Tuesday, June 21, 2016

ISTE 2016! On the way Thursday! Free hugs!

I'm so buzzed. I laid out my traveling clothes today so Lee Ann can pare them down tonight for packing. I'm getting in Thursday to Denver, Colorado to spend two weeks at my dear sis- and bro-in-law's beautiful home by Observatory Park, and the first week will be spent with my international peeps, old and young, old and new, innovators and thought leaders one and all. My biggest contribution to this year's ISTE2016 program is one built collaboratively by many people. I am absolutely certain it will be the best Playground ever, and we've been doing these for quite a few years. They've all been good, but this one looks...different. See what I mean here (note--all times are local to Denver, MDT):

More details are available at the session's online document at http://bit.ly/GS-VENpg16. Go see what I mean. Meanwhile, if you are there, find me. If you are not there, visit http://tinyurl.com/isteven in Second Life and at any given time we will be meeting in there as well. Finally, watch for 'Scopes at http://periscope.com/scottmerrick or just @scottmerrick on Periscope.

I'll also be helping out with the Online Learning Network's "Speed Dating, Falling in Love with Online and Blended Learning" event on Monday at 12:45-1:45 in CCC 405. That'll be a blast for sure! Michele Eaton, Doug Renfro, Nathan White and I are going to load your brain up with dynamic and empowering testimony from leaders in the field. Join us for that as well!!!

I can't wait, 'cause...

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Haiku from a Virtual World

Come join the ISTE VEN Writers Group in Second Life every first Tuesday of every month as we visit immersive simulated environments to inspire writing in any genre. Here's a little haiku I set down after our very first outing in April. The group is growing and the work is happening. Very fun, very worthy of one's time and attention.

Visit http://bit.ly/istevenetwork on Tuesdays at 5pm SLT (Pacific Time) to join in on all our activities and learning opportunities.

See you at ISTE2015 in Denver, CO and in the Metaverse!


Thursday, June 09, 2016

The Election

So it's the wee hours of the morning and dawn sunlight is peeking through the blinds in our NNW-facing home. The livestock are calm, Watson up on the leather sectional and MacGuyver curled up on the rug beneath, and senile Ruby on her carefully folded towel in the platform of her cat-condo. She's incontinent and we're making her comfortable in her dotage and limiting the daily clean-ups to the floor of her toney cat cage and litter box, which she misses with consistency.

I'm thinking about the election, and I'm thinking about what's right and what's wrong. I'm not really going to enumerate the issues here because you're hearing it, seeing it, and reading it everywhere you turn these days. But I do want to muse a bit.

With Hillary, who has been successfully demonized by well-meaning (and, yes, often self-rightous) Bernie  supporters, it would seem that the throngs of BernieorBust and NeverHillary folks are settled in against her. If you've spent time in that camp, as have I, you've seen enough to convince you that she has profited enormously from her position(s) in life and that anything she says about income inequality or oppression is at best second-hand and at worst, political pandering. She supported Goldwater, for God's sake. She's jingoist and hawkish and has been knee-jerk Military Industrial Complex candy. She's married to a man I once respected, but this primary campaign has lost that to him. Was his unraveling of Dodd-Frank Consumer Protection legislation a simple mistake? No, it was a complex one, and his teflon-like avoidance of consequences for this and for his personal behavioral choices is uncanny. He has lied straight faced to us, apologized for it, and then he slid into his incredibly lucrative foundation work like none of it ever happened.

It's a sad and scary day when anything The Donald says scans like the truth to me, but some of  Drumpf's criticisms of the Clintons approach that, e.g. this from politico.com, "The Clintons have turned the politics of personal enrichment into an art form for themselves," Trump said during his remarks Tuesday evening. "They've made hundreds of millions of dollars selling access, selling favors, selling government contracts, and I mean hundreds of millions of dollars."
They "turned the State Department into her private hedge fund. The Russians, the Saudis, the Chinese all gave money to Bill and Hillary and got favorable treatment in return. It's a sad day in America when foreign governments with deep pockets have more influence in our own country than our great citizens."

