The Mac Lab

Tag: progress report

Inspiration, Illumination, and Innovation (Week 12)

by on Nov.27, 2011, under Blog

A girl should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across her mind from within, more than the lustre and the firmament of bards and sages. Yet she dismisses without notice her thought, because it is hers. 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 than most when the whole cry of voices is on the other side. Else tomorrow 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.
Ralph Waldo Emerson / Self-Reliance (gender edit)

Ideas happen. When the Zone of Intrinsic Motivation (ZIM) flashed in my mind, I scribbled a few notes, launched Illustrator, and after a few revisions: ZIM! You might want to take a second look at that Venn diagram because I’m serious about incorporating those concepts into our learning environment.

The Artists’ Guild (TAG) is an outgrowth of ZIM! I freely stated that I didn’t completely understand how to turn our curriculum into a game but that I was going to try anyway because I believed in the idea. If we—the students, blog readers, and myself—can devise new ways to make learning more fun and engaging, we will have done ourselves and maybe even the world a great service.

Never underestimate the power of inspiration in action.

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The Thrill of Victory and the Agony of Repeat (Week 6)

by on Oct.10, 2011, under Blog

It seems, then, to be one of the paradoxes of creativity that in order to think originally, we must familiarize ourselves with the ideas of others.
— George Kneller / The Art and Science of Creativity

It seems, then, to be one of the paradoxes of education that in order to teach effectively, we must repeat the instructions again and again and again.
— Mike Skocko / The Thrill and Agony of Teaching 

Groundhog Day: Oh my! What happened last week? Everyone will watch this video and then everyone will watch the 7 old videos on this page (and any new ones I might add this morning). Everyone should also make sure their peers are doing the same because I’ll be checking the page loads and if anyone skips any video, everyone will repeat the tasks again tomorrow. And don’t even think about refreshing the page to add artificial hits to the total. Live by the Code of Honor, visit the Inspiration Page often, and elevate your skill-sets as you level up and collect XP.

Progress Reports: I have to submit the first set of grades this weekend. I’ll be calling you up one by one for your reviews all week long. Since I’ll be busy with students, you’ll have to use 3 then Me and hope for an answer from your peers. If you want to know your grade, see The World’s Simplest Rubric and if you’re confused at all, watch this video. Sadly, we won’t have any classes with straight A’s because some students have chosen to give less than their best effort.

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Home Stretch (Week 30)

by on Apr.25, 2011, under Blog

Much of our failure to understand human nature arises from neglect of the need to have our faculties excited and our lives thereby enhanced. The human animal cannot be itself without this exciting enhancement. Excitement is not merely good, it is indispensable to a proper human life.
— Lancelot Law Whyte

As we race toward the end of the school year, you have a simple choice:

a. Try as hard as you can and win.
b. Coast and watch opportunities pass you by.

This is your race. But the people sitting next to you aren’t your competition; you’re competing against that person you see in the mirror each morning. Become excited about the possibilities your own life offers. Do your best, try your hardest, and day by day you’ll make your life extraordinary.

You’ve got 34 school days (plus 5 Mac Lab Saturdays) left this year. Make ’em count!

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Thanksgiving Leftovers (Week 12)

by on Nov.24, 2009, under Blog

artist_01_smIn all cases of perception, from the most basic to the most sophisticated, the meaning of the experience is recognized by the observer according to a horizon of expectation within which the experience will be expected to fall.
James Burke / The Day the Universe Changed

Look the question in the eye, extract what’s make believed
Prism bends the lighted path, like notions preconceived
Skocko / Dream Yet Complete

What preconceived notions do you bring to the blog each day? Do you expect to be inspired or bored? Challenged or tortured? Did you even read the quotes (above)? Do you realize that the preconceived notions you’ve decided to embrace will either enhance or diminish your experience each day? Think about that for a minute. In a very real sense, your preconceived notions can be a help or a hindrance.

