Data Visualization Quickfire

After watching David McCandless’ TED Talk we learned just how helpful visual numbers are. In his words you want to make the numbers “effortless[ly] pour in” to our viewers.

Here are some great examples used to get me thinking about how and what I want to convey in my Infographic.

I tried using manyeyes. I can’t explain just how tricky it was to get started. I had a hard time getting my data imported. Once I did, my computer wouldn’t load the visualizations that I had intended. Once switching my security controls, Safari would only open visualizations. At that point, I just borrowed a classmate’s data to actually see some visualizations come to life. I attempted to sort my data by three factors, indicating which American charity would be the best to give your money to in terms of money reaching the people that need it.

Here is what I was able to create in a few minutes, once I got some data to manipulate. With that said, it does help us easily see how far our money will go in what popular charities.

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Post-Patterning Reading

In Year 3 of MAET we have been reading Sparks of Genius. Today’s reading assignment was about “patterning”. There are just some tidbits from today’s conversation and activities with colleagues and professors that leave me wondering and thinking about what’s happening in our schools and how I can promote patterning in my own life and my students’ lives:

Patterns can be recognized as a sequence or a relationship. Patterns are biased by culture, based on our prior knowledge. Simple ideas we get from patterning can lead to more complex ideas. Pattern recognition can be accidental or purposeful. Patterns come in three forms: semantic, visual and schematic. When we break patterns, we become able to think more creatively. Holes in patterns allow us to create new insights….a new pattern to discover, maybe. Patterns allow us to connect to our world in a deeper way, with a more fine-tuned understanding of our reality.

Why aren’t schools teaching more patterning? Why aren’t we drawing on patterns’ relationships throughout subject areas?

How do I create a patterning practice in my content area? And how can I create activities that guide my students to form patterns?

These are big, daunting questions. We tried to create an activity for our students to create patterns (semantic patterns) based on a grammar concept that they struggle applying. Here is our example of a Language Arts activity for ELL students, flexible depending on age, usable on an interactive white board, especially elementary student-friendly. What do you think? How could my group improve it in patterning design? How could we have altered it to reflect more the need of students patterning?

Grammar Patterning

Using Snagit in the Classroom

Today we were able to meet with Dave McCollom of TechSmith. He introduced our class to Snagit and googleaday. Snagit is a tool that is available with free or paid versions, on PCs or Macs. Googleaday is an online activity used to practice searching skills through Google. We used the Chrome version of Snagit which is free, a good option for teachers with students with devices in class. After running us through the infrastructure of Snagit’s recording and storage capabilities, we began our research on googleaday.

We were challenged to solve the answer posed by Google under a certain amount of time. As we researched, we recorded our search through Snagit. Once we shared our search’s evidence, we traded our video clips with a partner. Dave asked us to keep in mind our partner’s searching techniques and to note if there were any techniques that we learned from watching. Once I watched my partnter’s search, I realized that I had completely forgotten to use the Google Power Search techniques we learned last year! (I’m thinking that doing a few of these a week would really be great reminders in how to keep my searching skills honed!)

Snagit definitely seems like a great tool to use in class with students. An affordance of Snagit is it’s collaboration with Google Chrome. Saving, sharing and viewing the video files was easy. However, at the same time, Google provides a constraint, as the infrastructure of it’s set up through Google can be a bit confusing. If used effectively though, screencasts could be used to create interactive feedback between teachers and students, students and students, and can give a clear picture of what is happening inside students’ minds. What’s more, Snagit could even help us personalize online learning activities for students, if we choose to elaborate on existing videos created by educators and learners.


Photoshop Album Cover

This week, in Week One of our third summer overseas with MAET, we were given the challenge of creating a new album cover for our (made-up) band. We took results from random searches to get our band’s name, album’s title, and album’s cover picture. It was up to us to design an effective album cover using our recently acquired Photoshop skills. This is what I came up with, after a few minutes of toying around with my results in photoshop.

I was lucky that my photo showed an older man, looking weathered and not-so-smooth. Using “Love Never Did Run Smooth” was offset with the texture of his forehead, as if it was on his mind, remembering his past loves or some kind of unfinished (love) business. “Pembroke Township” is the name of the band, and its placement on the album cover, I believe stands out because it is a type of anchor, in the corner of the cover.

For having limited time with Photoshop, I was pleased with my ability to modify text particularly. I was unhappy with the limited font selection, however, overall, felt lucky to have a colorful and crisp image to offset my text with.

Jillian's Album Cover


TED-Ed Flipped Learning

TED-Ed Flipped Learning

Today we practiced using TED Ed for flipping our classrooms with videos. TED Ed makes it very simple to find helpful videos and set up thinking, questions and discussion topics. This tool is a wonderful addition for my class, as it could provide quick and intriguing homework and it could help further learning if there are teacher or student absences. Due to time constraints, I chose to focus on writing a friendly letter, as it is something that we visit a lot in 5th grade and appears on my students KET test in the spring.

Making Decisions as Educators and Leaders

It’s important that as educators, we take leadership roles in our school communities and challenge products and ideas that cross our school’s doorway. We must be informed, critical consumers of research. According to Willingham’s book When Can you Trust the Experts?…we should follow these steps in analyzing and deciding on products or ideas that seem like good (and massive) school adoptions within our peripheral sense:

1. Strip it and Flip it

2. Trace it

3. Analyze it

4. Decision

Our group used Willingham’s steps and researched BrainGym. We found that the website was aimed at our emotional connections and played to our peripheral knowledge of how beneficial movement is in learning. The site makes big claims without any statistical backing or reference to supportive research. However, the founder Paul Dennison, has no medical training and the research mentioned online is misleading. Unfortunately, this BrainGym curriculum has been adopted around the world without educators questioning the adoption. 

Quickfire 5: iPod-Dancing in Public

Today we were given a quickfire to practice our editing and filming skills, in preparation for our Understanding Understanding project. Our inspiration was Preston dancing to Footloose. Here you will find my group’s contribution to dancing in public with an iPod. Please keep in mind that we had about 10 minutes to edit our film, but there is evidence of improved skills in that we tried using the Rule of Thirds, steadying the camera (while on the go) and use of lighting.

Quickfire- Video-Making for Willingham Ch. 6 and 7

We were given the challenge to improve our video-making skills after having viewed our Ch. 4 and 5. The professors gave us a mini-lesson on specific shooting strategies, lighting and stability issues. With having had this extra instruction, our mission in creating a more-perfect video was trickier, especially given the time constraints, and given the new content of Ch. 7 of Willingham. My group chose to present on the theme of how novices and experts think.

Class Discussions and Ch. 4 and 5 Book Club

Today we held two different formats of discussion about Willingham’s Ch. 4 and Ch. 5.
First, we discussed Ch. 4 face-to-face. I noticed that not everyone participated. I didn’t participate much, as I heard a lot of comments that were repeated and thought my ideas were thrown out to the class. Secondly, we had an “online class” discussion using While I was able to participate more on edmodo, my thought processes were scrambled up and it was difficult to follow conversation threads. Here are some shots from today’s conversations online.


Video Mash-up and Ch. 3 Book Club

Today we were asked to create a type of media mash-up video illustrating a key concept from Willingham’s Ch. 3 for our Book Club time. We were given little time, a lot of resources and needed to produce a video with or without a partner. Many of our products were not finished or not finished well. The feeling of not meeting the challenge or feeling high stress at the lesson’s end stuck with many of us. We are to keep in mind what we are asking our students to think about–the technology or the actual content of our lesson? Are we planning activities that are appropriately challenging for our students?