Monthly Archives: December 2010

Holiday bloggy sluggishness. But wait! something… mathematical?

Apologies for my rare postings of late  to those who still take an occasional peek into this blog  – although I doubt the existence of these people very much because there has been an unmistakable lapse in eventful posting. This is due mainly to school holidays and family things, not all pleasant. Nevertheless, here I am, and even if nobody is here to witness my thoughts falling into this post, I will proceed undeterred because I haven’t got anything better to do. OR, I actually have something interesting to share with you.

Today a Facebook link shared by my dear online friend and PLP colleague, Hiram Cuevas (@cuevash on Twitter), gave me the pleasure of discovering a rare talent, Vi Hart, who is obviously a very gifted young lady. Vi is as passionate about maths as she is about music, art and other things.  Her website made my jaw drop. Often I’m astounded by how much of value very young people have achieved in their short lives; how much more do they have to offer.

Here’s the first video that caught my attention. Let me know what you think.

I love the doodling videos; here’s another one

What did you think?

I haven’t explored everything in Vi’s site but the music boxes are fascinating.

The balloon page looks challenging. Not sure if the average party clown would be game for these.

A little about Vi from her own website:

I like most creative activities that involve making a lot of noise, mess, or both. Aside from composing, I love improvising on various instruments, drawing, sculpting, and other methods of making things. My main hobby is mathematics, with special interests in symmetry, polyhedra, and surreal complexity. This usually manifests as collaborative research in computational geometry and other areas of theoretical computer science, or as mathematical art. I think the human brain is incredible and strange, so I have developed a great interest in dreaming and consciousness. As a result, I am a trained hypnotist and a lucid dreamer. The human body is pretty neat as well, so I enjoy dancing and judo. I always love to learn new things—variety is the food of creativity!

It would be interesting to trace Vi’s learning history to peek at the environment which supports such an intelligent, creative and unique person. I will be taking on a new role at school next year, Coordinator of Learning Enhancement, and I’m mentally hovering over different mental images of how best to support and inspire those responding to learning enhancement opportunities. All suggestions and ideas are very welcome.

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How Delicious it was

The words from Big yellow taxi come to mind

Don’t it always seem to go
That you don’t know what you’ve got
Till it’s gone

That’s how it’s suddenly hit me with the news about Yahoo terminating the popular social bookmarking  site, Delicious. I haven’t felt this disappointed since Ning stopped free service. Delicious was one of the first Web 2.0 tools I used and raved about to other people. Not only an extremely efficient way to save links and render them searchable via tagging, but also a very transparent way to follow what other people are reading and saving.

I’m slow off the mark with this post; so many people have already tweeted and blogged their despair but it’s taking a while to settle in. At first I thought, oh well, I still have Diigo. And actually, I’ve been sending my links to Delicious via Diigo for some time since it’s so easy to use Diigo’s bookmarklet for recording essential information, and since, like others, I’ve used the automatic Diigo to Delicious function.

But then today I decided to have a look at my Delicious and realised how easy it is to see what people in your network are reading and saving. The beauty of Delicious is in the Network. Not only can I see what someone in my network is reading and saving, I can see an alphabetical listing of their tags, their tag bundles and their lists. This means I have an insight into the way their thinking, what’s important to them, the direction they’re taking.

And now I’m lamenting not using Delicious as well as I should have. Why didn’t I use tag bundles or make lists? Typical that I’d want to start now that Delicious is on its last legs.

Seriously, many people have written about the demise of Delicious with informative alternatives. I like Anne Mirtschin’s post. Anne’s not a whinger like me; she’s a postive, forward thinking person who remains open to future possibilities.

Just the other day, when Anne read on Twitter that @ggrosseck and I were wondering if we could trust cloud applications, if we  should stop promoting Web 2.0 tools to colleagues, Anne responded with her characteristically unwavering conviction:

“Never any guarantee on the future of any Web 2.0 but will always be alternative”.

Wise words, Anne, very true.

Good luck, everyone, in exporting your Delicious bookmarks and finding alternatives.

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Filed under 21st century learning, Social media, technology, Web 2.0

The end of the year is nigh

Nigh? What kind of language do I think I’m speaking? I blame end of year debilitating virus for that.

Anyway….

…it’s a strange time of the year when you jump off the spinning School Wheel and onto the Christmas Shopping and Everything Else Wheel.

I love this time of year in Edublogland when the Edublog Award winners are announced in all the delectably diverse categories. It’s a time to revere winners, to rejoice with friends, to expand the old Google Reader with more blogs, to bookmark best podcasts, virtual worlds, social networks and PLNs. It’s a time when you wish you had more time to explore, and a magical way of keeping up with everything.

I’m proud that our Australian educators have made the Edublogs honours list: @brightideasblog @edtechcrew @mrrobbo. Congratulations!

The end of the school year, I think some would agree, is a bitter-sweet time of letting go and refocusing on the multi-faceted holiday period.

