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Notes for 2/17/2011 Webinar – Visual Literacy – Seeing Meaning

February 21st, 2011 No comments
greeneyes

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Greeneyes.jpg - licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic license.

Consider this Part 2 of:

March 18 – Perceiving Reality: Visualization
Recordings: 3:15pm WebCast | 7:15pm WebCast

When we try to define Visual Literacy, there are many factors to consider. Here are four definitions that have been proposed by others:

“Visual Literacy refers to a group of vision-competencies a human being can develop by seeing and at the same time having and integrating other sensory experiences. The development of these competencies is fundamental to normal human learning. When developed, they enable a visually literate person to discriminate and interpret the visible actions, objects, symbols, natural or man-made, that he encounters in his environment. Through the creative use of these competencies, he is able to communicate with others. Through the appreciative use of these competencies, he is able to comprehend and enjoy the masterworks of visual communication.” source

Visual literacy is a set of abilities that enables an individual to effectively find, interpret, evaluate, use, and create images and visual media. Images and visual media may include photographs, illustrations, drawings, maps, diagrams, advertisements, and other visual messages and representations, both still and moving.” source

C.”Visual literacy stems from the notion of images and symbols that can be read. Meaning is communicated through image more readily than print, which makes visual literacy a powerful teaching tool.” source

D.”Visual literacy includes such areas as facial expressions, body language, drawing, painting, sculpture, hand signs, street signs, international symbols, layout of the pictures and words in a textbook, the clarity of type fonts, computer images, pupils producing still pictures, sequences, movies or video, user-friendly equipment design and critical analysis of television advertisements.” source
Any one of these serves as a teachable definition. But where does visual literacy fit into commonly accepted educational standards? The last webinar on Visualization talked about Maine Learning Results and 21st Century skills, but now we have Common Core for both ELA and Mathematics. Not surprisingly, there are many references to visual skills included in the many standards. In ELA, for both Literature and Information, strand 7 has many references to those skills. For Literature, strand 6 also includes many pointers to visual skills.
An example standard from ELA:

Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.

Say, for instance, you wanted to have students understand Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. You could use YouTube video, text, audio or even a Wordle to see it from different perspectives.

In Math, you can see that visuals are important in both Data and Statistics. So, we can feel pretty good that we don’t have to “add” Visual Literacy to an already burgeoning set of standards.

There are some simple strategies that teachers can use to bolster the visual skills of students. At the eduscapes website, they outline five in particular:

Reading Visuals – Seeing what is there
Interpreting Visuals – Looking for meaning in the image
Using Visuals – Constructing meaning by collecting and organizing images
Reconstructing Visuals – Making mashups of images to create new meaning
Making Visuals – Creating your own images

http://eduscapes.com/sessions/digital/digital1.htm

Fortunately, for each of the strategies we have technological resources available to us.

Reading images – the Internet, iPhoto, PhotoBooth, online book illustrations, etc.
Interpreting images – the Internet, iPhoto, PhotoBooth, online book illustrations, etc.
Using images – the Internet, iPhoto, PhotoBooth, online book illustrations, Comic Life, Keynote, OmniGraffle, etc.
Reconstructing Images – iPhoto, PhotoBooth, Comic Life, Acorn, internet resources like JibJab’s Elf Yourself. etc.
Making images – SketchUp, iPhoto, PhotoBooth, Numbers, OmniGraffle, NoteShare’s SketchPad, Acorn, Data Studio, Logger Pro, Grapher, Keynote, etc.

Here are some online resources with lessons and suggestions for incorporating Visual Literacy into different curricula:

What Could America’s Top Models Be Thinking?

Analyzing the Purpose and Meaning of Political Cartoons

Teaching Visual Literacy to Students

Visual Literacy Home

Smithsonian Education – Every Picture Has a Story

Visual literacy K-8

Feb. 10 Webinar Notes – Technical Writing

February 11th, 2011 No comments
Old computer manual

CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 Michael Fawcett

Thanks to everyone who attended yesterday’s webinars. It was great to have some science and math teachers with us and I hope they use some of the ideas we discussed to give students opportunities to do some technical writing.

