SAMR = SMART

What is the best way to encourage teachers to extend themselves from task enhancement to task transformation using the SAMR model?

This is a question I ask myself every day in my role as EdTech Coach. I think the best way to encourage teachers to extend towards Redefining tasks with technology is to help them understand that certain literacy skills can only be taught through technology.

Recently I delivered a Digital Literacy PD session which addressed using the SAMR model to better deliver Digital Literacy skills in the classroom. The PD focused on breaking down Digital Literacy into Six Multi-Literacy Strands. I used MediaSmarts as a resource for defining these six strands further and created this visual to showcase the importance of preparing students for a networked, media-rich world:

MultiLiteracies of a DigitalAge
Created by Jocelyn Sutherland. Symbols from CC Google Image Search. Inspired by MediaSmarts.ca definition of Digital Literacy

 

I used the CommonSense Media video on the SAMR model which does a brilliant job of extending beyond the Substitution and Augmentation phase:

In my role, I am less concerned with my own implementation of SAMR and more concerned with how I can coach teachers to adopt this model of thinking in their own classrooms. In theory, SAMR makes sense, but in practice it takes a lot more planning and thinking outside the box. As part of the PD session I led, I developed this planning guide for teachers to use to transform a unit using the SAMR model (PDF here):

Tuesday Oct 27th- Digital Literacy & Citizenship (1)

I hoped that by making a link between the Multi-Literacies in a Digital Age and SAMR, teachers would see how important it is to teach these literacies using technological devices and platforms. For example, it’s necessary for students to be exposed to networking on social media in order to learn and practice social literacy. Furthermore, information literacy now encompasses the scope of researching on the internet, therefore students must have access to digital sources in order to decipher which sources are reliable. According to MediaSmarts, media literacy is defined as:

“… ‘text’ that includes images, audio and digital media, media literacy is closely associated with digital literacy. Media literacy reflects our ability to access, analyze, evaluate and produce media through understanding and appreciation of:

  • the art, meaning and messaging of various forms of media texts
  • the impact and influence of mass media and popular culture
  • how media texts are constructed and why they are produced
  • how media can be used to communicate our own ideas effectively”  MediaSmarts.ca

This definition further supports the need for students to produce media in order to understand it. Since most media is visual and multi-modal, technological devices such as iPads, laptops, or even cameras are necessary tools to redefine the task of producing media texts. I hope the above planning sheet helps teachers see the importance of making connections between Literacy, Digital Literacy and Technology Integration and that none are mutually exclusive anymore.

This statement by MediaSmarts further highlights the pedagogical shift that needs to happen in schools:

“Technology has shifted the traditional classroom paradigm that positions the teacher as the expert. This can be hard for many educators to accept, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing. In our quickly evolving technological world, we are all learners, and teachers who are willing to share responsibility with students are more likely to be comfortable – and effective – in a networked classroom.” MediaSmarts.ca

If I were to use the SAMR Model to define my coaching I would showcase it in the following way (my first attempt at Piktochart…lots to learn!):

SAMR EdTech Coach (1)

50% of my role is Redefinition: helping teachers and student rethink learning through iPads, laptops and online platforms. Connecting with other EdTech coaches through online PD like Coetail & Eduro. Showcasing learning using blogs and sharing & connecting on Twitter. Engaging teachers and classrooms in global eLearning through projects like Hour of CodeIf You Learned Here and the Travelling Teddybear Project.

30% of my role is Modification: working with teachers to enhance tasks using iPads; Introducing Blogs and ePortfolio platforms. Using Professional Development workshops to introduce and model ways to embed technology in the curriculum. Technology has modified my delivery of PD as I can have teachers learn apps by using them as part of the workshop. Using Infographics (like above) to summarise my role. Using QR codes on posters to encourage teachers to use their devices.

15% of my role is Augmentation: pushing in to classrooms and helping students and teachers become more technologically literate. This may involve workshop on logging in to GAFE environment and using collaborative GAFE tools, instead of desktop tools.

5% of my role is Substitution: working with teachers to better communicate over email; and substituting paper communication (posters, newsletters) with digital communication via email, GAFE or Schoology platform.

Revamped Resume

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Image Credit: Brandy Agerbeck www.loosetooth.com

 

Transforming my resume from Auditory-Sequential Appeaser to Visual-Spatial Pleaser

Inspired by the infographic above by Brandy Agerbeck, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to redesign my resume. Bored of the tired, traditional layout I learnt from my final days in teachers college (nearly 10 years ago), I thought what better time to showcase all the learning that’s happened during course 3…especially since this is a job hunt year for us.

Below you will see the transformation of my old resume to my new, current one.

Let the remixing and revamping begin!

My former resume, while following simple CARP design principles, had a very traditional layout. In short, there was nothing eye-catching or memorable about it at all.

