Sunday, April 24, 2011

Week 4 - Blog #4 - Response to Jen

Jen Alman writes:
The last four chapters of this week's reading seem to have been designed to inspire the reader to be the change they want to see in the world. The Zanders encourage the reader to create a spark and framework for that change and enroll others in that vision. It is not about manipulating people or situations to accomplish something, but using your passion to inspire others.

I also liked the chapters on being the board and telling the we story. It is so easy to blame others for what we perceive to be wrong. Instead the Zanders challenge the reader to take responsibility for what happens in your life and find a way to transform situations and see things in a different light. Doing this brings more compassion to a world full of human beings all trying to co-exist.

My response:
I agree that the last four chapters are meant to inspire us to go out and change the way we perceive the world.  The message is simple, yet not always so easy to do.  The idea of taking responsibility for everything, good and bad, that happens in our life is foreign to most of us.  Yet the implications are boundless if we take the challenge.  I am impressed that you were able to sum up a very complicated section of the book in so few words.  Excellent job!

Week 4 - Blog #3 - Response to Kathy

Kathy said,
I didn’t get very far into the reading this week before I found the focus for my blog… lighting a spark. According to Ben Zander, “…our universe is alive with sparks. We have at our fingertips an infinite capacity to light a spark of possibility” (p125). This fits perfectly in with the tech conference I sent a proposal to and seems to be the ‘sign’ I needed that says- this is the place you need to be to help light that spark of possibility in others! Zander went on to list some steps and two of those remind me of what my mantra needs to be: “Offer that which lights you up… [and] have no doubt that others are eager to catch the spark” (p126). This pretty much sums up my passion for what I do and all that I have learned throughout my journey both as a student and a teacher. I have always been full of passion and the desire to pass that onto others has been burned deep inside because of how others have inspired or ‘enrolled’ me in this educational trip. They have been my roadmap and their sparks have ignited mine. By offering to others what I discovered along my personal journey and through my research, I can only hope that my light will spark someone else to carry on their own passion and pass the sparks onto others.

Zander, R. & Zander, B. (2000). The art of possibility. Harvard Business School Press: Boston, MA.

Postscript: I just wanted to say I loved this book! It had so many wonderful stories and themes I could relate to. It was a very enjoyable and entertaining read.

My response:
Kathy, you have a passion and a spark that will ignite many people as you share your knowledge and experience with others.  I agree that when we are able to pursue interests that we have passion for we share that spark and spread the excitement.  I wish you well as you present your AR project.  The audience will surely catch the spark and go on to ignite others as well.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Week 4 – Blog #2 – Reading: the rest of The Art of Possibility

Be the board, not one of the pieces!

I have to start by saying that I love this book!  I have enjoyed every chapter and know that, although I am familiar with many of the themes in this book, I loved the way that they were presented in this book.  It also served to remind me that I need to live in the moment and give the situation I find myself in it’s due; it is what it is!  Judgement and bitterness over situations we find ourselves in serves nobody, especially me.

The idea of enrollment is very enticing to me.  You know it when you see it, but it is something that almost always is seen in person.  Zander writes, “ Enrollment is the art and practice of generating a spark of possibility for others to share.”  This is what we hope to share with our students.  I think enrollment is what launches a good teacher to a great teacher because they are able to launch their students into the mindset of possibility.

The chapter on being the board was the hardest for me to understand, but once I got the idea that it was really about taking the responsibility of being a part of the situation.  It isn’t about taking all of the responsibility for the situation or blame.  It is about seeing what part you did have in the situation and what can be done to alleviate the blame game.  What can be done to get the participants in the situation back in the same game.  By taking the responsibility of being the board, you are able to see the situation for what it is, minus any blame or resentment.  If both participants take the stance of being the board the situation is more likely to be solved in a mutually beneficial way.  It becomes a WE story instead of an I story.  What can WE do about this so that we can both find a suitable solution for everyone.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Week 4 Publishing_Leadership Project

My Action Research Project focusses on using digital social stories to teach social nuances and rules to students on the autistic spectrum.  I have decided to pursue publishing my finding with the following two journals.  Both have links to Autism Speaks and are valuable resources to parents, teachers and specialist who work with autistic students.

