Sunday, December 3, 2017

One of my favorite projects-- Copycat Magazine

Every year in Photoshop, I challenge my students to find a magazine cover layout (I have a collection of about 150 for them to choose from) that is more than just simple text and words. They have to evaluate the fonts (serif, sans serif, narrow, slab, script, etc.) to try to match them with free/open source fonts, examine the use of shapes/line/color, and then recreate the cover with new content (different words, their own photos, etc.). There are some parameters that allow them to change color schemes, but they must try to font match (even down to bold, italics, etc.) and keep the same feel (may change the exact shape, but keep layer styles--strokes, shadows, etc.).

It's honestly one of my favorite projects. Students don't realize the power of a good layout until they apply their own content into one. I have many colleagues who have their kiddos do magazine covers, but students tend to create "simple" covers and this exercise helps train their eyes to look for creative layouts, so hopefully they can then better create their own in the future without need for duplicity.

Here's my example (I try to do one each year along with them):

And here is the magazine layout I used:

Scoring guide--
 (Links to an external site.)
My example reflection post (I don't have them turn in printed scoring guides, so this is how they address the requirements)--

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Typing Practice... for Web Design! #busedu

Today, while looking for a typing racing game for my early finishers in Computer Apps (which, btw, they can add friends on and race friends when it shows they are online), I ran across this interesting Google integrated login typing site called SpeedCoder. If you teach a coding, programming, or web design class, it has various languages:

So, they are typing code! I am much slower (50 wpm) at typing codes!

Another cool thing is you can paste in code (Upload Custom Code) and then type your own code as practice. So, they could be typing code from an activity they already did in class to reinforce their knowledge (or an excerpt you provide on your website or a Google doc that they can paste in). Check it out!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Back to School...How's it Going? #busedu

I saw this meme online today and it made me chuckle. Most of my classes are "pretty okay" so far this year. However, one class has already had to have a seating chart redo and I need to consider moving a few in one other class this week.

But, for the most part, it's been a good start! We are on Day 13 tomorrow and this will be, for the kiddos, a 4 day week followed by a 4 day weekend! (but teachers report Friday for PD)

As I mentioned on my Facebook page, I decided to revisit my cell phone policy this year. Essentially, I wanted to stop wasting my time constantly looking to catch kids (come on, you know they are on their phones even if you or your school have a policy against it... I know... my daughter was at a zero tolerance school last year) or dealing with discipline regarding phone use. So, my policy is this:

  • During lecture times or exams, phones must be on the computer tower, out of reach. 
  • During work times and bellringers, phones may be on the desktop. Light use is acceptable provided you are remaining on task and not taking more than about 30 seconds of "brain break" phone time. 
  • If your phone becomes a distraction, I will place it on your tower for the rest of the hour.
  • Finishing work early is not free phone time; free time is still subject to the "30 second rule" and should be used helping others, reading, homework, or reinforcing skills in my subject.
And.... I've only had to tell two students that they "were pushing the 30 second limit" so far. I feel like that's pretty good progress. Most of them have accepted the freedom and rarely interact with their phones. Some look at them periodically during work time. Some will say, "I need a quick 30" and pick them up briefly and then get right back to work. And, they are getting used to "tower time" when prompted. It works for me. And, it's finally not a headache that I felt I was constantly policing.

How's your year going so far? :) I'm already ready for Labor Day and a short little break, but it's been a good start!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Created an Interactive Web Design activity today! Check it out! #busedu

I love drag and drop activities as they are good bellringers, so I used Google Slides to create a drag and drop activity that students can use to practice their HTML codes. They won't use all of the codes, but I did that so I can use the template over and over to create more bellringers for practice.

If you wish to use it, just give them the URL (they will need to go to File> Save a Copy to be able to edit it and drag around).

The long link--

Here's the "answer key" if you need it.

Or, a simple printer-friendly version is here, too.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Updating my Multimedia Curriculum... Gonna try Adobe Audition! #busedu

As I am starting school Thursday and will need to give a pre-test shortly thereafter, I am trying to nail down exactly what I intend to cover in Multimedia this year. My Multimedia class is a mix of mostly vector graphics, audio editing, video editing, and animation. They also maintain a blog.

Though I try to teach some free programs, with the "1 for 1" initiative (aka Chromebooks for everyone), I am having to move into more industry programs just because many other classes are starting to use the free media programs (such as Powtoon or Prezi) earlier in the game.

Why free? Well, I want students to learn how to "transfer" knowledge. For example, starting with Audacity, they will understand audio files, formats, waveforms, amplitude, etc. And, then when we move to an industry-based software, it will be easier to learn AND they still know a free way to do it at home if they have a computer. I'm not going to be concerned with my free software being Chromebook compatible this year, though. Most free audio and video Chromebook programs are barebones or limited.

So, my plan this year is to try:

  • Audio:  Audacity (free), Soundtrap (online and free, but I am buying a license to use the full version since it's like $250 for a year), and Adobe Audition CC. They will record a podcast with a partner (hopefully).
    **A few good tutorials I found today, since I just started playing with Audition this summer-- PDF Tutorial    YouTube Tutorial
  • Illustration:  I do some logo design work in this class every year and we create some lower thirds graphics to use in Premiere. I will begin with a free online vector program so they get use to a few tools, like Pathfinder and Pen tool. Then, we will use Adobe Illustrator CC. (NOTE: If you don't have Adobe, they have an open source vector program called Inkscape you could use)
  • Graphics: I usually start with something really simple, and will likely stick to that again this semester, such as Canva. I will also do a little bit with infographics using Infogram online. Then, we will do a very basic Photoshop unit (like 5 days; I want them to know how to cut out images so we can bring them into Premiere). We will create some blog and YouTube channel headers and such using Canva. 
  • Animation: I honestly don't have time for this, but I want to at least introduce Adobe Character Animator once they know how to edit characters in Illustrator. I think they will enjoy it. Last year, we did a Powtoon animation, but I will probably skip it with some of the new stuff we are doing. 
  • Video: Not sure if I will start with a free option. I used to do Windows Movie Maker but haven't since it was removed from Windows Essentials. There are some free ones out there, but I haven't downloaded and decided on one yet. Kdenlive is an open source editor I have dabbled with; I don't want "freeware" or anything trial or limited, so open source is the way to go. I'll with do that or use the YouTube built-in video editor. Then, I will move on to Adobe Premiere Pro CC. I plan to do a little bit of Adobe After Effects this year as well. But, I only have a semester, so it's a lot to cram in!
Well, what do you think of my plan? If you have any great ideas, please share! 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Got ADOBE CC? Try Character Animator with these FREEBIES! #busedu @graphicmama

A few days ago, I posted a video of my first attempt at Character Animator. Today, I started searching for instructional materials and found a few amazing resources!

Graphic Mama has a great blog where there are numerous puppets for this program that you can download, edit and use! Check out this blog post!  One of her links is Okay, Samarai and he has several ready to use puppets (for whatever reason, my CC didn't want to play nicely and I had to scroll all the way down to the old one).

Here are a few examples of puppets available:

Here is my very short example. Now, let me just say that these are provided as is, but since I teach Illustrator in Multimedia, I will provide them with a starter puppet and ask them to edit the puppet in Illustrator so that all of them begin the same but have to be customized with their Illustrator skills.