“Petals Around the Rose” – Problem Solving

Activity, DS106, How To, Problem Solving, Tip 5 Comments »

I believe that problem solving is one of the most important skills that our students can acquire in our classrooms today. In a recent post, entitled “Problem Solving with ‘Aunt Emma’”, I described an engaging activity which helps students look at problems from a variety of different perspectives. Today, I want to share with you a similar problem solving classroom activity that you can use to challenge your students to think laterally.

Petals Around the Rose – Instructions
All one needs to demonstrate this activity is five dice which you roll following these three basic rules:

  1. The name of this activity is “Petals Around the Rose” and the name is important.
  2. The answer will always be an even number including zero.
  3. The facilitator can always tell you the number after any roll of the five dice.

The facilitator cannot tell you anything else. You must continue rolling and attempting to guess the number of “Petals Around the Rose” associated with each roll.

To get you started thinking, I will show you an image of four rolls with their respective even numbers:

Petals Around the Rose - 450 x 334

If you are like me, the four sample rolls above did not provide sufficient information to solve the “Petals Around the Rose” puzzle. However, I was not the only one having difficulty solving this challenge. In fact, I understand that in 1977, Bill Gates was also quite frustrated with this activity. I recommend readers review the following article “Bill Gates and Petals Around the Rose” to gain a better perspective on the challenge and how different individuals need a different number of rolls to formulate the answer.

If you are still unsure of the solution, I encourage you to initially play the simpler, online version of “Petals Around the Rose”.  More repetition may help you to formulate a rule. Once you have an idea as to how the number of petals are determined, you may wish to visit this second web site to “Play Petals Around the Rose”. Here you can test your guess to determine if you, indeed, have solved the puzzle.

However, like your students, do not be tempted, when you connect online, to visit any other sites that might divulge the secret solution. Even though this second interactive web site has a  “Search” field at the top of the page, do not use it to find an “easy solution”. I can assure you that once you have received that “shot of adrenalin” when you have honestly approached and solved this problem, you’ll thank me for being patient and not cheating. Furthermore, you will be so much more enlightened, that you will present this activity to your students in a much more powerful lesson. So take time to fully engage yourself in the learning process in a manner that you would want your students to use.

Teacher Tips
Like the previous “Aunt Emma” activity, it is very important to set the proper tone in your classroom for his problem solving activity. If you have struggled and have finally predicted the correct number, for six successive rolls, then you know how it feels to experience that “Eureka moment”. You do not want to deprive any student of this same excitement.

For this reason it is very important that all your students switch-off all Internet-connected devices so that they are not tempted to take the “easy way out” and search online for a solution.

Furthermore, it is very important that when a student thinks s/he has figured out the solution, s/he does not blurt it out in class. Rather, have that student identify the number of petals for the rest of the class or ask her/him to roll the dice for the class.

I’d also avoid introducing this activity in the last 10 minutes of class. Unfortunately, it will be too tempting for students, who have not yet solved the problem, to exit your class, seek out a friend on the playground, or “Google” the solution before next class. Such important learning opportunities should not be destroyed because your students did not have sufficient time to exercise their problem solving skills.

Readers who are looking for additionl ideas as to how best to introduce this activity to a class, are encouraged to explore this “Petals Around the Rose” lesson plan.

In my day, in the classroom, I would have rolled clear dice on an overhead projector so that the entire class could be engaged in the thinking process. Today, I’m sure some readers will have interactive white boards that will have a dice application that can be modified to randomly roll five dice to illustrate the “Petals Around the Rose” activity. For example, this YouTube video showcases how a teacher might incorporate “Dice in Smart Notebook”.

Another thought that you may wish to investigate involves renaming this problem solving activity. For example, if you know that some of your students will be tempted to go online and search for the solution to “Petals Around the Rose”, perhaps you might intoduce this activity under a new name. I’m sure that students will have a much more difficult time finding solutions to a dice activity called “Fish Around the Food” or “Planets Around the Sun”. That is, unless they find this blog post and exercise their lateral thinkiing to realize that either of the previous two activities can be solved in a similar way as “Petals Around the Rose”. The challenge for you is to come up with a new name for this activity.

In that I am retired and am unaware of the creative ways that teachers night project the roll of five dice for the entire class, I encouage readers to provide suggestions and tips regarding this problem solving activity in the comments below so that others may benefit.

Additional Resource
Scam School – The Secrets of Petals Around the Rose
Note: This YouTube video may not be appropporiate for student viewing.