  1.   Autism – Asperger’s Digest Magazine
  2.  Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

Here is the link to my Leadership Project that I wish to publish:

Here are the links to my think-aloud posts about my AR project:


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Week 3 – Blog #5 – Publishing my AR Findings

c. Sophia Winters -

Here is a list of magazines and professional journals that I am going to submit my AR findings to in hopes of having them published 
  1.   Autism – Asperger’s Digest Magazine
  2.   Autism Spectrum Quarterly
  3.  International Journal of Disability, Development and Education
  4.  Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders

It is my hope that I might help an educator, a family and a child through sharing digital social stories through these publications.  I think that I have something to share with educators and parents because I am an educator and a parent of a child with autism.  It is not necessarily a unique view, however it is one worth sharing.  Autism has been around for a long time and Asperger’s, although diagnosed relatively recently, has always been there too.  Our schools are struggling with the current influx of students with autism.  Schools need to learn how to help students on the spectrum learn social skills in order to get along with neurotypical students.  Truth be told, I think the schools need to change a little and social skills need to be taught to all students.  Students on the spectrum may need a little more specific language and modeling, but all students benefit from learning to look at another’s perspective and turn taking skills.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Week 3 - Blog #4 - Publishing a paper or Presentation?

Paul, age 8, at a cabin in Lake Tahoe
we rented last summer.

My action research project is on making social stories digital to increase their effectiveness with students with Asperger's or high-end autism.  Although, my project is in the special education realm I am not a special education teacher.  My son has Asperger's and that is my connection to this topic.  Although. . . I did teach one year of special education in a private school about ten years ago.  I'm not sure that one year qualifies me to be a presenter or a writer of special education issues.  But, I know that parenting a nine year old with this disorder does.  Many educators and parents are interested in positive and effective ways of teaching social skills to students on the autistic spectrum.

I have presented in several conferences and although the reaction from others makes you feel good, it is a lot of work with little or no financial gain.  Most conferences pay your way into the conference for presenting in the conference.  The presenters that make money at conferences have products that they sell after or before their presentation.  I know that sharing information isn't about money, but there is a lot of work to do to prepare for a presentation at a conference.  This is not the time to throw something together and run with it.  You need to have a well thought out plan, presentation, handout, and door prizes.  That's right, educators love getting something for free.  Especially if what you are offering has something to do with implementing what you are presenting.

So. . . the paper is a lot of work too, but it would be done at the end of this class and I wouldn't have to spend any more money to prepare it for publishing.  I might have to do a re-write, but that is just time, not money.  I think that I am leaning towards writing a paper with my findings from my action research project.  Now I need to narrow my focus and look at the publications that would be interested in the information I have to offer.

Week 3 – Blog #3 – Response to Melissa

photo by: Nicole Gurley

Melissa wrote:
Week 3 Reading: Seriously?
During the last few days, I have spent a substantial amount of time asking myself, “Are you taking yourself too seriously?”  In most cases, the answer is yes.  When things don’t go the way they should or the way I think that they should, my normal reaction is frustration.  This is usually a result of being driven by the calculating self instead of the central self.  This weeks reading has sharpened my awareness of internal motivation. 

In many ways the reading from The Art of Possibility mirrors concepts delivered in Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth.  Instead of calculating self, Eckhart uses the term ego.  Realizing when this aspect of personality is at work is a major step in redirecting thought patterns.  The calculating self, or ego, is really just a survival mechanism that loses its purpose in adulthood and serves to hinder relationships.

These steps are not easy but reading them again has helped me to refocus on awareness and presence.  Breaking habits in behavior and in thought is a challenging endeavor but is the only way for me to evolve as an individual.

My response:
I applaud your connection with the calculating self and the ego.  You are right that they served a purpose in our youth, but as an adult they tend to get in the way when we take them to seriously.    I think it is human nature to not like it when things don’t go our way or don’t end up the way we think that they should.  I too, am trying to break those habits in behavior by making myself aware of the now and how things really are.  I think this is something that I will need to continually work on because it is so easy to forget and slip back into old habits.  Here’s to keeping to how things really are, not taking ourselves to seriously and to new possibilities!

