Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The World is Too Fast-Paced


THE world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
The Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.--Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn; 10
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

William Wordsworth-1806.

William Wordsworth could not have said it better. Today it feels like everyone is fast in pursuit of materials, careers, and who knows what else.

Perhaps it's because it is finals week for me, or maybe it's the holiday season that is bearing down, but lately I've been feeling like things happen, and are expected to happen, to quickly for my taste. I feel robbed of the simple ability to feel relaxed or idle; there is always something that needs doing or could be accomplished. Today, my friend Nate and I were arguing about whether or not video games are a complete waste of time. Nate argued that in some cases, people can become too caught up in their addiction, but this is true for any addictive behavior: inevitably, the dose makes the poison. I had been arguing that video games, and really any behavior that is not necessarily constructive, is technically a waste of time. The argument, or conversation rather, ended with Nate's statement that sometimes you DO need something mindless to spend your time on, for the sake of your own sanity.

I didn't realize it until a few moments ago, but what Nate was saying is completely true. There is such a demand for productivity, accomplishment, ambition and drive in this country and sometimes we can very easily forget to take a moment or two to DO NOTHING. I tried it earlier. I decided to lie in my bed, for the sake of relaxing. Oh, I had (and still have) loads of things I could and should be doing, related to finals and cleaning my room, but for my own mental health, I lied in the dark to try and experience the pleasant effect of slowing down. And I'll say, it was grand.

So, individuals in this demanding, fast-paced society, please take some time out of your busy, busy days and enjoy yourselves. Meditate, nap, play Bubble Shooter, do something to enjoy yourself for a few moments. You might discover that you have less of a headache in the morning, or you might end up having a melt-down because you think you're wasting time not using time. Whatever your reaction may be, it is worth trying.

PS-I really recommend Bubble Shooter for some good, old-fashioned time-wasting gaming :)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas Concerts and Immortal Jellies!

Whoa! It's been such a LONG time since I've last blogged. The semester has flown by, and I was surprised to find, as the term comes to an end, that I have finally started enjoying all of my classes. Unfortunately, they're almost through. So finals are coming up and the campus is in the process of kicking it into "high gear." I will be diving into finals prep as soon as the Chimes of Christmas concert gets over tonight. Speaking of, I'm looking forward to singing this little jewel this evening:


"Little Tree" was composed by Steve Heitzig and uses the poetry of e.e. cummings. Probably one of the most fresh and beautiful holiday songs that I have sung in a long time. It's quite contemporary in terms of musicality, but I think the audience will enjoy it the most out of all the songs in our program.

Also, something I saw on my friend David's Facebook page the other day; check out this crazy jelly!


Apparently this creature can shift back and forth from polyp to mature stage, basically cheating death! Immortality really does exist, at least somewhere in this world!

That'll be all for today! Good luck to all closing out the term with finals!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Read WHILE You Toil! Listen to Audiobooks!

I have recently begun listening to books on CD while I work in my cubicle at Aegon. I don't have to talk to anyone or answer any phones, so I decided, instead of listening to my Ipod (which is broken anyway), I would listen to a classic or two while crunching through the numbers of numerous insurance producers whose licenses I must renew daily. That being said, I am now listening to the last few chapters of Moby Dick, by Herman Melville. Despite what people may think about it's naval jargon and dry passages of the physiology of whales, I have found Moby Dick to be a thoroughly entertaining tale. It's action doesn't really arrive until the last few chapters of the epic, when Captain Ahab's obsession with the white whale finally sends he and the Pequod into utter peril. My favorite aspect of the book is Ishmael, the narrator. He tells the story from the angle of new eyes to the whaling voyage and high knowledge of many matters because of his background as a schoolteacher. Ishmael observes all action on the Pequod, all it's motley crew of characters and events that happen, with a curious eye. I really appreciate detail in novels, and Melville's descriptions through Ishmael gave the book's language some of its allure. Ultimately, I wouldn't suggest sitting down to read this novel in as short of time as I listened to it (about 8 days). The recording I listened to was 21 hours long, divided into 18 CDs. The book is like, 1, 946 pages (or something like that) and can be really overwhelming, especially if you are not used to reading very long novels. I liked listening to Moby Dick because the gentleman who was doing the reading (Frank Muller) was very expressive and articulate; he did a great job keeping me interested in the descriptions and dialogue. If you would like to find an audio recording of Moby Dick, or a hard copy version of the book, click here for audio and here for hard copies. The audio version listed is the same one that I listened to!

Next book on my listening agenda: The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck

Happy reading! :)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Blogs: The Internet Journal

Before I took Ed Tech and Design, I was vaguely familiar with what a blog was, but I didn't really know why anyone would take the time to read them, let alone make them. But after we started working with blogs in the classroom, I have to admit that I was both impressed and excited about the idea of using them in the classroom. So, I decided to do a little research to see how teachers utilize blogs in their lesson plans, if any actually do, and whether or not students visit teacher-made blogs. Education World, the Educator's Best Friend, is an amazing web resource that consolidates tons of educational information for teachers into one intensely useful website. Here, I found an article on blogs that opened my eyes to the possibilities that they offer educators in the classroom. Blogging? It's Elementary, My Dear Watson! is the title of the article which I am about to discuss.

