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.
It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.
— Ursula K. LeGuin
Here we are, the last week of school before finals. Please take care to make the most of your journey’s end by taking care of business. Not to be repetitive, but some of you need these reminders…
First: Check the time sheets! You cannot earn an A if you owe time. Don’t ask me how or why you owe time because those reasons are explained (see the key at the bottom of the sheet). Yes, I’ll be adding another bonus hour this weekend for those who haven’t used a bathroom pass lately.
Warning: A few of you have chosen to cut class recently. Not smart. Better check the time sheets!
Problem: If you’re not smart, you probably won’t check and then you’ll complain about your grade.
Moral: Life can be cruel to those unprepared or unwilling to participate.
If there’s one idea I want these swarming words to propagate, it’s this: There are only 14 school days left before finals. Work on your projects! Polish your work and make it shine. Take it the final 10% and finish strong.
Done in 60 Seconds: Help a fellow student with his project: Please take the Teen Drinking Poll.
College Credit Info: This will be explained in class
Contact: Diana Barajas (619) 644-7479
Subject: Valhalla Student
Very important that you use Valhalla Student as the subject of your email (if you send one). Email with other subject lines will be dumped as spam.
In 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
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.
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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?
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.
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.
Art is never finished, only abandoned.
— Leonardo da Vinci
There’s a difference between You’re never finished in the Mac Lab and This work is ready to be displayed. You see, the self portraits in our first gallery of the year are already a vast improvement over those in the first gallery of last year, but no matter how good the work may be, none of it is finished (Fadi G). Make no mistake though, it’s not abandoned either. One of the big adjustments students have to make in the Mac Lab is to understand that I expect every one of you to improve upon every one of your projects, ALL YEAR LONG! Read this post to get a better feel for what I’m talking about. I’m serious. Read that post, click the links (you don’t have to read everything at the other end of the links), and make an honest attempt to understand what I’m trying to tell you. Embrace the Mac Lab frame of mind.
The Progress Report: The Mac Lab is like a garden. Most of the seeds I’ve planted are just now struggling toward the light. A few have broken out of the soil and have begun to reach toward the sky. It feels like a record crop but, as the Little Prince says, One never knows. Trouble is, the school district wants answers right now; I’ve got to assign grades by this Friday. I’ll finish the guidelines for you this weekend and point you at our unique rubric. All you have to do is follow instructions, take care of your minutes, and good grades will rain down.
Post written during Mac Lab Saturday School™ and is subject to further editing. 😉
1012: The Progress Report has to be based on something so here it is: Your time will account for up to 50% of your grade and your portfolio will account for the other half. The time sheets are self-explanatory (the A, B, C, etc. breakdown in at the bottom of each page on the clipboard). Additional details may be found on the Student Page. The portfolio is not so cut and dry unless you refer to the rubric. But there’s a problem…
Some of you have been in here since day one. Some of you added the class in the past two weeks. Mix in language issues and familiarity (or not) with the operating system and other software and it’s kinda hard to expect the same results from everyone. That’s why every one of you is going to self-assess using the rubric. And that self-assessment will be included as the last page of your portfolio. See the Self-Assessment videos on the Creating and Maintaining Your Website Page for more details. This video will get you started. Important: You need to watch this too.
1014: Hmmm, how does this work? Oh yeah: Grades close on Friday. Skocko says my grade depends on following instructions and taking care of minutes. Instructions say create, upload, and update my site (plus self-assess). My minutes are listed on the clipboard (the rest of those movies, as you well know, are on the Students Page). I can get an A or a B if I take care this. Question is… Will I do it?
Hint+Correction: Yesterday’s post contains two videos that will help you save time. One of those videos incorrectly identified Craig as the source of a tip. The credit should have gone to Atheer. As a stand-up guy, Craig lobbied for public disclosure. I agree. Thanks, Atheer!
1015: Focus on the assignment. The assignment is spelled out in this video (from 1013). How can you have watched that video two days ago and still be confused as to what’s required?! Put your work in progress in the portfolio. After you upload, continue working on your self portraits. Want to know why we’re working in this order? Watch this Video! (It’s new and it’s magical.)
1016: I’m off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of Cathedral City High School’s Digital Arts Technology Academy. Hmm, doesn’t quite work as a song. Oh well, while I’m away, I want you to complete the assignment to the best of your ability. See 1013 and 1014 for details (1012 also). As a complete and utter softie, I’m going to rescind my decree of yesterday and allow those who know to help those who don’t. BUT DON’T TOUCH THE MOUSE! Feel the pain of teaching. Dang it though! It’s time for everyone to start pulling their weight. Use the flagnoggin’ tutorials!
For those who “finish” early, read or review the Collaboration 2.0 post. Our high school friends from China make an appearance in the comments. Still need something to do? It’s time you explored the Mac Lab Twitter info in the widget in the right sidebar. If it’s glitching, which it sometimes does, try going to the source.