Massive #FAIL. AKA: Never give up

Photo Credit: flickr user deeplifequotes

It all seemed easy enough. Christian had spent weeks putting together a 20+ minute iMovie on his iPad using the iMovie app. Basically, it was a BUNCH of pictures we took on our 10 day father-son Montana/Canada fly fishing trip that he ordered and narrated. He was ready to upload it to YouTube for embedding on his blog. Easy enough, right? Well, not so much. What should have been a 15 minute process turned into a day of problem solving.

First of all, Christian broke rule number 1 of any media creation: he deleted his source material before he published the final draft. In his defense, he didn’t know. He wanted to see the preview in iMovie, and to see a higher quality of it, he needed to clear more space on his iPad. So he did what many would do and deleted the pictures he didn’t need. After all, he already put them in his video. Right? Not so much. For those not in the know, you are really only putting a shortcut in the software to the media. You are not putting the media in. Delete your source material, and you have a bunch of blank spots in the video.

What confused him, though, is that the iMovie app showed him a little lower quality preview with all of the pics in place. It would have confused me, too. Keep this in mind: the original files are still not there. Lesson learned on his part.

Since he was seeing it in the preview, I thought maybe it did something different than other video editing software programs and decided to just push it up to YouTube. Fail. His GAFE account limited him to 15 minute max videos. So, I used my GAFE account. It said I was limited to 15 minutes, although I knew that wasn’t true. I swapped to my GMail account. Same problem. This tells me that the iMovie app is set to think all YouTube accounts have a 15 minute max video length. That’s a horrible setting inside the iMovie app, but we have to live within it. Lesson number 2 on the day.

I swapped to my Vimeo account. Another fail. It said I had a 500MB max upload size on my account. That might be true. I don’t know. I don’t use it that much. But, I do have a PRO Vimeo account we use to post higher end, longer videos. It is unlimited, so I figured I could push the video to that, download it to my MacBook, push it to my YouTube account, and then embed it in his blog. (Keep in mind, it would not let me go straight to YouTube.) Failure. Again. It said I had the same limit as my regular account. Lesson number 3 on the day: the iMovie app sees all Vimeo accounts as limited. Another weakness of the iMovie app.

My last option (or so I thought) was to just move the iMovie file to iTunes and open it in iMovie on my Air and push it out from there. Easy enough. Wrong. Lesson number 4 on the day is a loop back to Lesson number one: don’t delete the media before you publish. All I got in iMovie on my Air was a lot of black and no pics. The narration was still stellar, but that was no consolation to him. I did learn how to do this process for the first time as I had never tried it before, so that might be a win.

At this point, I went to lunch. I took him and my wife to Pizza Hut to try to get a mental break. After what amounted to two large pizzas worth of slices from the buffet, we were ready to get back to the problem at hand. On the way back to the office, he and I were running through what worked and what didn’t. He mentioned that he still didn’t get why he could watch the preview on the iPad in iMovie app and see everything there even though he deleted the media. It was something I still cannot explain to him. But, this conversation led me to think of a solution. Hence, Lesson 5 on the day.

I got to thinking. If Christian could see his preview full screen, then why not stream it to my Air via Reflector app and do the screen recording option in Reflector? It would kick it out in an MOV file (or similar) that I could put in iMovie and edit if needed. At this point, I was thinking it might work and I would just have to add the narration track to it somehow. After 22 minutes and 7 seconds, Christian and I learned Lesson number 5 on the day: Reflector did an excellent job on a long video.

When we watched the video being played back after the lengthy rendering (about 45 minutes), we got the added bonus of Lesson number 6 on the day: the audio came through like a champ. Reflector pulls in the audio built into whatever is streaming. It does not record conversation around the devices, but it does record what audio comes from the iPad. Thank you, Lord.

From that point, we just pushed the file to my YouTube account and embedded it in his blog. He’s happy. Mom’s happy. I’m ecstatic. It was the best possible outcome to what could have been a horrid lesson to him about video editing. It’s a lot of work to create a good piece of media, and it’s heartbreaking to not have it work out and have to redo it. That’s not high on a 12 year old’s list of things to do. In the end, the good Lord was smiling on us and we are now published. I’d embed it here, but he needs to see people actually do read his blog. Jump over there and take a look when you get a chance. 20 minutes is long, but it’s nowhere near as long as our day was trying to get it to this final stage.

As Audri says, “If you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

Next EDU Gurus?

I’m always open to hear new voices, yet I have this piece of doubt that creeps up in me every time I see some new “Top (insert number here) Educator” list. It seems pretty random and nothing really fresh more times than not.

