Friday, October 23, 2009

Week 4: Are Teacher Colleges Producing Mediocre Teachers?

I found this interesting article in Time commenting on how today's American Education Colleges are not creating a higher echelon of teachers to bring our country's children to the forefront of 21st Century Technology and become competitive on a global scale.  Click here to read the article.  I also found some videos online that you guys might find interesting...

Week 4 Commentary: Jolene Tucker's Blog

Jolene's original blog posting:

In my last blog I talked about how I wasn’t feeling half-full and I really didn’t want to change my thinking, but it is a new day and I have a new outlook, or at least I’m trying.

Chapter 7: The Way Things Are

Sometimes it is really hard to maintain a positive attitude when everything seems to be working against me, but in reading this chapter I know that it is worth trying and I need to learn to take the good with the bad. There are a couple of quotes in this chapter I found that I need to adopt as learning guides in my life. The first is “The risk the music invites us to take becomes a joyous adventure only when we stretch beyond our known capacities, while gladly affirming that we may fail” (pg. 103). I have always been a risk taker, but then often fall apart when I don’t achieve whatever I set out to achieve. This quote is a gentle reminder to me that I must accept the fact that I may fail, yet not give up the risk. The second quote is “Nature makes no judgment. Humans do. And while our willingness to distinguish good and evil may be one of our most enhancing attributes, it is important to realize that “good” and “bad” are categories we impose on the world—they are not of the world itself” (pg. 105). This is probably the biggest eye-opener for me. In working with nature this summer I learned more about the circle of life and the natural food chain as well as how to accept that as the way it is. I need to bring this example into my life and understand that things happen for a reason and people come into our lives for a reason. There is no right or wrong, good or bad imposed upon me. I make that choice and I have to be the one to live with whatever choice I make at that moment and make the most of the outcome.

Chapter 8: Giving Way to Passion

Passion, what is passion? I have a theme that I try to instill in my students and that is to dream big, laugh a lot, and live life to its fullest. This theme is posted in my classroom and I refer to it often. I wish I could adopt this as the theme for my life. In this chapter I learned it’s important to avoid the downward spiral and to embrace the possibilities and that I need to participate wholly and not hold back on my dreams and pursuits. I will be reevaluating my passion. Am I actually moving forward or am I just sitting in neutral? What do I need to do to give way to my passion?

Chapter 9: Lighting a Spark

The story about his father really touched my heart. His statement “Certain things in life are better done in person” (pg. 123), is so true. I have always had a face-to-face policy when discussing serious matters or concerns. I’m an expression reader. I have to know that the other person completely understands my concerns and is accepting and I find that it is easiest to know this when looking someone in the eyes. I like the idea of enrollment as it is discussed in this chapter. In order to be a light for someone else, the passion has to be evident through my eyes. I think about my students. When I’m teaching subject matter that I’m excited about they are much more engaged, but when I’m teaching something that I’m not dedicated to, the connection and energy is lost and my students quickly lose interest.

I know I’ve talked a lot about my summer job, but now I’m seeing that’s because it’s something I’m incredibly passionate about. I found this summer that I have a knack for bringing positive energy into an environment. I am generally a pretty bubbly and energetic person and when I’m excited about something, it is evident to anyone in the vicinity. Through this passion, I found a way to bring smiles to faces that had been missing them for some time and I began to see positive connections being made with people around me. In thinking back, I now believe that the best way to light a spark for others is to wholeheartedly enroll in the objective and share the passion.

Chapter 10: Being the Board

This chapter made me realize that sometimes I tend to blame others and situations for how I am feeling or responding, but ultimately it’s my problem and I have to be the one to decide how to handle each person or situation when it comes my way. This week I have been really down in the dumps. First of all, I’m in a full leg cast which limits my mobility and I am unable to be as independent as I usually like to be. On top of this, my birthday is coming up and I had plans to attend a show this weekend. I was very excited about this show and time with friends, but received an email from Ticketmaster that the show has been cancelled and this knocked me down yet another notch. Throughout the week, I’ve been in a crappy mood and thinking negatively, but I now realize that I’m the only person that can determine my mood and how I’m going to react to the cancellation of the show. By making myself the board in this situation, I realize that since my friends will still be with me, I will still be out of the house, and we will still enjoy a delicious dinner, it’s all good! I’m choosing to change my attitude and I know tonight will be a blast.

Chapter 11: Creating Frameworks for Possibility

I find that this chapter helps me recognize the importance of setting boundaries, avoiding the downward spiral, and enrolling in the objective. When I set boundaries I find that it’s easier to achieve the goal, because I’m not distracted from outside interferences. As for avoiding the downward spiral, I find this can be accomplished best by being passionate and enrolling in the subject at hand. These last two chapters help to tie this book together for me. The story about the little girl with leukemia really touched me because my dad has leukemia. I give the teacher kudos for her assistance in helping her students see the importance of accepting this little girl, but in reading Joann’s blog I was intrigued “The story about the teacher shaving her head brought tears to my eyes. However, I must admit I am at a bit of a loss. The problem was the girl's and the solution came from the outer world. The girl did not make that happen, the teacher did. Am I misreading this example or I am confusing the practice?”, so I reread this section to see what I could gain from this story. This little girl didn’t solve her own problems, but it was done for her by the teacher. I think the connection may have been intended to recognize the teacher for her efforts and passion for her students in this situation.

