2013: My Year In Numbers

I like data. There I said it. But the caveat is I like data that I choose and create, not necessarily data that someone thinks is important or useful. That may just be a topic I’ll explore in a future post. This post is more about fun and playing with data.

Last year I created this video for 2012 and decided maybe I’d replicate it for 2013. My plan was to simply work off the keynote I created and swap out numbers and a few images. Should be easy. For whatever reason, I could not find the original keynote file. Thus I started from scratch but essentially recreated the same video. The process is to create a keynote presentation with all the builds and animations, export it out to imovie, add your music and voila. While it was more work than I wanted, probably about 6 hours total, I do like the possibilities of keynote for other things like kinetic typography. I know the pros will use After Effects which does the best job, but keynote and powerpoint can probably get pretty close.

At any rate, here’s my year in numbers.

Don’t Forget About The Daily Create

If you’re reading this and have no idea what the Daily Create is, you can thank me later.

Essentially it’s the brain child love child of Alan Levine and company. It’s filled with creative goodness both from a consumption aspect but mostly as a community of participation. I’ve made small contributions over the past few months but have been faithful introducing many to its awesomeness. My belief about creativity is that it’s a muscle and this is as good an exercise plan as there is and with the safest appetite suppressant the results of the plan can be more sucesfull..

Given the upcoming term I’ll be teaching starting in January, I began planning and Alan has been gracious to participate and share in every one of the 10+ sections I’ve taught over the past 7 years. This time it came with a price.


Fine. I needed the kick in the pants.

Unlike most Daily Creates, Alan set up 3 that built upon each other beginning with this one:
Create a visual that might accompany one of the mashed up headlines from @twoheadlines

So I did.

Raider Baby

I don’t know if this looks that good or not. I realize I’m no photoshop expert and in fact couldn’t remember the last time I really tried to mix and layer two or more images. I realized I don’t think I have any software on my machine that does that so I used Pixlr to create this. The biggest issue I had was resizing the layer. In fact I couldn’t figure it out so I resized the baby outside of pixlr and imported it so I wouldn’t have to fiddle with the size. Anyway, it’s a bit hacky but as a tweet/image combo is decent.

Of course this was only assignment #1. The next assignment was to write a story to go with the headline. No technical no how but took some time trying to make it work. This was the result:

The once feared Raider Nation is trying something new. In an effort to deflect the focus on their ineptness as a football team, the Oakland Raiders have begun a new initiative, adopting and caring for children. The goal is to have other teams see the Raiders as soft and caring and thus have other teams take them even more lightly than they currently are.

The first adoption is baby Katie. Plans are to bring her out with the team captains during the coin flip. Their opponents will be encouraged to tickle and say “Koochie Koo” to the infant instead of the usual handshake. While this method is not based on any research, the team is desperate. The Vikings, Texans and Jaguars are currently looking into a similar program, only with puppies and kittens.

Finally I had to complete the trifecta for Alan with an audio assignment and using some clips from Youtube and bringing them into Audacity to mix them, I uploaded it to Soundcloud:

So while all this was someone coercive on Alan’s part, I’m thankful he did it. I know I use time as an excuse. Sometimes assignments don’t interest me but I really don’t think there’s a better way to practice and improve creativity with media than the Daily Create. Maybe you have another method or maybe you think the Daily Create is useless. I’ll continue to support and encourage others and participate more.

Also I can now book Alan for February 24th.


2012: One Minute a Month

This is year will begin my 6th year of taking a photo/video a day. Every year I've tried to find a theme that carries me through. 

2008: No theme, just take a photo a day. 

2009: One word titles

2010: The crazy attempt at attaching a song title to every photo and the ensuing video compilation. But go watch, even the first part to see what I mean. 

2011: Adding occasional video to the mix

2012 I didn't really add much. With the new job and all I had enough going on. However, I have typically created a year end video with all 365/6 images and while that's a great document to have, I realize it's not all that watchable. 

