Good Morning, World

It’s four in the morning here in California as I write to you for the first time in weeks. I have a good reason – for not writing, that is.

“Really? What possible reason could be good enough for not writing to your friends?” asks the little voice in my head.

One thing I learned about writing good dialogue – and writing in general is that you leave the boring parts out.

“So what made you think you should even write anything?”

What a pesky little voice you are. there are maybe five or ten people in the world that are still interested in even the boring little details of my life. Maybe they miss me.

“Well get on with it then, and write what you’re going to say, and quit talking to me.”

OK OK, the truth is that I have a new job, and I was sort of waiting  until the Board President announced to the public before I wrote about it, and I’ve been extremely busy doing exciting things like filing and trying to balance the books.  I am the new Executive Director of the California Council for the Social Studies, and it’s not entirely clear what that job will be, but for me it starts with filing and organizing.

“Boring.”

Maybe, but necessary. Today I will attend the Executive Planning Meeting in Los Angeles, so I stayed the night in the hotel where our conference will be next March, and took a tour of the facilities.

2015 Hilton OC209

Most important to me is establishing face to face contact. I met Deb, Ryan, Tim and Carmita. Ryan will be our main contact person as we prepare for our biggest event, a conference for about 700-800 social studies teachers, professors, and administrators in California.

2015 Hilton OC109Seeing the rooms gives our planning committee and me an idea of which rooms will be best for the presentations, and where the exhibits and ticketed meals and social events will be.  You can see about one-third of what will be the exhibit hall in this picture above.

2015 Hilton OC114Session rooms are huge, but they can be divided into thirds. Left open they seat almost 200 guests. The hotel has recently been remodeled, and is quite lovely. Most importantly it has good internet access for everyone – in public places and in the rooms, and I will soon learn the cost to make it available during sessions.

2015 Hilton OC202I can visualize two history teachers networking here with computers open and a cup of coffee, discussing how they will use what they learned in a session in their class .

2015 Hilton OC201I expressed surprise over how pretty the tables looked, and Ryan told me that the facility is linenless. That’s a new term for me. Normally when you see tables at a hotel without their linens on, they are rough pieces of wood, that sneaks up and snags your nylons when you cross your legs under the table.

“No one wears nylons anymore.”

Be quiet. I do sometimes. It’s cold in hotels.

“That’s not why YOU wear them.”

2015 Hilton OC207There’s a perfect little office right outside the registration area where we can set up shop so everything will be close by. It is linenless, too. I never realized how pervasive linen was.

2015 Hilton OC206This is a small part of the foyer outside the exhibit hall. One year we had Mexican folklorico dancers in the foyer it was so big. Another year we had extra exhibits. Our conference planners will have all kinds of decisions to make about the space, but at least now I know how the space looks, so I can picture it when they ask me questions.

2015 Hilton OC127A beachy place wouldn’t be complete without swallows. It was nice to have the time to enjoy the scenery. I’m sure I’ll be very busy the next time I see this place. 🙂

Now you know I haven’t disappeared or died. In fact I just renewed my domain, so I’m here for another year, starting my fourth year of blogging.  Thanks for reading and chatting, and being my friend.

What Happens at a Social Studies Conference?

Large or small, I like social studies conferences.   Teachers starve for social studies professional development because it differs from other subject area conferences.

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The social studies include four core subject areas:  geography, economics, history and civics.

  • Geography:  Now I ask you who isn’t interested in traveling? One of our CCSS exhibitors offers teachers expenses paid trip for two weeks to Germany.  Do they have offers like that in math conferences?

The activity we did at the N. CA conference this weekend had us identifying where and when pictures had been taken.  Each group of 4 had two different pictures. This particular activity showed change over time in Germany.

