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:
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:
The Educational Technology and Media #ETMOOC, that I recently joined, suggested that participants introduce themselves in a unique manner. Following in the creative steps of Jess McCulloch, I decided to try my hand at writing and narrating a poem to help others better understand my learning journey.
Once my poem was created, I thought that I would read it and share it as an audio file through SoundCloud. Readers should be able to hear my narration by clicking on the “Play” button below. Should the orange “Play” symbol not display, readers may have to click on the hyperlink to transfer and play my narration from the SoundCloud web site. I have also included the text of my poem so that one may more easily follow along.
What does one do when time is a critical factor and one is challenged to accomplish two different tasks in two different environments? Well … some might get uptight and vent their frustration, by swearing, using profane, “four-letter words”.
In my case, I chose to focus on common elements that satisfy the needs for both entities. Let me explain. I’m currently enrolled in two different massive, open online courses or MOOCs. This year, I am returning to Digital Storytelling – DS106 and thanks to information shared in this learning community, I signed up for Educational Technology & Media. Both of these MOOCs have certain unique expectations.
For example, in today’s DS106 “The Daily Create” (#374) assignment, I was asked to “Take a picture of your favorite thing in the world to do, however simple or complex.” At the same time, ETMOOC facilitators are asking participants to “Tell us a little bit about yourself – perhaps, where you’re from, what you do, or what you want to be when you grow up – and let us know what you’d like to gain from #etmooc?”
My challenge is to try to meet both of these tasks without uttering any “four-letter words”. Perhaps one might assume that since I have twice the challenges, from the demands of two different MOOCs, my favourite “four-letter words” should increase or double in character length. That is indeed true. In fact, my favourite pastimes can be best described by the “eight-letter word “learning” followed by its slightly shorter, but equally important task of “sharing”. I trust that these two words are demonstrated in the following picture where I glean information from books, magazines and the Internet and share my findings in my educational blog called “Life-Long-Learners”.
Although I am a retired K-12 educator, I’m still passionate about learning. About a year ago, a good friend and innovative educator, Darren Kuropatwa, suggested that I should sign up for the DS106 MOOC. He felt that the innovative learning style, where one can choose his/her own assignments, would challenge and engage me. Darren felt that I would use my blog posts to reflect on what, and how, I learned and share my journey with others. Furthermore, he knew that I would make connections with other like-minded participants and, through mutually supportive blog comments and tweets, extend my Personal Learning Network (PLN).
When I returned to DS106 this year, Ben Rimes (a talented Michigan educator whom I have never met face-to-face) shared in a blog post that he was about to sign up for #ETMOOC. So when another learning opportunity presented itself, be it in a somewhat serendipitous manner, I signed up.
As a former Mathematics/Computer Science teacher, I was always sharing resources with colleagues throughout our school division and our province. When I became an Education Technology Consultant for the Winnipeg School Division, I decided that the best way to help K-12 teachers and their students harness the power of technology was through a monthly educational newsletter. For 23 years I wrote and edited “Bits and Bytes” whose focus was “to provide educators with tips and techniques to help them integrate technology to enhance learning in K-12 classrooms”.
I believe that my philosophy about sharing and the importance of belonging to a PLN can best be summarized in my previous post, and video, entitled “My PLN: A Teacher’s Treasure”.
One of my favourite quotes, that I re-mixed in my first “Teacher Feature” is by Margaret Fuller, who stated “If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it.” I think that as professional educators, we should strive to share our knowledge with others. Today, the Internet makes it so much easier.
In closing, I’ll end with the following two, “four-letter words”:
Larger Images are available on Brian Metcalfe’s Flickr photostream at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/life-long-learners/
I believe in serendipitous learning. For those educators who are connected online, or consider themselves to be part of a professional learning network or PLN, such learning opportunities present themselves with regular frequency. Readers who have followed my blog for the past year know how excited I was when Darren Kuropatwa sent me an email suggesting that I might like to participate in a free, “massive open online course” or MOCC called Digital Storytelling – DS106. Those wishing to learn more about my amazing adventure, need only click on the DS106 category link on the right-side menu to filter out more than three dozen posts that share my excitement as I became engaged in this free, online learning environment.
