Visual Literacy Flashback

This video is a great example of combining technology and a live presentation in a way that conveys complex information in an understandable way. I’m sure hundreds of Powerpoints exist that try to share similar data, but this presentation does it in an enjoyable and informative way.

 

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It’s time to be proactive

Question: How can teachers and schools ensure that their students are learning what they need when it comes to Technology and Information Literacy?

Answer: Accept it. Embrace it. Plan for it. Make it a valued part of the curriculum. Develop standards and grade level expectations. Assess. Reflect. Evolve.

Technology is not a subject. It is a way of life. It is an umbrella term that incorporates anything and everything electronic and new. And it is an essential part of our students lives.

Most teachers today can remember when they got their first email account or the first time they used the internet. The only class I dropped in college was an art class where the professor wanted us to develop a website. Using HTML. After viewing the internet for the first time.

But times are changing. Graduating teachers have had access to the internet since they were in elementary school. In ten years newly certified teachers will have known nothing but a world with internet, mostly accessible via phones and wifi. We often discuss how technology is affecting our students but we should also be looking at how the permeation of technology is affecting our teaching.

At the schools I’ve been at over the last 6 years, here is how technology instruction has worked: do it if you feel like it, don’t if you don’t. Sure, there is increasing access to resources and pressure to use them but mostly subtle pressure. Without common agreements as to what technology and information literacy is and how we should instruct and assess it, there is essentially no requirement for teachers to incorporate technology into their students’ learning.

So, if we want to ensure that our students are learning what they need when it comes to Technology and Information Literacy we need to make it part of our curriculum. We need to jump ahead of the kids, for once, and proactively determine what skills are important enough to incorporate into our curriculum. Schools must start the curriculum process yesterday in order to incorporate technology in an organized, effective way. Because technology isn’t a fad and the most important education our students need is how to analyze, interpret, and use the information they have had free access to from birth. Throwing the kids into a lab once a week or tossing them the occasional laptop will not prepare them for the future they are already facing today.

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One of those Moments

Do you ever have one of those moments where a student says something that helps you know they are getting it? I had one this morning and I’m writing it down here because I’m sure I’ll forget it.

It was before school and I was taking care of things at my desk. Across the room one student was working on her blog (voluntarily!). She asked a friend how to choose her picture. I’m sure she meant how-to literally, as in what buttons to push on the backside of her blog. But her friend interpreted the question differently. Her answer made my day:

“First, I looked over what I had written. Then I went through my pictures to find one that matched up with it.”

It’s such a simple thing but this was only the second time they have independently uploaded photos to their learning blogs and the first time they had taken the pictures. For them to understand so quickly that the photo is a way to support their ideas just proves they are so ready for visual literacy in their learning. I love it!

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Paradigm Change

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Judging a Blog By It’s Cover

Big Idea: Course 3 Reflection and Final Project

I have always considered myself a visual person. I love photography, color, and I learn better by watching than by reading or listening alone. I know the Theory of Multiple Intelligences is suffering from lack of empirical evidence, but I still consider myself a visual learner. Images have always made such an impression on me. That’s why this course was so useful. The brain research, the experience shared by others, and the ideas of presentation zen all gave me the feeling of having permission to use images in the classroom in a way that already feels natural to me. Rather than ramble on with the kind of text our eyes skim over, I’m going to give you the down and dirty version of what I learned and plan to use in the classroom.

Bright Idea #1

We remember more when information is associated with an image.

In school, reading is one of the most valued skills our students learn. Therefore, teachers are encouraged to develop text rich environments, the idea being that the more text the students are exposed to, the richer their vocabulary and the more practice they get. The problem? Sometimes we feel like text trumps image and we leave images out thinking they aren’t worth the time or effort. Well, now we know they are! It’s like permission to bring life to my classroom without feeling like it is just cutesiness. When done right, visual imagery can help develop our students’ understanding of the concepts studied. Break it down…

Hmmm…

Image courtesy of shuichiro via Flikr.

Much better…

Image courtesy of cole24_ via Flikr

Bright Ideas #2 and #3

Less is more and looks matter.

This is something we learned more for presentations than for blogs but in the spirt of generalizing and applying information to new situations, I plan on adapting these rules for this blog as well as using them to guide my instruction as my students begin their personal learning blogs. Here is what I mean.

Hmmm…

OK, to be fair she is The Reading Lady but still…a few pictures would go a long way.

Much Better…

Our librarian, Ms. Tara, maintains a personal-professional blog. It provides guidance to teachers in a way that is short, sweet, and visually interesting. Perhaps a different purpose than The Reading Lady, but definitely more pleasing to the eye.

 

So, this is the plan…

This week my students started their own learning blogs. It was a very exciting day in room 207 but it was also an experience that demonstrated to me just how much they have to learn. It will be fun and rewarding, but it will also require a lot of planning down to the smallest details.

The first thing the kids did was take a screen shot of their blog as is. The purpose of this is to later have evidence of the technological skills they have acquired as well as their awareness of visual imagery and how they incorporate it independently. The kids will need to know how to take and upload pictures using digital cameras, how to take and upload screen shots, and how to search for and give credit to free to use photos using creative commons. And that is just the technological side of things. As learners and bloggers, my students will learn to consider which image best fits the idea they are trying to communicate. They will need to look at their ideas and images from other’s points of view to decide if what they intended is what is inferred. They will also need to learn about design and color to design a blog that is appealing enough to attract readers without being so distracting as to drive them away. That’s a lot for 8 year olds!

The payoff will definitely be worth it, though. Already the kids are loving how they can express themselves through their choice of theme. We got a comment on our class blog from a teacher in Ontario, Canada. She found our wall wisher with math problems we created and she was wondering if her students could solve the problems. When she found the wall wisher, there were five math problems. When given time to add more today this task became a lot more interesting. The kids now realize they have an audience beyond our classroom. They are accustomed to being the consumers of information, but only today did it dawn on them that with their blogs they will be the producer of information. This makes sharing their learning much more interesting but also a much bigger responsibility.

The purpose of my final project for this course is to maintain a focus on the instruction of visual literacy as the blogging skills and awareness of my students evolves. At first we are focusing on images we own, such as screenshots of our own work. However, we have already begun having conversations about where and how to search for images. Soon enough it will be time to find images from the internet world that will help communicate their messages. This will require the technical know-how behind searching, downloading, inserting, and attributing the images as well as the thoughtfulness and awareness to select images that are meaningful beyond our classroom. This discussion has happened in our first two blogging sessions and I anticipate it will be an ongoing discussion throughout the year.

 

 

Lightbulb photo courtesy of Jeff Kubina via Flikr.

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Online Presence

How you choose to present yourself is so important.

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Speaking of Visual Literacy…

Have I ever mentioned that I really hate this blog?

Image courtesy of  John Brawley via Flikr

I don’t hate blogging.

Image courtesy of blakeemrys via Flikr

I like writing.

Image courtesy of Maria Reyes-McDavis via Flikr

Looking for articles and photos online makes me happy.

Image courtesy of Victor(“,)/life via Flikr

So how come every time I sit down to create a blog post I get Blogger’s Block?

Image courtesy of e-magic via Flikr

I think it’s the theme.

It’s ugly.

Image courtesy of Leia via Flikr

But since I’m behind in my coursework, now is not the time to change it.

I just want you to know I’m aware that I am not practicing what I preach, visual literacy wise.

It will get better.

Image courtesy Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com via Flikr

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