HONOR the CREATOR – Course 5 Project Reflection



Here is my reflective video explaining the HONOR THE CREATOR Unit.  I taught this unit to Grade 7 MYP Design students.



The main purpose of this unit is for students to have a better understanding of copyright, fair use, and Creative Commons.  After learning more about these concepts, students create a music video to honor the original creators of the songs they used.  Students produced a variety of music videos, mostly they, either:

1. Created their own visuals (photography/video) to go with a Creative Commons song.

2. Used Creative Commons visuals (photography/video) to go with a Creative Commons song.

3. Used Fair Use to remix/mash-up copyrighted media.


Here is my unit planner.


Here are some examples of student work:

Masao’s Rhapsody in Blue Tokyo Mix

Melanie’s Video using Pop Danthology 2014

Shala’s Orange Love Music Video

Jules’ Pop Stop Motion Video

Jessie’s Video on Exploring Japan in Seasons

Ohmey’s “Am I Wrong” Video

Hina’s Video for April Showers

Overall, the unit was a great success.  I feel like the unit challenged both me and the kids.  We had some great conversations and there were endless STOP – Teachable MOMENTS!  I had a lot of questions I had to talk my way through – so many covers and lipdubs done on YouTube that aren’t pulled down, even though they seem to violate Fair Use.  In the end, I say that it is up to the original creator, in the end, it promotes their music too.  This is a really great resource I found after the unit, that I’ll use next year to promote more discussions.

As I assessed the videos, it was easy to see that most kids really “got it” – and a few kids I needed to check in with more.   Overall, most students earned a higher achievement level on this project than they did on the previous two design projects this year.

I wish I asked some students to share their final videos with the musician that created the music to begin with (where possible)- some of the kids created great music videos for these artists.  I’m thinking that I can create a resource of how to share their work – as all of this sharing is optional (next year).

I look forward to hearing your feedback.  I struggled to get everything into a 10-minute video, but I got most of the important things in it.  I’m really looking forward to seeing how my COETAIL colleagues’ final projects went, as well, over the next few weeks!


The Process Is More Important than The Product


The process is more important than the product.

This is something I regularly say in my MYP Design (Technology) class to my students.  I truly mean it when I say it.  In grade 7 & 8, I want my students to challenge themselves and be independent learners as much as they can, take risks and work hard.  I want them to feel comfortable with making mistakes.  I hope I have created this environment for them.

As I worked on my final project for Course 3 of COETAIL, I repeated this mantra in my head.  I made many mistakes.  One being that I over extended myself the first quarter of this school year with my coursework, traveling to two conferences, being a parent and all of this on top of my normally heavy workload (including a new course this year).

I’m not here to bore you with my excuses.

I learned a ton on this project.  While I didn’t learn a lot more about movie making or digital storytelling, by doing, I learned a little more.  What I learned the most was what my students go through when I assign them projects like this.  In my eighth grade class, I do have a digital storytelling project.  It was great to follow the design cycle like my students do to create a product.


My video:

I was inspired by a few things.  After watching Kelsey’s Commute in Hanoi, I started to think about how totally opposite (and boring) my commute was.  However, it is a time I enjoy in the morning, as I follow my son to school.

Second, we are often asked by friends back home, “Why?”

“Why do you live overseas? “

“How can you be away from family?”

“When are you coming home?”

Our answer is not simple, but one of the greatest things about being an expat in a foreign land is how the mundane things in life, going to work, work itself,  and going to the store, become not-so-ordinary.  Sometimes they are more of a  hassle, sometimes they are simpler.  But they are often very different, interesting and thought-provoking.

Lastly, my brother, his wife and my sister are all visiting us right now.  A month before they visited, I started writing blogposts on Thirty Things About Japan.  It made me think of so many things that people don’t know about our daily lives and it was also nice to have it documented for when we do move on to a new place.  This also influenced my topic decision.

Here is my story:

My mistakes: 

First, I started this project way too late in the course.

Second, I struggled with my story.  I couldn’t decide what to tell at first, and now, I feel like although I liked my concept, I don’t think I told it well.  I originally was going to do a fast version of our “mundane day”, but after doing all my filming, I was not happy with the results, so I had to change my idea a bit.

Third, I had way too much junk on my laptop and I ended up running out of space on the hard drive on my laptop and this slowed me down even more.  I should have used a desktop for this project.

Lastly, I wasn’t happy with my filming/editing.  After taking the video and editing it for a few days, I wished that I had just used stills the whole way through.  Or, I should have used better equipment (other than my iPhone) to film my daily movement.

Unfortunately, I settled with what I had, and even that was two weeks late.

My learning:

Coming up with a topic I was really passionate about (for an assignment, on a deadline) is really hard.

Editing and downloading media on a laptop is timely and can cause many problems.

Finishing and publishing a project I wasn’t proud of was hard to do, but necessary.

Don’t over extend myself.

Be empathetic with my students when they run into problems.


Infographic Issues

I’m just going to start this post by saying that I don’t love infographics.

I struggle to read and find meaning in infographics, the same way I don’t really enjoy reading graphic novels (but I still encourage my students to do so).

