Category Archives: visual literacy

Infographics and the Explanation Game (Grade 4)

For the next unit the central idea for Grade 4 is Discoveries and explorations continue to impact our world. In German we are going to integrate through the line of inquiry Past and present discoveries and explorations and to inquire into space and space travel. The language focus will be story writing from a certain perspective using digital tools like Storybird or Book Creator on the iPad to present the story.

At the beginning the students will get (unfortunately only short) time to inquire into the planet system because the focus then will be on the astronaut and his motivation as an explorer. At a certain point I’m going to use the following infographic to introduce the infographic itself as well as the suit of an astronaut.

infografik space

I found the infographic on Printerest and unfortunately nowhere else. Therefor I have to admit that the source is not 100% clear for me. Of course I checked www.space.com and also the creator Karl Tate who seems to be an infographic artist.

Following the criteria of Daniel Zeevis What Makes a Good Infographic? I tried to evalute this above infographic. The content is reliably (www.space.com) and timely. It describes and explains the way astronauts can work outside of a spacecraft for up to 7 hours. The colors (mainly light blue, white and black font) chosen by the designer fit into the topic, the layout supports the understanding of the complexity of the suit for space travel. The way the information are presented inspires the interest of my students in space travel.

While searching for an infographic for my Grade 4 German class I had to realize that there are not many infographics written in German for Primary School. I decided to take the one in English and integrate the vocabulary work into the lessons. After understanding the vocabulary and the content I want to give the students the chance to ask questions about what they read, to explain and to think further why an astronaut needs such a complex suit or certain parts of it.

Very useful tools to guide and to tease out student’s thinking are visible thinking routines. One in particular is called Explanation Game. It’s very important to model this routine first to make sure that the students know how to ask the questions of explanation and to give clarification to the others. The documentation of each step is important to let the students follow and comprehend the whole process of their thinking. The following are the steps:

  1. Observation -> I noticed that …
  2. Question -> Why is it that way?
  3. Explanation -> It …, because …
  4. Reason -> What makes you think so? What makes you say this?

Let’s see how it will go …

My story finally ….

This is your life.

It’s done. I felt the flow but even more I am feeling the relief at the moment. Somebody said: 1 hour per minute. Forget about it. It felt like ages. BUT: It was a great learning experience and I’m pretty sure I’ll will tell a story digitally again.

 

 

 

Photo Credit:
This is your life. by  Aaron Fulkerson

Here it is:

YouTube Preview Image

 

Let me tell you a little bit about the process:

Ideas
It took me a while to decide what story I want to tell. Should it be something personal, something related to school or about my passion regarding technology, f.e. Evernote (next time …)? For the first digital story ever I decided to tell a personal story. I thought that is the easiest for the beginning.

Google Drive
Google Drive was again a very useful tool to start with the outline, to save the pictures and the document for the credits. Not to forget, the document for the credits has to be published to the web. Very useful.

iMovie
Luckily I know iMovie already a little bit from work in school but I have never used it to that extend. It was the first time that I recorded my own voice, that I underlined the whole thing with a song, that I used pictured I found on the Internet.

Pictures
The pictures I found mainly on Flickr or Compfight. Part of the pictures I took during my time in South Korea. I’m very thankful that so many photographers already licensed their work so everybody can share, use and even modify them. For the near future it is my plan to license my pictures on Flickr as well.
I was never really sure and I’m still not 100% how to cite in a proper way. I create a google doc, published it to the web and put the link at the end of the movie. Is this the best way? I’m excited to hear and see how other COETAIL members found a solution for giving credit.

Audio
Luckily YouTube launched a free audio library just recently. What I worried about most at the start the audio was the easiest job to do. It’s not to easy to find on YouTube but you will find it within the Video Manager and then Creation Tools.

I would love to use Digital Storytelling in school more often. Especially for language learner I see the benefit because they can express themselves through pictures and the spoken language. A little concern arises regarding time. I’m curious know and I will definitely inquirer more into it in future.

The Revival of Storytelling

UntitledI asked several people whether they know storytellers and if what story kept in their mind. Some of the answers: “My grandfather always told us stories.” or “I had an aunt. She always told us about her life when she was young.” or “My father knew everything about the people selling animals at the market.” They often said this with nostalgia and kind of sadness that they can’t remember those stories. Interestingly often storytellers were understood as people who tell the stories orally and in front of others, f.e. at the family table.

