seeing myself through images

Here is where I started:

  • I wanted to create something that would be useful 
  • I wanted to try something I had never done before 
  • I wanted to be able to teach a new tool/skill to my students 
  • I wanted to showcase my new understandings regarding the power of images 

Here is what I thought about as I was creating: 

  • “I have to show data in a way that people will enjoy and understand.”                                         – Hans Rosling’s Gapminder
  • “Your message is only as good as your ability to share it.”                                                               – The value of Visualization
  • “The most powerful producer of visual imagery is the individual, its you.”                                   – David Jakes
  • “Expand(ing) our capacity for uncertainty, that’s a wonderful preparation for creativity.”         – How to be Creative
  •  “If you are going to use visuals, then for crying out loud, make them insanely great visuals” and “Visuals that surprise people, touch them, delight them, and support your story are best because they affect people in an emotional way. People are more likely to remember your content in the form of  stories and examples, and they are also more likely to remember your content if your visuals are unique, powerful and of the highest quality.” – Presentation Zen
  • “It’s a thankless job, only rarely will anyone comment on (or even notice) the quality of design — but they will notice, and act on, the message. And that’s what’s important, isn’t it?”  – Design Better with CRAP 

Once I knew I wanted to create a visual resume for my final project, I chose to: 

  •  seek out colleagues who had created one and asked about their best practices 
  • search for exemplars online to collect some general ideas 
  • evaluate my traditional resume and identify which sections I wanted to represent visually and why 
  • use Piktochart because of all the choices it offered 
  • select a color scheme using guidance from this website
  • research some common tips with articles such as this
  • spend hours playing around with all sorts of ideas on a blank template 
  • send my first draft to a few colleagues for feedback 
  • make adjustments to my layout, font, visual balance, etc based on that feedback 
  • leave it alone for a few days to see what I thought when I came back to it 
  • make some final tweaks
  • and be done with it for now with the understanding that I can change/adapt it as needed 

Here is my current visual resume using Piktochart:

Rebecca Allen Resume 2015 (full screen preview)

Rebecca Allen Resume 2015

Here is how I plan to use it: 

  • to show my students a model of how infographics can be used 
  • to gather feedback from my current administration about where they see my largest potentional areas of growth 
  • as a recruiting tool at some point 

Here is what I am still wondering: 

  • how should I select a photgraph of myself? Does the one I currently have accurately represent the message I want to send?
  • how can I create more space for professional workshops I have attended?
  • is the type of graph that I selected the best way to display my teaching experience?
  • have I accurately represented my inquiry training?
  • should I include more photos somehow, possibly with students? 
  • is the font that I have chosen the best fit? 

and here is what floats to the surface for me at the close of Course 3: 

I will become a better facilitator of learning by intentionally using the power of images:

  • to deepen my students’ understandings
  • to increase their engagement
  • to clarify my own messages
  • to nurture their personal connections
  • to reinforce their memory
  • and to celebrate their voices.

 

 

 

 

visualizing magnitude

https://www.themoscowtimes.com/upload/iblock/65f/5296-16a-holocaust2.jpg
https://www.themoscowtimes.com/upload/iblock/65f/5296-16a-holocaust2.jpg

This assignment couldn’t have been more timely! My class is currently deep in a historical fiction unit paralleling our unit on conflict and perspective. The kids are literally soaking up all things World War II. Every day their minds are abuzz with tons of questions ranging from: “Why wasn’t hitler stopped sooner?”‘ to “How can we prevent World War II?” and “Were the SS guards afraid for their lives too?” There are so many answers that we are searching for together throughout the day, it has really made their thinking come alive.

I have been struggling with communicating the magnitude of the numbers to them. How do I get across the death toll numbers, how can I provide an appropriate learning experience for them to truly grasp the depth and breadth of the destruction of human lives?

One possible answer is infographics. Using visuals to illustrate incomprehensible numbers and loss might help them wrap their minds around such figures. Here is what I plan on using: 

  • The circular gauge on this WWII overview infographic from Jawagar Samidurai
  • The bar graph of deaths by camp in this infographic from mmperttu on infogr.am
  • This infographic illustrating who was killed by mst123 on infogr.am
  • and finally this infographic on the magnitude of deaths by Tim Urban

So what floats to the surface for me this week is how learning and thinking can be immediately and easily clarified, deepened, and crystalized by using infographics. 

Show What You Say

It is clear from our readings and examples this week that images and voice overs can hold much emotional power. Here is a fine example of that, especially if you are a hopeless romantic.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JvxHPtEsmFc[/youtube]

I had originally read the script for this video as text and it didn’t do much for me but now after seeing the video and reading David Jakes’ “The Strength of Weak Ties”, I can see how his statement “Emotion, depicted through visual means, sells the message” rings true. The combination of tone and pacing in the narrator’s voice combined with the speed, timing, and details of each image evoke emotion in a way words on a page didn’t for me.

