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30 Nov 2015
Comments: 2

5 Surprising Ways to Make Amazon Literacy Work 4 U

Amazon Literacy Header

Relevant Side Note: I have to admit I have been negligent with blogging these few months. My website went down in mid September and it has taken me much of the semester to transition and mold it to be what it is right now (more on that in an upcoming post)… But for NOW! ūüėČ

Sometimes it just takes a good kick in the pants¬†to jump¬†start blogging and that is exactly what Ross Cooper (@RossCoops31) did for me with his post, “Are You Amazon Literate?“.

 

 

 

 

 

Why Should This Matter?

So you might be asking yourself why does Amazon Literacy matter… Is this even a thing? Or is this a fictitious dish the TechChef is trying to serve up after the Thanksgiving break? Well, let me paint a picture for you. My go to for pretty much any initial purchase is Amazon.

How to Be Amazon Literate

While Amazon is super easy to find products… it can be ever so cumbersome to locate quality professional development resources unless you are… Amazon Literate:

  • Cookie Crumb Trails: Think about it… to locate quality books on creative writing, I essentially have to find one really good one and then follow the cookie crumb trail of recommendations.
  • Visit Another Restaurant: Recently, I started falling deep down the rabbit hold of visual communication and slide design. I found one amazing book, “Talk Like Ted”, which is really a book designed for the industry… not necessarily the classroom. That moves me to my next point… oftentimes, we get comfortable with what we know – we stick to books and resources that are designed for educators when in reality many of the books designed for the industry are just as impactful and provide a more transparent window into college readiness skills and purposeful practice than any educational industry book alone could. Honestly, I learned far more about the creative process and authentic publishing from Austin Kleon than any classroom-focused text.
  • Don’t Let Reviews Exclusively Color Your Opinions:¬†I¬†do look at the customer reviews BUT I am also realistic. Sometimes one customer had a bad experience (that may or may not be directly linked to the product) and they have decided to lash out in the reviews. I try to scan the middle of the road reviews (3’s and 4’s) because they seem to be more truthful and authentic than the rants or superficial praise.
  • Take a Visual Bite Before You Order: I have to admit that if I can’t get nab a “Look Inside” for a book… I tend not to order it no matter how great the reviews.¬†Sometimes older books don’t have a sneak peek but they can be found on google. My hack for the “Look Inside” is to google the book and see if I can get nab a preview of a page or two that way. If I am successful and the book piques my interest and meets my expectations, then I go back to Amazon and order it.

Though these ideas can guide your searches, there is still a bit of practice needed to master this literacy.

Creative Writing Books

Before I share some ways to hone your Amazon Literacy acumen… I want to share yet another example to sell the skill¬†further. Below is a picture of 9¬†books that I ordered off Amazon to support creative writing and creative writing prompts AND only one of the 9 books can be found in the first 10¬†pages of an Amazon search for “creative writing” or “creative writing prompts”. Essentially, without a prowess for¬†Amazon Literacy, I would have never known about the other 9¬†books.

Blogger’s Note:¬†If you are interested in these 9 creative writing books …I have pinned all of them to this board “Books that Ignite Literacy”.

 

How Can I Practice these Skills?

With Amazon Two Day Prime and my constant need for books and learning… I have had multiple opportunities to hone these skills. In Ross’s Amazon Literacy post, he delineated a few challenges that might be useful in polishing your acumen for Amazon Literacy.

As I don’t want to regurgitate what Ross Cooper said in his post¬†and the superb list that he offered, I thought I would ¬†generate my own list of “5 Surprising Ways to Make Amazon Literacy Work 4 U”¬†(and yes, I totally realize that these are loaded tasks that are in line with my current reality and visual communication rabbit hole):

  • Beyond Education: Find a book that is not necessarily designed for education but could be purposefully used within the classroom. (Explain your rationale.)
  • Attention Grabbers: Share a book that grabbed your attention by book cover alone. (Explain what part of the book grabbed your attention… e.g. color, title, font, image and WHY).
  • Best Collection for a Purpose: You are a secondary teacher and you need to teach your students about slide design and presentation skills. Find the book with the best collection of practical resources, tips, and examples.
  • Accurate Search Terms: Discover search terms that work for you. As mentioned above,¬†a quick search for “creative writing” oftentimes doesn’t locate the books that I really want. Austin Kleon is an amazing author that supports creative writing and his books don’t even rank on the first page.¬†That being said… “The Emotion Thesaurus” does! This book is fantastic but I actually ended up using it with slide design and speaking skills because it talks so much about body language. If you search “body language” in Amazon, The Emotion Thesaurus doesn’t even rank within the first 10 pages. Determining¬†search terms that work for you is truly an art form in it of itself.
  • Surprisingly Educational: Locate a “Surprisingly Educational” book or resource… something that is more rooted in the¬†edutainment field but definitely could be incorporated in to a curricular setting.¬†My three examples for “Surprisingly Educational” are “Artists, Writers, Thinkers. Dreamers”,¬†“Medieval Lego”, and “Fictitious Dishes”. The Artists book is fantastic for blending biographies and sketch noting and the Medieval Lego book is stellar for inspiring students to summarize historical events and create visual scenes. The Fictitious Dishes one is a clever spin on dishes that could be drawn from literary works and offers up quotes and anecdotes to support the dishes.