The Back Story
I believe in giving credit where credit is due. It was Alan Levine (a.k.a. @cogdog) who motivated me to write about this problem solving activity. Several years ago, when I first enrolled in DS106, an online digital storytelling course, I found out, to my delight, that Alan Levine was one of the facilitators. Although Alan’s fame had preceded him as an educator, who shared so much through his “CogDogBlog”, I was eager to find out more about this dedicated educator. As the course progressed, I was so impressed with his talents in providing a creative face-lift to the DS106 web site and his skill in “tweaking” software to make it do his bidding. Wanting to learn more about his background, I “Googled” Alan and found out that, as an instructional technologist at the Maricopa Community College, Alan had developed a powerful online tutorial entitled “Writing HTML – A Tutorial for Creating WWW Pages”. What was even more amazing was that approximately 20 years ago, I had used this same tutorial when I was learning and perfecting HTML to showcase my school division’s online newsletter.

Upon further research, I chanced upon “alan’s no java shop” where Alan shared a number innovative programming creations and an interesting dice activity called “Petals Around the Rose”. I was intrigued by the name and, although his program fails to run today (as it needs a plug-in), I explored his dice rolling simulation for many, many rolls until I discovered the rule. At that moment, I knew I had found an awesome activity to share with educators who wanted to challenge their students. I bought five dice and, over the past year or so, I entertained friends with the “Petals Around the Rose” to see how they tackled the problem. Unfortunately, I never got around to writing about this problem solving activity.

One might ask “What prompted you to write about it today?” Well, today is Alan Levine’s birthday, and I thought that I’d send Alan a virtual gift of recognition, but more important, I’d share Alan’s gift of “Petals Around the Rose” with my readers.

Take care & keep smiling :-)

Tagged with: | | | | | | |

Teacher Feature #49 – Finesse Stress

Food for Thought, Teacher Feature, Tip No Comments »

The task of being a teacher today is one that may be filled with a variety of frustration. In fact, I believe that the daily stress in our teaching profession has increased drastically over the past decades. This is due to the fact that a teacher’s range of responsibilities and related expectations have diverged dramatically.

Earlier this week, a friend sent me a “swinging” image with the following text “Every time you feel yourself being pulled into other people’s drama, repeat these words … “Not my circus, not my monkeys”. This stress-reducing mantra is a translation of an old Polish proverb “Nie mój cyrk, nie moje małpy!

Not my circus - Not my monkeys - 400x300

Teacher Feature #49 – Polish Proverb – March, 2015

I wondered why we, as teachers, can identify so well with this powerful, proverb. In my case, during an educational career spanning 40 years, I worked as a classroom teacher with junior and senior high students for 12 years. The vast majority of my educational career was spent as a provincial and divisional Computer/Education Consultant. Many might argue that spending only 30% of my career as a classroom teacher, reduced my exposure to stress significantly. However, I maintain that any dedicated individuals, working in the educational system today, be they Teacher Assistants, Teachers, Consultants, or Administrators are subjected to stress. With this in mind, I wondered why this might be the case.

When I attended university, I worked each summer at Coca Cola on the bottling line where bottles were cleaned, filled with product, capped and packaged for distribution. I’m sure there were the odd days when the job may have had its stressful moments. However, at the end of the day, when we “punched out” our time card, we went home and left those frustrations, and work-related problems, at the job site.

Educators, it seems, do not have such luxuries. Their job, together with the stress of the day often goes home with them. Furthermore, today’s educator seems to be tethered to the job and often to parents by email and other social media applications. The job, which we all know, continues well past the 9:00 am to 4:00 pm day when the school is open. Furthermore, the “teaching day” together with it’s related responsibilities, continues to get longer.

Another reason that I think teachers may gravitate towards drama and added stress in the workplace is that we all want to be helpful. We want to be the “ring leader” and bring happiness and put smiles on everyone’s face. Most students who enter the Faculty of Education do so because they want to improve education and help students succeed. So when students, or other educators, attempt to draw one into their problems, and the related drama surrounding the situation, we often feel the need to “jump in with both feet” and do our best to help. Unfortunately, the results can be both overwhelming and we may not be as helpful as we had first intended. If you are one that can’t avoid jumping in to help “every circus in town”, the following Bill Cosby quotation below will probably resonate with you:

“I don’t know the key to success,
but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”

Am I suggesting that you withdraw your help from everyone? No … I think it is more important that you look at “each circus” and determine how best you can support the situation. Sometimes, even walking away and forcing those individuals to work through the issues themselves, provides them with a chance to learn and develop their own coping skills.

