Every start upon an untrodden path is a venture which only in unusual circumstances looks sensible and likely to be successful.
Once we choose seats today, ALL STUDENTS go to the 2.0 Tutorials and follow the Accounts and Networking instructions before proceeding. I’ll be adding more of these Mac Lab Basic Tuts in the days and weeks ahead. I’m going to help you to establish good work habits this year. Please follow along. NOTE: It will be obvious if you’re not so why not spare us both the pain?
This is the second week of our journey. If you’ve completed all the requirements from last week, read on. If you’re new to the class or have yet to finish, please complete the first week’s assignments before proceeding. If you don’t follow these instructions, I’m going to react like this (Claire R). Listen to what Claire has to say, play by the rules, and we’ll all have fun.
Before I get to the projects, a nod to whomever visited from The Maldives (118th country) and to our 100,000th page view on Friday.
Completed All Tasks? Watch this video and follow the links.
0915: Libya and the Oriental Republic of Uruguay make 120 countries. When I checked the blog at 3:00 this morn, it was down (and remained so until a few minutes ago) so I couldn’t add what I’d planned. For today, follow what’s written on the board. Your tasks (in order):
1. Finish setting up the local account you signed onto yesterday.
2. Complete these tasks including watching ALL videos on Student page.
3. Watch this video.
4. Master the Pen Tool.
5. Begin your self portrait. Examples of successful projects. See Projects for details and links.
SECOND WARNING: Fail to follow instructions and I’ll react like this (Claire R)*
*Several Mac Lab veterans have started their self-portraits without following ALL of the instructions. Rest assured that these students will be repeating this project… probably several times. [shakes head] Tortoise and the Hare. How many times have I already said it this year? Tortoise and the Hare.
0916: All Pen Tool tutorials have been re-recorded. Watch this video for details and a reminder of your responsibilities.
0917: I’ve been busy creating a number of new pages you may or may not encounter today (but you will soon). Please watch this video so we can ensure that everyone understands how to translate these pages if necessary.
0918 Demonstration: How Juggling is like the Pen Tool. Don’t miss it!
Our past is not our potential.
Welcome, 0910 students, to the Mac Lab Blog. Most of you are reading this today, 090909, the second day of school; others will be joining us later and beginning right here as well over the next few weeks during the annual student schedule shuffle (three weeks of headaches for the good folks in Guidance who try to accommodate all of you). Regardless, all students are required to read the blog from this point forward each day. Because we’re all referencing the same information, we’ll eventually be in sync, probably somewhere around the sixth week. A word of advice if you want to get the most out of the Mac Lab: Don’t underestimate the value of the blog. Yes, you have to read, but isn’t that better than listening to me blab for 10 minutes every day? And if you’re absent or distracted or added the class on the first day of the fourth week (the last day to add), you can always look to see what you’ve missed. One certainty is that there’s no way to succeed in this class if you won’t read what’s written each day so you might as well either learn to love it or find another class because there’s no way around the blog.
Blog posts are typically full of links. Don’t click any links until you get to THE ANSWERS (below). For instance, there’s no way I’d have passed up an opportunity to drop an 050555 next to that 090909 in the first paragraph (but I didn’t want to distract you). So, should you click the 050555 link? And what about the Marilyn Ferguson link after the quote at the top of the page? And what’s the quote and the rest of this got to do with Digital Arts or 3D? Here are THE ANSWERS. << Put on your headphones and click that link. A few things I forgot to mention.
0910: I’ve got to admit, I’m proud of the way most of you have followed the assignments so far. Practically everyone has been enthused and engaged, or so it seems to me. (Hang in there, Mac Lab veterans. Everyone on the team goes through training camp. Just as the NFL season is about to start, so are the projects in here.) I’m hoping that you’ll all find that the blog, with all its links to specific information and custom video tutorials, is an easy and exciting way to learn. I’m trying to give you the means to learn at your own pace so no one’s waiting for others to catch up or getting lost because the pace is too fast.