Too often we live in an echo chamber when we search on Amazon… this is why Amazon Literacy is so integral to bettering ourselves as educators and honing our craft with appropriate resources.

 

Why Will Trusted Curation be Our Future?

At some point it is not going to be enough to just google something or search within in Amazon. With the vast amount of content being published each and every day, we have to search for trusted curators. In an effort to provide you with a springboard in to Amazon Literacy AND your holiday shopping cart…, here are 3 boards I have carefully curated to support you:

And… I have one more idea for you… Why not create a collaborative board to share all of the books that you and your colleagues have read that you find instructionally impactful? AND then each of you can comment with your review or how you used it with your classroom… Here is a collaborative board I created for my colleagues to house books that blend education and technology in innovative and meaningful ways.

Ed Tech Shelf: Books for Education and Professional Development
Many thanks to Ross Cooper for allowing me to expand upon his original post. Please don’t forget to read Ross Cooper’s original post, check out his blog, and follow him on Twitter @RossCoops31¬†and please, please remember to share these ideas with others… as you begin to organically grow and hone your own Amazon literacy skills.

 

Where Will TechChef Be Next?

As you may or may not have noticed, the TechChef4u site has undergone a few changes in both design and organization over the past few months.

If you are interested in booking Lisa Johnson and/or would like to know where she will be speaking next… visit the TechChef4u speaking page for more info or email¬†techchef4u@gmail.com.


20 May 2015
Comments: 0

The Do’s and Don’ts of Slide Design for Students

I have spent most of educational technology career supporting secondary students. Projects and Presentations are always a plenty… but what I noticed is typically students have great presentations and poor content or great content and poor presentations.

“Rarely, are students able to deliver a compelling message in a visually stimulating and engaging way with purposeful use of media and graphics.” – Lisa Johnson

So… being Type A, a perfectionist, and someone that relies on visuals to communicate… I went a googling in order to create a comprehensive guide (and yes, I also staged a few Lego Minifigure pics in my back yard for emphasis too.)

3 Teacher Wishes for Slide Design

I’m Ravenous for Research… What Resources Do You Have For Me?

While I found several excellent articles, I didn’t want to share a list of articles and resources with students and teachers. That would be overwhelming at best and neither party has time to dig through each resource and make sense of it at this time of year (or frankly… at any time of year).

80+ Slide Design Tips and Resources

 

So, I combed through the 80+ articles, slide decks, and infographics curated above and condensed them in to one infographic with 7 distinct categories. My favorite resources I gleaned were:

After perusing the slide decks on presentation savvy… it became abundantly clear that it is not PPT or Keynote that is the problem… but the lack of slide design and visual acumen that plagues presentations… so I took the best tips and ideas from the pros and created a menu of Do’s and Don’ts for students and teachers alike.

Dos and Don'ts of Slide Design

What Have You Cooked Up For Us Today?

So naturally… I decided to put an end to the drama and support the visual literacy cause with the infographic below (offered as a FREE PDF download). I spent countless hours dissecting the 80+ slide decks, articles, and infographics from the pros to curate the Ultimate Guide of¬†“Do’s and Don’ts for Slide Design for Students” which addresses theme/template, ¬†layout and slide design, use of images, visuals, video, color, text and font.

Slide Design for Students Infographic by Lisa Johnson

Translating the Resource: Yolanda Barker, my former colleague now stationed in Qatar, asked me if I would share the graphic so it could be translated in to different languages… in her case… Arabic. If this is an interest of yours as well, please email me lisa.johnson@techchef4u.com and I would be more than happy to share the Canva design with you so you can translate it for your students and/or teachers.

What Does This Mean for Teachers?

While I ultimately designed this resource for students… I can tell you that everyone benefits from a clear and compelling message devoid of extraneous bullet points, wonky text formatting, and awkward stock templates… Truthfully, many of these design principles can be adapted to our emails and other communications as well… so…

“the next time you send out an email communication or prepare a handout or presentation… remember a dose of design goes a long way for readability and retention…” – Lisa Johnson

My new favorite blog, “The Visual Communication Guy” posted this ¬†MUST READ article “Why Ugly Handouts Are Bad For Teachers (and everyone else)”¬†which not only provides a rationale for basic editing principles but a fantastic before and after pic too.

Why Ugly Handouts Are Bad

Beyond the need for clear communication, providing students with opportunities to excel at media literacy ultimately¬†prepares students for the labor force and beyond…

Stay Tuned for The TechChef Visual Design Summer Challenge

I didn’t learn and adopt visual design principles overnight… but I will say that I have come a long way from the original presentations I created 5+ years ago. If you are looking for a summer PD challenge, dig up one of your old or particularly bad PPT or Keynote presentations and stay tuned…

 

 

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Cooking Up Keynote

***Where Will TechChef Be Next?***

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Contact TechChef4u to schedule Fall and Summer PD and Workshops: lisa.johnson@techchef4u.com or request booking here.


