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Polygons through Photographs (a link to the full plan).This lesson using digital images relates to 4th grade math standards about estimating and measuring the area of certain complex shapes, based on formulas students already know about simpler polygons, like rectangles and right triangles (specific standards: 3.3.5, 4.3.4, 4.3.6).The lesson begins with this conversation-starter I found through the “Exploratorium Geometry Pool” which hosts a pool on Flickr (as well as an independent website). We yze this image as a class to develop an understanding of how a shape like a right trapezoid can be broken into a rectangle and a right triangle to calculate its area (shapes whose area formulas the students already know). We yze photograph together as a class before the students create their own yses (either of photographs they take, or some that I selected, linked below).One thing I learned through experience with this project is to double-check the restrictions on images you are considering using for your lessons. I did a lot of looking through some of the public galleries Mark listed as resources, and didn’t find quite what I had in mind. The first image I found through the Exploratorium website (after Googling “polygon images,” or similar), and followed a link to their image pool on Flickr. Once there, I immediately found a photo stream I really liked (I think it was by one of the contributors to the Exploratorium pool?). It was over 3,000 images, most had beautifully vivid colors from around Albuquerque, and many had a lot of simple shapes that would be useful for the lesson I had in mind. I browsed forever over the weekend, and bookmarked a lot of them. Unfortunately, when I went to create my lesson this evening, these beautiful images could only be shared as links, and not embedded in a blog post or document (unlike the first image that led me to them). I’d invested enough time already that I decided to take it as a lesson learned, rather than searching for more images that I can actually share here, or trying to contact the owner (another important lesson I learned is just how long it can take to find images if you have something particular in mind…. even if you think you’re not that particular). ”Ex-window” image (yze as a class)Additional images:“Building Study #1″“UNM Study”“Rectalinear Concentricity”“Crooked Window Squared”“UNM Study #29″ I downloaded and skimmed a lot of L&L articles without finding one that I felt related very closely to this project (seriously…. a lot). I eventually returned to the article called “Understanding Digital Images.” The title sounds good, but I initially passed over this article because it dealt with resolution and compression specifics that didn’t seem particularly relevant to the lesson I designed for this project, and, published in 2002, its suggestions about digital camera features and price ranges seemed likely to be obsolete. Returning to the article, though, I did find an important suggestion that I thought translated to the 2012 classroom: one of the most convenient benefits of selecting a camera with higher megapixel capability is not the ability to make extra-large prints of the entire image, but instead to blow up a tiny portion of the image to a “normal” size, and still maintaining acceptable resolution. The article suggests that a class photo shot with enough resolution can be used to create a blown-up individual picture of each student, with much less hassle than taking photos of each one separately.Access the Leading and Learning article here.Another resource I found while researching for this project is a free online draw and paint tool called “QueekyPaint.” It records the marks you make in the order you make them, and will playback the construction of your drawing from blank slate to finished product. It had fewer features than more professional digital illustration programs, but seemed easy to use. You can also import images and paint on top of them.The Leading and Learning article I read for this project was titled, “What a Concept! Using Concept Mapping on Handheld Computers.” Although the article primarily focused on the benefits of having students use handheld computers in the classroom to make digital concept maps, rather than desktops in a media lab (it was published in 2004), it also contained some handy general information about student use of graphic organizers. For instance, it pointed out that students gain a more complete understanding of the idea they are mapping if required to label all the links in their concept maps using prepositions to describe the relationships. It also suggested that a well-designed concept mapping assignment is open-ended enough that it has no one “right answer”…. every student’s map should look different.Here’s a link to a handy HS resource I found after doing this project. I had tried to look up how to change the background color in a Webspiration diagram, and stumbled on this site. It didn’t have the answer, but it did have brief descriptions, pros and cons, and links to tutorials for about 50 types of media software you or your students might want to use for projects. Most, but not all of the programs are web-based. Most I had heard of before, but some I had not. The link above lands on the main “tools” page, which has a reference chart to help you select the software that best matches your intended purpose. Link to organizerI see this graphic organizer as a planning tool for 5th grade literary ysis units, showing the related state standards and how they progress from basic understanding to higher-order ysis. Most of the topics in the organizer are worthy of their own sub-charts (here I’ve only added links to the sets of terms and concepts that do not fit in the chart). Although I see it primarily as a teacher-tool, it might be inspiring for students to map their progress on it, as they make the ascent.The “outline” function caused me a few setbacks in this program. I first looked at the automatically-created outline after I had completed a basic graph structure and formatted many of the links and bubbles. It had not interpreted my organization sensibly, and I spent several minutes adjusting the outline before realizing that this caused it to delete all my links and create new ones (minus the labels and formatting I had thoughtfully created). In the end, I arranged it how I wanted to graphically, and ignored the text-only version. I wonder whether anyone else had their structure