Week 3 - Blog #2 - Response to Jennifer

photo by contour99

Jennifer wrote:
I thought last week's reading was really good, but this week I couldn't stop reading. I was blown away by the chapter on being a contribution. I love the thought of being a meaningful contributor instead of focusing on competition. Although I do have a competitive spirit, it's generally within myself. I strive to grow and be better than I was the day before. I especially enjoy collaborating and working together for the greater good. This chapter empowered me to value this about myself and strive to incorporate this in my future career path.

I also liked the chapter on accepting things the way they are. I realized that I spend too much time focusing on how I think things should be or I would like for them to be. Instead, if I allowed things to be just as they are, I can use my time to be in the moment or find solutions that would work better.

My response:
Jennifer,  I enjoyed the chapter on contribution as well.  I think we are trained from youth to be in constant competition.  A little friendly competition is good.  Living in constant competition isn’t.  I think you are right on when you talk about trying to be a little better today then you were yesterday.  We should embrace the good things that we know about ourselves.  I too, would love to learn how to be in the moment more often.  All we can do is try to learn from our mistakes and try to do it better tomorrow.  That’s all any of us can do.  J

Week 3 – Blog #1 – Reading: The Art of Possibility

<a href="">Sun Sign In Sand</a> by Petr Kratochvil 

Several concepts in these four chapters resound in me.  None so much as the question, “What would need to change for me to be completely fulfilled?”  As stated in previous blogs, I am in a period of change and uncertainty in my life.  I am not sure when there will be primary teaching jobs again where I live.  I am not sure what I would want to do if I weren’t a teacher.  So, what would have to change for me to be completely fulfilled?  The problem with this is that I think I was completely fulfilled as a kindergarten teacher.  I loved my job and in fact it was part of my identity. 

So, maybe I need to refer to rule #6 and not take myself so seriously.  I think for the next several months I am going to play the . . .”Have the Best Day Ever” game.  If I can remember rule #6 maybe I can open myself to some new possibilities that I have been overlooking.  I have arranged my narrative or my story around being a primary teacher.  I need to remove those boundaries and that story so that I can reinvent a new story.  If I try to live my life to the fullest and live in the moment, surely a path or revelation will come to me. 

I have always been a cup half-full type of person.  I love the way that Zander explains that the cup half-full is the only true way to be aware of the way things are.  By describing the cup half-empty you are describing how things aren’t.  By looking at the way things are without any judgments or fears or focusing on how things should be a new world of possibilities will open.  By releasing all of these boundaries, fears and contradictions or as Zander puts it, “Beyond the F--- It” (BTFI) lies my future.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Week 2 - Blog #4 - Free Choice

Personal Connection to My AR Project

My son, Paul, who is 9 pushing his cousin, Lionel, who is 3.
February, 2011

My son was diagnosed with Asperger's when he was four years old.  Asperger's is on the high end of the autistic spectrum.  People with Asperger's are very intelligent and vocal, but have difficulty understanding the complex social world we live in.  Shortly after diagnosis, my family and I launched an all out intensive therapy treatment for Paul.  We read everything we could get our hands on and tried everything that we thought might work.  Paul has received speech therapy, occupational therapy and seen a psychologist at school since kindergarten.  We have taken him to our own psychologist as well, who has offered lots of resources for Paul and for us.  As parents of a special needs child it is difficult to know which consequences Paul will understand and will be effective.  Dr. Wells has been extremely helpful to Steve and I and Paul loves going because they have play therapy.  Paul also attended a karate school forty-five minutes from our house once a week for over two years.  The school was recommended by his occupational therapist.  The director of the karate school is a psychology professor from Fresno State. Most of the instructors at the school are his master's or doctorate students who are well versed in different disabilities.  One of the greatest things that the school offered is that the students had a wide range of issues and some were considered "normal".

I decided on my action research topic because my son disliked reading the traditional social stories that were sent from the psychologist at school.  However, he loved to do anything on the computer.  He could google Earth and find the ranch where we live at age three. (My father spent hours with him studying geography on the computer.)  So I decided that it would be a great idea to link these two things together.  At the time, I had no idea if it had been done before.  As it turns out several studies have been done on this and the practice has been found effective.

