Week 2 Leadership: Where do I present?

It’s just my luck that most of the conferences that I am interested in are not accepting proposals. This task was a lot harder than I thought it would be. At first I thought that I wanted to submit a proposal for the Early Education and Technology for Children (EETC) Conference that is taking place between April 2-4, 2013, in Salt Lake City, Utah. The conference seemed perfect for a presentation about using LiveBinders in elementary education, and they are accepting proposals! Upon closer investigation, I realized that the due date is next Tuesday, November 6th. Although I will have a first draft of a Leadership Project presentation document by that date, I’m not trying to rush the process in order to get a final proposal completed in less than a week.

My Plan A

With that first thought thrown out the window, I decided that my first choice would be to submit my work for the Sloan Consortium’s 6th Annual Emerging Technologies for Online Learning International Symposium. This conference will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada April 9-11, 2013 and they are accepting submissions until December 10, 2012. Besides the fact that Las Vegas is a short plane trip away from California, and the symposium is located right on the Vegas strip in a month where the weather is actually bearable, the symposium tracks seem to fit perfectly with my presentation material. Categories that will fit with the use of LiveBinders are: Learning Spaces and Communities, Faculty and Student Development, and Innovative Media and Tools. Finding the category that interests me most will help me narrow down my topic for this Leadership Project.

My Plan B

My backup plan will be to submit a proposal for the Orange County CUE (Computer Using Educators) Technology Festival that will be held on February 2, 2013. The deadline for this submission is December 2, 2012. This would be a good second option for me because I could fly or drive down to Orange County and I have plenty of friends and some family who live down in that area. Orange County CUE is affiliated with CUE located in Walnut Creek, California, a city that is a 15-20 minute drive away from where I grew up. Originally I wanted to submit a proposal for the annual CUE conference in 2013, but I just missed the submission date. I’m very interested in technology conferences in California because this is where I hope to make a big impact in the field of technology and education. This OC CUE Technology Festival seems a lot smaller, but I do plan on looking into it as a possible option.



Week 2 Reading: Rethinking Letter Grades & Becoming a Contributor

Rethinking Letter Grades

This week we read the first four chapters in Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander’s The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life. This really got me thinking about letter grades and the pressure that it puts on students.

I teach 4th grade to 32 students who start the school year full of excitement, wonder, potential, and possibilities. Throughout the school year, while I know that they still all have those characteristics inside of them, that same spark and fire gradually fades in students who see themselves not meeting up to the standards that we measure them up against. As much as I try my best to encourage them, some of them get so used to seeing bad grades that they stop working up to their potential and stop trying so that they don’t disappoint themselves. Why try and fail when you can not try and get the same results?

What could I do to take the pressure off of these 4th graders? Would it be realistic to tell 4th graders that they all get an A in my class if they show up, do the work, and then write me a reflection about everything that they learned? I can imagine complaints from other teachers at my school and the numerous amount of complaints that I would get from parents. Maybe taking grades away completely isn’t the solution, but there has to be a better option for these students.

As my school begins to align our standards with Common Core, we are now moving into a 4 point rubric, and our students won’t even see letter grades on their report card this year. Our upper grade teachers, myself included, are so used to putting percentages and letter grades on everything. As a result, students see those letter grades on all of their papers, tests, and progress reports, however they will not see any of that on their actual report card. Would writing a score of a 1, 2, 3, or 4 on a paper make a difference, or would it be the same as writing a letter grade? I plan on testing this out for our next trimester so that I can see for myself if it makes a difference.

Becoming a Contributor

If you’ve never heard the words of wisdom from a young Steve Jobs, I recommend that you watch the short YouTube videos Steve Jobs: Secrets of Life and Steve Jobs on Failure. In the first video he talks about how we all have the ability to change and influence this thing that we called life. The video on failures talks about the difference between doers and dreamers, which relates perfectly to Zander and Zander’s chapter about being a contributor. Steve Jobs was definitely a contributor who definitely left his mark in this world. I’ve always been a dreamer, but Steve Jobs and this EMDT program have inspired me to become a doer, a contributor in this world.


Week 1 Comment #2: Ben Witter

Week 1 Leadership Post: To Publish or Present?

Posted in Week 1 on October 28, 2012 by benwitter

I am actually pretty torn between the two right now.

I really like the idea of presenting. There is nothing quite like the energy that exists at a live event. The unknown variables of audience receptiveness, response, or questions excite me. I like the spontaneity of the whole affair. I could practice and rehearse for months, yet I’m not exactly sure what I’ll say when the moment arises. The sounds audience members make when a novel idea strikes them is rewarding. Knowing that I shaped someone’s thought process or that I had an impact on how they perceive things is very gratifying.

On the other hand, publishing an article intrigues me as well. I can spend hours and hours making sure I say the right thing. With an article I know exactly what I am trying to convey and can make sure I use the words I need to convey those thoughts. There would be no butterflies or knots in the stomach because no public address would be made. Many more people might be reached with my ideas as the publication would be available to a broader range of people, as well as probably archived online for later viewing.

Well, I guess the only equitable way to decide is by surrendering to chance. So I’ll flip a coin. Heads I present, tails I publish.

There you have it. I’m publishing.


All images are copyright compliant from morguefile.com

My Comment to Ben:

I love how you set this post up with the suspense of the coin on the finger, then the image of a coin on its edge, to the big reveal of your final decision to publish. I know that you would make an amazing presenter, but you have such a way with words that I know that publishing would be a great option for you. It’s a way for you to have your work out there for anyone to view. WordPress is a great Web 2.0 tool to use in education and I’m very interested to read about what you have to say in your Leadership Project. When it does get published, you better let me know because I want to be one of the first to read it. I will happily share your work to help inspire others here in California! I want to wish you the best for your publication. I’m sad that this program is coming to an end because it’s been such an inspiring year having worked with you.

