Tuesday, September 29, 2015

First Post of the New School Year!

It has been a crazy start to the school year with a lot of changes...good changes!  This year, third grade is departmentalizing which means two teachers are teaching math, science and social studies, and two teachers are teaching reading and writing.  I am the literacy teacher and I love it!

So, I was approached by a friend this summer who was getting her dog certified as a therapy dog through Therapy Dogs International.  He finished his training and is now certified to read with kids.  I spoke to my principal about letting him come to school to read with the kids, and he loved it the idea! We started two weeks ago and now Yogi and his handler, Mary (my friend) come every Wednesday for two hours at a time.  We schedule the kids in 15 minute intervals, with a 15 minute break for Yogi. The kids are loving it and are constantly asking me when they get to read with him again!

Officially, Yogi is part of "Tail Waggin' Tutors" which allows therapy dogs to come into schools and work with struggling readers.  These students are often shy, nervous, apprehensive, you name it, when it comes to reading.  This program allows the kids to read to Yogi in a non-threatening atmosphere and help build their confidence.  My hope is to get more therapy dogs at our school to help our students!

I asked students to write a quick blog post about their experience with Yogi.  Specifically, what their favorite part was and why, and would they like to read with him again?

Here is what they wrote!

Dorismar
Reading to Yogi is fun and the end of the story is fun because Yogi is so funny and I pat him in the fur,  I do want to read to Yogi again because it is so fun when he moves around and he lays down.

Josh
Josh
My favorite thing of reading with Yogi was he listened all the time and the time when I laughed it was when he went to sleep and it was fun.   I would like to read to him again because it was fun and I
 wanted to spend more time with Yogi,

Maribel
My favorite part was when I sat down on the grass and Yogi started to lick me.  It was my favorite part because he was super cool because he got on top of me.  Yes, I want to read with him again because he is soft and big and when I was reading I felt his soft fur.
Robert

Robert
My favorite part of reading with Yogi was when he would snuff me because it tickled.  I would like to read to him again because he was a good dog and I really like him.

Lupita
My favorite part of reading with Yogi is when I was reading and he was in my lap.  When I was reading he was sleeping.  I would like to read with him because he is cute and big and I like Yogi.

Deveni
Rosina
My favorite part of reading to Yogi was when he laid on my lap and fell asleep.  He woke up and he wagged his tail.  I would like to read with him again because it was fun to read to him.  It was very fun.



Deveni
My favorite part of reading with Yogi is when Yogi put his paw on my book because Yogi likes my book and was like "read the book!" I would like to see him again because he is a sweet dog.



I look forward to a fun school year with Yogi and can't wait to watch my kids build their confidence in reading throughout the year.  If any of you can get this program, or one like it, in your school, I highly recommenced it!

Check back for more Yogi updates throughout the year!





Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Digital Storytelling and My Journey- The End!

Wow I can't believe this journey is over!  It was definitely a course filled with ups and downs, with a lot of frustration but a lot of satisfaction as well.  This final reflection and portfolio showcases my work through the last seven weeks in CU Denver's Learning with Digital Stories course taught by Professor Remi Holden. By completing this portfolio, I was surprised how much I accomplished in a short period of time.  Here is the link to my final portfolio, and below is my final course reflection. I hope you enjoy learning about my journey as much as I enjoyed it!

Myself as a Learner in this Course

The following addresses how I learned in this course, how I understand social learning practices, how my experiences in this course inform how I will learn in the future, and the ways I understand myself a connected learner.

When I read the syllabus a few weeks before the course, I was a bit nervous of what was to come.  I didn’t even really understand what a digital story was.  Then as the first week began I watched the two screencasts and part of me felt better and part of me felt unsure.  Remi stated that it was ok to feel frustrated, confused, discouraged (I can’t remember all the adjectives but there were a few) so I knew I wouldn’t be alone in my feelings.  I am pretty sure the first week’s assignments took me about 3 days to complete as I was exploring DS106 and the different aspects.

As the weeks went along, I became more and more comfortable with the course and assignments and even began looking forward to the DS106 assignment bank.  My progression of comfort in the course is very evident in my blog posts and tweets as the weeks went on.  This comfort level increased based on how I learned in this course.  At first, everything was new to me; blogging, tweeting, digital stories, DS106, Daily Creates, literally everything was new.  I learned by doing and trying.  I learned by viewing other classmates’ work and from trial and error on my own.  I learned by asking for help from classmates and Remi.

This leads to how I understand the social learning practices given theory by Lankshear and Knobel.  My whole journey to become a teacher and more recently getting my master’s degree has had a fair amount of social learning, although I wasn’t really aware of the label until recently.  My cohort through CU Denver’s Urban Teaching Program became my go to for help and questions more so than my professors on my road to becoming a teacher.  Some of my master’s classes have had a lot of social learning and some had none.  This most recent course on digital story telling has had the most social learning.  My favorite definition of social learning comes from Lankshear and Knobel’s New Literacies chapter 7, but it is from a quote from Brown and Adler.  They say, “[Social learning] is learning based on the assumption that our understanding of concepts and processes is constructed socially in conversations about the matters in question and 'through grounded interactions, especially with others, around their problem or action” (p. 218).