31 Mar 2015
Comments: 4

25+ EDU Lesson Plans and Resources for Canva

So… I was minding my own business… drinking my triple grande iced vanilla latte… when Terri Eichholz (@terriechholz) tweeted me that Canva had 27 FREE EDU PDF Lessons… and everything after that is kind of a blur…

Canva Lessons mini

So naturally, I stopped everything and began perusing them. Now you know… if you give the TechChef4u something inspiring and useful… the next thing she is going to do with it… is…pin. While I loved all of the lessons, I found them easier to glean through if they were all on one page and sorted by image… so I created a board for Canva EDU Lesson Plans...

Canva Pinterest Lessons

What Can I Expect From These Canva EDU Lessons?

20If you peruse the board, you can find lessons for a variety of age groups and content areas. My favorites are the Facebook banners for Scientific Elements, Social Media Profiles for Historical Figures, Candy Math Ratios, Author’s Point of View, and a Wedding Invitation for a Chemical Reaction.

Each lesson includes a sample and a PDF lesson guide to support you! All of these lessons can also be found on Canva’s most excellent EDU site!

And they have a FREE 30 Tutorial Design School perfect for students and educators alike!

Canva Design School

What If I Need Ideas for Using Canva Beyond the Classroom?

If you are an Educational Technologist or Instructional Support staff and you need ideas for how to use Canva with your staff and teachers… here are some samples. Canva can be easily used to create a newsletter, poster, infographic, or social media post as well as to curate resources for teachers or professional development.

Need More Inspiration… check out Canva’s 40+ Pinterest boards!

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Contact TechChef4u to schedule Spring and Summer PD and Workshops: lisa.johnson@techchef4u.com or request booking here.


24 Feb 2015
Comments: 1

App-Smashed Benjamin Franklin Biography

I guess this is what happens when your mom is both an educator and an Ed Tech…

My second grader recently brought home a bottle biography project. We finished the written portion a few weeks ago knowing that we still had the craft module to complete. Now before I continue with my story, I want to clarify a few points:

  • By no means am I saying that all student projects should be digital.
  • By no means do I believe that projects shouldn’t be sent home.
  • By no means do I think projects shouldn’t involve crafts.
  • By no means do I think the whole assigned project lacked merit or purpose.

Purposeful Crafts

Please know that I definitely enjoy doing projects with my son and I think it is great bonding time‚Ķ I just believe that craft assignments should be purposeful in nature.¬†No matter how many projects like this we get assigned, I find that the ‚Äúcraft‚ÄĚ module of the project falls mostly on the parent to select and purchase the supplies and even assemble them. Now don‚Äôt get me wrong, my son helped locate rocks to fill the bottle to stabilize it and did assist with some of the assembly and design but ultimately most of the bottle project ended up in my lap. I then have to ask myself, “what did he ultimately learn from this craft?” So, this got me thinking… what could we do with this bottle craft project to elevate and extend the learning and utilize and incorporate the craft project?

1378578_10204841519790308_4959281387267759674_n

Research and Extensions

I will say that we gleaned a lot through reading the biographies together and completing the provided biography inventory. Because I felt like my son had learned more about Benjamin Franklin than he displayed in both the bottle and the handout, I decided to add a few more guidelines to the project (based on the 2nd grade standards). Many of these extended the written, visual, and oral requirements for the project:

  • MindMap of 5 Adjectives: This included a hand-drawn image from my son as well as component of typing and allowed him to display his research visually. (used Popplet Lite app)
  • Locating Origins and Birth Places: This was simple but addressed a geography component and the ability to locate places of significance. (used Google Earth app)
  • PostCard to Benjamin Franklin: This creative writing assignment ¬†focused on expository text standards as well as addressing important contributions of historical figures. (used Bill Atkinson PhotoCard app)
  • App-Smashed Assembly:¬†As Toontastic is now free (since it was acquired by Google), and it had a Benjamin Franklin toon within its suite, we decided this would be the perfect tool for app-smashing the aforementioned content. Not only was this a great tool to assemble all of the digital media, it also addressed the standard of creating visual displays to convey research results and touched on the component of expressing ideas orally as well. (used Toontastic app)

Within the App-Smashed Assembly, we included a few more elements:

  • Reflection on Process:¬†I am a huge proponent of reflecting on the process – not just the final product so I made sure that my son included how Bottle Ben came to be with pics of the final product and a delineation of the materials.
  • Citations and Multiple Sources: While I am currently stationed at a HS, I have to tell you that I had my stint in elementary as well and have a special place in my heart for children’s literature. As some of the books that my son self-selected from the library proved to be above his reading level, I picked up a few from Amazon. In doing so, these books reiterated the content that we had read from his initial research and provided a diverse landscape for his learning.
  • Publishing:¬†Publishing and Sharing writing is a a big component of the standards and I can’t tell you how excited and proud my son gets when he finds out that other schools in the district (and schools across the nation) want to share his project with their students. In fact just this morning he smiled and said, “just say ‘yes’ to anyone that asks you.” ¬†ūüėČ

Ben Franklin copy

Final Project

So here is the final App Smashed project… One of my favorite parts is that the analog creations (e.g. Ben biography bottle and hand-drawn images) provide a introspective and unique landscape to the digital creation that could not be achieved through digital elements alone.

