Thursday, June 25, 2009

Goodbye, Farrah; Rest well, Michael, thank you for the music

Bits of my childhood died today with the passing of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson. Charlie's Angels was a show I rarely missed when it was on, and Michael Jackson's music was a constant soundtrack playing in the background of my life. Michael Jackson's music was always there for me: I heard "ABC" and other Jackson 5 songs on Saturday morning cartoons when I was a kid; his solo work was what we all danced to in the bars when I was in college; I used the music video for "Thriller" in class to demonstrate the elements of horror fiction... the music of Michael Jackson was just a given in my world. When "Thriller" premiered on MTV (back in the day when they actually played music), all of us knew how transformative that video was. Like him or not, there is no arguing his impact on pop culture and music. And just like that, he's gone. It's a little weird for me to think that when I wake up tomorrow, it will be a world without Michael Jackson in it. He was only six years older than I am; I knew that at some point he would pass, of course, but certainly not at 50 years old. So goodbye, Farrah, and rest well, Michael, be at peace. Thank you. Both of you.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Farm dinners = Local food = YUMMY

I attended my first farm dinner last weekend. For those that might not know what that means, it means that I traveled out to a local farm and sat out under the trees and enjoyed a meal that was locally sourced... the veggies and chicken were all grown on the farm, the beef was from Erie, and the meal was straight up amazing. If you'd like to read more about it and check out the slide show of the meal, check out my article about it on Elephant Journal.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Jonny Copp in video and in his own words.

"Dirt Days" at NCAR from Alex King & Mito Media on Vimeo.

Here's a great interview with Jonny and Waylon Lewis of Elephant Journal. While I'm at it, here's a link to an article Jonny wrote for Elephant Journal as well.

Here's a link to Coppworks, Jonny's website showcasing his work. I hope you enjoy the interview and his words and are able to get a sense of how amazing my friend was.

A clip from Sharp End: a movie with Jonny and produced by Wade Johnson:

Huge Loss of Wade, Micah and Jonny in Sichuan Mountains China. from renan ozturk on Vimeo.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Rest well, Jonny. Ignite is amazing!! Looking ahead.

(Picture from the Boulder Adventure Film Festival website.) Summer's off to a really rough start. Today I found out that my friend, Jonny Copp, was killed in an avalanche while climbing in China. I'd known Jonny since 2004, just before the showing of his movie, Splitter. We'd been good friends since, getting together and talking about everything from rock climbing to teaching to adoption to whatever was on our minds at the time. He possessed a warmth, sincerity and joy that was incredibly infectious and seeing him always brought a smile to my face and heart. I will miss him always.

This time of year is typically my time to look back on the school year and reflect on things I thought went well as well as identify areas of growth for me. I incorporated a great deal of technology in my classes this year, which was falls into both categories. I still have some growing to do and kinks to iron out, but I definitely did a lot more experimentation in my classes than I have in the past. In addition to the technology piece, I did a great deal more group work than I ever have. Typically, I've found group work to be a bit of a management nightmare, especially when working with freshmen, but this year I bit the bullet and pushed myself to let go a little bit and let my students take the lead. I'm glad I did. The live blog collaborative sessions revealed a great deal about my students and their capabilities, and their presentations went quite well.

Which brings me to my next point. Ignite is an amazing format for student presentations, especially for students who aren't used to doing presentations. The 15 second time frame for each slide really discourages the reading of slides, and sticking to the 20 slide/five minute format definitely ensures that students will reach the time allotted. Sticking to the 15 second per slide format also means that those students who would normally rely on videos to fill time aren't able to, and it keeps the more... verbose... students to a reasonable time frame as well. I will definitely continue to use it, especially for underclassmen. We even got an invitation to join IgniteDenver, which is pretty cool. I plan to check out a few presentations on my own first, then open the door to my students to attend and present at an event. Here's a great blog entry that I'm going to share with my students on how to put together an Ignite presentation.

Other things I will continue to use next year: Google Docs,, blogs, podcasting, Google Sites, Ning, Edmodo, CoverItLive, TextTheMob. I want to add: OpenZine, PhotoStory, MovieMaker. I'm sure there's more I'll end up using, especially with the Global Learners' trainings coming up this week and in August. Should be fun!!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Last live blog of the year: transitions

Had our last live blog session for the school year. Our topic was the transition from 8th to 9th grade, with the idea that my students would offer their words of wisdom to the incoming freshmen next year. We had a few technical issues here and there, but the day went well over all, with the exception that no eighth grade students actually joined us. The students and I were pretty disappointed about that, but perhaps we can do this again next year and get a better response. The advantage is that the conversation is still there and so can be accessed by the class of 2013 over the summer and next year as well.

The other up side of the day was that students who struggled with live blogging before "got it" this time, and so the level of participation for the students went up quite a bit. When these same students use this next year, it will be a bit less direct instruction I will have to do aside from a review of sorts. Certainly next year will be interesting from a technology standpoint. This is the first year I've used tech as much as I have, and next year I'll have about half of the students up to speed with the other half being brought in. I'm pretty excited about it, and I plan to find and learn how to use as many new tech "toys" as I can over the summer.