The Mac Lab

Tag: engagement

Lighting the Way (Week 15)

by on Jan.01, 2011, under Blog

julia_h_01_smIf the nature of the work is properly appreciated and applied, it will stand in the same relation to the higher faculties as food is to the physical body.
J. C. Kumarappa

There’s something about the first day of a new year that makes me want to work on worthwhile projects. So much to do today and so little time (as it’s spread across family and friends as well as the Mac Lab crew). I’ll be adding to this post over the next several days as there’s much to say and share about our upcoming 2011 adventures together.

Kudos: Though I love this image, I’m far more taken with Julia’s blog post. That’s they type of passion that makes work a form of pleasurable sustenance. Like I’ve told you before, if you love your job, it’s not work; it’s just another form of play. And playing for a living is one of the keys to happiness.

Your job in the Mac Lab is to hone your digital artistry skills. Is this job one of the joys in your life? I hope you understand that your answer depends entirely on your point of view. And your point of view is a matter of choice.

Odd how some people don’t choose to be happy.

••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• •••••

Be sure to check out the new galleries. I’ll bet some of my 24/7/365 students (who know first hand exactly what J.C. Kumarappa was talking about) will have items to add before Winter Break ends.

0102: Reading the (online) paper this morning and ran across this quote:

Employers are increasingly saying that they don’t just need people with basic job skills, but people who are creative [and] who can generate new ideas and new ways of solving problems.
Creativity can be an economic engine

Wow! I wonder where you could find a class that helps you learn to solve problems creatively? ;)

0103: Just a reminder to read the blog every day and follow all instructions. For starters, if you scrolled down and began reading at today’s update, please start again from the top of the page. This week’s message was crafted with you in mind!

We’re coming up on the semester grades later this month and I’ll be charting your diligence. I’m not going to offer repeated reminders of every expectation. I expect you to hold up your end of the deal.

Mac Lab Markers: Bermuda became the 167th country to visit the blog over break. We also passed 700,000 page views around the same time. I wasn’t paying attention so I didn’t notice when either event happened. On a more dubious note, I do notice the spam every day. We shattered daily and monthly records in December. I know it’s wishful thinking but I sure hope this trend doesn’t continue.

Top 100 Classroom Blogs: Our blog made OnlineDegrees.org’s Top 100 list. Pretty cool as only 16 high schools were on the worldwide list.

Today’s Task: Everyone must begin their Desktop Wallpaper Calendar project within the first 15 minutes of class today. You may work with any imagery you wish but I want to see a unique custom calendar for January on everyone’s desktop by Friday. (February’s will be due on Feb 1.) 3D students are not required to complete all the Photoshop tutorials but I do expect to see a correctly-sized render—enhanced in Photoshop—mounted on your desktop too. Smashing Magazine has some great examples of what I’m looking for. Your goal is to be included in the gallery. Note: Your imagery should relate to the respective months. How and why it relates—from your point of view—is what I’ll expect you to be able to explain.

Tip of the Day: The page looks a little different. Hopefully this will make it easier to find what you’re looking for when you need it.

0104: Today’s Tip of the Day is required viewing for all students. Please pay attention as you watch this video.

Personal Responsibility: It’s up to you to track your time on the clipboard. We have a Mac Lab Saturday School™ this weekend: 6:15 to 12:00 just so you can catch up or jump further ahead! FYI: If you chose to ignore yesterday’s assignment, you were marked down. If you choose to ignore today’s or tomorrow’s, the same will happen.

Update: A student in 2nd period managed to watch today’s 7:33 video in less than five minutes. When asked if he watched the video, he said, “Yes.” When I mentioned that he’d not been in the room long enough to view the entire video, he replied, “I skipped some parts.”

My head hurts.

0105: Pretty simple today. Today’s Tip of the Day contains info you need to know. Related links: A Good Portfolio | Photography Info | 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 |

Reminders: Please return all cameras tomorrow. Mac Lab Saturday School™ this weekend: 6:15 to 12:00.

Update: Three images quickly crafted (in about five minutes) from the new Things Stock Images page: 01 | 02 | 03 | Most of the photos on the Stock pages are very large and can be cropped to fit your desktop. Tomorrow’s Tip of the Day will address the strategy if you’re not up to speed yet. Lunch just started and I’ve got 200+ photos uploaded. Sweet!

