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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Pizza, Pedagogy & P.D. – ManACE TIN – Nov. 8

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Want to be inspired by practical classroom pedagogy over a supper of pizza this Thursday? If so, make certain to register below for the Technology Information Night (TIN) hosted by the Manitoba Association for Computing EducatorsManitoba Association for Computing Educators (ManACE). This opportunity is being held in Winnipeg on November 8, 2012 at St. John’s-Ravenscourt, 400 South Drive, from 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm. While it is free to register for this learning and sharing opportunity, $5.00 will be collected per person at the door to offset the food costs.

Innovative educators will share their ideas and resources through the following three presentations:

Window to the World
Facilitated by Erin Malkoske & Leslie Dent Scarcello
This presentation will provide an overview of blogging with early years students.  Whether you’re considering a classroom blog or individual student blogs, Erin & Leslie will show you how easy it can be for you and your students to break down the barriers imposed by classroom walls by using your blog as a window to the world.

Creativity & Collaboration – Making Video Mashups
Facilitated by Christin Mackay
Bring a little joy to your classroom by enabling your students to demonstrate their creativity when it comes to producing collaborative video projects.  In this presentation, Christin will demonstrate how she and her Grade 4/5 students recorded and produced a short video that was inspired by viral video techniques.

Rocking the Airwaves
Facilitated by Matt Henderson
As recipients of a ManACE SEED Grant last year, Matt and his students will highlight the ways they’ve taken to the airwaves to amplify student voice.  Whether you’ve caught a CSJR broadcast or you’re looking to broadcast the learning that’s taking place in your own classroom, you’ll want to tune into this presentation.

To register please visit: http://manace-nov8tin.eventbrite.ca

Come out to learn and network with some very dedicated and creative Manitoba educators.

Please help spread the word about our upcoming ManACE TIN within your school/division.

Take care & keep smiling :-)

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ManACE Annual General Meeting – May 29th

Food for Thought, Info, LwICT, Professional Development, Social Networking, Tip No Comments »

The Executive of the Manitoba Association for Computing Educators (ManACE) are to be congratulated. They have arranged for Dean Shareski and Alec Couros to present “Learning in Public” at their AGM. As outstanding educators, this “dynamic duo” from Saskatchewan plan to “look at creating & sharing digital content & online collaboration”.

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn and connect in Winnipeg with other technology-using educators on May 29th at 7:00 pm at the King’s Head Pub at 120 King Street. Additional information can be found on the ManACE Memos blog.

All our welcome to this free educational experience. All that is requested is that you please REGISTER ONLINE to help the planning committee better organize this event.

Please view and/or print this ManACE AGM Poster and share it with your staff and other educators so that all that may be interested can attend.

Take care & keep smiling :-)

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Clarence Fisher invests in students – Will you?

Application or Web App, Info 2 Comments »

Clarence Fisher has a mission! He wants to help global kids connect. To do this, he has enlisted his personal learning network and followers to help contribute a total of $4oo by July 26th to the development of an education tool that will help students interact and connect worldwide. I believe in Clarence Fisher and I believe in his vision!

Who is Clarence Fisher? Clarence is an innovative Manitoba master educator. Although, he has been awarded Canada’s Prime Minister’s Award for Teaching, he is known worldwide, throughout the blogging community, as an innovative educator who engages his middle years’ students and uses technology to foster 21st century learning. Clarence lives and teaches in Snow Lake, Manitoba, which is located at the center of three of Manitoba’s northern cities of Flin Flon, The Pas, and Thompson. As one who lives approximately 685 kilometers north of Winnipeg, one might consider Clarence to be somewhat isolated. However, don’t tell Clarence’s students that they are isolated, because they know differently! They have been connecting, through various innovative, technology-supported, projects, with students and educators worldwide during the past decade.

When I first began my blog back in January 2010, I wanted to include a few links in my Blogroll to exemplary educational resources. There was no hesitation in my inclusion of Clarence Fisher’s “Remote Access” blog as a unique window into an innovative teacher’s mind and middle years’ classroom .