The two main reasons I don’t like infographics:

1. I truly have a hard time reading them.  Do I read the words first?  Do I go sentence-image-sentence-image?  Do I go left to right/top to bottom?  I sometimes look at infographics and struggle to find the focal point.  Maybe I’m just looking at the wrong infographics.  I can’t seem to find a flow or get into a “zone” when I’m reading something with a lot of visuals.

2. I think that sometimes the source is hard to find.  I often find really visually attractive infographics with no source listed or a source that I really need to hunt for to find the authenticity or it’s an aggregration of many different sources that may take way too long to validate.

But, I do realize that they have a place.  There are some that are really nice.  I find visual resumes, especially the ones noted here and here, done really well and I can imagine that these applicants definitely have an edge over their competitors.  (Even so much so that I decided to create one of my own a few years back, although it needs a little love before I’ll need to use it.)

So, what type of infographics would I use in my classroom?

Image Credit: XPlanations via http://www.techbabble.edublogs.org

I like this a lot.  I first saw it in Paula Guinto‘s room and she referred to it when she was talking about her learning environment for her kids – both in the room and an extension of that on the web.  I love this and want to post it in my room, but more important, make this happen all the time in my teaching/learning.  A negative to this infographic is that it has a TON of information on it both with text and visuals, which makes it challenging to analyze and synthesize.


Here’s another one I like because we frequently talk about digital citizenship in my classes.  Unfortunately, the audience for this infographic is adults.  I would love to find these statistics for high school and college students and create one for my middle school students.


The reason I like this is that it’s clear and succinct.  It is easy to read from far away (if printed on a poster in a classroom, for example).  It is really relevant to my middle school students.


I like this infographic.  I agree with this to a point, but more importantly, I think this is provocative and can really start conversations in the classroom.

Last one, I promise…

I really love this infographic: Words Waiting to Be Added to the Oxford English Dictionary and the conversations it could start in an English classroom.  This could promote writing, like a piece to the OED trying to continue to convince them to add this word, strongly advise them not to, or suggest another word be added to the OED (this would also promote them researching to see if the word they want to add is added or not).  There are some design issues with this infographic, one being the upside down text and another being the years, is that how long the word has been used?

That’s a lot of infographics for someone who doesn’t like infographics.

I think in writing this post alone, my appreciation for infographics has grown a bit.  I still think there are a lot of bad ones out there and I just need to look for really clear infographics that I think help communicate ideas if I’m going to use them in my classroom.

Presentation in Design

Photo Credit: Colors Time via Compfight cc

We all have sat through horrible presentations and we have even made a few.  While I think mine have gotten better over the years, the current COETAIL Course 3 has made me rethink my presentations more.  After looking at a lot of good presentations like from the Learning 2 Leaders, I realize that mine still need a bit more work.  While I don’t think that I could ever be that super engaging, inspiring public speaker, I can at least make up for it in my presentation.

I have a few presentations that I need to revise.

Including most of these.


I think this presentation on the four design principles needs the most work, especially after going to Noah Katz Presentation on Visual Literacy this past weekend.  I’m embarrassed to say that I took the scaffold of this presentation from my wonderful first tech teacher mentor, Gaby Ezyaguirre, many, many years ago and the presentation hasn’t really had any “love” since. … and is that it’s about DESIGN, for goodness sake.  (This is when you know COETAIL has created a safe learning environment… when I’m really willing to post up embarrassing work!)

There is too much white spaces

It looks dated

There are no strong visuals

It does show some of the elements of design, but in a boring way, that I wouldn’t want my students to replicate.

When I first started teaching technology about 8 years ago, I was using this presentation to teach myself as well.  The not-so-pretty PowerPoint template it was created on is pretty bad too.  What is maybe MORE horrible is the amount of views/downloads this has gotten on Slideshare.net since I put it up there three years ago.

Here is my revised Elements of Design Presentation:


This presentation is definitely prettier than my old presentation.  I do worry about my students really understanding the information I am trying to present.  I will definitely have to provide other resources to my students and do more work in class showing examples of what the design elements look like on different forms of media, specifically ones they create: video, posters, presentations using different materials and software.

Now I definitely need to give Haiku Deck a lot of credit on this, as well.  They make it really difficult to create a bad presentation.  They have beautiful images and the formats only allow for limited text.  This forces the creator really to think about their presentation.

I will be presenting this to my seventh graders later in the year.  I’m thinking I’m going to give a pretest to my students before I give the presentation, then retest them after.  I am even considering giving the old and the new presentation to different classes.  While I definitely know this new presentation is more visually appealing, I need to figure out how to support this presentation to my students, especially students with oral comprehension difficulties and second language learners, who may need more support while I’m presenting.  I’ll try to remember to reflect back once I share this presentation with my students.

As far as the presentation uploaded to Slideshare, the more I reflect on this presentation, the more embarrassed I am by the presentation.  But, it has gotten a lot of views and downloads… but it’s also connected to my name/brand.  Should I just take it down?  I need to take a look to see if I can just revise/replace the presentation at that URL but I’m not sure that is possible.  I welcome any feedback regarding this.