Week 7: Passion Projects

February 12, 2018Passion Project Bulb

It’s time to begin planning for something called Passion Projects. Some call it Genius Hour, while some prefer 20% Time, but it’s all the same thing. You decide on a subject you are passionate about, something you’d like to learn about, make a change for the better in, develop a project around it so that you learn from the process (not just by researching online) and devote 20% of your classroom time each week on that project that you chose.

First, let’s get the idea down of what we mean by passion.

OK, that gives an idea of what passion is, but how is that a project?

As Kesler points out in his video, you should start with a driving question. A driving question is hard to define, so let’s start with thinking of a passion project in two types:

  1. One in which you teach yourself something you don’t already know, but are interested in learning (French, crochet, cabinet-making)
  2. One in which you solve a problem, say, a problem in your community.

The second can be divided further:

  • educating others
  • calling people to action
  • planning an event
  • raising money for a purpose
  • recognizing or inspiring others
  • designing a better way to do something

So a driving question should be one that is not answered with “yes” or “no”, but at length, the length of your project, actually. A few examples:

  1. How can I use a favorite game/cartoon character to teach algebra concepts or the history of WW2?
  2. What kind of weekly interaction could I come up with that could raise the spirits of nursing home residents?
  3. How could I raise money (several ways?) to donate to a homeless shelter? What’s my goal?

What do you want to know more about? What would you like to learn to do? Or what wrongs would you like to right in your community? One way to put that question is, “What breaks your heart?” The question must be one that will involve research and end in a product or service or learning that can be shown or demonstrated. What kind of question can we start with?

 

1. We will use “backward planning,” deciding on what we want as an end product, then planning how to get there. Will there be a product, like a video, a book, a website, pieces of jewelry? Will there be an event like a benefit fundraiser, a trip, a portfolio, a show? Will there be a model of a building, a campus, a robot? Then, how do you get to that point?

2. One component that will help you is having a mentor. Depending on what your subject area is, you’ll need to decide on and contact someone to be your mentor. A mentor would be someone who is a professional or expert in the field you are seeking to learn about. This person will be a contact for you, someone to give you ideas, help you consider ideas you may not have thought of, make contact with other people you may not have thought of, someone to check in with. In short, this person will help you to reach your goal and motivate you.

Your mentor does not have to live locally. These days, you can communicate through social media or by phone or even by Facetime or Skype. For instance, if you wanted to explore some area of medicine, find a doctor who might mentor you. Interested in interior design? Perhaps a professional designer or an instructor from a university could help you out. Many adults would welcome the opportunity to mentor a student interested in their own career choice.

3. You’ll keep your learning transparent by posting your progress to your blog weekly. It’s helpful to post photos or videos to show folks where you are in the process. YOU WILL NEED IMAGES THROUGHOUT YOUR PROCESS SO YOU HAVE THEM FOR YOUR FINAL PRESENTATION. Tell your audience about obstacles and how you surmounted them. That’s part of the learning process.

4. Start brainstorming. If you feel compelled to say, “I don’t know what I’m interested in.” STIFLE IT. Brainstorm anyway. So many students say they hate being told what to do, what they have to learn. They wonder, “when am I ever going to need this?” Well, this is your chance to explore something YOU want to learn, something relevant to you. Use it.

Need some ideas? Here are lots from York School:

Where will you find your passion?

Need more samples? Here are some good TED talks from GrossPointe, a high school who does Genius Hour projects and presents as TED talks at the end. Once you connect to this one, you can scroll through and look at more of them.

You can also look under the student tab of this site to see some examples from previous semesters. Take into consideration, however, that although part of the assignment is to post the presentation to your blog at the end, many never did it.

Keep thinking!

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Week 6: What’s your digital footprint look like?

February 6, 2018

Challenge yourself with a couple of questions:

  1. How are you preparing for life after high school, whether you go to college, technical school or straight into the workforce? Make a list.
  2. What do the words “digital footprint” or “digital tattoo” mean to you? Make a list.

Now, what does one have to do with the other? After defining what a digital footprint is – the positives and the negatives of a digital footprint – you should see that decreasing the negative aspects and increasing the positive aspects should be a part of the first list.

To help you understand some of what composes your digital footprint/tattoo, watch the following video:

 

Some of what goes into your digital footprint is unavoidable, but much can be controlled by you and should be:

 

Ever think about what your own digital footprint looks like? What might others find if they searched for your profiles and other pieces of your profile?

 

Your assignment for the week is to do a search on yourself. If you can, do the search without logging into anything from the computer you are on. Use a lab Mac, if necessary. Look for information as well as images. What can you find through Google or other search engines? Is there more than one person with your name? Look at the information on this infographic about Google Yourself searches and try some of the tips provided. Consider asking a friend, logged in to social media accounts, to search for you and see what comes up.

Once you find information about yourself, determine if it is information you’d like to have found about you by potential employers, college admissions counselors or scholarship grantors. If you were the college admissions specialist or employer looking for a solid employee, would you choose you?

Write a blog post about what you have learned about digital footprint, possibly using what you found about your own as a hook for the post.  Be sure you discuss what you can do to create a positive digital footprint to move your schooling and career forward. Also reflect on your privacy settings and discuss what changes you may make to your habits and to your social media privacy settings and what you hope that will accomplish.

As usual, draft in Google docs, share with a peer for feedback, then share with me. You may use an image from creative commons to go along with your final blog post. Be sure you credit it correctly.

Week 5: Using images and understanding copyright

Jan. 29, 2018

Now that you have blogs, you need to know how to use images properly. If you missed the discussion in class you can find useful information about copyright law on the Student Press Law Center website, splc.org.

