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Video Time Machine

20 Jul

Living in a media drive age, it would make sense that we, as educators, have access to videos and clips that feature some of the great moments in our history: movies, music, tv, news, sports, games and ads.  To truly understand history in any context is to know what is going on in that time period. There are many ways to set the scene, YouTube is one, though researching all of that video footage takes time; the Library of Congress has some great videos to download via iTunes if you have the time; or how about the vidoes and DVD’s which are delivered with our textbooks (in my case, laser discs and reel to reel – totally up to date on technology here).  Even better, how about a device that let’s kids research or identify the videos that best describe the time period? Enger Video Time Machine, a new app available for the iPhone and iPad that carefully selects videos that best represent the time period they were made. As the site claims, “You can watch over 10,000 handpicked videos from 1860-2011.”

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Podcasting Made Easy, Part IV: Video

7 Jul

My introduction to video came in 2001 with an early edition of Final Cut.  I had to work on two different computers as the file sizes – at 14 GB – were too large to use on just one Mac.  This was so much better than using two VCR’s to create the high-light tape for our college team.  That’s right, I was at a UC school and we were using two VCR’s to create the high-light tape for our final awards dinner … not any more. This idea stuck with me as I began to incorporate video content into my podcasts – I needed to provide video of good quality to make my episodes interesting to watch.
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Podcasting Made Easy, Part III : The Interview

5 Jul

For one of my first podcasts, I called upon Phil Boyte who lived up in the foothills two hours from where I live.  He agreed and I offered to drive up and meet him.  We sat and spoke for a bit, and it became clear I did not have a vision of what I wanted the subjects of my podcasts to be.  I had ideas, and most of the time I left that idea choosing process up to the person I was interviewing.  However, with that much choice, my subjects would often get lost and be unsure of a topic.  I lost a few interviews that way, especially from people who are not used to be recorded.  Phil and I eventually did a great podcast on ideas you can use for the first days/week of school – but it took a little time to get there.  I began to learn – thanks to my conversation with Phil – that I needed to get dialed in to the content I was looking for in the podcast. Continue reading

Podcasting Made Easy, Part II: Sound

30 Jun

As I go back listen to that first podcast I am overwhelmed with how terrible the recording quality is, especially compared to what I have today.  You will also notice that a majority of the first podcasts were audio, now I am dealing a lot more with video.  My development was purposeful, I started with audio technology developing my skill on Garageband to get the best possible edits.  I even developed my own theme song (yah, I’m that nerdy).  However, as time went on, I knew that the quality of my podcasts needed to improve or I would not be able to gain more listeners.  So, I set out to research and learn all I could about sound recording.

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Podcasting Made Easy, Part I: Getting Started

28 Jun

Since I discovered the world of podcasting on iTunes I knew that is where I wanted to be.  How cool would it be to publish a daily, weekly, monthly anything that people would download and listen to on the web? Instantly there were problems, as people may download anything, they usually only do that once if it’s terrible.  Technology? I didn’t know much, someone once told me about Garageband, and aside from a blog on MacWorld Magazine I knew nothing about it.  Thanks to some help from a few experienced educators, one Director of Curriculum and Instruction, I had the tools and stumbling blocks to create my first podcast. Continue reading

“Yay” is for Learning

23 Apr

“Yay” has a very specific meaning in my house, especially for my daughter.  Every time she hears that word, she begins to clap.  I’m not sure where that association took place, it was not long after patty cake was introduced, but when she hears the word “Yay,” the clapping commences along with an adorable smile.  Today was no exception, she heard yay, and with bits of pancake in her hand, she began to hit her fists together.  She looked awkwardly at her hands, then carefully put down the pancake pieces, and then started clapping and smiling.  I’m always amazed when I see learning take place, the sheer joy and excitement that come with solving a problem or experiencing a success is mesmerizing.  This is what makes teaching fun. Continue reading

If I Only Had a Brain

12 Apr

The sweater was a light green argyle, nice color, great for spring.  It was made from a light material, very fine cotton, perfect for warmer weather, but not too warm, and it wreaked of my personal style elegance.  I got a coupon in my email, forty percent off one item.  I went to the website and ordered my perfect sweater.  It arrived, I opened the box, the sweater had  a hole.  Rather than wait the five to ten business days to send it back and wait for the return, I drove one hour to Banana Republic to make an exchange.  Thankfully, they had what I wanted in my size, beautiful.  I went to exchange it, the clerk looked at me and said, “That will be $22.43.” I looked back at him, “It’s the same sweater,” I said, somewhat confused, “it’s just an exchange.” “I know,” said the clerk, “but it’s ringing up at a different price.  The difference is $22.43.”  That’s when it hit me, more heavily in my classroom, work, or anywhere else in my life at that point.  Thinking is hard.

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My First Prezi

12 Apr

Great teaching tells you that along with verbal/auditory instruction, you should also use kinesthetic and visual instruction.  So, from day one I have been using PowerPoint.  What a great program that I can use to add effects, images, bullets, videos and all kinds of groovy things.  I used it for Jeopardy, Family Feud, Who Wants to be a Millionaire and all other kinds of reviews.  However, over time, I began to see PowerPoint abuse – slides with no pictures and too many bullets.  Slides with repeated format, each slide had a picture on the same side with writing on the same side.  Too much info, not enough info, poor color choices, bad video … the list goes on.  That led me to Prezi.  With some prompting from my friend MJ – thank you – I created my first Prezi.

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The Next Big Thing

7 Apr

Just a few days ago I heard my daughter banging her hair brush on a metal bowl on our kitchen island.  After a bit I was annoyed, so when I looked down to see what she was doing and tell her to stop I noticed she had stopped hitting the bowl and slowly started hitting the island – which is made of wood – instead.  Then she started hitting the bowl again, then up to the glass casserole dishes, then back to the island and back to the bowl.  She looked up to me smiling as if to say, “look what I figured out.” For me it was amazing as I got to see a real life education lab right in front of me; my daughter, testing out a theory, finding a solution and feeling proud of her discovery.  Continue reading

You Never Know What Will Happen

16 Mar

Four years ago I had a student walk in my door who had more problems in her life than I ever could have imagined.  For the sake of this piece, I will call her “Lisa,” though that is not her real name.  Lisa is an African American female from Oakland, who as I will elaborate later in this article, faced many hardships in her journey through high school. Now, I didn’t know about any problems in Lisa’s life for a while yet, but I did see some warning signs to indicate something was going on that was not right.  At the same time, I also saw a very intelligent and outgoing young lady with a lot of potential.  It was the simple question of “why are you late every day?” that opened a door of possibility that changed this student’s life for the better.

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