Thursday, November 27, 2014

Summary of Learning Comic Portion

Just a little promo of my upcoming Summary of Learning...

Imagine these cartoons helping me tell my digital learning journey.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Stay Calm and Think Calming Thoughts,. Stay Calm and Think Calming Thoughts... Stay Calm and...

"Calm" by Richard Cuppini cc ND License Flickr
The title of my post is my latest mantra. We have about one week and it's all due. Eeeeppp! I am starting to see the light at the end of my project, but I'm finding that the more I explore and create, the more I add. After a brief Q & A discussion with +Kelly Christoffson... of which I look forward to more feedback. I decided that I really need to get more of the personal stories and perspectives in how teachers are integrating digital literacies and technology into their classroom. So rather just share curated resources that I've developed, and the curriculum connections to the projects (of which I still haven't even come close to finding), I am going to try to get more the Teachers behind the technology.

In our division with the new role our teacher devices, student devices and Office 365, I've heard a great deal of complaining. Or let me rephrase that... I've heard A LOT about the challenges that teachers are facing. I thought that in order to get away from the negativity, we need to explore the cool things that teachers are doing in their classroom. It is for this reason that I'm going to try to interview more teacher for my major project webpage to get not only their stories, but the stories of their students, and the impact that technology has had in opening doors for the students.

I'm excited about this, but I'm also starting to think that I might possibly be a little obsessive compulsive and insane. Even if all my stories are not collected by the due date, I am going to persevere and finish the project.... or will this ever be finished? As technology changes and more teachers are starting to see the light as to how digital tools can empower and help us reach all kids... I can't help but think that the site will go on. Perhaps the blog roll page for my blog that +Katia Hildebrandt suggested might be a good idea!

Here is a link to my blog so far! Teaching With Technology Hub

Here are a couple links to videos that I worked on for the "Face Behind the Technology" part of my project. Videos with Matt Bresciani's grade 7/8 class.

Monday, November 24, 2014

How Do We Teach Empathy and Resiliency Online?

Harassment is Not New... It's Just a New Space for the Jerks

I was talking to my dad recently about school and bullying issues. My somewhat redneck dad had a simple solution to bullying and that was, "Just let kids (he most likely meant boys) be kids, and wrestle it out on the playground, and it will be finished." At first I kind of laughed. Imagine if we just let kids "duke out their problems". Ridiculous... But was there some truth to that? Did kids in our parent's and grandparent's generation, just deal with their issues right away without letting it drag on? There were the bullies and the "intimidators" in their time, but did they have the power they do now, by being able to present a constant threat to those pegged as their victims? Has technology allowed harassment to become more of a mental and emotional issue than in previous generations?  Hmmm... I thought there was maybe some truth to my dad's way of dealing with issues, until I read Tammy's post, "Speaking from my spot in the corner... let the over-sharing begin!"  After reading about her struggles to become an independent and confident person, while dealing with negative pressures of her father, it only reinforced to me, that women being harassed or encouraged to be quiet is not a new thing, it's always been around. Were things really dealt with in our parent or grandparent's generation?

My Thoughts on Being a Woman Online

Photo Credit: Stefan Mendelsohn via Compfight cc  
As Benita pointed out in her blog post, "Women" or Ryan explored in his post, "If You Don't Like What They are Saying, Change the Conversation" our session with Audrey Watters wasn't really that shocking. Yes, it is unfortunate, that I many of us weren't really shocked to hear that women are demeaned and harassed online. It wasn't shocking to hear that when a women speaks out about an issue that immediately she is harassed into silence. It wasn't shocking that there are individuals who take it to the extremes to psychologically threaten others, so that they can't even go online just because they spoke their opinion.  In her post, Benita states, "So here we are in year 2014 and along with the issues in advertising we have to contend with the technology age and not being (portrayed) as smart enough, not being able to give our opinion, don’t play online games (or do well) and so on…" I have to agree with her comments, not a lot has changed. Women continue to be threatened if they put themselves out there too much. The only thing that has changed is the environment, and unfortunately it's an environment that in many ways is still the Wild West or Uncharted Waters. 

Recently when I put my picture on my profile, I started to wonder if a pic with my daughter was a wise choice. I started to wonder about the environment and the insidious nature that the Internet offers for those who wish to do harm. Nowhere in my photo does it say that I'm with my daughter, but a shadow started to creep into the back of my mind, as I started getting updates on who was checking out my profile. Thankfully most of those who looked at my profile were members of this class, but there was the odd person who had no connection to education or technology, or even sports. I started to rethink the links I had posted from my Google+ information to my Twitter profile. I'm usually pretty savvy about the image and information I put out there to the world, and for the most part, I'm sure no one cares. But what if? What if I caught the attention of some creep?  Regina just isn't that big. Now after our talk with Audrey, I wonder if I should change my profile picture. Should I be this paranoid? 

