INTE 5340: Week Three

Daily Create: Harry Potter and the Dramatic Sunset

TDC 1626: Writing Left on the Cutting Room Floor. Ever wonder how J.K. Rowling came up with one of the most iconic quotes in modern fiction? Me too!

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TDC 1629: Into the Sun. Finding a photo of a sunrise or sunset in my collection was all too easy, so I chose the one that was the most dramatic. Here’s one (pictured above) from Beijing, China that I took a couple of months ago on my last visit.

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DS106 Video: AG BOLC 2016

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Welcome to my DS106 video assignment, It’s Vacation Time.

“What was your favorite vacation? Don’t you wish you could relive it over and over? How about you share your favorite vacation with us through pictures, video, and music. Create a video, sharing with us where you went!”

Nothing says vacation quite like an Army vacation! Click here to see my adventures in Fort Jackson, South Carolina and beyond.

The Story

As a child of traveling parents, I’ve been on plenty of vacations, but none quite like this one. To tell this story properly, I have to give a little bit of background information on myself. By weekday, I’m a math teacher candidate at CU Denver. By weekend, I’m a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army Reserves in Colorado Springs. My field? Army Space & Missile Defense Command. My branch? Human Resources. In January, I went on three months of active duty in Fort Jackson, South Carolina to become branch qualified as an officer in the Adjutant General Corps. It’s called Basic Officer Leaders Course, or BOLC. Think of it as me going to school for a semester and getting my degree in Human Resources. During the week, we trained and became skilled and knowledgeable on a variety of Army regulations and human resources platforms. And on the weekends, we explored, because Fort Jackson is close to literally everything. With plenty to do in Columbia, and cities like Savannah, Beaufort, Charleston, Charlotte, Myrtle Beach, and Atlanta, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to experience the sights and sounds of the South through hundreds of photos and videos. Food, friends, adventure, music, and travel came together in the ultimate Army vacation and some of the best times of my life. When I told people back home that I was going to Fort Jackson for three months of Army training, I don’t think this is what they pictured. Then again, it wasn’t what I pictured either. This is the experience through my lens. 

The Process

Creating a photo story of this caliber may look easy, but it’s actually not. It took me almost two days to create this video, and all throughout the process, I desperately asked myself why I didn’t choose another, easier assignment. Two things kept me going. First, I may not look it, but I’m extremely camera shy when it comes to videos, so my options were limited to those that didn’t require me actually taking a video of myself. Second, making a digital story of my experience at BOLC has been on my to-do list ever since I graduated in March, and preserving the memory of it is really important to me. What better motivation to make it, and fast, than for a class assignment?

Using iMovie, I compiled a collection of photos and a couple of videos I took at BOLC and adjusted the lengths of the clips to match the beat of “Roses” by The Chainsmokers, which I chose as the anthem essentially defining my BOLC experience. The concept behind the making of this video is really simple. It was the actual muscle work behind it that was the hard part. Making all of the clips match the beat perfectly, dragging and dropping photos, switching the order of clips, and adjusting the speed and direction of the Ken Burns effect all took up a huge amount of time and effort. Worth it! The memory of my experience at AG BOLC is now forever preserved in the form of a digital story.

Reading Response: The World, Homemade

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DIY media is something that has come around in the last few decades and is important in shaping contemporary culture. First off, what is DIY media? Do-It-Yourself media? It seems pretty self-explanatory, but from what I got out of the reading, the definition is kind of two-fold. First off, the media itself is literally DIY, comprising of products made by the people, for the people. This means that people use resources once for “experts only” that are now widely available for everyone to use, like a transition from exclusivity to inclusivity. Did it remind you of new literacies too? That’s exactly what I thought! Second, the media promotes DIY culture, either through the resources used to make the media, or because it’s literally a tutorial or guide encouraging people to do things themselves.

DIY media is a powerful tool in modern culture. It’s made its way into social practice as a way of creating affinity spaces (Lankshear and Knobel, 2008), or communities of common interest, and it’s even made its way into education, like many other new literacy practices. In her blog post on Hack Education, Audrey Watters discusses open education and the controversy surrounding it. Things get hairy when she starts talking about open licensing and Creative Commons licenses, and where we draw the line when it comes to ownership of schoolwork and educational materials. Clearly, this is an item that’s still under hot debate. I think what Watters is trying to get at is that students should have the opportunity to engage in open education, which is a combination of easy access to materials and freedom of expression in learning. Allowing students to integrate their own identities into projects and lessons makes for a better educational experience, where students can see themselves as part of their own learning and not just receive someone else’s version of it (Watters, 2016). Appropriately, her blog post on Open Education is open-ended, raising questions on what it means for education to be open.

Where I hadn’t really thought of it before, these blog posts leave me thinking a lot about digital storytelling and how it manifests itself in the classroom. This week’s theme, which is shaping culture, identity, and education through DIY media, got me thinking about two things that matter to me most, which are photography and teaching. So I thought to fuse them together in my interest-driven scholarship to see how photography and education can manifest itself in a K-12 classroom. Bingo! Here’s a blog post from Dr. Jackie Gerstein that talks about photography as a way to enhance students’ social-emotional skills. Not only can students use photography to enhance their self-awareness, cultural awareness, and empathy, but they can also use it to enhance their understanding of the content (Gerstein, 2013). It seems that photography can bridge the gap between social and the academic because students have the opportunity to integrate their own identities into their educational experience. Sounds like what I was just reading about!

