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dy/av : 005 : how i work from Dan Meyer on Vimeo.

Tags

how i work, to do list, time management, decontamination

iPod Edition

dy/av : 005 : how i work (640 x 480)

References

Previous Episodes

dy/av : 004 : thank you, teaching
dy/av : 003 : on the office
dy/av : 002 : the next-gen lecturer
dy/av : 001 : earn the medium

dy/av : 005 : preview

I like to work and that's fine. I appreciate that in Christian history, in Eden, before things went pearshaped, when everything was still perfect, people worked.

Lately I enjoy a workflow which lets me breeze through sixteen tasks in the same time it'd take my 20-yo self to check his e-mail. I like that. I like being the guy who gets done what he says he'll get done and fast. I like that about you too.

Fittingly, one of the most fascinating articles I've read in the last five years is Fortune's How I Work series, which prompts executives from Google to Starbucks to describe their work habits.

Tomorrow's episode is my rejected submission. Not for nothing, it's also the longest I've worked on any episode so far.

Motivating Questions

  1. What is your work ethic?
  2. What hardware and software are essential?

Recommended Reading

  1. How I Work: Coffee Shops
  2. Teacher of the Year: Lil Wayne
  3. "How I Work." Fortune

BTW: I'm on an island called Catalina right now, very nearly married, so I have invited Scott Elias, who shares my fixation on work habits and flow, along to handle the commentary.

How I Work: Sub Plans

My school gives each department a monthly pull-out period for collaboration. One period.

I dig the collaboration, but calling in a sub for just one period throws off my game in a way that no one else in my department seems to mind.

Everyone else takes the loss in stride and adjusts pace to account for the lost period. Me, I tense up and pray for some freak snow flurry to close school and balance out my other periods. It's awful. Plus I plan sub periods as strenuously as I do regular periods and wind up with with 50% more prep work the night before my department's planning sessions.

But I think I got it right this time.

I exported the period's Keynote slides to PNGs and recorded a voiceover track in GarageBand using my iBook's built-in mic. Neither of those tasks required more than three clicks.

Then I pulled 'em both into Final Cut Pro …

… and lengthened each PNG to match my voice. (iMovie will do the same thing, as I recall, but I haven't played with the newest version.) Then I burned a DVD.

Time cost: considerable. Somewhere around ninety minutes, though forty of those could be chalked under the Bumblin' Around column, playing with formats, etc, time I'll save next time1.

Moreover, I didn't lose nearly as much ground as I would've with my usual lame sub-day regiment of handouts, book review, and a few Hail Mary's for my sub.

Moreover, at a distance, I could …

  1. … introduce the sub. ("Listen to Katie," I said, just guessing at the name and gender of my sub.)
  2. … set expectations. ("Hey, kids, it's Mr. Meyer. You know I hate to miss fifth period but it couldn't be helped. Assignments are worth triple today so don't blow this.")
  3. … banter a bit. ("So who can tell me which conjecture cracks this thing wide open for us? [long pause] Nobody knows this one?!")
  4. … and freaking teach.

That last feat demanded I lighten up on my usual conviction that text rarely mixes well with PowerPoint. Ordinarily, I throw a diagram or a graph on the board and spin a conversation around it. The slides had to stand alone here, though, so I crowded 'em up more than I would've liked.

My sub's only official capacity was that of Pause-Button Pusher. At various times I'd instruct "Katie" to pause the DVD so the class could work through a problem. I told the kids they could ask her to pause at any point also.

I caught the last five minutes. No one freaked out over the experiment, like, "yeah, Mr. Meyer, that was way more fun than a movie … thanks!" but the sub was keen, the kids were into the novelty of it, if nothing else, I didn't have an educational mess to clean up the next day, and I didn't embarrass myself by praying for snow in sunny Santa Cruz.


  1. Keynote 4, which is to PowerPoint what an M16 is to a musket, has an "Export to iDVD" feature which is a few versions away from automating all the annoying parts of this process. At the moment the audio slips away from the video, but once Apple tightens the right belts, I won't really have words to express my pity for PPT users. ¶ (I mean, seriously … once they get that working, I'll strap on a wireless mic and record every lesson in real-time, exporting each day's lesson to iPod-ready MP4 video. Why, you ask? Why not?!)

Keynote for lectures. Keymath for online textbook access, supremely useful for anywhere-planning and for projecting classwork pages on the board. KeepVid to extract YouTube videos. VLC Player to play them. Vixy for QuickTime conversion. MathType, LaTeXiT, and LaTeX Equation Editor for formatting math notation. PowerSchool for grades. Google Docs for to-do lists. Google Calendar to track and remind me of meetings. YouMail to manage voicemail. WordPress and coComments for blogging (though I'm hardly committed to any comment tracking system).
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I aim for portability and scalability. I want the freedom to pitch a lesson to a small classroom and then walk up the hall to a 500-student auditorium and deliver the same lesson without a loss in returns. So I try to keep things portable and scalable. Here's how:

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