muse: n. a source of inspiration

Learning how to do stop motion animation!

Day one: Motion Animation at the Ringling Institute for Teachers

Check out this lab! I want one!




July 8, 2013 Posted by | Filmmaking, Lifelong learning, Multimedia, Video | Leave a comment

Getting ready for Germany…are we there yet?

Once again I’m traveling with Centropa for their annual Centropa Summer Academy. This year I’m excited that it’s Germany: Mannheim, Frankfurt and Berlin. I really can’t believe that I’m doing this again – it’s a phenomenal opportunity and a wonderful, educational and stimulating way to spend ten days, but simply exhausting! I’m glad I have three weeks after I return before school begins to recuperate. Oy – only three weeks?

Are we there yet?

Of course I’m worried about how I’m going to entertain myself while I’m on the plane. I’ve already been to British Airways’ website to scope out the in-flight entertainment (excited to watch Salmon Fishing in the Yemen!), and I sprang for the iTunes Essential George Gershwin collection, but I want to put some movies on my iPad too. I mean, what if my video player thingie doesn’t work? Or what if I’m bored at night (yeah…right) and need to have something other than German TV to watch in the room?

Unfortunately, season two of Downton Abbey only got me through my last three trips (thank you, Downton Abbey – that was six blissful flights!), and there wasn’t another TV season I wanted to download. I do have some DVDs, though, that I want to watch but I’m not bringing my laptop – just the iPad (it’s so much lighter and easier to get through security!), which, of course, does not have a DVD player.

Now…I know you’re not supposed to do this. I would NEVER suggest my students do this…But if you already own the movies you want to bring on DVD, and let’s say you wanted to watch them on your iPad…you could rip the movies using Handbrake. Be sure to choose the iPad preset. Then you end up with a .m4v file that you could throw in iTunes and transfer when you sync. Easy peasy.

The only problem is that those movies can be pretty heavy – reaching 2 gb. That’s a lot of real estate on an iPad, so…

You might want to bring them along on an SD card. If you have the Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit, you can do that. You just have to set them up in a way that your iPad will recognize them and know to import them as media. This post on CNET will be very helpful if you’re thinking about doing that.

Finally – I decided to spring (amazing how these trips cost SOOOOO much!) for a really good set of earphones. I wanted good, I wanted noise canceling, and I wanted small. I also didn’t want to spend more than $50. This is not as easy as it sounds. I researched a lot of companies, and finally settled on Thinksound. What got me were the reviews on Amazon. Now, many of those reviews mentioned having cable separation problems, so the big question is why did I pay $50 for earphones that could break? It’s simple – every single one of the reviews also stated that as soon as they contacted the company, they were immediately contacted by the company (in many cases, the president) to arrange for a replacement. I also really loved that they’re made from wood, and that the product has a low footprint packaging-wise. I appreciated not having to dig out the scissors and deal with those nasty plastic clamshell packages which fill up my recycling bin. They came in a lovely little brown box, with their own little cloth bag for storage. I was using them in about two seconds after receiving the package and they rocked. Pun intended.

Oh – and I also bought a new suitcase. But that wasn’t interesting.

I hope to post lots from Germany – stay tuned.

July 3, 2012 Posted by | Centropa, Lifelong learning, Technology | , , | Leave a comment

Seriously? It’s only been two days?

I can’t believe I’m already packed to check out of the hotel tomorrow morning as we prepare to take the night train to Vienna tomorrow night. Today we spent a great deal of time at the hotel discussing how actual teachers use the Centropa website, and learning with incredible scholars, one of whom was Dr. Michael Berenbaum, who designed the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. After lunch we headed out for a fascinating tour of Jewish Krakow, and did so by reading significant passages from a Centropa interview. It’s one thing to stand in the square where Jews were rounded up for deportation, and quite another to do so while reading the words of one who was there.

It was a fabulous technique and one that I’d like to use when traveling with students.

After the tour we spent some time at the Krakow JCC and then headed out to do another walking tour of Krakow. We were supposed to do this tour yesterday but missed it because we were getting the fascinating tour of the highway from Katowice to Krakow because our plane couldn’t lane in Krakow because a construction crane was blocking the runway. Yes, that brought the entire airport to a standstill. Sorry. I digress.

Anyway, dinner was on our own. I dined with my new friends Margaret from Seattle (with whom I traveled from JFK, so we feel like we’ve known each other for years already), my roommate Uli from Austria, and Ursula from Berlin. Of course I ate pierogies – what else would you eat in Poland?


Bohaterow Getta Square

July 5, 2011 Posted by | Lifelong learning, Storytelling | | Leave a comment

120 International Teachers in One Place!

It feels like I left Chicago about a hundred years ago…

Here I am in Poland, with (right now) around 65 teachers from all over the world. My roommate, Uli, is from Austria; I had breakfast with a German teacher and his friend from Israel who brings him his fix of Israeli Turkish coffee… We’ll be joined later on in the week by teachers from Vienna when we interview there. Amazing!

