Cool Links #55: Busy Bees Bust Behinds To Begin Year

It’s been a while since I’ve felt like posting a cool links post and if you read my blog for the other stuff beyond the links, then you know I’ve been the Drama King lately.  But I’m feeling fairly good after my first week of school and I’m ready for a bunch-o-links.

1 – Let’s kick this off with a superb article on social photojournalist Dorothea Lange.  Every photography teacher knows about the Migrant Mother photo, but this post has several other gems, like this ironic photo of a Japanese-American US Army soldier picking crops at an internment camp farm with a relative of his.

2 – This is for all of us Type-geeks out there, Typedia – a Wikipedia of typefaces and fonts.  Fun and useful. Thanks to Net@Night podcast for the resource.

3 – This video really spells out for students why privacy is so important on the internet.  I’ve seen it before, but not sure if I posted it here.  Great for classes about internet usage or web design.

4 – This is good for both journalism classes and web classes – an AP Style Guide Quiz about Internet terms.

5 – WARNING: DISTURBING IMAGES!  This is an incredible video.  My school did a Shattered Dreams video/reenactment several years ago, but this focuses on Texting While Driving and has a lot of money behind it.  I think the video is great. The video is from Wales (Great Britain) and occasionally the accents are a little thick.

6 – The New York Times has a good slide show about photo fakery and it has a few photos I’ve not seen before.

7 – Great how to video from Nicole Young at Photofocus on making pure white backgrounds in photographs.

8 – This next video is near to my heart, it is about the damage to Galveston Bay and the marshes in the Texas Gulf done by Hurricane Ike.  We need more videos about this, ours is the forgotten hurricane.  We still have a lot of blue roofs in our community and other damage still not repaired from the storm.

9 – Alex4d is a top notched source of Final Cut plug ins and he also makes his usable by Express users too.  His latest are a video crop plug-in and text crawl.

10 – Cheat sheets for Audacity, Photoshop, Final Cut, iMovie.  (Not cheating by the way!)

11 – Interesting graphic.  Publishing has a 13.9 percent increase in unemployment as an industry, but salaries have risen.

12 – This is terribly funny, the map of The Semicolonial State of San Serriffe.

13 – Great graphics about how much underwater Internet cable is out there and telegrams vs. email.

14 – More tool how to’s from the Photoshop Basics blog – Lasso.

15 – Great list of video terms from TV and online and how to use VO, SOT, PKG, Balcony, Founder’s Box, etc.

16 – Web 2.0 Horror Trailer.  Oh, the humanity…..

17 – Testing Improvement Service (can you feel the drip of sarcasm)

Improve Your Test Scores Today!

Improve Your Test Scores Today!

18 – Google for Educators – lessons and lesson plans for web search, linking and reasonableness of results.  A companion video is Common Crafts – Web Search in Plain English.

19 – Again the NY Times has a fun and scary game about texting and driving.  I was 33 percent slower but missed 2 percent less gates than other drivers.  I did not see the gray lady.

20 – Know a lot about print and photos, but are frightened of the web?  JEA has the answers with a handout for putting your pictures on the Internets.

21 – This is a cool product, the Portabooth, but it seems to me you could make one with a cardboard box and some foam (especially since his product is $129).  Might be worth a try.

22 – My blogging friend, Clix, is taking over the Carnival of Education.  Let’s all wish her good luck.  I know she’ll make it a success.

23 – News photos that took photoshop too far.  Great post.

Wow, what a list.  Got to get back to a once a week cool links schedule.

Jerry McGuire Moment

Today was a very hard day for me.  I had a difficult conversation with my yearbook rep. that got a little heated.  My editor was in the classroom and even she said it was loud.

But basically it came down to the fact that we have been selling fewer and fewer yearbooks for the last three years and are now $4,000 in the hole.  And that’s when my rep. hit me with one of the best moments in the movie Jerry McGuire.  Jerry invites his last client to his house and is client tells him that he won’t sign the horrible contract his team has offered him.  Then comes the line, delivered perfectly by Renée Zellweger – she says, “He’s busting his ass and working for you for FREE!”

That was hard.  And I know it is true.  My rep. doesn’t make enough from my account to matter.  We don’t sell enough books.  But, as I told her, I feel that the company needs to do more to incorporate technology better, reach out to small schools and minority schools more.  She agreed with me to a certain extent.

And in the end we agreed that there are ways that the company can help more and that there may be ways for us to sell more yearbooks.  We are going to try an all color book this year and lets hope it gives us the spark we need to pick up sales.

Honestly, this was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do as a journalism teacher.  I’m not one to enjoy conflict and this was hard.  I really hate dealing with the business side of what we do.  I hate dealing with the bills and making money so we can do journalism.  I know it is a necessary evil, but sometimes it seems like it is just plain evil.

I still have to present the plan to my principal and see if he agrees to it, and then we’ll see what happens next.  I just hope that, like the movie, we can have a happy ending.

Being A Giant Slayer

Last night I watched the movie Facing The Giants, and I came to a realization.  I have been focused on the wrong thing.  For the last two years, since getting a new principal at my school, I’ve been too focused on “winning.”

