Final Project Course Two


“Students producing a broadcast newscast” photo by the author edited online with

COETAIL Course 2: 21st Century Literacy Ideas, Questions, and Issues (Link to MLA formatted copy)

As I reflect on course two, I’m thinking about story.  My focus is centered on storytelling as a literacy skill.  This may be the most important skill we can teach our students in the 21st Century.   After reading Daniel Pinks excerpt from his book A Whole New Mind: Why Right-brainers Will Rule the World  on Story, a window of understanding has opened and with it a breeze of new ideas and projects for my students and I to partake in.  Daniel Pink explains that for us to truly understand something it has to be presented in a story.  Stories help us remember concepts and facts better than just rote memorisation.  In Mark Turner’s book The Literary Mind he states that Story is the “fundamental instrument of thought.”  He goes on “it is our chief means of looking into the future, of predicting, of planning, and of explaining…Most of our experience, our knowledge and our thinking is organised as stories.”  Story is huge in terms of helping my students become complex thinkers (An ESLR at our school) in today’s information rich world.

Because we live in an information rich world, Pink writes “the ability to encapsulate, contextualise, and emotionalise has become vastly more important in the Conceptual Age.  He goes on to state how important and elusive abilities embodied by Story become more valuable.  He writes “to talk about the high-concept and high-touch capacity to weave events into an emotionally compelling narrative has become an essential aptitude in business, medicine, and personal life.”   It is very important for us as educators to teach Story to our students.  It would be irresponsible to only teach facts…something that students can find instantly at the touch of their keyboards.  Taking facts and putting them into a story with emotion is what they need to know how to do.  Storytelling is a 21st C. skill and one that teachers must embrace and teach to their students in a meaningful way.  Storytelling which was only embraced by movie makers and authors must now be taken under the wing of schools.

In the spirit of story, I’ve designed a UBd for my final project.  Below please find my UBd Lesson: Producing a News Segment for Broadcast.

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Do you need a quick fun way to edit a photo?

Screen Shot 2013-09-21 at 14.16.15Have you ever needed a quick fun way to edit a photo?
I’ve been asked by my students, to recommend a free photo editing application.
I’ve recommended for fast and fun edits to their pictures.
I’ve made a short video tutorial on how to use PicMonkey (5:18) as a quick fun way to edit a photo.

YouTube Preview Image

Things I like about PicMonkey:

  1. It’s easy
  2. It’s mostly free to use
  3. It’s fun!

Have you tried PicMonkey?
Do you know of any other online photo editing sites that you would recommend?


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Creative Commons for Education: The real fair use policy.

Creative Commons

The video below is a fantastic starting point for teachers to begin understanding what Creative Commons is all about.

YouTube Preview Image

According to  Wikipedia:

Creative Commons is a non-profit organisation headquartered in Mountain View, California, United States devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share.

Creative Commons was developed to help make using media created by other creatives available to a wider public for free.

Teaching with Creative Commons

Creative commons has become a necessity in my quest for using images in my class in a legal and fair way.

What are the challenges of teaching in a world of copyrighted material?

Teaching students with technology we often are making projects that use images.  Mostly, these images are made from the students, however, there are times when a student may need to use an image that they can not make.   For these times we often use the Internet to search for images.

Here’s a helpful video explaining how to do a  Simple Creative Commons Image Search (5:43)
YouTube Preview Image

Here are ways you can help your students in their quest to not infringe upon copyrighted material:

  1. Use Creative Commons Images
  2. Use Creative Commons Music

Creative Commons (CC) will help keep your students out of copyright problems in the future. The license will let them know that it is safe to use the material in their personal projects.  This will teach them to respect other peoples creative works.  Hopefully, they will also use CC licenses in their own work to add to the ever-growing resources that are available under the CC.

 Why use only CC material in school related projects?

In Thailand, as with many countries outside the west, copyrighted material is openly sold by non-licensed shops.  Students learning about copyright, often point this out in open discussions about copyright.  This is a major problem.  When something that is under copyright law is protected but is not enforced, the citizens of that country are more relaxed about abusing the copyright of others.  Students often ask why they can buy copyrighted material at shops in Thailand that would cost hundreds of dollars more in the US.  They understand that the shops in Thailand do not really fear being sued by the copyright holder.  In the US, this is different, copyright is vigorously protected by lawyers of copyright holders looking to make money from copyright infringement.

