Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sharing Your Voice & Digital Storytelling

Bella & Jules 

I've been teaching digital storytelling to middle schoolers for the past nine years, and the tools have been getting easier and easier to use.  I began by using Pinnacle Studio on a standalone desktop computer--not connected to our SLOW school network.  I liked it, but always ran into issues with rendering...crashing, taking FOREVER, formatting, etc.  Eventually, we bought Flip cameras and were able to also purchase Adobe Premiere Elements and a new, much faster computer.  What a difference!  The only problem is that we only had one editing computer in the school and of course each of the groups of students needed the one computer at the same time.  This was always frustrating because I only had the students three times a week for 30 minutes each day.  I was excited to learn about new online editing options through #etmooc Topic 2 Digital Storytelling.  Unfortunately, I was distracted by #edcampstl and #metc13 and haven't been able to explore some of the activities I was really looking forward to.

The video I created for the #etmooc project "Bella & Jules" is my first attempt at using iMovie.  I was inspired to give it a try by the Digital Storytelling for K12 webinar by Darren Kuropatwa and his unbelievable demonstration of creating a video, using iMovie, called "etmooc Beauty" during the webinar.  So, I filmed my granddogs playing, stripped the audio, found a piece of royalty free music, added some sound effects to key action, adjusted the audio to make the sound effects stand out, adjusted the sound effects file size, duplicated a couple clips and used slow motion to enhance them, and added popup messages.  I've done many of those things before, but not in iMovie.  From a review standpoint, iMovie doesn't have the functionality that Pinnacle or Adobe Premiere Elements have, but does it really matter when you are working with students with such a limited amount of time?  Some students ask to use my movie editor before or after school or during their lunch periods, but some students don't have that kind of time.  That's why I wanted to explore some online movie editing applications.  I am still going to checkout PopUp Video and PopcornMaker.  

Below are the tasks I did complete and my reflection of each:   

1.  Consider Many Forms (Define and Collect):

Definition:  "To address the most important issue first: there is no such thing as digital storytelling. There’s only storytelling in the digital age. . .Digital is not the difficult part in digital storytelling. Storytelling is."  Totally agree! 

4.  Six Word Stories:  
Social learning--friends educating each other (adapted from Basil Yeaxlee, 1925).  
Social media--friends educating each other (adapted from Basil Yeaxlee, 1925).
Passionately curious educators inspire and engage.
Inspiring educators say, "Let's find out!"

4a.  Six Songs of DebbieFuco - "From your first song to your funeral song, what music makes you, you? Handpick your tracks and help us uncover the music that matters most."  I don't know where I found out about this sort of storytelling site.  I thought it was through the #etmooc resources, but I can't find who initially shared it.  It was an interesting journey trying to pick songs that fit each stage of my life.  

5.  Five Card Flickr Stories (Visualize):  Loved playing this addictive game.  Could use this with students as young as 4th grade for all subject areas.  I really want to try this as a poetry writing exercise.

Five Card Story: Evenings with ETMOOC

a #etmooc story created by @debbiefuco

flickr photo by cogdogblog

flickr photo by debbie.fucoloro

flickr photo by cogdogblog

flickr photo by mrsdkrebs

flickr photo by cogdogblog

Spicy beverage, warm fire, ready to cuddle, connect and run!
Storytelling is a way to share this human experience we are living, to document our time here on Earth.  The ability to digitize our stories makes storytelling much easier to share, whether with family, friends, colleagues, peers, or the world.  Sharing our stories gives us a voice.  Our voice can be negative or positive; defeating or inspiring.  Through our storytelling others might learn, laugh, cry, reflect, and/or become aware.  The possibilities are endless!


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Let's Find Out!

I recently read the following comment by Ms. Edwards on Denise Krebs' post Connected Learning, Thanks to My Neighbors as Denise was contemplating self-determined or rhizomatic learning:

"I think you show part of self-determined learning when you say 'I don’t know yet.' Isn’t that powerful? Let’s find out!"

"Let's find out!"  Those ARE powerful words!  The innate curiosity of the educators I have the privilege of being connected with online inspires me every day.  It was the people in my PLN who inspired me to go back to school and earn my Ph.D.  I wanted to shine light on and honor these innovative and passionate individuals who unselfishly share, discuss, reflect, and collaborate with other like-minded educators on their own time, to advance their own professional learning and that of their students.  Their generosity, acceptance, encouragement, support, and humor took me from isolation to connectedness, and I dedicated my dissertation to them.