Week 1 Comment #1: Tom Draa

Original Post:

Leadership Post: To Present or To Publish

October 26, 2012

It is an easy decision for me to choose to present my AR Project versus publishing it.  I have always loved to write and always thought I was pretty good at it, until I started writing my literature review.  It is a different type of writing and although I feel much more comfortable after my EMDT courses and finishing my literature review, I still am apprehensive when it comes to thinking about publishing my work.  I also really like the idea of presenting my work and feel much more comfortable making a quality presentation to display my project.

Looking at the list of places where we are able to apply to to present our capstone project was pretty daunting at first, but as I thought more about actually presenting the work I have done over the last year I must admit I started more and more to accept the challenge.  Although there were no locations nearby, I would love a reason to take a mini-vacation that would serve as a spring board for work to get out there and possibly help other utilize the technology I have began to master.

Challenge accepted.

photo credit:


My Comment:

Now that I’m finally feeling really comfortable teaching 4th grade science, I’m becoming more and more inspired by your AR project and the work that you have done with your students. If I have time at the end of this school year, I may have my students help me write a song about electricity, and we’ll create a music video together. It’s been so exciting watching your students’ creativity thrive in the creation of their music videos about cells. You helped your students create a memory that will stick with them for most of their life. If I can remember songs that I learned when I was in kindergarten, then they definitely will remember a song that they wrote in your class. I know that whatever you come up with for your Leadership Project will be amazing and many more will be inspired. Best of luck to you!

Week 1 Leadership: To Publish or To Present

My Capstone Action Research Project taught teachers at my school to use LiveBinders, a Web 2.0 tool that allows you to organize information neatly in a virtual binder. The following video is a preview of my project and you can read more about on my AR Webpage.

Now that my project is coming to an end, I am now thinking about my next steps in a leadership project about LiveBinders. My big dilemma about sharing this leadership project is whether I want to publish or present my work. If you would have asked me this question 10 months ago when I started this EMDT (Educational Media Design and Technology) program at Full Sail University, I would definitely have chosen to get my work published. Today I’m feeling much more confident and empowered by the knowledge and experience that I’ve gained from the 10 classes that I’ve successfully completed. I’m so proud of the work that I’ve put into teaching others about LiveBinders, and I’m even more proud of the positive results that I’ve gained from teaching teachers and students about LiveBinders. This makes me believe that I will be able to make a bigger impact if I have the opportunity to present my leadership project at a conference and hopefully inspire others to start using LiveBinders in their teaching practice.

How remixing gave me my creative wings

This week’s assignment was to watch a series of informational videos about copyright issues. This is a very difficult subject with a lot of grey areas, so while a part of me wishes that I was learning this in month 1 of this EMDT (Educational Media Design and Technology) program, in month 11, I see that I now have a bigger capacity for understanding the complexities of the copyright law.

Flickr photo by hey mr glen

The video that stood out to me the most was Larry Lessig’s TED Talk about Remix Culture.  It reminded me of a Christmas gift back in 2001 that changed my life. It wasn’t even a gift given to me. It was an iMac G4 that my dad bought for my mom. Even though my mom loved the gift, my brother and I were so excited to rip the box open and explore all the new possibilities of this beautiful, pristine white machine. My brother and I spent Christmas day playing around, chatting online, and downloading music.

When I woke up the next day, I could tell that my brother was excited and proud about something because he had called the whole family down to the computer to watch something that he created in iMovie. As soon as we gathered around, he pressed play. All of a sudden we heard the piano intro to Natalie Cole’s This Will Be (An Everlasting Love) with a title screen that read: Culang Family Christmas 2001. We swayed to the rhythm of the upbeat song and watched in awe as all of our family pictures from 2 nights ago appeared in a slide show. I remember thinking that it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen! Me being the competitive person that I am, finished watching with the thought that I could do what he did, but even better.

My 1st grade student and his artwork (2005)
Photo by Genevieve Pacada

At that time I had just graduated college and I was student teaching in a 1st grade class in Dublin, CA. Just a few months earlier, while I was volunteering in my mom’s 1st grade classroom, I created this art project based off of the picture book What a Wonderful World by George David Weiss and Bob Thiele, and illustrated by Ashley Bryan. I gave each student a line of the famous song, originally by Louis Armstrong, and I taught them their line in sign language. After they learned their parts, we would practice singing the song together, while each student took turns signing their line. Once we mastered the song, I had them paint a picture of their line based on the picture book and the artwork was displayed around the room.

After watching the slideshow that my brother put together in iMovie, I knew that I wanted to do the What a Wonderful World project with the 1st grade class that I was student teaching in, but this time I wanted to put it all together creatively into an iMovie project. I used Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World song along with pictures of each student signing their line with a transition that led to a snapshot of their artwork.

When I completed the project, I was so proud of my work and the parents all thanked me for burning a copy of it onto a DVD and giving it as an end of the year gift to each of the students. I never uploaded any videos to YouTube, but there are copies of my work out there.

I never got permission to use the song What a Wonderful World, nor did I get permission to  use the picture book as inspiration for my student’s artwork. It was used for educational purposes and I did not make any money off of it. Was I wrong for creating this project with my classes?

After creating this project, I became interested in doing more with iMovie and I feel like my creativity started to blossom from that point on. Now, I feel like possibilities are endless for me and that’s exactly what I want for my students. I want them to be fearless in trying new things, not afraid to let their imaginations take flight. It’s too bad that copyright laws limit what we can do, but I am thankful that creative commons exists.