Cool Links #103: The One About the Storm Before The Calm

The days until break are getting short and the work is getting long.  I can only hope we can get 40 pages in before next Monday.  We’ll see.  Maybe chilling out today with some cool links will help…

1 – I do believe that we learn more from failure than from success, but it doesn’t mean that I want to see only failure in my classroom or in my own life.  But these tips can help you appreciate letting others fail on their own terms sometimes.

Pull Quote Fail

Pull Quote Fail

2 – Hand-in-hand with letting students fail to learn (different from flat out failure) is listening to them when they don’t understand or feel overworked.

3 – I am not a fan of the former Vice President Al Gore, but I do think that there might be some value in this project he has started with the likes of the Mythbusters and the founder of FIRST Robotics.  A discussion of how to make school relevant to students.  I think it is one of the two foundational R’s of school – Relationships and Relevancy.  Those must come before Rigor or you are setting students up for failure.

There are three more parts to this video, but part 1 is fairly boring – parts 2, 3 & 4 are good.

4 – This graphic is an interesting look into the evolution of the basic typefaces.  If you are a type geek like me, then you will like it.

Evolution of Typography
Via: VPS

5 – The Newsosaur has a useful post for teaching journalists about the past and about objectivity.  He says it never existed and we shouldn’t try anymore, but instead publicize out bias.  I like it.  I once saw a video of Walter Cronkite sitting in the back seat of a fighter-bomber in Vietnam.  He was trilled by the speed, aerobatics and even the bombing run.  He was supposed to be an objective observer, not a jingoistic voyeur.  Even he admitted it years later.

6 – Students often feel bored in school – some of this goes back to Relevance.  Some of it goes to the rote methodology of memorizing facts, working problems and writing pages of text only to be read by the teacher. Real projects that have real world application bring both rigor and relevance.  But our current Race To The Bottom has so much mandated boredom, I’m surprised any kid survives.

7 – A Russian software firm claims to have broken Canon’s software to verify photos.  I like their photo fakes.

USSR Man on the Moon

USSR Man on the Moon

8 – The dPs had a most in-depth post on the Rule of Phi, this is a modification of the old rule of thirds.  The rule of thirds works well on a more squarish rectangle, but when you are shooting video for widescreen, the Rule of Phi is better.

9 – True in high school or college.

In High School Too...

In High School Too...

10 – Tamron Lenses has another in their series of videos for better shooting – sports.

11 – Photofocus has also been running a series – Photography for Newbies – great post on White Balance.

12 – The edublogs are up for voting and I would like to recommend a few for your consideration – please stop by and vote for:

Best Individual Blog – The Principal’s Page

Best Student Blog – Moo

Best Resource Sharing Blog – Free Technology for Teachers

Best Teacher Blog – The Scholastic Scribe

Best Administrators Blog – The Principal’s Page – The Blog

Best Use of Video – Khan Academy

13 – Need a printable monthly or weekly calendar. ReprintMe has it.

14 – Want your students to see what words they use too much?  Just copy their text and paste it into and it will tell them.

15 – Right here in my own city of Houston, one local high school ditched all their books from the library.  I don’t know if what they did was cost effective or even effective.  It might be brave or foolhardy – only time will tell.

Have a great week, let’s all get to the break in good health and good spirits!

YLYB #52: Saturday The First

Sixteen years ago, I first instituted Saturday yearbook meetings.  So many yearbook staffers are members of band, cheerleading, dance team, sports, etc.  They have after school practice, meetings, etc.  But Saturdays are relatively free from this drama (no offense to theater arts).

So, we meet on Saturdays 4-5 times a year.  We come at 8 am and leave at noon.  We bring breakfast, dress is casual (pajamas are welcome as long as they are appropriate) and music flows (nowadays it is earbuds and ipods – it used to be CDs in the CD player at loud volume).  But it is amazing how much work we get done in four hours.  Whole layouts went from blank pages to 70 percent finished today.

But the downside was that we only had a half crew.  A number of staff members did not show up.  So, I had a pow wow with the top editors.  I told them that now is the time to take control of the staff.  This is their book, they must make it.  We are behind on our first deadline, and that does not bode well.