We will/did begin by taking a quiz to figure out what we already know about copyright law and what images and other content we can and cannot use. Going over the quiz creates discussion points to learn what we don’t already know about copyright.

Here is another take on describing copyright and fair use, and an entertaining one.

With a basic understanding of copyright law and fair use exceptions, it’s time to explore legitimate ways of finding images you CAN use for your blogs and presentations. A way of licensing work that allows the owners to keep some rights, but still allow use by others is Creative Commons, and there are several sites where creatives share their images with Creative Commons licensing.

The best sources I have found for Creative Commons images are:

Wikimedia Commons: Wikimedia is an open source of free educational content that is contributed to by others. What I like about Wikimedia Commons is that it encourages participation with monthly challenges.

Flickr:  Flickr is a community in which photographers share work. If  you are a photographer, or would like to learn those skills, consider joining this community and sharing your work. On the Flickr site, put a topic in the search bar to find images you might be able to use. You will need to filter your search by usage rights in the upper left. Beneath the photo you will find the information you need for attribution: the title (if there is one), the author and a link to the type of license. Hang onto this info. If you plan to download one of these and use it, you’ll need the attribution information.

Pixabay: Much like Flickr, Pixabay has a search bar and many images. You don’t have to have an account, and images are free, but they like donations. When you pull up a group of images, you’ll note that the top rows have a Shutterstock watermark on them. These cost money, but all the ones below that I have ever clicked on are in the Public Domain. You can download, note the author, but instead of a license, you note Public Domain.

Photopin: This is a new one I found as I was searching for more possibilities. It seems to work much like Flickr and Pixabay, with a search bar, multiple images, download capability and licensing information. They promote themselves as “free images for bloggers and creatives”, so it seems promising, but I haven’t used this site personally.

Your assignment: Write a post on your choice of topics: any special interests you have, anything you’ve learned lately (like this), issues you and your peers face, something in the news – whatever – just consider what kind of image would go well with it. Don’t forget to share your draft with a classmate for feedback, then revise and share with me for additional feedback. Consider revising again to make it the best it can be for posting.

Search for the perfect image in one of the above Creative Commons sources. Once you have selected and downloaded your image. Add the image to your post. You’ll find an image icon under the + sign. Load the image to your WordPress gallery from your download folder. Then insert it into the post (it will insert wherever your cursor is). By clicking on the image in your post you’ll have the option for captioning information. In the captioning box, attribute the photo, following the TASL format: Title, Author, Source and License, in a continuous written caption, providing links to the photo and to the license.

Title: When you click to download your photo, there is usually, but not always, a title for the photo. It may be a simple slug, like “traffic light”.

Author: This is the owner of the image. Sometimes it’s a full name; sometimes it’s a username.

Source: Where did you get the photo? Pixabay? Flickr? I usually follow the owners’ name with “via Flickr”.

License: Depending on the source, the license may be clear on the download page or you may need to click on a link to take you to it. The link might say “some rights reserved”. What you see will be something like CC by NC 2.0 or similar.

After adding category and tagging information and proofreading ONE MORE TIME, you are ready to publish.

Week 3: Building a blog

January 16, 2018

wordpress-589121_1280

CC0 Public Domain

It’s time to get started on our blogs, which are simple web sites on which you can post your own content. Pay careful attention to the name of your blog and your name as the blogger. You’ll choose a theme – what your blog looks like – to reflect your personality and the purpose of the blog. You can change later on if you want. You’ll write a bio for the About Me page and maybe a “Welcome to my blog” post, to invite others to your blog.

Your blog is the main component of your work in this class. You’ll want to put lots of thought into the impression you create on the home page and on the About Me page that includes your bio.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so some care and thought should be given to what info you provide about yourself, what you write about and what tone you write in. And, to be taken seriously, you want your writing to be correct. You may not want your voice to be formal – and that’s OK – but you still want to capitalize and spell properly and use correct subject verb agreement so readers can follow your thoughts. Take advantage of your classmates and their editing skills, as well as that of your instructor.

Your blog will be posted publicly, so do not provide too much personal information. We’ll talk more about that.

You have had an introduction to what blogging is all about and a crash course in terminology. If you missed it or want to review it, here it is.

To recap:

  • Start a WordPress account, and save your blog name and password somewhere.
    • Because of the district email address limitations, you’ll have to create the blog with another email address to receive the confirmation email.
  • Find a good blog name (it will be the URL) and blogger name (this is  you)
  • Search themes for one you like. This is what your blog looks like.
  • Come up with a tagline, a brief line or sentence that tells more about your purpose.
  • Continue individualizing your blog with header titles, header images, widgets and color choices.
  • Draft a Welcome to My Blog post in Google Drive and share with classmates and instructor for feedback to make it interesting and engaging.
  • Draft a bio, a bit about yourself, in Google Drive. This will go on the About Me page of your blog. I’ll give you more specific instructions later in the week.
  • Finally, post your TED reflection as your first real post (after the Welcome post)

If you work fast (and well) and get ahead of your peers:

  • You may write an additional blog post.
  • You may search WordPress to read other blogs. Consider commenting on some.

You will have questions. You will have answers. Help each other out. Ask when you need help, but don’t be afraid to explore WordPress and get to know this Open Source app. If you can’t figure something out, someone else has usually run across the problem, and Google can find the conversation.

Let’s blog.

Week 2: Reflecting on creativity

Jan. 9, 2018

Today we will watch the following video together. Pay attention to the content of Svitak’s talk and observe her skills as a presenter. Look below for the assignment related to the video.

