Monday, March 30, 2009

Clustrmap reset and how to exercise while working!

It's happening again: My little lonely clustrmap (see sidebar) will be reset to zero in a few days, an annual event I'm guessing the folks at clustrmap hold in order to keep the most popular maps (like David Warlick's) from becoming solid red dots.

Awwwwwwww.

Well, it's been an interesting year, and I want to thank the thousands of readers who have visited scottmerrick.net in an effort to learn anything I have to share in my meanderings through this lifetime.

I also want to thank the folks at Clustrmaps for developing such an inspiring tool, one that is easy to use and that tells me that from April 1 of 2008 until this very moment in which I'm blogging about it, my little effort has been visited by 5,145 human beings from every continent (excepting Antarctica--hey, where are you, explorers!). That's encouraging to me, and it gives me hope for the future of the globe, a world where people are engaged in active learning about one another and interested in others outside of their own local, national, or regional geographic areas. Life(s) is good.

Speaking of which, I am into an exercise routine that makes my family laugh at me but which, in combination of it and healthier food and beverage choices, has lost me around 10 pounds in the last 6 weeks or so. Here's an 00V00 video that shows it in action. Just another geeky moment that I shared out this morning at PBS's new Frontline Digital Nation project.

Here's a link to the video.


Cheerio!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Right-Brain Ahoy

Last night, thanks to my lovely wife Lee Ann's mindful oversight of the arts programs at my school, with an eye toward faculty professional development and our school's commitment to balance in life, I participated in "Painting Made Easy," a two hour one-off workshop led by Whitney Ferre'. Whitney is the founder of Nashville's Creative Fitness Center and co-owner of Rumours Wine Bar. Thanks again to Lee Ann (the brains and powerhouse behind my school's annual art show, artclectic), I joined another faculty colleague, kindergarten teacher Jason Hooper, in the learning experience. It was fascinating, enjoyable, and most of all, relaxing.

I walked from the workshop with a 12x14 canvas, its thickly applied acrylic paint still drying (especially on the trees, perhaps a bit overworked but finally completed to my moderate satisfaction). Here's a photo of my masterpiece:

Whitney's philosophy of creativity and its role in the balance of life is expressed, quite eloquently, in her new book, The Artist Within: A Guide to Becoming Creatively Fit.

In the course of my little reaquaintance with how much fun it can be to push and pull paint around the surface of a stretched canvas, I learned that Whitney is a blogger. Her website at creativelyfit.com features blogposts from January of this year (welcome aboard, fellow blogger!), and they are looooong and innnnnnteresting! Anyone interested in balance in life should take a visit to her collection of insights and news centered around the "art" of art. As for me, I plan to read them while on my step-machine surfing on wireless-connected laptop, and I also plan to pick up some small canvases and to continue to take little relaxation vacations on a more regular basis! Thanks, Whitney!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Spring Break 2009, on the hunt for Superman and Mister Catfish!



My boy and I booked it up Interstate 24 from home today to arrive in Paducah, Kentucky in order to be within striking distance of both the Super Museum in Metropolis, Illinois and the fishing opportunities at Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake. We've had a great time so far and just being together in novel places is a hoot. The slideshow up top should get longer over the next couple days. Just watch. BTW, we didn't find Mr. C. at all, but the last day of our trip, pulling back off the highway into the Moors marina, we walked out the spit to fish off the sunken rusty barge and pulled in 11 fish--stripers, largemouth, and a couple lake trout. Weeeeeee.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Story Quest Next Friday!

Attention, writers who are in Second Life!

[5:59] IM: Jenaia Morane: (Saved Sun Mar 15 00:31:08 2009) My name is Jenaia Morane. I'm a writer and teacher in RL and the founder of The Virtual Worlds Story Project here in SL (www.tvwsp.com).
[5:59] IM: Jenaia Morane: (Saved Sun Mar 15 00:33:40 2009) Next week on March 20 I will be celebrating World Storytelling Day with a Story Quest. Writers will choose from one of five genres and travel all over SL to get clues to write their stories. The day will conclude with storytelling, prizes, music, and dance. I'm hoping you might help me spread the word. I'll drop info about the event in your inventory, but please feel free to contact me if you have questions. And of course I'd love to see you at the Quest ;-)


Here's the notecard Jenaia dropped me, "heatened up" a bit with working links:

The Virtual Worlds Story Project Presents: The Second Life Story Quest

The Virtual World Story Project is pleased to announce its first annual Story Quest, to be held on World Storytelling Day, March 20, 2009.

With a goal of helping writers and storytellers imagine, craft, and share Second Life stories, the Quest will lead participants along one of five Story Trails. Along each trail will be a series of Enchanted Books. Touching the books will not only provide information to include in the story, but clues that lead to other points on the trail as well.

The Quest will allow participants to choose from one of four genres, and be held across multiple sims in Second Life. The Quest's final stop will be Karuna (the new HIV/AIDS sim) where participants can sit in scenic surroundings to write, submit their stories, and/or get help from writing coaches.