YouTube shared its “Meet the YouTube Next EDU Gurus” video yesterday. I expected some corporate deal to be mixed in, but I was pleasantly surprised to see some great young faces who seem genuinely excited about the video medium to share their passion for their subjects. Take a look at the video then jump over to their individual channels and see what engaging content you can find.

 

Meet the YouTube Next EDU Gurus today: http://goo.gl/SKMRB

www.youtube.com/AmorSciendi

www.youtube.com/AsapSCIENCE

www.youtube.com/bozemanbiology

www.youtube.com/hughesdv

www.youtube.com/KemushiChan

www.youtube.com/Lexie527

www.youtube.com/mathapptician

www.youtube.com/powerm1985

www.youtube.com/profspop

www.youtube.com/SpanishIsYourAmigo

Flashback Post

This originally appeared on my blog 6/29/08 as a post titled “First Impressions and Being All Artsy Fartsy.” I am reposting it again below because I think the connections we make with our students are extremely important, and there is no better way to connect than with a strong first impression. This, to me, is a strong first impression. Can you imagine the joy of a parent finding something like this video posted on your classroom blog showing just how much you are willing to give to their children in the coming year? It makes a very powerful statement. Enjoy. 

 

Many folks like to introduce themselves at the beginning of the school year sharing who they are and what their philosophies are for the classroom learning environment. Kids just love this part as well (yeah right).

This is the most painful part of the year for me. At the elementary level when I taught first grade, they were zoned out from me within minutes. They just wanted to hit the centers I had set up. At the secondary level in the middle school classrooms, they sat politely because they knew the drill. First five or ten minutes of each new class was the “Hi, I’m Mr. Floyd, and….” part of the class. Boring. I try. Lord knows that. I just do not have the artsy fartsy bones in me.

Then, I come across folks like Beau Bergeron. This kid (23 years young) has a wonderful sense of conversation. I am more than happy to learn from those younger than me when they are so dadgum (Texas term) creative. I guess I can blame testing for my lack of creativity since it all started when I was in school (thanks H. Ross Perot), but probably not. Anyway, I digress. Take a look at what Beau has created below and enjoy. Most of all, take some time and think through the first impression YOU are going to create when the kids and parents come this year. I realize James Dobson says, “Don’t smile until Christmas.” But what impression do you want the kids to get about what your expectations are? I want to set the bar high and have them live up to them. When they see I put more energy into the classroom than I have to, hopefully they will do the same. It’s worth a try. Realize what you do speaks so much more powerfully than what you say. First impressions.  Then, when you are ready to work on your own, shoot me an email. Let me know what I can do to help you create yours.

Enjoy Beau’s mind and imagination. PS – Realize he played this video on the white shirt he wore to the event.

Have the performing arts quit performing?

I remember when I was a kid and enjoyed projects in 4-H. Those projects (livestock, leadership, performing, etc) all let me do one thing: be me. It was always awesome to go to a contest or show and be able to stand out for who I was and not what someone else wanted me to be. Fine arts should give students those same opportunities. Some do. Some don’t.

I watch all of the flash mob videos on YouTube and wonder where all of the experiments in creativity have gone in schools today? I know there are many out there still providing kids with the chance to show who they are, but it seems as a rule, the more standardized our core classes have gotten, the more standardized our elective classes have as well.

When you go to a band concert, the same thing gets pumped out each time. The curtains rise. The director crosses the stage. The tap on the lectern. The band plays. The parents applaud. The director bows. The curtain lowers.

When you attend a choir concert, well, CC of the band concert above.

When you go to a play, you get a small semblance of what the kids can truly do because they have no budget in the props area to draw the audience into the moment.

I’m not bashing these teachers, honest.  I’m just wondering why we see so few things like the video below in our schools. Why do they not allow the kids to take chances in their performances? Why do they not allow the kids to decide it is time to put together their own performance and showcase their talents in a way they choose to? What better place to have true independent study? The fall/spring concerts have been on the calendars as long as the Big Chief Tablet. And the adults run those things to make sure they stay between the lines.

I say, it’s time to let the students run with scissors. Please, let them step out of the shadows of the lectern. Let them enter the stage from behind the audience and down the aisles instead of hiding behind the curtain. Let them be original and not carbon copies of the generations who have come before them. Besides, they turn to YouTube in their own hours to do this anyway.

What can we live with(out)? Part Two

I bet you thought I forgot about this little series here. Sorry. Got a little backed up with work. So, here we go with numbers 4-6.

