Blissfull Connecting

18 04 2010

I finally found out how to make a web visual of my PLN on Twitter using Twitnest:

Here are a few of the people I’ve connected with this semester:

Personal Learning Network

Thanks to all of you for your support, advice, and sharing!  Hope to keep in touch and keep learning from each other.

Something Somewhere Sometime – Stop Motion Final Project

15 04 2010

It’s finally time!

My final stop motion video is completed, and it’s ready for its’ debut!

The music that goes along with the video is Something Somewhere Sometime by Ben Sollee and Daniel Martin Moore.

Get ready for some adventure…and if you’re interested in seeing the ‘dark’,  I’m-going-crazy-talking-to-plasticine-worms side of stop motion animation, stick around for the bloopers at the end.


I chose to do a stop motion animation film because I became fascinated with it this semester while learning about digital storytelling.  Films like Her Morning Elegance and The Olympus Pen Story inspired me with their elegant beauty.  There is something unmatched about seeing every small motion a person or object makes.  I found it made me think harder about the films and pay closer attention.

I think stop motion would be a fantastic way to explore digital storytelling and the science of motion with students, even students of fairly young ages.  In this video, a ten year old boy adds his break dancing action figure using stop motion.  I learned a  lot about movement making this video.  It is certainly a challenge to think of everything in terms of isolated actions.

I won’t deny there weren’t frustrations along the way.  Making a stop motion film is a tedious process. Over 1500 pictures make up the 2.5 minute video I’m presenting, and little plasticine worms don’t always do exactly as you’d like all by themselves!

The process I used to make the film is perhaps a bit different.  Because I don’t have a well functioning camera, I used my video camera to take running film, in which I would step out of the frame, rearrange the scene, step out of the frame, rearrange the scene…etc (see the bloopers section), and then captured over 1500 still frames from the running film using FlipShare technology once the videos were uploaded to my computer.  I imported all of the photos into iMovie and set the pictures to appear for .03 seconds each.  I found iMovie really easy to use and it was a great way to put this stop motion together, especially because there are so many editing options.

Last week I ran into a standstill and could not get much filming done, but I was lucky to have some great help from my cousins Emily and Lauren, who (naturally) were naturals at this kinda stuff.  Thanks ladies!

To view other videos and steps in the process leading up to this final product, see the blog category Final Project.

Thanks for checking out my final project!  Let me know what you think!

Personal Learning Reflection

15 04 2010

As I sat down to write out a tentative script for my personal reflection of learning for ECMP 355, so many experiences, tools, and lessons came to mind that I could scarcely wrap my head around it.  I drew out a map and got to work, and it was a really helpful exercise to go through the reflection, because it gave me that space to think about the class, where I started, and the places I’ve come to.

I did experience some frustration, though, in trying to use Jing.  For some reason I had trouble getting the capture size to match the screen in the way I needed it to, and my computer froze whenever I tried to click on other windows while recording.  After a long haul of trying to make it work over and over, I have to admit I gave up.  I hauled out the ol’ video camera, plunked it in front of my computer, and just filmed the screen that way with me talking in the background.  Of course, this means that the quality is not great.  In fact, the quality is somewhat brutal…with bobbing laptop screens and dark lighting.  Being at the end of my rope with tedious techniques… I let it got and decided that the message is what is important.

Though I apologize for the poor visual quality of the video, I hope you can recognize the value in the lessons learned instead.


Provocative Posting: Commenting Documentation

4 04 2010

A while ago, Dr. Couros posted some helpful suggestions for how we could do well in ECMP355.  Among his suggestions were: writing more provocative, critical thinking blog posts, connecting to and commenting on educator blogs around the world, motivating others by commenting on their blogs, and documenting everything.  My heart sank a little bit when I realized that perhaps the many comments I had left on the blogs of my classmates were going unnoticed.  Dr. Couros make a valuable point that it is important to document the process of your learning, as otherwise it can become invisible to teachers.

I have not done a very good job of documenting my frequent commenting on others’ blogs, here  on my own blog.  In fact I leave lots of comments, because I think the comment discussion is what really makes the blogging experience authentic, genuine, and important.  Many times, I would much rather leave a comment on someone’s post than just write about it in my own blog, because to me that is the point of all of this.  If a blog makes me think, wonder, or question something, the person who wrote that post should hear how their post made me think in a conversation directed right to them.  I realize I could have been linking to all of those comments all this time, and so that is what this post is for.  I have lots track of many of the comments I have left, but will direct you to some of the more recent ones below.  If you’re looking for those provocative, interesting (or just plain helpful) posts, try out some of these and post your own comment!

