Category Archives: Visual Literacy

A little bit of this and a little bit of that

Taking a slight break from my focus on ePortfolios & course 5 project (not really–I was just earlier going over my workshop for Learning 2 in Warsaw next week), I thought I’d throw together a few things I’ve been working on/thinking about over the last few months.

Wondering how to incorporate AR into the classroom:

My 3 year old twins as my test subjects:

Animal Alphabet and Augmented Reality

Clearly loving the special effects

I’m still not sure how effective this is at learning the alphabet.  It’s definitely cute and fun.  It entertained us for an hour or so. I’m still looking for ideas and inspiration in this area…

What do you do when you are asked to introduce Minecraft and you are completely clueless?  Find some experts!

Second Grade Minecraft Experts Introducing Game to First Graders

A teacher wanted to use Minecraft as part of a unit of inquiry into homes–how/where/why they are built the way the are.  Having never played before, I looked up some basic guidelines, watched a few youtube videos and played around.  No way was I going to catch up to the expert level that even some of the kids in the class were likely to be at.  Time to call in the experts: second graders!  They made a simple Google Slide presentation and shared their knowledge with the first graders.

Shared iPads, team work.

Here is a link to a pair’s final Minecraft Homes project .  The students were incredibly proud, it prompted students to share and reflect on their process to Seesaw and to open the blog option in order to share their project and learning globally.

I’ve been playing around with the ‘new’ Google Sites and quite love it.  Mind you, I didn’t really use the classic version– it wasn’t nearly so intuitive.  I struggled with formatting and saving things and mangled my way through it when writing the online Google Certification test earlier this year- (pretty much the only time I’d used it) but the newer version is all one could ask for: simple to use,  all Google apps are easily accessible/importable within the sidebar, and formatting is a relative breeze.

Here’s a sample of my efforts:

Tech in the Early Years Google Site

I have no immediate plans to share this–perhaps with like minded colleagues at next week’s conference? I’m lying in bed and motivated to continue to tinker with it, rather than sleep.  I do feel that the easier a platform is to use, the more likely people will use it.

Platform Blues

I am seeing (and hearing) this mantra firsthand form my colleagues.  Back to portfolios for a minute, lower elementary teachers (EY-Grade 2) use Seesaw, with its super easy interface, large simple buttons, easy uploads, no HTML, no fuss with public vs private…and love it. While Upper Elementary teachers are using Blogger and are having a significantly harder time with it (grade 3-5).

Blogger and (no offence) Word Press don’t motivate me/teachers, and the students in the same sense.  Yes, these are blogging platforms and encourage wordiness and reflection–Seesaw and Google Sites are more meant for images and multi media, I suppose.

After Course 3–I very much lean towards a simple,  visual style— you can get your message across much more quickly and effectively with an image/video and a short caption (rather than a long winded blog post that is not-so-motivating to read, let alone write.)

And on that note…

Course 3 Final Project

I began the final week without a clear idea of what I wanted to do.  I had started by creating a basic infographic based on Seth Godin’s  “Here, I made this” post, as promised last week:

here-i-made-thi_17051997_1b4de737762b742848e2c8000cde4249d1c5add2

*not quite happy with the unbalanced white space, but it was an “icongraphic” created from scratch (no template) so I’ll let that go.

I didn’t think this was enough and it was more for fun than anything, so I continued to think.

I’d already revamped a variety of presentations for earlier posts this course, and I’ve had my fill of relatively recent film projects (I took on the rather ambitious task of creating a Goodbye Video for 9 leaving staff members, enlisting the help of remaining staff on two campuses to combine and edit footage of staff and students), so I decided to choose the 3rd option, Create an About Me Page.  I had a look at Sonya terBorg’s example and loved the revamp of her resume, and wanted to do something similar…but less “resume-ish.”

As I mentioned in last week’s post, I am mostly an infographic newbie and wanted to further explore and play about with visually representing My data, ideas, interests.  

I had earlier mucked about with the All About Me Template on Piktochart, and noticed with each draft, the visuals improved considerably and the information was more tailored to what I wanted to share and highlight.  

I’ll start with my thinking behind the Design Elements:

I started with my most recent New and Improved All About Me as a template:

My second version of the infographic

Infographic I shared with students in My Design Club

but in the end, little remained of the original.  I loved the warmth of the rustic wood background–although somehow a juxtaposition to my “tech-y” role, I still wanted to keep it, feeling it complemented my focus on incorporating Tech in the Outdoors and my school’s Reggio Inspired approach to Early Learning.

