Life

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Perhaps

I’m sitting in the Manhattan surgical center waiting for my husband and so I have a lot of thinking time. I’ve been reading through my Feedly consuming articles on education, art, technology, and current news. I started a search for instructional technology jobs and it suddenly hit me that maybe it’s a better use of my skills and knowledge to not go into art eventually and get an MFA and teach art at the college level, but to use my background to ask questions that other people in educational technology/instructional design/educational research might not ask.

If I taught classes in Ed Tech at a college level I could push for not just teaching a handful of apps, but creative inquiry, and hands on exploration of technology and then how to apply it to education. I’m a firm believer that if you don’t know how to make the tech work for you, if you can’t hack your software or hardware, that you can’t really use it fully. I want teachers to not look at a computer like a magic box that holds them hostage, and I want to push them out of their comfort zones creatively.

So, maybe I should get a PhD in this field? Clearly I’m going to need to look into this more, I did see plenty of good/teaching jobs in higher ed that only required a MS, but I do have plenty of burning research questions, and I have an analytical mind, so it’s not like engaging in research and inquiry are foreign concepts to me.

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Life

Challah (adapted from Baking with Julia)

2 Tbsp unsalted or salted butter (really soft or melted)

1 1/2 Tbsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup tepid water (around skin temp, 80º-90ºF)
pinch of sugar
1/3 cup honey
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup whole milk
2 1/2 tsp salt
4 large eggs
6 -7 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour (I prefer King Arthur because it has a higher protein level, just don’t use soft wheat southern flour)

GLAZE
1 large egg (extra yolk optional)
1 Tbsp heavy cream or whole milk
poppy seeds
coarse salt

Keep the 2 Tbsp of butter nearby for buttering the dough for the rises.

Whisk the yeast into the water. Add a pinch of sugar and let rest until the yeast has dissolved and is creamy, about 5 minutes.

Pt the milk and stick of butter in a saucepan on the stovetop or in a bowl in a microwave and heat until butter is melted. Add the honey and salt. If necessary, let the mixture cool so that it is no warmer than 110ºF.

If using a stand mixer: Get out your mixer bowl and add the creamy yeast to the milk mixture, along with the eggs, and stir to mix. Add about 5 cups of flour, beat on low speed for 3 minutes or until the dough starts to come together. Beating on medium-low, add as much additional flour as needed to make a soft dough that will clean the sides of the bowl. Knead on medium-low for 8 to 10 minutes, until smooth, soft and elastic.

If you’re doing it by hand: Order is the same, but you probably want a large wide bowl for easy mixing with a wooden spoon. My favorite is a metal bowl for kimchi making I got from the local Asian market, it’s HUGE!

Take the dough out onto a clean, floured surface and work it by hand until it passes the windowpane test: you can stretch it thin and see lots of light through it and it won’t break (some small holes are ok).

Slather the mixing bowl with the reserved butter. Place the dough ball into the mixing bowl and coat the exterior of the ball with more butter. Cover with plastic wrap, or a damp towel, or a large tupperware lid

Let the dough rise at room temperature for 1 to 1-1/2 hours or until doubled in volume. When the dough is fully risen, deflate it, cover it as before and let rise until it doubles in bulk again, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Deflate the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Cut the dough in half and keep one piece of dough covered while you work with the other.

Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Four strand braiding is a little different from the typical three strand, but it makes a much nicer loaf of bread, and it’s not hard at all. Roll each piece into a rope about 16″ long; it should be slightly thicker in the center and slightly tapered at the ends. Align the ropes vertically, side by side and start braiding from the center down. Take the left-most strand and weave it over-under-over. Repeat.

When you’ve reached the end, turn the loaf around so that the braided half is on top; braid the lower half. Pinch the ends to seal and tuck the ends under the loaf. Transfer the loaf to a prepared baking sheet and gently plump it to get it back into shape; cover with a towel. Braid the second loaf, put it on a baking sheet and cover. Let the loaves rise at room temperature for 45 minutes or until soft, puffy and almost doubled.

Glaze and topping:
Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat to 375ºF. Whisk the egg (and extra yolk if you so desire) and milk/cream together in a small bowl. Brush the tops and sides of the challahs with glaze. Reserve the leftover glaze for brushing the loaves during baking. if you’re topping the loaves, dust them with the seeds; sprinkle coarse salt over the loaves, topped or not.

