Friday, December 30, 2011

My Lottery Ticket: The Most Important Thing I Learned This Year

Image by Robert S. Donovan
As another calendar year comes to an end, I find myself reflecting on all the things I've learned and experiences I've had. Of all the things I've learned, the most important has been this: great risk can lead to great reward. I once heard a saying during a English soccer, "You can't win the lottery if you don't buy a ticket." This year has been a year of really great relationships. I've been lucky that some wonderful people have come into my life. I took a chance, put myself out there and connected with some amazing people: I continually get amazing advice, support and encouragement from Shelly TerrellSean Junkins' tweets leave me laughing so hard that it hurts; Kelly Croy's blog posts challenge and stretch me; Steven Anderson daily reminds me to be great; I discover great tools and technology integration ideas from Karen Blumberg;  I'm inspired by Mary Beth Hertz's creativity, classroom innovation and reflective practice; Cory Plough continually changes the way I view online learning; and Ken Shelton's photography takes my breath away and makes me want to grab my camera and capture the world around me through still images. These relationships, whether from far way or face to face, have taught me what authentic and selfless leadership looks like. I've been reminded this year of the importance of relationships; we are not meant to learn, live or grow alone.

All the great people that I've met and everything they've added to my life and my learning has been as wonderful as winning the lottery :-D


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Difficult Questions

Image by CarbonNYC
Growing up, I was always told that there was no such thing as a stupid question or, a slight variation of it, that the only stupid question is the one you don't ask. Adopting that belief, I began asking any question that came to mind. I value question-asking as part of the learning process because I feel that it was better to have all the facts than to sit mutely and be confused.

Then I began growing my PLN and found myself growing cautious of asking questions. My personal learning community consists of some smart, talented and creative people; some of the smartest people I know.  While that can be encouraging, it can also be a little intimidating. I started second guessing myself. Was this a silly question? Should I already know the answer to it?

What I forget is this: we are all learning. Some  have had more years and experiences to learn from so they have more to offer. Others are just starting out and building their momentum. Great teachers are always teaching. That includes students in a classroom or inquiring minds on a social network. Asking questions can be beneficial for the person you're asking because in helping you, they can be reminded of things they've forgotten or it allows them to share their specialty.  Leadership blogger Dan Rockwell maintains that "curiosity and questions enable leaders to bring out the best in others; to find solutions through others." 21st century learning is all about connected learning which means we're not learning alone. Information is meant to be shared, remixed and reflected on with others who see things through different lenses. Questions open up dialogue and establishes connections. Asking questions might not always come easy but it is necessary and definitely worth it to take learning to the next level.

Friday, December 16, 2011

iPad App Reviews

Image by Photo Giddy

My Digital Media Production and Storytelling class reviewed a series of iPad apps for iEAR that can be used in the classroom. Here are the great apps we found:

StoryBuddy -
Coach's Eye -
Blurb Mobile -
Story Wheel -
Flat Stanley -
Time-Lapse -
Dragon Dictation -
Where's Mommy? -
Storyrobe -
Cartoon Studio -
Story Lines -
Fitness HD -
Postcard -
FRS Story Starters -

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My First Day of School

This is lesson is a digital storytelling lesson for a first-grade class. For the assignment, students will create a digital story about their first day of school. As part of their pre-planning, the students will create story tables. They will draw several pictures and write the sentences that they want to put with their project. Prompts will be provided to the students to help their writing. For example: "Before school I felt...", "I thought my teacher would be..." The students will have two options when creating their story: they could narrate their story or they can type it. The students will use the online software ZooBurst to create their story. The goal of this project is to provide students with an opportunity to articulate their feelings about starting school and, hopefully, find common ground with their classmates. The student's final products will be shared with the class.

The model project for this lesson was created with help of elementary school students. At first, I was concerned that they would have trouble navigating the website but they quickly learned how to move objects around the page and add pages to create the book. Through the drawing tool, students are able to draw their own images; however, the students became very frustrated using the tool with the mouse. To implement this lesson in the future, I would have the students draw pictures beforehand or allow them to upload hand-drawn images. Creating the model lesson was manageable with two students but an aid would be needed to do a project of this size with an entire class. 

