Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Presenting at NCTE

Tomorrow I head into Boston for the 103rd National Council of Teachers of English conference. This will be my first time attending NCTE's national conference, and I'm looking forward to meeting some fantastic teachers and taking back great ideas to engage and enrich my students. On Friday I'll be participating in a poster session with other high school and college teachers. More to come!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A meditation on student engagement

It is our challenge to get students – and their parents and guardians – to bite from the apple of knowledge so as to savor its sweet, nourishing offerings. Too many of our neediest students think the tree of education is not for them, and instead gravitate toward the rooted vegetables of ignorance. We must become stewards of the orchard, and let all of our population know its gates are open for them.

Flickr Creative Commons Image by emoeby

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Poetry Reading

In celebration of National Poetry Month, here's my reading of "Hemingway Never Did This" by Charles Bukowski.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Screencast videos and FETC 2013

Well, I'm here in Orlando, FL, putting the finishng touches on my presentation at the 2013 Florida Educational Tehnology Conference. FETC is the nation's most comprehensive edtech conference, and I'm excited to be a part of it. I'll be making a presentation on how I've used a free screen recording program, Screencast-O-Matic, to create tutorial videos for my students, which I've uploaded to BGtechnology, my YouTube channel.

I first learned of Screencast-O-Matic through my Master of Educational Technology degree with Boise State University's EDTECH department. It's a simple and free way to create video tutorials on almost any topic. By using YouTube as my delivery vehicle, any student with an Internet connection can view the videos. Most of the videos I make are three minutes or under. I find that brevity is essential, as it's easy to tune out anything that isn't concise or straightforward.

I'll sometimes play a video at the beginning of class when I'm introducing a new skill, task, or concept, and then have students to refer back to the video on their own as needed. This helps eliminate unnecessary repetition, as students who got it the first time can begin their work, while others who need the information or steps repeated can cue up the video and watch at their own pace. Of course, if there's something they don't understand in the video, I am there in class to answer their questions.

To be clear, I am not assigning videos to students to watch at home, a la the flipped classroom. Rather, these videos aid me when giving direct instruction in the classroom.

I hope to blog regularly this week about both my presentation and some of the session highlights I attend. In particular, I'm excited about hearing Google's Jaime Casap and
New Jersey high school principal Eric Sheninger.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Proffed out

After sitting through a full day of professional development where I literally sat in a chair and read pages and pages of evaluator rubrics, it was nice to get out and take the dog for a walk. I decided to bring along my camera, as since reading Seth Godin's Linchpin, I've been feeling the need to "create art and ship," in Godin parlance.

Godin's book is inspiring and affirming. It speaks to our inner artist, and empowers us to stifle the lizard brain, put ourselves out there, and create something unique and important. I suppose it follows that in order to best help my students discover and cultivate their passions, I need to nourish and sustain my own.

I already do this by reading and writing. It's been a while, though, since I've picked up the camera and shot on a consistent basis. Taking pictures is something I love to do, and have for more than 20 years. It was in high school that I learned the basics of photographic composition, and first encountered a darkroom. There were few things I enjoyed more than using the enlargers to create photos from a fresh roll of film. There was something magical about the way the image burned onto the paper, made all the more special by the fact that I controlled the final product.

The photo below was taken at the end of our walk, just after the sun had set behind the horizon. I like the colors of the toys, and the warm glow from the Christmas lights in the background.

"Doggie toy bucket"  f/2, 1/30, ISO 1000, 20mm
Here are a few others:
"Toboggan" f/2, 1/30, ISO 1000, 20mm

"Bridge" f/2.5, 1/30, ISO 640, 20mm
"Mr. Fence Post" f/1.7, 1/30, ISO 100, 20mm

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Snow day

Today we had a snow day. I got to catch up on some sleep, do some chores around the house, and take our dog for an extended woodland walk through the fresh snow. I was also able to take this picture and post it to the blog, two things (taking photos and writing in this space) I look forward to doing more of.

"Snow laurel" f/1.7, 1/250, ISO 100, 20mm