Still thinking

I had a lot of a-ha moments while reading week three’s suggested readings and watching the videos! I was very excited when I read the article Story Telling Advice from Akira Kurosawa and watched his video because I immediately thought of the Writer’s Workshop in my kindergarten classroom.  Akira uses an analogy of writing a screenplay to climbing a mountain:

Creating a film is an enormous task Kursosawa says, but the important thing is to not let yourself get overwhelmed by the size of the task. His advice is not just for filmmakers but for writers or anyone else who has a big, creative job to do in front of them. As he says, when you climb a high mountain you must not look up to the peak so often but instead focus on the ground just a head of you. Step by step you make progress. But if you keep looking up at how far you have to go to finish it will be discouraging and also distracts you from the moment at hand.

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Even though my kindergartners are not writing screenplays, I notice they often either rush to the end of a story they are creating (usually with pictures at the moment) or just give up all together and begin a new story right away (many have over 50 pieces of paper in their folder, many with unfinished pictures and stories).  Now, for five year olds, it is difficult to stay focused or remember what is being created, but they do understand the idea of a finished story versus one they are working on. I like the analogy Akira made about not looking up at a mountain, that take it step by step. After listening to him in his video (actually, just reading the subtitles because despite having lived in Japan for two years, I do not understand it) I was thinking of ways I can use mini-lessons to teach the students to take their writing step by step and to focus on finishing their stories (without rushing to the end) or at least revisiting their story in order to attempt to finish it.

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After Reading, then watching the presentation Presenting in Today’s World, I began to think about my final project and how I want to change the powerpoint presentation discussed in my blog last week, There’s so much more to  a picture.  

For starters, I would take the first page of the presentation away entirely because the next several slides discuss each subject area in the curriculum in more detail and the presentation would be much more effective if it was kept simple as discussed in the video: Presentation Zen: An OVerview.


The overall back to school presentation would be much more effective not only with pictures (maybe even real pictures of the children) but with stories from previous classes as well as videos (of the children). For example, this is the second page of the current powerpoint:


It is pretty simple, but I can revamp it by:

  • Possibly a brief video of the basics of a guided reading group (if I can figure out how to add videos)
  • add pictures of the actual books used, centers visited, etc.img_5863
  • tell stories of how guided reading groups work, some funny stories of previous groups or centers (a child enjoyed the center so much they took the whole thing home!) .


The presentation is often sent home after the back to school night for the parents that were unable to attend, or for reference. It may be helpful to have some brief notes attached to the slides for more meaning.

Those of just ideas and thoughts that are helping me with the final project (as well as use in the classroom with the students). Now it’s time to start experimenting with google slides, presentations and more!

There’s so much more to a picture!

I always love looking at pictures and nice designs, but I had never really thought about all the design details that go into it. If someone were to ask me why I liked something, I would simply say, I like looking at pretty pictures (very simple, I know).  However, as Linda Burmark stated from Visual Literacy: Learn to See, See to Learn;

It’s not just looking at pretty pictures. It’s understanding how we think – how we connect what we already know about the world, life, relationships and values to those pictures – and then use them to make sense of our expanded world.

I don’t  just enjoy a picture because it’s pretty, there is so much more to the picture that captures my attention. That is the case with most people including the children I teach. If they see something that they can connect to, they are more likely to let that picture resonate in their minds.


This has me thinking more about the visuals I provide for my students and for their parents (through emails, presentations, etc.)

As stated in;

We are incredible at remembering pictures. Hear a piece of information, and three days later you’ll remember 10% of it. Add a picture and you’ll remember 65%.

I need to be more cognizant of making sure I have visuals attached to just about everything I teach as well as what information I send to the parents.

Currently, my team’s back to school night power point presentation is lacking not only in information, but also in pictures.


This is the first page of our presentation. A little overwhelming for me, even as the teacher, with all the bullets and very few pictures. The pictures do not really define what the curriculum is, nor do they provide themselves useful the presentation itself. All the pictures throughout the presentation are fairly similar. They are cute, but when I have to send the presentation home for parents who were unable to attend, the presentation has very little information. As teachers, we explained everything, but without proper visuals. Now I understand why we still have many questions from parents about curriculum and homework!


