All good things must come to an end – Final Portfolio & Reflection

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One of my first experiences with Digital Storytelling was in my first Master’s class.  The final project for that class was to create a digital story about myself showing how I had grown as an individual and as an educator during the class. I admit that I struggled with that assignment. Not so much in thinking of what ideas to share with my classmates, but in how to use technology to show that I had learned a lot and grown a lot during the semester. After completing this assignment and sharing it with my classmates, I felt accomplished and proud of what I had created. However, accompanying this feeling of accomplishment was the knowledge that I needed to understand more about technology and digital storytelling and expand my digital literacies. That is how I have come to be in this course.

Through that initial experience with digital storytelling, and now as a result of this course, I have learned that digital stories are a great way to share our identities, our opinions, our questions, and our learning with others. Additionally, they are a way in which we can teach others. For me personally, my first experiences with digital storytelling have been important because they helped me to face my fears of technology.  I tend to shy away from using too much technology because I often have trouble understanding how to use it correctly and/or to its full capacity.

Below, I’ll demonstrate my growth as a digital storyteller, an educator, and an individual during this summer’s course. I’ve showcased work from the beginning of the summer and will compare it to work completed later in the summer. I am grateful for what I learned in this course because I have gained confidence in my abilities to use technology for myself as well as in my classroom.  Enjoy!

DS106 Assignment Bank Entries

Throughout this semester we have had opportunities to create digital stories that follow a provided prompt.  Initially, I was overwhelmed and intimidated by these assignments, but as the weeks went on I found myself looking forward to them more than any other.  I enjoyed sharing new things with my classmates and developing new literacies in the process.  Below is a selection of my Assignment Bank entries to demonstrate my growth as a blogger, digital storyteller, and contributor in this course.

Week 1: Koopa the World’s Cutest Doggie 
collage-2016-06-10(see original assignment here)
This was my very first Assignment Bank product completed the first week of class. At the beginning I was unsure about my abilities not only to create digital media, but also to effectively create blog entries about my work.  I think this assignment demonstrates this very well. I made a visual that followed the Assignment Bank prompt, but I do not think that I shared enough about my thoughts, process, etc. in my blog post.  Luckily, this left a lot of room for improvement!

Week 3 – ¡Viva España! 
(see original assignment here)
spain flagIn completing week 3’s assignment bank entry, I was able to share an important and truly life-changing event in my life. I worked as an English teaching assistant in a secondary school, which helped lead me in the direction of becoming a foreign language teacher in the US. Although it could be argued that showing pictures of a year I lived, traveled and worked abroad does not showcase my main theme of Health & Nutrition, I truly believe that a person who travels and experiences a new and different culture is healthy in mind and spirit.

Week 4 – Healthy collage 
(see original assignment here)
collageI think this was my favorite of all of my Assignment Bank entries. Following the prompt and my theme, I made a collage of things that motivate me, and possibly others, to stay active and healthy. You can see that this entire collage is made up of six smaller pieces, each with a quote or image of focus. Together they create a bigger image of inspiration! I enjoyed this assignment so much that I have continued to collage in my spare time. I have made more Health & Nutrition collages, and I have also made collages for friends that showcase something that is important to them. I think that this is a unique way to share an idea and I plan to use it in my classroom at some point during the coming school year.

Week 6 – Close-up! 
(see original assignment here)
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As I put this portfolio together I notice a few things about my work this semester. I seem to enjoy creating visual assignments more than audio, video and design assignments. This is good to know! I acknowledge that I am more comfortable and perhaps have more skill at creating visual assignments, like this close-up entry for the Assignment Bank. I also acknowledge that I need to keep working to improve my skills in other areas.

 

Digital Story Critiques

During the semester we used two strategies in analyzing and critiquing digital stories related to our theme. At the beginning of the course I struggled to find digital stories that I thought were “correct” for these assignments; I was stuck in the mindset that a digital story had to be some kind of video. All of my previous experience with digital stories (which was not much) led me to this conclusion. Luckily my eyes were opened to the fact that a digital story can also include written narratives with media, similar to the blogs we are creating in this course.

