Monday, October 26, 2009

When was the last time you watched someone teach a digital learner?

Cross-posted at
Watching a digital learner last week while someone else was teaching was a real treat.

I watched Deb Barrows, a Mission Sales Specialist for Fablevision, and former
technology teacher,
teach Sarah Fryer, who is famous for her youtube response to President Obama's
talk with students, how
to use Animation-ish. Animation-ish is a product produced and sold by
Fablevision, a company dedicated to all learners developing their true

Just as you would create a multi-page comic, a flipbook, you follow the
same idea with Animation-ish. It is similar to creating a storyboard.
It was the tool as much as the process that intrigued me. We were at
the Maine Technology Conference ACTEM, where we heard
Marcos Torres talk about using the resources of youth and media to
learn with our youth. Animation-ish is one tool that I would classify as a current resource our youth will embrace.

Let me take you back to the vendor area at the conference. Deb demonstrated how to use the software to create
a mini story. Sarah watched intently and followed the model and created
a mini-story. Then Deb created a new story at a different level and
Sarah immediately created another story. You can see an example of
Sarah's final creation for the day. Deb commented that, "What I really
loved was watching Sarah use the interactive white board
like a pro! You could actually see her thinking when she was creating
and making choices. It was so cool." Lori Collins, Professional
Development Director for Fablevision, was at the booth and her demonstrations focused
on the options Sarah had with Animation-ish. Both Deb and Lori are
expert teachers and they know how to engage digital learners.Watching Sarah, I was reminded of looking at this moment through the eyes of a
digital learner. How shall we teach differently for our different
Sarah watched while Deb demonstrated. There were no words
exchanged as Sarah drank this all in with her eyes. I watched as she
observed for a few minutes while Deb modeled, then I saw her use her
skills and create her own story. Lori picked out a couple of the
important transitions and demonstrated them to Sarah. Sarah instantly
transformed the the software and the experience into her own creation.
She did not need the steps laid out for her, she did not need a
worksheet to follow along, she viewed a model, created an attempt,
erased, started again, and within 15 minutes she created her own story.
There was no tentativeness, only trial and error, an attempt at an
idea, an assessment, another attempt and then a brief reflection and

Do we need new tools for new learning?
Animation-ish allowed for a story to be told and created. We all have a
story to be told and shared. If we think back to all of the cultures
before the written word was the norm, the history and culture were
shared through oral traditions. Today our learners are visual, our
teaching should be visual, our stories should be visual. We may not be
very sophisticated with our initial attempts at visual story telling,
but our visual stories will be powerful.

Other resources:
Sarah's cooking video Black Bean Dip.
Sarah and Animation-ish You can view a short movie of Sarah using Animation-ish.
ACTEM, Maine Technology Conference

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


365 could be days but in this case it will be photos. There are many folks who have participated in this. Bob Sprankle urged me to try this with my iphone. I can do this and so you will see my FlickR stream.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Compelling Reason for Change!

Usually, we expect the photo to tell a story, a good image is worth 1,000 words.
The set up for the photo. A family party, my 81 year old Mom, my brother and his wife from Virginia unable to make the trip. The computer placed right on the kitchen counter, in the middle of the food, the middle of 28 family members walking through the kitchen, stopping to chat or make a comment, just as we would do if Jeff and Barb were in the room. We were using a freeInternet telephone service called SKYPE, well, free between Skype to Skype. There is a fee if you Skype to a landline or cell phone, but that information is listed on the SKYPE information page.

I am hearing more and more from grandparents who have set up SKYPE on their home computers, so they can see and talk to their grandchildren, each week. I am reminded of purpose. If you had mentioned to those grandparents that they could be in touch with their children, friends or neighbors who have moved away I don't think that would have been enough of a compelling reason to learn something new. However, with the birth of a new grandbaby, time and distance have proven to be overshadowed by a new technology and have given purpose to reach out and see someone.

We use SKYPE at our school to allow community members access to committee meetings. We SKYPE students, who are medically challenged, into their classes. We could SKYPE guest speakers into our classrooms, we could SKYPE grandparents in to visit classes on Bring a Grandparent to School Day. We have the technology, now we need the compelling reason for change. Leave an idea for how you have used video conferencing in your classroom.
Google Video you will need a google account for this.