Chapter 12: Telling the WE Story

This chapter is an excellent ending to an equally excellent book. This chapter discusses what connects us, our goals, dreams, and possibilities. I have been taught over the years to always approach items of conflict with an “I” instead of “You”. I think this is what this chapter means. When explaining my frustrations with someone or something I try to word it in such a way that it brings this issue back to me and avoids placing blame which ultimately reduces defensiveness and allows for a team solution to be made. I have found this to be an effective problem solving technique over the years and I’m going to do my best to remember it in the future.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this book and the positivity it has brought back to my life. I will keep it close at hand and will take time to reference it whenever my glass begins to empty or when I just need to be uplifted a little.

Zander, R. & Zander, B. (2000). The art of possibility. New York: Penguin.

Mike's response to Jolene's blog:

I think that Zander's book was very inspirational and should have maybe been introduced earlier in the program.  I think that someone that is wanting to look at the book seriously needs to move past the facade of it being another "self help" book and take it for what it is trying to tell you: you are in control of your own reality.  It's not really self actualization, but more of the modification of internal thought processes and learning how to remove negative thought processes from your thinking.  This is a lot easier said than done, but anything worth doing will take time and effort if you want to see its real results.  One cannot simply transform his body overnight by going to the gym one time.  The same can be said about this book.  There are no magic secrets.  No quick fixes.  It is something that is gradual and will take a lot of time to see any results from your efforts, but you will see results.  On a purely metaphysical level, you will attract what you are sending out.  If you have an entirely negative attitude the entire time, your outward and inward environment will display this.  The same can be said of someone who has an entirely positive attitude the entire time.  But again, you have to take this rationale with a grain of salt.  You will not win the lottery if you are positively thinking about winning the lottery 24-7.  There are other schools of thought that subscribe to these philosophies, but that is not what Zander is referring to.  In short, this book was a welcome boost to a "month-niner" such as my self.  As we reach our final peak and begin our descent downward toward the finishing line, this book gave some really good insight into what is needed to "keep the eye on the prize" and how I can actualize what I want to obtain in a realistic manner.

Week 4: Show Me What You've Learned Project

The first part of this blog will summarize what I have learned in class over the past four weeks a la comic book art...

The second part of my blog will go over the media aspect of my thesis project.  I will begin shooting and editing a short documentary that I will be incorporating into a website that will supplement my thesis.  The documentary will highlight the Professional Development efforts of the Knox County school system in Knoxville, Tennessee.  I will interview several teachers and students and post their responses to my research.  I am hoping that the website will help shed more light on the growing need for professional development in my state.  Almost a third of the teachers are unable to use or teach 21st Century classroom technology.  My website will also feature what efforts are working, what practices are helping the teachers as well as case studies and research showing the direct correlation between a student's success and a teacher's pedagogical use of technology.  I have had a blast in this class and look forward to using the skills and ideologies in this class to further strengthen my thesis.  Below you will find a rough mock-up of my website so far.  I will be using Adobe Flash, Adobe Dreamweaver and Adobe Photoshop to create the website.  I will use Final Cut Pro to edit the documentary and post it in Flash format on my website.




Here are all of the attributions for the works I am submitting for this project.  All of these photos were obtained legally through

Baby Photo

Care Bears Photo

Lego Copy Machine Photo

Cigarette Guy Photo

Vinyl Record Photo

Podcasts Photo

Kids on Computer Photo

Star Wars Photo

Wikipedia Photo

Wigs Photo

Logo Programming Photo

Buddha Photo

Napster Photo

Obama Poster Photo

John Kerry Photo

Thesis Photo

Student Photo from Website Mockup

Student Photo from Website Mockup

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Week 4 Stickam Session: The Creative Commons Solution

We finished our Stickam chat tonight.  It was very interesting to hear from teachers already in the field (Katie, Seann, Felisa & Claudio).  I liked Felisa's comment on how teachers should be more respectful of students and they will get that respect in return.  I think Katie brought up a very interesting question about teaching Netiquette in the classroom.  Seann's response made the most sense: it has to be right for the situation at hand.  You have to know your students and what the goals of the class are before you tell them the invisible "ins and outs" of traversing the ether of the "Interwebs".  I have really enjoyed working with this team again this month.  Dr. Bustillos has been awesome to work with.  He has helped shed light on some areas of concern that I have been running into with implementing these ideas in a real world situation.  The Creative Commons resources are very important for any teacher that is wanting to teach their students about copyrights and trademarks.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Week 4: Media History: the Rise and Fall of the Music Industry (NPR: Fresh Air)

 Image from:

I thought that the NPR interview was very interesting.  I think that all industries, including the music industry, were caught "with their pants down" when the digital age and the intervention of the Internet took place.  There are several facets to this argument, both positive and negative.  This post will be a short summary of each facet that I gleaned from this interview.

