Tuesday, February 27, 2018

LEGO Fun in Photoshop! #busedu

It's been several years since we've created movie posters in Photoshop class and I wanted to bring the ol' project back but with a twist. So, after talking to some students and tossing around ideas, I decided to create some LEGO versions of non-LEGO movie posters! Fun, right?

I took a simple poster for The Post and gave it a LEGO spin. They will be required to use masks for selections/blending, adjustment layers (I made his shirt blue), and keep with the "feel" of the original poster, but it doesn't have to be an exact match.

My students maintain a Blogger portfolio in the class, but I am going to have them submit this as a Google Slides project (and embed it in the Portfolio) as I want them to visually include their Layers panel and a "before and after" Adjustments to show me the changes they've made to the original images. 

Embedded below is my Google Slideshow I will show tomorrow to go over the project that includes my scoring criteria for mastery and some examples of others I found online (oh, and my Jumanji one! I'm pretty proud of it!). I hope to be able to show you some cool examples from my students in the near future!

Saturday, January 20, 2018

From the Mouths of 6th Graders... "Bad Teachers" #busedu #teach

Yesterday, my Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) chapter hosted our annual Career Fair at a local middle school. Sixth graders moved around the gym and heard from over 20 speakers about various careers--dentist, health care, police, plumbing, travel, etc., for five minute talks.

One of the businesses didn't show up, so I was asked to pinch hit by our organizer (my fellow adviser). Thus, I ended up leading a "teaching" station and talked about what it's like to be a teacher. I wasn't too excited. I didn't have any props, presentation, candy to hand out, or promo items, like most of them had. But, I took it as an opportunity. I essentially said that I wasn't there to convince them to be teachers. I didn't want to be a teacher at all during my k-12 school years. And, I felt that "good teachers" needed three important things-- to be good at what they want to teach, to be passionate about/love the topic they want to teach, and to want to help students learn. It's not enough to be good at math; that doesn't make you good at TEACHING math. You have to be good at explaining it, passionate about why people should learn it, and patience to work with students until they understand.

To try to get the students talking, I asked a few questions. One of those questions was if they ever had a "bad" teacher and what makes a teacher a "bad" teacher? Even students who were busy with the balloon that some station gave them (thanks) stopped playing and shot an arm up to answer. They all had opinions on this. Feedback was pretty consistent from group to group, but I wanted to share the highlights:

  • "Teachers who are always in a bad mood."
  • "Teachers who are rude and sarcastic."
  • "Teachers who find some reason to get onto me all the time."
  • "Teachers who pick favorites."
  • "Teachers who are always on their phones."
  • "Teachers who just sit at their desk all day."
  • "Teachers who won't help you when you ask."
  • "Strict teachers who won't let you do anything."
  • "Teachers who hate kids."
I had about 50 groups of students today (around 400 total) and these were the themes. There were some isolated other complaints (like teachers who send me to the office all the time or teachers who put a kid out in the hall and never even go talk to them or teachers who give homework) but those listed above were mentioned multiple times.  On occasion, I'd call on a student and they would be one of the lucky ones who only had good teachers and didn't really have anything to contribute. But, the general consensus is that most students have had teachers who are inattentive, cranky, or who don't equally show attention in the classroom. 

Hey, I'm not perfect. These were sixth graders, but I teach high school and know that I occasionally lean on sarcasm to try to get attention (and probably will be more aware of that in the future) but I felt truly sad to hear that children (I mean, most of these kiddos were probably 11 years old!) had already had teachers who obviously didn't enjoy teaching or who consistently spent time ignoring students either at their desk, on their phone, or just through their attitude that made students feel like they couldn't ask questions.

I have made a big attempt this semester to walk around more and ask students if they have questions one-on-one rather than the blanket statements or just waiting until they ask me. I have a teenager of my own who honestly is pretty poor at advocating for herself because once a teacher snaps at her or seems upset with her, she just shuts down and pretty much refuses to ask for help.  I'm also one of those "strict" teachers who just doesn't let students sleep in class, play games, and I push them to complete work and won't let them just have zeroes if I can avoid it. If you forgot to turn it in, I'm probably going to approach you about it! But, I certainly try not to ignore students.

Note what is NOT on this list; there is no mention of teachers who just aren't good at explaining or aren't the smartest. Most of what they had to say had more to do with perceived attitude than skill.

As teachers, let's think about that list. Some of these things are subconscious. We don't try to pick favorites. We don't want to pick on certain students, but they just won't listen or constantly push our buttons. But, it's time to stop making excuses. Start over with kids. Let them know that you WANT to help them. Let them SEE that you want them to learn. Try different approaches.

And, for goodness sakes.... SMILE. No student should think their teachers hate kids. Wear your passion on your face as much as possible. And if you have to discipline or negatively spotlight a student one day, be sure to counter that with something positive the next day.  Show students you care, regardless of their past.

It's important.

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--  https://drive.google.com/open?id=1LX1ur5ty1W3dby5K6sZHv31vacDbsrYerZcbAxcUmGc
 (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-- https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1fXZyOCywaWDN5n9D8W9M51k6nyWBnfdfZb77AozD84Q/edit?usp=sharing

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

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