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Art Club 2.0


originally uploaded by TheArtGuy.

OK, Personal Learning Network, I’d like to run an idea past you.

In the past I’ve made attempts to get my Art Club members blogging, but never got a lot of significant buy-in. This was partially because (following my ADD nature) I kept introducing the students to so many different media and projects that we spent very little time in front of a computer.

This is not a complaint. I made my choice for where to devote my time and energy, and I got good results from those projects. But now I’d like to revisit this newfangled blogging thing and see where it takes me.

So here’s my idea: Every time the Art Club meets I want them to write a blog post. Some might be critiques of the artwork of others, some might be explanations of their own artwork (scanned or photographed and placed on the blog, of course…), and some might be responses to other blog posts. These will be 3rd through 6th graders (maybe just 5th & 6th graders), so the blog posts will be moderated, but just like last year’s theme was photography, this year’s theme will be blogging.

I might include other things along the way – maybe some movie or image editing with either built-in software or free websites, but I don’t want to do any project that would keep a student from writing something every week.

So what do you think? Is this a god idea? Bad? Is there anything you’d add or leave out?

Shiny New Toy

Shiny New Toy
… And my last new toy for a while, I’m afraid. Oh well.

As those of you who’ve been following me on Twitter, Plurk, Pownce, and who knows where else already know, I am now the proud owner of a BlackBerry Curve. To be honest I liked the Palm models better, but apparently unlimited data plans cost less with these little guys so my wallet had something to say about the decision making process.

Note that I didn’t mention the iPod or any Windows Mobile device. These were both ruled out for different reasons, one being software issues and another being service issues. I’ll let you pick which is which, but I’m moving on for now.

“Curve” is a great name for this model, since there definitely is a learning curve as you start to use it – especially if you’ve never owned a smart phone before. The qwerty keyboard really makes typing easier, though the small size does force me to type slower than normal. This isn’t too bad, since I’m making considerably fewer typos now.

Within a couple minutes of Its activation I had already changed many of the “out of the box” settings, including but not limited to syncing up with my gmail account. Not having to use the web based interface for that is a real boon.

Oh yeah … about web browsing … that’s a mixed bag. A lot of sites (Flickr, Bloglines, Youtube, and more) have smartphone-friendly versions that work pretty well. I actually prefer the “mobile” version of Plurk to the regular one. Sites that are text-heavy and use images just to break things up visually work pretty well also.

The problem sites are the ones that use a lot of Java, Flash, or focus on large images (like webcomics). The first two won’t work at all most times, unless they have a mobile version. As for the large images … well, you can enlarge them to full size and scroll around, but this involves more than one time consuming step and is awkward at best.

Still, I didn’t get this to have it be my primary conduit to the interwebs. It’s a backup and a way to make mobile blogging possible without depending on a conference’s intermittent (or nonexistent) internet access.

And so far I think it’s worth it. After all, I just wrote this whole post while sitting in my car and waiting for my wife. (I bought her one, too.)

More to come as I figure things out.
(Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry, edited later because adding links was darned difficult.)

19 Facts, 1 Lie

This was inspired partially by Steve Dembo’s little trivia post, but mostly by famed webcartoonist & adventurer Ryan Estrada. Granted, Mr. Estrada’s are much more fanciful, but I still like my list. See if you can guess which one is false! And yes, I know some of these do make me sound a bit full of myself (assuming they’re true). However, I think there are some embarrassing ones in there as well (assuming they’re true). (After this we’ll return to my irregularly scheduled education / technology / art podcasts. I have one half written.)

  1. Not a clue...or is it?I was born without tonsils. [TRUE! See the comments.]
  2. I was also born with my umbilical cord wrapped around my neck. The lack of oxygen at this crucial point may explain #19 on this list. Well, it explains a LOT of things.
  3. There is footage of me getting attacked by a goat. [TRUE! See the comments.]
  4. On my first real date ever I locked my keys in the car with the engine running. [TRUE! See the comments.]
  5. An astronaut once signed my hall pass. [TRUE! See the comments.]
  6. I once had a high school teacher tell my class “Oh yeah, my wolves came home last night.” He wasn’t joking.
  7. I have climbed up one side of a mountain and down the other. More than once.
  8. I once forgot to take off my glasses while cliff diving, and spent the rest of that week long vacation without them. I am legally blind without my glasses. [TRUE! See the comments.]
  9. I once accidentally erased my college advisor’s computer hard drive. [TRUE! See the comments.]
  10. After an ATM machine ate my debit card, I walked several miles through over a foot of snow to get it back from the bank. [TRUE! See the comments.]
  11. I once met former president Gerald Ford, but at the time I was too young to understand why it was a big deal. My parents still tease me for that. [FALSE! See the comments.]
  12. I once pointed to a student’s HTML code and said “There’s your problem, you used two apostrophes instead of one quotation mark.” I was right. [TRUE! See the comments.]
  13. After all those art classes, I still don’t hold my pencil correctly. [TRUE! See the comments.]
  14. My father is the son of a carpenter from Nazareth. [TRUE! See the comments.]
  15. I have taught every grade level there is in the U.S. educational system.
  16. In college I started not one, but two international writing clubs.
  17. I have been interviewed on the news more than once. [TRUE! See the comments.]
  18. As a child when I fell off of my grandmother’s porch railing and broke my wrist, I was berated for misbehaving and not taken to the hospital for 24 hours. [TRUE! See the comments.]
  19. I gave up a department chair position to teach art on a cart in not one but four schools, and considered it a step up.
  20. I am a fourth generation teacher.

Ok, so there are the facts … sort of. Remember, one of them isn’t true. The question is, which one?

Good News, Bad News

Just a short update, as I don’t want this to become a “medical maladies” blog.   I wouldn’t be posting this here at all if it wasn’t for the one I wrote yesterday, since I don’t want to leave anyone hanging.

My wife is home and doing better, after they adjusted a bunch of the medications she’s been taking.  (kidney failure will do that to you, but we’ve gotten used to it.)  The worst news we got yesterday was that she’s showing signs of the early stages of pneumonia, but we caught it early so she should be ok.

Thank you for thinking about us.

Bad News, Good News

Bad news: This morning instead of going to school, I took my wife to the hospital for high blood pressure.  (Her medication isn’t fixing the problem.)

Good news: This hospital provides free wi-fi.  It’s the first time I’ve ever seen such a service offered by a medical institution, and I’ve been in a lot of them.

Bad news: most web 2.o sites (Twitter, Bloglines, etc.) are blocked.

Good(?) news:  I can’t goof around online, I have to catch up on my work instead.  Oh, darn.

NLC 06 Day 1 AM

Hangin' at the reception.Wow.

I’m at the 2006 Discovery Educator Network National Leadership Conference, and it’s already awesome.

I got here last night, and within 5 minutes of my arrival at the hotel I had shaken hands with 6 people I knew from other conferences, three of them telling me that they were going to show my last video at this conference.

The strangest thing is when people I’ve never met recognize me. I’m used to students calling out “Hey, it’s the Art Guy,” but there’s still something odd about having one of my peers see my hat and exclaim “Oh, you’re the Art Guy!

Oh well. I’ll post more as it happens, along with any and all photographs.

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