As long as one other person is mildly amused, I might as well keep entertaining the two of us.
So in the theme of restrictions creating creativity and my own desire to be doing things more directly related to the classroom- I have decided to start Zombie Vocabulary1. I’ll take a few words from Merriam-Webster’s word of the day and create a zombie2 themed use of the word that I’d use with my students (if I had them).
So to start things off here’s facetious- WOD from Oct. 14th.
[cue Tom Petty’s “Time to Move On”]
For those who haven’t already counted me out, now’s the moment you’ve been putting off for months. I’ve enjoyed my erratic posting on Bionic Teaching over the past couple years. Tom, thanks for letting me ride along with you for awhile. I’m continuing my professional development work at Varina High, but I’ve decided to dedicate my personal time to other explorations and exploits. You can find me at my newly renovated home, Cynical Idealists. Expect nothing less than what I’ve always provided: Everything from the heart, and nothing on a timeline.
It was pretty interesting to me in a couple different ways.
One, I got to meet (in some cases just sit in the room with) a lot of interesting people and add their various feeds into my aggregator. There’s something interesting about these type of conferences. There really small and intimate. They are full of people who really want to be there, and that are passionate about the topic.
Two, I’m really convinced that HCPS needs to go to the WPMU model. We’ve got all sorts of schools doing their own thing with tons (relatively) of individual blogs. This means individual updates, individual theme uploads, individual plugin uploads and most importantly no community outside the school and little interconnection within the schools between blogs.
I think that’s what most people don’t get. In my opinion, Jim Groom has done such interesting things at UMW because he has worked hard at connecting the individual blogs, at creating community. He makes comments, he brings key posts to the forefront for attention. He’s made a unified whole. That’s where the power is and it’s interesting power because it’s exponential. We saw evidence of that in the usage stats for UMW Blogs. You get people on there, you get classes communicating and you’ve built something that draws others in, that inspires other professors and students. The technology isn’t inconsequential but it sure isn’t the focus.
I want to see that being done in HCPS. We’re much larger and our courses are much more homogeneous so we should be able to get even more out of our community. I want classes from different schools working together. There’s also power in being able to see how much activity is going on. I’m reading a book on persuasion right now 1 and the first thing they talk about is how much impact the actions of others has on what we decide to do2. So if I can show lots of other teachers using blogs I have a powerful tool to convince others that it’s worthwhile.
That’s gives me an interesting segue into what Patrick Murray-John is doing with Simile 3 and using it to mine the data being produced by the blogs to reformat the information in ways that change how you might discover relationships between
blogs authors and classes4. I usually feel the more ways you can look at information, the better.
We also got a chance to look at what WP 2.7 was going to look like and there were some really beautiful options that’ll make life much more pleasant for me- including-
- internal browsing and installation for plugins
- internal upgrades for WP itself
- and a re-designed interface
It was pretty good stuff and Automattic was kind enough to send Jane Wells to talk to us about it. She did a great job and even took the time to see if Jim was really as crazy as his posts to the WPMU mailing list made him appear5.
I got lots of ideas, large and small, from all the presenters. Once I actually do something with them I’ll make the posts and give the credit but it makes sense to me to put up before jabbering on. Supposing my classes make enrollment I’ll be teaching three edtech classes at the Univ. of Richmond in the next couple of semesters and plan to do them entirely in WordPress. I’ve now taught two courses in Blackboard and have tired of punching myself in the face every time I use it.
1 yes, my goal is to totally manipulate the world and logic sure doesn’t cut it
2 solid research on this- we are all just lemmings
3 we all know how much I like Simile
4 reminder to self- blogs don’t connect, people do
5 he’s not by the way- I couldn’t convince him to attack anyone the night before the conference
I’m looking at doctoral programs and not
really finding what I want. I see lots of things that will lock me into what others think I need to know, lots of chances to end up stuck in a program I hate.
I’ve had a number of people say to me “It’s not the program, it’s what you put into it.” Yeah, I know but, you see, this program is going to take time away from what I’m already trying to learn, so it needs to be worth it. I’m going to have to do whatever work they require no matter how useless, mundane or repetitive it may be. I already did that to get a master’s degree2. I got some good out of it but there was lot of wasted time and energy3. That’s time and energy I could have used to do things on my own, to learn things.
What I want to learn about is that area where design, cognitive science, advertising, data visualization, gaming (mainly ARGs) and education overlap. Where’s that program? Who would let me build that program? I don’t care about EDD or PHD or whatever. I just want a few people around to help guide me and talk about things. I want the stupid letters checked off so they don’t stop me from doing something I may want to do in the future.
I want a program that is flexible and focused on the real-world intersection of education and technology. I want to be able to set my own goals and play a major role in deciding what I need to learn in order to accomplish them. I’m not an ego maniac, I’d love to do this in an environment where I consult with people better and more experienced but I want that experience to based on more than writing obscure papers or playing tenure games.
Am I screaming “where is my jet pack?” or do I have any hope of a program like this?
I’m sure this one will get blogged to death but . . . it does fit in with my earlier post so I’ll add to the noise.
Google is hosting 10 million or so photos from Life magazine in a very nice searchable way. They are really nice photos that’d work well in any number of subject areas.
I’ve taken a fair number of public domain photos and dropped the backgrounds so I could use them in various projects. I figured they might be of use to some other people out there. If you click through to the largest image size you’ll find they are decently done (not perfect by any means) but the smaller versions auto generated by Flickr look like COMPLETE garbage. I’m not sure why. But they are PNG files so you can clean them up some more pretty easily if you’d like.
The flickr set is here. Most of the ones up there right now are history related and it’ll likely stay that way for the immediate future.
I’m in a weird place right now. I’m in Central Office- cue ominous music.
Central Office is not a place people normally speak of fondly. It’s often referred to as one of those places where people go to get out of touch and become bossy.
I don’t like being out of a school. To be honest, I don’t like being out of the classroom2.
I’ve essentially moved into a role where I’m one more step removed from where I feel I have some skills- that is, figuring out interesting and useful ways to use technology to help students learn.
So one of the things I’d like to do is work on at least one lesson each month3. If anyone out there wants to submit something to discuss and make more engaging then I’m game. I’m hoping there’ll be some of that going on because the collaboration and discussion will definitely make the end product better. Failing any submissions, something I that’s pretty likely, I’ll just wander around and find one on the Internet or pick an SOL to work on.
It’s essentially a “Pimp My Ride” for lesson plans. We’ll see if I have the skills to keep up. I should go buy www.pimpmylessonplan.com.
I did this a while back but don’t think I ever posted about it 1.
So vocabulary work often is one the most boring things an English teacher (or anyone else) ever does. The beauty of an English class is that you have a fair degree more flexibility when dealing with vocabulary than a lot of subjects.
Here are two ways I wanted to attack words in a way that’d make them stick.
Students pick a word/root/suffix/prefix and then build an album around it complete with cover art and song choices that reflect that theme. You see my Puffy Ego album above with songs like “
Your You’re2 So Vain” and “I Love Me.”
It’s simple and pretty engaging for students. The association with music (and likely with music they like) should really help internalize the information.
The point is just to have students think more about the words, to do something real with them and to have a little fun. Were it me, I’d have a variety of options like these and allow students to pick various options each week.
1 It’s possible I did and am bad at searching and worse at remembering
2 I’d thank the commenter for catching the typo if he/she hadn’t been such a jerk about it
4 or maybe just put on cafepress