Monday, April 11, 2011

20 Percent Time

[caption id="attachment_139" align="alignleft" width="294" caption="So You Think You Can Dance?"][/caption]

Recently my boss (@jmikton, brought up the topic of "20% time" that (although not created by them) has been touted as one of the ways that Google creates a unique, creative and productive work environment. I think the concept has interesting implications when considered from a teacher or student standpoint - but that is a blog post for another time. The discussion with my boss prompted me to explore what "20% Time" would mean for me. I originally didn't think it would even be possible; my schedule is more flexible than a regular classroom teacher, but it's not like I sit around and twiddle my thumbs for large chunks of time. Like most people in education, I feel like I already don't have enough time to do all the aspects of my job. I couldn't think of how I could squeeze in any new projects on an already full plate. But then I decided to look at it a little differently. "20% Time" can mean setting aside time to focus on the things that you WANT to do and SHOULD do in your job, but that tend to get pushed aside for the urgent things. 20% Time for me, means changing my priorities and booking out blocks of time to spend on those important things that otherwise would stay on my to-do list for months and possibly years. So, I'm attending a class, Information Technology Fundamentals, just like all of the 9th graders are required to do at our school. I SHOULD know what all our students are expected to know - I'm managing a laptop program for crying out loud. I also WANT to know how to use all the creative programs that our students are using. And so I've set aside 70 minutes every other day to learn digital citizenship, laptop management, Flash programing, mixing audio in Logic Express and animation in Maya. So far, my skills in Maya are not at the level at which I can start applying to Pixar, but they are improving, and I'm having fun and learning things that help me during the other 80% of my job.

Check out my Maya animation: So You Think You Can Dance? Maya Animation Assignment

Sunday, April 10, 2011

An Unfortunate Digital Footprint

I've been following the unfortunate story of Alexandra Wallace.  If you haven't heard about it, here is a quick summary:

Miss Wallace, a student at UCLA, posted a video rant on the internet complaining about Asian students talking on their cell phones in the library.  In the video, Miss Wallace mocks the Asian students' speech and makes other racially insensitive remarks.  The video went viral - people were outraged - Miss Wallace received all sorts of scorn in various forms from parody videos (the one below with over 3 million views) to death threats.  She then apologized and withdrew from UCLA.

In her apology, Miss Wallace said,

"I could write apology letters all day and night, but I know they wouldn’t erase the video from your memory, nor would they act to reverse my inappropriate action."

She is correct, and that is precisely the lesson we should be reminding and reinforcing with our students - it is difficult, if not impossible , to take something back that you post on the internet.