I played about with the colour scheme some, initially wanting a gender neutral, but funky melon/orange and blue/green mix…I pulled the melon colour from the dress I am wearing in the photograph and peppered it around the page.  (The colour of the ‘Likes and Skills’ icon is fixed, so that colour is a bit off, unfortunately.)

The page is divided into threes, a design feature in homage to the rule of thirds. I also paid close attention to the CARP design principles:  I made sure to add features that would provide enough Contrast (colour blocks behind text to make it easier to read) which at the same time helped with Proximity–by grouping like information (Job History; Current Job Focuses; Interests & Skills.)  I used icons representing my interests in the bottom right and a head shot in the top right for compositional balance.  

Many of the icons had a cacophony of default fonts, which I had to change and resize in order to Repeat the basic two I had chosen (Copse and Deconeue). The Data Charts’ title and legend default font could not be altered, unfortunately, resulting in a 3rd font that doesn’t quite fit with my typography attempt at “a palette with wit” combining tough (Deconeue) and sweet (Copse).

Finally, much fine tuning went into making sure the Alignment was as good as I had the patience to make it.  Sometimes simple movements of .1mm would cause all the text boxes that had been “moved to the front” to disappear, resulting in my near loss of sanity.  

Deciding what ‘hard data’ to share in my infographs and how to share it was also a stickler.  I started off with the traditional resume summary of where I had worked and in what roles, but with a twist by using this data to create a “timeline/percentage bar graph of places worked.” I didn’t give it a title and hope this is evident without explanation.  

The other ‘infograph’ within an infograph (chart where data is entered) was the breakdown of my current focuses/time spent/head space allocated within a typical work week.  Of course this varies, and some weeks Coetail’s % is considerably higher…

new-and-improve_16953691_7a43fa9cd17016e258156fe774565942e1eba88d

The first part of my Revamped All About Me Page.

The second part of my All About Me Page is a live Google Map of my Resume, or my “Learning Journey.”  I loved this idea from the last week’s readings and decided to try it out myself.  I also like that it is a live document, so I can continually add or edit items without having to re-save/download and upload to the blog (as required by the free version of Piktochart…I wonder at the paid version’s sharing options).

I added traditional elements like my schooling &  places worked, and hope to add more “places” and descriptions as they strike me and photos as I stumble upon them. I also added a few key personal and exotic experiences that helped shape where and who I am today (meeting my future husband the day after a sketchy late night stranding on the side of the road in Zambia…)  

I did have an All About Me Page previously, with a headshot and a wordy paragraph about my new role and focus. Unfortunately I forgot to take a screenshot before all the changes, but needless to say, it is much improved. I am not planning on using it for recruitment purposes anytime soon, and am not entirely sure of the immediate applications with either students or teachers I work with. Does this make the process of doing it any less valuable? Absolutely not. As I write this, I am flipping back and forth between my Infographic and Map and reflecting and changing and improving things (and my thinking) ever so slightly. I am experiencing a renewed appreciation of the fact that documenting learning and reflecting on learning is learning.

I am reminded of George Couros’s archived post from my Feedly this week with a brilliant quote from John Dewey:

 

“We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.”

 

Confessions of an Infographic Newbie

 

I am an infographic newbie.  (Mostly.)

I first tried one out last week in my Digital Design Club. In the spirit of getting to know one another better, while simultaneously teaching safe online sharing, I  asked the students to create an All About Me Infographic using a template from Piktochart. I played around with it a little before giving them this task, of course, but my playing around was more along the lines of how to… 

The template from Piktograph

The template from Piktochart

 

  • edit text boxes
  • insert a head shot
  • change graphics/colours/fonts
  • share and export

 

In other words, this Tech Integrator focussed on the Tech side of things…or the graphic in infographic.  

 

My first rushed job of basic manipulations of the template

I didn’t spend too long thinking about the information side of the equation (not to mention design) And that, I quickly realised, is at least half of the battle:

“What should I put down?”  “What do you want to know?”  “But I only know one language.” (in reference to the template’s graphic representation of language spoken) was heard throughout the room.

Later, giving it a second go myself,  I scratched my head wondering what to share and how to best to show that graphically.