I was so excited about the learning and networking opportunities that were afforded me through my initial DS106 exposure last Spring, that I again enrolled in DS106 this January. This action exposed me to Ben Rimes and his informative blog called “The Tech Savvy Educator” where he announced in early January that he had “also signed up for #ETMOOC”. I was intrigued and searched out this Educational Technology & Media MOOC. Like DS106, participants choose their own learning goals, engage in dialogue with other educators, share ideas and resources, and reflect through their individual blogs posts. All tweets with the hashtag #ETMOOC and blog posts with the tag or category ETMOOC will be aggregated centrally thanks to the dedication and hard work of Alan Levine (aka cogdog) and his team. Needless to say, I was intrigued, so I signed up for ETMOOC and officially start this unique learning adventure tomorrow with over 1200 participants representing 67 countries around the world. Future blog posts relating to this unique endeavour will be classified and listed under the newly created ETMOOC category found in the right-hand menu.
My second serendipitous learning opportunity occurred last night while I was scanning some of the aggregated tweets from ETMOOC participants. One individual (who I unfortunately cannot remember, so as to give credit) commented about the creativity of the educational posters created by Krissy Venosdale. As luck would have it, I searched through Krissy’s posters and thought that the image that I included above represented well my love of learning. Thanks Krissy for caring and sharing.
You might ask, like my wife, why am I enrolling in the DS106 course again. Didn’t I get my “fill” of on-line learning a year ago? The simple answer is that there are gaps in my learning that I want to try fill. I have found that through the on-going support, comments, and instructional blog posts of the DS106 community, I can take ownership for my own learning and professional development.
In the previous post, I alluded to the fact that GIF animation had become so much more sophisticated over the past dozen years. Certainly, I was actively engaged in the Spring 2012 DS106 course and I was extremely pleased at the skills and knowledge I had gained. However, as I continued to read other DS106-related blog posts, during the remainder of 2012, I realized that my GIF animation was quite limiTed.
So now that I have “dotted my “T”s … we’ll now cross our “I”s”
[Animated GIF reflecting "The eyes are the windows into the soul"]
The Back Story
As an educator, I am so grateful to the DS106 individuals, who not only share their assignments, but also take the time to provide insights and instructions into their creative process. Sometimes when we attend Educational Technology conferences or professional development sessions, we are exposed to perfect, polished activities or projects. However, on returning to our classrooms, we may become discouraged when we attempt to replicate the process ourselves. Some of the reasons for this failure might include lacking the necessary hardware, software, or more importantly, the skills that the sharing educator took for granted. I welcome the DS106 model in which participants are encouraged to share their insights into their creative process.
To illustrate the importance of this “Back Story” process, I urge educational readers to view Dean Shareski’s K-12 Online Conference keynote video entitled “Sharing: The Moral Imperative”. Here, Dean suggests that “the ability to teach and share beyond our classrooms is moving from ‘nice to do’ to ‘necessary to do’”. Although this keynote was extremely powerful and the message is still just as important today as it was in the Fall of 2010, it was Dean’s “Back Story” that I appreciated. Later in the conference Dean shared a remarkable, instructional “behind the scenes” video to help educators better understand why and how his original “Sharing” video was created. Here, I learned a number of tips including how Dean set up his scrolling iPad (above the video camera) to function as his teleprompter.
In the past, the vast majority of individuals were content to be “consumers” of information from sources such as Internet web sites. Only a few were “producers” who created animated GIFs and learned to craft web pages using HyperText Markup Language (HTML). However, there has been a dramatic shift!. Today, the vast majority of students, particularly those in the DS106 community, learn best as “producers of knowledge”, be it their own blog or crafty, video-based, animated GIFs. In order to encourage such production, I recommend that one strive to include insight into how each assignment was crafted through a “back story” process. Through providing such “teachable moments” your learning will improve and perhaps, more importantly, you will provide a learning legacy for others.
My “Animated” Learning Journey
My motivation to begin was the realization that many of the creative “GIF masters” (that I referenced in the previous post) were starting with video rather than a static image to create their animated GIFs. As I was unfamiliar with the process for capturing video, I searched the DS106 website for information on “animated GIFs”. I was delighted to find a DS106 wiki, which was a veritable gold mine of tutorials. The one that I explored was:
Based on this information, I jumped in “with both feet” and started searching YouTube for possible videos. I selected a video entitled “Judyism: Judge Judy At Her Best”. I thought that the expression in Judy’s eyes might not only help me learn more about animating from a video clip but might also qualify my work for the “GIF Me Again About My Eyes” assignment worth “two points”.