But that is only half of the story…

Somewhere I read: We are ALL storytellers. Unfortunately I can’t remember where but it is so true. Our life is so full of interesting stories and often we wish to share them. Some people write a book. Some write articles for a magazine. Some tell stories during a dinner when they meet friends. Others make professional movies and record their story. As a teacher I read or tell a story to children. Personally I really like to read autobiographies because they tell the story of an interesting person (Recently of Marcel Reich Ranicki, who is a well known German literature critic and survived the second world war amongst other skills by telling stories.)

There is a new dimension to the storytelling. Everybody is a storyteller but everybody has also to possibilities to record them – Digital Storytelling. Wikipedia says:

Digital storytelling refers to a short form of digital media production that allows everyday people to share aspects of their life story. … “Digital storytelling” is a relatively new term which describes the new practice of ordinary people who use digital tools to tell their ‘story’. Digital stories often present in compelling and emotionally engaging formats, and can be interactive.

This week I saw and listen to so many good stories and I’m amazed by the possibilities. It doesn’t have to be a huge and difficult project anymore. Because of the technology development over the past few years everybody can do it. You can choose to work with your laptop, your tablet or your smartphone. But technology is actually just a tool. If you want to go a little bit further then just recording something, follow The 7 elements of Storytelling or 50+ Web 2.0 Ways to Tell a Story.

Personally I again (like so often during this COETAIL course) feel positively overwhelmed (and stressed?) so I don’t know where to start and whether actually somebody wants to hear my story. I guess I just have to tell the story I have told many times before.

Soon to be continued … Soon one story will be told …

 

Great to visualize “Visual Literacy” in my mind!

It’s my 4th year as a language teacher at a PYP (Primary Years Programme) school now and I’m still learning. Sure, an online course “Making the PYP happen” 3 years ago got me into this curriculum but the real learning is happening in school and through constant (re-) discussion and reflection with colleagues.

During the preparation of the Parent Information Evenings amongst others we came across the “Strands of language” in PYP (Making the PYP happen, page 73). One of the strands is:

Visual communication: viewing and presenting
Viewing and presenting means interpreting or constructing visuals and multimedia in a variety of situations and for a range of purposes and audiences. They allow students to understand the ways in which images and language interact to convey ideas, values and beliefs. Visual images immediately engage viewers, allowing them instant access to data. Learning to interpret this data and to understand and use different media are invaluable skills. In the area of visual communication, students will learn to:

– understand, critically analyze and communicate information and ideas through a variety of visual media
– make informed choices in their personal viewing experiences
– use appropriate technology for effective presentation and representation.

In addition as one of the transdisciplinary skills I found in the same document page 22 the following:

Communication Skills

– Viewing Interpreting and analyzing visuals and multimedia; understanding the ways in which images and language interact to convey ideas, values and beliefs; making informed choices about personal viewing experiences.

–  Presenting Constructing visuals and multimedia for a range of purposes and audiences; communicating information and ideas through a variety of visual media; using appropriate technology for effective presentation and representation.

I think I was kind of aware of it that there was something written in the curriculum. But on the other hand I have to admit it was not there consciously enough regarding planning, teaching and learning. The readings this week make me more aware of the importance Media Literacy. The students should have “the ability to access, analyze, evaluate and produce communication in a variety of forms“, because I wish them to be a “thoughtful consumer and effective citizen” (Teaching Media Literacy Yo! Are you Hip to This?). Or even more like Jerry Christopherson said:

A visually literate person should be able to

– Interpret, understand and appreciate the meaning of visual messages;
– Communicate more effectively by applying the basic principles and concepts of visual design;
– Produce visual messages using computers and other technologies; and
– Use visual thinking to conceptualize solutions to problems.

What does it mean for me as a teacher?

The slideshow of Terri Sallee gave me great thoughts and inspiration for my own teaching. The Unit “Cultures” in Grade 5 was a good start for me to get more aware of the importance for the students for their inquiry within the classroom and even more important for their life as a learner.
In the German advanced class we decided to integrate through a German aspect: areas of the German culture. Later as a summative assessment the students will create interview questions, speak to people from other cultures and compare between the German and the different culture.  After a tuning in and brainstorm of areas of culture in general, amongst other topics the students chose to inquire more into gestures. Their question was What gestures exist in the German culture and what do they mean? My goal was to get them aware that there are same gestures but the meaning is different depending on the culture you are living in. Therefor we have to pay more attention using those gestures.