So my video this year is taking highlights and making a minute a month. It's still 12 minutes,  but I might actually be able to get my family to watch the whole thing. I also used fewer golf and conference photos this year to appease their criticisms. With all the travel I did  this year, I did include all the locations outside of Moose Jaw. If you have 12 minutes, here it is. 

I'm still thinking about a theme for 2013, if not I'll just keep going. Day 1,827 and counting…

2012: My Year in Numbers

It's not like I have nothing else to do but when people ask "Where do you find the time?" it's usually not because they think what I've done is so amazing but rather so dumb or insignificant. 

Thanks for the compliment. 

I take solace in Clay Shirky's statement that "even the stupidest creative act, is still a creative act". If I've not created something in a while I feel a little stale. These web and media tools are my paintbrushes and my canvases. I love that folks like Alan Levine and others are constantly making and fiddling with stuff. They inspire me and remind me to just do it. 

So after thinking about Dan Meyer's 2009 Annual Report and sharing it often as a example of using data to tell storie, I decided to give it a shot. While Dan used a wack sack of tools and does a much more professional job that took him weeks to produce, I wanted to see if I could use Keynote to tell the story of my year in numbers. So after an evening of planning, data mining, watching a few tutorials, I built my 2012 report. I spent most of the time working with timings, figuring out to animate charts and then added some music.


I know, you're still saying, "You've got way too much time on your hands." I hope that's always the case. 

ISTE is What You Make of It

Cross posted at Tech & Learning

After attending my 5th ISTE event in a row, I always enjoy reading various reflections of the event. Those reflections usually reference the opportunity to network with other educators. The proverbial, “the hallway conversations trump sessions” statement continues to be the theme of the posts made by your favorite bloggers.  Of course, one must realize the bias of what you read online. Those who blog and tweet are those who have, and find value, in a networked community of learners. Most of these folks are pretty empowered to pick and choose sessions in balance with informal time with colleagues. They’re the ones that try and make it back year after year not because they think they’ll be blown away by something amazing or new but because they treasure the opportunity to reunite with colleagues and friends.  It’s summer camp for educators.

This year I tried to pay attention to those not so well connected, those who have never sent a tweet or might not know what “PLN” stands for. In the hands on session that Steve and I did for example,  I met a principal who shared that he came to ISTE to understand things better. He recognized the world was changing all around him and felt he was on the outside looking in. He talked about how proud he was that he learned a little more about a tool like twitter and was able to take a photo and post it online. Now many would argue about the trivialness of that act, how it represents the low level thinking of educational technology and lacks the vision and potential of real computing. I didn’t see it that way. I saw it as a thoughtful individual beginning a journey that many of us have been on for years. I sensed this excitement with many people who were being exposed to many ideas they’d not considered or had time to absorb.

I watched people excited as they were being introduced to perspective they had never entertained. As much as many of these ideas have been shared for some time now, I’m never too surprised at how new they are for busy teachers who work 10 hours a day and come home to their families The majority of teachers work in schools and districts with few visionaries who are attuned to ideas that include using technology to make learning better. ISTE represents the minority.

We often hear that if you leave a conference with one good idea you can use in your classroom, that it’s worthwhile. That could be argued from many angles but I think we ought to modify that statement to say if you leave a conference with one great colleague you can learn from in the future it’s been worthwhile.

One of my favorite moments was when I read a tweet by a former student of mine who is in her 2nd year of teaching. She’s a primary teacher and was frustrated with her first day of the conference. She struggled finding quality sessions. I wanted to help her out but hadn’t looked at the sessions from her perspective but knew another teacher who had. I replied to her with the name of the teacher who could help her. The next day I saw the two of them meet up in the blogger’s cafe to map out some potential opportunities. The two had never met before.

Whether it’s the summer camp aspect, the exploration of a new tool or idea, or some combination of the two, I encourage people to own their experience, to not be critical of someone else’s and support everyone in connecting to the best and brightest thinkers in education. To that end, it’s a pretty amazing few days.
Photo by Brad Flickinger http://flic.kr/p/ck3JL1