Category Archives: adult learning

Turkey Update

Earlier this year, I wrote about the problem of our wandering turkeys. They were attracted across the street to scavenge from our neighbor’s bird feeder. Part of it was our fault: we had stopped regular feedings as they seemed to find enough in their wandering so their explorations got farther and farther afield. They found leftover greens in the overgrown vegetable garden and then discovered the feeder.

I am happy to say that the turkeys have been successfully “trained” to stay near the house and the barn yard rather than wandering down front. They get fed twice a day, once in a penned area and once at their very own turkey-level bird feeder and sometimes a third time just to make sure they are close by and come when they are called. They are, by no means, pets, and one of them, in particular, is aggressive so I carry a big stick as we walk along to wherever I am going to spread the food.

For those of you who are having trouble imagining these birds, here they are at their sunflower seed feeder. The tapping is loud so it is hard to hear the happy sort of chirp they make.

Toolkit for Meditation Practice

I have known about and flirted with meditation for a very long time. In fact, my high school research paper–the one where I learned the 3X5 card research technique–was on transcendental meditation. I have no idea where I even heard about it or how I managed to get a copy of the book or enough print-based resources to write the paper. Certainly it was not widely practiced in the 1970s in rural Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the heart of Amish country, where I grew up. But, that was my topic. I don’t remember much about my conclusions, and it did not immediately convince me to meditate every day.

Over time, I have dabbled with the usual fits and starts but connecting with Dan Harris and 10% Happier was the impetus for this current journey. His books tell his personal story of discovering meditation, how that discovery changed his mind and his life, and how he traveled the country to get the word out. The app is an inclusive introduction to meditation with courses taught by well-known teachers like Sharon Salzberg and Sebene Selassie. They teach the basics as well as different types of meditation. Salzberg’s main focus, for instance, is lovingkindness.

The challenge that is on right now highlights different courses and teachers each day to give a good sense of the full range of the offerings.

The only drawback is that the app has only limited offerings for free. A subscription is $99/year. In a world of free, that may seem like a lot but it is another encouragement to actually open it up and explore. But, if you want to explore meditation for free first, consider Sharon Salzberg’s #RealHappiness challenge that takes place in February.

Farm Life: Authentic Problem Solving

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The last two farm animals left after having both pigs and chickens on the farm are two Royal Palm turkeys. Both males, they are at least five years old, surviving several hens and a couple of their hatch mates. I don’t think much would mess with them at this point. We allow them to roam and had mostly stopped feeding them every day, just kitchen compost and scraps. But, we discovered they have been heading down to the front of the property and across the street where our neighbors put up a bird feeder on a low hanger, turkey level. They have managed to avoid being hit by a car on the road and always seem to come home to roost.

They are, however, a nuisance to our neighbor, eating all the food and just generally making a mess. So, we have spent the last week or so trying to keep them away from the road by encouraging them to stay in the house and barnyard. It mostly means feeding them pretty regularly so they stick close by.

I thought we were doing pretty well until we walked down the driveway yesterday and found them busy cleaning out the feeder across the street. We called to them but they pretty much ignored us. Our neighbor helped by appearing with a broom, and they followed us home.

We could pen them up but it is a challenge since they can fly enough to get over a high fence so we need a canopy. And, it seems mean as they do like to wander. That is our last resort although we may work on a pen to use when we are going to be away.

Today’s new strategy: fight feeder with feeder. We’re going to fill a feeder and put it close to the ground the way our neighbor does. That way, they can eat right out of it. And, we are going to loan our neighbor a higher crook for their feeder so it becomes less attractive.

This is real-world problem solving with trial and error. And, of course, trying to think like a turkey helps as well.

 

 

 

Second Day of School

I teach a technology course for school leaders seeking a master’s degree. Most will become school or division leaders such as principals or curriculum specialists. Normally, the course is fully face to face during the fall semester.

This year, I am implementing a blended, mostly online approach, with weekly synchronous meetings.  We will have three face to face meetings. Last week, we met on campus to get to know each other and make sure everyone was comfortable with the tools we were going to be using to do our work during the semester. More on those tools in another post.

Tonight was our first online meeting using Zoom as our interface. There are 7 students in the class, which seems like a good number for an online meeting, particularly because I wanted to use video and audio. It was good to see their faces, and I think it facilitated conversation. My face to face class is very interactive. My students have a variety of professional experiences related to educational technology that can inform their understanding and provide diverse perspectives to their classmates. We talk a lot about how our work connects with standards and research and practice.

And, we did that tonight. We spent time making sure everyone was comfortable with the Zoom room. We used the text chat and then video discussion to explore the topic of technology transformation. My one technology glitch was that they couldn’t hear the audio on a video. I’ll explore that more this week as I do want us to have some communal viewings.

At the end, I asked what they thought, as many of them hadn’t had an online course or even used Zoom. I got positive feedback and am excited about exploring the possibilities. There are some drawbacks that I will explore in another post.

For now, I am a happy teacher: I had an engaging few hours with some thoughtful, smart educators that allowed me to be closer to my base while they could go home and relax a bit before we connected.

I did do one thing to make sure we would be successful: I am renting office space in the small town next to my farm. The internet at my house is problematic: our potential cable provider has refused to provide us with broadband so we are stuck with DSL, and it is notoriously unreliable. I didn’t want to take any chances with losing connectivity during class. It was the right decision.

I had honestly forgotten what good internet was like…I’ve already messaged the landlord about creating a co-working space. I don’t need daily access but knowing I had a place to go for important meetings and large file uploads would be reassuring.

Why I Pursued ISTE Certification

After the conference in December, I posted a public commitment to being more connected, whether it was blogging or tweeting or pursuing my own professional development. In fact, “walking the walk” is my theme for 2019.

I had already made a private commitment earlier in 2018 when I signed on to participate in one of the first cohorts to complete the ISTE Certification.

I am not a full time educator, but I teach School Technology, a graduate course, for University of Richmond each fall, and I have been experimenting with that course to make it more student centered and exploratory than a typical graduate course. Testing my syllabus against the ISTE Standards for Educators intrigued me.

I am pleased to announce that I have successfully completed the certification process and am now an ISTE Certified Educator. As I had hoped, the process, especially the portfolio, allowed me thinkdeeply about my practice in all aspects of my work both in and out of the classroom.

But, the work doesn’t end with the portfolio and the certification. My video reflection was called “Walking the Walk,” and I professed my commitment to connecting online and with my local community. I live in an underserved community and have been looking for ways to connect. The local 4H director introduced himself at the library Halloween party where I was demonstrating Makey Makey. Now, we are working together to sponsor a STEM special interest group. We start next Tuesday. We will be using some of the activities included in the coding curriculum developed by 4H and Google and also exploring Makey Makey and robots.

I am excited but a little nervous as it has been awhile since I have worked with kids. The group will meet six times, and our first meeting is next Tuesday after school at the local community center. I spent the break doing lesson planning. We will be creating LED-lighted name tags as our first activity. I figured it was an engaging and quick way to assess their existing knowledge. We are also going to do an unplugged activity using cards to code a dance and share it. I will let you know how it goes…wish me luck!