You will write a reflection on the video. For your convenience, I have developed a list of guiding questions. Take a look at these to consider what type of information to include in your reflection.

Do not, however, simply answer the questions. Remember that you are writing for an audience who does not know you (think about your ideal reader), who does not know me, who certainly does not know what the assignment was or what the questions are. You have to sort of include the question content in the answer. For instance, if the question is, what is your favorite kind of ice cream? Don’t write your reflection with a sentence like, “Chocolate.” Your readers would have no idea what you are referring to. Your response would be more like, “My favorite kind of ice cream is chocolate.” Or, even better, tell a story:

When I was between the ages of 4 and 8, I visited my grandparents for two weeks every summer. My grandmother was the controlling sort who demanded I clean my plate because “children were starving in China.” But Grandpa was fun. We’d build things like birdhouses or go fishing or go metal detecting and find all kinds of treasures. And, several afternoons a week, we’d go to town. Grandpa would take me to this little drugstore that had a soda fountain and get me an ice cream. They had this marvelous strawberry ice cream that was unlike anything I’ve ever found since. I’d sit on that chrome and green vinyl barstool at the counter and eat my strawberry ice cream cone while Grandpa visited with his buddies. As delicious as it was, I knew the whole time I was eating it, I was going to get into trouble because I wouldn’t be hungry enough to finish my dinner when we got home. But it was worth it.

Which would you rather read?

Look over the questions. Tell your readers, whom you do not know, about the video. You’ll have to introduce it or they won’t know what you’re referring to. Then discuss some of the aspects brought up by the questions. If you can pull in stories or examples, please do so. Finish up by referring to her presentation skills and talk about your own presentation, what you did well and what you’d like to improve upon.

Use your best knowledge of grammar, usage, spelling, punctuation. You’ll be publishing this. But before you do, share with someone in class (get their email address), and ask them to read and give you feedback with comments. Take what they have to say into consideration and make any improvements you wish. Then share with me. I’ll give you feedback as well. My goal is to help you be an effective blogger, whether that means improving spelling and sentence structure or helping you add story-telling elements to make it more interesting.

This item will be your first blog post once we get the blogs up and running.

Week 1: Your audience

Jan. 6, 2017

As you know, our main focus in this digital communications class will be online communication in the form of producing written content for blogs. As you are writing your articles, which are more than simply answering a few questions for the teacher, you will do better by imagining your ideal reader.

stick-figure-390777_1280

Image by PDPics via Pixabay CC0 Public Domain

First I will demonstrate for you some highlights of using Google docs, like controlling fonts and spacing, how to share and comment. We’ll discuss how to provide feedback for each other so you can help one another develop your drafts to be top-notch content capable of holding an audience.

Ah – that audience. So to practice using the Google docs and the sharing and providing of feedback, we’re going to start with a fun assignment. When  you write your blog posts, they’ll go live where they can be read online by anyone, anywhere.

The question is, who will be most interested in your content?

Will it be a 20-year-old college student attending a liberal arts school in Pennsylvania? What’s her major? What does she like to do in the spare time she rarely has? Does she have any bad habits she’d like to break? What good habits is she trying to develop?

Or is your ideal reader an high school junior who just moved to a new school and would rather play video games and make friends in the blogging community than with the people he’s met so far at his school?

Is your ideal reader one of two or three conservative 15-year-olds in a field of liberals at a California alternative school for gifted students?

Use your imagination. Tell me who your ideal reader is. Describe all kinds of things about him or her and tell me why he or she likes your blog so much. Is it the straightforwardness of your opinions in your posts? Is it the imagery you use in your descriptions? Or maybe you’ve worked really hard on your theme (what your blog looks like), and everything has aesthetic appeal. Maybe you’re really good at providing lots of links to additional information, and your reader likes that he can depend on you to have done good research and provide plenty of additional information.

Remember that even this assignment is being created to engage and entertain. People will be reading it, so make it interesting. Proofread it for flow and correcting any errors before you share with a classmate. Make any revisions you deem necessary, then ask Snider to read and provide feedback.

Enjoy the exercise and have fun with it. Write, share, edit and revise, having it polished by end of class Monday.

Week 15: Understanding Cyberbullying

November 27

Cyberbullying. It’s a word nearly everyone is familiar with, but not everyone really knows exactly what it is. We know it’s online bullying, but where do you draw the line between teasing, criticizing and bullying? How many different things constitute cyberbullying? What are the penalties for what types of behavior?

This week, we’ll discuss different cases as they pertain to civil and criminal law, and you’ll hopefully come out with a better understanding and more sensitivity.

Tuesday: On the board, we will share ideas about what we consider to be cyberbullying behavior. You will then research to find case examples from the news of cyberbullying for use in class. Within a few minutes, be prepared to share the following:

  • A bit about the victim
  • A bit about the perpetrator
  • A summary of events
  • Results: What finally happened? Has the case been resolved?

We will to over legal aspects of cyberbullying and then share the cases we came across, looking at what civil law is and what criminal law is and how each applies to cyberbullying. We will apply this knowledge to the individual cases.

Your assignment for the week is to further analyze your case, adding in prior knowledge of your own according to the law information. What type of bullying does your case fall under? Who is the victim and who is the perpetrator? Are any bystanders guilty? Do any civil laws apply? Could someone sue? Could they win? What about criminal law? Could anyone be arrested? Fined? Does the perpetrator have any defenses?

Thoroughly analyze the case in a blog post for the week.

Remember to make the post interesting for your reader. You are telling a story and explaining something important, including what you have learned. Background information for your reader may be necessary.

