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.