Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013: A year of learning

Hard to believe that 2013, a year of incredible growth for me, is in it's last days. I've learnt so much, connected with some tremendous people through various MOOCs, starting with MOOCMOOC and ETMOOC, participated in Open Spokes and DS106, brushed by people in passing and truly bonded with others.

I was already participating in the world of MOOCS prior to enrolling in MOOCMOOC, delivered by the brilliant people at Hybrid Pedagogy and ETMOOC, created by Alec Couros. And I was learning in those 2012 MOOCs. But the true connected power of the Internet and social media was yet to be unveiled for me until this year. This experience has been like watching a flower unfurl, moment by moment just becoming more stunningly beautiful. Like a flower, it has withered and faded, waiting for the next cycle of rebirth. As the pressures of my non-digital life grew, I have had to take a step back, rethink what, when and how I interacted online and how often. I have had to put my non-digital life first, dis-engaging from some courses and groups entirely, not because they are not worthy but because there was just not enough time in the day to take care of both my "real" and my "digital" life. And I have learnt that that is ok.

And this step back has allowed me to understand how positive my online relationships are to my growth and sense of self, but also to understand that many of them are fleeting, and I need to become comfortable with that. Not superficial, because some of the most brief brushes against the ideas and thoughts of others have been a catalyst for a change in perspective, resulted in an outpouring of creativity or refinement of my ideas about learning and education. I've remembered how much I love to teach, how much I love being creative, and how much I enjoy new ideas and challenges. But in the end, what will always takes precedence is my relationships, both face to face and virtual. To be true to myself, I nurture my relationships, which in turn means nurturing and pacing myself so I don't burn out in either venue. Yet another lesson I am trying to learn.

I have met so many people this year who have been supportive, caring, engaging, entertaining, creative, clever, and challenging. Because of my interactions with you all I've been a radio show chef, a killer zombie, a poet, an artist, an author, a teacher, a rock star, a video star, a movie maker, a documentary director, a toy maker and a friend. It has been a pleasure. To all of you within my Professional Learning Network I say "Thank You."

You've helped me become a better teacher, a better learner, and enriched my life. May 2014 be a year of positive growth for us all, where we continue to be kind, playful, thoughtful and engaged, supporting each other as we travel along a learning journey together. Blessing for 2014.

Karen


Thursday, 5 December 2013

Video: Life stories

Well I've been off line for the last few weeks as my mum fell off a step coming out of the dentist and broke her right hand. She picked herself up, got into her car and as she phrased it "waited until I felt up to driving home." The next day her hand was swollen and off to the hospital she went. So Mum and Dad have been staying with me for the last two weeks off and on, except for when they had to go home for the fracture clinic. Mum had over 600 cards to write for the Christmas tree farm and needed help writing them so it was just better for her to come here where I could look after her. It was great to sit down with my mother and chat.

But that doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about the video story assignment. I've been thinking about it a lot and talking to my mum about the video assignment and DS106. My mum is 77 this week and she and my father have lived interesting lives, so I thought I would begin to tell their stories. My mother had just come back from visiting her brother John who lives in Edmonton (he just turned 78 and is a dynamo!) and they had been talking about the war, doodlebugs and other shared memories from their childhood. "What's a doodlebug?" I asked. And so the story unfolded. War through the eyes of a four year old. Mum was only four but still remembers hiding in a closet  during the early days of the Blitz. When she returned to Southampton in 1945 or so, housing was a tremedous problem as so many homes had been destroyed. Mum remembers playing in abandoned bombed building and walking the roof rafters!

During the week I looked stuff up for my mum online so she could see Southampton during the blitz and some movies of Southampton. We found the road she lived on before she had to move away because a bomb had landed in a yard just down the street and Grandma decided Southampton was too dangerous. She was sent to live with other people for the remainder of the war. Mum and I looked at photos of the Bargate in the photos and videos. It survived because the Germans used it as an aerial marker to let them know when to drop the bombs. I hadn't been to Southampton since I was 11 so while I do remember walking on the Norman walls and visiting the archaeologist who was excavating the Roman ruins found under the Victorian homes they had torn down and seeing churches that had not yet been rebuilt since the war, I didn't remember that landmark.

What went right with this assignment?  My mum agreeing to do it. She is a very private person so this was a gift. My mum interviews very well, though at some points you can hear a lot of background noise as she was rubbing her splint. I think it would have been much better if I was using a video camera for both sound and image.  My voice does not come out particularly clearly as I was sitting too far away from the mike. Perhaps the next time mum and I sit down I might have improved in my planning for recording and editing. Another frustration was images. While there are a lot of images online of the Southampton Blitz, someone has taken the old photos, scanned them and then put an all rights reserved sticker on them. So I made the decision, reluctantly, not to include any still images. I found some various videos on the web to start the video, including the historical and military rational for the bombing of Southampton.

I used Movie Maker to put the clips together, but ran into trouble when I tried to publish it as the program said YouTube didn't like long movies. I sent a message out to through Twitter and of course my PLN sent me answers back! So very reliable!


Since the movie was made, my mother had another health issue so DS106 went onto the backburner as well as blogging, tweeting and other social media assignments and relationships (the health issue has been resolved and all is well!)

November ended up being a lost month in terms of blogging but not in terms of spending some good quality time with my mum. You can see why she's always been one of my role models!

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Audio, Audio, Audioooooooooo: Shrinking The Big Questions

Well, I've participated in creating a radio show for the very first time. And it won't be the last. In fact, I'm hoping to create something in time for Halloween as Ben Rimes suggested (tight deadline!) So I've emailed the Talky Team and sent out a rough draft.

We had the largest Headless radio show group. Six in total. Talky Tina, Christina Hendricks, Mariana Funes, Jess Hobbs, Rhonda Jessen and myself. I joined the team because I had enjoyed discussing things with Mariana when we were zombies, knew Christina had done a brilliant radio show before for DS106 Twilight Zone and I wanted to work with Talky Tina, who as we all know is a sound goddess. Jess and Rhonda were perfect additions to the group! Both of them have great voices and are creative and clever. For such a large team, it was very easy to organize, share ideas and work together.

Mariana got the ball rolling by setting up a google doc were we all started to pitch our ideas. Mariana was so enthusiastic and organized that she had an outline of an idea already written out. We scheduled a google + hangout for the October 6th and just hashed it out. Tina even joined us! That's where I ended up with my Bossy nickname.  I said I would project manage the group (though really it was unnecessary) and Bossy was born!

We each wrote our own sections, including finding clips, background music and sounds but shared our scripts with each other for comment and feedback, which I found helpful. Everyone also did a basic edit of their own work. I looked at the cooking show as a way to hang the various ideas together so I included philosophers, Freud and DS106 riffs. It was great fun to write! I just kept editing and editing it down. When I listen to it now I can hear how a further edit would have made it even better. I based my use of sound on NPR's The Splendid Table. Listening to a few episodes helped me to understand where music was appropriate and at what level.

I sent Rhonda her section to record as she had a frantic week and she sent me all of her completed sound files. They were very clean, with only a few hesitations that I edited out in Audacity. I then amplified her voice using the amplify effect, since her voice was very quiet and used the envelope tool on mine to tone it down so we sounded like we were recording at the same time. I then created a new Audacity file for the overall project.  As we worked on the show and shared more information on the google doc the show continued to morph. Eventually, as we refined and refined again, we had a great sounding program. Christina did the final edit.