My old resume from 2011 (PDF Here)

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I’m naturally a very visual person and my eye is immediately drawn to colours and photos, as I mentioned in my previous post Drawing for Dummies.  I wanted my resume to represent my understanding of CARP principles of design, and stayed true to the following attributes on my poster:

Contrast: Bold colours, blue against white; black and white photo on blue. Angular text boxes against soft edged shapes (page 1) and alternating between bold text boxes with white writing, and the empty space on the page with complementing blue writing (contrasting with the white).

Alignment: All texts, photos and text boxes align. I really struggled on the second page to find a proper place for my headshot…not sure it’s necessary but in the end it seemed to balance the page out. I really spent a lot of time organising this and trying to find suitable and appropriate shaped text boxes for the different sections. When there was a missing space in the top left of the first page,  (my primary job search focus is to get back to the classroom…now that I’m buzzing with so many great ideas to try from Coetail & Eduro!) I thought to add the summary of my candidacy to balance the page. I think the grey contrasts slightly enough from the rest of the resume so that the eye isn’t immediately drawn to it, but it stands out on its own enough to be recognised. I think this is especially important since I have had so many roles, I want them to be clear which one I’m applying for.

Repetition: Similar fonts throughout: Helveltica Neue (light) and Helveltica Neue (bold). The texture for the background is also copied on both pages, and the colour scheme is the same for the letters and text boxes. I also maintained which texts were kept in ‘bold’ and which were ‘regular’. I hope this draws the readers attention to the key words, such as my certifications and leadership experience.

Proximity: I grouped all my contact and portfolio in one text box so prospective employers could browse the various platforms I use to connect with educators and schools. I wanted my professional development, certification, and leadership to ‘jump’ off the page and thought to isolate them in three similar text boxes with borders. Based on the numerous interviews and job fairs I’ve attended the past 8 years, this information tends to appeal more to admin I think than just which positions a candidate has held.

Revamped Resume (PDF Here)

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New resume for 2015/16 job search

I used Pages to design a template using various shapes/boxes for photos and text. I was initially inspired by the newsletter styles, with large photos and unique text. I chose a colour and texture theme that complemented the photos I was going to include. I also chose two photos to appeal to visual-spatial folk: one of me working in the Early Years with a student, and the second was from this summer at the Apple Distinguished Educators Institute in Amsterdam where I delivered my 1in3 Showcase on Blogging in Early Years. I felt these two photos represented two of my greatest passions as an educator: embedding technology in the classroom with students and connecting with like-minded, innovative teachers.

Revamping this resume was extremely rewarding as I was able to apply many of the Visual Literacy skills I learned in the course and improve it for my job search this year.

Finally I’ve started to design an infographic using re.vu. Since I haven’t had much experience with infographics I wanted to at least create a simple one to summarise some of my experience in a dynamic way.

Check out my updated About Me Page here!

Drawing For Dummies

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Students learn about visual note-taking and RSA-style drawings

 

I prefer pictures over print. Always have, always will.

Yes, I do love a good book/article/blog post too, but since I was a child I was always drawn more to pictures and images than to printed text. I’ll never forget the used book sale at my school, when I was in 6th grade…lining up behind my peers…I looked at their collection of chapter books and noticed the large collection of picture books and comics I’d chosen for myself. It’s not that I couldn’t read…it’s that I felt there was so much more to be said by an image than words.

That’s why I wish I’d been introduced to concept of Visual Note-taking when I was in school. I first heard about it at the Apple Distinguished Educator’s Institute in Bali (2013), when I met Nicki Hambleton. She shared some of the amazing drawings she and her students created on Adobe Ideas and I was sold. I brought this back to my own classroom and had my EAL students use this form of communication to develop their ideas for oral presentations. We shared their migration stories (in conjunction with their G5 UOI on Migration) using an RSA-styled visual notetaking ‘story’ of how their family came to Indonesia. Since English was their second language, I wanted to see if they could articulate their story more thoroughly through pictures. Below is an example from one student:

This step-by-step project is outlined on my professional blog here: RSA-Style Animation with EAL Students

Below is a quick pictorial retell of some of the steps:

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We read a story about a girl moving from Vietnam to USA. Students noted the different steps in her story.
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Students documented the girl’s story, then below they made connections to themselves.
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The students started by mapping out their visual migration stories in writing first, then progressed to illustrating the different parts. They used the text to help guide them as they retold their migration stories in an iMovie voiceover.
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Students had practice using Stop-Motion HD app on the iPad to record their drawings.
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Students edited their personal migration stories in iMovie, using voiceover, transitions and themes to enhance their storytelling.

 

Since it was everyone’s first attempt at RSA-style drawings and Visual Note-taking, there were (and still are) multiple areas for improvement. However, it was a project the students really enjoyed because it allowed them to think more critically about ways to represent their story in pictures, and also allowed them to be creative with their hands and digitally.

In our upcoming October PD with staff, I’ve decided to focus one of my sessions on Visual Literacy and Visual-Note-taking. The goal is to help teachers see the connection to Visual Literacy across all grades and subject areas, and also to introduce a form of note-taking that enhances creativity and strengthens connections and understanding.