State Standards
This lesson meets the following Pennsylvania First Grade Standards:
AL 2 Demonstrate engagement and persistence
1 - Show persistence in ability to complete a variety of tasks, activities, projects and experiences
9.1 Production, Performance and Exhibition of Dance, Music, Theatre & Visual Arts
L -  Recognize color, shape, line, texture, size/relationship (proportion/ scale) and 
pattern (repetition) in visual art
PS 1 Develop Self-Concept
A - Is aware of self and one’s own preferences, strengths and challenges
C - Know and state independent thoughts and feelings
1.8 Research
A - Use a systematic process for the collection, processing and presentation of information
3.7 Technological devices
D - Use basic computer software
1.5 -Quality of Writing
-Progress through the stages of the writing process (e.g., prewriting, drafting, revising,
editing and publishing)
-Write clear and coherent sentences and 
paragraphs that develop a central idea

ISTE Standards
This lesson meets the following NETS∙S:
1b - Students create original works as a means of personal or group expression
2b - Students locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media
2c - Students evaluate and select information sources and digital tools based on the appropriateness to specific tasks
5b - Students exhibit a positive attitude toward using technology that supports collaboration, learning, and productivity
6b - Students select and use applications effectively and productively

The following rubric will be used to asses student work:

Here is a model story for this project

This story is based on a true story by Alexander Johnson
Pictures were drawn by 8-year-olds Alexander Johnson & Danielle Whitley
This digital story was made with ZooBurst
NETS∙S were provided by ISTE
State Standards provided by PA Keys

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My 20% Project

This semester I had to create a 20% project for my Digital Media Production and Storytelling class. My project was to create a comprehensive plan to help promote the new online educational technology certificate at West Chester University. My plan was to create a website full of student-created content that would serve as a resource for graduate students, undergraduate students and faculty. I wanted us to leverage social media to build an online presence. I became so passionate working on this project because it was something that was  applicable to my life as a student; the hours passed and it never felt like hard work. To me, this reinforces that assignments should pertain to a student's real life and have real-life application.

Here is the presentation that I shared:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Green Screen Fun

Last night, my Digital Media Production and Storytelling class learned how to green screen. Before class, we all thought that green screening was really difficult but we learned that it was really easy to do. We spent an evening in the studio with our props filming our scenes on our iPads. We used iMovie to create the green screen videos. Our class had so much fun: the studio was full of laughter, everyone stepped in to help each other and there was active participation, a great snapshot of what learning should be. In the end, we all created videos that we were excited to share with each other.

Green Screen in the Classroom: Students will love creating commercials, videos, newscasts and digital stories using green screens. Green screening projects can be used in a variety of content areas. A green screen is easy to create using a blank sheet or painted wall. Students can choose t  backgrounds or film them. More ideas of using green screens in education can be found here.

Here is the final product for your viewing enjoyment:

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

iRig - Microphone for iPod, iPad and iPhone

My Digital Media Production and Storytelling class has been using the iPad for a majority of our media production this semester. One of the issues we ran into was producing quality audio. Then I discovered the iRig. It is an external microphone that can be used with an iPad, iPhone or iPod. The iRig can be plugged in and used with an existing app or used with VocaLive, AmpliTube, and iRig recorder. The iRig creates high-quality audio for narration and singing for a variety of apps. The iRig can be used as a handheld device or placed in a standard microphone stand. It features three sound settings that can capture soft voices or loud speeches making it ideal to use in a variety of settings. Last week one of my undergrads (who worked in film production) said, "The eye can accept bad images and the story will still come through but the ears cannot accept bad audio." Now audio will no longer prevent users from creating powerful stories with a mobile device. With the iRig, students can create audio and video stories on the go. 

The iRig mic can be purchased from the Apple Store