When writing the blog, I expect to be surprised and inspired. I almost never know what I’m going to say when I sit down to pound on the keys each morning and I’m almost never disappointed with the outcome. I certainly didn’t expect to suddenly start a new series of videos and I’d be willing to bet that no one else expected what was on the other end of the thumbnail that accompanies this post. (Part II is right here.) Because I expect to be surprised and inspired, I usually am.

Hey, I know this isn’t Pulitzer Prize material but it’s dang good for two hours of effort each morning. Think about that for a second. On average, I spend a couple of hours each day writing, recording, and researching and you spend five to ten minutes reading, watching, and listening. It hardly seems a fair trade unless one multiplies your five to ten minutes by 250. That’s 20 to 40 student-hours of engagement each day. When I think about how the Web is going to play a part in each of your lives (and livelihoods) it seems a sound investment for each of us.

••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• •••••

Have any of you seen the movie, Grand Canyon? (It’s rated R so ask your parents first if you’re planning on checking it out.) We’re heading to the Grand Canyon tomorrow morning. Though the canyon is primarily the central metaphor in the movie, it plays a small but significant role as well. I’ll be thinking about that gulf as we enjoy our good fortune over the next few days. In that vein, I have a favor to ask of you. Will you do something for me? We may not have Internet access and clicking those links each day is important. Thanks and I hope you have (or had) a wonderful Thanksgiving.

1125: We have a teenager in the house. Soundly sleeping at present, but the next phase of our family adventure officially begins today. Apt that it’ll be marked by a road trip none of us will soon forget. Sue, my wife, set up a great party/sleepover for Noël on Saturday (after the Wii was unveiled). The highlight (or should I say Twilight) was VIP treatment at the aptly named Edwards Cinema. (Hilarious review here.)

I went in with definite preconceived notions. I hadn’t read any reviews beforehand but I figured the budget had to be bigger so the special effects wouldn’t be as embarrassing this time around. As for the movie itself, my expectations were rock bottom so it was going to be hard to be disappointed. I kept this to myself as the girls couldn’t have been more excited. I fully expected the screeches of delight from the audience when the characters first appeared but I never expected to hear cougars howling along with the kids (several sat directly behind us). Quite amusing!

My preconceived notions made for an enjoyable experience. Oh, and because someone will ask… Team Alice. (Sue was amused by this.)

For the Grand Canyon, I have preconceived notions as well. I’m hoping for crystal clear skies but I’m prepared for hazy. I want to take majestic landscape photos but I’m ready to use the macro if necessary. In short, it’s going to be a wonderful adventure. Particulate matter won’t spoil the day. I know that my frame of mind will impact the experience and I’ve prepared it to make the most of the journey.

You see, I have free will and I’m not afraid to use it (when I remember to use it) to enhance life’s little experiences. You have free will too. Why not use yours to improve your own daily adventures?

P.S. Remember that great photos don’t require exotic locations.

I’ll report from the road, if WiFi presents itself. Happy Thanksgiving!

1126: I woke a bit early, as usual, and began to count my blessings. Kay, Sue’s mom, is Noël’s only surviving grandparent. She wanted to do something special for Noël’s 13th and this is about as special as it gets. I’m sitting at an antique desk overlooking this lobby. In a few hours we’ll board this train and ride to the Grand Canyon. (After driving the crew 508 miles yesterday, I’ll be glad to relax and enjoy the vistas.) We’re spending the night in the Grand Canyon Village so we’ll have a day and a half to explore. I’m especially looking forward to seeing first light over the canyon rim tomorrow morn.

Since I’m in a photographer’s frame of mind, I want to remind those of you who also want to explore photography of an exciting opportunity that I’ll be talking about more in class. Paint the World with Light is officially open for business. You’ll find lots of how-to info there and the best imagery will be collected and published. How would you like to see your photos in a book? (That looks good on a resume!) Let’s work together to make this vision a reality.

I hope you have (or had) a wonderful day with your family this Thanksgiving. While you’re busy being a teenager, remember that one day you’ll probably be a parent too. Cut the old folks some slack, okay? It ain’t easy being a mom or dad. In fact, it’s probably the toughest job there is. Parenting and teaching consume most of my waking hours. Yes, even on a family vacation, you’re the other half of my workload.

