Welcome to the Process

Posted by on Jul 14, 2012 in Mixes | 6 comments

previous post: Welcome to the Tools next post: Don’t forget to be awesome

This is a message from your heart/Your most important body part/Taking blood and making art

As stated in my first welcome message, and demonstrated by my post on making the ePub book, a big focus for me as I enter my second decade as a teacher is the process of creation.  We talk a lot with our students about the writing process, for example, but I think teachers as a whole seem very product-driven. We show others the final project/essay/etc that our students created, but we rarely take the time to share with each other the deliberate steps we take in planning out those projects.

Let’s face it, it’s not enough for us to share the wonderful stuff our kids are doing if we don’t give others a roadmap for how to get there themselves. Why? Maybe they don’t know where to get started, or they’ll get stuck on something that you’ve already found a fix for. Maybe they’ll have a poor understanding of the amount of work that goes into the planning process for that project. Maybe they’ll pull the main pieces together but have difficulty with the interaction for the students because they don’t understand the steps you took in the explanation and the traps that you fell into when running it the first time. Most importantly, when you share your process, other people might be able to improve upon it, making it more effective or efficient. Every time we don’t share our products but not our processes, we kill a whole bunch of time for the person who wants to replicate or improve upon the product but has to spend precious time reinventing the process. With that in mind, I’ve created the flowchart below explaining the steps and decision-making processes I go through when crafting a blogpost.Don't Forget to be Awesome - Photograph by Dan Callahan

A few notes and resources: I’m being very explicit here in case I mentioned anything that might be unfamiliar to people.

I created this flowchart in LucidChart, a free (to start) web app. The full version is available for free to Google Apps for Education domains, which is pretty awesome of them. This was my first time designing a flowchart period, let alone in LucidChart. It’s a pretty basic app, all things considered. It took me a few minutes of messing around with the  tools to get a good handle on it. The arrows get a little tricky, and lining up stuff is more of an art than a science it seemed at times. With more practice, I’d probably get a better handle on it.

OmmWriter Dana II is a simple application that turns your whole screen into a page for writing and turns off all notifications. It’s great when you need to focus on writing. It’s available for Mac, PC, and iPad.

Evernote is an amazing online note-taking system. I made a lot of use of it this week at some PD I went to (which I’m still mentally unpacking and not ready to blog about just yet). Full disclosure: Evernote this year sponsored the non-profit Edcamp Foundation. I currently serve as Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Google Docs is an equally amazing online office suite that allows you to share your documents with others and collaborate on them simultaneously.

When I embed music, I use Spotify‘s embed codes. It requires that the person on the other end have Spotify installed in order to listen. This is a reasonable tradeoff to me over embedding YouTube videos that aren’t always copyright friendly. Spotify is a great service that lets you listen to almost any track for free. It does require a Facebook account to login, which might be a negative for you.

Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ are all online social networks. They all have their own unique interfaces, so users can utilize them in quite different ways.

This blog is published with the WordPress software. It’s free, and awesome, but not necessarily right for beginners. I recommend that people starting to experiment with blogging on their own use Blogger, which is owned by Google.

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previous post: Welcome to the Tools next post: Don’t forget to be awesome

6 Comments

  1. Love the flowchart – do you have a step to include about reading/responding to comments? For me, that feedback and continued conversation is a huge part of my process in blogging, thinking, reflecting, etc.

    Thanks for sharing!

    http://avenue4learning.com

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

    • Hi Michelle,
      On my previous blog I honestly didn’t get a lot of comments to make me think about it very much. I do have an RSS feed of comments go to my Google Reader so I know when they do come in for followup, so I guess that’s my process there. Hopefully I’ll start to get some more and then I can update the post!
      -Dan

  2. Brilliance, Dan. I find I think of like, 10,000 posts but only ever sit down to write a few. You?

    • I’m trying to be better about that with this new blog. I’m also getting better about documenting things I might want to write about later in Evernote so I have stuff to build off of, which I think will help.

      • Good morning my friend! As a former teacher of reading and writing and a student of the descendants of the Master of teaching the process of writing, Don Graves, I love this idea!. I am also wondering how you problem solved along the way to discovery, and how you figured stuff out? So often our audience assumes we just signed up or downloaded an app and had instant success! I tell folks, “I learn just like you do! lots of trial and error and mistakes along the way.”

        • This is definitely a process that’s come after my previous four years of figuring stuff out with my last blog. A lot of those tools are more recently added into my repertoire, and it’s taken a lot of trial and error to get to this point. The list of tools I’ve tried and didn’t use is much longer than the list of tools I make regular use of today.

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