Sunday, November 14, 2010


Get a Voki now!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Guest Alum-sMACers

Class last Friday was a great way to end the summer semester. The three visiting teachers seemed to have gotten into the 'rhythm' of teaching and had discovered techniques that worked both for themselves and for their students. I was particularly concerned with Lauren Fardig's commentary because I plan to teach in a high need area. Her tips and advice will likely be helpful in my own experience. What I also realized from Friday's class is that as sMACers we already have quite a large network of teachers, throughout all parts of the US and in various parts of the world. It would be immensely helpful to be linked with those teachers when looking for job opportunities this coming Spring.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Things Will Turn Around...

I keep saying that Detroit is the place to be... but no one believes me. Yet here is more evidence that Detroit will turn around:

The New York Times reported today in the article Wringing Art Out of the Rubble in Detroit, that artists are beginning to gather people together with the common interest of sparking Detroit back to life with art as the fuel for that spark. Volunteerism is apparently not hard to come by, which I think is so unique to America: no where else is volunteerism so effective and so powerful! These unique conditions lead me to believe that Detroit can be returned to its previous state of grandeur... given some time.

Even Banksy, the well-known political graffiti artist of London has apparently visited Detroit. Banksy in my opinion represents the type of pop artists that I can envision, and have already begun, to sprout in Detroit. Since those with the means fled to the suburbs, let those that have remained in Detroit use this opportunity to reclaim the city and remake it in their own vision. This is what artists in London have been doing in the East, the rougher side of town: And its lovely, its hip and its cultural!

Here is some of Banksy's provocative work:

Banksy has made a great effect on Londoners, but also internationally. He has brought art to the working classes. Through his political commentary he has encouraged art appreciation throughout all socio-economic levels, which contrary to many schools of thought was once believed to be reserved to the 'intellectuals' and upper classes of society. Banksy caused quite an artistic revolution - from the bottom up!

Here is some of the art going on in Detroit:
This particular piece was created by Mr. Hocking who is intrigued by the idea of rubbish as modern relics.

I would add that the large numbers of buildings that are falling apart are also beautiful ruins, and should be saved before its too late. I understand that there is not much money to go into these renovations but that is where volunteerism may come handy... and I believe that many interest groups would utilize the incentive of renovating spaces if they could then use them toward their purposes. Where this isn't possible it might be a good idea for the city of Detroit to consider selling property relatively cheaply, which I believe they've already begun to do, so that the landowners could take the responsibility for a portion of the renovations and take some of the burden off of the city.

Please visit the following NYTimes article to read about the Soup gatherings and for the source of the last image (above).

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Pay Attention Children!

It is true that Gen M is wired to many different forms of technology all at once. The same applies to myself: I have the TV on while I'm typing on my laptop and messaging both on Facebook and Blackberry messenger. Is this a good thing honestly? Its probably okay when writing my own personal blog but I wouldn't be doing all these things if I had to write a serious, well thought-out paper.
I am pretty open minded and accepting when it comes to technology: I am willing to embrace it within the classroom. But as the article mentioned, technology often promotes 'continuous partial attention' and that for me is difficult to accept. It is difficult to truly understand important concepts and ideas without one's the ability to pay attention fully... and that skill comes with training the self for many years. Thus, concentration is yet another thing a teacher must teach to students as that is what will be encountered in colleges and universities.
I think balance is crucial. Certain things like using mobile phones and social networks like facebook and twitter during class can negatively impact the potential for learning during class. So the teacher who desires to use technology must find a way to achieve this balance and use technology to promote, rather than take away from, learning.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

On Audio

I've been a Mac user for 6 years and never during that time have I utilized GarageBand. This is such a pity because now I realize how useful this program is... and I only presently understand a tiny fraction of the possible uses of the program. I was impressed by the ease of use despite not knowing anything about audio recording programs. As a teacher one concern however might be the time involved in recording particular texts. On the other hand, recordings may allow me to prepare more well thought-out explanatory lectures for my classes.

I didn't really grasp the concept of a Podcast before Fridays class. I seems I've been missing out. I can see how practical it would be to listen to Podcasts, while walking or working-out for example: I'd be killing two birds with one stone! Athletes might find this useful too as podcasts could help athletes keep up with classwork. It could also help students that are not physically active to accommodate both academics and exercise in their lifestyle. Podcasts might also be useful for those students, which have jobs or have to take care of siblings, to 'listen in' whenever they have a free moment. Additionally it could help those students with learning disabilities such as dislexia to absorb the material in another form or to reinforce the text they are reading.

Once again however I have to question the societal implications that may present themselves if it becomes appropriate to replace text with audio information... or even that it may become an expectation to multi-task while 'ingesting' material from podcasts.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Gaming to Learn

I wonder if I'd be different today if I played more video games... Would I be smarter, quicker, or better at solving problems? If yes, is it too late to start??? When I think of video games two things come to my mind: 1) amazing graphics and 2) my little brother who would spend entire days in the basement playing games. After emerging from his gaming sessions his eyes would be bloodshot as if he had been doing something inappropriate...
I love the idea of using games in learning. I love the idea of simulating practices such as biology or history through games and using textbooks as references... because honestly as James Paul Gee accurately contends, textbooks do not make any sense unless there is a context through which to understand them. As more and more graphic designers and video game designers are entering the job market and as more and more 3D and 4D technology emerges, we may very well be able to simulate learning through games and simultaneously assess this learning.
I wonder however if there is research about varying abilities for students to adapt to this type of learning. How do different students utilize these tools? Do some students have a greater affinity to games? What about students with learning disabilities: Do games facilitate learning or create more challenges? How does the cognitive process differ when playing video games?
The only game I ever completed entirely was Zelda and the Ocarina of Time. It was an amazing game. However, my gaming career ended there unfortunately. I can see value in efforts made for collaboration between game designers and educators to commission a series of excellent, fun, high quality games to facilitate learning. Video games are here to stay. We might as well make the most of this phenomenon... and it may prove favorable and enjoyable to everyone. Perhaps I shall revisit my old hobby of gaming...???
I suggest browsing through It includes digital art from artists all over the world. The image above is by the artist Mario Wibisono and I believe this warrior character has been used in a video game... She served as inspiration for many of my illustrations.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Splendidly Twitterful!

I have to admit I'm convinced... Since class last Friday I opened a Twitter account and am following 11 people/groups/organizations. Some of the favorite groups I'm following include the Museum of Modern Art, londonart, Reuters and NPR news. Since I'm addicted to my Blackberry, Twitter gives me something to do and at the same time proves to keep me updated! When I'm missing London some of the artsy Twitter groups provide some great images of street art....

Friday's class went very well. I think the student-led discussion was a great idea. Beyond simply discussing the readings it gives us a chance to practice going in front of a class and presenting material to a group of students. I was honestly a bit too intimidated and unready to make that move... but I hope I will have more opportunities to do so as the year progresses.