For the first half of the semester we used Jason Ohler’s guidelines to assessing digital stories. I appreciated that we started the semester using these guidelines in our critiques. It was less intimidating to be able to choose three specific characteristics and give them our focus and attention. I began to include more opinions, suggestions and observations as I grew more comfortable and confident in the process. For these first weeks of critiquing, we followed the prompts/questions:

ohler assessment

Week 1 – Run Your World 

Week 3 – Game Changer: Amy Cuddy, Power Poser 

For the second half of the semester we followed Lankshear and Knobel’s guidelines (found at the end of the article) while assessing and critiquing digital stories. Instead of only focusing on three aspects of the digital story, we looked at the project as a whole. Specifically, we answered the following questions:

types of involvement

Week 4 – Beauty On Your Own Terms 

Week 5 – If Meat Eaters Acted Like Vegans

 

Reading Responses

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Each week, in addition to reading the required readings, I searched for and chose an additional article that fit into my theme of “Health & Nutrition.” There were lucky occasions in which I was able to find an article that was closely related to the required reading done by the entire class.  For example, week 4 we learned about Blogging as a new literacy, and I was able to find an article discussing the relation of blogging and mental health (see #2 below).

I learned a great deal from our readings about topics that I had no background in. However, what I appreciated the most about our readings was the opportunity to search and find additional articles that were of interest to me and subsequently share them with my classmates. Each week, even though I only wrote about and shared a link to one article, I found and read several on my own. I learned a lot about digital storytelling from the required readings, but I was also able to learn a lot about a topic of importance to me: Health & Nutrition. Again and again, this course has helped me to see the value in allowing students to have a say in what they are learning and to find things that they are passionate about.

Week 1 – Lankshear and Knobel (2007) Ch1: Sampling the “New” in New Literacies & 7 Things You Should Know About Digital Storytelling – Educause Learning Initiative  

During this initial week, I wanted to fully understand the meaning of “digital story” from the perspective of an educator and so I found an article discussing the importance of digital storytelling as a skill. Before this class I was unfamiliar with many components of digital storytelling and the required reading, as well as the article I found proved to be a perfect introduction for me. Specifically, the “implications for teaching and learning” section of my chosen article was helpful. There was mention of having students create a digital portfolio of their work to supplement their learning, much like what we are doing in this course! For those of my peers that also came into this class with little digital storytelling experience, I hope that this article was helpful to them.

Week 4 – Davies and Merchant (2007) Ch8: Looking From the Inside Out: Academic Blogging as New Literacy & Amy Novotney (2014): Blogging For Mental Health 

This was a meaningful reading response for me. I experienced a sense of accomplishment when I was able to find a current article so closely related to our required reading. Additionally, as a new blogger, I was intrigued by the benefits associated with the act of blogging.

Week 7 – McIntosh (1989): White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack Nilsson (2010): Developing Voice in Digital Storytelling through Creativity, Narrative and Multimodality & Gretchen Reynolds (2016): Lifting Lighter Weights Can Be Just As Effective As Heavy Ones 

Without doubt, the final readings for this class were my favorite. As I state in my full reading response, McIntosh’s article about White Privilege was one of the first articles I read in my Master’s program at CU Denver. It started me on my journey towards becoming a great teacher that is dedicated to providing all students with a meaningful and equitable education. I admit that I was blind to much of what she wrote about, but as a result of her words, I am forever changed for the better.

