Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Telling your story!

We all have a story to tell. Everyone has unique life experiences and perspectives that need to be heard. Our students are no different. In today's world, the power of diverse voices is even more critical for our communities to grow and thrive.

In our media-rich world, I can't think of a better way to tell your story than by using multimedia. WeVideo is an application that works great for this as you can have students create a podcast or video of their story! Here are 5 easy steps:

Find your Story

  • Brainstorm ideas of what you want to tell. Just write down events that happened to you, feelings you had at specific moments of your life, ideas that you want to share, a lesson you learned, something you love to do, someone you care about...  Just dump all your ideas into a journal or other document.
  • Come back to the list over several days, reading it through and adding more details and/or ideas as you think of them.
  • Start rating the list... and then eventually star the one story idea that you are excited about and want to tell right now!

Write your Story

  • Start with a storyboard, or graphic organizer to sketch out your story. In WeVideo's Digital Storytelling Toolkit there are three that you might find useful.
    • Digital Storytelling Graphic Organizer (Use for telling a story of something that happened to you, a lesson you learned, or someone you care about.)
    • How-to Video Graphic Organizer (Best used when you are breaking down a process or telling others how to do something, this could be used if you chose something you are passionate about and want to tell others about it.)
    • Storyboard Graphic Organizer (This will fit pretty much any story as it contains a simple storyboard layout with an area to include your text and sketch of any images you want to use.)
  • Finetune your storyboard by adding a script for each scene/event of your story, which will translate to your video or podcast.

Plan and Gather your Media

  • Add to your storyboard ideas for images and other media that you will include. Here are some questions that might help you think through what you need. 
    • Will you find images and videos using WeVideo Stock Media, or will you find them somewhere else? (Don't forget to make note of citations for all the media you are using other than what you will create yourself.)
    • Will your story be recorded using narration (just recording your voice) or with video?
    • If you need to record your own video and/or voice, what will you use to record it?

Create in Video/Podcast Production Software

  • Find out what application is available to you in your district. There are several out there that are good. I love WeVideo as it has an easy-to-use drag-and-drop timeline and tons of stock media to pull from. It also allows you as the teacher to check in on student work as they are creating it so you can offer feedback throughout the process!

Publish your Story!

  • Give your students their voice by having them publish to an authentic audience!
    • Local school/district: Post final videos on your LMS, on your district website, or create a collaborative Google Slides presentation and have each student insert their video to a slide. (This last idea is an easy way for you to have other students watch and reflect/react to each other's stories.)
    • Find a more regional or global audience to publish to! There are tons of ways to publish to an authentic global audience. Here are just two ways, if you find others please add them to the comments below.
Your story matters and needs to be heard!  Tell away...

Need Further Assistance?

WeVideo has a Digital Storytelling Toolkit that includes:
  • Digital Storytelling Guide
  • Graphic organizers
  • Storyboard examples
  • Project inspiration ideas
  • Reflection prompts
  • Sample rubrics

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Why Completely Asynchronous Doesn't Work for PL

Got your attention? Great. This sounds like an extreme statement, and I agree it is. I make this statement based on my experience of being a student taking asynchronous sessions and as a coach designing professional learning opportunities for educators. Also when I say 'doesn't work' what I mean is that it isn't the most optimal design for motivating and engaging learning. Let me explain.

It's all about connection

I believe the most critical component of any learning environment is the connection and community that makes learning real. When I am in a professional learning session, say a workshop or conference session for example, I get more out of it when I somehow connect to the other participants and the person leading the session. Feeling this connection is definitely possible in an online synchronous session. This type of session might start off with a 'how are you feeling' today rating discussion.

Then could involve breakout room discussions, sharing, and/or collaborating using various strategies. These types of activities help create a community and connections.

It has been my experience that in a totally asynchronous session or online class no matter how many activities you build in to try and get the students to interact, it often will simply become an obligation and not build community. For example, if I'm a student in a totally asynchronous online class I'm more likely to just check off my requirements. If I need to post in the discussion and respond to two of my fellow students I'll do it, but will I do it to build relationships or simply to check off the task and move on? I feel more often than not in this type of environment it is the latter.

Do asynchronous classes have their place in our learning plans?  Sure, if all you want to do is provide students with a repository of materials and tasks for them to complete then this might be a possible route. An example might be the required trainings for the year to fulfill state and federal employee requirements. If all you need is to prove that the employee saw, read, and /or listened to the materials then asynchronous is an easy solution. But, if you want a dynamic collaborative learning environment I just don't think it is the way to go.

So what might be the solution?

Here's what I have found that has worked when designing online sessions for educators, especially in the last year.
  • Create a session that includes both synchronous and asynchronous components.
  • Conduct an initial 'kickoff' synchronous session where the participants can meet and start getting to know each other. They also get an overview of class expectations and know how to get support as they need it.
  • Design asynchronous work that allows the authentic application of the learning goals. Also, have them be prepared to share when we meet again.
  • Weekly check-ins work best. If the class is 3 weeks long then you would design an initial kickoff, with two more sessions, one every week. These sessions would include a scaffolded approach, as well as time for sharing and collaborating. (to continue building your community)
With this type of example, I could have an online discussion as part of my asynchronous work, but since I have met my fellow students and started to build relationships I'm more apt to truly engage in the discussions.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this. How do you design engaging professional learning for educators online? How do you create and build a collaborative learning community? Have you been successful with asynchronous sessions where educators are actively engaged with the content and each other? Please share in the comments.