As a teacher, I teach what is right to my students.  I often ask them to put themselves in the shoes of the copyright holder.  They say that in Thailand people are not as rich as people in the US so it’s no wonder that people break the copyright law.  They also say that copyrighted material is very expensive and out of reach of many people from poorer countries such as Thailand.  Point taken.

However, I let them know that those points would not hold up in a court of law.

The way forward.

I will push my students towards using Creative Commons licensed work and ask them to also add their own Creative Commons licenses to their own creative works.


Do you have your students use CC works in their media projects?


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Tutorial – Google Drive – Preview Mode

Preview Icon – Looks like an Eye

During our COETAIL class our instructor (Tim P.), talked about sharing.  He began an interesting discussion on how a lot of people use the Internet, but only a small percentage of them actually create and share content. He encouraged us all to become creators of content, too.  And, afterwards, to share that content freely on the Internet.

So, in an effort to become a creator of content, I’ve made a short tutorial about the Preview Mode in Google Drive.  I’m sharing my content below (1:42):
YouTube Preview Image
(Best played at quality settings 720p HD)

After making my tutorial, I felt it was a truly fun experience.  I believe that my students would benefit from doing a screencast on something that they use or find valuable.  It will give them time to flex their different skill sets: planning, script writing, fluency, and sharing.


Have you ever made a tutorial?

Take aways from creating a tutorial:

  1. practice
  2. don’t be nervous
  3. do a couple of takes and pick your best
  4. share your content on the Internet
  5. Have fun!

Software I used to create my tutorial:

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Open Educational Resources


Open Educational Resources (OER) are teaching, learning, and research materials in any medium that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others.1

During our last COETAIL meeting we discussed Fair Use.  Fair Use, in the context of teaching, is how teachers can use copyrighted materials (in a limited way) in their classrooms.  These resources in turn, help provide students with a  better understanding of concepts taught in their classes.

While researching Creative Commons, I happened on the topic of Open Educational Resources (OER) at the Creative Commons website.   OER, is using free materials in any medium that reside in the public domain or have been released under an open license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others.

Here’s a good video explaining why OER matters (2:50)

Here’s another video on how education is all about sharing (2:28)

OER will help not only students around the world get a better education, it will help teachers share their ideas and resources in a free and exciting way.  Helping each other in their goal of teaching all of their students in a better and more interesting way, while helping other students, that they may never meet, by sharing their resources in the OER program.  Could this be a major part of the future of education?   Education is sharing.  The more resources that are available to use for free the better it is for teachers looking for content that will help them teach in their classrooms.  Teaching overseas, I find that I’m always looking at new, and updating my old resources to benefit my class.

The benefits of OER:

  1. More people see and learn content – education is shared
  2. Cost is free (with Internet connection)
  3. People share what they learn with others helping the OER movement grow.
  4. OER will help teachers find relevant teaching resources without fear of copyright infringement.

Questions to think about:

Have you ever used a Creative Commons license?
Have you ever used material in your class without citing that material?
Would you ever take an online course for free just for the fun of it?

Resources for sharing
Open Education Matters: Why it is important to share content

Want to get involved?

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As a teacher the issue of bullying has always been of interest me.  My interest is anchored in my wish to provide a safe learning environment for all of my students.  If current stats apply then most of my students have at one time or another been effected by either being bullied or bullying someone else.  This is something that my school has informed us of and one that I have a keen interest in.  After reading Dana Boyd’s article entitled “Bullying has Little Resonance with Teenagers” , I learned that a lot of the attitudes and beliefs about how to act are played out and modelled by adults.  Here’s a pulled quote from the reading:

Parents talking smack about work colleagues or bosses. Parents fighting with each other or ostracising their family members over disagreements. And it’s not just parents…Teens are seeing fights and dramas all over the media. Celebrity fights and dramas aren’t just in their face; they’re glorified! And even if MTV comments on domestic abuse after airing Jersey Shore, the way that the housemates treat each other sets a standard for what’s societally acceptable. Teens are seeing drama everywhere – they’re seeing it as a legitimate part of adult society that can often lead to notoriety.

With this type of behaviour being amplified by the media and the Internet you can see that our students are getting signals about what is socially acceptable that might not be what we as adults find acceptable.  What is crossing the line?  Ask students, what is crossing the line?  And you will begin to understand where they are in terms of what they believe is acceptable.