It's Everyone's Deal

As I was exploring sites related to online harassment, I stumbled upon a Time article, "Misogynist Online Abuse Is Everyone's Problem - Men Included" written by James Poniewozik. In the article,Poniewozik,  shares this point, "the price of having a female byline and an opinion is getting subjected to torrents of gender-specific, grotesque, sometimes frightening and threatening abuse, which men like me, in general, do not deal with to nearly the same degree." This definitely reinforces our discussion with Audrey... But the part of his article that really captured my interest was his reasons for saying why the misogynist abuse is everyone's concern.

"It’s still my problem, though. There’s a whole genre of men saying that they’ve become feminist because they have daughters. I don’t; I have two sons. Which is exactly why this kind of toxic crap in the culture is my problem, because they play games and they live in the world, and I want them to grow up to be decent guys with healthy human relationships. I don’t want them immersed in a mindset that says that throwing anonymous abuse at women is somehow retaliation in kind."

I think as teachers we need to kind of embrace this philosophy, that teaching for these kinds of issues is more than just a few lessons in Digital Citizenship.It's more than teaching girls to be confident and stand up for what they believe. The issue is not just a digital one.  It's about teaching kids about stereotypes and generally about how to behave, even if you don't agree with another person's opinion. Unfortunately as doors open and walls were flattened with the Internet, it has become a bit harder to keep the trolls from coming into our domain.

Moving Forward, Even When You Wonder If It's Worth It

So where do we go from here? I agree with Tammy's advice at the end of her post, in that we "don" our life jackets and teach students how to avoid "the rapids, the submerged objects, the sand bars" and sharks. And, in going with her boating metaphor, we teach students to be more than wandering sailors unsure of the waters ahead, and instead become wise, confident captains of their own journeys. This means empowering kids. Teaching boys and girls that online harassment is something we can't be silent about, and that it's worthwhile to speak out against "toxic crap" in our culture. We probably won't solve all the issues related to being online, but we can do our part, which is, do what we do as teachers... educate kids and make them ready for anything.


I leave with one question... Should I still change my profile pic? Or should I just be aware and keep it as is?? Thoughts anyone??

The Hour of Code is Approaching So Why Should We Make the Time?

The Hour of Code is coming!! Get your students ready!

Did you know that the week of December 8 - 14, is Computer Science Education Week? Unfortunately our EC&I 831 class will be finished, so we will not be able to explore how we are getting students involved, but perhaps it's still worthwhile to share some ideas on how to bring code to the classroom.

So What is the Global Hour of Code?

The Global Hour of Code apparently is actually one of the largest events in history. The video above is very American oriented, so I found more information for  Canada Learns Coding. The premise of the Global Hour of Code is that "if you can learn how to make technology you can change the world". The idea is to promote the fundamentals of computer science for learners of all ages. If you check out the site, you can see the links for different ages. It's not just something that is for older students, even students in the primary grades can learn some of the basics. In taking the time to get involved in the Hour of Code, learners of all ages, that's teachers and students, can learn that computer science is fun, easy and accessible.

Why Should Teachers Get Involved?

"Don't just play with your phone, program it." This great quote from President Barrack Obama, urges kids to become more than just users of technology.Students would benefit from learning how programs and apps are made and the fundamentals of the algorithms that go into making the digital tools we use. It was interesting to learn that right now in the U.S. alone, the rate of the number of computing jobs is rising 3 times faster than the numbers of graduates. At this rate, by 2020, there will be over 1 million computer science related jobs in the world. Which is a pretty easy sell, as these are good jobs. So as educators, we should look at this as an opportunity to further our students ability to be ready for the 21st Work force by developing these skills in students.

Perhaps we should look at teaching code as becoming one of the digital literacies that we need to teach to get our students ready for the future. Could coding eventually become as important as teaching writing and reading skills? Could you imagine the outcry of many teachers if this was introduced as being a part of curriculum?

How does this promote creativity, critical and innovative thinking, and problem solving?

When kids are engaged in making or creating the programs, they will have a new appreciation and understanding of what goes into using technology. Also by allowing kids an opportunity to get involved at a younger age, they are able to make those connections between logic and math. Coding is really another form of math.

