Monday, October 25, 2010


LA. The student identifies, analyzes, and applies knowledge of the elements of a variety of fiction and literary texts to develop a thoughtful response to a literary selection

I would really like to see students turn in a digital story like I created last week. I think a response to a moving piece of fiction or non-fiction would be a great assignment. I would like to see them read something that evokes an emotional reaction. Whether it is something sad like Diary of Ann Frank or perhaps it is something extremely uplifting like the rescue of the Chilean Miners. I think this type of activitiy lends itself strongly to a subject or assignment that is more narrative based. I don't really want to see a story about why 2+2=4.

At the very minium this needs to be still images and either narration or a piece of music chosen to fit the mood of the story. I think students could probably go as crazy as 3D graphics if they wanted but I would set the sky as the limit and still pictures as the floor. If a student is using music then I think the slides need to have text. If the student is using narration, the narration should match the mood of the story.

• I would open up the media center and connect our students with newspapers, news magazines, and any of the literature that is on the shelves. The final project needs to be digital but the sources for where a student gets his/her don't have to be. Obviously many will choose an online newspaper or TIME magazine online. Also I think Google Images would be necessary as there may be some pictures that won't be able to be obtained any other way. However these images will need to be cited with some kind of generic citation.

•Students will need to have access to a piece of presentation software. In my school district we are fortunate enough to have Power Point on every student workstation. If students have something else at home they want to use that is fine with me. While at school they can use Power Point and export their slides as PNG's to take home and put in their other program. Students will need to access to Digital Cameras, data cables, computers with USB ports. They will also need access to a music library. I can get access to all of Apple Loops if I have a MAC with Sound Track Pro. Or the music teacher generally has a pretty large library that he/she might not mind sharing. Students may also want to use Movie Maker. I think I would make movie maker the standard. Slides can be exported to PNG files and put into Movie Maker. Movie Maker can be used to add transitions, other title slides, sync the music or narration and the file can be exported to a number of self contained movie files. We may even upload these to YouTube.

• Students would need to see some examples of good digital stories. They would need to be familiar with the elements that make a story. They will need practice with some of the equipment. I would need to create a rubric for grading these assignments so students can see what I am looking for. I also think they need some time grading some examples with me. That way they can hear and experience the thoughts that go through my head when I looking at a digital story.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Magic of Digital Story Telling

About a week ago I was supposed to have an interview with St. Pete. College and I was supposed to give a presentation. I had a marvelous 3 point presentation planned on professionalism in communication. It was going to be a homerun. I had practiced it about 5 times revising the content to make sure it was in the 10 minues alotted. The grandeous presentation had passed all of my expectations, but I hadn't let my wife critique it yet. She came and watched. She gave me a few compliments and then said "What if you tell a story?" At first I was dispondent and quiet because I didn't want to have to start all over, but she was right. A story can convey the same ideas but through some character development and a decent plot, a story has the power to hook listeners in a way even the most awesome 3 point presentation could never rival.

I really liked this assignment because it gave me another chance to practice that skill. I think this is something that instructional designers forget. Teaching modis operandi is give information. Teaching where we spew facts, strategies, numbers and dates is like trying to catch the rain in a cup. Sure you'll get some but alot will still fall on the gound. A story can really focus a person's attention more than a presentation. People are drawn into a good story. A good book sucks our attention. I know I am a whole lot more attentive when a story is being told than when a graphic organizer is being passed out.

I work in an elementary school and have an elementary education degree but I also have a degree in Social Studies and I have not done anything with it since entereing grad school. So I choose a historical topic to do by digital story on.

I first used Power Point to collect and organize my photos and text. From here I reopened it in Keynote. I know that Camtasia allows you to export Power Point to video but I don't have Camtasia and Keynote does the same thing. So on my wonderful MAC, I get the Clip Art resources of Microsoft and the functionality of Keynote. I exported the slideshow to Quicktime. I then imported the video into Final Cut Pro and added a music bed provided by Apple Loops. It took a while to upload to YouTube because of the size.

Viola! Digital Story. Took about an hour once I had conceptualized the project. It's kind of sad but you can watch it below.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Principal gives me $1000.00 dollars to buy software?

This is actually a question that I am dealing with right now, but since I just helped the real life school get a $500,000 grant this is a little smaller scale.

First of all I am assuming that the computer already in my room is loaded with all the software currently available on every student machine in my district. (XP, Office 2007, Compass Odyssey, and AR). I would spend a whopping $59.95 to purchase Kidspiration. I think it is an awesome tool.

Polk County has drunk the Max Thompson LFS Kool-Aid so we are all about graphic organizers and summarizing thinking. Kidspiration helps kids build their own graphic organizers and is simple enough that first graders can master it. With the remaining money I would buy another computer and copy of Kidspriation. I would also have enough left over to cover the $100 to Microsft for the XP license as well as the Office license.

