Designing the Future

In high school we did an assignment where we wrote a letter to our future selves five years down the road.  While at my parents’ home for spring break I found that letter, and I couldn’t have been more wrong. This week’s prompt made me smile at my lack of fortune telling as a high schooler. However, I’m more confident in my prediction of where education is going. I think it’s pretty safe to say that education will change because of technology.  Technology has changed our world and that is (or should) impact our educational system, teachers’ pedagogy, and school design. As far as myself, I hope that in 5, 10, and even 15 years time I am adapting and evolving with (dare I say before?) all the advances. However, that is a long way away and I know it will require me to be a true cliched “lifelong learner”, but I am confident I will be motivated and dedicated because at my core I believe in technology integration.

Perusing the topics for this week I was immediately drawn to global collaboration, I love giving students the ownership of their learning through experiences and connections with others.  I read information about Flat Connections, Kim’s Step by Step Guide to Global Collaboration and had to stop because I immediately started to miss teaching in the classroom. I took a few hours and researched the move to open source textbooks (like Flipboard) and other future trends. After remembering something from a previous week, I decided to tackle school/classroom design because a few comments on school design from the video on High Tech High.

I read Tricia Friedman’s post, Learning Lives Here, about redesigning classrooms to enhance student learning, as well as comfort level.  Tricia quotes David Jakes post, Words Matter, about design thinking…

If you could identify the single most important factor that is missing in schools, what would it be?

For me, it’s an easy call.

Imagination.”

Tricia’s idea for her classroom redesign came from Paula Guinto’s talk Heart to Hashtag at Learning2 in Europe. Paula redesigns her classroom each year with a different themed hashtag.  Her students connected to the theme and her welcoming learning environment to bond together in class and on social media via the hashtags #levelup and #build. I have always loved designing learning spaces that are welcoming and create a risk free environment for students to grow, but had never thought of hashtaging my theme. I understand this isn’t the future of education, but I think it can lead to bigger design thinking about creating purpose driven brick and mortar schools.

In the article ,The Classroom is Obsolete, I read how classroom based schools are outdated and there is a need for change. The article states, “research clearly demonstrates that students and teachers do better when they have variety, flexibility, and comfort in their environment—the very qualities that classrooms lack.” It goes on to say, Each student “constructs” knowledge based on his or her own past experiences. Because of this, the research demands a personalized education model to maximize individual student achievement. Classrooms, on the other hand, are based on the erroneous assumption that efficient delivery of content is the same as effective learning.”

Crown by Andreas Wecker
Crown by Andreas Wecker

I looked up a few interesting school’s that have changed the approach to learning and have built or remodeled a school to fit their needs:

School of Environmental Studies 

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The School of Environmental Studies is a Project Based Learning and Service to Community school for  11th-12th graders that offers school credits for community contributions.

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The High School for Recording Arts aka Hip Hop High

At “Hip Hop High” the education is tailored to students’ interests and needs, and guided by faculty advisors. Advisors guide them through the creative and business process of the recording industry and support their pursuit of music careers.  

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A Hip Hop High student’s work

Hellerup School 

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Hellerup School’s concept was to make a school that looked and felt like a workplace, it has no classrooms. Students have choice and freedom to move around in learning.
These are just a few ideas of moving toward a purpose built school that supports the philosophy and unique learning of the school.  While this is not super futuristic, I think it is where schools should head.  

Game Based Learning: From Oregon Trail to Mindcraft

Game Based Learning, I went into this week expecting read about students hooked up to virtual reality games and Minecraft building the minds of our students. However, I was surprised that really it is just the modern version of what has been happening since at least the 90s, just modernized.  It has been around since I was in school, does anyone remember Oregon Trail? In elementary school my world was filled with games, our teachers created games for everything and because I’m a competitor I loved it.  When I began teaching in 2006 my students played games (albeit board games) to reinforce content, heck even our math instruction was based on students playing review games.  

When I read A Guide to Game-Based Learning I loved the simple explanations, examples, and all the resources (hello Game Based Learning Wiki!–different from this week’s blog wiki)  that are out there to modernize Game Based Learning.  However it didn’t just focus on digital games, it also shared some ways to bring gaming into your classroom through traditional games. When I taught I loved to do simulations with my class. Interact is an amazing company with simulations across disciplines that my students absolutely loved. The level of engagement and focus was incredible, and still to this day I have students that talk about the colonization of America with me because of their class’ simulation.  I have to admit, even though I feel comfortable with technology the thought of adding gaming into my class intimidated me. I loved that traditional games were included, because in my opinion Game Based Learning is similar to SAMR, not all learning requires a crazy innovative game.

