Friday, November 5, 2010


Reposted from Journeys

Edmund Burke said that "Reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting." I believe that the same is true of presenting.

As a teacher, I asked that my students practice self-reflection as an integral part of their learning. I wanted them to critically examine their work, to decide what was successful, what didn't quite make the grade, and how they might use their experience in constructing new knowledge.

On Monday, November 1, I presented my first webinar, Eyes to See, for the TL Virtual Cafe. One of the great benefits of using Elluminate as our venue is that the entire session is archived: slides, audio, chat, etc., so I was able to revisit the experience and "see" it from a number of perspectives.

After the initial shock of hearing my own voice, I started to notice speaking strengths and quirks. Pacing wasn't bad, not too many "uhs" but a previously undetected predilection for the word "now" as in "Now sometimes...Now this project..." which immediately brought to mind a sweet family memory. When my daughter was small, she would gather her toy ponies, unicorns, mermaids, and fairies, and begin weaving tales. Frequently the first word of these sagas was "Now..." Did she pick up on that from me, or did I unconsciously echo this totemic word when I began sharing stories with others? At any rate, it was a connection that made me smile.

The content of my slidedeck was appropriate, I felt, if limited by time constraints. In order to supplement and expand the resources shared in the webinar, I've started to build a wiki, Using Digital Images, which I hope will become a useful resource for myself and others.

I had wondered about the dynamics of a webinar. Practice runs left me worried that I would sound stilted, sitting alone and talking into a microphone. I found, however, that even though I couldn't see the faces of my audience, their presence was very real. The online interaction was lively, and it was nice to see familiar names popping up.

Most valuable to me, as both presenter and co-learner, were the comments in the chat section, which I had been unable to follow while speaking. Participants shared projects and links that deepened the conversation; they will provide a rich source of additional material for the wiki.

There were a few technical glitches, mainly due to a prior Elluminate session that hadn't properly exited the room, but the always incredible Gwyneth Jones, handled the situation with great aplomb and even created a special handout explaining how to access the archive.

What I Knew: I was familiar with the content of my slides and comfortable with the topic in general

What I Wanted to Know: How to effectively communicate in a new (to me) format

What I Learned: Practice sessions are important (thank goodness Gwyneth pointed out that an exterior microphone was vital!); an experienced hostess makes everything flow smoothly; webinars are fun!

Would I do it again? Absolutely!

Related Resources:
Archived session, Eyes to See
SlideShare, Eyes to See
Using Digital Images wiki
Resources and Links blog

See a listing of upcoming webinars on the TL Virtual Cafe here

Monday, November 1, 2010

Eyes to See

This is the slidedeck from tonight's webinar at the TL Virtual Cafe.

Thanks to all who attended!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Listen and Learn

*Cross-posting from Journeys

"Do not pass by my epitaph, traveler.
 But having stopped, listen and learn, then go your way." -Roman Tombstone

I have always been fascinated by old graveyards, those rambling, untidy cities of the dead. Love and longing, loss and sweet remembrance all find expression there.

Our American children celebrate Halloween, All Hallow's Eve, by wearing costumes and harvesting bags of treats from friendly neighbors. This harmless fun stems from the ancient Celtic belief that
"the border between this world and the Otherworld became thin on Samhain, allowing spirits (both harmless and harmful) to pass through. The family's ancestors were honoured and invited home while harmful spirits were warded off. It is believed that the need to ward off harmful spirits led to the wearing of costumes and masks. Their purpose was to disguise oneself as a harmful spirit and thus avoid harm." -Wikipedia
The Catholic Church has recast this pagan tradition as two Autumn feast days, All Saints' Day (All Hallow's Day), November 1, and All Souls' Day, November 2, both intended to honor the Christian dead.

There are many stories to be told in cemeteries, and the cross-curricular possibilities are endless.

I've gathered a collection of links and resources in a cemeteries wiki that is available for use by any interested educator.

Suggestions range from mapping grave sites to analyzing tombstones; composing epitaphs to writing dramatic "tours;" preserving history to researching ancestors.

The Poets' Corner memorial plaque for T.S. Eliot reads, "The communication of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living."

Listen and learn.

Related posts:
The Brisbins of Saratoga County

"Requiescant in Pace 11/01/09" by dmcordell
"Alonzo P. Stinson" by dmcordell