What was so great about this project is I feel much more comfortable in Audacity than I did before. I am still doing simple edits such as cutting and using the time shift tool to just make sure everything is strung along properly, but this time I also used the envelope tool more frequently as well as the effects tool. I applied fade in and fade out as well as learned to use the pitch effect to change my voice. I hunted for sound effects and music using Freesound. I was very lucky to find some great background music for the cooking show. I also used ListentoYouTube to convert video to sound and applied that to Talky Tina's closing remarks.

It was great fun to be able to talk about the show on the radio too! I still am spending time listening to the various radio shows as we all approached it from different perspectives.

If you want to listen to what we created here's the link: http://ds106.us/2013/10/19/headless-radio-shows/

I know that I am just at the beginning of my love affair with sound!


Thursday, 24 October 2013

Lip dub


So I created a lip dub for the daily create. It's more complicated and less complicated than you think to do. First I had to pick a song about the radio. Thanks to my son Philip's suggestion to sing the Monty Python song "I bet you they won't sing this song on the radio", that part was much less difficult than it could have been. The song is the perfect length being approximately 1:00 minute long, is easy to sing to and has enough pauses to catch your breath. So I recorded myself singing along which took a number of takes (this is not something you can do in twenty minutes!) I used Movie Maker to edit the film. I was completely frustrated at first because I couldn't see any way to edit the film and keep it in sync with the music. Finally, I placed a picture in the front of the movie and just played with how long the picture needed to remain there before the movie started. It took a bit of fiddling but I did get it to sync almost perfectly. Loading it to youtube took a bit of work (youtube is attached to my gmail account and movie maker to my outlook account- they don't get along too well sometimes. Definitely not kissing cousins!) but I got it done.

Now for the part that doesn't make me happy. After spending quite a bit of time making sure that my singing matched the words, loading it onto youtube seems to have moved it out of sync. Oh well. Something perhaps to try again sometime. For some reason even though it has TDC642 in the title it doesn't seem to show up on the daily create.  Here's my lip dub! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmiD6CIBbSE&feature=youtu.be

The 3Ts Cooking Show: DS106 Recipe #4 Debreziner Sausage with Salsa Cruda Dessert: Honey Apple Pie

Welcome to the the Three Ts Cooking Show where we explore taste, texture and thyme, because we always have time for cooking. And time for true friends! We’re your hosts, Rhonda Jessen and Karen “Bossy” Young.

Recipe #4 Debreziner Sausage with Salsa Cruda:

Serves 4-6 people
For this recipe I modified (hacked) this recipe from Fine Cooking.

4 Debrizener sausages
1lb of penne pasta
2lbs of tomatoes, chopped, with seeds removed
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 English cucumber, chopped
1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/3 cup dill, chopped
1 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
1/2 cup virgin olive oil (good quality)
salt and cracked pepper to taste.

Combine all herbs, vegetables and oil and let rest for at least 15 minutes. If you want to change the flavour profile a bit you can also drizzle some balsamic vinegar over the tomato mixture.

Put the pasta water on and salt the water if preferred. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package.

Warm the sausages on the stove until heated thoroughly. Debreziner sausages are already pre-cooked. Remove from the stove, slice thinly and add to the salsa cruda.

Drain the pasta, shake to remove the excess water and add to the salsa cruda mix. Stir and serve.


Honey Apple Pie:

This recipe is from Margo Oliver's Weekend Magazine Cookbook published in 1967. Truly one of the best cookbooks I have ever used. I cannot recommend this cookbook highly enough. It's so good I am attempting to find copies for each of my sons! 

Apples today are sweeter than the apples used when this cookbook was published. The apples from my parents farm that were planted over a 100 years ago are much, much tarter than today's apples. There were many more varieties and apples were a staple for both cider (hard and soft) as well as cooking. As you couldn't trust the water to drink at least you had cider, wine or ale. (Read the Pleasures of Slow Food for a great discussion on what happened to apples after WWII) So this is one of the few recipes that I cut down the amount of sugar she uses.

For the pastry, I prefer to use a food processor to cut in the fat. My hands are not cold enough to rub the fat into the flour and create the tiny fat beads that make for great pastry. And remember, resting your pastry in the refrigerator is crucial prior to rolling it out. Let it warm for about 10 minutes before you roll it out.

Standard 2 crust Pastry

2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
2/3 cup lard or 3/4 cup shortening, chilled
1/4 cup ice water

Place the flour and salt in the food processor. Spin for 5 secs. (Or just place it in a bowl and stir with a fork.)
Cut up chilled fat and place chunks on top of flour. Pulse five times and spin for five. (Or coursely cut in the fat with knives or pastry blender into the flour.) 

Pour flour/fat mixture into a bowl and spinkle 1 tbsp of water into the flour at a time. Use a fork to mix it in until all the flour is damp. Gather into a ball and press firmly. \

Divide into two, shape into a ball and flatten slightly. Chill for half an hour.

Remove from refrigerator and let rest for 10 minutes to half an hour. 

Roll thin on a floured board or pastry board. Roll from centre rather than back and forth. Roll out until 1 inch larger than the pie pan. Lift on rolling pin and ease pastry loosely into pie pan. 


Honey Apple Pie:

Make 1 batch of Standard Pastry.

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

1/2 cup of sugar
1 tsp nutmeg (freshly grated is better)
6 cups of sliced peeled apples
1 1/2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup liquid honey
1 tbsp grated orange rind

Roll out pastry and place in bottom of pie pan. Mix sugar, nutmeg and apples. Place in pie pan, dot with butter.

Roll out remaining pastry and cut into 1/2 inch strips. Moisten bottom edge of pastry with water and make a lattice top with the strips, sealing them to the bottom pastry. Turn bottom pastry over the strips and flute to make a high edge. Cover edge with strips of aluminum foil to prevent browning.

Bake for 50-60 minutes or until apples are tender and the pastry is golden brown. 

Combine honey and orange rind. Remove pie from the oven and pour honey minture through the openings in the lattice when the pie is baked. Return to the oven for 5 minutes.

Serve warm or cold.





Monday, 7 October 2013

The Headless Waltz

In keeping with the Headless theme I have used Movie Maker to create a small movie. Please remember that I am one of the few people who have not succumbed to the lure of Apple so I have no iPad, iPod or any iEquipment. I also have the distressing tendency to use freeware wherever possible.
So I made my first gif a few days ago and I have received some great feedback. Thank you so much! I decided to keep on with my headless theme (and also because Halloween is coming!) Now this movie was quite time consuming to do (time has no meaning in DS106), not so much because of the level of intricacy required (though the sound was tricky) but because of the amount of videos I had to watch to find snippets for the movie. I found the Headless Horseman Disney track first and used that as my base. Disney was a master of background art and it really shows as you watch the forest as the movie unwinds. I then added the sound track. It was only at the end of the production that I noticed that somehow the last 3 seconds of the song had been loped off when I downloaded it. I could have accidentally removed it while I was working on the movie for all I know. I ended up downloading the song again, editing it in Audacity and adding it to the end of the movie. You can hear where it doesn't quite mesh. The Victorian photographs I found here. The Victorians really were a gruesome lot.

As I was working on it, I was wishing that I had constructed it differently, particularly as the sound proved so difficult to balance. If I was redoing this movie, I would strip the sound off of each piece of video prior to adding it to the movie or I would have picked an instrumental soundtrack so that the sound from each segment of video could have been heard above the music. I also ended up inadvertantly doing a lot of research on Marie Antoinette which is why you see two pictures of her. Believe it or not, the naughty picture is the first one! Very interesting reading (and probably why this took soooooo long.)

