Monday, July 14, 2008

My Summer To-Do List

I find it rather ironic that I spend my school year feeling overworked and stressed about the projects I am planning, the committees I am working on, the shows I am hosting, the classes I am teaching, etc. But here it is summer, where I have two months of vacation, and all I can think about is the work I need to do. And, I have no energy to do any of it. And, really, none of it is that important anyway or at least there aren't major deadlines to get any of it done. But I've always known that I am someone who needs to be doing. So, in order to help me break this ennui, I have decided to post my to-do list here. Perhaps putting it into words will help me actually get things accomplished.

1. Work on Collaborative TimeZone Wiki

This was an idea that was conceived at NECC when Jo McLeay (from Australia), Christine Southard, and I started talking about how to work together next year. We were trying to figure out if there would be any time that we could work synchronously. We struggled to figure out the time differences and realized that we needed a resource to help us. We decided to have the students create just such a resource. How wonderful it would be for them to work on this together and how great it would be to have this tool for future use.
What do I need to do? Plan the project. What will the students actually do, beyond adding their actually times to a GMT time chart? What will they research, beyond what timezones are? Is that enough? How will they demonstrate their knowledge? At this point, I have such a small picture of the project that I can't even figure out the questions yet.

What have I done so far? I set up the wiki with the basic chart. I contacted Jo and Christine about the ideas. So much more to do.

2. Set Up a Moodle to Use in Class Next Year

This one is an idea hatched on the plane on the way home from NECC. I was listening to an old podcast with Laurie Kort, author of Moodle Magic. She happened to mention that moodles would be good as online portfolios. I had been dismayed by the idea that our students leave our room with nothing because no other teachers are picking up their blogs, etc. Perhaps I could set up an online portfolio. At least they'd have that. And then I heard Laurie talk about the simplicity of moodles. So this summer, I want to learn how to set up a moodle and have each child use it as a portfolio. Activities could be put in, projects could be assigned, etc. I only have to look into it. I did receive, thanks to ISTE, a free year of Atomic Learning. And there are many moodle tutorials on Atomic Learning. I just have to get moving on this one. I haven't done anything more than think about it.

3. Planning an Online Professional Development Class

This was another plane ride idea. For various reasons, I have been looking into teaching classes outside of my district teacher's center. Next year I am teaching a course for our local BOCES. But I would love to teach an online course. And I would love this course to be open to everyone. So it would be free for those who just want to show up each week. But those who are willing to do more, can receive credit for the class.
The topic? Project Based Learning. The idea? Participants would follow guidelines to take a unit they already teach and turn it into a project based unit, adding appropriate technology as warranted. This five week class would cover the basics of PBL but would require some individualized work, too.
What do I need to do? Plan the class. Find a sponsor - preferably one who would be willing to pay me. Find a venue to hold the class so we could have conversations. I have already contacted Robin Ellis to see if she was interested in joining me. I have left messages with BOCES and a local university. We'll see what happens.

4. Get Moving

I need to get back into healthy eating and exercising. I said that this summer was going to be it. Watch what I eat, mostly eliminating sugar and white flour. And move every day for at least an hour. So far, I have lasted through breakfast each morning and keep blowing it after that. As for moving...I swam a few times, played tennis a few times. That's it. Nothing regular, nothing healthy. What did I do for this? I signed up for Liz Davis' new Motivate Me wiki. I haven't added my page yet but it's a start, right?

So I guess that's it. I was going to add the new EdTechTalk show I was planning with Maria Knee but we actually planned it, scheduled it, created a google doc to work on it, and have our first topic. Come join us on Conversations, Sunday, July 20th at 11:30 EDT to discuss intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in the classroom. Colleen King will be there.

If you have any ideas about how I can get moving on any of these projects, I would love to hear it. I really need the help.

Dog by Jamelah on flickr
Clocks by Leo Reynolds on flickr
Moodle by Scholz on flickr
Computers by Old Shoe Woman on flickr


Chris Craft said...

Are you really going to talk about intrinsic and extrinsic motivation?

Please oh please go read everything by Eccles and Wigfield.

Then go read a fantastic book called Motivation in Education by Schunk et al.

And then, make sure you're familiar with B.F. Skinner's operant conditioning.

Bottom line, there's no such thing as intrinsic or extrinsic motivation.

There are lots of amazing theories that surround motivation, such as the Expectancy-Value theory and others.

