Friday, April 22, 2011

Wk 4 Publishing_Leadership Project


I am planning on presenting this at the local school board meeting because I want to demonstrate the technology use in my classroom and show them some of the features of my website.  
Michigan Music Conference is held in January every year in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and I also plan on presenting here.  I would love the chance to share my creation with my peers.  I would also like to ask for help to take this project to the next level with more scales and higher levels of musicianship.

I completed a presentation at the Thursday (April 21, 2011) Wimba.  
My posts on this subject can be found by following these links
Part 1 of  2
Part 2 of  2

My presentation can be found by following this link:
Curt Isakson's Action Research Project Presentation
note:  this is Mac KeyNote presentation file.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Week4/Blog #4 What's Up?

Since this is my last blog entry for this class, I would like to thank all the participants in this great activity in which the instructor has got us to read, write, and discover others opinions.  I really enjoyed this activity this month.  I now have a better vision of many of my classmates and their lives and viewpoints on the issues we were subjected to.
Great discussions!

Week4/Blog Response to Ashley May

My brother and I

Ashley May wrote:
While reading “Art of Possibility” this week, I was able to take I a lot of what was being said.  I loved that their seems to be a personal connection or story to every principle that the Zanders try to implement in this book.  I was a bit overwhelmed by the stories this time, however.  It seemed like the reading this week was all stories and no meat. 
The point from this week’s reading that I liked the most was the “not taking no for an answer.”  It was disguised as “being a spark” but that was what I took it to mean.  It was basically a message of perseverance through any odds.  
Other than that point, everything else seemed to be a repeat of what he had previously said.  I actually found myself to be quite annoyed with the reading this week.  I put it down yesterday, and came back today to write the blog.  Amazingly, I find myself annoyed again while writing about it.  I’m not exactly sure what the source of my aggravation is, however I’m sure it can be attributed to my resistance to many New Age philosophies.  The excitement that I felt in the first 4 chapters is clearly over.  While I did take some things from this book as a whole, I don’t know that I would ever recommend it to anyone else to read.  For the sake of keeping my personal feelings to a minimum, and trying to remain as professional as possible, I’ll stop with that.   Too bad this isn’t a hard copy; I bet I could have recouped some of my money at Half Price Books!

My reply:
I know I've had my fill of self-help books from my wife who seems to haul one home about every week.  I try to stay far away from them.  However, I did really enjoy this book, but I will agree with you on the end chapters  It was a re-hash of some of the basic points of his philosophy, but I still think it was nice to step away from academia and ponder on the finer points of inspiration.
After reading your blog I was giggling.  I think it's great you speak your mind.  Keep it up!

Week4/Blog Response to Everett Jones

Everett Jones wrote:
What an interesting read again.  This book has potential as being effective.  I would suggest that it is a great starter book for motivation.
Wishful thinking, optimistic thinking about giving your spark to others and being receptive to others light and spark is awesome.  Not everyone has that spark that can be seen, so it is our job to show them our spark of kindness and maybe their spark will shine a little brighter for the next person.  We are all conduits of knowledge.  Chapter 9 is very much about this concept of feeding off of each others sparks.
Following chapters:
Keeping our minds open in difficult circumstances to the possibilities of new beginnings or closure may be more ideal.  Negative thinking only places us backwards on the game board.  Let's think positively and place ourselves in a better place forward on the board.
As I've stated in other blogs, everyone has something good about themselves whether it is apparent or not.  WE all possess qualities that can bring out the best in others or in situations.  Do WE always make the better decisions for us?  Not always.  However, when we do make the better decision, WE all benefit in some way.  If not, let's build up another and wait our turn to be built up ourselves.  WE should be in this together.

My Response:
So true. I think (the authors) and you have put this whole book in perspective by discussing the WE factor at the conclusion of this book.
Everything we do in this world is WE related somehow, and we need to keep that in mind in we go we go about in the world.
Without getting too 'self-helpish,' - no, this may not be a word - we need to keep our eyes open, be for the bigger picture, and look beyond your nose.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Wk4 Publishing/Leadership Project Part 2 of 2

Art by Rebecca Isakson-Vandermolen

I would like to present my Action Research Project to my local school board.  The reason for this is simply I want to show them what I have been doing at Full Sail University, and what I am teaching our students.  Our school is in rural Michigan and is not on the cutting edge of technology.  I think this project along with the LMS (Schoology) I have been working with will show what can be done to connect the students to learning via the net.
I am also planning on proposing to present at the Michigan Music Conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan next January.  This conference of over 1000 music directors is an excellent venue to demonstrate my project.  I will love to continue this project and make it bigger and better.
Some of the best ideas come out of necessity.  I think this is one of them.