My second version of the infographic

My second version of the infographic, more carefully thought out

I have spent a good deal of time thinking about design elements when creating presentations or possible infographics…And this visual does it very nicely…but it’s the what to share aspect of creating an infographic that is challenging, and needs just as much time as the how.

As fellow Coetailer Christopher Panna describes in his post :

They were initially excited at the opportunity to use this format, until they realised it would be just as much work as a writing project. Sketching a concept for their graphic, using the right kinds of charts, visuals, and colours, PLUS doing the research was no small task. “

He offers a book recommendation- Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures  where the first line of the promotional tag gave me a #ThingsThatMakeYouGoHmm kind of thought.

“There is no more powerful way to prove that we know something well than to draw a simple picture of it.”

People often describe the ability to teach (well) in the same terms.

So…I realised I sometimes get lost in the tech side of things and focus more on teaching the tool than on how to best use it to teach something arguably more important.

20 Minute Teaching Time Limit Dilemma…this is an After School Club, after all:

Teaching technical skills involved in manipulating an infographic template  vs presenting safe and interesting information worth sharing about oneself visually...all while incorporating design principles?

The more I think about it, being able to present key information graphically/visually can be paramount to others’ actually understanding that information.  

Just today I kept re- reading Google Support to check sharing settings when sharing things with colleagues vs students vs blog. But it wasn’t until I saw this visual grid comparing each sharing setting that it suddenly became clear:

screen-shot-2016-10-10-at-11-40-01

Thank you, Saikat Basu, from 10 tips for managing files in google drive. I love my top 10 lists!

Finally, this is a bit random, but here are some more #ThingsThatMakeYouGoHmm moments I had while perusing this week’s readings:

  • This infographic showing How Productivity Works.  It  visually compartmentalises different areas of life (mindset-habit-body-”life hacks”) and how all work together to aid or impede one’s productivity…(and I wonder, happiness?)
  • This post from Seth Godin and the power of the words, “Here, I made this.” 
  • Here, I made this. Photo, Pixabay.

    Here, I made this. Photo, Pixabay.

“These four words carry generosity, intent, risk and intimacy with them.”

*If I had all the time in the world for this post, I would try to make an infographic or visual representation of Seth’s currently-all-words-concept.  Perhaps that’s my final project.

 

Digital Stories Revisited

In 7 essential skills that aren’t taught in school, there is an Andy Warholesque 15 minutes of fame kind of quote:

“Your goal is not immortality,

but a momentary piercing

of the ever-shifting zeitgeist.”

I would argue that one of these of these essential skills is being able to tell a story and spread your message not only digitally, but in a way as to engage and influence people.  

Pixabay attribution free image +google drawings

Pixabay attribution free image +google drawings

Last year, I began to explore this idea with my small group of Early Years students with a vengeance.

With only 7 children, and a relatively open curriculum, I had the luxury of working individually with each of them (or in small groups) on different digital storytelling projects throughout the year.  Using Book Creator, we began by creating class ebooks based on books read in class.

*Note: I am a huge Book Creator fan.  I have been introducing it to all the first grade students (and their teachers) this past week using this short presentation. Feel free to make a copy/download.

One of these ebooks was our own version of Todd Parr’s, “It’s Okay to be Different.”  Students thought long and hard about what made them different from other students in the class.  One said, “It’s okay to speak Spanish.” Another declared, “It’s okay to call your dad  Mausi.”

IT”S OKAY TO BE DIFFERENT:

Once downloaded as an epub to our ibooks library, and shared to our class blog, the students could view the digital book at any time, just as they might a real book.  They could then view and revisit the ebooks they had created on the ipads, on the desktop and projected onto the wall.

When revisiting their digital stories, I noticed that different digital viewing formats offered different possibilities and extensions of the learning experience. 

Projecting an ebook onto the wall initiated a re-arrangement of chairs for ideal viewing (theatre style.) This sudden re-arrangement of the room provided a provocation for different feelings and connections. The children suddenly felt the seating reflected a train journey, leading to a mini inquiry into riding trains.

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The viewing experience of projecting eBooks onto the wall prompted a completely new inquiry: riding trains!

img_1787

Students became focussed on creating their own tickets–those with little interest in print now had an authentic reason to practice their SBB’s. (Swiss Rail System.)

We projected clips of moving trains onto the wall and the children rehearsed packing bags , catching trains, and punching tickets…eventually making their own tickets, using the local Swiss SBB logo as our guide.

