ILT 5340 – Final Reflection


Week #7 – Reflection


I feel good about my accomplishments this week.  I love blogging (didn’t think I would say that when I started this class).  Blogging has helped me process the information I am taking in and see it on paper.  As I am starting my final reflection project, I am noticing that blogging is a great resource for my memory as well.  Seven weeks ago seems like a hundred assignments ago and my blog is serving as a great reminder of my fears and accomplishments.  I even started a personal blog this week.  I don’t really care if anyone reads it our not, but blogging has become a source of therapy and reflection.

My theme for this semester has pushed me to find educational fun activities for my family to do together and my DS106 Visual Assignment for this week helped me put all of those memories into a word picture.  We will be able to enjoy the “subway art” of our excursions for years to come.

The readings and responses to my peers challenged me to see other viewpoints and to give our students opportunities to share their voice through their writing and digital stories.  I hope that I can help my students find their inspiration and help them create!

This class has improved my way of thinking about online learning and is helping me relinquish some of my “control freak” nature when it comes to teaching (and parenting).

Week 8 – here we come!




This week our required reading was from Nilsson (2010): Developing Voice in Digital Storytelling through Creativity, Narrative, and Multimodality.  My greatest take away from the reading was the word INSPIRATION.  The dictionary definition of inspiration is:


noun in·spi·ra·tion \ˌin(t)-spə-ˈrā-shən, -(ˌ)spi-\

Simple Definition of inspiration

  • something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create : a force or influence that inspires someone

  •  a person, place, experience, etc., that makes someone want to do or create something

  • a good idea

We want our students to write.  We need them to understand the mechanics.  We want our students to find their voice.  We need them to be inspired.  I think most of us can remember a time (several times….okay most of the time) being required to write about something we:

A) did not care about

B) did not know enough to write about

C) had to worry so much about the “technical” part of writing that our voice was lost

I also remember a teacher in 7th grade that showed me how to write about what inspired me.  She taught me how to find my voice.  I learned about rich descriptive words that painted pictures and how to get the pictures from my head and onto the paper.  She INSPIRED me.  I loved writing in her class.  I remember the freedom I felt when those thoughts that were trapped inside of my mind were unlocked and released onto the boring white paper with simple blue lines.  Words were no longer just words but they suddenly had life and movement.  My papers still came back with lots of red marking the “technical” mistakes but also included words of encouragement to continue the creative side and fix the technical later.  Get the thoughts our first, then get help cleaning it up.

Digital storytelling opens up the layers of creativity.  Not only can you describe the scenes with your words; but with pictures, music and sound effects.  It is like producing the stage show version of your short story.   The pictures are there for you to see and describe and digital storytelling can inspire children.  I enjoyed reading about Simon’s success with digital storytelling from our readings this week.  He found his voice.  He found success. He found acceptance.  He continued!

I wanted to find out more about inspiring children through digital storytelling and found a great article by  Tom Banaszewski titled: Digital Storytelling Finds Its Place In The Classroom.  Banaszewski started a project called The Place Project.  Students were asked to describe a “place” and were given several questions that they had to answer about that place:

What is your earliest memory of your place?

What are your feelings when you are there?

What difference does your place make in your life?

What do you see in your place that no one else sees?

He found that not one of his students struggled with this writing prompt.  They came up with places that were actually physical places as well as places that only existed in their imagination.  He taught his students that everyone has a story to tell and everyone has something important to say.  The students went on to create incredible digital stories from this prompt and Banazewski gives the details on how to accomplish this in his article.  At the end of the school year, when he asked his students how many of them were writers, ninety-nine percent of them said, “Yes”.  His students had been given something that INSPIRED them.


Letterboxing Gone Digital!!

A few weeks ago, I reviewed a digital story about letterboxing.  I love letterboxing but my app has not been working lately and it is making it difficult to letterbox on the fly!  I had heard about Geocache but had not had time to figure out how you do it.  After watching several videos, I think I have it figured out.  It is digital letterboxing!  No stamps required for this.  You follow the coordinates from a GPS or your phone, find the box, log in, trade trinkets, and rehide the box.  Presley does a good job of explaining geocache in her video and you can also follow up on the Geocache website as well as sign up for a free account (and app).