From a technology standpoint, the digital age has benefited (and hurt) the Music Industry.  The Audio Home Recording Act was the first visible industry reaction to changing technologies.  The vinyl record led way to the cassette tape formats, which led way to compact discs, which led way to the digital formats, including Digital Audio Tapes and different file formats.  The technology formats opened up new ways of distribution which created profit loss and ownership problems for the Record Industry.  The Audio Home Recording Act was a feeble attempt to prevent the number of copies a consumer could make of a song or album that they purchased as well as setting precedents in letting the government become involved in the Music Industry.  On the other hand, the quality of music became better over time.  There will always be the long standing argument of the "warm sound" of vinyl versus the "cold sound" of digital music, but that is a post for another time.  As technology evolved, the quality of music increased while the file size of music formats decreased, improving portability and sharing capabilities.  Peer sharing software programs such as Napster and Limewire enabled users to share access to basically the whole library of music created by the human race.

A Brief History of Filesharing: From Napster to Legal Music Downloads

 The History of Napster

Image from:

Distribution problems arose from the technology evolution.  No longer was middle management of record labels controlling the ebb and flow of massaging local promoters, radio stations and record stores.  Peer sharing networks and the advent of the iPod pretty much decimated that line of management in a matter of a few years.  Now people could pick which songs they wanted to hear, buy and/or download without purchasing the whole album.  As illegal music downloading and piracy increased from peer sharing, the Recording Industry went after purveyors of the sharing software, launching over some 35,000 lawsuits.  According to the interview for this assignment, the RIAA has stopped pursuing new lawsuits, but are still going after the original pirates of music that were targeted. 

Image from:

Artists and record labels have had to adjust how to interact with the Music Industry since the digital age changed the face of the industry.  Payola schemes are replaced with up and coming artists using Facebook and Myspace to unveil their latest songs.  The record store has been replaced with iTunes.  The mix tape has been replaced with the CD and the iPod.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Week 4 Reading: The Art of Possibility, Chapters 7-12

Chapter 7: The Way Things Are
I think that one has to stay away from stasis and always try to avoid being comfortable. If you constantly try to reach outside of your comfort zone, you will find that you will remove a lot of fear that controls your decision making process. I think that you will find that if you constantly push yourself, you will find more successful outcomes in your professional life and more happiness and contentment in your personal one. I think that this is what Zander is trying to point out in this chapter.

Being present to the way things are is not the same as accepting things as they are in the resigned way of the cow. It doesn’t mean you should drown out your negative feelings or pretend you like what you really can’t stand. It doesn’t mean you should work to achieve some “higher plane of existence” so you can “transcend negativity”. It simply means, being present without resistance: being present to what is happening and present to your reactions, no matter how intense (Zander, 2000).

Chapter 8: Giving Way to Passion
In this chapter, Zander uses the example of the “one-buttock pianist” as someone that is not fully engaged in what they are doing. I think that, after a while, a lot of us engage in a sort of “auto-pilot” when we are doing our jobs. What Zander wants us to try and do is envision the opportunity that we encounter everyday in our lives. See every moment as one that can lead to greater things, making impacts in other people’s lives while striving to move ours forward. If you notice the more successful people in the world, such as Steve Jobs, you’ll notice that their enthusiasm and energy levels are a lot higher than a lot of people’s.

The order and predictability that civilization strives for supports us to get on with the things that matter to us, like starting companies, guiding our children, studying the stars, or composing symphonies. Yet, because the straight edged organization or our cities and towns – as well as many aspects of our daily lives – tends to mirror our perceptual maps, urban life may magnify the boundaries that keep us in a state of separateness (Zander, 2000).

Chapter 9: Lighting a Spark

I think that this chapter stresses the idea that “there is no passion on paper”. This is a very important lesson for us as instructors to learn. As we move further toward virtual classrooms and online delivery systems, we must not lose the interactivity of one to one with our students. You still need to emotionally engage your students to “light the spark” as Zander puts it. I like the metaphor that Zander uses of the spark, helping us to spread the “fire of possibility and opportunity” to others around us.

Enrolling is not about forcing, cajoling, tricking, bargaining, pressuring or guilt tripping someone into doing something your way.  Enrollment is the art and practice of generating a spark of possibility for others to share (Zander, 2000).

Chapter 10: Being the Board

The main thing that I liked about this chapter was how Zander tried to convey that we have no control over the past and we shouldn’t let the past have control over us. Taking responsibility for the outcome of your own life is very important. Instead of always playing the victim when you ask yourself “why me?”, take the opportunity to see what you can take from this experience. Not every time will be a happy opportunity or experience, but it will add to your journey in life.

Gracing yourself with responsibility for everything that happens in your life leaves your spirit whole, and leaves you free to choose again (Zander, 2000).

Chapter 11: Creating Frameworks for Possibility

Zander uses the example of the child going through chemotherapy in this chapter as a good example of creating a framework for possibility. After the teacher shaved her head, she removed the negative aspect from the “framework” of the classroom. Once that negativity was removed, the students treated the child who had undergone chemotherapy differently (in a positive light). Zander also touches on the idea of one’s vision and bringing that vision to fruition. The vision is a “long line of possibility that radiates outward” (Zander, 2000).

The foremost challenge for leaders today, we suggest, is to maintain the clarity to stand confidently in the abundant universe of possibility, no matter how fierce the competitions, no matter how stark the necessity to go for the short-term goal, no matter how fearful people are, and no matter how urgently the wolf may appear to howl at the door. It is to have the courage and persistence to distinguish the downward spiral from the radiant realm of possibility in the face of any challenge (Zander, 2000).

