Thursday, June 22, 2017

Foreign Relations?

This week I was invited to a dinner meeting with the Consul General of Japan, here in Vancouver.  I'd met her once before when she gave some words of greeting at a book signing, but I never thought I would be having a sit down meeting with her.  It was a nice time at her residence off Granville.  My friend, Mike Perry-Whittingham (also co-chair of the Education Cluster with me for Landscapes of Injustice) was there too.  We had an exquisite dinner while we chatted about the status of Japan in school curriculum. 

Before and most of the time I was there, I was asking myself, "How did I get invited to this?" because I was just some grade 2 teacher from Coquitlam.  Consul General Okai had done her homework because in our conversations she mentioned some work I had done, my current involvement with Landscapes of Injustice, and quoted from an interview I had done this year.  

At the end of the meal, I gave her a booklet my class had made for her.  Because Consul General Okai was a relative newcomer to BC, we made a book with my grade 2's suggestions of their favourite things to do in BC.  It included such gems as BMX racing in Pitt Meadows and going for a milkshake at McDonalds.  While I can't picture the Consul General doing either of these things, I could tell she was tickled by the book. 

Oh, and the Consul General had held a larger dinner earlier discussing education with some of the Community Advisers from Landscapes and they mentioned Mike's and my name.  Hence, the follow-up dinner.



Last week, another interesting thing happened.  I googled myself (okay, I'll explain why later, but suffice it to say I was procrastinating while writing my report cards), and the usual stuff came up, but this odd reference to me came up in someone's PowerPoint presentation.  I dug a little further and downloaded the presentation.  The presentation was from Sacramento at a conference on school facilities this February, and was given by an ergonomist, who was referencing the Bright Ideas Gallery and my blog.  He liked the fact that my students can move and have options about standing while they work. 

I was pleased that he seemed to like my work, by mystified how he learned about my work, so I emailed him.  He replied that he ran across it on the internet.  Naturally.  But he was giving a presentation to schools about school facilities, and he referenced me?  I laughed at this.  I was and still am figuring this out as I go. 


Okay.  About googling myself.  Years ago, after I built my classroom risers, I went searching to see if anyone or any company had done anything similar.   I came across this beautiful commercial product, and on this blog, I compared their sleek product with my clunky one.   (I think I wrote that mine came out on top because of cost, and the fact that I 'd made them myself.  The Ikea self-assembly ownership effect).   That was all fine and good until a representative from that particular educational furniture company contacted me directly, wanting to have a "conversation."  I was a little freaked out at first, but he really just wanted to have an open dialogue with a teacher who was interested in classroom design.  (That representative was James Clarke who is an educational designer in the UK.  We still keep in touch from time to time).  Back then, James told me he came across my blog and my comments about his product because periodically he would google the product's name to see what came up.  At that time, what came up was my critique.  It worked out okay, but now I google myself to see what comes up.  Sometimes it is interesting, and sometimes it is even true.  Or not.

What strikes me about these stories is how things that are on the internet (about me or what I've written), are out there for everyone to see all over the world, for good for bad.  Mostly good.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Interactive Mesh Idea

I finally got it to work the way I envisioned it.

I have written previously about using a mesh and projecting images my class can interact with in real time.  We have interacted with projected stories and shown rocket launches on the mesh to add a surreal layer of viewing.

But last week, we kicked it up a notch by using the mesh for an interactive live performance.

We performed the song, "Walking in the Air," by Howard Blake.  We had three performance elements:
  • Music/sound/singing.  The song is a dreamy one about walking through the sky.  My class and another grade 2 class sang the song. 
You can make out the two-class choir silhouetted on the risers on the left.
  • Painting/visual.  While we sang, one of the 7 "painters" took turns painting beautiful splattery colours onto the interactive mesh from behind it using the IR pen.  The painters painted in real time (using jacksonpollock.org)  creating a surreal sunset on the mesh.  Because the projector was angled so sharply upwards, the painting did not just appear on the mesh, but also enlarged on the gym wall up to the ceiling. 
Here is a picture of me explaining the painting while a student
who you can slightly see behind the mesh,
paints on the mesh which transfers to the wall behind. 
You can also see the same small image on the laptop screen on the cart.
  • Dance/movement.  As the singers sang and the painters painted, dancers danced slowly and flowingly in front of the mesh.  Because the dancers were in front of the projector, their shadows were cast onto the mesh and enlarged on the wall behind the mesh.

Putting it all together, it gave the dreamy impression that the we were indeed walking in the air.

video