My social learning became evident when I asked for help in a blog post regarding DS106 assignments and within one hour of my post, I had two classmates offer suggestions to me.  I immediately took their advice and was on my way.  Even though this is my last graduate class of my program, I plan to continue incorporating social learning into my third grade classroom.  I have learned how powerful it can be, especially for younger students who are like sponges.  There is a lot of research out there that discusses how important social learning and group work is for English language learners and my plan is to incorporate as much as I can this coming year.

My Co-Design of this Course

The following addressed how this course was different from others I've taken, how I contributed to the development of this course and our learning community, how I was responsible for directing both my own learning and also the shared experiences of peers/others, and how I would have designed this course differently.

With the exception of one or two courses in my program, this course was very different.  It challenged me to think on my own and rely on myself and the help from peers to figure things out.  My whole ILT program was online so there is always some degree of self-reliance, but here I was pushed farther than before.

I feel I contributed to the development of this course by bringing a different perspective (that of an elementary teacher) to the group.  There were a lot of people in the class that had something to do with education, but to my knowledge I was the only elementary school teacher.  This allowed my peers to see this class through a different lens than their own.  Those that read my blog could see how the Lankshear and Knobel readings or DS106 assignments could be tied to elementary classroom.        

I was responsible for directing my own learning through DS106 assignments and digital story critiques.  It was up to me to pick the DS106 assignments and then learn how to complete them.  This was a lot easier said than done.  There were so many assignments I chose that were a learning curve.  Whether it was figuring out Windows Movie Maker or Audacity or just simply how to embed things into a blog.  As far as the digital critiques went, I could choose a story that interested me or taught me something.  For example, I watched a lot of Ted Talks on education and I found myself paying close attention to the news or Facebook in order to find stories I wanted to critique. 

One of the most helpful aspects of this course was reading other responses to the text.  Each person had a different take on the same chapter and it was very helpful to read other responses and put it all together.  What I had to say might have helped someone else that was struggling with a concept or something I read on another’s blog helped clear up my confusion.  This shared experience of working through a complex text together, I think benefited everyone.

There are two things I would change about this course: the story critiques the second half of the class and the lack of grades.  I found that many of the remixes the second half of the course that people critiqued, including myself, were not as in depth or were more surface level than the critiques the first half of the class.  For example, remixed songs or fan fiction.  I realize those remixes are very important to some and maybe I am being na├»ve in saying they are more surface level or just for fun.  But for me and my journey through this course, I preferred the critique criteria the first half of the course where I could watch Ted Talks or news stories that were not remixes.  But then again, Lankshear and Knobel argue that everything could be considered a remix of something else so perhaps it just comes down to personal opinion.  Finally, it was hard for me to never get a formal grade for my work.  I know everything was read and kept track of, but I am person that needs that grade to keep me at peace that I am on the right track.  Although, I am assume if I was failing, I would have been notified by now!       

My Understanding of Pedagogy

The following addresses how I understand Remi's course design and ongoing decision-making, how this course changed my understanding of pedagogy, how my understanding of "instructor" changed, and some feedback to Remi about this course.

I would be curious to see how this course was designed before this semester as I had heard it used to look very differently.  My understanding of this course design comes from what I have seen on DS106 as our syllabus correlates to the DS106 syllabus.  I very much appreciate Remi’s ongoing decision making throughout the course because I feel like he was really listening to our reflections and acting accordingly.  He wasn’t afraid to veer from the syllabus and update it to meet our needs.  For example, I was one of the people who was frustrated with the Daily Creates because there were very few I related to each week.  I never directly complained about them but would mention my concerns in my reflections and a few weeks later he made them optional.  This goes to show he was really listening and doing his best to meet our needs. 

With that being said, this course didn’t necessarily change my understanding of pedagogy, but it did help confirm my beliefs.  I knew the importance of social learning, but like I said before, I didn’t have a name for it other than group work or collaboration.  Through Lankshear and Knobel’s final two chapters and the real time exposure I got to social learning, it has confirmed that I need to ramp up my efforts in my own classroom.            

To me an instructor is someone who guides you along your journey and helps you reach your goals.  Their job is not to ‘push’ all this knowledge at you, but be there for support as you try to find your way.  I think all of us became ‘instructors’ in this course as we all helped each other through the journey.  Selfishly, it was comforting knowing others were going through my same struggles and I learned about their same struggles through their posts, whether it was technology issues, work or travel obligations, to confusion about assignments, etc.  Our ‘instructor’ was there each Monday to check in and help guide our work for the following week.  It was always nice to be showcased in a screencast as it validated and acknowledged the work we were doing.   


All I have to say is if you had asked me 8 weeks ago if I was going to make it through this course, I would have said probably not.  I remember saying to someone, I don’t know how anyone with a job will have time to complete all of these assignments!  Not only did each week get easier and easier, but I began to look forward to things like the critiques and DS106 assignments.  I learned about a world I never knew existed (fan fiction and anime) and learned about new programs and web 2.0 tools that will be very useful for me in the future with my students.  I think it is very important that you emphasize to ‘newbies’ that it seems like a lot but it is worth the journey, if I could do it, anyone can!


