PA “Interruptions” Inspire Innovation

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Nadia Nevieri and her students of Lakewood School have provided amazing connections with each other and their community through an innovative educational endeavour. The creation of 1-2 minute “Lakewood Live”  videos provide an engaging vehicle for transmitting daily events and happenings within the school and community.

  Pardon this interruption

I was so lucky to attend a Manitoba Association for Computing Educators (ManACE) Technology Information Night last February. True, I did get a free supper of pizza, salad, and a soft-drink, together with a chance to network with other educators from several Manitoba school divisions. However, I was delighted to learn about practical, classroom-based innovations from three remarkable educators. I was particularly excited by the learning potential of an endeavour that Nadia Nevieri (@nnevieri) shared in her presentation entitled “Video Killed the PA Star”.

As educators, many of us have experienced daily public address (PA) announcements which did not, at times, “connect” with the intended audience, be it students or staff. How many of your students continually want to be updated on PA items they may have missed? How many great lessons have been interrupted by an administrator announcing an added, or overlooked, bit of information that perhaps had more relevance with other specific classrooms other than yours? Does your Phys Ed teacher use the PA system to announce new activities, game changes, and last minute information?

Now, I’m not advocating that we should remove the public address system from all our schools. Rather, I’m suggesting that perhaps there might be other ways of conveying information in a flexible manner that engages the audience, be it students, staff, or parents.

“Lakewood Live” is the name of the daily video announcements which are shared throughout the K-5 grades in Lakewood School and the nearby community. Although Nadia teaches grades 2/3, she has many of the older grade 4 and 5 students engaged in making the daily videos. In fact, what I like about her instructional model, is that it could be used by older students with equal success. Furthermore, Nadia has provided her student video production team with the two important qualities of “student voice” and student responsibility.

To provide readers with the “big picture” and to help you better understand what Nadia and her amazing students have accomplished, I encourage you to view the January 13th “Lakewood Live” daily video announcement below:

[YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5_CicS2xI4]

So that readers can appreciate the different formats of “Lakewood Live”, Nadia shared the following three additional episodes with me:

Replicating the Remarkable

To help you better understand the important logistics behind how the “Lakewood Live” videos are created, I will try and share the following generic steps (in bold italics). Where possible, I will append (in regular text) strategies and techniques that Nadia and her student team employed. Often it is these “behind the scenes” tasks that are so critical to the success of a new, educational learning venture:

  • Make certain to gain parental permission allowing student names and/or faces to be displayed in a YouTube video. When this endeavour was first proposed to parents, of the 228 Lakewood students, less than a handful did not want their son or daughter to be displayed in any media format that was shared on the internet.
  • Decide on the elements that might be included in a daily announcement video for your school. Start with a manageable number of items. You can always add new categories as the video announcement project matures. Some items will be repetitive such as which Patrol teams will be on duty for the week or which Mediators will be out on the playground. In such cases, a picture or video clip can be used repeatedly in subsequent weeks. Likewise having a picture of all staff members (with, perhaps, a quick bio) can be used at the start of each new term or at the start of a new year to help students better identify staff members.
  • Install an upcoming events chart in the staff room and encourage colleagues to complete items before each video publication deadline. From this events chart, Nadia and her student video production team compile the items that are to be shared in the upcoming week’s five videos.
  • Empower students and/or staff to capture video snippets or images that can be as the backbone of your daily announcements. Obviously, student birthday announcement pictures can only be used once per year, but many others can be used on a regular basis. Those investigating the creation of video announcements for next year, might consider preparing now by collecting generic photos or video snippets around your school during May and June.
  • Create and continually add or refine news elements. Perhaps you might want to explore adding categories like “guess this book”, “joke of the day” or “Fun Fridays”. Would your students be interested in learning how to incorporate a green screen?  Empower your video production team to research and to explore how a green screen might be used in your classroom to enhance daily news videos.
  • Create a script template for announcers to utilize.
  • Meet with students to shoot the next week’s announcements. Nadia meets with her “Lakewood Live” video production team for one hour after school each Wednesday. During this hour they shoot the upcoming week’s five daily announcement videos.
  • Blend elements into a daily announcement video and save results. Nadia and her students use iPads to capture images and photos and she inserts these news items into an iMovie template that she has created and refined. She indicated that she spends no more than 30 minutes compiling segments for each video.
  • Upload the upcoming week’s daily news stories to YouTube in a manner that protects privacy. Nadia uploads the five videos for the upcoming week over the weekend. She ensures that each of her YouTube announcement videos are uploaded with an “Unlisted” privacy setting rather than the usual “Public” category. This process reduces the chance of individuals finding the wealth of school’s daily news videos by searching YouTube or Google for “Lakewood Live”.
  • Provide the daily link to students, staff and parents from another web site. Readers may be interested in seeing more episodes of the “Lakewood Live” videos by visiting the following link which is used to share the daily Internet address (URL) to the respective YouTube videos:

http://mylakewoodlive.blogspot.ca/

Once the daily announcement video is uploaded and the particular link is shared through the above Blogger web site, teachers have flexibility as to when, during the day, to share the video “news” with their students. Nadia suggests that if she forgets to show the daily video, she has several students in her class who are more than willing to remind her. Not only are the students and staff more informed, so are the parents and community.