We’ve also talked a bit about the blog’s unexpectedly wide reach. Here’s a peek behind the scenes at what Google Analytics reveals: Worldwide Overview | City Stats | California | Visitor Loyalty | Comments About Comments | Today’s Assignment
For all those people who’ve written in the past couple of days, I’m not ignoring you. Our district email went down (yet again!) yesterday afternoon and still isn’t up this morning. I’ll get back to you ASAP. Later: Meeting after school then straight to Back to School Night. Been at it for 17 hours straight. Maybe tomorrow for that ASAP…
0911: Student feedback is one of the very cool features of our Web 2.0 presence. I’d estimate that a little more than a quarter of our students made at least one comment on the blog or forum (don’t head to the forum right now). Today we’re going to shake things up a bit as I’m going to show you two short videos at the beginning of the period and ask you to comment on one of them (or both if you want). Watch this video then this video and do what they say. This has been a good first week. Let’s end it on a strong note.
On an unrelated note, our email’s down again. Time to replace the squirrels powering the server. I’m going to volunteer to kick-start the machine when necessary. Hope someone approves this as it’s an intolerable situation!
When you’ve completed all assignments on this page, proceed to this post.
This cautionary fable, confession’s ode to crime
Sentence the arrested youth, will serve for wasted time
These words a public whipping, exchanging soul and cell
Fifteen lashes of the clock, three hands to deal him well
—Dream Yet Complete
I’ve often joked that the only reason I’m a teacher is that my case came up before the judge in the great courthouse in the sky. For my crimes (see the 3rd paragraph of the 0814 update), I was sentenced to life in high school. (If you’re interested, here’s the real story.) Our culture often makes the mistake of confusing punishment for justice when rehabilitation would be more beneficial for all involved. Here’s an example of a different happy ending/new beginning. And speaking of new beginnings, school may not start for another 11 days but the meetings and workshops have begun in earnest. For this teacher, the vacation’s over (Mariam B) and I’m shackled once again to this labor of love for the duration of the 09/10 school year.
Lots more to write but I’ve got to get back to building the image for the lab (loading software and modifying settings on a single computer which will then be cloned across the lab) and have to help out at another workshop a couple hours from now.
0829: Guatemala and the Union of Myanmar extends our guest list to 115 countries. The latter makes me cringe when I consider the quote and joke that began this post. In Myanmar, political prisoners are suffering at the hands of the military junta. Some freedoms we take for granted are non-existent there. One day the people of this world will come to their collective senses. Makes me think of something Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote: [Someday] we shall harness for God the energies of love. And, on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire. Until that someday…
0830: Continuing our sudden global growth spurt, Cameroon = 116. If you haven’t been paying attention, new links in the Twitter widget in the right sidebar (or from the source), even more on GCL, and on Vimeo. Going on an inspiration hunt right after updating the post so you might consider checking out the new thousand word additions to our Inspiration pages.
0901: Good to see all my peers at Valhalla yesterday. We also had a unique district-wide gathering in the morning. Imagine the noise with 800+ teachers gabbing away in one room (the gym at West Hills). I mention this because our Superintendent laid out his vision/challenge to all of us. Not sure what others thought but I was impressed. One thing’s for certain, the Mac Lab’s moving in the right direction to meet the Supe’s call to action! I wonder if yesterday’s visitor from Mongolia (#117) would agree?
0903: My back is whacked, but dang, the lab’s coming together. Since I can’t seem to get back to sleep I’m going to create something to (hopefully) generate funding to provide more resources for the kids. I keep thinking of this video that the Supe showed to district teachers on Monday. One the whole, I firmly believe that America’s education system is stuck in the 20th century. The strategies I’m employing may not be the answer, but at least they’re in step with the times in which we’re living. Educators need to step it up if our kids are going to succeed in this ever-changing world. Yes, that was a gauntlet you just heard. If you’re an educator and are offended, you’re missing the point.
