Thursday, 28 February 2013

101questions: crowd sourcing perplexity

I've followed Dan Meyer { @ddmeyer | dy/dan } for a while now. Here's his bio blurb from his blog:


I'm Dan Meyer. I taught high school math between 2004 and 2010 and I am currently studying at Stanford University on a doctoral fellowship. My hobbies include graphic design, filmmaking, motion graphics, and infographics, most of which have found their way into my practice in some way or another. My specific interests include curriculum design (answering the question, "how we design the ideal learning experience for students?") and teacher education (answering the questions, "how do teachers learn?" and "how do we retain more teachers?" and "how do we teach teachers to teach?"). I live in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Dan has an excellent blog, but is also involved in many web projects as well. One such project caught my eye because of his tweets. Every once in a while he'd tweet a link and ask something along the lines of, "What's the first question that pops into your head when you see this?". This intrigued me. I would click on the link and be taken to 101questions. It looks something like this:

I would type in the first question that came to mind and click submit. I then get to ask a question about the next photo or video. Also, if I no question comes to mind, or item just isn't that interesting, I have the option to skip it.
This is pretty fun on its own, well at least for me, but Dan is using this to collect/create engaging and perplexing activators.
Here's how the project is described on its webstie:
We don’t care how well you lecture. We don’t care how well you engage us. We aren’t impressed by your fancy slide transitions or your interactive whiteboard. We care how well you perplex us.
Can you perplex us? Can you show us something that’ll make us wonder a question so intensely we’ll do anything to figure out the answer, including listen to your lecture or watch your slides? Here’s one way to find out. Upload a photo or a video. Find out how many of us get bored and skip it. Find out how many of us get perplexed and ask a question.
Then figure out what you’re going to do to help us answer it.
Your Students 
 I thought this was a great idea and can relate to the feeling of seeing something and just needing to know how it works, so I joined the site. I haven't put much on yet, but I've already learned some things.

  • It's called 101 questions because each post is capped at 101 questions. You ask a question about your post when you upload it and the post is capped at 100 further questions, well more like interactions. Both asking a question and skipping a question count as an interaction. The number of questions out of 100 interactions is what determines the posts perplexity. If no question comes to mind for 100 people and you get 100 skips, chances are students aren't going to be intrigued if you use that photo or video in class.
  • The question you have in mind for a particular post may not come to anyone else when they see it. This allows you to get a broader perspective and gauge what types of questions your students would be asking themselves.
This site is fun and a great way we can work together to improve our classrooms. Thanks, Dan!

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Movie Travel Poster

This ds106 assignment was to create a minimalist travel poster for a location in a movie or television show. I chose a location from the funniest movie ever made. I had a lot of fun with this and will probably try to make more. I like a lot of movies and enjoy trying to figure out a simple way to capture the location.

Show&Tell: Befunky

I found trying to find a place to cartoon-ify my photos. I played around with it and like it. So here's a brief tutorial on what it can do and how to do it.

It's also available as an iOS and Android app.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Group Presentations

Presented by: Chantalle, Erin, Alaura, Carissa, Tiffany, Jocelyn
Read the backchannel discussion we had during this presentation.

Biggest Surprise: Our biggest task is going to be convincing administration that BYOD is a good idea.

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The Internet: the good, the bad & the ugly
Jen, Micki, Lindsey, Tom and Nic

Biggest Surprise: Wikipedia is on the bad list?!?

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Tyler, Jennifer, Lisa, Kelsey, Kirsten

Our website on How NOT to Steal from the Internet

Biggest Surprise: The internet loading and then not showing pictures.

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Anna, Jen, Brooke

Biggest Surprise: That filters got so many votes in the poll.

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Steve, Scott, Adrienne, Stephanie, Sarah

Biggest Surprise: That snow falls upwards in Punta Cana.

Web-Based Courses

Last week Donald Girouard & Sophia Palahicky gave my Internet for Educators course an overview of Web Based Courses.
Check out Manitoba Education's webpage for information, since this post will be primarily be reflection.

In high school I took Grade 11 Pre-Calculus online. I must have been on the cutting edge of change, considering I graduated 10 years ago. There were modules to read through, weekly assignments to complete, online, timed tests and a final exam. Thinking back I think the assignments and tests were based on web forms: I could click the appropriate bubble in a multiple choice or fill in text box. I don't think it was the best option for me. Not having a living person to be accountable to, and remind me of when things were do, I did a large percentage of the reading and work last minute. Compounding this was the fact that homework assignments were out of five, so a small error on one of the questions could cost you 20% on the assignment. I don't remember communicating with the instructor or fellow students very much, if I did at all. The final exam was in person, in my school division office no less! I got a final grade of 72% in this course and am still sketchy on some aspects of the geometry of circles. I feel I would have achieved better if I had been in  the face-to-face option of this class, though I think it conflicted with another course I was taking, considering I got 99% next year in Grade 12 Pre-Calculus.