However, it was Clarence’s two recent posts that piqued my curiosity:

Here was an educator who, in the latter part of July, should be “recharging his batteries” and enjoying his vacation with his family and friends. Rather, in his July 16th post, Clarence was expressing a need for “a recommendation engine for students that would help them find other students around the world that they can learn with”. Through this reflective blogging process and feedback from his personal learning network, Clarence finds that no one knows of such an educational application. Furthermore, many educators feel that his vision has merit but they all confess that they don’t have the necessary programming or coding skills to develop such an education tool. At this point, the vast majority of teachers would stop with a sigh and an “Oh well, it was a good idea …” mutter. Not so, Clarence! Rather, he demonstrates and models his problem solving strategies by submitting his idea to an out-sourcing “virtual worker” website. Here, he described his needs and application developers around the world bid on the job. From feedback, Clarence determines that he can hire a virtual worker(s) to create his vision of an “educational recommendation engine” for $450. Once again, many of us, with discretionary classroom budgets of less than $100 per school year, would fall before this insurmountable $450 barrier. Again Clarence accepts the challenge and tries a rather creative source of funding … you … the educational reader. In his July 19th blog post, “Helping Global Kids Connect“, Clarence decides to see if other readers are willing to add to his initial $50 investment and help contribute an additional $400.

As I publish this post on Saturday, July 23, I am pleased to note that through the generosity of nine readers, $265 has already been donated to this endeavour. One is strongly encouraged to make a pledge promptly before the Tuesday, July 26th deadline. If you believe in Clarence’s vision, as I do, don’t fail to contribute – even if the total surpasses $400. I am somewhat familiar with the “virtual worker” out-sourcing model, as I purchased services from 99designs.com in early 2010. This opportunity allowed me to describe ideas to be included in my “Life-Long-Learners”  letterhead and logo. Graphic designers, from around the world, submitted different creations for my review. It was truly an eye-opening, global experience for me as the winning design was created by a very gifted individual from the Ukraine. My experience would suggest that although Clarence has established a $450 coding fee, it may cost slightly more. Often bugs and anomalies do not appear until the application is used by different schools and many students.  In addition, through day-to-day classroom use, one starts to realize “tweaks” and enhancements that could be made. Should Clarence hope to implement such additional features, it might be nice to have funds available, in reserve, to reimburse the application developer(s).

In summary, I think that during this endeavour, Clarence Fisher has demonstrated, or will engage in, the following 10 problem solving steps:

  1. Identifying a problem
  2. Looking for an existing solution
  3. Collaborating and consulting with his personal learning network (PLN)
  4. Writing down an initial draft of what is needed and examples of how students might use such an application
  5. Searching crowd-sourcing web resources to gain an estimate for development costs
  6. Examining a unique way to fund the project through investment by peers
  7. Communicating and collaborating between Clarence and the application developer(s), once the funding is secured
  8. Testing the application within the classroom
  9. Sharing the application with others
  10. Celebrating the success of the endeavour and reflecting on it’s benefits

I commend Clarence for sharing this adventure with his readers and modelling these important problem-solving steps. As teachers, we would hope that all our students will use similar strategies whenever they encounter new problems on their way to becoming successful, life-long-learners.

In closing, I urge you to review Clarence’s proposal in his post “Helping Global Kids Connect” and seriously consider contributing. Perhaps Benjamin Franklin said it best, when he stated, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

Take care & keep smiling :-)

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‘Excel’lent Maths Problem Solving Puzzles

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When I taught middle years Mathematics, I found myself intrigued by the different ways students solved puzzles. Classic puzzles, such as the following problem, use letters to represent numbers which can be displayed as simple calculation problems in disguise. One must replace each letter by a single 0 to 9 digit. The same digit must be used to represent the same letter. So, if you believe that 4 is being used to represent the letter A, then 4 must be used for all A’s in the same problem. Of course, one must use a different digit for different letters. After one substitutes all the letters for the numbers, a perfectly valid calculation problem will result.