Now, how do we use Game Based Learning to support that “Our schools that aren’t failing: it is our theory of learning that is failing. Once we rethink what it means to learn in a way that is based on passion, imagination, inquiry and questing, it becomes easy to reshape classrooms to those goals.” Gaming (both virtual and in real life) foster all of these things. While I feel more comfortable with IRL (in real life) gaming,  Jane McGonigol’s TED Talk opened my eyes to how people’s emotions, inspirations, and possibilities ebb and flow while playing virtual games.  In addition, it sparked my interest on how to create an environment in real life where students feel they can be as successful as they can in their online gaming. In What Video Games Can Teach Us James Gee stated, “Kids diagnosed with ADHD because they can’t pay attention will play games for 9 straight hours on the computer,” Gee says. “The game focuses attention in a way that school doesn’t.”

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My visual notes on Jane McGonigal's TEDTalk
My visual notes on Jane McGonigal’s TEDTalk

 

I watched countless videos about virtual gaming, and found a brilliant trinket of information, but with so many tabs open I unfortunately closed the one video that this came from.  I’ll set the scene and hope it can make up for my negligent citing of the source.  A panel was discussing why teachers should let/encourage their students to game.  One of the panel members shared about Tony Robins theory that in order to make a permanent change in your life you have to associate a emotion with it. He compared education to gaming; education is not emotional, there is a long time between the feelings of accomplishment (grading) whereas in gaming you experience highs and lows about every 10-15 seconds. It becomes addicting, yet at the same time if you hit a low you know you can bounce back soon.  I thought that was an interesting point related to feedback and motivation.

As I said earlier, just like the SAMR model Game Based Learning depends on matching the right game to your learning objective. So how as educators do we find the correct game to foster learning and reinforce learning.  After thinking about this I came to the conclusion that games can be used for different outcomes.  First, you have your content games, to reinforce the content you’ve already taught or possibly to introduce an upcoming unit.  This would be like EDM games, Kahoot (now available in teams), review games, etc. Second, you have the games that will teach your students all the non-tangibles–creativity, collaboration, imagination, perseverance, etc–hopefully through class content, but not always.  And thirdly, you have the games that will expose students to the problems our world is facing and empower them to think critically, problem solve, and communicate clearly in order to participate in their future. The last two are intertwined, the difference being one is more tied to content and the other not as tied in and possibly more open to higher order thinking.

What now?  Honestly, I am not sure.  I am so intrigued by Game Based Learning, and I am searching for ways to incorporate it into my job. As I stated in earlier courses my school is trying to figure out how to use the Dynamic Learning (DL) class more effectively, and this seems like a great option.  As we head into the end of the year I am keeping it in my mind to find online simulations/games that are age appropriate for students to work through together.  I’m thinking DL could be a mix of Genius Hour (Passion Projects) and Game Based Learning.

I’ve also shared the resources and ideas with my teachers. Just passing the resources along won’t be enough, our time is tight here and the curriculum is full so I think it would behoove of me to sit down with teachers and look for direct links into their class curriculum. I’m on the hunt for Portuguese games/simulations to share, so if anyone has any resources please send them my way.
To conclude I want to share Fun Theory with you, this is an initiative of Volkswagon that solves problems in a fun way. They’re all about “changing human behavior for the better by making it fun to do.” The company is the child of Problem Based Learning and Game Based Learning, this is the direction that education should head.  Check out the winners (fair warning you can spend some time watching all of them!).

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Empowerment and Productivity aka Project Based Learning

I dove into Problem Based Learning this week.  As an administrator sometimes I feel like I am constantly solving problems–lots of people come to me with their problems on a daily basis.  I love Problem Based Learning (PBL) and when I was a teacher I did lots of it, but in a new role I am looking at it from a different point of view.