Undoubted, Nadia was so very impressed with her student production team and their engagement in the learning process. However, it was something that Nadia said in passing that really resonated with me. She indicated that, in addition to the increased responsibility and student voice that her production team demonstrated, she was allowed to see students in “a different light” than in the typical classroom situation. This “Lakewood Live” endeavour allowed Nadia to better understand individual students and see their hidden talents.

Could we, as educators, wish for anything more?

Take care & keep smiling :-)

Credits:

- Flickr – Creative Commons image “Angelica Jordan’s classroom” by the Herald Post
- https://www.flickr.com/photos/heraldpost/5169295832/

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Hour of Code – For those who are 6 to 106!

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Computer Science Education Week is Dec 9-15, 2013. An “Hour of Code” is an amazing event in which educators are encouraged to spend one hour, during next week, introducing aspects of computer coding to their students.

This learning opportunity is a “one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify ‘code’ and show that anyone can learn the basics to be a maker, a creator, an innovator.” Teachers are encouraged to explore the wealth of ideas, tutorials, and resources provided on the “Hour of Code 2013″ web site.

Hour of Code-400x300

There are an incredible variety of  step-by-step, self-guided, tutorials that are provided for both students and teachers. Not only are these innovative tutorials designed to run through computer browsers, on smartphones, or on tablets; some of the “coding” activities require no computer at all. Should you have any concerns, they are probably addressed in the “Hour of Code – Frequently Asked Questions”.

No experience in computer coding for either teachers or students is necessary. All that is required is for teachers to be risk-takers and learn along with their students. I recommend that all teachers practice saying three most important words … “I don’t know” but quickly follow-up with … “but when you figure it out, please teach me”. Other experienced educators suggest advising students to “Ask three … before me!” to reduce the pressure to try to answer all questions. This may appear to some educators to be a “cop-out”, but it reinforces that no one knows all the answers and that true learning is a collaborative effort. Furthermore, a student’s self-worth is dramatically increased, whenever s/he can teach an adult.

So I encourage you to take an hour next week and have fun, learning to “code” with your students.

Sorry, I have to run now and figure out how to navigate that darn “Angry Bird” through that puzzle.

Take care & keep smiling :-)

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ManACE Seed Grant Program – 2014

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As a Manitoba K-12 educator, could you use an extra $900.00? Is there an initiative, supported by technology, that you would like to explore or enhance? If so, you would be wise to investigate the Manitoba Association for Computing Educators (ManACE) “Seed Grant”.

Seed Grants #1 - 400x300

The available grant categories for 2014 include:

  • Two $900 grants awarded to K-4 teachers
  • Two $900 grants awarded to grades 5-8 teachers
  • Two $900 grants awarded to grades 9-12 teachers
  • Two $900 grants awarded to school-based projects that administrators, resource, and/or teachers might apply.

If you could use funding to purchase hardware, software and/or professional development, I encourage you to explore the ManACE Seed Grant brochure and application form. The application deadline is February 21, 2014, so it gives you ample time to decide on a project and involve students in your “digital pitch” presentation which comprises 30% of your grant evaluation.

To better appreciate the creativity and innovative ideas that have been submitted by students and educators in past, investigate past Seed Grant winning proposals. These eight projects can be found by scrolling down to the 2013-dated Seed Grant video submissions.

So “plant a seed and watch it grow!”

Take care & keep smiling :-)

Larger Image: Brian Metcalfe’s Teacher Feature “photostream”
http://www.flickr.com/photos/life-long-learners/

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Photos, Passion, and Pedagogy

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This past summer I attended a funeral. When one reaches their retirement years, it seems only natural to attend more funerals of friends and loved-ones.

However, as friends of his grandparents, my wife and I attended the funeral of a 19 year old youth. Scott Wachal left his family and friends much too early but he also left me with an important message.