Wk4 Publishing/Leadership project part 1 of 2

Art by Rebecca Isakson-Vandermolen

Final Project Presentation of my Action Research Project will be in the form of a Keynote presentation.  I decided on this format because of the venues I would like to bring this project to.  I plan on giving a presentation to the Shelby Public Schools Board of Director's meeting in July and the Michigan Music Conference next January.
I believe this project has created an important link in instruction of musical scales that is easy to follow and easy to teach.  After talking to many local directors, I also believe this concept and information will be useful to not only my students, but to students throughout Michigan and beyond.  It is important for me to continue to develop and enlarge this project to cover all the basic scales in middle and high music programs.

Week Four Reading - The Art of Possibilities 9-12

“A distinction is not a standard to live up to, but a framework of possibility to live into.”

The Art of Possibilities, Rosamund Zander, and Benjamin Zander, 2000.

Instead of commenting on just one part of the last chapters of this book, I would like to write down a few simple thoughts on the whole book:

This book has really got me thinking about I interact with the people around me, and how I react to the environment that surrounds me.
I have to remind myself that reality is simply my reality and the perspective I view it from can be so fluid from day to day and moment to moment.  I believe that it is up to me to create my world and to make sure that I try to tackle it from a positive and educated viewpoint and keep the WE factor in mind always.
I cannot say I have had a book that has stuck with me so well as the Art of Possibilities. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Week3/Blog #4 My Opinion - Blogs

Blogging is a great way to connect to your classmates and the world, and I really enjoy reading and commenting on many of my friends comments and ideas.  However, one of the issues I have with this venue is the due dates.  I really like to check in on students who I don't have a connection with, and I am constantly having to reply to the classmates  that have completed their assignment early.  I have spent the week checking blogs to find new people to connect to, and I seem to have to reply to the same students over and over again (usually the same ones each week).
I would like to see a different method of assigning due dates for things like this. I know the instructors don't want to restrict or dictate these assignments, but I think I would like to see a more 'micromanaged' timeline. For example:  Tuesday, the main blog is due - Thursday, the reply is due.  This would give all the students access to all the blogs of the week.
This is not a comment on Joe's teaching, but a suggestion for all Full Sail course directors.  This situation has occurred many times over the months.
Thanks for listening!

Week3/Blog #3 Response to Dena Moncrief

Dena wrote:

I am actually enjoying reading The Art of Possibility. Sometimes God places things in your life right when you need them and not when you think you need them. This book has been very refreshing. It has helped me to look at situations differently than I have before.
Everybody should be a conductor if we go by the definition in the book. Conductors have the ability to make others powerful. As a teacher, we do exactly the same. We have the power to either be instrumental in someone’s success. You look good when you help to uplift others.
We are also encouraged to lighten up and not take everything so serious. As you lighten up you start looking at things as they are and not from the past. You shouldn’t focus on how wrong things are because it takes away your ability to act effectively. Like stated in previous chapters of this book, thinking positive is the key. When positivity is your primary focus then you tend to look at the glass half full instead of half empty. I am personally dealing with a not so positive situation as we speak. I do see how the more you give attention to problems, the more they escalate. It makes things worse.
My passion in life is to change the way my students/children think about things. I want them to think about making right choices. Not to always follow their peers because even they can mislead them. I want them to carry themselves in a way they can be respected. It is my hope that even if I get through to some that’s enough. 

My Reply:

I agree with your passion, and I believe I have the same.  The longer I teach, the more I realize I am not there to just teach the subject, but to educate my students on much more.  
Opening their eyes to what is proper and what is not, helping them see the possibilities out there, and to inspire and propel them through their life in high school and beyond. I think this so important as educators and as people who care.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Week3/Blog #2 Response to Mike Colletti

Mike wrote:

I continue to enjoy this book.  The Zander’s continue to present a common sense  approach to living and leading.  I could relate to Chapter 5, Leading from Any Chair.  When I read some of the stories relayed to us, I had to smile.  

I am a coach, and I have always tried to allow the students I work with the chance to tell me what they feel they need to work on.  My most successful competitors have taken to this approach and we have productive practice sessions, which translates into success in rounds of debate and speech.  I believe the more ownership the child has with her practice and performance sessions, the better she feels.