0905: Thanks to Mike Bombich for CCC! I may not be as tech-savvy as Hayes but I am patient enough to run the race as the tortoise. Should be finished this afternoon. And along the lines of today’s Google Doodle, I managed to make the Mac Lab larger than it was last year. No, I didn’t answer one of those silly make-it-bigger spam emails, I just traded our six foot long tables in for five footers. Simply amazing how much more room there is to move around. We’ll see how it feels when there’s 40+ kids in the room on Tuesday.
Ah, it’s going to be a great year!
0906: Not the words one would like to read on a three-day weekend just before the start of school: Your post office is unavailable. Please contact your system administrator. Oh well. Technology happens. (I didn’t actually take it so calmly but I can’t relay my reaction and have any hopes of continuing this blog. It’s happened repeatedly over the past week.) Those important messages from Admin, Guidance, and parents are once again sitting just out of reach. Yesterday I worked on the lab till my back couldn’t take it any more. Got it imaged and shifted seating about. Much left to do once I head back down today. Hoping to finish and have Monday off but as a paper friend is fond of saying, One never knows. Veterans will be surprised at the look of the room. Since I woke earlier than usual and couldn’t get to the email, I decided to use the time to seek out some new sites. Hit a solid vein of graphics gold! Besides the new additions to Inspiration, ideas for several new and/or expanded projects came to light. So maybe it’s a good thing email is down. Oh, and special thanks to Craig U for solving yesterday’s mystery.
The hour of that choice is the crisis of your history… Be content with a little light, so it be your own. Explore and explore. Be neither chided nor flattered out of your position of perpetual inquiry… Make yourself necessary to the world, and mankind will give you bread.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson / Literary Ethics
Every teacher has his/her own philosophy of how best to help his/her students. Emerson certainly encourages each us to find our own way. He also helped me to illuminate The 5 Stages of the Creative Process (see 05: Verification). If he were still alive, I’ve no doubt that he’d have his own blog. For those who don’t click these links, here’s what Emerson had to say:
A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty. Great works of art have no more affecting lesson for us than this. They teach us to abide by our spontaneous impression with good-humored inflexibility then most when the whole cry of voices is on the other side. Else, to-morrow a stranger will say with masterly good sense precisely what we have thought and felt all the time, and we shall be forced to take with shame our own opinion from another.
Of course, in that same essay he also writes: Man is timid and apologetic; he is no longer upright; he dares not say ‘I think,’ ‘I am,’ but quotes some saint or sage. Sorry, Ralph, but as Donald Shimoda declares in Richard Bach‘s Illusions: I’ll quote the truth wherever I find it thank you. Does that make me a parrot? (Amelio Somo) I’ll leave that assessment up to the reader but I’m not shy about using any tool I can find in this attempt to reshape, refine, and re-energize my classroom. I want my kids to succeed and by hanging it all out for anyone to see, perhaps in some small way I’m making myself necessary to the world, parrot or not.
And while we’re on the topic of necessary, it’s not only necessary, it’s vital that I begin constructing more lessons and assignments for the kids. School begins three weeks from today so blog updates will deal less with the philosophy of the Mac Lab and more on actual practices.
Before I got carried away (above), the topic of this post was to be about the power of fundamentals. I neglected to include fundamentals in the synergy discussion and wanted to make amends. I chose Amelio’s parrot for that reason, not to respond to Emerson. (Though that did give me a chance to feed two birds with one seed, as I like to say.) Amelio really blossomed last year. His first taste of success was featured here. The parrot was his second home run and these two (one and two) completed his Wall of Fame™ run. Oh, he did some other good work but I find it interesting that the three skill-sets with which we begin the year are what Amelio used to build the best work in his portfolio: Typography, the Pen Tool, and the Blob Brush. Consider just how much is going into the parrot for a moment… Line, shape, form, color, texture, rhythm, repetition, unity — more fundamentals!
0819: Unexpectedly back on the road to Nor Cal in a few minutes (to help care for my dad). Lucky we kept the rental (no way my car would make it). I’ll scribble ideas that’ll pop up (I can write without looking). Mind-set: Put the FUN in fundamentals (to maximize synergetic potential). Sure hope that neighbor’s default Netgear WiFi is still active (see 0804 entry).
