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Archive for November 2010

1

Things that are important to me

I thought about the things that are important to me after reading "15-minute writing exercise closes the gender gap in university-level physics." The article shares "Perhaps you care about creativity, family relationships, your career, or having a sense of humour. Pick two or three of these values and write a few sentences about why they are important to you. You have fifteen minutes. It could change your life." So here goes...

Family

My family means the world to me. My children and granddaughter were here over Thanksgiving and the house was warmer (not only because the heat was up higher than I usually put it) but the feeling in the house was warm and special. My sisters and their families were here also. The love we have for each other is something you cannot really hold or touch. It just is there. Always. Being with people that know you and have history with you means so much. You can bring up something that happened years ago and see their smiles because they experienced it also. I do have some challenges now but it doesn't matter when you have love and people that love you no matter what. Some love is always there even though you have to let it go. My granddaughter, Cali, has a sparkle in her eye when she sees me, her Baba. She giggles and shows me pure love. Wow! How lucky am I!

Friends

There are some people who are there for you in good times. But it's the people that are with you during the tough times that you know are really your friends. Like I said earlier I have a few challenges right now that I am processing and working through. Everyone has something to deal with especially during these tough economic times. I hope my friends don't think I take them for granted. I want them to know how much I appreciate them. I don't want to list them here but you know who you are. Even though I may have loads of Twitter and Facebook friends, there are some real special people in my life who believe in me and want to see me successful.  I would do anything for them too. To have a business now in difficult times means that you have to be tough -- tougher than I'm used to. I like to do things for others or I wouldn't have created My eCoach. I tend to bend over backwards for people instead of doing what I need to do for myself. Watch out world! I'm growing and changing to be something different and stronger. But don't worry -- I'll still be there for my good friends.

Learning

I once told my children "I love learning" and they laughed at it. My granddaughter said that to me this weekend and I just smiled. Every day is a new day. Each day I hope to learn something new. I am so curious about the world and what I can find out about it. Cali is almost three so the world is her playground. Watching how she is curious and creative brings out the child in me. I love technology but I want to learn so much more about the world as a scientist, researcher, and artist.

I am joining different groups now to stretch my mind, my world. I'm spending each day reading and researching ideas and topics that I've always wanted to learn about. I'm teaching a course on "Learning in Real Time" for UCSC this Spring and putting on webinars that stretch my mind. Just did a webinar with Roxanne Clement on Joy in Learning Matters for the Global Education Conference (see all the archived recordings here). I tried to go to as Make Mine a Million Competitionmany webinars as I could during that conference and going back to check the archives there and other virtual conferences. So cool! I'm running a book study for Sig ILT on Web 2.0: How to for educators just because I want to.

I am a Micro Awardee from the Make Me a Million $ Competition for Count Me In for women business owners. I am learning about being more successful at what I do and how to do that. I plan to share what I learn with you. It's all about attitude. I get it. When you get that feeling that you can do anything you want to do, it's so rewarding.

_____

So back to the article about gender gap... I didn't believe enough in me especially being a woman who grew up in the 60s and 70s. The last few months have opened my eyes that if I don't believe in me, then why would anyone else? I do now. I do get it.  I'm learning.
0

Opportunities

I watched Forrest Gump again. When you look at Forrest's life, he was in the right place all through history. I know it was not real, but this movie brought home to me  why it's so obvious what is happening in America. It's a dumbing down of America for a reason: MONEY. Even though Forrest's IQ was low, his mother believed in him; he had opportunities and took them; and he never gave up.

No Child Left Behind sounded like a good idea but was never funded completely and then focused on testing and standards. I don't disagree about accountability and determining how students are progressing. BUT... no student is the same. They start out different. The problem with NCLB and standards is that everything is based that all 6 year old children across the country are the same. Textbook companies created the tests that met the standards for Texas, California, and New York. Forget the rest of the country. So a 6 year old in West Virginia was tested on information based on New York standards. Public schools are losing money so administrators are making hard choices to retire high quality teachers early, get rid of bonuses for teachers who work toward a Masters (article), and hire inexperienced teachers from programs like Teach for America (TFA) where they are placed in low income schools after 5 weeks of training. We need teachers. People need jobs. It's just that these inexperienced teachers need help and that TFA prepares them with the attitude that they know more than experienced teachers. What??? How can that be? If all of your new teachers feel this way, then forget change... forget creativity. That is, unless some of these new teachers take the high road and want to learn more and partner with an experienced master teacher or coach. Read Carolyn Foote's post about master teachers.