Lense for an Eye

Scott’s unique talents and creativity were demonstrated by the wealth of memories shared through objects in the vestibule of the church together with the inspirational video tribute. Regardless of whether it was his violin that he played as a 9 year old busker, or his Irish dancing tap shoes, or his skate-boarding and free-style skiing tricks, it was his creative images, sketches, and photographs that caught my eye.

I believe that Scott’s view of life was influenced greatly by what he observed and what he captured in his photos. In fact, the following assignment, which was shared in his Order of Service, reinforced in me the importance of pictures:

8   Describe an event or idea that has become very influential on your life.

When I was in the sixth grade, my grandpa passed away due to liver cancer. My grandpa loved me deeply and I loved him back, however I didn’t see him all that often and I wasn’t super close with him.

I remember at his funeral, and throughout the following years, hearing endless stories and memories about my grandpa. Everyone has such positive things to say about him, and there was so much about him that i never knew. I remember feeling really sad that I hadn’t spent more time with him and really appreciated all his good qualities.

I think my feelings of regret and sadness after my grandpa’s death have sparked a need inside me to take in as much as I can from the people around me. I carry my camera around with me everywhere, trying to capture my friends and family living and breathing to the fullest extent. I pay greater attention to the character of a person and try to appreciate all aspects of their personality.

~ Scott Wachal

True … not everyone has the same passion for capturing life through a camera as Scott, but I do believe that all students today can learn much more about life when they view the world through a camera lens.

Today it seems that more and more students have access to a digital camera or smartphone. Although a past Panasonic ad campaign declared that “If it has a ring tone, it’s not a camera”, most students would disagree. Having immediate access to these pocket-sized, picture-taking devices allows one to capture many unique and serendipitous moments.

The question that remains is … “How can we, as educators, help students express their creativity through their photos?”

To help readers, I have a arranged below a variety of resources to help engage students in taking and sharing creative photos:

  • Darren Kuropatwa’s SlideShare entitled “Don’t Just Shoot” – Although today’s  students have the opportunity to take more pictures, they still need to understand what makes a photo look really good.

[slideshare id=18474541&doc=dontjustshoot-130409083404-phpapp02]

[http://www.slideshare.net/dkuropatwa/dont-just-shoot]

All educators are encouraged to review, download, and share this presentation which illustrates “five photographic composition techniques: the rule of thirds, framing, fill the frame, lines and forced perspective.”

  • Basics of Photography: The Complete Guide Want an extensive resource on how a digital camera works, its automatic and manual settings, together with composition and editing tips? If so, check out this online Lifehacker night school resource.
  • DS106 – Daily Create – Photography Archives – Educators may want to stimulate students to take a creative photo each day or once a week and share them with the class. The DS106 Digital Storytelling course includes a number of creative prompts to engage students in taking pictures from different perspectives.
  • Ideas For Using The Digital Camera In The Primary Classroom – This SlideShare resource, of 17 frames, includes such innovative ideas as “What am I?”, digital portrait flip-book, and images taken from an ant’s perspective. Each activity displays an important “WALT” (We Are Learning Today) prompt.
  • The Digital Camera in Education – This site focuses on how the digital cameras in today’s mobile phones can be integrated into the educational process.
  • Image with a Message – Rather than have students search online for a Creative Commons image, challenge students to use a camera to capture their own background photo to which their favourite quotation is added.
  • Small World Pictures – Innovative ideas in both the blog post and comments that demonstrate how interesting images can be created by introducing small (HO gauge) figures into the picture.
  • Using Pictures to Create Rubrics – Although this “Picture Rubric”  is shared as a primary assessment tool, this strategy can be applied to many subjects at different grade levels.
  • Digital Photography Rubric – This extensive Word (.doc) file provides a detailed photography project rubric to provide students with important feedback on original images.
  • Photography Rubric – This PDF document was used by the Markville Secondary School’s yearbook team to help students improve on their photography techniques and documentation.

In closing, I began this post with an “eye-catching” photo created by Rachel Chapman. Not only does this manipulated image capture my imagination, it also reminds me of the important proverb that Scott Wachal believed in … “Beauty is in the ‘eye’ of the beholder”.

Take care & keep smiling :-)

Credits: – Flickr – Creative Commons image “Look at us through the lens of a camera…” by Rachel Chapman
– http://www.flickr.com/photos/63697491@N00/2235381210/

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Teacher Feature #28 – Pay It Forward Day

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I must admit that I look forward to reading the regular Saturday’s “Random Acts of Kindness” page in our local Winnipeg Free Press newspaper. With all the drama and sensationalism, that is often dispensed through our news media, it is so refreshing to read about individuals who do good deeds for others without any thought of thanks in return.

