Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Tech Tip Tuesday: Infographics - So What's Your Story?

When given the choice between a bar graph and an infographic, which one catches your eye first?


Both show the same information, the same data points. But for many, the infographic on the left is far more appealing because of the visual elements and the graphic representation of the numbers. It visually tells the story of the stories that have been most read.

What are Infographics?
An infographic (information graphic) is a visual/graphic representation of information designed to make data easily understandable at a glance. Infographics allow readers to quickly understand and visualize large amounts of data and allow writers to visually represent data and make the creative decisions needed to best communicate their ideas and information.

To get a better sense of how infographics work and how to create them, here are some infographics...about infographics.

11 Infographics About Infographics

Why Infographics?

"The eye is exquisitely sensitive to patterns in variations in color, shape and pattern. It loves them, and it calls them beautiful. It's the language of the eye. If you combine the language of the eye with the language of the mind, which is about words and numbers and concepts, you start speaking two languages simultaneously, each enhancing the other. So, you have the eye, and then you drop in the concepts. And that whole thing -- it's two languages both working at the same time."

Uses in the Classroom:
Infographics are a great way to share information with students, or have students visually show their understanding. An infographic can be a great hook, a way to help activate background knowledge,and give students an alternative way to access information. Having students read, find, compare, and create infographics allows them to enter the roles of producers, consumers, and curators of data and information. The primary ways to use infographics in the classroom are:
  • interpreting infographics: learning how to view and understand the data presented
  • critiquing infographics: evaluating the infographic in terms of data as well as design and graphics 
  • creating infographics: using design and images to give context to and visually represent data 
Creating Infographics:
There are many online tools that can help students create a digital infographic, but don�t underestimate the power of good old paper and pencil! Some things to keep in mind when you or your students are creating infographics:
Check out the full infographic HERE! I used VENNGAGE to create it in no time. And, it was free!
At the end of the day, the most important thing to keep in mind when using infographics in the classroom is that it's truly about the information and the story you or your students are able to tell with the data you have. So, what's the story you're going to tell?

Other Resources:
Infographics as Creative Assessment from Kathy Schrock
Share your favorite infographics or websites with us below!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Cherry Creek Bright Spot: Congratulations to Horizon Community Middle School!

In case you have not heard yet, Horizon Community Middle School recently won Samsung's Solve for Tomorrow Challenge. The grand prize was $120,000 for the school. The winning team was also invited to the White House to present their project to President Obama for the National Science Fair.  

The project tackled by the students to win the challenge was to design a prosthetic leg for a veteran who lost his leg in the Gulf War. The students met and worked with the veteran to make sure the prosthetic would fit well, be comfortable, and allow him to enjoy activities such as skateboarding, hiking and skiing. 

While there has been a lot of coverage on this, (see the many links at the bottom of this blog post), we thought we might be able to get in a little closer and talk to the teacher, Mel Possehl and some of her students. The video below highlights information about the class, how it felt to win the grand prize, what it was like to present the project to President Obama, and what's next for these students. 

Congratulations again to Mel Possehl and her students at Horizon Community Middle School! 

More links to enjoy:







Do you have something happening in your Cherry Creek school or classroom that you think is worthy of a Bright Spot?  If so, click here to contact Kris Edwards. 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Cherry Creek Bright Spot: Scratch Day 2016

 Sign Up for Scratch Day!

Are you or your students interested in programming? Are you a beginner? An expert? If so, Scratch Day is for you! Cherry Creek's 4th Annual Scratch Day is coming up soon. Learn more about it by watching the video below. 

To volunteer to help out at Scratch Day 2016, go to: https://goo.gl/hsy6qJ

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Yes You Canva!

The days of lugging a laundry basket full of posters home in your trunk and then back to the classroom are on their way out. Most agree that having students synthesize their learning into a creative collage is an important skill, but cutting and pasting (like, the REAL cutting and pasting with scissors and glue-throwback!) on paper is no longer the only way for this to happen. There are several online options that allow students to create digital posters/flyers and build their technology skill set, no glue sticks required!

Introducing: Canva! Canva is a tool that utilizes a simple drag-and-drop interface with pre-created templates and layouts that teachers and students can use to create digital posters/flyers/documents with text, images, icons, backgrounds, and illustrations all built-in ready to go. Other pictures can also be uploaded and used in Canva, but they have several free resources already available for use. 

Check out the video below that will teach you how to use Canva in a mere 23 seconds!

Below is an example of an image created using Canva. It utilizes the layout feature, icons, colors, text and fonts to create a simple image that can be modified, downloaded, and embedded almost anywhere! Images and/or projects can be easily shared either by downloading or sharing them directly. There are already several pre-created images that can be used as is or modified to fit your needs, or if you can�t find what you�re looking for you can start from scratch and build the image that best fits your needs.  

Also, there are several tutorials and some very creative lesson plans in Canva for teachers who want to use this in their classroom already created. How cool is that?! Are you inspired? Ready to get started? Check them out here!

Happy creating!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Tuesday Tech Tip: The 4Cs...Creativity


Just what is creativity? Certainly you have looked at a piece of art or a project and thought to yourself hey, that's creative. Perhaps you have labeled certain people as creative too. Think for a moment, what is it that causes you to think that? How do you define creativity? Do you just know it when you see it? 

Merriam-Webster says:

Simple Definition of creativity
  • : the ability to make new things or think of new ideas

Creativity has also been described as turning new and imaginative ideas into reality. Creativity requires two parts: thinking and producing. 

The blog posts for the month of April will be dedicated to another of the 4Cs...Creativity.  

From the Partnership for 21st Century Learning we know that educators aim to include creativity in learning, but often times it is the component we abandon first. The P21 site offers a brief from experts in the field sharing examples and ideas for including research based practices in your classrooms. Click here to peruse those documents.

From A Noted Creativity Expert: Sir Ken Robinson

Let's look at creativity from another perspective. Creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson delivered a compelling TED Talk in 2006 on the topic. In it, he challenges us to think about how present systems are stifling the creative spirit.  View the talk below. What does it make you think about?  What are the implications of his message for our educational system.

One of the questions he has pondered more recently is "Can Creativity Be Taught?" Watch the talk below to see what he has to say.

Some additional thoughts on creativity can be found in this blog.  He reminds us that creativity is found in great teaching across a wide spectrum of disciplines.

What does this all mean?  

Bren� Brown, noted researcher and storyteller says, "Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change." She shares this through a different angle on the notion of creativity. Her 2010 TED Talk,  The Power of Vulnerabilityis one of the top five most viewed TED talks in the world. Take a look at what she has to say.

So, when is the last time you nurtured your creative side? What have you planned in the name of creativity for your students?  What's stopping you? How do you create space for it in your life and weave that into your school world? 

Technology integration and innovation can be a fabulous place to add in some more creative outlets into your classroom. Do you and your students have an appetite for discovery? I bet you do. Go out there...dig deep, work hard...be CREATIVE!  

CCSD Bright Spot: 5th Graders Create YouTube Style How-To Videos Using WeVideo

When Technology Teacher Jen Sevy from Fox Hollow Elementary kept hearing her 5th grade students explain how they learned to do things they...