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Creative Commons

As I explore resources for my students to use in their Genocide Project, I have been looking for images that are available under Creative Commons licencing. I discovered Wikicommons a few weeks ago but just discovered the coolest thing. When looking for an accurate description for what a Creative Commons licence is, I found Creative Commons Canada. On this site, if you click on get content, it takes you to a site where you can type in the subject of the image you are looking for and it takes you to a tabbed version of familiar search engines and sites like Flicker and Wikicommons but only profiles the images, sites and videos that are licenced under Creative Commons. This will be an invaluable resource for my students and I wanted to share it with you!



I commented earlier on the Wiki that I had used Google SketchUp with my class so I decided to explore what other tools Google offered. I discovered Picasa, a downloadable application for editing and publishing photos. This application also allows you to organize your photos into slide shows, collages, web albums, and video.
Upon first exploration I did not find many more advantages to using Picasa over iPhoto or any other photo editing and sharing applications. I was able to find two different uses for this application, one being the Collage creator which was easy to use and offers some possibilities for use in the classroom. Students could take photos that they have taken and arrange them in a collage for presentation.

Working on the collage

The finished product
Another unique feature of this application is the Places feature that combines your photos with Google Maps and allows you to flag a place on a map with a photograph. This could be used by students to plot the action in a book on a map. Students could stage events from the book and photograph them, edit their photos and plot them on a map to illustrate the setting of a book.

Aside from these two feature, Picasa was not much different from other photo editing applications. It offers some creative features and could be used in a classroom setting but it was not something that I was overly excited about. I am sure that there are cooler things out there to use!

Playing With the Possibilities: ToonDoo

I wanted to begin by exploring a tool that some of my students are using right now as part of a Literacy Circle. One of their assignments was to do a timeline of major events in their book and I suggested using ComicLife and one of my boys also suggested to use ToonDoo. I have never used it before but some of my students did last year during a Novel Study with our TL. So I took this as an opportunitiy to explore the tool so that I can help those students who choose to use it.
Here is a shot of me playing.

Here is my first attempt at creating a ToonDoo.


I then decided to use it for a purpose that I may actually ask my students to do. One idea that I had for use for this tool is to capture a moment in history. I decided to express a scene where a mother is preparing her son to go to Residential School. I wanted to see if it was possible to express something with a serious context in this format. Here is my finished cartoon.
Leaving for School

I think that it actually turned out pretty well however, there are some concerns that I have with this application. When I was looking for a background to use with my cartoon, I found that they were fairly Americanized. I could not find a field of grasses or prairie without a cactus or adobe house included. I do like the look of the wooded area, especially with the use of the black silhouettes.

That brings me to the reason I had to use silhouettes in this depiction. When I tried to search the image of a woman, they were either very cartoony or depicted ethnic stereotypes. All images of Aboriginal people featured feathers in their hair and loin clothes. This also applied to images of African people, Indian people and Asian people. They too were depicted only by stereotypical representations. Because of this, I chose to change the images to silhouette form. This allowed me to avoid that type of representation which I feel would be inappropriate for the subject matter. Because of this, I would only recommend that this be used with a disclaimer about the kinds of images that they would have as options for use in their cartoons.

The iDanielle: What I Would Like to See

I tuned into my TeachPaperless blog today with a purpose. I wanted to see what she thought of the iPad. I fully anticipated a plethora of great ideas and praise for all of it’s possibilities for schools. I wanted to be able to march into my principal’s office on Monday and declare that I had solved all of our technology problems and beg her for permission to fundraise for this new piece of magic. That did not happen.

And I quote “Will the iPad and the iMac someday merge into a teacher-approved wonder device? Not today.” But does that mean someday?

I began to wonder what exactly I was hoping for so I have taken to this forum to think out loud about my ideal educational device would be and so I reveal to you: The iDanielle.

1. It needs to be affordable, less than $500
2. Touch screen, no mouse needed please
3. Big enough to read a full website without needing to zoom
4. I would like to print from it, maybe a place where you can load like ten pieces of paper into a tray and it shoots them out the side.
5. Internet access of coarse
6. A Kindle like program to eliminate all of the pesky between library book sharing where there are never enough copies available.
7. All the cool programs like Garage Band, ComicLife, imovie etc.
8. A word processor
9. Downloadable applications
10. Enough memory to support games like the Sims that I like to teach with.
11. All day battery

Basically, all I want is an affordable hybrid Macbook/Kindle/ipod. Is that too much to ask? I think not so if can have my wish my iDanielle will be coming soon to the SuperWalmart of my dreams. But that is a whole different post…

Exploring the Possibilities

During the discussions about Teen Second Life it was noted that earlier Regina Public Schools groups have been restricted to the RPS island.  I fully understand the risks of exposing students to the outside world of TSL but I am  interested in exploring the use of TSL as a venue for  global interaction with other teens around the world.  I was very intrigued by the possibilities in Adult SL of visiting art galleries and ancient civilizations and I am disappointed that those types of activities are restricted in TSL. I think that it is important for teachers to introduce students to the possibilities of using social media for global interaction in a constructive and educational way.  They know how to use it to socialize but by the time they begin to enter post secondary education and the work force, social media will be used routinely for so much more than social interaction.  We began this course with discussions about teachers being responsible to use media and technology in the classroom because it is the reality of our students world but  maybe we should also try to keep ahead of the trends when we can.  I know that that sounds daunting given some previous discussions about teacher fear, resistance and lack of ability but perhaps for some of us that are comfortably working with technology this should be a priority.

I was exploring YouTube and came upon this video that made me think of the global possibilities of TSL. I think that participation in a project like this should be explored with students that are comfortable using Second Life so activities that I have seen like RPS Culture Project and Social Issues Project would be a great introduction to using SL.  After this, I think it would be interesting to explore the options for global collaboration.

Or how about this project.  Talk about immersion!

What I began to notice was that all the projects and interactions that I was drawn to seemed to be organized by Global Kids.

Hmmmm. Interesting.  This is something that I would like to explore.  I am thinking not so much to be involved in the organization directly but perhaps to take some of their  mission and adapt it.  Using technology opens up so many possibilities and it is very frustrating to me to see how often and easily the access can be restricted.  Just the fact that RPS employees in this class were unable to access SL from school shows a lack of understanding of the possibilities.    There are so many things that are possible!

And then I found this:

That was just entertaining!

Active Patience

I just read a blog posted on Teach Paperless that I think was written just for me!  I have been posting about many of the frustrations that I have with other teachers, the school and the school board and the inclusion of various technologies and low and behold there is a blog written all about that!

The author talks about having active patience with others and by that she means the kind of patience that you have when teaching someone something.  She calls for allowance of time for teachers to use social media and technology to pursue personal interests (oh no, there is that time thing again.) in order to give them a space to become comfortable and familiar with what is available to them personally before they use it in their classroom. Maybe teachers should be encouraged to subscribe to a blog or join a group or even start by signing up for Facebook and get used to integrating technology into their lives first.  Maybe we all need to sign up for Twitter and Tweet out to each other everyday!  Not only will this integrate technology into their lives but it will create a friendly workspace!

There is no way to avoid what is happening to our world. We are connected in so many more ways than we could ever have imagined.  Being frustrated does nothing to help.  We should celebrate each other’s strengths and encourage each other to learn and use new things.  Any suggestions for how to get this started?