Our school has very few outcomes for Visual Literacy but teachers have access to First Steps Resources, including the Viewing & Presenting Map of Development. My Google Presentation (at the end of this post) outlines some elements from the map of development so teachers can be guided in their teaching of digital literacy.

During my research for this workshop, I came across Brandy Agerbeck‘s website who has several great resources and videos explaining the benefits of visual note-taking and thinking in the classroom and beyond.

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Screenshot of homepage from loosetooth.com

 

I particularly liked her free copy of the BrandyfestoHer quirky, visually-rich manifesto provides examples on how to adopt and practice visual notetaking and how to use it in your own profession.

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Screenshot from The Brandyfesto p.15

 

During her TedX Talk “Shape Your Thinking” she describes the importance of addressing the majority of visual thinkers. This infographic she drew was included to demonstrate how the majority of people are visual-spatial learners rather than auditory-sequential.

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I will use this infographic and her TedX talk as part of my workshop for teachers on Visual Literacy and Visual Note-taking. Below is a copy of the (nearly finished) Google Presentation I’ve developed so far. You will notice a lot of visuals, and very little text, keeping in line with CARP design principles.

Of course, visual note-taking is only one way of representing data and information in a creative and visual way. Infographics are another way to quickly summarise paragraphs and pages of data into one, clever image.

Infographics are an area of visual literacy I have not had much opportunity to explore and create with my students. I think it’s a hidden area of visual literacy few teachers think of explicitly teaching to students, but one that could link directly to visual literacy outcomes. This recent Edutopia Article highlights the benefits of creating infographics with students: Inventing Infographics: Visual Literacy Meets Written Content

The author, Brett Vogelsinger, writes:

“As texts compete for attention with soundbites, scrolling headlines, tweets, and vines, writers and readers alike are seeing the value of text that uses visual design features to organize ideas, provide background, and emphasize key facts in ways that make it easier for readers to engage a topic thoughtfully. “

The same way we may have taught students how to shorten lengthy pieces of text into a succinct ‘precis’, we now need to modify this skill for the 21st century and include visual elements. There are numerous tools for creating infographics with or for students and this recent post from creativebloq highlights the top 10.

Our edtech team will be leading another Tech Parent Workshop in November, and in my research for effective videos and data to share, I found this summary of how different popular social media tools are used:

Social-infographic_2014-2-01
Screenshot From Leverage New Age Media: https://leveragenewagemedia.com/blog/social-media-infographic/

 

This infographic succinctly showcases some facts and data about social media use across the globe. I think it also highlights the different purposes for social media and helps parents gauge their own use of different platforms, and how naturally their own children may be inclined to use specific platforms. We will also be surveying students over the next few weeks and presenting data using Google Forms. When the survey is complete, I would like to create a school-focused infographic to showcase social media tools and popularity within our particular community.

The motto K.I.S.S( ‘keep it simple stupid’) never had more weight than it does today – an age where we are constantly looking for quicker, faster ways to capture an audience’s attention. For many years, I also believed that, as Vogelsinger writes, “writing better equaled writing longer”…equally reading longer equaled reader better. I experienced this growing up as a student in the 80s and 90s, where the longer your book was, the better ‘reader’ you were. The fact that we are now making more of a push for understanding and making meaning of visuals is not just ironic and contradicting, but vindicating in many ways. How many students (like myself) have gone through their schooling feeling like ‘the dummy’ because they preferred picture books, or enjoyed doodling while they took notes? At last students who are visual-spatial learners have a place at the literary table, and at last they will have the opportunity to surpass traditionally strong ‘readers’ and be leaders in a visual world.

Drawing for Dummies: RSA-Style w/Paul Bogush

The excerpt below is from the post that inspired me to try a step-by-step approach RSA-style animation with my EAL students. I love his example on how he helped his students gain confidence in their drawing skills.

 

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Once Upon a Digital Time…

Flickr CC Image by Darren Kuropatwa

 

My Digital Storytelling Past…

Over the past 7 years I’ve been honing my movie-making skills and in my role as EdTech Coach am more focused on helping teachers realise the potential for digital storytelling and movie-making in the classroom.

I’ll never forget that very first iMovie I made, on an aging white MacBook (first generation) back in 2011. It was a competition for my G4 class based on Daniel Pink’s “What’s Your Sentence” competition:

This 2 minute video took me 6 hours. But practice made progress. And with time using iMovie became easier. I couldn’t wait to re-design assignments and tasks the following year. I wanted to provide opportunities for students to use this amazing tool to showcase their work.