I have to say that had we to do this over again… I would make a few tweaks to the project:

  • Include all Original Artwork: I would have had him design a setting for Benjamin Franklin (hand-drawn) rather than using the Toontastic stock background.
  • Assemble a Timeline: I might also have suggested a timeline of major contributions or events created with Popplet Lite or¬†RWT Timeline.
  • Dramatize a Scene: I would also have him recreate an actual scene to meet dramatization standards.

Authentic Audience

Nothing warms my heart more than to know that my son’s work is well received and that he has an authentic audience for his learning.

Screen Shot 2015-02-22 at 7.46.06 PM

Invest in Knowledge and Involve Me…

So I fortuitously happed upon this bottle of wine at Walgreen’s and in doing so learned that Benjamin Franklin had a repertoire of wine quotes as well. As none of these quotes were particularly app-licable or app-ropriate, I decided to share one of my favorite Benji (yes, we are now on a first nickname basis now) quotes about learning:

Benji Quotes.001 copy

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Contact TechChef4u to schedule Spring and Summer PD and Workshops: lisa.johnson@techchef4u.com or request booking here.


05 Feb 2015
Comments: 3

Curating and Creating with Care

I am often crippled by my need for perfection and to share what I feel is a thorough, complete, and exhaustive resource. For some reason, I also decided to dive very deep down the Lego Rabbit Hole and staged all of my slides with Lego MiniFigures as well.

Curation and Creation.001

Why the Need for Curating and Creating with Care?

I have to say that this session is definitely a long time in the making. And I really wanted to address the need for such a session and a resource:

  • Increased Access to Content: While students’ have a wide array of access to devices, it becomes very easy to simply nab or screenshot an image without even thinking about citations or appropriate use.
  • Increase in Digital Assignments: Furthermore, more and more student assignments and projects are transitioning from analog to digital and with that more student authored content is floating around online. With the flux of student creations and better ways to gather digital creations, there becomes an even greater need to teach students to protect their work with Creative Commons licensing.
  • Fire Hose of Content: With the rapid amount of content being uploaded and shared via the global edusphere and beyond, there is a need for “trusted curation” to battle the fire hose of content. With curation comes a need to discuss best practices to preserve other’s work online as it is reposted, repinned, retweeted, relisted, rescooped, and relinked.

Creative Commons: It’s Not Just a License: It is a Lifestyle!

As I created my own images for this session, I wanted to make sure that as they were shared, there was some way to easily attribute these original creations back to me. After a brief Twitter Chat with The Daring Librarian (@Gwyneth Jones), I decided to Creative Commons all of the images and then upload them to Flickr.

Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 9.51.22 PM

And BTW, if you have not visited the Daring Librarian’s site… it is most epic indeed and she also has an affinity for Legos. ūüėČ

Curating and Creating with Care Lego Quotables

So… here they are…TechChef4u Lego Quotables

Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 9.01.52 PM

Curating and Creating with Care Research and Resources

As many of these images are based on research I gleaned while preparing for the session, I have also created a Listly with all of the resources and research that I used.

Curating and Creating with Care TCEA 2015

And many thanks to my fellow iVenger Debbie Smith (@dsmitheisd) for snapping a pic of me during my session as I was delivering my flare for curation and custom creations!

Curate_Small

If you are interested in the other 4 sessions I presented at TCEA 2015, check out my conference resources here!

 

HAVE YOU SEEN THE LATEST TECHCHEF GAZETTE ISSUE? Preparing for Back to School and Beyond

TechChef Techucation Gazette:¬†Sign up to receive future issues of the monthly e-Newsletter:¬†There are many more learning app-ortunities and professional development toolkits to come. If you don’t want to miss a morsel of this techucation feast,¬†sign up today.

Where Will TechChef Be Next?

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Contact TechChef4u to schedule Spring and Summer PD and Workshops: lisa.johnson@techchef4u.com or request booking here.


02 Feb 2015
Comments: 0

iPad Project Menu

As I will be attending and present at TCEA this week, I wanted to leave my campus with a small learning nugget to support them in my absence. I began thinking about most of the questions that I receive that are instructional in nature. Many of them focus on what the best apps and tools are to meet the task. Other inquiries focus on workflow and best practices for publishing.

iPad Project Menu

So… the iPad Project Menu was born. I have to admit that it is somewhat derivative of Tony Vincent’s Show What You Know infographic. I simply tailored the menu to focus on tools and apps that were free (or already provided for FREE to our students via Casper and Self Service), changed up a few of the tasks, and added a second page that addressed many of the questions that I receive when I am planning with teachers. I figured that some of you might enjoy or be inspired by this assembly of resources so I made it available for FREE on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Screen Shot 2015-02-01 at 6.13.09 PM

The Chef is on Location

I am very much looking forward to cooking up my own recipe for learning at TCEA and will be on location there all week. If you too are geared up to #learnanywhere, then come check out one of my 5 sessions:

  • 2/2: Monday: 8-11: Cooking Up Augmented Storytelling
  • 2/3: Tuesday: 1-1:50: Curating and Creating with Care
  • 2/5: Thursday: 8-9: Activating the Device Neutral Classroom
  • 2/5: Thursday 9:15-10:15: WordPlay Shakespeare in the Classroom
  • 2/5: Thursday: 3:45-4:45: Lone Star Teachers Partner to Enhance Education

249037175346239_a-861e962b__uDOVA_pm

HAVE YOU SEEN THE LATEST TECHCHEF GAZETTE ISSUE? Preparing for Back to School and Beyond

TechChef Techucation Gazette:¬†Sign up to receive future issues of the monthly e-Newsletter:¬†There are many more learning app-ortunities and professional development toolkits to come. If you don’t want to miss a morsel of this techucation feast,¬†sign up today.

