Monday, October 26, 2009

law-abiding citizen

dad was talking about this movie and had a beautiful freudian slip. he said the aspect that he was most interested in was "the injustice system" ... :) teehee!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

my rant about thinking, experiencing, and doing.

Today in Technology-in-Education class we had to attend an online conference. There were live sessions and exhibits, all accessible through the internet. One of the sessions I attended was called "Three Types of Immersive Interfaces: Implications for Learning and Teaching."

Basically, it was encouraging teachers to immerse their students in a subject via Virtual Reality, Second Personality, and Augmented Reality. The speakers demonstrated and explained a huge range of ways this can benefit students in your classroom. I was really intrigued with the possibilities that Virtual Reality offers for learning.

One of the speakers noted that VR provides students with new ways to explore and learn "like Alice in Wonderland ... through the monitor."
(Sorry this isn't cited; I don't know which speaker made this statement.)

The idea of virtual reality being used to enhance experiences seems appealing to me, in theory. I like to use books to explore the world, and this takes it further - exponentially. But I think that exploring the world (a world) of VR is done in a different frame of mind than the frame of mind in which reading (and, I will argue, thinking) is done. The loss of the environment of quietness and solitude in which reading takes place is a very steep price to pay.

With books, you can snuggle up somewhere warm and quiet. You can think about what you are reading while you are reading it. In contrast, I find that I struggle to think and process simultaneously when i have gone 'through the monitor.' It is very difficult to think about texting while I am texting, for example. A book, however, isn't something that is happening. It is a noun, not a verb. Technology is all about verbs; and the technology IS the verb. You don't send-a-text: you text. You don't look-at-facebook: you facebook.

I know the presenters were talking about 'immersion' in a subject being possible via virtual reality; however, I don't think that the medium of virtual reality is immersive in the deeply thoughtful sense that a book can be. Of course, I realize you can become addicted to VR, play inside it all the time, choose to live your VR life over your real life, etc. VR internalizes you - wraps you up inside of it. It generates alternate experiences for you ... and that's what these presenters are saying. Immersion, "augmented reality," is educationally a good thing.

I completely disagree.

There is something very precious and very still about a book. A book is incapable of verbing. It doesn't say anything or communicate unless you pick it up and read it for yourself. When you leave it alone, it doesn't turn itself off, hibernate, or suspend. It just is.

We are the bosses when we read books. We do all the verbing. We pick them up, we put them down, we turn the page, we drop them when we fall asleep. We fold their pages and save our places and drip coffee on them. They just are.

To quote Marshall McLuhan, the medium is the message. And I don't want to send the message to my students that technology can do the doing for them. I want them to do the doing.

Doesn't Virtual Reality provide an opportunity for students to do the doing, in ways and places they couldn't normally do it?
I would have to say no. It doesn't. The VR creators have done the doing, and students do the experiencing.

I argue that experiencing is entirely different from doing. In "experiencing," the student is a recipient of external stimuli. In "doing," the student generates action from within himself/herself. I'm not saying that "experiencing" is negative in itself, but I am saying that I believe it should not (and cannot) replace "doing."

I want my students to DO. I want them to become good friends with their own minds, to understand the way they form thoughts, ruminate, reflect, and think. I don't want them to be simply savvy manipulators of technology to get the right answer.

I want them to be able to think independently from within the blissful solitude of a quiet mind.

I want them to be able to imagine more than a Virtual Reality, to be creators of thoughts and not just information-gatherers. No wonder students have problems with plagiarism ... it's more common to find someone else's thoughts than to think for oneself. No wonder students see one another as obstacles and variables to be manipulated ... that's life in VR.

My mission, as an educator? To teach my students to think, to really, deeply, think.

and that ... is my rant.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

dna ... it'll get you every time

i was working on my assessment assignment tonight. i pulled my big comfy easy chair up to the computer, grabbed a glass of water and a tub of that absolutely delicious Exotik yogurt - pina colada, yum! - and settled into my writing rhythm.

my writing rhythm involves reading everyone's blogs and the blogs they link to until i suddenly realize i'm going to be sick i'm so tired. then i start writing because my assignment is due tomorrow.

so i was enjoying my yogurt, prowling through matthew and chera's wedding photography, and doing my best to ignore the vague feeling that there was something i was supposed to be doing. after a while i settled into writing my assessment assignment, and the four pages (plus a chart!) arranged themselves into a coherent unit. i read a few emails (my sister and aunt were feeling witty) and pushed my computer desk out of the way, only to spy my yogurt, still sitting out on the trunk. (what? maybe that's what i'd been feeling i was supposed to be doing.)

hmmm ... is it okay to eat yogurt that's been out of the fridge for two - or three - hours?
...(contemplative stir) ... yep, delicious.

it was at this moment that i realized how much like my father i am.

i grew up watching in awe - and horror - as he sliced the mold off the cheese and ate the good half. he tasted meat that had been in the fridge past its expiry date (expiry date? try dare-me date - it's not green yet). the rest of us nibbled on golden slices while he scraped the burnt blackness off of toaster collateral damage, leaving a film of crunchy fuzz in the sink. i remember one particularly stomach turning moment when he realized the milk in his coffee had turned. nonchalant, he downed it in one swig.

i was sure he had seen (and tasted) much worse growing up on the farm. after all, it takes a special kind of tolerance to drink hot milk straight from the cow. maybe curdles wouldn't taste so bad after that?

after tonight, i'm starting to realize it wasn't necessarily the farm. maybe it was just the same weird sense of stubborn curiosity that i've inherited. the curiosity that makes me taste warm yogurt - just to see if it's still good - or just because i can.

