Monday, March 21, 2011

The Guys at the Boar’s Nest Would Have Rocked Guitar Hero [Video]

All of Wooster Street is thankful Guitar Hero did not
exist when these guys were college students
Last month, Activision Blizzard Inc. announced it would cease publishing Guitar HeroI can't say I'm sad to see it fade away. My first hand experience with the game mostly consisted of plugging my ears when the students who live across the street from me would play it at two in the morning with the windows open. I gave them a pass because I assumed this to be karmic payback for the many disturbances of the peace caused by my housemates and me at the "Boar's Nest" during my senior year at BGSU.

My only other run-in with Guitar Hero was during the production of the Guitar Program story at Reading-Fleming Intermediate School that brings up the rear of this week's repeat of Classroom Close-up, NJ. I mean, how could  I resist the urge to include "Kung Fu Fighting" in a story? Yes, I know the clip is actually from the game "Band Hero", but that was close enough for me.

For some reason, this story gets a decent amount of traffic on YouTube. Probably because guitars are cool. It's definitely not because of the subpar job I did narrating this piece. Believe me, after a decade of living on the east coast, I'm pretty comfortable with the midwestern-y twang of my own voice, but I cringe when I hear myself in this package. Makes me wish we could do some re-edits for the re-airings. Fortunately, no one's enjoyment of the story seemed to suffer due to my mis-emphasized mumblings.

As a technical aside, the story does appear to have gotten the high-def treatment for the new airing. Back when we shot it, the show was still being produced in standard-def which is why it's letter boxed in the YouTube clip.
What do you think? Has Guitar Hero faded away or are you still rocking that little plastic guitar with the Simon buttons? Were you an inconsiderate neighbor in college like me and the Boars?

If you're interested in New Jersey's public schools, please head on over to the Classroom Close-up, NJ Facebook page and click the 'Like' button! You can also follow the show on Twitter.  And to find out where I'm headed next, feel free to subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Strap This Thing on Your Head to Sleep Better [Video]

My friends over at Kru Research have been busy distributing the many TED Talk-style videos Bauser Media put together from the two days of footage we taped at last year's e-Patient Connections. Today they released this talk from Ben Rubin, CTO and co-founder of Zeo, about the Zeo Personal Sleep Coach device.

This talk definitely caught my attention because even though I don't suffer from a sleep disorder, I am definitely guilty of not getting enough sleep. I'm always looking for better ways to sleep and sometimes resort to using sleep masks and ear-plugs. I was definitely envious of all the attendees who received a Zeo in their conference swag bag and have been thinking about picking one up for myself ever since.

On the video geek side, I really like how these videos came together from the two cameras we had running in the conference hall, a Sony PDW 700 XDCAM working from a riser and a Sony PMW-EX3 with the most energetic camera op I know running around the ball room to get nice cutaways. A great looking venue and quality staging didn't hurt either.

Here's another (shorter) video I found about the Zeo on YouTube which shows it in action.

What do you think? Would you sleep with one of these on your head?

If you're interested in all things e-Patient and health 2.0, be sure to follow Kru Research's blog, The Patient Will See You Now. And while you're here feel free to subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

Monday, March 14, 2011

James O’Keefe is a Hack [Video]

Not a journalist.
This week's episode of Classroom Close-up, NJ is a repeat, but I thought I'd post it anyway. It features stories from last year's NJEA Convention in Atlantic City including the segment I produced featuring Sir Ken Robinson and Soledad O'Brien. It's somewhat amusing how much of the press I see regarding this event boils down to one of two angles:
The convention is a true professional development event where educators go to get better at their craft. In fact, it's a much more serious professional development event than some private sector business conferences I've attended. How hard can it be to report the truth?

Anyway, for a true glimpse inside the event check out the episode.

If you're interested in New Jersey's public schools, please head on over to the Classroom Close-up, NJ Facebook page and click the 'Like' button! You can also follow the show on Twitter.  And to find out where I'm headed next, feel free to subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

Friday, March 11, 2011

This Post Will Not Be Written in Trisyllabic Meter

Last week, you probably had at least one friend who swapped out his or her profile picture for an image of the The Cat in the Hat. Maybe they even started tweeting end rhymes in trisyllabic meter. If I had to guess, those friends are probably teachers.

Guest reader, Dr. Lesley Morrow, visits Bradley Elementary
Shool in Asbury Park, NJ for Read Across America
March 2 was Dr. Seuss's birthday which is the date NEA chose to coincide with Read Across America, an annual reading and motivation awareness program that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading.

