Monday, January 28, 2013

Librarians, Technology, And The New Literacies

Source: ASIDE, 2013
The role of librarians in modern schools is more crucial than ever. In an age of dynamic information and media streams, librarians are uniquely positioned to guide students in research and storytelling tools.

A librarian's role is also evolving as "literacy" in its traditional sense is changing. It's not just that e-readers have joined classic texts, or that online sources have joined traditional journals. It is much more. Multiple literacies are continually growing to require mastery in more than one, and librarians are poised to be on the front lines in delivering instruction and resources to help in this understanding.

Source: ASIDE, 2013
Librarians often know a school's curriculum better than the teachers themselves, because they reach all levels of learners. They have the capacity to enrich daily lessons and educational units.

Because the majority of student inputs these days are visual, interactive tools can help librarians and technology specialists enhance the range of curricular offerings.

Source: ASIDE, 2013
On Thursday, we had the opportunity to spend a terrific day with librarians from the Delaware-Chenango-Madison-Otsego (DCMO) districts in Norwich, New York. Together, we explored ways that technology can help teachers and librarians collaborate by using web tools and iPad apps. We greatly enjoyed meeting the skilled and dedicated professionals from the Board Of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) affiliated schools. We especially want to thank School Library System Coordinator Susan LeBlanc for inviting us to lead the all-day workshop.

Source: ASIDE, 2013
The exchange of ideas throughout the day helped generate project ideas and Internet applications to reinforce the underlying goal of educational design. This goal states that by shaping information in well-conceived, visual ways, students can become motivated, self-directed learners who create their own content and publish their own work. Technology offers valuable outlets for students, because it promotes choice and imagination.

Technology also provides a window for librarians, because it can boost all forms of literacy. We greatly look forward to staying in touch with our new colleagues from the DCMO schools. And if you happen to be in the area, we recommend the warm fire and witty servers at Gus' Steakhouse on Route 12.

Source: ASIDE, 2013

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Presidential Inauguration - Infographics & Visualizations

Source: Boundless Blog (click for detail)

Barack Hussein Obama swore the official oath of office for his second term as president in a private gathering on Sunday, January 20, 2013, according to the requirements of the 20th Amendment. The public ceremony and speech took place the following day. Watch the full video of President Obama's second inaugural address (or read the official transcript):

The educational benefits of President Obama's speech draw from more than just the text. Even as several phrases from his oration are already gaining station among the honor roll of historical words, we recommend taking a look at Fellow Citizens, by Robert V. Remini and Terry Golway, which is our favorite collection of past inaugural addresses.

Source: Infographics Archive, Wyzant
(click for detail)
Most teachers know of the New York Times "Inaugural Words" interactive study. This collection visually traces the language of past presidents' words from 1789 to the present. It offers a rich trove of language and generational context to see how themes and leadership have evolved over the centuries.

Larry Ferlazzo also offers a terrific collection of learning resources on his page, "The Best Sites For Learning About President Obama's Second Inauguration." In particular, we like the two "Build Your Own Inaugural Address" interactives from the New York Times and Washington Post. Here, students can cobble together their own visions for America by choosing from significant quotes from past presidents. They can see how values have cycled through the presidential discourse, and they can imagine themselves as leaders of the free world.

We also recommend the following resources for teaching students about presidential inaugurations:



Visual Tools

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Visualizing Dr. King's "I Have A Dream" Speech

Perhaps one of the most powerful speeches in American history is Martin Luther King's "I Have A Dream" speech made on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., in 1963. We recently came across a post from FastCoDesign that captures sections of the speech as infographics to demonstrate what makes this speech so brilliant. The original analysis was done by Nancy Duarte who created an interactive visualization that analyzes the careful selection of words that Dr. King chose. To do this, Duarte used a bar graph to overlay blocks of text to map out his oration. The video speaks for itself, and it makes a perfect teaching tool for students in exacting the nuances of language, metaphor and history.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s speech analyzed by Nancy Duarte from Duarte on Vimeo.

Of course, using this in conjunction with the original footage is nothing short of ideal for honoring this leader's contribution to American history.

We plan on using these videos in our classrooms this week. The power of the original speech always leaves a lasting impression on our students, and we hope that by looking at the visualization, they will see "the shape of rhetorical genius" of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Secret Of "Enrichment" - Humanities For The Ages

Source: Humanities Enrichment
All parents want "enrichment" for their children. Kids, without knowing it, also crave enrichment, because it's the fun stuff, the hands-on exploratory stuff. Teachers, when they have the time and support, ache to offer students expansive investigations and motivating projects.

