Monday, October 21, 2013

My Superintendent's TED Talk

Dave Tebo is my superintendent in Hamilton. Like the old Apple "Think Different" ad goes he's kind of a crazy one. You can quote him, disagree with him, glorify him or vilify him...about the only thing you can't do is ignore him. He is one passionate guy. Here are his thoughts on the changing face of education.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

iMovie McGyver Green Screen Special Effects Collection

Mr. Losik's iMovie McGyver Green Screen Special Effects from Andy Losik on Vimeo.


Action Movie FX and Extreme FX are tremendously fun apps....especially if you are forced to kill time in a Children's Place while your wife and daughter shop.

Don't limit the destruction to just what you can capture on your phone. Filming nothing but a green background allows these clips to be downloaded and dropped into any footage on iMovie using the green screen effect.

Check out the initial post I wrote after discovering this was possible this summer. That should give you a little bit of how-to.

Have fun and see what magic you can create.

Download the collection clips directly from Vimeo.

 Google Drive Folder with individual clips

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Six Pins for fostering creativity

[caption id="attachment_312" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Screen Shot 2013-10-16 at 12.47.20 PM Six pins of projects I have used to foster creativity[/caption]

Adobe launched its Creativity in Education sweepstakes today. To enter all you have to do is follow Adobe's Education account and then pin six or fewer examples on your own "Creativity in Education" board of how you are fostering creativity in your classroom or school.

Check out the six  pins I just entered.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Why school sports matter

On Friday night my family and I headed out to watch my dad coach high school football in what is one of our area's biggest rivalry games. The first person I saw when I entered the stadium was a former student of mine who had recently moved and was starting sixth grade at the middle school where the game was being held.

"Hi Mr. Losik, " he waved wearing a messy shirt that had kind of become a trademark of his over years he was in my classes. This boy had struggled socially and academically throughout as his mom struggled around the poverty line supporting him and his two siblings. "I am doing cross-country. We are running at halftime," he said with a huge grin. I gave him a high five and told him I would be watching.

Well, it wasn't much of a game with my dad's team out in front by a lot most of the way. As I wandered back from the concession stand at halftime, there was my former student lining up with the rest of the middle school cross-country team to run their half mile under the lights in front of the big home crowd.

As the kids took off, the boy so excited to be on the team immediately fell  behind the others. As I watched I realized I was standing next to his mother. I told her I missed her other children but was happy they were at a great new school where my daughter attends and wife teaches. I noticed tears starting to well up in her eyes as her son fell even further behind.

"He must be in so much pain," she said. "He has no fluid in his hips," reminding me of the degenerative disease he has and how when he was in kindergarten we would make accommodations  for him sitting for stories.

As the middle schoolers began to finish, the crowd cheered until almost all had completed. The boy we were watching was still almost 300 m from finishing. That was when something really special happened. The other runners gathered at the finish line  turned and ran back to meet the boy who carried his obvious pain on his face. With only the homestretch left, the entire team surrounded him. There was new life in his step and together they all sprinted the remaining distance in front of a great ovation.

Two neighboring towns had turned out to watch a football game, but it was the little kid in the dirty shirt and the elation he showed as crossed the finish line that gave me my biggest thrill.

School sports do matter and I am sure the kids on the varsity team that secured a playoff spot and gained another year of bragging rights over their neighbors got a lot out of it but I highly doubt Friday Night under the lights impacted their lives like it did the young man's who greeted me at the gate.


Friday, October 11, 2013

Just one note from famous

[caption id="attachment_298" align="alignleft" width="300"]"I'll make you famous." - Wm. H. Bonney "I'll make you famous." - Wm. H. Bonney[/caption]

We educators are just one note away from being famous...or more like infamous. I am not talking about winning The Voice or American Idol either.

This week a nearby school district made national news when a couple of kindergarten teachers got fed up with recess problems related to the age-old game of tag. A note was sent home to kindergarten parents that tag and chasing was being banned until further notice with severe penalties handed down to violators.

We can agree or disagree with the decision to outlaw tag and I reacted to it in a number of ways. I got a chuckle as it seems that I recently wrote about a certain teacher disgusted with tag. I shook my head at the proliferation of more "It is easier to ban something than teach it the right way" mentality and I yucked it up on Facebook, calling it the "Wussification of America" and warning that the recent domination that school district was seeing on the football field was 8 years away from drying up when these kids hit high school. Then I thought deeper.

