I have a long history of being a plant abuser. Even self-watering plant containers have only lasted so long with my busy schedule. I think the last indication that I needed to give up on the whole idea of ever successfully adopting a plant, was when my co-workers walked into my office, snatched up the large, dying arrowhead plant from its stand, and confiscated it. As they were nursing it back to health, they told me that I was not allowed to have another office plant again.
Then I met Chantal through the Blogging 101 class. Her very interesting blog, Weeds an All talks about her adventures in gardening, which absolutely fascinates me! Chantal’s blog is such a delightful read, but she’s also a very nice person to talk to (we leave comments for each other). Well, in one of our conversations, I asked her about houseplants (I never did get rid of the guilt for what I did to that poor plant). It turns out, that she, too, hasn’t had much success, and suggested that we both try our luck again! So, in her post about houseplant gardening, she issued a challenge (not really a challenge – more like one of those ‘Oh, those shoes are cute! Hey! I should get a pair’ type challenge). If you check out her post, you’ll see that she has two very healthy looking plants now, in her house. …I had to get one of my own, now!
Okay, so I cheated just a tiny bit. I went to this article to find a plant that wouldn’t die on me. I’m still a tad bit skeptical, though, because more than half those plants on that list have suffered (and died) under my “care.” But…I can’t disappoint! To quote Henry Ford, “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.”
Now, houseplants are also really GOOD for your home, too! Granted, I took this link from Miracle Grow’s infographic on houseplants, but still. A non-medicinal way to clean the air, lower stress, and give you something to smile about? I’ll take it!
So, I will introduce you to Oscar, the newest edition to my office:
I posted Oscar to my Instagram, and my friend suggested that I name them. I may change Oscar’s name, by the way, if the plant tells me otherwise, at a later date. ^.^
Are you up for the house plant challenge? Chantal’s blog gives a GREAT tutorial on getting started! I’m not, by any stretch of the imagination, a plant person, so in addition to Chantal’s blog post, I will leave this nice blog post on caring for your pothos, by Heather.
Enjoy your plants!!!
As I mentioned in last week’s post on rubrics, a rubric is an assessment tool that helps score and outline performance expectations. Using a rubric helps by:
An effective rubric needs to provide an accurate assessment of what it is that you want to measure. So, in addition to using a template, I wanted to discuss some things to consider when you create or modify a rubric. To start, I want to build on a previous blog post by Phil Gaiser about rubrics. From his site, is an illustration of a typical rubric:
As you can see, a rubric is broken down into four parts:
To create a rubric, consider the following questions:
For example, let’s think about an instructor assessment. One of the dimensions that I assessed was attendance. For descriptions, I would use the following:
Now, you will note that the descriptions reflect a very high standard for instructor attendance. This was because as soon as an instructor was late to one class, they would receive a written warning – attendance was very important for me, because when an instructor showed up late, it was also a bad example to students. However, if the rubric had not been given and discussed ahead of time, it could be quite possible that an instructor would think that a 90% attendance would have been acceptable, even though, in doing so, they would score very poorly based on the rubric.
This is another reason why giving rubrics to employees ahead of time can be very useful, because it can prevent misunderstandings. Here are some more tips to help you:
For more information, you can go to:
How to rubrics – This document provides a detailed list of questions that can help guide you in the developmental process
Stevens, D. D., & Levi, A. J. (2011). Introduction to rubrics: An assessment tool to save grading time, convey effective feedback, and promote student learning. Stylus Publishing, LLC.
I am by no means an expert on Relay for Life in Second Life, but if you’re considering joining a Relay team, this post may help you know a little about what is to come. Relay for Life raises funds for the American Cancer Society. Last year was my first year participating in Relay for Life in Second life, and it was quite the whirlwind! This year I am helping co-captain the Builder’s Brewery team, alongside my best friend and fellow contributor to this blog, Blue Myanamotu.
The Relay Season will officially kick off March 6th, but before that we will participate in “Paint SL Purple” February 28th through March 6th. Once the festivities kick off, Relay teams start to sponsor many different kinds of events to raise funds for cancer research.