YLYB #24: Information Underload

This school year has been like living in a slow drip coffee pot that doesn’t have anywhere near enough water in it.  Information is the coffee of a school, and we being kept in the dark.  The new administrative team has been slow to give out information and everything else.

We are now in the third week of school and I am out of AA batteries, we still don’t have a campus phone list and I know we’re going to have to reschedule individual photo day until we can order the new backdrops and backup flash bulbs.  It has been a death by a thousand small cuts.  It’s the little things that we all need to do our job.  The answers are “not yet,” “come back later,” and “we can’t say.”

This makes it hard to plan curriculum that is gear/technology dependent.  I’ve been told, just order what you need and we’ll figure it out later.  But that is not realistic.  I need a lot of things and I don’t even know how much I have in my budget.  I’m going to need money later too.  So, how do I know how much to spend now?  I don’t.

I’ve always believed that it is my job to be a faithful steward of the funds granted to me by the district.  That money comes from the taxpayers in my community (I’m one of them) and they want to get their money’s worth.  I also believe that it is my job to get the tools my students need to learn.  So, I must maximize the effectiveness of my spending.  I can’t do that if I don’t even know how much I have to spend.

I hope that next week brings some illumination to this well of darkness and maybe we’ll even get a campus phone list.

Cool Links #98: The One That Took Two Weeks To Finish

‘Twas the night before school and all through the house, the kids were sad, and so were the teachers.  Not really, but it makes a good scene.  Both children and teachers in this house are ready to go back – mostly.  So, here’s a few last minute links to bide you over the first day back.  Mine is tomorrow.

[Editor’s note:  I started this post last Sunday, the night before the first day of school.  I’m finishing it seven days later.  It was a long week – can you tell?]

1 – Journalists in the 21st Century really MUST be jacks-of-all-trades, so says the hiring practices of most media organizations.  Honestly, I was getting this advice back in 1988 – so, really is this a surprise?

2 – Net Neutrality is all the rage right now – thanks Google, you surrender monkeys.  Read, Write, Web has a super graphic with 15 facts about Net neutrality.

3 – More than any other mathematical concept, the Golden Ratio has my attention.  I love the many ways that the ratio is represented in art, music, architecture, nature and more.  It is a divine concept.

4 – The Beaumont, Texas office of Taylor Publishing (Balfor now?) has a cool resource site – check it out!

5 – Tamron video wants to help you use your Flash better in Episode 12 of their continuing series of photography videos.

6 – Free Tech 4 Teachers has a list of 140 user generated ideas for things that teachers are going to try in their classrooms this year.  I’m in the slideshow (yea me!) and I’m going to try Moodle.  My district has started it’s own Moodle site.  I really like it so far.

7 – I stumbled upon DigitalRev after watching a great stress test video that pitted a Nikon vs. a Canon camera.  DigitalRev has a Youtube channel and a great blog too.  I’ve added them to my RSS and Youtube subs.

8 – The Principal’s Page had a great graphic timeline of the History of the Internet.  Huge!

9 – Gizmodo had a good companion to the last link – The Secret History of those $%&@ing Computer Symbols.  My favorite is – of course the Mac Command symbol.

10 – According to Wired Magazine – The Web is Dead:  Long Live the Internet. It’s a Pro vs. Con on the walled gardens or suburbia of the internet – phone apps.

11 – After the Exposure Triangle – dPs wants us to get a little more advanced with our thinking about the exposure triangle = meaning aperture is more than just more light.

12 – The Internet gets news out faster and better right?  Not when Twitter punks the news.  Rumors can run rampant and then CNN and others actually report fake news stories.  Oh Dang, can you say retraction.   And in a related post, The Chive, punked us all with Dry Erase girl.  Supposedly she quit her job with a series of photos posted on a photo sharing site, telling all about her boss.  But alas, it was just a hoax – it did come from the Onion-like Chive site.  Duh.

13 – The Kobrechannel has a list of Five Things They Can’t Believe Every News Video Doesn’t Already Have.  Byline anyone!

14 – The folks over at 2¢Worth are trying to create an innovative online/DVD yearbook mashup.  No printed copy or only as a print on demand product.  I’m interested in seeing how this might work.