Week 14: Create a Manifesto

November 14, 2014

Manifesto

What is a manifesto? A mashup of several definitions looks like this: A public declaration of intentions, motives or views.

What manifestos do you know from history?

  • The Declaration of Independence
  • The 10 Commandments or even The Bible according to one list, so, yes, a book can be a manifesto
  • I Have a Dream speech by Martin Luther King
  • The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
  • Here’s to the Crazy Ones, Apple’s ad after Steve Jobs’s return as CEO

There are many more. One example we’ll look at in several forms is the Holstee Manifesto, which was created by founders of a design company called Holstee. Mike, Fabian and Dave sat outside and focused as they began to form the idea of what they wanted from life and how they wanted their start-up company to fit into that. This is what they came up with, and a video was eventually born of it.

Then someone set the words to music with voice-over and animation.

And THEN, someone put it to actual video in a creative way. Same words, but how might the message be received differently?

What are your intentions? What motivates you? What are your views on life, love, happiness? Or other things? What is your manifesto?

Today, research manifestos to get a broader idea of how manifesto has been interpreted by others. Pinterest will pull up a plethora of items when you put “manifesto” in the search bar. Then, brainstorm to figure out what you stand for, what motivates you, what empowers you. Write your manifesto. Share it and get feedback for what works, what needs work. Revise.

Things to consider:

  • First person? I am creative. I am strong. I will …
  • Second person, like commands? Go ahead and be yourself. Be strong.
  • Third person is less common and is sometimes mixed with the others: People will try to … Courage is … Leaders are built from …
  • If using a bulleted type of manifesto, try to use parallel structure, meaning your sentences should be built similarly. If you use second person commands, each sentence should begin with a verb: Be yourself. Communicate ideas. Open your mind. If you are using first person, begin each sentence basically the same way, with a first person pronoun and a verb: I will begin each day … We will rise above … I am strong …
  • You may choose to write your manifesto in more of a paragraph format like King’s speech.
  • Avoid cliche. Write YOUR manifesto. Make it personal.
  • Revise until you have the best parts and it isn’t too long, because …

Part 2: App that Manifesto

After you have written, shared and revised your manifesto, you will be ready to create a presentation for it. You’ll want to consider dividing up parts of your manifesto, whether that’s line-by-line or chunks that go together. These chunks should be able to be represented with images of some sort. You can use your own images, taken with your phone or camera of your family and friends, or you can use images from Creative Commons or you can create drawings and scan them or you can create other images with programs.

You have several options of web-based apps to use, and I’ve provided a few examples below:

Haikudeck has begun charging since I used it, but there is still a free version with limited decks. Just click on ‘get started’ then ‘continue free’. I used either copyright-free images provided by Haikudeck or went through a creative commons site like Flickr, Pixabay or Wikimedia. My manifesto from Nov. 2015 with Haikudeck. Under edit, this is set to public, so it should play without having to sign in.

PhotoPeach is another option, very similar to Haikudeck, but you can also use transitions and music. This is the PhotoPeach version of my manifesto from Feb. 2015.  It is set to public, so it should play without having to sign in.

And for my new try at a new app, there is PowToon, more appropriate for funny things than serious, but its advantage is that it can be uploaded to YouTube. Here is my Manifesto, by way of PowToon.

Other apps to try are Emaze, with presentation templates already made, ready for you to customize; VoiceThread, an app in which you load photos, then record a voiceover of you reading your manifesto, then time the slides to coincide the way you want them to. Feel free to use another if you know of one you’d like to try, but the object is to apply current knowledge to help you learn new technology, to write something original and creative, using processes that include sharing and revising, to use images and, possibly music, while observing copyright laws.

These two big tasks, writing and creating the presentation may take some time to do your best, so the project is due by the end of class Tuesday, Nov.28. We will present Me Manifestos in class beginning Wednesday. Volunteers go first, then I draw from a hat, so be ready to go Wednesday. The lab is open to you at lunch or after school.

Below are a couple examples from earlier semesters:

An Athlete’s Manifesto

An Emily Manifesto

Katlyn’s Manifesto

Be original, be sincere, and make people think.

You will share your manifesto in a brief presentation. You will simply introduce what you focused on, where you got images, what app you used. The presentation should speak for itself.

Week 13: Easy Graphics Design

Nov. 6, 2017

Everything’s better with good visuals. Meet Canva, a user-friendly graphic design tool with almost unlimited options. You may be wondering what you can use it for or what you will be using it for. Here are some ideas:

  • Blog header
  • Presentation opening slide
  • Information graphic
  • Facebook or Twitter header
  • Book cover or ebook cover
  • Magazine cover (real or pretend)
  • Menus
  • Social media post images
  • What else can you think of?

No one is you

 

Creations can be made from free images on Canva or images for $1 each. Or you can upload your own. Templates provide a variety of layouts. There are also backgrounds, icons, illustrations, just everything you can think of to create what you need. And, again, you can upload your own.

Once your image is complete, you can download as a jpg for web at a lower resolution or a higher resolution pdf for print. It’s all user-friendly.

Think of how you can use Canva for last week’s listicle or for your Passion Project, as well as other possibilities. Work this week on at least one image for a digicomm project, but spend some time playing around with it and see how many different uses you can find and creations you can make.

Don’t forget to update your audience by the end of the week about your Passion Project.