Bake for 20 minutes. The loaves will expand and expose some of the inner dough. Brush the newly exposed dough with the reserved glaze and bake 15 to 20 minutes longer, or until the loaves are golden and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom. If they start to brown too quickly, cover them with a piece of foil. Let cool before slicing.

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Life

Thinking About an MFA

I’m pretty sure that ultimately, at some point in my life, I’m going to go through grad school again and get an MFA. It’s the degree I wanted in the first place, I just couldn’t justify the expense and the huge risk of not being able to find a job while my husband was really sick and needed health insurance. So I made some sacrifices that at the time made absolute sense to me. I went back to school to get my teaching license and get a Masters in another field that I’m passionate about: Educational Technology. I thought I’d be able to at least make enough to get us on more stable ground financially and be able to at least make life a little more creative and interesting for some of the kids in my future classrooms. I do genuinely love teaching. Anyone who saw me work at MHS East or at the MAC for MXTW could see that. Unfortunately, my car is completely unreliable now and K-State isn’t flexible when it comes to not having a car for the student teaching semesters. Both were very rude surprises this semester. So I had to postpone my student teaching for a year.

To make matters worse, the two undergrad level art courses I took in the previous two semesters really just make me want to get my MFA. The classes were actually challenging and engaging, which is more than I can say for most of the education classes I’ve had to take. I also feel out of place when I’m in my education classes, like that is not a good fit for me. At KU I was just another art student and I could talk freely with my peers about all sorts of things. Our critiques were filled with people talking about stuff. It’s not like that here. People are much more reserved, like they are afraid to talk or have opinions about things. I stand out a lot more both in my level of participation and how I dress. I feel like some of my peers think I’m a pretentious show-off and I’m not. I have a wide knowledge base, but I only call on it when it’s relevant to the discussion. Besides, how is knowing about things or being able to draw logical conclusions about something bad? I never had a moment at KU where someone flat out asked me, while looking at me like I was a space alien, “Why do you know that?” Being able to recall facts does not in anyway make me exceptional. At other times I just feel very big fish in little pond and I hate that. I want to grow as a person, I want to be learning things, and it’s starting to feel like my time at K-State is just going through the motions to get a $60,000 piece of paper.

My husband is also no longer having severe health problems, and due to the ACA, he finally has insurance through his employer where he’s been working full-time for over a year. Not that that’s a solid gig though. He was not supposed to have a job this school year, because of budget cuts, but his bosses fought for him to stay, because having someone who’s as tech savvy as he is is a great asset to a school. So, nothing is definite for us, and when your basic things like employment are shaky, it’s pretty stressful.

Which brings be back to the MFA and my own intellectual restlessness. I like a lot of the professors in K-State’s art department. They’ve really improved the facilities since I first attended in 2005. K-State’s art department even offers a decent stipend and an almost guaranteed GTA position the first year, so I’ll get the necessary teaching experience that’s required if you want to go on to be a professor. That’s all really great, but I want to get the hell out of Kansas. I’ve lived here my whole life, and there just aren’t the opportunities here that I need, not to mention the current political situation is an utter mess, and I don’t see it changing anytime soon. The 2014 election here was a wake-up call for me and my husband. It’s really expensive and shitty to be poor in Kansas, and there aren’t many opportunities for people with our skillsets. Skillsets which are highly valued (or at least employable) elsewhere. There are lots of good people in Kansas, and cool places, but it’s hard to live here when you know it could be better elsewhere.

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Food

Currant & Lemon Zest Cream Scones

Currant & Lemon Zest Cream Scones
To ensure proper rising and flakiness, be sure the butter is cold. You might need to chill the flour and butter mixture after cutting the butter in, but before you pour in the cream. You can substitute dried cranberries and orange zest or dried cherries and sliced almonds for the currants and lemon zest if you like.

Ingredients:

For the dough:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
6 Tbs. (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup dried currants
1 cup heavy cream

For the topping:
1 Tbs. Demerara or turbinado sugar (the big crunchy stuff)
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
2 tsp. heavy cream

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 425°F. Get out a baking sheet and cover it with a sheet of parchment paper.