Although some students might approach the problem using a “brute-force” method in which guesswork was employed, I was fascinated by those who approached the problem logically or employed a variety of strategies. I found that it was wise to provide my students with an opportunity to share with the class what assumptions were made and what strategies were used. For example, most would try to solve the above puzzle as shown in its subtraction format. However, some students found this puzzle easier to solve when the problem was rewritten in its corresponding addition format. Such “working backwards” is an effective strategy for solving problems and one that works well in this case. In addition, unlike most mathematical problems where there is only one correct answer, I encouraged students to see if they were able to find more than one series of letter substitutions that would solve each particular puzzle problem.

Excel Spreadsheet Format:
In the January, 2001 issue of “Bits and Bytes”, I wrote an article entitled “Spreadsheets: A Problem Solving Puzzle Creator“. This extensive article, provided the reader with insights into how I designed the spreadsheet component using Microsoft “Works” to create problems such as the above. Recently, I decided to improve and upgrade these same six problems so that they could be used by those readers using the 2007 (or later versions) of Microsoft Office. Educators may download a single Excel 2007 workbook which contains each of the six puzzles as individual worksheets at the end of this blog post.

Word Document Format:
As an educator, I wanted to provide students with an opportunity to identify the hunches and strategies that they used when attempting to solve these problem/puzzles. In order to facilitate this important documentation step, I created a Word document containing each puzzle as an embedded spreadsheet followed by a “What I/we learned” portion at the bottom of the page where students could list the various steps and strategies they took in solving a particular problem. The individual six Word problem/puzzles can be downloaded as “freebies” at the end of this article.

Suggested Lesson Steps:
I would use the following Word puzzle activities in the following manner:

1.  Divide up the classroom into teams consisting of two or three students of similar abilities. I believe that the collaborative interaction in the team approach, as well as a reflective “What I/we learned?” nature of this project gives the best results for learning. Since the puzzles are arranged in order by relative difficulty, I would assign particular puzzles to challenge teams while providing a “best-fit” scenario.

2. Make a backup of all Word document puzzles (and keep them in a safe place) in case student puzzles get saved over the originals.

3. Transfer a copy of each Word document puzzle to a computer server drive location to which the students have access.

4. Open the first Word Puzzle #1 (ONE + ONE = TWO) on a workstation and project the image onto a screen so the entire class can see how the activity will work.

5. Demonstrate where team members will enter their names at the top of the document and stress that student teams must frequently save their progress using a file name format and drive location with which they are familiar.

6. Stress the need to document the team strategies and hunches and have students in class suggest why certain letters can take on certain values. For the initial demonstration, I would only choose values for E within the range 1-4 so that there is no need to carry over a 1 to the adjacent column. You might ask students if E could take on the value of 5 and to explain their rational to support their decision. Likewise, why can E not equal zero?

7. Before attempting to activate the spreadsheet component, enter a few of the class suggestions in the “What I/we learned” area at the bottom of the page and save the Word document (using the agreed upon location and file name convention). Possible sample comments can be viewed by clicking on the image near the end of this article.

8. Demonstrate how the embedded spreadsheet is activated by double-clicking within the yellow frame. Inform students that one will know that the spreadsheet is activated when the Excel column letters and row numbers appear along the top and left hand edge.

9. When the embedded spreadsheet is activated, one can position the mouse over the red-coloured “DIRECTIONS” link to review the puzzle-solving process.

10. Using the suggestions and the strategies listed by the students, enter a value for E in the “Guess & Test Area” and observe the changes in the “Results Area”. Remind students that the <Enter> key must be pressed after inserting any value into the “Guess & Test Area”.

11. Students must regularly update and enter strategies at the bottom of the Word document by deactivating the spreadsheet. To do so, one must click outside the yellow framed embedded spreadsheet. When the spreadsheet column letters and row numbers disappear, one is now in the Word document format.

