Friday, June 3, 2011

Graduation Remarks:

I was honored to be selected as the Advanced Achiever by the EMDT-MS instructors and my peers.  Here are my remarks which were delivered at the Graduation ceremony on June 2, 2011:

Good morning Administrators and Deans, Faculty and Course Directors, fellow graduates, family and friends…

photo by Mike Colletti
A couple of weeks back, as part of our final Action Research presentation, three of us were asked by Dr. Ludgate for a one-word description of the Full Sail Education Media Design and Technology Master of Science degree program we were completing.  My one word became a hyphenated one:  LIFE-CHANGING.  My belief is that these past twelve months was one of those few memorable events that a person will look back to in life:  events like marriage, babies, and job changes. 

A few days later, I was working with Alex, the student selected to speak at my high school’s graduation ceremony, as we refined her remarks.  While I listened to her and read through her text, I realized that change was her theme as well.  Here was an event that, for those young adults, would be an early highlight in their lives, and life-changing as well.

photo by Bernadette Colletti

So, no matter where we are in our life’s journey, young and just starting out, or older and shifting focus, we are subject to change.  And in this century, if we are not willing to and ready for it, change will happen and we will be left behind.  So, for my colleagues and me, this was the perfect time to make the move into the degree program that has brought us here today.

Online learning has its upside and downside, but it is the future.  Technology will continue to have an impact on all of us, and we need to be in front of the parade as leaders in order to guarantee that the needs of our students are met with the resources that are developed.

Web-based tools will eventually, if not already, make the job of the teacher evolve into one as a facilitator, which will, I believe, create more personal contact with the students we teach.  And with that ability to connect with our kids will come more success as we touch their lives and inspire great things from them.

I was fortunate to listen in on most of the presentations given by my friends this past month.  I continued to be amazed as each of them talked of the challenges that they faced and the results they achieved.  I was inspired by the prospects and potential for further growth by each of them, and the enthusiasm and passion each had for his or her work.  I know that, at least for this group, that there will be hundreds, if not thousands of students that will be better for what we have done over the twelve months in this program.

photo by Bernadette Colletti

Finally, to my fellow graduates and friends, please keep passionate about what you do.  Please continue to inspire those who you work with, both colleagues and students.  And, please stay in touch with the rest of us, so we can continue to share in your work.  We have done so much together as we travelled through this program, collaborating and sharing.  Don’t let that stop.

Life-changing.  This year has meant so much to me, as a life-long learner and teacher, as I know my students will be better off since I am better for this experience.

Thank you, Full Sail University.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Journey is Nearly Over

photo by Mike Colletti
Well, now there are ten of us that have completed the journey through the EMDTMS program this month, as Curt, Ashley and I finished our session last night.  The panel was fantastic and the projects were well received.  The use of alumni along with other staff is an excellent idea, and a great use of graduates to keep them connected with Full Sail University.  I personally appreciated the questions Jason asked of me, and it only made me surer of my goal to continue on in the Fall with a third cycle.

I was pleased with my performance, and was fully prepared for my presentation.  I have to thank the great course directors for getting me ready through the content in those classes.  I also think that the input from my critical friends and those colleagues I have come to appreciate as classmates and peers was integral in making this task a whole lot easier to complete.

I truly liked the process for the evening, though I would like to suggest that it be more than one-on-one somehow.  If there was a second panel member assigned to each student, more insight and information might be given.  I know that it would extend the session a bit longer, but the feedback would be invaluable in the long run.  And, it would be just one more way of keeping former students in touch with the program and the university.

Wow!  Finished.  I can already feel the withdrawal symptoms setting in, and graduation is still two weeks away.  I can’t believe it was almost a year ago and I was starting, wondering what I was getting myself into.  As I said in answer to Dr. Ludgate’s question, this program was life changing to me.  There are a few of those events in each of our lives, like marriage or babies or job changes, and this past year has meant so much to me as a lifelong learner and teacher, because I know that this will make my students better since I am better for this experience.

I thank everyone who, in any way, made this year one of those life-changing events.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wk 4 Publishing_Leadership Project

image from the ISTE website
In my Wk 3 Publishing/Leadership Project Part 2 blog, I offered four options for presentation and publication.  I have decided to pursue The International Society for Technology in Education, which has three journals and one membership magazine that accepts submissions.  The most interesting choice to me is the magazine, Learning and Leading with Technology, which is a down-to-earth resource for improving student learning through technology.  Since that is what I accomplished with my AR project, it makes the most sense to submit to this magazine.

image from the Consolidated High School
District 230 website

I am also planning on presenting at my school district's April 2012 institute day, with more data as I continue the practice of incorporating more web 2.0 tools into all my courses.