Of course this spin off was unrelated to our ebook…but the process of revisiting our work and the way in which we viewed the book prompted an entirely new and unexpected learning inquiry.

We also re-visited our Books as epubs in the iBooks library. (Books created on different iPads were eventually Airdropped onto all other iPads so the students could access all books on any iPad, acting as a traveling library.) The portability of the iPads allowed us to bring them to our Buddy classes.  We shared the stories with a wide range of ages—all of them impressed by our school’s littlest learners.  It also prompted discussion: “Wow, how did you do that?” and provided an opportunity for the students to develop their oral skills.  Other class teachers—viewing over the students’ shoulders, learned something, too and were motivated to create their own ebooks.

We also uploaded all creations to our class blog so they could be shared at home with family members, or at school assemblies.  All comments made by others were revisited in class, helping to build the confidence and perseverance to make more ebooks.

Finally, viewing the ebooks on the desktop helped build other skills—the understanding that different devices provide different views of the same thing, but perhaps more importantly– the patience and fine motor skills required for small hands to maneuver and click with an aging mouse!

With each new ebook we tried to blend a different app or or learn a new process.  

With our next ebook, we focussed on another element of our “All about me Unit”–our favourite things. The children explored the instant alpha tool in a separate photo editing app, Juxtaposer.  We developed our fine motor skills and attention to detail further as students carefully traced around a photo of their bodies to erase the background, before adding it to their favourite page in the book about favourite things. 

ALL ABOUT ME:

Next, we blended video, pictures and sound and tried out the (then new) comic book feature in Book Creator when we made a Quiet and Loud book.  The students needed to think of two juxtaposing ideas for the book–(doors are quiet, but slamming doors are loud…very challenging for 4 year olds–they needed help with this. )  Now familiar with the book making process, the students slowly began taking more ownership of the design elements of making a book—selecting the colours of their page, their font and basic layout:

QUIET AND LOUD:

It was around Thanksgiving when my fabulous Ed Tech Coach, Jocelyn Sutherland brought us an iPad stand.  We immediately jumped into playing around with Stop Motion.  She initially tried a simple claymation technique using playdough…

…which we eventually modified to create the word ‘Happy’ as the “intro” to our class Thanksgiving ebook.  The students developed many literacy and digital skills while making the “title page” alone–

  • letter recognition/formation–we created the letters we used to make the stop motion video in Letter School and learned to take a screen shot
  • importing screen shots into Pic Collage for easy printing
  • more letter formation using playdough
  • intro to spelling–that the letters that make up Thanksgiving must go in certain order
Early Years students learning Stop Motion movie making techniques from 5th Grade Buddies. Photo, my own

Early Years students learning Stop Motion movie making techniques from 5th Grade Buddies. Photo, my own

Interested students learned the process of making stop motion videos using Stop Motion Studio App with the help of our fifth grade buddies.  I documented the entire process in our class blog here.

This began our lengthy exploration into stop motion as a digital story telling tool and prompted the evolution of moving from ebooks to pure movie making magic.  I plan to continue to document and reflect on the learning process in future posts.

Finding My (Presentation) Zen

I admit that up until recently, I hadn’t given much thought to the visuals in my presentations, much less presentations in general. I didn’t typically use them in my teaching. Our play based approach to teaching Early Years  had been my excuse. We didn’t “teach” in the sense of teachers standing at the front, lecturing or presenting.

Reconciling Play Based Learning with Teacher Presentations

 

So, I didn’t create presentations…”the kids can’t “read” them, it’s too much trouble to look for appropriate images, the kids can’t sit still long enough to justify going to all the effort…” etc.

 

I cringe at my earlier thinking.  Of course young children can “read” a visual message.  Finding great images is easier than ever.  Kids can “sit still” or focus on and understand a message–if it’s appropriate and delivered appropriately.  Teacher-delivered presentations in the form of “mini lessons”–tiny nuggets of information or ideas, is still acceptable in a Play Based Environment.

 

Based on this week’s readings, I considered the different ways I could have incorporated more visual literacy into my teaching:

A new way to teach Early Literacy in Early Years?

Play and Literacy unite, photo my own

Play and Literacy unite. Photo, my own

 

Had I known about the Takahashi Method of Presenting (large “King size” text, filling the screen, but only an idea or word.) I might have given this approach a go.