Unlearning With Podcasts by Laura

• Learn about The Education Podcast Network and find some suggestions from Laura for interesting podcasts

K-5 Resource Wiki by Kaitlyn

• Here’s a wiki you can go to and add some of your brilliant knowledge to help support other educators

To Blog or Not To Blog by Andrew

• Give Andrew some support for blogging motivation with your comment and discuss the limitations of the current Internship Placement Profile for evaluating pre-service teachers

Twitter Plans my Trip? by Jessica

• Jessica and I share yet another benefit to staying connect through Twitter: making travel plans…with help!

The Allen Degeneres Show by Kris

• A very humorous presentation starter on Trauma

The Future of Marketing by Jenny

• Jenny and I discuss the move from multimillion dollar marketing campaigns that use paper and posters, to marketing through digital social media

Final Project is Finally Done by Danelle

• Danelle and Katherine definitely deserve some viewers for their final project video: Extreme Cooking.  I watched it after a long day and it was a great giggle.
• A provocative documentary was made in Charleston, Mississippi when a high school rallied to have their first interracial prom night in recent years.  Until then, the school was integrated,  but all of it’s extra-curricular events were segregated – ie. one prom for black students, one prom for white students.  The only interracial couple in the school at their first public date at the prom, while a group of active parents still raised money to hold their own ‘whites only’ prom on a different night.  Wow.
• Laura uses Voicethread to explain how she’s changes the way she stays organized to save paper.
• Steph links back to Alan Stange’s blog where he talks about Detoxing students from grade-use.  This is really interesting and a helpful breakdown of what informal assessment can look like.
• Whitney and I share a love for plain old, cracked spine, page surfing books.  If you do too, leave her a comment!
• You’ve heard of people being fired, because of their facebook content.  But have you heard of someone getting fired on/through facebook?
• Callista asks for discussion about the new scholarship available to children of fallen Canadian soldiers.  What do you think about all the buzz?
• Jessica can point you in the direction of an interesting website which donates Rice to underprivileged families for each correct trivia question answered.
• Any ideas for how Erica can find ways to use Skype in the classroom?  I directed her to Blackimoto’s tutorials.
• Alyssa’s post inspired me to write about my evolving perspectives on self- and peer- assessment
• Annick’s post about how technology is changing how people perceive Elders inspired me to write about Neil Postman’s Technolopoly: Blessings and Burdens.

Evolving Perspectives on Self- and Peer- Assessments

31 03 2010

In her post Skype…Another Side, Allysa Johnson refers to an enlightening conversation with grade 9 and 10 students in British Columbia through Skype, in which one student stated that “The only thing worse than a self evaluation is a peer evaluation”.  That comment inspired Johnson in one way, but it inspired me in another.  I started thinking about my long journey through what sometimes seems like the minefield of self- and peer- assessment.  Self- and peer- reflections are not easy.  I used to detest them because, well, because they are harder than just being given a mark on the product and object of assessment and being done with it.  In my comment below, I explain why I hope the student sticks with self- and peer- evaluations in some way.  What do you think?

Here is my response to Johnson’s post:

That’s an interesting comment about self- and peer- assessment… I know sometimes I have felt like I dislike self-assessments, because I am darn sick and tired of reflecting, reflecting, reflecting. However, I think I finally get it! Self-reflecting, if you can take the time and really get down to it, is probably the thing that has helped me develop the most professionally.
Like I said I always dreaded doing self-assessments growing up. I think there is a pressure to be honest, yet at the same time there are so many stigmas around assessment that it is hard to be. There is pressure to get good marks, yet there is also pressure not to take too much pride in your work, a funny stigma we seem to have all around us here.
Peer assessments were also hard, because there was always the question of whether or not they were honest. Now in University I love the chance to get feedback from my peers when I do a presentation, or to have a safe method to give feedback to others.
Recently, I did a group presentation which presented a lot of struggles for myself and my group members. When we realized we were not going to have the chance to do a group reflection or peer assessment, we felt like the process of the struggles we met as a group as we worked on the presentation for months were seen as totally useless, in favor of focusing just on the product.
As a teacher I think it is extremely important to listen to the students and what they want and like and feel comfortable with. However, if my teachers had listened to me about self- and peer- assessments all the way through, I would be without the great reflective, critical skills I now possess. Those two assessments I think really offer the opportunity to focus on the process of learning. I can’t help but say that I hope the student who made that comment will warm up to them some day!

