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INDT 501 – Reflection Week 4 – Information and Creativity

OK, so when I first read this week’s assignments I was thrilled! Photo editing? Creative storytelling? Custom search engine? – Heck yea! But then I started playing around and my excitement quickly turned into frustration. In fact, I am posting this on Sunday night because I couldn’t bring myself to re-open Scratch again after I first tried it on Wednesday. Today was better though. I actually did figure out how to use the control panel and finally created a little something on it. I’ll get back to that in just a minute.

Creativity is my absolute favorite part of teaching! I cannot imagine having a job where I did the same things day after day. You know that feeling you get after you just created something new? That sort of happy, euphoric feeling? That’s called pride in your work, and nothing will boost a kid’s confidence and solidify learning more than genuine pride in their workmanship. Creative class projects are the things my students remember the most. I’ll see a student in the grocery store who graduated three years ago and he’ll inevitably mention one of the projects he created in my class. They keep the ones they are most proud of – and so do I, when they let me.

So let me talk a bit about Scratch. I played with it for quite some time and worked through frustration and almost tears until I actually made this little story starter. (My 5 year old son, Eliot, was watching me make it, so he became the star). It’s not a whole story, but I was still pretty proud of how it turned out. I don’t know if I would use Scratch in my classroom, though. First of all the fact that it has to be downloaded to the computer would mean that I would have to ask the ITRT to get this onto all of the computers in the lab, since I don’t have access to do such things. And it’s not very user friendly. I have used software or other websites that are similar in that respect. Where the students (and I) become frustrated while trying to learn how to use it. While I agree that working through frustration is often a part of the creative process, and can be a valuable step, I also believe that many students get lost along the way. In a class of 27 I would be willing to bet that at least a third would give up, another third would actually create something wonderful, and then the rest would fall somewhere in the middle. Perhaps working in pairs could remedy that, but the Scratch software isn’t really conducive to having more than one creator (too many cooked, ya know?)

I love the idea of Scratch though. I teach creative writing and right now my students are writing children’s stories. They are using StoryJumper.com to create books and illustrate their work. This website is free and incredibly user friendly. The students are having a blast, and when they’re done, they can actually purchase hardbound copies of their books! This is not a requirement of course, but it’s a cool feature. I also have them using ToonDoo to create characters to put into their stories if Story Jumper doesn’t have what they need. It’s time consuming, but they can access the websites at home, and the time is worth it because they’re taking pride in their work. This is the first time I have used Story Jumper, and I am excite to see their results. I wrote stories for my kids with their actual pictures in them and will be ordering them, it’s pretty cool!

Two things that we were asked to explore this week that I really did love were the custom search engine and the website evaluation information I plan to share Kathleen Shrock’s evaluation sheet with my students in the near future. I was able to create a custom search engine for The Odyssey which my students will be reading in the spring. I never knew about this and I think it is fabulous!! I plan to use it all of the time, actually. Anytime I have a topic that I want my students to research, I will start by making another custom search engine. I can see how this might be limiting, since the students will miss out on finding those little gems out there that I may have missed, however for freshman, I think it provides a good start to learning how to navigate the internet.

And finally, the photo editing. Well I edit photos in Photoshop daily as a part of my job as a photographer. I also taught photography last year, and may very well be asked to do so again in the future. I thought iPiccy was great. Easy to use, all the basic editing tools, and free. I took this photo:
cocoapods

I thought it was a little dull and needed some color enhancements. so I cropped it in and used levels and curves to brighten it up and increase the contrast. I then used the paint tool to enhance the colors manually. I found the glare distracting so I used the clone tool to remove that. Here is my finished product:
cocoapods1
Not too shabby.

I could definitely see myself using iPiccy for class assignments.

References:

iPiccy http://ipiccy.com/

Scratch http://scratch.mit.edu/projects/Bwebber/3095590

Shrock, K. (2009). Evaluation of a website.Retrieved from http://kathyschrock.net/eval/pdfs/evalhigh.pdf

Story Jumper http://www.storyjumper.com

ToonDoo http://www.toondoo.com

~ by bwebber on .

INDT 501

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