However, web based courses are much different now! Here's a run down on the types of courses offered in Manitoba on an interactivity scale.

There is much more technology available to bring teacher and peer interaction into online courses. IITV utilizes audio/video conferencing. Skype and Google Hangouts enable students to connect with each other outside of school. I could go on and on.

Some key points from the presentation that highlight the changes in WBCs since my day:

  • New WBCs are designed for interaction.
    • Journalling, discussions, blogs, wikis, chat,...
  • Written for students.
  • Predominately asynchronous, but can be synchronous, say using a tutoring session.
  • Teachers have designer access to the courses.

I'm excited about the ability to modify and/or add to the courses. Knowing that all students, and therefore all classrooms, are unique, having the ability to tweak a course to fit your students' needs is very beneficial.

Web based and distance learning courses are used for many reasons. We brainstormed some as a class during the presentation:

  • Small schools can combine to offer courses they would not 
  • Help for students with extended absences.
  • When f2f courses are in the same slot.
  • University entrance course that may not be offered f2f.
  • Credit Recovery.

Take Aways

  • An asynchronous course must have an accompanying f2f time slot. You cannot be given a full teaching schedule, plus a WBC.
  • WBC will NOT replace teachers. (I was unable to take German in high school, because of low enrollment. Therefore no teacher was payed to teach it. If interested students could take it via the web, it would be a job created for a teacher!)
  • Have to update the courses as internet standards are updated: HTML5, Mobile,...
  • We can have access to WBCs as a resource to use in our f2f classes!
  • Communication is key. Call students. Visit their school. Use available web 2.0 tools.

Doodle Notes: Internet

A week ago we had a discussion about the nature of the internet. Is it democratic or oppressive? Freeing or confining? There are arguments for and against both sides. 

Here are some of the things we talked about as pictures:
doodle, internet, free internet, open internet,
The democratic, open and free aspect of the internet.
doodle, big brother, internet,
The regulated, monitored, and monetized aspect of the internet.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

My Favourite Line

I was inspired to try this assignment by a post by @kaits_.
This is probably my favourite line from any song. It's in The Only Living Boy in New York by Simon & Garfunkel. It reminds me of all the things I have to smile about.
I like how the black background provides high contrast and I chose red and white for the text because those are the colours of a smile. I wanted to play up the alliteration in "to do today" so I used short lines. I also tried to make smile look as much like a smile as I could.
Try it yourself here!

Random Album

Presenting the latest album by List of Bridges in Burma! The Support of Paul was two years in the making and is sure to be treasured by both fans and music lovers everywhere.
This assignment was fun. I loved the randomness of it. However, I did modify it slightly. The random photo I found on flickr was all rights reserved, so I searched one of its tags on the creative commons modifiable search. This way I was able to modify and tweak in good conscience.
Go to to make your own!

Doodle Notes: Byte 2013 Keynote

I am very visual learner and frequently take lectures notes entirely in doodles. I also convert any written notes into pictures when studying for tests and exams. If I can represent something as a picture I am better able to remember it. A while back I shared some of my doodle-notes in a post and a member of the Byte Committee, Andy McKiel, saw it AND liked it.
He asked me if I'd like to doodle the keynote address by Clarence Fisher. I said yes, I even have my markers! I spent the night in nervous anticipation. I had never been up in front of so many people before, but I told myself that I was just taking notes and that I wouldn't be the focus. That helped.
I was nervous, but when Clarence started talking it came naturally. I was focused on what he was saying and what that looked like. When I'm doodling live I tend to go from left to right and then top to bottom, as if I'm writing. This helps me maximize the space and keep the flow of ideas intact. If I'm converting from notes or slides I'm a little more fluid in my doodle structure.  It was a lot of fun.
I was lucky to have a friend photo-documenting my doodle process, so I'll let the pictures take over from my words from here on out.


Click here to see and hear Clarence's talk.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

And the winner is...

All the votes have been tallied and the keyboard is victorious! The spider web was the clear loser, with no votes, but perhaps it'll make a comeback as a Hallowe'en themed badge...