Last year, I helped with many different events and activities last year, which included:
There are also many fun things to do outside of your own team, like attend and vote on the Castle contest. Fly your way over to the Fantasy Faire or the Sci-Fi Convention. If you want to keep tabs on what upcoming big Relay events on their way, check out their website.
All of these awesome events lead up to Relay Weekend, July 16-17th. Relay Weekend last year was full of a lot of emotions for me last year. It was so wonderful to walk the Relay track with my team, and to think of my Dad, who I lost in 2006 to Pancreatic Cancer, as I did it.
For me, that is why I Relay. To honor my father. By the time this Relay season passes it will have been ten years since I lost him. People work so hard in Second Life to honor those we have lost, those that have survived and those that still struggle with Cancer. I hope you consider participating, joining a team or just checking out the events and donating.
Keep an eye on this blog for more news about the Builder’s Brewery Relay team and our upcoming events. If you are in Second Life and would like to join the team, there’s a sign-up form here:
This post is in response to a discussion last week at the Second Life Tech Soup Friday meeting. The speaker, Gentle Heron, talked about employee performance reviews. She gave tips about how to make them more pleasant; such as providing calendar dates, expectations ahead of time, and opening employee discussions. I added a comment about how rubrics can help with these assessments…which lead to a suggestion that I do a presentation on rubrics this Friday!
A rubric is an assessment tool that helps score and outline performance expectations.
It got me thinking, ‘I bet most people haven’t been taught to use rubrics effectively!’ When people have an opportunity to rate themselves, and when they know that this rating counts, they take more responsibility to develop an awareness for what they do. As supervisors and teachers, it is only fair to provide these expectations ahead of time. There is a very different feel when one is being judged, versus when one judges themselves. When people are given the opportunity to critically self-assess, they become more aware of their job, and reflective and critical of their own progress. A rubric can not only be an assessment too, but it can be an extremely effective teaching and training tool, too!
When I taught biotechnology to high school students, their grade was based on both my assessment, as well as their assessments. We both filled out the employee rubric separately, then met together to discuss the scores. Their final grade was an average between my assessment and theirs.
Here’s some tips:
Here’s a list of places to go for rubric designs and example templates.
iRubric – This site provides starter templates for you to design employee rubrics. I would start with a generic template, then pull out the job description (or your learning goals), and then customize from there.
Rubistar – This is a great rubric website for teachers. Similar to iRubric, you can take a pre-made template and customize it to your needs.
Cooper’s Rubric Presentation – Talks more in detail about rubrics, and includes several different types of employee performance rubrics, as well as outlines the steps on how to develop one.
You can also Google “Employee performance rubrics,” “Student rubrics,” “Music rubrics,” etc. to get a base template to begin. Then, customize it to your needs.
Do you have questions about rubrics? Comments? Please ask away and I will try my best to answer!
Next up on rubrics: Creating them.
This post started out on a daily prompt, which was entitled, “Can’t stand me.” It had me thinking about the things I can’t stand about myself. However, when I thought more about the prompt, it made me realize that I am acutely aware of the the things that I cannot stand about myself, and I have either fixed them, or am addressing them.
For example, in the prompt, it asked about what you disliked more: seeing oneself in a video, or hearing oneself in an audio. Quite honestly, I dislike both rather equally. However, with online teaching, it is only natural that you have to make recordings of yourself in both video and audio. At first, I was very self-conscious of this, because whenever people hear me speak for the first time, especially online, I always get a comment about my voice. Apparently, my voice is very distinctive. Also, whenever I see myself in videos, I notice little odd quirks that I’ve picked up – like, when I lecture, I have a little hop that I do when I’m walking around.
In typical INTJ fashion, my initial reaction was to try and fix what I didn’t like. However, I can’t change my voice without sounding fake, and my weird birdie hop is simply me, curbing my high energy output and enthusiasm when I teach. I did end up fixing what I disliked about both of these things, but not in the way that most people would think.
