My tweets from Pete & C 2010

I decided to do a Cover It Live for all of my tweets from Pete & C 2010 for the next 3 days. Follow the link below to see them.

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Wordles – Looking back on the year and more!

At this time of year, it seems everyone is reflecting on “a years worth of tweets/status updates.” So, of course that got me thinking about doing the same. I really enjoy using Wordle, so I decided to make two – one of my most used words on twitter (from TweetStats) and from this blog. Here are the results. First from Twitter:

It’s no surprise that some of the largest words involve “band”, “music”, and “students.”

Here’s the wordle from this blog:

Again, very similar.

I’m pleased with the results, and it’s fun to reflect back on what I have been tweeting/writing about. Try it out for yourself! I’d be interested in seeing what you come up with!

Here’s wishing you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2010!

My First Experiences in Second Life

A while back, I posted a tweet on my Twitter after reading some posts by other educators who use Second Life. I immediately heard back from @msgregson

…I was convinced right away. I really didn’t need that much convincing anyway, but it was just the push that I needed to give it a try. I had been seeing lots of folks in my PLN talking about SL and their educational experiences with it, and it sounded really interesting to me. So, I downloaded the software, created my avatar and started exploring.

So far, every person that I have met in SL has been incredibly helpful, encouraging, and kind. I am grateful to @msgregson for encouraging me to do it, and especially grateful to @ejulez for basically being my SL mentor!

I have only been on SL for a few weeks now, and every day I am pleasantly surprised with all of the opportunities that exist there. I know there is probably even more that I do

Me in Second Life as Cosmo Lanley

n’t even know about. I am excited about the possibilities for learning!

I think the most exciting part for me is that I get to meet new people almost every day. And, most of those people are other educators from around the world. It is so wonderful to sit in the comfort of my pj’s and slippers and have great conversations about education, attend a virtual conference or presentation, or just hang out and have fun playing games, or even dancing (something I rarely do in real life)!

A while back I wrote a post about how I thought Twitter was helping me to become a more social person. Second Life has fostered that growth even more. I have to admit that I was even a little shy about interacting with folks in Second Life at first, but now I say hello to everyone I meet without hesitation. And, part of the reason that I am so comfortable with that is because of the genuine kindness of everyone that I’ve met.

My SL mentor, Julie Sugarplum has written a great post about her experiences with Second Life, and I couldn’t agree more with her. Julie sums up one of the best things about SL to me, “The networking alone is something no one should want to pass up and in my opinion is a more effective method of networking than the real world (inexpensive, less time consuming and you can do it in your jammies and fuzzy slippers).”  If you are an educator using Second Life in any way, or if you are interested in getting into it, please share your thoughts and comments! And, if you are already a SLer, please look me up!

A Student’s Thoughts on Wikipedia

wikipedia-logoWhat follows is an article a student of mine wrote in the school newspaper. This echoes my feelings on Wikipedia and how it is viewed in education.

This school is giving Wikipedia a bad name. As a small child in ninth grade, I was convinced that the online self-edit encyclopedia was a bad website for information, because my research paper teacher told us so. For two years after, I had it worked out in my head that Wikipedia was the center of all lies. As it turns out, this is not true. That’s right, every teacher’s nightmare is about to come true because the truth is about to be exposed. Go onto any Wikipedia page and look near the bottom, you may notice the links citing information. Now call me crazy, but I don’t think if people were lying they would go so far as to make up a link with more false information. The biggest discovery happened over the summer. I was with my older sister and our neighbor changing around some Wikipedia pages for fun, because there was nothing else to do. For example, the best change was my sister taking the biography from Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara and pasting it into a new political beliefs section on the page for the popular television family, The Brady Bunch. After looking at the page again, the change was taken down within less than a minute. You see, the people at Wikipedia are really on top of their game, they know what they’re doing. Stop blocking that site and block stuff Amazon.com, as site where people can buy stuff from the computer lab.

Dr. Willard Daggett – Preparing Students for the 21st Century

What follows below is my archive of tweets from a staff in-service presentation that I had the pleasure of attending yesterday. The presentation was given by Dr. Willard Daggett of the International Center for Leadership in Education. He touched on a wide range of topics and his presentation was very thought-provoking. He gave us all food for thought, and I wanted to share them here. Of course, if you want to read these chronologically, start at the bottom with number 33. You don’t have to do that, though.

