Monday, 22 February 2010

Myna and the Sleeping Dragon

The Dragon

EVO sessions are now over. I participated as much as I could, if you take into consideration the fact that I was trying to attend four of them, while working. I was absent during the second week of February (Week 5 of EVO) and after that it was really difficult to catch up. However, the first thing I did when I got back was the Myna task.

Myna by Aviary is one of the tools we did in DMPT. It is an audio editor. It lets you mix music, add a recording of your voice and apply some sound effects. Our task was to record a poem (ours or somebody else's). I chose one of my own. I have never read my poetry out loud and if I had to do it in public I would probably die, but doing it while I was alone in my room somehow made it all right. I wasn't quite alone, my pet turtle was right behind me and it is the sound of his water pump that you can hear in the background.

Aviary has a lot more to offer. There are several image editors and I combined three (Phoenix, Peacock and Toucan) to create the"image" of my poem:

The Dragon 4.egg by lunas994 on AviaryThe Dragon 4.egg by lunas994 on Aviary

Then I played with Peacock (effects editor) and I created this "red umbrella" from scratch:

Red Umbrella.egg by lunas994 on AviaryRed Umbrella.egg by lunas994 on Aviary

Aviary tools are easy to use, but make sure you have watched the tutorial before you start (I cannot stress this enough). The tutorials are what makes these tools easy to use, your intuition won't help you here, I am afraid.

Let's see how we can use these tools in the classroom:

Myna (the audio editing tool) could be used to record poetry, the way we did in DMPT. It could be a fun way for you to introduce British and American poetry into your class. Alternatively, your students could record the poems they wrote or collaborated on. Or you could record different sounds on Myna and then ask the students to guess what they heard. The students could use the large music library Myna provides and mix their own music. This could be used to practise adjectives (How does this music make you feel?), or to serve as a story prompt. I guess it would be possible to create short listening tasks on Myna, though I would probably use something more straightforward, such as Podomatic, for this purpose.

As for the image editors (Phoenix, Peacock, Toucan, Raven and Falcon), think of all those images you and your students could create from scratch and then put into blogs and wikis. It is often so difficult to find the exact image you need online, why not create one?

I really enjoyed playing with these tools. The combination of sound, images and text has made me think... All the possibilities you have these days to create something beautiful and to tell your story. Don't you think that we are witnessing the birth of new forms of art? I would like to leave you with this question:

How many ways are there to tell a story in the digital world?


Photo of the dragon on Flickr by GotMeAMuse

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Let Me Tell You a Story...

This week in Images4Education we did digital stories. We were given a large choice of tools, but I chose Mixbook. I like the idea of creating something that actually looks like a book, where you can post pictures and text.

I first wrote a short story, a sort of fairy-tale with my son in the main role. I shared it with him and he liked it. Then I got him and my husband to act it out with me. We had a lot of fun and here is the result:

Mixbook - Create Beautiful Photo Books and Scrapbooks! | View Sample Photo Books | Create your own Photo Book

Obviously, the same thing could be done in class. The students could collaborate and write a story, then they could take photos of each other acting the story out. Finally, they could create the Mixbook. One word of warning: Mixbooking is highly addictive. Your students could spend hours changing fonts and backgrounds and experimenting with different stickers. The result is beautiful, though I have to say that Mixbooks look much nicer on the site than when they are embedded. The Mixbook site gives you the option of flipping through pages at your own speed, and the book resembles a real book. If you can find a few extra minutes, you can look at my book here.

Then I decided to use the same pictures and tell a different story altogether. There is a group in Flickr where members tell a story in five frames and I wanted to try something similar. I called the story His Favourite Toy:

His Favourite Toy
I have a pretty clear idea about what I wanted to say, but do you? You see, the fun in the "Tell a story in 5 frames" starts after a member has posted the story. This is what they say:

"Tell a Story in 5 Frames has two important parts. The first part is creating and telling a story through visual means with only a title to help guide the interpretation. The second part is the response of the group to the visual story. The group response can take many forms such as, a poetic or prose rendering of the visualization, a critique on the structure of the story, comments on the photograph, or other constructive forms of response. Telling and enjoying stories should create entertainment for the group as well as offer insight into the universal elements that help create a story for an international audience. The more people who respond , as either story tellers or respondents, the greater the reward for all. "

And, again, what a great tool in the classroom. The pictures would have to be prepared in advance, either by the teacher or by the students. Then the students could create their stories in groups or on their own. This activity can also be used to practise grammar and vocabulary. The format of the writing could be predetermined (Write a letter of complaint, an email to a friend...). If the students like the activity, it could be done over and over, each time with a different set of pictures.

And now... I have an idea...

You see, I'll be absent for a week. Going somewhere really nice, will tell you all about it soon. In the meantime, why don't you make yourselves at home in my blog? Try and respond to my story. Pretend that you don't know who the people in the pictures are. Or you can write a poem. Anything you like.

When I come back, I'll try to gather your comments in another post.


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