The following year, I was in Beijing teaching a class of third graders. Needless to say they picked up this tool way faster than I did and were able to create a music video and dance using the Green Screen for our “How We Express Ourselves” Unit of Inquiry. Since this experience, I’ve led several workshops on using the Green Screen for different kinds of storytelling and showcasing. This Google Doc I created for teachers has some useful links and ‘How Tos’ for using the Green Screen and accompanying app:

Probably the most involved video I’ve ever created was using Final Cut Pro X in 2013 to showcase the G5 PYP Exhibition Journey for opening night. This took me several weeks as I needed to collect footage of students and edit their responses to fit within a reasonable timeframe. At the time I was aware of Copyright laws, and did ask permission from the original creator of the Rube Goldberg Vimeo, 2D House, if I could use some of his footage for my video. He was thrilled! It was a perfect example of the benefits of shared creative content and remixing for different purposes. In hindsight, I should have created my own music or used CC music for the video. At that time I wasn’t aware of accessible CC platforms like The Diner or Soundcloud.

Other forms of Digital Storytelling I’ve used are eBook Platforms such as Book Creator and My Story. As I’ve discussed and showcased in my professional blog Innovative Learning in the PYP Digital Storytelling tools allow students to document their learning and synthesise learning. Here is a movie I created using Animoto to showcase how eBooks promoted applied literacy skills and connected to the PYP Units of Inquiry.

The Future of Digital Storytelling…

Now that many students have had experience in movie-making, blogging and creating eBooks..what is the future for digital storytelling within a global network? DSJ writes:

“Networks for sharing and collaboration extend that voice; that voice can contribute to a conversation as a contributing member of a community.”

I decided to investigate and find that ‘perfect’ platform that encompasses many of the presentation tools I like to use, including banks of Creative Commons Images. After much searching through blogs, my PLN and various twitter feeds, I remembered that an EdTech Coach friend (and Coetail Grad) Sonya TerBorg (@TerSonya) had mentioned her love for different Adobe apps. I scrolled through the AppStore and  was thrilled when I discovered Adobe Slate as the perfect combination of all presentation platforms:

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Image: Screenshot of Adobe Slate App Icon

 

The App’s tagline is:

“Make a beautiful visual story. In minutes.”

From a teacher perspective, it enables students to combine a variety of features onto one slate:

Slideshow + Keynote + eBook + eMagazine + Blog/Website + Photo Collage

What excited me about this platform is the opportunity for publishing something in a unique way that also meets the CARP principles of good design. It addresses the modern way we look at images and text and stories…by scrolling through them, and accessing relevant links at the appropriate time. Even having a bank of CC images to complement any text you want to associate with your idea, helps to reinforce visual literacy skills. As the author writes in Towards a Framework for Visual Literacy, “Emotion, depicted through visual means, sells the message.” Furthermore, the features of Adobe Slate allow the creator to work in multiple mediums, adding links to videos/websites, images, text and the ability to share it easily with a wider audience helps to make the “content transportable” as DSJ also explains in his article.

Another Coetailer, @tracyblair, shared a fantastic example of an Adobe Slate Digital story example from the blog All Things Elementary. I love how this teacher transformed the journey of a Sunflower seed into something students of all ages, and languages, could draw meaning from.

Click here or the image below to view it.

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Screenshot from “All Things Elementary” Blog.

 

I see a lot of potential for upper primary students, especially the G5 PYP Exhibition Students who will be looking to create a platform for showcasing their learning journey. I’ve also shared this app on Twitter and look forward to hearing feedback from friends and colleagues across grade levels on how this modern platform could change the way we, and our students, showcase learning.


SUCCESs is the key to ZEN

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. ~ Garr Reynolds

"Sketch Zen" by tico_24 CC image from Flickr
“Sketch Zen” by tico_24 CC image from Flickr

This week we are delivering a presentation to parents about Digital Citizenship and Responsible Use. I was in charge of developing the slides for our EdTech team (there are 3 of us plus our EdTech Director).

Last year, there were few visuals provided for parents and I often felt that parents got lost in the discussions. Since we’ve been reviewing visual literacy in Coetail I though it was the perfect opportunity to apply my learning and understanding of these design elements.

This is the first parent session of the year so we want to set a precedent for future sessions. We’ve decided to begin each session with discussions and inquiry into the theme. We are also trying to empower parents at home, by giving suggestions on useful websites and resources to reinforce digital citizenship and mindfulness about intellectual property.

I tried to choose a theme that would compliment some of the visuals we were displaying. Following the SUCCESs model from Presentation Zen, I feel this presentation addresses the some of following points in the SUCCESs acronym. It’s difficult to address all since it’s a factual information-sharing session where we’ll be presenting the platforms to parents, rather than trying to convey an opinion or idea to them. Some ideas, we will try to convey in a more concrete way.

Simple. “For your presentation, what’s the key point? What’s the core? Why does (should) it matter? For your visuals the mantra is: Maximum effect, minimum means.” ~G.Reynolds

We’ve used simple images, just one or two per slide to complement what we are describing about the various platforms in our school. During our conversation about Digital Citizenship, we have the images from the websites, so parents can see clearly what the resources look like at Common Sense Media.