When a “new circus” arrives in town, you have to ask yourself … “What is my motivation for becoming involved and, more importantly, what will my involvement cost me in terms of time and stress?” Take time to ask yourself if you can really bring, or add, something unique to help resolve the problem for all involved. If you cannot, bow out gracefully, rather than simply adding another individual to the melee.

Lastly consider what will be the consequences, should you not choose to participate. After all, if you are not going to be part of the solution, don’t be part of the problem. Sometimes one has to be selfish, if you are already trying to manage several monkeys in your own circus. Furthermore, in today’s educational environment, you know there are always going to be new circuses coming to town.

These can be tough decisions but perhaps you will remember this Polish proverb and ask yourself whether you might reduce your stress by not getting involved but in just “monkeying around”.

Take care & keep smiling :-)

Larger Image: Brian Metcalfe’s Teacher Feature “photostream”
https://www.flickr.com/photos/life-long-learners/sets/72157625102810878/

Tagged with: | | | | | | | | |

Problem Solving with “Aunt Emma”

Activity, How To, Problem Solving, Tip 1 Comment »

Are you looking for a classroom activity, which will stimulate your students’ thinking? Would you like to witness a spark of excitement in your classroom as students start to problem solve in a creative manner? If so, you might want to introduce them to “Aunt Emma”. From her picture below, you will note that Aunt Emma looks different depending on your point of view. Some view her to be a young woman whereas others think she is rather old and ugly. Regardless, this Aunt Emma exercise should help students focus and look at problems from a variety of angles. Hopefully, such activities will help your students look at, and analyze, problems in a different light as they develop the “HOTS” (Higher Order Thinking Skills).

Aunt-EmmaThis exercise works best when you are working with at least 10 students. One begins by explaining to the class that you were going to introduce them to the likes and dislikes of your favorite aunt … Aunt Emma. You might begin by stating the following clues:

  • “My Aunt Emma likes tennis but hates curling.”
  • “She likes skiing but doesn’t like skating.”
  • “Auntie is ‘wild’ about coffee but dislikes tea.”

The class environment for this problem solving exercise is critical. Encourage students to hypothesize (to themselves) about the relationships between the things that Aunt Emma likes and dislikes. If, for example, a student states, “Your Aunt Emma likes movies but hates T.V.”, you can simply reply … “No … I don’t think you know my Aunt Emma.” Whereas a student who volunteers that “Aunt Emma likes baseball and dislikes golf” can be encouraged with “I believe you have met my Aunt Emma.”

It is very important that students are given initial instructions not to tell the class or classmates what they believe the rule to be. Rather they are encouraged to test their hypotheses by volunteering items, which Aunt Emma likes and dislikes. Explain to students that you want as many of your students to become excited when they discover for themselves what Aunt Emma likes and dislikes. Those students who blurt out a hint are robbing their classmates of the thrill of discovery that is so important in the problem solving process. Be definite that you will only accept statements from students who begin with “I think Aunt Emma likes … and dislikes … “. Be quick to interrupt any child who attempts to short-circuit this problem-solving activity by blurting out the reason for Aunt Emma’s likes and dislikes.

Some teachers may wish to bring both local and world Geography into this exercise by selecting nearby streets in the neighbourhood as follows:

  • Aunt Emma frequently drives down Jessie Avenue but avoids driving down Lilac Street
  • Aunt Emma enjoys traveling on McPhillips Street but doesn’t drive on Atlantic Avenue
  • Aunt Emma loves visiting Greece but does not like Ireland
  • During the long winter. Aunt Emma travels to Hawaii but never to Florida

Encourage students to test hypotheses regarding Aunt Emma’s likes and dislikes. It is exciting to watch a spark ignite in your classroom as one or two students see the pattern or discover Aunt Emma’s rule and assist you by giving clues to her likes and dislikes for their classmates. Provided students do not give hints to their friends (because you want as many students as possible “have the light go on” for themselves), you will see a spark of excitement smolder and burst into flames as the higher order thinking skills take over and students begin making inferences about Aunt Emma’s likes and dislikes.