15 – Thanks to the Principal’s Page blog for reminding us all of this.  As the year goes by, things get busy and they often get hard.  It’s the hard that makes it great.

16 – I love this. Stickers for the newspaper, with truth in advertising about the news contained inside.  Could be used in yearbook too!  Not as funny as you think.

Quid es Veritas?

Quid es Veritas?

That’s a wrap.

Cool Links #96: The One About Busy-ness

I’ve been busy.  It seems that summer too can be a busy season.  I’ve had meetings and phone calls and my son’s football camp.  Lots to do, lots to do.  So, cool links haven’t bubbled to the top of the to do list until now – nearly a week late.  And to add insult to injury, my read it later password expired and I didn’t notice for several days that items were not being added to my read it list.  So, some cool links have been lost forever.  Sad face.  Here’s the links I’ve been able to add, re-add or just plain found by brute force search.

1 – Teachers At Risk has a top notch post – Nine Things My Students Have Taught Me. If only it were just nine, but a great list.  Best take away – 1. I’ve learned that students need me to be a teacher and not their friend.

2 – And to piggyback on that post, from the same source comes Nine Questions I Ask My Students On The First Day.  Best take away – 1. When have you felt particularly successful in school?

3 – Common Craft has several helpful videos on YouTube for those that teach anything to do with the Web.

4 – The Digital Photography School should be in every media teacher’s RSS reader – because of nuggets like How To Work With Locked Pixels.

5 – Seems like this is a favorite topic right now – extending the school year or eliminating summer vacation.  Time magazine has a long article that goes around the topic, but never really decides what to think.  I see both sides to the argument.  Summer would be very expensive in the south – A/C would run non-stop.  The travel industry would be hurt badly and the traditional vacation plan would have to be rethought.  But there are upsides to changing the summer schedule.  More days in the calendar might take some pressure off and allow more in-depth teaching.  Fewer days off would lessen the effects of lost retention.  But most teachers would want more compensation for more days and it would only be fair.  Plus, as it happened in Texas, you really can’t have just some of the schools go to a year-round schedule and others stay on a traditional one.  It won’t work.  It has to be all or nothing.

6 – Copyright Office says that jailbreaking and re-mixing are OK!  And they said that teachers and students can remix and reuse with few if any restrictions.  Read about it at Free Tech 4 Teachers.  Fair Use Win!

7 – I’ve been looking for a good online “text” for Web Design for a while, and the Web Styleguide is it.  It’s 12 chapters seem to cover all the basic areas that a designer needs to know.  I only wish it were available in a PDF format.

8 – Tamron lenses posted their second video about Photo Composition – give it a look.

9 – I just had to share this – the long weekend theory of summer vacation from An Untenured Teacher.  I’m still hanging on to Saturday, but Sunday morning is just days away.

10 – Teachers At Risk seems to be my favorite blog today – lots of great content, for example How The Web May Be Spoiling Our Students.

11 – This has to be one of the best ideas that has ever been on MTV, since they stopped playing actual music. If You Really Knew Me is a show about a program that focuses on character education in high schools around the country.  I’ve only watch the first episode, but I can see the power that this program could have in almost any school.  Make sure to start with episode 101.

12 – If you are a journalism or media teacher and your students are not publishing online, then you definitely need to read the Innovative Educator’s post about Sticking It To the Man and Publish Online.

13 – OK, be honest – how many of you have had a broadcast, newspaper issue or  yearbook that ended up like this?

Insert Image Title Here

Insert Image Title Here

14 – Peta Pixel blog has a great post about a music video made for $500 done in one take.  Not only is the video cool, but they also have a behind the scenes video too.

15 – Why do they do it?  Why do photojournalists doctor photos and then claim they just mistakenly sent in the wrong image?  Seems like there is a lot of it going around right now and BP just can’t seem to do anything right.

16 – Worried that photos you post to the internet will end up on a billboard, or in an ad somewhere and you didn’t get paid or even a photo credit?  Google is releasing a new service called TinEye – a reverse image search, so you can find out if your photos are being used somewhere else.

17 – Want some advanced InDesign and Photoshop Tips for Yearbook – The Yearbook Connection has a great resource page.  Check it out.