The generous (and possibly naive) part of me wants to hope that no matter how despicable Hillary's actions have been in the past, this campaign has made her a better person. Once in office her charge will be to make good on her recently refined declarations of intent. Bernie has brought out the progressive in her. Can she follow up for positive change? Well, if she is as persistent in that as she has been so, historically, in her self-promotion and self-enriching efforts, the answer would be yes.
Here's what she should do if she wants my vote:
  1. Apologize for all the bad stuff she's done. Does she need a list of that? Have a staff member browse the Book of the Face for anti-Hillary memes. They are abundant.
  2. Promise to make good on the positions her progressive persona has stated over the course of the primaries.
  3. Promise to clean house at the DNC.
  4. Promise to reform the fuzzy logic of the Democratic primary process.
  5. Promise Bernie Sanders an important position in her cabinet. VP would be good, but there may be some where his political positions and experience would be more valuable and meaningful, perhaps State, but perhaps a new Department of Citizen Equality or Department of What is Right. I like that--Secretary of Citizen Equality.
The Bottom Line:
I'm on the fence about whether voting for a third party candidate who is honest, capable, and dedicated to reclaiming democracy from oligarchy would be tossing the POTUS throne to The Donald or if it could actually happen that Bernie Sanders might sweep into office on the votes of young people and us older adults who still care about fairness and equality. Given what seem to be rampant irregularities in primary voting systems this year, I am leaning toward the former. On the surface, it appears that Bernie supporters would rather rally than vote. Is that true? Or are his losses mostly the result of a broad voter suppression strategy on the part of the DNC and Hillary? That's the stickler, and I am withholding my decision, most likely, until I press the button in the voting booth. 
Of course, with substantial legal challenges facing both presumptive (and presumptuous) candidates of our broken two-party system, things may change completely by November and one or both of them may be in jail.
And that's that with that. For now. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Rethinking, Recommitting

A quick update on my employment situation. I had a very sincere chat with my Principal last week after meeting with my Lead Principal the week before. Talking with her had led me to better understand the very large budget cuts experienced by Virtual School for the coming year. District Leadership has changed, support for our growth has waffled, and money is tight. That helps me to look at the coming year as one of change in my relationship to this project, but not its termination. As of now I am looking at a half-time position as v-teacher for the academic year 2016-17. The hours will be flexible, contact with the middle schoolers I taught this year will continue and expand, and I will hopefully be making positive differences in those young people's lives.

I was thankful for the chat and just wanted to share it here. If and when our enrollment justifies it, I am confident I will be offered the full-time position, perhaps even a version of my current position, once more.

Change is.

All that said, I am looking for work to supplement my greatly reduced income and I am certain I will find it. Keep me in mind, whether it's a teaching position or something you think a personable, honest, principled and educated senior can do--hopefully something that will contribute to community. I have a few ideas and I've sent out a few feelers, but please keep your ear to the tracks for me. Networking can't hurt, can it?

 My best to you and yours. Carry on!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Symbaloo Virtual Environments

Hey, y'll,
I spent a bit o' time over the weekend creating a Symbaloo mix for Virtual Environments. I think you might find it useful if you want to share some seminal resources on the topic. Embedding here:

You're welcome.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

New Horizons for this Olde Educator--"Eliminated"

Well, well, well. Just when I thought I was on track to spend the final few years of my education career making sure that MNPS Virtual School (which I helped create from nothing) has a future worthy of all the planning, design and implementation we have put into it since August, 2010,  it appears that my job position is to be "eliminated" on June 30, 2016.

I'm looking forward to exploring new opportunities in the coming school year, most likely in an elementary classroom for the first time in nearly six years. I have applied for several 10 month teaching positions and I'm hoping to hear soon from the right principal in the right school who has an identified need for an experienced, innovative, and student-centered classroom teacher in grade 3 or 4. Perhaps this is just the world's way of telling me I need to be working more closely, and daily, with young learners--giving them direct and daily support and encouragement, challenging them, and helping them understand how to be both safe and productive in today's and tomorrow's accelerating landslide of information. One thing is  sure--we'll have fun together. That's been my teacher tagline since my first 3rd grade classroom in 1996:

I'm looking forward.

But wait, one slight detour...

"Eliminated?" I didn't know that was even a thing. Wow. Let's see what Google has to say about that word:
Let me say it straight: I find myself feeling baffled, confused, devalued and even disrespected by what has been presented as a necessity "due to budget cuts for the school year 2016-17." But I will not let all that make me bitter. I am too positive for that. I care too much. I have too much to offer to let it bring me down. Forward we go.

After June 30, dear reader, I'm a free agent.

If you know of any interesting opportunities that might be pursued, let me know. I don't want to move from my new home in The Nations Nashville, but I can and will commute for the right work.

Have a great week!