On this Thanksgiving morn, I just wanted to express my gratitude to you for being a part of what makes my life so worth living each day.

1127: Last night we attended a Park Ranger’s lecture on how the Grand Canyon was formed. The most interesting part for me was when he distinguished between the geologic Grand Canyon and perceptual one. That’s saying a lot as his props were things like Sponge Bob, Elvis sunglasses (with built-in sideburns), a baseball glove and ball, a rose, a balloon, and a dozen other seemingly unrelated objects.

Eye of the beholder, people. It’s only Grand to those who choose to see it that way.

1128: I couldn’t leave this amazing place without at least looking at one photo. I was going to pick one at random but I thought some of you might be suspicious about just how random the choice actually was so I just chose the first picture on the first card. Okay, bad exposure but it may have potential…

After about five minutes in Camera Raw and Photoshop I had something a little better.

No matter how many times I play with my own photos, I’m always surprised by the stark contrast between the two. What seemed pretty good at first glace is dull and boring when compared to the enhanced version. Here’s a page for comparison purposes (move your cursor on and off the image to see the before and after).

So, did I cheat to get the enhanced version? Well, if I did, then so did Ansel Adams. He enhanced his photography in the darkroom. I just used the 21st century equivalent. And all I showed you was a quick enhancement. I’m going to take my time with some of the better shots.

I wonder how many of you are interested in learning these techniques?

1129: Question answered. Diana is. Not required to watch: Enhancing Imagery 01 and 02.

1130: Welcome back, Digital and 3D Artists! Like many skill sets, 3D will also play a role in both classes. Everyone will launch Cinema 4D today. Hint: It’s in the Maxon folder in Applications. (Ignore any update requests the program may make.) Today I’m going to walk you through the process of bringing your logo into Cinema 4D. When you’re finished extruding, animating, and texturing your logo, I think you’ll see how this will work for your posters as well. I’m taking Digital Artists through the process for the first time this year because many artists have begun using the program to create artwork. Head over to the Projects Page and look for the Three Dimensional Logo + Animation link. Have fun!

1201: Interesting, isn’t it, how some of you spent time trying to grasp the lessons in this week’s blog post while others merely pretended to read? Your dedication, or lack thereof, will reveal itself as we begin to shift into high gear this year. (As if it weren’t already obvious.) You know, it’s almost as if some of you had preconceived notions about the blog — notions that prevent you from reaping any benefits from the experience. Think about that. (A pity that the ones who need it most, won’t.)

Regardless, the day is yours to work on projects and update your Websites.

1202: The self assessment is required (as it is every grading cycle). Watch this video to understand what I’m looking for this time around. You can find the specific rubric videos here.

What I Forgot to Mention: It’s been said elsewhere but I don’t want any confusion. Yes, post works in progress (unfinished projects). Yes, post your Webquest results (and list the members on your team — First Name + Last Initial). Yes, replace your original self-assessment with the new one. And be honest about following the rubric! No, you don’t deserve an A simply because you worked really hard. FOLLOW THE RUBRIC! The reasons you’ll use to justify your grade are spelled out in the videos.

Bonus: Are you becoming a typophile? When you get home, check this out.

1203: Don’t sweat getting the 3D renders and/or animations on your site for the Progress Report… Unless you can figure out how on your own. So easy and obvious! No penalty for missing 3D content. Bonus points for adding it though.

1204: What the Flagnog! I can’t believe you still need reminding. Watch this video!

A Look Ahead: Got DropBox? This is going to be required next week. If your Website is up to date, you might as well get a jump on it now. After signing up, launch DropBox (it’s in Applications), follow the steps, and let it create a DropBox folder on your computer at school and at home (you’ll need to download DropBox at home). Free back up and file syncing. Woot!

Last Reminder: 5 Hours of Fun™ tomorrow. Mac Lab Saturday School™ is 7:00 to 12:00 (we’re actually open from 6:15 to 11:40 but who’s counting?) And YES! Time and work on Saturday can and most likely will raise your grade.

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