His slides, though they are all text, are visual, visual in the sense that (if you read Japanese) they are instantly understood and support his talk. -Garr Reynolds

When working with those in the early stages of reading, this approach could work well, otherwise–as Takahashi himself says, “If you have bullets or sentences, the audience will read those and may miss what you are saying.

 

A new way to teach Numeracy in Early Years?

For those savvy early counters, I ought to have jumped in with The Kawasaki top ten method:

…I’ve developed a Top 10 format. All of my speeches are in Top 10 format, because if you think I suck, I at least want you to be able to track my progress through the speech so that you know approximately know how much longer I’m going to suck.”   –Guy Kawasaki

 

Is teaching selling an idea?

I could have utilised slides with Large contrasting images representing ideas or methods, to sell an idea, a technique employed by Seth Godin.

 

It seems to me that if you’re not wasting your time and mine, you’re here to get me to change my mind, to do something different. And that, my friend, is selling. If you’re not trying to persuade, why are you here? –Seth Godin

All kidding aside, the before and after slides shared by Presentation Zen slides really drove home the idea that VISUALS MATTER.

 

This year, I am out of the EY classroom and beginning to create presentations for a variety of audiences and purposes.  My first challenge was a staff presentation to Early Primary, selling/highlighting a  school wide e-portfolio initiative using Seesaw:

 

Digital Portfolios using SEESAW

First staff Presentation “selling” e-portfolios, using Seesaw. Created with Adobe Spark Page.

Currently, I am using a “Seesaw Introduction to K-5 Presentation” from the Seesaw creators themselves.  I am constantly tweaking it to suit the purpose and audience, based on my reflections about how it went over in class that day, and the needs of each grade level.

 

My tweaks are not so much in terms of visual appeal and more in terms of clarity of message–is the font large enough? Have I included enough info/instructions?  Now I am thinking there is too much info…young kids will forget anyway and ask for verbal clarification.

 

At this point I have so many versions and copies of copies that even I am having a tough time keeping them all straight.

 

For my Digital Design club, I have created this short Intro to Sharing Information Online, utilising SlidesCarnival as I promised I would last week:

 

In future I will continue to be mindful of the techniques mentioned in 6 tenets of design:

 

Design 

Decoration, for better or worse, is noticeable, for example — sometimes enjoyable, sometimes irritating — but it is unmistakably *there.* However, sometimes the best designs are so well done that “the design” of it is never even noticed consciously by the observer/user. –Dan Pink, A Whole New Mind

Story 

Sharing Online – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Play

The opposite of play isn’t work, it’s depression.  –Brian Sutton-Smith

There is both joy and work involved in this play. Photo, my own

There is both joy and work involved in this play. Photo, my own

Empathy

Empathy allows a presenter, even without thinking about it, to notice when the audience is “getting it” and when they are not. -Garr Reynolds

Symphony

Symphony…is the ability to put together the pieces. It is the capacity to synthesize rather than to analyze; to see relationships between seemingly unrelated fields; to detect broad patterns rather than to deliver specific answers; and to invent something new by combining elements nobody else thought to pair.”  -Dan Pink

                                   

Meaning

Few things can be more rewarding than connecting with someone, with teaching something new, or sharing that which you feel is very important with others.

A student proudly shares his dinosaur stop motion movie with his peers. Photo, my own

A student proudly shares his dinosaur stop motion movie with his peers. Photo, my own

 

Finding Photos is Easy. Crediting them is Hard(er)

Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.

-GUY KAWASAKI

The above quote found at the bottom of the article, The State of Storytelling in the Internet Age. This sums up my efforts at putting together a blog post for this week.  

I did a lot of reading and note-taking and summarising before actually looking at this week’s assignment: use a CC image in class and describe how I plan on using it. Hmmm. Scratch most of what I have been working on.   

My “Digital Design” after school club comes to mind. Last week I challenged them to “make their mark” as part of  International Dot Day. We all worked “collaboratively” on a Google Slideshow (big learning curve here, as many slides were accidentally deleted by students, brand new to the Google Environment).

I initially asked them to explore the possibilities within Google Slides, by using shapes, text and animations. Immediately, some of the older, more experienced students asked if they could create their mark in a different program and import it into the slideshow. I told them this was fine–I was curious to see what they came up with.  

Our final product:

I was excited to see how some had created animations on the ipad using ABCYa! Animate; others created a simple animation Hopscotch. Most followed my guidelines and played about with animations within Slides.