We began by talking about what technical writing is and what it is not and mentioned some examples. Some good resources for learning more about technical writing and for finding ideas for teaching it are:

We discussed how technical writing is addressed in the Common Core State Standards for writing and how technical writing relates to the 6+1 Traits. We then talked about the usefulness of templates for helping students use a consistent style and organization in their technical writing. I shared a Pages template students can use to write directions for performing tasks on their MacBooks. That template is available for download in the archived recordings of both sessions. The Pages User Guide is not only a good resource for learning how to make templates, but it’s also an excellent example of effective technical writing.

Including diagrams, illustrations, tables, and charts in technical writing pieces makes the text more usable for the reader. I mentioned the many applications on the MLTI MacBook that can be used to create illustrations, including Acorn, OmniGraffle, the SketchPad in NoteShare, and Numbers. Digital cameras are easy to use and readily available in most classrooms, whether it’s a camera you or your school owns, a camera on a cell phone, or the built-in iSight camera in your MacBook. A couple participants mentioned using cameras to take pictures of a science lab in progress and giving those pictures to the students to aid them in their writing as well as to be used as illustrations. Screen shots are also valuable as illustrations when writing about computers and software.

We took some time to talk about scaffolds and support for struggling writers, including word banks for vocabulary and using screen captures to get students started as they write directions for using their MacBooks. We also talked about giving students examples of professional and student technical writing so they can look at it critically and develop criteria for determining the effectiveness of their own writing.

Many of the tips we mentioned for using MacBooks for technical writing are demonstrated in our MLTI Minutes series. We hope you’ll check out all the episodes, but here a few that were mentioned in this webinar:

  • Episode 14 An Introduction to Painting with Acorn
  • Episode 21 Screen Recording with QuickTime Player
  • Episode 24 Making Floating Stickies

Finally, we took a look at some examples of technical writing that were done as comics:

Don’t forget that you can access the recordings of both webinars by mousing over the Webcasts tab about and clicking on Archives.

February 10 Webinar: Technical Writing

February 8th, 2011 2 comments
Read the Manual Sticker

Based on an image by Wrote, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic license.

When you buy a new appliance or gadget, do you read the manual? When you are learning how to use new software, do you use the Help menu? If so, you have encountered technical writing, a genre that requires high levels of clarity and consistency as well as brevity. Good technical writing takes advantage of text features, diagrams, illustrations, photos, and color to describe a product or a process in a straightforward manner that the reader can quickly and easily understand.

Typically we teach students narrative writing, persuasive writing and writing in response to literature, but we often neglect to teach them technical writing, the kind of writing they need for math and science classes where they must write precise instructions, descriptions, and explanations. Giving students opportunities to engage in technical writing can help them gain skills and confidence that will carry over to all the other types of writing they must do.

In Thursday’s webinar, we will discuss how technical writing differs from other types of writing and how we can engage even our most reluctant writers in this kind of activity. We’ll share strategies and scaffolds for helping students write clear, concise directions, descriptions, and explanations using Pages and other applications on the MLTI MacBooks. We’ll also demonstrate how students can use applications like OmniGraffle and Comic Life to make diagrams and illustrations for their technical writing pieces.

Please join us on Thursday, February 10 at 3:15 or 7:15 PM to learn how you can help your students gain writing skills that will serve them well in higher education and in the workplace. To view our calendar and register for one of these sessions, click on the Webcasts tab at the top of this page.

