26 October 2013

Picture a Story

From the world of make-believe, to capturing and sharing one's daily stories through Instagram and other social networks, the same thread of humanity runs through analogue and digital worlds. 



For this is what makes us human and as human, what we  share and relate to.  Stories bind us, stories guide and stories teach us empathy. Whether fictions or facts, whether humour or pain, it is through storytelling that we too, in turn, become more humane to the world around us. 

Picture A Story is a means of telling and later sharing a visual story. 

Begin by choosing the genre, then background; you are then given an option of characters  which you drag and resize. 

Characters then have a choice of props to choose from. 

The last step, is to write and record the complete story. 

Ideally, I would like to be able learners to embed their stories in a blog, but they can share via email, and then vote for their favourite story in class. 

How will you be letting your stories become open and free?


Addison's Tales - The New World of Storytelling

The Art of Storytelling  (Resources and Ideas for Educators)

15 October 2013

Breaking Away from Solitary Learning

There are times when learning is an endless ocean, knowledge so intangible, so unattainable,  that only failing appears possible. 

There are times when learning is so complex, that one shudders to  admit to being lost in the webs of learning. 

And there are times when learning is so much richer, so more vaster and deeper than merely passing multiple-choice exams. 

This is where a wiki or students' e-Portfolios step in, not only as an obligatory activity to tick off, but where they can show and share their learning with others. 

Blogs are an immediate choice for showcasing students' work (with all the other elements that blogging includes). However, there are contexts where there simply isn't time to guide and give students the benefits of blogging. 

One alternative is to have students share their creations (e.g. presentations, visual creations ) in their LMS or, to create a class wiki when a more private sharing is required. 

If learning does not happen in a vacuum, connected learning needs a means to share self-expressions which are often reflections of learning. This is where class wikis offer a safe platform for students. 

If students are more mature, then creating a E-portfolio is another means to share their creative achievements.  

is is a free online portfolio website which is great for photography and other creative projects. Students need to feel involved in their learning - why not give them scope to have a selection of photographs/images which may then be shared as writing prompts for their writing assignments? 

With so many free digital tools to explore, it is time that these are seamlessly woven into classroom practices, whether for assessment purposes, or more relevantly, for learning purposes. As Gerstein reminds readers:

"First and foremost, good technology integration is ubiquitous, transparent, not identified or labeled as learning about or using technology, and seamlessly integrated into learning.  Teachers, learners, and observers don’t typically notice learning tools such desks, pencils, and paper used for learning.  This should be the case for using technology in the classroom, too.  In other words, effective technology integration just becomes a subset or embedded component of good pedagogy."

Learning how to learn is essential.

By offering contexts and platforms to students where they can explore, share and learn from each other, may often be more motivating than solitary work for a generation who struggles with the solitude of always being connected.

Besides, who knows what wonderful ideas may be shared for further learning?

Futher References:

Narratives of Learning - on E-Portfolios

PortfolioBox - Create your Portfolio Website

Portfolios - Suggestions

Portfolios - Suggestions for Creatives

E-Portfolios - More suggestions

Wikia - Create, Collaborate, Be Original

4 October 2013

Organising Writing and iPad Publishing

Easier said than done, being creative and finding innovative alternatives, need a bit of guidance, especially for learners who are studying in a second language or being required to work more autonomously. 

Printable Graphic Organizers is a great aid for both teachers and learners.  

There are writing graphs, helping learners outline essays and other learning tasks; as well as worksheets which help with visuals, making students' tasks more memorable. 

Teachers can easily find graphs and worksheets which meet their lesson aims and even sign up to receive printable materials and lesson plans. 

Once students have accomplished their writing task, it is then time to consider whether they will be sharing their work or not. 

With the increasing use of tablets, LucidPress  
offers a great choice for publishing on iPads.

LucidPress  is easy to sign up to and once signed in, offers friendly tutorials for users. 

Other interesting features include the possibility to integrate  with Google Drive, a backup/restore option, a search box and the choice of keeping documents for oneself or shared. 

How will your students be sharing their stories this year?

Giangrande - Paper Plane (Official Video) from gianluca maruotti on Vimeo.

Further Suggestions:

Active TextBook - From Reading to Interacting 

Jimdo - free website builder, available for iOS

Webnode - create your own website for free

3 October 2013

Shackled to the Web

AlicePopkorn via photopin cc

In the early days when the Web became more accessible to the general public, the common advice to learners was to never to give out their personal details and information for the sake of their safety. Roll on 2013 and this reality has changed dramatically. A generation who has grown up with the digital world now faces other challenges. From Facebooking to sharing on Instagram, their lives are open, public and traceable. 

As an adult, my digital life is equally traceable. I am regularly surprised with how strangers will check my LinkedIn profile, with people who will google me (and then tell me how surprised they were after they did google me, yet offer no explanation or context). And so the question arises: Who googles you? For what purpose?

Bear with me as I turn back in time:  I was already a young adult when the Web became accessible to the public.  When I was growing up, there were no smartphones, no iPads, no digital mobility. If I stepped out of line, my parents would perhaps,  receive a phone call and matters would be dealt with in private, within the family.  Learning began at home. My teens years belong to a disappeared world , where privacy was respected and practiced. A world where teens were advised about accepting lifts from strangers, to be respectful to their teachers, and sexual education was left to the parents. A world where parents (still) shared many social concerns and points of references My teens years, with their follies, joys and adventures of growing up,  belonged to a world solely analogue.

Not so today.

October celebrates Digital Citizenship Week (October 21-25th) and as in previous years, it is worth the time to introduce this topic in classrooms. Not because students are unaware of the risks that over-sharing may bring, but to openly and safely discuss the many issues which are related to being a digital citizen. As a generation who has grown up with the digital world, todays' millenials must deal with a range of realities which are, still, socially new and with which they are slowly coming to terms with. 

From netiquette to cyberbullying, from creating an online persona to degrees of sharing, teens often find themselves at a loss when their Web practices turn against them.  

Teens suffer a myriad of digital anxieties which are equally new in our lives today.
From being digitally accepted on social networks  (e.g. Am a pretty enough? Am I popular enough?) to making options of how much to contribute to online worlds, their digital footprints will be one of their strongest inheritances.  Their off-line and on-line worlds blend, mix and influence each other in ever flowing streams. If growing up in an analogue world was challenging for teens in the past, today's growing generations must juggle two worlds -  one which will be there forever.

I can only hope that as they grow older and slip into positions of power (e.g. selecting candidates for jobs), they will also be creating a more gentle, kinder world;
a world where there is more understanding for the growing pains of being a teen caught in analogue and digital dimensions.

Until then, raising awareness of their digital profiles and practices should be an integral part of any classroom today.

References and further Suggestions:

Digital Delights - Digital Tribes - (through the "Find" box to locate articles, posts and videos on Digital Citizenship)

Putting Our Best Footprint Forward -  Susan Lucille Davis

Social Media in Education - Resources for Educators and Schools

Staying Safe Online - Resources for Educators


Images are by Nick Gentry. You can find a selection of his work here