The “Unsinkable” Molly Brown – Digital Story Critique Week 5

As I continue to find ideas for my theme of Exploring Your Own Backyard, I came across a video that a young child named Lydia created on the life of Molly Brown.  The Molly Brown House/Museum is located in downtown Denver and I wanted to learn more about her history and the house.  I think the children and I will be visiting the museum soon!

The digital story, Lydia’s Molly Brown Story is told from the viewpoint of Molly Brown.  I learned many facts about Molly Brown that I had never heard before and Lydia does a great job of telling the story.   I will be using Lankshear and Knobel’s framework for remix practices.

  • 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?
    • The video is promoted on Vimeo.  I found the story by searching for Colorado history digital stories.  I would have appreciated more information about why the video was created, how old Lydia was, and where her research was done.  This could have been added to the video description and could have validated the information.
  • How would you characterize the “literacy dimensions” present in this story?
    • You would need to know how to import pictures into a video creation as well as music and narration to complete this project.  Also, the creator used many fades from one picture to the next creating a nice flow and visual effect.
  • What types of “involvement” – and by the author/creator(s), participant(s), and/or audience – are apparent in this story?
    • Lydia told the story as though she were Molly Brown.  The facts that she choose to include were interesting and informative.  I was drawn in by the original pictures that enhanced her narrative.
  • 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 enjoyed the period appropriate music in the beginning as well as the original pictures throughout the video.  I think this would be a great video to share with my children because it is informative as well as interesting because it is told in a child’s voice.  Lydia does a beautiful job of speaking slow and clear.  I would have loved to have known how much involvement Lydia had in the project.  Did she write the narration and find the pictures?  Did she create the video for a project?  Was this video a result of going to visit the Molly Brown Museum?

Overall this was a great digital story told by a young child in the voice of Molly Brown.  I learned many new facts about Molly and can’t wait to go visit the museum.


Freedom to Create in a Safe Environment – Week 5 Reading Response

Freedom to Create

For our reading this week we tackled the issue that educators are facing with technology.  It is not enough to just incorporate technology into the classroom.  Jenkins (2008) mentioned that just because a student does a book report in the form of a movie does not mean that we are learning with technology.  We have to find ways to incorporate technology in meaningful ways.  We also have to find a way to deal with the “fear” of technology as a distraction and teach our students “how” to learn using technology as well as how to be responsible and safe while doing so.

Here is a list of our readings:

Some recommended narratives:

There was one main issue that captured my attention during our reading and I chose to further explore it.

  • Teaching Internet Safety

Teaching Internet Safety

Teaching internet safety has to become part of our curriculum early on.  In most of my classes at UCD, this has been an issue that we have discussed and have continued to find ways to tackle.  I believe we need to start teaching this as early as kindergarten.  I work in a Title I school with 80% of our students on free and reduced lunch.  But, only three of the schools in our district are Title I schools, so we get a lot of support from our community through grants and sponsorships.  Our kindergarten students have 1:1 iPad and grades 1-5 have Chromebooks or the good old Triple Es (which we are trying to phase out).  What I am trying to say is we have access to the internet while at school despite the socioeconomic status of many of the students.  How do we teach our students to be safe without sounding like a broken record or Charlie Brown’s teacher?  An article I read by Robert Lucas, How to Keep Students Safe Online explored some myths about internet safety and some solutions.

First of all, internet safety is not locking down websites, Internet control, or the “criminalization of Facebook and Twitter”.  Instead, safety is taught through knowledge.  Lucas explores 5 ways that teachers can promote internet safety:  Parental involvement, give the students resources to teach them about internet safety via youtube and Google Family Safety, create scenarios, use private online communities, practice what you preach and have the students create a pledge.

I love the idea of creating scenarios for your students.  Just telling them about internet safety sounds mundane but if you give them actual scenarios, that knowledge would stick.  You could even take 3-5 minutes a day or week and give the students a scenario to work through and create solutions together.  If they have worked through this in class, when they are faced with difficult decisions on the internet they will be more likely to come up with healthy solutions.

The internet offers a world of knowledge and DIY communities.  I don’t want this knowledge to be limited because we “fear” what might happen.  Let’s give our children knowledge about “safe” use of the internet so they can grow and create!


Surprise! Four Wheeling – Emoj

BeFunky Collage

This week’s assignment for ds106 mashup #1508 was to take a picture of a friend doing something just like an emoji and mash them together.  My family went four wheeling on the Switzerland Trail during the afternoon on the 4th of July.  This trip was part of my theme for the semester, Exploring Your Own Backyard.  The Switzerland Trail in just west of Boulder, CO and used to be a narrow gauge railway.  They have since taken the tracks out and what is left behind is a bumpy easy 4wheel drive adventure.  The picture I choose to match up with an emoji is one of my children and I as we were experiencing some of those “lovely” bumps in the road!