Unexpectedness. “You can get people’s interest by violating their expectations. Surprise people. Surprise will get their interest. But to sustain their interest you have to stimulate their curiosity…Make the audience aware that they have a gap in their knowledge and then fill that gap with the answers to the puzzle…”  ~G.Reynolds

My original complementing image for the workshop overview seemed to literally explain what Digital Citizenship meant. I thought it was appropriate because it gave parents a visual representation of what we would discover over the course of the workshop. However, it felt unsatisfying to look at..whether because the colour scheme clashed (it did) or whether it was too obvious (it was).

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After revisiting the SUCCESs elements of Presentation Zen I decided to create a visual that was more unexpected, and perhaps got parents thinking about the content and ideas that would come up during the workshop. It was really difficult to find the right Creative Commons image to illustrate what I wanted…so I had to build this image myself using 4 different CC image searches on Google Slides: Thief + Copyright + Computer + Images. I think this image conveys something more powerful, and will hopefully have parents making connections between the “Copyright” logo, the thief and the images on the computer.

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 Concrete. “Use natural speech and give real examples with real things, not abstractions. Speak of concrete images not of vague notions.”~G.Reynolds

To me this rule is more appropriate for complex ideas and themes. Our presentation is quite straight-forward, but we will still be mindful of how we discuss “Digital Citizenship” so that parents have a concrete definition they can come away with.

Credible.  “There are many ways to establish credibility, a quote from a client or the press may help, for example. But a long-winded account of your company’s history won’t help.”~G.Reynolds

To properly define what a Digital Citizen is and the elements we will teach, I’ve made sure that we are referencing the Common Sense Media platform as our primary resource. Eventually, it would be great if we could have our own Scope & Sequence and definition as a school, but until then we need credible sources that parents can refer back to.

Emotional. “People are emotional beings. It is not enough to take people through a laundry list of talking points and information on your slides, you must make them feel something.”~G.Reynolds

We are using several images and videos to drive home the points about teaching digital citizenship in the classroom. I’ve tried to include at least one video for each of the 3 sections, so we are using the Common Sense Media videos to illustrate how even children as young as 5 can be taught about Digital Citizenship by exploring an ‘Online Neighbourhood’.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUO7t92k4Xg[/youtube]

Stories. “Great ideas and great presentations have an element of story to them.”

Even though this is a fact-sharing session, we can still use examples (in a narrative format) of situations where students were confused about their proper or improper use of technology. We are hoping that through these stories/examples, parents will see how easily it is for children to put themselves at risk, or hurt others. I also think narrative stories are a great way to put the problem back in the parents’ court, for them to make a decision on how it could/should be handled. The story may sounds something like this:

A student came to me last week and told me that she’d been skyping some children at home on the weekend. There were five of them having a skype conference call, and one student started talking about a student from their grade level. The conversation started innocently enough, but before long all five students were making fun of this child, without the child being present to defend him/herself. This particular student feels it was unfair but is unsure how to proceed. How might this situation be resolved? Is it a school or home issue? Does it have to do with the technology or citizenship or both? Should the teacher and/or parent get involved? 

Discussion from this would allow teachers, admin and parents to have a common understanding of the shared role we play in helping children become Digital Citizens.

Presentation Zen is a fantastic resource which has concrete examples and provides guidance for anyone about to step out in front of an audience. It covers the basics of storytelling as well as design elements to create a SUCCESsful presentation. I’ll report back on the success of our parent presentation tomorrow…hopefully they are receptive to this modified version of a slideshow presentation.

 

Visual-e-Literate

This past week I introduced Creative Commons to several different grade levels. To peak their interest, rather than working off the suggested worksheets put out by Common Sense Media (PDF Whose is it anyway?), I created a Google Slides Presentation to engage them and model CARP design principles.

While the slides and images are simple, they follow basic Presentation Zen elements such as a ‘hook’ and very little text on the page. So far I’ve used this presentation in Grades 2 and Grades 5.

Using ‘Minions’ as an example, I tried to hook the audience (my G2-5 students) as we uncovered the meaning of ‘credit’ and creative ownership. I showed them the image of minions and said, “What do you think of my drawing? I came up with these characters all on my own”. Naturally, they all protested that I didn’t create those, and we discussed credit and acknowledgement for the original artists. Next I shared a drawing I did create of the Minions, and an interesting discussion ensued on whether copying an image was breaking copyright laws or not. Based on my previous research and exploration in my post “CC=Common Courtesy“, I think it falls under Fair Use for educational purposes, but I am interested in others COETAILers opinions.

In the older grades (4-5) where individual student blogs will be used to document learning, I shared this video from Common Sense Media. Hearing a fellow student discuss the importance of crediting her work, and other authors, really hit home for the students.  I found the images using the simple search feature on Google Slides, where all images are automatically listed as ‘labeled for noncommercial reuse and modification’ (I love this new feature for students, but wish we didn’t have to click the link to find the CREDIT information):

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Screenshot of ‘Insert Image’ feature on Google Slides

 

I was also trying to model CARP design elements for students in my presentation, by keeping text consistent (repetition), using contrasting colours, aligning images and text and grouping images and text (proximity).

