Category Archives: Course 3

Course 3 Final Project

For our final project in Course 3 we are asked to create a video to help develop our skills in this field and work on the art of digital storytelling.

The elementary school where I work has been implementing the practices of Responsive Classroom, especially the Morning Meeting component. In the Spring we were all asked to read “Teaching Children to Care” by Ruth Sidney Charney and participate in book discussion groups. This Fall we’ve been attending several professional development sessions to help build our knowledge of this process.

Our principal, Michael Hibbeln, asked me to create a short video to provide some information about Morning Meeting and show what’s been happening in the classrooms. It was shown to our Board of Trustees this week.

Here is the link to my school website where you can watch the video. Unfortunately, due to Italian privacy laws, I can’t post it here because our students are in the video, and we are only able to post their images on our school website.

The video was filmed on whatever cameras I could get my hands on at the time…Sony Bloggie cameras, Flip HD cameras, and my iPhone. Overall, I am pretty satisfied with the result but it was difficult to get the sound to be great and a few seconds of the video is shakier than I’d like. I edited the footage in Windows Live Movie Maker.

Does your school use Responsive Classroom? We’d love to hear from you!

The Remix Culture

The topic of “remixes” and “mashups” is part of a discussion that I have had lately with a colleague who is teaching a Movie Making course to middle school students. They are begging, and I mean begging, to create music videos where they lip sync to popular songs, like this popular example from the USA Olympic swimming team this summer. We have been debating the copyright logistics of such a task, and I have been thinking about it more while reading about remixes and fair use.

I most appreciated the “Everything is a Remix” video series in gaining knowledge about this topic. I thought Kirby Ferguson did such a great job explaining the concept and demonstrating the remix culture in music, film, and ideas over the course of history. His work provides examples of original pieces that were remixed or sampled by others for new works. (Didn’t we watch Part 4 in Course 1 or 2?)

Some rights reserved by fotonen

This image is a remix of two photos and an idea. All credited on the flickr page of the artist.

I also liked this short piece posted on gigaom. The article discusses how the surge of internet based media has put huge pressure on the issue of copyright, and the debate of ownership by the creator of the content. Many people create YouTube videos under the guise of Fair Use, but does what they’re creating really fall under that umbrella? This article also references quotes from Andy Baio’s blog post about the same topic.

Baio even says, “Under current copyright law, nearly every cover song on YouTube is technically illegal.”

Many videos are removed from YouTube and accounts are threatened to be closed due to suspected copyright infringement. Our Movie Making teacher has actually received notices from YouTube about this.

The swim team video is up to 9,495,314 views. Hmmm….

I also thought that this article was worthy of sharing in reference to how MIT’s Scratch program encourages remixing. And, from there, I was led to this Code of Best Practices, which may prove useful in deciding what is allowed under Fair Use.

And, so, I’m back to the same point.

While creating the music videos would certainly allow students to meet the movie making objectives through filming, editing, and remixing, and their intentions for use of their work would be non-commercial, I am not still entirely convinced that using an entire copyrighted song falls within Fair Use.

What are your thoughts?

Some rights reserved by whitperson

 Couldn’t resist.


The Boom of Infographics

If you are online at all, you must have noticed that infographics have started popping up everywhere. It appears to be one of the latest “things” to be making a big surge in education and many other fields.

Infographics are exactly what the word says…information in a graphic form.

You can find infographics everywhere including Pinterest, Mashable, and this Daily Infographic site.

I teach a 6th grade technology course. Our students are beginning to blog and this week’s discussion will include cyberbullying. I found this infographic that I’ll be sharing with them as our discussion unfolds.
Cyberbullying: Bullies Move From The Playground To The Web

Internet Security

Infographic from:

I think it talks about so many important elements to bring into the discussion- what kinds of things happen, the importance of talking to adults and what actions you can take.

With the boom of infographics, I’m sure Webster will soon be adding the term to it’s ever growing dictionary of words in the English language and then the WordPress editor will feel less compelled to tell me I’ve got a misspelled word.

Image snipped from

Technology Integration Presentation

Before school started this year, I was responsible for three presentations to our staff during what we called Panther Academy. They were Google sites training, Digital Citizenship for the Elementary, and Technology Integration for the Elementary. I’ve embedded the Prezi from the Tech Integration presentation I used since I decided it wasn’t a good use of my time to redo a similar presentation in Google Presentations right now. (I thought it would be simple do this since I put the images in with the URL, but, alas, Prezi doesn’t seem to link back to them. Ugh. Hence, I stuck with the Prezi.)

I’m pretty happy overall with the images I used. I spent a lot of time finding what I was looking for to complement my “talk”. There are two “slides” with a lot of information that are pieces of our continuum appendix. I snipped a portion of this document so that I could show the teachers how the appendix worked while they looked at the document in their hands.

Here is the presentation!

Do you have a favorite image that you’ve used in a presentation? I’d love for you to share it in the comments!

Presentation Design and Other Thoughts

My RSS reader inbox is overflowing and sometimes it feels as though I’ll never catch back up. But, nonetheless, I try and get through a few bits and pieces every day. I have a few food blogs in my collection, and I seem to gravitate to those first.

Like the Spaghetti with Broccoli Cream Pesto recipe that kept me from reading something more relevant to this course. And so my stomach rumbles…

A focus this week again surrounds the design of presentations.