Chapter 12: Telling the WE Story

I liked the concept that Zander presented in this chapter. We are all comprised of common threads that combine us and bring a commonality to the table that we sometimes forget. When we remove the negativism from our lives, the stumbling blocks that prevent us from fully realizing our potential, we can move forward, both as individuals and as a people. The best way I can visually express this is from the Jodie Foster movie “Contact”. Without ruining the story, Jodie’s character must construct a transportation device that transports her to another place. In addition to building the device, she places some “safety devices” that she feels will add to the design (but they were not in the original schematics). When she uses the device, the “safety devices” prevent it from functioning properly. Suffice it to say, the “safety devices” that we place in our own live prevent it from functioning properly as well.

The WE story defines a human being in a specific way: It says we are our central selves seeking to contribute, naturally engaged, forever in a dance with each other (Zander, 2000).


All in all, this was an amazing book and one of my favorites from the entire program. I think it should be required reading for everyone, not just in our program, but in other programs of study. The principles that Zander presents in this book are simple, but very effective and can be transferred to almost any situation. There are some new attitudes that I will take from this book and try to incorporate into my own life experiences.

Look around. This day, these people in your life, a baby’s cry, an upcoming meeting – suddenly they seem neither good nor bad. They shine forth brilliantly as they are. Awake restored! the dream revived (Zander, 2000).

Zander, R. & Zander, B. (2000). The art of possibility. New York: Penguin.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Week 3 Reading: Art of Possibility, Chapters 1- 6

Here are my thoughts on each of the chapters we had to read this week in The Art of Possibility:

Chapter 1:  It's All Invented

I think that this chapter boils down to how one reacts to a situation.  I like reading self help books from time to time, gleaning bits of advice from here and there.  I really liked the example of the two shoe salesmen in Africa.  I feel that almost any situation can come out as a positive one.  It just depends on how you look at it.  You make your own destiny.
"What might I now invent, that I haven't yet invented, that would give me other choices" (Zander, 2000).
Chapter 2:  Stepping Into A Universe of Possibility

You have to kind of reinvent the way you handle things if you want to be more successful in your endeavors.  Our reality is a direct reflection of how we perceive and react to everything (how's that for new-agey double speak).  You have to move in an "ebb and flow" to everything.  Your attitude and actions aren't going to give you overnight results, but they will put you on the right road to where you want to be.
"The universe of possibilities is the place you seek after you have discovered that it's all invented" (Zander, 2000).
Chapter 3: Giving An A

I don't know if I necessarily agree with this chapter, but I understand the rationale behind it.  The central theme of this chapter is seeing the good in everyone.  Encouragement is the key to developing good relationships with peers and family.  You can't do it in a condescending fashion, but go at it with sincerity and passion.  If you help one another in achieving their goals, they will in turn, help you achieve yours.
"The A is not an expectation to live up to, but a possibility to live into" (Zander, 2000).
Chapter 4:  Being A Contribution

I really liked this chapter, as I believe in helping others and trying to make a difference in at least one person's life.  The example of the lady throwing the starfish back in is a beautiful one.  You're never going to affect everyone you come in contact with.  That is just a fact of life.  You can't let this discourage you though.  You can't look at your efforts on a scale of accomplishment, comparing yourself to others.  You need to look at the bigger picture to see how wonderful and intricate the Universe is as a whole.  Contributing yourself into others' lives instead of measuring the accomplishments of your own will give you a richer life.
"It makes a difference to that one" (Zander, 2000).
Chapter 5:  Leading From Any Chair

The most successful leaders in any industry surrounds themselves with the best and brightest.  You have to be willing to make it a group effort in order to get the best out of anything, whether it's your work or personal life.  The worst leaders are those that think that they are the only ones that have good ideas and never take input from their "underlings".  If you are willing not to receive the glory all of the time, you will find you will get farther in life.
"A conductor can be easily seduced by the public's extraordinary attention to his unique offering and come to believe that he is personally superior" (Zander, 2000).

Chapter 6:  How Serious Do You Make Things Out To Be?

Another one of my favorite chapters.  Your life is going to suck sometimes.  There's no way getting around that.  You're not always going to ride off into the sunset.  Your heart is going to get broken.  You will sometimes fail at what you attempt.  This chapter relies on the principles of Chapter 1 as well.  Your reaction determines your outcome to adversity.  Understanding to let go has been a big lesson to learn in my life.  I'm still working on it, but the better I can make my life.  Sometimes you have to understand that you don't have control over everything, so just let go and know that everything will work out in the end.
"We need to remove the part of ourselves that developed in the competitive environment of the measurement world" (Zander, 2000).
Zander, R.S. (2000). The art of possibility: transofrming professional and personal life. New York, NY: Penguin Books.

Week 3 Comment: Amy White's Blog

Amy's Blog Website Address:

Amy's Original Post:

Interestingly, chapter 3 of The Art of Possibility has my favorite ideas and a quote that made me roll my eyes and gag a little. The quote that I didn't like was, "This A is not an expectation to live up to, but a possibility to live into" (pg. 26). I hate quotes like this. I know that they are meant to be inspirational and all that, but, really--gag. That said, I love the idea of giving an A. I don't know if I'd get away with that, but I would love to at least set up the hypothetical and talk to my students about what it would look like. I love the letter writing idea, where they have to look at what they did to receive the A. I think grades have been so inflated in this day and age. I have students (and their parents!) tell me all the time that they "need" to get an A. Some of them are genuinely not capable. They can grow and they can advance, but an A is not really in their league--if we are saying an A is the highest achievement or the highest standard. I am fascinated to see what my students would say is necessary to achieve an A and how they went about earning it. I've been talking to them all year so far about goals and how they define success. I asked them to write their own definition of success and encouraged them to share it with their parents and discuss it. This year we used a graphic by Jim Burke (see below) and talked about the various aspects and foundations of success. I am definitely going to find a way to give them all an A, even if it is only for a day, and see what I hear them say.