To make the dough by hand, in a bowl, stir together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest. Using a pastry blender, or whisk (used like a potato masher) cut in the butter until the mixture come together in a coarse crumb, and the butter is the size of peas. If you don’t have a pastry cutter or a whisk, use your hands in a crumbling motion to make the butter pieces pea sized and evenly incorporated, but be sure to chill the mixture for 10 mins. after this since your hands will warm up the butter too much).

Stir in the currants. Pour the cream over the flour mixture and fold with a big spoon or spatula just until the dry ingredients are moistened. You might find that there is some flour in the bottom that doesn’t want to incorporate with the rest of the dough. Push the dough that is sticking together to one side of the bowl and dribble a bit of cream over the dry parts until it will all come together on one dough ball. Don’t add too much cream, or the scones will turn out too moist and won’t rise as well.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Gently pat out into a round about 1 inch thick. Cut the round into 8 wedges (or whatever shape you like) with a sharp knife or biscuit cutter. Make sure you are cutting straight down through the dough and not slicing. The scones will not rise well if you slice. Place 1 inch apart on the baking sheet.

To make the topping, in a small bowl, stir together the sugar and cinnamon. Brush the dough with the cream and sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon sugar.

Bake until the scones are golden brown, 13 to 17 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. Makes about 8 scones.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking.

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Food

Berry Galette (adapted from Baking with Julia)

Messy Galette

I made this one at my parent’s house with berries from their yard 2 years ago. It’s not pretty, but it’s not supposed to be, I also had too many berries for one galette, and you can see why parchment paper is such a good idea. Always make sure you use parchment paper, otherwise you’ll be soaking delicious burnt berry sugar off your pan for hours. Sugar that you could have been eating after they effortlessly flaked into big delicious shards…

Basic Galette Dough (for sweet or savory)

Each disc will make one galette large enough to serve 4 to 6

3 tablespoons sour cream or full fat greek yogurt

1/3 cup cold water

1/4 cup yellow corn meal

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

7 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces

Sweet Berry Filling

1-1.5 cups fresh berries (all one kind or a mix, you can also sub berries for stone fruits, pears, figs, or apples) (feel free to add some herbs or spices for interest: ginger, thyme, sage, cinnamon, nutmeg, mint, etc.)

1-2 Tbsp butter (softened)

turbinado sugar for sprinkling

1 Tbsp honey, agave nectar, or maple syrup

Mix together the cold water and whatever fermented dairy you’re using. In a separate bowl mix the corn meal, flour, and salt together. Add the butter and cut it in using a pastry cutter. If you don’t have a pastry cutter, you can use your hands using a pinching and rolling motion with the butter pieces until the butter is pea sized and the dough has a mealy consistence. If you have a food processor you can also use that, but I prefer doing it be hand to avoid over working the dough. Pour in the water/yogurt mixture and using a spatula, gently fold everything together until a wet dough is made. Don’t over mix or your crust will be tough. Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap/cling film and press together into a mound and wrap it up tightly. Stick it in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours.

When the dough is properly chilled, preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Flour a work surface, place your dough on it, and pat your dough out gently into a rough circle or oval shape until it’s about .25 inch or 6 mm thick. Transfer it to the parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Place 1-1.5 cups of berries in the middle of the dough. You want about a 2 inch border of dough. Drizzle berries with honey, and daub them with bits of softened butter. Fold the dough up in sections, around the berries, pleating it as you go. Sprinkle the whole thing with turbinado sugar (you can add a cream or egg wash to the outside if you want it to stick better, cinnamon is a nice tough too depending on the fruit). Stick in the oven (middle rack) for 35-45 mins, or until golden brown. Carefully transfer it using a spatula or two onto a cutting board or cooling rack. Wait 10 mins (or go to the grocery store for heavy cream or ice cream). Cut into wedges and serve plain or with whipped cream or ice cream.

