When your geekiest dreams come true...

March 15, 2016 (075/366)

It's like this book was written for me! I can't even begin to explain, so I'll let the book speak for itself: "What if William Shakespeare were asked to generate the Fibonacci series or Jane Austen had to write a factorial program? In If Hemingway Wrote JavaScript, author Angus Croll imagines short JavaScript programs as written by famous wordsmiths[*]. The result is a peculiar and charming combination of prose, poetry, and programming. The best authors are those who obsess about language and the same goes for JavaScript developers. To master either craft, you must experiment with language to develop your own style, your own idioms, and your own expressions. To that end, f Hemingway Wrote JavaScript playfully bridges the worlds of programming and literature for the literary geek in all of us."

*Ernest Hemingway, William Shakespeare, André Breton (in translation), Roberto Bolaño, Dan Brown, Edgar Allan Poe, Jack Kerouac, Jane Austen, Samuel Johnson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, James Joyce, J.D. Salinger, Tupac Shakur, Virginia Woolf, Geoffrey Chaucer, Vladimir Nabokov, Dylan Thomas, Jorge Luis Borges, Lewis Carrol, Douglas Adams, Charles Dickens, David Foster Wallace, Walt Whitman, Sylvia Plath, Italo Calvino, J.K. Rowling, Arundhati Roy, and Franz Kafka

If Hemingway were to generate the Fibonocci serices

EdTech and Educator Effectiveness

January 27, 2015 {27/365} Ideas

Ever since returning from the Google Teacher Academy last summer, the gears have been turning on my GTA Action Plan. As new Google Certified Teachers, my cohort and I were taught about Moonshot Thinking and "Solving for X". The idea is to identify a "huge problem" -- a problem of practice that extends beyond just own our classrooms, buildings, or even districts, to propose a "radical solution," and to use "breakthrough technology" to help solve the problem.

As both EdTech Coach and Educator Effectiveness Coach in the Pewaukee School District where the The Danielson Framework for Teaching is used to evaluate educators, I decided to focus on how technology can help teachers with Planning and Preparation, Classroom Environment, Instruction, and Professional Responsibilities (the four domains of the Danielson Framework). Here is my Action Plan/"Moon Shot" thinking: 

  • “The Problem”: Teachers often view technology integration and professional development as “just another thing” that they have to do rather than recognizing how effective use of technology will not only improve student performance and engagement, but also their own teaching practice, i.e. “educator effectiveness.” The State of Wisconsin’s Educator Effectiveness system uses “a performance-based evaluation that leads to improved student learning by supporting the continuous improvement of educator practice.” Districts implement the Wisconsin Educator Effectiveness System “to ensure that educators receive quality data to identify and inform individual areas of: 1) strength; 2) needed improvement; and 3) ongoing support for professional growth” (http://ee.dpi.wi.gov/). The challenge is to help teachers recognize that educational technology is not a separate event, but rather an embedded practice that will assist them in becoming more effective educators.

  • “The Solution”: By combining my two roles of EdTech Coach and Educator Effectiveness Coach, I intend to provide tools and examples for teachers to use as they seek to improve their professional practice (as scored by the Danielson Framework For Teachers). I began my project by aligning the components of the Danielson Framework with the ISTE Standards for Teachers to illustrate how incorporating EdTech as is not "just another thing" to do, but rather a means to improving teachers' effectiveness in each of the four domains and their subcomponents.

  • “The Breakthrough Technology”: Google Tools/Apps for Education (Docs, Sheets, Forms, Sites, Presentations, etc.), Social Media (Blogger, Google+, G+ Communities, Google Groups), Google Hangouts and Hangouts-on-Air, other social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.)

  • "The X" Factor - For months, I have been curating tools and artifacts to create a resource (tinyurl.com/EdTechEE) for teachers (in Pewaukee, throughout the state of Wisconsin, and beyond). I have shared my work locally and at state conferences, and have invited educators to share their ideas so that we call can learn from each other.

Tomorrow night (Wednesday, January 28, 2015) at 8:00 pm CST, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction will feature my ideas on their weekly #WIEE Twitter chat. Join us to share your own ideas and to discuss how technology can be used to advance both teacher practice and student achievement.


January 20, 2014 {20/365} "Vintage Technology"

Just recently, I've become a bit obsessed with vintage technology, specifically typewriters (featured here and here) and cameras (like the ones pictured here). It isn't that I particularly enjoy antiques or antique shops; in fact, anyone who knows me will tell you that I don't like clutter. I prefer well-organized, minimalist fashion and décor, featuring a few statement pieces, and of course, I love cutting-edge technology. Yet, for the past few months, I've been pining for these antiquated devices, craving a beautiful old typewriter and camera to display among my most cherished books and found treasures. I find them wonderfully simple yet sophisticated and beautiful in their clean, mid-century design. I think that I've finally figured out what I find most attractive about vintage cameras and typewriters. They represent the technology that has allowed people to be creative: to write novels, poetry, and love letters (although those should truly be handwritten), to take photos of loved ones, to capture the beauty in nature and special events as well as everyday moments that become special once discovered and documented.