  • Economics:  Do you run out of month or paycheck first?What would happen if we quit shipping the 40% of California’s agricultural products overseas, could we save water in drought-ridden California?  Studying economics helps students grapple with historic and current issues, trace the consequences and predict future results from actions we take today.  Conferences bring you face to face with people in the know like Dr. Jim Charkins of the California Council for Economics Education.
  • History:  Scholars from near and far engaged us in conversations about WWI, the trenches, the music, the need to enlist before the selective service started, and the propaganda to get people to enlist.
Lora Vogt from the WWI Museum in Kansas City, MO
Lora Vogt from the WWI Museum in Kansas City, MO

Now I understand a little piece of my grandfather’s life a little better.

scholar Jennifer Keene
Dr. Jennifer Keene from Chapman University compared Ernest Hemingway’s life to the average WWI soldier. Sponsored by Gilder Lehrman Institute

At the other conference we Skyped author/scholar, Allyson Hobbs from Stanford, also sponsored by Glider Lehrman Institute who studied the effects of African-Americans who passed for white, and what they missed from their black culture by giving up their identities.  Can you imagine giving up/turning your back on who you are?  She made it personal.

Dr. Allyson Hobbs, sponsored by Gilder Lehrman Institute
Dr. Allyson Hobbs, sponsored by Gilder Lehrman Institute
  • Civics:  We met three speakers involved in landmark Supreme Court cases.  Sylvia Mendez’s younger sister never knew the court case happened until  she studied the effect on the Civil Rights movement in high school.  Karen Korematsu spoke about her father, Fred Korematsu’s opposition to the federal government, prison, Supreme Court Case.  We met Mary Beth Tinker, Tinker V Des Moines, who wore a black armband to school, to express her views.  She didn’t think it was any big deal at the time.  Now she talks to children around the country.  She told us stories of amazing children, and what they can do that adults couldn’t.
Michelle_MaryBethTinker
NCSS President-Elect, Michelle Herczog and Mary Beth Tinker of Tinker v Des Moines

We heard Major General Patrick Brady tell us that people may not have equal opportunities, but we all have access to as much courage as they want.  The more we use, the more we have.

Major General Patrick Brady, Vietnam War hero, Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient
Major General Patrick Brady, Vietnam War hero, Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient

We met political cartoonist, Lalo Alcaraz who has one of his paintings hanging from the wall of Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor

Lalo Alcarez at the CCSS Conference in Los Angeles
Lalo Alcarez at the CCSS Conference in Los Angeles

Where else but a social studies conference can you rub elbows with people who played a part in exciting events you read about in the news?

Power of Democracy2Intensity sparked like electricity during a Power of Democracy Task Force meeting. Where can you get direct contact with legislators, Department of Justice, and Department of Education at the same time?

Power of Democracy/Civic Education
Student speaker at Power of Democracy/Civic Education meeting

We honored our best and finest social studies teachers at the awards program – AKA Emmys. Twitterers tweeted during the conference.

DBQ session

Brent won a bicycle at the membership booth. Exhibitors gave free stuff to everyone.  Best of all teachers connected with other teachers and shared ideas.

Next March we go to Oakland.  The National Conference will be in Boston in November.  California Council Needs YOU!  If you teach history-social studies in CA, please join us.

A Quickie

If you are not a regular reader of mine, this post may seem like a waste of cyberspace.  I’ve never taken such a long break from blogging, and I miss you all, but I have a Board meeting tomorrow morning in Ontario.  It’s a long drive, and since I’m the gavel banger, I have to have my act together.  Our big conference is March 7-9, and both Vince and I are working our tails off getting the website up to speed, and helping with the details of the conference.

Perryman_Flyer_FINAL

I say all that to apologize for not visiting much, posting at all or even responding to comments very often.  I promise you are all in my thoughts.  I browse Facebook, so if you are my FB friend, I’ll see you more often since I have to post updates for CCSS every day.

Thanks for being understanding, and staying with me.  I promise after this weekend at the very least, I will be a better “post”er child.   That was a lame joke.   BTW

What are you all doing this weekend?

