Sunday, October 23, 2011

Walking Through the Door

This week my Digital Media Production and Storytelling class had to shoot a door scene in groups of three with very specific parameters, one of them included NO video editing. At first I thought this would be a roadblock but it actually made our video better. The readings we have done for this class so far stresses the importance of focusing on the story in digital storytelling and without the "extras" my group was able to focus on the story itself. We focused on how to convey emotion through facial expressions, movements and dialogue. We were much more focused on precise recording because we couldn't go back and clip scenes or rearrange them. This project was an exercise in telling a very specific story, which is what students can be asked to do in an assignment. The success of the story rests in the storyteller's ability to "stick to the script" and tell the story as the assignment requires. On the technical side, shooting with the iPad, compared to a camera, was a little difficult because it is big and cumbersome and lacked the option to zoom in and out of a shot. With the option to zoom, the iPad might be a better choice for filming but for this assignment, the iPad's use was limiting.

While working on our video, I became worried about spending too much time on planning and not being able to film in the allotted time. Reflecting afterwards made me realize my difficulty with digital story planning. I think I have trouble with the planning stages because in real life when I tell a story, I don't plan it, I just tell it so I feel as though digital storytelling should be the same way. I value stories for its emotional aspects but there are practical elements that go with it that I need to remember. Our assignment this week is to map out our story and come back and film it again. My hope is that putting the exact scenes on paper will clarify our vision for the video and make it even better than our first one. What am I taking away from this experience? Planning beforehand is valuable because it makes shooting easier and more efficient.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Why I Write

In honor of the National Day on Writing, I answered the question "Why do you write?"

Reflection - Whether it's in my blog, a paper for a class or jotting down thoughts in a journal, writing allows to me to quiet down the fast-paced world around me and connect with the thoughts in my head. It allows me to process things that I've learned from a conversation I've had, a session I attended or a quote that got me thinking. 

Channel creativity - When I put pen to paper (or fingers to a keyboard) magic happens. When I start writing, things like grammar and spelling fades away and it's my ideas, my vision, my passion that drives my work. Some times I find myself telling stories I didn't know I had inside me. Writing also gives me room to flesh out ideas that were whirling around in my brain awakening new ideas. 

Find my voice -The art of writing involves writing from your own unique perspective, in your own words and in your own style. Every writer has a voice. When I write, I tap into that voice and I give it room to mature and develop. More importantly, the more I read what I've written, the more distinct my voice becomes to me. 

To become a better writer - I believe the old adage that practice makes perfect. The more I write the better I get at writing. The more I write, the more I challenge myself to dig deeper or take a different avenue or paint a stronger picture.

Reflecting on my own reasons for writing reminds me of how important it is for my students to have opportunities to write. I hope my own practice will set an example for them and pass on my love of writing.

Why do YOU write?

Monday, October 17, 2011

To Rubric or Not to Rubric: That is the Question... Right??

Image by Gracieli Lisboa
My Digital Media Production and Storytelling class has been discussing rubrics for assessing digital stories. This got me thinking about the utility of rubrics as an educational practice. On the one hand, it takes the guesswork out of a project because all the students know exactly what is expected of them and the elements that they need to take into consideration in their projects. I do believe that teachers should communicate clear expectations to their students. Rubrics can also help provide direction, especially to those students that have trouble knowing where to start. But on the other hand, I remember being that student that clung unswervingly to rubrics making sure  I created exactly what my teacher "wanted." That killed my creativity and took the joy out of learning because my projects didn't mean anything to me. I've also worked with other students who cling to rubrics  and I think projects and assignments are no longer a journey of discovery and learning but a single focus on a finished product. This is what I am wrestling with: Do rubrics teach students to "play school" or can they aid  them in creating quality work? If there is a middle ground, what does it look like?

Thoughts, ideas and suggestions are welcome!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Keek - Microvideo Status Updates

Keek is an online service that allows you to share short microvideo status updates, up to 36 seconds, with friends and family. Microvideo updates, or "keeks," can be captured using an iPhone, webcam or an Android device. The status updates can be posted to Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter. You can add followers or develop your own following. Hashtags and @mentions can also be added to status updates.

Classroom uses for Keek: Teachers can use Keek to record class updates to be posted on the classroom website or class Facebook page. It can be used to update students on assignments which comes in handy for absent students or on snow days. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Power of a PLN

Gary Stager posed this question on Twitter: "As a result of your PLN*, what can you now DO that you couldn't do before?" I decided to answer this question for myself and these are some of the things I came up with:

  • Get support - I am lucky to have an amazingly supportive PLN. I can ask questions and get answers. If I feel discouraged, someone comes along with an encouraging word. They celebrate with me. They have lunch and chat with me. They let me bounce ideas off them. To a pre-service teacher, or to anyone for that matter, all these little things are so meaningful. 
  • Discover new tools - People are always blogging and tweeting about new tools they've discovered and it gives me an opportunity to discover new ones I might not have found or a unique way to use it and it builds my technology toolbox. 
  • Build global connections - As a result of a PLN, I have built relationships with people all over the world. Technology and social media helps us to stay in touch so those relationships aren't lost. 
  • Chat - I know that sounds silly but as a graduate student not many people share my interests which can get a little lonely. But having a learning network allows me to meet and discuss with people who share my passions and get excited about the same stuff I do.
  • Build my network - My PLN helps me to build my PLN. Sharing my blog posts, retweeting my tweets or making a simple introduction at an event helps me to add valuable members to my network.
  • Be inspired - This one I could have done without my PLN but with it, it's exponentially better. I am daily inspired by the people in my PLN for their fortitude, creativity and willingness to take risks. I hope that when I've been teaching as long as some of them, I will still have the same passion and dedication to education.

*PLN= personal/professional learning network