My next hurdle involved finding a reliable mechanism for downloading YouTube videos. I still use an older Windows computer running the XP operating system so my choices of free downloading options may be somewhat limited. I investigated the Fastest YouTube Downloader, Freemake Video Downloader (for Windows) and the Pwn YouTube process. Gizmo’s Freeware posted “Finally a Free, Flexible Youtube Download That Works” which recommended Freemake Video Downloader. I had previously installed this software during last year’s DS106 class. However, during a more thorough investigation this year, I became rather concerned when it was revealed that Freemake Video Downloader used the “Open Candy” system during installation. I admit that when I install software, I always read each page and opt-out of any additions of other products or new toolbars. I pay a yearly license fee to run commercial, up-to-date virus protection and regularly run Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware to remove any potential unwanted threats. So with this latest information, I utilized the Pwn YouTube process, which appeared to be the least invasive approach, to downloading video from YouTube.
Once I had captured the “Judge Judy” video, I downloaded MPEG Streamclip to trim the frames that displayed the eye movement. I found by using the arrow keys on my keyboard, I could advance along the timeline and select video frame-by-frame. These frames were then exported into the GIMP image manipulation program which I had downloaded and installed.
I admit that I do not know very much about making animated GIFs from video. However, I found that by viewing Michael Branson Smith’s excellent “Animated GIF” video and following the detailed steps in the DS106 wiki tutorial, I was able to produce my first animated GIF from video.
The Last Important Question
My wife, who was also a teacher, was very involved in her school divisions “Science Fair”. When judging student projects, one of her most important questions near the end of her interview with students was “If you were to do this over again, what would you do differently?” Such a question is one that I think we, as professionals, should continually ask ourselves.
In my case, I know that there are three things that I would like to attempt:
Explore the process for adding an additional “reverse string” of selected video frames to the exported images to make a smoother, cyclic animated GIF. Michael Branson Smith explained this process do well in his video “GIFFing Video Clips with Photoshop” (starting at approximately the 5:00 minute mark). However, I’m not sure that my copy of “Photoshop Elements 6″ has all the necessary features.
Explore different YouTube download processes and conversion to different formats. I would like to find the best combination to not capture quality video clips but also display the resulting animated GIF in the best format in my blog.
Most importantly, I’d recommend that DS106-ers use as their primary resource “The DS106 Handbook”. I believe the renovations to the DS106 web site have been spectacular. The format is so much more inviting and is organized in an efficient manner with all the tools you need identified in the handbook. Therefore, don’t search for “Ds106 animated GIFs” like I did, which brought up the older wiki-based information; rather check out the ever-evolving and updated links in the handbook such as:
Jess McCulloch is an innovative educator from Melbourne Australia. Through her creative Rhyming for Teacher Learning endeavour, Jess used crowd-funding to help raise travel funding to attend this past summer’s UnPlug’d educational summit in Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park.
I am lucky to have close friends who, as educational change agents, attended the initial 2011 UnPlug’d summit. Their enthusiasm and passion for teaching was magnified through interaction with like-minded colleagues. They willingly shared their powerful experience through blogging, presentations, and their free, downloadable resource “What Matters Most in Education”. Their K-12 vision and stories continue to have a tremendous world-wide impact on other teachers and ultimately their students.
So when Jess McCulloch, decided she wanted to travel from Australia to Canada to participate in this year’s UnPlug’d, I decided to help her out with a small contribution. In return, Jess promised to write a poem on a subject of my choosing. Having benefited greatly from the willingness of others, who share educational ideas and resources, I suggested that “the importance of online sharing” might be a topic worthy of her talents.
I include both Jess’ reading as well as her creative poem below:
I share my work online because when I do
I hope I’ve added something that’s useful to you
I share my ideas online because then I know
That you adding yours will then help mine grow
I share my pictures online because then you can see
A little bit more about what makes me me
I look for your work online because I know that it could
Help me shape mine like no other would
I look for your ideas online because I want to think
About new perspectives, opinions and make my own links
I look for your pictures online because it does make me smile
To see a different side of you every once in a while.
To make the Internet such a rich space to trawl through
I share online what I can and I’m rapt you do too.
