HTML and CSS: Week 2 reflection.

I am failing P2PU. A very public admission on my behalf.

I’m on the back foot, I have to admit, and I am going to have to do some serious catching up this weekend. I know, I can hear you saying, “You said that last week”, and I did. I’ve underestimated how hard it is to devote time to something that is difficult for me. It’s a bit like me and maths; we don’t really gel. I prefer to do other things, and my motivation levels aren’t exactly high when I know I have to tackle something that challenges me.

That being said, it has been a particularly busy week at work. It was Literature week at my school, and we hosted authors for four days out of the five. Sometimes there were three authors visiting within the course of a day. Making sure it all went smoothly, and making sure people felt comfortable and well catered for was demanding. I found myself going home exhausted, and too tired to tackle the difficulties of the unknown.

So, my admission here is that I need to complete tasks from Week 1 and 2, and then take a look at what’s been posted for week 3. It’s my great hope that my Week 3 reflection will be a happier tale than this one.

I’m very grateful to Jackson Bates, who left a comment today that included a YouTube video (see below) he used when starting out with code. I’ve just watched the first 12 minutes, and already it’s made more sense to me than anything else so far. In my Week 1 reflection I said I thought I needed to be shown in order to gain understanding. That’s exactly what this video does. It tells me what the code means and how changes to it impact on what a page looks like. I’ve found it very helpful; the path forward seems less tangled already. Jackson has also offered to answer my embarrassing questions, and he just might find himself facing a couple of those over the next week!

I know failure can be turned around. The very fact that I have to publicly post reflections is enough to make me try and beat this one. Jamie, stay posted, I just may get somewhere this week.

(Thank goodness Jamie is not posting Week 4 until June 15th. Breathing space!)

School’s out Friday

Does this remind you of anyone? You, maybe? Those of us who tweet regularly, update our status on facebook, those of us who blog? Once again, improveverywhere have made me smile, and plenty of others in that audience too by the looks of things.

BUT, not everyone agrees with the mirth and merriment. This video was posted on the TED site this week, and the comment thread accompanying it shows that some TEDsters are unhappy that something so ‘light’ could be put up as being worthy of inclusion. Take this comment as an example,

Between the video on how to tie your shoes and now this improv anywhere video that is reminiscent of something that would recommended to me on youtube, I’m a little bit disappointed in the videos that have been posted recently. It’s not that theres nothing to learn from these videos; one could make the case that the shoe tying video shows the importance of reexamining things we’re sure of or that this video shows the value of play and spontaneity, but I think those would be a far stretch. I guess over the years I’ve become accustomed to a TED that challenges me and expands my view of the world, not panders to me.

Really TEDsters? Lighten up. Not everything needs to be serious. In fact, sometimes taking the mickey out of ourselves provides insight into the way we conduct our lives.

Anyway, my need to share brings me to this. Last week was House Music day at my school, and I was mightily impressed with the small group music items. The winning group posted their effort on YouTube, and like a proud mother, I just have to share the talents of the students at my school with you all. So, take it away Cerutty Mads 2011, singing Love You by Free Design.

Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Have a great weekend. Enjoy : )

Garr’s TEDxTokyo talk – Lessons from the bamboo

Garr Reynolds has been inspiring me for over three years. I even flew to Sydney nearly 3 years ago now to hear him speak. His ideas about presentation techniques have influenced how I deliver presentations to groups. I think he’s made me a much more able presenter, and I suspect an audience or two who have appreciated an interesting slide deck have been unconsciously thankful to him.

I’ve also experienced Garr’s generosity. Last year I was one of the teachers at my school responsible for a camp experience called Creative Communication. Garr very generously gave of his time to talk to my students about what they should know about presenting their work effectively and preparing for a new world of work. They were so impressed with the time he gave to them, and I was impressed that this world class presenter talked to my students for over 30 minutes for nought! We did send him Tim Tams, and they’re worth their weight in gold. : )

Garr is heavily influenced by Japanese culture, and his TEDx Tokyo talk is deeply rooted in the lessons he has learnt from living there for many years. You must watch the presentation, but you can see the lessons from bamboo Garr refers to below. Apply them to your life, to the way you conduct yourself at work, amongst friends, in relationships. I’m sure they will speak to you the same way they speak to me.