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I read lots of articles on PBL, but this report (albeit a bit old) hit all the important parts and gave a good summary of what it is, “Project-based learning is a form of situated learning (Greeno, this volume) and it is based on the constructivist finding that students gain a deeper understanding of material when they actively construct their understanding by working with and using ideas. In project-based learning, students engage in real, meaningful problems that are important to them and that are similar to what scientists, mathematicians, writers, and historians do. A project-based classroom allows students to investigate questions, propose hypotheses and explanations, discuss their ideas, challenge the ideas of others, and try out new ideas. Research has demonstrated that students in project-based learning classrooms get higher scores than students in traditional classrooms (Marx et al., 2004; Rivet & Krajcik, 2004; William & Linn, 2003).”

As I read I kept nodding my head as I read obvious statements such as, “In the 1980s and 1990s, education researchers increasingly realized that when students are bored and unengaged, they are less likely to learn (Blumenfeld et al., 1991)” or when the authors stated that students are learning at superficial levels and rarely get to the conceptual levels. I became frustrated because once again in education we know what we are doing isn’t working and we aren’t changing.

The article went on to say that a PBL environment had the following things:

  1. They start with a driving question, a problem to be solved.
  2. Students explore the driving question by participating in authentic, situated inquiry – processes of problem solving that are central to expert performance in the discipline. As students explore the driving question, they learn and apply important ideas in the discipline.
  3. Students, teachers, and community members engage in collaborative activities to find solutions to the driving question. This mirrors the complex social situation of expert problem solving.
  4. While engaged in the inquiry process, students are scaffolding with learning technologies that help them participate in activities normally beyond their ability.
  5. Students create a set of tangible products that address the driving question. These are shared artifacts, publicly accessible external representations of the class’s learning.

Dewey argued that students would have more personal investment in authentic tasks that emulate what experts do in the real world do, however I would argue if they are authentic meaningful problems that are student created from what they face in their everyday lives.

Another two things the article mentions is that students learn social interaction with others and learning how to collaborate through PBL. In my past experience I would say this is one of the biggest takeaways for students.  Upon their reflections they learn more about themselves as learners, but also as part of a group. It’s almost like the content and concepts seep in naturally without them noticing, but the experiences with others sticks out and is brought to the awareness level.

Rubik's Colour Brokah by formerly_of_devon
Rubik’s Coloured Brokah by formerly_of_devon

Now, how does this impact me and my practice? Rewind to a few months ago Lee Crockett came to my school and spoke on the 21st century literacies, with a particular focus on Solutions and Media fluencies. Our teachers’ minds were blown. Fast forward to this week of COETAIL and my mind kept going back to how I could help teachers being PBL in their classrooms. The link connected and I realized that I could do a couple of things tying back to Lee’s workshops.  

The easiest thing to do would be to do a book study of his book and have teachers start looking for PBL connections and ties into their curriculum.  This being the end of the year is actually a good time to review the curriculum, and maybe I could get some eager teachers in a virtual book club over the summer. If not, I think it would be a great idea to have it begin next school year and continue during our monthly staff meetings.  

The other idea I had was to actually do PBL with my teachers.  As I said before, teachers come in with lots of problems that are important to them.  What if, I harnessed their desire for solutions and we spent a day (we have a week of PD at the end of the year) and gave teachers the opportunity to collaborate and solve their own problems.  My vision is to have a big problem dump session where teachers can identify problems they have or we have as a school.  Then teachers can select the one they want to work on in a group and they get down to it.  The benefits are twofold–teachers are experiencing PBL first hand and problems are getting solved!  It is empowering and productive, two of my favorite things.

 

A Letter to Myself on SAMR

Dear Megan,

This week of reflection on technology integration was hard for you, you felt frustrated when you reflected on your technology integration according to the SAMR and TPACK model. Sure, as a teacher you felt confident because you knew the content and pedagogical approaches which made finding the right tech tool to take the task/learning up a level felt natural. As a first year administrator you realized you are still finding your footing.  Your day is taken up with tasks that revolve around a computer, but let’s be honest most of it is substitution and augmentation.  

You did find articles on SAMR for educational administrators about file management, staff presentations, community interactions, classroom evaluations, and staff input that were helpful, but what got to you the most was that these articles focused on managerial tasks; not the educational, creative, and passionate stuff you love about education and your job.

You broke your reflection down into three topics: leading by example, supporting teachers, and community. This task made you feel a little better because you really are doing some good “SAM”ing, but as far as redefining administration you aren’t there yet.  