I will be using Lankshear and Knobel’s Ch 4 New Literacies and Social Practices of Digital Remixing to critique this story.

  1. What types of “involvement” – and by the author/creator(s), participant(s), and/or audience – are apparent in this story?  Presley knows all about geocaching.  She has been doing it forever – well, at least four years:)  You really can tell she enjoys geocaching and is familiar with the website and the app.  She does a good job of explaining what you need to do to get started and demonstrates how she finds a box. 
  2. How would you characterize the “literacy dimensions” present in this story?  This video demonstrates video editing, screencasts, and the use of a geocaching app.
  3. 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? This video gives reference to the Geocaching website where you can sign up for free and start getting your maps and nearby caches.  I have already signed up and because of Presley’s screencast, know exactly where to go to get started.
  4. 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?  Presley does a wonderful job narrating – especially for a nine-year-old.  There are times she talks a little too fast, but you still get the point.  The video is 12 minutes long and that felt a little too long.  It was interesting and helpful but could have included some small edits to make the video a little shorter.  

I am excited to try out geocaching tomorrow with my kids!  Should be fun and it looks like there are several right around my house.


Follow up:  We went on our first geocache yesterday.  We found nine cache’s and the entire family is now addicted!  They are everywhere!  I loved using the Geocache app on the phone – you can find where the caches’ are on the go and discover what other finds are near you.  We will probably get some more today:)


Summer Memories

Summer Subway Art

In our ILT 5340 class, we were given the freedom to choose any project from the DS106 Assignment Bank and focus on our chosen theme for the semester.  I chose Visual Assignment 1890, You In Collage Form.  The instructions were to make a collage of images, words or both that are special to you.  

I chose to brainstorm some words and places we had been this summer as we Explored Our Own Backyard.  This was a fun activity!  I had just read our TA’s blog (Lisa Dise) about finding our voice in our work this week and was inspired to find words that described or triggered memories of our special outings from the summer.  I also love subway art and decided to explore the different fonts that also helped describe the “feeling” behind the words.

I used PicMonkey (we are a “thing” now) and experimented with the different fonts and directions of the text to create a very busy, but visual, reminder of our adventures.  I made the background black and the letters white so I could eventually take this to Staples and get an engineering print made.  I will then decoupage it onto a canvas and viola – artwork and memories.


@Wk 6 Reflection #Thoughts

The beginning of this week seems like a lifetime ago… I decided that my ds106 Choice Assignment would be about a family trip to Hanging Lake (I am loving my themed assignments by the way – my family has been able to discover things we have always wanted to do but can’t seem to remember to do when we have time)  I took a mix of video and still pictures that I later edited and made into a music video.  Great times, great memories, and a project with a lasting purpose.

As a music teacher, I feel like I have an advantage with the whole “hands on” learning thing.  I rarely give a lecture or talk more than 5 minutes during my short 45-minute classes.  My students are creating music, acting out stories, playing instruments, dancing and experiencing music for most of the class time and working in collaborative groups to do so.  The required reading this week pushes me to pull more out of my students and offer even more opportunities for them to explore their interests.

Because of several of the Daily Create assignments, I have grown to love PicMonkey and once again had the opportunity to play with it some more outside of class assignments.  I am enjoying the daily create assignments.  Many times it is like be given a mystery and trying to find a way to solve it, all while learning about some great new tools or brushing up on some old ones.

I enjoyed reading the digital story critiques of my classmates as well as their takeaways from the readings.  Collaborative learning at its best.

I feel like I met the expectations for the week and completed each assignment as well as grew in my understanding of new tools and ideas.  By the way, before this class, I had “tweeted” only 2 times.  My new number is 44.  Okay, that is still not a lot, but for someone who really did not understand or care to understand Twitter, I am doing pretty good. #onedayiwillunderstand.