For this month’s “Teacher Feature” remix or mashup, I thought that I’d attempt to accomplish two tasks – one to inspire and one to remind:

Teacher Feature 28 - Pay It Forward Day

Teacher Feature #28 – Aesop – April, 2013

Following the inspiring pattern that I have established in my previous 27 “Teacher Feature” remixes, I blended a powerful message with a complementary Creative Commons licensed photo, together with its Flickr address. However, I also took the liberty of including a reminder for teachers and students that, each year, the last Thursday in April is reserved as “Pay It Forward Day”. Unfortunately, due to family commitments, I have not recently been blogging as regularly as I would like. As such, I missed giving adequate warning this year of the very powerful teaching opportunity of the “Pay It Forward Day”. It is hoped that teachers will print out this image reminder, or at least mark their calendars well in advance, to take advantage of this teaching opportunity in future years. Perhaps, Aristotle said it best … “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”

Take care & keep smiling :-)

Larger Image: Brian Metcalfe’s Teacher Feature “photostream”
http://www.flickr.com/photos/life-long-learners/

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Pay It Forward Day – April 25, 2013

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As a classroom teacher, are you looking for an activity which will engage your students? If so, I recommend that you and your students investigate the “Pay It Forward Day” resource. Although the official day is tomorrow, the last Thursday in April, I still feel that this idea has merit and can be implemented on any day or during any week, and still have amazing, positive results.

I was inspired by the “Pay It Forward Day” founder, Charley Johnson’s TED Talk “Simplicity in a Complex World” in which he states that a world-wide universal truth is that “we all want this world to be better”. As a teacher, I encourage you to start by reviewing the “Pay It Forward Day” video trailer or Charley Johnson’s, “Pay It Forward 2013″ message.

To help your students understand the important ripple effect in paying a good deed forward, I recommend the YouTube “Kindness Boomerang” video. I’d recommend exploring the on-line school resources and downloading and printing the applicable grade level “Pay It Forward Day” card as shown below:

Pay It Forward Day Card - Primary

If you are unable to act on this opportunity in a timely manner, I encourage you to begin sharing the “Pay It Forward” concept and ideas with your students throughout the remainder of this year. However, make certain that you mark, the last Thursday in April next year (April 24, 2014), as a reminder of the important teaching opportunity that awaits you and your students.

Take care & keep smiling :-)

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Lip dub: A Classroom and School Approach

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After reading the earlier #ETMOOC post “Lip dub: I’m havin’ a good time!” you are definitely considering exploring this innovative and engaging activity with your class. However, your enthusiasm becomes somewhat dampened when you learn more about the two lip dub innovators, Alec Couros and Dean Shareski. When you discover that Alec is a professor, currently on sabbatical, from the Faculty of Education in Regina and Dean was a learning consultant for the Prairie South School Division in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, you say to yourself … “Well if I didn’t have a full-time job with a classroom of 32 needy students, I, too, could play around with technology and have fun creating lip dubs.”

Don’t give up on this activity just yet. True, Alec and Dean did an amazing job of encouraging and facilitating the collection of lip dub video clips from individuals in different geographical locations. However, I plan to demonstrate how much easier it is for a regular classroom teacher to create a lib dub activity with her/his classroom than the effort required to produce the more complex #ETMOOC lip dub.

Singing with Microphone

On November 8, 2012, I attended a Manitoba Association for Computing Educators (ManACE) Technology Information Night (TIN). I invested $5.00 to offset my supper costs and was rewarded with three different 30-minute classroom-based, professional development sessions shared by Manitoba educators. The one learning opportunity that really resonated with me was presented by Christin Mackay, a Grade 4/5 teacher from Stevenson-Britannia School. In her presentation, “Creativity & Collaboration – Making Video Mashups”, Christin showed her engaging lip dub video that she and her 26 students created. Not only was her class’ lip dup video inspiring, Christin’s “behind the scenes” strategies in this classroom-based collaborative effort, were equally important. To help other classroom teachers, I’ll share Christin’s week-long lip dub activity tips below:

  • First, she selected a Sesame Street song which was popular with her students. The “What I Am” YouTube video, in which “Will.i.am” from “The Black Eyes Peas” sings with the various Sesame Street characters, was played for the class. This would become the audio track for the students’ collaborative lip dub video.
  • Lyrics for the song were prepared. For example, the YouTube video “What I am by Will.i.am – Lyrics (Sesame Street)” is a good resource.
  • Lyrics were displayed on a screen.
  • The song was played in class while the students viewed the lyrics and sang along together.
  • Students learned the song and were invited to sing along with a partner.
  • A student, who was reluctant to sing, was accommodated by allowing him to demonstrate his “air drum” technique.
  • Six computers were used on the day of the actual video recording.
  • Christin stressed that it is very important that the “frame per second” ratio is set to the same value on all computers being used.
  • The camera was positioned behind the lyric display screen.
  • Students, in pairs, came up to sing the whole song which was captured as a video clip.
  • After the 13 student-pair songs were recorded, Christin selected an “extended” video clip which best displayed the actions of each pair of students. Each “extended” video clip contained extra frames preceding and following the complete line of the song.
  • During the compilation process, it is important to ensure that every line of the complete song is represented by a student-pair “extended” video clip.
  • The individual audio tracks were removed from each student-pair “extended” video clip.
  • Although other movie-making applications would work, iMovie was used to edit and arrange the clips into the lip dub video.
  • Assemble all 13 “extended silent clips” into the new lip dub video timeline in the appropriate order.
  • Add the “What I Am” audio track to the video project.
  • Trim and “tweak” each of the 13 “extended silent clips” so that each video clip synchronized best with the particular “What I Am” audio track segment.
  • Add a title and credits to the video and save the resulting movie with a backup.
  • Share the final lip dub with students and celebrate. However, in order to protect the privacy of your students, do not transfer this lip dub video creation to an Internet video sharing service like YouTube or Vimeo unless you have appropriate parental approval.

Christin’s tips and strategies helped me better understand the lip dub process from a teacher’s point of view. Although there exist lip dub videos created by older students and adults, Christin shared important steps that demonstrate how younger elementary students can also be engaged in this fun, collaborative, learning adventure.

When comparing Christin’s classroom lip dub with Alec’s more ambitious #ETMOOC project, there are several factors which will appeal to those who might consider creating a class or school lip dub. Some of these important differences include:

  • Christin did not need to formally pool her students and engage a survey service to rate which songs were most popular with her students.
  • Her students sang the entire song so Christin had much more freedom in selecting a video segment that best showcased each student-pair. In addition, she had much more latitude in trimming video clips since each student-pair sang the entire song rather than the more restrictive single line.
  • Classroom or school lip dub activities have much more consistency with regard to video capture hardware and software. Alec had no control over the application or device used to capture the individual participants’ video clip. Nor did he have control over the video image size, resolution, or portrait or landscape formats. Christin, on the other hand, could ensure that all student-pair’ videos were captured in a consistent landscape format avoiding the dreaded “Vertical Video Syndrome” as demonstrated in this comical Public Service Announcement (PSA).
  • To accommodate collecting individual video clips (from Smart phones or web cameras on Macintosh and Windows-based computers), Alec had to set up a process for participants, from around the world, to send video files to him and the video editor. On the other hand, classroom teachers need only save consistently formatted student videos to a local computer or server.
  • With consistent video format, resolution, and layout, the classroom/school video editor need only extract an “extended” video clip showcasing each pair of students and save them in lyrical line order.
  • Based on the large number of video file contributions, Alec had to develop a file-naming convention so that each #ETMOOC video clip could be easily matched with the particular line of song lyrics. In Christin’s case, she did not need to establish a rigid file naming convention because she was working with a more manageable number of video files. Her main concern was to make certain that all student-pair video clips represented all the lyrics and music in the original song.
  • Undoubtedly the #ETMOOC video editor had to manipulate a large number of video clips in a wide variety of file formats, resolutions and layout sizes. Compiling and editing such diverse raw video clips required a highly talented video editor familiar with the advanced capabilities of a fairly powerful video editing tool like Adobe Premiere, Final Cut Pro or Pinnacle Studio. On the other hand, it would be possible for a classroom lip dub to be easily edited and arranged on an iMovie or Windows Movie Maker-like applications with its more limited number of audio and video tracks.

As I was revising this post, I was delighted to receive an email from Paul Stewart – a Computer Technolgy teacher from Garden City Collegiate. Paul had just read my previous post entitled “Lip dub: I’m havin’ a good time!” and wanted to share with me the invigorating experience that his high school students had as they organized a school-wide lip dub. The following two videos were shot in “one take” and showcase how such a lip dub activity can enhance school spirit:

After viewing both of these videos, I was so impressed with the steadiness from the camera’s point of view. I emailed Paul and asked if the students used a tripod, on a moveable dolly, to capture the video. Paul indicated that in the 2011 lip dub the camera was hand-held by a student for the total duration of the “one-take” lip dub. However in the 2012 lip dub video, students made a home-made steadicam to help stabilize the shots. Paul even checked with the students to find out that they built the steadicam after watching the instructional YouTube video entitled  “Awesome Directors Project : $15 DIY steadicamin 15 minutes!”. This “do it yourself” project is one that students, who are engaged in making videos, might like to attempt. Undoubtedly the resulting steadicam device can be used to make more professional looking videos.