WatchMECreate Challenge #2 – WatchMERead

January 17th, 2011 No comments

Several years ago I did some tutoring for Literacy Volunteers of Maine. The student assigned to me was a man in his 30s who had dropped out of school in 9th grade and had limited reading and writing skills. He asked for a tutor because he was involved in litigation and could not read the legal papers his attorney was sending him. As I worked with him for the next few years, I was struck by how intelligent he was but how his low literacy level limited his choices in life. He had never had a checking account because he did not know how to read or write number words. He was trying to start an auto repair business but he had difficulty reading the repair manuals and writing invoices. He could not get a job working for someone else because he could not fill out an application or write a resume. One of his goals was to get his motorcycle license, but he was afraid of the written test and did not want to request a reader as he had done to get his driver’s license. Over the course of our time together he gained some basic skills and he did open a checking account, create a resume, and get a job in a garage, but I couldn’t help wondering how his life would have been different if he had learned to read earlier.

NASA Technicians Reading

NASA photo: Technicians read a manual on the Payload Ground-Handling Mechanism hook instrumentation unit.

As educators we are well aware of the importance of reading in all aspects of our lives, but how aware are our students? The current challenge at WatchMeCreate is designed to inspire students to investigate the importance of reading in our society and answer this question: “What would it take so that everyone, when asked, ‘Are you a reader?’ would say, ‘Of course I am…’?”  Student teams will, as with the earlier challenge, produce a short video (no longer than two minutes) that presents their response to this question. The deadline for submission to the WatchMERead challenge is February 18.

Almost every school in Maine has some kind of literacy initiative in place where teachers ask themselves this same question – “What will it take?” Maybe now it’s time to ask the students.

Here are some resources that you can share with your students to get them started.

December 16 Webinar Notes – Journaling Across the Curriculum

December 20th, 2010 No comments
light bulb image

*Who Else Has a Bright Idea?

I hope everyone who attended Thursday’s webinar came away with a few ideas for students’ journals. We began with a discussion of what journals are and some of the advantages that digital journals have over the traditional paper notebook journals students have kept in the past. We looked at some reasons for including journaling in any content area including how journal writing encourages reasoning, problem solving, and metacognition.

I demonstrated some of the features of NoteShare that make it such an effective journaling tool and shared a template for creating a math journal in Pages. You can download that file from the archived recording of either the afternoon or evening session. Blogging can also be a way for students to keep journals if each student is given a personal blog, and I shared three blogging resources that allow teachers to create individual blogs for students. The discussion then turned to ideas for journal entries and prompts and some suggestions for ways students can create entries that include audio and visual media as well as text. We ended with some suggestions for giving students feedback and assessing their journals.

Resources I shared:

As usual, participants in both webinar sessions offered their ideas and resources for student journaling:

  • Teaching teams can choose to do journaling as a joint process so journaling time and monitoring can be a shared responsibility.
  • Question: Are there issues with students sharing too much personal information in their journals?
  • Students can easily save a copy and paste a journal entry or save it as a PDF to include in a portfolio.
  • Students can use iWeb for journaling or blogging and even add a NoteShare notebook to an existed iWeb page.
  • Rick Wormeli’s Metaphors & Analogies: Power Tools for Teaching any Subject is a great resource for journaling.
  • A good resource for metacognition –  How People Learn (Chapters 2 and 3)
  • Video Journal Prompts from Ted Talks and Pop!Tech
  • Having students just write reflections makes them complacent about the process, so mixing them with other prompts can help keep them engaged.

Thanks to everyone who attended these webinars. Don’t forget that you can review the recordings of the online sessions by following the links in the Archives section of this blog.

*Image: Some Rights Reserved by nhuisman

December 16 Webinar: Journaling Across the Curriculum

December 14th, 2010 No comments
Girl typing and thinking cogito ergo sum

Illustration by Andrew Greenstone

Journal writing has proven to be a powerful and flexible activity that works well for any content area. Whether students are responding to literature, explaining their reasoning, or reflecting on their work, capturing their thinking in written language not only improves their writing and thinking skills but also gives teachers another opportunity to assess students’ progress.