In an article from Common Sense Media, "How to Teach Coding in Your Classroom, Even if You're a Novice Yourself", Douglas Rushoff, argues that like reading or math, coding is like a literacy of its own. Rushoff goes on to state:

“When human beings acquired language, we learned not just how to listen but how to speak. When we gained literacy, we learned not just how to read but how to write. And as we move into an increasingly digital reality, we must learn not just how to use programs but how to make them,” 

I like how encouraging kids to learn how to code empowers students to become programmers and engineers. All kids, boys and girls. If we hope to truly encourage all kids, particularly girls, we need to look at increasing exposure to skills such as coding. Rushoff also states, "we have embraced the new technologies and literacies of our age without actually learning how they work and work on us". So what are we doing to encourage students to look the impact of technology in their lives? Do we take time to explore with students how technology is impacting the way we interact? Do we explore with students the importance of not only digital citizenship and the ethics of online behaviour, but do we discuss digital etiquette? What are we doing as educators to explore more of the philosophical issues related to online activity and how it's impacting the way we interact?

How Can Teachers Get Involved?

You can sign up to join the Hour of Code Global Movement by checking out one of these sites: Sign Up

You can even promote the Hour of Code by printing and putting up these posters in your school.

Tutorials and Sites to Promote Coding - Has great activities that can help elementary students explore code.

Canada Learns Coding - This site is Canada's version of Same premise, but one of which encourages all involved in Computer Engineering to donate one hour to help teach coding at a school. - Teachers can create a classroom account for elementary students to get started exploring code. There is an app available with iTunes and Google Play, but it does cost $5.37. Not so affordable if you are buying several apps.

Common Sense Media Teaching Code - Common Sense Media looks at how teachers can approach teaching code, even if they are amateurs themselves.

Microsoft Hour of code Basics - Offers courses such as Kodu, which encourages building games, playing games and sharing games.

Khan Academy Coding Course For Hour of Code, we've created special introductory curricula to get your students started!


Follow Canada Learns Coding @HoC_Canada on Twitter to find out more about what different Canadian Schools are doing to get in Computer Science Education Week.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Maker Music Possibilities With Garage Band

I am Aware of My Limitations...

I am a musically illiterate individual. Well, maybe that's too harsh. I have an appreciation, I can maintain a beat, but I don't play any instrument... outside of a stereo.

Recently, I was called by a teacher to do a "GarageBand project". Once I helped to narrow down what curriculum outcomes she hoped to explore, we determined that I would come in to assist with Music class (gulp!) with a group of grade 8's (gulp! gulp!)... Music class? Me?? Well that's the point of this post, you don't have to have any musical experience, if you have GarageBand. Anyways,  I was actually pretty excited, especially after watching +Ryan Hicks video where he uses GarageBand with the iPad, "Creating and Learning with GarageBand". Honestly, I felt a little inspired and empowered that I too, could be a musician.

Photo Credit: C. Strife via Compfight cc
So to get ready for the presentation, I played. Yep, played with GarageBand. I was a little familiar with the program, but thought I should review the functions. So on-line I went and immediately I found some great resources. One video was created by a young kid, at MsNJProductions, who has excellent videos with GarageBand worth checking out! Anyways, as I played with the software, I decided that I should perhaps try to compose a song using the loops and layer a few tracks. I even decided to use my kids in my song (mainly because they insisted on dancing right beside me once they heard the beats). It turned out to be kind of a fun project for my family, and it really only took about 20 minutes to compose a tune. A tune of which I now have ingrained in my mind, because I've played it so much for my daughters.

Anyways, today I conducted my session with the grade 8's and kicked it off with the video from French rapper, Stromae, "Alors on Danse: How it was made" where he goes through a brainstorm process where he layers music via Garageband. Initially I was a little worried the kids would be turned off, but they actually liked it. After discussing how software can let all of musically illiterate become musicians, and letting the students hear my tune that I created - they were actually pretty motivated to get started. We then briefly reviewed how to use GarageBand via the software on the Macbooks, and by then, the kids were really chomping-at-the-bit.

The rest of the session went well. I demonstrated my keen knowledge of how to write a rap from a traditional Christmas song, and wowed the kids with my rap-writing knowledge... Actually I read up on it and discovered that in addition to great resources for GarageBand, WkiHow has excellent resources for writing raps, "How to Write a Rap Song" (not that I would know an "excellent" resource for writing a rap). I almost feel like I owe a thanks to the web and wiki-based community, WikiHow... Whose mandate is, "We're trying to help everyone on the planet learn how to do anything."
Yes, I feel like I can do anything... even write a rap song...
Photo Credit: Pedro Vezini via Compfight cc

Side note...

Here is my lesson that I created using our division's interactive software, Mimio Notebook, that I converted into a PDF, so I could upload to Scribd and add to this post. Scribd is another great tool for embedding docs into blogs and websites.