18 – If you are from Texas and you don’t know Hal Schmidt, then you need to meet him.  He works in Houston for the office of Taylor Publishing, and he knows his tech.  His page has all kinds of great resources and teaching tips.  Hal is your Pal.

19 – I love these A to Z yearbook terminology cards.  I am going to download them all – thanks Yearbook Ladies.

20 – Is solo reporting too much for reporters, with the always on deadline 24/7/365 news cycle?  The Journalism Classroom Notebook thinks that today’s journalists are likely to face lots of burnout and possibly change to other careers more quickly.

21 – Black Star Rising blog has a superb review of the history of the First Amendment and why it is so important to keep defending it today.

Wow, I guess I had more links than I thought – of course now I won’t have anything for Sunday!  lol.  I hope you are still enjoying your time off – I start back at school on Aug. 16 (no students until Aug. 23).  Hoping to enjoy my last few weeks off.

Cool Links #88: The One About Another New Principal

Last week our principal of only three years dropped a bomb on us via email – he resigned.  We now have a caretaker administrator to finish out the school year and no word on how or when they will search for/pick a new principal.  I’ve written off and on about the need to keep good lines of communication open with your principal.  But starting the dialog can be difficult and I’ve not often looked forward to the opening conversations with a new principal.  It’s sometimes difficult to discover just what makes each one tick.  What is important to them? How can you be a part of helping them with their goals, so that they might be more inclined to help you with yours?  I guess we’re in for four months of a roller coaster ride until school starts in the fall.

Now for the cool links:

1 – Teachers are at the end of the line and they just aren’t going to take it anymore!  (Thanks to the Principal’s Page blog)

2 – Need to learn basic masking in Photoshop?  Nicolesy will show you how.

3 – Daniel Pink is on to something with motivation 2.0, he identifies the problem – old carrot and stick motivation doesn’t work in a web 2.0 world.  But he doesn’t say how to set up the right conditions for new motivation to work.

4 – This is just too punny.

But I Didn't Shoot The Lowercase

But I Didn't Shoot The Lowercase

5 – The Blogush Blog discusses why change in schools comes slowly and sometimes not at all.

6 – When you are designing, sometimes you need to draw it out before you create the design.  Hongkiat has some great tools for offline web design.

7 – If you are like me, you don’t throw away a camera until it dies.  But when is the right time to let go of an old DSLR?  Find out how many photos you’ve shot (actuations) – the Digital Photography School can help show you how.

8 – How many times has this happened to your Student TV News show?  Too many I’ll bet.

Insert Error Here

Insert Error Here

Short week.  That’s all folks.

Cool Links #83: The One About Eternal Installing

I recently was lucky enough to get 22 new iMacs from our district’s bond program along with Adobe Creative Suite CS4.  I’ve never had more than six new computers before, and our district does not really have anyone who does IT for Macs (we are a PC district).  So, that has meant that I have been installing software and getting the computers set up.  It has been a real marathon.  I had no idea.  After nearly two weeks, I think I’m finally at the end of installing, updating, and tweaking.  I never knew that getting what I wanted (and my students needed) would be so much work.  I’ve been falling behind on grading and have had to do a marathon session today.  In addition, Saturday was UIL (state journalism contest – local round) and it is pretty much an all day thing.  So, I’ve been behind on getting this edition of Cool Links out.  Here they are:

1 – 100 Books That Every Teacher Should Read – my favorites are: The First Days of School, Animal Farm, and Charlotte’s Web.

2 – This tongue in cheek list of 25 Ways To Save the Newspaper Industry is a funny, yet almost not funny read.

3 – This should be frightening to anyone working the sports beat, sports writing by robot.  Local sports teams will be able to enter their info via computer, which will then spit out a summary and box score.

4 – DK Publishing put out a video about the future of the publishing industry.

5 – In the wake of the Google/China search pullout, Jeff Jarvis wrote a Bill of Rights for the Internet.  If you create, consume or desire free, independent media – then you might want to read this.

6 – Photojournalism From The Student’s Eye has two new Final Cut tutorials, this time about adding Lower Thirds (titles) to your video.

7 – The best news videographer/blogger in the biz, Viewfinder BLUES has a hilarious post on the deseases faced by those who carry logo’d cameras around for a living.

