Saturday, September 21, 2013

Make Your Student Film Shine

Film schools put their student through the student film experience at least once. It's a very valuable project, but it can also be incredibly frustrating. Whether your program was animation or more traditional film, these are often group projects, and as a student you have a limited budget and resources.

Work with what you have and build an idea around that

You will not have the best cameras, audio recording equipment, or lighting. Let's face it, your team will all be at about the skill level expected for a student and learning on the job. You probably won't have professional actors and your access to audio resources will be severely limited. This does not mean you can't make a good movie, but you shouldn't go overboard.

Your best strategy is to take advantage of this and build your film in a way that incorporates what you have. For example with less artists on your project, making the art styles in your animation as simple as possible can facilitate a unique looking style and be easier to create something. Similarly you should focus on topics you know and understand. Save the blockbuster film making for your future career.

Communicate with your team

Unlike a regular film, student projects are much more collaborative. While any artistic endeavour depends, at least in part, on good synergy, in this particular instance everyone has an equal stake in things, and usually in film production programs, no one person is no better than the others enough to take a real leadership role and run the entire show.

Find out what everyone's talents are. A sincere assessment of everyone's skills can be hard to do without hurting anyone's feelings, but if you can delegate accordingly you will get the best possible marks and results.

Combine forces

If your school is a large one, and film production programs are just part of the course offerings, working with someone in audio school for your sound effects can deliver better results. And generally, film schools are located by things like acting colleges, where you can try to create projects that include everyone.

Of course before you do this, speak with your instructors to see if you can get approval so that you can use each other in each other's projects. This is easier in a school that has multiple subjects available for study, but be sure there is approval for inter school collaboration.

Deliver it On Time

Whatever you do, don't get hung up on being perfect at the expense of your deadline. The plummeting grade is unlikely to be made up for by the quality of your work, regardless of how good a masterpiece it is. Do right by your work and deliver it on time. If you feel like there just isn't enough time to get it done, then go into overdrive and do what you can to complete your work.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Should College Student-Athletes Be Paid?

With the ongoing increasing conversations pertaining to college student-athletes, of whether they should be paid as professionals, or remain amateurs, I thought it take a moment to sit down and jot down some of my thoughts.
Here in the northwest, there is recent conversation in regards to a couple of our local universities, University of Washington and Washington State University (my alma mater) as to if their respective star players (UW's Isaiah Thomas and WSU's Klay Thompson) should return for their senior years of go Pro.
I admit to being a little bit "old school" when it comes to implementing success strategies to keep our young people on track for success. As the author of a just completed book "Standing above the Crowd: "Execute Your Game Plan to Become the Best You Can Be", that keeps the focus on the tried-and-true traditions of hard work, goal setting, dedication and positive attitude, I feel that those things along with my own personal life experience of being a collegiate student- athlete help me to have a perspective from the many different points of view pertaining to this conversation.
My Beginning as a Student Athlete:
Athletes are the prized and celebrated few of our society. From the time that most top-level athletes are in the fourth or fifth grade, they have already been identified as those that have a great opportunity in the world of sports. At that point they become coddled, pampered, and "taken care of" in ways that the average individual can only imagine. Many times athletes who are full of athletic potential don't have the same scholastic expectations placed upon them from the time they're in middle school and all the way through college. Is that fair? I guess I'd say it's fair only if it works out well for the athlete, his family and the university of their choice before heading on to the pros. Unfortunately, that is where we as a society place our values, instead of on the student who gets straight "A's". But, many times it doesn't work out that way for the "hot-shot" athlete, and you only hear about the perhaps 10% of athletes who actually ascend to the top of the pyramid of the hundreds of thousands of scholar athletes throughout this country (middle school through collegiate sports). The vast majority of student-athletes will perhaps play on their high school varsity team, their collegiate athletic teams, and far fewer in the professional ranks. It's been said it's easier to become a brain surgeon that it is a professional athlete.
I was a late starter as a student-athlete, so I wasn't one of the pampered ones that were targeted for athletic success from middle school on. Matter of fact I didn't play my first organized basketball game until I was a senior in high school. So, I missed out on all the "wining and dining", "coddling and pampering", and, "wooing and recruitment" that goes on in trying to get the attention of our young athletes. That doesn't mean that I wasn't witness to those kinds of things as they went on around me having watched many of my peers go through all of those dynamics. I do remember even back in high school (mid 70's) in seeing some of the star football, basketball, baseball, track/field athletes being given special treatment as the recruiting wars heated up.
Coming from a family that emphasizes academics over athletics, I had the mindset from the beginning that my first reward from becoming a student-athlete would be my scholarship on to college. I was so excited about receiving my athletic scholarship to Washington State University, because I would be the very first person in my immediate family to be able to attend an institution of higher learning and earn a college degree. I know that my family is probably not "the norm" when it comes to having a student-athlete that is full of potential and can possibly make it onto the pros. Most families "want it" (the athlete to make it to the pros) even more than the athlete him/herself. My family wasn't like that, and I was really blessed in the fact that they did place academics ahead of athletics.