Why do any of us know about a single behavior management decision made by a couple of teachers at one suburban elementary school? How did this become national news and why was it lighting up Twitter? One  tweet from a  parent. That is all it took.

Here is how it happened. A parent received the letter about a "No Tag, No Chasing" policy and was concerned about a threat the teachers made that children violating the policy would have it recorded in their "permanent record". Dealing with the granddaddy of all awful...This could keep them out of Harvard after all...the dad tweeted to the local NBC affiliate with a copy of the note but requested his identity be concealed. The station did a story and within a day, the story had gone viral.

That is the reality of the world in which we live and the reality of teaching today. This should have started and stopped within the school community. Instead of tweeting a news station, the parent should have followed a common sense protocol of respectful courtesy. Go see the teacher. If that doesn't work, go see the principal. Get other concerned parents to join you if it is that big of a deal. Try a little diplomacy. Running to the press is the nuclear option. Back in the day only the President...or Matthew Broderick had nuclear capabilities. Now every mom and dad can launch thermonuclear war on you and your school in 140 characters or less. more thing. Remember all of the concern over the potential demerits in the permanent record? Well there is a far more serious permanent record at stake in this case, the digital footprint. There is no more permanent record than what is online about you. Although I completely disagree with the approach the teachers took, I am glad they weren't identified by name. They don't need to be forever known  and consequently digitally stoned by the masses as the people who outlawed tagged. Let's hope this undisclosed dad has as much concern teaching his child to protect his or her online lifetime permanent record as he does with the one at school hardly anybody ever opens.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Four things I learned from a week with crummy Internet

The new week is off to a great start primarily because we have had great Internet service at school...last week, not so much. According to our tech consortium, the problem was in some faulty hardware.

Having no Internet may have wreaked havoc on my lesson plans but I did learn a few things.

  1. We really have outsourced many parts of our brains as I have heard Kevin Honeycutt mention several times at conference keynotes. Little things like how to correctly spell "discrepancy" were a lot harder to find without the luxury of a few quick key strokes on the web. 

  2. Cloud storage is miraculous...when it works. Without access to Google Drive last week at times we were trapped in time. Kids wanted to work on projects but without access to their original documents they had nothing upon which to build. When it was up and running today students seamlessly accessed Google Drive to retrieve, update, and save work.

  3. The Internet is an invaluable step forward in human history. Our third graders were researching games children played outdoors and were completely dead in the water without the Web. We were surrounded by books but none had anything to do with pioneer games. Our last resort was the encyclopedia and it offered nothing in the "games" entry or the "pioneer" entry. Had we been writing a report about 2002 Chile, we might have been in business.

  4. Children really lack perspective on how it wasn't very long ago that our world did not have instant access to immediate knowledge. As a plan B in a 5th grade class, I did my best to trace the evolution of personal computing, especially in education since Jobs and Woz built the first Apple in the garage. One girl seemed completely befuddled that there was any reason to own a computer prior to the Internet.

    "What did you do with it if you couldn't look stuff up? Just play games?"

    "Pretty much, " I replied as I looked back at the start of my career where Number Munchers, Oregon Trail, and Carmen San Diego were the pinnacle of integration with a little Bank Street Writer thrown in as differentiation.

The bottom line is that we live in an amazing time and right or wrong we have become dependent on being connected. It was actually good for the kids to experience the outage and maybe not take the connectivity completely for granted. Internet access really has become something we expect as common place as electricity. I am very lucky to teach in a district that has made long term investments in insuring we have great connections and access. I know a lot of teachers and kids aren't so lucky. Hopefully they will be soon.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013 An easy tablet management trick

Here is my latest post at Sony's

I first met the amazing Jenny Magiera in 2011 at a summer tech camp in Arizona. The connection has produced a wealth of learning, but one of the most practical pieces of information I have learned from her surrounds using a device's background as a management tool.

All of the laptops and Sony Xperia tablets I use in my Infotech program have been customized with unique backgrounds. We would love to be 1:1 with the 600 students I see weekly but sharing works because only a handful of students use each machine each week. Most remember their numbers pretty well but problems arise when the devices aren't easiy identifiable, hence the need for the background trick.

Read the rest.