In closing, I will list a variety of different innovative lip dub YouTube videos to motivate students and their teachers:

I trust that the information presented by both Christin and Paul will help motivate you to engage the students in your classroom or school to demonstrate their creativity through a lip dub activity. Should you become engaged in your own lip dub learning adventure, I encourage you “pay forward” your tips, resources, and experiences by leaving comments at the end of this post to help motivate and encourage other students and educators.

Take care & keep smiling :-)

Credits: – Flickr – Creative Commons image “singing” by Anthony Kelly
– http://www.flickr.com/photos/62337512@N00/4319350283/

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Lip dub: I’m havin’ a good time!

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Educators looking to engage their students in a fun, educational activity should consider having their students create a collaborative lip dub video of a favourite song. For those unfamiliar with the process, Wikipedia states:

A lip dub is a type of video that combines lip synching and audio dubbing to make a music video. It is made by filming individuals or a group of people lip synching while listening to a song or any recorded audio then dubbing over it in post editing with the original audio of the song.

Having joined the Educational Technology & Media’s Massive Open Online Course (#ETMOOC), I was invited, with other participants from around the world, to participate in a collaborative lip dub.

[ETMOOC Lip Dub: http://www.youtube.co/watch?v=cxwbdLMt_Bo]

I admit that my knowledge of the lip dub process was limited. In early March 2011, Andy McKiel and Darren Kuropatwa hosted a professional development session entitled “Social Media: Challenges & Opportunities for Education”. Not only were they willing to motivate their own teaching staff, they also extended an invitation to educators outside their Division. As this previous link indicates, I left this P.D. session reflecting on the power of one’s Personal Learning Network (PLN). This focus was the result of Dean Shareski’s lip dub video in which he invited 75 friends from around the world to help create a 40th birthday video entitled “Happy Birthday Alec Couros”.  I envied the organizing strategies together with talented movie editing and the commitment of hours that went into creating this masterpiece. It was evident that Alec’s friends were having so much fun engaging in this collaborative lip dub that I knew that the process had potential for students. 

I was delighted when Dean Shareski took the time to share the important “behind the scenes” processes involved in his “Happy Birthday” lip dub. Although his blog post entitled “So I started this Google doc..” shared many of the critical steps, I still felt that the steps outlined were still somewhat theoretical for me because I had not invested my energies or passion into the process. The key part that was still missing in my learning journey, was to be more actively involved in either participating or making a lip dub.

Imagine my delight when I signed up for the Educational Technology & Media’s Massive Open Online Course (#ETMOOC) to find that Alec Couros was planning to create a lip dub, with collaboration from people around the world. I decided to sign up. as a participant, so that I could get a better understanding of the mechanics involved in organizing and creating a lip dub.

To help my readers gain a better appreciation for the steps involved in organizing and creating this #ETMOOC lip dub, I’ll outline the steps below:

  • Alec first invited #ETMOOC participants to consider taking part in this crowd source lip dub activity. Information was sent to participants by both email and through Twitter. Members were given ample time to consider how they might like to participate.
  • Using a Google Docs spreadsheet, Alec invited members of the #ETMOOC community to suggest the name of a song whose lyrics promoted or provided meaning to this special collaborative “singing” experience.
  • Once several songs were suggested, Alec used the “Poll Everywhere” survey process to gain feedback as to which of the 10 most popular suggested songs would become the actial audio track. All members of the #ETMOOC community (regardless of whether they wished to actively participate or not) were encouraged to vote for their favourite. Through continuous tweets, Alec kept the ETMOOC community aware of the the voting results.
  • Once Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” was chosen as the most popular, Alec then provided the #ETMOOC community with a specific YouTube video of a Queen performance so that participants could practice singing along with the performer or refining guitar solos.
  • I found Alec’s “Lip Dub Project” instruction document to be a key ingredient and insight in the organizational requirements of a lip dub with so many participants, from so many different locations, with so many different combinations of hardware and software. This is a “must read” for teachers who are considering creating a lip dub activity. True, you may not need all the extras that Alec has considered (in that his participants are from around the world), but Alec has identified key items that all teachers will find beneficial.
  • In his instruction manual, Alec printed line by line the lyrics to the  song “Don’t Stop Me Now”. After each line, a space was left where a participant could add his/her name indicating that they would sing this specific line. Alec even suggested lines where he encouraged more participation that just one individual. Furthermore, participants were encouraged to engage others  (as well as pets) in creating their video segment so that the fun and laughter could be shared.
  • Participants were encouraged to showcase images to represent the community where the individual was located. If you look closely, at my participation in this #ETMOOC lip dub, you will note that I am wearing a red jacket with the letters CANADA displayed across the front, with a Manitoba flag hanging in the background with an NHL “Jets” cap positioned proudly on my head.
  • Alec suggested that participants make a video of them singing their selected lines(s) of “Don’t Stop Me Now”. To facilitate merging the individual participant clips, Alec suggested participants capture themselves singing their selected line as well as the previous and next lines to allow for trimming during the challenging editing process.
  • The key to working with so many different video segments is to determine a file-naming code or convention. Alec insisted that each individual name his/her video as a combination of the participant name/twitter, geographic location, and the song line number. Following this important advice, my video file contribution was named:

