Tech Salad

With Crunchy Bits and Bytes

Month: May 2012

Green Screen Fun

iMovie is an incredible tool that with tons of features that are woefully underutilized by most users. Here is a tutorial for green screen, a favorite of mine.


I am in Mrs. Weyant’s room with the Leadership and Service students. They are putting the finishing touches on their last project of the year: a comprehensive guide to Goochland Middle School.

These five students have worked together to gather all information necessary for any newcomer to succeed: rising 6th graders, transfer students, and new teachers. From schedules to building layouts to how to find a book at the media center. It has taken weeks of writing, screen casting, taking pictures, and peer editing.

The guide is almost ready for publishing. It will be an eBook, available for download through Mrs. Weyant’s blog and our iTunes storefront.

At this moment, the students are working together on writing an introduction, the very last bit of text they will paste into the document. It is very rewarding to see the care they are taking to word it so that it accurately reflects the pride they take in having done all this work.


It’s Scratch Time…Almost


Last night I found out the Scratch team at MIT has the new Scratch up and ready for testing. I did not have much time to play around, but saw enough to know I really like it. Everything seems to work as well as it did before. The paint editor looks like it will be much nicer once it is active. paint editor

I’m excited to have Scratch available for students without the need for downloads and updates. Here in Goochland we are pretty nimble when it comes to deploying new software, but in some surrounding counties, getting the application on student computers has been a barrier to kids accessing this amazing tool.

I can’t wait to have many more teachers and students scratching soon.

Frame By Frame

Frame By Frame is one of the simplest applications on our computers here in Goochland County. It offers a creative way to present information.

While the example in the video is very simple, imagine creating a stop-motion animation of cell division, or the development of a flower into a fruit, or just to tell a story, as Ms. Tolson (blog) has done with her students.

Alone Together, and With the Right Pronouns

We are nearing the end of Screen-Free Week. I have not been very observant. I didn’t even know there was such a thing until this past Monday, when I heard a story on NPR produced for American Public Media’s Marketplace Tech Report.

In that story, Sherry Turkle, book author and professor at MIT, shared some of her views about controlling where spend our “attention dollars” and how that may sometimes prevent us from being truly engaged in the communities where we live, work, and learn.  Most of it was similar to what I’d heard a few days earlier on Morning Edition, and read in the New York Times. But, if you listen to the audio, at the beginning, Dr. Turkle talks about the way we edit our electronic communications. We present ourselves in the way we want to be perceived, or in the way we’d like to be, instead of the way we really are.

It is not so common now that every site where people interact has a spot for an uploaded picture, but when I first came to Goochland, the people who participated in my job interview had been expecting a much older person after reading my blog. My intention had not been to be perceived as an older person, but as a serious person with plenty of knowledge to carry out the tasks required of me. Five years later, my online presence goes well beyond my blog, and I freely admit that what I post online is not necessarily what would come out of my mouth, unrehearsed, in a face-to-face meeting. What I text or email is also different from what I say, more carefully worded and less impulsive.

And what about these pronouns?

Immediately following the Marketplace Tech Report, Morning Edition aired a story about analyzing relationships by tracking the frequency of specific words. It seems that people who feel superior to the person they are addressing use the pronoun “I” less frequently than people who are addressing someone they admire. This was based on analysis of text, not voice, so the participants both had time to edit the message.

So, during this supposedly Screen-Free Week, I have been obsessing over how I word my tech-aided communications. I have even gone back and counted how many times I used “I” in this blog post. It is not a feeling of insecurity, just curiosity.

Maybe this has little to do with education, or at least the kind of education encompassed by our curriculum. It does not matter. I would love to hear a discussion between James Pennebaker, the researcher in the pronoun story, and Sherry Turkle.

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