Photo Credit: ..Lobi via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: ..Lobi via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: ~dgies via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: ~dgies via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: hmboo via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: hmboo via Compfight cc

 

Photo Credit: Timothy Takemoto via Google
cc

 

Photo Credit: Jeremy Kemp via Wikipedia cc

Photo Credit: Jeremy Kemp via Wikipedia cc

 

 

 

 

To make sure that the students have a meaningful interaction with the pictures I wanted them to follow the visible thinking routine I see, I think, I wonder. It was important for me that first each student thinks by him- or herself and then shares with the elbow partner and the whole class. The students described what they see (I see), they read the picture (I think) and they questioned the picture (I wonder).

I could have done the gestures myself. By showing pictures I had the chance to get an idea of the prior knowledge of the students. During their talks with the partner I was able to observe the conversation.

The outcome of the whole class discussion was wonderful. It is the German advanced class, all students speak German fluently but there is a variety of culture and language backgrounds. They discovered and discussed the different meaning of the certain gestures with high interest because they could relate to their personal lives.

After a great discussions I gave them choices of non-fiction texts about other gestures. They could choose what they were interested in and practice the 5 key-words-reading strategy which was one of the language foci of the unit. Of course they also good a chance to share their understanding of the text later.

So far I concentrated on viewing visuals. Later towards the end of the unit, as soon as the students are going to prepare their presentation of the interview, my and their focus will change to producing and presenting visuals. It was not so easy for me to find really good and appropriate pictures which are free for use and share. My outcome – I definitely should contribute pictures I took more often.

Anyways … I’m excited to see how the students will visualize and message their understanding and I will try to support them as best as I can.

Small little changes of design

Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication - L. Da Vinci

Photo Credit: Wesley Fryer via Flickr

In the article, Understanding Visual Hierarchy in Web Design, Brandon Jones says,

“Good visual hierarchy isn’t about wild and crazy graphics or the newest photoshop filters, it’s about organizing information in a way that’s usable, accessible, and logical to the everyday site visitor.”

 

What actually does it mean – usable, accessible, and logical?!

Isn’t it related to the design of a web page as well as to the content? What is usable for who?! What additional information does the visitor want and how can I organize them? What does the reader wants to access on top of the blog post itself? How does the website make sense and is logical?

After reading the article mentioned above I got a little bit clearer in my mind. But at the same time I realized how complex this topic is.

Personally I always liked and preferred the minimalistic and simplified approach. Too many colors, to much advertisement, and too many information at the same time overwhelm me. Therefor from the beginning I chose a very plain and simple template for my own website. And still I wouldn’t change too much of the design which made me think more about the content.

Following what I thought about the past week and the small little changes I made:

The banner

Why did I choose the picture for the banner of the website?
Like teaching and learning, swing dancing is my passion although I go definitely not often enough. My first dancing partner drew this picture for me and it will always remind me to do things in life which I feel passion for. For me dancing means learning, moving, inspiration, being a risk taker as well as a communicator, and of course enjoyment and lightness. The picture doesn’t tell anything about the content of my blog though.

Well, I had two options: changing the picture or changing the title of the blog. It was/is a tough decision.

Decision for now: Let’s dance through life! Learning is like dancing.

The posts

The way each posts is shown on the website is not optimal yet. I like the idea very much to see each post with part of the picture of the post, the headline, and a teaser. That is a way easier way to scroll through the page and choose what you want to read. I haven’t found the right template yet but I’m working on it. Maybe somebody has an idea?

Information about me

Like I found on some other websites (f.e. https://cieradesign.com/blog/) I thought it would be a good idea to introduce myself right on the first page. Being at the confrence #OERde13 this weekend in Berlin showed me again how nice it is when you can connect the great inspiration you get through faces. It becomes more real and personal. It doesn’t have to be a lot, just a little bit. Of course that brings me to my “About me” page which could be improved as well.

Tag Cloud

By placing the tag widget at the top of the side menu, I felt it provides viewers the possibility to  scan the page and they might get an immediate idea of the blog’s content. I have never been really sure about the tags widget and honestly I neglected tags for my own blog post (or Evernote) as well. That will change because I see now the advantage of the tags.

Visitor Counting

Do I really need this? Does the reader really need this? Or is this just my ego which needs some confirmation? It’s nice to know that people read my blog but I came to the decision that I rather want people to comment on posts and to show that way their thoughts and interest. So I disabled it.

Design is still a matter of taste for me although there are certain rules and researches which describe the reading habits of visitors of a website. I try my best to focus on the content support by the design of this blog. Of course feedback is always highly appreciated. Thanks.