College and the Autistic Student

Autism, a neurological-based developmental disability, affects an estimated one in 166 people, according to a 2004 study by the Centers for Disease Control Prevention. Both children and adults with Autism typically show difficulties in verbal and nonverbal communication, social interactions and leisure or play activities, according to the Autism Society of America. Autism affects individuals differently and to varying degrees.
Experts agree on the following advice upon detection of Autism:
1. Seek immediate treatment for your child.
2. If possible, find someone to work with the child at least 20 hours a week, i.e. a therapist, teacher, parent, grandparent or someone from your church or group. Look for progress after one month.
3. Do not allow the child to sit and watch TV all day. Get them engaged and play as many games as possible that require taking turns.
4. New parents learning they have an autistic child must recognize immediately that they cannot do it all by themselves. They should immediately contact Autism societies or chapters to find resources, join support groups and talk with other families about their experiences.
5. Help the child to develop their areas of strength, particularly among high-functioning students with Asperger's Syndrome (a neurobiological condition characterized by normal intelligence and language development with deficiencies in social and communication skills), and get them job experiences during high school.
Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia is one of the few colleges in the US that has a special program in their Autism Training Center, which works with Autism spectrum disorders like Aspergers. Although many colleges have counselors and staff familiar with Autism, only Marshall has a program tailored specifically for autistic students. The program serves three of the university's 16,360 students and may eventually accommodate 10; it will remain small by choice.
"The goal is not for all students with Autism to attend Marshall, but for the program to become a model for other colleges," says Barbara Becker-Cottrill, the Center's director. "The true goal is for students to have the ability to attend the university of their choice. Our work will be working with other universities on how to establish a program such as this on their own campuses."
Kim Ramsey, the Marshall program's director, had this to say, "The problem is, social and daily living issues are interfering."
This is not to be confused with a special education program. Like all students, they must meet and maintain the university's academic standards. The Center offers tutoring, counseling, a quiet space to take exams, and help in the navigation of the bureaucracy and social world of college, i.e. how to schedule classes, join clubs, buy books and replace ATM cards that don't work.
In a recent issue of the bimonthly, Asperger's Digest, Lars Perner, an assistant professor of marketing at San Diego State University who has Asperger's Syndrome, said, "How many college students have forms of Autism is impossible to determine as many go undiagnosed or are simply perceived as a little bit strange. The exact cause is unknown, although both genetics and environmental factors are suspected of playing a role. Some of these students might be able to get into college because of fairly strong academic credentials and a reasonable academic showing. That may not mean they will be able to stay in college." Perner is also the author of a college selection guide.
Sadly, most autistic students either drop out or don't even apply to college because they have difficulty with such tasks as doing all the paperwork, time management, taking notes and sitting for exams. Stephen Shore, who is finishing his doctoral degree in special education at Boston University and has been diagnosed with atypical development with strong autistic tendencies, said, "More programs like Marshall's were needed. I think they would do much better and there would be a much higher rate of success if this type of program were available elsewhere." However, as researchers learn more about Autism and public school services for Autism improve, more autistic students will graduate from high school and be academically, socially and emotionally prepared for college.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Students Gain Important Life Skills From Resource Classes