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Grad School

Digital Wunderkammern

Rationale

The organization of secondary education builds upon the specialization introduced in elementary school: instead of one teacher teaching many topics, students move from class to class, taking mandatory and elective courses. This structure reflects how our society views topics of knowledge. We think of math as being very different from music, even though many studies have shown that music education increases math skills, and music is mathematically structured (harmony, time signatures, tuning, etc.). Similarly, our culture holds science and art to be radically different fields. The left brain-right brain dichotomy is a popular myth with absolutely no scientific backing, which helps bolster the idea of analytical thinkers (scientists) vs creative thinkers (artists) (Nielsen, Zielinski, Ferguson, Lainhart, & Anderson, 2013). At her TED Talk, the famous astronaut Mae Jemison had this to say about how we teach art and science:

If we keep thinking that the arts are separate from the sciences, and we keep thinking it’s cute to say, “I don’t understand anything about this one, I don’t understand anything about the other one,” then we’re going to have problems…When these concepts underly our teaching and how we think about the world, then we have a problem, because we stymie support for everything. By accepting this dichotomy, whether it’s tongue in check, when we attempt to accommodate it in our world…we’re messing up the future. Who wants to be uncreative? Who wants to be illogical? Talent would run from either of these fields, if you said you have to choose either, and then they’re going to go do something where they think, “Well I can be creative and logical at the same time” (2002).

Placing sharp boundaries around disciplines is artificial and not a reflection of how knowledge works outside of school. By utilizing interdisciplinary teaching, students are better able to recognize bias, overcome preconceptions, engage in critical thinking, tolerate ambiguity, and learn in a deeper and more meaningful way (Science Education Research Center, 2012). According to The National Council for Teachers of English, ”educational experiences are more authentic and of greater value to students when the curricula reflects real life, which is multi-faceted rather than being compartmentalized into neat subject-matter packages” (Science Education Research Center, 2012). This lesson reflects how learning works outside of the classroom. Connecting art to science not only enhances learning about art, but students who have trouble interfacing with scientific concepts might have an easier time if they can relate it to something they already enjoy or understand, such as art. Similarly, a student who enjoys science, might be able to gain a greater appreciation of art and history through this lesson.

In Picturing Science, Producing Art, Caroline A. Jones and Peter Galison claim that, “…art [and] science…are historically and culturally embedded. Neither practice has unique and absolute purchase on ‘reality’, and neither is alienated from history as its rhetoric might imply” (Jones & Galison, eds., 1998, p. 3). Bringing art and science together is nothing new; the two disciplines share a common history. During the Renaissance, the zeitgeist of humanism helped shape both fields (and our idea of what a well-rounded education is) into what they are today. The educated elite sought to explore the natural world, to better understand humanity’s place in it. People began to catalogue and illustrate the known world, as well as collect specimens for Wunderkammern (cabinets of curiosity) to show off to guests. Objects were collected for their novelty and beauty, as well as scientific study. Artist polymaths like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo not only made great contributions to art, but anatomy, architecture, optics, and engineering. Cross-pollination continued into the 18th and 19th centuries, with the equine anatomical work of George Stubbs, and the motion photographs of Eadweard Muybridge. In the 20th century, the physicist Niels Bohr was inspired by Cubism, and it shaped his work on wave and particle duality theory (Lehrer, 2008). This rich, shared history between art and science is key to understanding contemporary art and why many artists use technology and scientific discoveries in their artwork.

This lesson appeals to multiple senses because students can create their final work in whatever medium they like: drawing, painting, sculpture, movement, sound, etc. To put it in Multiple Intelligence terms: Art-making is inherently Visual-Spatial, Intrapersonal, and Kinesthetic; but this project can also appeal to individuals who identify with the Naturalistic, Verbal-Linguistic, Interpersonal, and Musical categories. Digital Wunderkammern exposes students to a variety of audio-visual media, as per Dale’s Cone of Experience: we watch an educational film, we look at still pictures, etc. However, most of the lesson involves direct experiences: creating a webpage, arranging the class Wunderkammer, photographing, sketching, creating artwork, etc. The lesson also utilizes many categories of Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy: students analyze and evaluate the images they find online to collect ones they find interesting, they analyze connections between objects when creating the class Wunderkammer, they evaluate the work of their peers a number of times during the lesson and give feedback, and finally they apply previous artistic skill and knowledge to solve the problem of creating a new piece of artwork.