Monday, November 17, 2014

It's No Mystery Why These Kids Were Engaged With Mystery Skype!

Clue Keepers/Eliminators

Imagine a group of students...

* studying maps trying to find specific locations...

* using Google Earth and Google Map trying to find areas of the world that are north of the equator, west of the Prime Meridian and bordering the Pacific Ocean....

* intensively and quietly discussing clues to form questions to pose...

Back Channel Recorders
* carefully pondering answers to questions about one's community...

* using a back channel chat like Today's Meet to record questions and clues for future discussion...

* being conscientious when talking with peers about their community...

* working together and collaborating all in the hopes of being the first school to find the other's location....

Google Mapper in Action!

Think Tank Discussing the Cl
If you can imagine it, then perhaps a Mystery Skype came to mind. Today, I had the honor and the opportunity to work with a group of hyper engaged grade fives in a Mystery Skype. What an action packed 40 minutes!

Ready, Set, Go!

Signals for the other team
Intensely discussing possibilities
Prior to starting, Suzanne Louttit, the grade 5 teacher, reviewed all the jobs and groups of students who would be working together.  These students were not "green" to the Mystery Skype experience, as today's was their sixth "game" this year. In order to keep it fresh, Suzanne mixed up each group. Ensuring that students rotate from job to job, thereby getting an opportunity to work with different groups of students on different tasks.

Some of the jobs and responsibilities that  Suzanne incorporated in today's game of Mystery Skype:

*Inquirers/Greeters - "voice of the class" - Greet and say goodbye. Provide information after the "game" about the class.
*Question Responders - Answer the questions about the community/city/ etc in a YES/NO format, on behalf of the class about
*Think Tank - Ponder the clues and receive information from the Google Mappers, Clue Keepers to help zero-in on the location.
*Google Mappers - Use Google Earth and Google Maps to help zero in on the location using the responses to the questions given.
*Clue Keepers / Eliminators - Eliminate areas on the map of where groups should not look. Often paired with another task, if needed.
*Question Keepers - Write down the questions the home team has asked, as well as the opposing team. Keep the questions on 2 smaller white boards for post-Mystery Skype discussion.
*Recorders - Record the session... clues etc. and perspectives on how it went for further discussion. All recorded via Today's Meet.
*Photographer - Take photos of the event for further sharing and reflection.
*Runners - Run information to all groups about the latest clue.
*Problem Solvers/Information Collector - Record key information about the other school's location for future discussion. Explore everyday problems... ie: What is 85 degrees Fahrenheit in Celsius? What countries use Fahrenheit?
* Many of these jobs may be found on my webpage, be sure to check it out! They may also be found on Langwitches blog post, "The Excitement of Learning"

Timeline for Mystery Skyping

In a post-Skype interview, Suzanne discussed the following time frame when getting involved in a Mystery Skype.
1. Pre-learn about your community: geography, population, economy, information that relates to geographical landmarks or landforms like rivers, mountains etc.
2. Learn about geographical concepts like equator, Prime Meridian, latitude and longitude, as well a cardinal directions.
Clue Keepers narrowing the search
3. Ensure that the students have a good understanding of the expectations of their jobs. Practice the Mystery Skype with another "mystery person" if possible (another teacher pretending to be from another place... etc.)
4. Review etiquette and manners. How to behave prior to the game, during and after the call. For example, how you say goodbye as the teacher moves the computer around, so that all can wave.
5. Find a partner school. Join the Skype in the Classroom group and sign up to participate in a Mystery Skype. (That's what she suggests, however, you can join a Google group for Mystery Skype or even use Twitter - as I explained in previous post).
6. After you find a school who wants to participate in the game, review the time (and time zone!). Discuss the overall format that you are both familiar with. Perhaps have a practice call to ensure that there is a good connection.
7. The day of the Skype call... Check you device speakers to ensure they will play over the data-projector. Ensure all technology (if shared) is booked for your call or any other resources needed.
Multiple Groups in Action
8. Plan for at least 30 minutes for the "game". At the end of the call, let the students of both teams chat about their communities. Have a list of questions prepared for the post-game informal chat. Take the computer on a tour (wifi permitting) to "show" the other class around. You will probably want about 1 hour for pre and post Skype discussion and preparation.
Final search from the Think Tank
9. After the call, be prepared for a post-Skype reflection discussion. This can be in the form of an on-line journal, like a blog post. Discuss questions that the class asked, and how could they can be refined so that the zeroing-in becomes easier. Explore the jobs and the expectations and if there are some aspects that could be improved, or how could the individual improve?

