Sunday, March 27, 2011

MAC Week 4 - Publishing_Leadership Project

Photo by Flickr user kampers
The time has come to put my publishing plans into action.  I have two journals that I'm on which I'm going to focus.

The first, Journal of Interactive Learning Research, I discussed in my 2nd Think Out Loud Blog post. After completing that post, I wanted see if there was a journal that combined my original content training in English/Language Arts with my current training in technology, especially since E/LA was part of the focus of my research.

This led me to Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education (CITE), which publishes a general edition, along with four content specific editions. My focus would be the English/Language Arts publication.

MAC Week 4 - Think Out Loud Part 2: Where?

So, I've been thinking about where I'd like to publish my research, and I've narrowed it down to two national publications.

Graphic from

Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education
I'm considering this journal because they have a varied scope that covers areas that are Practical, Leadership, Research, or Theoretical.  I feel that my action research could be a good fit for their publication because it deals with practical issues that arise in the application of Challenge Based Learning (CBL) and it is research based.

IJEL Cover
Graphic from
Journal of Interactive Learning Research
This journal has a a very long list of categories that they consider, including computer-supported collaborative learning.  Because of the collaborative nature of CBL and the fact that it is conducted online and with computers, I think this could be a good fit for my paper.

MAC Week 4 - Comment 2

Photo by Paul Devoto

Original post from Paul:

As many of you know, there was a lunar eclipse several months ago. I was fortunate enough to be in an area of Northern California where the skies cleared up just an hour or so before the eclipse was set to commence. To make the experience more exciting, the complex I currently live in has a gorgeous open-air walkable roof atop the 6th floor. So I planned for the post-midnight event in the following way.

I did a basic google search for photographing a lunar eclipse. As you would expect, there were thousands of hits, and from the first ten results alone, many of them were incredibly useful. I then modified the search for the specific camera body and lens I was going to use and I found this article. I then jotted down some of the settings suggestions, grabbed my camera, a tripod, and of course a jacket and headed to the roof.

After some practice shots using primarily a method of trial and error, I ended up with several hundred photos. In iPhoto, I picked the ones that turned out the sharpest for the various stages and dragged them onto a Keynote slide. I adjusted the parameters of the Keynote slide to be 3000 pixels wide, and used the shape button to add circles which were then used to crop the moons. Finally, I add a diagonal line (which was later removed) to guide the uppermost tip of each moon in a smooth line.


My response:


This turned out amazing.  I wanted to see the eclipse, but it was cloudy in Ohio that night.

While I was on your Flickr page, I check out some of your other stuff.  I love photos of the fire dancers, the colors are amazing in the one of the poppies, and how did you get that picture of the owl?!

The only problem is that you use Nikon.

MAC Week 4 - Comment 1

Screen capture of Mark Dohn's Blog

Original post by Mark Dohn:

The last month. Wow. In a few short weeks I’ll be a graduate of Full Sail! In a few short weeks I’ll be in Israel! Whoa. What? Yes! Israel! My son is turning 13 next month and we’ll be having his Bar Mitzvah in Israel. There are a lot of reasons that go into a choice like this, but suffice to say everything is worth it.
3 years ago, it was my daughter’s 13th and we were celebrating. EVERYONE decided to come to Israel for the Bat Mitzvah....including my mom.
     Yeah. “Dangerous Jan”. My mom has never travelled really. She had never needed a passport, or flown for more than a few hours from our home in Ohio. Now she was packing up for the 14 hour flight halfway around the world. These two pictures from that trip sum up this month and our reading.
     The picture of my mom was the first time she had seen the Sea of Galilee. She is a very religious and spiritual individual, and I snapped this photo as she stood there ABSORBING her surroundings. This was her field trip of a lifetime. She had waited for so long, and now she was THERE. Living, breathing, feeling every bit of the experience.
     Several days later we were in Jerusalem at the Western Wall. This was my son’s first trip and as we got to the wall, he urgently requested a pen and paper. Using the worn edge of one of those massive stones, he wrote something. It is a tradition to write a prayer and place it in between the stones. I have no idea what he wrote - I wasn’t allowed near him - but the intensity from this 10-year-old boy was incredible. What is in these photos is two very powerful experiences. They are tangible and real. Neither of them has forgotten one moment of what is in these images (and I asked them both). And I ask myself, why we don’t teach like this?
Maybe is time to replace

Writing and


Expression and


My Response:


These are amazingly powerful memories for you and your family.  I agree that if we could get more experiences like these into education, everyone would benefit.  I want my students to approach school like this. 
My most powerful experience as a teacher happened a month ago when I taught "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" by Dylan Thomas.  The poem was written to the poet's dying father, and it discourages him from giving up.  In the two days we studied the poem, it made 3 people cry, all because the poem expressed the experience they had when family members close to them died.  The combination of their past experience, the expression in the poem, and the relationships made the experience in class those days more powerful.  They understood the poem.  
I felt horrible when it happened, but when I talked to them about it later, they said that they really appreciated reading something that they could relate to in class.  You're right, we need more of this.

MAC Week 4 Reading - The Art of Possibility, Chapters 9 - 12

Photo by Flickr user t0msk
This week I was hit smack dab in between the eyes by Chapter 9, "Lighting the Spark." I've been burning the candle at both ends with work, the EMDT program, and the school musical, which opens next Friday.  On top of the Publishing and Leadership Project, I had grades due on Wednesday, and tech week rehearsals.  Needless to say, I'm about ready to flame out, especially since the kids in the cast have been flaking out and missing rehearsals.