We’re learning how to use the Centropa website with its riches of life stories, photos and films. Whether you’re teaching history, language arts, or digital storytelling, there is something that you will find useful for your classroom. And don’t forget the recipes!

Last week I was at the ISTE conference in Philadelphia. One of the things that everyone was talking about was QR codes. One of the things I’m thinking about is to create QR codes linking to films on the Centropa website and making interactive timelines. Hmmmm. Got to figure out how to work that into next year’s curriculum!

Later today – a walking tour of Jewish Krakow!

July 5, 2011 Posted by | Lifelong learning, Storytelling, Technology | | Leave a comment

Getting ready for ISTE

I’ve always been one to double my travel. I love to plan travel experiences and I think I get as much pleasure – well, maybe almost as much – from the planning as the actual travel.

I’m finding that going to an international humongous conference is no different. And doing a little (okay, maybe it’s been a lot this week) pre-planning and pre-thinking can really enhance the experience, I believe.

Here’s what I’ve been doing:

1. Use the conference planner. The planner is a fabulous tool. I’m choosing at least three sessions during each time slot. Why three? Sometimes sessions get canceled, sometimes the room is full and sometimes it’s just too far. Seriously. I don’t want a last minute conversation to have to be cut short just because I’ve got to run upstairs and down the hall. Because I’m traveling to ISTE through the generosity of the AVI CHAI Foundation, I’ll be having dinner with the amazing group of Jewish educators that they’ve amassed, so I added dinners to my planner as well so I don’t forget to go (like I’d forget to eat dinner!). I’ll be carrying my iPad and iPhone, so I subscribed to my ISTE planner using iCal, so I can check my planner electronically and have it updated automatically. I also added things like the Jewish educators Birds of a Feather session and my hotel info so it’s all accessible in one place.

2. Twitter. The #ISTE11 Twitter hashtag is becoming very active and it’s a great way to get last-minute tips and scope out some new people to follow. I’ll be following it during the conference, of course, but it’ll be crazy then. Now is when it’s really helpful. Following the tag, for instance, is how I found out that we won’t be able to use power strips at the PACC. That’ll save me a little room in my bag.

3. Get to know the keynote speakers. The keynote speakers are all rock stars in their fields and it’s worth taking a little time to check them out. Do a Google search and check out their websites, blogs and TED talks. I’ve been doing this for some time now and found it really enhances the experience of listening to a keynote when you know a little about the speaker.

4. What to bring: there’s the usual: all the electronics, comfy shoes, a wrap for cold conference rooms (not to mention airplanes)… Here’s a couple other things I’ll be bringing: my CAJE (a moment of silence, please) badge holder (has a little space for extra things like a pen and some cash), a couple little Moleskine Cahier notebooks (sometimes no-tech is better), lots of business cards, pre-printed labels with my contact info and a QR code to my page (totally stole that idea – it rocks!), my mini one-device surge protector so I can feel okay about plugging in wherever (like at the airport), a water bottle so I can be green, snackies to drop in my bag, a little folding Baggu shopping bag, and my ICE (Illinois Computing Educators) luggage tag because one must always remember from whence one comes. I’m not planning to check baggage but lately the airlines have gotten really aggressive about making you surrender your carryons at the gate (because, really? Did they not think too many people would carry on once they starting charging that ridiculous baggage check fee? Sorry. I digress) so even if you’re not planning to check a bag sometimes it just ends up there anyway.

5. Plan to leave the conference center. I know that, other than returning to the hotel to go to bed, there’s no good reason to ever, ever leave the PACC, but it’s worth doing a little pre-planning to find one thing that provides an educational opportunity and a reason to perhaps get out, get some air, and walk a little bit. This time I will try to steal some time to go visit the National Constitution Center.

That’s my plan!

June 23, 2011 Posted by | Education, Lifelong learning, Technology | , , | Leave a comment

What do teachers do during the summer?

Spertus cohort meets during the summer!It’s not all lying on the beach and lunch with friends. This week, my Spertus cohort colleagues and I are sitting in class from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm. For the first three days we’re learning about technology in education with Dr. Ginger Malin, and then it’s the Aesthetics of Jewish Civilization with Dr. Judah Cohen.

Then…later on in June I’ll be attending the ISTE conference in Philadelphia. I’m incredibly grateful to the AVI CHAI foundation for supporting me in this.

And then… it’s off to Krakow, Vienna and Sarajevo with Centropa.

Wow – what amazing opportunities this summer!

June 12, 2011 Posted by | Lifelong learning | , , , | Leave a comment


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