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Showing posts from January, 2019

Zen and the art of... Juggling?

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Koxinga at French Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], from Wikimedia Commons

Over Christmas break, I decided to start practicing juggling. I'd love to say I'm an expert at it, but here we are a month later, and I'm not sure I ever will be. That's not to say I haven't learned a lot. I certainly have learned a ton. Let me share, and encourage you to find your juggling center. Yes, this will get metaphorical. Bear with me.

Lesson one, get ready to pick up a lot of balls, and whatever else the balls knock over. I eventually learned to practice over the bed. When I drop, I don't have to pick things up from the floor very often anymore. This increased my rate of improvement, or at least my rate of trying again. When I think about it, learning can be a messy business. Learning juggling, or cooking, or changing your own oil will all make messes. Just consider it part of the price of "picking up" new knowledge.

Lesson two…

News Broadcast Goes Green

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A few weeks ago, I spent some time with a couple of my students painting the back wall of our news studio GREEN! Now, I don't mean green. This color is definitely GREEN! Why on earth would we do this? I still have green paint on my shoes. It was a bit of a hassle, and the color is so bright, it is borderline obnoxious.

We did all of this to take advantage of the chroma key feature in OBS, but even if you're saying OBWhaaaaaa? There could be some good information here. Let's hit a few uses for a green screen, and a couple suggestions for trying to get the same effect on your pictures or videos.
First, the green screen is how you remove the background from live video. While we are painting in the attached video, notice how we seem to be painting an image on the wall? The computer that processed the video took out the green, and replaced it with another image I chose. They film movies, weather reports, sports talk shows... tons of stuff in front of a green screen, and sub in…

Painting the studio GREEN

Check out my latest YouTube video: Painting the studio GREEN

Google Applied Digital Skills

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https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Two_roads_forking_off_in_Luzerne_County,_Pennsylvania.JPG
Does anyone else remember reading choose your own adventure books? When I was in elementary school, I used to love having control over what my character did in a book. I was never much of a reader when I was younger, but those books were great.
Last semester I stumbled upon Google Applied Digital Skills (GADS... because I don't want to type that out every time). There are tons of ready to go resources for teachers of all kids there (not just us STEM folks.) I had one grade level be my guinea pigs, and take the plunge. It was fantastic... with just one or two minor hiccups.
Hiccup #1. We are in the process of adopting Schoology as our system LMS. Being that I'm a part of the team learning the ins and outs of Schoology, I figured I'd try to run GADS through Schoology. It integrated fairly well, but I think it would have worked better through Google Classroom. This semester I'…

Have you been Phished?

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Phishing is a real threat online these days. For those of you that have not heard of it, urbandictionary.com defines Phishing as "Tricking an internet user into giving you his/her login name and password. Could also be used to get credit card information." Phishing is often carried out by email, or on the phone, and can be incredibly difficult to spot. Fortunately, here's a few great tips to avoid it.

1. NEVER GIVE YOUR USERNAME AND PASSWORD TO ANYONE! Sorry for the shouting. Just don't do it. Your credit card company will never ask for that information. Your insurance company will not ask for that information. Google will not ask for that information. No company that you deal will ask you for that information on the internet, or on the phone. If they do ask, it is a phishing attempt. Delete the email, or hang up the phone.

2. Be suspicious of every call or email you receive. I hate to be like this, but seriously. You never know who is phishing, and who is legit. If…

Super Blood Wolf Moon - Let's Practice Photography

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I'm not sure if you heard the news or not, but tonight (1/20/19) was a Super Blood Wolf Moon. Super because it is relatively close to earth in its orbit. Blood because there was a Lunar eclipse. Wolf moon is the fancy name for a full moon in January. I decided it would be a great time to practice some digital photography.
Outdoors.
At night.
In 34 degree weather.
This may sound like Greek (geek?) to you. Stick it out. I've just started learning this stuff myself, and would love any photographers to double check my understanding here. The following images were shot on my wife's Nikon D3400. None of them have been edited at all. I do have the raw files, but these are the JPGs. I used manual mode with the shutter at 1/250, f11, 250ISO for the first images. I used her 70-300mm lens fully zoomed in. I let autofocus do its thing. put the camera on a tripod, and set it to snap five pictures after a 10 second delay. As the eclipse progressed, and there was less light available, I…

Consider the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus

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Okay, I hear you. I know I just posted a fake news blog a month ago, but I have just finished my fake news unit, and added a new twist. Parents and teachers, read this next sentence very carefully... twice... daily... out loud... three times on Monday. Say it with me

"Teaching Digital Citizenship Is Everyone's Responsibility!"

Please don't think "I don't teach (stem/tech/computer apps) so it's not my job to (teach/model/help improve) my (student's/child's) about (digital citizenship/copyright/fair use/online etiquette.) Don't sell yourself short like that. It is not difficult to make a positive difference in someone's ability to use technology properly. Most of the time, they just need a positive role model to emulate. You can be that role model, even if you teach Math, Science, Social Studies, ELA, Reading, Band, Chorus, P.E., Ag, Art... just model proper digital citizenship. </rant>

That being said, take yourself through this simp…

Failure is only the end... if we allow it to be.

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This morning I got a text message from my daughter letting me know her car didn't start. Naturally, me being a handy guy, I threw some tools in my car to go help get the troubled vehicle running again. After a quick jump start, I was driving around town. I did a little diagnostic work, and decided it was time for a new alternator. A quick trip to the parts store, and hour later, the car had a shiny new alternator. It was great... except, it wasn't.
After installing the new alternator, the problems continued. The car was no better than it was before I had replaced the alternator. This was a disheartening, to say the least. Even now, at 8:00 in the evening, I have been unable to figure out exactly what the issue is with the ailing vehicle.
I am writing this blog while taking a break from researching the problem with the car. After this brief brain break, I will be back at it, pouring over wiring diagrams, looking for clues online, sorting out symptoms and looking for corroded g…

Better Than You Found It

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https://pixabay.com/en/man-throwing-trash-rubbish-cleanup-30322/

As I read through the book Teaching AI: Exploring New Frontiers for Learning by Michelle Zimmerman, I ran across a rather interesting idea. She talks about visiting the Ritsumeikan Primary School in the Kita ward of Kyoto, Japan. She describes glistening hardwood floors in a well organized school setting. Toward the end of her writings about Ritsumeikan, she describes how the students end the day by happily cleaning their learning environment, including those glistening hardwood floors.
In the many years I spent as the Assistant Director of a competitive marching band, this idea resonates with a philosophy we ingrained in the students. Every time we went somewhere, every time we rehearsed, every time we left the bandroom, every competition, every bus trip, every time we reminded the students to always leave a place better than you found it.
The looks our students got when helping the host school clean the stands after a …