Thursday, April 26, 2012

Poem in Your Pocket

April is National Poetry Month, and in honor of this several events have popped up. There are some great projects you can do with your students and today happens to be Poem in Your Pocket day and in the spirit of this I would like to share with you a poem I found on a Tumblr where you can submit your own work.

Poem submission by E.K.Merrick

That ache for the sound of the rain on a tin roof,
to be held tight during a summer’s storm,
or lie awake in each other’s sweat on a
humid Sydney night.

Familiar voices, horizons like the scars on my hands
and that soothing lick of a language.
That ache to drive north on the Pacific, speeding away from
the harbour and lights. And for an hour,
there’s nothing,
but the gums and the great expanse of the Hawkesbury.

And that ache to go back to those small coastal places
that define us more than we want to admit.
These places that we flee from, for fear that their rips
will drag us down and coerce us to stay in the sea,
a life lived as it always has been.

But it’s in these places to fall into the
arms of people loved forever,
despite our ever-shifting and contrasting landscapes.

And it’s these small coastal places that soothes this ache,
And it’s there to return home to, smiling. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

EdcampNC 2012 - I survived!

EdcampNC happened over this past weekend, and by some miracle I survived! Seriously, I was worried for awhile.  I mean, there is no set schedule ahead of time, no spotlight speakers, no people to organize - I couldn't even set-up the night before due to another event. We would have to do everything THE DAY OF - the control freak in me was losing it!  But that is the beauty of an Edcamp - it's easy!  Once you have a time and place, it just sort of happens.  My concerns over no one showing up, or no one wanting to speak were unfounded. Yes, we had a lower turnout than I would have liked, yes people did leave at lunch, and yes some sessions were not attended, but that happens at every conference.  The best part to me was listening in on the conversations being held around our building about how we can be the change we want to see in education, and supporting others on that journey. And in the end that is what an Edcamp is all about, being relevant to teachers and giving them the opportunities to explore new things. All in all I feel it was a success and hope to have many more to come!

Created with flickr slideshow.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Music to Work By

I'm always struck by the talk of music that crosses my Twitter stream, not because I don't think we should discuss music, but I love how much new music I discover through social networking.  @digitalmaverick had a great tweet about new music yesterday, and @carl_young always has great music recommendations. I was thinking of a post I wrote a few years ago about my "Theme Music" and how I have different playlist for different types of working. Here are a few of my favorite playlists:

Coffee House: In college I did most of my studying at Cup of Joe near campus and wrote most of my Master thesis at coffee houses in the area. There is something about the rhythm of a coffee house, the people, the caffeine that just works well for me. Most of the music in this list is mellow (although I do have a mellow playlist as well to share). This is the music I use when I really need to get some writing done.

Billie Holiday - If you haven't picked up any of her music, get "The Complete Billie Holiday," It is the perfect music to just kind of hang out in the background.

"Question"  Old 97s - I love the Old 97s and they will come up a good deal on this list, but their acoustic music is just perfect for writing. My favorite is Question, but the acoustic versions of "Designs on You" or "Valentine" are great as well.

Ryan Adams & The Cardinals - I love the work that Ryan Adams did with the Cardinals, but the album "Jacksonville City Nights" is just one of those I could put on repeat all day.

Garden State Soundtrack - I love sound tracks, but the Garden State soundtrack has to be my favorite.  For some mellow tunes, check out "Blue Eyes" by Cary Brothers, "Such Great Heights" by Iron & Wine and "I Just Don't Think I'll Ever Get Over You," by Colin Hay

"Fireflies" - Rhett Miller - the lead singer of the Old 97s, Rhett Miller has done some fantastic solo work. This duet with Rachel Yamagata has to be one of his best

"In the Sun" by Joseph Arthur. This song has been covered by a multitude of people, but the original is still the best.

"White Blank Page" - Mumford and Sons. This may not be an entirely mellow song, but when writing you can definitely feel the writers block Marcus feels when singing about a white blank page and a swelling rage.

Music to get you Psyched up: This harkens back to my Theme music post, but this is the music that gets me going when I need it the most.

"Rolling In the Deep" by Adele - Is there anyone left that doesn't like Adele? "Set Fire to the Rain" is also up there as a song that makes me want to sing very badly at the top of my lungs

"Dog Days are Over" by Florence + The Machine - great for getting you moving

"Four Leaf Clover" "Timebomb" "Doreen" - Old 97s If this music doesn't get you toe tapping there is no hope for you! Check out their "Alive & Wired" album. They are one of the best bands to ever see live.

"Little Lion Man" - Mumford and Sons, The album "Sign No More" is simply fantastic. Go buy it now. Seriously.

"Talk on Indolence""Kick Drum Heart"  "Slight Figure of Speech" - The Avett Brothers. A local band that "did good" The Avett Brothers are a great blend of rock and roll and bluegrassy tones of the south. These songs are great for getting the blood pumping and yelling. These guys are great live as well.

I'm not even close to the end of my list, but I thought I would share a few of my favorites and to post more along the way? Any music you recommend I start listening to?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Remembering Chris

It has been almost a year since the world lost Chris Hondros. I've been thinking about him a good deal lately. Two weeks ago Artspace in downtown Raleigh opened an exhibition, Chris Hondros
A Retrospective, and my friends and I got a chance to celebrate what Chris had given us all - amazing photographs depicting the reality of war. So, I wasn't surprised to hear late last night that Chris had been nominated for a Pulitzer (his second time being nominated), for his work on the Arab Spring, his last and final assignment. I got to see these pictures up close and they were truly breathtaking. They are not for the faint of heart, but I encourage you to peruse these images and share them with your students.