  1. Love the kids more than the discipline you teach and more than the adults you work with. #daggettabout 17 hours ago from txt
  2. Great presentation by Dr. Daggett! Lots of good things to think about! #daggettabout 17 hours ago from txt
  3. Increasingly kids are coming to school to watch their teachers work. #daggettabout 17 hours ago from txt
  4. Our schools have become museums. #daggettabout 17 hours ago from txt
  5. Every industrialized nation has changed the qwerty keyboard to be more efficient, except the US. #daggettabout 17 hours ago from txt
  6. Can you find a field that has been less impacted by technology than education? #daggettabout 17 hours ago from txt
  7. Showing Siftables ! Sweet! #daggettabout 17 hours ago from txt
  8. We are so into the institution of our past that we dont even know where we are. #daggettabout 17 hours ago from txt
  9. Within 3 yrs. there will be technology for computers in jewelry. #daggettabout 18 hours ago from txt
  10. Teachers – If you dont have a pda, u r pretending to teach in a world u dont know. #daggettabout 18 hours ago from txt
  11. Our schools are more like 1950 than unlike it. we are not preparing our students for the 21st century. #daggettabout 18 hours ago from txt
  12. The US has 5% of the worlds population but more debt than the rest of the world combined. #daggettabout 18 hours ago from txt
  13. Wal Mart is the US’s largest corporation…8 times the size of Microsoft. #daggettabout 18 hours ago from txt
  14. Two percent of the US gross domestic product is spent at Wal Mart. #daggettabout 18 hours ago from txt
  15. China has over 100 cities with 1 million or more people. The US has 9. #daggettabout 18 hours ago from txt
  16. India has 168 million pre-schoolers. That could be the 4th largest nation on earth. #daggettabout 18 hours ago from txt
  17. In America we are totally focussed on standardized testing as the outcome of our education system. #daggettabout 18 hours ago from txt
  18. Who pushes our school reform? Business & industry. #daggettabout 19 hours ago from txt
  19. All anchors & eligible content are not equally important. #daggettabout 19 hours ago from txt
  20. When whats best for students comes in conflict with whats convient whos winning? #daggettabout 19 hours ago from txt
  21. Highest performing schools have looping staff #daggettabout 19 hours ago from txt
  22. Most rapidly improving schools encourage participation in the arts. YES! #daggettabout 19 hours ago from txt
  23. Relevance makes rigor possible for most students. #daggettabout 20 hours ago from txt
  24. these schools have “rigor & relevance” #daggettabout 20 hours ago from txt
  25. Highest performing schools structure their instruction differently…. #daggettabout 20 hours ago from txt
  26. The US is no loger the sole superpower in the world. Our fiercest competitors in the next decade include Brazil Panama & indonesia #daggettabout 20 hours ago from txt
  27. …when our focus should be on application to real world situations…we have permitted tests to become end line #daggettabout 20 hours ago from txt
  28. We have an ed systen focussed on knowledge in one discipline and application in one discipline…about 20 hours ago from txt
  29. US schools graduated more 18 year olds last year than ever in our history #daggettabout 20 hours ago from txt
  30. What makes a school a highest performing school is not transferrable to other schools. #daggettabout 20 hours ago from txt
  31. How do u commit to excellence AND equity? #daggettabout 20 hours ago from txt
  32. “Preparing Students for the 21st Century” – Dr. Willard Daggettabout 20 hours ago from txt
  33. Going to live tweet some thoughts from preso by Dr. Willard Daggett @ staff in-service.

How social media has helped me come out of my shell

I am the quiet observer type. But, I have found that using social media outlets, especially Twitter, has made it much easier for me to communicate with my colleagues, and especially people that I am just meeting for the first time. I find it easier to have meaningful discussions with new acquaintances.

Here are my personal observations. 1. I am more comfortable and confident holding conversations with colleagues & new acquaintances. 2. While holding these conversations, I feel that my thoughts are more succinct and clear. 3. I actually feel like I can communicate more effectively to my students. 4. I am no longer reserved about sharing my thoughts and comments with people who I hardly know.

I know there is a lot of talk, especially in education circles, about the use of social media by students. Some fear that using these online communication methods are somehow destroying students’ abilities to communicate effectively and properly “in the real world.”

My question would be this. Why then, have I found that my communications skills have improved? Is it simply because I previously learned proper social interaction before this whole social media thing happened? Or, has social media actually influenced the way I communicate?

I have always been a shy person, but I would no longer put myself in that category. Perhaps writing this blog has helped, too. Maybe through writing this blog and using twitter, I have realized that “putting my thoughts out there” isn’t a bad thing. In fact, maybe it’s a good thing…a really good thing. I have learned so much and had such great conversation with other educators and professionals through these social media outlets.

I don’t know that I can draw any conclusions about young people, but I know that these outlets have helped me to communicate more effectively and more comfortably. Just food for thought.

I am now a STAR Discovery Educator!!

