After I finished my journalism Master's degree in 2018, I took a break from this blog. There's plenty of teaching blogs out there, I thought — what might mine add? I don't know if I have an answer to that question, but more than a month into COVID-19 and safer-at-home orders, I think it's important we take time to make a record of what this time has been like in education. I would never dream of speaking for "all teachers" since our experiences are so profoundly different depending on where we live, what resources our schools and students have and what our personal situations are, but I can speak to my own life as a teacher and how teaching has changed for me. Since I'm finishing my 23rd year in education, I've been around the block a couple of times, but nothing (not even 9/11) compares to this.
Keywords: Camtasia, tutorials, multimedia, photo-editing
After four years slowly working towards my Masters in Journalism while also teaching full time, this blog marks a milestone: my last assignment for my last grad class. (Well, except for the big research paper and professional project I'm finishing this summer, but that's Future!Kristin's problem.)
For this final project, I developed a tutorial using Camtasia, a screen-capturing video program on steroids. I'd often wondered how people made dynamic tutorials with fun animations — arrows pointing at content, speech bubbles clarifying context, screens zooming in to help the viewer focus — but I figured whatever program they were using was too complex for a full-time teacher to tackle.
Camtasia may be a bit pricey for a longterm solution, but I was really impressed with how quickly I was able to pick it up during the free trial. You can see my first attempt at an animated tutorial later in this post. I see enormous potential for this as a teaching tool.
These past two weeks have been busy ones. I spent April 12-14 at the National High School Journalism Convention in San Francisco, which was as hectic, invigorating and inspirational as always. A quick trip home and a few days of teaching later, and I was back to the city again, this time for a two-day qualitative study of Tracy Sena's wonderful journalism program at Convent of the Sacred Heart. In the middle of that, my yearbook students finalized and submitted their book, my Oracle students covered another school walkout, I started giving feedback on a pile of essays, my junior English students began The Great Gatsby and an out-of-town guest arrived to stay a few days.
Given my preoccupation, I was not putting my full effort into my Teaching Multimedia class. We'd spent two weeks researching good video techniques and storytelling, and — in theory — I made a careful plan about what video I wanted to shoot and gone out and got that footage. In reality, I was scrambling yesterday to find a story in my community that I could shoot and edit in one day.
That story idea came in the form of the California Poppy Festival, which happens yearly in Lancaster about an hour north of my home in Los Angeles.
"Perfect!" I thought. "I'll bring my out-of-town friend with me to see those beautiful poppies, and she can keep me company as I do this video assignment."
Reader, that is not how it went down.
Keywords: multimedia, infographics, timeline, poll, maps, interactive
One of the benefits of online newspapers is the potential for interactive infographics. My students have used infographic generators like Piktochart, Easel.ly andCanva, but we haven't experimented as much with other tools. This week, I tried out three new-to-me tools to see how they might work alongside those we already have: customizedGoogle maps, Polldaddy polls and surveys and Tiki-Toki timelines.
Key Words: podcast, podcasting, radio interviews, scholastic press freedom, private schools
My podcasting learning goal for the week was to complete and edit an interview, and this dovetailed nicely with the news that my school had won the First Amendment Press Freedom Award for the third year in a row.
I chose to interview Gretchen Warner, Archer's upper school director and one of my supervisors, because I think it is crucial for private school advisers and administrators to hear why a school leader would choose to relinquish control of student media. Warner spoke thoughtfully in this interview about the factors she feels are most important for a successful journalism program and why she supports the program.
I think it's important to add a disclaimer however: we completed this interview the day before a very contentious letter to the editor was published in the students' online newspaper that contained accusations against the administration that were grounded in perception rather than fact. To their credit, the administration stands behind their commitment to student-controlled media and did not censor this letter, but it has caused a lot of tension. It has also prompted significant reflection on the part of the board about their letters policy and whether they need to revisit their process. The editorial board will be meeting with the administrative team to discuss the situation this coming week — not to face any kind of disciplinary action, but to engage in thoughtful dialogue about their process and the impact the letter had.
Had this been a normal journalistic situation, I would not have published this interview without allowing Warner to comment on how this situation had impacted her feelings about the questions I asked. Since that wasn't an option this time, I plan to complete a follow-up interview with her in the future.
“And though she be but little, she is fierce!” -A Midsummer Night’s Dream