The part I like the best in the movie? Where the crickets look like they are rubbing their legs in time to the music. If I was redoing this, I would cut the movie so that every time the violins start the crickets would be rubbing their legs. Cricket music!

Friday, 4 October 2013

My first gif (in a very long while!)

Well I believe I have done it. I have created my first ever animated gif for DS106 ( a very easy one I admit.) Once upon a time, there was a program called Fireworks that I did know how to use, but Macromedia was eaten up by Adobe and it disappeared. (though I have an old copy on my desktop.) Now it's been a few years since I've used that program (masking, layers, etc) but I wasn't bad at it. So you would think that I'd be comfortable wth GIMP but I am not. Not at all. I don't have Photoshop either. So it's me and Paint.net. And Paint.net and I aren't acquainted enough yet for me to feel confident with the software yet.
But this, this was easy. Sort of. Once I got the right software downloaded and watched a video tutorial.



So originally I tried to do this in Movie Maker. I used PwnYouTube to convert the movie as recommended by the DS106 Handbook. And it was easy to make the clip. However, when you want to convert it into a loop, Movie Maker doesn't have that ability. So I searched online for something that did and came up with iWisoft Video Converter. I transferred the entire movie to the converter, followed the tutorial and voila! My first gif from a movie. The only downside is it comes with all of these lovely add ons (sarcasm!) to your web browser. If they slip past you just go into Chrome or Firefox, go to extensions and settings and remove them. If that doesn't work, you'll spend the rest of the evening like I am cleaning up my hard drive!




Thursday, 26 September 2013

Photoblitz!

Now for some reason, the idea of a photoblitz triggers the song "Ballroom Blitz" in my mind. Don't ask me why, it may be just the word blitz is common to both.

So I did my photo blitz at home over the lunch hour. My camera is at home, the strongest shadows occur at midday and my dog Pumpkin is there so I could take a picture of his paw (not that I included it in my list of five photos.) I actually took a series of photos of his tail, sharp and clear and then blurrier and blurrier for the abstract "is this really a photo" idea, but choose not to upload it. Taking the photos was a little stressful as I over think things so a time limit was helpful.

So why did I choose the photos I did? I chose my photo of the sky because it was almost perfectly uniform, something that rarely occurs. I took another one a few minutes later and it had changed again and had purple edges. I chose the photo of my face because it was a happy accident. I just turned the camera around, clicked and voila! It actually is a fairly good photo. I liked that it showed only half my face so that only my eyes are conveying emotion. I would have been better to leave the title blank and let someone else fill in the emotion though, so they could try and guess what was going through my mind at that time. The photo of the plant turned out nicely, with the leaves nice and crisp. And I love my upside down camera shot, another happy accident. Finally, I wanted a strong shadow picture and the chair created a nice contrast, though I wouldn't say it was an interesting shadow.

I think the best photos I took were the ones where I didn't think too much. I have an unfortunate tendency as an artist to overwork my pieces and am still learning to leave paintings alone! Perfectionism can kill a great painting or pot. I think it has to do with not trusting my judgement. Still learning to do that!

Monday, 23 September 2013

Headless Horseman

It's amazing what publishing your first sound does for you. It's gone right to my head and I am feeling downright cocky. So, this time when creating a sound, understanding the program was not as much of an issue as finding the right sound to do the Sound Story Project. Originally, I was thinking of the shower scene from Psycho, which gets so much of it's power from sound but I thought to myself this is a headless course. So instead, I chose Disney's version of the Headless Horseman. If you close your eyes, you can hear how frightening it is. Disney is a master at that. A childish image with frightening music and sounds. So I chose that as the framework for my piece, greatly reduced.
I used 6 different sounds to create my story: This one for the horse neigh, this one for splat at the end, this one for the wind, this one for the galloping horse (very crisp!), this for the sound of the sound of the sword and this for the maniacal laugh (quite frightening I thought.)
I imported the sounds into audacity, ordered them from first sound to last and cut some of them down to size. I used the wind sound first and used the envelop tool so I could overlay the galloping horse over top, but still hear the wind in the background for a portion of the horse galloping. I am wondering if I should have had the wind play longer. I may play with it a bit more later and try and duplicate the wind sound so it plays until the laughter begins. All of the other sounds began at the end of the others. A fun project!

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Sound

So  I've been playing with sound over the last few days. It has been a little frustrating partially because tools and devices that worked when a tutorial was built in 2008 or 2010 or 2012 may not be as useful as they once were due to the ever changing nature of software. It seems if you don't use a program regularly it may be completely unfamiliar when you open it again. So I have used Audacity before, but it has changed a bit so I did have to play around with it a little. Soundcloud was an issue because I needed to redo my password. And stripping an existing video of an image but keeping the sound will have to wait until later tonight. (Thanks everyone for the help and suggestions!)

I am very pleased to have gotten my DS106 Radio Bumper done. I do like this song by the Heifervescents. I've used it before. I like the beat, the lyrics and the ahahahah. I did use a tutorial to help with the process. Originally I thought I would have to do an overdub but instead I used a narration tutorial which was a much easier process. I recorded my voice, trimmed it using the cut tool, amplified it and then added the track after I had cut it down too. I ended up cutting out the ahahahahs. I then used the time shift key to move my voice track to where I wanted it and then used the envelope key to soften the background music. I may have softened it too much. I also don't like the way I said asleep but I can live with it for now. Off to strip a video!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Storytelling, TVSZ and what I learned this week by being a zombie.

This past week on Headless 2013 we've been discussing storytelling,the arc of stories and Kurt Vonnegut's idea that stories have a shape. Well, I loved both the infographic and the video of Kurt Vonnegut discussing the shapes of stories. I had never thought of it that way but as soon as you do, you can completely see it. It is said that the gift of genius is the ability to see what others don't and then be able to explain it. Lovely to see it in action. What a great sense of humour Kurt Vonnegut had. The infographic helped solidify my understanding and was very helpful.

Now over the weekend, I succumbed to the lure of #TvsZ. Twitter vs. Zombies 3.0 is the brain child of Jesse Stommel and Pete Rorabaugh from Hybrid Pedagogy. The game is played by members of different university classes or online education groups such as OOE13. I'd played before and was very happy to play again. What's not to like about a story/game that unfolds and changes every 12 hours with new rules? As always, I started as human (I think the organizers are afraid of letting me start as Patient Zero-everyone would be a zombie by the end of the day. I am a very dedicated zombie.) and was turned within the first two to three hours of the game. Once again I became a zombie. But this time I had a #zombiegirlfriend  @barbiez2013. Now @barbiez2013 was a Twitter newbie, didn't have a blog and was, at the beginning, upset about being turned into a zombie (she was zombified before me.) We started direct messaging each other and we became a team, deciding on a target and pursuing them until we were successful. She quickly began understanding the nuances of twitter (much faster than I had) and within the game time period started a blog, uploaded video and pictures (a very similar learning curve of my own experience with TvsZ 2.0.) Together we turned Mariana Funes. Now Mariana struggled mightily with the whole idea of being a zombie, and she decided she was going to be a compassionate zombie, similar to the zombie character of Warm Bodies (new to me). She quickly got over that, but the idea she presented, that of a zombie who was able to absorb memories, stayed with me. And I began to write my blog posts as if zombies were driven not just by hunger, but by the desire to know people. To really understand their fellow human at the point of their demise. And lo and behold, a story emerged. Even though my blog posts were designed as #overrun attempts to destroy human #safezones while a zombie, a story emerged of a creature who lived not only for flesh but the sweetness and addiction to the memories of others. So when you destroy a zombie, do the dead finally, utterly die?