Here are some of the things you came up with: (S=substitution, A=augmentation, M=modification, and R=redefinition)

Lead by Example:

Meetings

-Google Forms for feedback/reflection (M)

-Today’s Meet (M)  

-Structure of the meeting (less sit and get, more interactive) (M)

Sharing

-Google Docs you’ve created–teachers can make copy and customize (A)

-Articles and resources you’ve found on Twitter with teachers (A)

-Teachers and students’ brilliant work on Schoology page (A/M)

 

Collaboration

-CARES student projects–student created videos shared on Schoology  (R)

-cross divisions (A)

-My PLN via Twitter–5th grade DL passion projects, hooking teachers up with others ®

 

Presentations

-Share them via Google Drive (A)

-Presentation Zen (S)

 

Supporting Teachers

Grade Level Meetings

-schedule via Google calendar (A)

-Share minutes via Google Drive (S)

-Teachers compile information prior to meeting via Google Drive (S)

 

Files/Rubrics/Etc

-create and share editable docs (A)

-Data, data, data via Sheets (A)

-Created Google Folders to house live curriculum and student data (A)

 

Share Resources

-Make “How To” videos for Schoology, PowerSchool, SBG (M)

-Articles (A)

-Apps (Literably,  Seesaw, Shadow Puppet)  (A)

 

Observations

-Google Form for drop ins and sent directly to them (M)

-Student data analysis with Google Sheets (A)

 

Community Interactions 

Schoology

-Create informative videos for parents (M)

-Highlight learning with weekly photo posts (M)  

-Disseminate information and ask for feedback (M)  

-Announce parent sessions and important events (A)

 

Highlight EAC #wearegiants

-Twitter (M)

-Schoology (M)

 

Parent Sessions

-Interactive (A)

-Infographics for ELL parents (S)

 

Ask for Input

-Google Forms (M)

-Schoology (M)

 

The thing that irks you is that you know how powerful technology is as a tool for connecting and pushing people forward in their thinking, but you just can’t figure out how to get it working with where you and your school are now.  But Megan, you need to be patient. When you stepped back you realized how far your school has come in the 4 years since you arrived and then you get excited because that amount of growth is just the beginning.

So Megan, keep doing the substituting and augmenting, keep leading by example and planting little seeds into teachers’ minds, and definitely keep connecting them to other amazing educators around the world. It may take some time, but the seeds will grow, and then although you didn’t implement the redefining moments of learning you did help plant them. As John Quincy Adams said, “If your actions others to dream more, learn more, and do more and become more, you are a leader.”

I know you, and your brain is already thinking of ways to redefine what you do.  Connecting and collaborating with other administrators via #adminchat is a start. Put questions out there, read other administrators’ blogs (like this one), and become a student of great ones you are surrounded by every day.  And Megan, don’t forget purpose and audience, because sometimes you get a little carried away and it’s my job to keep you in check.

May the force be with you,

Your reflective conscience

Via
Via

 

Final Project–Visual CVs: Helpful or Hurtful?

IDEA

For my final project I knew I wanted to do a Visual CV, I saw others from previous COETAILers and was inspired. I wanted to create an infographic and then make it into a Thinglink. The Thinglink plan changed because of various reasons (mainly because my type A personality didn’t like how the icons took up so much space and took away from the “flow” of the CV.)

PROCESS

I got to work on this project pretty early on in the course and following Rob’s idea I posted my first draft (below)  asking for feedback.  I also contacted administrators and recruiters within my PLN to ask for their opinion.  The feedback I got from Twitter was great, but was more focused on the aesthetics.

 

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However, the feedback from my current director, former directors, and a head hunter was not as stellar.  All of them didn’t like the idea of a visual CV–it was creative but when they are looking for candidates they want to easily be able to know all about them AND compare them to others quickly. My ego was a little hurt, I worked so hard on it, how could they not prefer it? After the initial letdown, I am glad I asked for their feedback. These are my next potential bosses and/or connections and I truly value what they say. Below is some of their feedback.

  • “The plus-side is that this is definitely eye-catching and stands out.  However, in my experience, when I am reading a batch of candidate resumes, I am seeking to be able to compare information quickly and if I get distracted by someone’s creativity the effect is not entirely positive.”
  • “Most administrators don’t have a lot of time to look at extra “stuff” from their candidates. So although I think it’s a great idea you upload your CV to Thinglink, you may need to have more information about you and your training and that sort of thing on your resume “just in case” the administrator can’t get to your interactive resume.”
  • “It draws my attention, but leaves me wondering about certain things. Knowing you as a professional, I don’t think it fully shows all you do and can do.”