I did notice that some students had searched in images for “dot” animations/gifs and inserted them into their slides. I wondered how many of these images were CC, and wasn’t entirely sure how Google Slides image search engines operated.  

So, after a little digging and clicking, I noticed this:

I thought inserting images into Google Slides was too easy...

I thought inserting images into Google Slides was too easy…

Hmmm. So, it seems the kids were freely using pictures–Slides makes this very easy!– but they were missing the attribution part. I used a few of the gifs the kids had selected and tracked down their attributions.

I’ve come up with a new quote to complement the first:

Finding/Inserting Photos in Google Slides is easy.  Properly Crediting them is hard(er). 

I decided to create a short presentation for my club about CC images and how to attribute them. I included this useful Edugraphic: You can use a picture if…

When creating the slides, I kept in mind the CARP elements of Design:

  • Contrast –bright background, red circling/arrows and dark text
  • Alignment — bullets lower left, titles in the center
  • Repetition –background colour, font
  • Proximity –again, same kind of info/directions in the same place (mostly lower left corner)
Great Repetition. I love you Unsplash.

Great Repetition. I love you Unsplash.

Options to further jazz up this or (more realistically) my next presentation:

  1. I could add some free CC youtube musica super great find in my readings this week.
  2. I could save myself the trouble and utilise the beautiful pre-made slides from SlidesCarnival  –I will have to find a way to use the Halloween Themed Deck at some point…too cute!
  3. I could look into the art of combining fonts –an art form I wasn’t even aware of before viewing Kerri Lee Beasley’s Google Slide Design Secrets.  
  4. Pay closer attention to the Rule of the Thirds, when designing my slides, as well as include more “insanely great visuals” — any of the links from “stock photos that don’t suck” will do.  
Alignment. Cool Photos that don't suck. I love you Unsplash!

Alignment. Cool Photos that don’t suck. I love you Unsplash!

I am not sure how this presentation will go over with my grade 3-5 students –I hope it doesn’t kill their enthusiasm. I will simply repeat my made up mantra, “If we use it, don’t abuse it, we must credit it.”

 

 

** I am experimenting with images from unsplash.com .  Here is their Attribution policy:

All photos published on Unsplash are licensed under Creative Commons Zero which means you can copy, modify, distribute and use the photos for free, including commercial purposes, without asking permission from or providing attribution to the photographer or Unsplash.

10 Things I will Change About my Blog

 

Thanks to the article, How we read online, I will strive to apply much of my new learning in this and future blog posts.  Here are my top 10 changes:

  1. I will keep my sentences short and to the point. See any Seth Godin post for great examples. 
  2. I will leave plenty of white space and avoid large chunks of text, since People shudder large blocks of text; I know I do. 😉
  3. I will employ more
  • Lists
  • Bullets
  • Occasional Bold
  • Sentence fragments

to make reading easier for the typical online reader.

4. I will change my blog’s theme to one with (IMO) a “cleaner” font and alignment, one that allows for more white space.

5. I will change the cover image (the magnified lady bug was too blurry, red colour too “angry”) to one that better suits the length of the header.  Image is still student created, but with more colour variety and uses Repetition as a design element. See below.

Screen Shot 2016-09-12 at 11.44.16

BEFORE: Too much red? I’m not angry…

Repetition, Repetition, Repetition: My new Header Image

AFTER: Repetition, Repetition, Repetition: My new Header Image

6. I will more thoughtfully consider the design principles in C. A. R. P. /CRAP when creating, (Design Secrets Revealed by Kerri Lee Beasley is a fabulous e book/resource!)

CARP Posters, courtesy of Kerri Lee Beasley. Feel free to download a copy here.

CARP Posters, courtesy of Kerri Lee Beasley. Feel free to download a copy here.

7. I will become a better expert at “detecting crap”, according to Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner.   (The two “Contrasting” Dove and Greenpeace videos in the intro of Questioning Video, Film, Advertising and Propaganda: Deconstructing Media Messages are excellent examples of the “C” in CARP…or Crap?)

8. I will try very hard to avoid puns (but just can’t seem to resist.  See above.)

9. I will not freak out when my not yet 3 year old twins spot the Golden Arches (A relatively simple design, with far reaching symbolism) from across the road and immediately beg for “donald’s,” and instead be impressed with how their “keen intellects are hard at work decoding their environment.”  

Golden Arches courtesy of Mike Mozart at Flickr.