Most people have wonderful memories of sports activities and art projects while in school, but just how important are these activities? One of the main reasons for education is to prepare the students for jobs in the future, their social life and their family, but those familiar classrooms come from a different world. They were designed to prepare a student to be a worker on an assembly line, where they had to know how to function as the member of a team that rarely deviated. The ability of a student to stand in line at school is an important skill to learn because it teaches them to wait on the other team members, however today's work environment requires skills that are different.

In today's working world, it is very likely that a worker may change careers many times and may require many different skills and know the best way to apply them. By giving a student a variety of options, they can determine where their interests lay and the learn that change is sometimes fun. This also enables them to cope with changes that are inevitable. The act of switching from an activity involving paper and pencil, where the focus is mental concentration, to activities such as stomp or yoga, which require an awareness of balance and a focus on the different muscle groups is useful in that it helps the student learn the way to change strategy so they can be successful.

These extra activities can give the student an outlet in which their imagination can grow. A lot of teachers agree that these activities will give the student a chance to stop and reflect on what they just learned. For example, students who just learned about the solar system might incorporate what they learned into an art project. Another example is for students who learned about treaty negotiation might be able to apply that to resolving a dispute in sports. It is proven that students will retain what they learn better if they can process it in multiple ways. In addition, when students are involved in an activity they enjoy, the likelihood of them forming a better relationship with their teacher is greater and they will receive effective guidance.

The concept of developing multiple intelligence with different learning skills, is supported by the incorporation of enhanced activities. A good example is when one student has no problem learning by hearing, but another student learns better by touching things and manipulating with their hands. One student might find joy in art, while the other student may enjoy sports. A student who has the freedom to explore and choose will find success by enhancing their confidence to try something new. When students are allowed to try new things, it increases the chance of them finding something that will bring them success and happiness.

Education of the character can be part of activities that are enriched so that when success is experienced, the person can identify that "my success is directly linked to my choices and not exclusively to an environment that I cannot control." The more a person knows that they can control the events that affect them, the less depression they will suffer and the more success they will have. When students learn to balance different activities, they learn that success is a step by step process and they also develop patience. Even though resources classes do help with the emotional and relational thinking, there is still a need for cognitive and verbal thought and this is emphasized within the core curriculum.

What is the purpose of learning? It makes sense to develop multiple skills in different areas because there is no way of knowing what the future holds and students need to learn how to adapt in order to be successful. Resources classes provide a guided freedom of self discovery that will give the student the experience they need to build confidence. If a student has confidence, they have a solid foundation and can receive a mentor so they can learn the important relational skills. Schools that give a variety of choices in different areas to students who will then find different ways to be happy and successful, provide a foundation for a successful and happy life. These choices can mainly be found in private schools, which are a great option.

The Benefits Of Hosting Foreign Students

Hosting a foreign student is becoming an ever more popular trend in this country, and there are now thousands of families who kindly offer their property as accommodation for students from around the world.

Obviously to do this, you have to think a few aspects through, not least whether you have the space available in your home. If you do, and you feel you are at the right place in your life to accept a foreign student, then it could be a great experience for both parties.

Foreign students offer so much more than just a little extra financial gain. By having them stay with you, it can lead to a long-lasting friendship and teach you many things about different cultures. Hosting usually brings a new and positive dynamic into your home.

You can enjoy lots of interesting discussions and broaden your sense of the world. In return, you can enlighten and share with them your experiences of living in the UK. Furthermore, you can help them learn English as a language, as many foreign students have come to this country as a means of doing this. You never know, you may pick up on some foreign language skills too, during their stay.

