Connecting to Make A Difference

Food for Thought, Freebie, How To, Professional Development, Social Networking No Comments »

As the 2014 year begins, tradition suggests that one should consider making a “New Year’s Resolution”. True, I have made many over the years that have unfortunately fallen by the wayside as the year progressed. However, one resolution of which I am proud, is the one I made in January, 2010.  Four years ago, I decided I would adopt a new “lifestyle change” and create my Life-Long-Learners blog to “provide you with professional development ideas, educational tips, classroom resources, strategies, ‘freebies’, and humour to help infuse technology, to enhance lessons, and to help engage your students as 21st century learners.”

This year, I need a new focus. Thanks to serendipity, I chanced upon Victoria Olson’s “Blogging for Sunshine” post. Victoria described a process to foster connectivity and understanding between different PLN members by sharing information about themselves through 11 random questions.

Question #4 really resonated with me and I encourage you to consider it:

What needs to happen in 2014 for you to be reflecting on a successful year 52 weeks from now?

So often in education, we look back wondering if we could have changed a current outcome through the past introduction of a different process or action. This question, on the other hand, looks at the opportunity to make a change, so that when we reflect on outcomes, a year from now, they will be primarily positive and uplifting.

Thanks to this powerful question, I was prompted to make the following New Year’s resolution:

During 2014, I want to improve my connectivity to help make a difference in education.

Undoubtedly, this decision was influenced by the following free, educational poster from Krissy Venosdale:

Social Media

Without a doubt, Twitter has helped me connect with some amazing educators. In fact, it was through Twitter that Vicki Davis (@coolcatteacher) alerted me to Victoria Olson (@MsVictoriaOlson) and her innovative Twitter resources. For example, educators will find Victoria’s “Twitter for Teachers” video to be both extremely informative as well as professionally crafted using a variety of innovative tools. Not content to just share her amazing video resource, she took it a step further. To help other educators, Victoria shared her “behind the scenes” magic, by identifying the steps and software used in her post “How I made my Twitter Video”.

“Behind the Scenes”

Teachable Moments

Kudos to all educators who showcase how video projects are created or reveal tips and strategies “behind the scenes” of their educational activities. Admittedly, it does take extra time, but on behalf of all those individuals who have learned so much by analyzing their “magic”, I say “Thank You!”. To help other educators learn about the “behind the scenes” magic, and to encourage others to share in a similar fashion, I plan to maintain a list of these “difference makers”. Not only will I identify their original activity/project, but I will also link to their “behind the scenes” (BTS) revelations. To date, I’m aware of these creative educators and their related endeavours:

Difference Makers

– Video: “Re-Imagine Your P.D. Experience with Twitter”
- BTS Magic: “How I Made My Twitter Video …”

– Video: K-12 Online Pre-Conference Keynote
“Sharing: The Moral Imperative”
– BTS Magic: “The Making of Sharing: A Moral Imperative”
– Video: “Happy Birthday Alec Couros”
– BTS Magic: “So I started this Google doc ..”

I encourage readers to share with me the online activity/projects of other educators, together with their “behind the scenes” insights, so that I may add them to this list of “Difference Makers”.

As a complementary resource to her “Twitter for Teachers” video, Victoria also shared a “Weekly Twitter Chat Schedule”.  This Google spreadsheet lists educational chats by names, hashtags, days, and times of sharing. One of the first things I did was scan to see if the Manitoba Educational Chat (#mbedchat) was listed on the schedule for Wednesdays from 9:00 pm to 10:00 pm (CST). I was so delighted to see it listed along with other Twitter chat sharing and learning opportunities.

As one who has recently connected with other Manitoba educators through the #mbedchat Twitter chat mechanism, I realize how powerful this learning vehicle can be. Zoe Bettess, the creator and co-moderator, shares the importance of connecting in her post “The Power of Twitter Chat and My Journey to Starting #mbedchat”.

At the start of 2014, the talented trio of Zoe, her #mbedchat co-moderator Georgette Nairn, and archivist, Tanis Thiessen decided to foster educational connections in a new and exciting fashion. They created the 2014 Manitoba Ed Chat Blog Challenge. Manitoba educators, who maintain a professional or classroom blog, are challenged to write one post per month and share it with others by using the Twitter hashtag #mbedchatblog. In addition, they invited participating educators, as well as non-participating  ones, to list their respective blogs on the MB Ed Chat blogroll. If you are a Manitoba educator, who is responsible for a personal or classroom blog, I encourage you to submit your blog information. Better yet, if one of your New Year’s resolutions was to investigate creating an educational blog, I encourage you to share it using this process. Not only will others benefit but you, and ultimately your students, will gain from the connections fostered through this endeavour. As of today, there are links to 40 educational blogs and I’m sure this list will continue to grow as we share and use this powerful resource.