After looking at the specs for Kidspiration I am fairly certain that my iPod Touch could run it.

Processor: Pentium II 266 MHz or faster
Operating System: Windows 98, ME, 2000, XP (including XP Tablet PC Edition) or Vista; 128 MB of RAM; 75 MB of available hard disk space; 250 MB for full install
Display: 800x600; 1024 X 768 recommended, 16-bit color or higherCD-ROM drive (for installation only)

Maciacintosh (Notice how they spelled Macintosh? Where was the spell check?)
Processor: Macintosh G3 300 MHz or faster
Operating System: OS X, version 10.2.8 or newer; 192 MB minimum RAM75 MB of available hard disk space; 250 for full install
Display: 800x600 minimum; 1024 × 768 recommended, thousands of colors or higher; CD-ROM drive (for installation only)

The computer I am currently using

XP Pro
Celeron M 150 GHz = to a lower Pentium 4
2 GB of Ram (.13 of which is being used by the graphics card)
104 GB of free space (Original HD would probably had 36GB left)
The ATI Raedon Express 200M graphics card is currenly running at 1024 X 768, 32 bit
3 USB 2.0 slots
1 PCMI card slot
S-Video out
Mic/Headphones/internal speakers

The Mac I was using earlier

OS 10.5 Leopard
Intel CoreDuo 2.16 GHz
2GB of RAM
96GB available HD
Raedon Express1600 Graphics Card
1680X1050 32bit
5 USB 2.0
1 Firewire 400
Additional Monitor connector
Super Drive CD-RW, DVD-RW(DL)
Mic/Headphones/internal speakers

On my own I went and got an A+ Certification. A+ is the IT industry standard for PC repair and diagnostic for both hardware and software. This is a part of my job so this assignment was not a stretch for me. I was going to find a server based application and see if pick one of the server's specs against the application for compatibility but I went with the MAC option instead.

One of the downfalls of this weeks reading in my opinion was the ommition of formatting. Storage formatting is something that I think is very important. MAC uses one kind of formatting and Windows uses another. MAC can read Windows formatting but Windows can't read MAC. (MAC's are great, I can sync my plain LG cell phone and my MAC can read the files in it). Formatting is how data is organized. While in theory both are formatted similarly, they don't act the same in practice. The how and why is not important. What is important is that if you go back and forth between MACs and PCs as I do you need to have the storage device that you are sharing between the 2 in a format that both MAC and PC and read and write to. FAT32 is the file fomat that can be read and written to by both MAC and PC. Think of it as O+ and O- blood types in one. I have a couple of flash drives that I carry around that are formatted in FAT32 so that no matter what computer I am on they can be read and written to.

You don't want to format your computer's hard drive in FAT32 because Either FAT32 only recognizes up to like 32 GB or it can't save a file larger than like 4GB (can't remember which but it has size limitations) Smaller storage devices are fine with FAT32.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Social Media and Reputation

It's true that a good reputation is probably one of the most valuable things you work at never tarnishing. Daniel Solove gives an awesome example in his book "The Future of Reputation gossip, rumor and privacy on the internet" about how before print someone's reputation was more redeemable with the passing of memory. He also asserts that there was a time when the fear of damaging your reputation forever was a scary enough consequence that the majority of people really worked at making sure that they did nothing to damage that.

What has happened to that fear? Let me first premise this statement with a defense of myself. I am not one who believes that everything in Hollywood is contributing to the unravelling of our moral fiber. However, it does seem that there is a certain class of Hollywood/reality tv celebrities that are always in the gossip columns for being trashy or classless with something they have posted or has been posted about them. For them this seems to work in their favor. "All publicity is good publicity"as they say.

But what about the rest of us? There are those out there who are engaging in the same brazen nonsense and either they or one of their frenemies are publicly posting the details to the www. It is well documented that potential employers occasionally scour our facebook pages and twitter feeds to find out about our reputations. I am one who cannot live without a job so I prefer to keep my online presence a little generic. Not because I am out living it up like Tiger Woods and I don't want anyone to know, but because I want to protect my reputation. Part of staying safe is not engaging in risky behavior.

I work at an elementary school where 11 and 12 year old girls have been caught grossly lying about their ages on their social media pages. They are not only putting themselves at risk but they are putting the boys they are trying to talk to at risk by communicating with them under false pretenses. My default response to social media is if you don't have one, you don't need one. Why do we need an "online presence"? I put a premium on trust and I think that is why I don't engage in a lot of social networking. I'm just not drawn to it at all, but I do love fantasy football...go figure.