What looks weak is strong

Bend, but don’t break

Deeply rooted, yet flexible

Slow down your busy mind

Be always ready

Find wisdom in emptiness

Commit yourself to growth and renewal

Express your usefulness through simplicity

Unleash your power to spring back

Flexibility, Adaptability, Resilience – the lessons from bamboo.

Thanks Garr. Another great lesson. So happy to continue learning from you.

Network glue

A discussion I had recently keeps nagging at me.

I was speaking with someone, about how people like me work pretty tirelessly to provide useful information to educators through networks like Twitter. And I wasn’t just meaning me, I was referring to all of the key educators using Twitter to expand their knowledge base, but also the knowledge base of countless others. People who find good stuff and then pay it forward by tweeting or retweeting really useful links. These are people who don’t lurk in networks and feed off what others produce, they are altruistic in their intent and want to see others benefit from the good content out there that just might help to make us better educators.

The person I was speaking to responded that they didn’t need to do this, they knew who to ask for information.

My problem with this is that there is nothing altruistic in that. It’s almost a selfish act. It means that you become the holder of information, the gatekeeper, and only the favoured few gain from your wealth of knowledge.

I know it might be pretty naive of me to think like this, but I kind of like the idea that we’re all in this together, and sharing what we know with the many helps to make us all better. People who work like this in networks become the network glue; they facilitate connections for others and keep networks alive.

If we’re going to see our education workforce respond to our era, we need the network glue. It’s this sticky lot who will provide the foundation for the newcomer, reinforce the stayer, and educate the lurker. The stickier the better.

School’s out Friday

This very clever marriage proposal has gone viral on YouTube, and for good reason. It appeals to the romantics in all of us, and I bet there are quite a few people out there who are thinking back to their own marriage proposals and figuring they pale in comparison to what this clever young guy thought up for his beloved. (Clue for you all – replace the words ‘I bet there are quite a few people out there’ with ‘Jenny’ and you’ll know I’m referring to me!!)

Finally, the lurgy is leaving me and I think I’m returning to normalcy. What I need is 12 solid hours of rest and I think I’ll finally get over the sickness of the last week and a half! I better not relapse, because our School Library is in for a big week of author visits and an official launch next week and I need to be on deck.

Hope the weekend ahead is full of good times for you all. Enjoy. : )

New look (again!)

I’ve been struggling with the look and feel of the header image of this blog. I’ve played around with previewing other WordPress themes, but none seem to be just that right fit. The only one I like costs $68.00, and I’m not entirely sure I like it that much to fork out the dollars.

So, another header image change is here. This was found on Flickrstorm, doing a Creative Commons: Photos you can use commercially (attribution only) search. It was taken by Ethan Hein.

Thanks Ethan, for sharing your work under a licence that allows others to use it in the work they share with the wider world.

Week 1 reflection: HTML and CSS from the beginning

Lesson number one.

Don’t get sick in the first week of a P2PU course.

I’ve been trying to deal with a virus and still go to work. Bad idea. If I had have taken the necessary time off early on, then I might have warded off the problems of the last week. Achingly sore throat, no voice, developing into hacking debilitating cough. All sapped me of energy and I didn’t spend enough time working on the requirements of the HTML/CSS course.

Jamie set us the task of getting to know the people in the groups we’ve been allocated to. I did that, because I’m good at making contact and feel comfortable sharing information. I’m in a group with Alejandro, Jesus, Justine and James. They hail from Mexico, Venuzeula, Florida and Sweden and all of them seem to be a lot more adept with their skill base than I am. That’s made things seem pretty daunting. I’ve wanted to ask questions, but I’ve found myself in the uncomfortable position of feeling not up to the task. It seems to me that the questions I need answering are all pretty basic and it’s somewhat embarrassing to have to ask them. If there’s something I can take away from this last week, it’s the ability to have greater empathy for the kids who are struggling with concepts. That’s me right now, and it’s not a great space to be in.