misinterpreted by the automatic outline?I liked how easy it was to re-organize and reshape thoughts with this program, but I did find it to have some limitations visually. I would have liked to draw lines or make shading independent of the concept links and bubbles, and be able to use these as a backdrop without covering up the links (every way that I found to do this would permit the concept bubbles show through, but cover up the links between them).Update: I just discovered that when you “publish” the organizer to a web page the resulting graph has no notes or hyperlinks. Webspiration’s FAQ page suggests that to retain hyperlinks, you need to switch to outline view before you publish (unfortunately, this posts an outline with working links, but no graph). If you would like to be invited to view it in Webspiration, let me know.The Leading and Learning article I read for this post is titled “Infographics: More Than Words Can Say.” We already learned in class how infographics can be a powerful and engaging way to convey information in the classroom. The article explains that infographics are more than simply a vehicle for conveying visually-appealing, easy-to-understand interpretation of data sets; they require the viewer to actively “create meaning” on a variety of levels, using both linguistic and non-linguistic parts of the brain, resulting in better retention of the information at all grade levels, and developing what the article called “information literacy.” Having students practice creating their own infographics takes the skill a step further, developing “computational thinking,” a critical skill for college and career success. The article also offers lesson ideas, tips, and resources related to using and creating infographics in the classroom.The resource list in the article included quite a few that I didn’t find through our class tech blog, so I was excited to check out some of them, in order to suggest one here. Easier said than done. The first one was just a graphic design company for hire (with a website oddly devoid of graphics). The second was all about infographics, and full of intelligent-looking tutorials, but wanted a $25 subscription to access more than brief summaries. I can’t tell why the third one I visited is listed as an infographics resource at all….there were a couple of unrelated articles on the main page, and everything I clicked on (including the “about” link) kept redirecting me to the main page and a “join here.” But I finally found a couple of winners:infosthetics.com This blog of collected infographics and articles on digital media has thousands of interesting, searchable posts. One I found titled “Most Ugly & Useless Infographic Competition: The Winners” offers commentary on 16 wonderful non-examples of graphic form and function….many of them found in the popular media.gapminder.org This one is especially cool. It has bubble graphs of worldwide data on a variety of topics (financial/health/social/agricultural), and you can animate the graphs to show changes in the data from 1800 up to present day, or download the info as a spreadsheet. The site includes a special “for teachers” page, with lesson plans, guides, and shortcuts. 1) I found this infographic at http://visual.ly/parallel-structureThis image is more “info” than “graphic,” but I like the structure of lines in the drawing. The mirroring of one colored line by the other one is a closer ogy to the way parallel structure works in writing than say, parallel lines (an association I think most middle school students would make first). The lines are not identical, but have very similar structure. I would cut off the last example, though, as I disagree with the correction made (it’s both overly wordy and slightly changes the meaning of the last item). Television aside, my earliest memory of technology has to be playing with the family Speak-N’-Spell and Speak-N-Math–my first laptops! Since that point, though, I haven’t exactly been near the cutting edge of consumer technologies. My parents bought a used Commodore 64 from another family when I was in elementary school. Its 1993 replacement, a brand-new Macintosh (with a CD-rom drive! and no modem), came to college with me in 1998, and served me in a word-processing capacity for the next four years. It was probably 2005 before I had regular internet access at home. It was about that time I got a job as an office manager at a local manufacturing company. I had used Windows computers approximately twice ever. However, as a fast learner, and someone under 45, I quickly became a resource for more mature staff members and their personal computing and software problems. I learned more about technology to try to speed up the redundant data-entry tasks that sucked away little bits of my soul (mostly macros… I became the Excel guru in the office). Eventually, I used an 8 year old copy of Microsoft Access from the back room to play with creating an order tracking database for the company. I bought a book for $1 at St. Vincent De Paul, and read about basic design and parameters on the web in spare time at work. It began simply, but worked. I gradually added more and more features as they were requested, or as I learned they were possible. The project was without doubt my most satisfying experience working with technology.I’ve used technology for creative projects also, but I don’t do so on a regular basis. In my personal life today, I primarily use technology for communication, entertainment, and the pursuit of knowledge. It’s hard to remember how I ever got by living without the internet.What can I say about my future with technology? What can I know of the future? I’m certainly looking forward to what may come of the rest of this technology course–I haven’t taken one since about 1991. I’ve found you can learn a lot about different programs just by monkeying around with them, and find free resources on the internet if you know what you need, or the proper search terms to describe your problem. But if I don’t even realize that a capability exists, I’m not going to go looking for it.As a future teacher, I think that children should be given the opportunity to use technology in the classroom so that students from less privileged homes are not at a disadvantage to their peers in the future, for lack of experience with this critical resource. If we also learn methods in this course for using technology to give students a more thorough understanding of content, or community, or each other, so much the better.