I fixed how I looked at the problem. Meaning, yes, my voice is still very distinctive (and I still get comments about it), and I still do that little hop when I teach, but it stopped bothering me that I did them. Why? Because I realized that what mattered was that I got my message across. If people were only focused on the sound of my voice, or how I delivered my lessons, then it meant that what I had to say had less meaning than how I said it. I changed how I saw myself – or more like, I changed what I saw.
Instead, I focused more on the things that I could change, and what was most important – my perception, and my message. So now, when I look at myself giving audio or video, I ask:
If I can say yes to all those things? Then I’ve done my job. ^.^
In addition to curriculum design and teacher mentoring, I am also a program evaluator. It did not occur to me that most people don’t know what program evaluators do, until my mother asked me about it. I floundered over my explanation at the time, since I was caught off guard. However, after pondering for a bit, here’s a more elegant (and detailed) answer:
A program evaluator analyzes data collected from a program to see whether or not the program is effective in doing what it is supposed to do.
The evaluator’s data collection and analysis is in the service of answering one very big overarching question:
We then use more specific, detailed questions to outline the actual evaluation itself. These questions will depend on what the program stakeholders want:
Of course, it can be more complicated than this, and there are many different program evaluators that are out there; each with their own different styles.
I, personally, take on the role of a critical friend, rather than judge and jury – so in most of the programs that I have evaluated, my analysis and reports are about helping people improve their programs so that they can better serve everyone involved.
It’s a rather gratifying experience, since my job has allowed me to work very closely with people as we plan out the type of data I will collect, what information I can provide to the program in terms of understanding how their programs work, suggestions for how they can best accomplish their goals, and how they can improve. My data analysis has also been used in publications!
Although program evaluation can be an extremely rewarding experience, you do need quite a bit of training. Evaluators should have working background knowledge of the programs that they evaluate (for example, I have an emphasis on STEM education), and they also have special training in evaluation, social research and data analysis. I would also add that they should be a people person – interviewing skills are important for the job!
For more info about program evaluation, start here.
Do you have questions about program evaluation? Similar to education, I can talk on and on about it! What else would you like to know, hmmm?
Congratulations! We are almost done with week 2 of the new year! How are you doing with it?
On the first of the year, I wrote a post about resolving resolutions. One of the bullets on my own annual list was about blogging more. To kick start the process, I have been taking a Blogging 101 class with Aubrey, the other writer of this blog. Offered through Blogging University, this class has been incredibly enjoyable, and I have learned so much, and met so many great people already through it!
As I’ve been reading through blogs, I’ve noticed that a lot of bloggers have been writing about their resolutions in one form or another. It got me thinking about how to approach my own list. For example, the blog, Brilliant Viewpoint talked about checking your bucket list on a “quarterly” basis. I thought it was brilliant! I think I’ll be checking my list on an even more regular basis – at least at the beginning, until things become habit. Then Ann, in her blog, Ruminations, had me thinking about just HOW do we go about fulfilling our goals?
Goals, and New Years Resolutions included, require a strategy. Here’s my strategy:
Every step, no matter how small, is still a step forward! So, don’t be discouraged. Just keep at it, okay? How are you doing with your goals? How do you accomplish them? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Last year I celebrated the pagan holiday of Yule for the first time, specifically the Norse leaning traditions that go along with it. As the year begins a new, I started a few new ventures to try to realize the hopes, dreams and resolutions I had for the coming year.
My second year in Second Life has been quite different from the first, my second rez day will be March of this year. I’ve learned a lot along the way and the more I reflect back on it all, the more I’m glad I came. Even though it has not been all sunshine, it has definitely changed me for the better. Though I can’t collect the physical photos of everything I’ve done in the last couple of years, I have lots of fond memories.
My newest virtual adventure is a foray into clothing making. I’m still figuring things out, but I finally got a store up and my first set of shirts made. I think that trying new things helps us express ourselves. I did parts of the decal by hand and then fancied them up in photoshop.
My hope is for this year to be a year of learning new skills, trying new things and setting out on new adventures. So glad to have you all along for the ride! – Nat
Top – Cathby Shrug & Strappy Cami – Tres Blah
Hair – Elikatira
Pants/Boots – Ison
Top – Wonder Woman Tee in Blue – White Queen Designs
Hair – Elikatira