CARP Jr for KG-G2: Course 4 Final Project UbD

It dawned on me while I was introducing the CARP design principles to a grade 3 class that many students are unaware of visual literacy elements until the middle of elementary school. Yet, we expect them to design and create visual texts from as young as Kindergarten.

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Classic example of student council poster (G2-G5 students). Which CARP elements are NOT missing??

 

I wondered… why do we wait so long to teach these principles? It’s clear from the student council poster above that even by grade 5, design principles haven’t been transferred to every day creations of visual texts. I decided to investigate ways to implement design into the younger years, starting with grade 1.

I first learned about CARP through Keri-Lee Beasley‘s Design Secrets Revealed, which I described in my previous post: Looks Like CRAP. Her eBook is one that I’ve led workshops on, and am constantly referring to when planning and working with teachers and students.  I’ve also promoted it in our staffroom as a resource all teachers in G3 and up should be using in their classrooms.

Since I work primarily with Early Years to Grade 1, I wanted to bring visual literacy and elements of design into the younger years. While the eBook is extremely engaging and differentiated with videos, definitions, external links and photos, I knew I would only be able to use some parts of it with a younger audience. For this reason, I decided to modify the principles from this eBook into a simple interactive Google Presentation that could be led with students as young as KG-G2.

I worked closely with one grade 1 teacher who has a small class of 10 students. We planned some lessons together and team-taught most of the sessions. We’ve noticed a huge improvement in the students’ design thinking. After this experience, I realised how beneficial it was to student learning to be introduced to these terms early on. For this reason, I’d like to extend this unit and collaborate with the other G1 teachers to implement this Visual Literacy Unit in their classrooms.

Some of the lessons I’ve developed in collaboration with the G1 teacher include:

  • Tuning-In: CARP Jr. Google Presentation ~ slides act as discussion point and students have a chance to share their thoughts and ideas to improve texts. We explored each term and looked at examples.
  • Individual/Paired Visual Text Exploration: focusing on each term at a time (what does Contrast look like? What does Alignment look like? etc)
  • Students re-design/improve a visual text they created by hand, implementing the CARP principles.
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G1 students look at ways to improve the text so there is better CONTRAST.
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Grade 1 students took the same poorly designed image and focused on one term from the CARP acronym.

 

My Final Project will be a 6 week unit on Visual Literacy in Early Elementary (KG-G2). During these 6 weeks I will work closely with a G1 classroom teacher to embed these design elements meaningfully into the students’ learning. What I learned from trialling it in the smaller class was that 6 year olds move much more slowly, and need a lot of practice and repetition. I’m hoping that through different learning engagements and purposeful practice, students will be able to transfer the skills acquired through thoughtful design to their every day work and visual text creations.

Why do you think this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project?

Developing visual literacy awareness in students is essential to building strong design skills. As I mentioned in my previous post visual literacy is one of the necessary elements of 21st century multi-literacies students need to be well-versed in. It’s also an area of learning at our school that is often neglected. It is evident in student-created posters and publications that design is an area all students would benefit learning more about. I also noticed that there are very few design resources accessible to early readers. I wanted to design a unit that other KG -G2 teachers could modify and improve for their own learning contexts.

What are some of your concerns about redesigning this unit?

One concern is the complex terminology and the high level of EAL (English as Additional Language) learners. I will need to monitor their progress and make modifications as we progress through the unit.

I have a strong professional relationship with the G1 team and one teacher has agreed to let me implement the unit in her classroom. We will develop and team teach the unit together so it aligns with their Unit of Inquiry (in January-March).

I would like to modify the unit for KG and G2 classes as well but will need to first trial it in the G1 classroom. It would be ideal to embed the CARP principles as part of the curriculum (KG-G2) so that students are well versed in the terminology and have had lots of practice implementing these concepts by the time they reach grade 3. However, that is a ‘big picture’ decision that needs to be made by the curriculum coordinators. So for now, we just need to address it in the classrooms and make sure students are achieving an understanding of design.

What shifts in pedagogy will this new unit require from you?

I will need to really think carefully about the students developmental levels and English ability and tailor the lessons to suit their needs. Current resources for teaching design principles are aimed at students who can already read, write and work independently. I will need to modify the activities for shorter attention spans, and embed some kinesthetics and music/rhymes to help teach the basic principles of design. Also, students will need a lot more visuals to grasp the complex terminology. The focus will also be more on exposure to these new terms, with some opportunities to practice basic implementation of these concepts. It’s a process and not all students will be developmentally ready to produce visual texts that meet all CARP principles.

What skills and/or attitudes will this new unit require from your students?

Students will be using their observation skills, communication skills and will develop spatial-awareness as they look at different visual texts and how the page is organised. They will also become more reflective and thoughtful about their work as they carefully plan out their visual texts. Students will also develop appreciation for the aesthetic and become open-minded to different perspectives as they develop a personal style using the CARP principles in their design.

Here is my final UBD Project:

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!

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.