In August, I reflected on what I've learned by maintaining this blog, by writing and taking pictures everyday.

Today on this Tech Tuesday, I'd like to refocus my lens on the creative process:

"Since I began blogging and participating in Project 365 activities, I have taken thousands of photographs. I often take multiple shots of the same subject -- sometimes on the same day, sometimes at different times of day (à la Monet), and sometimes days, weeks, months, or even a year later. Studying my photos has taught me so much about focus, composition, color, light, angles, and editing. And although "a picture is worth a thousand words," writing captions and narratives to accompany my photos has further challenged me to be both visually and verbally creative. When I look back on my own progress, I learned so much from the "mistakes" that I've made. The process has not only taught me to be a better writer and photographer, but it has also taught me some valuable life lessons. I have learned:

FOCUS: Be constantly present and observant. Focus on what is beautiful, unusual, the details that make a picture special, uniquely your own. Looking at things from different angles provides new opportunities to witness moments that would be missed if they were only observed from a single point of view. “When you start to change the way you see things, the things you see start to change.” ~ Wayne Dyer

PERSEVERANCE: Commitment to a project of this magnitude can be challenging. There are days when nothing seems interesting; when it feels like there's nothing to photograph and/or nothing to write. There are nights when it's late and I'm tired, but I don't want to disappoint myself by not posting. There are moments when I know I have the potential to take a great picture, but the light, the camera, or the subject don't seem to be cooperating. There are times when there are no words. I've learned not to give up: Light changes, subjects move, and my own control over angles and focus can make all the difference. "Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained." ~ Marie Curie

ACCEPTANCE: Sometimes, I can predict what my day will bring and what photos I might take, but even those pictures always look different in my mind than they do on my screen. My iPhone has predictable limitations. Sometimes, I know that I will never get close enough to capture what I see, and regardless of how much I plan, I can't control the weather, the natural light, or movement and will of others. I can only try new perspectives. "Acceptance doesn't mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there's got to be a way through it." ~ Michael J. Fox

BALANCE: It is important to strike a balance between photos and words that are carefully planned, composed, and edited, and those beautiful, unexpected moments that require quick reflexes. So often when I've taken several shots of the same subject, it is my first impression that becomes the photo of the day. As much as I insist on presence and awareness, it is impossible to be fully present if one is constantly viewing life through a camera lens. “Life is a balance of holding on and letting go.” ~ Keith Urban

SHARING: Creative expression (art, music, writing, etc.) is meant to be shared. Although I began this project to challenge myself and that continues to be my primary focus, I have rather serendipitously found an audience for my work via social media and word of mouth. The feedback and encouragement that I receive further challenge me to try new things and to continue to improve. Although it is impossible to please everyone, everyday, it is empowering to know that others look forward to my daily offerings (so thank you!). "Art is about sharing. You wouldn't be an artist unless you wanted to share an experience, a thought." ~ David Hockney


January 13, 2015 {13/365} "Freedom"

« Je ne suis pas d'accord avec ce que vous dites, mais je me battrai pour que vous ayez le droit de le dire. » - Voltaire

It seems ironic that, so far this year, my Tech Tuesday posts have featured images of antiquated technology. I took this photo at the San Francisco International Airport on my way home from the Google Teacher Academy last summer. The printing press in the window of Compass Books struck me as technically beautiful and sophisticated despite being decidedly low-tech. The Press is actually a sculpture by Shawn Hibma Cronan, commissioned by the bookstore to represents the impact of type and the written word on the history of civilization.  I never featured this image on my blog because it was difficult to get a clear photo through the glass without reflections of other lights in the terminal. Yet this week, in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack in Paris, The Press with its message of Freedom -- freedom of written expression -- merits, not only inclusion, but also reverence. As Voltaire stated over two hundred years ago: "I may not agree with what you say, but I will fight for your right to say it."