References:
Lankshear, C. & Knobel, M. (2011). New Literacies: Everyday Practices and Social Learning. New York: Open University Press.

Here is the embedded version on my portfolio.  To view the complete site, click here

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Week 7 Reflection

How well do you feel you completed the requirements of the week’s assignments?
This week, I completed all the assignments and they were on time!  My feelings towards the final chapter were mixed but in the end, I do see how they tied it all together and I really liked reading about the Q2L school.  I think if I read that book again I might get even more out of it...

What gave you trouble? What did you enjoy most? What did you learn?
Nothing gave me trouble this week, luckily.  I completed my Lankshear and Knobel response from Spain in my mom's apartment with great wifi and did my visual assignment when I got home.  I really enjoyed the visual assignment because I am starting to get excited about applying some of these things to my classroom.  I learned a little about html this week and how to embed a Google slideshow into my blog so that was exciting!  I also liked all the comments I received on my L&K post, it was interesting to read everyone's thoughts and responses to what I wrote.  

What would you do differently? What questions to you have?
I think some of my comments in my Lankshear and Knobel reflection came out in a different way than I intended.  I think some people reading my blog took my words to say that I don't like this class or that I am annoyed with all the "pull".  That was not my intention at all, it was simply my very first thought that changed very quickly once I dove in.  I have very much enjoyed this course and all the freedom and choice in the assignments.  I feel like this class has been better than most!  

What are some of the larger issues surrounding your work?
No issues!

Score: 10/10

Friday, July 24, 2015

Backyard Photo Safari

For this week's DS106 assignment, I decided to stick with the visual assignments because they are my favorite.  I chose one that might be boring for some, but the application to the classroom could be very powerful.  It is a backyard photo safari that takes viewers on a photo journey through someone's yard.  Now my backyard is fairly plain, but I chose this assignment because I was thinking about applying it to the classroom.

One of the most powerful things I learned through CU Denver's Urban Teacher Program was how important it is to allow the students to bring their own culture and funds of knowledge into the classroom.  I thought this backyard photo journey could be a really cool way for me to get to know the students at the beginning of the year and for the students to get to know each other.  It wouldn't necessarily have to be their backyards, it could be anything.

In my current school, we would probably have to modify this a bit by either doing it in class together or by using actual pictures the kids have, not digital.  For some, this could be homework during the first week of school and have students share on Friday, for example.  This assignment would teacher the kids about creating digital slide shows and allow them to learn to be digital storytellers!

Here is my photo journey!



  

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Moving Towards "Pull"- Last L&K Response:

While reading this chapter I had a roller coaster of thoughts and emotions running through my head.  While the concept of social learning through a masters and teaching cohorts is intriguing and forward thinking, I would be upset if I was paying for a class and I had to learn everything myself...why pay for it then?  Now I don’t know all the specifics around tuition but my first thought was that would not be ok with me.  Perhaps this is because I am so used to learning via the ‘push’ model where I am told what to do, how to do it and when it needs to be finished; it is all I have known really until this class.  And I’m not going to lie, I felt a bit annoyed at first about this class and its freedom and flexibility.  I was thinking if I had known about DS106 previously, I could have accomplished the same result for free.  But then I lose the credits, the guidance of a professor, and a known, close knit group of classmates to collaborate with and seek advice.  Now reaching the end of the this class I realized how much I’ve learned on my own and how much I’ve explored on the web that I never knew existed.  So I guess I am a fan of the ‘pull’ concept and social learning.

Moving towards the school in New York, I was encouraged by the findings.  I love the idea of what the Q2L School is doing and how they are going about their teaching.  Their goal to use “game like learning to connect student learning to the demands of the twenty-first century and support young people in their learning across digital networks, peer communities, content, careers, and media” (p. 246) is exactly why I chose instructional technology as my masters.  I want my students to be prepared for the 21st century and in order to be prepared; they need critical thinking, technology and problem solving skills that are so hard to teach from a text book in the standard classroom.


Now, playing devil’s advocate...how does this concept work with kids from all different backgrounds?  I know typically New York is fairly diverse and these students were chosen from a lottery system, but as I was reading, I kept thing what background did the kids have?  Were they already proficient readers and writers?  Were they at grade level in math?  Do they have internet access at home and parent support?  

These are the things I have to think about when trying to apply this concept to my situation, even though I know this case study was 6th and 7th graders.  It was also interesting to read that “school’s resourcing and operating costs fall within the parameters of the school’s district-approved budget” (p. 246), I would be curious to see what that looks like and how they got all the partnerships they did.  What the Q2L school is doing sounds expensive and something my district would never consider so seeing the financials of this all would be interesting!

References:
Lankshear, C. & Knobel, M. (2011). New Literacies: Everyday Practices and Social Learning. New York: Open University Press.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Reflecting from Spain

  • How well do you feel you completed the requirements of the week’s assignment
This week was a little rough for me traveling and being out of the country.  I managed to get all the assignments completed but one was a little late and I wasn't able to engage with my peers as much as I normally do.  I was finally able to respond to comments on my posts and I got to read peer work this morning.