 

Social Media Interactions

This course has ensured that I step out of my comfort zone. Before this summer I had never used Twitter! And now I am able to do so with ease. Using TweetDeck, I was able to see all the tweets of my classmates and stay up to date with information about the course. Below is a snapshot of two of my columns of TweetDeck. Once I grew more comfortable with Twitter I set up columns related to my personal interests.

tweet deck

I also engaged my classmates on Twitter:

twitter shout out

 

I found Hypothesis to be one of the coolest tools we used. I did not know about it before, but it is simple to use and a great way to create conversations with others in this course and even others outside of this course.

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It was a great feeling to return to my blog after each weekend and see that my classmates had read my posts and left comments:

comments on my blog

Final Reflection

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Throughout this course I learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses when it comes to technology and creating digital stories. I have always struggled with technology, my friends say that I am ‘tech challenged.’ And at times this holds true. I think that one of the greatest things I am able to take away from this course is my expanded repertoire of online tools available to me and my students. I have also increased my confidence in using these tools, and have explored the blogging world. I’ve already started planning a blog to incorporate into my class to accompany my students’ learning, and I can’t wait!

Me as a learner in this course:

lifelong_learning

As a result of this course, I learned a variety of new concepts and in a variety of ways. I have expanded my definition of “literacy,” and I have developed a multitude of new literacies that I will be able to utilize in my classroom this fall. I learned about digital storytelling through our required readings and the discussions created via Hypothesis, and I also learned about my chosen topic Health & Nutrition because we were given the liberty to choose our own theme and find our own articles, digital stories, etc. Having a theme that I am passionate about gave me motivation to keep learning, to keep working, and to keep sharing with others. A big takeaway from this course is the idea that we all are able to learn through our interactions with others.

My co-design of this course:

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This course is the first all-online course I have ever taken, and it took a while for me to get used to it. This course also uniquely allowed for a focal theme of my choosing, which is awesome! Many of my professors have stressed the notion that students need to feel their education is linked to their lives. Allowing us to choose a topic that we find important and interesting was a perfect way to illustrate this. My addition of Health & Nutrition articles, discussions, and opinions helped the learning of my group (Group C) and hopefully inspired some deep thinking on the part of my peers.

The fact that this course was only eight weeks limited the amount of interaction I was able to have with my classmates.  I would have greatly benefitted from a full semester of digital storytelling and meaningful conversations with my peers.

I can see the value in having specific groups in which we share our ideas. However, I greatly enjoyed the weeks where we got to read and comment on work by those outside of our designated groups. It was interesting to see what a wider range of people were thinking about the topics and what they chose to explore as their main theme.

My understanding of pedagogy:

This course has transformed the way I think about and use technology in my own learning, and it has motivated me to find more ways to use technology and digital storytelling in my teaching. This coming year will be my first teaching on my own (ahhhh!!) and I am looking forward to using the skills I have developed this summer. I also understand the importance of personal choice in education. As I think about personal projects, groups projects, and project-based learning in general, I want to make sure that my students are given the opportunity to find topics that are important to them and relate to their lives. Additionally, as evidenced by this course, learning happens through our interactions with others. Reading the articles in this class WITHOUT the opportunity to discuss my thoughts with others, and learn from the points of view of those different than me would have created a completely different outcome.  Education is a participatory process!

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Me as a teacher!  🙂

Cancelled Vacation

PicMonkey Collage

I had big plans for this week’s Assignment Bank.  On Tuesday I went through the visual assignments and chose this assignment.  The reason: I was scheduled to go to San Diego with my boyfriend for five days of beaches and pools and California!  This would be the perfect occasion to do a visual assignment.  However, the travel Gods did not allow this to happen.

I’m sure many of you have heard about the problems that Southwest has been having the past few days.  Basically, we were scheduled to leave at 6PM, our flight got delayed three times, and was eventually cancelled.  CANCELLED! So I spent the next several hours standing in lines in order to speak to an employee and figure out a way to get our bags back, which is a lot more complicated that I would have expected.

I was planning to go for a walk in San Diego and take pictures and make a beautiful collage… sad face.  Instead, I give you all the 10 step photo collage I was able to take from line at the airport.  Just look at those lines, yeesh!

