Shout it Out Loud: Course 3 Final Project

Ryan Harwood About MeFirst of all, I spent way too much time on this assignment. But that’s ok, because I really dig this kind of stuff. I had a good time working through my design, redesigning, scratching it and starting over and finally coming up with a finalish product. I’m pretty sure I’ll tweak this more in the future, not just because a resume should be kept up to date, but because I always feel like I can make it better.

As for the process, I did a bit of planning, looked through some templates and reviewed my resume, from 2012 and then jumped into creation.  I decided to use Piktochart to build an infographic resume as I had played with it a few times with my students in the past.  I referenced this article about color choices in business and did my best to apply to the laws of CRAP and KISS.

Kiss saunaopenair2010
Not That KISS
My final product was at the 87.6% complete mark when I came across Rob’s post and realized I was going about it a wee bit wrong.  I was also jealous that he had thought to post a rough draft for others to critique ahead of time. My first draft just felt too cartoonish and long.  Then I got this Tweet

Back to the drawing board again…  I had not even thought about needing this to be a printable document.  It makes sense though. If I really want it to be a resume, it needs to be printable as well as clickable.  I made some adjustments and came up with what you see on this page and on my About Me page here on my site.  I’m not looking at it as a full fledge resume yet.  I’ve got some work to do to have it as something I want to use for recruiting time.  But we are comfortable here in Ghana and have a good bit of time left on our contract.  So I see this as a good start and a valuable bit of practice.

I look forward to getting some feedback on what I’ve created and making improvements along the way.  I’m already thinking about some changes…

KISS Image credit:

By Fileri (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Show me a sign

Infographics.  Why don’t I remember to use them more in my classes?  When I’ve used them in the past, students have absolutely loved them.  I’ve even taken a shot or two at having students create their own.  From that experience I learned that it takes a good bit of explaining and patience.  I might get around to that again.  We’ll see.

How logistics helped gain America's freedomOne of my favorites that I have used in the past is from a logistics company.  It is a pretty fascinating look at the way goods had to be moved across oceans and the creation of supply lines during the American Revolution.  It has a bunch of big numbers and interesting trivia about the Revolution.  The information includes ideas that we don’t usually talk about in the classroom version of the American Revolution which is probably exactly why students find it so interesting.

We’re talking about revolutions in class right now and I hope to pull a few others into the mix.  However, I’ve found it difficult to find infographics from their original sources.  A quick search on Google uncovers a plethora of infographics on revolutions of every kind, but trying to get to their source can be tricky.  To me this seems an important part of using them in the classroom.  If I’m just pulling random infographics from the internet, how do I know the information is correct?

This is actually one of the things I like most about the infographic above.  It has fascinating information, and also allows us to talk about the purpose of the infographic.  Most students will go with the old literature class answer of to educate and inform Eventually someone will notice that it is an advertisement with a slightly different purpose and another great conversation begins.  Exactly what we want.

 

Image Credit:

Derby Supply Chain Solutions:  http://www.derbyllc.com/how-logistics-helped-gain-americas-freedom/#.VhwdRhPtmko

Stir It Up

flickr photo by Wesley Fryer http://flickr.com/photos/wfryer/79673640 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license
flickr photo by Wesley Fryer http://flickr.com/photos/wfryer/79673640 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

As soon as I started reading the EduCase Learning Initiative article about digital storytelling, my gears started spinning.  I knew exactly how this would fit with my teaching.

Setting

Last year out 8th grade worked on an oral history project at the end of the year as a service learning experience.  This takes it to the next level.  While we still will produce an archive of stories about Accra and Ghana, using this format gives the students a chance to put together not only audio they record during an interview, but video, images and voice over as well.  This takes them to another level of creation and use of technology.

flickr photo shared by classic_film under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC ) license

Context

I also like the idea that David Jakes discusses in his post Towards a Framework for Digital Literacy Learning.  Jakes reasons that students are creative and have something to say if we let them.  The digital world is a perfect place for them to test their voice.  A few simple clicks and their work is public and ready for the world to give them feedback.  That’s a lot more powerful than just showing a couple of friends.

Plan

I’m excited now to start planning again for this unit of study.  It will be important to work on building skills as we go a long.  We’ve already started talking about the importance of design as students have started posting to our grade 8 blog. (I know it needs a lot of design work, but there are only so many hours in the day)

Students will continue to refine their visual design skills as they contribute to the blog, annotate images and create simple presentations.  By the time this project roles around they’ll be ready.

Too Much

For several years I outlawed PowerPoint in my classroom. I just got tired of students reading four hundred bullet points to me for three or four periods a day. For many of them, this just meant they used an alternate program that they could do the same thing with. Some of them even realized that if they used PowToon, it would read the bullet points for them. Finally I saw the error in my ways. I shouldn’t outlaw presentation software, I should help them learn to use it better.

We started with word limits per slide which drove them absolutely crazy, but they survived and the presentations became a little better. They still read to me, just from their notes instead of the screen.