I have usually conducted this activity with middle and senior years’ students (ages 10 – 17) by simply giving verbal descriptions of Emma’s likes and dislikes. For younger children, or those having difficulty solving the problem, one can assist them by putting Aunt Emma’s likes and dislikes on a blackboard, interactive white board, or overhead projector to assist those who need visual clues. Some of these might include:

  AUNT EMMA’S
LIKES & DISLIKES

Likes Dislikes
noodles soup
jogging walking
cookies cake
apples oranges
loonies quarters
Jeep Ford
hammer screwdriver
baseball hockey
the colour green the colour red

 

The visual clues, shown using a projection device or blackboard, (as opposed to strictly auditory ones) should help many more students become actively engaged in this problem-solving task. It is a good idea for the teacher to have a list of Aunt Emma’s likes and dislikes prepared in advance. However, rather than the teacher always providing the clues, it is important to go back to students who seem to have deciphered the likes and dislikes of Emma to continue contributing in order to help their classmates and reinforce that they, indeed, have the correct solution to the problem. If some students need a little more help, you can always share some of Aunt Emma’s favorites, such as:

  • Aunt Emma LOVES reading the “Winnipeg Free Press” but hates the “Globe and Mail”
  • Aunt Emma LOVES the Mississippi and Assiniboine but dislikes the Red and Seine rivers
  • She loves “beetles” (insects) but hates the “Fab Four” band known as the “Beatles”

Lastly, if some students still need additional help, you can always underline the double-letter “M”’s in Aunt Emma’s name as a final clue. I have found this classroom activity helps focus the students’ thinking about relationships and attributes and broadens their perspectives in problem-solving.

In summary, the importance of the teacher in a problem-solving environment must not be overlooked. Although problem-solving resources and the computer, with appropriate software, can help create the “teachable moment”, it is important that teachers question the thinking process that students go through as well as a model effective problem solving strategies. Often a three-step questioning approach is useful:

  1. “What do you think?” helps focus the student’s position. No comment should be made as to whether that position is right or wrong but it should be follow by;
  2. “Why do you think it?” This step provides students with an opportunity to state the rationale behind their thinking. Additional questions which explore exceptions, special cases and apparent contradictions, will cause students to expand their thinking to the limits; and
  3. “How did you figure it out?” asks the student to relate the steps or processes used in arriving at that position.

The teacher must be involved in the problem solving process and must pursue all three steps of the questioning model. Whether the initial answer to “What do you think?” Is right or wrong is irrelevant. The answers to the final two questions are much more revealing than the answer to the first one. The teacher, through proper questioning, can assist students to develop problem-solving strategies that can apply in a variety of circumstances or subject areas.

Take care & keep smiling :-)

Resources:
“Aunt Emma” Poster – A useful PDF image for promoting this activity.
Optical illusion: Old or young woman? Solution! This YouTube video will help you distinguish between the “young” and “old” woman in this famous optical illusion.
– Source: Slight modifications have been made to an earlier article, I wrote entitled “Problem Solving with Aunt Emma” by Brian Metcalfe – “Bits and Bytes” – Vol. 16 No. 6 – Apr. 2000.

Tagged with: | | | | | | | |

How heavy is a glass of water?

Food for Thought, Reflection, Tip No Comments »

On Valentine’s Day, I attended a function where Doreen Blackman, another retired teacher, handed me a piece of paper containing the following story and suggested I might enjoy the message. After reading it, I knew I wanted to share it through a blog post. When I got home, I searched the web and found a variety of similar posts to the following:

glass-H20-400x600-TA professor began his class by holding up a glass with some water in it. He held it up for all to see and asked the students, “How much do you think this glass weighs?”

“50 grams!” ….”100 grams!” ….. “125 grams!” … the students answered.

“I really don’t know unless I weigh it,” said the professor, “but, my question is: What would happen if I held it up like this for a few minutes?”

“Nothing” … the students said.

“Okay what would happen if I held it up like this for an hour?” the professor asked.

“Your arm would begin to ache,” said one of the students.

“You’re right, now what would happen if I held it for a day?”

“Your arm could go numb, you might have severe muscle stress and paralysis and have to go to hospital for sure!” ventured another student and all the students laughed …

“Very good, but during all this, did the weight of the glass change?” asked the professor.

“No” was the answer.

“Then what caused the arm ache and the muscle stress?”

The students were puzzled.

“What should I do now to reduce the pain?” asked professor again.

“Put the glass down!” said one of the students.

“Exactly!” said the professor.

Life’s problems are something like this. Hold it for a few minutes in your head and they seem OK.

Think of them for a long time and they begin to ache.

Hold it even longer and they begin to paralyze you.

You will not be able to do anything.

It’s important to think of the challenges or problems in your life, but EVEN MORE IMPORTANT is to …

“PUT THEM DOWN” at the end of every day before you go to sleep.

That way, you are not stressed, you wake up every day fresh and strong and can handle any issue, any challenge that comes your way!