As part of this approach, I also have sessions where we don’t work on specific pieces to perform.  Sometimes, just sitting and talking about school or life or almost anything is more effective than going over a performance selection for the umpteenth time.  Being able to relax, and lighten up a little, is following Rule Number Six.  In the scheme of things, speech competition is minor to some of the other things my kids deal with every day, and by showing an interest in the rest of their lives, it allows me to then be able to ask for more of them when it really counts, in competition. 

I think I have had this approach for most of my career.  It is nice when respected individuals like the Zanders validate what I have been doing.

I wrote:
Making connections to your students is crucial for them to 'buy-in' to you and your program.  I also believe that when you are interested in them personally, they are more comfortable with you and will see your commitment and dedication to your program and to them.  No question about it.  I have no question they know you care and know that you are truly a master teacher.

Week Three Reading - The Art of Possibilities 5-8

Chapter 5 - Leading From Any Chair.
Before becoming a teacher, I was in retail management, and a very smart mentor told me 'your job is to make everyone else successful."  If I gave each employee a stake in the decisions, listened to their suggestions, and made sure they had the resources they needed, the employees really took ownership of the tasks at hand. I found my success came from everyone else's success.  I find this to be true in teaching, too.
In chapter 5 of The Art of Possibilities, the authors make the same supposition about passing on the leadership.  If everyone has input and a stake in the outcome, the results can be astounding.
I believe that daily I try to not to 'cram' lessons into my students, but try to make leaders out of each one of them.  It doesn't always work, but I am always amazed and excited when the students can take ownership and become the teachers.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Week1/Blog #4 Personal Comments

As I finish the final details of my AR Project website, I am reminded of all the work I have put into this project and into this course at Full Sail University.  The weather is also reminding me of time I began this journey and the anticipation and the anxiety I had going into this course.  I have to say I have really learned a tremendous amount of content, I have skills to maneuver through many new programs, and I am getting closer to becoming a technology expert in the field of education.
This does not mean I know it all - far from it - but I do have a great start and the inspiration to continue on discovering and exploring the world of technology in education.  I truly believe that these skills will be essential in the following years, and I am thankful for the great school, the invested instructors, and the great friends I have made over these last twelve months.  Thank you!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Week2/Blog #2 Response to Jason Peglow

Jason wrote:
I really do love books like this although I always have such a hard time applying any of it to my actual life practice. For example, in the chapter on giving an A to others and to your self, all I could think about here was how could I give an A to my students? Every time the idea came into my mind while reading this chapter I thought of so many reasons why it wouldn't work, or the negatives that could result. It is funny how quick one's mind admonishes the self into thinking something new or risky is impossible. But, I have made it my goal that all summer long I am going to try to make this happen in my classes for next year. I mean...who am I to tell a student they are only a C? I will simply do my best to chip away at the marble to reveal the statue. My classes are enjoyable and the kids always seem to show growth in their writing while they are with me, but I always come away at the end of the year feeling like I wasted so much time doing things that were unnecessary or irrelevant for them. I am hoping I can find a way to change that for next year. I guess I am chipping way at my own block of marble as well. 

My response:

I understand your viewpoint on books of this nature, and I think that you need to grade for success. I'm sure you noticed that a few of the FS teachers have 'easy A' assignments, and I think they worked really well for me. Various parts of the class were graded with a specific rubric, but assignments that were 'no-fail' can get the students to open up without fear of failing.

You can't just give an A, but you can open up some specific assignments to fail/no fail and I think you will see the students open up and even surprise you! 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Week2/Blog #2 Response to Trina Dralus

Trina Dralus's Blog:

After this weeks reading, I feel inspired and motivated to see the possiblities in myself and in everyone around me. I am in love with this book. I have so many favorite quotes and pages that I could write forever. So I will try to be concise in my feelings and inspirations from the Art of Possibility.

The first thing that inspired me was from the TED video when Benjamin Zander said, “I’ll never say anything that couldn’t stand as the last thing that I ever say. It is a possibility to live into.”

I mean wow! I know this will be a quote I have to remind myself of daily possibly hourly, but what a way to live your life.

The next thought that struck me was the whole idea of the book, that being to think beyond the constraints of today and imagine the possibilities. Thinking outside of the box and allowing the possibility of recreating your paradigm often leads us to the perfect solution. Life really is all about how we invent it. Each new paradigm gives us the opportunity to see things that we may not have seen before. Exposure to different ideas and mind-sets allow us to see other ways of doing things, which can be very powerful.