I try to balance the stresses of everyday life with things of beauty. I need things of beauty; I think we all do. Sometimes music, sometimes art, sometimes literature. Today I’m sharing a beautiful Russian animation, The Seasons, by Yuri Norstein. Despite all his awards for animation, he was fired from Soyuzmultfilm in 1985 for working too slowly on his latest film, a  feature-length adaptation of Gogol‘s Overcoat.

I was interested in reading about the technique which enables him to evoke such ‘magical’ landscapes:

Norshteyn uses a special technique in his animation, involving multiple glass planes to give his animation a three-dimensional look. The camera is placed at the top looking down on a series of glass planes about a meter deep (one every 25–30 cm). The individual glass planes can move horizontally as well as toward and away from the camera (to give the effect of a character moving closer or further away). (from Wikipedia)

Best wishes to everyone for the holiday period; stay healthy and productive, focus on what’s essential, and I’ll save my Christmas wishes closer to the date.

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Edublog winners – looking in from the outside

The 2010 Edublog Awards have raised some excitement as well as some good natured jabbing on Twitter. I’m watching the whole spectacle from the outside and find it very entertaining. Meanwhile, I think my Summer holidays will be sucked up by frantic attempts to save nominated people and their blogs/wikis/whatever to my Google Reader, all the while wondering aloud and in a panicky internal voice, ‘How can I keep up with all these people?’ and ‘How can hope to emulate, even on some small scale, the work and reputation these people have built up?

I enjoyed reading this blog post, and can identify with the polarities warring within whenever any kind of acclaim is bestowed upon one. John Spencer, we have a lot in common.

Amplify’d from www.johntspencer.com
Last night I sent out a tweet mentioning being nominated for an Edublog Award.  I then erased the tweet, but it had already become public knowledge on those crazy ether tubes that fill up our make believe world.  I had pleaded publicly and I regretted it.  Then I added a badge and mentioned it at the bottom of two blog posts.  Then I felt like an arrogant fool and so I thought about erasing all of that. 

Here’s the deal: I want to win.  This feels oddly foreign, since I don’t tend to be all that competitive.  I chose individual sports in my youth (if running as hard as you can is considered a sport) so that I could compete against my own personal records. One of my greatest personal accomplishments involved finishing among the bottom of the pack in a marathon.

And yet . . .

Ego and the Edublog Awards

I want to spread some of my ideas and values to a larger audience.  I want people to get past the Waiting for Superman mythology and recognize that it’s about humility and transparency and authenticity.  (And all the while, I’ve got this ego thing that I can’t shake) On the darker side, this is the explicitly arrogant belief that I have the answers (even if the answer is that no one has all the answers).  On the positive side, I think I have something worth saying. I think I’ve been sharing a philosophy that counters much of the screaming in the mainstream media echo chambers about teachers and education reform.

Read more at www.johntspencer.com

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My nominations for Edublogs Awards 2010

In the nick of time, my nominations for the Edublogs Awards 2010 are:

Best individual blog – Jenny Luca – Lucacept.

Jenny Luca has been posting regularly through rain, sleet and snow. Her enormous following can be sure that she finds the latest information and news and opens up discussion for pertinent and controversial educational issues. Jenny shares what she’s reading, thinking and doing in a very personal way. The blog reflects her warmth and support to others. Jenny’s blog fits into many categories, but I’ve put it into the personal category because the blog is all Jenny.

Best individual tweeter – @ggrosseck (Gabriela Grosseck)

First person I check out when I open Twitter. Gabriela has the knack of finding the best links, and not always just the ones everyone else finds.

Best resource sharing blog – Judy O’Connell – Heyjude

I can be very lazy and just fish Judy’s blog for resources if I want to. Judy does all the work and I’m grateful. Of course, this is no dry, resource-only blog; Judy’s blog keeps you up to date with the latest in education and latest technology for learning, teaching and networking. Also, having just bought an iPad, Judy has everything I need to work out what to do with it in her blog, on Facebook and Twitter.

Best teacher blog – On an e-journey with generation y (Anne Mirtschin)

Anne is my hero when it comes to setting an example for teachers who create engaging, relevant, real-life learning situations. Anne’s students’ classroom is the world. I’m jealous. And Anne doesn’t just talk about it – she does it.
Best librarian / library blog – Bright Ideas (Judith Way)

Bright Ideas is the absolute best teacher librarian/library blog. Judith sources best resources for teacher librarians/librarians to support learning and teaching, and networks madly with educators who share what they do. It’s a window into what’s happening in school libraries and a great place to connect to new people.

I wish I’d had the time and energy to think about the rest of the categories, and there are so many people I’d really like to nominate. My Google Reader is bursting at the seams and is testament to how many people I rely on for my own learning.

And every year I learn about new, amazing people who are making learning and teaching such an exciting business. Thanks to all and thanks to Jenny Luca who has made my jaw drop to the floor with her nomination of my blog.

Although I’ve left this quite late, you might still have time to squeeze in some nominations here.

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