Week 11: The Listicle

10

October 25, 2017

lis / ti / cle

‘listək(ə)l’ n. Written content, such as an article, presented in the form of a list. For example: Buzzfeed’s “20 Cheatsheets For When You’re Trying to Eat a Little Healthier”

With today’s short attention spans and the easy opportunity the internet provides to just click away from boring content, writers need to grab visitors’ attention and hold it. Readers want their information in bite-sized bits, and it’s even better if the bite sizes are appetizing – with sprinkles. Enter, the listicle.

Though it’s been around for decades (every year-end has a roundup of the year’s most memorable moments, best/worst movies, top recording hits, etc.), this form of article has been made more popular by Buzzfeed, Mic, Huffington post and other sites. However, it’s also a popular form for many, many blog posts. Check Pinterest for blogging ideas and inevitably, you’ll see links to content about the types of posts you can write for your new blog. Those posts are invariably written as lists and include a point about Top 10 Somethings or 5 Favorite Places to Go For Something or 17 Reason You need A Something.

Your Assignment

This week, we’ll write listicles. The options are endless, so you’ll brainstorm for topics, decide on an angle, then create a list of points and either add to or pare down. Then you’ll  find or create images or GIFs to go with your points.

You’ll write an introduction portion, the list and a conclusion. Look at some current listicles to get ideas, starting with the sources in this post or Pinterest. You will have to think and create and write and go find images and put it together, so manage your time.

Where to Start?

The nonprofitcopywriter suggests deciding first what kind of list you want to write:

  1. Personal Experience: Writing about your own experiences.
    “13 Sibling battles every Non-Only Child Can Relate To” (I just made that up, but I could produce it)
    “13 Books That Have Taught Me Empathy”
  2. Advice: Pairing expert advice with your own insight is a good combination.
    Regain Lost Energy and Positivity With These 5 Proven Strategies”
  3. Researched Lists: Do the research for your readers and report your findings.
    “Safety First: These 5 Cars Have the Highest Crash Safety Rating”
  4. Editorial lists: Note trends, then gather links with a particular angle for presentation.
    “21 of the Most Circulated Completely False News Stories During the Presidential Campaign”
  5. Mega lists: Many items listed together
    “89 References to Shakespeare in ‘The Simpsons’”
  6. Short lists: Under 10 items
    “2 Times Presidential Candidates Totally Kept Their Campaign Promises” (I thought zero was too negative and I really don’t know how many times it’s actually happened. Maybe this one should fall under researched lists?)

Of course, your list could be serious, helpful and heartfelt or ridiculously silly – and heartfelt. That’s up to you and has a lot to do with your writer voice.

On Headlines

Though listicle headline writing may seem straightforward (it’s a list. With a number. How hard is that?), you can still write a boring one or a compelling one. consider:

“My Top 5 Blog Posts of 2016”
vs.
“My 5 Blog Posts that had Readers Rethinking Their Lives”

Pinterest, again, is a good place to note how well (or not) writers write compelling headlines.

Regarding the numbers, evidence seems to bear out that odd numbers draw more readers than even ones, 10 being the exception. You’ll see 21 more often than you’ll see 20. Some experimentation also indicates that prime numbers (those divisible only by themselves) get more clicks. Go figure. Really. You may need a calculator. I would.

On Images

Besides the catchy headline, listicles use images, even GIFs, for each point in the list, which makes them more fun and very popular for sharing.

“So, Snider, I’ve got a couple ideas. Now what?”

Do your ideas lend themselves to still images or GIFs? For still, you know the drill: Flickr, Pixabay, Wikimedia or DIY. For GIFs, you can Google the subject + GIF. Or you can check out giphy.com.

Your writing needs to be concise and clear. It needs to be informing and entertaining, whether you are serious or humorous. USE MODELS. Look at a lot of these and imagine yourself creating something like it, but about your own topic.

Go to your figurative cubicle. Ignore your neighbor unless you or s/he needs help and put in headphones, if necessary. Focus. See you on the other side.

Week 10: from drafts to posts, a process

October 16, 2017

This week we will practice generating ideas and being proficient and efficient with time. Each day, I will provide a couple of prompts, either videos or quotes – or both. You may chose between them or try both, but you are to draft (quickly write) a response. Use the class time; don’t write two sentences using five minutes of class time and call it a day. Use the time you have in class to explore either or both prompts.

By the end of the week, choose the one you most connected with to write a full post. When we return from fall break, we will have only three days. Use that time to develop and complete the post, which means sharing for feedback, revising and improving, and posting with an image relevant to your topic. If you used a video prompt, include the video. If you find an image, make sure it’s in Public Domain or found in Creative Commons and credit properly.

Really try to go through the writing process for this assignment, drafting to get ideas down, choosing your best then improving on the product to make it a good post, relevant to you and to readers who may come along.

If you have time remaining, catch up or improve on previous work or follow classmates. Read their posts and comment. If you like something, share it on Twitter and tag them. Let’s build followers!

Monday’s prompts: Angela Duckworth’s TED talk on Grit  or the following prompt:

Whatever comes after ‘I am …” will find you, so be careful.”

Tuesday’s prompts: Tim Urban’s TED talk on Procrastination and the Instant Gratification Monkey

Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day. – Jim Rohn

Wednesday’s prompts: Simon Sinek on Millennials in the workplace

Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity, to seize everything you ever wanted in one moment. Would you capture it or just let it slip? – Eminem

Week 9: Double your fun

October 9, 2017

We have a nice, full week ahead of us, and since we met one-on-one last week, I feel confident you are all mostly caught up with previous tasks. So we’ll focus on two things this week: A new, but fairly easy lesson and advancing your passion project.

Part 1: Using the Twitterverse to expand your PLNtwitter-312464_640

Last week I introduced you to Pinterest, a social media app that can be lots of fun and can steal lots of your time before you know it.