If the information in the yellow frame becomes lost or distorted, immediately click the "Undo Object" (reverse arrow button) or enter the "Ctrl-Z" keystroke combination to recover.

WARNING: Sometimes when one returns to the Word document, the yellow frame disappears or is not completely displayed. If this happens, students must immediately click on the “Undo Object” (the “reverse arrow”) button or enter the <Ctrl-Z> keystroke combination. This “undo” step will always recover the original Word document display with the complete yellow framed puzzle/problem and team comments at the bottom.

12. Remind students to take turns so that different team members alternate tasks between entering strategies and hunches at the bottom of the Word document and activating the spreadsheet component to enter another letter value to observe the results and progress.

13. Continue with the demonstration on Puzzle #1 until the spreadsheet feedback area finally displays “CORRECT!”

14. Return to the Word document (using the Undo process) to re-draw the Word document and finish entering any additional strategies or hunches that the class agrees upon. Remind the class that it is important that students not only document strategies that worked but also hunches that need more refinement. Stress that we often learn more from our failures than our successes.

15. Invite students to suggest whether Puzzle #1 can have other solutions. Discuss such possibilities, without demonstration, particularly if you wish to use this puzzle with a team as an easier entry into this activity.

16. Save the Word document, one last time, and demonstrate how you wish this completed Word puzzle file to be submitted to the teacher.

17. Now ask the students to arrange themselves into the teams that you have chosen and advise each team which puzzle is their responsibility. Select a particular member of each team to open their assigned Word document puzzle.

18. Instruct another team member to enter their team or individual names at the top of the Word document puzzle and save this named document in an appropriate location using their student names as a file identifier.

19. If one of your teams is working on Puzzle #1 (which was used during the demonstration) tell these team members that they have to find a different solution than the one that was demonstrated.

20. Direct team members to examine their puzzle (in the word processing format) and discuss any beginning steps or strategies that they think might be used to help solve the puzzle. Have a new team member type their initial strategies/thoughts  in the “What I/we learned” area at the bottom and save their team Word puzzle document before proceeding.

21. Ask a new team member, to start the puzzle by double-clicking within the yellow frame to activate the embedded spreadsheet. Remind the teams that the spreadsheet is “activated” when the Excel column letters and row numbers appear along the top and left side boundaries.

22. If necessary, team members can move the mouse over the red-coloured “DIRECTIONS” link, when the spreadsheet is activated.

23. Have each student, in turn, enter a value in the “Guess & Test Area” and observe the results in the “Results Area”.

24. Frequently remind teams, to return to update their strategies at the bottom of the Word document. To do so, one must click outside the yellow frame to deactivate the spreadsheet. Once the spreadsheet column letters and row numbers disappear, one may update the strategies and hunches at the bottom of the Word document. Remind students that if they return to the Word format (where no Excel column or row indicators are displayed) and the yellow frame spreadsheet does not display properly, one must immediately click the “Undo Object” (reverse arrow) or enter the <Ctrl-Z> keystroke combination to recover the Word document without any distortion.

25. Have students alternate between activating the spreadsheet, entering the next number, observing the results, returning to the Word document (using the “Undo” process to re-draw the Word document) and refining or typing in the new hunch or strategy to be tested.

26. Once the problem/puzzle feedback indicates that the team is “CORRECT!”, have the team complete the “What I/we learned … Area”, save the final version of the Word document, and transfer the resulting Word document to the teacher.

27. After finding their first solution, suggest that student teams, re-open the same puzzle, repeat the same steps to see if they can find more than one solution to their particular problem or to determine if their solution unique.