It really doesn’t even matter what either, whether it was being focused on getting a better score from CSPA or getting more budget money.  I’ve been focused on “winning.”  And in the meantime, I’ve forgotten that is not the point of teaching.  I’ve forgotten one of my own most important guidelines – they don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.

I’ve been placing my goals ahead of my students and that’s not right.

It took watching the movie to see how much I was becoming like the coach in the film.  Winning was becoming so important that I’d forgotten the purpose of my classroom – to teach students.  I’m not paid to win awards or argue with my principal about how much money we have for workshops and equipment.  I’m paid to teach.

And I know that I can’t teach my students until I first care about their success as a person.  That is our calling as teachers, not our content area, but our students.  They must take precedent over our own needs and even over our content area sometimes.

But, like the teacher/coach in the movie, I know that if you do care about your students, then anything is possible.  The rewards will come to you, maybe not the ones you seek, but the ones you need.

I’ve taken my eye off the ball, and I have to remember to try and not to let that happen again.  I can’t become discouraged because a student quits my class for a more “interesting” or “fun” elective.  I can’t get down because of budget cuts.  And I can’t lose focus because one group of students has left the building.

My dedication must be to those kids who are going to walk into my door tomorrow morning for the first day of the new year.  Together, we must decide what is important and set our own goals and not dwell on the past. We have to find out what our Goliath will be this year and, like David, we must go out there and slay it together.

If you are a teacher, coach or if you have teens or work with them, I highly recommend watching Facing The Giants.  Its worth the hour and a half it will take, and it will remind you what is important in life.

“A House With All The Children Gone”

I’m going to let my geek cred out, because the only way I can explain how I have felt this week is to say that I feel just like Capt. Kirk in the opening moments of Star Trek III – I feel like I’m walking around in a house with all the children gone.

A House With All The Children Gone

A House With All The Children Gone

The reason I have felt that way is that a number of my former students have been Facebook messaging their moves to Texas State, Sam Houston State and other universities around Texas.  And I have been messaging with them with a mixture of intense pride and muted sadness.  I’m proud of them heading out to become adults in the wider world, where many of them are studying communications or media.  But at the same time I’ve been walking around the school with a hollowness in me.

A number of my students spend two, three or even four years in my classroom learning about media in various ways.  And in the last five years 2005-2009, I had a group of kids that was so special I doubt I’ll see a group like it for a long time, if ever.  And last year, a huge group of them graduated, ending the cycle.

Additionally, our CTE department also is starting up a competing video program, with a ton of money and new equipment.  So far, all I’ve gotten from my principal is a promise to try to find funds to upgrade my lab.

So, to complete my geek analogy, I feel like my classroom is the wounded Enterprise and my cadets have left the academy to their assignments in the fleet.  And my only hope is that somehow we will find new money to build a new Enterprise and bring in the Next Generation of crew members to take the helm.

The Scarecrow: A Novel About A Newspaper Reporter in Today’s Newsroom

I recently finished listening to the audiobook version of The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly and I was pleasantly surprised.  The book is a pretty decent thriller/murder mystery style of novel.  But the best part of it was how well it presented the life of a reporter in a newsroom.  The vocabulary of the book was an outstanding highpoint for me as it brought out a rich tapestry of newsroom process and what may be a dying art of newspaper reporting.

The characters were fairly decent and the plot was somewhat predictable, but it is definitely worth reading for any young future journalists out there.  The language is an issue and would keep it out of all but the most liberal of high school campuses, it is laced with the “F” word, but the salty language is a part of many newsroom cultures.

The book is set in the present day and the main character is being RIF’ed by the LA Times.  He is finishing his last two weeks at the newspaper when he hits on what may be the biggest story of his career.  He has to deal with MoJo’s, email, cell phones and all the other trappings of journalism in the 21st Century.

I enjoyed listening to the book, and the reader did a great job.  I did notice one mistake – he said “filling” when the author wrote “filing,” as in turning in a finished story – yet another journalism term.

Cool Links #54: Are We There Yet?

Seems like this was the summer of waiting.  With no budget, there wasn’t anywhere to go, so it was the summer of staycation and with the state of journalism, it was the summer of waiting to see if anyone could turn the corner and stop bleeding jobs.

Teacher work days start Monday, so the waiting for school is over.  And now is the time for more cool links.

1 – Really good advice right here 12 Things Newspapers Should Do To Survive.

2 – Here’s a lesson I always teach in my photography classes – how to remove an object in photoshop.

3 – This is a super tutorial on keeping your video “broadcast safe” for those of you still putting video out over a TV system or even when burning DVDs.

4 – This video via Free Technology for Teachers is really worth a look.  It is a panel with five teens and twenty-somethings discussing what they would be willing to pay for online.  I’d be interested in a similar panel with late-twenties and early thirties.  Plus the panel was not very racially diverse – no African Americans or Hispanics. Might have been better with about 10 kids.

5 – Here’s a plugin for Final Cut that lets you use gradients in lower thirds.

6 – This is a must read for back to school students – How to Get Things Done for Students. It may be targeted at college kids, but high school students can use the same advice.

