17/18 Media Skills

I feel like most of the things I’ve worked on this year for Cool Tools have somehow revolved around creating visuals for sharing information.  It is an important skill in today’s world and seems to be the prevailing form of communication especially with social media platforms.  I want to give my students the opportunity to share about what they are learning in a language that is most familiar to them as digital natives. Photo editing, gifs, and memes are some of the ways I could provide these opportunities.

I love the article by Meredith Akers, “Using gifs for Learning.” She is an assistant principal and her blog focuses on using technology with elementary aged students.  This helps me enormously because I feel like half of what I do is wade through tools and sites that are just beyond or inappropriate for elementary aged students.  I used the site https://andtheniwaslike.co/ to create a gif of my pug.  It was fun once I got myself out of the screen. 

I have an idea to have my students recreate the Harold and the Purple Crayon books by Crockett Johnson by photoshopping them into a black background and allowing them to draw the scene just like Harold does with his crayon.  Before doing this I have to play with some photoshopping apps and I found two that erase the background.  One was Magic Eraser and the other is just Background Eraser.  I liked Background Eraser better because it doesn’t erase directly under your fingertip and you can see the little dot follow your finger.  So it makes for more precise editing.  I did this test run with my son.

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 1.43.26 PM

(Moon image from wallpaperput.com)

I have used Tagxedo and Wordle before and I plan to put those to use again soon.  I enjoyed Stencil and can see that coming in handy in the future.  I also thought snagit would be a great google chrome extension to have on our chromebooks.  Pixlr is perhaps a little advanced for elementary school and it takes a lot of trial and error for me to figure out something like what I did with my son above.

It is a continued goal of mine to get more technology in action at school.  Meredith Akers has great ideas and this opportunity to explore with photo editing and gif creation was great.  Thank you!!


17/18 News Literacy

The other day I was watching one of my favorite shows, Amazing Race, and I noticed a Google Pixel 2 ad that was playing every commercial break.  I’m so good at tuning out commercials, it probably took 3 or 4 times before I noticed there is a media literacy message in it!  The commercial ends with, “There’s a deeper story behind every picture.  Question your lens.”  I think it will take a cultural shift to help people become aware of the influence of fake news in their lives.  Like the TedEd video by Damon Brown, “How to Choose Your News,” he points out that even older siblings may not be aware of how much information we are faced with daily and that we need to know “how to read the news.” If mainstream pop culture and media begin teaching through advertising, it could really get the ball rolling.

I wrote down several words from Glossary: The Language of News Literacy, from the Digital Resource Center, which listed several key vocabulary words surrounding news literacy.  In order to give my students some focus, at the elementary level, I’ve selected a few to teach, including: accountability, bias, context, direct evidence, entertainment, and fairness/balance.  I also took note of what News is supposed to be – subjected to journalistic process of verification and an individual or organization is directly accountable.  And also that reliable information has verification, independence, and accountability.  Some of these messages were repeated over and over as I clicked on the articles in News Literacy.

The Factitious game by JoLT and AU Game Lab would be great for high school students and I thought my elementary teaching colleagues would benefit from this activity during a staff meeting.  It is fun and really makes players think about what makes an article real or fake and how difficult it can be to distinguish between the two.

I will definitely begin using Newsela and Newseum ED.  I had never visited those sites before and they will be useful tools for collecting and sharing articles with students.  Newseum ED also includes some great lesson plans for the elementary level.  Lessons for elementary students on fake news are difficult to find.  Last year I found this Scholastic lesson plan which was perfect for elementary.  Students had to figure out which article was real and which was fake.  From there I had my fifth graders break into two groups to write their own articles.  One group wrote a fake article and the other group wrote a true article.

This year I am going to incorporate photo editing tools and begin the process of teaching students how easily photos can be manipulated.  I will also use BrainPop. While exploring the resources for this lesson, I decided to check BrainPop for media literacy and there is a great video for elementary students about media literacy.  It covers bias and point of view, looking for a motive, and the fact that we are surrounded by media all of the time.  It’s a great introduction for elementary students and stays in a safe territory.

While I haven’t put together a plan based on this lesson.  It is a work in progress.  I emphasize questioning motives all the time.  With copyright and plagiarism lessons, I try to get students to think about who’s getting the credit and who’s getting paid.  While learning about databases and the WWW, I emphasize the advertisements showing up all over the free articles on the World Wide Web and again we talk about motives and who’s getting paid.  I am hoping that by covering this concepts throughout the year, by the time students work on the fake news activity, they’ll be thinking more critically about information.

Thing 43: Google Drawings (17/18)

I have been trying to branch out from the Google Suite but this is one tool I haven’t used yet.  I really appreciate all the ways it works well with other tools in the suite and I can see how it’ll be great for future projects.

I read Tony Vincent’s article Get Creative with Google Drawings at https://learninginhand.com/godraw/.  Tony Vincent is great at providing numerous examples and tools for teachers to modify and apply right away.  I explored Eric Curtis’ charts and appreciated Vincent’s note that Curtis shares his work to Creative Commons.  This is great to know and as an aside, I feel like Creative Commons and appropriate use information is becoming easier to find and use.  The Google Images search feature in Google Drawings gives a little information about using images fairly.

I also tried the Noun Project.  Another tool that is deliberately set up for people to think about whether attribution needs to be given.  I really like this tool.  If you pay for the tool, you have access to all icons without needing to give attribution.  If you don’t pay for it, you have to give attribution, but the site makes it incredibly easy.  As in, you don’t actually have to do anything, but attribution is attached to the icon you’ve downloaded, as you can see in the flower image below.


The site explains, “To provide proper credit, use the embedded credit already in the icon you downloaded, or you can copy the attribution text and add it to your citations, about page, or place in which you would credit work you did not create.”  Just by using this site people will be more aware of copyright infringement and Creative Commons.

I also tried Auto Draw.  I didn’t have much luck.  Personally, I can see more use for my students using the Noun Project just because in elementary school drawing skills may not be refined enough to use this website effectively.  It is a fun website to use though!  Below you can see my attempt to draw a tree.  The site suggested spiders first, then the Mona Lisa, then I had a few Eiffel Towers to choose from, and finally grass.

autodraw 2_7_2018autodraw 2_7_2018

I wanted to see if Google Drawing would be an option for our upcoming infograph project.  We’re creating infographs on Air Pollution to participate in a contest with our ePals in India.  Another one of my favorite projects initiated from my participation in Cool Tools!

air pollution-1

While building this infograph, I learned how to crop images into shapes using the mask feature.  I was able to make the fruit and vegetable heart that way.  The icons are from the Noun Project.

Google Drawings definitely gives my students more options.  We need options when we don’t have enough computers or iPads to go around for a class.  This will give students more choices and enable them to work together from separate computers.  I would recommend Google Drawings as a great tool for teachers!