This week, I want to talk about another social media app, one you may be more familiar with. Twitter. It can also steal your time if you’re not careful.

You may have a Twitter account or you may not. You may have seen Twitter misused. So have I. I’ve seen students post random thoughts about being hungry, about feeling or not feeling cute at that particular moment, and, unfortunately, I’ve seen accusations, threats and bullying, too. You don’t have to participate in these things. There are good uses for Twitter.

Twitter is a tool to help you develop your own PLN – Personal Learning Network. What would you like to learn? Who would you like to learn from? Who provides information you’d like to have?

First, let’s go over the basics of Twitter.

Your assignment for the week is to begin building your PLN, perhaps with a nod toward your passion project, but don’t limit yourself to that topic only. Is it time to start looking for good post-secondary schools? Check some out and follow some of their accounts. They’ll likely have several: athletics, news, student information and more. Your assignment is to find at least five useful accounts to follow.

By Thursday,

  1. Before Thursday write a blog post describing your Twitterventure and the accounts you found to follow. Write a little paragraph about each of the five accounts you followed, about who they are, their purpose and why you followed them. If you want to do double duty and take care of the Passion Project update too, find a way to tie them together!
  2. On Friday, tweet a #FF (Follow Friday) post with the five most interesting accounts you’ve found, tagging those accounts. It will look something like:

#FF learning from new friends: @Geniushour @TIME @WSJ @OKContemporary @TheSkimm

Use your Twitter powers for good instead of evil!

Part 2: Plan a timeline for your Passion ProjectPassion Project Bulb

By now you know what your project is going to be, but you need to get the planning down in order for it to happen. I call this backward planning. Starting with the end result – a collection of photos, a finished skateboard, a movie, a vlog – whatever your goal is, plan how you’ll get there with a timeline.

How many steps are there between your inspiration and the final product? Look at a calendar. Plan to be able to present Dec 4-6. That means those last few days, you’ll be preparing the presentation of the whole project, which should be finished well before. Note holidays and breaks in between and think of how long each of your steps might take.

Figure in time for research. Figure in time for hitting obstacles and figuring ways around them. Figure in time for the unexpected like getting sick, losing information you need or work you had completed. These things happen. Give yourself some padding.

What’s your first goal? Learning settings? Finding a way to finance supplies? Finding and setting up time to visit with a mentor? Put it on your Google calendar as a deadline.

Your passion project update post this week should include your timeline of steps to complete between now and the end of the semester. Make it doable, but make it a challenge.

Week 8: Research your passion on Pinterest

Pinterest

October 2, 2017

Pinterest. You may have heard of it. You may already have an account and 30 boards. In case you haven’t heard of it, it works like this: Pinterest is like a virtual bulletin board or collection of bulletin boards. The app allows you to create “boards” based on topics you are interested in and then “pin” things you either discover in your feed or things you purposely search for.

Say you have a board for art (or if you’re hardcore, you might have one each for drawing and for crafts). You can “follow” people who “pin” items of interest to you. Those pins of your followers show up in your feed and you can re-pin items to your own boards. If you like the items a particular person pins, go see who they follow and follow some of their followers. This way you build your feed with more selections. But don’t stop at art. Interested in reading? Follow book lovers. Health? Sports? There are topics on that.

You can also use Pinterest to search key words. Want recipes for chocolate chip cookies? Put it in the search bar. Photography? Search it. Pin what interests you to the board where you want to collect it. Need a new board? Make one.

The items that come across your feed may be from blogs, articles, or just web pages, depending on the topic. One can pin something from any web page – works best if there is an image there – if you have a Pinterest app on your Chrome browser.

How can you search for info about your passion project? Begin by setting up an account. Remember your password. Pinterest will probably start by having you follow a few interests, but after your account is going, you can follow or unfollow any account you want. Set up a board or two that will help you with your passion project and start researching and pinning. You should probably go check out the item before pinning it to make sure it’s legit and useful. Sometimes it’s a bad link no one’s taken down.

By Friday, draft, seek feedback, revise and post to your blog a piece about researching your passion project, explaining what it is, if you haven’t yet, and how you have used Pinterest in your research. You can make these separate posts, one laying out the plan for the project and another about how you used Pinterest or you can combine them. That’s up to you, but be sure you cover both topics thoroughly so I can post two things in the grade book. You may choose to add a link to your Pinterest account if  you’d like followers.

Week 7: Building passion by learning

Sept. 25, 2017

At the beginning of the year, I mentioned something called Passion Projects. Some call it Genius Hour, while some prefer 20% Time, but it’s all the same type of thing. You decide on a subject you are passionate about, something you’d like to learn about, develop a project around it so that you learn from the process (not just by researching online) and devote 20% of your classroom time each week on that project that you chose.

First, let’s get the idea down of what we mean by passion.

OK, that gives an idea of what passion is, but how is that a project?

As Kesler points out in his video, you should start with a driving question. A driving question is hard to define, so let’s start with thinking of a passion project in two types:

  1. One in which you teach yourself something (French, crochet, cabinet-making)
  2. One in which you solve a problem.

The second can be divided further:

  • educating others
  • calling people to action
  • planning an event
  • raising money for a purpose
  • recognizing or inspiring others
  • designing a better way to do something

So a driving question should be one that is not answered with “yes” or “no”, but at length, the length of your project, actually. A few examples:

  1. How can I use a favorite game/cartoon character to teach algebra concepts or the history of WW2?
  2. What kind of weekly interaction could I come up with that could raise the spirits of nursing home residents?
  3. How could I raise money (several ways?) to donate to a homeless shelter? What’s my goal?

