For my Language Arts class I was assigned the task of creating a digital representation for the junior literature novel we had read and created a unit plan for. The digital representation pertained to the theme that most resonated with each individual.
The theme that resonated with me the most throughout the novel, Crenshaw, was identity. Identity is a terribly hard concept to define, as it is the fact of being who or what a person is. A main reason this concept is especially challenging is because individuals can be defined in so many different ways. Identity, although not an obvious theme in the novel, stuck out to me. Jackson, the main character, struggles to find his identity in different areas in his life. Particularly, his place in the family, his position as a friend, and his role both with and without his imaginary friend, Crenshaw. Through this assignment, I attempted to tackle this multifaceted word and channel exactly what is means to me through the use of (many) images, music, and words. My process included a total of 879 photos, 3 songs, and countless hours of editing. The tools I recruited to complete this story included a MacBook, an iPad, an iPhone, a sketchbook, and markers. The program I used to put it all together was WeVideo, which enabled me to easily edit timing of photos, trim audio, and add transitions.
The three songs I chose spoke to me in varying ways. My first song choice was inspired by my tradition of selecting a “word of the year” every January. This year I settled on the word “express,” because of my typically quiet and reserved self. I often refer to my thoughts like weeds that grow out of control and spiral downwards. Once I am in this thought spiral I find it extremely challenging getting out of it. I have great hope that over this new year I can continue to thrive and escape the insecurities that grip my mind through expression as I have an amazing support system who desire to step into these spirals and help pull me out. “Brave,” by Sara Bareilles communicates the importance of speaking out and feeling confident in voicing thoughts and opinions. The second song, “Free To Be Me” by Francesca Battistelli relates to my identity in Christ. For the longest time, I felt as though I was trying to fill a void inside with destructive behaviours and it was not until God came into my life that this void was filled. Just as Battistelli states, on God’s shoulders now I can see that I am free to be me. Finally, the third song, “Female” by Keith Urban, depicts my identity as a member of that gender in society. Although not all the words in the chorus correspond to my identity, together they build a complex portrait of a strong woman.
I made the decision to construct my video in a stop-motion animation style because of the imperfect and fast-paced style of the technique. Even this style of filming allows for a metaphorical version of my identity to come out. I am someone who likes to keep going and growing in all aspects of my life. It is also reminiscent of my high school self because I would often make them as a hobby. I am partial to the way that stop-motion animation makes the static come to life. Overall, this assignment was particularly enjoyable to me and allowed me to both reflect on and confront who I am.
It's time friends. I've wanted to do a media make on SketchNoting since the class started, but kept putting it off. Why you ask? We've talked about the fears that come with posting media content for the public to feast on. Mine include:
Where to Start?
This lead me to discover Laura Wheeler, and her extremely helpful blog post about SketchNoting and how to begin the wonderful and creative journey, found here. I knew I wanted to SketchNote this particular article because it was divided beautifully into subcategories and provided a lot of room for creativity. The materials I acquired for this process included:
Before I reflect on my process, I want to make sure I mention my professor, Helen Dewaard, in both my interest and desire to try SketchNoting. During our fourth week together, she posted a SketchNote she had made on our class blog entitled, Tips to Integrate Media Literacy into the Classroom, which peaked my interest. When asked, she provided me with valuable information about SketchNoting and even brought in her sketchbooks for me to look at. Flipping through her creations ignited my excitement to try my own hand at the art.
Outside of my comfort zone is where I find my most cherished moments, friendships, experiences, and accomplishments. Outside of my comfort zone is uncomfortably rewarding.
The second thing this process taught me is to work with what you have. I created this sketch at the library, and I knew I wanted to create a timelapse of it, so I had to get horribly, and awkwardly creative. After fumbling around (for what felt like forever), I innovated a stand for my iPhone to lay so I was able to record the process. This was obviously not my ideal filming scenario, but it forced me to think outside the box in order to make my vision work.
This leads me to my final reflective piece, to let go of the desire to be perfect and just go for it. Before the pen hit the page, there were many questions swirling around my mind, "Where do I start?," "What should I put where?," "What colours should I use for each section?," only to name a few. For someone who likes things organized and orderly, this task seemed daunting. However, once I started, things simply fell into place, and the final creation surprised me. Just like life, SketchNoting is a journey, and you always seem to reach your destination, no matter how much planning, contemplating, and dwelling you do.
January is often a time for the new. New goals, new resolutions, new changes. I couldn’t agree more with Sue Dunlop who states on her blog, ‘’As I’ve mentioned in this space, I’m a terrible procrastinator and setting myself the challenge of choosing #oneword helps me focus.” That is why every year I choose one word to fuel those goals, resolutions, and changes. My word last year was thrive, and I was inspired by this quote:
My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour, and some style. " - Maya Angelou
My thought behind this word was a desire to be intentional, not letting each day simply pass by, but rather taking hold of each day and making it my own. I feel as though I was able to fulfill this word through my experiences and opportunities I seized during the year. I saved up enough money to afford my first car, I secured a position as a server at a private golf course in Muskoka, and I worked tirelessly in my first placement as a Kindergarten student teacher.
