Friday, February 27, 2009

Sony World Photography Awards 2009 Shortlist Nominations Announced

LONDON - The shortlist for the 2009 Sony World Photography Awards was announced, Tuesday 24 February. The list contains the names of 186 exceptional photographers from 43 different countries, all of them competing in a variety of categories in one of the most prestigious photographic competitions in the world. The Honorary Judging Committee, comprising world-renowned photographers, curators, representatives from leading international photo agencies, publishers and critics made their selection from 36,546 professional and 25,370 amateur photography submissions.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

President Obama's Joint Sessions Speech: Education

"In a global economy, where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity. It is a prerequisite.
Right now, three-quarters of the fastest-growing occupations require more than a high school diploma, and yet just over half of our citizens have that level of education. We have one of the highest high school dropout rates of any industrialized nation, and half of the students who begin college never finish.
This is a prescription for economic decline, because we know the countries that out-teach us today will out-compete us tomorrow.
So tonight I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be a community college or a four-year school, vocational training or an apprenticeship. But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma.
And dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It's not just quitting on yourself; it's quitting on your country. And this country needs and values the talents of every American."

How do we respond to this as educators?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Alabama Arts Education Summit 2009: Speaking with One Voice

As I reflect on the Art Summit I attended at Troy University, I am overwhelmed with the ideas and opportunities presented; many are developing as I write. For my students who are reading this, I hope you find an outlet to reflect on your journeys. Whether it be visual arts, writing, or a conversation with others, the art of expressing yourself brings deeper meaning to the experience and can inspire others through your communication.

I was inspired by the art and interpretation offered by the artist "Nall." He indicated his work is autobiographical and expresses his "truth." Interpretations of political messages he shared in his art were fascinating as well. I will see his work with enlightened eyes. Nall was born in Troy, Alabama and has become an internationally known artist. Locally you can find his work in the Mobile Museum of Art and the Battlehouse Hotel. Check out his work and think about sharing the work and life of this regional artist "Nall" with your students. (pictures above: Nall's art and Paige & Nall)

Dr. Thomas R. Bice, Deputy Superintendent, ALSDE, presented innovative ideas for 21st Century Learning. I was thrilled to hear that he is an advocate for the arts in the curriculum. He specifically indicated that "art education integration classes should be a part of every teacher preparation program."

I was not aware, prior to the conference, of Bill Strickland's work or of the Manchester Bidwell Corporation and Manchester Craftsmen Guild. WOW! Strickland is among the most dynamic speakers I have ever had the privilege of hearing; furthermore, Mr. Strickland's story and accomplishments inspire me to want to do so much more professionally! He indicated that "environment drives behavior", and "the way you think about and treat people drives behavior." He stated that "if you build world-class facilities, you get world class behavior." His philosophy about environment has been put into practice and made such a difference in the lives of at-risk students in Pittsburg. His story is worth reading. I have ordered the book! The links in this paragraph lead you to video of his presentations.

The USA Arts in Education integration model (in its 5th year of funding and implementation) was presented to an audience of about 35; many have contacted me for additional information. Jeannette Fresne (Assistant Professor, music education), Linda Dean (Executive Director, Alabama Institute for Education in the Arts) and I shared our programs and facilitated interesting discussion.

Presenting with Vicky Cook (Baldwin County Fine Arts Supervisor), Ricky Trione (Blind Artist) and his wife Bonnie Trione is always a privilege. I value the friendship we are developing and am increasingly inspired by their passion for education, the arts, and LIFE! We are all very excited about fine tuning our stories and sharing our presentation with art educators from all over the world at the National Art Education Association Conference in Minneapolis this Spring. Ricky's message of perseverance, creativity, and life-long learning is an inspiration to all who attend.

As a result of the innovative work Ricky and Vicky have accomplished, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in partnership with Daimler Financial Services, selected Foley Middle School as one of only 10 schools across the country to tell their story of the arts in their community: in this case, the impact Ricky has made. Our Summit presentation on the USA/Across the Bay collaboration has been forwarded to the Kennedy Center as well. I look forward to witnessing the process as On Location: Spotlight On Your Community is produced and then shared worldwide.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Learning to Change ~ Changing to Learn

So rather than JUST memorizing INFORMATION, can you "FIND it, VALIDATE it, SYNTHESIZE it, COMMUNICATE it, COLLABORATE with it, PROBLEM SOLVE with it?" Do YOU have a 21st Century set of Literacies? Do YOU facilitate learning these literacies?

Does technology make it "A GREAT PLACE FOR LEARNING?" Is the space asynchronous, not adversary, not pressured? Can you "reflect, retract, research, repeat?"

What do YOU think?

Google: Is there anything they don't know? Or anything they can't see? GOOGLE OCEAN; DIVE IN

GOOGLE OCEAN: New extension for Google Earth launched Google has launched an extension of Google Earth, which allows internet users to virtually explore the ocean.

Google Ocean, which is included in the newest download version of Google Earth, allows users to explore the high seas with thousands of images of underwater landscapes from volcanoes to sea life.

Users can also watch videos, read stories and contribute photos as they explore the ocean.

Google Earth, which combines satellite photos, maps and information to enable users to explore streets and cities around the world, has been downloaded 500 million times since it was introduced in 2005.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Blogger in Middle-earth: Peace in a Sentence

Blogger in Middle-earth: Peace in a Sentence: "The rain falls steadily from the dark sky in shades of grey; drinking coffee and gazing through the window, I am at peace."

A Day in A Sentence

Kevin Hodgson (aka Dogtrax) is a teacher, blogger, and friend who I met through the National Writing Project. Kevin's work is innovative and never fails to inspire me.

