Promoting Visual Literacy

Visual literacy is a 21st Century Skill that requires students to interpret, use and create media in ways to encourage critical  thinking, decision-making, communication and learning.  With easy access to copyright-friendly digital images and a growing number of web 2.0 resources for manipulating them, it’s certainly worth offering students the option of conveying a message visually.  Let’s take a closer look at one way to design effective learning experiences to promote visual literacy.

It’s always a good idea to start with an Essential Question to drive the learning experience. Students can work in pairs or individually to create images that answer the question visually, then all of the work can be published online for an engaging culminating activity to allow students to share knowledge and develop a deeper understanding of the whole.

BigHugeLabs is a good web 2.0 resource to start with. This free and user-friendly site has an array of tools that are perfect for jump starting classroom learning projects that focus on visual literacy. Students can use the tools without logging in to an account and they can choose from a variety of options including

Mosaic Maker combined with Motivator
  • mosaic maker 
  • motivator
  • magazine cover
  • movie poster
  • captioner 
After the images are created there are plenty of ways to publish and use them in the classroom for a culminating learning activity. Assigning an engaging learning task related to the Essential Question to be discovered through the sharing of projects will give students an opportunity to bring it all together and develop a big-picture understanding. Here are a few suggested tools to use for a culminating activity:
  • PinterestCreate a Pinterest Board specifically for the purposes of displaying and evaluating the projects. 
  • VoiceThread: Upload the images to VoiceThread and have students  hold online conversations about the media.
  • Wikispaces: Publish the images in Wikispaces and utilize the discussion feature to generate focused discussions about the individual or small group contributions.
Finally, when engaging students in this type of project, it’s important to take advantage of opportunities for addressing Digital Citizenship by including appropriate lessons on Internet safety and copyright.

Mentor Mob Playlist Sample: Maximize Instructional Time

Mentor Mob is a cool tool to help users create digital playlists of related content. I like this curation tool because it’s visual, user-friendly and can be embedded into a blog, wiki or website. All you need is a theme, some websites to highlight and the ability to write  short and concise titles to guide users through each step of your playlist.

I understand the idea behind Menor Mob is to create mixes of web content, but I was in need of a new tool for organizing some of my own content so that is what I used to create my first playlist.

Create your own Playlist on MentorMob! 


Learn more about Cool Tools to Curate Content
Upcoming webinar on April 24th or 25th

EasyBib: One Click Access to Google Docs & More

EasyBib is a free and popular tool for creating citations. By using this tool, students no longer need to learn to format citations, which means they can focus on the reason for creating the citations and the importance of giving credit to the author.  EasyBib has some really great features worth exploring.

Export to Google Docs and More:
Now there is a button to easily export citations to Google Docs. This one-click feature really streamlines the process by creating a Doc, naming it, and popping in directly into the user’s Google Docs account for use. If you aren’t using Google Docs, you’ll notice some alternate, but handy ways to export citations, pictured below.

The EasyBib App features a scanner option to help students easily create bibliographies from book sources. This includes the ability to search by title and ISBN which can be quite helpful when the bar code is not readable by the device. The video below provides a good overview of how the EasyBib app works.

EasyBib supports it’s own social search engine designed to shows users a list of sources that have been used on a particular topic. In addition, it shows the credibility of the sources commonly used. 

Click on the tab at the top of the screen to access lessons plans to help teachers make the transition from traditional print research steps to electronic research. The lessons plans are simple and they cover a nice range of appropriate information literacy content. 

If you haven’t visited EasyBib in a while, you might want to take another look at

Great Ways to Use Google Docs – Presented Visually

These days a good way to capture the attention of an audience is to present information visually. For this reason, I created a glog of popular ways to use Google Docs for Learning to share with the teachers at our middle school. Just look at the glog, find something that interests you, and click on a link to see snippets of samples implemented by our teachers. Looking for more information or about any of these topics? View my Google Docs for Learning page on this blog.

Click image to jump to interactive glog

Use Glogster & Screencasts to Maximize Student Presentations

If you’re a classroom teacher using technology to helps students uncover knowledge and create something original, you are certainly making good use of technology as a tool for learning. Unfortunately; however, you may be struggling with time management issues if you’re still engaging students in traditional methods of presenting what they’ve learned by standing in front of the class. I’d like to suggest an alternate, more efficient presentation method to maximize instructional time and take advantage of an additional opportunity for engaged student learning.

One way to efficiently share presentations is to have students use screencasting tools to record and narrate their presentations, then publish those presentations in one place, like a Glog. This allows students to use class time to interact with the presentations and  answer the Essential Questions that fuel the student-driven learning experience. 

Here is an example: 

  1. The Essential Questions for this Project Based Learning unit are listed at the top of the Glog. 
  2. Initially, small groups of students collaborate to construct knowledge about specific volcanoes in North America. This process is guided by a grading rubric and requires them to
    1. create presentations
    2. record narrated screencasts of their presentations for sharing. (A script is recommended)
  3. Completed group projects are published on a Glog for a culminating classroom activity.
    1. Class sharing time provides students with the opportunity to interact with individual presentations to uncover knowledge and find answers the Essential Questions.
    2. A learning task is assigned to the activity to provide a focus and accountability. In this case, students are required to create an annotated Google Map, to provide a big-picture overview that answers the Essential Questions. Other suggestions include a simple Exit Ticket or a written summary to draw conclusions.

Here is more information about the tools used in the example: Click on the links to jump to my wiki for more information.
Essential Questions: Deep questions that guide the learning and cannot be answered by copying and pasting.
Google Presentation: The GoogleDocs version of an online, collaborative presentation tool.
Screencast-O-Matic: Record narrated presentations
YouTube: Upload and publish screencasts, then copy the link displaying in a glog. 
Glogster: Create a glog of presentations and add video