0106: Those students who learn to use our tools in a professional manner will have the most fun and do the best work next semester. We’re rapidly reaching the point at which I expect you to fully understand that. Hey look! We just reached it. Perfect!

If you’d like to have more fun, create some fantastic art, and get me off your back, you might consider embracing what I’ve been trying to share with you. Saturday school, while not for everyone, offers you the time to really sink your teeth into learning new skills. Why not do yourself a favor and give it a try? Wouldn’t the Wall of Fame™ look so much better if your work was up there too? Let’s see what you can do.

TOTD: Today’s Tip of the Day comes in two parts. Though some of you will grumble that they’re too long, they’re packed with essential skills and strategies you need to learn. Please watch, listen, and learn from both videos: Part I and Part II.

0107: Today’s Tip of the Day is also a two-parter, but not because it’s too long; part two is simply a correction. Please watch, listen, learn, and apply the tips from Part I and Part II.

Reminder and Simple Task: We have a Mac Lab Saturday School™ this weekend: 6:15 to 12:00. There is only one other MLSS™ before our finals. And speaking of finals and grades, would you please do something for me to show you’re actually paying attention? There’s no bonus time involved (so please don’t add any). I’ll remember who did and didn’t follow these instructions:

I’ve added an orange X to the bottom row of each page clipboard just to the right of the extra credit number. (If you’re confused, the very beginning of this video shows you where the extra credit score is found.) Please add your own X to the right of your extra credit tally (yours won’t be orange). If I see an X, I know you’re paying attention. If I don’t, you chose the consequence.

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A Work in Progress (Week 7)

by on Oct.18, 2010, under Blog

victoria_m_01_smTo raise new questions, new possibilities,
to regard old questions from a new angle,
requires creative imagination
and marks real advances in science.
Albert Einstein

Question: How might I connect with more of my students? Ah, the eternal quest for educators. Let’s start right here: Watch this video. That’s right, for once I’m telling you to watch the video before reading the entire post.

Okay, Is everyone with me now? Imagine this: You’re a football coach. For years your teams have been successful running the football. Your playbook is filled with cleverly designed running plays but this year you’ve got a quarterback who can throw like a pro and players who can run like the wind and catch anything that comes their way. Should you stick to your playbook or redesign your offense around your talent?

I’m willing to continue reworking my playbook to take advantage of my players (YOU). But where to start? How do I take advantage of what you have to offer?

After hours of pondering and pounding the keyboard on Saturday, I finally arrived at a more developed question: How might I reconfigure and restructure expectations and assignments in my classroom to provide a wider array of sustained opportunities for students to tap into their own Zone of Intrinsic Motivation (ZIM) without compromising the integrity of the curriculum?

Immediately thereafter a fully formed idea sprang to mind. (Think: 4th Stage of the 5 Stages of the Creative Process.) Inspired by Bud Caddell’s brilliant Venn diagram, my own version (below, used with Bud’s kind permission) will be my guiding light until it proves to throw false shadows.

Here’s the idea broken into three parts:

1. What students do well
2. What students want to do
3. What we (teachers) want students to do

The Intersection of 1 and 2: In the first draft, “acknowledge” seemed patronizing: Yeah, yeah. That’s nice. The second draft (below) calls on us (teachers) to find a way to include what students enjoy doing and what they do well, even if it doesn’t seem obvious how we might accomplish this. Extending our curriculum to leverage the students’ strengths and desires would make for a more engaging classroom, yes? That feels right but, as with all of these, I’m not sure of the verb. In fact, I just used all three intersection verbs in the ZIM! for that explanation. Are they virtually interchangeable? Does it matter? Should they be more distinct?

The Intersection of 1 and 3 & 2 and 3: The second draft calls on teachers to leverage and extend what students do well and what they enjoy doing. Hey, you say, That sounds just like what you said about the intersection of 1 and 2. Yes, it does. Peer to peer mentoring, modifying curriculum to tap into individual strengths, taking advantage of student interests. Yeah. Sure. you say, But how?