  • What gave you trouble? What did you enjoy most? What did you learn?
Obviously the wifi situation gave me a lot of trouble this week.  One hotel only had it in the lobby and it was a very weak signal and the current hotel's wifi cuts in an out all the time (obviously I can't be too annoyed because I am in a beautiful part of Spain enjoying the sun and the beach) but it was still stressful.  Another thing was the Blogger app on my phone doesn't let you use links but I was able to take screen shots of the fan fiction I read and hopefully people could read too if there chose.  

I enjoyed learning about fan fiction, I had never seen it before and I liked reading different 'what ifs' and the crossovers between some of my favorite shows.  I have also learned to have a great deal of patience this week with all the frustrations surrounding trying to get wifi!

  • What would you do differently? What questions to you have?
I guess there isn't much I would have done differently other than trying harder to get EVERYTHING finished before I left.  I don't get home until Thursday but my goal is to start tomorrow and see what I can get finished.

  • What are some of the larger issues surrounding your work
I am feeling better about creating assignments related to my focal theme or at least finding ways to tie assignments into my theme.

Here's to next week!

Score: 9/10

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Something new from a far away land

Let me preface this post by telling you how nearly impossible it's been to blog from Spain...so much for being global...I couldn't get wifi to work in the hotel with a computer or an iPad.   I apologize about the lack of links but that's asking a lot apparently. For now if you want to see the mix up go to fanfiction, then mix ups, then Grey's anatomy then law and order SVU then it's the first one. I've also added screen shots!

This week I decided to try something new. I have never see any fan fiction before so I went to fanfiction.net and started browsing. Unfortunately, the wifi where I am isn't the fastest thing in the world so my options were limited. However, I explored TV shows and saw some Friends stuff, obviously everyone knows I love Friends, but changed my mind when I saw the mix ups section. I clicked on Grey's Anatomy then saw I could mix it with Law and Order: SVU and got so excited...two of my other favorite shows! To be honest, I think this mix up could have been done much better, maybe I'll write my own crossover :)

I chose to critique this fan fiction based on 3 of Lankshear & Knobel's literacy dimensions:

1.) crafting an engaging plot line that remains 'believable' despite the new twists given to characters and extant story lines. 
2.) may include writing reviews and providing feedback on other's narratives 
3.) using good grammar and spelling; or using bad grammar and bad spelling for developing characters, etc. 


1.) this story has believable plot lines because the back story here matches with the shows' plot. Even with the new twists and added characters (babies) the plot line makes sense and could really happen. 
Score: 10/10

2.) at the end of the fan fiction the author welcomes reviews and provides commentary on her thought process. Only 2 people have reviewed this work and based on the author's request I think he/she wants more feedback. 
Score: 10/10

3.) this was the weakest part of the fan fiction. There were several times when I had to re-read parts of this in order to follow or understand the new plot. The grammar was ok but nothing was so bad that it interfered with the story line. 
Score: 8/10




Friday, July 17, 2015

Chapter 7 Response- L&K

As I was reading chapter 7 this week I kept thinking how glad I was I became a teacher when I did. Chapter 7 seemed like a play by play of many classes I took through CU Denver's Urban Teacher Program.  It also tied in nicely from last week's conversation I had with a few peers on collaboration and why it is the new norm in the classroom.  

I think this definition from Brown and Adler on social learning sums it up perfectly, "learning based on the assumption that our understanding of concepts and processes is constructed socially in conversations about the matters in question and 'through grounded interactions, especially with others, around their problem or action'” (p. 218).  This is why schools are all about collaboration, especially with English language learners.  Students can learn just as much from their peers as they can their teacher.  Lanskshear and Knobel go on to say, “the emphasis shifts from ‘the content of a subject to the learning activities and human interactions around which that content is situated’” (p. 218).  So I am still teaching content but instead of me standing up in front of the class lecturing to 8 year olds about why 2 x 2 = 4, they are exploring together with manipulatives and coming up with the answer on their own, then we come back together and reflect on the learning.  We call it ‘the explore model’ at my school.  The same concept can work with any subject and this model allows the students to become the teachers and take charge of their own learning. 

This concept applies to all levels of education.  To me, this course is what Brown and Adler describe as a ‘pull approach’ class where we are taking charge of our learning.  Brown and Adler say, “A ‘pull’ approach assumes ‘passion-based learning’ that is ‘motivated by the student either wanting to learn about, make, or perform something’” (p. 228).  We have a platform to start on and it is up to us to go in the direction we choose.  If we want to create a certain DS106 assignment but we don’t know how, it is up to us to figure it out, we don’t have someone walking us through step by step.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I was extremely nervous about this in the beginning, I wanted someone just to tell me what to do.  Now, imagine how this must feel to 8 year olds when I am nervous about the freedom myself??  

Chapter 7 also confirmed in my mind that a classroom blog is so important for my students.  They need to know that someone out there besides me is reading/viewing their work.  Students need to know that what they are doing matters and it’s worth the effort.  The interactions they have in the classroom or online, even with just each other, are a great learning experience for them and it’s important for students to know that they can be the teachers too!


 References:

Lankshear, C. & Knobel, M. (2011). New Literacies: Everyday Practices and Social Learning. New York: Open University Press.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Magical Light

I was worried when I first saw today's Daily Create that I was going to have to Photoshop a picture in order to get 'magical light' but then it said you can just take a picture, much better for me.  I took this photo last week when I was in Michigan and I think the sunset is pretty magical!