Apparently, blogging started off as a web tool for anyone who wanted to write about anything and post it online for others to view and comment on. One famous story of blogging is that of Julie Powell, a creative writing major working for the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation who, in 2002, began her blog called The Julie/Julia Project. Her goal was to cook all 524 recipes featured in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking
in 365 days. The blog gained a large following and soon allowed Julie to publish several books and have a film created based on her story. To get back on track, blogging can mean just about anything to an individual, and it has certainly started to become more and more prominent in the classroom today.

According to the blogging article, students find it more meaningful to write if they have a real audience that they know will be reading what they compose. Using blogs in the classroom will allow students to share and view material that they have created. Teachers who blog can post topics or interesting articles, pictures and videos and then ask their students to view the material and blog about their opinions of the materials. Not only may students comment on teacher blogs, they can also create blog responses. Web-based blogs are great for middle and high school students because they are easy access and usually free. For younger students, using a blog may be a great way for them to develop their writing skills while at the same time learning about new issues and subjects. Some teachers may assign students blog posts for homework, asking them to review the lesson learned in class and give their overview or thoughts on what was learned. Blogs provide another outlet for communication between students and teachers.

This video was made by a tenth grade communications technology class. It gives the top 10 reasons to use blogs in the classroom and is quite persuasive and the information presented is valid.

Blogging the classroom is a great idea for educators. I am really enjoying my blog that I created for Ed Tech and I plan on keeping it after the class is over. I want to continue blogging for my own enjoyment, and hopefully for the enjoyment of others as well. Here are some different blog sites that you can visit to learn more about blogs, or to start your own!


Blog photo from IowaAEAOnline iCLIPART
Video from Youtube.com-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PfJETK3am1M

Thursday, April 8, 2010

One Laptop Per Child

Imagine if every child in the world, no matter their economic status or level of poverty, was given the access to a fully functional, internet capable laptop. Wouldn't this be an amazing accomplishment? The One Laptop Per Child Association, Inc. is a U.S. non-profit organization whose mission involves providing computer access to even the world's most impoverished children. Their vision is simply revealed in their name, to provide each child with a laptop (One Laptop Per Child). Mission statement: "To create educational opportunities for the world's poorest children by providing each child with a rugged, low-cost, low-power, connected laptop with content and software designed for collaborative, joyful, self-empowered learning. When children have access to this type of tool they get engaged in their own education. They learn, share, create, and collaborate. They become connected to each other, to the world and to a brighter future." You can visit the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) homepage for basic information about the organization's efforts-http://www.laptop.org/en/vision/index.shtml

OLCP is not a laptop project, it is an education project. The organization wants to provide laptops to children to give them increased opportunities for learning and growth. The laptop created specifically for this mission is the XO laptop.

The XO is a learning tool specially designed with children in mind. It is about the size of a small textbook, made of durable materials, and flexibly assumes a variety of configurations: standard laptop, e-book and gaming device. Edges are rounded, display are ultra low power and ultra-high resolution, and it includes internal speakers, microphone, camera, and wireless antennas, with external headphone jacks, 3 USB ports, a battery that can be charged by AC outlet or DC solar panel, and an SD slot for photo, video and other media content. It also includes a standard keyboard with keyboard "shortcuts" allowing for easy navigation when the laptop is in e-book or tablet mode. The average expected life span for the XO laptop is around 5 years, and they are undergoing both factory and field testing to determine further lifespan estimations. Photo from www.laptop.org.

OLPC puts emphasis on software tools for exploring and expressing, rather than instruction. For this reason, the XO laptop features a unique type of interface, called Sugar. Sugar is specifically designed for children and is meant to facilitate learning through creativity, expression, sharing and collaboration, and reflection. It is a "Zoom" interface that captures children's world of fellow learners with graphic representations of community, connection and activity. To learn more about the specifics of Sugar, visit the area of the OLPC website-http://www.laptop.org/en/laptop/interface/index.shtml

OneLaptopPerChild Flickr Photostream

The countries receiving laptops from the OLPC effort are many. Four of the most prominent areas to pilot the first XO laptops were Peru, the Middle East, Rwanda and Uraguay. You can view all of the OLPC deployments, as of March 2010, here: GoogleMaps OLPC Deployments
Children are benefitting greatly from OLPC's mission. For the very first time, children in regions which may have never been able to have access to computer technology are now being given the opportunity to an endless supply of activities which foster creative learning and development. OLPC has a Flickr photostream that is frequently updated with highlight photos and videos of children using the XO in the field. Visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/olpc on Flickr for a look at how the XO is helping children learn in ways they may have never dreamed.