An update on Paul  - Paul is now in the third grade in a regular education class at our local school district.  His teachers are amazed at his intellect and vocabulary.  At our last IEP, about two weeks ago, his teacher, the speech therapist and his occupational therapist all voiced how well Paul is progressing.  He no longer has adaptations on his work schedule or on testing.  He no longer has a BIP, behavior intervention plan, and he now has a best friend.  He plays on the playground with a group of students and has actually formed a great relationship with a student in his class that lives just down the road from us.  The kids play together very well and need little or no intervention during play dates at home or when playing at school.  Wow. . . have we come a long way!!  Paul will always have a few issues that will be difficult to him, especially when his schedule is far from his daily routine.  However, the progress we have made in the last five years is amazing and I am very grateful for it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Week 3 - Blog #3 - Response to Ashley May

Changing Faith

Ashley May wrote:
I read chapters 1-4 in The Art of Possibility on Sunday, but for some reason, I have been wrestling with writing this post.  It’s not that the reading was so confusing or that I had any misunderstandings; it was more of a “what to say and how to say it” kind of situation.  However, this evening I got news that my mother was in the hospital, and suddenly the urge to find a distraction led me back to my computer.

As I read through the chapters, I couldn’t help but think to myself.  I know I have heard this all before.  After about the fourth time I found myself saying this, it dawned on me; these are all Biblical principles being put into action.  I had heard this all before.  We have studied many of these same concepts in depth at my church.  Such titles as What You are Expecting is Expecting You, Your Thoughts Create Your World, and Confession that Brings Possession immediately came to mind.  You can click on any of the titles to purchase any of these titles or to read more information.    My Bishop, S. Terri Smith, always says, “The principles work if you work them.” It is show true.  Believer or non-believer, Christian or non-Christian, the principles of the Bible always work.  After realizing that this book was simply a repeat of teaching that I had already received being presented in a different light, I was able to read and enjoy more.  I was able to really get into what the Zanders had to say. 

There were a few points that stuck out to me that I would like to address.  First, Ben dealt with removing fear as an obstacle.  This was a prevalent theme throughout the first 2 chapters.  I had my “aha” moment when I (once again) realized that I am the biggest opposition to my own success.  It’s my thought patterns about my environment and myself that have to change.  I have to stop limiting myself to the box.  Instead of thinking outside of the box, I have to operate as if the box doesn’t exist!

The second point that I absolutely loved was when Zander said, “When you make a mistake, lift your arms high in the air and say ‘how fascinating.’”  I thought this would be a great exercise for me, personally.  I tend to put an extraordinary amount of pressure on myself to do everything and be everything.  What’s worse is that even though I know I cannot be perfect, I am still somehow disappointed when I am not.  This exercise will be great for me to start to take some of the pressure off of myself, and to allow myself to make mistakes. 

The third point that stood out was the story of the Taiwanese student.  He went form seeing himself as a 68, to seeing himself as an A.  It made me wonder, how do I see myself?  Why do I let others define who I am? Why do we all let others define who we are, even if it’s just a small part of ourselves?  This passage was extremely liberating for me.  It also reinforced things that I knew, but that I hadn’t yet learned.  I hope that makes sense to you!  It’s just like when people hear you but they are not listening.  Anyway, I am going to strive to do a better job of only caring about how I see myself, and giving myself that A!

The fourth and last point that I wanted to discuss was about making contributions, and about how that is like making ripples.   It immediately brought me back to Professor Rena Hanaway’s class.  Her theme was always  “making ripples,” and I really, finally, truly got it! It’s really about doing enough to cause a change in others, and for that same change to cause a ripple effect.  On a random side note, I thought it was rather befitting that I would reach this epiphany of sorts during the same week that I am hammering home cause and effect relationships with my 6th grade students! 