Thoughts on Curriculum Connections

I asked Suzanne what she liked about Mystery Skype and aside from the obvious engagement of the students. As a grade 5 teacher, she found that learning about Canada or "our community" was pretty straightforward as it's part of the Social Studies curriculum. We also explored what about teachers who teach other grades? She stated that the students were learning how to communicate effectively; work collaboratively as inquirers to find a solution to a "problem"; learn transferable skills with mapping; develop digital literacy as well as digital citizenship. Overall the students have also enjoyed just learning about other communities and cultures, the comparisons of these communities with their own and in general have made connections of these locations to what they  read/hear  in the news.

What it comes down to... we can "cover" curriculum and ensure that every outcome is checked off in a tidy worksheet but do we excite kids about learning? Are we developing in our students a love for meeting people of other cultures. Are we getting kids excited about working together collaboratively on a common problem? These perhaps are the greatest considerations.

One final note, what I also loved about this project, was how technology was used in a way so that it wasn't an add-on. Suzanne used iPads for Google Maps, but she also used laminated maps and markers as well as Atlases. Yes, atlases!! She could use a digital tool for every aspect, but interestingly enough, I think there is a place for still knowing how to navigate  an old-fashioned paper map or an atlas in learning. I'm just curious, what are your thoughts on this??

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Major Project Looming Ahead...

So as I prep for my major project Weebly website, the Teaching With Technology Hub where I hope to promote different ways we can integrate projects into learning... I realize how much I planned and how much I still have yet to finish... sigh... I have a great deal of my Genius Hour project completed, but now I notice tons of errors.... another sigh.

Anyways one of my project pages is using Skype in the classroom, with teacher accounts on why this is worth their while. I am still gathering many of my resources for my pages, and some of my construction is still underway. I repeat, construction is underway. It  took me a looonnnngggg time to finalize the look and the images that I'm using for my pages. This took wayyyy longer than I anticipated. I have resources that haven't yet added (like ppts or screencasts) that I plan on adding to my site. So try not to judge too harshly. Please.

As part of my page, I'm creating teacher materials from different resources I've gleaned from on-line (I am referencing) as well as student resources. I certainly hope that I'm on the right track with this project, because quite honestly, I'm not sure if it's just really amateur. In any case, I've been learning a great deal about different tools and looking for accessible ways teachers can use these resources for Project based learning in the classroom. In many ways, a lot of my project kind of mirrors a great deal of my learning from the class, but I feel I've hopefully made things palatable for the teacher who hasn't taken a class such as the ECI 831, and is perhaps new to tech integration. Hopefully it doesn't seem like a replica of the class, I just want to share some of my learning with other teachers from my school division, and this is my way of doing it.

Anyways, here is my latest Animoto to promote Mystery Skype... A fantastic way to promote collaborative learning playing a game of Mystery 20 questions. The video is short, meant to promote the activity and captivate student attention, but not so long as to bore them before they begin.

Here's a powerpoint for teachers. It's not overly engaging, it's more about just providing the information. I just happened to choose this format.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

What Tool Should We Use to Tell a Tale?

+Andrea Needer asked our ECI 831 Community, what tool teachers like to use for Digital Storytelling. I too had been pondering that exact question, especially since there are so many tools to choose from. During our discussion with Alan Levine @CogDog, I wondered what would the "Master Digital Storytelling Guru" recommend for telling a tale? Aside from suggesting that perhaps I check out his site and take a look at what's available, he didn't offer any outright recommendations to his favorites. And now I can see why....

Photo Credit: EAWB via Compfightcc
Interestingly enough just prior to our discussion with Alan, I had a teacher inquire about sharing a retelling project that she had been working on with the story, The Waltz of the Scarecrows. In her project she had the students create a retelling/ re-enactment of the tale, by having the students dress up and portray the events and the emotions of the story. Her project centered around the question, "How did scarecrows come to be?" or "Why do we have scarecrows?" After taking several photos, of the grade one students retelling and acting out tableaus for the story, she had asked how could she share this project with parents. She was familiar with using digital tools but wasn't sure what would be the best to produce this story prior to reportcards... Yes, she wanted to do a digital story prior to reportcards and conferences and still be sane enough to teach her busy grade one students!

Prior to our discussion, I told her that I needed to know what devices and programs she was able to access, and how much work was she willing to put into to learning the project. At first she wanted tons of "wow factor", which made me wonder if we were going to be creating a blockbuster digital story - and how much time did she think that we really had? Finally, I pondered, if we went with lots of flash, would the story be lost in the digital tools? Hmmm...