At Kevin's Meandering Mind he has been running a blog activity called A Day In A Sentence for years. The way Day in a Sentence works is:
Reflect on your day or your week
Boil it down to a single sentence
Share it out

This week’s challenge, is to use one of my favorites: the theme PEACE in your day/week in a sentence. It is being hosted by Blogger in Middle Earth

So, surf over to Ken Allan's BLOG and share some peaceful words. (Ken is a distance educator in Science at The Correspondence School, Wellington, New Zealand.)

"PEACE. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart."


From "Sweet 16" to 68, we've celebrated birthdays among friends and family this week. I'm thinking about the celebrations of life, age, and change.

Birthday Cakes

One theory about the origin of the birthday cake is that it originated with the Greeks, who baked round cakes representing the full moon for their moon goddess, Artemis. They placed candles on the cake to make it glow, like the moon.
The Germans are also credited with the first cakes and candles. They used a sweet, layered cake and they put a large candle in the center of the cake to represent "the light of life." Some people believe the smoke from extinguished candles carries their birthday wishes up to heaven.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Music Motivates: If Everyone Cared ~ Every Day

Nickelbacks's song as student motivation for thinking, writing, drawing, acting?
Rascal Flatts song to inspire a character education writing actvity dealing with citizenship, empathy and social responsibility?

What's your passion? What do you CARE about? What would you change? How can you help?
(Great ideas from Johnathon Chase's Classroom 2.0 Page)

"I want my children to understand the world, but not just because the world is fascinating and the human mind is curious. I want them to understand it so that they will be positioned to make it a better place. Knowledge is not the same as morality, but we need to understand if we are to avoid past mistakes and move in productive directions. An important part of that understanding is knowing who we are and what we can do... Ultimately, we must synthesize our understandings for ourselves. The performance of understanding that try matters are the ones we carry out as human beings in an imperfect world which we can affect for good or for ill." (Howard Gardner 1999: 180-181)


I'm thinking about the differences between online and traditional classes these days. I teach both...more to come.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Learning the Wiki Way: What is a Wiki?

I"ve created several wikis which focus on the integration of art education with other content areas. Viewing the You Tube is a great way to grasp the basic idea of what makes a wiki different from blogs or traditional web sites. The challenge is that most school systems block the wiki sites (and many other 21st Century Learning Tools). So that is a whole new post...using technology responsibly.
Meanwhile, get wiki with it...add your two cents...


ART at the HeART of Social Studies

The Art & Science Connection

The Intersection of Art & Math

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Technology & Teachers

21st Century Learning
Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach is among my top 5 favorite bloggers. Check out her blog "used to explore, and create ideas around 21st century collaborative learning and virtual learning communities and how these communities can be used to help teachers and families become lifelong learners."


One of my many places to learn...

View all the resources on the "Main" page tab!

Reading blogs and creating your own blog: a great way to network.
You ask, "how do I do this?"

The Top 100 Photography Blogs (click here)

How I want a new SLR digital camera...let me count the ways. Which one? Any suggestions?


As I child, I collected. I still do. I remember the excitement of receiving stamps which were postmarked and from far away places; countries I may never physically be, but knew the stamp was there and the image gave me a sense of the place. I collected shells, rocks and beautiful stationery (of all things). I guess aesthetics and writing were early passions.

As a newly married woman, I collected cookbooks; as an elementary teacher, children's ABC books were collected from various states. My daughter collected snow globes.

As I move away from the importance of material things (running out of room for "stuff") and toward the value of experiences, I find myself looking for new adventures to add to my collection. I still like the tangible documentation though...a photograph for my blog will do.

So I was reminded of my stamp collection as I viewed the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum’s award-winning Web site Arago's featured collection titled “American Art on Postage Stamps: Telling the Story of a Nation,” which can be viewed at

From the first stamps issued by the United States in 1847 to the present day, many American postage stamps have featured important fine art produced by famous American artists.

What do you collect?


I began my fascination with the symbolism of ladders when I viewed a picture of Martin Puryear's sculpture "Ladder for Booker T. Washington" shared by a friend and colleague for a presentation. We then coincidentally saw an exhibition of Puryear's work at the National Gallery of Art, during a workshop we attended in Washington D.C. The 36-foot-long ash and maple sculpture (Puryear's ladder) was riveting.

No, it was earlier; as a child, I really rebelled against the superstition of walking under ladders. I reversed this for myself, believing it was good luck to walk under a ladder (creating my own superstition).

Now I see the symbol as it relates to the "climb" in so many areas of my life. Symbols such as Puryear's sculpture do not represent a "top" or plateau. So what does this mean? For me there's always more; never an end to the journey, until the END, I guess. But then I believe I just start climbing a new ladder. What do you think?

"Colours of the Night"

How I wish I could visit the Van Gogh Museum.
Vincent Van Gogh once said: “I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.” I think I agree, at times...spoken like a true night owl.
Amsterdam, NL - From 13 February to 7 June 2009 the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam will present the exhibition Van Gogh and the colours of the night, the first show to be devoted exclusively to the evening and night-time scenes by Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890). The Van Gogh Museum will be the only European venue for this unique exhibition. Van Gogh imbued his twilight and nocturnal scenes with a wealth of associations, heartfelt emotions and a poetic sense of ambience.


You'd think a ridiculous amount of e-mail, a "smart" phone, course management systems, multiple wikis, checking Bloglines, a Delicious account and FaceBook would be enough. None are the right format for my public pondering though. I'm in hopes this will least until the next cool technology entices me...
So how does technology affect your life? What could you do without...really? What would cause withdrawal symptoms?