Saturday, April 23, 2011

It takes a Whole Village to Raise a Child ... and Put on a Drama Production

First of all Kate Potosky did an amazing job to pull together our production of "Little Shop of Horrors" despite what seemed to be an enormous amount of karma working against her. That said an equal amount of drive, friendships and hard work was definitely in her favour.

Let me give you a little history about this production. I knew from day one when I met Kate at the new staff orientation last August, she was sick and had been for a couple of days, but she managed to steal my ear for probably half an hour and we talked, ok I listened, about all the great possibilities for this year's drama production. I could feel the energy. I sensed what was was coming when she wasn't sick. Kate was going big. We are a small high school. 250 students. 26 teachers. She's Audrey 2 and was about to gobble up CIS.

Let's quickly run through the challenges. First, the rights, scripts and scores. Where to get that in Singapore ... of course New York City and Musical Theatre International. Never used them before, but they were very good. Scripts and scores arrived a healthy 6 weeks before the show was to hit the stage ... luckily we had the approval earlier. Enough said. We are in a new campus with a big hall, lights, speakers ... but none worked. This was discovered two months before showtime. OK, haul in the contractors, call maintenance to change lights, get Mr. Laflamme onto ordering the mics for next year's state of the art theater ... now.

Band, CD, Band, CD??? CD won out in the end.

Now sets ... this is not a black box show. You can see the set above with 4th generation Audrey in the middle. This is where the staff's respect for Kate came through loud and clear. She was able to garner support from high school teachers, middle school teachers and support staff, usually with a smile. Except maybe when Halim had to climb ladders.

But here's the kicker, two weeks before showtime, it was realized that four of her cast and crew had to be on a flight to Ladakh at 11:00pm on the last night of the show. Show ends at 9:30, 45 min to the airport. It was going to be tight. Again though, the staff banded together, checked the students in before the show began and had a taxi waiting immediately after. Not sure if you noticed the shortened intermission on Thursday?!?!?

A fantastic performance!

(Thanks to Mark Patton for the photos)

Cast, you can hold your heads high. You delivered an amazing show. I was asked at one of the intermissions, "Are you really only putting this on twice? Is there anyway you can do more shows? Is the press here?"

Crew, you made the show run flawlessly, from the lighting to the sound to the props and sets. Great work.

Staff, on behalf of Kate and myself, thanks for all your support both behind the scenes and in the audience.

And Kate, I won't be around to see the build-up to the production next year. But, I will definitely be back to see what you create for 2012. Thanks for all you hard work, late nights and dedication to our students.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Howdya Like Dem Apples - ADE '11 Greatest Moments

I'm still fairly new to the international education gig, but in my seven years I have had the opportunity to attend a number of conferences, workshops, institutes and courses (Which I would like to thank the Canadian International School and it's directors for supporting). The ADE 2011 Institute ranks very high on the list. I dare say the top in terms of educational collaboration and connection, and consistent (and seemingly never-ending) positive energy. Yes, I guzzled the Kool-ADE. Here are my 11 Greatest Moments of ADE 2011 (in no particular order). Some of these obviously apply to all 60 of us, some are more personal and focus on the fantastic groups I had a chance to work with. Feel free to add your own to the list in the comment section.

  1. Warm-up, ice-breaker and group activities presented by Rebecca Stockley. More activities can be found at

  2. Photo sharing and tips by Joseph Linaschke.

  3. Thinking different with Rob Ferrin, Hillary Daniels and Jabiz Raisdana. Creating a video for the Saigon Race contest that satisfied the least number of criteria ... and winning.

  4. Feeling like bumbling idiots, scouring the streets of HCMC with Sean Deetlefs, Steve Katz and John Wu looking for potential interviewees ... while Br. Dennis Magbanua, Dianna Pratt and Hillary were holding new born babies.

  5. Fantastic Food!

  6. Evening connection time.

  7. Meeting the sweetest little girl in the market. And the ensuing conversations about her story.

  8. Being introduced to the "3 Idiots" ... not literally ... the movie.

  9. Spotlight Sharing (the REAL TED talk) and Un-Conferences (thanks Rebecca and Mano)

  10. Accessibility session and the tricks and tips learned! Thanks Sarah!

  11. The stories of Chow Pei Sze and Chai Yee-wei.

  12. I had to add a 12th ... watching the amazing 59 other application videos and tortuously waiting through all four days to have mine shown second last.
Thanks Adrian and the rest of the Apple Team, the ADE Alumni and the ADE Class of 2011. I'll see you online soon. Ted

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

ADE - Day 2 and 3 - Out and About in HCMC

Day 2

6:00 am - Morning Photo Walk - We started the day early with a walk through the morning market as the vendors set up for the day. It was led by Joseph Linaschke who gave a us a few tips before setting us loose to shoot in HCMC. Here are few of my shots. Hmmm ... a bit of a math and patterns theme? For the faint at heart, I kept it to pictures of fruit rather than raw meat and fish.

