Well, it is March and of course that means MADNESS! There is something that I have always loved about the release of the brackets each year for the NCAA Basketball Tournament. I appreciate the structure and design of the process probably even more than the actually games themselves. Certainly, a bracket system is not just used for college basketball. Sadly my favorite alternative backet THIS IS MADNESS: The Star Wars Character Tournament is not being held this year. That being said, Walt Disney World is hosting MARCH MAGIC which features a competition for the Ultimate Disney Attraction. Edutopia even suggests ways that brackets can be brought into the classroom to get students to passionately debate works of literature.
GOOD BYE 2016. HELLO 2017!
As 2016 came to a close, I was reminded of a Tale of Two Cities, "It was the best of times. It was the worst of times." With almost every week there was news of yet another passing of a iconic personal hero that shaped my very being. Starting the year with the loss of David Bowie and ending with Carrie Fisher was cruel to say the very least. I will not even begin to delve into great divide of 2016 that seemed to rip the world apart.
Yet with all of that was bad about 2016, there were a number of great things that occured. Lead among these was the release of Using the Schoolwide Enrichment Model Using Technology written with Angela Housand and Joe Renzulli. I also was fortunate enough to present in Arkansas, Illinois, North Carolina New Jersey, Texas, Connecticut, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippis, Colorado, Tennessee, Florida, and Indiana. It was a MAGICAL year for NAGC with the annual convention being held at Walt Disney World. All in all, it was a rather successful year professionally. Yet, I really feel like the time has come to hit the RESET Button, and forge a new pathway to the future.
I have become increasingly obsessed with CLASSIC video games and have started down the rabbit hole that is RetroPie. In breaking out my original NES, I was struck by the RESET button that adorns the front of the unit. In looking at my Atari 2600, the GAME RESET button is also present. As I have been thinking about this, I was reminded of a post that I read from Wil Wheaton entitled Seven Things I Did to Reboot My Life. While New Year's Resolutions are nothing new and are ulitmately doomed to fail, I feel that if ever a year deserved a RESET then it was 2016. So, here are few things that I would like to work on for 2017.
This is something that I have really been lagging on. I have several books on my to read list and it seems that 2016 was more about buying books than actually reading them. I can make a lot of excuses here, but I really feel like I need a massive amount of new information to ponder to keep my own ideas fresh and to really spur my own creativity.
This one constantly seems to be a struggle for me. There is something that is daunting about putting text to screen. I feel like I have gotten much better toward the end of 2016 of sharing things that I come across on Twitter, but I am definitely guilty of just passing along what others have created or posted on their sites. This writing more goes hand in hand with reading more. As I consume I want to share my reactions. This leads to goal three.
By post I really want to focus on being much more active on creating content. This will come in the form of this blog, but also in the form of Twitter and Instagram. Where I feel like I have the most room to grow is posting reviews on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor. I use these services all of the time and willingly base my decisions about where to eat, sleep, or shop, but I have never posted a review. I am a little ashamed to admit this as I am writing this. Well, all of that is about to change.
BE MORE PRESENT
During 2016, Angela and I spent a great deal of time at Walt Disney World. Some of my favorite memories of the past year happened there. Other than becoming a Galactic Hero on the Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin attraction, one of the things that I enjoyed most about being there was how PRESENT I felt. By this I mean that I did not allow myself to be distracted by email or felt the need to check in on the news of the world. Instead, I was much more attuned to the world that was around me. So, my goal is to really resist the temptation to constantly check email and instead focus on the world that is around me. I am still thinking about how I can really be more efficient with my email management.
DOCUMENT THE EXPERIENCE
As part of being present, I really want to do a better job of documenting my experience. I am thinking along the lines of a photo a day. It should be pretty easy to take a moment every day to capture a photo that highlights what I did to make that day of my life special. So, watch out #PhotoADay2017, I am coming for you.
BE MORE EFFICIENT
My ultimate goal for 2017 is to be more efficient. There has been a lot of time wasted staring at a computer screen and really not having anything to show for it. I really feel like the biggest area that I have to grow comes in relation to my teaching. Specifically, this is focused on grading. There is a lot of room for improvement here. Not that I have really been terrible in this department. I just really want to focus on more meaningful assessment and interaction with my students. They deserve it. I want to work to make teaching online more personal. In teaching face to face this year, I gained back some of what I was missing in online teaching. I just have to find ways to break free of the BlackBoard mold and its limitations of what I can do. I would like more audio/video feedback and less of me typing.
The last goal is prehaps the most important one. I really want to focus on adding more PLAY to my life. If I have learned anything from 2016, it is that life is too short and you never know when it will be over. I want to explore ways to have more fun in everything that I do. Almost anything can be turned into a game. 2017 is filled with possibilities and multiple adventures including conferences in Coeur d'Alene, Phoenix, and Sydney all before the end of February. I want to make sure that I am living life to its fullest and having as much fun as possible in the process.
So, good bye 2016, HELLO 2017! Let's let the FUN begin.