Special thanks to whomever invented parentheses.
0822: Have a new appreciation for what my dad’s going through. Love your parents while they’re still around. Hard to do any serious thinking so I’ve been sorting through photos and catching up with my one-a-day (on average) challenge when he’s resting. Have completed the first, added a second, and am working on the third page. The neighbor’s WiFi is barely reaching inside the house so I don’t know how much more I’ll be able to upload. Back to San Diego tomorrow.
So, I woke up early (surprise) knowing the direction this post would take (kinda-sorta since I started this yesterday afternoon) and, like Harry Potter after the Felix Felicis (though I only drank Diet Coke), I cranked open my 42 morning tabs, took numerous right and left-click turns, added videos to our channels, images to Inspiration, and posted comments and tweets rather than taking the direct route to the task at hand. Along the way I found exactly what I didn’t know I was looking for. Delicate care indeed! The final tab led to the page that contained the image that pegged the coincidence meter. Note: If you haven’t been reading the posts  and/or don’t know that Valhalla‘s colors are orange and white, that probably won’t make any sense at all. Bottom line, it was time well spent. And now, back to our regularly unscheduled reprogramming…
I’ve so been busy looking in both directions (forward and back) that I’ve only just realized how hard a time I’m having in letting go of the graduates. It’s the blog’s fault, of course. I’m certain of that. It’s brought some of us even closer and I got stuck right here in the middle without even realizing it. Silly sentimental Skocko. Every year it seems that stronger bonds are formed with the students (well, some students). Due to the interactive nature of the blog, I’ve grown accustomed to a (semi) rich dialogue accompanying most posts. When writing, I’ve been trying to bridge both worlds and there’s just too much riding on the new to risk it with longings for the old. So, without further ado (adieu, old timers… you’ll always be welcome here), time to look to the future (Kim L).
Reading Dune (see opening quote) is a lot like teaching, except that instead of starting over once (I got about 100 pages in way back when I read it the first time, was completely confused, and returned to page one) I get to start over year after year. It’s fun finding new ways to solve old problems. It’s even more fun sketching out new goals for the kids. Two examples are expanded and more focused creative freedom as defined by the image I saw earlier this morning (though I’d exchange the word LOVE for KNOW) and a public art show (though we certainly won’t be smoking death sticks while creating art or drinking Tiger while viewing it). The rest of this week’s additions (and quite possibly all additions up to the start of school) will be dedicated to defining (or at least brainstorming) the plan for 0910 in the Mac Lab. Though I’ve written about it before, this post and these comments (from there down) began the process in earnest. It’s time to lay a few more cards down before taking off on our vacation later this week. But first I’m going to continue reading this old friend. Sure, I’ve already read it, a dozen or more times if you must know. It’s one of those wonderful books I’ve worn out before and will again.
Must find that delicate balance between work and play, don’t'cha know.
Later… In the if you build it, they will come category, I just received confirmation that we’ll be getting 5 licenses of Final Cut Studio for free! Well, not really for free. I invested in a 3 year Maintenance Agreement in January of 2007. Timed it just right as we got FCS 2 in May of ’07 and will be getting v3 for the fall. Lucky, huh? Maybe I should head to Vegas! (I don’t gamble but I do play this game. A short 65 days away!) And somebody wake Shaun C so I can ask him if this is for him. He wants a career in animation (or so the story goes) and I want to give him a solid shot. (Especially since he’s going to be spending almost the whole day in the Mac Lab. It pays to take care of required classes early!) We’ll also be getting a couple of licenses for these sweet After Effects plugins too (with a deep education discount) and, well, I don’t want to spoil all the surprises. Let’s just say that the Mac Lab is going to be a dream-come-true playground for the serious digital artist. All of this comes with an entry fee though. The dedicated students get the cool programs.