28. This problem solving activity could be used again by ensuring that different puzzles were assigned to different teams.

~~~~~~~

Sample Team Word Document


< Click the above image to view the display in a larger format. >

Freebie Downloads:

Take care & keep smiling :-)

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An ‘animated’ Sir Ken Robinson visits us

Activity, Info, Professional Development 4 Comments »

Sir Ken Robinson is a creativity expert who challenges the educational system. My first exposure to this very witty individual, with his profound message, was in the February, 2006 TED Talk video entitled “Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity” at: http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html

For those readers who have never seen a video of Sir Ken Robinson, I encourage you to invest 20 minutes to view his humorous and inspiring message.

An “Animated” Experiment
However, my main reason for writing this blog entry is to ask readers to compare and contrast two different video delivery styles which I have named the “traditional” and the “animated” version.

To carry out this investigation, I ask you to view approximately 5 minutes of Sir Ken Robinson’s “Changing Paradigms” video in two different formats.

  • Traditional Format – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCbdS4hSa0s
    Begin viewing this video at approximately the 12:51 minute mark.
  • Animated Format – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U
    Begin viewing from the start of this RSA animated video.

Which version do you prefer? Why? Do you think that your students will prefer a different format? Try this comparison with your class and request their feedback. I’d be interested in your preferences and comments at the end of this blog entry.

Other Ken Robinson videos that have an educational message can be found at:

Sir Ken Robinson delivers keynote in Winnipeg
If you enjoy Sir Ken Robinson’s message, you might want to take advantage of hearing him deliver a keynote message in Winnipeg on December 3, 2010. “Arts and Learning: Shaping our Future Together” is the title of the 4th annual Canadian Symposium for Arts and Learning which is being held at the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Education from December 2-4, 2010. On Friday evening, December 3rd, Sir Ken Robinson will present a keynote at the Walker (Burton Cummings) Theatre at 364 Smith Street. Those wishing to attend this symposium and/or Sir Ken Robinson’s keynote should complete the registration process.

Take care & keep smiling :-)

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‘Image with a Message’ Activity/Project

Activity, DS106, How To, LwICT, Project 19 Comments »

Are you looking for an engaging computer-related activity or project for your students? Regardless of the grade or subject area in which you teach, I think I have an idea that you will find both stimulating as well as educationally relevant.

Over the past few years, much emphasis as been placed on technology integration throughout all subjects in the K-12 spectrum. However, many educators may become frustrated because they feel that their students need to be scheduled into the school’s computer lab to use technology in a meaningful manner. Others may feel that image acquisition is restricted based on their school or divisional filtering policy. To help reduce such frustration, I propose that students complete this “Image with a Message” activity, on their own time, to demonstrate that they can use basic technology skills to enhance other assignments or projects in any discipline.

I asked myself, what are the main tasks or concepts that all students should be able to perform when using technology. Regardless, of the particular curriculum, I believe that each student should be able to use the technology to accomplish the following three basic tasks:

  • search the Internet critically;
  • enhance projects with images from Creative Commons; and
  • give appropriate credit.

Students who can accomplish the above three fundamentals will be better prepared to use technology in a meaningful manner to enhance many school-related assignments and projects.

I want to remove the hassle for all teachers who feel that it is necessary to gain access to the school computer lab before recommending that students engage in any computer-related endeavour. Why must students always use computers at school? In many cases, students have access to computers at home, in public libraries, or in community centers that are more sophisticated than the equipment in their respective school computer labs. Furthermore, asking students to work, perhaps in pairs, outside of school fosters important collaborative skills that have life-long benefits. Perhaps individuals who don’t have access to a computer at home can be teamed up with another student who has ready access.

“Image with a Message” Activity Overview

Each student must create a JPEG image that combines the following three components:

  1. a famous quotation or statement that has relevance to the subject being studied;
  2. a “Creative Commons” image that combines to illustrate the above quotation; and
  3. the computer address link which identifies the “Creative Commons” image.

“Image with a Message” Lesson Steps for the Teacher

Although the following steps are directed to teachers, I have also included a somewhat similar student handout (in both Word and PDF formats) at the end of this blog entry.