I am amazed at how Jess has captured the essence of the importance of sharing online in this creative 14 line poem. However, I’m sure there are readers who might be wondering … “Why give a contribution to an educator on the other side of the world, particularly one you have never met?”
True, I have never met Jess McCulloch face-to-face but I do feel as though I know something about her through her remarkable online sharing.
I was first introduced to her educational passion when she shared “The Black Line Mystery”, as an innovative and engaging educational activity as part of the free, K12Online Conference last year. Through the eyes of Agent 42 (in a “Carmen Sandiego” style that older educators will appreciate), Jess engaged her students as they began learning Chinese characters beginning with the most complex symbol.
My next encounter with Jess occurred when I participated in the free DS106 Digital Storytelling course this past spring. There was Jess, participating “from a distance” like me, sharing what she was learning with others. As an educator, I found her creations and comments to be quite inspiring and insightful. Her “Technology Does Not Fit” or “The Journey Not The Speed” are not only creative poems, they share powerful pedagogical messages to educators world-wide.
I must admit that one of my favourite "McCulloch moments" is Jess' inspirational "Magical Connections" keynote ...
I recommend that readers Google “Jess McCulloch”. In doing so, one will be impressed with the wealth of educational ideas that she shares through a wide variety of forums and applications. I must admit that one of my favourite “McCulloch moments” is Jess’ inspirational “Magical Connections” keynote presented in Shanghai. Jess’ focus was to engage the audience so that they would recognize “the importance of connecting with students”. Having delivered educational keynotes myself, I know how challenging it can be to share ideas that are applicable and meaningful to an audience of educators who teach a wide variety of grades and different subject areas. However, Jess demonstrated her talents and pedagogical passion to paint a powerful picture through poetry. Jess’ simple background instructions “My pictures are the ones that are in your head” helped those in the audience engage with her poetic keynote as they identified similar magical moments in their own teaching careers.
On Jess’ “The #technoLanguages Blog”, she referred to herself using the “LOTE” acronym. Not knowing what these four characters represented, I Googled them and found that as a teacher of Chinese, Jess was considered to be a teacher of “Language(s) Other Than English” or LOTE. However, I think that in Jess’ case, this LOTE acronym might equally represent “Learning on the Edge”. Jess continues to risk-take, learn, and share widely with others. This commitment was revealed in her UnPlug’d profile when Jess made the following comment when asked what her interest was in “unplugging”:
To stop, sit, and really focus on what is important to education. To take the chance to reflect on what direction I’m taking and what conversations I need to have to push my own learning.
This comment really resonated with me because Jess is, indeed, a kindred spirit and exemplifies what it is to be a life-long-learner.
Jess … on behalf of all those educators and students who have benefited from your ideas and resources, thank you for caring and sharing.
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 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.
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.
My Personal Learning Network is the key to keeping me up-to-date with all the changes that are happening in education and how technology can best support and engage today’s students.
As the current year draws to a close, I wanted to pay tribute to all the students, educators, and friends who have helped me over the years. However, if I were to try to name them all, the list would be lengthy and I would run the very real risk of forgetting to acknowledge someone. Rather, I thought … perhaps I might write about the importance of my PLN and how it has helped me become a better educator. I must admit that when I first heard the acronym PLN, I thought that it might refer to support nurses who had not as yet earned their R.N. degree. However, over time I realized that my Personal Learning Network (or PLN) would become a very important, and key, ingredient in my life-long learning.
As an educator, I have always learned best when preparing a lesson for students or a workshop for teachers. I wondered if there was a way to pay tribute to my PLN through a video remix project that other educators might be able to adapt for use with their students.
I thought that perhaps I might consider writing a song and incorporate it into a music video as a tribute to my PLN. You may recall that I had a brief fling at song-writing when I created my “ICT-rap”, which was shared in my earlier blog post entitled “Reflect, Review and Rap”. After listening to this creation, you can perhaps understand why I’m still an educator as opposed to a celebrity who signs million dollar record contracts. However the task, at that time, was to illustrate how students might use technology and their creative talents to summarize and review a unit of study through a unique and engaging process.