Jason Bourne

jason-bourne-conclusion

OMG the new Jason Bourne movie comes out next week and I am SO excited!  I will be looking at the trailer for this week’s Story Critique.  Although it doesn’t fall directly into my theme of “Health and Nutrition,” I think it is safe to say that super-secret spy Jason Bourne knows a thing or two about health, nutrition and fitness.  Just look at him!

What types of “involvement” – and by the author/creator(s), participant(s), and/or audience – are apparent in this story?

  • This video is a movie trailer for the new Bourne movie.  Throughout the trailer there are snapshots, or flashbacks, that show clips of events that have happened in previous movies.  For example when Jason Bourne jumps off the roof of a building into the window of the neighboring building.  The audience that has been following the series is able to put all the pieces of the trailer together and create the story sequence.  For those that have not seen the movies, or perhaps do not remember them well, these clips help to set the tone for the movie.  It becomes clear that Jason Bourne has a troubling past and is at odds with the CIA.

How would you characterize the “literacy dimensions” present in this story?

  • This movie is part of a series.  There have been three Bourne movies with Matt Damon and an another Bourne movie with a different actor (portraying a different CIA agent).  While the other movies picked up almost exactly where the previous left off, this movie takes into account the time that has gone by since the last Bourne movie.  That being said, if a viewer does not know the Bourne series and the story lines they may have a more difficult time understanding what is happening.

What are the online spaces and sites that bring this story to life? Why do these spaces and sites matter to the impact of the given story?

  • I found this trailer on YouTube and Flixster. I have also seen commercials, advertisements and gifs about this movie in other online spaces such as Instagram and Facebook.

Based upon your assessment of involvement and literacy dimensions, what modifications and changes to this digital story might improve aspects of narrative, production, media usage, and/or audience engagement?

  • I think this is a good movie trailer.  I am basing that on the fact that I practically jumped out of my chair when I first saw it at the movie theater a few months ago.  I think that the sound editing is great; the clicks of the guns, the slamming of the car doors, etc. have been matched to the backing music.  I also like that they have included clips of past movies so that the audience is reminded of big events that have happened that are vital to the story.  I cannot wait to see this movie… twice!

Week 7 – Reading Response

This week’s articles:

  1. White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” – Peggy McIntosh (1989)
  2. Developing Voice in Digital Storytelling Through Creativity, Narrative and Multimodality” – Nilsson (2010)
  3. Lifting Lighter Weights Can Be Just As Effective As Heavy Ones” – Gretchen Reynolds, The New York Times

 

“White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”

2015-11-10-1447196491-3796391-WhitePrivilege

This was not the first time I read this article.  Actually, this was one of the very first articles, if not THE first article I read in my Urban Teacher Education Program at CU Denver.  I can still remember how eye-opening it was, and I find myself thinking about Peggy McIntosh’s words a lot.

I think the idea that white people are taught to think of their lives as normal, neutral, average and ideal is spot on. I also agree with the idea that I learned racism to be something that puts others at a disadvantage, not necessarily something that puts me at an advantage.

I understand that this can be a difficult article for some people to get on board with, but I feel it is so important that everyone read it.  If for nothing else to open their eyes to the ways in which white people enjoy privilege each day that they most likely had not thought about before.  For example, easily finding makeup and bandages that match skin tone.  I admit that I have never seen Band-aids in a variety of flesh colors.

After reading this article again I am reminded of the impact it had on me the first time I read it, and I am inspired to share it with my family, friends and colleagues.  I can’t wait to get the discussions started!

“Developing Voice in Digital Storytelling Through Creativity, Narrative and Multimodality”

Digital-Creativity1

Throughout this semester we have begun to broaden our idea and definition of “literacy.”  Like so many others, before this course I thought of literacy as the ability to read or write.  A person is literate if they have mastered the ability to do these two things.  As a result of this course, and articles such as this one by Nilsson, I am able to see literacy as a much more complex and important concept.

