Who I am online

Earth to readers.

This past week in my Methods class, we discussed our online identities and we were assigned to look ourselves up on the internet and compose a status report of our online persona. Well jeepers. I Google myself so often that I’ve almost memorized what comes  up when you type in my name, but for the sake of this assignment, I’m going to humor myself and show you who I am, according to the internet. If you’ve been a faithful reader up to this point, then you know I share quite a bit on this blog. But when I become a teacher, what will my students, my students’ parents, and my administration find out about me from the internet? Let me show you…

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ImageThese are the four sites that come up first when you search for me on The Google. There’s a Twitter account which I mostly use to keep up with Steve Martin and rant about Miley Cyrus. But my Twitter also gives access to my Vine account, which is probably not what I want future employers seeing. Mostly just goofy videos of my friends and I, some of the videos do contain alcohol. That could be a problem.

The next is my YouTube account which I only used for school and doesn’t have anything interesting on it. I recently made most of the videos private so the only one that’s left is about books. Spot on.

A Facebook group that was created by some of my former campers is the next interesting link. I didn’t have anything to do with this and don’t really know if I can do anything about it.

The next fun link is actually about a grant I received in undergrad to study Italian Papermaking while I was studying abroad. It’s a pretty fun read. I think any parent or administrator who found this would be positively intrigued.

There’s a few more miscellaneous links… a Soundcloud account I used for class that I don’t need anymore, a Picasa site with pictures from my time abroad, my Pinterest board with nothing interesting on it, and a Prezi account I used for class.

If you continue searching, you’ll find links to articles I wrote for the college newspaper, a Weebly I made last semester, and information about the track-out camp I ran last year in Garner.

All in all, nothing too incriminating. Might have to clean up the Twitter feed though…

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Reflection on Activism

Up until this point, I had existed with the belief that creativity is something best done alone. It’s a solitary act that I think I do my best work at while taking time on my own and being left to my thoughts. What I learned this week is that creativity and collaboration can go together but it’s all about compromise and communication (was that enough C’s for you?). Our group project this week was on Creative Activism and making the world a better place through creative endeavors. I came up with an idea that for Arbor Day we should get graduate students to go out and plant trees. Not only would this be good for the environment, but it would also get graduate students out of their rooms, away from their computers and out into the fresh air. Our project turned into a fun, subtle advertisement to get people outside and help make the world a greener place.

The key to working creatively as a team is all about coming up with creative ideas on your own and then bringing them together and making them into group ideas by sharing and collaborating. Working in groups can sometimes freak introverts out because they have difficulty expressing their views to multiple people, but because the project is done over the internet, there’s no overwhelming group feeling. We’re each able to express our views without the terrifying group feeling.

Reflection on Empathy

Apparently I’m far more cynical than I thought.

This glass is half-full in my opinion, but that’s only because it takes slightly less effort to say “half-full” than “half-empty”.

Half-full Beer

But I’m getting away from the topic I wanted to discuss, which was my progress in this course, and less about my cynical perspective on life, which you can read more about in the post below.

I’m really proud of how far I’ve come in this course on creativity and technology. I came into it having a lot of confidence in my creative ability but not a lot of knowledge on the types of technology used in the modern classroom, besides the Microsoft Suite. I was intrigued to learn about all the new types of internet technology that have come out since I was in high school (a mere 6 years ago). I wasn’t required to use much technology in college since I was an English Literature major and Fine Arts minor and the most technical we ever got was Powerpoint. That’s the liberal arts education for you; focus on knowledge and life skills rather than the cutting edge. But I was okay with that. The cutting edge scares me. I have an abundance of knowledge and skills that I only could have received from the ivy covered buildings I went to university in and I’m proud of that. I’m more comfortable in the world of the literary and book smart than the world of computer smarts. But that’s what I’m doing here… I’m pushing my comfort zone and trying to learn new and challenging things. So far, I’m doing pretty good.

Also, everyone should know that this is my 90th post and I just recently surpassed the 3,000 view mark. 🙂

 

A creative life

I approached this project somewhat non-traditionally. I understood the project was meant to be an interview, but the more I thought about the creative people I knew, the more I compared them to myself. I thought more and more about how creativity has shaped my life and the kind of person I am and the life I live because I am creative. It’s not where I planned to go with this project, but it is a class about creativity, so shouldn’t we try and be creative?

I made a video that documented my creative life when I was six years old. I think of her as a totally different person from who I am now, so while technically we’re the same, I like the story she tells. It would be narcissistic of me to say I’m the most creative person I know, but completely modest to say the most creative person I know is six-year-old me. It’s cute even. I hadn’t intended to cut corners, I just thought this would be a good opportunity to examine a creative life that I had never given much thought to. Full discretion: I uploaded this video once, decided the timing in the music was off and then went back and fixed it and reuploaded it. Each upload took 13 minutes.