*gross pockets*

i love my dad. i'm glad i inherited more than just his charm and devastating good looks. xox :)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

one more good thing

today i realized there is one more good thing about patrick being my nightshiftknight. not only do i get to stretch out in bed as much as i want ...
i now get emails!
we've started emailing each other again. it feels like when we first met - i get such a rush when i open my inbox and there he is.
it's easier to keep in touch this way. because our schedules don't mesh so well, we don't want to waste our cuddling time with blah conversations about paying the power bill or things like that. so we've started keeping an online calendar, and emailing each other.
that way, cuddling gets all the gloriously kissy attention it deserves, and we still manage to keep all the bits of our life safety-pinned together.
given the choice, i'd definitely pick a matching schedule instead of an opposite one. but for now, emails and mad cuddling are doing their bit to fill in the gaps.

happy apple

i had to snag this adorable picture from my sister in law. here is her sweetiepie jelena munching away on an apple. she is one of the cutest, funniest little kids ever. the way she says "ooooooo!" melts her uncle patrick's heart. we can't wait to see her this christmas.

ps i blog when i'm avoiding schoolwork.

Monday, October 19, 2009

high school high

i was back in high school today! i went for observation, to meet my teacher and the kids, and to get comfortable in the school.

high school is so different from junior high - in a million ways, but especially in the freedom that the teachers allow the students to have.
some freedoms are steps that they've earned (like getting to read worksheets on their own, instead of having them read aloud).

and some are freedoms that they get because they're older and can live with the consequences.
these ones, i must say, surprised me a bit. in good way, mostly.
the teacher didn't make a big deal about students who came in late - didn't say anything to them about it, just passed them the work they missed, let them get settled, etc. i asked what the school policy on lates was, and he said it's a point system; the students get points for good attendance, and those points can earn them certain exemptions later in the year. so those who are late know they are only shooting themselves in the foot.
definitely different from junior high.

AND!!! two of my classes have a smartboard! seriously fun. i'm looking forward to using it.

i had a great time in the afternoon with one class. they were working on group work, so the room was buzzing and humming with conversation. i went around to each group and asked the students their names and something interesting about themselves. some were funny, some were serious, some didn't think they had anything interesting to say. but i learned almost everyone's name, just by doing that. i'm definitely going to do it with my other two classes, so i can get them down pat. it's so much easier to call on them by name than to point and hope the right one is looking.

i was really nervous yesterday. i had my first serious vicious heartburn attack ... i think it's because i was so apprehensive about school today. i was in so much pain it definitely took my mind off school - maybe that was my body's ulterior motive. also, i haven't been sleeping well - or much - since patrick started working nights, so maybe functionality decreases with the lack of sleep.

anyway, today was great and i came home and snuggled in bed with my night-shift-knight and slept for five delicious hours. now for the homework marathon ...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

the american sentence

The American Sentence was a poetic form established by Allen Ginsberg. It's like a haiku, but without the line divisions. From my extensive research (prowling through a few websites I googled ...), apparently Ginsberg liked the idea of a haiku in English, but felt that the line divisions turned the creation of a haiku into a process of counting, not creating.

So, the American Sentence is a one-line poem, made up of seventeen syllables. I think I'm going to use this poetic form next week with my grade 11s and 12s, to get them started writing poetry. It's simple and short. And even if it still is a process of counting, it's pretty fun.

It's also particularly useful if you want to sound melodramatic:

The fish you gave me leaped out of his bowl; he died of too much freedom.

Her heart is like a blushing red apple with worms digesting the core.

The night was soft with whispers; the trees melted into their own shadows.

I think it should be fun.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

how marcella sees it

today i took ashlin and marcella with me to sell cupcakes at the market. they were game to get up early, bundle themselves in about seven layers, and come with me all the way to hubbards.

as we were walking from the car to the community barn, a flock of birds swooped from tree to tree. marcella looked up at them, and shook her head in that resigned, regretful way old people have when they realize times are changing.

"i think birds have forgotten how to fly in vees," she sighed, "i never see them doing it these days."

:) i love my nieces!

Monday, October 12, 2009

while the cat's away ...

the mice will play!

*squeak squeak*

well, of all the creatures in God's green earth that i could conceivably be compared to, mice are probably at the bottom of the list.
however, patrick can purr and he's reasonably furry, so i think i can leave the title as is.

when patrick leaves for work at night, i'm usually pretty tired and think i'm ready for bed. then i go into our room and realize i'm going to have to get into bed all alone and lay there without anyone to talk to or snuggle with, and suddenly i'm not that tired any more.

the first thing i do is turn on some music, then run the water to wash the dishes. (when i'm making patrick's lunch, he's still here and i think i'm sleepy. so i leave the dishes. then, after the bedroom-sigh-notsleepy-music fiasco, i decide i can do the dishes after all. and i'll be glad i did them, in the morning.)

so i do the dishes and listen to music, putter around the house and get ready for bed - again. i pop online and check out facebook or read some blogs.
tonight, i started with patrick's blog. then, i was beguiled by heidi's blog ... and then kennyo's, ashley's, and mark's ... (i realize i am a class one creeper, but the macdonalds & company are very funny and nice people).

now i'm ready for bed and full of cute stories to think about as i stretch out and fall asleep. (that is the one and only good thing about patrick being gone at night ... i can stretch and stretch and stretch and still not push anyone out of bed).

adios, sayonara, goodnight!