So what type of story curve is my human/zombie/human/zombie narrative that is found on Twitter and my blog and others during TvsZ? I started human, but was a happy killer as a zombie, I was reluctantly converted to a superhuman because of the wrench of leaving my zombie horde (we all feed together) and then in mid post let my inner zombie out again. I am wondering is this curve a Cinderella story? Or because of its ambiguity is it a Which Way is Up story line? I waver between the two but lean more to the Which Way is Up camp.

Now this time around, what did I gain from playing TvsZ? Well for one thing, I have finally wrestled Windows 8 into submission (enough that I should be able to participate fully in Headless DS106 I hope, though I am having issues with Soundcloud for some reason.) I have Movie Maker on my computer now, I can take photos with the webcam and I latched onto AudioBoo to make sounds to share on Twitter. It also was a great vehicle for promoting writing, both on Twitter and on my blog. I was very surprised at how attached I became to my alter zombie ego as a writer. And as always, I gain immeasurably from the interaction with others. I've gained some new friends, been delighted by the creativity of others and played a great game of hide and go seek/tag.

And when Twitter vs. Zombies 4.0 comes out? I'll be there!


Sunday, 15 September 2013

Superhuman! My return from the dead, maybe.

I've been rendered a human again,  a gift of love from @JLVala. It's been odd to return to my human form, especially since I was a zombie almost from the beginning of the plague. As a zombie, I was a ruthless killer, hunting down unsuspecting prey, trapping them, relentlessly stalking humans. I was at the whim of my all consuming hunger. And it is all consuming. It is surprisingly hard to let go of that drive to eat, maim and hunt.

To be honest, I still feel disconcerted by my rapid transformation from zombie to human. I still have the memories of that time, and they are disconcerting. Sometimes I wonder if the antidote really worked? Am I fully human again? I see the writing of my fellow humans as they flee in terror and secretly, am I cheering on the zombies? And yet, how can that be? Before I was turned by @barbiez2013, I was a regular everyday person, went to work, cooked, walked the dog, regular.

Now as I gaze upon my husband I wonder how his heart and brains would taste, what would it be like to KNOW what he really thinks. And I know this is wrong but there is still a portion of me that is NOT disgusted by this. But already my zombie memories are fading and perhaps in time, I may be able to recover my sense of self.

Yet I know that because I am superhuman now, that because I am able to walk among the dead with immunity that my home is really the last, best, safest place to store the last dregs of humanity as I leave my safe haven to fight the zombie hordes. Come to my house where you can be safe for a little while. I'll provide the food:


And a deck with a view:
Don't fear me, just because I still have the sweet taste of flesh seared into my brain, that I want to twine my hands around your neck and pull your head close to mine and suck your brains out of your nose. Think of this as my love song to you, to release you from your pain and share your life story. And I now carry so many life stories.....

I crave, I hunger, I want to bless you with my kiss of death and the bliss of warm human flesh. I go to feed because it is what I do. I cannot resist the lure any longer. Come to my house, where you'll be safe.....

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Out of gas

Let me sing you a lullaby as we lull you to sleep.

Life is short and painful
but death is long and deep.
In life, friends are fleeting,
in death they're the ones you eat.
Slip the chains of your mortality,
Enter the depths of calm,
Being undead is so moving,
you'll wonder why you waited so long.

much love and kisses



Rhonda

It is lonely where you are.

You are alone.

No human can rescue you.

But we offer love and companionship, friendship and food sharing.

Embrace the zombie horde.

We love you, we will cherish you, we will savour you.

Come into the light so we might welcome you.


On Behalf of @barbiez2013 (who needs to start a blog for the good of humanity!)

WHY RLJESSEN'S "I SURVIVED ZOMBIES ON FRIDAY THE 13TH" IS ZOMBIEST, BLONDIST, ELITIST AND, ULTIMATELY, ANTI-AMERICAN

(POSTERS NOTE:  I am posting this on behalf of my girl @barbiez2013 because she can't figure out how to use this "computer dolly thingy" -- her words, not mine.)

As I sat and read @rljessen's bloggy thingy, tears welled up in my once almond shaped eye.  (I'm down one eye -- I think it's somewhere in Piedmont Park, reward for safe return.) 

@rljessen makes it clear that she is not only anti-Zombie, which can be excused as necessary for survival, but she is also an elitist who regards blondes, and other non-academics, as worthless.  This stance ultimately makes her dangerous to all of us as Americans, whether Zombie or human.

Her prejudice is illustrated by the following:

1.  She makes the ridiculous suggestion that ALL Zombies are headless.  This is totally untrue!!!  I, and all my Zombie girlfriends (including, but not limited to, @karenatsharon and @ATLSockMonkey), still have heads that are very intact, thank you very much.  Sure an eye has been lost here and there.  An ear perhaps  . . . but heads are all accounted for.

Don't think we don't recognize this thinly veiled attempt to associate headlessness with terror and fear from childhood.  We all read "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow."  You are quite simply pandering to baser instincts and should be ashamed.  Just because I don't have a PhD, doesn't mean I can't read, Ms. Jessen, or Dr. Jessen.  Whatever!

2.  Your suggestion that your fellow professors have lost their value because they are now Zombie is equally insensitive.  Have you been playing this game? Have you even been watching?  Have you seen how we have banded together?  #girlpower  How family bonds have traveled through to the undead lifestyle? @allistelling and @ATLSockMonkey.

Maybe you haven't been reading, but you should.  You should read before you speak -- especially when you have young, innocent, yummy brain-filled, warm blooded, yummy, young, nubile, yummy   . . .  students who look up to you.

3.  I'm too emotional to speak about your comments relating to my zombie, sister-girl @karenatsharon.  Suffice to say, she continues to live a full and vital life and is valued by her new Zombie family.  In fact, she is standing up for me at my wedding tonight.

4.  You encourage cowardice.  How can you feed into such Zombie stereotypes?  You know,  we are not in a 1940s horror movie!

Are we watching?  Yes.  As you sleep in your beds at night?  Maybe.  While you cook dinner for your yummy little human children?  Perahps.  That's all beside the point.  I haven't eaten you yet, have I?  Not yet . . .

All of these points clearly demonstrate that you have no regard for anyone that is different from you, whether they be blonde, or Zombie, or non-professor types.  Your continued use of this vibrant forum to attempt to turn humans (both American AND even Canadian I am now told) against Zombies is just plain wrong, Madame.  Left unchecked, who knows what you can do.

Consider yourself checked AND #overrun.

Sincerely,

Ms.  Millicent Udeceased a/k/a @barbiez2013

You can run but you can't hide...

I don't think it is right that I am being made to feel like I am the Big Bad Wolf chasing down the Three Little Pigs.

A zombie girl has got to eat.

And I love chocolate. So please eat lot's of chocolate. And then you'll be a lovely sweet treat. Look @barbiez2013 loves chocolate too!

So come out, come out, come out
Wherever you are!

#zombiesloveyou
#areyoucoatedinchocolate?

Eating educators for Supper

My dear friends,
How sad that you mourn my passing to the undead. I feel your pain and would love to alleviate it. And I will. I realize you have fled to a #safezone in a feeble attempt to hide from the growing zombie horde but you will be assimilated. Yes, you will experience a brief moment of pain, but the joy of consuming the flesh , memories and experiences of others actually enhances the zombie bond.