All By Myself (think song here) – Reading Response 6


Our required reading for this week came from Lankshear and Knobel (2011) Ch7: Social Learning, “Push” and “Pull” and Building Platforms for Collaborative Learning.  After reading through the material and the amazing annotations from my group members, my resounding thought was, “Experience is the best teacher”.  Students need to be actively engaged in their work and must be “doers not just hearers”.  I am reminded of many times sitting in class and listening to a teacher go on and on about a subject.  Just talk.  We were expected to take notes and regurgitate the information when it was time for a test.  I would study my notes, create songs and mnemonic devices to help me remember the information and proceed to spew out the information onto the piece of test paper.  My mind would spin when the answer was not readily available and I would race through my brain trying to read the pictures of the notes in my head.  Oh, I kind of feel sick thinking about it. Ask me that information now, and I could remember some of it (especially if I had a great mnemonic for it) but for many of those time periods, names, and places; I have since forgotten.  Today, I have a great friend named Google that remembers practically everything and helps me in times of despair when I can’t remember important questions about the periodic table or the years particular presidents were in office.

My greatest school memories involved “doing”.  I remember acting out a Women’s Rights skit.  We had to look up the information, create costumes and develop the script.  That information stuck.  I experienced the story.  I remember a high school social studies class where we had to create a newspaper about the introduction of the railway.  Back in the days before computer access, we had to map out our stories and layout ahead of time because it was all done by hand – so much fun and memorable.  Our students need to be involved in their learning.  Technology is making that easier for teachers to do this.  The students don’t even have to be in the same room, city, state or country.  The world is available to them.  When learning about the Gold Rush in California, why not annotate and create with children in California.  Yes, this takes more organization from the teacher and it is thinking “outside of the box”, but let’s create learning opportunities for our students that will last a lifetime not a moment.  Let’s starting teaching how to learn and not just why.

Our other readings for the week included the following:

I would like to speak to Scott Campbell’s piece on The Importance of Being Alone in the Digital Era.  This resonated with me on several levels.  A few weeks ago, my family went to Breckenridge to bike from Frisco to Breckenridge and back (part of my Exploring Your Own Backyard theme for the semester).  We had a great time hanging out and taking pictures (to post on Facebook to show and prove to everyone that we had a great time).  My husband and the kids headed off to get some ice cream and I was left with the job to sit by the bikes and wait.  I found myself pulling out my phone to check on what everyone else was up to on Twitter and Facebook.  And then, I stopped.  One of my favorite past times was watching people.  I loved to imagine where they were from, what their relationships were, look at their interesting and fun outfits….  I realized I had not done this for a LONG time.  My new habit was to pull out my phone if I had a few minutes.  I decided to put my phone down and spend some time “watching”.  Some time alone.  It was AMAZING.  I had a great time sitting by myself and just watching people.

In the article, The Importance of Being Alone in the Digital Era by Scott Campell, he emphasizes the thought that sometimes we need to set down our “network” and spend some time alone or in a face to face conversation.  I agree.  I love being connected, but I need to remember to set everything aside and spend some time alone.  It is fun to catch up on Facebook, but the world around us is pretty exciting too.

New Ways to Explore Denver – Digital Story Critique #6


This week I found an amazing website for exploring Denver.  It is called the Denver Story Trek.  This website provides opportunities for you to have an interactive tour of historical sites in Denver, and it is free!  A new addition to the program is the ability to get texts about your specific trek.  You should be able to receive and answer clues about your trek based on where you are at.  You can also call in to hear stories about the different sites you are at or download them to iTunes before your visit.  After your visit, you can download the story of your trek to share with others on the Denver Story Trek website – community learning and relationships! For this critique, I will focus on the specific trek to the Byers-Evans House Museum and will be using Lankshear and Knobel’s Ch 4 New Literacies and Social Practices of Digital Remixing to critique this story.

