Sunday, March 30, 2014

Thing 18: Digital Tattoo & Digital Citizenship

This is a topic I think about quite a bit - both in terms of my personal life as well as it relates to my professional life and my role as librarian.

I am proud to say that I have as tiny a digital tattoo as I think is possible in this day and age.  I searched for myself on Google, Spokeo, and 123People, and I'm delighted to say little more turned up than what can be found in public census records. 

The biggest reason for this, I believe, is that I have made a conscious effort to steer clear of the myriad of social networking tools so widely available.  This blog is about as digitally social as I am comfortable participating in, unless you count Edmodo.  Of course I participate in the Questar SLS listserv and a few groups, like GoodReads, but I am very deliberate in what I join and how I participate.

I liked the Common Sense Media video, and was already familiar with the Digital Citizenship curriculum they post on their site.  I heard about it last Fall at a Questar liaison meeting, and spent several hours wading through it and printing those aspects I hope to incorporate into my own lessons starting next year.  I had originally hoped to work parts of it in this year, but I was already tied to the content I identified in my SLO's, and feel I would rather not just insert a few lessons between units, but would prefer to take time this summer to develop and adapt the lessons to best match my learning objectives.

I read several of the articles, and saw that many of them reinforced what I learned at the Common Sense Media site - especially the article about the English teacher replicating blogging with paper and pencil before having the students participate online. 

There's a powerful message we need to instill in today's youth: that prudence is essential in the digital age.  That what you say/do today can and will effect you for potentially the rest of your life.

And I would argue that we need to help today's youth to frankly get over themselves.  I find it embarrassing that we live in a culture where people think it relevant to post updates about every aspect of their ordinary lives.  I understand that developmentally children and young adults do not have the gift of perspective, and that it takes time to live outside of their egocentric view, but is it not our role as educators to help teach them about cause & effect and consequences?

This is a topic that goes far beyond the classroom walls, though.  Cyber bullying, government monitoring, internet tracking - there's no end to the connections.  What an understatement to say we live in a very different world than our parents did!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Thing 17: Coding

Coding, eh?  It's funny - when I was in 7th grade back in 1984, I was in an advanced track of courses, and was somehow put in a beginning coding class with several of my other nerdy-smart classmates.  What I remember most was being given graph paper and instructed to sketch out my program in zeroes and ones.  In the end, I designed a weird little pirate pistol that shot a lead ball and maybe said "BANG".  Hey - in 1984 that was pretty impressive for a 12 year old!!

Given this impressive background (ha ha), when I read "Coding" for this assignment, I figured, why not?  Besides, my husband happens to be a coding guru, so I figured if I was too overwhelmed by this assignment, I could always count on him to talk me through it.  That said, after some preliminary exploration, I realized that I was underestimating how easy some websites make this!  No need for graph paper :-)

Unfortunately, though, I must sadly admit that I failed in my original goal for this assignment.  

I scanned through several of the resources listed in this assignment, and when I saw the movie poster option, I thought: Eureeka!  Of course I assumed I would be clever enough to transform it into what I actually wanted - a poster for an upcoming author visit I have scheduled for the end of the month. 

After reading through Mozilla Thimble's easy instructions, I realized all I had to do was cut portions of "code" out of the set template and enter my new text and graphic.  Honestly, I had expected more flexibility with the program.  But I had already started, so I went ahead and finished it.  I pulled in a gorgeous photo a friend had emailed me a few weeks ago and had fun dreaming up my cast and crew.  However, the hardest part was finding a way to insert the image in this blog!  I played with the web link Mozilla gave me, but it would only insert a text link.  Then I Googled how to create a thumbnail, and spent probably twice as much time finding a program to successfully do that than I spent "coding" the actual project!  I ended up using ScreenGrab, which I think is also a Mozilla appplication.

Anyway, here's my poster.  It may not be animated like my nifty pirate gun of yore, but it sure looks a lot better!!  In all seriousness, though, I'm hoping to wade through more of this assignment at a later date to see if there is something I could use to generate cool graphics in the future.  But for now, this will have to suffice for my second foray into the mysterious world of coding...

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Thing 16: Photo Editing Tools


It just so happens that we run our Parents As Reading Partners (PARP) program at Gardner Dickinson during the month of March, and one of my goals was to make READ posters of our faculty using the ALA Graphics software.  What a perfect time to learn about photo editing!!

This project was time consuming and a lot of work, but the results have been worth it.  After familiarizing myself with the software, I created a plan for action.  My first goal was to photograph each of our K-5 faculty holding their favorite books.  I was pleasantly surprised at how easy this part of the project went!  I had teachers come to the Library for a few minutes during their prep period, and was delighted when many showed up not only with their favorite book, but with an assortment of fun props to boot!

Once the photos were taken, they needed to be edited using PhotoShop.  Having never used PhotoShop, this was the big challenge for me.

Once the backgrounds were erased from the photos, it was just a matter of matching up backgrounds from the READ software to particular pictures.  The results were beyond my expectations!!  I saved all the poster images on a disk and took it to Staples where they made 11X18 prints for just $0.98 each - a bargain at twice the price :-)

Yesterday I had the posters laminated and hung outside each teacher's door - and the fun began!  I saw classes actually being walked through the hallways with the sole purpose of checking out everyone's poster.  What a great way to motivate our budding readers and to show them that we're all readers together!