8 – Tamron Lenses released episode ten – all about how to get a good White Balance.

9 – If  you use a lot of Web 2.0 services like Twitter, Facebook, Gmail or Yahoo mail – then it irks you when you’re not sure if the services is slow, down or if it is your computer or internet connection.  Now there’s help – Downrightnow – they will let you know for sure.

10 – Sir Ken Robinson has been speaking everywhere they will let him about the broken system of education.  Here he is on CNN detailing what he feels needs to be fixed.

11 – Google, best company ever or evil empire?  You decide.

Have a great week – should be a short one for most of us with a long weekend.

Cool Links #79: The One About Saturday Work Days

This Saturday my district had an official work day.  Now, I know my teacher pals out in California are wondering how crazy I am to complain, since they have furlough days.  It seems weird, but true.  We have 10 days a year of staff development.  My district decided that two of these days would be on Saturdays prior to state testing weeks.  Lucky for me, I got time to work on planning, grading, ete.  I took that time to check yearbook pages.  It took up nearly all of the day, plus I checked equipment that was turned in and put away (some poorly).  It was actually a productive day.  Now the links:

1 – This is a fun read.  A Newsweek magazine writer in 1995 wrote a screed against the internet – mostly about how it was going to fail to bring us online shopping, telecommuting, online ticketing and reservations and how it would fail to replace newspapers, want ads, travel agents or retail stores.  Fun.

2 – A good friend of mine is heading to Portland for a conference, but more importantly is wondering – just like I often do – how the heck do you find a camera that will work with your computer editing gear?  It’s a big problem.

3 – This is an excellent post about the 960 Web grid.  I think almost all good design on the web or off starts with a good grid system.

4 – The excellent Edit Foundry blog has a post about how to use regular text features found in most NLE software to spice up your b/roll in a news story, complete with video examples.

5 – As a kid, I loved School House Rock.  The videos helped me learn the Preamble to the Constitution and what the heck an Adverb was or a Conjunction.  I’m working with my yearbook staff on AP Style and Grammar and some need a refresher on the parts of speech, but I want to make it fun for them, so here are some of the best Grammar Rocks episodes.  I highly recommend purchasing it – possibly from

6 – The ever useful Bob Kaplitz blog has another post about shooting your own stand-ups, something we all need to teach now that everyone is expected to be an MMJ or 1-man-band.

His second video this week was one about constructing a video for storytelling.  Great tips.

7 – As someone who is always trying to find a better way to motivate students to do a good job, I find this Dan Pink TED Talk to be both interesting and depressing.  He shows us how extrinsic motivation is not working, but doesn’t really show us how to use intrinsic motivation to replace it.  I do plan on reading his book Drive soon.

8 – It seems like the Paparazzi have always been with us, at least as long as photography has – here’s a photo from 1932 to show how it was done then.

Paparazzi in 1932

Paparazzi in 1932

9 – Campfire Journalism has a wicked cool video on how to use Garageband for Journalists.  I wish there was a similar video for Audacity too.  They have a ton of other great resources too.

Have a great week.  We are nearly done with the yearbook – can’t wait.

Cool Links #67: Pumpkin Pie Post

For me, the best part of Thanksgiving is the pumpkin pie.  I’ve already had a slice and will probably have to go to the store on Wednesday and buy another pie.  This is not helping in my battle to drop some weight.  I’m seriously thinking of Twittering my weight once a week in an effort to provide some external motivation.  What do you think?  Post it here @Teach_J. Now on to the low fat links.  With even more holiday flavor.

1 – I’m not a regular reader or a fan of The Scobleizer (the man with a huge following on Twitter), but this link came via my Twitter feed and I agree with a lot of the premise.  I’ve been lamenting this trend on this blog for some time – the blurring between the ad space and the content space.  The loss of ethics and standards of journalistic conduct.  And if those stories aren’t enough to crush your inner journalist, then watch this video of an LA Times reporter on Dancing With The Stars and wonder where is journalism heading?

Reporting on The Stars?

Reporting on The Stars?

2 – Is The Internet Dying? Or is it experiencing the same slowdown as the global economy?  Here’s a slideshare that shows Internet traffic is down to a great many sites.  The question is why?  I’m wondering if it is due to mobile devices.  I’m not sure that the google metrics the slideshow uses show mobile hits.