Zander, R. & Zander, B. (2000). The art of possibility. New York: Penguin.

Mike's Response to Amy's Blog:

I think that students need to understand what achieving the highest award or standard truly is.  It was my experience in teaching rudimentary courses in college that a growing percentage of students expect a grade to be handed to them without earning it.  I think this is a reflection of an alarming trend in American schools in which they are acting as "standardized assembly line" where a one size fits all attitude is not meeting all of the student's needs.  As more and more students fall "through the cracks", a growing prevalence of "self entitlement" is appearing in more of the student population.

A recent study showed that college students surveyed at the University of California felt that "they deserved a high grade just for showing up to the lecture" (Roosevelt, 2009).  There is a growing trend of "student self entitlement", according to a recent study titled "Self-Entitled College Students: Contributions of Personality, Parenting, and Motivational Factors" by Ellen Greenberger (Roosevelt, 2009). 
Professor Greenberger said that the sense of entitlement could be related to increased parental pressure, competition among peers and family members and a heightened sense of achievement anxiety (Roosevelt, 2009).
Another article by Ruben Navarrette states that "one of the great long-term threats to the security and prosperity of the United States is a growing sense of entitlement" (Navarrette, 2009).  Navarrette feels that the entitlement is passed down "from adult to child and will be detrimental to the nation's global competitiveness and productivity" (Navarrette, 2009).  Of course, you can contrast this with current student attitudes.  Their rationale is that if "they show up to each class, listen to each lecture and do everything that the teacher requires of them, they should automatically receive a high grade" (Roosevelt, 2009).  Students need to understand that even though they're doing all of the work, they need to put out a quality product.  It would be the equivalent of going to the hospital for heart surgery and the surgeon not being able to fix your ailment.  If the surgeon's response was "well, I did all of the procedures", would you be happy with the results?

Navarrette, R. (2009, March 1). Our entitled youth. Retrieved from 

Roosevelt, M. (2009, February 17). Student expectations seen as causing grade disputes. New York Times, Education section.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Week 3: Interactive Tech History Lesson: OLPC: Following in the Heritage of Logo & the MIT Media Lab

Another cool lesson on the state of technology access in the third world. To the unknowing common person, you would assume that internet access in third world countries would be almost non existent. That apparently is not the case. One man's blog claims that Internet access is actually better in some third world countries than it is in America (Shepard, 2009). Contrast that with a blogger that I found in the United States:
People in Canada and the United States have been aware for years that we pay some of the highest prices for some of the slowest internet access in the world. When First World regions like Europe and Japan move to 20 megabit, 50 megabit, and eventually 100 megabit internet access, Canadian and American providers boosted speeds to the 5 to 7 megabit range. While other nations paid roughly $30 per month for speeds up to 20 times faster than ours, we helplessly watched our rates increase to almost $50 per month (2008).
It is hard to fathom, but further research backs up these statements. According to the website World Internet Usage Statistics, Africa has kept up with the United States in terms of Internet Access Growth and Penetration (2009). Asia represents almost half of the world's population in terms of Internet users (2009).

I bring up these statistics for one simple reason: we live in one of the most sophisticated and richest countries in the world, yet we take for granted what a lot of the world does not.  Opportunities are limitless around us, yet we do not take advantage of all of the tools given to us.  The country's math and science scores are way behind that of the international average.  Our technology penetration in our pedagogical efforts are way behind those of other countries, especially Asian schools.  The mission statement of One Laptop Per Child is to bring the technology to those that would normally not have access to it to give them better opportunities and help them catch up with the rest of the world.  Something that American teachers need to think about is this: Why aren't we making this a huge goal for our own students?  I think the newer generations of teachers are working toward this, but we still have a long way to go.  We still face the resistance of the "old guard", economic limitations and other prejudices against technology.  Just some stuff to ponder on as we work toward making our classrooms more beneficial to our students for a 21st Century Education.

(2009, October 15). World Internet Usage Statistics. Retrieved from

(2008, July 9). Living in a Technology Third World Country. Retrieved from

Shepard, W. (2009, May 14). Internet Access in Third World Countries. Retrieved from

Week 3: Interactive Tech Lesson: Seymour Papert & Logo

I really enjoyed this Interactive Tech Lesson on Papert & Logo. I remember using Logo as a child in the Charleston, South Carolina school system. I was fascinated with both LOGO and the BASIC programming language. Had I known then what I know now, I would have stuck with computer programming and steered clear of the Entertainment Industry, but that is a discussion for another time (LOL). I liked how Papert used Constructionism to develop LOGO as a means of help students to learn and solve problems on their own.
While researching this topic, I found out some interesting things about Papert. He apparently was one of the founding fathers of artificial intelligence as well as being labeled one of the greatest mathematical minds of our time. I remember that after my exposure to LOGO, my Math and English grades improved greatly. It helped me understand the concepts of Geometry on a more personal level and increased my interest in technology and computers at the time (Santa brought me a Commodore 64 for Christmas that year).
It is good to see that LOGO still remains in the educational consciousness of today, although it has evolved into something better, SCRATCH from MIT. SCRATCH is something that educators could only dream of when I was a student. SCRATCH allows students to create interactive stories, games and programs as well as allowing them to share their creations with other like minded students. Here are some cool videos I found on LOGO & SCRATCH:

Monday, October 12, 2009

Week 3: Ron Smith Interview Interactive Q&As

  What does Ron Smith do at the New Media Academy at Hollywood High School?

