Show, don’t tell

The quickest way to lose an audience is to start your slides with a big block of text.  I’m amazed at how often I see this happen in meetings.  Teachers spend so much time putting together amazing presentations for students, but for some reason we often short change our colleagues.  Images engage us, make us wonder, invite us to think.  Inquiry and imagination are both invited in by the powerful images we embed into our work. Give your audience a moment to pause, and try to guess where you might be going with your visuals.

“Every now and then one paints a picture that seems to have opened a door and serves as a stepping stone to other things.”
Pablo Picasso

Relying on pictures forces the teacher to think as a storyteller.  When I am putting my slide deck together I am thinking about mapping out a journey.  What do these ideas look like?  What tone should I set? How can I visualize the learning outcomes?

The added design step pays off.  Students need to practice reading images.  Advertisements bombard us, but when and where do we take the time to help our students unpack the way they work?

Reading images is a big part of what IBDP Language and Literature teachers do.  In our course everything is a text.  We look at approaches to decoding and constructing a wide variety of text types.  We consider the ways biases, stereotypes, and prejudices are overtly spread.  We think about the relationship between words and images.  We analyze fonts.  In short, we think about everything one might have to read in a lifetime and we do our best to prepare our students with a library card for that world.

If we are going to learn to read images, we might as well use images along the way.  A few years ago I fell in love with Haiku Deck.  I loved it when it was just a mobile app.  Now Haiku Deck is everywhere.  This is a good thing.  Haiku Deck operates with Creative Commons images.  Here is the sample deck I use with my DP class when we prepare to ‘read’ an advert:

Reading – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

How can we help our students read images while using images? Can we inspire the next generation of presentations to be? Can we make room for our audience to engage with our topic with an image?

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Photo Credit: Tahmid Munaz™ via Compfight cc

The Teacher DJ

In preparation for my former IBDP class’s exam session, I approached a grade 11 student with lyrics.  I rewrote the song ‘Frozen’ as a manifesto for students approaching their final exams.  The student agreed to record these rethought lines, and my colleagues were happy to feature in the video above.

We played the video at our farewell-to-the-seniors assembly.  The applause was mighty.  Did I break copyright law?  Hmm.  Parody fits in the exception to copyright law.  Does this cover the screenshots from the film I used with the green screen effect?  I’m not sure.  I’ve searched and searched this one, and I cannot seem to find a definitive answer.

I took a risk, and I remixed the incredibly popular song as an act of love for my departing students.  I live in a culture where remix is king, and the parody is beloved.

Would George Michael appreciate my parody of his hit song ‘Faith’?  If he knew it was to support my school’s literacy week he might.

I believe there is a time and a place for parody.

There is also a time for celebrating the culture Creative Commons is establishing.  That time is now..now…and now.

All the signage in my classroom is made possible via images I have personal created, visual notes constructed by my students, or the wonderfully CC-friendly Haiku Deck application.

Sample Visual Notes Photo by Tricia Friedman
Sample Visual Notes
Photo by Tricia Friedman

Through Twitter, I am constantly gaining access to amazing ideas from other teachers.  One of my favorite online colleagues is Michelle Lampinen

Michelle was kind enough to share an amazing guide to annotating extracts for one of our DP course assessment tasks.

I remixed her idea as a student-constructed project called ‘Astounding Annotations’

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You can see one example of this remixed project here.

I would love to see another teacher grab this concept and do something different with it.  Inspiration should beget inspiration.  That’s why teachers thrive on Twitter.

I made a purposeful decision to tell my class where the idea for the project came from.  I want them to know that I look for ideas, and I try to adapt them to our context.  I’m their learning DJ.

439139934_c1831bf463 Photo Credit: D.L. via Compfight cc

Giving credit where credit is due isn’t just an online attitude–it is something we want our students doing in every context.  As learners, we have so many people to thank.  Our ideas and our learning are the direct result of those we cross paths with: on and offline.  When we are able to better communicate knowledge, we need to frame that communique inside of a series of ‘thank you’s.’

Understanding the ins and outs of Creative Commons allows us to remind our students of their responsibility to construct the culture in which they exist. Technology invites artistry.

The most recent episode of Slate’s Culture Gabfest (available here)

explores the court’s ruling on Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” copyright infringement.  Pitchfork offers this interesting read on the case as well.

It seems to me that the real problem with “Blurred Lines” was not its plagiarism, but the lack of a legal structure for acknowledging that musical debt and repaying it in some measured way. No one disputes that “Blurred Lines” owes something to Marvin Gaye. Maybe not as much as the $7.4 million the jury awarded, but how were they to choose a proper amount? There is no standard. And it’s this lack of a standard—not the fact of plagiarism in music—that needs fixing.

Copyright laws are their very own collection of blurred lines.  This case opens a door to an authentic conversation around artistry, remix culture and law.  Teachers need to take these opportunities.

Never before has it been easier to share content online. Never ever.

As we find ways to invite creativity into our classrooms, it makes sense to promote the Creative Commons culture.

 

A culture of remix reminds us that creativity is the result of play..not of some imaginary gift.  That reminder takes loads of pressure off.  We don’t need luck.  We need to engage with our culture, we need to listen to the wisdom that exists.  We need to tinker with the art left behind.  Brian Lamb is entirely correct in asking us to make friends with this continued recycling by falling in love with the remix.