I think kids get the power of images at a basic level, but I do think it is important to expand upon that understanding by sharing some of David Jakes’ advice:

  • “There is a biological basis for visual communication. Teach kids to take advantage of the connectivity, and the raw capacity of the brain to process visually.”
  • “The most powerful producer of visual imagery is the individual, its you.”
  • “You have to share it.”

Educause Learning Initiaitve’s article, 7 Things you Should Know about Digital Storytelling, furthers this idea by personalizing it to the individual student. “Digital stories let students express themselves not only with their own words but also in their own voices, fostering a sense of individuality and of “owning” their creations.” This is a central goal for so many of our units  – we want students to show their learning in a way that is not only meaningful to them but also represents who they are. So I figured despite my lack of experience, I could follow the advice  from PBS Offbook’s How To Be Creative “Expand(ing) our capacity for uncertainty, that’s a wonderful preparation for creativity.”

We used IMovie and kept them very simple, minial customizations at this stage. Our golas were:

  1. Select images that are powerful and tell a story
  2. Time your images with your narration
  3. Create emotion in your audience
  4. Use your voice to represent you

Here is one student’s example on the topic of poverty and what can be done to break the cycle.

So what floats to the surface this week is actually the voice of one of my students coming to life through images. I can still hear the inflection in her voice as she introduces me to her new term of “geographic unluckiness.” 

Method in the Making

https://dobrincho.tumblr.com/post/4901062877/powerful-black-and-white-portraits-by-lee-jeffries
https://dobrincho.tumblr.com/post/4901062877/powerful-black-and-white-portraits-by-lee-jeffries

 

I continue to be taken with the power of images. The range of emotion and thought that they can evoke for each person seems exponential. A great entrance point into a dialogue, a learning opportunity. I would like to intentionally harness that visual stimulation, audience engagement, and spark of curiosity in my presentations going forwward.

While I appreciated the various presentation styles from this week’s readings, no singular approach felt like the right fit for me. I was drawn to different parts of each approach. I connected with:

So when I found myself with the opportunity to create a presentation this week, I thought maybe I could try to create my own style. One that matched my audience of assisstant teachers (who will be learning about inquiry for the first time) and one that matched me as a presenter.

Here is what I discovered in the process:

  1. It was important to me to select connected, powerful pictures that would engage my audience.
  2. I wanted my font to be balanced. I wanted it to have a presence but not too much of a presence.
  3. I felt like one image and/or one line of text on each slide was enough.
  4. I felt more organized when I kept my slide count to a minimum. Less is more.
  5. I wanted to keep the black and white theme consistent. Adding colors seeemed to detract from my message at this stage.
  6. I liked the tension created when my text interacted with/overlapped onto the image.
  7. The larger I could make the photograph the better.
  8. I didn’t actually need much text to remember my presentation talking points.

And here is the presentation that floated to the surface for me . . . my own method in the making.

“I didn’t think . . . until I saw”

https://wisdomftf.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/perspectives3.jpg
https://wisdomftf.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/perspectives3.jpg

Our Grade 5s are about to embark on an inquiry unit entitled, “Perspective and Conflict.” The enduring understanding is: Our persepctive influences our choices when dealing with conflict. After our readings this week, I heard the message loud and clear that if you want students to connect, to remember, and to be impacted then use images. This is certainly a unit where I want their understandings to be memorable and I found myself returning to these lines from our readings to guide my thinking:

  • From Presentation Zen: The Power of thr Visual  “If you are going to use visuals, then for crying out loud, make them insanely great visuals” and “Visuals that surprise people, touch them, delight them, and support your story are best because they affect people in an emotional way. People are more likely to remember your content in the form of  stories and examples, and they are also more likely to remember your content if your visuals are unique, powerful and of the highest quality.”
  • From Teaching Media Literacy: Yo! Are you Hip to This? “Individuals create meaning in media messages through interpretation.”
  • From Visual Literacy Using Digital Still Images “I didn’t think . . . until I saw.”