Ron Smith is the lead teacher at the New Media Academy at North Hollywood High School in Hollywood, California.  The academy exposes students to acting, directing, screenwriting and the technical arts.  Several entertainment groups, including Universal Studios, the Screen Actor’s Guild, the Director’s Guild and the Writer’s Guild, support the school.

2.     What types of New Media does Ron Smith see students gravitating toward?

Ron sees a lot of students liking Flash Animation and Animation for website development and video purposes.   Flash Animation is created using Adobe Flash animation software.  Other types of animation include cel-animation, cut-out animation and three dimensional animation.

3.     Why does Ron think students are gravitating toward these types of New Media?

Ron feels that this technology is one of the more popular formats in which students can express themselves creatively.  He feels that there is a bit of a struggle though between getting students started on the hard work involved in creating and finishing an animation project though.

4.     What types of materials does Ron Smith use in his classroom to engage his students?

Ron uses a wide array of different materials in his classroom, both fair and unfair use.   Examples include: movies, sound, websites, even dancing around the room.  Ron tries to get the students interested in whatever is happening in the classroom at that time.  He tries to integrate whatever technology he can into his classroom.

5.     What were some of the early technologies that Ron used in his classroom?

Some of the early technologies that Ron used were podcasts, text messaging and video content creation.  He noted that not all technologies were equally received by the students.  Some students showed greater interest in some technologies while other students showed interest in other ones. 

6.     What are teachers doing in class compared to what their students want to do? 

Ron feels that teachers are behind the technology that students are currently using.  The best example that Ron uses is teachers being fascinated with projecting Power Point and Word documents up on a display in front of the class to pass the rubric.  Students, on the other hand, use several social networking and Web 2.0 technologies, including Facebook, Myspace, Youtube and Blogger.

7.     How does Ron think we can bridge the technological gap between the two groups?

It involves showing the teachers the benefits of using more sophisticated technologies in the student and being able to relate to students on their level.  Technologies that were prevalent and popular in the late 80’s are now deemed archaic and do not reach today’s student.

8.     What does Ron mean by the following statement: Digital Teaching is “Front Loaded”?

The term “front loaded” refers to doing the main amount of work on a project lesson at the beginning before students begin learning about it.  Ron says that a lot of today’s teachers go about education in a linear fashion, creating lesson plans at day and weeks at a time, instead of terms and years at a time.

9.     What are some of the applications that students are getting excited about, both in and out of the classroom?

Ron mentions three specific applications in his interview with Dr. Ludgate: Scratch, Sketch-Up and Blender.

1     What does the MIT application “Scratch” do?

Scratch is an open source, visual programming language that lets students create videos, games and music.

11   What assignment did Ron give his students to complete in the application “Sketch-Up”?

For one of his classes, Ron had students create an entire city block of the Ninth Ward of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina had destroyed it.  Details were very specific in this project, including buildings, topical features and roads.

12   What is one of the interesting features that you can do in the application called “Sketch-Up”?

Students can import Google Map and Google Earth files into Sketch-Up as backgrounds and build upon the files as a source of context and background.

13   What are the differences between the two animation applications named “Maya” & “Blender”?

Both are three dimensional animation software applications.  However, Blender is free open source software that is available to anyone.  Maya is also animation software, but the platform itself costs $3,495. 

14   What is Ron’s approach to giving students instructions on the applications that he described in the interview with Dr. Ludgate?

Ron gives his students the tools they need to create new types of media, but he does not give them specific instructions on what to create or how to use the application software packages. 

15   What are some developing trends that Ron Smith is starting to see in Education?

Some of the biggest trends that Ron has noticed are the concepts of instructional design for education and implementation of online classes for several subjects in all grades of pedagogy. 

16   How do you adapt and develop basic courses such as Mathematics and English into more media-rich experiences that are more beneficial for students?

In order to make these courses and lessons more beneficial to students, teachers have to invest more time in making them interesting, providing other material assets into the lesson plans, including everything from interactive games and songs about the lesson to videos and online chat rooms for students to share their experiences.  Once teachers understand that the technology will help them and not replace them, they will be able to reach more students and be more successful in the classroom.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Week 2 Comment: Amy White's Blog

Amy White's Blog Address:

Amy's original posting: 
I'm just in a blogging state of mind. Also, Monday Night Football is on and I'm being ignored--which isn't necessarily a bad thing! So, I wanted to share one of the best resources, no, communities I've found online. It is a Ning site for English teachers created by Jim Burke, author of books about reading and literacy, called English Companion Ning. Burke has created a community of teachers who share and comment, have virtual book clubs, commiserate, blog, and talk to each other. It is an awesome resource for both new and experienced teachers. This is such a progressive concept for high school teachers. I am old enough to remember when nobody shared ideas--or anything! We all went to our individual rooms and kept all our materials to ourselves. This Ning is invaluable in sharing media, tools and information for teachers of all experience levels. What Burke has created is a huge faculty lounge without all the whining and complaining. His Ning is beginning to get noticed by the rest of the educational community as articles point to it as an example of what great things can be found on the internet. It's a pretty cool site. If you are an English teacher I would definitely recommend checking it out. I've included a photo of the many groups teachers have formed within the English Companion community.