Year End Report

It's that time of year again where year end reviews are coming up. In my world, I don't have to do a fancy report like faculty do (thank goodness), but I do need to highlight what I have accomplished over the past year. It's funny to see a year of your life in a list and to think about how your job has changed over the years.  One of the things I'm most proud of is that I worked with over 20 courses this past Fall & Spring. And those are just the classes I was a guest speaker in and it doesn't count all the faculty I worked with. Now, 20 courses may not sound like a lot, but it is such a huge shift in my position. I really wanted my job to be more than workshops and support. I love teaching and working with faculty, but I wanted to be more hands-on. Now I get to work with faculty on integrating technology in their specific course, not just as a general idea. I get to work with their students, and get to know them.

Now my "biggest" accomplishment this past year may be that we migrated our website to Drupal and I got to geek out on that, but what I'm the most proud of are the differences I've made in the classroom, and I hope they keep inviting me back.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Creating a better Poster Presentation

I've blogged before about poster presentations, but recently I came across this post by Colin Purrington and thought it might be worthwhile to discuss again. I recently attended the SITE conference in Austin, TX and had a poster accepted surrounding our GLIP project (more on that later). I found the posters at SITE, as I do at most conferences, range from professionally graphic designed and glossy to printed out 8.5x11s of a Power Point presentation. Now, a lot of times poster sessions are considered on the low end of the totem pole, if you don't get accepted as a session you can always put in a poster. But I find that poster sessions are great times to really talk to colleagues about the work they are doing. However, a badly designed poster, or worse just a series of Power Point slides can really hurt your chances of getting any interaction with people.
SITE 2012 Poster for GLIP Project
Designing a Poster
I design all of my posters in either Adobe InDesign or Illustrator. Now I used to teach Adobe InDesign and do layout work, so I'm comfortable in it. However, if you bought the Adobe Suite and are only using Photoshop, I HIGHLY recommend you start playing with this software. I use it for all of my posters, both large and small as well as my handouts.  What most people will use to design their poster is PowerPoint. The key to using PP is to make your slide be as large a you will be printing your poster. In other words, if you have a plotter, see what the width of the printable area is, that should be the height of your poster. This is important because some people will design a slide at regular size and just "blow it up" to poster size. This produces grainy and pixelated disatsers.

Now that you have your poster size figured out. Imagine that your poster is separated into quadrants or columns. I personally like a 3 column approach, but that doesn't always fit. I like to use color and outlines to separate areas without "trapping white space." Speaking of white space, don't go over board with a large graphic in the background of your poster or use a black background with white text.  All you will end up doing is wasting ink and making it harder to read. Use your images or diagrams to denote where the quadrants are in your poster.  These should be prominent and have meaning.

Your text should be easily read from about 10 feet away from your poster. The idea of the poster is to be a representation of your ideas, not a copy and paste from an article you wrote.  Remember - YOU will be there to explain the poster. Have your 5 minute elevator speech rehearsed and ready. However, some people are going to want more information. Instead of having a handout, I prefer to create a website (or use the project website you already have) and insert a QR code on your poster. This makes it easy for people to find your extended paper, as well as remember you later.

Colin has a great list of Do's and Don'ts at the bottom of his post that I highly recommend, especially when it comes to effective diagrams.  But the most important thing about poster design is that it really shouldn't be left to the last minute. Start planing and designing early - Colin even recommend posting an image to Flickr to get feedback, a good poster always makes a good impression!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Creating Lifelong Learners

One of the great aspects of my job and one I highly appreciate is that I get to be part of the process of our Accreditation team.  Yes, you heard that correctly, our Accreditation Team (which we call SWAT) is a group that was formed under much duress during an Accreditation year and has grown into what I feel is the heart of our College of Education (but I'm biased). Our group with many others are constantly looking at how we can improve our college and our programs.  We have had several years of re-visioning our programs at the State and University Level, but one thing we keep coming back to is do our students have the "Dispositions" to be teachers. Now, dispositions could be wide open for interpretation, but our Lead & Serve Conceptual Framework, specifically the SERVE section focus on the dispositions we want to see in our students and future teachers. Although all of them are important, three of them are central to my post today; Scholarly, Reflective, & Experienced in practical applications of knowledge.  You see I want our students to know they don't know everything, to constantly be looking to improve themselves and their teaching practices, and to take the time to reflect on what they do know and their process of acquiring knowledge.  Now you may say - that is what a teacher preparation program is for! But we can tell them this is important when they graduate, but sometimes you just need to experience it for yourself.

So how do you get your Pre-Service Teachers to think of going to Professional Development opportunities once they graduate? How do we get them to be self-directed in their learning? How doe we encourage Life Long Learning? You create PD modules, workshops, sessions for them to attend BEFORE they graduate.  Give them an opportunity to take charge of what, when and how they want to learn.

So we have started offering PD sessions to our undergraduate students.  We are not tying them to grades or to classes - we are tying them to licensure. So just like you have to have so many CEUs once you are a teacher, now you need to have so many PD Units to get a teaching license.  We have started offering sessions and want to see them grow as well as have students find their own opportunities for learning. I've held sessions this semester and last Fall, attendance was low, but we had an amazing time. It was the perfect combination of students that wanted to learn and subject matter that could be customized to their needs.  I have high hopes for next Fall!

So what do you think? Will it work? What do we have to be careful of?