Facilitation Theory is a humanist educational theory which calls upon the teacher to not be an instructor of skill or knowledge, but a facilitator of learning. It aligns well with student-centered learning practices. The theory was developed in the 1960s by the great psychologist Carl Rodgers. He was inspired by Dewey’s writing, as well as his own experiences in clinical psychology. Rodgers is responsible for person-centered therapy, which flew in the face of psychoanalysis and other therapist-centered psychotherapies of the mid 20th century. According to Rogers:

because of the continually changing atmosphere in which we live, we are faced with an entirely new situation in education where the goal of education, if we are to survive, is the facilitation of change and learning. The only man who is educated is the man who has learned how to adapt and change; the man who has realized that no knowledge is secure, that only the process of seeking knowledge gives a basis for security. Changingness, reliance on process rather than upon static knowledge, is the only thing that makes any sense as a goal for education in the modern world (Zimring, 1994, p. 415).

Rogers wrote that attitudinal qualities were what made a teacher an effective facilitator. The core attitudinal qualities are realness, prizing, and empathetic understanding. Realness concerns being honest with your students. It is incredibly important to have a human relationship with your students to create a safe and respectful learning environment. Rogers believed that teachers who adopted the traditional persona of the authoritarian teacher discouraged interest in and respect for learning. The second quality, prizing, is having a non-possessive caring for your students; acknowledging that your students are fellow human beings with emotions, hopes & dreams, etc. The last quality, empathetic understanding, is the ability to understand your students’ human condition: their attitudes about learning, their home life, their emotional states, etc. (Smith, 2014). In research done by Rogers and others, students in facilitative environments were more creative, engaged in higher-levels of problem solving, had better attendance rates, reported that they enjoyed lessons, and showed greater independence and initiative-taking behavior (Zimring, 1994, p. 420).

Rationale

UBD Lesson Plan

Digital Wunderkammern Rubric

Lesson Resources

Example Classroom Website

Creative Commons Search

WordPress.com/WordPress.org

Rubistar: Rubric Creator for Teachers

Padlet

GoogleDocs

The Secret of Drawing: Line of Inquiry on YouTube

The History of Museums on YouTube

References

International Society for Technology in Education. (2007). ISTE standards: Students. Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/docs/pdfs/20-14_ISTE_Standards-S_PDF.pdf

International Society for Technology in Education. (2008). ISTE standards: Teachers. Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/docs/pdfs/20-14_ISTE_Standards-T_PDF.pdf

Graham-Dixon, A. (Director & Writer). (2005, October 8). The line of enquiry [Television series episode]. In The Secret of Drawing. BBC2. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9H59cVnnF9Y

Jemison, M. (2002, February). Teach arts and science together. Lecture presented at TED2002, Monterey, CA.

Jones, C. A., & Galison, P. (Eds.). (1998). Picturing science, producing art. New York, NY: Psychology Press.

Lehrer, J. (2008). The future of science…is art? Seed Magazine. Retrieved from http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/the_future_of_science_is_art/

Maranto, J. V., & TED-Ed. (2015, February 5). The history of museums – J. V. Maranto. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MHo928fd2wE

Nielsen, J. A., Zielinski, B. A., Ferguson, M. A., Lainhart, J. E., & Anderson, J. S. (2013). An evaluation of the left-brain vs. right-brain hypothesis with resting state functional connectivity magnetic resonance imaging (Y. He, Ed.). PLoS ONE, 8(8), E71275. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0071275

Science Education Research Center. (2012). Why teach with an interdisciplinary approach? Retrieved from http://serc.carleton.edu/econ/interdisciplinary/why.html

Smith, M. K. (2014). Carl Rogers, core conditions and education. In infed. Retrieved from http://infed.org/mobi/carl-rogers-core-conditions-and-education/

State Education Agency Directors of Arts Education. (2015). National core arts standards. Retrieved from http://nationalartsstandards.org/

Zimring, F. (1994). Carl Rogers. Prospects, 24(3-4), 411-422. doi:10.1007/BF02195279

Zinevych, S. (2013, March 05). Noble blogger guidelines: How to cite pictures [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://writtent.com/blog/the-honor-code-of-a-noble-blogger-how-to-cite-pictures/

Featured image is Public Domain from Wikimedia Commons

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