Express through Words
After thriving through 2017, 2018 arrived and with it a new word to focus on. Similar to Aviva Dunsinger, after reflecting on last year’s word and memories, I landed on the word “express.” I chose the word express because of my typically quiet and reserved self. My thoughts are like weeds that grow out of control and I have a hard time getting out of a thought spiral once I am in it. I have great hope that over this new year I can continue to thrive and escape the insecurities that grip my mind through expression. I have been blessed with a support system like no other and I need to learn how to express my thoughts when they arise so they are able to help me out of these spirals. Often times I realize I could have avoided or solved numerous problems if I just had the courage to EXPRESS myself.
Express Through Teaching
I think expression is also important when it comes to my teaching career. I need to be able to express myself in a way that makes sense to students and helps them best learn. Through my next placement I will:
Express Through the Arts
I love art. I don’t do it enough. I don’t do it enough because I don’t think I am good enough. I love to draw, paint, doodle, and hand letter quotes and scripture. The problem is that I am a copy artist, meaning I have a hard time creating something that is not directly in front of me. We have discussed in MDL4000 before that we live in a convergence culture where everything is borrowed and built upon. It is terribly hard to be original in this world because chances are our ideas have already been thought of before. The internet is a participatory culture, if it was a sticky note. There would always be someone to take this sticky note, rework or reimagine the ideas on that sticky note and then place it back on the wall. Therefore, this year I will embrace my reworkings and reimaginings in regard to my art expression.
In conclusion, this year I am committed to express myself in words, in my teaching, and in my art.
What is your #onewordont of 2018?
Live your truth. Express your love. Share your enthusiasm. Take action towards your dreams. Walk your talk. Dance and sing to your music. Embrace your blessings. Make today worth remembering.”
Trading cards are a fantastic tech tech tool that you can use both as a professional and a student. I decided to make mine for my professional learning statement but you could easily bring this tool into the classroom and have students make their own for a variety of purposes. As a teacher, you could even make a class game where you could trade cards with others, or be able to use these cards for different purposes such as a bathroom pass. The website that I created my trading card on even has lessons that incorporate trading cards into them.
Trading Card Creator: http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/student-interactives/trading-card-creator-30056.html
There has been varying opinions on the use of Twitter in the classroom. Even within our own Media and Digital Literacy 4000 classroom space there have been both hesitations and approvals towards the 140-character idea-spreading social media website. The top uncertainty seemed to be associated with privacy and ensuring the student's safety, especially for the younger grades. How do we keep the privacy of students, while still allowing them to globally connect to lifelong learners around the world? Through this blog post I will be exploring that concept as well as the potential that Twitter has within the classroom walls.
"Instead of walls, imagine your classroom filled with millions of experts in a variety of fields in any subject your students want to learn"
#3 - Daily Discovery
Teachers can assign each student a day where they can create a tweet on the class Twitter at the end of the day about what they learned. This is good for younger grades as the teacher controls the Twitter account but the students still feel a sense of ownership over it. It also works on summarizing skills and allows for reflection on their own learning.
#4 - Write Mini Reviews
After reading a book, watching a movie, or reading an article, teachers could have students write short reviews. This allows them creativity, consolidation, and consideration about what they have seen, heard, or read. Students can link their tweet, add pictures, or video. What a fun and interactive way to allow students for example, to keep a portfolio of books they have read, and provides a reference to remind them what it was about.
#5 - Communicate with Experts
Each month as a class, brainstorm something you want to learn more about. Find an expert in that subject or career on Twitter and reach out to them. This is a great resource for the classroom and allows students a different viewpoint rather than just the teacher's. It also takes pressure off of the teacher as they can't know EVERYTHING. Flattening the walls of your classroom can be as simple as connecting with experts in different fields and adding to their personal learning networks.
This week our discussion was based on the power of photography. I find great joy in photography because of two reasons. The first is it has a way of freezing memories in time. The people in these photographs may change, but the memory lasts forever. I find great joy in going through old photos and reminiscing on travel experiences, enjoyable times with family and friends, birthday celebrations, periods of growth, and so much more. The second reason is that it captures the beauty in various aspects of life. I love pointing my camera at the same thing, yet it ends up being so different. This is where my love of the sky originated from.
From an education perspective, there are many ways that students could use photography in the classroom. It is a way in which students can creatively capture their learning, provide a source of inspiration for reflection, and allow them to share their thinking visually. For teachers, allowing students to use photography can help them to learn about their students, to better understand their ideas, and is an opportunity to ask them critical questions. We Are Teachers, Scholastic, and Teach Thought have all provided excellent ideas on how to incorporate digital photography into the classroom. Additionally, our graduate assistant, Daniela, conducted a fun and creative activity that teachers could use with a classroom. We were able to use our devices or cameras provided by the school to capture photos in and around the campus that told a story and/or used visually appealing techniques (e.g. shadows, light, colour, emotion). Below are the photos I was able to document.
"You don't take a photo. You make it."