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Contact TechChef4u to schedule Spring and Summer PD and Workshops: lisa.johnson@techchef4u.com or request booking here.

 


12 Jan 2015
Comments: 3

Social-Emotional App-tivities that Really Work

WHS has embraced social emotional learning as a focus this year. Edutopia has done a fantastic job of delineating this topic further¬†with “Self-Assessment Inspires Learning” and “Social and Emotional Learning Research Review“. Last week I posted a blog on the WHS Wifi site entitled, “Creative Risk Taking in the form of a Final” and shared it out with our parents and staff. This week I would like to go one step further and re-post this blog with a few more anecdotes for the greater edusphere…

Hybrid Exams

This past semester a few of the English II Pre-AP teachers offered a hybrid exam meshing both a paper as well as a digital presentation. As the presentation was not to be longer than a minute and to focus more on social-emotional self-analysis rather than the bells and whistles of a high end video production app, students selected the FREE Shadow Puppet EDU app to create their final product.

Digital Discoveries

I sat in on a few of the final presentations and took notes. Below are some of the digital discoveries that I gleaned:

  • Deeper Awareness of the Socio-Emotional: Meeting student’s social-emotional needs has been a focus with all content areas this year. While the video projects were all created using the same application, each one personally touched on a social-emotional self analysis with a text to self approach to Catcher in the Rye (the novel they had just finished).¬†Many times we have students complete assignments but they don’t have ample time to reflect. As reflection and self-analysis were at the heart of this assignment, students had built-in time for students for self awareness. Within this forum, I¬†noticed topical trends like transitioning, worry, future goals, stress, anxiety, lying, depression, isolation, introversion, bullying, perfectionism,¬†adaptability,¬†perseverance,¬†performance anxiety, unrealistic expectations, responsibility, coping with change and death etc… and the coping mechanisms that many use to overcome these struggles. In HS, where these emotions and issues can seem heightened, I felt like this assignment really validated these sensitive issues. Some of the more poignant quotes were:
    • “Being a teenager is like testing the waters”
    • “You can’t change the future unless you change the now.”
  • The Power of Audience: Both Michele Benage and Lee Bergen mentioned that the power of sharing these projects with their classmates allowed for bonding and empathy (e.g. some students realized that they were not alone in their feelings and struggles and others felt like they had initially misjudged their peers without knowing the full story).
  • Meeting the Needs of Diverse Learners: Due to the hybrid approach of this project (e.g. both an essay and a video), learners had the opportunity to¬†articulate their voice in both written and visual form. I felt like this really met the needs of our group of learners. Some may be more articulate with words and others with visuals and this gave each student an opportunity to be successful in their own way. Additionally, those that suffered from performance anxiety – that would rather record their thoughts rather than stand and deliver had a venue to successfully¬†convey their ideas behind the scenes rather than in¬†the¬†spotlight.
  • Polishing Presentations:¬†With any project,¬†some presentations were better than others (both visually and content-wise). Truly, if we don’t give our students these types of presentations, they will never have an opportunity to improve in this arena. Additionally, by seeing their peer’s presentations, this allows students to note best practices for this form of content delivery. I also think there is power in providing an assignment that can not be easily pulled and replicated from an online source – a task that requires both self-analysis and the ability to create¬†something¬†that doesn‚Äôt already exist.

Student Exemplars

While observing the presentations during finals week, three students presentation stood out to share as exemplars for poignancy and creativity. Each of these students not only completed a thoughtful self-analysis but took a creative approach in the delivery… as they all included original artwork. Before I shared the examples I made sure that I permission from all 3 students as the¬†content was of a personal nature:

Shadow Puppet

 

  • Catcher in the Rye:¬†I loved that this student created all of their own illustrations in Adobe Illustrator and then incorporated them within his video.
  • It Takes a Listener: This student used a very¬†creative and poignant approach to blending hand- drawn original images with 2D and 3D environments.
  • Hello Classmates:¬†I enjoyed the questions that this one raised and the hand-drawn images.

Gleaning Creative Commons Images

Though most of the exemplars featured above include original art work, I did want to mention the power of the built-in Creative Commons image search available within the Shadow Puppet EDU app. It includes maps, landmarks, Library of Congress, Met Museum of Art, The British Library, NASA, NOAA, Web Images, Flickr Creative Commons, Wikimedia, and Open Clipart. When images are selected from the the built-in image search to be used within a project, Shadow Puppet automatically cites all of the images used within the work at the end of the video.

IMG_2305

Collection and Submission Logistics

Since Shadow Puppet publishes to a url, I suggested the easiest way to collect, organize, and view all of the student submissions proved would be with a Google Form (see example posted below). As this was the first year using this hybrid approach to a final exam, students had the option to allow permission of their project to be shared so future classes could have a possible model for the assignment in upcoming years.