The day will conclude with story readings, the awarding of prizes, live music, and dancing.

This event is ideal for educators wishing to help students learn to write well and experience the immersive and creative possibilities inherent in virtual environments.

DETAILS

Date: Friday, March 20th

LOCATION: Starts on Storybook Island OR Karuna (use either of the two LMs to pick up your Quest instructions)

STORYBOOK LM: Storybook Island, Storybook Island (66, 187, 21)
STORYBOOK SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Storybook%20Island/129/70/25

KARUNA LM: Karuna, Karuna (202, 73, 22)


Start Time: Story Sleuths can pick up their first clues on Storybook Island at Midnight.

End Time: The Quest ends at 5:00 pm SLT. That is the time that stories must be submitted. The rest of the festivities, which include story reading, live music, and dancing commence immediately after. The awards ceremony will be held at 7:00 pm.

Questions: Please IM Jenaia Morane or drop her an email at: jenaia@tvwsp.com

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Summercore for a Summer Learning Experience!

I'm copying here an email announcement from old friend Steve Bergen, Chief Information Officer at the Harlem Storefront School in New York. From experience, both my Tech Director Wiz (Kathy Weiczerza) and I can testify, from direct experience, that this four day multi-band educational technology experience (now offered in the Northeast and in Florida!) will leave you with great ideas and powerful learning experiences that will make your teaching easier, more fun, and immeasurably more effective. Steve Bergen is a pioneer still pioneering! Need a ProfDev experience this summer? Just DO IT!

Scott

http://scottmerrick.net
----- Original Message -----
*** do NOT reply to this email ***
*** instead use sb@cstorefront.org ***
good morning everyone
1) we are returning to Horace Mann School for the 3rd consecutive
year July 13-17, 2009 for a Summercore open to everyone
2) we are returning to Shorecrest Preparatory School in Florida for the
8th consecutive year July 27-31, 2009 for a Summercore open to everyone
3) please spread the word to other teachers and administrators at your school; registration info posted on http://www.summercore.com thanks so much ... I hope each of you is doing well and look forward to hearing from you if you have time to write ...
Steve
p.s. at my school -- The Children's Storefront -- in Harlem, we have started a "penny drive" with the goal of collecting 1 million and then 1 billion pennies in case you might want to support us or partner with us ... pictures and "penny problems for kids" are posted at http://www.cstorefront.org/pennies ... we were featured on New York
channel NY1 the other day and you can see the videos of me on that web page ... CBS World News is coming out TOMORROW to film us ... we think we might be on television on Sunday 3/15 right before 60 minutes (not really sure) ... Lynne made me buy a new sweater for the occasion ;-)
***
do NOT reply to this email ***
*** instead use sb@cstorefront.org
***
Steve Bergen ... primary e-mail is now sb@cstorefront.org
CIO and Computer Teacher, The Children's Storefront
70 East 129th Street, New York, NY 10035
An Independent School in Harlem
Web site:
http://www.thechildrensstorefront.org
Tech Saturday Info is posted at http://www.techsaturdays.org
Penny info is posted at http://www.cstorefront.org/pennies
also co-director, The "Summercore" Teaching Company
until the Pats go 19-0 ...
http://www.summercore.com

Summercore 2009 includes:

  • June 15-19 at Castilleja
  • June 21-26 at New Canaan Country School
  • July 6-10 at Berkeley Carroll
  • July 13-17 at Horace Mann, NY as well as
  • July 27-31 at Shorecrest in St. Petersburg, FL (open to public)

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

It's Just Confusing, Isn't IT!? -- "Curriculum War!"

Wow, this crossed my email inbox this morning in an email from Education Week:

Backers of '21st-Century Skills' Take Flak

and I'd highly recommend a careful read. It's about time that one written piece describes the debate surrounding curriculum reform and does so with balance and thought-provoking comprehensiveness. I so wish I'd been at the lively and heated panel discussion that the article outlines.

A sample from the debate, which featured "experts" (I detest that word, but
it's convention to refer to experienced players that way) on teaching and
learning:

For instance, Mr. (Daniel T. Willingham, a professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, in Charlottesville) Willingham said, a teacher leading a whole classroom-based discussion of Albert Camus’ novel The Stranger can largely control themed discussions. A project-based setting allowing small groups to explore different ideas might give students a chance to examine a diverse, richer set of subtexts—such as the history of existentialist thought or colonization in 1930s Algeria—but it also forces teachers to make many more snap judgments about how to guide students, provide resources on topics with which they may be unfamiliar, and ensure students are on task. “There’s a reason teachers have been taught for 75 years to do projects and they don’t do them,” he said.

Do you agree with another educator at the event? “We are stuck,” Linda Darling-Hammond, a professor of education at Stanford University, said in an interview. “We’ve been having this curriculum war for years.”

Go read. Weigh in.