Well, if you are still reading, I would like to say thank you.  I naturally talk too much, and I’m a writer by nature as well.  Combining those two factors under stress can only lead to ridiculously long blog postings that someone will have to suffer through.  I hope it wasn’t too bad!  Until next time…

My response:
I agree that this book echos of information that we have heard in other places before.  Yet, we must need to hear it many times because it takes us so long to "get" it.  I also found similarities with the themes in this book and the teaching in the Christian Church.  I appreciate your candid way of explaining how you came to understand that you need to think as though there is no box.  My son has Aspergers and one of the greatest things about having Aspergers is that you operate everyday as if there was no box.

I also like the way that you explained the contributions portion of our reading.  It is like making ripples!  I hadn't thought about it that way before reading your blog.  If you think about it that is what we hope to do in our classrooms.

week 2 - Blog #2 - Response to Curt Isakson

Gulf Shore photo by Curt Isakson

Curt Isakson wrote:
One of the most compelling points bought across in this book, and what has stuck with me the longest, was the concept of giving an ‘A’ for a particular project to free one-self of the grade, and to let a person fully experiment, fail, or succeed without the worry of getting a bad grade.  I believe this can be a wonderful way of letting loose the chains that bind us creatively.

I find myself in this course having to make decisions about whether I do what I really want to do (which usually is more involved), or just make sure I fit the criteria for the grade.  Many times I have made the conclusion that I want the grade and have not taken it as far as I wanted to.  The projects I am most proud of though are the ones that I really didn’t care about the grade and did what I felt was right in my mind.

This course has used this concept many times, and I use this same idea in the classes I teach.  A ‘no-fail’ approach to some of my learning environments really brings out the best in my students. 

Posted by Curt Isakson

My response:
I agree, Curt! When we allow ourselves to fully immerse ourselves into a project and forget about how others may judge or critique it, that is where our creativity is set free.  You’re right about Full Sail giving us the opportunity to try new things on a pass/fail basis.  I hadn’t really thought about the EMDT program as starting us off with A’s, but I believe you are right!  Now all we have to do is pass this belief forward to our students and see how far they can go with it.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Week #2 - Reading: The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Zander and Benjamin Zander

What is possible?  What our mind can comprehend and make into a narrative story is what we believe is reality and from that we determine what is possible. What if we are limiting ourselves, by limiting what we view?  What if we are writing a narrative that limits our possibilities?  This is precisely what the authors of the Art of Possibility are saying.  These two wonderful authors go on to give rules or guidelines to help us re-write our narrative or roadmap so that the world and our possibilities open up.

Within the first couple of pages I immediately had a connection with this book.  Since being laid off last year, I find myself without a teaching position for the first time in fifteen years.  This is significant because I defined myself as a teacher; specifically a kindergarten teacher.  I could not go into a store or on vacation without keeping an eye out for something that would be useful in my classroom.  After being laid off I felt like I was “out of the boat” and I didn’t know which way was up and where I was going.  My narrative was shaken and I had to write a new one. I had to find a new track.  I decided that I would substitute teach and I decided to open myself up to any grade in the district.  I landed a long-term job at the high school in Special Education.  I loved it!  By opening myself up to other possibilities, I discovered that I enjoyed teaching an age group I previously wouldn’t have believed I would enjoy.  I have spent most of the year subbing at the high school in a variety of classes.  In the process I have gotten to know many students.

I love the chapter on Giving Yourself an A.  As a kindergarten teacher I believe this is my narrative or story.  I believed every student could learn to read.  All I have to do is give them experiences with literacy and find out what they need to make sense of it next.  I had to chip away the un-needed clay to find the inner student inside.  By treating them as readers and calling them authors from the first day of school, students knew that they could do it.  I could see when they started to believe it themselves.  When they would turn to their neighbor and say, “Look at the story I wrote!  You know I am an author like David Shannon.”  I let them know every day in every lesson that they had important information to contribute to the class.  That each of them are valuable and capable learners. Each of them has something valuable to contribute to our learning.