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 3.49.03 PM

Reflections and Strategies

While I do enjoy showcasing these projects, I can’t help but add the lens of Instructional Technologist and my own reflections for future professional development needs… ¬†similarly to as I did in the “iPad Project Plan“. As I reviewed the projects, I considered a few tweaks for next year…

  • Limit Non-Original Images: while the ones featured above did include original art work, there were many others that blended personal photos and stock images. Providing a limit of images that are non-original forces students to look inward and utilize personal or original images for the bulk of the project.
  • Collaborate with Counseling Department:¬†I hesitate a bit with this one as the nature of this project is very personal and introspective. However, many times a student’s perspective can help another student going through the same issues. One thought was to have students work in conjunction with the counseling office to design posters or pamphlets with a QR code to their video to add an additional layer of purpose to the project by supporting their fellow classmates through similar issues.
  • Fleshing Out All of the Themes: This was an idea from Carolyn Foote @technolibrary. As this project was a final, there was not dedicated class time to circle back on these projects and flesh out themes¬†(e.g. stress, depression, anxiety). Provided there were time to do this, pursuing a class discussion of all of the themes addressed in the student projects and how they could be linked back to the book would be a worthy activity.

Many thanks to Lee Bergen and Michele Benage for allowing me to “crash” their classes and share these in depth reflections and to our students for letting me share their work with others in hopes that it might inform and inspire!

 Support Resources

I have to tell you that I was truly impressed by the quality of work and introspection that was infused within these projects and feel like Shadow Puppet was the perfect tool to illuminate this type of assignment. I would be remissed if I did not share some of the excellent support resources that Shadow Puppet offers on their site to complete app-tivities! From classroom stories and lessons to printables… they really have thought of it all!

Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 8.38.03 AM

 

 

HAVE YOU SEEN THE LATEST TECHCHEF GAZETTE ISSUE? Preparing for Back to School and Beyond

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05 Jan 2015
Comments: 2

21+ Things Every 21st Century Blogger Should Do in 2015

I have been struggling with a post that will set the stage for 2015 and serve as a worthy inaugural nugget for the new year… and I finally happed upon it. The inspiration came from a blend of Carl Hooker’s “21 Things Every 21st Century Teacher Should Do This School Year” and a tweet from a dear friend, Brianna Hodges, sharing her new site, “Educationally Techtastic” hot off the blog press. I found myself disseminating a few tips and best practices for blogging through a series of texts and next thing you know it I had drafted a list of 21 Blogging Do’s for the 21st Century Blogger.

Before I release the list, I wanted to share Brianna’s insight and a link to her own blog beginnings that I hope will serve as support and inspiration for you to create (or amplify) your own blog in 2015:

“I absolutely love being an educator and, as a lifelong learner, I am continually searching for inspiration & exemplars to incorporate in my classroom. One of those searches led me to TechChef4U and, there, I found my touchstone, my source of energy & innovation. I truly believe that we are at a pivotal moment in education and, in her blog, I found the perfect combination of creativity & practicality, sprinkled with a hefty dose of foresight & imagination. Moreover, Lisa helped me see that I can have a voice and a place at the EdTech table. I believe that we owe it to our students and children to help form tomorrow’s learning environment &, to do that, we need to share our experiences, ideas, failures, & successes. With that, my blog, educationallyTECHTastic, was born.” – Brianna Hodges

So here we go… can I get a drumroll? Or should it be a drumstick (#foodpun) ūüėČ

Miami Device PD Recap (used with Evernote) #TechChef4u #iPad #Evernote

Truly, these are not in any order and not all necessary to accomplish at once. I do hope that they provide you with a festive feast of fresh ideas to make the leap to a blog or spruce up your own blog in 2015:

1. Choose a Template that you can Customize and Grow with…

When choosing a template and a blogging service, consider what widgets and themes are offered and if you can truly grow with the site over the years. Though my site has changed designs over the years, I am and will forever be a WordPress girl… this time I just had to shell out a little cash for their paid templates.

2. Buy Your Own URL

This is an easy thing to do. Sites like GoDaddy and 1 and 1 offer this service. Trust me www.techchef4u.com plays a lot nicer on a business card than www.techchef4u.wordpress.com.

3. Plugin Your Feeds

If you are social geek like me, then you most likely already have a Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Add these feeds using a plugin to your site so people that visit your site know how and where to connect with you further.

4. Test Your Contact Page

I say this with a bit of frustration as my current contact page had to be taken down and recoded and in its place is a Google Form. Contact Pages are very integral for people to communicate with you for a variety of reasons ranging from permission to use your work to possible collaborations. Always test your contact page (and have others do so too) and if it doesn’t work, then add another means to initiate email contact. It never hurts to add social media contact info here as well. (Truthfully,¬†I am fifteen times faster at answering a tweet or DM than I am an email.) I really like Holly Clark’s contact page because it includes a form as well as additional means of contact.

5. Tag All Posts with Your Name

This is something I have “stolen” and adopted from George Couros. Many times we tag posts with relevant terms like #iPad or #EdTech but we don’t even think to tag with our own name. Tagging with your name helps with Search Engine Optimization as well as brand recognition.

