Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Digital Writing Project

And so it is done...or not really, but I guess it's always a work in progress, right?
I have to admit-when I first heard "Digital Writing Project" or even that our class was on digital writing, I was skeptical. Hmmm...I'm not really technologically savvy, but I'm not afraid of trying new things. How interesting was this class really going to be? Well, let me tell you-I was hooked after the first class.

As I started to think about my Digital Writing Project, I thought about a lot of different things. I thought about VoiceThread after we had learned about that. I thought about Photostory, but then decided against that since I can't use the (FREE!) download with Windows Vista (ugh). I had posted once to my family blog...if you can even call it that. In then end, that's what I went with. Like many people who always have good intentions of starting a journal with their kids, I never did. I have no recollection of when they said their first word, when they had pizza for the first time, or when they started calling their grandmas and grandpas Mamma and Papa. So, what better way to preserve the memories from here on out than using a blog?

I love recording and writing using my blog. I find that for the most part I'm not over thinking about what I should write or how long the posts should be. I am frustrated with the fact that I can't make it look exactly like I want it to, but maybe I need to talk to other bloggers to see how they overcame that obstacle. I'm beginning to write a little bit more for me than only for my memories of my kids. It makes me wonder what the blog will turn into, but I find that I enjoy reading other blogs that are thoughtful and insightful and make me think (not that that's what's happening in my blog, but it could!).

I am forever grateful to have had this opportunity to create and dive into this blog as my project. I love that it was a choice to be able to pick what would work best for you. My hope is to continue trying other things like Glogster and Photostory and embed those projects within my blog. The possibilities are definitely endless!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Winners Are...

So here I am going through my own blog postings, and it's hard! How do you pick your best when that's not what we really are conditioned to do? Usually we are told to do the opposite. It's not often that we are told to seek out the best-it usually goes, "Find something you can improve on." So, here it goes...
I liked this post on digital searches where I made reference to some of the readings that we had done as well as posting some resources to go along with the post. I also like it because it "sounds" most professional. I don't know if it is, but it seems like it to me in some ways.
For creativity, the award goes to...Role Play! I don't think there was a lot of creativity in piecing it together, but I feel like the content leads to creativity, and that's why I picked it.
Hmmm...I think all of my posts are pretty much the same. The only thing I played around with was where the photos went within each post. Perhaps it could be this one on Digital Storytelling, just in the way that I presented it with my voice and using a sort of "comeback line" of "Overwhelming." I'm not sure if that really goes into design, but that's what I'm going with for now.
Like I said, it is very hard to go through these posts and find the good in all of them because I'm usually so critical when it comes to finding the good in something I'm trying for the first time. I would have to agree with many of the posts I've read through, in that design and creativity are coming through more through my own family blog.
Now, do I really have to pick just one blog that I think is the best? Hmmm...
Well, there are a few I would choose, and they are mostly for their voice and the enjoyment I had while reading them. So I pick Kelsey and Debi. For me, these are the easiest to read and easiest to relate to. The way they designed their blogs was easy to follow. They both have clean looks and things I understand. So much of their blogs was just "them!" I felt as if I got to know them better through their posts and their projects. So thanks, girls, for the opportunity to get a glimpse of you through this class. It was great fun!
I also want to thank Candance for giving us this "assignment." It's one of the best I've ever had with any class I've taken. I have taken risks with digital writing I wouldn't otherwise know about with this class and blog. You've given us an opportunity to explore each other's blogs and learn so much from each other. What an authentic way to learn!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Wikis for me? I've tried them, but...

...not for my kids in my classroom. I'm not so sure about them. My first experience with wikis was when PB Wiki was the "buzz" in our school. All of us teachers seemed to used them that year for things related to the classroom, but only for parent use. I used them for signing up for volunteering, signing up to donate something...things like that. I found that the parents were able to use them pretty easily for the most part. Then PB Wiki changed their settings and required people to be invited. Although that doesn't seem too daunting, it was to me, so I stopped using it after using a wiki for 2 years. Then I moved into Google and Google docs this year. I have found that (for the most part) these have worked relatively easy. There is no password required and they are fairly easy to edit. Beach mentioned the use of Google docs briefly in the chapter, but focused mainly on wikis.
Hmmm...again, where do I go with this with my first graders? I'm not quite sure. I can see how using a wiki would be beneficial in upper grades, but using wikis, like blogs, is a little daunting for first grade. Yikes! What kind of feedback would I get from parents? Again, I see the value in using collaborative writing online using a wiki for upper grades. I can see how this page would be valuable when in high school. It would really allow for people to work together. It seems as though a teacher has placed the bold headings for each part they want a post in. Then the students are able to post as they find information to write and share.
I did find what seemed to be an elementary example which I thought could be useful for an upper grade. I really liked how the students posted student 21 or student 8 instead of posting with their name. This could really save on some of the parent comments about security that came with blogging. I suppose since they are invited to the wiki, they are able to post anonymous.
I don't know that this will be something I will try, but I would love to see/hear of success stories where teachers were able to use it in a productive way and not "just to use technology-" one of the things I continue to struggle with when we speak of technology in the classroom.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Homework-on my birthday?!