For many students, the classroom at times can seem dull, yet the Internet is their reliable playground. During recess, they huddle around laptops to watch YouTube videos, check sports highlights, and scope celebrity gossip. We admit that for us, the panoply of web media has taken on much the same enlightening distraction. The extraordinary graphics and nimble videos that we find via Twitter have filled our bookmarks and our evenings with professional wonder. Everyday we find something new that we want to share with our students. But when the realities of curricula, schedules, and assessments set in, we frequently can't find the "extra" time required to show supplemental maps or photographs or poems.

Source: Humanities Enrichment
Because of all the captivating online creations, and because our students latch on to visual resources, our History and English teachers in grades 5 - 8 joined together to assemble a website of self-directed learning. We created a Humanities Enrichment Tumblr page. Anything helpful or fascinating that we come across and that our students might find intriguing, we post on our page. Tumblr proved to be the ideal platform for quick, constantly updated posts that scroll easily through the days.

The goal of any enrichment is to enhance learning or add nuance to quotidian ideas. This kind of self-guided enrichment, where students can click on pictures that grab their attention and skip elements that seem bland, is valuable for learners along the spectrum of academic achievement and capability. It also offers a wonderful outlet to inspire a distracted child or a "bored" student. Additionally, enrichment pages are ideal for letting parents know that we as teachers are excited about providing their children with dynamic complements to the school day.

Source: Humanities Enrichment
We are strong believers in cross-curricular learning, so we teamed up with our English colleagues Gina Sipley and Barbara Thomas in cooperatively designing a joint page. We all want our students to recognize the intertwined nature of their Humanities studies. All four of us, therefore, post media about the blended worlds of social studies, language, geography, literature and cultural research.

Thanks to our favorite websites and our PLN, it's not hard to find links to display. So far, we've been able to post a new tidbit each school day. It's a great way to cultivate collaboration among fellow faculty members and to learn from the exciting resources each person unearths.

Each of us maintains the page link at the top of homework assignments and/or class websites. It turns out our students check the page regularly. They frequently remark in class about a fiction contest or antique map or financial infographic that appeared during the prior evening. Sometimes the humanities posts connect directly to what they're learning in class, but just as often, the snippets relate to current events or quirky scholarship.

Source: Humanities Enrichment
Please feel free to check out our Humanities Enrichment page for yourself. We've intentionally tried to keep it clean and simple and unassociated with any person or institution. Also, feel free to share it with your students. Because it features varied media such as animated clips, museum exhibits, and historical etchings, the page is hopefully relevant for any age group. Each item is something that caught our eye in the first place, so we think kids will find them curious as well.

Note: All images are sourced and linked on the Humanities Enrichment page.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Maps In The Wild

Source: Maps In The Wild

Rob Edsall, Associate Professor of Geography and Earth Science, Communication and Digital Media at Carthage College gave one of the keynote addresses at the annual International Visual Literacy Association conference in October. Edsall stressed that maps by definition are distortions of reality, requiring as critical a lens as text, and that iconographic “maps in the wild” reveal untold stories of power and culture.

In general, representations of geography can be divided into three types: reference maps, thematic maps, and then a vaguely defined third category. This third category includes the clever use of geography in media, logos, posters, signs, or any public sphere where graphic maps are incorporated into designs intended for purposes other than instruction. These "maps in the wild" convey messages.

Source: Maps In The Wild

Source: Maps In The Wild, Sharpie
Maps have saturated today's technological world, and yet they lie. They are given authority and judged uncritically. Even though they clearly make representational choices, we tend to trust them over the written word. Maps are not just about getting from point A to point B, and Professor Edsall firmly believes that we should be teaching students how maps are mirrors of society. To this end, we decided to create a place where we, along with our students, can collect “maps in the wild” as a way of developing a dialogue about how icons are used to convey ideas.

Source: Maps In The Wild,
Fourth Annual Latke Festival
The only warning that Rob Edsall gave us was that it can be addicting. We tend to agree. Our hope is for our students not just to see maps as maps, but also as signs and symbols that are constructed to relay messages. The kids have enjoyed spotting maps in ads and billboards and snapping pics to share.

Feel free to share our continually updated Tumblr site with any of your students. Also, if you spot any "Maps In The Wild," please email any photos our way.

Source: Maps In The Wild, Lowe's
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