6. Infuse Pictures of Yourself

I have read many a blog with paragraphs of text. Truly there is nothing wrong with text but I find the sites that share relevant content blended with pictures of themselves and their students during these projects tend to resonate better and deepen the text for those of us that are visual learners. These posts also pin better. ūüėČ

7. Watermark your Images

I truly wish this was something I had done from the beginning. I have found my images floating all around the internet and Pinterest completely uncited with no way to find their way back to me. Matt Gomez does an excellent job of using the Signature Watermark Ultra WP plugin to add a special watermark using his own logo to each of his images. I also stumbled upon this Listly of 15 additional tools to watermark your images. Not only does this help with his branding but it allows people to find him and his work through his images as they are pinned and tweeted. Kevin Honeycutt takes this idea one step further and adds a personal quote to many of his images… they are called Honeyquotes!

8. Include a Disclaimer Statement

This is really key. When I started my first blog, it was considered “rogue” as it was not a district regulated website. To ensure there were no issues with my postings and my job, I added a simple disclaimer statement, “The content on this website in no way represents the opinions or beliefs of … district”.

9. Connect Content you Curate and Create

Many bloggers curate and create additional and supplementary content for their blog on other sites. Cathy Yenca not only blogs… she has a booming Teachers Pay Teachers store, an iBook, and¬†a variety of Nearpod lesson bundles¬†which are all directly linked from her site. People don’t automatically know what else you curate and create unless you share it so don’t be afraid to add this content as badges or even a tab on your site.¬†Laura Moore of¬†Learn Moore Stuff¬†also does a fantastic job of connecting you with her other resources as she includes links to her bulb, Padlet, Smores, and much more on the right hand side of her site.

10. Add Links to Presentations, Videos, Podcasts, and Webinars

As you begin to prepare presentations and deliver webinars or even create videos for your class or school, share them on a tab on your site so others can get to better know you, your content, and your flavor. In the interim of cleaning up my site, I have posted all of my videos and webinars in a Pinterest board for easy access. If you don’t have speaking videos or webinars, consider posting video content that you have created. Both¬†Carl Hooker¬†and Dean Shareski¬†do a most excellent job of blending their recorded speaking engagements with their own content ranging from Carl’s app smashes and iPad Orientations to music videos and to Dean’s workshop promos and success stories to his archived presentations¬†and YouTube creation! The Langwitches genius, Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano, includes her latest slide decks as a panel on her main site.

11. Creative Commons Your Work and/or Your Site

As you begin to blog and create content and resources, it will inevitably be tweeted, reposted, downloaded, and repurposed. Providing a Creative Commons Attribution license on your site allows your audience to know exactly what they can and can’t do with your work. One can provide a blanket statement for all content on the site or an individual statement for each piece of work. The Creative Commons site easily allows you to create these licenses and even populates a custom embed code for your site. Kasey Bell has an excellent example of the blanket statement at the bottom of her Shake Up Learning site¬†and I have included a singular license for this list after #21. Beth Still provides and excellent write-up on how sites can be perceived when they do not properly attribute work within the Creative Commons framework.

12. Share Both Your Failures and Your Successes

It is easy to share and celebrate our successes but much harder to make public our failures or lessons learned. Everyone fails… let’s face it and embrace it. One of my favorite bloggers truly tackles the tough conversations – she is bold and honest and never sugar coats the truth and I simply adore her candid thoughts on life and education. Her most recent posts “From Midway Negativity to a Positive Ending” and “Facing Insecurities: You Are More Than Enough” frankly address the struggles and obstacles so many of us quietly face and endure.

13. Don’t Be Afraid of Lists

I often shy away from lists because my O/C gets the best of me and I feel the list must be comprehensive before posting. That being said, there is a real time and place for lists. For some reason, we are drawn to numbers and the potential to see if we measure up or can relate to the list and so the power of the list is maintained. I was inspired by Carl’s “Top 10 Things Not to Do in a 1:1 iPad Initiative”¬†and “21 Things Every 21st Century Teacher Should Do This School Year” and recently wrote “11 Useful Tips for Managing iPads in the Classroom“, “6 Do’s and Don’ts¬†for Secondary iPad Deployment and Support of New Initiatives” and “9 Must Read iPad Instructional Support Resources“. And I have to say there is nothing better than an infographic from the amazing talented Sean Junkins to revive or amplify even the finest of lists. I love how he put a spin on both Carl’s and my lists (scroll to the bottom of both posts to see the infographic). Another creative take on lists is the idea of dividing one in to reasonable time frames for completion as Ashley Cronin did with her New Things to Try in 2015: Things to try in 5 Days, 5 Weeks, and 5 months.

14. Break Up Text with Interactivity

As I mentioned in #6, images help others to connect with you and your content. With the fire hose of information at our very finger tips, we have become a society of scanners and skimmers. I find that I tend to glean more information from a blog that has some sort of interactivity to support or extend the content. Sites that embed beautifully into a blog and offer this type of interactivity range from Tackk and Haiku Deck to Thinglink and Listly (all embedded in posts linked above). Not only do those tools jive up your content, they drive traffic to your blog as they are also hosted on additional sites.

15. Provide a Link to your Blog on all of your Social Networks

This goes hand in hand with #3 and #10. Most of the traffic to my site comes from Pinterest and I want to ensure that people not only come to my site from the pins I post and curate but know how to connect directly from my boards. Any social network you maintain (e.g. Linkedin, Google+, Twitter, Pinterest, Thinglink, Snapguide, Scoop.it) should include both your brief bio as well as a link to your site so people can connect with your content no matter how they initially discovered you.