I airdropped the picture from my phone to my computer and used the BeFunky Collage Maker to complete my assignment.  BeFunky was very easy to use.  I choose a two grid collage, inserted our family picture in one section and the emoji in the other.  (I had previously saved the emoji as a jpeg onto my desktop).

The Switzerland Trail is a fun, free, bumpy experience with incredible views.  We are having a great time “Exploring our own Backyard”!


Week 4 Reflection

It is already week 4!  Wow!  My goal from last week was to get things done earlier in the week and that happened, except for my reflection.  Good.  Once again, I had a great time working on the Daily Creates and I was able to put into practice several of the tools and skills I had developed by completing several of the challenges. My husband needed slides for a presentation that he did this morning.  I was able to find the programs and applications that I needed to create unique and effective graphics and enhanced pictures with photoshop – the result was a great presentation.  I had no idea how to use many of the programs before the daily create assignments!

I also found an amazing blog/digital story that has been the topic of many of my conversations with other moms this week.  The story helped support my theme for this semester and helped me reflect on my parenting and expectations.

I enjoyed the conversations that my group had in Hypothesis as we discussed our reading – the discussion was once again helpful in understanding the information and actually presented further questions and thoughts beyond the reading.  Very engaging.

I feel like I met the expectations this week and was excited that my learning was applicable to a “real” life situation.  I am continuing to learn how to learn!

Fear of the Blog! – Wk 4 Reading Response

Fear of the Blog

This week our reading was from Davis and Merchant (2007) Ch8: Looking From the Inside Out:  Academic Blogging as a New Literacy.  My overall take away from the reading was that yes, blogging is social, blogging is a way to get your ideas and thoughts out there immediately, blogging creates community and inspires conversations, a blog is a living document – always changing, and a blog is not just about the writing but about the design as well.

What captured my attention from this particular chapter was not so much the reading, but the comments from my classmates.  We had several discussions about the “fear” of blogging.  Fear of not being true to who are.  Fear of being adequate.  Fear of not having anything “note worthy” to say.  I think that no matter how much of an “expert” we feel we are about a topic, these fears are real.  I decided to look up some blogs about blogging and see if successful bloggers ever felt the same way.

I found an interesting blog about blogging by Michelle Schaeffer.  Her business is helping entrepreneurs and small business find success with their websites and writes about blogging – failures and successes.  She had several interesting blogs from ideas of what to blog and to how to overcome those scary moments when you feel like you are not enough.  In her post titled How To Succeed Despite the Mundane (aka I’m not “enough” yet)  she exposes the feelings that several of us have shared that we are experiencing.

She suggests that when you are feeling like you are not “enough” to acknowledge those feelings and realize that this is a challenge to yourself to become better.  It’s time to improve and that is a good thing.  Another fear that heard voiced in our group discussions was that if we were writing towards a particular audience and were being “careful” about how we wrote something, then maybe we were not being true to who we are.

If we are writing towards a particular audience and are being “careful” about how we write something, then maybe we were not being true to who we are.  Difficult.  If a blog were like a journal then we would just “lay it all out there”.  There are some thoughts that simply belong in my personal journal, locked with a key, hidden under….well I can’t tell you where!  Here is my opinion: I am an educator.  I am an elementary school educator.  I have chosen to have this responsibility and I love my job.  So, I am going to be careful about what I put on social media via blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc.   You may disagree with me and feel free to do so.  This is a decision that I have made for myself and it is my personality.  I don’t feel like I have to share my raw thoughts with everyone, others do, and that’s okay.  Schaeffer suggests in her blog that we be honest, simple and transparent.  Let others know if you made a mistake or if you simply don’t know the answer.

Schaeffer suggests that we be honest, simple and transparent.  Let others know if you made a mistake or if you simply don’t know the answer.  This is a voice I appreciate when reading a blog.  Here is who I am and yes I know a lot about this topic, but oops, I made a mistake. Thanks to my audience for helping me see the error of my ways, let’s learn together and move on.  Hey, that’s very social!  Community learning and growth!

Schaeffer’s final suggestion is to “See both sides of yourself”.  Acknowledge that sometimes, many times, you do know what you are talking about and you can help people.  Simply say thank you without excuses and continue.

So here’s to another week of blogging.  Another week of failures and successes.  Another week of growth!  I enjoy reading your blogs and growing with you!