I figured out the text editor I needed when using a Mac, and tried writing out what I assume is pretty basic code over and over. I haven’t committed it to memory, and haven’t spent enough time doing it. I can see I am going to have to devote time to catching up now that I’m starting to feel a bit better. I want to know how coders know how far to indent code for specific lines, but once again, it seems like a lame question to ask. My take is that you just have to get a handle on the indentations and where they need to lie, and then use the tab to move to a space near where it begins and use the arrow key to get it in the right position. I’ll have to spend more time on this rote learning task in the coming week and hope I can catch up.

I haven’t done the view source exercise -another thing that I need to catch up on. It’s not hard, just compromised because I’ve been getting home from work and pretty much doing what needs to be done for the kids and then trying to sleep in between coughing.

Jamie isn’t providing video lectures, but to be honest, I think something like that would help someone like me. I feel like I need to be shown before I try and do stuff by myself, probably because this is so new to me. I haven’t used the IRC chat room, and probably should have. Like I said before, my questions seem so base level, and it feels a bit embarrassing having to ask them!!

I do want to learn from this course, but that means I have to do the work. I am going to have to commit double the time this week to it so that I can feel like I’m on top of it. Wish me luck!

School’s out Friday

I first saw this video awhile ago on Chris Betcher’s blog. I’ve never been able to locate it on YouTube and was happy when a colleague sent me the link yesterday and said, “You will love this”. I do too.

I know there are thousands upon thousands of people out there with a deep attachment to the printed book, but I’m not one of them. I do have a deep attachment to attaining information, and I really don’t mind if that information comes from a printed book or a website. And despite what Nicholas Carr might say, I love the fact that a website can pull me in so many different directions and lead me to something I hadn’t even realised I might be interested in. So when I see these kids with their mockumentary take on the book, I’m with them all the way.

I’ve been laid up this week with a viral malady that robbed me of my voice yesterday. That, combined with some hideously awful weather here in Melbourne, have made for a grim week of sorts. I’m looking forward to reinstated vocal chords and some cheery sunshine in the coming days. Hopefully they’ll both be here sooner rather than later. Right now, I’m listening to some serious hail pelting down on our roof, so it’s not looking all that promising!

Hope your weekend treats you well. Enjoy whatever comes your way. : )

10 minutes well spent

If you ever find yourself a spare ten minutes or so, you should do yourself a favour and check out the TED: Ideas worth spreading site. I do so on a regular basis, most often when I’m in bed browsing on my iPad before I head off to sleep. Last night I watched two very different stories being told, both of which led me to think, to contemplate, to reassess.

Watch both of them. They’re worth the investment. The first is the story of two very remarkable women, both marred by the tragedy of 9/11. They come from what some would see as opposing backgrounds, but they share the common thread of motherhood. Both have suffered, and both find comfort from the other. Their story is a lesson in tolerance, forgiveness and empathy for us all, and is one we should be sharing with the students we teach.

The other is a world apart, but it deals with something not apparent to all, but something that will definitely affect us all. Eli Pariser is the author of “The Filter Bubble,” and in this talk he explains how personalized search might be narrowing our worldview. Eli explains how web services that know what we like and direct results to us that meet our likes, are allowing us to get trapped in a “filter bubble.” The filter bubble prevents us from exposure to information that could challenge or broaden our worldview. Here’s another lesson for not just the adults in the room, our students need this kind of understanding if they are to become architects of their digital lives. After watching this, it’s apparent that personalised search, where organisations are making decisions about what we view, is dangerous territory indeed. Dangerous territory that can lead to lack of tolerance, an inability to forgive, and a decided lack of empathy. There’s the link you need to make these two talks some of the best learning that could take place in a classroom this week.

TED: Ideas worth spreading. Never a truer phrase was uttered. Spread away.

School’s out Friday

I spent $540.00 on these revolutionary new products this afternoon. I sure hope someone picks them up off the shelves to make that expenditure worthwhile!

Another ‘hold my eyes open with toothpicks’ Friday night here after a long and busy week. It’s my long desired hope to share with you this weekend what has been keeping me occupied all of this school year. Hopefully I’ll have the energy to get that post written.

Mother’s Day this weekend in Australia. I’ll be cooking my own Sunday morning breakfast I expect as my husband’s work has deemed it necessary that he attend functions interstate. Good planning gone into that one! If you’re a Mum, Happy Mother’s Day to you. Hope you’re well and truly pampered.

Enjoy your weekend. : )