I'd almost rather you chat about motivation in general and get out of the specific question of extrinsic or intrinsic, it's a false dichotomy.

Motivation in education is a much larger topic than solely that, in fact there is a large body of research that indicates that this dichotomy is totally wrong.

Lots of folks are doing great work in the arena of motivation. Please go search them out and involve them in your conversations. I dare you to contact Schunk, Eccles, Wigfield, or any of the other major names in Motivation and ask them to appear on your show.

If you do, you'll surely learn a lot and get beyond the echo chamber of intrinsic v extrinsic and what we all do in our classrooms. Let's get some outside info from folks who have been researching this very topic for many years and can shed some real, research-proven tactics and theories with us.

Just my thinking..


SherryC said...

I can't help because I am feeling much in the same boat. I am anxious to see if posting your to-do list works for you. If so, I will have to start working on mine. In the meantime, thanks for letting me know I am not alone. I have a bunch of school projects to work on and that eating right and exercising thing just isn't coming together the way I had hoped. Good luck!

Brachsmith said...

Made my to do list on the plane ride home from vacation on Saturday....seems there are many of us in the same boat. should come first. For your sake as well as everyone around you! Keep us posted and don't forget that you can always so "no" every now and then as well as ask for some help!

etalbert said...

Fabulous projects and ideas!

I will watch with interest whatever you and Jo McLeay create.

I love that time graphic!

Lisa Parisi said...

Chris, Thank you for adding to my to-do list. I should have added all the books I have to read. Actually, our show is going to be a discussion about Responsive Classroom. This is a program in which both Maria and I have gone through training (don't you hate that word!). Part of RC is making comments meaningful, not empty praise. "I like how you added vocabulary to add voice to your story." as opposed to "Nice story." Colleen had a discussion going on plurk about motivation so we asked her to join us. Would you like to come on also and add to the discussion? I do not, so early in our show career (first show afterall) feel comfortable asking total strangers to come on the show. But you wrote so eloquently so I thought I would ask. This is a serious invitation, by the way.

Lisa Parisi said...

Sherry and Brachsmith,
I'm glad I'm not the only one feeling this way. Hopefully this to-do list will get me motivated. Maybe we should start a summer club...The Procrastinators Club. LOL

Etalbert, not only will we keep you informed, we will be looking for contributors from around the world. Stay tuned.

Lee Ann Spillane: said...

Hi Lisa,
I love your show idea and couldn't help but think of Rick Straub and his work on responding to student writers when I read your example. Thank you for the to-do list; it motivates me to get to my own and topping my list will be learning the how/what of creating a moodle (new to me).

loonyhiker said...

Wow! What an awesome list! I look forward to your time zone wiki. I know that I wanted to attend a Oz/Nz meeting which was at 7:30pm their time. It took me forever to finally figure out it was 5:30am my time. I'm interested in learning more about Moodle too for my univ. courses I teach. As for project based learning, I think that this makes so much sense and glad to see someone else thinks that way too. Thankfully my hubby "motivates" me to walk every day and we are up to 4 miles each day. It helps if you exercise with someone else. Keep us updated on the success of your goals!

sujokat said...

Lisa it was fantastic meeting you and i wish we had more time to chat,because as I read your blog I see there is so much we have in common and I really enjoyed your post about NECC and your holiday plans. We have had no time to procrastinate or let it all filter down and are back in the classroom with second half year. I shall follow your writings more now and be interested to see how your list gets covered.Have a great holiday!!

Bethany Smith said...

Hi Lisa, I've started to experiment with using Moodle for Online Portfolios for my student teachers. This is what I have started to play with

Lisa Parisi said...

Lee Ann - Perhaps we can help each other learn moodle. I know Bethany is an expert and we can bug her for help. ;)

Sue - It was wonderful meeting you f2f too. Next time I am in your neck of the woods, we'll sit for a long dinner and chat.

Loonyhiker - Timezones are tricky for me, too. I look forward to seeing what the kids end up creating.

Karen Janowski said...


For your show about motivation Sunday morning, you may be interested in this article by Alfie Kohn "Five Reasons to Stop Saying Good Job" -
He speaks about how offering ineffective verbal praise creates praise junkies, manipulates children, reduces achievement, promotes loss of interest and robs a child of feeling proud of their own accomplishments for themselves independent of adult interference.
There's more and I hope to be able to join you tomorrow morning. Please twit you