By committing yourself to some valuable research, you can soon discover all you need to know about how to host a foreign student. If you can, try and get recommendations from people you trust and who have done this before, so you know they are trustworthy. Selecting the right company can be daunting, so don't rush into any quick decisions. However it is a good marker to check that they are British Council accredited first.

Once you have made your choice, you can be reassured that the providing company has made very carefully thought out decisions about which students to select. They have certain expectations and for the students to adhere to these. The last thing you want is a student who pays you or your home no respect. The vast majority of hosting experiences are rewarding and memorable for both the student and hosting family.

As a host family, you will receive a weekly payment without worry.

The peak times for foreign student visits are in the summer, but this isn't exclusive. This means that you could make an income from hosting throughout the year. Having students short or long-term is an added benefit and offers you both assurance and flexibility.

Critical Thinking Skills for College Students

The critical thinking process is one of the most important components that you can have when you begin the journey into college as well as during your college tenure. Yet, I have found that most of my students lack these simple skills and the ability to research correctly eludes them. The caveat with critical thinking is creative thinking. The main reason for this partnership is that in order to think critically, one needs to be able to think creatively. For the purpose of this article, we are going to talk about the areas of critical thinking; gathering information, analyze and clarify information, and evaluate information.

Gather Information

First we are going to talk about gathering information and how we can use this tactic within a college setting. Information comes at us in a raw form and we are bombarded every day with tons and tons of information. How do we decide what is legit information and what is secondary information? Especially in college when you will be learning about models and theories as well as concepts and processes. Here are three tips to help you analysis effectively to gather information for a paper or assignment.

· Make sure that you are reviewing the assignment and understand what the logistics are and he objectives. If the paper is to be 10 pages long and the topic is best careers out of college, then it better be on that topic and at the 10 page mark, not less or more. There is a reason why there are parameters on papers.

· When you use the library or online databases, you will find a lot of relevant information, be sure that you have a focus on what you want to accomplish.

· Recommendations would be to make sure that you select 5 to 6 different careers and evaluate them all so that you have a deep understanding of each and based on that information we can begin to analyze and clarify the information.

Analyze and Clarify

Second, we are going to analyze and clarify the information that you have found during the first step of the critical thinking stages. Within this stage we are going to:

· Break Information into parts

· Examine Whether Examples Support Ideas

· Distinguish Fact from Opinion

This is where a lot of students get into trouble with their papers. Students tend to look at the assignment as a big picture assignment and this can overwhelm anyone. The goal here is to break your paper into parts. In the example presented, we will have at least 5 to 6 careers that you are going to discuss. Be sure to separate out those ideas, compare and contrast, examine cause and effect and look for patterns and themes. By really digging deep into your research, you will gain a deeper understanding and see how the topics relate. Do all the careers require a bachelor's degree or do they just need an associate degree? A great way to go about comparing and contrasting information is to develop a chart so that you will have reference to this information when you write your paper.

Next we are going to look at whether or not the examples support your ideas. Do the careers you have selected meet the requirements of the assignment? These must have empirical evidence that supports your topics sentences and thesis? If they do not support your ideas, then it is time to hit the drawing board and return to the gathering information stage. Please note, do not cut and crop your research to support your ideas, there is plenty of information out there for you to find that will support your ideas fully, just do the research.

What is fact and what is opinion? This is a major area of debate in the academic world. My personal recommendation to avoid most opinion is to use resources that are scholarly in nature and peer reviewed. This will keep you away from wiki sites or anything that is just someone's outlook and has not been empirically proven.


The last step is to evaluate the information. You have gathered and analyzed the material and you have examined it examples and validity. Now it is time to evaluate whether an idea or a piece of this information is important to your paper or assignment. If you decide that it is not a valid representation of your assignment, place it to the side and continue working on your assignment. It is like working on a resume, you have all your experiences and jobs listed but you only want to include the data that is relevant to the particular job want to apply for.

If you follow these simple easy steps in critical thinking, you will have the upper hand when it comes to college research. Just keep in mind, research at any level is not easy but it can be fun if you do it correctly and follow a systemic approach.