What do you want to know more about? What would you like to learn to do? Or what wrongs would you like to right in your community? One way to put that question is, “What breaks your heart?” The question must be one that will involve research and end in a product or service or learning that can be shown or demonstrated. What kind of question can we start with?

 

1. We will use “backward planning,” deciding on what we want as an end product, then planning how to get there. Will there be a product, like a video, a book, a website, pieces of jewelry? Will there be an event like a benefit fundraiser, a trip, a portfolio, a show? Will there be a model of a building, a campus, a robot? Then, how do you get to that point?

2. One component that will help you is having a mentor. Depending on what your subject area is, you’ll need to decide on and contact someone to be your mentor. A mentor would be someone who is a professional or expert in the field you are seeking to learn about. This person will be a contact for you, someone to give you ideas, help you consider ideas you may not have thought of, make contact with other people you may not have thought of, someone to check in with. In short, this person will help you to reach your goal and motivate you.

Your mentor does not have to live locally. In this day and age, you can communicate through social media or by phone or even by Facetime or Skype. For instance, if you wanted to explore some area of medicine, find a doctor who might mentor you. Interested in interior design? Perhaps a professional designer or an instructor from a university could help you out. Many adults would welcome the opportunity to mentor a student interested in their own career choice.

3. You’ll keep your learning transparent by posting your progress to your blog weekly. It’s helpful to post photos or videos to show folks where you are in the process. YOU WILL NEED IMAGES THROUGHOUT YOUR PROCESS SO YOU HAVE THEM FOR YOUR FINAL PRESENTATION. Tell your audience about obstacles and how you surmounted them. That’s part of the learning process.

4. Start brainstorming. If you feel compelled to say, “I don’t know what I’m interested in.” STIFLE IT. Brainstorm anyway. So many students say they hate being told what to do, what they have to learn. They wonder, “when am I ever going to need this?” Well, this is your chance to explore something YOU want to learn, something relevant to you. Use it.

Need some ideas? Here are lots from York School:

Where will you find your passion?

Need more samples? Here are some good TED talks from GrossPointe, a high school who does Genius Hour projects and presents as TED talks at the end. Once you connect to this one, you can scroll through and look at more of them.

You can also look under the student tab of this site to see some examples from previous semesters. Take into consideration, however, that although part of the assignment is to post the presentation to your blog at the end, many never did it.

Keep thinking!

Week 6: What’s your digital footprint look like?

Sept. 18, 2017

Challenge yourself with a couple of questions:

  1. How are you preparing for life after high school, whether you go to college, technical school or straight into the workforce? Make a list.
  2. What do the words “digital footprint” or “digital tattoo” mean to you? Make a list.

Now, what does one have to do with the other? After defining what a digital footprint is – the positives and the negatives of a digital footprint – you should see that decreasing the negative aspects and increasing the positive aspects should be a part of the first list.

To help you understand some of what composes your digital footprint/tattoo, watch the following video:

 

Some of what goes into your digital footprint is unavoidable, but much can be controlled by you and should be:

 

Ever think about what your own digital footprint looks like? What might others find if they searched for your profiles and other pieces of your profile?

 

Your assignment for the week is to do a search on yourself. If you can, do the search without logging into anything from the computer you are on. Look for information as well as images. What can you find through Google or other search engines? Is there more than one person with your name? Look at the information on this infographic about Google Yourself searches and try some of the tips provided. Consider asking a friend, logged in to social media accounts, to search for you and see what comes up.

Once you find information about yourself, determine if it is information you’d like to have found about you by potential employers, college admissions counselors or scholarship grantors. If you were the college admissions specialist or employer looking for a solid employee, would you choose you?

Write a blog post about your findings and about what you can do to create a positive digital footprint to move your schooling and career forward. Also reflect on your privacy settings and discuss what changes you may make to your habits and to your social media privacy settings and what you hope that will accomplish.

As usual, draft in Google docs, share with a peer for feedback, then share with me. You may use an image from creative commons to go along with your final blog post. Be sure you credit it correctly.

Week 5: Using Images and Understanding Copyright Law

September 11, 2017

Now that you have blogs, you need to know how to use images properly. If you missed the discussion in class you can find useful information about copyright law on the Student Press Law Center website, splc.org.

Here is another take on describing copyright and fair use, and an entertaining one.

With a basic understanding of copyright law and fair use exceptions, it’s time to explore legitimate ways of finding images you CAN use for your blogs and presentations. A way of licensing work that allows the owners to keep some rights, but still allow use by others is Creative Commons, and there are several sites where creatives share their images with Creative Commons licensing.

The best sources I have found for Creative Commons images are:

Wikimedia Commons: Wikimedia is an open source of free educational content that is contributed to by others. What I like about Wikimedia Commons is that it encourages participation with monthly challenges.

Flickr:  Flickr is a community in which photographers share work. If  you are a photographer, or would like to learn those skills, consider joining this community and sharing your work. On the Flickr site, put a topic in the search bar to find images you might be able to use. You will need to filter your search by usage rights in the upper left. Beneath the photo you will find the information you need for attribution: the title (if there is one), the author and a link to the type of license. Hang onto this info. If you plan to download one of these and use it, you’ll need the attribution information.

Pixabay: Much like Flickr, Pixabay has a search bar and many images. You don’t have to have an account, and images are free, but they like donations. When you pull up a group of images, you’ll note that the top rows have a Shutterstock watermark on them. These cost money, but all the ones below that I have ever clicked on are in the Public Domain. You can download, note the author, but instead of a license, you note Public Domain.

