CARP Jr: Design Principles REDEFINED (FINAL COETAIL PROJECT)

Children are growing up in an increasingly visual world, yet many still struggle to convey ideas and understanding in a comprehensive way. Design is everywhere and more than ever, students need to understand the principles of design to communicate effectively.

As the K-5 EdTech Coach, I noticed there was a lack of design thinking happening across all grade levels. Thanks to Keri-Lee Beasley’s Design Secrets Revealed eBook I was able to support upper primary teachers in their quest to address these design challenges in G3-G5. But I wondered if G3 was too late to be introducing the four main principles of Contrast, Alignment, Repetition and Proximity (C.A.R.P)? Children were creating and designing posters and eBooks right from Kindergarten. But are the C.A.R.P terms too advanced and complex for early readers? I immediately thought of young children’s fascination with dinosaurs, and recalled my younger brother (nearly 30 years ago) using their latin names like ‘Dilophosaurus’ before he could properly read. I figured, if young children can learn long complicated dinosaur names, the only thing stopping young children from learning the C.A.R.P principles was us, their teachers.

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Below is a copy of my Final UbD Project

Carp Jr:  Redifining Design Principles for KG-G2

Since this unit is designed for young children in KG-G2, I decided to use a variety of devices and tools to teach these concepts. The primary platform I used to design and deliver the lessons was Google Slides, because it allowed me to access Creative Commons Attribute Free images, and the collaborative feature allowed me to share the lessons easily with staff in the school, and beyond. Teachers who choose to use these resources can also make copies and modify them for their class.

Public Domain Logo: CC image from Wikipedia

 

What were your goals for your lesson/project?

To introduce the CARP design principles with students and create a collaborative eBook with students explaining the CARP principles for others to use. Below are examples of the 4 posters I created using Google Slides.

What tools did you use? Why did you choose these tools for this task?

I used Google Slides to share the presentations and activities across classes. I also used Google Docs to collaborate, plan and reflect on week-by-week activities. Below is an example of the collaborative planning document I used with the classroom teachers:

For planning, we also used Keri-Lee Beasley’s “Design Secrets Revealed” ebook to support and plan for the lessons, as well as several other websites & resources outlined in my UbD Unit Outline.

For the summative task, students had the opportunity to use the My Story or Chatterpix app to showcase their understanding of CARP. They created a visual text to be shared on the ePortfolio platform, SeeSaw.

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How did you go about introducing your lesson/project?

I first needed to propose this project to a teacher who would be willing to collaborate on it. In my role as EdTech Coach, I am responsible for planning with teachers on ways to integrate EdTech in the classroom. Two grade 1 teachers were happy to bring these new concepts (CARP) into their classroom as students were just beginning a unit on visual literacy.

How did the students react? 

Students were very engaged in the lessons as they were a mix of inquiry and hands-on practice. Many of the students are developing into confident readers so they enjoyed learning new vocabulary. Students were even able to apply their learning in a broader context. According to the classroom teacher, words like ‘Alignment’ were being used to describe how work books were organised; During math lessons when children were ‘aligning’ their work and answers. One student had commented that they didn’t know there were “real words for the way things looked”.

Outcome? Did you meet your goals?

While the lessons took longer than expected, the ultimate goal of exposing students to the CARP principles was met. As my final video (below) shows, several of the students adopted the terminology and were able to explain their visual texts using the language of Design Principles. Unfortunately, due to time constraints and extenuating circumstances, we were unable to create the culminating eBook. Instead, students produced a visual text using one of the iPad apps: Chatterpix, My Story or PicCollage. They implemented as many CARP principles as they could remember and then explained them orally.

Evidence of learning

My final video best documents the learning achieved by students over the course of the 6 week unit:

Here is a reflection from one of the G1 teachers:

I’ve been surprised that the students were able to grasp the principles.  This came from some trial and error with simplifying and scaffolding activities that would give them practice with identifying first and then replicating the different principles.  We worked mostly with Contrast and Alignment, not only because they’re the first, but also because they were a little more concrete for the students. Also, having posters with examples in the classroom to refer to often reminds them of the principles in different contexts/disciplines.