Over the past year, I have been exposed to two different creative musical videos that have made a dramatic impression on me. Recently, I viewed the powerful and professional song “It Starts With Me” that Ryan Miller and the staff and students from Stevenson School created to promote the Digital We venture. Earlier this year, I also remember being motivated by Dean Shareski’s inspirational musical birthday tribute “Happy Birthday Alec Couros”, where he facilitated a unique collaboration of individuals who thanked Alec “for being a friend”. On reflection, I realize that I was first exposed to both of these remarkable musical celebrations through two different talented educators, who regularly share and are part of my PLN.
Realizing that I do not have the creative, musical talents of Ryan Miller, nor the video expertise that Dean Shareski demonstrates, I felt that I might try to tell a musical story and pay tribute to my PLN in a somewhat different manner.
YouTube Video: “My PLN – A Teacher’s Treasure” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajN9l2lGqrQ
(For those who cannot view YouTube videos,
alternate video files are available for download at end of this post.)
To help educators adapt this musical video project idea for use with students in their classrooms, I will briefly identify the basic components and then provide additional information to explain each step in more detail.
Pick a theme
Create/find a tune
Compose lyrics to tell your story
Blend lyrics and melody into a song
Select Creative Commons images
Tell your story through technology
Share your creation
1. Pick a theme
I was motivated to pay tribute to students and teachers, and particularly, those in my PLN. On the other hand, students might decide to create a unit overview or showcase their musical and creative talents in a subject-related project. With the recent enthusiasm generated by Manitoba’s “We Day” and the “Digital We” contest, students may wish to demonstrate how they can make a change in their school, community or the world. I would encourage students to work in teams of two or three to collaborate on creating a song or music video.
2. Create/find a tune Admittedly, I am not a musical composer nor am I a great singer. Although I could perhaps create a tune with freeware musical loops, I considered attempting to find a melody that I could remix for my PLN project. With the festive season fast approaching, I wondered if there were any traditional Christmas carols whose tunes were now in the public domain. Melodies that were composed in the 18th or 19th century are no longer protected by copyright as they would now be in the public domain. In fact, I searched for “public domain music” and found the following list of “Public Domain Popular Songs Hits 1900 – 1920“. I was delighted to find that the “Colonel Bogey March” was listed in the public domain. Further research indicated that this popular tune was composed in 1914 by Lieutenant F.J. Ricketts, who as a British army bandmaster, created marches under the pseudonym Kenneth J. Alford. Older readers may remember this tune as it was whistled by British prisoners of war in the 1957 movie entitled “The Bridge on the River Kwai”. Perhaps viewing this movie’s trailer will jog one’s memory.
Teachable Moment: I had decided on this popular melody, which was free of U.S. copyright (or so I thought) because it was first composed before 1922. I found “The Colonel Bogey March“, played by the U.S. Navy Band, and downloaded the tune as an .mp3 file. Now that I had my tune component completed, I started creating lyrics and having fun as I created a story that I planned to share with students and teachers. In fact, I completed my musical video and had it converted to a YouTube format and starting writing this blog post when things started to unravel. First, I learned, upon a more in depth investigation, that Canadian copyright states that if the works were published before 1923, public domain occurs 50 years following the death of the composer. On the other hand, in England and the European Union, the works are protected under copyright for 70 years following the death of the composer. Since F.J. Ricketts passed away in 1945, the copyright in England would still be in effect for another four years and his march would only enter the public domain in 2015. However, what I failed to identify, during my initial brief investigation was that these past stipulations of works created before 1923, with public domain status occurring after 50 or 70 years following the composer’s death, apply only to music, lyrics and sheet music publications. In fact, Public Domain Info states that “there are NO sound recordings in the Public Domain in the USA and all sound recordings will remain under copyright until 2067.
I share my misfortune with students and educators so that you will not make this same mistake that I have in trying to “Find a Tune”. Rather, I urge students to avoid making music videos with popular songs (or even “old” songs that were created before 1923). Use royalty-free music that can be legally download from sites such as ccMixter or Jamendo or better yet, create your own tunes and demonstrate your creativity.