I believe that empathy is definitely something that we should be teaching our students. The Internet and social dynamics of texting calls for immediate responses…this could cause problems for younger people when they are dealing with situations between one another.  Also, mistakes that would be private are often amplified by retweets and forwards of emails that only add to the problem.

What is Cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is bullying over the Internet.  Sending threatening email, chats, or postings on social media sites are all aspects of cyber bullying.  It used to be that bullying someone meant that when you went home the bullying temporarily stopped until the bully and victim saw each other in person.  Now, with 24/7 connections by smart phones bullying is a constant threat for those involved.  Cyberbullying can happen any where there is a connection.

Victims of cyberbullying often display the following: they feel that it is there fault, they often get physically sick from worrying, they don’t answer their phone or check email, they don’t want to discuss this with their parents.  Robyn Treyvaud, notes that 64% of bullied students turn to their friends rather than parents when dealing with bullying.  Adults in general have to do a better job at letting their children know that they are to talk to them when ever they have a bullying issue.  Trust and compassion can go a long way in establishing these connections.

Here are some tips to let your students know how to deal with cyber bullying.  First, they should copy all threatening emails, chats, and posts.  These copies are evidence that can help in the future.  Next, show your parents these emails, chats, or posts, then parents should go to the school with the copies and show the principal.  The school principal will call the parents of the bully and call the police to report this incident.  The bully is usually suspended from school for two-weeks.  If it happens again the bully can end up in court and if severe enough in juvenile detention.  This is serious.  This can really  effect the bully’s future career outlook.

So as a teacher I hope that you tell your students to be courageous and if they are bullied, tell a parent or teacher as soon as possible.  Although 2 out of 5 students feel that the bullying issue stays the same or gets worse after telling an adult.  We all as educators have to work at changing the attitudes of our young students and create a safe and trusting environment for all of our students.

Questions to think about:

How can you begin a discussion about empathy in your classroom?
What are some ways that you can begin a discourse in your class about cyberbullying?
What does technology mean to your students?
What is crossing the line?

Bullying has Little Resonance with Teenagers by Danah Boyd
Robyn Treyvaud – Keynote Speaker @21st Century Learning Conference – Hong Kong 2012

Common Sense Media

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Course One Reflection


Course One in COETAIL was themed the Networked Educator.  One of my strong beliefs as an educator is to make sure I’m always learning.  This learning includes sharing and trying to improve my skills as a teacher.  I understand that teaching and sharing ideas with other teachers is really important.  Course One highlighted this and gave us a roadmap to connect, share, and learn from others in our profession.

The word networked can mean many things to many people but to me it means having people that are available to help, share, comment, and discuss the profession of teaching.  Like all professions (Lawyers and Doctors too) teaching takes practice.    We must write, speak, and design meaningful tasks for our students to gain knowledge and skills.  All of these skills were taken into account in Course One.

Teaching in a one-to-one learning environment has made learning new technologies all more important.  I sometimes think that a lot of my time researching is trying to find the right online tool to help my students learn the skills and content in my class.  Sharing ideas with other teachers also helps in this process.  I share history links with the History teacher, Science links with my science teachers, etc.  This leads to others sharing with me when they think I could use an online resource for my class.  It’s a give and take relationship.  However, I try to give more than I expect to receive.

Teachers are our best resources to learn and understand our profession.  The course highlighted online tools and social media to connect educators.  Here are a few:

The cohort was asked to blog each week and comment on other blogs.  This requirement gave us all ample opportunity to read, think, and learn from our cohort members.  This networking of blog readers, writers, and commenters helped us all gain in the blogging process.  As we blog we think.  As I reflect on my time in Course One I can only be thankful for having the opportunity to share in this experience.  Hats off to everyone in my Course One cohort.

I feel more of a ‘Networked Educator” after taking this course which is a good thing.

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Course One Project: Sound Recording and Editing Through the Interview Process


For my final project I’d like to share a unit on sound recording and editing.  I teach this technology skill through a project called: The Interview.  Interviewing someone takes a lot of skills and it’s a perfect vehicle to learn sound editing through.

