• Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
    Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity
    by David Allen
  • Preparing Instructional Objectives: A Critical Tool in the Development of Effective Instruction
    Preparing Instructional Objectives: A Critical Tool in the Development of Effective Instruction
    by Robert F. Mager
  • The Perfect Puppy: How to Choose Your Dog by Its Behavior
    The Perfect Puppy: How to Choose Your Dog by Its Behavior
    by Benjamin L. Hart, Lynette A. Hart

    This book includes super helpful graphs describing 56 common dog breeds in terms of 13 traits, including playfulness.

  • Mother Knows Best: The Natural Way to Train Your Dog
    Mother Knows Best: The Natural Way to Train Your Dog
    by Carol Lea Benjamin

    My favorite book on dog training.

Thoughts on instructional design, my dog, and life

Thursday
Mar172016

Tasks for Dobby the House-Elf

What would you do if you had a house-elf (as in from J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels)?

I recently fantasized about what I would have Dobby do, if he served my family:

 

  • Clean the kitchen after each meal
  • Help with Spring and Fall cleanings
  • Stay on top the Year-Round Maintenance Chart of home maintenance tasks
  • Package the Christmas gifts and get them shipped so they arrive by Christmas day
  • Get us great seats at the ballet (I guess he’d have to have access to our gold for that, hmm)
  • Find the best flight or other transportation to Sedona for Thanksgiving, and stay on top of deals that we could take advantage of
  • Pick up library books as they come in and return the ones we’re done with
  • Fill the gas tank and keep the car clean inside and out
  • Take the car to the repair shop and pick it up when it’s ready
  • Do the laundry and, especially, put away the clean clothes, towels, sheets, etc.
  • Change the bedclothes every couple of weeks and keep the linen closet tidy and organized (with the linen folded per the Marie Kondo method)
  • Help me sort and purge file folders, and use his magic to rearrange the heavy furniture in my office
  • Magically organize all my folders and distribute them evenly among my filing cabinets (per David Allen’s recommendation)
  • Magically sense the folders I haven’t touched in over a year so I can purge them
  • Magically transport archive stuff neatly to the attic
  • Flush and clean my fountain pens when they run out of ink
  • Keep the Dremel (for the dogs’s toenails) in good working order
  • Keep the cobwebs away in the garage and at the front entrance
  • Replace blown light bulbs as soon as they go out
  • Keep the gutters clean
  • Organize the arborist to come every year and take care of our trees
  • Keep our shoes clean, in good repair, and polished
  • Package and sell eBay stuff that no longer serves me

 

Plenty of work to keep Dobby happy!

What would you have a house-elf do? Would you have a Winky, a Dobby, a Kreacher?

Monday
Feb222016

Getting Unstuck

Mager's The Performance SystemWhen I look at the tasks I brainstormed while writing about enticing teenagers, I feel stuck. That’s when I reach for the instructional design job aids I keep in my planner: Mager’s The Performance System, and Practical Management’s Design Sequence. Design Sequence job aid

Now, I can start to extract order from chaos. My list goes from this:

  • How do you make a class on managing your money exciting to a teenager?
  • Change the course name
  • Consider a window shopping field trip
  • Make sure students have money and some sort of bank account
  • Break down main learning objectives/draw skills hierarchy
  • Fill out a final student performance worksheet

To this:

Brainstormed List Organized List
How do you make a class on managing your money exciting to such a teenager? Determine/test relevance
i.e., analysis: target population
Change the course name Experiment/test course name
i.e., design/development: try out/revise
Consider a window shopping field trip Get as close to real life tasks as possible
i.e., analysis: task
Make sure students have money and some sort of bank account Determine prerequisites
i.e., design/development: describe learning environment
Break down main learning objectives/draw skills hierarchy Determine learning objectives
i.e., design/development: derive instructional outcomes

Draft skills hierarchy
i.e., analysis: task

Fill out a final student performance worksheet Complete Final Student Performance worksheet
i.e., analysis: performance, content

From this, I can tell that my next actions should be:

  1. Do a target population analysis
  2. Do a task analysis
  3. Draft a skills hierarchy
  4. Do performance & content analyses, document on Final Student Performance worksheet
  5. Derive instructional outcomes
  6. Describe the learning environment
  7. Try out/revise the course name

(That is, analysis tasks, then design tasks, then development tasks, etc.)

