Hard Work and Perseverence are the Keys to Success!

Hey Beatles fans! This is my final post for my Major Digital Project for EC&I 831. For this assignment I choose to do a Learning Project. The basic idea of a Learning Project is to learn something new and to document and share how you learned it and your progress along the way. For my Learning Project I choose to learn to play and sing the song “Blackbird” by the Beatles. This is not my first time singing or playing guitar but “Blackbird” is a song that I always wanted to learn and is more difficult than the songs I normally play on the guitar. So I gave myself two weeks to learn the song and filmed myself at the beginning, at the halfway point, and again at the end. Here is a look at my very first attempt after learning the song through this Youtube video and then practicing for just a couple hours. This was filmed on Monday, November 18th.

After filming this I was not sure I would be able to pull it off in two weeks but it really motivated me to practice and improve. I haven’t taken on a difficult song like this in a very long time so I was both scared and excited at the same time. The competitive side of me wanted to take on the challenge and prove I could do it, but the practical side of me wasn’t sure I could in such a short time. Regardless, I persevered and practiced my fingers to the bones, (almost literally), and began to see improvements in just a couple days. I was practicing at my school, at home, at friends houses, you name it. I was highly motivated to get better. For my second attempt, after about a week of practicing, I decided to sing as well as play. My guitar playing had improved significantly but adding the lyrics was an added challenge. Here is my second attempt with guitar and singing filmed on Tuesday, November, 26th.

Not bad for a week of practicing but I still felt that I could improve. I was comfortable with playing most of the song but there were some trouble area’s that I really wanted to get better at. However, I kind of hit a wall after practicing a lot over a short period of time. I went back to Youtube and found an another instructional video that offered a slightly different fingering pattern for the parts that I was struggling with. This was enough to renew my excitement and I instantly improved on some of those trouble spots. I certainly wasn’t playing the song perfectly, but I was making far less mistakes which made me very happy. So here is my final video which I filmed on Tuesday, December 3rd. Hope you enjoy it!

As I said, the song wasn’t perfect but I thought that I did pretty well. I made far fewer mistakes than the previous attempt and really cleaned up some of the trouble spots. Overall, I was quite pleased with the final result. And the best part about taking on this Learning Project is that now I can actually play and sing “Blackbird”!!!

Taking on this Learning Project has reminded me that not everything in life is easy and sometimes you really have to work hard at something to get better. This is true in all aspects of our lives, whether it be relationships, career, or hobbies. You must work hard and take risks to improve and grow. And the pay off is the amazing feeling you get when your hard work pays off and you are able to accomplish the thing you set out to do. Nothing feels better than setting out to do something, and accomplishing that goal through hard work and perseverance. We all have a Blackbird inside of us that wants to be set free and fly. So don’t hold back. Take on a new challenge, take a risk, work hard but be willing to fail. And if you accomplish your goal, no one can take that away from you.


I Love TED Talks!

For those of you that know about Ted Talks, I probably don’t have to convince you that they are both amazing education tools and just plain fun and interesting to watch! For those of you that have never heard of TED or never watched a TED Talk, I hope I can convince you to have a look, because not only can you grow your own curiosity and knowledge base but also that of your students and colleagues. And for those of you who are not teachers, you can watch for the shear entertainment and educational value, even if you don’t share it with anyone.

TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, started out as a conference in 1984 which brought together people from these three worlds to share idea’s. Not surprisingly, the motto for TED is “Idea’s Worth Spreading”. TED

TED Talks are short video’s, usually about 18 minutes long, in which a speaker talks and presents on a specific topic. The speakers are experts in their respective fields and the presentation is generally short, educational, and entertaining; and these three adjectives are really what make TED Talks so great. You don’t have to invest a lot of time and they are very entertaining and educational, perfect for a school setting, but also perfect for the average person who wants a quick bit of entertainment while they work out or wait for the bus. Also, there are currently over 1600 TED Talks available, so you can find a TED Talk on almost any subject. Some are very funny and light hearted, some are very somber and serious. Whatever your interests, there is a TED Talk for you. So instead of me just talking about TED Talks, why don’t I share some with you.

I will start with a TED talk that falls under the topic of education but is also related to the most recent EC&I 831 on-line class which featured guest speaker Sylvia Martinez. Sylvia talked to the class about the Maker Movement in education which she features in her book, Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom. She is encouraging teachers to let their students simply build things out of junk and odds and ends. Let them be the creators and engineers. Let them learn through play. Technology is integrated using things like Makey Makey and Arduino and the end result can be unbelievable. I believe that this is very closely related to the first TED Talk I would like you to watch. The video features Dr. Sugata Mitra, an educational researcher, who discovered, through his “Hole in the Wall” experiments, that children can teach themselves, and each other, in the absence of formal teaching. He hooked up a computer in a slum area of urban India, protected by a wall, and simply let the neighborhood children experiment with absolutely no training on how to use a computer. Watch the video below to see what happens.

What an amazing story! And this is just one of many education related TED Talks. There are also subject specific TED Talks that a teacher may use. I am a math teacher and here is TED Talk I shared with one of my classes.

Here is a very interesting TED Talk that could be used in a biology class studying the environment.

Here is a TED Talk that made the rounds on social media that could be used in a language arts class studying poetry or maybe a social studies class studying social justice or bullying.

How about music class? Here is one of my personal favorites which features Bobby McFerrin. I love this one.

There are so many more that I could show you but I think that I have maybe shared too much on this post as it is. Even if you watched just one of these video’s I hope it was enough to get you to go and check out some more and maybe see if there are any that would fit into your subject area or specific topic you want to cover.

Please let me know what you thought of any of these TED Talks or maybe share your  favorites with me. I would love to hear from you in the comments area below!