I had to post one more thing before the night ends...
This is a lesson to me: On your birthday, do not save posting on your blog for later in the evening. One should never have to do homework on their birthday.
But, if you're like me, you do all of the thought-gathering ealier in the week, only to realize that you never actually posted those thoughts. Ooops! And that's how my birthday night ends...

I don't think I'm a digital storyteller, but...

When I think of digital storytelling, I don't think of me. I think of others, not me! I don't know "how" to do digital storytelling. I don't even have Photostory on my computer. My Voicethread didn't work like it was supposed to. I don't know how to upload a video to my blog (nor have I tried yet) or to YouTube (haven't tried that either). Maybe I need to ask for help! I was going to last class, but I had to go home because, well, read here. There are just so many unknowns, that it is hard for me to wrap my brain around it! For example, in the digital storytelling we did as a group last week, I was completely floored by the group that did the Photostory (I think) with the pictures, text, and music. Now how in the world do I do that???


That's how I feel about digital storytelling. Now I know I did it with Voicethread, sort of, but the thought of putting words, pictures, sounds, and text all together in a multi-modal version is a daunting task to me. As of right now, I'm looking at doing a family blog, which I've started. I need to learn how to upload video and move things around. But as I think about what I would like to do for my own kids, too, I think a Photostory would be lovely as well. What to do...


That's still how I feel about digital storytelling when I think of my first graders doing digital storytelling. But wouldn't it be great to have a parent or two come into the room to help with a project? To push the buttons, say, "Talk now!," help my first graders with where to put a picture or what music to choose for their part of the story...I think it could be done. The task is, again, daunting! I found this example of a first grader and their digital story, so I know it can be done, but it is all about the time it takes for a project like this. Maybe I could spread it out across the entire year without feeling like I have to do it within a month. Hmmm...something to ponder.

Either way I look at it, digital storytelling is an awesome way to tell a story. It is a neat way to capture a voice, pictures-really everything altogether. Multi-modal! Jenkins says, "All artists work within traditions; they all also violate conventions. School disclosure, however, focuses on one over the other." I do think it is important for kids of all ages to have exposure to the many pieces of digital storytelling, not worrying about how storytelling has "always been done." It's time to think outside the box!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I know you've all been anxiously waiting...drumroll, please!
My VoiceThread is ready! We tried a couple more things today and we finally have success. I got a new microphone and that worked today. I'm not sure why the other one didn't work, but this one does and I'm done! You'll notice that I also have some typed comments. This is because I didn't know if I would get the voice part done in time, so I typed my comments just to be safe.
It is always nice to try these things first, before diving into a project with your students because you never know what might happen. I'm just glad I got it done because it really was driving me crazy.
Ok, deep breath...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


I can't even express to you how frustrated I am right now!!! Ugh! I have tried and tried and tried to complete my VoiceThread. But, to no avail. I tried Saturday and again on Sunday with no luck. Then I brought a microphone home from school yesterday to finish it at home, but my lovely laptop wouldn't do anything with it. I worked with it for about an hour before finally giving up. For whatever reason my laptop will not recognize the microphone when it is attached to my computer. I get nothing-absolutely nothing!

Then, I tried doing it at school today and nothing again! Nothing! I even had our tech support person (thanks Cindy!) try to figure it out during my entire prep time, but even she couldn't figure it out! So then we wondered if it was the microphone. So we tested it with Photostory. It worked with that, so we knew it wasn't the microphone. Then I tried it again with VoiceThread, and nothing!

Cindy even tried emailing the VoiceThread helpdesk to figure it out after school. She went through the tutorial that I did last night and still nothing. Really, I am so frustrated, because I was so excited to do this project! I've viewed so many of your VoiceThreads...they are beautiful! I only wish I had something to show for it. Maybe I'll try again tomorrow and see if something clicks. Ugh...technology-it's a love/hate relationship!