In a follow up lesson with grade 5s, we reviewed CC ‘best practice’ for citing and modelled this format for students:

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Sample CC Sourcing for G5 Students collecting images for Recount Writing

 

I’ll be revisiting these classrooms over the next few weeks as they begin to create a layout for their blogs and posts, and we’ll examine the CARP Principals in more detail.

In general, since I was first introduced to Presentation Zen and CARP design principals a few years back, I really try to keep them in mind for any audience, be it students, colleagues, or conference audience. Haiku Deck is one resource I like to use as it generates CC image search based on key words, and the layouts force you to minimise text on the slide. Below are a few examples of presentations I’ve created that have addressed different audiences:

Topic: Design Principles (2014 Workshop) Audience: PYP & MYP teachers

Topic: Enhancing Early Years (ECIS 2015) Audience: ECIS Participants (Munich)

Topic: Genius Hour Club Intro  Audience: Grades 4 & 5 Students [Slides built using Haiku Deck]

Looks like CRAP

The first time I heard about CRAP (Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, Proximity) was from another Apple Distinguished Educator in the ADE Asia network, Keri-Lee Beasley. However, this memorable acronym was slightly rearranged and took on a much more visually appealing mnemonic of CARP.

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Free download of CARP posters here

Her iBook “Design Secrets Revealed” has been a staple in my list of recommended eBooks for teachers to add to their personal libraries.

download

What I love most about this simple acronym (the fish-version in particular) is how accessible it is to students of all ages. It was brand new to teachers last year, and several implemented it with students as young as six and up through middle school.

Her iBook has student examples, simple text for readers of all ages, and a catchy intro video that all teachers could definitely relate to.

Screenshots from Design Secrets Revealed, with permission from the author.

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Sample of before/after student work with suggested sites for Creative Commons images

 

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End of chapter Quiz

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Sample page layout with video example of each design principle.

I actually used her iBook in conjunction with Presentation Zen principles in a teacher workshop I led for Primary and Middle school teachers. The workshop was titled “Keys to Keynote” :

The goal of the workshop was to introduce teachers to the multiple functions of presentation software like keynote (posters, newsletters, video-slideshows, game-based learning) while also introducing the Design Principles, which were new to the majority who attended. Teachers were thrilled to finally have something concrete to refer to when introducing these principles to students.

Until I was introduced to these resources, I really struggled to encourage students to produce quality work that met any kind of design standard. It was easy to just attribute it to their age, their inexperience, and not necessarily see the problem as something that needed to be explicitly taught. Even after I set up rubrics with some of my own teacher-created expectations, they were not effective as implementing the principles outlined by CARP (or CRAP).  I know I’m not alone in having thought this. We can only model so much until we have a clear set of ‘rules’ that we can share with students. As Keri-Lee explained in her video:

Students, like many teachers, are unaware that designers use a set of guiding principles in their work. When these principles are explicitly taught, it’s like a set of secrets have been revealed to them, and they tend to make use of the techniques in their work. ~ Keri-Lee Beasley

When I introduced it last year to my after-school Genius Hour Club, there was noticeable improvement in the layout of their presentations, and students were able to give feedback using explicit Design Principles language to guide each other.

During our first conversation, I shared an example from a former 4th grade student, and they all complimented the many different colours, the multiple fonts and the visuals.

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For some reason, these are very important design elements to most elementary students. When I asked them if they could tell me what the focus and purpose of the poster was, they realised it wasn’t really clear. One student mentioned that it could be about  “Levers” since that is one of the largest words. Then they realised that it may in fact be about Simple Machines since numerous other examples were shown. I then asked if there were any images that seemed out of place or irrelevant, and they quickly picked up on the star. Before long, we’d identified several elements that made it confusing for the reader. When we discussed again why their first reaction was so positive, they all agreed that as the designer it’s fun to play with different fonts, colours, backgrounds, but it only adds confusion to the intended audience.

Ultimately, CRAP (or CARP) is a memorable way for both students and teachers to assess their own designs.

Course 2 Final Project: ISTE-inspired Responsible Use Agreement

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Image Credit: The Daring Librarian via Compfight cc

These past few weeks I had the privilege of collaborating with Claire Wachowiak. We both felt that our schools would benefit from revamped Responsible Use Agreements and embarked on a collaborative journey to improve and redefine this form for the 21st Century School. In my previous blog posts I’ve revisited the idea that something needs to change in the curriculum and/or the school’s technological vision to ensure teachers are providing space for students to understand and practice both Connectivism and Digital Citizenship. I’ve also explored the importance of properly defining ‘screen time’ so we can avoid Device Blaming & App Shaming and get on with using technology as a tool, not a replacement for the teacher. However, rather than wait for this much needed change to begin, we decided to see how we could embed some of these key networked and digital literacy outcomes (based on ISTE standards) within our revised Responsible Use Agreement.