Golden Arches courtesy of Mike Mozart at Flickr.

10. Finally, I will write more about the things I really want to write about–mainly my reflections on finding my bearings in my new role as Ed Tech Coach at my new school.

If things get personal, that’s okay, because in all likelihood, you, the reader, aren’t reading everything anyway,  since:

 

“[U]sers (readers) are selfish, lazy, and ruthless.You, my dear user, pluck the low-hanging fruit. When you arrive on a page, you don’t actually deign to read it. You scan. If you don’t see what you need, you’re gone.”  -according to Jakob Nielson

And you generally prefer shorter articles over long(Note: I didn’t actually finish this article.)

Finally–you  may have simply glazed over the words and bullets that formed the F shaped pattern:

Screen Shot 2016-09-10 at 14.58.20

Eye tracking Studies reveal the F shaped way our eyeballs view a webpage. Screenshot courtesy of the article “F shaped pattern For Reading Web Content”

This is why Headers &  Subheaders,  along with

  • Lists

  • Bullets

  • Numbers

are employed with abandon:  they form the letter F.  Although to really draw the you in, I ought to include pictures of 

noun_624281_cc

Faces grabs your eyeballs

or

Cleavage grabs your eyeballs

Cleavage grabs your eyeballs…more low hanging fruit…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deep apologies for the above, I am merely illustrating the F shape, the eyeball theory and testing my readers’ ability to detect crap.

Photography Collaboration: From Deciding to Acting, Course 1 Final Project

Last week I was busy thinking about, deciding on and planning a meaningful collaborative project with my young Early Years students and another class at my school.  Now, my “school” is actually 3 separate campuses somewhat spread about in Central Switzerland: 1 small Elementary School in canton Luzern (mine) a larger Elementary/Middle School and a High School, both in canton Zug.

As I mentioned last week, our small campus is closing at the end of this year, due to declining enrolment, and most of students will next year attend our much larger campus in Zug.  We have been encouraged to begin the process of a meaningful transition for our students, which include in person/on site meet ups–a recent field trip went really well– but I am hoping to continue these “meet-ups” online through a joint photography project.

We were actually initially inspired to look into photography a little more deeply by a fellow Coetailer’s (and ISZL’s own amazing High School English teacher, Tricia Friedman) invitation to collaborate:

https://www.coetail.com/triciafriedman/2016/02/28/lets-give-them-something-to-blog-about/

Screen shot from Tricia’s Padlet

So far this year my young students have taken hundreds of not so great, slightly out of focus, thumbs in the way of pictures of the floor using the ipad.   I am hoping through this project our understanding of what makes a picture good, interesting and meaningful will improve, but also that contributing to this “movement” is a great way to improve the feeling of community and connection across our campuses, which otherwise share little more than a name, despite its promise:

3 Campuses, 1 International Experience

The more I have thought about the nature of my planned collaborations across campuses, I realise they are really 2 separate learning collaborations…the first one being a response to a specific blog prompt set by Tricia on her Blog Prompt Padlet.  I had to choose a prompt appropriate for 4 & 5 year olds, (not so easy), so a prompt involving the obviously highly visual medium of photography jumped out at me.

World Photography Organisation,

World Photography Organisation, Shortlist contender

Now, this World Photography Organisation contest may well be over by the time we actually get around to making our choices, but it is of little matter.  The website itself is sweeping and the amount of different categories is a bit overwhelming, and I knew clicking around and waiting for web pages to load while my wriggly 4 year olds squirmed was not going to cut it, so I chose some relevant photo categories (Nature and Wildlife, Panorama, Smile and People) and pre-selected a few photos in each category that I thought would particularly resonate with the kids (photos of children, animals and landscapes similar to those of our own beautifully situated campus).