Nilsson writes, “Literacy in educational contexts is most often approached as a motor skill and not as a complex social, cultural and creative activity.”  Instead, we need to look at literacy as more than reading and writing, and more as creating and sharing meaning using a variety of methods.  There are so many different types of literacies.  This is not to say that learning to read and write are antiquated and should be left out of school learning.  Absolutely not!  They should just be expanded upon and used as tools to develop other literacies and skills.

The example given in this article is about Simon, a nine-year-old boy with “problems at school.”  He sometimes has trouble focusing or staying on task.  However, when given the opportunity to explore topics that are of interest to him, and to use skills beyond simply reading and writing, he has fun, learns a lot, and exceeds expectations!  This article really makes me think about how I want to incorporate technology and digital storytelling into my classroom, as well as how to adequately develop new literacies in my students.

One interesting point that Nilsson makes is that “There is nothing more harmful to the child than giving him a topic about which he has thought little and on which he has nothing much to say.”  Admittedly, the first thing I thought of after reading this was, “Wow, that sounds like every standardized test I had to take!”  I see this as motivation and inspiration to find ways to engage my students in their writing and encourage them to dive into topics they are passionate about.

“Lifting Lighter Weights Can Be Just As Effective As Heavy Ones”

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For my choice reading this week I found yet another interesting article in The New York Times.  As a woman who likes to work out and likes to lift weights, I often hear discussions about the “best” way to weight lift.  There are even some crazy ideas out there that if women lift weights they will looks like body builders, which is just not true.

This article focuses on a study that dives into the controversy: Should you lift heavier weights for less reps, or lighter weights for more reps?  Well, according to some smarty pants scientists in Canada, it really doesn’t matter. (I just had a thought though, I wonder if any of these scientists are regular weight lifters?  Hmmmmm…)

This study found that a new style of weight lifting (lifting lighter weights for up to 25 reps) is as effective at building strength and increasing muscle size as the traditional weight lifting program (lifting heavy weights for 8-10 reps).  It is important to note however, that in order for these two methods to have “no significant differences,” the muscles need to be used until they are exhausted.  So basically, whether you are lifting 100 pounds 10 times, or 50 pounds 25 times, you have to lift until you cannot lift anymore.  This increases the body’s production of testosterone and human growth hormone, both of which help with muscle and strength building.

Exercise and the Brain – Week 6 Story Critique

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For this week’s digital story, I found something that is related to one of the articles included in my Reading Response.  It is called “Exercise and the Brain.”

What types of “involvement” – and by the author/creator(s), participant(s), and/or audience – are apparent in this story?

  • While there is only one narrator in this digital story, I am unsure if others were involved in its production.  For example in the researching of the topic and/or the creation of the graphics.
  • At the beginning of the video I got the impression that this was going to be a parody, or was going to poke fun at people who exercise.  This only lasted for a few frames, and eventually it was clear that this was meant to be an informative source about exercise and the effects on the brain.

How would you characterize the “literacy dimensions” present in this story?

  • This video combines audio with moving visuals to address the struggle that many people face when trying to exercise.  It was well researched and added fun and humor to a sometimes boring topic.

What are the online spaces and sites that bring this story to life? Why do these spaces and sites matter to the impact of the given story?

  • I found this video on YouTube when searching for something related to Brain Health.  Given the light heartedness of the video I could imagine seeing it on sites visited by students or families as a way to encourage knowledge about exercise.
  • The video was created by WellCast, which I had never heard of before this.  Doing a little searching I find that they have several social media sites and a newsletter that you can sign up for.
  • I really liked that this video added a sort of challenge to its viewers.  The narrator asks viewers to keep a “Well Cast Journal” and write in it after the 30 minute workouts.  This is an effort to keep track of improvements in their mental and physical feelings.  This would be a perfect thing to keep track of online, perhaps in a blog!