Here's the code to add it to your blog:
<a href=""><img src="" alt="#I4Ed" width="205" height="79" border="0"></a><br />
<a rel="license" href=""><img alt="Creative Commons Licence" style="border-width:0" src="" /></a>
<font size="-2">thanks to <a href="">o_o</a></font>
And here's how to add it to your blog. (If you use blogger, sorry Wordpress-ers.)

Wednesday, 20 February 2013


Before starting my Internet for Educators course I had some experience with podcasts, well with one in particular: LibriVox. LibriVox is a project to make digital audio recordings of books in the public domain. I find books on tape/cd/mp3 are great for keeping me alert (a.k.a. engaged) while driving so I have a fair collection of LibriVox audiobooks in my collection, including Pride and Prejudice and The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock. If you are doing a novel study of a literary classic, check to see if it is in the public domain and then check to see if there is a LibriVox version of it. It's a great way to support students who struggle with reading.
All recordings are done by volunteers and in sections. Sometimes this leads to some discontinuity when the readers change throughout the course of a novel.

I also started exploring some other podcasts as part of I4Ed. Here's a science themed one to satisfy both sides of my nature.

Everyday Einstein's Quick and Dirty Tips for Making Sense of Science

  • Audio only
  • The majority fall between 4 and 6 minutes in length.
  • Range of scientific topics
    • What is density?
    • Why do we yawn?
    • The basics of pH
  • Uses ordinary analogies to illuminate complex concepts.
    • The Higgs field as a mall food court, with people handing out free samples. Particles are the mall patrons, the Higgs boson the free samples. Some particles take more free samples than others and thus are more massive than peckish particles.
  • One downside is that there is an advertisement in every podcast and since they are already relatively short the ads quickly become frustrating.

I am going to keep investigating podcasts and will share any good ones I find.

Classroom Video

I'm going to start by letting everyone know that I'm incredibly biased when it comes to video. I've lead two video making/editing projects with grade 7s and a professional development session at BU on making video in class. Making videos also makes up a significant portion of my spare time. If you click here you can see my previous thoughts on video use in the classroom.

I AM going to use videos in my classroom:

- "Educational" videos, like the Perimeter Institute's Challenge of Quantum Reality.

- YouTube videos, like
To provide students with another way of looking at the course material. 
Video can often be a great activator, too. I used this playlist
when going through Macbeth in my second placement. When we finished an Act students got time to work on their ongoing Macbeth project, a facebook profile for a main character. So, before we started reading the next act I played a brief summary of the previous act from this playlist. This got them back into the story and also showed them how other students around the world have interpreted the play.

- My videos, like

- And most importantly, I'm going to get students to make their own videos together. Video making incorporates teamwork, storytelling, critical thinking, ICT and fun.
My dream ELA project is this:
Thanks to Lisa for hashing this out with me last year.
We would study a novel and create a collector's/special edition box set of a video adaptation. It's all the language arts in one project! It would be filled with varied writing tasks: A summary and blurbs promoting the film on the back jacket, critical responses to the novel, film-maker's diary, the script. There would be representation tasks to: cover art, concept art, storyboards, back jacket thumbnails. And then the videos! There would be the feature, a making-of featurette, cast and crew interviews, bloopers (you HAVE to have bloopers, but including them on a separate DVD means half the feature doesn't get taken up with bloopers), deleted scenes, perhaps even a few versions of theatrical trailers and promos.
I feel like using video this way would get students excited to create and maybe even excited to write an essay if it would be part of their very own special edition DVD! Also, to make a video adaptation of a novel requires a thorough understanding of the novel itself: themes, imagery, character, plot.

So I say yes to using videos in class, especially if you can use video to complement other modes of representing.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Blog Badges

I've made a few badges that we can all put on our blogs to let others know that we're a part of #I4Ed!





Let's vote on which one we want to be the official badge for our class. I will write out html code for the winning badge and distribute it to everyone. Check out my side bar to see what a finished badge will look like.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013


According to infographic is not a word, but I have a feeling that it will be soon. If you google it you get 50.4 million hits.
Simply put infographics combine information with graphics. They are an aesthetically pleasing way to present often complex ideas and information.
I think infographics are a great fit for the classroom. They help differentiate and reach multiple learning styles by being linguistic, visual, and logical/mathematical.