Mike's response to Amy's Blog:
The idea of teachers from different parts of the globe collaborating on their profession is pretty amazing, considering that it is a brand new practice. I can only imagine how much more enhanced my education would have been growing up if my teachers had access to information as today's teachers do. There are several websites on the Internet that are dedicated to just that:

Last month, England's Department for Schools, Children and Families announced that they are going to invest $9 million in Web 2.0 technologies for teachers (Alderson, 2009). A recent study shows that children are now more technologically literate than they were several years ago. It is the government's hope that teachers will incorporate teaching Web 2.0 technology platforms such as Ning, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube into their curriculum.

Alderson, D. (2009, September 7). Education 2.0 - the benefits technology brings to teaching. Retrieved from

Week 2 Comment: Seann Goodman's Blog

Website to Seann Goodman's Blog:

Seann's original post:

Was it only four short years ago that the world was introduced to what is now the most popular media viewing platform, YouTube? Indeed, it is hard to imagine what life was like before all the emails being sent from friend to friend with the latest laugh reel on YouTube. With an endless number af channels to choose from and a production staff from all corners of the world, YouTube is reshaping the media’s world in unimaginable ways. MTV’s early days could easily be compared to YouTube’s own introduction to the media world. Both have reshaped the media industry. However, only YouTube is giving teachers a resource worth using in the classroom.
Teachers are now finding just the exact teachable short clip to full documentary to use with students. In the past month I have shown numerous clips from YouTube channels. My students are seeing short five minute clips to help effect the lesson or they are watching hour long pieces that would normally cost me countless dollars to purchase the films. In the past I might have to search out for licensing rights and public relations folks to access major corporate films. Now, I can access many Discovery Channel, National Geographic, or PBS series’ to bring in to the classroom. Every subject across every lesson plan can be enhanced through a simple YouTube search. Students are even finding ways to spread their message through YouTube.
As students learn to develope and play with new media they are excited to publish their own work. YouTube is giving students public access channels which in the past might mean huge corporate funding or extensive grant writing. Today, we can implement student news media networks for free and from any computer. For my students, this means active engagement in their own learning. Alternative media is allowing students to network within the school and even throughout the community. With a small cheap video camera and simple editing tools, students are engaged in the uploading process of YouTube in addition to the countless pieces they watch.  Leadership students in my class are utilizing both YouTube and Facebook to spread the word about homecoming this year. Here is the first YouTube my students deigned, constructed, and shared with the school and the community. My role was simply a consultant and advisor. The rest of the work is their own creation.

My response to Seann's post:

It is amazing how much YouTube has infiltrated today’s culture and media landscape. Not only is YouTube a source of entertainment for Internet denizens, but it can also be used as a tool in the classroom and in the workplace. Educators and students can create their own channels and content, literally letting the world hear their voice and see their work. I use YouTube at my place of business (television station) as a means of letting clients proof their work. The YouTube channel that I created is . It’s hard to believe that it has only been four years. A neat side-note and nice little piece of Web 2.0 trivial pursuit: What was the first video ever uploaded to YouTube? The first video on YouTube was uploaded at 8:27PM on Saturday April 23rd, 2005. The video was shot by Yakov Lapitsky at the San Diego Zoo.

Week 2: News from the Copyright Front: Judge Sets New Deadline For Google Books

The above image copied from the following URL:

Here's another news story that is relevant to this week's reading.  A Federal judge has set a new deadline of November 9 for Google to submit a new agreement to obtain the rights to million of out-of-print books.  Read about the entire story here.  The government had to step in and intervene after legal opponents of the $125 million deal said that it violated anti-trust laws.  The problem started back in 2003 when Google wanted to scan, index and sell millions of copyrighted books on its website.  Shortly thereafter, several lawyers and publishers stepped up wanting their share of the profits.  To learn more about how the deal started, click here

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Week 2 Reading: Convergence Culture, Chapter 6: Photoshop for Democracy

(1) How has the Internet and new media changed culture and institutions in general?