Some of the skills learned in this unit:

  • Understanding what an interview is
  • Understanding how to make and choose great questions for an interview
  • How to prepare for and use appropriate tools to record an interview
  • How to listen and be an active listener
  • How to edit sound on a computer
  • How to format sound into an mp3 file.
  • How to share the sound file with our class using the Internet
  • How to reflect on and look at ways to improve on your new skills

Each student is given the task to interview one of the following: a family member, a family friend, or his/her best friend.

The process begins by me showing this video on the process (7:04):

Next, I have each student go to the StoryCorps website. StoryCorps offers a plethora of outstanding oral histories and interviews.   Listening is also a really good skill for the students to work on. They listen to the interview and write notes on the things they like about the interview (questions, voice, emotions, facts, and smoothness).  After, listening to three StoryCorps interviews, I have them read 30 Tips on How to Interview like a Journalist.  Afterwards, I have the students get together with a partner and collaborate and discuss ways to do a successful interview.   Next, I begin to show them what great interview questions look and sound like.  Great interview questions cannot be answered with a yes or no.  I have them go to the Great Questions section of the StoryCorps website. The StoryCorps site has an online tool called the “Question Generator.”  This online tool helps the students make and choose some great questions for their interview.  I have the students choose/make 20 questions in the “Question Generator” of which they will only have to use 10.  I explain to them that if the interviewee cannot or will not answer a question they will have to move on smoothly to the next question.  Having more questions makes it very easy to move to another question.  It takes approximately 20 minutes for the students to make 20 great questions using this online tool.

Assessment Links:

Formative: Interview Reflection

Summative: Interview Assessment


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How to ToonDoo: An Overview

I was going through my archive of VoiceThreads and found an overview of Toon Doo that I’d like to share with you.  Toon Doo is an easy to use tool for making animations. Students need to share their ideas to show understanding.  A fun project is to have them make an animated cartoon of a concept they are learning in class.  It’s fun and can be a way to have students share their work with a wider audience.  After they share their cartoons ask them to comment on each others work.  Have them look at the image for understanding, creativity, and depth of thought.  This will give the students time to analyze and think about others work while applying what they learn to another cartoon in the future. When students share with a wider audience they are more considerate with their project.  They also learn from each other.  This overview should take about 8 minutes to watch.

Toon Doo both flexible and easy to use.  Like any tool the more you use it the better you get.  So I hope that this overview was helpful and offers an interesting and fun way to share ideas and concepts in your classroom.  This site offers much more for example: Book Maker – make your own toon books, TraitR – make your own characters, and more.  I hope that you explore the site on your own and look at ways you can use it in your own classroom.

Question: Do you think you could use this tool in your class?  Let me know.

Here are some more resources to get you started:

ToonDoo website

ToonDoo makes it easy to embed (insert) a toon into your blog or website.

A teacher’s guide to ToonDoo.


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Learning as powerful as a Storm: Interactive Fiction

Photo by the author of Hyperlink

Here is a short video (6:09) to get you started:

To experience Interactive Fiction please click here.

When I first experienced interactive fiction (IF) it was very compelling.  A story that immersed the reader into a mental and physical challenge.  Our kids play games.   They enjoy playing sports, video, and board games.  Most students like computer games.  Now, if you inform the kid that there is a way to interact with a story other than reading it….they may ask questions.  They may begin to wonder why is this fiction interactive?  What is the author trying to do.  The mental play begins.  The student is engaged and the learning can commence.

After students read an interactive fiction piece they often want to know how to make their own.  They begin the process of learning about something that was initiated at school so they can further explore the idea on their own.  This is what we try to do with every topic we teach.  We need to get our students excited about something that they will continue to learn on their own without our prodding them.  They do it because they want to.  They do it because the feel a need to.  This is learning that is important.  This is learning that is personal.  This is learning that is fun and engaging.  This is learning.

Interactive Fiction has been used to teach reading, foreign languages, programming, history, and game design to students at many levels, from elementary school through college and adult education.  Click here for information

Please share Interactive Fiction with your students.  Prepare for the storm of learning!

Do you think that Interactive Fiction (IF) could be used in your class?  Did you enjoy your experience with IF?  Let me know.

Want to learn more?

Here are some learning resources on Interactive Fiction:

 Inform7 – Inform is a design system for interactive fiction based on natural language. It is a radical reinvention of the way interactive fiction is designed, guided by contemporary work in semantics and by the practical experience of some of the world’s best-known writers of IF

FAQ on Interactive Fiction 


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