So, when your day ends today, remember my friends to …

PUT THE GLASS DOWN!

I must admit that, as someone who can be somewhat perfectionistic at times, I often spend hours trying to complete a task to my high standards. My wife says in some cases, I may in fact perseverate when I cannot solve or complete a task to my self-imposed benchmark. I recall when I was an Educational Technology Consultant and was editing and writing my monthly “Bits and Bytes” educational newsletter, I often got home from work at 2:00 or 3:00 am. Such 18 hour days often occurred at the middle of each month when my newsletter submission deadline approached.

A colleague often asked me “When is the job good enough?” In other words, could I submit the newsletter after working a 10 hour day knowing that it was not still not up to my standards. I admit, that in those days, to use this water glass metaphor, I was reluctant to spill any water regardless if it would reduce the stress I was feeling.

When I look back at the efforts of our Educational Technology team, we were amazing, worked long hours both in the office and at home and were motivated from within to complete all tasks to the best of our abilities. We didn’t take short cuts, we didn’t spill any water, and and we rarely “put the glass down”. Now that I’m retired, I must take care to put the glass down each night, so I can focus on any time-consuming tasks with a fresh, new outlook each morning.

Take care & keep smiling :-)

Credits: The above anecdote is modified slightly from the post “Put the Glass Down”.

Tagged with: | | | |

A Teacher’s Daily Survival Kit

Food for Thought, Tip No Comments »

Early this month, Gerald Brown, the former Chief Librarian of the Winnipeg School Division, sent me a “survival kit” by email. True, variations of this list have circulated over the past 20 years but the message contained within, is still very important.

survival kit 400x400

In fact, my wife, who taught at the elementary level, used to make up “kits” like the following, including all the objects, together with the important instructions, to give out to each student in her class. This unique “survival kit” was as one of the many ways she used to foster how important each and every student was.

DAILY SURVIVAL KIT

Today, I am giving you a DAILY SURVIVAL KIT to help you each day.

A Toothpick … to remind you to pick the good qualities in everyone, including yourself.

A Rubber Band … to remind you to be flexible. Things might not always go the way you want, but it can be worked out.

A Band-Aid … to remind you to heal hurt feelings, either yours or someone else’s.

An Eraser … to remind you everyone makes mistakes. That’s okay, we learn from our errors.

A Candy Kiss … to remind you everyone needs a hug or a compliment everyday.

A Mint … to remind you that you are worth a mint to your family and me.

Bubble Gum … to remind you to stick with it and you can accomplish anything.

A Pencil … to remind you to list your blessings every day.

A Tea Bag … to remind you to take time to relax daily and go over that list of blessings.

This is what makes life worth living every minute, every day.

Wishing you love, gratitude, friends to cherish, caring, sharing, laughter, music, and warm feelings in your heart in 2015.

Take care & keep smiling :-)

– Flickr – Creative Commons image “Altoids Tin Survival Kit” by Chris
– https://www.flickr.com/photos/64mm/5407944209/

Tagged with: | | | | | | | | | |

Problem Solving – A Matter of Perspective

Activity, Application or Web App, Problem Solving, Tip No Comments »

Motivating students to solve problems has definitely changed over the past 40 years. When I first began teaching Mathematics, and in particular Geometry, to junior high students, I had a number of posters decorating my classroom. Of particular interest were the ones that showcased the creativity of the Dutch graphic artist M. C. Escher. His mathematical art, with its unique tessellation symmetry and creative transformations was truly amazing. However, it was the impossible constructions shown in creations such as “Belvedere”, “Relativity”, and “Waterfall”, that captured the imagination of most students.

Forty years later, imagine my delight when our younger son, who is a software engineer in San Francisco, shared with me the artistic puzzle game Monument Valley.

Monument-Valley-2

This Android, iOS, and Kindle puzzle, which only costs $3.99, is described as “an illusory adventure of impossible architecture and forgiveness”. One attempts to guide the silent Princess Ida through a series of remarkably artistic formations. Each screen, which can be printed, is a work of art that utilizes perspective altering images based on the Penrose Triangle and Escher’s “impossible cube”.

Knowing that some educators do not have access, while at school, to YouTube videos, I screen-captured 39 images and created the following animated GIF to provide a better perspective of this unique adventure. This looping animation starts with a black slide, together with the Monument Valley title and information slides. Follow Princess Ida as she travels from within her black circle at the bottom ever upward in her quest to navigate this creative environment:

 

[Editor: Please be patient waiting for this large animated GIF to load & display.]