3. Compose lyrics to tell your story
Whenever I write poetry, I like to have the words in my verses rhyme appropriately. Likewise, when one uses a known or familiar melody, there is a tendency to want to follow the designated rhyme scheme. Often, I will hum the song to myself as I try a combination of words. Sometimes, I find it is better to play the .wav or .mp3 tune while composing lyrics, so that my words match the proper tempo and beat. For example, when trying to rhyme with the word “share”, I would go through the alphabet in order and list all possible rhyming words such as “bear”, “care”, “dare”, “fair”, etc. This rather time-consuming process was reduced considerably when I found the following two, indispensable rhyming tool web sites:
4. Blend lyrics and melody into a song
Although Macintosh users will favour GarageBand as a popular music creation tool, I use the Audacity freeware audio editor which is available for Linux, Macintosh and Windows computers. If you are planning to use a previously created melody or a downloaded musical track, I recommend that Windows users set the following Audacity preference. Start Audacity, click on the “Edit” menu, and select “Preferences”. Under the “Audio I/O” tab, make certain to check off the option “Play other tracks while recording new one” and then press the “OK” button. This simple setting will allow users to listen to the background musical tune through earphones, while they sing and record the new lyrics or vocal track. Once the composition is blended, students can exhibit their creativity through remixing and adding a variety of effects to their musical creation. I’d recommend that students who create and share a song, also share the lyrics. An accompanying lyric sheet not only helps all audience members recognize all the words when listening but also helps listeners appreciate the the lyrical message and creativity demonstrated in the song-writing process.
5. Select Creative Commons images to support your story (as required)
Although some students will be quite satisfied with the creation of a song, there will be others who want to blend images with their song to create the popular “music video”. In fact, pictures add so much interest to the story that I recommend students select Flickr images with Creative Commons licenses to enhance their message. It is recommended that teachers:
For example, to find the picture of the two people at the right, I entered the words “sharing hot dog” (without quotes) in the top search field on the Flickr “Advanced Search” page. I then checked off the “Photos/Videos” media type. Lastly, and most important, 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 might possibly alter or remix the selected image.
I realize that student use of Flickr may be blocked by some school divisions. However, I would hope that educators would review, with students, the Creative Commons license types, how to search for such images, and stress that all images included in a video should be properly cited. Students who become engaged in such a project will use computers at home to search for Creative Commons images. Furthermore, if students plan to enter their music video in the “Digital We” contest (which closes March 14, 2012) and share their creativity, it is important that all components of the video be “free of copyright violations”.
A technique that I use whenever I am searching for possible images to include in a story is to use a word-processor to identify both potential images with their corresponding URL addresses. For example, if I think that I might use the above image, I would add it to my image list as “Couple Sharing Hot Dog: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kimncris/2507099421/”. I can assure you that this process saves a great deal of time, particularly if you have already included a picture in your story and are now trying to find it again in order to provide the address link in the video “Credits”. Better to identify the picture with its source address and not use it, than waste valuable time attempting to locate the credit link later.
6. Tell your story through technology Once students have picked a theme and identified the audio and image components, they can then begin the assembly and blending of components to tell their story. Students, today, can tell their story through a variety of applications. Although I used PowerPoint, with specific, timed slide transitions, Alan Levine shares a powerful resource called “50+ Web 2.0 Ways to Tell a Story“. Alan, not only provides an alphabetical list with links to 50+ storytelling applications, he also organizes them by story categories. Teachers and students will find this resource to be very useful.
7. Share your creation with others
I strongly believe in “leveraged learning”. By this I mean that we all learn and improve, by looking at, and examining, projects or stories that others have created. For example, I decided to include my refrain “1, 2, 3, 4, 5 … Learning everyday helps me survive … ” after I saw Ryan Miller’s video “It Starts With Me”. Ryan’s students chanted “1, 2, 3, 4 … I won’t sit back anymore … ” and I thought that this refrain added impact to their music video, so I adapted this idea. Likewise, students leverage and improve on tasks and projects when they have an opportunity to view similar endeavours. However, the key to facilitating “leveraged learning” is that we must share our creations in order to motivate and encourage others.
In closing, I would ask readers to click on the title of this blog post and then use the feedback comments form at the end to share links to creative songs, stories and/or musical videos that your students have created so that we may all improve.
Realizing that in some schools, students and teachers are blocked from viewing YouTube videos. To facilitate others viewing my music video tribute, I have provided my story in a variety of other formats. These file variations are listed below, in order of increasing file size, so that readers may download and view a version which is appropriate for their environment:
The 37 innovative educators, who recently attended the UnPlug’d Canadian Educational Summit, were given a task. Each participant was challenged to identify one moment or idea, from his/her educational career, which was worthy to be shared in an online publication entitled “Why ___ Matters!”
