Monday, January 30, 2023

Media Making Workshop Series

I'm super excited for my most recent collaboration with Vermont Rural Education Collaborative where we'll be offering a series of three 5-week session giving teachers the opportunity to create confidence with media-making tools as a vehicle for putting UDL and PBL into practice.

Putting UDL and PBL into Practice with Media Making

Design learning experiences that invite students to create their own special effects with videos, produce their own podcast episodes, and author their own interactive e-books. Experience the tools, process, and workflows that provide practical ways to implement elements of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and Project Based Learning (PBL) in your instructional design.

Each session of this course will be offered online over 5 weeks with flexible asynchronous and some synchronous lab sessions via Zoom video conferencing offered on Wednesdays starting at 3:30 p.m. The first week starts with a 2-hour synchronous class session, followed by a one hour on-line module. 

  • Session 1: Producing Podcast Episodes with students 
    Feb 8, 15, 22, Mar 1, 8     (Workshop only) $300
  • Session 2 Creating Video Projects with students
    Mar 15, 22, 29, Apr 5, 12  (Workshop only) $300
  • Session 3 Authoring Interactive e-Books with students
    April 19, 26, May 3, 10, 17  (Workshop only) $300
  • Session 1, 2 & 3: Putting UDL and PBL Into Practice With Media Making
    February 8 – May 17
    $825 recertification only  ($75 savings)
    $1245 includes 3 graduate credits from St. Michaels College

More details in the syllabus.

You can also download a PDF flyer to share with friends and colleagues.


Wednesday, January 25, 2023

How I introduce Microbits?

 I was recently asked how I introduce a new technology like micro:bits to student, so I thought I might write a blog post with some of my thoughts about this.  

What is the micro:bit you ask? 

officialmicrobit image
The BBC micro:bit is an inexpensive electronic circuit board designed for students to learn electronics and coding. It includes buttons and lights and sensors that lend themselves to creating amazing interactive projects. When a student connects the micro:bit to a computer with a USB cable, they can quickly program the board with new interactions using beginner-friendly code environments, such as Microsoft MakeCode.

Over the past few years, we’ve watched the popularity of micro:bit skyrocket in our educator community. The board’s rugged, yet friendly design holds up to repeated use and the curriculum developed by the Micro:bit Educational Foundation is top-notch and easy to implement.

 I've recently created this graphic to capture my pedagogical approach to learning through creating and making.  The framework has evolved from personal experience with teaching and learning and from the opportunity to learn with and from talented educators over the years. 

The INSPIRE phase is a time to explore something in a way that motivates the learner to create and make something meaningful. It is based on the belief that MOTIVATION is the foundation of all meaningful learning. There are several ways to create an activity that INSPIRES or motivates.   

One way that I introduce the micro:bit is by having students engage in a few rounds of Rock Paper Scissors.  This gets the whole class warmed up and thinking about fun.  It is a game that most learners are already familiar with so it connects to prior knowledge. 

Then I tell them that they are going to learn to create a fun wearable that can be used to play Rock Paper Scissors. 

Once a student is inspired, it is helpful to take some time to create confidence with new tools and processes.  I like to design some skill building sprints to build student confidence with a new tool or skill.

I love to introduce the micro:bit by teaching students how to create a Rock Paper Scissor bracelet.  
Not only does this activity lend itself well to learning to code and transfer data from your computer to the microbit, it also includes an opportunity for creativity in the way you design the bracelet.

I'll never forget the enthusiasm in one fifth grade students who approached me after class and said.  "That was hard.  It made my brain hurt. But I MADE A WEARABLE.  I can't wait to tell my mom." 

I especially like designing activities that lend themselves to cross-curricular integration.   I've picked up a few different books related to Rock Paper Scissors for students to dive into as well as a few web sites like this BBC News article: How to win at rock-paper-scissors

Here are just a few options for curricular integration.

During the Create Confidence phase,  I like to teach students how to learn on their own using the MAKE CODE tutorials. 

I encourage students to go through the DICE tutorial as it has so much potential for enrichment and expansion.  Once they understand how to navigate the various resources at their finger tips, they can  continue to grow their confidence on their own. 

Once students are starting to feel some creative confidence, it is time to challenge them to apply their skills and  MAKE SOMETHING MEANINGFUL. This can take on several forms.  I often refer to this list from a respected colleague, Michael Pope.

When preparing students to be successful in their meaningful project, Michael Pope, not only prepares them with skills using various technology, but he also prepares their mindset to experience the creative process and shares this graphic.

