Sunday, March 31, 2013
Saturday, March 30, 2013
Thursday, March 28, 2013
But as I read the Psalms this morning, I was so taken by this phrase in Psalm 110:3a
“Your troops will be willing…”
Is it because it is beneath them? Is it because it isn't as fun as putting Christmas lights on the stage or as neat as suspending acrobats from the ceiling?
Little do they realize that if the trash wasn't out, they wouldn't be able to see those acrobats, lights, or the billowing tent that has consumed the auditorium. The trash would cover it all.
Get rid of the apps that clutter and don't add beauty or function to your lifeEveryone wants a new tool, but who wants to get rid of one that doesn't work? I've been intentionally deleting apps off my ipad and iphone screen of late. If I don't use it, I'll send it into the ether of things that I own but aren't installed on my devices.
Like a prom filled with trash, the trash fills up the space that you want to use for something beautiful and useful. So, take out the trash. It isn't glamorous, but it is necessary.
Mistaken identityThere are times that you might delete something that is functional. Take a look at Google, they are spring cleaning right now. They've tossed Google reader into the dustbin and now, it is rumored, Google Alerts will go the same way. They are “taking out their trash.”
Sadly, sometimes people don't recognize the trash from the treasure. Like the person who throws away fine jewelry with the constume, mistakes happen. (In my opinion, Google has put the treasure in the trash.)
Gladly, if you delete an app off your phone or ipad, it isn't permanent. It is still there in uninstalled apps and it can return quickly.
What is your excuse?When installing a new app, challenge yourself to always delete one you haven't used lately. Cut the clutter and clear your mind. I always keep one empty spot on the homescreen of my iphone. It makes me feel like I have room for more and it is a signal to myself that I will have margin and leave room for new things in my life.
There are times, my friends, we have to take out the trash. Not just to have room for more, but to have room to breathe and think. Do we really want our glass full all of the time or do we want to enjoy finishing the glass and being done for a while.
Our to do lists, our phones, our computers are all full of more trash than we care to admit.
Let's make a commitment today to remove the trash so we can enjoy the circus.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Elementary STEM Lab Teacher, Kevin JarrettRecently, elementary STEM lab teacher Kevin Jarrett (@kjarrett) and researcher Dr. Jeremy Irvin (@dr_jeremy_ervin ) spent some time sharing the story of the transformation of an elementary computer lab into a STEM lab at Kevin's school on my podcast.. They are using the curriculum "Engineering is Elementary." What he's doing is powerful and important and I wish every school would follow this model.
|Look at the blog where Kevin documents learning|
with his students and communicates needs and
objectives with parents.
Blogging to share Learning and LeadTake time to review his NCS Stemlab blog where he shares engineering, math, science, and technology with parents and mobilizes everyone to action. (He says he posts what he needs and almost immediately receives it on his desk the next day.)
How you can listen to the showListen to the show "Creative Approaches to Teaching STEM at the Elementary School Level" on Every Classroom Matters (BAM Radio Network) Listen Itunes Comment
If you want to subscribe via your podcast app (see my iCatcher tutorial) here's the RSS link to the show.
|Kevin uses the Engineering is Elementary STEM curriculum.|
How much money did they spend?They use Google chromebooks and money from a $3,000 grant to get things set up, but besides that, they didn't really spend much money.
Essential QuestionsAs you take time to listen to the show, ask these guiding questions.
- Does the name "computer lab" restrict what we think we should do in it?
- Is a STEM lab core or enrichment?
- How would implementing a STEM lab at the elementary level impact a school? How did it impact Kevins?
We need STEM labs not computer labs but remember that the technology is an important component. His kindergartners are using Google Docs and all kinds of technology. If your students transferred to his school, could they keep up? Would they want to go back to your classroom after spending time there? If you're worried with your answers, then, perhaps you should consider being part of the vision of moving forward with STEM in your school.
I talked with my curriculum director, headmaster, and a few board members and said if I had one wish for our elementary, it would be a STEM lab for the elementary school.
Monday, March 25, 2013
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Do you solve problems or sit by and whine? The difference is profound.
Whiners are like ambulances that never stop. Zipping through neighborhoods of critically ill people - they just whine - pointing out the problem, upsetting the pets, causing everyone to be sleepless - but never doing anything about it.
Give me people of action. Give me people who actually put on the brakes, stop the ambulance, triage the problem and take action steps to isolate, remediate, and medicate so there is hope for recovery.
Every time you hear an ambulance - ask yourself if you're the siren or the solver who stops to do something.
Friday, March 22, 2013
“We look before and after,
Our sincerest laughter
with some pain is fraught:
Our sweetest songs are those that
tell of saddest thought.”
To a Skylark, by Percy Bysshe Shelley
I received a message of concern on Tumblr yesterday. This person rightly detected that my writings these days is a twinge of melancholy. Not melancholy of the depression kind but the melancholy born of circumstances that are hard and situations that cannot be explained. So, I thought I would share some thoughts and why I'm still writing anyway.