The key was to “fill in the blank” by telling a story, with educational significance, in such a manner that other educators could also experience the situation, share the passion, and learn from it.
I reviewed the blogs of several participants, prior to their UnPlug’d weekend, and I identified with the challenges that they were facing. Upon reflection, I realized that this task of identifying one’s educational passion and describing it, in a 250 word story, was an exercise that all teachers should consider.
I asked myself … “What aspect of education do you think really matters?” I decided that, for me, my story would be:
Why Sharing Matters! *
There are so many pressures on today’s teacher. It seems that every year, new, enhanced curricula are released, new technology and applications are introduced, and class sizes, as well as, additional subject/class responsibilities continue to increase. Furthermore, every effort is made to adjust one’s lessons/activities to meet the wide diversity of individual student needs. With decreasing school population, educators are asked to teach split classes or take responsibility for additional subjects outside their specialty areas. Teachers can no longer rely on having another colleague or partner teaching the same subject or grade level in their school. With so much additional pressure, teachers can no longer work in isolation. To survive, teachers need to form PLNs (Personal Learning Networks) and share ideas and resources.
Education is all about sharing. True, there are some teachers who can design and implement engaging learning activities or lessons without input from other sources. However, I believe that the vast majority of educators adapt lessons, strategies, or activities that they initially find in books, on the Internet, are exposed to through professional development, or are shared by colleagues. Teachers should continually be on the lookout for new and innovative ways to engage their students lest they fall into a trap of using the exact same resources, without modification, year after year.
The Internet provides a plethora of educational resources, as well as, a powerful mechanism to facilitate sharing and collaboration of ideas. No longer is it necessary for teachers to “snail mail” the “hard copies” of projects and activities to colleagues when so much of today’s resources are in electronic form. All one needs to do is identify the resource creator in the document, attach the material to an e-mail, and send it off to one or more educators.
Sharing educational resources is not about adopting but adapting resources and making them your own.
If, upon perusing an incoming shared resource, one feels that it can be used to enhance one’s classes, some additional work needs to be done. Sharing educational resources is not about adopting but adapting resources and making them your own. Each teacher needs to tweak and build upon the resource before using it with students and sharing it with others. Furthermore, I think that it is really important that recipients provide feedback to the original creator of the resource advising this individual how the product has been changed and enhanced.
In summary, I believe that educational sharing should involve the following five steps:
Regularly share resources & ideas with at least one other educator
Identify the creator (if possible) on all resources that you share
Form a personal learning network (PLN)
Adapt not adopt, shared resources
Acknowledge and provide feedback to the original creator
Following these five steps will help educators cope with the increased pressure. Not only will your colleagues in your PLN thank you for sharing but, more importantly, your students will appreciate the increased innovative resources that you introduce in class to engage them in the learning process.
Sharing Through Examples:
I know that participants at UnPlug’d were concerned that either their textual essays or their supporting video stories would be viewed independently, in the on-line publication “Why ___ Matters!”, and that viewers might lack the proper context to fully appreciate their educational passion and vision.
When I reflected about my passion of sharing, I thought that the message would be clearer if I was able to include practical, real-life examples to help readers appreciate how a teacher might adapt and improve upon a potential classroom activity. Thanks to the innovative work and passion of Chris Harbeck, a middle school teacher at Sargent Park School, my suggested steps can be better illustrated.
1. Regularly share resources & ideas with at least one other educator
I have always shared classroom resources with other educators. True, some educators might not have the initial confidence to share their own created activities. However, with the plethora of innovative resources on the Internet, it is easy to find ones that will help out most teachers. Sharing web addresses of such resources is a beginning. In fact, I have informed email recipients in past that “I’ll continue to share resources that I feel may be of interest. If however, you deem the information of little use, you know where the <Del>ete key is located.”
2. Identify the creator (if possible) on all resources that you share
Certainly when one emails others the web address of a potential resource, the web site normally identifies the individual creator. However, when one creates his/her own resource, or when a colleague forwards such a resource, I think that it is very important that the creator’s email address be included in the document. I recommend that a cryptic version of one’s conventional email address be embedded in the footer, as illustrated in Jeff Sinnock’s “SPONSOR CHILD” Photo Story rubric (found in the “Download” section at the bottom of this linked post). Using a cryptic email convention will reduce unwanted spam being sent to the resource creator should the document be uploaded to the web. Including an email address in all shared documents, is the key for on-going communication.
