Friday, May 25, 2018

60 Rocks

Made with Google Drawings
The summer I turned 60 was amazing; I spent two weeks on a beautiful beach in Northern Michigan with family and then one week on another beach in the Carribean.   "60 Rocks" became my official motto; I had never felt better, never felt more 'my true self', and never felt more excited about the future and my place in it.

I had a VERY long list "To Do" list and most of it was digital; build a website from code, learn Illustrator, learn JavaScript, get certified as a Google Trainer, up my photography game, build my YouTube channel...and the list continued.  That's true to form for me; even on the weekends when I was working, the Saturday morning "To Do" list was too long.

Almost one year into retirement, here's what happened: NOTHING digital for the first six months.  I learned how to knit with YouTube videos and spend time making jewelry with my beloved beads.  It felt like a 'digital detox'; a mental purging of everything digital or at least the demands my digital 'to do list' were making on my time. Digital Daryl dove deep into the physical and manual creative arts.

Then in January, I went into 'course preparation mode' for the second iteration of the 'Introduction to Psychology' online course that I offer for senior high school students.  I create much of the media for the course as well as do a fair bit of the writing.  I agonize over the videos and spend far too much time on this.  Still, every single day I am grateful to have the opportunity to decide to spend 'too much time' doing what I love to do.  The course is winding down soon and the students will give me feedback on how to improve it for next year.  I look forward to making it better for the third iteration.

GOING FORWARD, I still have a crazy digital 'to do' list but I think tempered with the flavor of creativity and the realization that there is no rush.  Funny how I remind myself daily of, "Hey, I'm retired!  Relax!"

My next step is making a decision about this blog that no one reads (OK Lorrie, except you).  Some of the posts are special and I'll archive them but I'm planning on decommissioning the blog.  (Is that what you do to a blog?)  The domain name doesn't feel right anymore, I don't want to write about technology in education and I want to put my focus elsewhere.

Thanks for reading this post or any of the other ones.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Retire, Return, Re-invent

I sit perched on the brink of retirement; July 21st, 2017.  I began this blog in 2009 because I needed a place to share the explosions of excitement in my head and heart.  In 2008, I learned about wikis and the digital spaces where teachers and students could share, learn and create content together.  That changed my teaching career and the amazing school that has been my home for the past 17 years.  In the early days, a few of my colleagues became infected with my digital desires and a few short years after that, the headmaster of the school decreed, "We are all going wiki!"

It seems like a blur from that point onward; a move into administration, becoming a Google Apps for Education (G Suite now) school, taking the leap into BYOD (students bring their own device), cellphones, social media and twitter for teachers, presenting at conferences, moving (almost) everything to the cloud, online teaching and so much more!

The blur is about to stop, the dust will settle and I will take several steps back to look at the bigger picture of my life; not only as a teacher but as a person who followed the scent of perceived truth to the best of her abilities.  I feel like what I imagine a first-time base jumper or parachutist must feel; exhilarated, anxious and apprehensive.
skeeze on Pixabay
My sense is that I will return to my roots (all things philosophical) because it feels good, true and right.  My hope is that the return to roots will be the first step in my reinvention; some of that will keep me connected to a young learning community and well, the rest will become clearer as I take a leap off the cliff!

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Photo Manipulation

I spent some time this weekend remembering why I loved digital media; if you can imagine it, you can create it.  This is where I left Google apps behind I dove headfirst into Adobe Photoshop.  Our students are preparing to put on the musical, "Into the Woods" and this is the first version of a poster I am creating.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Vector Graphics with Google Drawings

In the suite of Google Apps, I think that Drawings is under appreciated and under used.  Most people don't know some of the amazing things you can do with drawings.  Here is a quick list of some of the ways I used Google Drawings:

  1. to make thumbnails for my videos (great for branding and avoiding that awkward 'open mouth moment' at the midpoint of the tutorial
  2. classroom posters (Canva is great for this too but Google Drawings comes with all the sharing goodness of the other apps, commenting, file history and on and on
  3. for commenting and labelling pictures from my phone or the web (think of students in the science class who take pictures of various steps in their lab
  4. or for creating vector art like this avatar of myself
  5. (notice the honest crow's feet)
The magic begins at page set-up where you can choose 'custom' and then between inches, centimeters, points or pixels.  If I am making a YouTube thumbnail, I select 720 x 1280 pixels, use the rule of thirds, primary colours and basic shapes for an attractive image.

Google drawings are free so you won't be spending money on  monthly subscriptions (like Adobe CC).  Of course there are only the basic features (compared to Illustrator) but with some imagination, and online help from graphic artists  (Joshua Pomeroy), even newbie aspiring artists can do some great work.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Google Innovator Academy

If it were not for my friend and colleague who nominated me for the Google Innovator Academy, I would never have applied.  But I did.  I studied, ruminated about how to do this and finally hit the send button on the application.  Woohoo!

I have learned a lot during this process, and acceptance to the Academy or not, I am on the winning end to be sure.  I spent an insane amount of time getting this all ready, but I learned every step of the way.  The most important lesson is that I can do more than I think I can.  We all can.  It's good to push yourself and see how far you can go.

So, here's my 'Vision Deck' and my 'Moonshot' video.   Google asks you to frame a problem in education and propose a solution (tech included).  This is mine.  Next blog post, I will elaborate on them but for today, I simply wanted to share.  Thanks for reading/watching/listening.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Google Certification

Over the Christmas holidays, I decided to take the plunge and study for the "Google Certified Educator" exams.  The study time was relaxed and I allowed myself the occasional YouTube indulgence, but always on topic.  I spent time learning (or actually relearning) formulas and functions in Google sheets (love the 'import range' function).  Although I live and work in Google products every day, I still had so much more to learn.

The exam itself is not as intimidating as its preparation.  The process is simple enough; register, pay $25 US and wait for the certification folks to send you an invite.  The exam tests your knowledge and proficiency of the different products.  You can't fake this one.  If you don't 'know your stuff', you won't have enough time to complete the exam.

So I wrote, I fretted (just a bit) and I PASSED as the badge clearly shows.  Now I am eligible to apply for the Google Certified Innovator Academy happening this February in Mountain View California.

Onwards and upwards...

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Teaching in Colour

I have a colleague who often says, "Eat in colour".  She's passionate about healthy lifestyle choices, vegetarianism, promoting ecological activism and so much more.  Last year, in her Environmental Biology class, she inspired her students to make small gestures to bring small change that yields HUGE results.  Some became vegetarian, some lost weight but all understood the impact of their habits and choices.

Inspiration by Example

At the lunch table yesterday, I leaned over to inspect her plate; a salad with rice, beans, kale, peppers and seaweed. (We were at an iPad workshop and of course, she brought her own lunch!)  Today, as I prepared my own version of her salad (minus the seaweed - ugh), I found myself thinking about the power of example and the tremendous opportunity that teachers have to effect change.

Your Words Matter

"Eating in colour"
We might think they are not listening but they are.   As parents we know this to be true.  Our children become adults and one day we hear them speaking and sounding like us.  Our students graduate and then tell us how much our encouragement mattered.  Your words are powerful, especially when they ring with the truth of lived experience, passion and compassion for your students.

Your Actions Inspire

What we do everyday, our actions and behaviour towards students and colleagues matters even more than our words.  As teachers, we know this to be true and have experienced the deep satisfaction that comes with discovering the impact we had on a student's life trajectory.  My colleague, who eats in colour, also lives her life's passion authentically.  Students see that, and while not everyone will be changed by her words or actions, they will all learn about integrity, passion and personal responsibility.   To be a teacher is to have the opportunity to make a difference to students and to eat and live in colour.