Magic Is Your Imagination – Digital Story Critique 4

Magic is your imagination

For my Digital Storytelling Critique #4, I watched and read a piece that has both inspired and lifted a huge burden from my shoulders!  As you may know, the theme for my semester in Digital Storytelling at UCD is Exploring Your Backyard with Your Children.  My goal has been to find activities to do as a family that are inexpensive and close to home.  I have found a number of things to do and have been collecting them and going on several of the excursions.  We have had a great time riding bikes in the mountains, hiking gorgeous places just 20 minutes away, and exploring some history of the buildings downtown. As I was trying to think of another  digital story “activity” to use for my weekly critique, I typed into the google tool bar, having fun with kids without spending too much money.  The very first video that popped up caught my attention: I’m Done Making My Kids Childhood Magical by Bunmi Laditan.  This video is actually an interview with Bunmi by Huffington Post.  Her blog post caught the Post’s attention when it received over 203K hits!  What could she possibly have to say that would get the attention and shares of so many people?

Allow your child to be bored,

Teach kids to be creative,

Let them play make-believe,

Give children the time to find their own fun

Drum roll please ….

It is not a parents responsibility to create memories for their children!

Really?  Okay, I admit, this is how I try to approach my children’s childhood.  They are not allowed to say the “b” word or they are given some not so fun suggestions of what they could be doing:)  And, they are creative kids.  Awesome imaginations – although, video games are overtaking some of those “get out in the yard and come up with something to do” moments.  I still struggle with the guilt of not having the opportunity to go somewhere exotic (or at least somewhere with sand) this summer and feel like I need to keep up with the other parents by taking trips to Elitches, Water World, Jumpstreet, etc. Facebook and Pinterest have really affected the way we parent.  As stated in the video, we feel the need to post pictures about the wonderful times we are creating with our children. This interview with Bunmi helped me realize that if I don’t make it to all of those “magical” places, my children will not suffer and struggle as an adult because of it!  They might actually have better memories of just hanging out with us, being creative , and playing!

 I used the appendix from Lankshear and Knobel’s Ch 4 New Literacies and Social Practices of Digital Remixing to critique this story.

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

The woman interviewing had read through the blog, researched, and asked good leading questions to the author of the blog, Bunmi Laditan.  The interview gave me further insight to what was written in the blog.

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

This story is basically and interview.  There are no additional pictures to enhance the story – basically, it is two women talking.  I don’t think they needed to add more than that, the point got across.

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 story was brought to life because it was based off of a blog post.  The attention that the blog post generated and the comments to the blog make this a “living” document for continued communication.  The video created more inquiry into the blog post and furthered the communication.

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 enjoyed the video.  I thought the questions asked were relevant but not redundant.  It was engaging as a parent and spoke honestly about the nature of a parents concerns and worries.  The interview lead me to the blog and I got even more insight from it.  I actually started a public annotation with Hypothesis on the blog.  Feel free to check it out and make comments with me!

Vintage – Mt. Falcon


Vintage Mt. Falcon Poster

For the ds106 design challenge, I chose to work on DesignAssignment 1770 – Vintage-ify a place.  My theme for this semester is exploring your own backyard with your children.  We had recently hiked Mt. Falcon in Indian Hills, Colorado (about 20 minutes from our home) and I thought it would be a great “memory” type piece for our family to take one of our photos from the trip and “Vintage-ify” it and hang it up in our home.

Rocky Mt. National ParkThe guidelines for this assignment were to take a photo of a popular place and make it look like the old 30’s and 40’s National Park posters. Here is an example of one of the original posters.  I found a great page on Pinterest by Ryan Baxter that has several examples of Vintage National Park posters.

I took one of the pictures from our recent hike and uploaded it into Picmonkey.  I played around with several of the editing options and tried to make the picture look “old”.  I still wanted our original picture to show through and not look so much like a drawing, so I opted for an older look rather than an artist rendition look.

Next, I sent the picture over to Canva because I like their text and editing tools  (I really like Canva for many things).  I played around with the text and tried to come close to replicating the National Park poster.  After adding the text, the colors still did not look right.  It felt like the text was “sticking out” or looked “too clean”.  I downloaded the picture with text from Canva and opened it in Pixler-o-matic.  I then added the Hagrid filter to get the  final look I was after.  I probably could have used one program for all of this, but I enjoyed experimenting with each one and learned about some new tools.


Busy, Busy! Week 3 Reflection


Busy, Busy!

This week was full of unexpected guests and musicals. Sometimes you just have those weeks that make it difficult to get things done in the timely fashion you had planned.  But, everything did get done.  The video assignment was fun and I found more places for my family to visit over the summer.  For one of the daily creates, I got to use the Sketchbook app on my iPad (with a mini lesson from my 10-year-old daughter) and despite my lack of artistic skills, found it fun to play with.