16. Build In Twitter Quote Widgets Within Your Posts

This is a recent development for me. I discovered the Tweet This WordPress Plugin on my brother-in-law’s site and have been itching for a way to begin incorporating it into mine. Essentially, the plugin allows you to build the content of a tweet for someone so all they have to do is go to your site and click on it and tweet it. If you build it… they may tweet it ūüėČ If you are interested in seeing this type of plugin in action, check out one of Book Creator’s most recent posts.

17. Proudly Display Badges

The design of my site makes it difficult to host badges next to my posts. This is something I am looking to remedy in the future. While bragging and boasting are bogus… celebrating accomplishments is important. An easy way to do this is to post badges. Jamie Forshey, Erin Klein, and Gwyneth Jones¬†do a fantastic job of highlighting their achievements and badges on their sites. Badges can range from awards and nominations to blogs that you cross post too. An added bonus of cross-posting or blog tailgating is that you offer your content to a wider audience. Technology Tailgate is one of my favorite sites for this process and offers a special badge you can embed if you author content within their feed.

18. Provide Consistency with Images for Brand Recognition

For me variety is the spice of life and I tire easily with the same color schemes and fonts. Unfortunately, my need for diversity sometimes leads to confused branding and attribution. That being said, two of my counterparts have really carved out their niche within this realm. Kasey Bell’s Google Resources, Gwyneth Jones Comic Tutorials,¬†Mathy Cathy’s Math Thinglinks, Brad Ovenell-Carter’s Sketch Notes, and Ryan Read’s App Dice are all recognizable and each contribute to a cohesively branded collection (wow – was that a nod to Project Runway?).

19. Provide Consistency with Content

People like to know what to expect and how frequently it will be posted. Richard Byrne does an excellent job with his Free Tech for Teachers site as most of his posts have a consistent framework which includes a summary and educational applications for each highlighted tool. Terri Eichholz is a shining example of consistency with  frequency of postings as her site Engage Their Minds typically releases a new post every day. While I am not a daily poster, I do try to provide some consistency to the time of day my posts are released by auto-scheduling them to publish at either 9:30 or 10:00 am CST.

20. Build Your PLN by Answering Where?

As people start to really connect and relish your content, they like to know where you will be (e.g. upcoming conferences or speaking engagements) so they can connect in person and or even attend one of your sessions. You can add this information on a separate tab or at the footer of your posts. Many conferences offer an “I’m Speaking at…” badge that you can add to your site as well.

21. Start a Trend or a Tradition

After blogging for a few years, I found myself in search of a little whimsy. Thus, I decided to start an alliteration collection of posts ranging from Marvelous Monday and Thought Leadership Tuesday¬†to Wicked Good Wednesday and Freebie Friday. I didn’t post one of these each day of the week but I did try to post enough of them that people knew what to expect. In the same realm as a tradition of weekly alliteration, Technology Tailgate offers a Techie Tuesday Link Up where you can feature someone else’s content on your own blog and build off of it and then link back your thoughts to the main site. ¬†Another fun trend in education is #hashtags. Consider starting your own or building off of a hashtag that can connect your content with others. Carl Hooker used #student4aday to share his reflections.

22. Share Your Why

This is a nod to Simon Sinek and a post I wrote earlier in the year. I started this blog almost 4 years ago and have crafted 315 posts since then. The blog has evolved as I have so this year I wanted to carefully craft my WHY for the blog and the content I share to ensure that I stayed true to the path and meant the needs of my audience in doing so. As you embark in to 2015, consider establishing a WHY or a mission statement for your blog to guide you in the future.

ePortfolios are AWESome_ETT.001

Creative Commons License

“21 Things Every 21st Century Blogger Should Do in 2015” by Lisa Johnson @TechChef4u is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Bonus Blogging Tips

To be quite honest, I strived for 21 but ended up with a few extra so here goes: keep a notebook of ideas for posts, reduce the size of your images so your page loads faster, install a Pinterest widget so all of your images can be easily pinned, add a blog subscription so others can receive your latest scoop in their inbox rather than having to hunt it down, and make sure links within the post open in a new tab rather that redirecting your audience away from your post (this typically is a default for most WP blogs but that is not always the case for other blog hosting services). This list for me is a work in progress as there are a few I need to tweak in 2015 to amplify my own blog but thought there was no harm in sharing the ideas in advance of their completion.

Stop Being a Secret Genius…

As I am still on a bit of a professional development high from Miami Device and some of the epic quotables gleaned from that event, I thought I would leave you with a little inspiration from Kevin Honeycutt:

Add a little bit of body text-7

 

 

HAVE YOU SEEN THE LATEST TECHCHEF GAZETTE ISSUE? Preparing for Back to School and Beyond

TechChef Techucation Gazette:¬†Sign up to receive future issues of the monthly e-Newsletter:¬†There are many more learning app-ortunities and professional development toolkits to come. If you don’t want to miss a morsel of this techucation feast,¬†sign up today.

Where Will TechChef Be Next?

Contact TechChef4u to schedule Spring and Summer PD and Workshops: lisa.johnson@techchef4u.com or request booking here.