip) of prime podcast listening time every school day adds up pretty fast.

I'm not the only one who's had this problem, either. Steve Dembo and Doug Belshaw went so far as to wipe their RSS feeds clean and start over. I don't think I'm ready to go that far, as I'm too attached to the ones to which I'm still subscribed. (Note: My account has zero unread blog posts, and no, I didn't just click "Mark All Read.")

I'm sure there's a solution to this, but I'm not going to come up with it this late on a school night. I guess I'll sleep on it.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Author Puppets

Courtesy of CraftyPodOkay, maybe it's just the kid in me but I totally want to make these with or without teaching it to my students.

Maybe it's because I like making simple puppets, or perhaps it's because I like combining photos with other things. Perhaps it's because I just like playing with toys.

You know what? I think it's all of the above.

But here's a question for you - if you wanted to make one of these, whose head would you use? A personal hero? Family member? Your own? Let me know with a comment to this post. I'm curious.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Academic Aesthetic 157

Help!In this podcast I'm looking for a few good podcasters.

I'll be presenting a session at MICCA called "Podcasting Tips and Tricks." As I've done before (*cough* Edublogging 101 *cough*), I've created a wiki rather than print out a bunch of dead tree copies. I think I have it fleshed out enough for a 45 minute presentation, but it could always use more work - that's where you come in.

If you're someone who's learned something while creating podcasts, or even if you just know of a good resource or how-to guide, why not go over to my wiki and add it in? Even if you do nothing more than add a link to someone else's wiki on podcasting, it'll still be a big help.

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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Academic Aesthetic 156

I've been inspired!

More on the inspiration later, but first two things: Yesterday on a whim (since it has nothing to do with my usual ed/tech/art ramblings) I posted a blog entry that included 20 things about myself ... but one of them was a lie.  I invited readers to guess which one is false, and at the time I'm writing this 4 people have made their guesses but no one's gotten it right, yet.  If you feel like playing along, you can go here.

Next up, I'm cross-posting this on Teachers 2.0 strictly for item three on today's agenda.  Teachers 2.0 is a much larger community, as evidenced in more than one significant way, and I really want to hear people's feedback.  You can comment here or there, although to be honest more people might read your response if you post it there.


Ok, on to the heart of today's episode.  In the past I've expressed mixed feelings about high stakes standardized testing.  I feel that our goal as educators should be to prepare students to be successful in the "real world," and that teaching to the test (which seems to be an inevitable outcome of this kind of assessment) does not do this - especially if and when the test itself is not assessing skills that will be required in the real world.

People in the U.S. reading this now may immediately think of NCLB, but I was teaching before that legislation passed I recall high stakes assessment  being disproportionately emphasized back then, too.

Now in the past every time I expressed this opinion, I added that while I dislike tests like this I feel I can't complain too much because it's difficult to think of another way to compare schools from year to year across a district, county, or nation without some sort of one-size-fits-all non-subjective bar with which we can measure student achievement.

But the other day, I put two and two together.  What's our goal again?  To prepare students for the real world.  So how should we assess them?  How about by looking at how they perform in the real world, or at least in response to real world situations.

What if, instead of subjecting our students to tests that stress out everyone involved, we created some form of rubric to evaluate how they do after they stop calling themselves students? The rubric could include things like salary, job satisfaction, and any one of a number of variables that we apply to ourselves when we ask ourselves if we think we've been successful.

Of course if we adopted this system there would still be some problems.  True assessment would not be able to be measured until they were no longer our students, thus keeping us from correcting discrepancies that a well written standardized test may have caught.  Maybe a combination of the two?  I don't know.

I'm not saying this is the perfect solution.  I'm not even saying I've thought this completely through yet, but it is something I've been mulling over, and I'd love to hear your opinion on the whole thing.  What have I overlooked?  Why would or wouldn't this type of assessment be a good idea?  If it was your job to create the real life rubric, what would be the core variables worth measuring?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

19 Facts, 1 Lie

This was inspired partially by Steve Dembo's little trivia post, but mostly by famed webcartoonist & adventurer Ryan Estrada. Granted, Mr. Estrada's are much more fanciful, but I still like my list. See if you can guess which one is false! And yes, I know some of these do make me sound a bit full of myself (assuming they're true). However, I think there are some embarrassing ones in there as well (assuming they're true). (After this we'll return to my irregularly scheduled education / technology / art podcasts. I have one half written.)

  1. Not a clue...or is it?I was born without tonsils. [TRUE! See the comments.]

  2. I was also born with my umbilical cord wrapped around my neck. The lack of oxygen at this crucial point may explain #19 on this list. Well, it explains a LOT of things.

  3. There is footage of me getting attacked by a goat. [TRUE! See the comments.]

  4. On my first real date ever I locked my keys in the car with the engine running. [TRUE! See the comments.]

  5. An astronaut once signed my hall pass. [TRUE! See the comments.]

  6. I once had a high school teacher tell my class "Oh yeah, my wolves came home last night." He wasn't joking.

  7. I have climbed up one side of a mountain and down the other. More than once.

  8. I once forgot to take off my glasses while cliff diving, and spent the rest of that week long vacation without them. I am legally blind without my glasses. [TRUE! See the comments.]

  9. I once accidentally erased my college advisor's computer hard drive. [TRUE! See the comments.]

  10. After an ATM machine ate my debit card, I walked several miles through over a foot of snow to get it back from the bank. [TRUE! See the comments.]

  11. I once met former president Gerald Ford, but at the time I was too young to understand why it was a big deal. My parents still tease me for that. [FALSE! See the comments.]

  12. I once pointed to a student's HTML code and said "There's your problem, you used two apostrophes instead of one quotation mark." I was right. [TRUE! See the comments.]

  13. After all those art classes, I still don't hold my pencil correctly. [TRUE! See the comments.]

  14. My father is the son of a carpenter from Nazareth. [TRUE! See the comments.]

  15. I have taught every grade level there is in the U.S. educational system.

  16. In college I started not one, but two international writing clubs.

  17. I have been interviewed on the news more than once. [TRUE! See the comments.]

  18. As a child when I fell off of my grandmother's porch railing and broke my wrist, I was berated for misbehaving and not taken to the hospital for 24 hours. [TRUE! See the comments.]

  19. I gave up a department chair position to teach art on a cart in not one but four schools, and considered it a step up.

  20. I am a fourth generation teacher.

Ok, so there are the facts ... sort of. Remember, one of them isn't true. The question is, which one?