My next moment of clarity occurred while reading the comments made on competition. So as good as competition can be to motivate one to push harder, it can be a strain on friendships and lead to a solitary journey. This makes me think of Race to the Top, a program that bases teachers’ pay on test scores. The new Govenor of Florida says healthy competition will improve our school systems, but is this the type of competition we want? Is our ultimate goal for teachers to retreat from collaboration and work alone?  Won’t this lead to thinking of our children as liabilities and of each other as an obstacle to overcome? Will this lead to more effective practices in teaching? What kind of example will we be setting for our children? This seems to me like the opposite of seeing the possibilities in each other, which makes me very sad.

Giving an A was a very moving chapter for me. When we look for the beauty within or give an A to ourselves or to others, we see the possibilities that exist in all of us. The measurement world often gets in the way with Standardize testing and curriculum maps and so forth. Chipping away at the stone to find the passion and the brilliance in each of us will add beauty where none was seen before. This giving an A comes from a place of respect, not from how others or myself measure up to arbitrary standards. This acceptance or A gives us room to realize who we really are. I feel this program at Full Sail has done that for me. Sometimes I feel like my work may not be A work if you compared me to other students in this class, but somehow I get an A as well. This has allowed me to realize things about myself that I did not realize before. I grew up feeling stupid because I struggled while learning to read. I was diagnosed with Dyslexia, which I thought meant that I was dumb and couldn’t learn like everyone else. As I have grown and become more educated on Dyslexia and on myself I realize that only half of that is true. I do learn differently then others, but I am not dumb. Seeing many of those A’s has helped me to realize this- finally. I can finally see the possibilities in myself.

One of my favorite parts of this book is where Zander (2000) stated “The freely granted A lifts you off the success/failure ladder and spirits you away from the world of measurement into the universe of possibility. It is a framework that allows you to see all of who you are and be all of who you are, without having to resist or deny any part of yourself” (pg. 46). This is life changing.

The starfish story found in chapter 4 is a type of inspirational story that we focus on at my school. During our Professional Learning Communities, which is where my team of 2nd grade teachers meet monthly to reflect and learn from a book we are reading together, our mantra is based on the starfish story. Our Literacy Coach has given each of us a starfish as a reminder of the importance of reaching each child.

This is just another reminder that I want to be a contribution to my life and to others. I firmly believe in this, and I need to remind myself that the how’s and whys are not as important as just showing up and giving my all. I can’t wait to read the rest of this book!

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

My Response:

The book maybe inspiring, but your writing is inspirational in itself. I thoroughly enjoyed your thoughts on this book. Your passion for this book is well-founded and I love it too. 
The shaping of our reality and the way perceive is so true and so important to remember.  I have always tried to shape my world to my best advantage, and I hope I can even take this idea further.
The 'getting and A' was the way I want to teach and to be taught. This is truly how I want to go through life!  Again, beautiful writing Trina.

Week Two Reading - The Art of Possibilities

The Gulf Shore.  Photo by Curt Isakson

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. 

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Week1/Blog #4 My Opinion on Copyright Solutions

Flute player.  Photo by Curt Isakon

As a creator of music, website content, and art I believe the most important thing one can do is educate yourself how to create as much of your own content as you can.  This solves many of the dilemmas in worrying about what you can and can't use.

I have realized that over the years I have come to depend on myself to take the pictures, polish it in Photoshop, and create my own presence on the web so I was not dependent on anyone else's stuff.  This is truly the answer.  I have created an enormous amount of media content, and I am really not concerned about copyright issues because the stuff is mine.

So, take the time to learn how to create and use your own material as much as you can and this will help keep you out of harms way and people may be stealing your content instead of the other way around!

Week1/Blog #3 Response to Mike Colletti

Water on the rocks - Lake Superior.  Photo by Curt Isakson

Mike wrote:

First of all, the TED Talk video: ReMix Culture by Larry Lessig, was a great way to end this week’s video barrage. It put the whole copyright lesson into a capsule that made the most sense to me. And, I will definitely use the video as one of the closing elements of the Mass Media class I currently teach. It just ties all that we are reading and studying about together.