Ironically, this is what I believe high school students respond to as well.  I treat them like valuable people who have something wonderful to contribute to society. In return they become the person I see them to be.  Even the students who other teachers refer to as rough, like coming into a class I am subbing.  They know that I believe in them and in return they believe in me.  In this relationship the world’s narrative becomes a better one.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Week 1 - Blog #4 - Wimba and My AR Project

Week one Wimba's session was full of information on the expectations for the Media Asset Creation, (MAC) class taught by Professor Joe.   I appreciate the up-front and straight forward way in which the information was shared.  I work very well in an atmosphere where I know what is expected of me.  I hate surprises!  Although the session was pretty long, I believe that the time was needed to convey the information to us in the beginning of the class rather than last minute.

There are so many finishing touches to be put on our Action Research website this month.  I appreciate the look at the class as a whole so I know what to expect.  We are so close to being done with our master's.  We can't lose focus now!  Luckily, most of the items that were explained I have done.  Hopefully they are done correctly.   One of the things that concerns me about the data for my AR project is that all of the actual information has to be kept confidential.  So the data that was collected is from surveys that the special education teacher or specialist completed for me.  From the surveys I am able to ascertain that the specialist and/or the student felt that making the social story digital was helpful in learning the skill or behavior.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Week 1 - Blog #3 - Response to Melissa Lodhi

Melissa's post
Reading: Copyright Infringement by Melissa Lodhi

I find the issues surrounding copyright law fascinating.  I am particularly interested because much of my career revolves around
 these laws.  As a professional choreographer, my own intellectual property is protected but I run into massive risks when using music to accompany my work.  Trying to publish or share my work is impossible without original music, which is unaffordable in most cases.  The video “Good Copy, Bad Copy” was eye-opening.  I am extremely baffled by how so many artists are able to produce work that is technically infringing on copyright.  It sounds like all remixes and remakes of songs are stealing intellectual property.  Copyright law is a jumble of pitfalls and loopholes.  In order to pay artists for their work, all 3000 songs on my iPod have been purchased on hardcopy or through iTunes, but I have on many occasions used the work of artists as accompaniment for my work which is technically a no-no.  

Image courtesy of Morguefile 

My Response:

Melissa, I appreciate your candid and personal view on copyright.  There are many people who share your situation.  Where their art is reliant on someone else's creation.  Unless you are a famous choreographer, it is impossible to pay the required fees for original music.  Yet, without your interpretation through dance how many young people wouldn't learn?  I find the copyright laws very perplexing.  I agree artist need and should be protected.  Yet, how could you help not being influenced and inspired by the art to create something else?  Does the new art, even in another medium, then become the property of the first artist?  Perplexing is a great word to describe copyright law!

Week 1 - Blog #2 - Response to Kathy Valunas

Kathy's Blog:
Rules... rules... rules... how to make sure you don't break copyright laws can be very perplexing!  By Kathy Valunas

As I listened to the 10 myths video and the copyright basics that Joe Bustillos provided, the issue about how long a copyright lasts (lifetime+70 years for an author and 100 years for a company) triggered more questions that needed further investigation. I started thinking about all of the various pieces of fine art as well as illuminated manuscripts, and music that might fall outside of this guideline. For example, what about music written before 1900 such as: Bach to Brahms (ca. 1700-1900) or the use of a Requiem or chamber music for background music in a video for education? Or how about the masterpieces created by Donatello (1386-1466), Michelangelo (1475-1564), and da Vinci (1452-1519) all who died before 1900? Then there are the logo designs and the very beginnings of branding from the 1700 and 1800s such as family genealogy coats of arms or the coca-color script used for the logo/branding by John Pemberton in 1886 (Bellis); would these still fall into the category of copyright if one wanted to use those works to create something new for another purpose. Would we still have to gain permission from family members because the original copyright holder was no longer living, to use these items? And what about literature and a variety of authors such as TS Eliot, Virginia Woolf’s essays, or Shakespeare (circa 1558-1939)?

My Reply:
I agree! The more I learn about copyright issues, the more questions I seem to have. You made a great point about the art that was made before copyright law came into existence. Is that protected by copyright law automatically? Does Michelangelo's family receive requests to use his art? Do they receive royalty checks in the mail? 

The question that I want to focus on is how are we to use copyright? Can we use pictures or logos that we see on the web, if it's for educational purposes? I would rather be safe than sorry. There are great websites which offer pictures to use for educational purposes.