Danielle Degelman pointed out in her post, "Once Upon a Digital Story", that "Digital storytelling presents an exciting opportunity for students to share personal stories and create fictional stories that respond to various genres." That was it. Giving the students the opportunity to share their story or retelling. Was there a danger of losing the students' voice and their retelling of the Waltz of the Scarecrows with the tools, or was I coping out? Was it best to go with a tool that we knew and  could use well, or go for something that would allow us to hyper-edit and produce the story into something "shiny"? I had questions that needed to be answered.

So, last Tuesday, I attentively listened to Cogdog's wise words on how student voices can be unleashed with digital stories. The potential became evident in how digital stories can fully engage students in all aspects of the strands in English Language Arts through activities like the improvised Pecha Kucha or Pecha Flickr. Eagerly I waited to hear what tool he thought it would best for a digital storytelling project, allowing me to then share this wisdom with my friend. Maybe our question regarding what was the BEST TOOL for her scarecrow story would be answered... Yayyyyy! And... fist... System Overload.... My brain melted.  He provided not just one answer but  a blog, a wiki,  and another wiki's worth. Sigh... Thanks. Back to square one, and now I'm left with a puddle of a brain...and tons of resources to explore.

Photo Credit: Spamily via Compfightcc
Today, my friend and I discussed what tools would be best... again. We came to conclusion that it's not the tool, it's the story you want to share... (It's funny how I keep coming to this conclusion). We revisited her outcomes and what she hoped to achieve in the project. These outcomes were to explore the "big" or essential question, re-tell a story from a student's perspective and to act out these events. So what did we decide to do? What was easy and accessible for her? We decided to use Animoto to create a "trailer" for the project, using photos and video that she had captured with her phone incorporating questions and student retellings in simple form. I showed her how to use Animoto, which by the way was with my upgraded personal account (worth the price by the way). After I showed my friend how to navigate through Animoto, she was on her way. The next question was how to share the video. I suggested uploading it to Youtube, but keep the privacy settings on non-searchable and private, so only those of whom she shares the link will be able to access the video.

We later started to build her story in Photostory, which again is very easy to use. She will be able to later share these stories with parents when she compresses the story to a video file so that it can be seen with a Windows Video File... I think... This might be something that I need to explore, does anyone have more experience with Photostory regarding sharing?? I suppose that will require more research on my part.

If you are still not sure whether or not you should upgrade your Animoto account and if it's worth the price, check out Krista Gates blog post, "What's the story?", where she also promotes using Animoto.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Embellishing Reality & Improvising the Truth with Digital Storytelling

TED Talk to watch

What does it mean to tell a story through visuals? What power do comics have in telling a story? McCloud a comicbook artist, explores his journey and philosophy as a comicbook artist. He examines symbolism, visual iconography and the role of vision in the artistry of comicbooks. He explains the art of storytelling, using images in digital storytelling mode with pictures. He discusses what does it mean to have vision and the 3 components that make up vision: the unscene or the unknowable; what can be proven or the tangible; or the unproven. He also explores what does it mean to have vision? What are the principles of vision? In the talk he share these four principles of vision, which are:
1) Learn from Everyone
2) Follow No one
3) Watch for Patterns
4)Work Like Hell

*Tips that we can all live by!
For comicbook artists there are four ways of looking at the world in four main comic book types:
1) the Classicist
2) the Formalist
3) the Aimist
4) the Iconclast
Throughout the discussion he examines how the comicbook artist makes a story come alive by activating all our senses. It made me realize all the components that went into making a comic, it's more than being a great artist with an eye for detail and a lingering sense nostalgia for this literary form. McCloud explores interactivity and hypertext in comics and "comics of the ancient world" and how comics can explore space and time the way information is shared. Huh?? He examines how comics could be shared so that the plot or the type of story or tale could be shared in the manner in how the comic is created. For example, a circular story would be shared in a circular manner, so that the panels were circular.

I love the graphical way he visuals how a story can be told. I immediately connected with Alan Levine's session and how the form for telling the story depends on the story that is being told. So going back to technology... It's all about finding the best tool or the best means to tell that story. Hmmm... It's all making sense now. Be sure to check out this TED talk. Great points to consider in telling one's story!

Here is a link that also includes visuals of Scott McCloud's elements of comicbook storytelling that connect well with digital storytelling. This link is to a presentation, "Digital Storytelling on the Go" created by the SAMR model creator Dr. Ruben Puentedura. I thought the connections between McCloud and Puentedura were pretty cool! Kind of demonstrates the learning that even experts like Puentedura can make from visual pen/paper artists. Storytelling is storytelling - digital or paper.
Now with my own personal applications to digital storytelling...

The Tales of an Unsung Technology Coach...