AM - We chose two of five sessions that were offered.
  • Accessibility in the classroom for every learner
  • Final Cut Pro
  • Logic Studio
  • Basic Aperture
  • iOS Webapp development
I chose Final Cut Pro. Looks like a great piece of software, sometime in the future I could see creating some pretty cool videos with the layering features, but for now I still need to master iMovie! The second session for me was Accessibility. Lots of great tricks, tips and shortcuts to assist every learner in the classroom! Did you know in any Apple document, if you highlight a word and press "Control Command D" the dictionary definition pops up! And in System Preferences then Universal Access select "Voice Over", then highlight text, double click and select speech to have the text read to you while you read it. Fantastic and easy!

PM - The Saigon Race

We were to find a list of about 50 items and capture them on film (video or still) and create a 2 minute video in iMovie on an iPod Touch displaying them. We loved the challenge, but thought the tools selection was maybe a little restrictive. We were trying to decide if we would ask students to create a movie on an iPod Touch as opposed to gathering the footage and creating it on their laptops. After a little frustration (OK a lot for Jabiz Raisdana - @intrepidteacher) and 15 items, we decided to Think Different. We created a video that satisfied the least number of criteria ... and won the contest. Hmmm ... maybe it pays to be a risk taker?!?!

Great dinner, great conversation and lots of laughs to finish off a long day.

Day 3

Project Saigon 360

Today we self-organized into groups based on interests. We had all day (10am to 5pm) to explore HCMC and answer a question, solve a problem, investigate or explore an element that was of interest to us and present it back to the whole group in 5 minutes at the end of the day. My original thought was creating a Math Trail around HCMC (I first heard of this idea in 1990 from Ron Lancaster). But as we were deciding, Rebecca Stockley posed a question to us. "If you could do something that interested you, but would take you out of your comfort zone, what would it be?" A Math Trail was not the answer. I joined six others, with the general topic of prostitution in HCMC. We wanted to get to the bottom of why women in HCMC get in to it, how they get into it and can we assist in stopping the cycle. Hey, we were big dreamers at the beginning of the day. This was a draining day. Physically and emotionally. Thanks for the push Rebecca!

We watched about 12 fantastic presentations on all of the various projects and capped the evening off with a showing of the Bollywood movie, "The 3 Idiots". A hilarious movie about following your passions.


Yet another exhausting day, but worth every minute!

I'm looking forward to the grand finale day tomorrow Un-Conference and Spotlight sessions.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

ADE Day 1 - The Brand of Me

My first day at the Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) Workshop was a long one, not long in the sense of "drawn out and when is this going to end" long. But, "full of energy and man I'm beat, we talked about a lot and reflected a lot" long. It was a great start to the workshop and apparently things will ramp up tomorrow with the HCMC ADE Race.

Most of the morning was spent talking about "Personal Branding", both as an educator and as an ADE. It was uncomfortable. It was difficult. But that's what makes us grow. Educators aren't used to talking about themselves. We like to talk about the great things students (and in my case the staff as well) are doing, creating, publishing and achieving ... not ourselves. The sessions made us think about who we are and what roles we play in life, both educationally and personally. The idea being that we have to tell "our story". After paring down the brainstorming list of roles I play to three, here's how far I got using a Mind Mapping App called Total Recall.

The next steps are to refine, revise, reflect and create the presentation as a movie, photo, on the stage or written. I'm leaning towards a movie or a presentation. The afternoon focused on pointers to enhance each of the above modes of presentation.

Then, the day was capped off with a rousing and passionate keynote address by film maker and director, Chai Yee Wei. Here is a review of his first film Blood Ties. Probably not something you'll see in a classroom anytime soon ... at least I hope not.

I'd love your feedback on the Mind Map and if you feel there is anything I could add.

Thanks. Early start tomorrow with a Photo Walk of a HCMC wet market at 6:00 am.