Should I write amidst tragedy?A colleague at school has been struggling with her daughter's sudden illness and subsequent amputation of her legs. It has hit us all so deeply, the entire school has been praying and in heartache. Tragic. Heart ache.
In the throes of this, our beloved editor of our local newspaper unexpectedly died of a heart attack. Last week he was singing with the Chamber of Commerce chorale in a black tie and suddenly, this week, he is gone. Tragic. Heartache.
And yet, as I read the life of John Newton, author of the surreal hymn, Amazing Grace, that song was much born out of his tumultuous friendship with William Cowper, a clinically depressed, constantly suicidal friend. At one point Newton said he could not write on without his friend. Then, in the next moment, he wrote on, more productive than ever. Perhaps it was amidst the blood of another suicide attempt and the wails of another fit of melancholy that John Newton truly began to understand what grace meant.
Should one note write because loved ones suffer? Is it an insult to their injuries that we take time to write?
No! Write when your family struggles, for then, too, you may meet with the sublime.
Should I write when I'm too busy?Some choose to cocoon, but for me, I write. Combined with these two events (upon which many salty tears have been shed) the prom that is a week from today that I'm organizing, my son graduating and heading to college in a few months, and the money challenges that come with sending him off to college, as well as some surgery I have to have over break to deal with some skin cancer, and a book deadline that whooshed by like the noise of a thousand subway trains, there's a bit on my plate. Not to mention my precious students and all that comes with a classroom.
But, I read Michael Hyatt's book Platform and realized that if it is to be, it is up to me. I decided to set my clock for 4 am at least 3 times this week to get up and continue progress on my second book for the modern educator faced with teaching writing in the cloud.
Should one not write because life is hard?
No! Write when life is hard, then others may feel the reality in your words and be the better for it! Great writers, write. No excuses, they write anyway.
Should I not write because I'm afraid I won't finish?Then, I look at the beautiful, haunting poem of Cristabel by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. This beautiful, eerie poem remains unfinished, even though Coleridge would add a Part 2 years after it was written. Coleridge was known as a many with many ideas, who could finish nothing.
“His mind,” wrote Southey, “is a perpetual St. Vitus' dance – eternal activity without action.”
And yet, it was also said of him
“His best work is but little, but of its kind it is perfect and unique…All that he did excellently might be bound up in twenty pages, but it should be bound in pure gold.” (Stopford Brooke)
Should one not write because some works will likely remain unfinished?
No! Write, even if you might not finish, for those words, even in their unifinished state, might just be the masterpiece the world will need.
Write on, author, write.
In the To a Skylark poem, I quoted in the opener, Shelley's next verse is thus:
“Yet if we could scornThe juxtaposition of life is often what puts us in a position for enjoying life. While I'll not endorse tragedy or busy-ness or lack of focus as ways to live your life, it is also these things that make life. For after the tart, the sweet tastes sweeter. I don't know about you, but I best identify with authors who have “been there” and “done that.” If they seem to live a perfect life, they are a liar because I've come to understand that life is full of struggle for all humans.
Hate and pride and fear;
If we were things born
not to shed a tear,
I know not how the joy we ever
should come near.”
So, if you are called to be an author, don't worry about any one else psychoanalyzing you or reading things into your words that just aren't there.
Write because you care. Write because you dare. Write because it is what you were born to do. Write on, author, write.
Disclosures and credits
Photo credit: Big stock
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Thursday, March 21, 2013
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
|Download the Power Rangers Empower curriculum.|
Enter the sweepstakes to have the Power Rangers
come to your school.
- Classroom activities that introduce important life skills and help build healthy habits
- Student worksheets to distribute to your class with exercises that build verbal skills
- A parent mini-magazine that explains the program and provides healthy recipes
- A certificate of completion for participating students
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Heroes in the schoolhouse.
The janitorYou. Yes, you. The quiet janitor who mops up the mess in the halls. Your meticulous, thankless job probably saves hundreds of illnesses a year. Maybe even a few lives. Hero.
School SecretaryYou. Yes, you. You are kind even when you're tired. You sort life changing messages from the distractions. You buffer administrators and teachers so they can do their job. Hero.
IT StaffYou. Yes, you. You could leave early some days but choose to do that maintenance that no one knows about. No one understands what you do. You do the right thing anyway. Hero.
Media SpecialistYou. Yes, you. There are children who love to read today because you took the time to help them find the perfect book. Hero.
Lunchroom StaffYou. Yes, you. The lunchroom staff who make good food. You take the long way because it tastes better. Your job, when done well, can save thousands of pounds of fat. Maybe a few lives as well. Hero.
AdministratorYou. Yes you. The administrator who is pounded on multiple times a day. You still make time to hi-5 kids in the hall. You find encouragement to give others even though you get far too little yourself. Hero.
Is everyone a hero?No. There is a difference between having a job and doing a job well. The difference between just being here and being a hero is the "O!" The extra.
Just because you work in a school doesn't mean you're a hero. You just have a lot of potential to be one.
Thank the heroes.