One of the final project options is to redo a presentation and I know just what presentation needs to be fixed for next year! I will make sure to apply what I learned from Design Better with CRAP as well as incorporate the Rule of Thirds:

The “rule of thirds” says that images (video scenes, etc.) may appear more interesting, engaging, dynamic, compelling, etc. if the subject is not placed in the center. Of course dead center is where beginning photographers or novice videographers tend to put their subject. If you try moving your subject away from the center, however, perhaps nearer to one of what are called “power points” (where the gridlines intersect), you can create a more powerful or interesting visual by creating a bit of tension or even drama. (The Power of Visual: Learning from Down Under Promotion Videos)

Most of the images in the slides are off to the side, but they are not really engaging or interesting. Maybe I’ll consider breaking up the slides and having the images (actual children doing the work along with examples of the work) closer to the grid lines to make them more appealing and relatable to the audience.

I absolutely loved the International School of Brussels’ brochure without words.  I will look into the formating of that slideshow more and see if there’s a way I can create my slideshow with less words, but still get the message across to the parents. That’s my idea for now.

On a final note, the assignment was to use an image from Creative Commons, however, I had a lot of difficulties looking up an image of a cartoon child writing something versus when I type something into images in google, I get something I like right away (for a writing poster visual in class). I am not sure if I am doing something wrong, or how useful it will be for me when I can’t seem to find my desired image. I guess the copyright issue is easier with Creative Commons. I will keep trying.

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Google Image Search




It’s So Pretty…I think

Over the years, I have had a lot of experience designing different web pages beginning with MySpace (I always added pink cutsie stuff there) to a class webpage and now my blogs. I will be completely honest, even though I’ve had some experience designing different web pages, I am still not completely sure what I was doing, how I did it and I still don’t fully understand what widgets are (I envision a cute little Ewok type creature when I hear the word Widget)!


I really had no idea exactly how much thought usually goes into designing something, but obviously it’s a pretty big deal and can make a great deal of difference in whether or not someone will be interested in my posts, blogs, websites, etc.

It was interesting just how important visual literacy and design is in the world of consumerism.  I am not shocked to read the article Preschoolers know all about Brands (KJ Dell’Antonia).

Preschoolers recognize brand names and symbols, and they are increasingly willing and able to make judgments about products and people based on associations with those brands.

Designers are constantly looking at ways to target others with ads that are appealing. Something as simple as color can change an entire message in an ad.

I gained more insight on exactly what designers look at when creating an ad, webpage, blog, etc. while reading Design Better with CRAP (I love the acronym too!).  I had never really cared about the contrast or paid much attention to repetition, alignment and proximity when I was developing my Coetail Blog. FullSizeRender (3)

I tried to add a background photo, but did not have much luck with that and gave up last year after wasting so much time. I am still not entirely sure how to add a photo ( I have several from my Safaris I took this past summer) that can be seen when opening my blog site. I would like to  have a photo on the top that is easily seen and is better aligned.  I have my title in pink (my favorite color) but it does not stand out much. Maybe I can use a different font to add a little more contrast from the titles of the blog posts.  I am not a fan of the all white background either, but as I’ve before, I still do not know how to customize it completely.  I will have to spend some time and maybe have a little help from colleagues to explore and mess with it some more, but I will think about the CRAP while I design it.

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I would also like to make a website for my current class (at some point) for the parents to access information easily. Michael Agger’s article Lazy Eyes, How we read online caught my attention. I am not a person who will read long emails or anything that isn’t appealing. He discussed the importance of being brief, using bullets and lists.  This is important to think about if I create a class webpage, but it is equally important for my weekly emails I send to the parents. I must remember what I am more likely to read and notice so the way I structure weekly emails and a class website should be considered.  We are all a little lazy when it comes to reading!

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