Monday, July 13, 2015

Story Map - A Trip through France

Nice
For this week's DS106 Assignment we got to choose a topic based on our interest.  I enjoyed the visual assignment I completed a few weeks ago, so I decided to try a new one.  There was one assignment that caught my eye last time but I didn't take the time to figure out the website I had to use to complete it.  This week I have more time so I tried again, turns out it wasn't that hard!

Omaha Beach
The assignment calls for you use a website called StoryMap to create an interactive map telling a story of a trip you took.  Last summer I went to France to meet up with my mom who lives in Madrid.  This story map is a very cool website that allows you to add pictures, descriptions and captions to a places you have visited and adds a pin point of that exact location on an interactive map.

Applying StoryMap to the Classroom
This would be a really cool activity to incorporate in the classroom.  When kids comes back to school they could make a story map of a trip they took over the summer, winter or spring breaks.  They could also use story map to accompany a history project, for example the route Christopher Columbus took, or the history of their family and where they came from.  The website is fairly straightforward and could be taught to a class easily.  Story map is a great replacement for the old-fashioned Power Point!

*The only thing I would change about Story Map is being able to add more than one picture per place.  I Googled it and the creator said he didn't want to make it too complicated (not sure more than one picture would complicate it, but oh well).

Unfortunately, I could not figure out how to embed my story map using html so you'll have to click through the link to see it...sorry for the inconvenience!

France 2014

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Week 5 Reflection

How well do you feel you completed the requirements of the week’s assignments?
This week I completed all the assignments but I was a little late posting my Lankshear and Knobel chapter response.  I still received good comments from others so it all worked out!  I was better at my goal of tweeting people when I responded to their blog posts and I also remembered to check the ‘notify me’ box so I got an email when people replied to my posts or my comments.

What gave you trouble? What did you enjoy most? What did you learn?
I am struggling with Daily Creates and finding ones that interest me.  Maybe I am not creative enough or adventurous enough but nothing this week, except the first day’s pen a tweet, has interested me.  I also struggled with my mash up assignment, I had no idea how time consuming it would be!  First I completed the assignment using pictures and then realized it was supposed to be clips so I had to start over.  I wasn’t thrilled with my final result as I mentioned in my blog, but it was the best I could do!  The last thing that gave me trouble was my darn computer.  My personal computer has yet to work properly since the mysterious downloads a few weeks ago so I have been using my school computer.  It has been fine except when I go to watch people’s story critiques or look for ones of my own (here is the mashup I critiqued this week), and I can’t watch it because my computer is stuck in ‘safety mode’.  It has been very frustrating!

I enjoyed watching and reading people’s critiques this week (I watched them on my phone or iPad), they made me laugh and opened my eyes to some things I never knew existed, like Trailer Cuts.  I am not sure I will spend a lot of time looking at them in the future, but it was cool to see.  I have never been one to just sit on the computer and watch videos nor do I ever think I will be, but I have found myself watching more and more that I see ‘trending’ on Facebook or the Today Show.

What would you do differently? What questions to you have?
If I were to do my mashup assignment over, I would like to research other movie making programs so I can learn how to make the transitions between clips smoother.  Like I said before, I don’t have much to work with but it is worth looking in to.

I don’t really have any questions just general wonderings.  First, is there a way to check how I am doing in the course?  I know you don’t post grades but a quick note about my progress in the course would be nice or if there is something I need to be doing differently.  Second, I am struggling finding meaningful digital stories to critique, especially with these new remix literacy practices.  There are things I am finding that interest me, but I can’t figure out how to critique them given Lankshear and Knobel’s guidelines.  I know you said in your screen cast that you were changing the requirement to one critique so they could be more meaningful and deeper but how do I go deeper using these guidelines?  Anyone else having this trouble?

What are some of the larger issues surrounding your work?
Other than what I mentioned above, I don’t have many other issues.  I have figured out ways, thanks to some good advice, on how to relate the DS106 assignments to my focal theme and that is going better!

Score: 9/10


A New Side to Ben Franklin

I was holding out for my last Daily Create and I think they saved the best for last this week. Apparently Benjamin Franklin created The Drinker's Dictionary which has 228 synonyms for being drunk while he was sitting in a tavern around 1737.  Some of them made me laugh out loud!

The goal of today's Daily Create was to use one of his synonyms and illustrate it.  I don't know how many of you out there have ever tried to maneuver a full, old-fashioned wheelbarrow, but it isn't easy. Sometimes while driving a wheelbarrow you feel like you've been in the Tun Tavern for a few too many. Hence my creation...


Saturday, July 11, 2015

To Blog or to Wiki...

...that is the question!

I chose to respond to Lankshear and Knobel’s chapter 5 this week on blogs and wikis.  I was familiar with blogs from years past but never had my own until recently.  However, I was not familiar with wikis, other than Wikipedia obviously, so that was interesting to read about.  One idea/buzz word kept coming up in the chapter and in my head, collaboration.  For those of you that aren’t teachers, collaboration is the new (sometimes seems like the only) buzzword in education.  Everything is about collaboration.