I selected the following images to use for the tuning in of their initial thoughts and wonderings:

protest_riot_palestine_israel_west_bank_ni'ilin_arab_jewish_conflict_war_zoriah_08_15_08_G6Y9689
protest_riot_palestine_israel_west_bank_ni’ilin_arab_jewish_conflict_war_zoriah_08_15_08_G6Y9689

Manila, Philippines - Child in Conflict

https://flic.kr/p/6BjEu

0001_zoriah_cambodia_train_track_slums_20131116_8171

0001_zoriah_cambodia_train_track_slums_20131116_8171

zoriah_kenya_famine_kakuma_refugee_camp_irc_international_rescue_committee_aid_hunger_starvation_shortage_20090130_0286

zoriah_kenya_famine_kakuma_refugee_camp_irc_international_rescue_committee_aid_hunger_starvation_shortage_20090130_0286

I plan to use one of the visible thinking routines: See, Think, Wonder and then hopefully extend it as we progress through the unit to include “I used to think  . . .  until I saw”.

As I search through all these images on conflict, what surfaces for me is . . . the power that images hold, how they can stay with you, how they immediately evoke emotion and can create a physical response. This is important for me to remember when my natural inclination is words on a page for my students. We know that learning is deeeper and more relevant when students can create meaning so when I am planning my lessons I want to ask myself, “Could I be saying this more clearly or with more meaning by using an image?”

Let the journey begin . . .

Journey

https://flic.kr/p/6hCjaZ

 

Redesign with the Message in Mind

optical-illusions-slide-show-1-728What a great question to begin the new year asking, “How do we understand and practice the elements of good design as part of our communication and interactive practices?” Having not opened up my blog over the winter holidays, I am feeling thankful that I get to begin course three with fresh eyes, especially since we will be evaluating not only what we see but how we see it and what that means for how we communicate and interpret messages. I find myself already floating around the following ideas: does my blog represent me? how can I figure out if it does? and what can I do to make it visually align with my message?

In search on these answers I found a place to start with a closing thought from Dustin Wax’s “Design Better with CRAP”. It states, “Ultimately, the goal is for the work you put in to designing a document to disappear, to become invisible, leaving your reader or viewer with unfettered access to the points you are trying to convey — both directly in your text and, ever-so-subtly, in your choice of design elements. In this respect, it’s a thankless job, because only rarely will anyone comment on (or even notice) the quality of design — but they will notice, and act on, the message. And that’s what’s important, isn’t it?” Various parts of this message stuck with me. The central reasons why I have established my COETAIL blog are to communicate my ideas, ask questions that I am wondering, process my own learning, and collaborate with peers who are thinking around the same topics. I felt like my intentions were clear and yet I wondered if visually, structurally my blog was actually set up to represent its purpose. 

Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 1.50.35 PM

Next, I came across Brandon Jones’ “exercise to test visual hierarchy” in “Understanding Visual Hierarchy in Web Design” and decided I would try the exercise with my own blog.

Here is what I found out:

 

1. List the key information points that visitors are likely seeking and assign values (1-10) according to their importance to the average visitor.

  • Who is the author?    4 points
  • What does the author think and why does he/she think that?     9 points
  • What do others think about the author’s opinions?   6 points

2. Now, look at the actual design again and assign values (1-10) according to the actual visual importance as you see it in the live design.

  • Who is the author? 2 points 
  • What does the author think and why does he/she think that?     10 points
  • What do others think about the author’s opinions?   4 points

3. Consider: Does the expected importance match up with the actual designed importance?

By doing this exercise I realized the following strengths:

  • My central message is communicating my ideas and the structure of my blog highlights just that as the majority of the space on the pages is dedicated to my posts which represent my thoughts on a specific topic. 
  • The evidence I used to support my ideas (hyperlinks, images, videos, etc) were easy to see and stood out visually as support.
  • The linear organization of my archives, recent posts, recent comments, COETAIL courses, and specific categories were all easily accessible. 

I also was struck by the following changes that I wanted to make: 

  • My background was a somewhat dull color and while it may have relaxed my reader, it may also have lulled them to sleep. There were no colors or images that activated thinking. 
  • I had my widgets set so that it listed too many of previous posts or comments. The right hand of my toolbar appeared full of text in long lists that really weren’t that important. 
  • The header image that I had chosen was related to my blog title but again it was not active. It gave you the feeling of passive lapping up of information by a lake side. This was not the impression I wanted to give as I want my blog to feel like a dynamic space of active learning, movement, and change. 
  • All of my text was also so uniform. Visually it looked like everything was equally important. Upon some further exploring, I realized that my theme is somewhat limited in fonts and text features but I can change the color and font size at least.  

These shifts in how I thought of my blog space vs. how it might appear to others led me to a few wandering hours on the internet searching images, fumbling through themes, reorganizing widgets and for the present moment ending up with where you are now. 

Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 3.37.14 PM

 So . . . give me some feedback visitors:

  1. What do you think when you are in this space?
  2. How do the current visual elements make you feel?
  3. What do you think my message is? How can I make it clearer? 
  4. What floats to the surface for you?