Here in the land of the zombies I have witnessed true love, love for each other and for the love of human flesh. Our needs are simple. We need to feed.


While Pete Rorabaugh fled from @barbiez2013 now they work as willing partners. Where Brendan once fled from us in horror he now willing embraces the task. We work as a team, we provide for each other, we share our kill. JR Dingwall and Christina Hendricks now happily hunt together.

We even sing to each other to give each other solace and understanding.

And even though you deride us for our never ending hunger for brains, are you not constantly working on improving yours? And if not to give it to us, what is the purpose? Your hard work should be rewarded. Bigger brains means better food for us! So you'll not have studied in vain.

We will love you. We will cherish your sweet flesh. To us you are precious and tasty, as sweet as the first succulent strawberries of spring. Just a little bigger (and a little bloodier.)

Welcome to the Zombie Horde.
We love you.

Renovations made easy

The beautiful thing about being a zombie is that we're not house proud. We'll live in anything and anywhere.
We'll live down here quite happily, as long as we're fed regularly. And we're equal opportunity eaters. We'll eat everyone. Hoping to make your renovations part of my memories!

Zombie Living

While most of you think of us as undead, zombies do have a sense of style. Since we require human flesh to survive we often find ourselves living on the edges of society.
In places like this:
Not very pretty is it? No wonder we want to move in with you. Nice home, good food, loving family. We welcome the opportunity to share space with you! Invite us in.

And death? Death comes to us all my friend.


#overrun

Zombies think of little else than food. How to get food, where to get food and how to get food. We need the flesh of a living human to survive, but not only that, we need their souls. For a few brief minutes as we slowly suck on the warm fresh heart of our dinner, we feel the warmth and joy of life that we have surrendered unwillingly to the zombie horde flood back into our bodies. It is ecstasy.

We did not ask for this. We are the product of humanity's hubris in tinkering with the code of life. An aberrant mutation, improperly stored resulted in Patient Zero and from his slavering mouth spread the infection that threatens you. This is simply a re-balancing of nature.

I crave warmth, I crave your memories of laughter, kisses, chocolate and love. Open the door, so I may run my tongue over the sweetness of your flesh and let your blood coat my throat as your very essence is absorbed into mine. I love you. I hunger for you. Be mine.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Gravatars and Blogger

So now I know why DS106 wanted me to use Wordpress instead of Blogger. It's because of the gravatar, a relatively simple thing to set up for Wordpress (which I have done) but a horribly convoluted mess in Blogger. I was working my way through reading other Headless13 blogs, when I came across one of my posts. Why no gravatar? But I let it go because I was intent on reading a post by Christina Hendricks. As I was writing a response to Christina's post it hit me why my gravatar wasn't showing up. It's because Wordpress uses a different email account while I use a separate email address for this blog. So I have spent half of the day (off and on) reading far more than I would care too about how to add a gravatar to Blogger. Needless to say there was differing advice, some good and some bad.

Now this is why I love the ds106 community so much. I hopped on over to Twitter and asked my gravatar question and lo! verily! within 2 minutes there was an answer from Ben Rimes kindly sent me a website to help through the process. Much better resource than I had found.

Of course with typical luck, half way through the process we had a fire in the building and I had to vacate. I shut down the computer and hoped that this morning all would be well, and it was. I started the process from midpoint and then it got scary. Why? Because I goofed up the directions a bit (I downloaded my template instead of saving it) and I was replacing code. For some reason, I have an unreasoning fear of mucking about with html, probably because of my near legendary ability to inadvertently destroy programs. (Hard to believe I actually have a degree in Instructional Technology sometimes, which I achieved by being extremely persistent- some might say stubborn!) I have no idea if I was successful or not in moving my gravatar to this blog and won't until I publish this article (especially since Blogger kept saying that I had unsaved changes that I would lose if I left the page). And if I haven't attached my gravatar I guess I'll just start again (if I can!)

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

What storytelling is to me.

So DS106 Headless has asked me to reflect on the idea of what I associate with the word storytelling? Um, that's tough because I basically tell stories all the time. Someone asks about my day and the next thing I'm doing is conveying a story. "Fine, how about you" rarely leaves my lips unless you're walking down the hall. If you're stationary I'll have you pinned against the wall and be weaving a story about something before you realize you've been ambushed. A little embellishment here, a little emphasis there and before you know it I've told you a tale. And guess what? I'm waiting for your tale back!
I usually associate storytelling with laughter because if you know me you'll know that most likely I'll be telling you about something I or a member of my family has done that I find humorous. I was lucky to be raised with a family with a sense of humour and aunts and uncles with a zest  for telling stories. And while I do not have the same brilliant way with words as some of them, I do, I believe, have a gift for recognizing the absurd. And because I do, perhaps I am lucky that it finds me. Regularly.

"So I went down to the Outer Banks for the first time last week. I hadn't been to the sea in over a year and last time it was along the north shore of Prince Edward Island, unfortunately during the time of the jelly fish. Lots and lots of jelly fish. Jelly fish bobbing along the shore, jelly fish in the small tidal pools, jelly fish dying on the shore. And it's not like you're going to pick them up and rescue them is it?

The Outer Banks are gorgeous with beautiful beaches and big waves, which means riptides (not something I had to worry about in Prince Edward Island!). There are pelicans and I was shouting out pelican! pelican! like a demented two year old for the first few days every time I saw one. And they were fishing off the shore and flying in formation. I didn't know pelicans flew in groups like that.

Now I was determined to get into the water everyday I was there because I don't often have a chance to swim in the ocean so even though there was a brisk wind and waves I coaxed my friend Cindy into the water. We're swimming and it was quite deep for the first few feet and then we hit a sandbar so we were walking in the water, first below our knees and then to our thighs and then above our heads. The swells were great, the water was warm and it was wonderful. As we headed back to the shore the waves became more forceful and I got hit and tumbled a few times before I made it back to the beach. Since I was wearing my glasses (yes I know! I took them off after that and didn't wear them into the ocean,) every time a wave crashed over my head, I had one hand on my glasses and one on my hat.

We climbed to shore and for some reason my swimsuit was tugging at my waist but I thought it was the wind. I grabbed at my swimsuit a few times and then proceeded to watch the waves, swim again and then finish off in the salt water swimming pool before heading up to change for dinner. I stepped into the shower, removed my swimsuit bottoms and out drops a silver fish about three and half inches long, quite, quite dead. Obviously the wind had not been tugging at my knickers to get out. Yes, while other people need to get a lure and a line, I can just catch fish with my pants."

Now how could this story have been improved? Digitally of course. I didn't even think of taking a picture and I don't have a waterproof camera, but wouldn't a picture have been awesome? I should have gotten dressed and grabbed my camera! That way I would have had proof!

Sometimes an image can stand alone, sometimes it needs words to put it into context. Images, because they require no translation, are very powerful. However, would the image of a dead fish laying beside my swimsuit bottoms really convey much of the story I just told? Not really. But they would have made my fish story even better. A picture with a caption helping define the context would also work. Maybe a caption like: New fishing method delivers startling results! But still, I do like my story. I think I am a much better writer than I am photographer.

But digital can mean any medium and we shouldn't be constrained by the idea of just words and images. It can be sounds, movies, drawn art, anything that conveys our ideas.

P.S. Look! Pelicans! Pelicans!


Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Why I am Headless this fall

Yesterday I posted about Design Thinking Action Lab on the last day of that particular course. I didn't get as much out of it as I had hoped. However, I have enormously high expectations of Headless DS106. Why? Because I've been mucking about on the sidelines of DS106 even before I took ETMOOC. I try to do the Daily Creates when I have the opportunity as it's fun, stimulates my creativity and I'm always amazed and delighted at the creativity of others. I do the writing assignments, I occasionally do the photo assignments and I rarely do the video assignments. This is a reflection of both my access to the tools for these various creates and my level of comfort with each of the methods of creation. And I have no clue about how to do radio but I will learn! (I'm still figuring how to take/make video with my new laptop for example and my desktop computer is still sitting in pieces. I don't even have my desk up yet let alone my clothes in my drawers. And please let's not talk about my kitchen and bathrooms-I'm still waiting for countertops!)

I've been dipping in and out of the DS106 daily creates and assignments off and on this year, flirting with making the commitment to an actual course, but after reading and watching Christina Hendricks have such a blast with DS106zone, I knew that I would sign up for the next offering of DS106. At this point, with my house still in shambles, I can't guarantee how much time I can put into the course but that's the beauty of open education- I won't have to feel guilty for not getting everything done, nor am I constrained by set deadlines. It's very liberating. And that makes learning much more pleasurable.

So here's to being headless for the next few months!


Monday, 26 August 2013

Design Thinking Action Lab

Well I enrolled in Design Thinking Action Lab offered by NovoEd (the new name for Stanford's Venture Lab) thinking it would be a similar experience to Designing in New Learning Environments (DNLE) which was the first MOOC I ever loved and led me to really immerse myself in the MOOC universe.

Well I don't love this one for a number of reasons. Some of it is the way it is organized, some of it is the number of technical glitches and some of it is attitude (mine and theirs.)

First, browser issues. If you're using Firefox as your browser (which I do), you can't do the assignments attached to the lectures. They just don't load. So you have to use Chrome. Not that they stated this upfront. No, I had to rely on fellow students for the answer. (Not that it's a problem to rely on fellow students but when this is still an issue for other students into the third week of the course, it's a problem.They finally have fixed this.) To me this is just arrogant. In the world of online learning, you need to state up front what you need to complete a course. If you want to see online learning done right, check out DS106. They explicitly state what  programs and interfaces you need upfront.

And I know this sounds ridiculous but for some reason, the spellchecker for part of the site was switched off. I know how to spell. But when you're typing quickly, that little red squiggle makes sure you find your errors fast. Instead, I was having to cut and paste (and it didn't like that too much when I tried to insert it into the frame.)

Second, organization. The first week was housekeeping tasks ( as usual.) And we needed to organize ourselves into groups as one of the tasks. After much rushing around (digitally) I joined a group. (Exactly like it was structured in DNLE.) Unlike DNLE, we never used our group for anything other than to share examples of our workspace. Excuse me? I didn't need to organize into a group to interact with other people, that's what the forum is for. There was an expectation of teamwork implicit in forming a group. When the design assignments came, we were expected to do them individually, not as a team. So why did we form a team? It felt like busy work, like an artificial expectation being met. People in teams, check.

Now let's talk about the assignments. The ones attached to the lectures were interesting and got you to think about design as a creative process, which was excellent. But the major assignments were poorly thought out which, when you think about it, is bizarre. The builders of this course were designers and they didn't create a very good template for learning about design! These major assignments were to help us understand the design process. This would have been a wonderful opportunity for us to choose a problem as a group and then work together to achieve a solution. Instead, we were told what the problem was (a single problem for all of us: Students are graduating from school without being able to find work) and we were told to go out and interview people about their views on the issue as the first part of the process.

I'm not sure how anyone else dealt with this issue, but I am at work all day and do not have access to the people I was expected to interview at night. (Thank goodness for previous conversations I have had about this issue with my son and for email.) So was this course only for those of us not chained to an office desk? For this portion of the task we had a week.

But, and this is a big but, they also included in the empathize portion of the assignment the define portion (Stanford uses empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test as their design template.) These are two separate stages, at least in my book. So in a week, we were to interview three or four people, write down all their ideas and then define the problem and submit.

In the next week, we were to peer review at least five assignments (not a problem, except many were in Spanish and I don't speak Spanish so it took a while to translate) but also complete the next assignment of ideate and come up with 50 ideas.

Now this is an online course. Why such a short timeline? DNLE was much better organized in regards to how time much time assignments might take.  We worked through all the lectures and small assignments first and  then worked on the larger problem as a team. In other xMOOCs, where time became a factor (due to technical issues or work load)  they actually made the course longer so that people could complete their work and be successful. So why did Design Thinking Action Lab not change to meet the needs of their students? I know that in the first two weeks frustration was being expressed in the forums.

And speaking of forums, the NovoEd forum remains its normal, clunky self. If xMoocs ever solve the forum issue (perhaps just move to Google +, Facebook? I don't know) they may become a force to be reckoned with. However, on the positive side the professor was regularly on the forum site and initiated many interesting discussion threads. There were also Google + hangouts once a week, which were recorded for us to watch at any time. So the lectures were short but to the point, the Do Now assignments interesting (but until the browser problem was dealt with impossible to view/do) and the resources offered in support were great (but the short teasers from "Extreme by Design" were driving me crazy as I want to know how the story ends.)

Now where do I fit in as a student in this mix? This is were I step up to the plate and admit I've dropped the course and am only auditing it now. I moved from one province to another during the course and I just could not see pouring more of my energy into the course when it was not meeting my needs. And that is the beauty of online MOOCs.  I engage as much or as little as I feel like and what I was being offered was not enough for me to say "I will continue."

DNLE changed my perspective on learning. Design Thinking did not.



  


Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Using Piktochart

I have mixed feelings about Piktochart. I like that it was easy to sign up with a Google account. As a free user there are not a lot of themed pages for you to access (just seven) and you have to move to a pro account to get access to more. I chose the minimalist theme since it was the first time I had used the program. There is a tutorial, so to speak, on the page that shows you where all the buttons are, but while it was helpful it wasn't enough for a first time user. I did struggle with this program on a few key issues. I ended up having to create a second presentation because I messed up the first one.

So what can you do with Piktochart? You can move around all the lines, remove all of the pictures, add icons, move around the banners and headings, add another block of colour to extend the poster if you want, move graph bars, change numbers into letters, etc. It really is flexible that way.

Where did I have my problems? I had enough information for a page and quarter but not enough to justify adding another colour block. So I ended moving everything up the page a bit to make room for my thoughts. It was clunky to move all of the design elements up the page. When I wanted to leave the text but get rid of the picture, they were coupled together. I know there was an unlock button but the tutorial didn't cover that. I still don't know what the unlock button does- that's for next time. So I moved everything up the page and then tried to copy one of the banner headings to use further down on the page. You can copy elements alright but they just remain on top of each other. That's when I tried the unlock button so that I could move the second banner off the first. I pulled the banner apart but not in the manner I intended. I gave up after about 20 minutes and just created a text banner for the last element. Just don't remove the design elements if you want to keep using them as they are not found in the  icon bar in the same way. You have to build your own icons then (a circle, then layer another icon on top, etc) and I couldn't find the banner I wanted to reuse within the icon bars (and there are a lot of icons.) So that part of the program was frustrating. You also have to double click to edit but sometimes I felt like I was quadruple clicking to be able to open up the design elements so I could type in my own text.