REFLECTION

After letting their feedback marinate in my mind and heart for a little while I reflected on it. I know the main purpose of a CV is to get a job, but I want the future school I work at to want me for me. I consider myself creative and that comes through in a visual resume.  Some school heads might be completely turned off by my visual resume, but then comes the question of do I want to work at a school that isn’t interested in pushing the boundaries? They might not like the picture of my family, but my family is part of my core and I want my future employer to know that. I think this resume, while in words and specifics doesn’t tell more about me, in design and thinking it does.  I am proud of it and what it represents, and sure it could be risky to use it, but I’d rather put my true self out there than be another perfectly formatted resume in a pile of hundred of others just the same. Also, I think I could always have a traditional format of my resume on my website, this way they can get a more specific view of me as a candidate.

The second part of my reflection is on the overall process.  Man, designing is hard!  I spent hours deliberating over moving a line two centimeters, changing colors, aligning everything just right. My original plan changed hundreds of times and I still am not completely satisfied with this resume. I used Pages to create it and the Noun Project for all my icons. I matched my colors scheme with a palette from Adobe Color Thankfully, both of those programs/resources are easy to work with. I ended up going with a monochromatic, but in a green color palette. I also switched the boxes of who I am into a horizontal orientation and changed the words so they became nouns. I added two quotations that speak to me and my philosophy on education and leadership. I added some more information about myself at the top too.  I’m sure I will continue on working on this until my husband and I decide to go leave our current post.

Megan Kuemmerlin Visual Resume

Communicate Your Content

COETAIL has stretched me so much in terms of thinking on how to apply my learning into my current role of assistant principal, it has also made me miss being in the classroom something fierce. For this week’s assignment I found tons of interesting infographics full of data about the teaching profession, but I wanted to be more pointed in what I use with my teachers.

Application #1// Standards Based Grading

One of my main jobs this year is priming the pumps of our community (teachers, parents, and students) to move to standards based grading and reporting next year. This process has been purposefully slow and erring on the side of providing too much information. It is a huge shift for our school and because of Brazilian educational laws we are being creative on how to make it work within the confines of the mandated system. So after reading this week’s assignment I immediately thought an infographic either describing standards based grading or visualizing the data supporting it would be powerful and clear.  

standards
Infographic credit: @CVULearns

 

The first infographic from @CVULearns can be used to explain the why of standards based grading to parents and students. I like how it created a story of a bunny moving from curious to skeptical to concerned, and finally to satisfied. I think this is a start for my school, I would remix it pulling different aspects from it, but using our school common language, for example exceeds, meets, approaches, and beginning as opposed to advanced, proficient, below proficient, and basic.

StandardsGradingInfographic1
Infographic credited by sstephens

 

The second infographic could be used to explain why standards based grading is best for kids. It was created by another COETAILer using Piktochart. Again, I would have to tweak this to fit the needs of my school, but it is a great starting off point.

Application #2// Reading and Writing Workshop

Another idea I had was to use infographics in the creation of our rubrics for Reading Workshop. Since we are in this weird limbo period of not being standards based yet, but going there next year teachers are creating rubrics that build a bridge between where we are and where we want to be.  I created a dull conversion chart for standard based grading language and percentages to be put in PowerSchool. I took that information and added some more reasoning (from a great pamphlet) and made an infographic that would better explain it to parents.  

Created on Piktochart
Created on Piktochart

 

At the same time I want to play around with creating a template for student progression as an infographic and then teachers can fill in their grade level criteria. Hunting and gathering for progress indicators I didn’t come up with much, but I did find pieces of things that I think I could weave together to create something for my school.  I like the student language in this self-assessment and then thought of using a gas tank or other data visual to match the language.

Application #3// Syllabus

Lastly, and not applying to me in my current role, I love the idea of doing the class syllabus as an infographic. What a quick and easy way for students (and parents) to know the expectations, design, and goals of the class at the beginning of the year. I will definitely keep this in mind if I go back into the classroom.  Here are some more examples: Madame Farabaugh (French teacher), Laura (Spanish teacher), and an English class.

 

infographic syllabus
Syllabus created by Cynthia Early

Over the course of this year I have made several different pieces of literature to communicate new programs and initiatives to parents. We have a very high EAL parent population and I think these pieces have helped communicate to them what we are working with their children on.  I wouldn’t consider these infographics, but they have visuals and different spacing that I think is easier to read and less threatening.

