Visual images are hugely important. The above images I will get into greater detail as this post progresses, but they are images that spent quite a bit of time on for an album I have been working on. I’d like to think the visuals are arresting and cool to look at, the sort of visuals that would make someone stop in a store and pick up the CD and want to buy it. Good visuals get the audience’s attention and keep them interested. Obviously these are visuals for the CD booklet of my album. I also have a video for a song on the album that can be found on You Tube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HV_6S6FWuGA).
I am discussing all of this because it has been a time consuming project for me this year, and quite honestly I don’t have any school related letters or pamphlets to discuss since I am currently just subbing. My wife let me see one of her beginning of the year info forms, but it was such a basic form that I didn’t feel like using it. It wasn’t my form anyway.
A bit of info on the creative process here. I started with the cover, which was actually taken using the camera setting on my camcorder. From that point I added the text and did a lot of the photo editing with both Pixlr and Pic Monkey, using the vignette setting to get that creepy look around the edges. There was some green bleeding below the clown so I did the cross purposes setting on green to give the whole cover (and the other text pages) the same look. I’ll admit the font used is a bit hard to read on the actual CD, even after doing denoise settings and sharpening. I couldn’t find the “ransom note” style font I wanted though. The picture of Waverly Hills Sanitarium is the two panel spread in the booklet, and was a still shot from my music video. I did the same vignette and a blue cross purpose setting to give it that eerie look. The wild kaleidoscope is the inner tray image and started with another still from the video of family pictures, then I did a blue cross purpose and the kaleidoscope setting on Pic Monkey. Helicon Filter 5 is a good program as well for doing noise removal and sharpening.
Admittedly this is still a work in progress even AFTER I got the CDs made. For instance, the spine wording was a bit off, though not on what you see here (this is the corrected version). On my CD spine the words are too far to the left and into the dark portion of the spine. Also, I did more sharpening on the back so that the words are clearer for future orders.
To totally shift gears I will say a bit about the GPAT and Zoho sites. I was a bit puzzled by the GPAT site since at first there wasn’t much to it, but then I read a few of the links to get a handle on what they do. GPAT seems to work with local GA schools to help implement technology for kids in need of learning assistance. They mention braille, CDs, computers, and the like. I would assume these sort of things are used for ECE kids in GA, since I have subbed enough ECE to see these tech aspects used. These are definitely a big part of an ECE classroom. I have seen some of the kids use educational computer games on and off during the day, some listen to music as a reward, and the like. Thus, GPAT does admirable work and I wonder if KY has an equivalent?
Zoho seems a bit more like what we’ve been discussing already. They offer a lot of different apps for things like Wikis, spreadsheets, word processing, and the like. It seems a bit more like a business oriented site rather than an education related site, so I am not sure how this would function in the classroom. As in, wouldn’t the district already have contracts to use Microsoft versions of some of this stuff? If that sort of thing isn’t a problem however I can see it being a nice “One stop for everything” site.
I also took a look at some of the 4 Teachers tools, starting with the Quiz Star. Being able to do multimedia style quizzes sounds really cool, but I do wonder….how practical is this exactly? It could certainly be used in a school setting but would the average teacher seriously go to the trouble of doing this with a basic quiz? Most quizzes last about 5 minutes at the beginning of class, so I don’t know if it’s worth all the bother.
The Casa Notes tool seems pretty cool and gives teachers a way to do both English and Spanish notes for kids to take home (field trips, progress reports, etc.). My wife has a lot of Spanish speaking kids in her classes so this tool might come in handy, since sometimes Google translate isn’t the greatest. I don’t really know how great Casa Notes is in terms of translating, but it could be worth a try (then the Spanish kids can giggle at the translation).
On a similar note, Rubistar is a tool that allows a teacher to create English and Spanish rubrics online. Much in the same way as Casa Notes works, this would be a nice little tool for Spanish speaking students in the classroom, or it could be used by a Spanish teacher to get kids thinking in Spanish. I don’t know if other teachers would want to mess with it though. At some point don’t they need kids to be well versed in English?
Dimio’s Tools is an interesting twist on the whole “I will dictate into the mic what I want typed out” bit. In fact it is quite the opposite. You actually type into the program and it comes back with a voice. You can do several different languages on there (Spanish, French, German, Russian, etc.) so I can imagine this being very interesting for a foreign language teacher. Some ESL teachers might find it useful as well, but their job is to get kids to understand English better so the use might be limited. As far as myself, I might find it interesting to mess around with, but I can’t see myself using it in the classroom.
Power Talk is a program that seems quite interesting since it is a vocal power point program. As in it speaks out the power point as you go. I have to admit I am quite hazy on how that would work, and it would present an immediate problem for most teachers. It is a big problem actually. Nearly every teacher would want kids to speak out their own power point. From the teacher’s end of things, it might be of some use however since it would save you from having to do the same spiel 5 times in a given day. So yes, to save one’s voice, using the Power Talk program on a power point might be a useful thing to do.
The entire Webquest page is one that I believe we’ll be going into further detail about in another lesson but I’ll say a bit about it now. I am a little hazy on Webquest even after looking the site, but I believe it works in the way that you can search for a particular topic, find a Webquest on that topic, and then either work with that framework or adapt it for your own purposes in the classroom with permission from the author. This sort of thing could prove useful for topics in the Social Studies area, since I could type in “Boston Tea Party” and come up with a Webquest that might work for the students. As such, Webquest sounds like a very viable tool to use in the classroom.
Lastly, the Read the Words site seems to function much in the same way as the Power Talks deal does, namely I can create speeches from text. I messed around with some silly sentences on the “Try it” feature and the robotic sounding woman cracked me up. It seemed like a female Stephen Hawking type voice, which was a bit odd. Not even as personable as the GPS voice, haha. But again, to save your voice it might be worthwhile to type stuff in and create a vocal product in either English, French, or Spanish. Could be most useful for foreign language teachers, but as far as everyone else it would be just to save your voice.