 I know there is website to visit but the link is embedded in the icons so you have to double click to edit, then copy the link into your search engine and then try and decide which tutorial you need to view to solve your problem (so you have to know what your problem is, then how to express it, then search for the solution- if it is there.) You also have to do that before you start working on the chart because once you've removed that design element, the link to the help page is gone.

So will I use Piktochart again? Probably, but I know that there will be times I will be frustrated with the program. Can you use it in the classroom? Yes, but be prepared to provide lots of support.

Friday, 2 August 2013

On the last day of clmooc my true love gave to me....

Sung badly and off key...

Well, this is "officially" the last day of clmooc but if I know anything about community I would say that we'll be meeting, making and reflecting together in the future. I certainly hope so. I still have to make a stop action film that I look forward to sharing. (I do have the photos so I'll try to do that in the next few days and I'll post about it too.)

So here's my list of twelve gifts (in honour of the song) that have made my journey through #clmooc so memorable:

1. New connections, old connections renewed and deepening of connections. There is something so lovely about meeting new people and being exposed to new ways of thinking and doing. It also wonderful to interact more deeply with those that I've brushed up against in the past. The generosity in sharing has been tremendous. Thank you to everyone for making this a great community.

2. Feedback. This community has been wonderful about giving feedback, which helps me to reflect and look at something I've created or said from a different perspective, as well as reflect and think on what others have said. As someone who needs feedback to round out my ideas this has been invaluable.

3. Makes. The ideas about remixing, creating, the choice of topics and the ideas have been wonderful. I am so impressed with the creativity of all participants. Great makes deserve to be shared and there have been some wonderful makes. Hopefully I'll get a make into the make bank soon.

4. Software. The range of software being produced to help create and share is mind boggling and can be overwhelming. The clmooc facilitators made inspired choices for getting us out of comfort zones and into new ways of looking, creating, thinking and sharing about the world around us. Thank you so much for expanding my repertoire!

5. Networks. To everyone who is brave enough to network, and share something of ourselves digitally, thank you for being part of my connected learning network. I so appreciate being invited into the clmooc space. I feel like I could go into a classroom tomorrow and have all of you as back up if I run into problems. What an empowering feeling.

6.  Lurkers. Thank you for thinking about lurkers and what they bring to a mooc or any other learning situation. We've all been a lurker, whether in person (does everyone put up their hand first to do a task? volunteer? etc.) or in our digitalverse and it is right to acknowledge their contribution. Fear in a learning situation needs to be acknowledged, not as a negative, but as the first step towards learning in a new environment.

7. Power. Who has the power in a learning relationship? I've been fascinated with this discussion and the idea that I don't have to have the power to be a successful teacher. I look forward to having the opportunity to put this idea into practice. 

8. Open ended community. The idea that we can continue to make and share, make and share has a powerful allure. I hope that even once we've gone back to work that we continue to make time for each other and continue our connection.

9. Experts. Thank you to all of you who shared powerful ideas and creations, plus provided support and inspiration to us all on this journey. Your making expertise and encouragement allowed the rest of us to be successful and become experts in our own right.

10. Organization. Clmooc has been very well thought out. The care you have put into creating a digital learning community is very evident. I appreciate being a beneficiary of that thoughtfulness.

11. The acknowledgement of my own gifts as a creator. Through clmooc I have recognized that I am, indeed, a good writer and creator and that I should foster those talents. How can I foster and nurture the talents of others if I cannot do it for myself? Thank you clmooc for making that so much clearer.

12. The opportunity to write with purpose. Purpose helps fuel my writing. Because of the reflective nature of clmooc I've re-read my own blog to see how far I've come. Certainly many of my attitudes have changed over time this year as I've been exposed to new ideas and new ways of making and sharing. I'm still resistant to the term curation for anything other than museum/archival work but other than that I can seen I've grown tremendously as a person and a teacher.

Thank you clmooc 2013!


Liebster Nominee

Well Sheri Edwards has sent me a challenge!
She's nominated me for a Liebster so I have to follow the list below and answer her list of questions too.

Liebster Nomination Rules
1. Link back to the blog that nominated you.
2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with less than 200 followers. 
3. Answer the questions posted for you by the nominator.
4. Share 11 random facts about you.
5. Create 11 questions for your nominees.
6. Contact your nominees to inform them of their nomination.

So with the intent of completing the list above I started to look though my network to see who I should nominate that has the all important "less than 200 followers" ( and I know I am on that list!) portion of the challenge. Stumbling block #1: where do I find that? Does every blog have a location for the # of followers? I am tempted to just change this portion of the list to: Bloggers I think everyone should be reading but have yet to find. And if I nominate someone and they have more than 200 followers will they be insulted? Sadly, because I am deficient in this type of internet/blogger knowledge it almost stops me from completing the challenge.

I have chosen to nominate people were participants in ETMOOC, Open Spokes or clmooc. Sheri Edwards would be on this list if she hadn't sent the challenge to me. 

So in no particular order:

Christina Hendricks who writes a wonderful blog and who is brave enough to have a True Friend relationship with IamTalkyTina.
Glenn Hervieux Always a reflective thinker. Glenn has teaching experience at all grade levels.
Brendan Murphy Brendan is a math teacher who drifted over to the educational technology side. He's currently getting all of the mentors organized prior to launching OOE13 this fall.
Susan Spellman Cann: A teacher who is always mindful of the impact she has on her students.
Gallit Zvi:  I'm always interested in what Gallit has to say as she and I share a lot of common traits (including talking our way to learning!) She's a person who is not shy of starting new challenges.
Bart Miller: Because anyone who can write a symphony deserves to be on this list!

I'd love to include Jeremy Inscho in the list but I'm not sure where he blogs.


So here is the list of questions Sheri posed to me. Now some of these I won't be able to answer as I no longer work in a classroom, but once a classroom teacher, always a classroom teacher! So I will write about it as if I was still in the classroom.

1. Why do you blog?
2. What’s the most important thing a teacher can do for his or her students?
3. What’s the most important thing a teacher can do for his or her colleagues?
4. If you could change one physical thing about your classroom, what would it be?
5. Describe one of your most memorable classroom experiences.
6. What memorable experience do you hope your students have?
7. How many students/teachers do you have at your school?
8. What is your favorite classroom use of technology?
9. Who/what is your teaching inspiration?
10. What is 1 teaching goal you have for this school year?
11. In six words, what is your teaching philosophy?


1. Why do I blog?
Initially I began blogging because it was a course requirement for MOOCMOOC. I'd never blogged before. I've always written, just jotting down thoughts about different things I was thinking about as well as personal letters to my husband (when your spouse is away as often as mine is, written communication is a must to maintaining a decent relationship. It is often easy to misconstrue what is said, but writing requires/allows for  more thought and clarity.) I blog more frequently when I am in a course and that course is asking me to think, make and reflect. I do not yet blog as an outlet for my personal inner workings (still shy about that!) but I have no barrier to sharing my professional ideas and thoughts (though they often veer into the personal.) I have started to blog as a matter of habit, as the education world shifts to accommodate the rise of social media, the idea of remixing as legitimate art ( and when wasn't it legitimate?) and the impact that creating will have on teaching and the field of education. 

2. What’s the most important thing a teacher can do for his or her students?
 This question is a blog post on it's own! I think the most important thing you can do for a student is believe in them. Trust them as learners. Allow them to be learners. Don't dismiss their love of hockey cards, or manga or dinosaurs or novels or kittens as something not worthy of knowing. Use their natural interest in a subject to allow them to explore. Join them in that journey,encourage them to widen the net but also to delve the depths, validate their search for knowledge and appreciate the product.

