Welcome to my blog; used to post all alleged professional developments as a reflective tool and potential resource ... really, just another snake at the bottom of the MossPITT.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

SAAM Reflection: Talking to Strangers

Almost made it on time today!

Reunited with Brian Mull today who focused on using our new iPods to podcast. Pretty excited about this, particularly for the student-run community-based radio station I'm hoping to start this July and utilize throughout the school year. This new project came packaged in two separate parts of inspiration. While at Williams, I was fortunate enough to land an interview with Gregory David Roberts, author of the epic Shantaram. After hours of conversation, Roberts excused himself to answer the door of his hotel room in New Zealand. I could hear in the background familiar greetings, and upon his return was surprised to hear it was simply room service.

"When people are cleaning your goddamn toilet and shower for gods sake, you gotta look after them and theyre people you know? I want to know their names, their lives ... "

And while I was held captivated by these simple words and unconscious gesture, he picked up right where we left off, telling a story of Johnny Depp and him playing a game of sitcom charades in the Bahamas.

Secondly, it is inspired by a girl - the catalyst to all great endeavors according to Roberts' himself. In this case, by an adorable ko-ed who left an impression on me after meeting her for the first time at a friend's "christmas" holiday get together years ago; someone I've never really gotten to know, but one of those of whom you can immediately sense their positive energy. For an art class, she was interviewing locals with whom she routinely bumped elbows and wanted to know more about. As a local, I was ashamed I didn't know half of what she uncovered.

I've often told others that the more of yourself you invest in a place, the more aware and knowledgable you become about a locale and its people, the stronger the bond. Moss Point is a special place, with its own natural miracles, iconic landmarks, ingrained social issues and typical systemic problems. There are stories here floating on the salty sea breeze and falling from the old moss covered oak trees lining our streets. While I am still around, I owe it to experience to let the accent of marsh grass, the fisherman's religious forecasts, the grits, fried-chicken, mint juleps and ford trucks to seep into my soul just a little more than I already have ... so, at least twice per month, I hope to work with some studnets to find invididuals willing to sit down to talk with us ... maybe the woman who bags my avocados at the market or the old man that walks his dogs on the beach every night. Our own story corps. To invest through conversation and interaction. I'm sure the return will be significant. Would love to eventually incorporate similar oral history projects in the classroom using audacity to edit and some form of voice recorder.

SAAM Reflection: Art Is

“Personally, I experience the greatest degree of pleasure in having contact with works of art. They furnish me with happy feelings of an intensity such as I cannot derive from other realms." ~ Albert Einstein

Today we danced through a lesson on poetry and art, selecting a particular piece for evaluation and letting our dreams fill in the blanks that the artist left behind. I chose "Dust Bowl" by Alexandre Hogue because it grabbed my attention the day before while we were walking through the galleries. I've just finished reading "The Laramie Project" about the murder of Matthew Shepard and Hogue's broken bardbed fence surrounded by this desolate landscape seemed like an illustration straight from the play. After putting ourselves into the scenes we selected, we were asked to take something meaningful back out with us ... in the form of a poem.

ambitious illusions of unnatural grandeur

covered yet again by the inevitable sands of time

washed like dry waves across an ancient face

to clean away the delicate piles of dead skin

the unintentional blemishes, the intentional scars

and while the wind sings its rain song

of broken hearts and fruitless labour

and the sun closes her tired eyes to mourn another future buried by itself

mountains to molehills when dreams become dust

in the desert of our days

no more echoes to reinforce the lies we tell ourselves

only the space we once filled

now a screaming silence letting us know

that this war will never end ... and you will never win

Monday, June 16, 2008

SAAM Reflection: Ain't No Place I'd Rather Be ...

Do you believe in love and that we were meant to be?
Two words can free us, so repeat them after me
‘I do’ from a boy in love to a girl called Tennessee”

Bonnaroo was .... more than good. It was a nice kick, and a soft rub. But gone by too soon. I think I may have achieved short bursts of egotistical enlightenment between cheese-filled Venezuelan arepas and sun-soaked puddle naps. Or maybe I was writing someone else’s words down altogether… most likely I was just dreaming out loud. We painted, we sang, we danced and we slept with the worms ... comfortably.