1.    For students who learn best by seeing the “big picture”, educators should showcase some of the samples that I have created for this blog entry or select other “Image with a Message” creations from some of the following sources:

2.    Since each student’s final JPEG image will be emailed to the teacher, on or before the assignment due date, it is best to determine a standard image size. For example, one may recommend, based on the screen resolution of the computer in one’s classroom or school lab, that each project’s final image dimensions must be 800 x 600 or 1024 x 768 pixels.

3.    Team up students in pairs. Ensure that students who do not have access to a computer outside school are matched with a partner that has access to a computer with internet access. Even though students are working in pairs, each student must create his/her individual “image with a message”.

4.    Select a famous quotation that is relevant to the subject area. Team partners must select a different quotation and a different image. Possible sources of quotations, from famous individuals, may be located at such web sites as:

5.    Review the Creative Commons License Types at:
http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/

6.    Demonstrate how one can use the Flickr Advanced Search at: http://www.flickr.com/search/advanced/

For example, to find the previously shown “light bulb” image, I entered the words “light bulb idea” (without quotes) in the top search field. I then checked off the “Photos/Videos” media type. Lastly, and most importantly, I checked off the bottom “Creative Commons” filter by selecting the two qualifiers to “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content” and to “Find content to modify, adapt, or build upon” since I hoped to combine or re-mix an image with a quotation.

7.    Browse through the various “Creative Commons” photos until one finds a suitable image and click on its thumbnail to see the larger version.

8.    To help return to the selected “Creative Commons” image, bookmark it or identify it as a favourite.

9.    Click the “Actions” button to “View all sizes” and, most importantly, click the top “License” link to verify that one has permission to use the image selected.

10.  Select the image size which is closest to the previously determined standard image size in Step #2.

11.  Demonstrate how to download and save a relevant, appropriate-sized “Creative Commons” image.

12.  If students have access to Microsoft Office, they can use the “Insert > Picture > From File” menu items to place the downloaded image into a blank PowerPoint slide. If not, one can use the “File > Open” menu items to load the “Creative Commons” image into a “paint-type” program. Remember to resize the image to fit the final standard agreed-upon image dimensions.

13.  Position a text frame appropriately on the “Creative Commons” image and enter the chosen quotation and author. Choose an appropriate font, size, and colour and then position this quotation to maximize impact.

14.  Return to the bookmarked “Creative Commons” image (in Step #8) and copy the image address source. Repeat the above step by inserting this web address near the bottom of the image and size it appropriately to give the necessary “Creative Commons” attribution.

15.  During the save process, PowerPoint users should click the down arrow at the end of the “Save as type:” field, scroll down and choose the “JPEG File Interchange Format” to save the current slide as a JPEG image.

16.  Once the final image and quotation layout has been finalized, make certain to save the JPEG image using the student’s first and last name as the image filename. (e.g. Robert-Finigan.jpg or Adya-Singh.jpg)

17. To complete the activity, email the final image as an attachment to your teacher and support your partner with their “Image with a Message” creation.

Next Steps

Teachers, or a student-team, should insert all the JPEG images into a PowerPoint presentation that can be shared with a class. Students might be encouraged to vote on their favourite “Image with a Message” and discuss why such slides have impact. Make certain to save such a PowerPoint presentation for subsequent years as one will find it beneficial to use local, student-created images to challenge new students to the subject or grade. Some teachers may choose to print some of the “Images with a Message” and display them on bulletin boards within the classroom.

Teachers often wonder how to challenge students who complete projects early or want to extend their learning. I would recommend if such individuals are using PowerPoint, that they investigate the steps outlined in my earlier blog post entitled “PowerPoint Pizzazz“. The technique, which readers are encouraged to view at this video link, demonstrates how colourful PowerPoint slide images can be made to “come alive” during a presentation. Perhaps such students might be challenged to create very colourful “images with a message” that can take advantage of this “fade to colour” technique.

“Image with a Message” Samples

Although the original Creative Commons licensed image above specified “No Derivative Works”, I contacted Rémi Janner who graciously allowed me to add Albert Einstein’s quotation to his amazing picture and share this remix. Thanks Rémi for your understanding and willingness to share.

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Take care & keep smiling :-)

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