Let’s talk about this today.zim_02_555

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Speaking of What Students Do Well: Isn’t Victoria M’s work in progress amazing? Just like most of you, she’d never touched Illustrator or the Pen Tool before. I may feature another rookie (Mark L) next week. No pressure, Mark. ;)

1019: Since we spent most of yesterday discussing how we might grow your ZIM, I’ll let you work today. Keep your other classes in mind when producing projects down the road and always remember to think creatively.

1020: Please give any family members visiting today a full tour of the blog. Show them the expectations, policies, rubric, tutorials, etc. Then share what you’ve been doing these first 6+ weeks. If no one from home could make it, work on your projects.

1021: From 8:00 to 9:00 I’m participating in an Adobe online event. Second period students, please just work on your projects. Note: I’ve got the laptop hidden from your view because this is top secret. When I’m permitted to share the info with you, I will, but I will tell you that this is VERY exciting stuff that we’ll have our hands on soon.

How soon? Patience, Grasshopper. ;)

1022: Sir Ken Robinson returns. (Blocked at school.) You may watch or work, but it’s worth watching for more than one reason, as you’ll discover. SKR’s site. (Yes, video blocked there too.)

6 Hours of Fun: The 3rd Mac Lab Saturday School™ is tomorrow from 6:15 to 12:00.

Network Essentials: Watch this video.

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Motivation, Engagement, and Improvisation (Week 6)

by on Oct.11, 2010, under Blog

chris_f_tigger_smIt means that everything is changing far faster and far more profoundly than most people really get, I think. And there are both great opportunities and great challenges and some risks in all of this. And our education systems were never designed to meet these challenges. And my argument today is that we can’t really just improve [education systems] we have to radically transform them.

…[A teacher's] job is to create the conditions under which people will grow. And those conditions include understanding the nature of talent and motivation. The need to feed people’s spirits and their energies. And instead of that we’ve got this very competitive system of mass education. And it’s failing.
Sir Ken Robinson

A couple of alumni who thrived in the creative chaos of the Mac Lab showed up Saturday to visit. After catching up, the conversation turned to those students who don’t. The alums seemed to think it was the students’ fault: Some kids just don’t get it.

Y’know, I agree to a point; some kids certainly don’t get it. But why don’t they get it? Sure seems like I’ve gotta take some of the blame too.

In my Masters program, we’re studying Howard Gardner‘s Theory of Multiple Intelligences. An incomplete concept map demonstrates that students in the Mac Lab have lots of opportunities to tap into MI’s. So, the question is: Why aren’t ALL students plugged in, motivated, and engaged? While pondering things I don’t like about the program of study I signed up for, it occurred to me that if I wanted alternatives to some mind-numbingly boring assignments, some of my students probably do too.

How can I expect others to bend if I’m unwilling to? We’ll talk about this in class today.

Progress Report this Friday: I’d sure like to give all of you A’s but, as usual, some of you have chosen to receive a lower grade. See the clipboard and the rubric on the Student Page to determine your own grade. (It’s not too late to make up time!)

Sir Ken Robinson: For those of you who didn’t click the link the first time around, please watch his video. (Don’t watch the related videos today. We’ll save those for another day.) I’ll be locking the computers about fifteen minutes into class because I want to share a bit about MI’s and hear your thoughts on the education system. Do you think it’s really broken?

Featured Image: Doesn’t this seem to speak to the nature of multiple intelligences? The artist, a remarkably well read, well-spoken, and gifted soul was both one of my most and least inspired students. Now that he’s free of high school and the teacher who became his least-favorite, I hope he’s managed to recapture the creative magic in his life.

1012: Was that awesome yesterday, or what? I’m looking forward to how some of you will be satisfying the class requirements with your newfound choice of creative expression. If you’re not quite sure of how it will all play out, don’t worry. Other students will show the way in the days and weeks to come.

On the Big Screen: I’ll be locking computers each period to show Sir Ken’s Are Schools Killing Creativity? TED talk. If you’ve already seen it, you’re in luck; you get to see it again! If you’re in multiple periods, you get to see it multiple times. Repetition is an integral part of the 5 Stages of the Creative Process. Embrace it.

After the Sir Ken Show: You’re required to add a comment to this post. What do you think of: Sir Ken’s thoughts? Multiple Intelligences? The new freedom of creative expression in the Mac Lab? Pick one, two, or all of those questions and respond. Do you like? loath? agree? disagree? have something else to add? Please tell us WHY you like, loath, agree, disagree, etc. Unless your parents have given written permission, use your first name and last initial only. Mine would be Mike S. No cute nicknames or pseudonyms! Leave the Website field blank for now (unless you’re a veteran with your own Mac Lab site).