Now we're moving to Common Core Standards that are pieced together skills that inexperienced teachers teach with worksheets because that's all they know. Teachers may only know what they were taught. Reading from the textbook doesn't work for today's students anymore. Testing on these standards does not mean students have real understanding of the concepts and how they relate to the real world. We need experienced teachers, mentors, and coaches to develop engaging innovative learning opportunities for our students. If not, we take away the opportunities for our most vulnerable children in public schools. Maybe we need to rethink the motives to compartmentalize teaching and learning now and why we are going back to this industrial model when we know it doesn't work.

Do you really want mediocre citizens that will not be able to compete in a global society? Keep this up and we'll be the developing country led by a few very wealthy people. China, Korea and India will be leading the way unless we stop the direction we're going.

I'm looking for schools, teachers, districts who want to offer the opportunities so any child can reach their fullest potential.

Are you ready to get creativity, joy, and the focus on learning instead of teaching to the test?
1

Taking the First Step

You know what to do. You just don't do it. It is so easy to find excuses to not do something that is really important because it is hard to do. It is easy to find excuses why you need to do the little unimportant things and put off the difficult stuff that really matters. So I say "stop making lists, delegate the little stuff, and take the first step to be a success." I read Seth Godin's post Sure but what's the hard part and got me thinking about this and how it home for me. I've heard this from others telling me over and over again that someone else can do this or that for me, but it was easier for me to make excuses or to presume that I was the only one in the whole wide world that could do something. I remember hearing and believing "if you want something done right, do it yourself." The problem with that is that there is only one of you. You cannot do it all.  It's that indispensable thing we tend to do to ourselves. Today is the day to let go.
6

Think as an Entrepreneur

Being an entrepreneur takes a different mindset. Most of us have been taught to take orders, follow the rules, think in the box... When someone breaks out of the box and comes up with what they think is a crazy idea, their colleagues just shake their heads and wait for their friend to come to their senses.  That is until the economy changed everything and the consequences for following rules doesn't mean you keep your job anymore. There is no security and the rules have all changed. With good jobs going away, middle class downsizes. Jobs that pay well are going away and are not being replaced by similar jobs. The middle class is shrinking. Corporations are cutting back on their work force and continue to send jobs oversees. Some of the jobs that are being cut are accounting, good-paying union jobs, and technology jobs. When you are out of work and there are no jobs, no unemployment benefits, you take any job -- even a low-paying job. With little money, people are barely making it by, losing their homes, and not spending money. This is the trickle down effect people were talking about. What happens to our communities? to the families? Houses go into foreclosure, people don't spend money so stores go under, people move and take their children out of school. Without enough students, schools close or teachers are laid off. This is that trickle down effect but not the way we were thinking it would go. You can feel sorry for yourself or you can take control of your life. What if you could make another $500+ a month? Could that help you? I just read "Put more Cash in Your Pocket" by Loral Langemeir who I met at the Make Mine a Millionaire $ Business Conference. Loral writes about taking the skills you already have and make a business venture using those skills. This is not the idea of starting a new business around something you have no experience. Did you ever sell lemonade in front your house? It's the same idea. Just make some extra money to pay off some bills or save for something you really want. Loral provides a long list of possible ventures. Here's a few off that list and a few I added:
  • Tutoring
  • Web site design
  • Scrapbooking
  • Dog Walking
  • Calligraphy
  • Quilting
  • Gardening
  • Music Lessons
  • Organizing Closets
  • Personal Shopper
  • Setting up Home Theaters
What do you like to do? What are your skills? Do you have any hobbies you wouldn't mind doing more and making money off of them? Change how you think and think like an entrepreneur. You can make extra money  while you have a job. If you don't have a job and are on unemployment, try your hand at doing something you love and see what it feels like to make money off of it.  Interested in learning more? Buy Loral's book and take a chance.
3

