Express Yourself

Be who you are and say how you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.
--Dr. Seuss

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Abydos Journeying Coming to an End

My Abydos journey in writing is coming to an end.  Three weeks of fun and in depth thought and learning.  I have had a wonderful journey getting to know some wonderful people.  I will try to get some good pics tomorrow of the anchor charts and the people with whom I shared this journey.  I will miss you all.  I have gained some great insights and am surprised put pleased as punch that people like my writing.  I didn't expect them to hate my writing by any means but the overall response was refreshing and inspiring.  I hope that I was the same medium for them.  I had to bring in Vygotsky with all the clumps and buttons.  Now you might not know this but I am procrastinating right now.  I need to work on my extensive piece but I haven't quite figured out just how I want to finalize it.  The funny thing about that is I am going to do what I do with it and leave it be.  Then I am going to pick it up next week and try another audience to possible send it to.  The way I look at it is I have 2 or  3 articles for different audiences.One of my techy colleagues really liked it and gave me more avenues to explore.  Cathy Roth was a great person to shoot the breeze with today and get unique perspectives about where and possibilities of the how.  I very much enjoyed my chat with her today.  My small group was exceptional as it always is.  I am going to miss working with them.  I have learned so much as a writer and fellow colleague working with them.  So the journey ends and yet it is just the beginning!  Why didn't I take more pics along the way?  I could hit myself...but not too hard.  Chou for now!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

My Extensive Draft-My Digital Journeys

“It is not about the bling, it is about the blended,” I caught myself saying to a group of teachers that were working with me on a piece of writing.  Wow!  I cannot really believe that I was actually saying those words.  Yes, me who feared Facebook and Twitter; me who found email challenging; me who considered PowerPoint one of hardest things to do.  That was me, the real me about 3 years ago.  I have morphed into a techy that I could never fathom.
Technology and its application into the digital world scared the bejeebies out of me.  Being afraid of technology was as common as my Houston allergies.  To venture out into the unknown world of the digital caused panic to scream through my veins and take hold of my heart. Technology and anything technological would not fit into my frame of mind or lifestyle.  That was until, until Alan November and his group of staff developers waltzed into my district.  At the same time, as fate would have it, my world would be turned topsy turvy with the district technology modules called 11 Tools for the Twenty-First Century Learner.  For me, it was more like 11 Tools for the wooly mammoth. A major cataclysm would be experienced simultaneously. Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Clause.
The Allen November group, a technological out-of-the-box-and-into-the-think-tank, came to my district in the summer 2011, to provide a new perspective on the use of technology in the classroom and global society. There was a major shift in my thinking the size of the Continental Divide. It was as if Al Gore had turned on the internet for the first time.  I attended two weeks of mind blowing techy talk, demonstrations and chatter. In concert with the passionate presenters and my small group of colleagues, we labored, toiled and had a great time!  I learned that it was actually permissible, if not downright rude, not to ask questions.  Playing with websites and taking the time to do so was imperative and expected. No one had done that before.  Previously, I felt that it was a given that we were to know how to do everything on the computer by osmosis.  Since I didn’t know osmosis on a first name basis, this was awkward place to reside. At the November training, learning became a social act.  We helped each other construct meaning through discovery. Wow!  What a concept! Taking time to problem solve and discover websites!  No more did I have to whisper to others to help me or translate this foreign technological mumbo jumbo.  No more did I have to pretend to be a Secret Service Agent working in the underground.  Bringing the questions and learning to light was a major theme. I loved it!  The presenter, Sara Wilkie, was so energetic and patient. She actually took the time to come to my table and assist me.  I did not feel intimidated by her in the least.  Needless to say, many seeds were planted that would be cultivated. The fruit of this labor would serve me well into my digital future.  I became the Marty McFly in Back to the Future.  What a trip I would encounter.
I experienced a double whammy, a very fortunate wallop in my brain.   I truly had embarked upon my digital journey. Little by little, the Great Wall of Fear crumbled and I became free to create, express and become a certifiable, undeniable digital junkie. There’s no cure for what I have. I am terminal.
Part of the 11 Tools journey was to create a blog so as to document and reflect upon the experience. Initially, the 11 Tools felt more like a 12 Step Program, minus one. “Hello.  My name is Maureen and I am a digital learner!” I would say.  My blogging buds would then say, “Welcome, Maureen, welcome!”  One day at a time.  Megabyte by megabyte.

 Even though I felt slightly more confident in creating a blog and posting my work module by module, I still had those lingering questions and doubts pop up like SPAM. What if I mess this up?  What if I push the wrong button and it goes into the black hole? What is my password and username for the billionth time?  How do I sign into the Wiki?  What is Digo? Huh?  Bombarded with new techy terminology, my mind began to spin out of control.  Ning, Wiki, Digo, Delicious, Google Sites, Digital Literacy, Learning Symphony, Moodle, Jing, What?  Soon my poor brain was on technological overload manifested by sweaty palms and migraine headaches. The good news is that I was not the only one.  Friends and colleagues joined in the hurricane.  An island I was no more.  We would all go down together, down this scary but enticing road. 
While I intended to accept the 11 Tools mission, I gained a working understanding of many websites, which became like family to me.  One of my favorites was and continues to be I spent hours upon hours creating little skits and making up characters.  They would come to life in the click of a mouse.  I really enjoyed choosing my characters, setting, and voices, along with the movements and gestures.  It can be described as heavenly. knocked on my door and has never left my side. It was easy breezy, a piece of chocolate mousse cake, if you will.  I couldn’t believe how easy these websites or toys were use and produce. That’s when I started my love affair with taking digital pictures and uploading them into little movies for Stupeflix.  I then created a Twitter account so I could send out my creations.  Sharing the work of my mind was a simple and quick.  Then one website or app. led to another.  What I learned from one website applied to the others.  Application seemed instantaneous.  This wasn’t so difficult after all and I could actually do this!  I went from Blogger to Xtranormal to Stupeflix to Twitter then onto Youtube.  I created my own Youtube channel to display my creations and to convert them into other formats.  Me?  Really?  Then a great super techy colleague introduced me to Realplayer!  I love Realplayer. I can convert all kinds of files to WMV and MP4s.  I actually know what an MP4 is without confusing it with the LeBron James.  To me this is all so mindblogging, completely and utterly mindblogging!

That happened to be just the beginning and so it goes on and on.  I now have my own blog that I created after the 11 Tools were conquered.  It is called JustWriteBaby! I have over 200 posts and 17,000 page views from around the globe. I have created some Google Sites for struggling readers in collaboration with some of my wonderful digital friends. When I had to submit a portfolio to complete a trainer of trainers certification, I automatically wanted to create a blog to accomplish this task. Continental Divide, really?  My horizons have been opened wide.  Now I see more potential and more projects to create and share with teachers and students. I would like to have more students be involved in my work and see the creations that will abound.  Who knows will come next?  I am looking into creating podcasts.  That is kind of unbelievable to me.  Me?  The one who shied away from anything having to do with technology. Me? The one digital klutz petrified of messing up anything digital.  Me?  Once frozen in the tundra of discontent. Now I have thawed.  I have been freed from my Ice Age tendencies to the warmth of the Digital Global Age.  I wonder what more awaits me.  Worlds have been opened before my very eyes.  I find it funny though.  My teenage daughter made an interesting comment the other day.  She said, “Mom, you know how use all those technology tools but you cannot figure out how to move an app on your Galaxy S4!” Backhanded compliments I will take any day. I will figure it out soon.  Not to worry. I am not such a dummy after all!

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