Based upon your assessment of involvement and literacy dimensions, what modifications and changes to this digital story might improve aspects of narrative, production, media usage, and/or audience engagement?

  • As I mentioned earlier, I was thrown off when I first hit play by the mood of the video.  I quickly realized that it was a very informative and fun video.  I believe that if I had been a follower of WellCast’s social media prior to this I would have expected this approach to teaching about exercise.

Week 6 – Reading Response

Articles I read this week:

  1. Social Learning, ‘Push’ and ‘Pull,’ and Building Platforms for Collaborative Learning” – Lankshear and Knobel (2011)
  2. Can Running Make You Smarter?” – Gretchen Reynolds, The New York Times

 

“Social Learning, ‘Push’ and ‘Pull,’ and Building Platforms for Collaborative Learning”

In this chapter, we continue to look at learning as a social act.  We have previously read and discussed the idea that a person learns better when they interact with others and are submersed in a community of learning.  The structure and importance of this “social learning” is a focus in this chapter.

Lankshear and Knobel define ‘social learning’ as follows:

social learning is understood as involving a change in understanding at the level of ‘social units’ (such as an organization, an institution, or a community of practice), that occurs through interaction where ‘the message is spread from person to person through social
networks’.
An important thought I took away from this chapter is the need to move away from decontextualized learning to a way to learn content in a contextual and social manner.  For example, in the foreign language classroom, it is unreasonable to expect my students to be able to learn, remember and correctly use the language if they have only ever studied vocabulary words and done activities from the textbook.  Instead, a contextualized way for them to learn would be through real life situations where they have to use the language, and are able to learn and use new words and new grammar structures as we go.  I fear that in many classrooms the older and more traditional model of teaching and learning, in a decontextualized way, prevails and and both the students and the teacher are suffering.  Lankshear and Knobel refer to this as an “emphasis on decontextualized and abstracted

content transmission that characterizes formal education at the school level.”
I liked the example given of the Australian schools efforts’ to enhance social and collaborative learning.  The schools build relationships with community organizations, groups and leadership to “produce knowledge artifacts that would be authentically useful for and usable by their end users.” So great!
“Can Running Make You Smarter?”
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The following statement is going to shock you, and I’m sure you have never heard anything like it before: Exercise is actually good for you!  Whaaaaaattttttt??  I know what you’re thinking…
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We have all heard it before, obviously using our bodies is good for us, blah, blah, blah.  But I still find a lot of the studies they are doing to be interesting.  Most recently I read an article in The New York Times about the effect of running on the brain.
Reynolds writes, “long-term endurance exercise such as running can alter muscles in ways that then jump-start changes in the brain, helping to fortify learning and memory.” Specifically, researchers found that this type of exercise releases a chemical into our bloodstream called Cathepsin B which helps with neurogenesis.
(neurogenesis: creation of extra neurons in the brain)
So more strenuous exercise, more neurons, more development of memory and learning abilities.  Yay!
And for those of us who are not addicted to strenuous running, these findings really indicate that exercises using our muscles in a continuous way will release these chemicals.  I can’t wait to have my students jog in place at their desks before class everyday!  Muahahaha.

Close up! – Can you guess what it is?

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Perhaps a little blurry, sorry about that …

This week I chose to do the Visual Assignment called “That’s Not What I Expected.

So can you guess what this image is showing? Here are some hints:

  • my theme for this semester is “Health and Nutrition” (so this image has something to do with that)
  • this image shows something that comes in pairs
  • I never go to the gym without them
  • they’re so pretty! look at those colors! but so comfortable, too
  • the last pair I had were purple

What is this a picture of?

My running shoes!  Yay exercise!  And to be honest, just like many of you I’m sure, I have used these shoes a lot more recently with the introduction of PokemonGo! (I caught a Pikachu today!!)