I would encourage readers, who wish a more complete overview of this magical puzzle environment, to view the “Monument Valley Release Trailer” on YouTube.

In addition, older students, particularly those who have an interest in artistic design, mathematics and/or computer programming may enjoy exploring the following two resources which give insight into how Monument Valley was created:

Spoiler Alert
Should you decide to purchase this puzzle for your students, for your family members, or friends, I recommend that you advise them to not explore YouTube videos to help with solving any of the 10 different levels of Monument Valley. As all educators know, true problem solving comes from involvement, struggling, manipulating a puzzle and exploring different paths. Searching for a solution on the Internet or in a YouTube video is akin to looking at the Answer Key at the back of the book.

Regardless of whether we are experiencing a challenging puzzle or aspects of life, in general, we should remember Gail Lynne Goodwin’s quotation … “Perspective can make our problems look bigger than they really are.”

Take care & keep smiling :-)

Tagged with: | | | | | | |

Teacher Feature #38 – Pupils, Photos & Privacy

Food for Thought, Social Networking, Teacher Feature, Tip 2 Comments »

My older son shared the following photograph with me recently. It was shared as a entry on “theCHIVE” entitled “Little known facts that you likely never knew” on April 18, 2014.

bizarre-facts-7

Admittedly, I was not sure how accurate this information might be. However, in researching this quotation, I was amazed at how the number of photos taken is estimated and more importantly delighted with the wealth of powerful photos that have been captured over the years and shared through the following sites:

  1. How Many Photos Have Been Taken Ever?
  2. 40 Of The Most Powerful Photographs Ever Taken
  3. How many photos have ever been taken

However, the following quotation, from the third site, got me thinking about our pupils and their privacy.

… but this year people will upload over 70 billion photos to Facebook, suggesting around 20% of all photos this year will end up there[7]. Already Facebook’s photo collection has a staggering 140 billion photos, that’s over 10,000 times larger than the Library of Congress.[8]

If today’s students are actively using social media and apps such as Facebook, Flickr, Instagram and YouTube, they are indeed socializing and sharing photos. We need to help our pupils understand that once the door to one’s private world is opened, it may be difficult to close.

This idea prompted this month’s Teacher Feature remix.

Teacher Feature 38 - Alan Dershowitz - 400x300

Teacher Feature #38 – Alan Dershowitzi – April, 2014

Once again my older son shared the following stats from yesterday’s “theCHIVE” post entitled, “Mind blowing stats popular websites pull each minute”:

  • YouTube users upload 72 hours of new video every minute
  • Facebook users share 2,460,000 pieces of content every minute
  • WhatsApp users share 347,222 photos every minute
  • Instagram users posts 216,000 new photos every minute
  • Vine users share 8,333 videos every minute

True, I realize that many photos can be shared or uploaded that do not reveal any private matters. In fact, our younger son use Instagram to showcase only his best digital photos. He tends to use this social networking application as a digital portfolio to display his creativity.

However, these questions need to be discussed with our students to help them protect their privacy:

  • What is privacy?
  • What is your digital footprint & what does it look like?
  • As an employer, would I hire/fire you after Googling your name?
  • Are your sharing information that you consider private?
  • Are you sharing information that others may consider private?
  • What steps would you go through to have a picture or comment removed from the web?

In closing, I will leave you with two quotations from MediaSmarts – Canada’s Centre for Digital & Media Literacy. In the article entitled “Online Privacy, Online Publicity: Youth do more to protect their reputation than their information”, Matthew Johnson states:

… young people may not care that much about what we think of as privacy, but they care very much about control – control over who can see what they post, over who can track them digitally and, most especially, over how other people see them.

and …

Canadian youth do care about privacy, and are willing to learn and use tools for managing it. Their poor understanding of data privacy, however, leaves them vulnerable to privacy invasions that they may not even be aware of.

As educators, we do, indeed have an important role to play.

Take care & keep smiling :-)

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

Tagged with: | | | | | | | | | | | |

ManACE Seed Grant Program – 2014

Activity, Info, Project, Tip No Comments »

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/

Tagged with: |

Teacher Feature #28 – Pay It Forward Day

Activity, Info, Reflection, Teacher Feature, Tip No Comments »

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/

Tagged with: | | | | | | |

Lip dub: A Classroom and School Approach

Activity, ETMOOC, How To, Project, Tip 6 Comments »

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/

Tagged with: | | | | | | | | | | |

WP Theme & Icons by N.Design Studio
Entries RSS Comments RSS Log in