Both of our schools have developed fairly standard Responsible Use Agreements, which address expected behaviours regarding the device and its content. However, I felt they failed to really define other important elements of the whole digital citizen. To go back to an important point in Jeff Utecht’s Reach: the line between Digital and Networked Literacies is a fine one. If we are to properly prepare students for the future, we need to ensure that students, parents and teachers are aware of Networked Literacies and the responsibility of becoming network literate as a digital citizen. As Jeff Utecht puts it: Networked Literacy is about understanding connections. In order to understand connections, we need to ensure EdTech is being used to facilitate these connections in the first place.

Extension.org is an excelent place to begin understanding more about Network Literacy.

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Image: Screenshot from eXtension.org definition Network Literacy

The example below of an existing Responsible Use Agreement demonstrates the breadth of ‘responsibility’. It really focuses solely on information, images and personal details, but completely ignores the positive expectations for using technology for connectivism.

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Futhermore, it’s easy for parents and students to sign and return, but they still may not be clear on the purpose of EdTech devices in schools and at home. Many parents simply tick the box that they will monitor their students’ use of devices at home, yet several incidents emerged this year that proved they had not followed these guidelines. Often, it is then left to the schools to educate and resolve issues that occur using school devices or platforms, outside school hours.

I understand this school’s choice to cover a wide breadth of expected User behaviours online and using the device. However, it focuses solely on the respect and property side of EdTech use, rather than encompassing all aspects of networked and digital literacy. Furthermore, we felt only including the parents and students in this agreement demonstrated an incomplete representation of all stakeholders in the child’s relationship with EdTech. Therefore, we also added a third and fourth stakeholder in the Responsible Use Agreement: The Teachers and Administrators.

Many teachers presume since the device is in the classroom, it will lend itself to autonomously teaching the children, and thus they will (through osmosis) become digital citizens. This is not the purpose of having iPads in the classroom…they are meant to be used as a tool, not as a teacher. If we expect the students to be using the devices responsibly, the teachers and admin need to be accountable for how the devices are being used, and ensuring they are being used as a tool to create and/or to practice specific networked or digital literacies. Common Sense Media provides a plethora of activities, iBooks, videos etc to engage students in these conversations as well as practice digital citizenship. Meanwhile, the ISTE standards provide excellent guidelines and benchmarks for students, teachers, admin and coaches to to practice, model and advocate for digital citizenship throughout the school community.  It is also up to admin to be aware of the purpose of devices so they can remain consistent when issues arise.

We believe if all stakeholders sign the same document, while also referring to the ISTE standards, then a common language and common vision for EdTech use can be fostered within a school.

Here is our final Revised Responsible Use Agreement with ISTE Standards

Fostering ConnectEdness

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CC Image by Eric Fischer World travel and communications recorded on Twitter Flickr.com

When I think about Connectedness in schools, and the importance of providing students with a voice, and opportunity for action, I think of a little 6 year old boy, who wanted to build a well in Africa.

His name was Ryan, and his story is a perfect example of the power of suggestion, and how important it is to support and promote our student-led initiatives:

“One day in January 1998, I was sitting in my Grade One classroom. My teacher, Mrs. Prest, explained that people were sick and some were even dying because they didn’t have clean water. She told us that some people walked for hours in Africa and sometimes it was just to get dirty water.

All I had to do was take 10 steps from my classroom to get to the drinking fountain and I had clean water. Before that day in school, I figured everyone lived like me. When I found out this wasn’t the case, I decided I had to do something about it.”

~ Ryan’s Well Story

The most amazing thing is, this all happened in the 90s. Before google images, before youtube, before skype…just at the beginning of email as a common form of communication. The teacher was able to inspire a call for action in a 6-year old, which eventually led to a thriving non-profit organisation, Ryan’s Well.

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Screenshot from Ryan’s Well  Website

The video below details some of the challenges Ryan faced as he embarked on this journey…one of the greatest challenges being access to information and contacting the right people. This little boy had to connect with organisations, community leaders and media through telephone, letters and face-to-face visits.

This story is a wonderful inspiration for the impact teachers and students can have on the global community. In 2015, we have the power of knowledge, and fast, easy access to connecting with people, organisations and communities.

One of the greatest ways to inspire students in today’s classroom is by helping them build their online profile, and explore and learn from other students. Blogs are one way to connect with other classrooms, but Twitter provides more focused communities that students can engage with and learn from. In PYP schools, the Grade 5 PYP Exhibition is the culminating event in a primary student’s life. They are expected to show ‘action’, and what better opportunity for them to dabble in connectEDness.

The Twitter Hashtag #pypx is a shared space for students to see what other Grade 5 PYP students are producing for their action.