EAC Library Final

Literacy at EAC (2)

From Caves to Snapchat

1F Fred Flinstone & Carney Rubble by Fred Seibert
1F Fred Flinstone & Carney Rubble by Fred Seibert

Storytelling has been around as long with Fred Flinstone and will live on past the Jetsons, but as Joe Scabia said in his amazing TED Talk,

 

“The art of storytelling has remained unchanged. For the most part the stories are recycled, but the way humans tell the stories has always evolved with pure consistent novelties.”  

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With so many tools and stories to be told, I would argue we are hindering and neglecting our students if we don’t offer digital storytelling in our schools. The need is clear, the question is how to do it.

I have so many ideas of how to introduce digital storytelling to my school, but I want people to see its power. I keep getting stuck on how to show teachers it is useful and worth the time away from their already packed curriculum. We are in the beginning stages of implementing Teachers College Reading and Writing Workshop and I want to respect how hard my teachers are working to follow Lucy’s units of study. How do I help teachers see this as an authentic integrated option rather than an add on?

I can model it, I already plan to create a video to introduce standards based grading and reporting to parents and after this week thought it would be cool to do a remix of “Being 12” but do “Being New” and interview all our 25 new students(!) in our elementary school.  I can collaborate or coach teachers, especially since grades 5 and 2 current units of study are on persuasive writing. What a brilliant tie in? But both modeling and coaching seem forced from the “top down”. I can break it down so it doesn’t seem so daunting. I love Tanya’s idea of using Snapchat to tell a story. The kids already use it, so why not start with something familiar. On that track we could start using Vine or Instagram as well. It’s a start and I can hope that the feedback from the grades I work with the parents who watch the video is enough to get teachers excited.

Logistically, our school is a PC school, so we could use Photostory or Movie Maker for free. Programs like Audacity and VoiceThread are options as well. There is no shortage of Apps, programs, and resources to help teachers and students, in fact I think I would probably make a “cheat sheet” for teachers similar to Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano’s amazing Digital Storytelling Guide. Also, I think starting small with familiar apps is the best plan, like Instagraming or Tweeting a day in the life of __________ ( a student, teacher, principal, etc).

In my searching and reading this week I found some pretty cool resources:

  • Scenes: People and object cut outs to help you create a storyboard. You can download a start pack for free.
  • This Scoop Page: Lots of articles, resources, and information on digital storytelling
  • Introduction Lesson: A brief slideshare about multimedia journalism
  • Witness Organization: A powerful website with many videos on current injustices
  • Storycenter: Another resource with examples of powerful stories

 

So what are my actions going to be?

  1. A day in the life of Mrs. K (via Twitter)
  2. Work with grades 2 and 5 on their writing units of study
  3. Create a video on standards based grading

Final Project: The Quest for Feedback

I’m sure this post is a little premature, but I loved Rob’s idea of getting feedback on his final project and then making adjustments.  I’m following my learning from Course 2 and I am stealing his idea, and of course giving him credit. Right now, I have two versions (monochromatic vs. colorful), so feedback on that and any other things would be much obliged.

eCV Megan Kuemmerlin
Monochromatic Version
e CV with Colors
Colorful Version

After I get feedback I plan to make this into an interactive CV by putting it on Thinglink. I want to have links to videos of me in action, images of my former classes/current projects, letters of recommendation, and access to documents/presentations I’ve created.

I would love some honest (I can take it, I have thick skin) feedback.  Thank you in advance for the help and support.

 

Revamping an Old Presentation

After rereading the assignment for this week I realized I didn’t read it carefully the first time.  I thought the assignment was to redo a past presentation with the concepts and techniques we learned this week. So I did just that, took a presentation I gave last year on the SAMR model and reworked it into something much stronger (in my opinion).

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I loved the YouTube overview of Garr Reynolds’ book Presentation Zen and found many helpful tactics. A quote I nodded my head up and down to was, “The bento is presented in simple, beautiful, and balanced way…A satisfying, inspiring, and fulfilling way to spend 20 minutes.  When was the last time you could say the same about a presentation you saw?” I reflected on all the presentations I’ve given and wondered if my audience could say that about my presentation. 