Brian Metcalfe-@bkmetcalfe-WinnipegCanada-Line5.MOV

  • Alec set up a mechanism so that the respective video clips could be sent to him using the Dropbox and DropitTome services. An alternate email process for sending video files was also included so that all participants could send their song snippet to Alec by the stated deadline.
  • Alec then shared the collected video files in Dropbox with Josh Stumpenhorst (@stumpteacher).  Josh volunteered to use his “magic” with Pinnacle Studio to create the resulting #ETMOOC Lip Dub.
  • Once the video was created, it was shared on YouTube with the #ETMOOC community and the world.

I think that Alec summarized the intent of this lip dub project when he stated:

Let’s have fun with this! Show some of that joy and exuberance that many of you have shown thus far. I hope that this results in a great bonding experience, more familiarity with community members, and an artifact that helps to represent the experience of #etmooc.

Although many would consider the uploading of the lip dub to YouTube as the final process in this creative endeavour, I am so thankful that Alec took a most important additional step. Alec found the time to reflect on this lib dub project in his post “Making of the #etmooc Lipdub”. I find that I always learn so much from educators who are willing to share tips and strategies to improve projects with the benefit of hind-sight.

I encourage readers to check out Alec’s reflective post to learn how using a file-name convention starting with the line # (rather than at the end) allows one to automatically sort video clips in order of the songs lyrics. In addition, I particularly liked Alec’s reminder of how he added a “+” sign alias to his Google mail “couros+etmooc@gmail.com” so that he could more easily filter email related to this innovative project. However, without Alec’s reflective post, I would not have realized that my “Don’t Stop Me Now” video clip (which was my first video attempt on our iPad Christmas gift) was suffering from the dreaded “Vertical Video Syndrome”.

In conclusion, I was so delighted to be an active participant in this engaging and fun activity. Furthermore, having the flexibility and freedom to choose which of the Queen lyrics I would sing was very important to me. I felt that as a Life-Long-Learner and recent MOOC participant, I was proud to sing “Don’t stop me now … don’t stop me … ’cause I’m having a good time … having a good time!”

Take care & keep smiling :-)

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“Sharing Is Caring” – A story worth re-telling!

Activity, DS106, ETMOOC, Food for Thought, How To, Project, Social Networking 7 Comments »

Although this tale has already been documented in my earlier posts, this powerful, inspirational story needs to be regularly shared with educators and their students.

Alan Levine (aka @cogdog) has challenged DS106 and ETMOOC participants to share “True Stories of Open Sharing … examples of times when there was an unexpected positive outcome after sharing something openly online.”

My inspiring story starts with a serendipitous visit to 10-year old Laura Stockman’s blog entitled “25 Days to Make a Difference”. Through a blog post, I shared Laura’s passionate quest “to make the world a little better”. In turn, two amazing educators Chris Harbeck (of Winnipeg, Manitoba) and Karl Fisch (of Centennial, Colorado) challenged their students to contribute funds in December to be shared with different charities. I have tried to capture this story of concern, caring, and connection in the following “Sharing Is Caring” YouTube video:

 [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P16Nf7YaX6I]

I have included resource slides at the end of this video which list the 10 respective Internet addresses of important components of this inspirational story. However, I am also including them below, as active hyperlinks, to make it easier for readers to examine this story in depth:

I encourage educators to bookmark this video and review it each November so that you and your students can consider making your difference in December.

Take care & keep smiling :-)

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Without an “O”, we can’t s_lve pr_blems!

Activity, Food for Thought, Project, Reflection, Tip No Comments »

The purpose of this post is to discuss problem solving, the “Oh” moment, and to request help from readers to identify additional examples of K-12 problem solving activities/projects that engage students.