I've grown very frustrated with them for over-committing themselves and with myself for poorly managing my time.  To top it all off, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer last week as well, so my stress level was at an all-time high.

Now, I'm not telling all of you these things so that I can have a pity party.  My purpose is to illustrate why I may have lost sight of my passion recently.  But, when I read this chapter, it reminded me of why I do the things I do, and that means all the things I do.

The steps for this chapter's practice were outlined on page 126 as:

  1. Imagine that people are an invitation for enrollment.
  2. Stand ready to participate, willing to be moved and inspired.
  3. Offer that which lights you up.
  4. Have no doubts that others are eager to catch the spark.
I've been so self-involved lately that I've only been doing step 3, offering what I'm passionate about to those around me.  But I've learned that when you do that without the readiness to be inspired by others or with the expectation that you are among a hostile audience, then you will burn out rather quickly.

I love what this chapter has to say about approaching our students.  I know that I'm very much different in my presentation style when I teach to one of my classes that is not as receptive to my subject that I am in one of the others that has students with more enthusiasm.  And the students recognize these differences as well. This leads us to feed off of each other's energy in a vicious cycle that only leads to frustration.

So, with this in mind, I'm heading out this week to begin a unit on Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, put the finishing touches on the Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella, and kick start month 12, all with the expectation that if I sparks a fire in me, others will soon catch the spark, too.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

MAC Week 3 - Comment 2

Screen capture of Paul Devoto's blog.
Paul's original post:
I would like to focus this blog entry on the idea of admitting your mistakes. This is referenced in Chapter 5 of the Art of Possibility when they described the typical behavior of those in positions of power who rarely admit to their mistakes. I learned how important this skill was in college when I was in charge of a group of 50+ peers who relied on my to make good decisions on behalf of the group at large. The person who led the group before me was very confident in his management and had a hawkish, boss-like personality. I never recall him ever admitting fault.

When I took over, I tried to be as humble as possible while still making well-reasoned executive decisions when needed. Whenever I made a mistake, I made it a priority to admit it publicly and share what I learned in the process. This helped the members to feel respected and also made my actions more transparent.

As a teacher, I make sure that my students understand this way of carrying themselves. I model it myself, never exaggerating that "I never make a mistake" or dismiss the mistake as trivial. Instead, I calmly and inquisitively analyze how I mistakenly came to the wrong conclusion and explain how I will do it differently in the future based on this mistake. I find that this makes kids more comfortable when they make mistakes and even encourages them to feel safe when participating in class.


My comment:

It's important to let our students know that we make mistakes. I make a point of letting my kids know that I make mistakes all the time. They get a kick out of the fact that I'm an English teacher and I still make misspell words when I'm writing on the board. I don't hide it because I want them to know that it's common to make mistakes, but you have to correct them and learn from them.
The other aspect I teach them is how to respectfully point out a mistake. I don't care if they let me know that I've made a mistake, as long as they are polite going about it. No one wants to be criticized for making a mistake, but they want the opportunity to correct it.

MAC Week 3 - Comment 1

Screen capture of Dena Whipple's Blog

Dena's original post:

I love Zander’s intrinsic nature about his power over the orchestra. His approach in this matter is the key to his success. For me as a reader, hearing how he continually analyzes his effectiveness, energizes me about my teaching and learning process. I enjoyed reading about his “white sheet” process and think that would be a great idea in education as well as many other fields. Perhaps we should all consider ourselves as conductors or our orchestras (students) and focus solely on trying to find their spark.
One of my favorite chapters was Six and the discussion of rule number six. I want to photocopy this onto a page and place it in the mailbox of everyone I work with. Some need it more than others but it’s something for everyone to keep in the back of their mind (including me). What I thought was a really interesting statement in this chapter was “A child comes to think of himself as the personality he gets recognition for….”(pg 82). It makes me think of kids that grow up only getting noticed when their behavior is less than perfect, rather than being acknowledged for any of the positive actions they take. So they continue on that pattern because at least they’re getting SOME attention. This behavior leads into the calculating self as an adult. It’s fascinating for me to read about his theory for why we continually try to make progress and position ourselves higher and higher, almost to the point of not being content in our current situation. But that, in fact, it is the central self that is more in tune with what we really need on a personal and professional level. I know I keep saying it but the timing this book could not be more perfect and I hope my classmates are getting as much from this reading as I am. I am continually inspired by Zander, especially the last few pages of chapter 8 where he discusses the glass being half full or half empty and the importance of seeing “the way things are” (page 110). I like the way this makes me feel because I have always considered myself an optimist. It’s further support in my dealings with the calculating selves of others!


My comment:

I was also struck by Zander's comment about how students identify with what ever behaviors cause them to receive attention (I discussed it in my blog, too).

I've been thinking about how to apply some of his practices, like the white sheet.  This week I had two girls in my Intro to Journalism class who wanted to drop the class because they thought is was boring and hard.  They assured me that it had nothing to do with me.  They were shocked when I asked them to take the weekend to think up some recommendations on how I could make the class more engaging and get back with me on Monday.

I'm not sure if they know that I'm serious, but if they have suggestions tomorrow, I'm going to take them into consideration.

And I don't just want to give my colleagues a copy of Rule #6; I think they need to read the whole book!