Avatar Envy: Don’t like the default avatar? Neither do I. You’re free to add a custom avatar. It must be your own artwork or photograph. If you successfully create a new avatar (today or tomorrow), add 30 minutes of bonus time to the clipboard.

Meanwhile, off to your to do list.

1013: I can’t begin to tell you how impressed I am with some of your comments. Most of you seemed to enjoy and agree with Sir Ken (as do I). The thought of modifying our current curriculum delivery system does tend to tax our imagination though. (As some of you expressed.) How might we (teachers) change things to make school more meaningful and relevant to you? How might we better motivate and engage your mind and imagination?

I’m looking for answers and trying new strategies but I’ll tell you that nothing will work unless you meet your teachers half way. If we show a willingness to modify our curriculum to reach you, you must be willing to accept your role in the process. Plus, little of this will happen outside of the Mac Lab without a little proactive work on your part. You have to help your teachers see the light. And I’m no exception. If you have ideas on how to improve our class, I want to hear ‘em!

On the Big Screen: I’ll be showing you this 3 minute video (blocked at school) as we explore alternate methods of satisfying school assignments. If you want school to become more relevant and fun, you have to help your teachers find new ways to prove you’re mastering the material.

International Update: Yesterday a visitor from Aruba stopped by (the 165th country to find our corner of the Web). We also passed 600,000 page views in the last year and a half. Hard to believe. Also hard to believe: The True Size of Africa.

Reminder: If you didn’t get a chance to comment or add an avatar yesterday, please do so today. For those of you who claimed (or will claim) the 30 minute bonus from yesterday, would you please circle the 30 on the clipboard? That will help me discover who is and isn’t paying attention and I’ll add a little extra time to your total as thanks.

1014: The 30 minute bonus offer is over. Those who circled the time will receive an additional 30 minutes as a bonus. My sincere thanks goes out to those of you paying attention. Note: The clipboard had been rigged so that you can’t sneak in the 30 today or tomorrow. You should have paid attention. You’ll get another chance soon.

On the Big Screen: Can science and chemistry be fun? Like everything else, it depends on your point of view. I’ll be showing a two minute video (blocked at school) that proves it can be. How might you make learning fun? Here’s one about psychiatry. (Yes, blocked again.)

Progress Report Tomorrow: To those of you who didn’t claim the original 10 minute bonus, here’s another chance. I want EVERYONE to log 10 extra minutes today on the clipboard. Circle the 10 so I know you read this. Those who don’t follow this simple instruction will owe an additional 60 minutes. I will also express my displeasure on the Progress Report. To those who comply: I wish I had more students just like you. Thanks!

1015: Read ALL of today’s update before clicking any links.

The Blog: What part of you’re required to read the blog is so hard to understand? First we had the +10 -30 debacle (0924) and this week we had a +10 +30 -60 adventure. (No, you may NOT record the +10 or +30 today. That door has closed. Students that added the circled 30 yesterday obviously didn’t read yesterday’s post.) Students who have chosen to ignore the blog will get no higher than a C on the Progress Report. It doesn’t matter how much extra time you have. The reading is required. If you’re an athlete, don’t ask me to change your grade. The C does NOT make you ineligible.

Presenter? We’re supposed to be having a presentation from FIDM today but the presenter hasn’t contacted me so I’m thinking it won’t happen. We’ll play it by ear. Keep reading…

On the Big Screen: Ross Ching took a chance and used every trick he could think of to make this video (blocked at school). Death Cab for Cutie liked it so much they made it the official video for the song. Ross Ching took a chance and built a successful business around it. Taking the road less traveled and going the extra mile can lead one to undiscovered territories.

What have you discovered lately?

Required: Log an extra 20 minutes on the clipboard and circle it. Please, write legibly. Those failing to follow this instruction will owe 60 minutes. Yes, circling the 20 is required. Also add the grade you believe you deserve to the SG column. The rubric and what’s written above should leave no doubt. Sure wish I could give straight A’s. Maybe next progress report.

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