Projects, oh my…

Figures. It’s halfway through summer and I’ve got more projects going than I can shake a stick at. Here’s a few:

1. Started working on a handbook for my media production class for next year based on some of the concepts from Tom Sach’s handbook for employees of his studio. His video is here, and is a good watch if you’re a dork like me.

2. In the midst of uploading near-as-makes-no-difference 11,000 songs to Google Play. I’ll be able to rock out anywhere from the cloud! Too bad the upload has taken three full days so far- and will almost certainly take another two.

3. Building a new fly rod for myself- a fiberglass switch rod created out of the unholy union of some existing rods. It’ll be cheap, dirty, and wildly unattractive, but fun. How often do you get to use a hacksaw while building a rod?

4. Breaking in this new computer. MacBook Air 11″

5. Pushing towards no local storage use. Combo of GDrive and Dropbox right now. More specifics in an upcoming post on Setup.

6. Overhauling the backyard. I get to mount a brush blade on my gas line trimmer. Woooo!

7. Tonsillectomy. Today, actually.

8. Still waiting on Apple to release they’re school profile of BHS- and hoping to see a little of my shining visage in it.

9. Migrating (again) my large(ish) collection of digital photos. Not looking forward to this.

10. Tons of new art to hang at the house. Frames, as always, slowing that down. Have a literal stack of pieces to deal with.

11. Pre-production of several new Tangential episodes. These will be delayed in shooting until I heal from #7.

12. Roll out of 250 new iPad2’s at the High School.

13. Prep for mid-year distribution of ~1000 iPad2’s for Middle School.

14. Prep for 500 person 3 day district PD to kick off the year.

15. Prep for huge Google Conference in November.

That’s enough to mention here for now- but there’s more. I’ve found that the pile is so big I can’t look at it in the eye- only from the side before I get overwhelmed.

Side eye it is, then.




Current Thinking About Flipped

There’s a lot of new terms people are trying to define kicking around the twittersphere about “Flipped” rooms and “Hybrid” classes. “Blended” Whatever.

Here’s where I am with all that right now.

It’s all the same thing, really- a series of methods to extend the learning beyond the classroom. Like homework.

And that’s the catch, really. All the academic work indicates that homework at the elementary level has a negative effect on students. That at the middle school level homework is, at best, a break-even activity. It’s not until high school that we’re looking at real benefit.

While it might be nice to think about assigning a video to watch in the evening is a better thing for a young student, once we consider that the video is really just homework, it’s hard to get as excited. Even at the high school level, it’s just another thing to assign. Maybe better. Maybe worse. Is watching a video for homework inherently more interesting than reading an article? Hardly.

Excuse the “This isn’t that big a deal” tone here for a minute: I’m building.

What I do see as a genuine improvement here is for talented educators to make videos so good that students choose to watch them out of pure curiosity and engagement. What if educators built content so good- so engaging and compelling that students were eager to watch the next episode? What about production value? Graphics? What about having the content that teachers distribute not look like second-rate rehashed, re-photocopied, dubbed from VHS, straight-out-of-1996, monospaced-font junk?

What if we approached the making of our content like serious producers- and did just worry about the content itself, but also the quality of the package we hand to students?

How long is it ok to be a sage for?

So I have this quandry:

I’ve made a few Tangential videos thus far, and have met some (limited) success in the response to them. I worry, though, that despite the frenetic editing and my high-speed delivery, they’re really just a video version of sage-on-a-stage. Which is, to some degree, needed here. There’s information to be disseminated, and me talking to you is a efficient way of doing that. Also, given the nature of video, it allows students to watch multiple times to catch anything they might have missed. So that’s good. And, to be fair (to myself?) I keep the length of Tangential videos pretty short- usually around 5 minutes or so. That’s not much sage-ing, and I really intend them to be a jumping off point for class activities, discussions, projects and whatnot. Plenty of whatnot.

I had known about (but really, never watched) Hank and John Green’s YouTube channel CrashCourse, in which Hank teaches biology and John teaches World History. They are, it seems, better at it than I am. Which I am, for the moment, ok with. But these videos are clocking in at 15 minutes (plus or minus 5). Which seems like a lot of sage-ing. But maybe it’s not- and I’m not sure what that threshold should be. Thoughts?

BTW, here’s an early video from John:


Where’d I go?

To Maine, actually. For a week.

And yes, it was lovely.

But I’m back for a week or so, and thought I’d do some work on here. To whit:

1. Updated (a bit) the “About Me” Section

2. Added a “Tangential” Tab, with a drop down menu of available videos

3. Deleted exactly 776 spam comments

Which tired me out, so I had a cup of tea.

I’m teaching a two day session at EDCO at the end of the week, and I’m pretty excited. It’s about iPads in the High School classroom, and I’m looking forward to conversations and questions.