“Hats Off” to all these dedicated educators and students who are so willing to share their creativity, ideas, resources, and reflections on their educational journey.

I am so lucky to be connected with educators who are, indeed, making a difference.

Take care & keep smiling :-)

Endnote: Those interested in additional free posters created by Krissy Venosdale, are invited to explore my earlier post entitled “Free Motivational Educational Posters”.

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DS106 Tasks: You Snooze – You Lose!

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I’m having fun learning how to create animated GIFs with frames extracted from digital video. In fact, with practice, and the support and feedback of my DS106 learning community, I think I am getting better!

I created this animated GIF and then chose my title. The message combination resonates with me on two levels: the primary one which I’ll address now and the more subtle, subliminal suggestion (which I hope you can figure out), I’ll share at the end of this post.

Zorro as an animated GIF

DS106 Task Tips
This post’s title warning “You Snooze – You Lose!”, with its animated GIF, is a reminder to both DS106 participants (and me) to begin work early Monday morning on the current week’s “Daily Creates” and/or assignments. Those who wait until Sunday to complete the majority of projects assigned during that week will be not only frustrated but will miss out on many positive support and learning opportunities.

As the Digital Storytelling DS106 course moves into more participant-selected assignments and projects, I’d recommend the following:

  1. Plan out your upcoming week’s work early.
  2. Select your first weekly assignment carefully. Pick one that you feel you can accomplish in the least amount of time and, if necessary, with little time spent learning new applications or techniques. Once you have completed your first weekly assignment, you will be motivated and inspired to continue with others.
  3. In your blog posts, document your learning journey. Where possible, provide hyperlinks to tips and resources that showcase how you “tweaked” or made the assignment “your own”. Indicate, what you might do differently if you were to attempt this assignment again.
  4. Choose your “Daily Creates” with care. As an example, if you are instructed, as a minimum, to “do three ‘Daily Creates’ this week”, do not wait until Friday, Saturday and Sunday to tackle this task. Also, if you are weak using Photoshop (as I am), I might be tempted to bypass the Wednesday challenge asking me to “Design a poster of an action movie starring Julia Child” because I know it will require me to spend more than 20 minutes. However, don’t skip a “Daily Create” hoping that the next one will be easier. In reality, the “Daily Creates” are designed to stimulate your creativity and engage you in your learning adventure. No one appreciates this endeavour better than Norm Wright (from the Spring 2012 DS106 course) who shares more than a year’s worth of each days’ creativity in “All My Daily Creates”.
  5. Leave some “percolation time”. In order to be innovative in completing or designing your own assignments, you will need “think time” to explore all aspects of the endeavour before jumping into the task at hand.
  6. Investigate the DS106 Handbook for ideas and tips to help you progress, with fewer hassles. The associated links have been compiled from previous DS106 courses and represent the best resources.
  7. Invoke Google Reader’s RSS feeds in order to keep up-to-date with blog posts and resources shared by the DS106 learning community.
  8. Read other student’s blog posts and provide positive, constructive comments.
  9. Connect with other DS106 students (face-to-face or online) so that you have an idea of whom you might like to work with should a collaborative project be assigned.
  10. Sign up for Twitter so that you can monitor and reply to DS106-related tweets, which can be filtered, using the hashtags like #ds106, #dailycreate or specific iindividuals like #cogdog. I personally like to use TweetDeck, to organize Twitter feeds, as I can setup individual columns for “All Friends”; “Mentions”; “Search: #ds106″; “Search: #dailycreate”; “Favorites”; etc.
  11. Take time to send 140 character tweets (with the #ds106 and/or #dailycreate hashtags) to share your accomplishments. You will be surprised how many of your DS106 colleagues will check out your creativity and provide you with motivational comments.
  12. Faithfully read CogDog’s Blog posts and Twitter feeds (@cogdog) so that you are kept up-to-date on the many facets of the DS106 course.
  13. Always be generous when scheduling each project’s time estimate. Remember that when using technology, Murphy’s Law states that “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” If you have completed a DS106 assignment in less time than you previously estimated, then you are “laughing” :-)
  14. If you leave projects to the weekend you will miss out on the valuable aspect of reading colleagues’ blog posts and commenting. This important step helps build a productive and caring learning community.