Love and hugs to you all  🙂  xox

Using the Creative Cloud by Adobe

As many of you know, the job of designing a brochure somehow dropped on my unartistic shoulders.  I created something using the Creative Cloud for our Board Meeting on Saturday, and received immediate feedback about what to change.  This was my first time ever to use Adobe Illustrator, and it represented about 8 or more hours of intensive effort.  I just LOOKS so easy a first grader could do it!  I would not call Illustrator an intuitive, user-friendly program.

My first attempt using Adobe Illustrator
My first attempt using Adobe Illustrator

Today I spent the entire day creating a new brochure with an artsy look rather than a blocky photography look.  My husband helped me on this one by brainstorming with me, then finding me a nice artsy print to get my creative dry mouth (there were not juices) started.  He also agreed with Cotton that the California Bear Flag was the primary symbol to use to anchor this brochure.

I couldn't figure how to color this one blue.
I couldn’t figure how to color this one blue.  I still thought it was cool.  Do you recognize anyone here?

I couldn’t find the same picture he did, and I thought I would be so clever and Photoshop of our own meetings.  It didn’t transfer well into Illustrator, so he emailed me the picture he found.  I made major changes on it before I used it.

This was the best I could do in Illustrator.
This was the best I could do in Illustrator.  Oops a flag pole in the middle of the sky.  Weird.  The colors don’t really go here, but I hat to take a break.

The hardest part after he found the anchor artwork for the meeting was to create a seamless look between the artwork and the background.  I’m not sure I could do any of it again at this point.  I found that it was easier to merge the pictures and the background in Photoshop than in Illustrator.  I couldn’t even get the paintbrush tool to activate on the layer I wanted in Illustrator, and I couldn’t flatten the layers.  So back to what I knew.  I got a little paint on the photos, but I’m hoping it gives that artsy-dreamy look.  I need to brush up my coloring skills.

I tried using the select tools, but forgot how to use them correctly, and so I just colored around the map – that took forever!!!  I also had to do it more than once.  The first time I thought I coud just place it into Illustrator.  Place is how you get your photographs to stick on the background in both Illustrator and Photoshop.  That is in the file drop down menu.

I found out that Photoshop CS6 is different enough from Elements 10 that I had a bit of a learning curve, but I was able to McIver my way through the project.

After I was as pleased as I could be in the amount of time that I wanted to devote to my 4th makeover, I saved the project as a jpeg and then placed it over the first page white blank sheet in Adobe Illustrator.  Then I just added the words.  V helped me with the words, too.  He used to be in advertising, and he focused me on what was really the reason for the brochure – to GET PEOPLE TO JOIN THE ORGANIZATION!  So that went in the top right hand corner.  DUH!

This was my third attempt.
This was my third attempt.  Here it looked like I scribbled around the map because I was dodging the words.  Has any one ever been to the state of Califronia?

I got it all done, and sent out to our Exec. Board, and realized I had misspelled California.  Believe it or not I had to start back in Photoshop and get my three pictures together again on the background.

This was the most time- intensive part.  this was my fourth attempt.
This was the most time-intensive part, and it was my fourth attempt at creating the brochure.

I finally got the words back on  using Illustrator because the words are sharper if you use Illustrator rather than Photoshop.

This is my final draft - SO FAR!!!
This is my final draft – SO FAR!!!

I had a few changes to do to the inside, but those were simple.  So this is the journey I’ve been on for the last few days since our start long ago with the simple cover you all voted on.

You overwhelmingly picked this design for the front of the brochure.
You overwhelmingly picked this design for the front of the brochure.

Thanks so much for all your input.  I appreciate when YOU offer suggestions.  Thanks also to V for all the help you gave me this morning, and the patience to see me through my tears without trying to SOLVE all my problems.  I knew I could do this if I just put my mind to it.  I was not going to be overcome by a computer program!!!!  🙂

My First Photography Up for Sale on Fine Art America Website

I saw Enice’s photography on this website http://fineartamerica.com/, so I thought I’d give it a try as well.  So far I only have 10 pictures posted, but they are also advertised on my Facebook page.  I’m excited, because I finally got myself started.  This business is mostly a hobby, but I would like it to be a successful hobby just because I like to be successful.