Well, it has been a long, long time since I have visited this very lonely blog. I have been away cooking up some brand new stuff that will rolling out very soon. In case you have not heard, I have been writing a book with my wife, Angela Housand. About a year ago Joe Renzulli asked us to write a book with him on using the Schoolwide Enrichment Model with Technology. It has been a long journey, but our manuscript has finally been submitted to Prufrock Press. Be on the lookout for the SEM:Tech book to be released this fall. Here is a sneak peek of the cover.
For almost anyone that knows me, you also know that I LOVE STAR WARS! I have always really enjoyed the fact that the one DARK SPOT in the Star Wars Universe happened to occur on my eighth birthday. You see, it was on November 17, 1978 that the world was subjected to the one and only showing of the Star Wars Holiday Special.
The special centers around Han and Chewbacca trying to return to the Wookiee planet of Kashyyyk for the celebration of Life Day. It is during this special that we learn that Chewie has a wife and a child. Which is still a little strange to think about.
I recall or at least I think I recall being pretty excited about the special airing. You have to remember that in 1978 one could not even watch Star Wars on their VCR. When I think back on that fateful day in 1978, I am not sure that I stayed awake for more than the first 30 minutes or so. In retrospect, that was probably for the best because over time, the Star Wars Holiday Special has become one of the most panned things ever created in the name of Star Wars.
For example, take a look at the SPECIAL GUEST STARS in the photo above. One really has to question what the pitch to executives must have looked like. Sure, let's have Be a Arthur play a gruff bartender at the Mos Eisley Cantina who bursts into song and argues with Greedo. There are so many things wrong with this idea that it makes the inclusion of Jar Jar Binks in Episode I seem like a really brilliant idea.
For many years, I wondered what actually happened in this special. Primarily because it was during this special that the world saw the introduction of Boba Fett. For those of you wanting to see this important introduction, this is a great place to start.
There are so many things that are wrong with the Star Wars Holiday Special that it is no wonder that it has never been officially released on video. However, we live in a time where you can find almost anything on the Internet. It was a few years ago, that I finally watched the entire special. It was at times fascinating, and a many others down right painful. I am thankful that I have seen it, but I am not sure that there are parts that I can ever erase from my memory. I invite you to view it below, but in the words of Obi-Wan, "We must be cautious." Proceed at your own risk. You cannot UNSEE this. Also, note that the video quality is pretty poor.
Whether you choose to view it or not, I hope you all have a HAPPY WOOKIEE LIFE DAY!
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At this point in 2014, pretty much every digital device is also a calculator. Growing up, I always longed for a calculator watch. The idea of one now seems very quaint and very EIGHTIES.
Since the dawn of the digital calculator there has been a slight mistrust of them. As a classroom teacher, I can remember the big debate as to whether or not we would let elementary students use calculators in the classroom. In examining some of the current calculator apps available, I think that it is quite humorous to come across items like the DIGICUS (Digital Calculator + Abacus). http://retrocalculators.com/digicus.htm has a rather fascinating history of this device.
For quite a while now, Wolfram Alpha (http://www.wolframalpha.com) have been solving equations for us. The same is also true for the Google Search Bar. It is rather interesting to think of growing up in a time when the computer could have solved my Algebra homework. The problem that this brings up is that it is now more important than ever to go beyond just asking students to solve math problems. It is far more than just the procedure. We really need to be asking them to DO SOMETHING with the math.
More recently, apps like MyScript Calculator have taken this even further. Rather than entering in numbers using buttons, one can simply write the problem to be solved.
In honor of Sesame Street's 45 Birthday today, here are a few things that I learned by growing up on THE STREET.
1. SESAME STREET IS A MAGICAL LAND THAT CAN NOT BE FOUND WITHOUT ASKING FOR DIRECTIONS.
Generations of people know the song lyrics by heart, but with the start of every episode, we are always asking the same thing, "Can you tell me how to get / How to get to Sesame Street?" You would think that we would know the way by now. Obviously Sesame Street was not created in the age of GPS.
2. LANGUAGE IS FUNNY!
Grover and a Fly in My Soup is one of my favorite clips from Sesame Street. Here we learn the importance of exact language and the use of prepositions. Also, the replacement soup of Cream of Mosquito is a classic ending.
3. COUNTING IS ACTION PACKED!
To this day, I sing this song in my head anytime I count 12 of something. The early 1970s animation and groovy music takes us on a journey across America inside of a pinball machine.
4. MR. SNUFFLEUPAGUS IS REAL!
I was always fascinated with Mr. Snuffleupagus and the fact that only Big Bird could see him. From 1971 until 1985 he was thought to be Big Bird's imaginary friend, but finally he was revealed to the adults on Sesame Street to be real. The producers had become concerned that they were scaring children into thinking that adults would not believe them if they had something important to share. Click the image below or visit http://www.sesamestreet.org/muppets/mr-snuffleupagus for a collection of Snuffy videos and activities.