Of course, I’ve found that committing to more than about three tasks doesn’t make sense because so many things change in the course of time and/or completing the earlier tasks, but at least having gone through this process, I feel confident I’m working on the best three tasks.

Wednesday
Feb032016

Volunteer Résumé Entry

The Nutcracker rehearsal

I recently took a résumé writing workshop (always learning) and, since I was working with Santa Cruz Ballet Theatre on their production of The Nutcracker, I thought it would be interesting to write up my experience in the form of a résumé entry. It comes out like this:


SANTA CRUZ BALLET THEATRE, Soquel, CA

Boys’s Dresser, 2015
Ensured male dancers ages 11–25 and with experience levels from first Nutcracker to professional dancer, were in stage costume, hair, and makeup by cue time. Facilitated quick costume changes. Maintained performance atmosphere in dressing room.

Mother Ginger, 2013, 2014
Performed role of Mother Ginger on stage in all five performances. Worked with approx. 10 children in two casts. Researched drag queen makeup, and worked with MAC makeup artist to learn how to apply. Documented performance kit and makeup application.

Party Mom, 2010, 2011, 2012
Performed role of Party Parent on stage in all five performances. Researched Victorian era hair style and jewelry. Worked with MAC makeup artist to learn appropriate stage makeup application. Researched character acting. Documented performance kit, putting up hair, and applying makeup.

Cuer, 2009
Ensured performers in wings on both sides of stage in costume, hair, & makeup to specifications, in time to go on stage on cue and unflustered, over course of 2.5-hr performance. Created job aid documenting who should be where and when (with approximate music time signatures), and what to check on the costumes. Job aid later presented to SCBT Board of Directors.Nutcracker cuing job aid

Girls’s Dresser, 2008
Ensured dancers ages nine–13 in stage costume, hair, & makeup before cue time. Researched best tools to create period-accurate ringlets. Created costume checklist.


It’s a fun exercise. (Imagine what a dancer's entry would look like!) Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Thursday
Jan212016

Enticing Teenagers


Capitola VillageWhenever I mention that I’m designing a course for teenagers on how to manage their money, the adults always react with enthusiasm. “That would be a great course!” “I wish I’d had a class like that when I was a teenager!”

But when I mentioned it to my daughter (a junior in high school), she wrinkled her nose. At this point, managing her money isn’t relevant to her (always an early test when doing instructional design). She doesn’t bring in money, nor does she spend much money.

How do you make a class on managing your money exciting to such a teenager?

First of all, change the name. Maybe call it “How much money do you have?”, or “How much money can you spend?” My daughter’s eyes lit up when I mentioned shopping. Maybe I should call the class “Shopping”. I can envision our first session, a field trip, me and four students window shopping in Capitola Village.

Of course, this presupposes that each student has money and some sort of bank account: add this to the conditions of the course objectives.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. I have the main learning objectives, but I need to either break them down or do a skills hierarchy, or possibly fill out a final student performance worksheet (a favorite job aid I picked up at Practical Management, Inc.’s Instructional Design workshop).

Has this ever happened to you, you start a project and immediately your mind shoots off in a spiderweb of directions? Time to reel it in….

Friday
Dec042015

Trail Maintenance

For a good part of this year I’ve been giving back by helping the Santa Cruz Mountains Trail Association maintain the trails in Castle Rock State Park. Every third Saturday. From 9 am to 3 pm.

 Pickaxe & McLeod

For the first number of months, I spent the three weeks leading up to the work day dreading it. Gradually, that lessened to just one week leading up.

Also, for the first number of outings, my weekend was wrecked, I was so worn out and sore. Things have gotten better in that area. I was even able to muster enough energy to cook dinner Sunday night.

What have I learned from my experience so far? Well, you really need a mosquito net in August and September. I’ve learned how to properly wield a pickaxe. How to leverage large stones out of the earth. To think carefully about where a tree trunk is going to roll once it’s cut. Most importantly, I’ve learned that I really enjoy learning, even when it comes to such predominantly physical tasks as wielding a McLeod.