Here is the introduction paragraph for my Publishing/Leadership Project:
All students, including my seniors, have difficulty maintaining a high interest level and motivation throughout the entire length of a semester.  The question I will attempt to answer is whether integrating different forms of digital storytelling into my Mythology course will increase student interest and motivation in that class.  I began by wondering what would happen if I included options for different delivery methods for the presentations my students created in the three rounds of projects that were done during the semester.  I hope to demonstrate that I am improving my practice as an instructor as well as to contribute to the body of literature regarding student motivation and interest when digital storytelling is introduced into a classroom.

This link will download the rest of my paper:  Colletti_Michael_PubLeadProject.docx

Here are the links to my "Think Out Loud" blog posts:
Wk 3 Publishing/Leadership Project part 1 of 2: Presentation v. Publication

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Wk 4 Blog Comment 2: Art of Possibility, Chapters 9-12

Curt Isakson writes:

“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. 

@ Curt…
image from
It would be easy to say the connection you feel with this book lies in the musical connection you have with Ben Zander. So much of what he writes and speaks of relates to his experiences in music. So much of what you have committed your life to is also in that realm.

However, the fact that The Art of Possibility has struck a chord with all of the rest of us is in its simplicity of advice. The common sense that both writers impart to us makes perfect sense. If only local, national and world leaders (and school administrators) would buy into all this. What would result would be the ultimate in Possibility!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Wk 4 Blog Comment 1: Art of Possibility, Chapters 9-12

Pamela Holifield writes:
I have recently added the phrase, "A vision articulates a possibility" to my Facebook page to see the comments that would be left. Since I am terrible with delayed gratification, after only one 'like' I moved onto my students to hear their comments. Some students were stuck at the word 'articulates' while others replied, "Oh yeah, yeah I get it Miss (for some reason all the kids use Miss instead of Mrs. such and such)." Anyway, I came to realize that students are the one who should be reading this book. The problem blocking most students is that they have no vision. Therefore blocking most possibilities and missed opportunities.

photo by Matt Colletti
I look at myself. I always had vision and always steered my course to the direction I wanted it to go. I remember people asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I replied with specific details up to to the type of car I would drive. All have come true except my Eddie Bauer Explorer is a Kia Sedona (which most people think is the Cadillac). My visions determined my possibilities. I wish most of my students would see their visions like I saw (and still continue to see) mine, work towards those goals, and not miss opportunities that might belong to them. Like in the movie "Field of Dreams" if you build it, they will come.

@ Pamela…
I couldn’t help but smile when you mentioned the lack of vision our students today have.  I teach seniors, and the days until graduation are counting down for them.  They have vision, but it is focused now on Prom in 11 days, the last class day in 33 days, and graduation itself four days later.  Everything else is out of sight, including the reading and response journal that was due today, and the assignments in other classes as well.  That is today’s teenager and tomorrow’s adult; as you say, “blocking most possibilities and missed opportunities.”

With that observation made, I am so pleased with the results of my project.  For most of the last month and a half, I did see vision as they worked on the projects they have been presenting over the past couple of days.  And, I saw some unique performances due to some outside the lines thinking from a few of the kids.  Those performances grabbed the other kids and brought them into the stories they told so all learned.  It has been an awesome time, more than I had hoped for. 
photo by Matt Colletti

Thus, your closing quote, from Field of Dreams, one of my favorite films, does ring true:  “If you build it, they will come.” 

Thanks for your observations.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Wk 4 Reading: Art of Possibility, Chapters 9–12

photo by Bernadette Colletti
As I have mentioned in my previous posts regarding this book, the insight offered by the Zanders transcends the fields of music and psychology and applies to all human relationships.  The concluding five chapters neatly tie it all together.  Each of these sections builds a case for creating a world that could be free of conflict and full of compassion.

How could Lighting a Spark not speak to all of us in education.  It is our goal to create the spark in the minds and eyes of our students, which in turn will enroll us deeper into the process, and creating a cycle of success.  We attempt this by Being the Board on which our lessons are played out on, being rigid but also flexible based on the needs of our students.

photo by Bernadette Colletti

The deepest challenge is sustaining this throughout the school year, day after day.  Face it, we all have off days, but we need to minimize those, or at least the effect those have on the kids.  Finally, if we look at our students and the gifts they bring to the classroom, Telling the WE Story will engage both the children and us so we achieve the most success possible.  It is what the Art of Possibility is all about.

photo by Bernadette Colletti
Like Presentation Zen, I have purchased a shelf copy of The Art of Possibility to be a permanent part of my personal library.  I am sure I will revisit parts of this book as I move through the rest of my career.

Wk 3 Publishing/Leadership Project part 2 of 2: Presentation v. Publication

Where, Why and How…

Consolidated High School District 230
Ideally, I would like to present to my school district teachers at our annual Spring institute day.  Unfortunately, my Cycle 2 research was not completed in time for submitting my proposal to present this year.  However, as I move into a Cycle 3 follow-up next fall, more data will be available and I will certainly be a part of next April's event.

I have some idea of what I would like to do with my Action Research materials, and I still have both options open to me.  Each of these four organizations would fit the bill for me, with two offering presentation opportunities, one offering publication, and one which has both avenues available.