I’ve spent the majority of my career as an elementary classroom teacher, and presenting outside of my daily classroom duties was rarely done. And, I wasn’t one for too many PowerPoint or other presentations for my regular classroom setting.

Now that my role is different and presenting is part of my job, I think about this topic frequently and want to become a better presenter for myself and for the benefit of those that have to listen to me. In a previous post I mentioned reading Presentation Zen this summer, and I’ve been reading several blog posts from within Garr Reynold’s site as well. I especially appreciated the post where he offered specific examples of the variations that could be done to convey one meaning. It really helped to demonstrate his point.

Somewhere this week, I came across this quote by Reynolds.

“The best presenters can illuminate the relationships that we may not have seen before.”

I think that this is a great way to think about what makes great presenters great.

In the video overview of Presentation Zen, I noted a couple of things that I thought were worthy of taking away. One, was the reminder of finding your one take away and focusing on it. Second, was the sticky cinnamon roll pic. I thought it was a great graphic that helped to reiterate the presenter’s point.

In other readings, I came across mention of Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind. This summer I read his other book, Drive, and really enjoyed it so I’ve ordered copies of both books to have on hand. I’m hoping that I can use some of his thoughts in upcoming presentations. If you haven’t checked out his work or his blog, I highly recommend it.

So, back to my RSS feed I go, where I’m sure to be distracted by the wedding photos on Joe McNally’s blog, the graphic iPhone cases posted on Design Milk, or, of course, food!

Some rights reserved by Shermeee


Power of the Visual

This week I was pleased to articles from Garr Reynold’s Presentation Zen website as part of our readings. I had seen the words ‘Presentation Zen’ floating throughout a few notable bloggers’ websites and tweets, such as Kim Cofino and Chrissy Hellyer, in recent months and decided to read the book this summer in advance of presentations I had to make to our staff at the beginning of the school year. Feels like time well spent seeing the influence it will have on this course.

I took several of Reynold’s presentation suggestions and used them to help make my presentations better. I especially like his rule of thirds (which I had heard of previously in photography readings) and the rule of using no more than six words on a slide. I was desperate to avoid the infamous “Death By Powerpoint” for my audience.

Thanks to Reynold’s recommendation to avoid starting your presentations on your computer, I began my presentation brainstorming like this:

Photo by ME!

While my presentation skills still need improving, I felt that the quality of my presentations was far better than it would have been otherwise.

During my presentations, I used many Creative Commons licensed images to highlight the point I was making. One of my favorites came from Kim Cofino’s Flickr photostream. While Reynold’s promotes throughout the book, I find it to be unaffordable for the average educator to use. But, Flickr has plenty of images to offer that can be remixed and used for your own purposes as well.

Here is the pic from Kim’s photostream, which is an edited image from another Flickr source.

Some rights reserved by superkimbo

With most of my work being with classroom teachers, I find that this is an appropriate message to send to them as they work to integrate technology into their classroom.

As I went through the remainder of the week’s course readings, I made a few other connections worthy of sharing.

I’m currently reading Doug Johnson’s “The Classroom Teacher’s Technology Survival Guide” and was going through a section on presentations when he wrote this, “Never have more than five lines of text on a slide or more than five words in each line. Less is more.” (p. 68) While Johnson makes a point to identify the need for minimal text and a focus on the presenter this seems to be in complete contrast to the ideas behind Presentation Zen and I was relatively underwhelmed that current books were still promoting these text heavy presentations.

Also, the Presentation Zen article about curiosity really hit home with me. Hearing the idea that our own fear of making mistakes or being wrong stops us from truly exposing our curiosity resonated because I know that it is so true for me. It is always something I am working on, realizing that making a mistake is not the end all to everything. The entire article sent me back to Sir Ken Robinson’s talk on creativity in schools and how formal education is causing so many students to lose their innate curiosity and creativity. If you haven’t seen it before, now’s your chance!

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Visual Literacy and Web Design

So, back to the CoETaIL work we go. I’ve been avoiding my RSS feed at all cost most of the summer and getting the rhythm of it all back has been requiring a lot of effort.

Some rights reserved by Ferran.

 Finding my rhythm… 

But, I am trying. Knowing what a powerful tool my RSS feed has become is what inspires me to try and get back into it. I enjoy reading posts full of great ideas or opportunities to collaborate, like last week’s Dot Day video organized by Chrissy Hellyer or the Global Read Aloud, created by Pernille Ripp, that I discovered yesterday while reading my twitter feed.

This week, we were asked to read about some of the ideas behind visual literacy and web design. Of the articles we read, I found the article Understanding Visual Hierarchy in Web Design to be the most interesting. I appreciated their simple and graphic representations to explain some of the concepts. And, their six tools for enhancing web design were great examples to take and consider for future use.

Now it’s time to put these ideas to work. I’ve been asked to collaborate with a few people at our school to redesign our library website.

Here’s a basic screenshot of the site as it stands now.

We want to make it easier to access all the databases we have available and feature our new eBook collection, so I think we’ll have to negotiate how best to use the space on the main page. I like that the headlines help to focus your attention, but we would like to improve the usability for the students and parents.

Do you have a great library page to recommend? I’d love to hear about your library pages and see what you think works well about what you are using!

When we’ve completed the redesign, I’ll post the “after” pic for comparison and discuss the elements of web design that played into our updated page.