In a recent maker residency,  we offered the following prompt to  guide students into an INQUIRY LEARNING experience connected the EARTH DAY them Protect Our Species.  Students selected an endangered species and used an inquiry framework to complete research on that species. Then we challenged them to use their new micro:bit and coding skills  with the following prompt.

This provided many entry points for students to make something meaningful 
around a curricular theme.
Here are a few videos of students talking about their projects. 

One of the key components to introducing new technology is to use Design Thinking as part of your planning as an educator.  Consider the "humans" you are designing for and their needs.  What are their needs!  Ideate some possibilities!  Then prototype one of your ideas.  A maker residency is one of the ways you might prototype your design as an educator and test the prototype.  Then take the parts that work best and revise the rest. 

And for a peek into the whole design thinking residency we designed check out this video.

My commitment to Design Thinking lead me to Project Invent where we followed a similar approach with high school students using the micro:bit as our technology tool of choice. 

I love working with educators to design integrated thematic units and would welcome the opportunity to help your teachers think through the process (remotely or in real time) 
Contact me at ldelabruere @ gmail

Monday, January 16, 2023

WHY Create Beautiful Works with Media Making Tools


Today's world is filled with rich media --media that is being used to communicate, entertain, and persuade.  It makes sense that we would use it to teach children.  In my French speaking home, we certainly learned to speak English from the media that we watched on our television or the radio shows we listened to. 

I remember that our our high school had a full time audio visual department that rolled video cassette recorders, film strip projectors, and slide projectors with tape recorders into classrooms as instructional tools to help our teachers convey complex ideas.  

But probably the assignment that had the most impact on me in high school was the project we did creating our own multi-media slideshow in our Humanities class. I remember taking photos from books using a copy stand and having those converted to REAL slides that projected on the classroom wall in sync with the tape recorder playing the song "Bus Rider" by The Guess Who. 

Considering that this was in 1973, I would certainly describe my humanities teachers, Noel Ford and Maggie Griffith, as risk takers and  early adopters of educational technology and innovative teaching practices.  As a matter of fact, they are probably the reason I became a teacher.  And it was not because of the technology they used, but because they made me think deeply about everything.  I still refer to that class as my awakening as a learner. 

More than 50 years later, I am still a strong advocate of making media as a way to engage and empower students.  The tools we have to do this with no longer require a special AV room or special staff to roll them into our classroom. Today's tools allow us to design instruction using UDL strategies that allow students multiple modes of expression.  They allow us to provide instructional materials using multiple modes of representation, and they allow teachers to include multiple modes of engagement. 

Today's tools allow us to design instruction using UDL strategies that allow students multiple modes of expression.  They allow us to provide instructional materials using multiple modes of representation, and they allow teachers to include multiple modes of engagement. 

Using today's technology, a teacher can create multiple modes of representation by recording a podcast episode or making a movie that more clearly conveys a complex idea. They can combine the audio and video with text into an interactive e-book that students can access at school, at home, or even while riding the bus home. 

But even more exciting is that students, also, can also make media to create multiple modes of expression as they publish their own podcast, create their own movies, or author their own ebooks using tools that they carry in their pocket. 

And when you combine Universal Design for Learning with Project Based Learning design elements the possibilities for multiple modes of engagement expand even more.  

Media Making tools can provide student choice of several different public products to express their voice.  Students can create public products like Podcast, Videos, or interactive e-Books for authentic audiences.  They can collaborate as teams to dive into a sustained inquiry into a topic that interest them or a challenging problem or question.  The collaborative nature of today's media making tools like WeVideo, Canva, or Book Creator allow students to critique and revise their projects to create  what   Ron Berger calls Beautiful Works. 

But it takes more than digital tools to design powerful learning like those we see in in this Expeditionary Learning Project - Snakes Are Born This Way.  

Learn more about how this second grade classroom worked with  Ron Berger and Steve Seidel to achieve deeper learning goals and meet state standards while creating beautiful works in the form of a music video and interactive ebooks 

Berger: When I say “beautiful work,” people think aesthetically beautiful work. But I also think scientifically beautiful work, mathematically beautiful work—it can be in any field. Sometimes beautiful work is acts of courage and kindness and contribution to the world. Civic action can be beautiful work, artistic expression can be beautiful work, scientific ideas can be beautiful work.

I'm excited for my latest collaboration with Vermont Rural Education Council where educators can gain the creative confidence they need to make media by producing podcast, make movies with green screen and other special effects, and publish interactive e-books and apply their new skills to the design of instructions that uses Universal Design for Learning strategies and design elements for Project Based Learning.