There were several examples that Jenkins mentioned, saying “entrenched institutions are taking their models from grassroots fan communities, reinventing themselves for an era of media convergence and collective intelligence” (Jenkins, 2006).  He cited multiple examples of this, including the “U.S. Military developing a massive multiplayer game to facilitate better communications between service people and civilians, Coca Cola entering the entertainment industry to create a stronger emotional engagement with their brands and educators embracing informal pedagogy within fan communities as a model for developing literacy skills” (Jenkins, 2006).  I think that the early years of the 21st Century showed the true power of the Internet during the 2004 election.  Between the 60’s and the 90’s, image was everything in politics.  Politicians were able to harness the power of television as a way of conveying a controlled image of themselves to the voting public.  As technology increased and rapidly changed, you could see a shift in what the audience thought was important and relevant.  No longer was it about image, but about the immediacy of something and being able to evoke action in real time.  Jenkins used a quote from Joe Trippi, Howard Dean’s campaign manager, that sums up this broad generalization perfectly: “While TV was a medium that rendered us dumb, disengaged and disconnected, the Internet makes us smarter, more involved and better informed” (Jenkins, 2006).   Now, I don’t completely agree with either statement fully.  There are certain elements in television that hold solid, relevant and educational grounds, including: Sesame Street, the Discovery Channel and TLC.  You could also list any one of a thousand shows that are on the opposite end of that spectrum, including about every piece of reality garbage that floods today’s airwaves.  The same could be said for the Internet.  For every positive contribution to society that the Internet makes, there is a negative aspect that counters it.  The Internet, just as much as television, is a double edged sword.  Both have changed cultures and institutions, but the intent and focus of each action in these mediums decides how the actions are relevant in today’s society and if they hold any positive merit.

(2) How has the Internet and new media changed education?

Never before has so much information been available to both students and educators.  The Internet has changed the way in which students can learn and research topics almost overnight.  A perfect example of this is how students look up information for a report.  Think back to when you were a child (this might date some of us).  I remember going to a physical library, paging through old index cards (that smelled of old books and desperation) and trying to find different books for my report.  After locating said books, I would then lug them home to my house where I would sit in front of my Commodore 64 and print out my 5-page report on a dot matrix printer.  This whole process would take sometimes days, depending on my amount of attention at any given moment.  Now, if you contrast this same task to today’s student, the same result can be achieved in about a quarter of the time thanks to the Internet.  Students can access any tome of information from around the world and incorporate it into their summation of any subject.  No longer are students limited by physical location of libraries and institutions of learning.  A child in the remotest area of South America now has the same access to the same information that a student in New York City has.  The same can also be said of instructors.  Thanks to the ideas of collaboration and convergence, teachers can share ideas, lesson plans and experiences virtually throughout the world, helping hone their skills and helping them become more relevant to today’s student.  Below are some videos that I think best sum up my answers (all are pulled from YouTube):

Jenkins, H. (2006). Convergence culture: where old and new media collide. New York, NY: New York University Publishing.

Week 2: Viacom might have upper hand in $1 billion copyright lawsuit

The above image was copied from the following URL:

I thought that this was interesting concerning our current discussions on copyright and fair use.  Click here to view a PDF of Viacom's lawsuit.   Social media and technology professionals have been closely monitoring this situation, as it will determine the convergent media landscape in years to come.  To learn how all of this started, click here.  One of the companies that are aiding Viacom in pursuing Youtube's unauthorized content is BayTSP.  BayTSP goes through the process of locating Viacom copyrighted materiel and automatically notifying YouTube that they need to pull it down.

Week 2 Reading: Convergence Culture, Chapter 5: Why Heather Can Write

Have there been any books or movies that have inspired you to the point of action, either to be like people/characters in the book/movie, or to do something creative? What books/movies and what did you do? 
     I can pinpoint the exact moment that my interest for moviemaking and television production was sparked: October 31, 1986.  After running wild among the streets of my neighborhood, fueled by a collective (and concerning) amount of sugar induced adrenaline, I returned to my Nana’s house to watch the “Double Creature Feature” on television.  The first movie that they showed has forever been etched in my psyche and has fueled every endeavor that I have taken on in the realm of film and television: Night of the Living Dead.  The black and white tale of survivors battling an unstoppable army of the undead is the stuff that fuels the imaginations of little boys everywhere.  From there, I would write stories that “continued” the Dead mythology.  I would borrow my Nana’s camera and enlist my little brother and sister to star in my epic features (most of which didn’t last over two minutes in length).  The idea that a single idea or story can generate so much response to an entire audience or fan base is easily understandable.
     Flash forward to today, as hundreds of wide eyed “wizards” cram the local Borders at midnight to catch the latest Harry Potter adventure.  The internet opens up endless creative opportunities as every imaginable interplay takes place – everything from fan fiction to cosplay (costumed play for those unfamiliar with the term).  Jenkins describes how technology and availability have changed the media landscape of today:  “…consumers are using new media technologies to engage with old media content, seeing the Internet as a vehicle for collective problems solving, public deliberation, and grassroots creativity” (Jenkins, 2006).
     But just as the media powerhouse of Warner Brothers and J.K. Rowling fought for control of their bespectacled, George Romero had less power over control of his film.  This all stems from the issue of copyright.  The original title for Night of the Living Dead was Night of the Flesh Eaters.  Romero had placed the copyright on the original title, but when the Walter Reade Organization retitled the film, they forgot to place the copyright on it.  A 1968 copyright law required works to show a proper notice or they would lose their copyright.  This allowed everyone to rip off Romero's movie and it fell into Public Domain.  The movie was made for a little over $100,000 but has grossed over $40,000,000 around the world.  Romero has gone on to produce several other movies, but he has barely recovered any of the money made off of Night of the Living Dead.  Several people have paid homage to his Dead Universe, as you will see in the YouTube links below:

Jenkins, H. (2006). Convergence culture: where old and new media collide. New York, NY: New York University Publishing.