Technopoly: Blessings and Burdens

31 03 2010

I recently got carried away in my comment in response to Mlle. LeBlanc’s post: A New Take on Technology?, turning a simple comment into more of a blog post of my own!  Mlle. LeBlanc talks about the changing perception of Elders as holders of tremendous knowledge as information available through digital technologies becomes more widely available.  LeBlanc’s perspective is both thoughtful and thought-provoking.  It started me thinking about a conversation that took place in my EDFN class this week, which is outlined in the comment below.

Here is my response to LeBlanc’s post.

I agree with you Danelle…balance in everything is key.

A similar conversation happened in my EDFN class last week…haha perhaps we are even in the same class and just don’t know it! It seemed that almost the entire class of pre-service teachers considered the advance of technology scary and as something that they feel they cannot stop, but wish they could. One student brought up a book written by Neil Postman called “Technopoly”. I read Technopoly in my first year of University, as it was the main focus for an English course. The book was very interesting, and if only I hadn’t been a little bit disengaged with the class I probably would have found it even more riveting! The point, anyway, of Neil Postman’s writing is that ‘every technology is both a blessing and a burden’. I used to take the word ‘burden’ and turn it into ‘catastrophe’. So maybe I thought technologies could bring good things, but mostly I thought they were bringing negativity and unwanted change. I kept reading, and Postman helped me to realize that when we refer to ‘technology’, we are referring to all technologies, not just computers and video games. A chair is a technology. Houses are a technology, and toilets….even a spoon is a technology. So if we think of it that way, I think we could all agree that many of the technologies we use everyday we would not want to live without.

Now when I think of that phrase: ‘technology is both a blessing and a burden’, I think maybe ‘burden’ doesn’t necessarily refer to the catastrophe I once thought. Perhaps it is just the burden of adaptation and accepting change, which is not always easy but also isn’t always negative.

In the case you refer to, I definitely see the burden in the potential loss of a cultural shift in where wisdom comes from. Maybe we just need to separate ‘information’ from ‘knowledge’. So while students can find all sorts of valuable ‘information’ through the use of digital technologies, Elders can provide different types of ‘knowledge’ that cannot be learned on the internet. Perhaps then information becomes more like fact, and knowledge becomes more like wisdom. I don’t think I would be willing to say that every fact I read on the internet becomes part of my knowledge.

As I sat there in class and said nothing because I was in more of a listening mood, something interesting struck me. Someone mentioned a crisis in grammar and spelling because of things like texting, saying “some students might think that LOL is an actual word!”. I’ve said that many times before myself…but this time it hit me differently: to those students, LOL is an actual word. The English language has evolved tremendously over time, words and language structures changing to meet the evolving uses for language. Most times, words that were altered were altered in order to make them more efficient, or more convenient words. Perhaps this is just another example of that, and we don’t know it yet. I’m sure our grandparents and their grandparents and their grandparents had similar views about the advances of many of the technologies and language slang we use today…perhaps we are all just being stereotypical old timers of future generations.

…Just a thought :)

(sorry for getting carried away in ranting with what started as a simple comment!)

Thanks for the thoughtful post.

Potato Famine/Failure – Stop Motion Update

30 03 2010

I thought it was pretty clever when my dad suggested that I make my stop motion video (for the final project) about Potato Famine, only in my video the characters would all be Potatoes…dealing with a food crisis.  I couldn’t help but go ahead with it!

I got the potatoes (making sure to have diversity of potato ages and skin colours).  I made some little outfits for the main family.  I constructed a ridiculous set with synthetic lawn pieces and green blankets…..and then I realized I hadn’t yet come up with a way to make the potatoes stand up, let alone stand well enough for me to reposition them every frame.

Mistake!  I tried nails to help the potatoes stand, but found them pretty finicky when the potatoes were ‘frolicking’ on my soft grassy set.  Can you see how this is turning into a gong show already?  It gets even better.  I attached clear thread to the tops of the heads of the smaller potatoes, so I could easily make them jump around.  Apparently ‘clear’ does not mean ‘invisible’ (who knew?) and thread=too wimpy to hold up jumping potatoes.  I could go on.  So the point it, I gave up on the Potato Famine stop motion pretty quickly.  Actually, the real point is, I learned a lot.  I am refining my technique and learning more and more about the finer details of motion in general each time I go through this process.  I’m on to plan B (or is it C?) and it’s going really well!  Tedious and time consuming, but too fun and neat to not put the work in.  Can’t wait to share it when it’s done!

Though I only completed the first little bit of the video and stopped, I though I may as well put it together to show my progression with stop motion.  Without further ado: Potato Famine Failure!