While choosing a favourite to win the contest and defending their choices using some newly learned insights into photography and story telling is part of the goal of this project, it is really only the jumping off point.  I am actually interested in how members of the High School English class (and anyone else who responds to the blogging prompts) respond to our posts about photography. And more so, I would like this exploration to inspire my students to become better picture takers and therefore better story tellers, using the medium of photography.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

This brings me to the second part of my collaborative project.  Our beloved campus closing, while a sad event, is also an opportunity to make sure our story is told, and our small voices heard.   Part 2 of my planned collaborative Photography Exploration will be to challenge my students (and EY at Zug campus) to capture the essence of our campuses–taking pictures of favourite locations, moments, people and friends (similar categories to those I chose from the wpo) and to share them with one another. Here at Luzern, we are blessed to be located right on lake, surrounded by mountains, fields fountains, and forest. Our building’s name is Villa Kämerstein, the Early Years building is in a quaint Swiss chalet.  There has got to be some photographic gems in there somewhere.

taking pics

Yep…this is typical EY, upside down and finger prints on the lens

The idea to involve the Zug campus actually stemmed from an earlier email conversation between myself and one of the EY teachers there, we were studying different constructions, in particular bridges, and she had the idea of somehow creating a project to “bridge” our two campuses; sharing the story of our two campuses to help with the transition our students will make next year.  I loved the idea, but at the time was unsure to how to proceed.

Now that I feel more confident in how this could play out, (sharing the picture or “story of our 2 campuses” on a Collaborative Photography Padlet) I am left waiting for a response from the other campus.  Despite a well thought out email to 6 teachers & 4 assistants, only one has expressed interest in joining the project.  Our Tech Coach warned me I might face reluctance…not necessarily due to lack of interest…but a lack of time, understanding, etc. Some told me they hadn’t even read the mail.  Deep sigh.  My biggest challenge will not be improving the photographic or reflection skills of my students, as evidenced by some results from our second day of picture taking;

trees

Our tree lined driveway, cropped and filter added by Emiliana, 4.

mountain

View of the lake and mountains, photo untouched by Johnathan, 5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It will be ensuring the collaboration aspect of my Collaborative Picture Taking Project actually takes place.

 

Getting “ahead” Legally

Living in Switzerland, and being on “ski” break this week I have had a lot of extra time to read and hopefully get “ahead” in the course.  I have been using my time to read a lot of blogs, leave comments on a few, save links and quotes for future blog posts.  My mind is literally spinning with ideas and my current trouble is narrowing down a focus for this week’s post and reflection.  Since I had too many ideas and a limited word count working against me, I am taking Ben’s advice and am splitting up the post I originally started.

Too many ideas, limited word count...

Too many ideas, limited word count…

My first error in thinking I could quickly “get ahead” on posts was assuming I could churn out several reflective posts in a day or two. I can do a lot of “consuming” of information in that time, but the harder part–the sorting, categorising, and consolidating aspect of reflection simply takes time.  I need time to reflect on all the new ideas.  I need time to seek out more information to see what I can find to further support and extend my new line of thinking.

 

noun_299608_cc

Me, being driven crazy by plug ins, widgets and posting to pages

My second error was assuming the “tinkering and playing around with my blog” would not be the time suck that Jeff promised it would.  I am being driven crazy by seemingly simple things (the digital equivalent of putting a paper in a folder, or in other words, adding my posts to a Page) that I haven’t yet figured out how to do simply–without altering code on a plug in (??? all Greek to me) as some tutorial I googled suggested- and wondering how to tap into my PLN for answers.   Of course, the more time it takes to tinker with the appearance, the more stressed I become that I am running out of time to focus on the actual content.

Now, I realise that in our visual world, the appearance of the blog is a huge part of the package, and just as important as the “content”–the medium is the message kind of thing.

Your message is only as good as your ability to share it.  

So, just as I am finally getting a little more comfortable with public sharing, and hoping that people actually do take a look, at  week 3 with no comments on my blog, I am a little disheartened.  But I have to remember my inner mantra form week 2…Networking is High Maintenance, and you get out what you put in…So, I am going to  step up my game in the karmic commenting department myself.  More on how that turns out later…

Spreading UK love…

 

And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.–The Beatles

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For the love…

The next part of the game plan to make more visually appealing blog posts is to find some good and legal sources for images…Pinterest had a zillion lovely memes for my favourite Beatles lyric, but I am not sure how legally I am allowed to share them.  I am loving the noun project but am otherwise wondering why is it that the nicest images aren’t found in any creative commons search engines?  I am also still figuring out how to best credit images…photos for class is great for being easy to use, but the embedded attribution really takes away from the visual experience.

 

 Yuck!  →→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→→

I am also learning from free technology for teachers about best practices for using images.   I know this week is supposed to be all, “Google+ and Twitter”…but I am actually all, “Sign myself up for free pics!” Woohoo!

 

 

 

Photo Credit: UK love, flickr photo by @Doug88888 https://flickr.com/photos/doug88888/3447152946 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license