3. Form a Personal Learning Network (PLN)
This image illustrates the fundamental truth that all Personal Learning Networks begin with a single “connection” between two individuals. I believe that PLNs begin in a very informal manner with one person choosing to share information with one or more colleagues. Although initial sharing might be begin as person-to-person or through email, it might evolve to sharing information acquired through following blog RSS feeds, or Twitter “tweets” of respected educators through to sharing annotated bookmarks through Diigo. In fact, I often “lurk” (without commenting) and observe communication between a number of respected educators. However, when I find tidbits or ideas that I think might benefit others, I share the information.
For example, Chris Harbeck is an educator who I have admired for a number of years because he engages his students in creative ways while teaching Mathematics. As a former Math teacher, I know how difficult this subject can be and I have taught students who challenged me to explain “How is knowing the quadratic formula going to benefit me in later life?” Although I often stated that “Mathematics is all about problem solving”, Chris has taken this statement to a whole new level. Not only do Chris’ students examine Mathematics problems in the traditional sense, they are challenged to look at problems in a global sense as caring digital citizens.
This compassionate and global perspective was demonstrated in November, 2010 when I came across a story about Laura Stockman. In her blog “25 Days to Make A Difference”, ten year old Laura, decided to save her December allowance of $1.00 per day to donate to a worthy charity on Christmas day in honour of her recently deceased grandfather. Although I could have simply shared Laura’s web site address with potentially interested educators, I decided to write a blog post entitled “How to Make A Difference in December”. Knowing that Chris and his students were always considering special projects, I sent Chris an email suggesting that he might want to investigate Laura’s project as one that his students might adopt.
4. Adapt not adopt, shared resources
Adopting a shared resource is easy. One simply duplicates the resource, distributes it to your students, and completes the task or activity. However, teachers are challenged to adapt, rather than adopt, shared resources. For this to happen, teachers must take the original resource and improve on it or expand it in some fashion “to make it their own”. If all educators modified and improved resources before sharing them with colleagues, our repertoire of shared materials would gain in power and our students would benefit more.
Chris began adapting this “charity challenge” by suggesting that each of his students consider contributing 25 cents, of his/her own money, per day for each day in December. He then enhanced the activity by creating a blog post entitled “Would your students donate $0.25 a day?” where he challenged other schools and students to raise money in a similar fashion. In order that all participating school teams could see their progress throughout December, Chris next created his “25 Cents a Day” wiki.
The next adaptation for Chris was to investigate the power that students have to make a positive change, both locally as well as in remote areas of the world. In the Spring of 2011, Chris challenged his students to again contribute their own money to make several $25 micro-loans through the Kiva organization to members in third-world countries. His blog post entitled, “Teaching Citizenship – Part 3 – 25 Cents a Day” shares both the excitement and student engagement. However, I think that the last sentence of this blog post exemplifies the power of sharing when Chris states “Contact me and we can create a movement that will change people’s lives”.
5. Acknowledge and provide feedback to the original creator
I think that it is very important that recipients of shared resources acknowledge the original creator. That is why I recommend that recipients ensure that the original creator’s email is embedded within the resource as outlined in Step 2. As an individual, who has created a number of educational resources from scratch, I would welcome feedback and/or modified documents from recipients indicating how they had adapted my work and what improvements were made. Such dialogue opens up communication and provides opportunities to expand connections within one’s Personal Learning Network.
Although I did not send an email to Laura Stockman thanking her for sharing her idea on-line, I did take time to acknowledge her innovative project by sending a comment to her blog post.
A Video With A Vision: In conclusion, I strongly recommend that all readers view Chris Harbeck’s UnPlug’d video entitled “Why Digital Citizenship Matters!”Not only will you see how a shared December charity initiative can blossom and mature through commitment and innovative adaptation. More importantly, you will witness a passionate educator, who is definitely a “champion of teenagers”, share strategies for fostering digital citizenship in today’s youth.
Take care & keep smiling
Credit: Flickr Image “Get Connected!” by Divergent Learner http://www.flickr.com/photos/metaweb/4345676181/
* “Why Sharing Matters!” was the title that I had chosen for my draft of this post, long before John Evan’s story (of the same name) was recently revealed in Chapter 6 on the UnPlug’d web site.