Photo Credit: apdk

4. HOMEWORK
The 21st century is a 24/7 environment. And the next decade is going to see the traditional temporal boundaries between home and school disappear. And despite whatever Secretary Duncan might say, we don’t need kids to ‘go to school’ more; we need them to ‘learn’ more. And this will be done 24/7 and on the move (see #3).

This one has me on the fence. Part of me says you know they need it (practice), yet the other side of me says we get them 8.5 hours a day and they only have a few hours of daylight left to be kids when they get home. I’ll admit that I am fortunate. My son does really well with school. He is still not a fan of homework, but what kid really is? I will say that if it takes a student more than 15 minutes to do your homework, you have given too much. If the child cannot decompress like we do when we come home from work, then they will build a negative image of what school and learning really is. In the end, though, it is really about the learning.

I agree with Shelly’s statement that Arne Duncan is wrong. “We do not need kids to ‘go to school’ more; we need them to ‘learn’ more.” Would a shift in how we teach and learn within the classroom help our students become 24/7 learners? Some it will. Some it won’t. What I do know is that as long as we keep teaching to the lowest common denominator, we will continue to graduate the lowest common denominator. Is that a fault of the teacher or the system? One drives the other. You know my stance on this. The system is out of control. Or too much in control. One or the other.

5. THE ROLE OF STANDARDIZED TESTS IN COLLEGE ADMISSIONS
The AP Exam is on its last legs. The SAT isn’t far behind. Over the next ten years, we will see Digital Portfolios replace test scores as the #1 factor in college admissions.

What a great segway from homework, teachers, THE SYSTEM…. I hope this one is true, but the reality is that authentic assessment, like ePortfolios, is expensive. We had a great pilot in Texas several years back that I was a part of: Performance Standards Project in TX.  Great assessment. Great idea. Poor funding. Got scrapped. I was privy to a conversation about this project earlier this year. It is not dead just yet. Maybe it is just hibernating until the right time.

For this to be successful, the state and federal government are going to have to change their views on trusting local teachers to submit accurate assessments of where the students are at in their learning. Otherwise, we will maintain the current testing machine we have in place now. That makes a small few very rich and a rather large population hate school.

6. DIFFERENTIATED INSTRUCTION AS A SIGN OF DISTINGUISHED TEACHER
The 21st century is customizable. In ten years, the teacher who hasn’t yet figured out how to use tech to personalize learning will be the teacher out of a job. Differentiation won’t make you ‘distinguished’; it’ll just be a natural part of your work.

I am pretty sure many teachers are here already. Those that are not are stuck in some prescribed instructional system (there’s that word again) that tells them what to say and do at each moment of the day. Those systems become popular when administration no longer trusts their staff to do the right thing in instruction, earned or not. But, Shelly is correct. This is a great time to be an educator. Being able to find tools that allow each student to be successful at the level that encourages them to improve is made easier than ever. You just have to spend a little time searching. And networking. Don’t forget to network.

So, this ends this group of three. Join me next time when we discuss attendance offices, paperback books, and the dreaded “W” word (Wikipedia).

Twitter for Librarians

Thanks to Sharon Gullet (Texas A&M-Commerce) for allowing me the chance to speak with her librarians today about the uses of Twitter. Also, thanks to Carolyn Foote (Technolibrary) for Skyping in and sharing how an Uber-Librarian uses the social networking tool.

My presentation (which is more of a conversation starter) is here:

More Resources for Twitter and its use:
The Twitter Experiment – UT-Dallas (YouTube)

Twitter4Teachers Wiki (find other librarians on Twitter)

Twitter for Teachers (lots of useful resources)

Low Tech but High Engagement

Thanks to a previous post by my fly fishing buddy @RMByrne I found Chris Bergmann. Chris is not your normal science teacher. Well, he’s not like the science teachers I ever had. This guy either thinks out of the box or he is a master of the Googles when it comes to finding creative ways to teach science concepts with his middle school students. Notice I said with. They seem to always be a part of the teaching and learning. Novel concept, right? Let’s just say he gets it and the kids are getting it as well. I am also sure there are plenty of great science teachers out there, but they are not taking heed to what Dean calls the moral imperative, sadly. So, we all lose out.

Watch this video as Chris utilizes a trash can and some Styrofoam cups to teach about the properties of air. Reminds me of an interactive movie I sat through near the Alamo many years back. Watching that canon smoke ring zip through the air held me captive to the content. Low tech, but very engaging. I’m just glad he is documenting his cool lessons to maybe inspire other science teachers around the world.  Check out his YouTube channel here as well for other great videos. If you have any great science teacher video links like this one, please share in the comments below.