While I was reading, I kept thinking of new ways I could use blogs or wikis in my classroom to better collaborate.  I already have it in my head that I want to create classroom blog next school year where students can share their ideas or reading responses.  But a blog might not be as collaborative as a wiki.  When I finished the chapter, it became apparent that a wiki space would be better for collaboration within my classroom than a blog, but harder to set up.  Lankshear and Knobel state, “Wikis have great potential within education for promoting online and offline collaboration among educators and students within and across classrooms and institutions” (p. 158).  My only concern with a wiki is will it be too complicated to navigate for 8 year olds??

Honestly, because I am not as familiar with wikis and because Lanskhear and Knobel say ‘setting up and contributing to a wiki is not as straightforward as setting up or posting to a blog’ (p. 158) I feel a classroom blog is the safer option for this coming school year.  However, Lankshear and Knobel do say that wikis ‘have considerable potential as a professional development medium for educators, as tools, resource hosts, and shared interest spaces’ (p. 158).  So maybe the answer here is stick with a simpler blog for 3rd graders in the classroom and create a wiki space for teachers to use and collaborate together. 

My goal for this fall is to help classroom teachers better incorporate technology into their classrooms, we are even setting up a new committee to make this happen.  I created an edWeb space last semester to help make my goal a reality, but the problem with edWeb is you have to create an account and login every time.  A wiki space might be more useful so more than one teacher can contribute to the content or edit an existing entry to make it better.  It might also be easier to navigate or get to for the resistant to change teachers, we all have a few of those at our schools!

Side note: I did a basic search on wiki.com for "technology AND elementary education" and a really cool wiki showed up.  This is a great starting point for me to use to help teachers next year realize the importance of technology in the classroom! 

The only concern I have with incorporating a blog or wiki into my classroom is the lack of technology available to some of my students outside the classroom.  I would love more than anything to assign homework where students have to blog or contribute, edit or read a wiki, but the reality is most of my students don’t have a computer or internet access at home.  I will just have to be diligent about allowing students the time in the classroom to participate if they aren’t able to at home. 

image taken from a Google image search


References:
Lankshear, C. & Knobel, M. (2011). New Literacies: Everyday Practices and Social Learning. New York: Open University Press.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Kindergarten Minds

For this week's digital story critique I decided to keep it upbeat.  I have critiqued some fairly serious stories in previous weeks but Lisa's Taylor Swift parody inspired me!  I was also looking at Emily's critique to get some ideas and read about a site called Trailer Cuts on her blog.  Right away I saw a recent remix that caught my attention: Kindergarten Cop meets Dangerous Minds:




This remix features two movies on education but they are complete opposites in terms of plots. Kindergarten Cop is a funny movie with little kids and Dangerous Minds (great movie!) is a serious movie with troubled high school students.  Both start with inexperienced teachers and an unruly class and in the end they both triumph.  This editor took polar opposite movies and created this trailer with the theme song from Dangerous Minds and clips from Kindergarten Cop.  I am assuming he is a fan of both movies and did a good job with this mashup.  If you are a teacher, you can relate to Arnold :)

I am critiquing this mashup using Lankshear and Knobel's 'making movie trailers' literacy dimensions, specifically:

  • Knowing how to access original movie footage to use in the remixed trailer
  • Paying attention to original movie story lines and leveraging them
  • Having access to key scenes from the movie that match one's purpose
Knowing how to access original movie footage to use in the remixed trailer: The editor, David Gonzales, had access to the original movie and used great scene choices in his remix that aligned with his goal of mashing two different movies. 10/10

Paying attention to original movie story lines and leveraging them: I think he did a great job of this!  I have seen both movies and the scenes he chose from Kindergarten Cop and the theme song from Dangerous Minds matched perfectly for what he was going for.  Both movies start with a struggling teacher that ends up succeeding at the end so they were a good choice in mashing. 10/10

Having access to key scenes from the movie that match one's purpose: I am not sure how he made the trailer, I am assuming he paid for the movie and the song to mash together.  There is not a lot of detail on how the editors make the trailers, but they are fun to watch and the scenes he chose matched his purpose. 10/10

Overall Score: 30/30

I think this remix could have been better if the editor found a way to incorporate a few clips with Michelle Pfeiffier from Dangerous Minds and not just the theme song (don't me wrong, I love Coolio).  She has some great lines that could have been worked in and mashed up to compliment what Arnold says.  Overall, I though it was clever and I would have never thought of the idea!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Best of Ross and Rachel!

Wow this assignment took me a lot longer than I thought it would and in the end I am only 80% satisfied with the finished product!  Today's DS106 assignment came in the form of a mashup.  I spent way too long clicking through the choices but I finally chose one.

A changing character required me to pick my favorite character from an ongoing TV series and show video clips of the character's changes throughout the series.  'Friends' is my all time favorite show, so it only seemed natural that I complete this assignment using this show.  I decided to focus on the history of Ross and Rachel over the 10 seasons (if you are not familiar with the show, sad for you if you're not, Ross and Rachel date on and off all 10 seasons).  Some clips are longer and some are shorter but the goal was to show a dramatic change.