Here is the first part of a comic that I created using the free version of StoryBoardThat. The free version limits the user to creating comics that allow for only six panels. After some thought on writing a creative story. I gave up on that, and decided to just share some of my experiences in my new role as a Technology Coach. Maybe my creative juices were just tapped out...

Comic created via Storyboard That

After I create my second part of the comic, I'm going to look at narrating the comic with an audio recording uploaded to Soundcloud. How else could I add audio without downloading this image to Explain Everything or Educreations on a tablet. Other ideas?? Vocaroo?? A screencast?? Create a ThinkLink of my comic (screenshot or use Snipping Tool to capture) with embeds of my audio recording?? Hmmm....

How can we make it quick and easy?? I have a MAC which has iMovie and is great for video production, but most teachers don't. So the question I keep asking myself is... How can we make using technology easy for the non-digitally savvy user??? How can we make it all accessible and worthwhile for teachers to learn??

More Questions and Great Resources on Storytelling

In terms of digital storytelling, I have even more questions. So I wonder...
How can we make using the tools easy to tell the story??
What tool is easiest? For photos? Videos? How can we share these stories? 
Is creating a comic telling a story? Should I narrate over it?? What role does that play?? Should I have the speech balloons or thought bubbles??

In addition to the great resources Alan shared with us, I've been looking at resources on Digital Storytelling for primary grades with the work of Shelly Terrell. Shelly has tons of great tools and examines strategies to engage learners and help them tell their story in the blog post article, "Engaging Learners through Digital Storytelling: 40+ Resources & Tips", there is also another article on Edublogs, "20+ Apps to Support the Digital Storytelling Process". She explains some key aspects such as using creative commons images when telling stories which is pretty essential (unless you are a Creative Commons Criminal like myself! ;-) There is also a great link to Kevin Hodgeson's site, StopMotion Movies where he explores the process of storyboarding in creating Stop Motion Projects. He has great process oriented resources to guide teachers and students into great stories that are well planned and executed!

And in addition to the great tools @cogdog shared with us, it's worth one's time to check out this article on tools and digital storytelling  practice suggested in an article by Mindshift, "Ideas for Using iPads for Digital Storytelling" finally, be sure to check out Kathy Schrocks Guide to Everything Blog post on Digital Storytelling where she explore tools, strategies and assessment in making digital storytelling come alive in curricula. What I love it that she also has tons of examples to illustrate the many ways one can tell a story and the different shapes it can take to make the voice of the author heard by the audience.

Another great tool for sharing a story in the form of a journey is from StoryMap JS, which @Raelynn shared from our class. This resource I think would be perfect for telling a story which demonstrates a change in geographical setting. Right away, I envisioned students using this tool in English Language Arts to explore the journey of a character if the plot changes considerably. When I was co-conducting a "Teaching With Technology" session I introduced it to a teacher who was going to be using the Seven Series of books in Book Clubs with his grade 8 class. Immediately I thought as part of the unit, one could explore the geographical plot changes in the book and the emotional journey of a character as he partakes in the adventure to do the bidding of his deceased grandfather. By writing a storymap in this form, students could write the journey, then narrate it from the perspective of a character.

Here is a fan-made book trailer created by a student who loved the book, Between Heaven and Earth by Eric Walters. Creating book trailers could be a form of Digital Storytelling to get other peers enticed to read a book. This one I believe was made with the iMovie app.

Be sure to check out the resources above and the TED talk.

Stay tuned for more on my comic, "The Tale of the Unsung Technology Coach" - I will add more to this post with part 2 of my comic, which might become one of the aspects of my own Summary of Learning. Thoughts anyone??

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Screencast: How to Add Creative Commons Images to Blogger

frustrated by jonwatson, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License
   by  jonwatson 

Hello all fellow Blogger Users!

Feeling Frustrated About Attribution and Need Help?

I might be able to help! :-) Maybe...

If you find giving attribution to images to be a pain, check out my video where I explore:
1.  Flickr,
2. Creative Commons,
3. How to easily get attribution information using the site: in HTML
4. Then add the HTML code information to your Blogger blog.

Why It's Worth the Time... News from the TLEdCamp!

One of my presentations at the TL Edcamp for RCSD

News From the #rcsdtlcamp

This week I was involved in helping to co-ordinate and facilitate a Teacher Librarian Digital EdCamp for my school division. It was a great opportunity for me to share a little of what I have learned in this class, and explore how the role of the Teacher Librarian is changing with 21st Century Learning. Some of the sessions we offered included:

Exploring Digital PD - Exploring MOOCs and Twitter and the role in the PD and PLN
*One of my sessions!