So in the end, it turns out that DIY media is just another way in which new literacies propagate, and it can enact powerful change not only in the classroom, but also across entire cultures. DIY media provides an opportunity for young people to express themselves and form identities, and we can look into their projects to gain a clearer understanding of their lives and how to better them.

Digital Story Critique: Enjoy the Little Things

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Photography can be a deceiving thing. With the rise of Photoshop, filters, and knowledge of lighting and angles, we have the ability to turn photos into something completely unreflective of reality. There’s nothing wrong with this! Photos are meant to invoke feelings through images, and this is just one way of achieving them. However, Dublin-based photographer Tomasz Laskowski brings it back to basics with everyday pictures of his kids. There’s something about the simplicity of these shots that capture the magnificence of seemingly mundane everyday moments. These shots are featured in PetaPixel, a blog for up and coming photographers. I’ll be analyzing some individual traits of this digital story, but in the meantime, I’m gonna sit back and enjoy the beauty of the photos.

Story. The story is of a father who is determined to capture the “ordinary” moments to show how much they matter. These moments to him are magical, and they reflect in his photography. The text portion is short, but I think it has all the elements it needs. Links to quotes that Tomasz provides, as well as links to his blog, are all there right where you need them. The story is engaging and brilliant, and I think it was put together perfectly. This project is heartfelt and touching, and I think his kids will really appreciate it when they get older, if they don’t already. I don’t share a whole lot of things on Facebook, but if I did, I’d share this!

Flow. Some pictures, some words, some more pictures, some more words, without going overboard on anything. Save that for Tomasz’s real blog, which the author follows to a tee. Overall, the article flows well and is easy to read and follow. I think that interspersing the text in between the photos a little more could enhance the reading experience, as it would offer more frequent switching between pictures and words. There were times that I felt like I was scrolling through a lot of photos for a while. I don’t think any more text is necessary though! The article is supposed to give us a sense of Tomasz’s project at a glance, and it accomplishes exactly that.

Media Application. Need I say more? The pictures are beautiful. Absolutely amazing. Somehow, it’s possible to turn everyday moments into pure magic, and Tomasz Laskowski is one of the few who can do that. He sends a powerful message through his photos, not by shooting fancy or ritzy moments, but by capturing the brilliance of the simple life.

Week Three Reflection: Scatterbrained Me

Three weeks down, five to go! For some reason, this week I found it really hard to focus and my thoughts were kind of just everywhere. Hearing about all the events in the news around the US, especially everything that’s happened in Florida over the last couple of weeks, generated a lot of mixed feelings for me. Then there was the DS106 video assignment, which involved me spending a lot of time on YouTube, where I found out that one of my favorite singers, Christina Grimmie, was shot and killed at her concert in Orlando, the night before the Pulse shooting. She was only 22. Old enough to have aspirations of her career, but young enough to have her whole life ahead of her. You can imagine me spending a large chunk of time reading news articles, watching videos, and just wondering how someone could ever want to hurt other people like this.

Now, on to the assignments. Life goes on even after people have died, and I had to convince myself of this to keep myself from getting too distracted. I dove into my DS106 video assignment, working on it nonstop for almost two days, but it was so worth it. I created a beautiful and memorable artifact encapsulating my experience at Army training, and it goes beyond the scope of this class. It’s something I’m proud to call my work, and when I shared it on Facebook for my colleagues who were with me at training, they loved it too. It felt great to be able to share memories with people who shared these same experiences with me.

The good, the bad, and the ugly. I enjoyed everything about the class this week, but it was just kind of a rough week. I’m also a perfectionist when it comes to schoolwork, even when I’m distracted, which can be taxing on my time and energy. I think it’ll become a little more manageable when my other summer class ends in a week, but if I could go back and do it again, I’d stress less and focus more, so I don’t end up upside down in a trash can like Cady Heron in Mean Girls.

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The larger issues surrounding my work. This week’s theme was about Do-It-Yourself, or DIY, media. I placed a public Hypothesis annotation onto Hack Education’s blog post on open education earlier this week saying that open education is a critical starting ground that makes it easier to share things and provides an overall educational experience. Alissa replied to my annotation mentioning that the “standardized” curriculum acts a barrier to open education. This is actually very true! There is a much larger issue concerning standardized testing and curriculums, and I’m curious to know more about how we reconcile open education with standardization.

The self assessment. At the end of the day, I met the expectations and got everything done, but I won’t lie, I’m pretty exhausted. I think it’s been a rough week for a lot of people. Next week, I’ll strive to accomplish the same amount without getting so distracted. Time to get some sleep!

© Emily Joan Wu

Teacher Candidate | Math
University of Colorado Denver
INTE 5340 | Summer 2016

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