In this week’s webinar, Journaling Across the Curriculum, we will take a close look at how journal writing can become a regular part of classroom work in any content area and at any grade level. We will discuss metacognition which is defined by most as “thinking about thinking” or “knowing about knowing.” The term refers to the ways we reflect on how we know what we know, how we learned it, and how we can apply it to learning new things. Metacognition is essential to becoming an effective, independent learner, and writing about our learning is a powerful metacognitive strategy.

We’ll also look at the advantages of digital journals, in particular how digital journals allow the use of other media as well as text. We will explore some tools for digital journal writing including NoteShare and Pages and discuss the use of  blogs for online journaling. As always, we will invite participants to share their experiences, resources, and ideas.

Please join us this Thursday, December 16 at 3:15 or 7:15 pm. Click on the Webcasts tab above to view our webinar calendar and register for one of Thursday’s sessions.

December 9 Webinar: Digital Citizenship in Maine Schools

December 7th, 2010 7 comments

Students are spending about seven and a half hours every day with technology according to an article in the New York Times titled How Much Time Do You Spend Consuming Media Everyday? by Katherine Schulten. Students are connecting, creating and collaborating through this media. Much of their days are spent talking or texting on cell phones, computer surfing, doing homework, blogging, social networking, gaming or watching television.

This brings both tremendous opportunities and great challenges to this generation of school kids.

We only have to look at the newspaper headlines about the dangers of sexting, cyberbullying and leaving a damaging digital footprints to understand that students need guidance to make safe, respectful and responsible choices.

Teaching Digital Citizenship is critical to youth development, improved student achievement and ensuring continued access to the advantages that their digital environment provides.

MLTI is partnering with Common Sense Media to provide a digital citizenship curriculum in Maine schools. Schools all over Maine are helping students to become good digital citizens by implementing lessons in their schools.

Learn about this curriculum and how schools are finding ways to educate students to become safe, smart and ethical digital citizens. Every school is unique. Learn how leaders in Maine schools have have championed this curriculum. Find out how it can work in your school.

Please pre-register online by clicking on the webcast tab above.  For questions about the webinar, please contact Teri Caouette at teri.caouette@mlti.org


First Principal’s Webinar confirms – Librarians and Principals a Powerful Team for Integrating Learning and Technology!

November 2nd, 2010 No comments

Maine Cybrarians - Strong Advocates for MLTI!

Just quick note to thank Teri Caouette, Pam Goucher, Eileen Broderick, and Nancy Grant for graciously serving as guests for our first MLTI Principals webinar of the 2010-2011 school year! We had a good turn out for the 4 PM session with 26 participants from all over the state and even from Arizona! While we had a great conversation about ways principals, school librarians, and technology leaders can collaborate to support best practices around integrating learning and technology the chat pod was perking along as participants shared their insights, ideas, resources, affirmations, questions, and advice! Here’s a small excerpt from the chat window as an example:

Peggy George: did any of you get to see this presentation by David Lankes called Focus on Connection management and not collection management-he made excellent points related to connecting with people and content and curriculum!

http://quartz.syr.edu/rdlankes/blog/?p=1044

To read the rest of the chat window, hear the conversation, see the powerpoint slides, and access the list of online resources head on over to:
http://stateofmaine.na4.acrobat.com/p56289213/

And just a reminder, We’ll be gathering more guests on the 4th Tuesday each month at 4:00 PM. We are in the process of planning out the MLTI principals’ webinar topics for the remainder of the year. If you have a topic or two that you think should be taken up just let me know! You can respond by commenting below, or email me at christoy.net@gmail.com. I hope principals make a point of gathering their leadership teams and/or staffs to join in on these conversations, Because as we know, when it comes to school improvement…It’s all about leadership!

Notes from the October 28th Webinar: Accessing the Past

November 1st, 2010 No comments

The digitizing of primary source material is becoming an important step forward in the teaching and learning of history. The ability of students to access and use high quality images of primary sources that once were confined to archives, museums, libraries and historical society’s shelves means that new learning and understanding of the past is feasible at an unprecedented level. In addition, the tools available to students to create their own digital copies of primary sources adds a dimension of ownership to the creation of history that can only be imagined at this point. However, as educators, we must ensure that this process and action is ongoing, rigorous and meaningful.