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Screenshot from #pypx on Twitter

A 2005 article taken from ASCD Education Leadership discusses connectedness on a basic level in the classroom:

“Although school connectedness might suggest smaller class sizes, the classroom’s culture seems to matter more than its size does. Effective teachers can create connectedness in the classroom in a number of ways. When teachers make learning meaningful and relevant to their students’ lives, students develop a stake in their own education. When teachers create a clear classroom structure with consistent expectations for behavior and performance, they provide a healthy setting in which students can exercise autonomy and practice decision-making skills. Teachers build connectedness in the classroom when they encourage team learning exercises. Cooperative learning tends to break down social isolation by integrating student teams across gender, academic ability, and ethnicity. Rewarding a variety of student achievements and recognizing student progress—not only top performance—are also important components.” ~ Robert W. Blum

This theory of connectedness now has the potential to extend beyond classroom walls, providing more opportunity for students to connect with like-minded peers in other schools, states and countries. The potential for collaboration and cooperative learning and is greater than ever before. Yet many schools are hesitant to provide students access to these external learning environment.

Blum, of ASCD EL, writes: “teachers cannot create school connectedness on their own. Without a supportive administration, teachers will not be able to effectively support their students.”

If we hope to support and prepare students for a connected world, all stakeholders in a child’s education need to be involved in providing space for connectedness. I’ve been looking to try and find examples of students who have taken ownership of an action project the same way the Ryan did, before the explosion of digital spaces. So far, I’ve found the WKCD (What Kids Can Dowebsite which hosts a series of action-research projects initiated by students. There are also many sites where students can join and participate in a cause such as EcoKids and inspirational articles and stories showcased on National Geographic about students taking action. However, I had difficulty finding a hub where students could connect and initiate projects easily. It still seems it’s up to the school and teacher to instigate, support and maintain persistence for any student wanting to make a difference in the world. So, with that in mind, we need to ensure we are enabling and empowering students to find a purpose and drive to connect and learn from each other.

 

CC = Common Courtesy

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Photo Credit: Sojourner in a Strange Land via Compfight cc

“Start copying what you love. Copy copy copy copy. At the end of the copy you will find your self.”
~ Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative

I think there is some real truth to the statement above. While copying in theory may appear to be the ‘easy’ way out, most creative people build on other people’s ideas. This recent article from Time has a fantastic quote that echoes this idea:

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it; they just saw something and connected the dots. It seemed obvious to them after a while.” ~ Steve Jobs

There seems to be a large gap in understanding from both students and teachers on copyright infringement when using images for posters or presentations. This is an area we should be expecting teachers to honour, just as they are expected to honour MLA format in high school, and basic ‘sourcing’ using a bibliography or other format in primary school.

Now more than ever, teachers have access to other teacher’s shared material, but many of us are not giving credit to the original creators. And not because we don’t want to, but because we don’t know how. I’ve been working on introducing Creative Commons image banks to the whole school community for this very reason. We should be, and could be, modelling daily CC sourcing methods in our own classrooms.

I recently came across a fantastic website that breaks down Copyright in Schools. For any student or educator looking to quickly find information about what is deemed ‘safe’ and ‘legal’ when using different media. As this website mentions, there is a lot of misinformation about copyright and what’s permitted or not in the digital sphere. Often this misinformation “discourages kids and teens from following their natural inclination to be innovative and inquisitive. The innovators, artists and voters of tomorrow need to know that copyright law restricts many activities but also permits many others.”

There is an abundance of information for teachers to integrate Copyright and CC education into the curriculum, but unfortunately not enough demand at the top level (admin, policy and curriculum designers) for it to be common practice. Many curriculum frameworks, such as the International Baccalaureate Organisation, are still playing catch-up to the shifting digital age, so that they can encourage and foster more digital citizenship in IB schools. But what can teachers do in the meantime, to stay current themselves and pass on accurate information and useful Creative Commons (CC) resources for students?

Resources such as Teaching Copyright and Common Sense Media fill the missing gaps in curriculum and should be a common tool for all students and educators.

Earlier this year I helped co-teach a few lessons on Creative Commons Search practice and Copyright law for the G3 Digital Citizenship unit at our school. To tune them into the idea of Copyright, we watched this video and discussed the many ways they may have been unknowingly breaking copyright law.

As soon as students made the connection that the artists behind the photos, art and music they’d been ‘stealing’ were created by common people, like themselves, they were very passionate about using proper search methods and crediting all art they used. Students were thrilled to learn new tricks to filter google image searches as well as gain access to new image search engines like compfight and Creative Commons Search.

As Tricia Friedman mentions in her Coetail post The Teacher DJ , remixing content is an important part of furthering the creative process. Furthermore, she writes “Copyright laws are their very own collection of blurred lines.  This case opens a door to an authentic conversation around artistry, remix culture and law.  Teachers need to take these opportunities…As we find ways to invite creativity into our classrooms, it makes sense to promote the Creative Commons culture.”

From my experience, students want to execute creative play in the digital age, and we have a responsibility to explore and model Creative Commons practice. Online access to useful websites makes it easy for teachers to access information on ‘best practice’, so let’s show the artists the courtesy they deserve and credit their hard work.