Some takeaways from Reynolds…

  • Plan Analog: Stepping away from your computer allows us to be more creative. I learned this technique in a Masters course and at first laughed at the idea–how can I be creative without my computer?  Then I tried it and guess what, it actually worked?  
  • Ask So What?: If the content doesn’t further your story cut it out, this is a hard one to do.  But I found that if I plan on paper first it is easier to cross things out.  I’m still learning this, but if it doesn’t make it better it should be on the cutting room floor. 
  • Slides should be incapable of standing by themselves. Enough said. 
  • Craft ideas that stick:  Reynolds uses the acronym SUCCES (Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotions, and Stories) to help. Some that I wanted to work on were Simplicity, Concreteness, and Stories. I think that I accomplished my goals in those areas.
  • Edit and Restrain: Keep audience in mind, it is better to leave audience hungry and craving more. I love this one. It is so hard to do, but thinking back as an audience member myself my favorite presentations are the ones that I leave with more questions than I had in the beginning. 
  • Amplification through Simplification: Reynolds uses “picture superiority” which is just like we studied last week in that images are remembered more than words. In my revamping I took out a lot of the words and realized I can tell more a story without them and just powerful pictures. 
  • Reduce Noise in Presenation: Use fewer elements, empty space is okay. I would even go further in this saying that empty space is makes a statement. 
  • Present it: As much as we put into the presentation slides, if you are not good at presenting them then the presentation will not be memorable (in a good way). I’ve forgotten this a lot, I spend so much time trying to craft the perfect presentation I don’t spend nearly enough prepping what I am going to SAY.

I also used Kim Cofino’s Making a Lasting Impression presentation to help me revamp my SAMR Google Slides. As well as using sketches to visuals in What is Good Presentation Design. I ended up changing a lot of the images because I didn’t have Creative Common images nor did I give credit, so almost all of them are new and I think I picked more powerful images this time around. I tried to use the rule of thirds and empty space as well. 

Without further ado here is the before and after…

Visual Debates

I support and co-teach Reading and Writing Workshop with a new 5th grade teacher, so I knew I would do this week’s assignment for his class. They are at the beginning of their argumentative essay unit and the day I was there they were doing flash debates.  The topic was should animals be kept in a zoo? To plan I went straight to my favorite Creative Commons search sites, Compfight, and began looking for two images that would represent each side. The images needed to be neutral, but at the same time pull at the emotions to support either side. As Garr Reynold said on his blog, Presentation Zen, “Visuals that surprise people, touch them, delight them, and support your story are best because they affect people in an emotional way.”

Photo Credit Left: https://www.flickr.com/photos/30775272@N05/3946922593/ Photo Credit Right: https://www.flickr.com/photos/8070463@N03/592039901/
Photo Credit Left: Brian Mckay
Photo Credit Right: Tambako the Jaguar

 

Using the visuals really transformed the lesson. After seeing the visual before their preparations students asked me if they could also use images as evidence. The classroom teacher and I decided they could, if it accompanied evidence that supported it.  Next they started searching using Google, all the readings from course 2 flooded my mind and I used it as a teaching moment. I showed groups of students how to search using Google “Search Tools” function which led them to the licensure option. I figured this would be the best option for the amount of time we had, they are used to Google. I’m ashamed to say that they didn’t cite the image because we were using them for a debate and honestly I didn’t have time to teach them how to add the photo credit onto the picture. I plan on teaching them when we have more time to work on the search part.

When it came to the flash debates it was so fun to watch. Students tried to tie their arguments into the audience’s emotions.

“Look at the face of this baby panda, sad and alone because he can’t be with his mother. How would you feel if you were taken from your mother when you were a baby?”

“This is the face of a dangerous animal. Grown lions can weigh…(I forgot the rest). They should be kept in a zoo to protect humans”

These are just some of the things the students came up with all because they had a visual to use. Looking back I should have recorded them or at least wrote their quotes down verbatim, but you get the gist. Renee Hobbs said in Teaching Media Literacy , “Media literacy….is literacy for the information age.” I completely agree with her, our students are so visually minded this day and age that whenever they can link their learning to images I think it helps it stick better. Actually I found the images made the task harder, but more powerful.  Students couldn’t just show the image they had to think and figure out how to connect it to one of their reasons and support it with evidence. Another thing I observed was the ELL students and their ability to participate more because of the images.
After this simple assignment of adding visuals into the classroom I will do it way more often. I normally think of adding images to presentations, but having students (or teachers in my case) find them for a learning task is super powerful and gives them more ownership of their learning.