My Slides on #Balance (Our devices are becoming our vices.)

Last week I was given the opportunity to share my TEDx talk on balance with all of the principals and other academic leaders in my district. Just like 2nd Period's instruction is always better than 1st Period's stumbling, I felt like my timing and delivery were finally up to par this second time around.

I also added a few slides to elaborate on my description of the Year of the Selfie, not posted below because I never obtained permission to share them with an extended audience. (Have you ever noticed how crazy difficult it can be to find #selfies that are CC-licensed?) Seatbelt selfie, pet selfie, bathroom selfie, and gym selfie all made the list. For good measure, I even found a crowd-pleasing "We're in the bathroom of our gym" selfie to make the description complete.

I hope another opportunity to share this important message with others presents itself, and naturally welcome feedback from any willing to constructively discuss.

Why Clicking "Publish" Means Different Things to Different People - My Response to @shaireskee

Dean Shareski wrote an interesting post last week that continues to rattle around in my brain. Of blogging and other online spaces, he writes:

We need to understand that this space is different, that this medium breaks down the requirements and allows for much quicker and primarily more conversations to take place means we can’t still think about publishing in the same way. I’m not suggested spelling and revision isn’t important but THIS SPACE IS A CONVERSATION, not a monologue. In this space, I have no intention of writing and ending an idea or conversation.
In the comments, Alan Levine (very kindly) offers a well-framed response that aligns with much of my thinking:
We all have different frames for both writing and reading, and I shy away for passing my preferences on others, As a reader, I am in it for the ideas and the personality behind it, not the comma splices or dangling modifiers. Like Andrea suggests, writing is an iterative act of becoming better at it, and we are climbing out own curves: "Growth happens through the doing." yes!

As I writer in my own blog, I am writing predominantly for me, as a sketchbook of ideas, a "memory palace" (I cannot remember where that term came from), not some fancy magazine. If someone cannot deal with the style, that's fine for them to move on.

A blog (to me) is not a job interview, it is not a published essay, it is not a literary journal. It is a thinking spot, a rough draft, a place to be wrong and figure it out. (To me) this expectation of perfection and "final product" misses the opportunity for being in that messy place where ideas can emerge (ahem, Where Good Ideas Come From).

I have a small work shed outside and its not a pretty place. There are spilled nails, paint drop,s it smells of things I cannot name, the tools seem to move around, boxes fall from the rafters. A workspace that is spotless, polished, and the tools were hung in alphabetical order, to me is one that focuses more on its own cleanliness for cleanliness sake than for doing work.

Yes, it is important to be understood. And we all (especially me), students, teachers, can always do a little better to write more clearly. But to be compulsive to the point of not publishing seems a huge waste to me.

If you are counting missing commas, you might be missing the point.
To this, I would add in agreement with Alan that we all seem to find different ways to use the same tools at different times. Furthermore, while you say poe-tay-toe and I say poe-tah-toe, your use of any one particular tool may not be any more correct - or even any better - than mine. Herein lies the beauty of a free and open Internet.

Tools are tools, and no amount of nagging will keep me from using a butter knife to quickly tighten a screw when the need arises.

Finally, in spite of our desire to help people overcome any inhibitions they might have toward clicking "Publish," I think it's important to remember that for some people "this space" IS a job interview, a published essay, and a literary journal. For other people, blogs are becoming diplomas. Moreover, real people experience real consequences for online behavior, and to ignore these facts is to assume that all people live in environments similar to and as safe as our own.

Is spelling important? Not always; and yet sometimes, without question!

Balance #tedx

The TEDx talk I gave a few weeks ago is now available for viewing online.

It was an absolute pleasure to participate in the inaugural TEDxCSDTeachers, held at Butler Middle School on November 8! The final talk in an engaging lineup of professionals from my district and state, I was more nervous to deliver this TED talk than I think I've ever been for any other presentation. In spite of the nerves I and other presenters may have felt, Rachel Murphy and the other members of her team did an outstanding job with the entire event! A playlist containing the every talk from the day can be accessed here.

Knowing that the day would be full of exciting descriptions of technology use and borderline worship, I felt a brief discussion on balance was most warranted.
We live in a world filled with intense and constant opportunities for learning, engagement, and connectivity. Hence, the need for balance has never been greater.
In the end I think the talk went well, although there are numerous weaknesses in delivery and format that I would change in hind-sight. A few clarifications and "doh, if-only-I-could-do-this-again" examples include:
  • The words and slower pace I followed in this TED talk were very measured and intentionally slow. Because this message contrasted so greatly from previous talks and because I was last on the schedule, the in-person participants needed additional time to process. In the future, I wouldn't change my timing, but it may appear slow to the casual YouTube observer. 
  • To come to the conclusions I've made in my eleventh slide, I compared statistics published on the List of countries by number of mobile phones in use Wikipedia page (e.g., November 2013, November 2008). 

  • A few minutes into my talk, I reference an interview that Michael Wesch gave to Gillian Shaw of the Vancouver Sun. Unfortunately, I failed to mention that I paraphrased Dr. Wesch's words during the talk itself, although I've described this fact in my final Attribution slide.
  • My inability to control emotions at the end of my talk impaired my ability to finish with power. If I were to do this again, I would hope to circle back to the idea that if we (as adults, teachers, and responsible citizens) don't find, teach, and model balance - then who will.
  • Finally, I appreciate the willingness of others to share. My attribution slide follows, click to enlarge:

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