Byers-Evans House Museum

  1. What types of “involvement” – and by the author/creator(s), participant(s), and/or audience – are apparent in this story?  The creators know their subject matter and provide both educational insights as well as personal stories.  I loved hearing from Margaret Hayden, a granddaughter of Ms. Evans.
  2. How would you characterize the “literacy dimensions” present in this story? It would be interesting to take this trek and listen to the stories while you were there.  Just hearing them online is good, but is lacking in the visual aspect.  I would love to see them develop and app and put all of this information together in one place: The treck map, clues, scavenger hunts, audio stories and well as pictures of people and places.  You can find all of this on the website, but it takes a little digging. 
  3. 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? At the present time, the website states that the trek maps are down and that they are working on getting them back up.  I would like to see what they look like and would also like to try out the text messaging option.  I think with the addition of these two aspects, the stories would come to life.
  4. 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 mentioned this before, but I think this site could be enhanced by creating an app that would house all of this information so you could easily access it while you were out doing the trek.  I was able to download scavenger hunts for several of the treks, but had to go searching for them and accidentally found them by following links to other websites.  Again, maybe more of this is provided on the trek maps.  We plan to try a couple out tomorrow, so I will let you know how it goes!

You Are My Sunshine – Music Video

This week in INTE 5340, we were given the option of choosing a project from the DS106 Assignment Bank that explored our theme for the semester.  I choose to do Video Assignment 1447 – Create a Music Video.  In this assignment, we were asked to create our own music video to a song.

My theme for the semester is Exploring Your Own Backyard. With this project in mind, I recorded video and pictures of our hike to Hanging Lake this week.  This was an incredibly fun trip for our family.  Although the hike was rough at times, it was a gorgeous and reaching the top was not only an accomplishment but a beautiful reward!

I knew that it would be important to have video as well as pictures for this project and tried to get a balance of both.  It was a sunny day, and while I was taking pictures of the lake at the top, I noticed the amazing sun rays that would play with each shot.  Also, having my family together and enjoying each others company made me think of the song, You Are My Sunshine.  I looked up several versions on iTunes and choose the upbeat jazzy version by Jerry Lee Lewis, Sheryl Crow and Jon Brion.  After purchasing the song, I uploaded the pictures/videos of our trip from my phone into iMovie.  Because this was a music video, I felt like I needed to use the entire song, so I put the track down first and began to add pictures and videos – editing and picking pictures as I went.  I liked using the Ken Burns effect because there is movement even in your still shots.  I did have to work on the placement of the effect on several of the pictures so it did not cut off heads or land in strange spots.  When I finished, I shared the video to Youtube and now have a fun video to remember our amazing trip to Hanging Lake.

Sanding+Staining= Community and Remix -Week 5 Reflection


It is summer and as a teacher, I love my summers.  It is precious time to get caught up on projects around the house, hang out with my amazing kids, relax and read for fun.  Part of my “relaxing” involves remixing around the house.  This week I realized I was really tired of my furniture and I decided to haul it outside and start sanding, painting, glazing, and staining.  Our readings focused on working together to create something better – to help each other grow.  Most of my inspiration for my furniture projects came from Pinterest and Google.  I found pictures and blogs that inspired me and gave me great ideas.  Many times it was the comments found on the blog that really helped.  Other people had tried a given technique and had found something that worked better for them or they asked questions and the answers to those questions spurred on more ideas.  A community of learners.  My projects ended up being a combination of several “pins” and google research.  Now I have some great looking “remixed” furniture (the picture above is not the final product – that is an “in progress” pic)!

I have always been curious about the Molly Brown museum/house in downtown Denver and found a great digital story about the house by a little girl named Lydia.  My family will be heading down there this week as we continue to “Explore Our Own Backyard”.

My ds106 assignments created more opportunities to play with PicMonkey, Collage Maker, Pixel, GarageBand, and Soundcloud .  Each time I use one of these sources, I find something new!

Overall it was a good week and I feel like I met the expectations.  Blogging is getting easier – over 20 posts already!   I am continuing to learn something new each day and finding ways to incorporate these ideas into my life and teaching.  Challenges are good.