I agree that there needs to be a meeting of the minds on both sides of this issue, as some compromise needs to be agreed upon. If not, creativity will be stifled, or worse than that, become illegal. I can’t help but think of Fahrenheit 451, the great Ray Bradbury novel, and the use of firemen and book burning to control our existence, or even George Orwell’s classic 1984, with Big Brother watching our every move and Thought Police punishing thought crime.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for protecting what is mine, and everyone deserves that right as well.  However, if we were not allowed to take what already exists and make it better, where would we be now?  Our technology advances can be traced back many generations of creations, all taking it one step further in order to make something new.  Sending electricity through wires led to sending controlled impulses (telegraph) through wires, which led to adding sound (telephone), and then taking the wires away (radio), first without sound and then with voice, and then adding pictures (television) and so on.  Yes, I know there were copyright and patent battles and agreements throughout the process, but the creativity was not stifled.

We have provided our current generation with the greatest technology at an affordable price.  We need to let them take this material and stretch the limits of what that technology can do.  Whether it is through an organization like Creative Commons, taking the legal high road, or through “subversive” unauthorized experimentation, isn’t the idea that our children are exercising their minds and learning new things what is really important?  As Larry Lessig said in his closing of the aforementioned TED Talk video, [our kids] “live life knowing they live it against the law…in a democracy, we ought to be able do better at least for them…”

My response:


Your comment were really well put and your quote from Larry Lessig underscores my feelings as well that we must educate our students what is proper and legal - and the parents too?

This issue is so important to us as teacher! 

Week1/Blog #2 Response to Klytia Burcham

Swans near my home.  Photo by Curt Isakson

Kyltia Burcham Wrote:

When I think of copyright issues, I think of the I-tunes vs. Napster issue.  However, it all boils down to whether or not you can completely own intellectual content.  I like the professor who wrote books in the video Good Copy, Bad Copy that stated he knew that students would be processing information  and therefore using some of what his content was.  That copyright was there to protect another author from publishing the same book.  Why then are the other arts so different?

The intention of copyright is to protect the artist from someone stealing their art.  Some would argue that copyright actually inhibits creativity because an artist is not allowed to alter something else he/she sees in their environment and more importantly can not be influenced from a fellow artist to be inspired by it.  This idea is called sampling and a couple of recent genres of music are based on it.  It seems to me that sampling and the concept of fair use are directly opposite from one another.  Fair Use states that you may use a small part or idea from a piece, but not enough to take away from the whole; the article said 5%.  Yet sampling says that you may not take any part or small section from a song, even if it is then distorted, without breaking copyright law.

So why is copyright law different for text compared with video and audio?  Could it be because very few are making money from the information that is synthesized and used from the text book?  Yet, the video and audio that may be altered, slightly used to influence a different piece of audio or video can make a lot of money.  I believe that it all boils down to money.  I believe that there is a need for copyright law.  That artist need to have a way to protect their product from being taken from them.  But isn't there goal of sharing their art to have it influence others?  So again, as in so many issues that polarize our nation, America needs to find a balance between these two extreme camps on copyright.

My Response:

Money, money, money - that is the key to all of this discussion, and I agree with you. Artists, writers, and directors all need to be able to earn a living from their creativity and their hard work. When you start investigating all the money being earned you can understand the stance many take about protecting and using art. The problems will still continue because their is no perfect answer.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Week One Reading: Copyright Issues - Parts 1-3: Information Overload

Me on my Martin.  Photo by Curt Isakson

I think the title says it all.  Copyright on both sides of the wall is both a confusing and an important issue.  The creator needs to protect their art and be able to make a fair living, and user should have access to the work to be informed and inspired and be able to use these ideas for their work too.  Sometimes I feel this is a deeper and more complex subject than arguing Politics!

As a musician that has written, recorded, and performed many forms of music, I have been on both sides.  I have appreciated payments for my personal writings and performances, and I have had no problem paying for the rights to use others work.  Just last year I wrote a check to Hal Leonard for $100 that paid for the right to arrange and perform an Aerosmith song at graduation. So Steve Perry and Neil Schon received a few bucks from the kids at Shelby. Do many high school bands do that?  I doubt it.  Why shouldn't the publishing house and the writers gain from their work and their art?  No question there from me.

When talking to my students, they all believe that what ever is out there on the Internet is theirs for the taking.  This is where the concerned parties should be investing their efforts: in education.  This could probably save a tremendous amount of time and money in court if we could change and/or educate the students and the public early.

A valuable resource on copyright issues as it pertains to the music industry is at the Hal Leonard website.