Friday, February 24, 2017

Building Common Ground Through Respect and Curiosity, Not Fear Of The Unknown

Source: Pocket Stories
Just by chance today as we looked through our resources, we came across the video entitled "Migration vs. Travelling: An Infographic Journey." It could not be timelier as we watch the growing turmoil around the country at town hall meetings and in debates about immigration searches or transgender rights.

In light of the first 30 days of a new administration, with echo chambers propelling confirmation bias on a scale not witnessed in decades, as well as a media that dwells on the hype or gingerly participates in press conferences, it’s hard to present a balanced look at issues based on facts. We also want our learners to see the human side of reality. Social media and news feeds breed biases and falsehoods that continually need to be questioned.

It’s disheartening as educators of young learners to see the strife, and it's why we continue to share as much as we can to present the facts to our learners. This video, which compares migrants and travelers, explores the stereotypes associated with each. Why is it that migrants are seen as “something negative,” whereas travelers are viewed as “something positive”? Our hope, as always, is to provide as many resources as we can to present the facts behind the issues.

Source: Pocket Stories

Media literacy is essential today. Learners need to understand how messages can influence others, as well as recognize how they can be skewed toward a particular point of view. As educators, we must show students both sides of an issue based on facts -- not alternative facts, but real facts.

Source: Pocket Stories

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Student Projects In MySimpleShow - Explainer Videos Have Never Been So Easy To Create

Source: MySimpleShow

Explainer videos use clean graphics and voiceover narrations to teach viewers about a particular subject. They often include clever icons and whiteboard-style backgrounds. They once were produced exclusively by high-end design studios, since complex software and marketing professionals were required to create dynamic motion graphics. Now, thanks to the extremely intuitive interface of MySimpleShow, any layperson — or student — can combine text, images, and voice to yield an extremely effective animated movie.

Explainer videos are pitch-perfectly suited for student projects, because they hit all the sweet spots of higher-ordered thinking and layered proficiencies. They require storyboarding to map out each clip. They demand a smooth script to educate the audience. They also benefit from logical reasoning in transitioning clearly from screen to screen. Finally, they rely on the core tenets of graphicacy, in picking symbols to represent crisp visual meanings and metaphors.

Source: MySimpleShow
MySimpleShow (@mysimpleshow) makes the design and publication of these videos enormously easy. For students and teachers, they offer pre-made templates to guide the text and the progression. The intelligence of the video creator automatically searches and provides pictures to correspond to the nouns in the script. And the superb narrative options allow users either to upload their own voices or to select from two automated personas. For our middle schoolers, who are often nervous about recording their own voices, the choice of a “robot” narrator was a blessing in and of itself.

Source: MySimpleShow

Although the team at MySimpleShow has apparently been producing videos for years for corporate clients, this new consumer version seems to have benefited from high-quality feedback in providing a welcoming and successful tool. Without overstating it, the account creation, built-in tutorials, interface understanding, text-to-speech rendering, icon menus, upload options, and download ease are among all the best in the #edtech world. Our kids quickly figured out how to create their own videos (even though their teacher did watch the step-by-step tutorial).

The student project featured in this post centered on inventions of the late 1800s. During their history class unit about the Gilded Age, each eighth-grader researched a new technology and animated it thanks to the range of graphics and transitions within MySimpleShow. They then easily uploaded their class creations to YouTube, to share via Twitter and in digital portfolios.

The students also immediately began to realize other fun ways to use MySimpleShow — in their other academic subjects, when they had a choice of visual projects, and in their family lives, for birthdays and social media channels. This tool is a valuable addition to the suite of video creators that help bring kids’ ideas to visual life.

For other ideas about video projects, check out:

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Teaching Social Literacy Through Communication Design

Source: TED
As middle school advisors, we constantly deal with the trials and tribulations resulting from miscommunication. One thing we try to convey to the middle school mind is that in order to fully understand a message, they need to recognize that key factors play into how information is received.

The relationship between communication and interaction goes hand in hand with perception. The more we can develop their acuity in reading verbal and written cues, the more we can decrease the problems of misreading messages. Without a doubt, our job becomes increasingly more difficult due to electronic media pushing response times to lightning speed.

Since communication is central to design and relies heavily on how media connects with people, it stands to reason that we need to help our students identify where things can get misconstrued. We see it as “social literacy.” Like other literacies, they need to learn the skills in how to respond in order to avoid any misinterpretations that might arise.

While it isn’t always easy, we found that using the video entitled "How To Recognize Misinformation" with our advisees helps. It promotes healthy discussions as well as practical techniques for students to role-play.

The animation visually communicates how people get the wrong idea by failing to recognize their own personal responses to gestures, tone, and body language. These missed social cues can lead to confusion, animosity, and uncertainty.

We often tell students to use their words to explain their feelings, but if we don’t give them the skills to understand perceptual misunderstandings, our advice falls on deaf ears.

For this reason, the four key skills for good communication provide a great place to start.

If we can reinforce these skills with continued practice with our learners, as well as model them as adults, we can come to a common understanding of what we mean together.

Design is communication. If we dissect the word, it is after all “de + SIGN” and is the backbone of logos, icons, brands, media, and more.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Visual Tools To Help Learners Understand The Refugee Crisis

Source: TED
In the aftermath of one of the most divisive elections in our history, and in light of the possible presidential immigration ban barring people from entering the United States, we’re left with trying to explain to our learners what it all means. Their study of human rights along with a diverse classroom population adds further importance to our role as educators in a global world.

Learners need to know that refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants fall under the category of immigration, but there is a difference. They need to understand the enormity of the refugee crisis. This includes not only where they come from but also who makes up the majority of the refugee population.

The following resources proved invaluable in helping our students put the refugee crisis in perspective. It helped them realize the massive humanitarian needs refugees face around the world.

What Does It Mean To Be A Refugee?

This animation from TED Education helps students understand what the term refugee means and how it is different from asylum seeker and migrant. The video provides the perfect introduction to the topic and can easily be used with elementary students.

The UN Refugee Agency: Our Story

This is the story of how the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) was established to help those whose lives were uprooted by conflict or natural disaster. The video explains the historic role of the UNHCR from 1950 to the present.


The Refugee Project

The interactive map plots the migration of refugees around the world along a timeline that begins in the year 1975. The project uses United Nations data to tell the story of the millions of registered refugees under UN protection. The circles around each country adjust in size to show the flow of refugees as they expand and contract from a particular location. The lines that branch out indicate where the refugees sought asylum.

Source: The Refugee Project

9 Maps and Charts That Explain The Global Refugee Crisis

With the number of displaced people reaching the highest levels since post World War II, these maps and charts provide students with a visual look at the statistical information regarding the spike in the number of refugees around the globe.

Source: Vox

Rescue Facts: Refugee Facts

Historically, the United States has never shut the door on refugees; yet, the political rhetoric and misinformation over the last several weeks regarding the immigration ban has confused some of our learners. This video from the The International Rescue Committee seeks to present the real facts about refugees seeking asylum in the United States and the vetting process.

UNHRC Global Trends Data 2015

The magnitude of the current global refugee crisis is highlighted in this UNHCR video. The forced displacement rose significantly in 2015, and it is the first time in history that the number of displaced persons surpassed 60 million. We believe students need to recognize this crisis beyond media blasts to ban immigration; this is about real people, and sadly many of them are the same ages as those we teach.

One of the projects our students complete each year is the study of immigration from the early nineteenth century to modern day. They learn that people leave their homelands because of political, economic, and social reasons. It’s not unusual for a student to discover or report on how their own ancestors were forced to flee their homelands. They, too, were refugees.

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