The Back Story
“What prompted this focus on problem solving?”, you ask. This past Christmas, my wife received an iPad as a gift. One of the first free apps that we installed was “Draw Something“. This problem-solving activity asks participants to draw representations of one of three different words. In our case, the drawing was then shared online with a particular family member. The recipient watches a short video of the drawing being created, together with clues as to the number of letters in the word as well as a variety of letters that may, or may not, be part of the word.

For example, our older son sent us the following picture which represented a seven character word which might be considered as a “university activity”.

DrawSomethingPuzzle

Now both my wife and I attended university but struggled to figure out what the person was holding. We utilized a popular problem solving strategy in which we dialogued and thought “out loud”. Our conversation went something like this …

Wife: Do you think it’s a coil ring binder?
Me: No there is not a “B” as one of the 7 letters.
Wife: Maybe it’s a sheet of music held by a choir member?
Me: Well if I had drawn the picture of a person singing, I’d have included musical notes.
Me: I know. It’s a beer tankard.
Wife: Well there are two “E”s, but no “B”.
Me: I note that there are two “E”s and two “O”s. Perhaps they are double letters as in “beer” or “food”. What do you think?
Wife: With only seven letters in the word, both double “E”s and “O”s cannot be included together.
Me: Well … we’ve successfully solved the previous 19 games so I hate to give up.
Wife: Why don’t we press the “crossed-arrows” button (on the right) to rearrange the 12 letters in a different format? Perhaps we will see a new letter pattern.

We repeatedly clicked on the “crossed arrows” and no matter how those twelve letters were re-arranged, we did not get any inspiration or clues as to the nature of the drawing.

The critical “Oh” or “Aha moment” occurred for me when I turned off the iPad (by holding down Wake/Sleep button) and restarted it. When I selected the “Draw Something” game, the same “university activity” challenge picture was still displayed and the following 12 letters were offered up as clues.

1ST Letter Grid

However, the important clue was that they were not just the original 12 characters, in a new, scrambled layout format as generated by the  “crossed arrows” button. Rather, this new set of 12 characters were different from the ones presented in the original drawing shown above.

This revelation was a problem solving break-through! I wrote down the above 12 characters and repeated the process. Each time the game was re-booted, I wrote down the new 12 character display and repeated this five more times.

My wife and I wrote down the six sets of 12 character clusters as shown below:

RED Letter Grids

Our next step was to identify which characters were common to all six sets. To illustrate this process, I have coloured in red the seven common letters that appear in all of these 12 character clusters. We finally were making headway as we identified the following seven letters that needed to be unscrambled to solve the picture:

U   L   O   O   S   P   C

My wife and I looked back at our son’s drawing and started to rearrange these seven characters. I finally thought that perhaps the last three letters might be “C U P” and suggested that perhaps there was a Norwegian trophy known as the “O S L O C U P. Unfortunately, when we dragged the seven letters into the available spaces, the application prompted us with “guess again!” My wife took over and after several minutes, she dragged and arranged the letters to spell the word “S O L O C U P”. The “Draw Something” app congratulated us and my wife and I looked at each other with a dumfounded amazement. While we share a total of 11 years of university, we were never exposed to this activity. In fact, I had to search Google to find out what the term “SOLOCUP” meant.

However, the challenge of this “Draw Something” activity got me thinking about the different ways that people, and in particular students, solve problems and how we, as teachers, might foster thinking “outside the box”.

How does this relate to the classroom?
As a former Mathematics and Computer Science teacher, I have always been passionate about puzzles and problem solving. In fact, I still maintain that my high school Computer Science students focused not so much on proper syntax of the Fortran programming language but more importantly on the task of problem solving. In the early 70′s, my students had only one “run” a day (as I took their punched card programs to the university each night), so they focused on attention to detail and the art of problem solving.

Is there a way that K-12 teachers today can introduce engaging, problem solving activities/projects into their teaching. I admit that we all require some rote, lower-level thinking and learning. However, if today’s  Kindergarten students are going to be successful when they graduate from high school in 12 years, they must acquire critical, higher order thinking and problem solving skills. Certainly we cannot imagine what new technologies and jobs will be created and evolve over the next decade. However, I think that we can be quite confident that graduates that have practiced and honed their problem solving skills will be much more successful.

Audience Participation
Here is where I ask my readers to help me. I will list below a series of problem solving activities that I think educators should adopt/adapt for their classrooms. To enhance each entry, I’ll provide a hyperlink to more adequately describe the problem solving endeavour. I encourage readers to add their favourite problem solving activity/project, together with a descriptive link, in the comment area so that this post can benefit others through our collaborative actions:

aTdHvAaNnKcSe for sharing, in the comment area, other favourite problem solving activities/projects with an appropriate hyperlink.

Take care & keep smiling :-)

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