If you ever watched “Pappyland” here’s a little throwback for you…

Empathy? For me? You shouldn’t have.

When I first read that this week’s assignment was on Empathy, I was confused. Unlike some weeks, I didn’t immediately see or feel the connection between the week’s topic and creativity. I drew a blank. It looked like this…

Right, so that’s a blank.

As I began to watch the video for this week’s assignment my views on empathy started to expand. I had always been familiar with the denotation of empathy, the shared emotional response between two people, but I didn’t know as much about what Roman Krznaric describes in his TED Talk as “cognitive empathy”. This kind of empathy is more about understanding a person’s world beliefs and stepping into their shoes to feel where they are coming from.

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This is a kind of empathy that very few of us really get to experience. While the speaker thinks that the 21st century will be built on empathy and learning about ourselves by helping others, the cynic in me looks around and sees a lot of people who really don’t care about anyone but themselves. I see it every day whether I’m at work or at school or even just walking around Target. We are a culture entirely focused on ourselves. Many of us, were brought up on the idea that we are the center of the universe and everyone should cater to our needs and interests and overall well-being. Sounds like we’re all a bunch of egocentric narcissists. Guess what? We are.

I respect much of what Krznaric is saying, but I don’t know if he’s being all that realistic. He talks about how he doesn’t see history as the rise and fall of civilizations, but as the rise and fall of empathy. This may come off as terribly cynical, but here it is. The truth is that human beings are not empathetic by nature, they are empathetic by choice. And making that choice is the difference between someone who cares less about themselves and more about others. At about the 8 minute mark, Krznaric finally mentions “action” which is a huge part of how empathy and creativity relate. The idea is that when feeling empathy towards others we will be moved by creativity to find new solutions to old problems and make the world a better place, blah, blah, blah. Have you noticed the problem yet?

WE’RE LAZY.

Hate to break it to you but wanting change and actually making change happen are two vastly different decisions. The later does not happen nearly as much as the first, nor does it happen nearly as often as it should. I apologize if you were hoping to find something uplifting and hopeful in this post but that wouldn’t be truthful to how I feel about empathy. I approach empathy cynically because I see so little empathy from those around me. It’s difficult for me to write about, because I do actually care more about others than I do about myself. Maybe not on a global scale, but I empathize a great deal and what makes me cynical is that people rarely give it back. I know maybe three who have ever expressed valid empathy towards me. Wouldn’t that leave anyone cynical about it?

*image is a screenshot taken from the Youtube video RSA Animate- The Power of Outrospection

Reflection on Metaphor

Metaphor seems to have a natural connection to creativity. In their simplest forms, metaphors are creative ways to say something without saying something explicitly. They’re fun. They’re goofy. They can also elevate a piece of writing to the next level. But I hadn’t really given much consideration to how metaphors push the creative process or allow us to be more creative. I had used them in writing poetry and heard them in music, but maybe it was because are so ubiquitous that I don’t think much about them.

This week really allowed me to consider the creative process in regards to myself as an educator. Up until this point, I’ve viewed most of our assignments from the perspective of a student. I took the information in, did the assignments and evaluated my performance. This week though, I saw the assignment as something I would one day have to teach which got my gears moving in a different direction. I saw the idea of metaphor as a teaching opportunity and I wanted to not only understand metaphor as a student, but also as a teacher. Metaphor is something I found confusing as a high school student and I wanted to find a way to understand it as an adult and using a technique that I could use as a teacher. And then I found an amazing video which made explaining metaphor and simile much easier. It was funny, contemporary and used pop culture references that helped my understanding. It was perfect.

With that in mind, I went into this week’s project keeping things simple and easy. I learned a lot about Microsoft Movie Maker and file formatting. A lot of it was really frustrating, but it did help me to understand what it’s like for a high school student to be given an assignment with not perfect direction and how they feel to struggle through it. An assignment’s final product can only be as good as the assignment direction. I had to teach myself the Movie Maker system (a class in itself) which just got me really frustrated. But it did allow me to see what student’s see and how they approach a difficult assignment. The benefit of a difficult assignment is that it really challenges you and you’re required to push yourself, which is good for students and educators.photo8

And the final result really pays off.

The Nerdy Duckling

This week’s assignment required us to reinvent metaphors in pieces of artwork. And since my project speaks for itself (pun intended) I’ll let it say the rest…

As awesome as that looks, it took me forever…

Not even joking.