I’ll definitely teach and use CARP principles with my classes in the future. It really helps them to have experience seeing the difference between good design and poor design, even at this young age. It motivates and empowers them to improve the design in their own work!” ~ H.M Grade 1 Class Teacher

What would you do differently next time? What did you learn? 

Overall this experience was really successful and the teachers and students got a lot out of it. However, in future I would prefer to run this with my own classroom. As the EdTech Coach, there is only so much I can do between lessons, and often there were extenuating circumstances that arose and caused lesson time to be cut short or rescheduled. While the teachers I collaborated with were very accommodating and flexible, if we were unable to finish the lesson it was challenging to pick up where we last left off because too much time had passed. I think this unit is best adopted by a classroom teacher in KG-G2, as they can tweak the resources to suit their class needs, and also they can plan out and deliver the lessons in a more timely manner. Also, there were three teachers working with me, and each teacher had a slightly different approach to embedding the CARP design principles in their classroom routines. The more successful classes had a clear display board that was regularly referenced to when teachers were looking at other visual texts, or any designs where these 4 principles could be applied.

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I also learned the importance of flexibility and lesson ‘tweaking’, since ultimately we were unable to reach our goal of publishing a CARP Jr Design Principles eBook by week 6. However this is still something we hope to do in May/June. Instead, students had the opportunity to publish a visual text that showcased some or all of the CARP principles, and the teachers were satisfied with this as a reflection of student understanding. I do think a classroom teacher has the benefit of time to ensure the outcome of an eBook. Next year when I am back in grade 5 as classroom teacher at UWCSEA, I look forward to implementing a similar unit with my own students.

How do you plan to share this with your colleagues?

Everything I created has been shared through Google Drive and is stored in this folder. These resources are free for teacher use around the globe. I will embed these resources on a separate tab in my COETAIL blog. I will also promote this unit and the resources through the collaborative team meetings I attend each week, and through #coetailchat, #edtechchat, #1stchat on Twitter.

What was your greatest learning in this course?

The learning that was most influential for me during Course 5 was how concepts from the other courses intersected in this culminating final project. Creating the Carp Jr. unit on design also allowed me to rethink and redefine tasks using digital tools such as MyStory.

My growing PLN has been another great source of learning for me, and I am in awe of the numerous amazing projects and initiatives taking place by Coetail students and graduates. I also learnt that a paradigm shift is needed in education, and no one educator can make the shift happen on their own. We need to bond together as like-minded educators and work to change pedagogy. I look forward to continuing these relationships through Twitter and G+ communities after Coetail ends.

Did this implementation meet the definition of Redefinition?

This is my favourite visual of the SAMR model, created by Sylvia Duckworth:

SAMR

Redefinition is defined as allowing “for the creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable”. While many of the concepts learned throughout this CARP Jr unit were ‘analogue’, students did create a summative Visual Text about CARP principles using a digital tool (one of the apps on the iPad). The analogue tasks were also paired with a digital eBook (Keri-Lee Beasley) and the collaborative planning documents and Google Slides. This is an example of redefinition because students combined media from a variety of sources, such as drawings, photos and digital images, to create a final visual text that exhibited elements of CARP. The camera allowed them to document their ‘analogue’ work in a digital format, which is inconceivable without iPad or digital device. The iPad also allowed them to add their own narration to explain their thinking(My Story & Chatterpix).

Final Thoughts about the Final Project

Overall the experience of delivering this unit was very positive and full of challenges. I developed stronger relationships with the G1 teachers I worked with, and was able to tweak my resources as I went so that they could be more accessible and practical for other teachers to use.