January 6, 2014 {6/365} "Royal"

Five years ago, I was asked to reflect on whether I considered myself a digital native or a digital immigrant. These days, despite my Google certifications and my new position as EdTech Coach, I still maintain my status as high functioning digital immigrant. My initial impressions [with a few updates] are still true today:

"In his work Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants (2001), Marc Prensky assigns the term digital native to those who grew up with the technological advances of the late 20th and early 21st Centuries. The term draws the analogy to a country's natives for whom the local language and culture are natural, compared with immigrants who must adapt to a region's customs. As a teacher of a "foreign language" [for twenty years], this concept of Digital Native vs. Digital Immigrant is quite intriguing. I have been fascinated by the ways that people learn languages. The "old" method of repeating words and phrases, and memorizing passages and conversations in the target language is no longer viewed as effective. In fact, as of the mid-1990's, non-native-speaking FL majors who aspired to teach a foreign language are required (by the Wisconsin DPI) to complete at least six weeks of residency in a country where the target language is spoken. Personally, I can attest that this residency, further travel, and immersion in the language and culture were the key to developing my skills and confidence in the speaking French.

So, do I consider myself a digital native or a digital immigrant? Like much of my generation (Gen-X), I did not grow up with a computer or a cell phone. It wasn't until I signed up for my first computer class in high school that I was truly exposed to this foreign culture. My first (and last) computer class attempted to teach me binary code (or whatever those 0's and 1's were). The final exam for this course was to write a program to center my name in all caps at the top of a page. Why did I need to learn this when I could simple press "Caps Lock", center my carriage, and back-space once for every two letters in my name? So I blissfully buried myself in French, British, and American literature for the next nine years, writing all of my papers, even my substantial master's thesis, on a typewriter. I was content and had no desire to change my ways when I began my student teaching in 1994. My cooperating teacher challenged me to invest the five minutes that it would take for me to learn to use MS Windows, and, although I was apprehensive, I've never looked back.

Today, in this digital society, I view myself as quite "proficient" in technology. I use computers and technology daily in my professional and personal life. My iPhone [and Google Drive have] replaced my agenda, post-its, recipe books, file cabinets, "land-line", 300+ cd's, dvds, photo albums, etc. Social media tools [including Twitter, Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogging] have become integral to my Personal/Professional Learning Network from whom I learn something everyday.

I realize that the time I spend in France is vital for improving my proficiency in the French language. I continue to grow and love its culture, its language, and its people. However, I also recognize that I will never be truly French. Likewise, although I love technology and continue to learn and embrace its possibilities, I will never be a Digital Native. Yet, I know that as a non-native speaker of French, I am a highly-effective teacher of the French language and culture. Technology is no longer a foreign concept to those of us who were not born into this society. We can view ourselves as fortunate to have had our own unique experiences with technology while being open to the wonderful potential that immersion in this digital society provides."

Still, although I have embraced this digital culture wholeheartedly and have grown to appreciate the capabilities that technology offers, I still get excited about new notebooks, pretty paper, and pens. As much as I love my iPhone, iPad, and my Macbook Air,  I still find vintage typewriters like the one pictured above romantic and beautiful. I imagine great writers like Hemingway and Fitzgerald writing their brilliant work on machines like this one. I appreciate the clean architectural lines and often think I'd like to add a vintage Royal to my home or office décor. What do you think?

New Year - New Ideas

Happy New Year! It's time for a new challenge.

After 730 days of Project 365, I've observed that I tend to take the same images at the same time of each year. There were many repeats from 2013 to 2014, yet it was interesting to see how my point of view, my aesthetic, and my skills changed over time. Some days, there was so much inspiration that I spent hours editing and choosing just one photo of the day. Other days, due to lack of time or adequate light, I struggled to post an image that would satisfy my own requirements. In December, I tried photo-a-day prompts, and although I like how the suggestions helped me to hone my focus for the day, they also felt limiting. Sometimes I'd take pictures of something I loved, but they didn't fit the daily prompt. So this year, I'm shaking things up a bit. I want to eliminate some of the stress while still enjoying the creative process. I'm not going to require myself to post everyday, but at the end of each week, I will post a weekly wrap-up with at least seven photos, thus achieving a modified Project 365. I may decide to participate in the FMS Photo A Day project for a week, a month, or even the year, but I won't put undo pressure on myself to maintain it. The goal of the project has always been to slow down, to be observant, to be creative, to have fun!French Fridays were quite popular last year and I enjoyed featuring photos that I took in the past but never posted before. So this year, I assign a theme to each day of the week. Voilà, my ideas for 2015:

  • "MON DAY" MONDAYS - My day to post whatever inspires me, the things I love, n'importe quoi!

  • TECH TUESDAY - On Tuesdays, I'll mix a little business with pleasure, featuring tech tips and tools.

  • WISCONSIN WEDNESDAY -  featuring the beauty of my home state (favorite places, culture, products, etc.)

  • THROWBACK THURSDAYS - I will recreate an image that I've posted before, but with fresh eyes & new skill.

  • FRENCH FRIDAYS - Continuing my series of French language, culture, and images.

  • WEEKEND WRAP-UP - Photos of the week - My Project 52/365 Alors, on y va! Bonne année!