I used Windows Live Movie Maker which seemed really easy and straightforward at first, but then it just got more and more complicated when it didn’t do what I wanted it to. It’s easy to add the photos (that I drew, shot with my iphone, uploaded to my email and downloaded) and easy to add the sound (which I first attempted to do with my webcam and couldn’t because of the sound format so I then had to upload the sound to Soundcloud and then download) but the adding parts were the only simple steps. Then I added the credits and the video at the end, which was easy enough. But then the hard part came. WordPress wouldn’t allow me to upload my video because of the format type. So then I went to Youtube and it wouldn’t accept the format either. But I followed the steps that they prompted and was able to change the file format of my video to an accepting format. Then another roadblock. Apparently my computer didn’t want me to watch the file after it was uploaded by Youtube. Seriously? Turns out they’re trying a new system over at Youtube where they block people from watching certain file formats. All I had to do was turn it off and then I was allowed to watch the file.

So as if I didn’t have enough trouble coming up with an idea for this project, I then had to jump through hoops just to get it put together. I think in terms of stress and frustration this project has topped my list.

Still waters run deep

Similes tend to make you think. Metaphors let you feel things.

I must admit I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about metaphors or similes since high school, when we were required to memorize about 500 words and their meanings for college prep. Oh, the wonderful days of AP English, learning literary concepts and analyzing to our heart’s content. Just kidding.

I don’t usually take the time to analyze the words I’m using, or their implicit or explicit meaning, especially in every day conversation. But I use metaphor all the time. Everyone does. I’m constantly saying things like “I’m tired as a dog”, more so on Monday. When I stop and think though, most of the dogs I know personally are pretty high energy. Yes, they lay around all day and sleep but wouldn’t you if you were unemployed, covered in fur and left alone in a house all day? I sure would. No wonder dogs don’t wear pants.

The most difficult part for me of thinking about metaphor as a mechanism for creativity is that even today, even while studying to become a high school English teacher… metaphors confuse me. Similes confuse me. I don’t always know if I’m doing it right. I need examples! Creative examples!

Aha! So much better. When I need an example of a simile, “Life is like a box of chocolates” will now pop into my head. And metaphor, of course “That is the voice of an angel” will be my go-to example.

I love this video because it presents material in a fun creative way that allows students (and people like me) to understand how metaphors and similes are used in pop culture and in ways that relate to us. If I was teaching a lesson on metaphor I would use a video like this… it would show that metaphor isn’t limited to Shakespeare and if Kanye West and Jay-Z can use them, so can you! A great follow-up assignment to this would be to have students pull out their iPods or phones and see how many similes and metaphors they could find in a designated amount of time. Then you could talk through them as a class, discussing which ones work really well (Pink’s “You’re just like a pill” or Kanye’s “people are like seasons”) and which ones don’t (Omarion’s “there’s an icebox where my heart used to be”~ouch).

As for the title of this particular entry, my dad once wrote me a letter and in it he said, “the phrase ‘still waters run deep’ has never applied more than it does to Meredith”. He went on to say that in my quiet I am usually thoughtfully thinking over the conversation or planning the perfect witty reply in burn form. I think it is the perfect metaphor for my personality and couldn’t help but include it.

Video taken from Youtube.

Reflection on Symphony

Our two week assignment on Symphony feels like it had a lot of different elements. The first week was about the idea of interconnectedness and how small the world can be when you really think about it. I didn’t totally understand how the term “Symphony” related, but I saw it more clearly as I read other people’s blogs and saw the comments they posted on mine. It wasn’t so much about the musicality of the symphony, but working together and the harmony created. I think this week could easily have been called “Harmony” because the second part of our assignment was about working together in a small group to create a radio show. The catch was that we were all doing this apart from each other, so we had to create a sense of harmony while not being harmonious.

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My group decided to do our radio show about the best burgers in The Triangle. Not only did it mean we could do something informative and educational, but we also got to each burgers! I went to a place in downtown Raleigh called Chuck’s, known for it’s hipster attitude and small selection of awesome burgers. The fries are by far the best part and may in fact be some of the best fries I have ever had. (See above for visual evidence).

There were some problems to our project, mostly our timeline. I have a full-time job, so to go downtown on the weekend and eat a burger isn’t always an option. To give our audio editor time to edit, we had to record our projects before Sunday night, with the project due on Wednesday. And we moved up the deadline say… Saturday afternoonish. So I had Sunday to eat. And that was a challenge because once I started eating I couldn’t eat just half a burger. It was $10! I went and sat down at a restaurant by myself! I’m getting my money’s worth! That is exactly why I earned the FOCUS badge this week from my teammates. I know what needs to get done and I do it.

But the project got finished and I was so happy with the result. Our video editor did a great job with sound effects and I thought it was just totally awesome. I’m super proud of our final result. Here’s the soundbite for your listening pleasure…