You can help give children the opportunity to learn with an XO by becoming a part of the OLPC movement. You can donate one or more unused laptop at amazon.com/xo You can also host your own fundraising drive or just spread the word to your friends and colleagues. Even the smallest donation or amount of participation can go a long way. The more people that get involved, the closer OLCP will get to fulfilling their mission statement: One Laptop Per Child.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Prezi: The Amazing New Presentation Platform

When you're required to give a presentation for class, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? Microsoft PowerPoint, right? Sure, everyone can use PowerPoint and, for the most part, it can be helpful when presenting ideas and images to a large audience. But these days, PowerPoint seems dull, boring and not very effective for keeping the attention of a group of students. PowerPoint may have worked for presentations in the past, but today a new presentation tool is blowing audiences out of the water. Meet Prezi, The zooming presentation editor. Prezi uses a map layout and zooming tool to show contextual relationships between subjects and ideas. With font hierarchies and different templates to choose from, Prezi gives users the chance to customize their presentation layout whichever way he or she would like. On the Prezi website, there are tutorials and directions to create endless Prezies, and signing up for a basic Prezi is free! I have already created two Prezies, one during Ed. Tech lab and one to use in a presentation I am giving for Philosophy class. I can organize my ideas and points that I want to cover in my presentation and the Prezi allows me to create a path according to what I want to cover, through first point to last. Using Prezi, teachers could organize their entire curriculum and lesson plans in one document! Prezi allows for endless possibilities, which is why I think that it should be utilized in the classroom often. Visit http://prezi.com/ to sign up for a Prezi and explore the cool features it has to offer! An example of a Prezi (my "What is Courage" Prezi) is featured as the image in this blog.

Here is an introduction video to the features of Prezi. It is a pretty awesome tool!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Promethean Interactive Whiteboards: A Whole New Front of the Classroom

While I was doing my Level One Observation at Hoover Middle School last semester, I was introduced to a piece of new technology that I had never encountered before.
Behold, the Promethean Interactive Whiteboard! Also known as IWB, the Promethean board combines the simplicity of a white board with the power of the computer and a front projection screen. Anything that can be seen or clicked on on a computer can be done using this technology. It was amazing to watch the teacher "clicking" on things right on the Promethean, because it worked just like the click of a mouse on the computer! Along with projecting media from the computer to the front of the classroom, Promethean offers many additional technological resources for the classroom that can be used along with the interactive whiteboard. My mentor teacher had many of these additional resources in her room. The Activotes are multiple choice A-F voters that be used for students to vote on an answer in a quiz or poll from their desks.

The Activexpression tools are sort of like simple cell phones, with texting capabilities in case students need to text in an answer.

Teachers can carry around the ActivSlate to move the mouse around the Promethean board at the front of the room without having to stand in front and use the pen.

Finally, to be better heard while speaking over the class, teachers can use the Activsound audio technology to magnify their voices, play audio for students or record sound.

All of these additional tools bring the classroom into interactive bliss for students and teachers. With the Promethean board, the students in my observation classroom were more engaged in lessons because they could actively participate in learning. Visit the Promethean website to explore all kinds of awesome and engaging technology and software!

All images have come from prometheanworld.com

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Birthday Yesterday!

So, yesterday I turned 20! It was a great day and I could not have asked for better weather. It was so sunny and gorgeous out, it even felt a little warm. I was bold enough to try taking my coat off walking between classes, but I discovered it wasn't quite that lovely. Guess I'm just trying to coax in spring as much as possible! Yesterday morning I was awoken by a phone call from my mom, dad and brother singing happy birthday. My parents had flowers delivered to the library so I would get them when I came into work, what a nice surprise! I also got a lot of really nice texts and Facebook posts from everyone, so thanks! It was a great day and an awesome way of celebrating my relenquishment from my teenage years! Above are the pictures that my supervisor Robin took last night, me with my lovely flowers! :)

Monday, March 1, 2010

In Two Weeks I'll Be In London!

Hello all! I decided to post some pictures of what I'll be seeing when I'm in London for Spring Break. I haven't taken them myself, but it will be a kind of photo itinerary for what I'll be seeing when I arrive in the great city on March 14th! We'll be leaving for Chicago after I get done with class on Friday, March 12. We're staying in Chicago that night and then we board our flight to Heathrow, England in the morning. Then it's a 14 hour flight into Heathrow :P I hope I don't get too bad of jetlag! We are staying in Heathrow Saturday night, then taking the train to London in the morning. Then we're staying in at a Bed and Breakfast in Chiswick, a little part of London. We're seeing a lot of things in just a week, so plan on taking a lot of pictures and taking in all the sights that I can! Top left:Stonehenge-stonehenge.co.uk Top right: Windsor Castle-theroyalcollection.org Bottom left: Tower of London-aboutbritain.com Bottom right:Big Ben-aboutbritain.com

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

This is my first post!

It's the first day of blogging for Ed. Tech and Design class! I've never created a blog before, so bear with me as I make my posts. I made this picture on Picnik.com. It's kind of silly, but I like it.