Sunday, August 30, 2009

Filming Fun

Kieran, my 17 year old, didn't get a steady job this summer, but instead worked part-time at odd jobs and as a character for children's birthday parties. I was kind of disappointed with this, as I'm seeing the dollar signs flash before my eyes in the wake of it being 'almost that time' to begin paying tuition for University. I'm really hoping that he knows that we are serious about him trying to help out with paying some of those bills!

The silver lining for me, however, was the chance to watch boys play. Yes, 17 and 18 year old boys, hanging out at our place for endless costume changes, script practices and filming dates over a period of about 3 weeks. Kieran is hoping to go into a film studies program next year and his most recent facination is with Tarantino films (the opening of a new one this summer added to the excitement). He wrote a script, storyboarded it and began directing his buddies in this x-rated venture. They would then come home and gather round the iMAC and edit, revise, decide to re-shoot and reschedule another gathering. I was reminded too, of Kent Manning's advice to be a little more leniant about the content when it comes to what boys like (apparently a profanity edited version of Kieran's film might be coming, but it couldn't be Tarantino-esque without a quite a bit)!

It struck me that boys (and girls) grow up pretty fast these days and that the 'play' time, be it lego or building or whatever, ends pretty abruptly for boys and becomes about playing video games or playing sports. The kind of play that I liked seeing again this summer was the construction of something unique, something brand new, something they built. My sons have never been much for robotics or logo, despite my attempts to interest them, but drama and film are things that they definitely love.

When alone one rainy day Kieran also did one just for himself and posted it to You Tube, watching a few comments with interest as they came in, and being amazed that people actually viewed his movie... okay...tweeting it out might have helped :)  I've included the short, (not restricted for language and violence) one here, and believe me I would have tidied up my closet if I'd known it was being filmed!

This playful creation using media really reaffirmed for me that we need to give kids the time and the choices to be creative in their own ways!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Talking Blogs Are Here

You'll probably notice a Listen Now button on my blog, and a widget in the sidebar that allows you to subscribe to my podcast.

I've been getting ready to present at the AT4ALL
in Milton next week and my presentation will be about literacy tools for the 21st century, thinking specifically of our students with special needs. If you are there, the session will hopefully go something like this:

This session shows parents and educators the new kinds of literacies with which our students need to develop fluency in order to develop 21st century skills. Web 2.0 tools like Google for Educators, blogs, wikis, rss, social networking, global projects, diigo and other online tools for literacy will enhance the education of our students with special needs, while allowing them to access collaborative tools that will be so important as they continue their education and move on to the workforce. This session will provide a practical look at some of the best ways teachers can motivate students and enhance their use of technology to improve their literacy.

I find this an important topic because while modalities available on the web are getting more and more diverse ensuring more and more access, it's still a pretty text-based place. If you can't read, it's difficult to navigate deeply and go beyond "surfing the surface" as my co-presenter Peter Skillen, would say.

This week, while I was checking out a really good article about where to start with using cell phones on a blog called The Innovative Educator I noticed the Listen Now button and soon found out that allows you to create text-to-speech podcasts from your RSS feed to ipod, iphone, and MP3 players as well as instantly reading your content on the blog in a really decent voice!

It's called 'talking your content'. Very sweet! Another way to open access to those who struggle with reading, or perhaps if you have a class blog with younger students who are non-readers this will be a help for you! It's working great so far, although it seems to take a few hours to upload the feature to new blog posts, so we'll see how it goes as I get using it. You can see how it works immediately if you click on my older postings for now.

I'm looking forward to learning about lots of new tools to enhance access for special needs students (and ALL students) at AT4ALL...hope you see you there!