Read Across America is a pretty big deal and Classroom Close-up, NJ covers the event at one or more schools every year. So last week, I headed down the shore to check out the festivities at Bradley Elementary School in Asbury Park. Amid a sea of red and white striped hats, a rally of guest readers and educators had no problem getting the students excited about reading.

I'm not going go on and on about the importance of developing early reading skills. You can Google up all the details later if you want, but the summary is this:

A child that isn't reading at level by fourth grade, probably never will. This will greatly reduce the odds of that child achieving a successful and happy life.

Story book village was just one of the fun activities
going on at Bradley E.S. last week.
A few weeks ago, I was feeling a bit guilty about not always teaching while I read with my kids. Last week I sat across from a teacher whose voice cracked a little when he told me about children who had never had a book read to them at home. About children that had no books at home. About children who couldn't name a favorite book.

Now if that sounds like some kind of attempt to put blame on parents for struggling schools, believe me it's not. I don't know every family's situation and Asbury Park is a complicated place faced with a lot of challenges. It was what I saw in the face of some of those challenges that really stuck with me.

I like to ask about the schools I visit on location. How old is this building? How many elementary schools do you have? How many kids in this school? I'm not keeping a record, I'm just curious. It was during one of these casual chats near the end of last week's shoot that I learned that the district was in the midst of deciding whether or not to close one of it's three elementary schools,  Barack H. Obama Elementary School, the first school named after the current president. The final decision, whether it's closure or reorganization will have a tremendous impact on the students, the staff, and community.

I've never worked in a school, but I do know from my own experiences what it's like when a company reorganizes, closes its offices, and let's people go. What happens when they move the cheese all over the place. The mice run around like crazy. They  freak out. They get distracted. Things don't get done or at least they don't get done well. Last week at Bradley, I never would have known anything like this was going on. All I saw was educators getting kids excited about reading and a community proud of their school.

Who doesn't?
I try hard not to delve too deeply into the politics of public education when I write about Classroom Close-up. It's not what the show is about. But this simple little story about a reading celebration suddenly has my mind turning about things like the value of programs such as Head Start and current socioeconomic policies. Thinking crazy ideas like maybe it would be better to cut out twelfth grade so we could spend that money on universal preschool. That maybe if we stopped calling it "pre" school, people wouldn't devalue it so much. I mean, when my four-year-old and I talk about it, we just call it "school" because that's what it is.

Before I started this post, I hunted around for some memorable Dr. Seuss quotes to sprinkle around. This was one of the first I found:

"Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple." 

"Great!" I thought. "I can definitely make this work."

Then I realized that in this case, Dr. Seuss was only right about the complicated part.

If you're interested in New Jersey's public schools, please head on over to the Classroom Close-up, NJ Facebook page and click the 'Like' button! You can also follow the show on Twitter.  And to find out where I'm headed next, feel free to subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Classroom Close-up, NJ - Season 17 - Show 15 [Video]

Since we finally got around to making the show available for embedding, I thought I would start posting new episodes on my blog as they air.

Here's the show that premiered this past Monday night on NJN.

If you like the show, head on over to the Classroom Close-up, NJ Facebook page and click the 'Like' button!

You can also follow the show on Twitter.

And since you're here, feel free to subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

This Might Be as Close to ‘Robots Versus Wrestlers’ as You Can Get [Video]

"I'm so friggin' cool!
How come nobody likes me?"
More than once, I've considered starting a blog dedicated to the awesomeness that is robots. If I had to choose my favorite (fictional) robot, I'd probably pick Voltron. I'm especially partial to vehicle Voltron. Maybe because it seems like no one else likes him. (I feel the same way about the Southern Cross chapter of Robotech.) Anyway, enough with the 80's anime nostalgia. Let's talk about some real robot action.

This weekend the 2011 NJ Regional FIRST Event is being held in Trenton. Yes, this Friday and Saturday at the Sun Bank Center, 62 teams will battle it out for regional robot supremacy and a chance to move on to the finals in St. Louis.

You might have seen the story Classroom Close-up, NJ aired about the robotics team from North Brunswick High School earlier this season (which I wrote about in this post). But just in case you missed it, here it is:

So this weekend is your chance to see some competitive robotics up close and personal. The event is FREE and open to the public (free parking too). All the info you need is on the NJ FIRST website.

Besides, if we fail to support competitive robotics to the greatest possible extent we may never get a real Robots Versus Wrestlers...

...and I really want to see that.