Creating My Animated GIF
Without repeating myself, I worked through the basic tasks that I have already documented in my post entitled “The eyes are the windows into the soul. In fact, as someone who does not easily internalize processes, I find that if I document the steps in my learning journey, I can go back to that post whenever I need to repeat the process. In summary, I used these steps:

  1. I began, by selecting the YouTube movie trailer “The Mask of Zorro – Trailer”
  2. Since I am using an older Windows computer running the XP operating system, I used the PWN YouTube bookmarklet process for downloading the trailer and saved it as a High Quality MP4 file. 
  3. Next I used MPEG Streamclip to extract only the clip showing Zorro’s “sword play” near the start of the trailer. I was careful determining the “In ” and “Out” points along the timeline by using my arrow keys to move one frame at a time. Ideally, I wanted the final sword slash to end at a position near where the initial slash began. Such positioning would promote a cleaner, cyclic animated GIF. Unfortunately, I was unable to find a video footage where Zorro uses his rapier in repeated, distinctive “Z” slashing moves, so I did the best that I could in selecting the start and end points of this trimmed video clip.
  4. I extracted 16 frames that I imported into GIMP as separate layers. I then followed the detailed steps in the DS106 Handbook link “Creating Animated GIFs with (free) Open Source Software”.

I admit that I do not understand the complexities of GIMP and follow the instructions blindly. However,  having a link to these important instructional documents, always helps me in the future. I know that if I enter “animated GIF” (without quotes) into my right-hand “Search L-L-L Blog” field on my blog, I will find posts explaining how to create animated GIFs. I know that if I scan each post for hyperlinks, I’ll find valuable resources to help me create another animated GIF.

I’ll always like to ask myself … “If you were to repeat this assignment/project, what would you do differently?”. For this activity, I’d like to follow up on Alan Levine’s suggestion to try and reduce the size of animated GIFs. To do so, I would like to see if I could delete some of the 16 frames that I extracted without diminishing the visual appeal of the sword play.

Did you find the subliminal message?
At the start of this post, I suggested that the title “You Snooze – You Lose!” and Zorro’s distinctive, three stroke rapier cut “Z mark”, shared a subtle, subliminal message. One might suggest that the animated GIF, that I created, produces a repetitive pattern of “Z Z Z Z …”. In the English language, the symbol of repeated Zs often means that an individual is snoozing or snoring. Thus Zorro, with his distinctive sword-play, is subtly reinforcing the title message that snoozing or snoring during the DS106 term not only causes the individual to lose out, but perhaps equally important, the DS106 learning and support community loses an important contributing component … You!

Take care & keep smiling :-)

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-06-10

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-06-03

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-05-27

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  • @jessmcculloch Hope u attend UnPlug'd. I'd love a poem on importance of sharing ideas & resources in education. May I share poem in my blog? #

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-05-20

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-05-06

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-04-29

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  • Thurs Apr 26 is "Pay It Forward" Day. See K-12 classroom resources & ideas to promote citizenship at: http://t.co/XPI0SPXM #
  • Pay It Forward Day is April 26th! Powerful video to foster class discussion on pay it forward process – http://t.co/PdH7TU1X #
  • "30 Web 2.0 Tools for Teachers" – slideshare by Richard Byrne – http://t.co/nNFgQ3VS #
  • Teacher Feature – Pay It Forward Day – April 26 – Opportunity to explore digital citizenship & do a good deed – http://t.co/QZ5rSEI7 #
  • TED Gives Teachers The Keys to a Flipped Classroom – http://t.co/bSjoU645 TedEd – Lessons Worth Sharing #

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-04-22

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  • @amckiel Thanks for tweet on #DS106 – The ABC's of Digital Storytelling presentation at #manacetin Great PD & learning opportunities! #
  • @Roy_Norris provided a passionate, practical, classroom-based approach to Student Owned Devices (SOD) at #manacetin Thanks Roy for sharing! #
  • Many of ideas shared at #manacetin on #DS106 – The ABC's of Digital Storytelling are captured in my Vimeo video at: http://t.co/b0RB29SY #
  • @amckiel Thanks Andy … I stand in AWE of the long-lasting & important educational contributions that you have made through #ManACE #
  • @dkuropatwa Thanks Darren – My presentation on #DS106 tonight at ManACE would not have been possible without your encouragement. PLNs rock! #
  • RT @k12online: Announcing 2012 Conference Theme & Strands http://t.co/JStBnsLw With Learn-Share-Remix theme may be of interest to #DS106 #

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2012-04-08

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