3. What’s the most important thing a teacher can do for his or her colleagues?
Share. I was thinking originally about empathy but classroom teaching can be quite isolating and I love the idea of connected learning not only for our students but for ourselves. We need a strong professional network, a sounding board for ideas and a place to experiment for ourselves as learners. Hard to model being a learner if you're not learning with your peers.

4. Now this is a tough one since I don't have a classroom but I think it may be getting rid of individual desks. Desks make it hard to share and collaborate. I'd rather have a cubby for everyone and a flat surface that we can write on together. If I was in a classroom with desks, I might get whiteboard paint and paint them so we could write on the surface.

5. Macbeth with my Grade 6's. I love plays and drama as a way to help students explore stories and so I chose Macbeth. We started with Greek mythology and I had the students convert them into a play that they then put on. I worked up to Macbeth by first showing them a cartoon movie, then a one page cartoon, then a seven page dog cartoon, then a historical story about Macbeth and then the actual play (which I had edited and hung together with choral speech.) I invited actors and directors from the local area  into the classroom to talk to my students, and one of my students designed the set and we built it out of boxes. I'd write to them as Macbeth and have them respond as Lady Macbeth.The music teacher actually taught them Elizabethan music and dance which they also performed. I had them create a website and design the invitations as well as write reviews of the play. We put the play on and the students were giddy with the excitement of accomplishing something amazing. 

6. I wish them the joy of exploration where they are able to see that they are capable of great things, big thoughts and seeing connections. I want them to have that ah ha! moment that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.

7. N/A

8. I love using presentation technology that allows students to create and share something that they have learned. PowerPoint, Haiku Deck, Prezi, YouTube, Storify are some of the different software students can use to illustrate and share.

9. My mother is my teaching inspiration. She was a teacher when I was growing up. She completely understood my need to explore and helped foster my love of learning. She gave us regular opportunities to explore new places and answered all of questions with enormous patience.

10. My number one teaching goal is to be in the classroom again. I miss it very much.

11. Learning together helps us all grow.

11 Random Facts about Me:

1. I have blue dot tattoo on my left knee from where I accidentally stabbed myself with a pen when I was a child.

2. When you put a dandelion under my chin my skin glows yellow. Supposedly this means I like butter. This is true. I do like butter.

3. I have made Peking Duck from scratch. Since I didn't have a meat hook to hang the duck on to dry (this makes the skin crispy) I used a large empty bottle of Quebec beer. It worked well! The duck was delicious.

4. I went to university instead of art school. 30 years later I still wonder if I made the right decision.

5. I have seven different cowlicks on my head and a double crown. If I cut my hair too short I look like a mad professor (or that I have been sticking my finger in a light socket.)

6. I am the shortest person in my family (even shorter than my parents.) That wouldn't be so bad if I also wasn't the heaviest, the blindest and inherited my father's colour dysfunctional-ity. I also had 6 wisdom teeth. I told my mother, that as the eldest, I was the clearing house for all of the bad genes (she thinks I'm kidding.)

7. I passed my six wisdom teeth problem to my eldest son. He had his wisdom teeth removed- twice.

8. When I was eight I could swim 50 laps of the racing pool in 30 minutes. When I was 30 I could do the same. I swim like a stately barge up and down the pool ( my mother's description.)

9. I read in the shower. (If you wish to know how to do this successfully without wetting your reading material send me an email.) I still haven't figured out how to complete puzzle books in the shower so if you have, send me an email with the solution.

10. I love to garden. There is something so renewing about seeing the birth of spring, planting in the soil, the texture and smell of the earth and seeing the first seedlings poke out of the ground. Gardens sooth both the mind and body.

11. I put ketchup on my French toast in the morning (unless I am at a restaurant and they've mixed cinnamon into the egg batter.) My parents are from England and Australia and that's how I ate it when I was growing up. My husband (of Canadian background on both sides) thinks that's disgusting and eats it with maple syrup (as do my three sons.)



11 Questions for my Nominees

1. Why do you blog?
2. What’s the most important thing a teacher can do for his or her students?
3. What’s the most important thing a teacher can do for his or her colleagues?
4. If you weren't a teacher what would you do instead?
5. Describe one of your most memorable classroom experiences.
6. What memorable experience do you hope your students have?
7. How do you incorporate connected learning into your classroom?
8. What is your favorite classroom use of technology?
9. Who/what is your teaching inspiration?
10. Where/what do you hope to be doing ten years from now?
11. In six words, what is your teaching philosophy?

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Communicating, connecting and networking

So I'm still in reflection mode about my own learning so you'll have to bear with one more clmooc reflection. And it's not really so much a clmooc reflection as it is a reflection about 2013 so far, my "mooc" year. Since we're supposed to be blogging and sharing I've had a bit of time to review what I've been writing this year. And I've noticed a trend. I write more when I am making than I do when I am supposed to be thinking. In fact, I am beginning to think that all of my writing is dependent on making. I use the make as a springboard to further my understanding of the process of making, the resulting make and how it has impacted my learning. I use the make as a tool to communicate my ideas, and use the sharing of the make as a way to build connections. From my connections, I receive feedback and new ideas for makes, which increases the number of products I make, which foster new communication and new connections. Loop upon loop. Eventually, the connections become a network.

Now, as I am relatively new to the idea of networking my network is not extensive but it is there. And while three months ago I was nervous that I would not maintain my network I realize now that while I might leave my network to go on vacation or because of computer issues or work pressures I will always return. Being connected has become necessary. And that connection requires communication and making to be maintained. Make and share, make and share. My new mantra.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Using the tools of the web

I am continuing to reflect on my learning within the clmooc environment. The learning curve in clmooc has not been as steep as either MoocMooc or ETMOOC as indicated by my prezi contribution of a few weeks ago. I'm not feeling guilty anymore because I don't post on everyone's contribution, I don't always do all the work, and I am more forgiving of my mistakes. I used to feel guilty though.  It's hard to break old ways of thinking and doing.

2013 has been a year of tremendous growth for me. I`m much more comfortable in the socially networked communication environment and more willing to take the risks of creating and sharing. I want to connect and I am willing to make those connections. As George Siemens says "Our connections are now global," (Thanks Diane Samson for sharing this video.) I don't think it is because I have removed my super-ego from the equation, but that I realize that much of the negative views I have of my work are my own. So while I am still very critical of what I make, being in this environment gives me the push I need to produce work that is NOT perfect. In this environment it is not expected. And that is so freeing.

I'm more willing to try a variety of tools that the web has to offer now. Since starting clmooc I've used Animoto, Prezi, and Infinite Monkeys for the first time, gone back and used Popcorn Maker again (which has already been updated since I used it last! That was only four months ago!), tried my hand at Thimble again (baby steps, baby steps), and attempted to attach my blog RSS, which I have 50/50 chance of doing successfully- who knew this would continue to plague me after all these months! Perhaps it is because I don't want to create a new blog just for clmooc. But that's ok too. I'll get it eventually. And when I get my new computer, I will make a stop action film!

I love learning the new ways of making, but that is because I enjoy the process of learning how to use a tool as much as I love the creation that results from the use of the tool. It melds both my analytical nature of "How does this work?" with my creative side of "What can I make?" And what finer type of learning is there? Thanks clmooc for giving me a summer of makes!