Genius Hour - What is Genius Hour and how can the Teacher Librarian support this student driven project in the classroom.
*One of my sessions!

Library Website Development - Reasons to set up a School Library page and how to do it via Weebly.

The Power of QR Codes - What are QR codes? How do you make them or use them? How using QR codes can transform a project from being static to inactive spaces.

Digital Curation - Why TL's need to become digital curators. It's more than being a "manager of the books".

Copyleft in the 21st Century - How do you give attribution? What are the rules and regulations??

Digital Book Clubs - How to start a Digital Book Club and resources to the Digital Dystopian Book Club project.
*A project that I explored with several teachers last year, as a grade 8 teacher and Teacher Librarian.

Flatclassrooms - What is a "Flat classroom?" How do you launch it in your own classroom?

Skype in the Classroom - How can Skype be used in the classroom to connect with experts? Connect with other classrooms via the Mystery Skype.

Easy Bib - How to use this citation and research management tool in the classroom

Battle of the Books Goes Digital - How do you incorporate a digital component to Battle of the Books? Why is it worth your while?
* One of my sessions!

Reactions and Fallout

Overall it was a fantastic and energizing day. Many of the Teacher Librarians were a little unsure about where to begin with some of the ways TL's and the school library can "go digital".  However, just as any new digital user,  I think many of them came to the realization that it's about starting small and building from there. Most importantly, I think many realized that it's about not going about things in isolation. As teachers we encourage our students to learn collaboratively as it promotes looking at different perspectives as well as "Group Think" in tackling problems, therefore as teachers we should do the same.

Many of the TL's embraced collaborative opportunities by joining the Teacher Genius Hour Group #rcsdgenius or "Reasonably Intelligent Teachers Who Teach Geniuses". This was something that I started last week using Office 365 (my school division is committed to using Microsoft Office, so I'm determined to find all the collaborative solutions that the product may offer... I know it's not Google, but I think it will work!)

Is It Worth Your Time?

Over and over again, as I conducted my sessions,  I noticed a few raised eyebrows. Some eyebrows were raised in excitement about where to begin... Others - skepticism. One TL even said, "Sounds great, but I don't have time." Hmmm...Time...  Is it about finding time or is it about using our time better? In my own experience I have found that by following some of the best "Guru Educators" (see the links I posted on our Digital PD page) out there, I am able to create my own personal PD or PLN. No longer do I have to wait for a conference to be offered within my division or to use up all my measly professional development funds on a conference, I can find my own presenters by learning about what is out there. With social media, I am finding ways to save time by looking at what's current, relevant and innovative in education. Through social media I can get a taste of what's new and innovative in teaching. I don't have to wait for a consultant or administrator to tell me what is innovative, I can find out for myself.  Anyways that's basically a recap on reasons I explained to TL's on why they should take time for social media to launch their professional learning.

That day, there were a few more Twitter followers who joined the ranks of teachers who saw it as worth a second look, and that it could be used more than just Facebook. Going back to those eyebrows that were raised in skepticism, I think a few were furrowed in concentration as they signed up and learned how to navigate Twitter!

Take a look at a few of the screenshots of our conversations that blossomed!

Where Do We Go From Here??

I think that as a teacher you get a feeling of satisfaction when you see one of your students so excited by what they learned, that they start teaching others. That has got to be one of the best parts about teaching. After my session on MOOCs and Twitter, and after the TL's got fired-up about Twitter, I explored  the open world of MOOCs. Many were stunned by some of the universities who offered MOOCs like MIT and Stanford and the topics that were offered via Coursera and Canvas Network. Digital Storytelling and Minecraft gathered a lot of enthusiasm, especially when we briefly discussed the role Minecraft would play in AR (Augmented Reality) and Maker Movement. I think there were a couple who signed up that day, and I have a feeling that the MinecraftEdu session that I wanted to start in January might be filled up!

Okay... without giving you a play-by-play of the day, I just wanted to say that a lot of what I've learned by being involved in this class helped with setting up ideas for our TL Edcamp sessions. Through more support, I think that Teacher Librarians have the potential to become ALL-ROUND LITERACY  and DIGITAL LITERACY SPECIALIST in the building. All aspects of literacy... from early reading intervention to informational literacy and digital literacy. Many of the TL's get it... for others it will be extending their comfort zone. However the most important thing is that we are all trying to extend ourselves and try new ideas. As educators we all need to ensure that we stay relevant to the times, regardless of teaching assignment. If you look at Teacher Librarians like @JenniferLagarde (Library Girl),  @JoyceValenza or @GwynethJones (the Daring Librarian) one can see the potential of the Teacher Librarian as becoming that SUPER LITERACY SPECIALIST!