Recently I had the privilege of attending and facilitating a cohort of teachers at Europe’s first Learning 2.0 Milan. There were so many important messages to take away but perhaps the one that resonates most with me and this final project is the importance of Failure in the learning journey. Jeff Utecht shared this during his final presentation: “FAIL = First Attempt In Learning”.

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Photo Credit: Me. Jeff Utecht @Learning2 Europe

 

At the start of this unit, I wasn’t sure if I would be successful implementing a six-week long Design Principles unit with 5-7 year olds. However, I realise I needed to implement this unit (through trial & error) to really understand how it can best be used in the classroom. The video shows that students learned and applied these concepts at an age-appropriate level, and with these tools they will be better prepared to tackle design in upper grades as well. I hope those who choose to use this unit in their own classroom can benefit from my experience, and my mistakes.

All Resources for CARP JR Design Unit can be found below:

GOOGLE DRIVE SHARED FOLDER

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Introducing Final COETAIL project: CARP Jr (Week 1 Progress)

For my final COETAIL project I have designed a 6-week unit on visual literacy elements aimed at lower primary (KG-G2).I was particularly interested in how lower primary students can access the complex language of the CARP design principles. I decided to remix Keri-Lee Beasley‘s model into an interactive Google Presentation, as shown below. My previous COETAIL post, CARP Jr, details why I chose this project as well as outlines the 6 week unit.

The first week of introducing the CARP acronym went well! In my role as EdTech Coach, the G1 classroom teacher and I agreed to team-teach this lesson. This allowed me to present and introduce the terminology (using the above Google Presentation) as well as make some connections for students. Meanwhile, the classroom teacher observed, and then took over after the group activities to make deeper connections to other learning.

Week 1: What is C.A.R.P?

We started the lesson looking at the examples (printed on paper) of “I Love My Dog Bingo”. Students needed to come up with something they liked and something they thought could be improved. It was difficult for them to come up with vocabulary to describe it. However many of them noticed that it was hard to see some of the writing, and that the pictures didn’t represent what the text said.

Then, we went through the CARP presentation together (above Google Presentation) and learned the terminology using kinesthetics (clapping out the syllables) and enunciating the parts of each word. I carefully crafted each poster to reinforce the meaning of each word:

Some students were able to make connections to words like Repetition, as they had learned this word in music. It was an excellent opportunity to apply reading strategies and the classroom teacher helped make links with certain words they were learning. One clear example was when they were sounding out Alignment, they kept getting stuck on the ‘g’. The teacher made a connection to their Science unit on Light and Sound and they quickly made the connection to the ‘silent g’ in light and were able to sound out Alignment more or less independently. It helped that the CARP poster I created for Alignment also had lines on it:

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After the initial tuning-in to the language of C.A.R.P, students had the opportunity to revisit the “I love my dog Bingo” posters. In groups, they tried to find one area (from CARP) that could be changed to improve the poster. For most of the students, they were able to explain what was wrong but had trouble remembering the exact term. Referring to the CARP posters above the SmartBoard helped them make connections to the words. Each group presented their poster and shared which element of design would improve the layout.

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A group of 4 students had examined this poster together. Since we are not permitted to release videos of certain students, an example of some of the dialogue between the teacher and student is as follows:

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Student A (pointing to the grey text): “We need to change the colour.”

Teacher: “Would changing the colour be Contrast, Proximity, Alignment or Repetition?”

Student A: “Hmmm…I think Contrast…”

Teacher: “Yes, ‘Contrast’ so it pops out…remember ‘C-Colour’ begins with a ‘C’ and ‘C-Contrast’ begins with a ‘C'”

The classroom teacher helped to reinforce the vocabulary making connections to what the students were saying. The visuals on the poster were also helpful when students were trying to be precise about the terminology, though since a majority of the class have some ESL needs, most will need to hear these new words many more times to remember them.

Next we will be unpacking each word in more detail, doing some hands-on activities to see what Contrast looks like and having a go at modifying some digital media with better Contrast.

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:

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:

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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):

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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!):

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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:

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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.