0728: I find myself returning again and again, both physically and mentally, to a few lines I read in Dune yesterday: Think you of the fact that a deaf person cannot hear. Then, what deafness may we all not possess? What senses do we lack that we cannot see and cannot hear another world all around us? The reason I keep coming back is that this time I heard it differently. You see, it made an impression on my thought processes years ago (read that if you dare) and has always been front and center as a nagging question: What am I not perceiving? But yesterday I had one of those moments. You know, either this or this. (It’s hard to tell as the two are separated by such a slim margin.) Yesterday the words illuminated the creative process rather than primary perception (if that makes sense). Along the lines of ee comings: Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question, now I just have to find the question. And for those who didn’t dare…
At some stage in the process of creation, the creative product — whether painting, poem, or scientific theory — takes on a life of its own and transmits its own needs to its creator. It stands apart from him and summons material from his subconscious. The creator, then, must know when to cease directing his work and when to allow it to direct him. He must know, in short, when his work is likely to be wiser than he.
— George Kneller / The Art and Science of Creativity
Note: I’ve taken it as a given for some time now that the blog is wiser than me.
0729: A big hello to whomever stopped by from Guam yesterday (110 countries and counting). Perhaps you were also our 20,000th visitor (since GA started keeping track in April). Dune keeps surprising me: It is shocking to find how many people do not believe they can learn, and how many more believe learning to be difficult. That Princess Irulan is a fountain of wisdom. Now if I can shock those fictional beliefs out of a few more students this year… While searching for links to George Kneller (The Art and Science of Creativity guy), I ran across some food for thought. Some of the points are relevant to the Mac Lab’s radical departure for old school educational practices. Considering this conversation, Hayes might find it of interest too. Received confirmation that we’ll receive a free upgrade to v8 when it comes out. Oh, didn’t I mention we were getting a few copies of this for 3D? Forgetful me. Probably forgot to tell you that pricing for this fits into the budget too. No gaming in the Mac Lab! Unless, of course, it’s a game you’re creating in class. We’ll be starting with the 2D version so all students will get a shot to pitch their ideas. (Hint: Set the WABAC Machine to this post and try to imagine what I have in mind. Search and destroy missions might work if your protagonist is a white blood cell. If he’s just another guy with a gun, probably not.) Depending on the level of student participation, I may look for additional funding for the 3D version as well. I’ve begun to brainstorm out loud about our initial projects but failed to stress how we’ll begin ALL classes with foundations in the core Adobe apps: Illustrator, Photoshop, Bridge, and Dreamweaver. Kinda like I forgot to stress the Adobe apps in this entry. Oh well, live and learn. As Baca knows and as I’ve been know to say, you can’t win if you don’t enter (but read all the rules first).
0730: Dreamweaver + Bridge, Acrobat, Encore, or Flash? Or maybe Flash Catalyst + Photoshop and/or Illustrator? Hmmm… I’ve been researching Adobe options all day and each has its benefits. We’ll probably be using Bridge for the initial portfolio (6 weeks) to keep things simple and add Acrobat and/or Encore for the second and third portfolios (12 and 18 weeks) to give you more creative freedom without huge time investments. The second semester will offer other choices for advanced students but I’d like to keep the portfolios as sweet and simple as possible so you can focus on your projects. We’ll be skipping the text links for the most part but there’ll be a writing component so text will play its part. I’d say I can’t wait, but I really can. Summer’s been wonderful and I’m not ready to let go yet.
0731: Visitors from the Faroe Islands and Mozambique bring us to 111 countries. Shouldn’t it be 112? No, I just noticed that Google’s been counting something called not set as a country. We’ll skip that one and just add up the ones we can find on a map, so 111 it is. (Do you know why that map is unique? What’s the real value of Bucky‘s version? Search for your own answers and think about how those other maps have distorted our perception of what the world really looks like.)
Well, it’s here. Today’s a frenetic day of last minute chores and preparation. Tomorrow morning we leave on a two-week road trip, up one side of the state to Oregon (with multiple friends and family stops along the way) and back down the inland route to our quaint condo in the mountains. Internet access and time to post will be somewhat unpredictable so… I’ll talk with you later… Today? Tomorrow? Who knows? Catch up with your blog reading meantime. There’s more tucked away here than many of you can imagine. Be good to one another.