We should be encouraging our students to explore and add to current archives of material available to them. Some of the online collections that were examined in the webinar included the Maine State Archives Civil War Sesquicentennial Collection, the Maine Memory Network and the Library of Congress Flickr Collection of historic images. These three collections give a varied picture of how primary source materials are being presented to the public, and really only hint at the kinds of material available. To deepen this examination, students could be directed to search YouTube for primary source video, such as news broadcasts and amateur footage of events, and the Internet Archive for audio recordings.

The creation of digital copies of primary source material using student laptops is surprisingly simple, with the addition of a scanner or a digital camera that can create high resolution images. Scanners that can create images of 800 pixels per inch are now very affordable for most department budgets, and can be used by many to create an impressive library of digital images of documents, photographic prints and other material on a page, such as maps, plans and newspaper articles.
On the MLTI laptops, the application Image Capture makes the process getting a scanner to work very easy. For most scanners, it is a straightforward ‘plug and play’, and the ability to work with the images pre-scan is taken care of right in the application. Adjusting resolution, size of the image created, naming and location the image will be placed on the machine is now a matter of a few clicks.

Scanning guidelines for archival material can be found on the Maine Memory Network site.

Once a digital copy has been created, it is important to name the material correctly. This can be for the purposes of retrieval if the copies are added to a database, for both the creator and another user. If standard naming conventions are followed, it will make it more useful when sharing the material for anyone to locate and understand the material. The Maine State Archives have provided a naming convention for files containing digital copies, and can be found here.

Using digital tools to create meaning and understanding from primary source materials can occur in many ways. Using Comic Life to ‘unpack’ an image is a great entry point for many students: the whole image of the material can be placed in the center of a page, and cutaway focus images of the detail can then be added to the page, with text bubbles providing commentary on the detail. iMovie can be used to generate a Ken Burns style documentary (the default setting for still images in iMovie is the Ken Burns effect). Using Google Earth to locate the source material’s origin or current archive, through adding placemarks to the map, is a powerful way to build relationships to the material through geography. Building online collections, through blogs and wikis, and also through Flickr sets, provides the opportunity for the wider world to comment on the material, thus leading to new perspectives and new understanding around documents that were perhaps previously only available to a few.

The connections to the past that can be created through students using primary source material are important for the future of history and historical learning. By creating and gaining access to primary source material that before the arrival of the digital age was restricted, we can hope to build a new story of our past, and thereby gain a new understanding of who we are today.

October 28 Webinar: Accessing the Past – Using Primary Sources Digitally

October 22nd, 2010 No comments

Powerful connections and understandings can be made when a student is able to use primary source material in their work. Their interpretation of documents, letters, photographs, films, contemporary reports and objects creates new learning and meaning, by placing the world of yesterday in the framework of our world today.

For too long, access to primary source material has been limited to museums, archives, historical societies as well as attics and basements. Now, with a growing movement to make digital copies of this material available online, access to primary source material is unprecedented for the student researcher. This access obviously brings great benefits, but also challenges: finding the material, storing the copies, and creating high quality digital copies that are accessible to all.

This webinar will discuss and demonstrate how students can create digital copies of primary source material available in their local area, and make the copies available to online users. We will talk about standards for digital copies of material, and work with tools that can be used in this process. In addition, we will look at online collections that are available for use, and discuss ways in which students can use the material found in collections.There will also be a chance to share your own experiences of using primary source material, both with students and from your own work.

This webinar is a precursor to the Maine Council for Social Studies conference on Friday, November 12. For more details on this conference, please visit http://www.memun.org/mcss/

This session will be delivered on Thursday, October 28, at 3:15 PM and again at 7:15 PM. For information and to register, please choose the WebCasts tab at the top of this page.

Thanks to Jim Moulton for the image, showing a letter from Charles Potter from Bowdoin, ME, dated Aug 14, 1835.