After allowing reality to pull me away from the tranquility of doing nothing at all but looking and listening, I followed the sunset away from Manchester and towards Nashville to switch gears from low to high (or vice versa). Missed the plane but missed myself even more so a good night's sleep was welcomed before taking off bright and early in the morning. I woke back up just as the plane's feet grabbed ground and tripped into the airport's men's room to trade my mud-caked reefs for a pair of glass slippers and an orange shirt to match the Dept. of Homeland Security's color level current warning then bought a pack of gum to remove from my mouth that bitter taste of coming back down to earth after floating in the clouds for four days. The juxtaposition was a bit jarring.

We spent the afternoon at SAAM getting orientated, ate a Whole Foods lunch and took a few brief museum tours ... all were very fulfilling. A few months removed from the Louvre, Pompidou and Orsay the halls and evenly spaced frames punctuated by cool, white sculptures was soothingly familiar. Like most things American, the lack of "classics" adorning the halls and galleries is quickly apparent. All our sculptures have heads. Instead of Monet we have Winslow Homer. Rather than Picasso, it's Basquiat (although I couldn't find any works of his listed online - why is that?). Per my previous blog post, I would much prefer to take in museums at my own pace and felt rushed from room to room, even getting lost at one point while staring at Mark Tansey's Interception. Several Tecumseh alarms later we were out in the rain running and through the Star Wars tunnels to our hotel. Had a beautifully informative night tour around the city and couldn't help wonder what these pristine monuments would look like in ruins as many similar testaments to grandeur around the world have been tragically reduced to.

Summer School, Week June 16-20

Hey guys!

I apologize for not getting this week's assignment up today; it will be posted tomorrow (Tuesday) first thing in the morning so you can get started. Until then, make sure that you have completed last week's blog assignment and continue working on your AP assignments.

Feel free to email me if you have any questions/concerns.

~ Mr. Doyle

Friday, June 6, 2008

Summer School Extra Credit

Extra Credit Assignment for MPHS English III Summer School Students: In a couple of weeks, I'll be attending the Smithsonian Institute at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) in Washington, DC through a Cisco 21s Initiative along with several other Moss Point educators and a number of teachers from other school districts. In order to prepare for the conference, we've had several assignments to complete. I'd like you to take a look at a few of these and complete them as well. Follow the instructions below and let me know if you have any questions.

1.) If you do not already have a personal blog, go to Blogger and create an account. Once created, email your URL address to me so that I can link it from my page. Anyone with a pre-existing blog, I would like you to create a new one specifically for this purpose and email that address to me as well. When you are blogging, I would like you to try to upload at least one picture and create multiple hot links within each post.

2.) Read the following two short essays; How to Read a Painting and How to Appreciate and Interpret Art. Next, read this article written about one high school student involved in a lawsuit with his school over a piece of artwork he drew. On your blog, write a short response to both the essays and the articles (can be separately or compared together).

3.) Select and read at least one posting at the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s blog, EyeLevel and respond to it on your blog. You can read my response to this assignment here.

4.) First, read this article written about a group of Maryland high school students and a project they had to do with the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Then, listen to at least one student podcast about a museum object available at the Museum website at SAAM or at EyeLevel. Write a response about the student podcast you listened to and post it to your blog. You can read my response to this assignment here.

5.) Now you are going to create your own podcast, or rather, a Gcast. Created by the same people who run GarageBand, Gcast allows you to use your cell phone to generate voice recordings and provides free hosting for your audio file once you are finished. Go to the GCast site and create an account. Once you've created an account, it's time to record your podcast (see Option 1). Select your best blog post and print it out. Then call the number provided by Gcast and read your blog post into the phone. When you are through, your recording should be posted for you on the Gcast site in your Master Playlist. Click where it says "publish from your playlist to your podcast", fill out the necessary fields, then click "Publish this Post". You've created a podcast, now you need to get the code to copy to your blog. Select where it says "Love this podcast? Add it to your blog or MySpace!" to customize the podcast and retrieve the source code. Last step; copy and paste this code into a new blog post. Viola!