3 – I love guerrilla marketing.  Anything different, outrageous or funny will get people’s attention.  What makes it effective is if you make a point too.   Here are some good examples, now I just want to know how we can take these ideas and translate them into good ideas to sell yearbooks.

4 – If you are like me, you spend a lot of hours in front of a screen both at work and at home.  I really like this Lifehacker article about making your workstation ergonomic.

Make your workspace ergonomic

Make your workspace ergonomic

5 – Thanks to Viewfinder Blues for putting me onto the trail of this gem.  You’ve got to love the pure ’80s schlock value.   Funny, yet satisfying.

6 – The copyblogger has been one of my favorite blogs for a long time.   Short, useful posts like this one are why – The Art of the Paragraph.

7 – Thanks to the wonderful Suzanne Yada for posting this interview with blogger and head TWIT Leo Laporte on the future of journalism.

8 – Copyblogger strikes again with this post about EMINEM and how he is a great storyteller.  I don’t like his music, but there’s no disagreeing with his success as a rap artist, which comes mainly from connecting with his audience.

9 – This next link is just for fun – 8 Video Games that Feature Photographers. My favorite:

Pokemon Snap

10 – Poynter Online has posted a site and a Twitter stream called 100 Things Journalists Should Never Do. Some of it is repetitive, but worth a look.

11 – Advancing The Story has a list of Five Don’ts for Multimedia journalists.  Best take away – Don’t complain about carrying gear. There are hundreds of darn good reporters out there who are carrying resumes right now who would kill to be carrying gear.

12 – DigiDave thinks we can save the communication of information without “Big J Journalism.”   I’m sorry, but I disagree.  I think that without journalists backed with deep pockets, we lose the power of the press to big corporations.  I agree that the current model is broken both at newspapers and broadcast.  People bought the paper for the sports section or the crossword puzzle, the news came as a bonus.  Same with TV, they watch CBS or NBC for the entertainment, but once or twice a day there is also news.  It was good for our democracy.  People were informed by happy coincidence.  Under this new model of the future.  Journalism will be smaller and only found by those looking for it.  Well, as they say, most news is bad news.  Most people would rather not.  The uncoupling of news from everything else in a newspaper or an entertainment source like a TV network will hurt journalism.   It will diminish both the quantity and quality of the news.  The lack of profit will drive talented journalists into other businesses and those few who remain will produce less, thus less news.  Business and government will not care.  There are so many easy ways to spin their PR to the populace.  And now there will be fewer journalists out there to ask the hard questions.

13 – I like this post from the Clever Sheep – Ten Trends for the Classroom of Tomorrow.  But the first one needs to be  getting rid of the Internet nannies in every school IT department.  Otherwise, none of the great Web 2.0 tools will ever see the light of day in a classroom.

Sorry this took so long to get out this week.  I’m on holiday time and that means everything is a little slower.



Day of Weirdness

Today was a crazy day.  We lost power, but only in part of the building.  I actually sat in air conditioned splendor during the entire event.  But because we lost power in about 70 percent of the building – during lunch no less – we ended up sending the students home.

This happened on Homecoming Friday.  Normally we have a pep rally on this day.  It is a huge deal and a big tradition.  But with no power, there was no way to even feed the students, never mind have a pep rally.  So, we called for the buses and sent the kids home early.

Before we were able to do all of that, we were under “lock down” with our kids for two hours.  This meant I had to sweep up any kids near my classroom, there were two, and keep them in my room until the all clear.  I understand the lock down, but it was hard on the kids who didn’t have lunch yet.  We were lucky because my class is actually connected to the freshmen class offices.

The freshmen counselor actually made my kids popcorn and we used the soda machine in the teacher’s lounge to help keep the kids happy and not hungry.  It turned a potentially bad situation into a fun one.

I still have to collect several cameras, due to the fact that my photojournalism kids were out shooting during the event.  They were swept up all over campus.  Fun will ensue again on Tuesday after our teacher workday.

If that wasn’t wild enough, we are now dodging the rain that started falling around 10 a.m. at the game tonight.  Hopefully we can crown the king and queen without them drowning.