Discovery Educator Network I just found out today that I am now a STAR Discovery Educator! I am still waiting to receive my welcome kit in the mail, but I’m very excited to get started sharing with my colleagues!!  Here’s the email I received below:

Dear Doug Butchy,

Congratulations! You have been selected as a STAR member of the Discovery Educator Network! As a new STAR Discovery Educator you will be an important part of a dynamic group of educators who are blazing new trails in technology use in the classroom. Your commitment to sharing resources and ideas in your local community has created an amazing opportunity for growth and learning. As a new STAR you now have access to a wide range of resources and benefits. Your enthusiasm and dedication will be supported with networking opportunities, professional development activities and exclusive DEN events. You should be receiving a welcome kit from us shortly containing everything you will need to start your membership off with a bang. We are excited and proud to have you on board as an innovative and inspiring teacher, ready to build a meaningful community of educators! Welcome to the Discovery Educator Network!

Where did the summer go?

I can’t believe that I haven’t posted anything since the end of the school year! Well, the school year ended up great, and I’m actually very excited for the school year to begin. Maybe even more excited than I have been in a while!

I just finished up attending a 2 day ed tech conference at a local school. It was the first one, and it was a great success. We had sessions on Wikis, podcasting, Web 2.0, and I even gave a presentation on blogging. It was a wonderful first year, and I am looking forward to attending future events.

We have some major changes coming to my music program this year, which is very exciting. First, my senior high band will be rehearsing all together in one period every day of the week. In the previous 5 years, they rehearsed in 2 separate periods, and only 2 days a week, since we shared the students with the choir program during the same period. I really think the group will now be able to play music at a level that is up to their potential. They are very talented, but we just didn’t ever have the time to prepare anything more challenging than a grade 3 level piece.

Another change to our band program is that we are going with only 5th and 6th grade participation in band, instead of 4th, 5th, and 6th. This will allow me to see the elementary band students 2 days a week…once in a small group with like instruments, and once in a large group “band” rehearsal. This is very exciting! We will actually be able to perform complete arrangements at our concerts, instead of silly 8-measure exercises out of the book!

Finally, we a receiving new marching band uniforms this year! After 3 years of asking, they were finally ordered last spring, and should be here in time for our first game, which is at home. I can’t wait to make our traditional march to the stadium in those brand new uniforms!!

So, things are shaping up to be a great year! Band camp begins on Monday! Just don’t ask me if I have finished writing my drill charts yet! 🙂

Keep Them Coming Back for More!

And by “them”, I mean my elementary students. I had a great conversation last night with my graduate saxophone teacher, Dr. James Umble. I had mentioned that I was struggling with teaching elementary band. I lamented about how the students don’t show up for their small group lessons, they don’t practice, etc. Then I mentioned a conversation I had with my assitant band director. His son plays trombone in my elementary program. He is also taking private electric bass lessons. This student practices the bass a heck of a lot more than his trombone. Why? Because playing the bass is fun for him. Playing the trombone is not. Why? Because he gets to play what he wants on the bass. He gets to play music that appeals to him.

At this point, let me just say, I am old-school. I was raised on the old Rubank method books, and that is how I tend to teach, especially at the elementary level. For someone that claims to be a techie geek, I am extremely outdated in my approach to teaching elementary band. I am so into Garage Band and SmartMusic, etc…why am I not using these in my elementary band classes?? I don’t know. I think it is because I’m somewhat afraid to go out on a limb and stray from the class method book. But, I think I have to.

This goes back to the conversation I was having with Dr. Umble. How can I still teach the important basics of playing an instrument that are included in the method book, and yet make it interesting for the students? Let’s face it…how many kids are pumped about going to band to play “Hot Cross Buns?” Not many in my school!

So here is what I think I have to do. I have to find a way to use the method book in addition to some kind of supplemental material that is going to be “cool”, “awesome”, or even “rad!” What am I going to do to make the students want to look forward to coming to band every week? What am I going to do so that students are counting down the days until the next rehearsal? It has to be interesting and egaging for them, or they will leave it behind. And, that is what is happening at my school.

Some ideas I’ve kicked around include looking at my method book and identifying the key concepts that are introduced and reinforced, and then creating my own exercises that are handouts to supplement what is in the book. These handouts would be songs or etudes that are popular songs, or other things that the students would be interested in playing. This may even motivate them to practice!

Dr. Umble even suggested that I use Garage Band to loop something for the students to play with. Why didn’t I think of this?! We could play the exercises out of the book, and I could create loops for the students to play along with! Also, why don’t we have the students create podcasts? We could have them doing improvisation with Garage Band, record it, and then post it as a podcast!

So these are the things I’m thinking about doing with my elementary program, in addition to using SmartMusic to some degree.

What do you do with your elementary programs to keep the kids coming back for more?? What motivates them to come to your rehearsals? What motivates your students to practice?