I used Clip Converter to download YouTube videos of Friend's clips.  It was very easy to use and required no reading instructions, my kind of program.  I then uploaded all the clips to Windows Movie Maker and edited the clips from there.  I added a title page and credits page and captions depicting each season.  I was unhappy with the transitions between clips.  I couldn't figure out how to make them fade in or out nicely and make the transitions smoother.  Maybe next time I will try a different movie making software.  Anyway, here is the finished product!


You might be wondering what this video mashup has to do with technology in the classroom...well I took my classmates' advice from last week and decided to discuss how I might use something similar in my classroom.  I was thinking this could be a cool way to show a student's growth over the year; to show the progression of their writing, reading tests or progression of their blog posts from fall to spring.  It might be a little challenging for third graders but we could work on it together as a class or save this for the day I might become a technology teacher for all grades....  

Monday, July 6, 2015

Happy #PenATweet Day

I woke up this morning (Happy Monday everyone) and decided to get right to work.  I started with checking The Daily Create and I was so excited by what I found!  Last week I struggled with the idea of remixes and the digital age taking over and possibly replacing the written word (I calmed down) and then I found today's assignment.

Apparently July 1st is #PenATweet Day (we are a little late but better late than never) so after reading more about it, naturally I was excited and intrigued.  The day focuses on 'celebrating the importance of handwriting in the midst of a digital era.'

Being a third grade teacher, I think handwriting is so important for kids to learn.  I can't tell you the number of crazy ways kids hold pencils these days!!  I happen to have terrible handwriting (a real bummer being a teacher) so I constantly stress to my students how important nice handwriting is. Luckily they are at the age where they don't argue with me so if I make them redo something in better handwriting, they do it :)

Happy #PenATweet Day everyone!


Sunday, July 5, 2015

Week 4 Reflection

Week 4 Reflection

How well do you feel you completed the requirements of the week’s assignments?
This week I feel like I completed most of the assignments well.  It took me a long time to find a digital story I wanted to critique but in the end I was happy with what I found and critiqued.  I was not happy with my daily creates, I am not a good artist and was frustrated there wasn’t a wider variety this week.  The one I did today could have been really cool if I knew how to Photoshop better. 

What gave you trouble? What did you enjoy most? What did you learn?
I didn’t have much that gave me trouble other than I couldn’t decide which story to critique.  I spent at least 2-3 hours searching through knowyourmeme.com and political remixes and lost track of time.  I eventually found a cool beginners Photoshop contest on worth1000.com that caught my eye, and I blogged about here.  (I have to admit, I was a little saddened by the fact that no one liked my Vacation reference!)  I enjoyed mixing up the critique guidelines, it was refreshing to use other criteria.  However, I did have a hard time figuring out how to fit some of the digital stories I found with the new literacy dimensions. 

I learned a lot this week from Lanskhear and Knobel as well as googling different remixes Lankshear and Knobel mention.  I had never thought about remixing in the terms they discuss.  Whenever I heard the term remix previously, I would think of a song that was redone or changed at a school dance.  It opened a whole new world to me!  I struggled with the part on remixes replacing the written word, as I discussed here, but discussions with classmates made me realize everything still starts with the written word: movies come from books or a screen play, music comes from written lyrics, etc.      

What would you do differently? What questions to you have?
One thing I keep forgetting to do that other classmates do, is tweet to the person whose blog I comment on.  A few people have done that for me and it helps me remember who has commented and on which thing.  However, I have a hard time expressing what I want to say in the 140 characters, still working on that!

What are some of the larger issues surrounding your work?
This week my issues revolved around the lack of knowledge around photoshopping and image manipulation as I mentioned before.  I know how to do basic things like cropping, changing filters
(only because the app does it for me) and collages but I would like to learn more skills.  I was also limited this week because I only have my school computer with me on vacation and the software is limited (no photo manipulation software, no Windows movie maker, etc.  It was also frustrating because my computer is in safety mode and it wouldn’t let me watch 60% of the You Tube videos on knowyourmeme.com.


Score: 10/10

What's With All the Drawing Daily Creates??

Ok, so I was holding out this week for a Daily Create that didn't involve drawing (in case you missed it, I did a beautiful drawing a few days ago) or making a video.  I was disappointed that there was no fun 4th of July assignment like filming fireworks or uploading a picture of your BBQ, but oh well.

Drawing is not my best skill, so I went with a photography Daily Create assignment I found from a few days ago.  I had to embed a famous painting in an everyday setting, perfect project given our remix theme this week.

I am currently on vacation in Michigan visiting my family so I figured a water picture was appropriate.  Now a few disclaimers...I only have my school computer with me so my photoshopping options were limited due to a lack of available software.  I also have no idea how to photoshop so I did my best using my favorite app on my phone, PicsArt.  Maybe someone can teach me how to blend!

Photo of the Grand Haven Pier and Monet's Painting

Thursday, July 2, 2015

You're Welcome...

for my beautiful Daily Create drawing.  Yesterday's option was to draw 'your favorite day with your best friend' and here it is!

If you couldn't tell from my wonderful artwork, one of my favorite things to do is hike with my friends and dog, Tag.  


I think it looks pretty close to the real thing...



Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Look Kids Big Ben

In the last few weeks, people used photographs for their digital story critiques.  I thought they did a nice job, and I mentioned I wanted to critique a picture myself.  It definitely seemed harder than a video based on Jason Ohler's criteria, but this week we are focusing on Lankshear and Knobel's types of remixes.  This week a photograph works well.

I have literally spent about 3 hours now looking and laughing at various remixes online (via Know Your MemeWorth 1000 and Political Remixes).  I couldn't decide what I wanted to critique, there is just so much out there!  I had challenged myself last week to critique a photograph so I decided to go the Photoshopped remix route.  After more searching I came across a contest for beginners on Worth1000.com that was appealing.  The contest was called 'Out of Place'.  There were 12 entries and the contest ended a week ago.  I chose a contest for beginners because I thought it would be nice to see what the rookies can do, being one myself...even the beginners impressed me!

At the time I chose my favorite, I didn't know who the winner was.  Being an avid National Lampoon's Vacation fan, I obviously had to choose the picture with Big Ben! 

Looking at Lankshear and Knobel's literacy dimensions of remixes, I would say this image and artist successfully meets most of their criteria.  I chose three literacy dimensions to focus on and gave each dimension a score out of ten: 
  1. Knowing how to import an image into an image editor- 10/10
  2. Understanding how to use a range of tools within the image editing software to crop, blur, smudge. erase, color match, etc.- 7/10
  3. Understanding how to create a recognizably meaningful juxtaposition to an outline space- 10/10
I would say this picture meets the criteria of #1 and #3.  When looking more closely at the picture, I think the artist could have made Big Ben blend a little better and not stand out as much.  Maybe he/she could have blended the colors so the tones are similar. 

I reviewed the rest of the entries and discovered "Big Ben Misplaced" got 4th place...here is the winner:



It wasn't until I looked at the winner's picture that I realized Big Ben could have blended in more, like this artist did with Stonehenge.  The colors blend and the 'out of place' element 'fits in' better.  Here are all the Out of Place entries in the contest.  Which one was your favorite?

Works Cited:
New Literacies: Everyday Practices and Social Learning Ed by Colin Lankshear and Michele Nobel. McGraw-Hill Education 2008. 

The Future = Mind Blowing...Chapter 4 Response

Chapter 4 Response

I remember years ago hearing the word remix and thinking it was strange…why would someone “remix” a song?  I didn’t realize how much the concept has taken off.  It is an interesting argument that Lanskshear and Knobel make, when they say on page 97, that remix is a necessary condition for culture.  They go on to  say, “Cultures have been made – created – and they are made by mixing ‘new’ elements with ‘pre-existing’ elements in the manner of ‘conversations’ (p. 97).  I guess it makes sense when you think about our culture and how it has changed overtime.  Documentary and independent films have become very popular, as well as Photoshop and memes (just learned that’s what they are called) and apparently there is a whole other world out there with anime. 

There was one sections that worried me a little.  Being a third grade teacher, where we spend a lot of time learning to write, grammar, spelling, etc., I didn’t love the section The status of digital remixing as a new form of writing (p. 99).  I realize they aren’t suggesting we replace writing with digital remixing, but I don’t want to lose the importance of the written word and have it replaced with remixes…maybe that is just my belief!


This chapter has expanded my ideas of digital storytelling.  Before and throughout this course, my thoughts of digital storytelling have changed about 4 times.  Originally, I thought of digital storytelling as mostly serious and about real things.  Now, after reading this chapter, I’ve realized there are plenty of ways to tell a story in a lighthearted funny way.  In fact I have spent the last 2 hours searching different remixing websites and laughing at what people have created. 

There was one remix I had not heard of before, the mashup.  The one that stood out, not sure how useful it is, but it’s cool, is the Wikipedia one that tracks the changes being made via Google Maps, Wikipediavision.  I am not sure why people need to know that, but it is definitely interesting to watch the map…kind of creepy!  Some of the mashups I looked at on programmable seem unnecessary or complicated, but it just goes to show how anyone can become a creator or inventor.     



One question I have after reading this chapter is where does it all end?  Is this sort or remixing (music, fan fiction, mashups, etc.) sustainable for years to come?  Lankshear and Knobel make the case, along with others, that we have been remixing since the beginning of time and everything today is a remix of something pre-existing.  So what will the future hold?  How much more remixing can we handle?  I have written in my teacher manifesto that I am preparing my students for jobs that don’t yet exist, what will their jobs look like??

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Professor Tag

I had a lot of fun with the "Dog It Out" DS106 Design assignment this week.  It was frustrating at first to find a good photo editor program...I tried fotor but I couldn't  figure out how to add clip art and then I tried pixlr but that seemed way too complicated for me. In the end, I used PicsArt on my phone and I love my finished product!

Once again, there were very few assignments that related to my focal theme, there were two and I wasn't impressed with either, so I got creative and tied another assignment into my theme (technology and education).

**Maybe I am not searching in the right way...how are others finding assignments related to their theme?**

The goal of this assignment was to take a picture of your dog or any animal and upload the picture to a photo editor program.  Then we needed to edit the picture to make it something unique, interesting and make people smile!  I think I accomplished those things...you be the judge!

I now introduce to you Professor TagDog...

I ended up using the PicsArt app on my phone, which is very simple to use!