7 – Here’s another link aimed at college kids – or really college grads, but this advice will work with high school grads who want to go to j-school and are writing letters or essays for admission – they should follow and avoid the Top 6 AP Style Errors.

8 – Photofocus has Seven Good Tips for Buying A New Camera.  Great tips, there are so many good cameras out there.

9 – As school is starting back up, you might want to get into your lab and fire up all the computers.   Techradar has 50 Expert Tips for Making Your PC Faster.  Most are PC targeted, but many work on Macs too.

Short list today, sorry but I’ve been trying to get as much last minute rest in before Monday!  Have a good school year.

Please Mr. Roboto, Stop Following Me!

I use Twitter, and it is a great source of information, news and links.  (Follow me @teach_j) I’ve made professional contacts via Twitter.  Right now I have about 400 followers.  I hate that term, but it works.  I follow about 360 people right now.  Most are people, a few are news organizations or professional organizations.

I read Robert Scoble’s You are SO unfollowed this week. (@Scobleizer) Now, I use Twitter a little differently than he does.  I also don’t have his thousands of followers.  But I don’t agree with how he follows people necessarily.  I have a few rules for how I decide who to follow and who to bin.

1 – Don’t be a robot.  I hate it when I tweet a term and then I get six new followers who are spambots related to that term.  I try to check my follow count about once a week and weed out spambots.

2 – Have a description – a.k.a. be someone.  I prefer to follow people in my field, journalism education.  I do follow journalists, educators and tech people.  Those are all related to what I do.  I also follow a few college journalism students too.

3 – I prefer a photo.  I’m not 100 percent against you not having a photo, but at least get a logo or an avatar.  Too often no photo = spambot.

4 – Tweet.  If you don’t ever tweet, why should I follow you.  It would be a waste for me.  Nothing to read, ever.

5 – Don’t try to sell me anything, especially something inappropriate for a teacher to have on their Twitter profile.  I immediately delete anyone trying to sell anything not directly related to my job.

6 – Don’t Twitter burst.  I delete people who clog my Twitter stream with endless updates.  I have a few exceptions to that rule, but only because they have really interesting content.  Let others get a Tweet in edgewise.  Rest your digits peeps.

7 – Reply.  Check your @me and DM (direct messages) and get back to those people who ask a question or show an interest in your domain.  Be real, be kind and be a human. I delete people who only Tweet to hear themselves Tweet.

8 – Don’t follow celebrities.  I just don’t do it, OK except for John Hodgman.  (@hodgman) But he’s just too cool not to follow.

9 – Do follow a few news feeds.  But don’t get carried away.  Follow one or two or else your Tweet client will just be news noise.

10 – Finally, don’t be a potty mouth.  I’m not a prude, but I am a teacher and my Twitter identity is based on my profession.  I use it to learn as a part of my personal learning network.  I won’t follow people there who cuss a lot.  Sorry.

Cool Links #53: New High Score!

I have a new high for one-day visits to my site – 332 in one day, this past Tuesday.  So, of course I’m pumped and here we go with links:

1 – I know I’m often Mac-centric, so today I’ll start off with a Windows link.  Free Technology for Teachers has a video on how to retrieve deleted files in Windows Vista only.  I use XP at work, so this doesn’t help me much, but hopefully it helps someone out there when an important yearbook spread is deleted or something.

2 – Black Star Rising has joined the ranks of high school photo teachers and has a great tip for teaching newbies – tell them every photo needs a verb!

3 – has a terrific post on How To Write a Press Release.  With so many journalism/media majors going into PR, it’s a good bet they may have to do one sometime.

4 – This one is NSFS, so don’t show it to your students without cleanup first, but the ideas are good.  What the F… is Social Media.  Great slide show about the usefulness of the platforms. As a companion to it are 20 Mind Blowing statistics about social media.

5 – Web design teachers, JEA has a useful PDF handout on their site for choosing a URL and getting a hosting service.

6 – If you teach web design and you don’t read yet, you should.  They have 30 useful scripts for dropdown menus.

7 – I use several tools developed for teachers by Kagan, but here is a free Online Stopwatch when you want to time your students on a certain task.

8 – The CJR (Columbia Journalism Review) has a survey that shows newspapers are still read mainly on dead trees.  Even I’ve been reading the hometown Deadtree Daily more this summer, but I think I won’t have time for it once school starts.

9 – My new camera has 15 MP, how big can I print a photo?  I get this question from photography students a lot.  This chart from Design215 will give you all the answers.

Cool Megapixel to print size chart

Cool Megapixel to print size chart

10 – Hadn’t watched this video in a while, but it still hits me.  Journalism students usually are “the crazy ones.”

11 – And related to Crazy is this post from Mindy McAdams – it is Time To Get Crazy in journalism.  The time for safe is past.  We can’t just keep doing what we’ve been doing, because the results are not good.

12 – Cyndy Green has been great enough to share how she deals with the first week of school in her video production class and how she manages the gear in the classroom – always a huge task.  Thanks.

13 – The incomparable Edit Foundry blog has more on Long Form Editing – this time using closeups.

Baker’s Dozen for today – enjoy and good luck on the upcoming school year.