My biggest struggle this week was wrapping up a musical I was directing and doing two shows this week as well as company staying overnight unexpectedly.  The time I normally had for homework had to be moved around.  Just one of those busy weeks.  I like that this class has a similar format for each week and I did not have to struggle to figure out what was due, I just had to find time to do it.

Some items I would like to get to this week would be to blog about our hiking trip that we took as well as a follow-up post to the Monster Mash blog.  We were able to go downtown over the weekend to get our pictures of places downtown and will be photoshopping the images this week.

The reading on DIY was interesting and once again I was glad I have great people in my group annotating.  Their comments so often bring clarity to items that I might find confusing.  I realized how much I loved Hypothesis when it was not working correctly for a few days.  I really depend on the yellow highlights of classmates!

Overall, this was another great week for Digital Storytelling.  Through exploring my digital story to critique, I was inspired to investigate more on Youtube video sensations.  Many of these videos that teens are creating are very well done!  I would love to learn more about how they are doing this and how they learned how to do it!  Sorry, that was a bunny trail but I needed to write it down so I could remember that I need to check up on that this week.  Great week – I feel like I met the expectations but next week, I would like to meet them before the weekend!

Hiking the Colorado Trail – Digital Story Critique

We have all heard the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words”.  This video is a beautiful demonstration of this.  I have been looking up places for my family to go hiking over the summer and I stumbled upon this video about the Colorado Trail.  Honestly, I had never heard of the Colorado Trail.  It runs from Denver to Durango and covers 567 miles and climbs 89,354 ft.  I will be using Jason Ohler’s assessment criteria for digital stories to critique this story and have chosen to focus on the following three areas: Research, Originality, and Economy.


This piece was well researched with pictures demonstrating the different areas on 567 mile trail.  Although there was no dialogue in the video, sufficient information was presented through small bits of text throughout the video.  I learned by watching the video that you can travel on the trails by horseback, Mt. biking, and hiking.  The landscape is varied and rich from waterfalls and lakes to Mt. Peaks and valleys.  There is also a variety of wildlife that can be seen on the trail.  There are also trail markers to lead your way.


The pictures/video in this presentation were gorgeous and the addition of dialogue would have taken away from the beauty and effect of the video.  The music in the background was a good choice to supplement the pictures and the small bits of text were just enough to keep you on track and give direction.


The video was focused on the Colorado Trail landscape, vegetation, and animals as well as the volunteers that it takes to keep up the trail.  The creators stayed focused on those two main areas.

Overall, this was a gorgeous video and inspired me to look up more information on this trail.  I wonder how many miles of it we could cover over the next few years?  The pictures were beautiful and the music and text were great additions.  My only small complaint would be that if felt a little long.  It would be difficult to narrow this many miles of landscape and views down to just a few pictures and while it was important to mention that volunteers take care of the trails, this portion could have been shorter as well.

DIY – Not just about Pinterest


Confession:  I am a DIY Pinterest fan!  Huge DIY Pinterest fan.  I have over 318 “pins” just waiting to be created so when I read the title of our required reading this week, I was intrigued: Lankshear and Knobel (2008) Ch.1: DIY Media: A Contextual Background and Some Contemporary Themes.  DIY in media?  What is this?  My first thoughts were Youtube videos, Photoshop, Garageband, iMovie Maker.  You can use all of these resources to create your own DIY movies, music etc.  And this was correct, but this chapter focused more on the “why” of DIY media.

Two main points towards the end of the reading were the “push” and “pull” of resources.  Basically, a push model has everything provided for you.  It has been well thought out and programmed.  A pull model is created by many working together to create a needed resource.  A pull model is collaborative.  A pull model is learning while doing.  You have a challenge or a problem put before you and you must work together to come up with a solution.  I liked the description by lan.chen in Hypothesis:

The shift from “push” to “pull” is like the transition from “teacher-centered” to “student-centered”. – Sara Cheng

This is my passion:  Student-centered learning.  When students create and solve problems, they remember!  When they are required to solve a problem, but not necessarily given the “how” to solve a problem, they find a solution.  And if they are collaborating with others, they come up with a variety of solutions – creative solutions!
And here is my struggle:  Motivating students to find a passion and begin to create, to explore, and to learn.  This way of learning takes time.  For example, I am enjoying our ds106 daily creates and projects.  I have to take time for them now because it is required for this class.  I am learning about many resources, growing in my abilities, and exploring and learning with others through this process.  I hope that when this class is over, I will continue to challenge myself and do some of the ds106 projects.  But even as an adult learner, it is going to take diligence and self-motivation to get that done.  I want my students to take the passions that they are introduced to in “class” and continue to explore outside of class; for some this will happen.  For others, it is extremely hard to motivate them even in class.
Hopefully, this student-centered learning will inspire them and teach them “how” to learn and motivate them to pursue their passions.