That's because the price of a being a hero is everything. Everything you've got and some you don't. O! Because that is what heroes do… they give all they have in a cause worth giving it for.
Friday, March 15, 2013
Thursday, March 14, 2013
|Image via CrunchBase|
|Image via CrunchBase|
Due to Google's shortsighted removal of the Google Reader service (showing that the bloggers and content producers of the world don't really matter to them) we all have choices to make.
Transition to feedly NOW.
As outlined in this article by Feedly (after they wisely upgraded their servers yesterday), if you set up your Feedly account NOW, and link your Google Reader, it will automatically transition when Google pulls the plug.
Why is Google Reader a mistake for Google?Now, for those who are wondering why this is unwise, let me tell you why.
1 - They are breeding distrust upon the content producers on the web by constantly pulling key products like iGoogle and now, Google ReaderThey are pulling things that are "unprofitable," however, if they would read Malcolm Gladwell's book "Outliers," they will see that a tiny fraction of people produce a whole lot of the content out there. That tiny fraction is a group that I'm part of as well.
When they canned Google Lively, OK, I understood, I really did but even then, it caused me to wonder about what would be next? And although my students protested, it was OK. Google Buzz, well that was a fiasco from the beginning but ok, as well.
2 - I predict many will refuse to move to Google Currents out of anger at a company pulling something so important to the livelihood of content producers.I guess they want us to go to Google Currents - their new news service du jour (mobile only, however), but I'm not biting. Why am I going to use and invest all this time in another Google service just to have the rug pulled out?
3 - When you disrespect the investment of time and trust of continuity, it will eventually have an impactI used iGoogle and taught my students and teachers how to use it as well. I spent a lot of time tweaking things. Then, we had to move to Netvibes. Google Reader - I've spent days tweaking and linking and setting things up. It is my PLN and there are a lot of fine tuned things that it does as well including ifttt.com automation and links to other services like Mr. Reader on my iPad. (My post about using Google reader or losing it from January now rings ominous when I wrote about making Google Reader your powerhouse sharing system.)
Thinking I'll move from blogger this summerBut now, I no longer trust Google to have my back. I've toyed with going to wordpress for some time and already own and have sites at coolcatteacher.com and my Tumblr is at VickiDavis.me with almost 20,000 followers over there. I didn't want to take the hit on the traffic and the headaches with the move. But, for me, what happens when they decide to pull the plug on Blogger? I'm not waiting around. I'm doing it on my timeframe, not the busiest time of year for me. (Notice that they do this every March?)
Wondering what is nextWhat happens when they don't like how Gmail is working? What happens if Google Drive is no longer making money or they want to charge for it? God forbid that Google Calendar disappear. But really, is this something I want to have in the back of my mind as I increasingly depend on these services?
4 - Does this cast doubt on the advertising model upon which Google is built?While Google needs to make money, I understand that, now that we depend upon the cloud, we might be willing to pay for services that we trust. I pay for Evernote and Dropbox Premium services. It is worth it to me.
Honestly, I'd probably pay for Google Reader. But as long as Google has a business model depending upon advertising, they are prone to make shifts in this way. They will make decisions based upon VOLUME instead of focusing on providing exceptional service to just a few customers.
The fact is, I can't trust an advertising-driven company to provide ongoing needs for me. I bellied up and paid for an app.net subscription - the pay version of Twitter, although I'm admittedly not on there a lot (not many educators there yet) but I really wonder about this model upon which we've built our webs, lives, and livelihoods. Is it sustainable? Is it prudent? Someone ALWAYS pays.
If you're a great website/ blogger/ developer - look me upSo, I'm planning to see if I can assemble a "pit crew" (as Michael Hyatt calls them) to try to move this blog as seamlessly as possible to my own wordpress. I've already got one configured and tweaked, but I know there are some things I need to do to look more professional and polish things up here.
In ConclusionFor now, move to Feedly. They've got cred and a beautiful service to boot. Don't wait around hoping that Google will change their mind. They don't and they won't.
Meanwhile, I wonder if there is a robust RSS service I can PAY FOR and depend to be there. But then again, the only thing sure in this world is death and taxes and April 15 is around the corner.
Goodbye Google Reader. You are a GREAT, FANTASTIC, LIFE CHANGING service. You are a product that my mastery of has built my PLN and completely CHANGED MY LIFE and is helping me pay for college for my children. I'm a stark raving fanatic fan of your service. I adore Google Reader and it is one of the few services I'd probably never ever cancel. I'm that dependent on it.
Too bad that Google doesn't realize that sort of loyalty, even from a small group of people, is worth something, especially if those people are content producers and willing to pay to keep it around.
But, dare I say it? We get what we pay for. As my Dad used to say on vacation,
"If you don't pay, you have no say."We don't really have a right to complain, because we got it all this time for free. And that, my friends, is the problem. If it is worth it to us, perhaps we should belly up and pay for it ourselves so we don't have to depend upon the fickleness of advertising dollars and the ebb and flow of the economy.
I've learned a lot from Google Reader over the years, and perhaps more from losing it than from anything else.