Imagine Traveling to Mars

You can do that now. Lucky me! I participated in Dr. David Thornburg's session on Learning from the Holodeck at Fall Cue today. The world's first educational holodeck is at the pre-K to middle school campus of Colégio Atual, a school in Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil. The holodeck is a bare room with custom interactive computer software and hardware. Students create challenging missions that use their skills in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) subjects to complete a journey. Middle School students take a simulated trip to Mars in search of evidence for extraterrestrial life. These students are in their school but instead of being seated in rows in a traditional classroom, they are in a special room, the Educational Holodeck. With the Thornburg Educational Holodeck(tm), large screen displays are used to convincingly create the environment of an interplanetary voyage, where students are allowed to choose their destination for each journey (e.g., Jupiter's moon, Io). The software is an open source program called Celestia. The holodeck is a highly engaging example of an environment that is:
  • interactive
  • immersive
  • interdisciplinary
  • innovative
  • interesting
Students join teams based on their interest: culinary, engineering, space, and others to research how to live on the spacecraft over years on their way to Mars and back. Colégio Atual holodeck has U-shaped tables so team leaders can sit closer to their team members. All the interactive images on the walls are produced by computers. This means, for example, that the room can immediately change from being a spaceship to being a microscopic chamber allowing children to navigate through the human circulatory system – all by changing the room's software. The teacher plays the role of mission commander, not as content presenter. Students need to do their own research in order to be successful in this environment. HyperStudio is being used to coordinate a number of different software applications such as Celestia, Google Earth, a calculator, video chat software, and others. In addition, the Thornburg Educational Holodeck(tm) project is doing advanced testing of the HyperStudio Player for the iPad as a portable data device on the Educational Holodeck (tm). I want to be on a team using the Holodeck.
0

Changing the Paradigm

I mentioned Sir Ken Robinson and his talk about "Schools kill Creativity" in my webinar. I just watched this animation where he explains why the current education system is failing our kids. Some questions he brings up:
  • why do we need to group students by age anymore?
  • why do we need to separate kids into separate subjects?
  • why are degrees not a guarantee for jobs?
  • why are we not waking up children to what they have inside themselves?
I saw divergent thinking in preschool using the Reggio Emilia approach that I shared in my webinar. Divergent thinking is the process of having original ideas that have value. I mentioned this as Flow. Schools are starting earlier squashing creativity and divergent thinking. Now are kindergarteners are told there is only one answer or not to share. To prepare our children for their future they need an aesthetic experience and to collaborate so they are not isolated and all doing the same thing at the same time.
0

Reflections on Webinar on Joy in Learning

On Saturday, October 30th, I presented a webinar for Classroom 2.0 on Joy in Learning. It was an honor to have three amazing moderators  Peggy George, Kim Caise, and Lorna Costatini and use Elluminate for my presentation. I learned alot. I do know that what you see on your screen as moderator may not be the same as the audience. I cached all the websites so they would load easily. However, the Classroom 2.0 server and G.Lam server was slow so some of my screens never showed up. What was great is that I worked with Peggy several days before setting up all the links using a Google planning doc. Putting on a webinar is not just uploading your slides and presenting. It takes time to set up each slide, someone to upload all the links, one or more moderators who are watching and fielding questions from the chat, and a moderator to contact you if something isn't working. I was so impressed with how effective Peggy, Lorna, and Kim were. Great job! Go here to see the full recording from Elluminate: https://sas.elluminate.com/site/external/jwsdetect/playback.jnlp?psid=2010-10-30.0931.M.ACE02B5F35AA7E7975F015AAC6F794.vcr&sid=2008350 Tiny URL for recording: http://tinyurl.com/cr20live-BarbaraBray Recording (chat): http://wiki.classroom20.com/CR20LIVE+OCT302010 Recording (audio):  http://www.humyo.com/FQxmsff/CLASSROOM%202.0%20LIVE%20joyinlearning.32K.mp3?a=08nXJgdOgPo Classroom 2.0 LIVE - Joy in Learning from Kim Caise on Vimeo. Recording (video):  http://vimeo.com/16377462 Topic: Joy in Learning
Recording (full): https://sas.elluminate.com/site/external/jwsdetect

Gl.am Links for 10/30/2010: http://gl.am/De2Kp
Problem with the gl.am links - screen capture didn't load but the links work.  As of today I see pictures of walnuts for most of my links.
Now that I watch the video after the presentation in Vimeo, I realize that to really see how the webinar worked you need to watch the archived recording in full. The moderators gave me a walk-through all of the tools in Elluminate.
So what I learned is that talking about Joy is fun. I ran out of time and tried to keep track of the action in the chat. What a great group who joined my webinar.
So anyone presenting a webinar needs at least one moderator, needs to practice, and then make sure your session is archived and watch and listen to yourself. This is how you learn and reflect what worked and what you would do different next time.  I tend to ramble when I'm excited. Need someone to poke me to get back on track. It's like you need a coach when you present.
I plan to do this webinar again somewhere because I learned so much and love talking about joy in learning.