Sit Rep!

So my summer’s coming to a close (rapidly!), and it’s time to get a handle on where I am with things. Here goes.

1. #bpscon is ready to go. Mostly. Schedule is done, sessions are ready (?!), and logistics are mostly covered. Somewhat easier than other con’s I’ve done, in that way, given that everyone is an employee already…

2. One more day of iPad rollout for this year- until the mid-year mark, when there’s another HUGE rollout happening. But still. For now, almost done.

3. New room is mostly up-and-running. Got some smaller stuff to move around and some software I’m still waiting on (!), but the bones of it are coming together nicely. Next step: media gear setup, and art on the walls.

4. My handbook for my Media Production class is pretty much ready to go. It’s built in iBooks Author, and I’ll post a link to it here as soon as it’s public for the students.

5. I’ve been back to twitter, if you’ve been missing me there. I’m finding #sschat to be a great place, even though I’m not a Social Studies or History teacher… and as far as I can tell, #edchat is dead. Utterly useless at this point- a no longer productive echo chamber. A shame, really.

If you’ve read some of my other posts, you know my project list is hovering in the 30-40 range right now- and I’ve been making some progress through those in the last few weeks. I’ll likely abandon some of those- and that’s not a bad thing, but there’s a 100% chance I’ll add more too. As I’ve said before: I get bored quickly.


I’m pretty excited.

The school I work at, as a result of a grant I helped write, should have a 3D printer this year.

Ideally, it’ll be a Makerbot Industries Replicator, which will let us do all sorts of neat stuff. Printing brackets for stuff. Fixing things. Hacking things. I’ve got a GoPro that’s not going to mount itself, you know.

And strangely, one of the things I’m most looking forward to is teaching the students about the nature of open-source projects- the idea that giving back can be a rewarding process. In addition, I’m looking forward to teaching in more detail about the limitations of copyright and patent processes. I’m looking forward to showing that ideas are not original things- that we all stand on the shoulders of those before us. That everything we create is connected through our culture. And I think showing this with physical items is more tangible than some of the concepts and ideas we otherwise deal with.


I’m done with paper.

This year, it’s all digital, all the time. Email, GDrive, Dropbox and the like make it so easy to push files back an forth that printing things out is more of a pain than it’s worth. I’ve not installed any printer drivers on this computer, either. Just in case my resolve weakens.

While for most day-to-day things ditching printing is pretty easy, there are a few things I’m keeping in mind:

1. There’s a certain… richness… to paper. A tangibility. A tactile response to it’s heft and physicality. To that end, I’m trying to emulate that digitally as much as I can. That means graphics, layout work, and pushing a specific aesthetic on everything attached to my classes. A cohesiveness. This cannot be overlooked.

2. Just because it’s all digital doesn’t mean it’s all the same. I need to keep in mind the myriad digital formats that exist, and endeavor to use the most appropriate format for the task I’m trying to accomplish. Vital. And when you combine this with #1, you realize that the aesthetic you’re using has to translate across multiple digital formats. A bit tricky.

3. Think like a startup. Make a choice quickly based on the best information you have access to, and then be ready to pivot to another choice if things need to be changed. Make these changes definitively, and don’t look back. Done is done.

I moved classrooms for this year, and in doing so I saw the opportunity to purge much of my physical stuff from my life. It was liberating, and while terrifying for a moment, I don’t regret it at all. I did, however, move two file cabinets to the new room. These are an archive of my last 6 (or so) years of teaching. I’ve never reached into them for anything, really. It’s a record. But I’m not sure it needs to exist. What’s it for? Why keep it? What purpose does it serve?

None, I think. It’s a function of me being sentimental.

I guess the next step is clear.

I ignore iPads.

It’s true- I do.

Let’s sort this out, though.

I like iPads a lot. They’re not the only decent device anymore, but they’re very good, and they’re not too expensive. Blah blah blah.

I love that my students have a device with them all the time. I can’t imagine teaching without it, at this point. I’d cry (and debate a change in location/profession) if they were taken away or banned.

All that said, people keep asking me “how I use the iPads in the classroom.” And the answer- the honest truth in the answer– is that I mostly ignore them.

The device isn’t the point. I’d never try to shoehorn a device (or tech of any sort) into a lesson. That’s all sorts of backwards. The tech lubricates the lesson. It allows things that weren’t possible before. It allows things to happen quickly. It smoothes the road. So when I design lessons, I just factor in the myriad things that students can now do. It’s like a bunch more colors got added to my pallet and the pictures I’m painting are that much more vivid. I simply factor into the plan that research/writing/notes/web work can all happen on the fly. That collaboration on an essay is not only possible, but is normal. That data isn’t lost. That the classroom can extend far beyond the 43 minutes I have.

But I don’t know that I’ve ever told students to open a specific app. I know I’ve never demanded that they have an app. I know that I don’t really care about the apps that they have- just that they have apps that work for them to accomplish the tasks that I need them to do.

I know what I’m talking about here is specific to High School. That’s what I do, and that’s likely to remain the focus here.


God help me.

The list of projects grows. Uncontrollably, it seems. I’ve bumped a few off (tonsillectomy, etc…), but more loom than I ever imagined. Here’s what I’m up to:

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. Nearly, nearly done.

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. Done. Now just need to use it.

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″ Done, mostly. Still missing some software, but that’s just a matter of time.

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. Done. Ugly, ugly.

8. Still waiting on Apple to release their 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. Camera in hand, now have no time. Typical.

12. Roll out of 250 new iPad2′s at the High School. Prepped!

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

14. Prep for 500 person 3 day district PD (#bpscon) to kick off the year. Schedule done, next to do: logistics. Also: photos.

15. Prep for huge Google Conference in November @BHS

16. MASSIVE project (#iCon2013) coming in April 2013. Multi-day, massive. Massive.

17. Migration of our Junior and Senior year textbooks from hard-copy to digital version. ~300 pages each.

18. Fim/edit clips for BPSCON 2012

19. Fim new English Department Intro video

20. Handbook for our HelpDesk class.

21. Finish new layout of new classroom.

22. Install FCPX on new lab computers

23. Build new class blog for me.

24. Photography for new custom iOS app for our district.

25. Start prep work on two student run conferences: One internal, one external.

26. Install/finish middle school library setup. Includes putting books on shelves.

27. New AV setup for new classroom.

28. Promo material for #iCon2013 picked and ordered.

29. Assemble render farm for FCP (post FCPX arriving)


I think that about does it. As it were.


Back in the land of the living…

Holy Smokes.

Having your tonsils out at my age is (as everyone told me…) no joke. It’s been over a week and I’m just getting back to feeling like I’m alive again.

In the meantime, I’ve gotten a good start on my handbook/course expectations for my media production course this year. I’m doing it in iBooks Author because I want a) It to look glossy and nice and b) Because I want/need more practice with it as a publishing platform. It’s looking good thus far- heavily influenced by the Tom Sachs “10 Bullets” video I posted a couple of months ago. Next step with it is graphics work. Content is (mostly) there.

I’m headed back to work (I think…) tomorrow, for the rest of the summer. That’s right, kids: my year starts tomorrow. Long list of things to do there- see my last post for details. I’m sort-of looking forward to it, but I’ll miss the time with family.


Pretty excited for my new classroom. I’m going to spend some serious time working on it’s layout and configuration, and I’ve been doing some reading on the nature of creativity and creative spaces- that is to say, spaces that have been optimized to stimulate creativity- and I’m eager to apply them to my classroom.