My Twitter Birth Certificate says I was 'born' on June 30, 2008.  This was in the middle of my course work, which was focusing on educational technology.  At that time I was the instructional technology specialist at a K-8 school.  Having attended many educational technology conferences where numerous sessions focused on 'how to get teachers to integrate technology,' I wanted to study 'how to get teachers to integrate technology.'  Twitter changed that for me.  Like many other people, it took me a while to understand the power of Twitter.  Once I found #edchat and began using Tweetdeck, I was hooked.  The spirit of "Let's Find Out" and finding so many educators willing to share their advice, expertise, and resources was mind-blowing.  By the time I was to choose a topic for my dissertation, I knew I wanted to study these early adopters, who were already using social media to informally connect for professional learning, in order to expand our understanding of how to better support all educators professionally.  It is my hope that one day soon reformation regarding how educators engage in professional learning and the important role social media and the development of a PLN play in this endeavor is taken seriously by stakeholders and educators, themselves.  Today, no better example of informal professional learning exists than #edchat (and the many other specialized education chats) and #etmooc.            

Let's find out!  I feel so blessed to live in a time and age where being able to connect is so easy, so life-changing, and where possibilities for educators, students, and their families are endless.  It is hard to imagine what today's students will be like when they are our age having been taught by educators who lived and modeled the "Let's find out!" spirit.      

Monday, February 4, 2013

Writer's Jam
It happened, writer’s block, or maybe I should call it writer’s jam because that might be a better description. Like this image, I have numerous connected learning logs trying to squeeze through into one coherent, flowing post but nothing is getting through. For the past two weeks, the #etmooc ‘Topic 1 Connected Learning – Tools, Processes & Pedagogy‘ has inspired and consumed me, from Alec Couros’ Introduction to Connected Learning, to Dean Shareski’s Sharing As Accountability, to Sue Waters’ Introduction to Blogging (and I haven’t even had time to watch George Couros’ Becoming a Networked Educational Leader!), but Dave Cormier’s Introduction to Rhizomatic Learning is the one I am having the most trouble with.

“What is the purpose of learning?” I love that question posed by Dave Cormier the other day in his session on Rhizomtic Learning. I’ve been wrestling with the question, “What is the purpose of education?” for sometime. Are these two different questions, or are they the same? Merriam-Webster defines each as:

Learning – knowledge or skill acquired by instruction or study
Education – the knowledge and development resulting from an educational process

According to these definitions, learning occurs throughout an education, or something like that. So, they are different but related questions. Symantics?

1. ‘Learning is preparing people for uncertainty.’
Cormier said, ‘If we believe we are preparing students for a future we don’t yet understand, an uncertain, unknown future, then, our whole learning process should be about preparing people for uncertainty, preparing people for decision making and giving them the skills they need so that when they are in those situations they know how to respond.’

I love this, but I’m having trouble processing it and figuring out what this would look like in K-8 settings. Could there be rhizome days where students were allowed to dig deeper into a topic? Would these be bi-weekly? weekly? monthly? I know I am being pragmatic, but that’s how my brain works. I immediately want to do this and begin thinking of ways to make it happen, but at the same time be able to ‘sell’ it to those who will be skeptical.

2. Community can be the curriculum
Where you learn is the curriculum. Informal learning. This reminds me of communities of practice, the apprenticeship model, only it is much broader in scope. According to Cormier,
In the rhizomatic model of learning, curriculum is not driven by predefined inputs from experts; it is constructed and negotiated in real time by the contributions of those engaged in the learning process. This community acts as the curriculum, spontaneously shaping, constructing, and reconstructing itself and the subject of its learning in the same way that the rhizome responds to changing environmental conditions.
Amazing stuff! Informal learning. Where you learn is the curriculum. When the ‘community’ is enabled by Twitter, learning potentially reaches around the globe. Cormier said he doesn’t think he has seen anything as wonderful as Twitter for informal learning . . . I totally agree! Not necessarily the tool, Twitter, but what the tool that is Twitter enables. Today it is Twitter, tomorrow, or next year, or five years from now, who knows? The informal learning that is enabled by Twitter is the engine driving #etmooc and most other connected learning experiences.

However, as a K-8 educator, I am back to some kind of structure or framework, two words that kill rhizomatic learning. Well, I need to leave it at that for now, not an easy thing for me to do. If I don’t move on, I will miss the exciting learning opportunities that are awaiting me in Topic 2 Digital Storytelling – Multimedia, Remixes & Mashups.

I do have to share one more thing I learned from a fellow #etmooc blogger, Jeannine St. Amand. It is advice from Stephen Downes to a reader who asked, “I would also like to know if there is any advice that you could give me as I attempt to make a meaningful contribution as an academic and perhaps even have some influence on the quality and availability of education around the world?” Here is Stephen’s brilliant advice that I plan on framing:

Stephen Downes (03.02.13) by Jeannine St. Amand, on Flickr”>Advice from Stephen Downes (03.02.13)