Now I want to take it a step further. I’m excited to see how I can encourage students to create powerful presentations using some basic design principals.

But let’s start with me. The presentation below is one that I created for open house nights. As I share the presentation I make sure to tell parents that part of what we work on is effective presentations, hence the lack of words. Now I’m looking forward to making it much more visually interesting for parents.

Here’s the updated version. I think I’ve made some pretty positive improvements. As noted in Presentation Zen, simplicity is usually the best option.

In this case the main goal is to introduce myself and the course I teach to parents in approximately ten minutes. I’ve reduced the colors involved and the number of images on each slide. With the exception of the Humanities slide, they all feel much less cluttered. I chose that particular image as an example of how we will use images and technology in the classroom.

Kodachrome

When I look back at all the crap I learned in high school, its a wonder I can think at all – Paul Simon, Kodachrome

 

Images. I love images. I like to pretend like I’m an amateur photographer. I even did a weekly photo challenge thing for awhile.  Then life caught up with me and I let it drop.  Maybe again someday in the future.

I thoroughly believe that images play a major role in our learning and studies like this one show how images quickly become representative of places and ideas in our brains.  So why don’t we use more images in the classroom?

Challenge accepted.  We have a weirdish schedule this year that includes a rotating Wednesday with 50 minute classes instead of the usual 90 minutes we have on other days.  So I decided to use the time a little differently.  I was inspired by this guy and his use of SOLE (Student Organized Learning Environment).  I’m not quite to the full level yet, but I like the ideas.  So I tweaked it a little bit and here’s what we did in class today.

The students loved the idea of working with images.  They weren’t exactly keen on the assignment as a whole, but we’re negotiating on that point and we’ll get it smoothed out soon.  There was definitely a buzz when they opened up the image for the first time.  Several of them commented on how cool it was and followed the link to the photographers site to browse the other pictures and find a few that they liked as well.

Student Work
Forgive the formatting, they were working on a tight schedule. They had a good time explaining why they found these interesting.

 

As I said, the assignment needs some work, but the outcomes were fantastic.  The kids learned a lot in a short amount of time and it led to an awesome discussion.  One student had been home to China over the summer and told us about the difference in images and reporting about these events that were being shared through their media.  I couldn’t have asked for a better accident.

Hopefully the use of images in the classroom that stir conversations like these and the constant tweaking of lessons via student feedback will keep them from adopting Mr. Simon’s song as their theme.

Back in the Saddle

The Return

It feels like its been quite some time since the last entry to this blog for class.  I feel a little out of practice.  Of course I had all kind of intentions of continuing to blog through the summer as I enjoyed some quality professional development and quality vacation.  But as they say about good intentions…

Setting the stage

So here we are and I’m excited about this course.  I’m not necessarily great at it but I do enjoy design.  I dabble with it from time to time and enjoy exploring my creative side.

Lincoln International Football Association
I might have designed this for our weekly staff pick up soccer game

I’ve had several blogs and webpages that I’m constantly tinkering with to try to get them looking just right.  We even just recently launched a blog for our 8th grade at Lincoln.  The students are responsible for the content, but I’m taking care of the design. I’ve got big plans…

I actually had to come back and add this bit. Nisreen Annotated Blog As I reflected on my writing and content I thought back to the first student post for my humanities class.  Nisreen actually applied a lot of the concepts discussed in the articles this week.  Check it out here:

 

 

 

The Work

As for my COETAIL blog, I’ve definitely made some improvements. I’ve included a screen shot here of the old page.

Old Blog Annotated ImageAs I look at it now, it is filled with the wrong kind of CRAP and needed a good bit of work.  To be fair, there are quite a few limitations to the themes that are available, but I still knew I could do better.

I think that as you enjoy the ease of a short easy read thanks to employing some concepts from Brandon Jones’ article on visual hierarchies you’ll agree that vast improvements have been made.  I don’t think I’d call it perfect yet.  There are still some things I’d like to figure out how to accomplish.

At a minimum, I’d like to have some sort of border around the widgets on the side and perhaps even have them fade to a slightly lighter color while the reader is focusing on my writing. I’d also like to have a bit more control over my fonts.  Not to go crazy or anything, but just to be able to make things a bit more interesting.  Maybe my new coding club will help me figure some of this stuff out.

Classroom Application

So now to apply this to my teaching.  The class blog is an obvious example, but I think James Daly’s interview with George Lucas makes some great points.

If you’re going to put together a multimedia project, you need to know that you can’t have a fast rhythm track if you’re talking about death. It just doesn’t work. You’re not communicating well.

I know this, and you probably know this, but do kids know this?  I can recall posters about the black plaque that were done on neon paper, student videos about the industrial revolution that had hip hop music, with lyrics, in the background of the voice over and countless other fantastic design flaws.  If we really want students to learn to express themselves, we need to discuss this and give them the tools to be successful.  Students are asked to make countless posters, pamphlets, presentations and Power Points throughout their careers. Just as we spend time helping students craft their essay writing skills, we should help them build their visual expression skills as well.