Photopin: This is a new one I found as I was searching for more possibilities. It seems to work much like Flickr and Pixabay, with a search bar, multiple images, download capability and licensing information. They promote themselves as “free images for bloggers and creatives”, so it seems promising, but I haven’t used this site personally.

Your assignment: Write a post on your choice of topics: any special interests you have, anything you’ve learned lately (like this), issues you and your peers face, something in the news – whatever – just consider what kind of image would go well with it. Don’t forget to share your draft with a classmate for feedback, then revise and share with me for additional feedback. Consider revising again to make it the best it can be for posting.

Search for the perfect image in one of the above Creative Commons sources. Once you have selected and downloaded your image, save it (desktop is most convenient, but trash it once your post is complete or save it to your Google folder). Add the image to your post. You’ll find an image icon under the + sign. Load the image to your WordPress gallery from the desktop where you saved it. Then insert it into the post (it will insert wherever your cursor is). By clicking on the image in your post you’ll have the option for captioning information. In the captioning box, attribute the photo, following the TASL format: Title, Author, Source and License, in a continuous written caption, providing links to the photo and to the license.

Title: When you click to download your photo, there is usually, but not always, a title for the photo. It may be a simple slug, like “traffic light”.

Author: This is the owner of the image. Sometimes it’s a full name; sometimes it’s a username.

Source: Where did you get the photo? Pixabay? Flickr? I usually follow the owners’ name with “via Flickr”.

License: Depending on the source, the license may be clear on the download page or you may need to click on a link to take you to it. The link might say “some rights reserved”. What you see will be something like CC by NC 2.0 or similar.

After adding category and tagging information and proofreading ONE MORE TIME, you are ready to publish.

WEEK 4: First posts

Sept. 5, 2017

Last week we started blogs. I have been collecting your blog names for a contact sheet I will share with you all so you can follow each other. This week, you will continue to work on these, getting your theme established, adjusting settings, adding taglines, widgets, a bio and the first couple of posts.

Most of you have your theme chosen and settings adjusted and some of you have customized the look of your blog a bit. If you want to add images, only add your own or the images that come with your theme. We will learn about copyright and how to find legal images for your blog next week.

The WordPress themes come pre-installed with stand-in posts and widgets. I advise deleting those and posting your own from the Dashboard found under My Sites in the upper left corner of the page. You can delete unused posts under “posts” and add new ones you’ve written by clicking the “add” button. You can delete unused widgets by going to “themes” and “customize”. Under widgets, you should see an option to remove the stand-in widget. Back up a bit and you can find a selection of widgets to choose from for your blog.

By the end of the week, you should have the following done:

  • Blog up and running, looking nice with Site Title reflecting your blog name, possibly a tagline added, a couple widgets added and stand-in content deleted.
  • Welcome Post posted
  • Bio posted to the static About Me page
  • TEDTalk reflection posted as second (should show at top as most recent) post and include embedding the video. This is done by first, copying the URL from the TEDTalk video web page to your pasteboard. Next, add your post to your blog, but while still in the drafting mode, decide where you want the video to appear, preferably between two paragraphs where it would make sense, but maybe at the beginning of your post or even at the end. Wherever your cursor is (at the left as if for a new paragraph), paste the URL from the video page. Click return. It may not show in the drafting mode, but when you go to preview, the video should show.

Help each other. Be sure you share your drafts with each other and with me for feedback to improve your content. However it won’t be graded until it’s posted to your blog.

WEEK 3: Let’s blog

August 30, 2017

wordpress-589121_1280

CC0 Public Domain

It’s time to get started on our blogs, which are basically simple web sites on which you can post your own content. Pay careful attention to the name of your blog and your name as the blogger. You’ll choose a theme – what your blog looks like – to reflect your personality and the purpose of the blog. You can change later on if you want. You’ll write a “Welcome to my blog” post, to invite others to your blog.

Your blog is the main component of your work in this class. You’ll want to put lots of thought into the impression you create on the home page and on the About Me page that includes your bio.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so some care and thought should be given to what info you provide about yourself, what you write about and what tone you write in. And, to be taken seriously, you want your writing to be correct. You may not want your voice to be formal – and that’s OK – but you still want to capitalize and spell properly and use correct subject verb agreement so readers can follow your thoughts. Take advantage of your classmates and their editing skills, as well as that of your instructor.

You have had an introduction to what blogging is all about and a crash course in terminology. If you missed it or want to review it, here it is.

To recap:

  • Start a WordPress account, and save your password somewhere.
    • Because of the district email address limitations, you’ll have to create the blog with another email address.
  • Find a good blog name (it will be the URL) and blogger name (this is  you)
  • Search themes for one you like. This is what your blog looks like.
  • Come up with a tagline, a brief line or sentence that tells more about your purpose.
  • Continue individualizing your blog with header titles, header images, widgets and color choices.
  • Draft a Welcome to My Blog post in Google Drive and share with classmates and instructor for feedback to make it interesting and engaging.
  • Draft a bio, a bit about yourself, in Google Drive. This will go on the About Me page of your blog. I’ll give you more specific instructions later in the week.
  • Finally, post your TED reflection as your first real post (after the Welcome post)

If you work fast (and well) and get ahead of your peers:

  • You may write an additional blog post.
  • You may search WordPress to read other blogs. Consider commenting on some.

You will have questions. You will have answers. Help each other out. Ask when you need help, but don’t be afraid to explore WordPress and get to know this Open Source app. If you can’t figure something out, someone else has usually run across the problem, and Google can find the conversation.

Let’s blog.