Archive for October, 2006


Watching my students 1

October 11, 2006

I’m going to blog sort of live here. Assemblywoman Linda Sanchez, who represents our district is in my office right now and I’m sitting back watching my students interview her while she is on a information swing. Nice of her to include the student press.

Ms. Sanchez was here a year ago or so doing the same thing. One thing I remembered from last time was that no one seemed to take notes on what she was saying. They came up with a fairly accurate article, but I was worried. They relied too much on the tape recorder, though.

This time they are starting off better. The tape recorder is there because we may create podcast, but several have notes.

First question was how important is it that Democrats take back the House. The answer covers several areas, but she got to the Mark Foley issue and she is deflecting the answer as to whether Haster should step down. Have to wait until the investigation is done. But she says there are some fishy elements of the story that seem to have been overlooked. She points out, too, that Foley is beyond the reach of the House Ethics Committee because he has resigned. Even aides who have stepped down cannot be involved. Seems like that is one way to bury evidence.

Five students, including a photographer are conducting the interview. Also present is Jim Dau, Sanchez’s communication director from Washington, D.C.

Next question: What will the Democrats do if they take control in the coming election. Nancy Pelosi has put together an agenda for the first hundred days should that happen. Of course, even if the House and Senate pass bills, Bush could block them with vetoes.

Next question: Impeachment. She is real cautious on this. The word is thrown around too much. She would be slow to pursue impeachment, even though she has serious disagreements with Bush.

Added after-the-fact to facilitate reading. Blogs post in reverse order: Watching 1Watching 2Watching 3Watching 4Watching 5Watching 6Watching 7



October 9, 2006

Spent last Friday at Pierce College helping the staff there understand the new powerful tool they have in a College Publisher web site. They’ll launch this week.

challengeBut part of the day was spent talking with colleague Rob O’Neil about how much we can expect of students. I’ve been amazed over the years at the talent of students and how hard they will work for the student newspaper. When I started teaching I thought I was pushing students hard. But what I expect of them then was no where the expectation I have today.

Rob reminded me of a former Pierce teacher who was the mentor of the day back then, Tom Kramer, who must have challenged me to expect more from students.

Students are so capable of reaching new heights. And perhaps it is the teacher who unconsciously places limits on student achievement by not expecting much that fail to learn. Expect high standards. Expect students to continually learn new things. Trust them to implement them.

For instance, I do not copyedit the work of my students before they publish articles in the Talon Marks. I expect students to learn to copyedit their own stories. I’m there if they really need help. But they are so capable to doing it themselves if they realize that I’m not going to do for them automatically. Sure, they make mistakes from time to time. But we review those and try to help them from making the same kinds of mistakes later on.

Part of my teaching philosophy is to honor students for the work they do well, but then challenge them to work harder next time. I’m an old dinosaur, but I have so many more things to learn about the craft I teach. So I apply the philosophy to myself as well.


Help enough other people …

October 7, 2006

You can get everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want. — Zig Ziglar

Ziglar is one my favorite speakers and I particularly like this quotation. Which is why I was happy to spend part of my day training faculty and students at Pierce College, who are getting ready to launch their new College Publisher site.

They received training from College Publisher, but there is nothing like a little extra help on strategy for implementing the tool into the infrastructure of the program.

One of the important tips I gave was to make sure to give everyone on the staff a “reporter” account (at least) so that they can submit their stories and photos for the print edition through the CP site. Too many advisers I talk to cling to the old style of having stories submitted separately and then uploaded to the site. What a waste of time. A common comment I hear is that the staff does not have the time to update the web site. Of course not when you insist on creating extra work in the process.

Fortunately, the advisers and staff saw value in that first step.

I had to laugh inwardly, however, when one of the students who has HTML knowledge started asking about majorly redesigning the site. I get that a lot. The techie wants to immediately monkey with the template when the staff needs to learn to focus on developing content. Never fails.


New media day

October 4, 2006

Tuesday was an interesting day at the Talon Marks newspaper. Tuesday is the day we normally toil all day putting together a print edition and preparing the next online edition (got to get away from that structure one of these days). But for a variety of reasons, including not wanting to overload my students, we scheduled in an off-week.

It is interesting to see what the students do when they don’t have the print edition to dominate. A lot of my photographers did not bother to show up at all. But the core editors and page designers who are used to living here showed up and worked on videos and slideshows for the site. They all are still trying to learn the software. We’re learning where our skills are and where we need to improve. The results are adequate to good, but the exciting part is that they got so excited about learning and trying. Note to self: Must stop praising them so much; they might let it go to their heads. While the early efforts may have flaws, they’ll get better over time.

Some examples: Video of hotel workers’ protest and photo/sound show from Marine Corps. Band performance. More are in the works, but not quite done yet.


News is just a click away

October 4, 2006

“Do you like to write or take photos?”

That was my opening line last night as I reached out to a couple of hundred high school students at the annual Cerritos College University fair held in the campus gym. While the goal of the event is to stage a university fair emphaszing four-year colleges and universities from around Southern California, the entire state and the nation, each year the college opens up a few tables for Cerritos programs to let high school students know we offer a good first two years of study. I was there to promote the journalism and radio-tv programs.

If students replied (often in front of their parents) that they like to write, I pitched writing for the student newspaper here. If they like to take photos, then I needed photographers. And then the stronger pitch followed to get them thinking about coming here. If they didn’t like either, I asked if they like to design things (we need page designers) or if they ever wanted to be on radio. If I struck out then I simply suggested they needed to follow campus news in our print or online edition.

Each pitch, regardless of outcome, ended with our outstanding web site where they could keep up on campus news. My table was infamous for the evening because I was handing out free clicker noisemakers with the web site address printed on them. “Cerritos news is just (click, click) a click away.” Always gets a smile and everyone wants a clicker.

The other vendors don’t like them, though. Imagine hundreds of people walking around in a closed environment clicking away. Drives them mad. I got three faux death threats. Of course, at the end of the evening, the vendors all came by my table wanting their clicker, too.

I also got the opportunity to connect with head counselors from feeder high schools and sell my program. “I’m the one responsible for all the noise,” I’d say. And immediately I had a bond with them.

Pile of Talon Marks clickers
Photo courtesy Cerritos Photojournalisim class