The way I will measure success is that 1) the pictures are of technically of good quality ( clear, the right brightness, etc.) 2)  the pictures are well composed (interesting subjects, good balance, framing, etc.) 3)  The pictures have appeal (people just enjoy looking at them), and 4) The pictures have salability (usable for decorating, cups, t-shirts, cards, advertising, calendars, etc.)  Who knows where this will lead, but this is my next experiment.

TC History Gal Productions

I started out with pictures of cats because they seem to have so much personality.  I realize that most of you are photographers as well, so you are not too likely to purchase pictures from me, but I would love your opinions. You have been so helpful in the past about giving me such good ideas.  How would you rate these?

V's favorite is Boulder Monitoring.
V’s favorite is Boulder Monitoring.

V’s favorite is Boulder Monitoring.  That’s what I felt like doing yesterday afternoon instead of driving to Ontario.  But I drove 5 hours instead.  I hope that you will come and like my Facebook Page, and join me on this adventure.  I’ll be sharing how it is going or not going as we go along.

Like me?
Like me?

The next thing I started this week, I did out of necessity.  Earlier this week I asked you to vote on the front of a brochure that I designed in Photoshop.

You overwhelmingly picked this design for the front of the brochure.
You overwhelmingly picked this design for the front of the brochure.

Although I really had no desire or inclination to design a whole brochure, no one else volunteered to do it.   To create this masterpiece, I tried out a new product, Adobe Illustrator.  You can see that the basic design that you voted on  is on the right, which is the cover.  I changed the picture, and used too big of a font for the words at the bottom.  I also included more pictures on the inside flap and back to represent the various branches of social studies.  Wikipedia quotes our own National Council for the Social Studies to define social studies.

Social studies is the “integrated study of the social sciences and humanities to promote civic competence,” as defined by the United States Americans National Council for the Social Studies.[1]   … Many such courses are interdisciplinary and draw upon various fields, including sociology but also political sciencehistoryeconomicsreligious studiesgeographypsychologyanthropology, and civics.

The brochure that you all helped me design.
This is the first draft of the entire brochure that you helped me design.

Ralph, you’ll notice no smelly sock unless you consider the bear smelly!!!  Cotton, I found the Bear Flag on the map, and I thought that was too cool.

I also finished as much as I could with the tri-fold brochure.   Paula made some suggestions for technical revisions, but our board made some other substantive comments that may WILL change it as well.  Here were some of the comments/questions I heard around the room as soon as I passed the out the brochure.

Would it be more effective to have a brochure with artwork rather than photographs?  (I don’t have the ability to do artwork!!!)

This was done by a real graphic artist for our conference in March.
A real graphic artist created this for our conference in March.

If photographs are suitable, what photographs really illustrate these divisions of social studies?

This man is a sailor, which in my mind suggested economics.  Maybe it wasn't the best photograph to illustrate economics.  It got a laugh!!
This man is a sailor, which in my mind suggested economics. Maybe it wasn’t the best photograph to illustrate economics. It got a laugh!!

Even more basic than those questions, do we just illustrate the definition of social studies, or do we move past that to illustrate what the council does?

1) the advocates for keeping social studies as a core subject to continue to be taught in American public schools?

2) provides professional development for teachers grades k-16,

3)  identifies quality instructional resources and

4) assists in developing and implementing state policies including standards, frameworks and assessments.

There is so much to designing a brochure.  The designer and the organization have to identify what is really important and somehow represent that graphically!  How do REAL graphic designers ever do it????

Thanks for coming along with me in my busy-ness this week.  I’ve been so wrapped in meetings this week month that I hardly knew know if I’m coming or going.  You all have helped by my anchors and my boulders.  Thanks for being there.  I’m monitoring you!

Have a nice rest of the week-end.  What are you all doing??  I have a meeting tomorrow for Tulare County Historical Society.  Anyone want to come??  Don’t forget to write to, like love tell me what you think while I’m busy going to meetings.   🙂  Lots of Love, Marsha 🙂