Friday, January 02, 2009

Dotsam & Jetsam

Queue, image originally uploaded to Flickr by gadl.

I went shopping for some ski wear for my son today - he's going on a school trip to Bulgaria in February. It is hard enough to get him out shopping with me at the best of times, bless him, but on this occassion I figured it was one of the last chances I'd get to have him out and about with me before he goes on the ski trip. So out we went, braving the post-New Year sale hordes.

To set the scene a little, I want to be more restrained this year and less impatient, both when driving and in my general life, but I feel that we now live at such a pace and we are used to things being done NOW that when one has to queue for a long time - particularly in a shop - it's something we are just not used to these days.

We were unfortunate to be in a queue that took us over 20 minutes to move just 3 places (oh how I hate people who return 7 bags of clothes to the one shop to get their money back!) and I found myself thinking that one of my resolutions was going to bite the dust on the 2nd day of the year. But I persevered and eventually we left the shop with our bargains.

This made me think about the speed I am not only used to my personal life being lived at, but also the pace at which things occur in my classroom these days. It seems now that in the ICT classroom, rapid advances made in the subject mean that no longer are children having to be told 'this is a mouse and this is a printer' as I used to do in week 4 of Year 7 about 10 years ago - yes, SERIOUSLY! Now we're making slideshows within the first couple of weeks of term.

Although this has to be a good thing, it still means that pace of lessons and my expectations of what my pupils will produce has moved on at an almost exponential rate. In some cases, I'm sad to say, it seems like the 'fun' has gone and been replaced by 'If it's Tuesday this must be Belgium'-type moving from one tool to another. Add to this, me introducing the class to 'yet another cool tool' and the problem is compunded.

It's got me thinking all day about whether I need to readdress the way that I introduce new tools in class and find way to ensure that all skills learned are retained and that pupils get the chance to take stock of the new tools that they have been introduced to.

I know the feeling personally, as I can get overwhelmed with the plethora of fun, useful and interesting new Web 2.0 tools and sites I come across every day. And to this end I find myself as big a culprit as any of creating Dotsam - "The wasteland of abandoned Web sites ... that their creators have ignored for months or years but which remain accessible."

As if to illustrate this I found myself, thanks to people I Follow in Twitter, in the space of 3 hours today, I had:
  • Summarised my hopes for 2009 at 'Year in a sentence' from which I then found out about:
  • Xtranormal - a site that lets you make videos from text - yep you read that correctly!
  • Ten minutes later I had contributed to a wiki, my dream line-up for the film remake of classic 80's cartoon series, Thundercats - Tom Waits as Jaga anyone?
  • Which in turn has led me to Grupthink - a fab site for polling opinions
  • I was encouraged to contribute to 'The Power of Less' - a great forum that gets you to suggest a small change you want to make in your life to effect a big change within you. I chose one of my resolutions - to better care for my psoriasis
  • Which in turn led to a very challenging response from a moderator that made me dig deeper into the reasoning for chosing such a focus
  • I was further challenged to pledge how I would be greener in 2009, and I said about refusing coathangers & carrier bags (2 days down & still practicing what I preach).
  • And signing up gave me 100GB of free file storage from Filedropper

And all of that was done in the space of THREE HOURS this morning, and I was able to act upon it all as I am on holiday.

So, if this is what I did in only three hours today, imagine what opportunities we face daily and which we maybe let pass us by or we never return to (see Dotsam above).

Thus I feel privileged to have been able to make the most of these opportunities today and I thank my PLN in Twitter for bringing these to my attention today ( dogtrax broadus lewiswebb ).

Today's Bob Dylan song is 'When the Ship Comes in' which is apparently "a sprawling epic allegory about vanquishing the oppressive "powers that be". " And I can think of no more appropriate song to have listened to, on the day that I made use of some amazing opportunities to use technology to broaden my horizons far beyond the mundane.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

A Guid Ne'er to ane an' a'

Original image 'Writing Resolutions' originally uploaded to Flickr by Tojosan.

This is the start of my new regime to write blog posts on a far more regular basis. Part of my motivation to do so is the encouragement I have received from others on microblogging site Twitter -its always motivational to see other people doing something that you want to do in the same way.

And therein lies my first tale of serendipity for the New Year - perhaps one that augurs well for 2009. I was looking for a photo to illustrate this post, and searched 'creative commons' photos on Flickr, and the picture above was the first one I saw - but I simply could not believe my eyes when I saw that the person who had uploaded the picture was Tojosan, the same Tojosan that I follow on Twitter! What are the 0dds of that I wonder, that of the 44,000 Creative Commons photos tagged 'resolution' in Flickr, the one I picked should be one uploaded by someone I know, someone that I didn't even know had a Flickr account?

Anyway I digress, the purpose of this post is to outline my plethora of resolutions that I REALLY want to achieve this year. There are many, but I am determined to succeed this year if I can.

My New Years Resolutions for 2009
  1. To stick to my resolutions
  2. To follow a much more rigid and rigorous lifestyle, I've been too lackadaisical for too long
  3. To apprecaite the lyrics of Bob Dylan more by listening to different Bob Dylan song every day
  4. To walk to school each day
  5. To use no carrier bags in shops & leave all coathangers and other reusable packaging items at shops
  6. To read a book, watch a film, and listen to a new CD each week
  7. To do a random act of kindness at least once a week
  8. To teach my own children something new each day
  9. To improve the quality of my photography
  10. To comment on each Blog post I read
  11. To create a podcast of 'Wee Free Men' by Terry Pratchett
  12. To speak to my own children each day (whether or not they are staying with me)
  13. To meet all of the school-based targets I have set myself (see a future Blog Post)
  14. To make a machinima with my son
  15. To take better care of my psoriasis
  16. To go to bed with an empty email inbox as first pledged by Bill Thompson
  17. To respond immediately to emails
  18. To visit a town I've never been to each month
  19. To establish MirandaMod as a leading model of unconferencing
  20. To curb what bad language I use
  21. To have a far more positive attitude no matter how I feel about something
  22. To ensure my THREE major goals relating to Moodle are met this year (see future blog posts)
  23. To pay all my bills and handle all important paperwork immediately
  24. To pass my Grade Two singing exam
  25. and... To sing 'Hallelujah' to the whole school
  26. To phone my parents twice a week
  27. To be less wasteful of food in the home
  28. To allow no one to upset me or to belittle my achievements
  29. To DO rather than just SAY I will DO.
  30. To start what I fi........nish ;-)

Phew... that's a long list but one I want to meet and I will be disappointed in myself if I don't. Let's see how I get on.

Todays Dylan song is 'Song to Woody'. This was one of the first songs Bob Dylan ever wrote and whilst being a sort of prayer to Woody Guthrie, it includes words that could be so apt for the way the world is at the moment: "...I wrote you a song, 'Bout a funny ol' world that's a-comin' along. Seems sick an' it's hungry, it's tired an' it's torn, It looks like it's a-dyin' an' it's hardly been born".

How could a man as young as Dylan was at that time, write lyrics of such timeless poignancy? It's a lesson to us all!