Making them can be a challenge. Either you meticulously collect data and spend hours upon hours drawing it out yourself or you turn to the internet.
I started trying to make my own, but ain't nobody got time for that, so I began scouring the internet for infographic creation sites. I chose to experiment with two of them: & offers a visual resume, editable venn-a-gram, and eight themed infographics. The venn-a-gram allows you to put your own data into a bunch of different venn diagrams. The remaining options require you to link a social networking account with, including Twitter, facebook and linkedin. collects and displays your social data for you, which eliminates the most painful part of infographic creation: the data collection. However, you give access to your data by doing this and I'm not entirely sure if I like that. For instance you give them permission to follow people as you, while I'm sure this is just limited to them getting you to follow their twitter account, it freaks me out. The "You are what you Tweet" and "Life of a Hashtag" infographics on the left I made with They are pretty spiffy. Sometimes they worked well, but it took me over 40 tries to make the "Life of a Hashtag" for #I4Ed. It was very frustrating. This, combined with the sketchy permissions I have to grant to make infographics, has lead me to revoke all access visually has to my Twitter accounts. I wouldn't use it again, even though they make snazzy infographics.
I didn't want to make a new account at yet another new website, so I signed into with my Twitter account. The permissions request aren't as scary as's and if I don't want to sync accounts I don't have to. I can create my own account. offers six templates that are customizable with various text styles, chart types, timers, maps, pictures, and videos. You can input the data yourself or upload it from a spreadsheet file on your computer. Admittedly, infographics don't have the pizazz that the ones do. However, you can make infographics about anything with, instead of limiting yourself to social data. Below I have given the highlights of my life in writing. I like and will continue visualizing data with it.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Revisiting Twitter

Some time ago I talked about Twitter. I wrote about how I love it for breaking news, lists and links. I've tweeted just over 500 times since my first post and I feel differently about Twitter now.
I still like the instantaneous newsroom. I was able to get first hand accounts of the earthquake and tsunami scare on the West Coast a few months back for at least an hour before any news networks had any coverage. During the NHL lockout hashtags, like #podiumwatch, kept me up to date, and laughing about, the progress of any upcoming press conferences.
I barely use lists anymore. I still have them, but I find that I barely go to them. I just scroll through my feed. Having reread my feelings about lists from a year ago, perhaps I'll work to get back in the habit.
I feel that I appreciate link sharing even more now. When I started I was mainly following education companies, sports organizations and personalities and friends. Through professional development, courses and twitter itself I have made connections with many individual educators. So many people have an open learning philosophy and share links to things they find useful. I have found them very useful and have been working to share my fair share in return.
Even better than the links are the relationships. Many people feel that the internet isn't real and doesn't count some how, but it's just a new way to get to know people. The glimpses I see of the attitudes, philosophy and professionalism of experienced educators, 140 characters at a time, are a great example and have helped me grow as an educator. I can thank someone for sharing a link or skyping with my class and start a new relationship. I've been able to encourage colleagues to start Tweeting and see them find new ways to improve their teaching. Twitter started as a place I found things - news, scores, resources, but is now a place where I am able to share and learn with people.
I look forward to staying in touch with everyone in the Internet for Educators class throughout our careers with our class hashtag and plan to continue to meet more people and share my learning, successes, struggles and stuff!
Hashtags I use often: #I4Ed #PictureADay #etmooc #6wordstories
Some good hashtags to follow: #edchat #comments4kids #mbedu

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Sunday, 3 February 2013


I have the AVS suite of multimedia software and made this animated gif with the image converter. Click here to see how.
It was cold outside when we took these, but now she'll be forever swinging!

Character Study Idea

How well do our students know the characters in the novels they are reading, or the historical figures they are studying? We could ask them to write a report or an essay, but what about getting our students to choose the character's theme song?
For example:
copyright Archie Comics

It would get students to engage with characters in new ways and forge connections between literature, or history, and their interests.

What would your favourite character's theme song be?

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Personality, Learning and Digital Identity

George Couros { @gcouros | } skyped in to share with our class this week. George is now, as I understand it, a principal of principals and advocates for connected and collaborating educators at all levels.
Some of us were Tweeting George in advance and George used this to talk about how people are more willing to connect with all levels of educators now. New teachers used to be wary, perhaps afraid, of reaching out to the big, scary principal, but the internet and our connected culture has flattened the hierarchy.
George shared two things with us: the qualities he looks for in a teacher and what we can do to make ourselves more employable.

Teacher Qualities
  • Make use of our unprecedented opportunity to tap into the experience of others. Connect, connect, connect and never be afraid to ask for help if we're struggling.
  • Do what we love and share it with our students. We connected with our favourite teachers on a level outside of academia. 
  • Be yourself! We used to be advised to separate our professional and personal selves, but students know when we are being disingenuous. George advises merging our professional and personal selves and we should. I've already met students at the mall and at the movies. When they see me, they see their teacher. If I'm a different person in these circumstances it affects my credibility in the classroom. We need to bring ourselves into our classrooms (I like to wear my geeky ties, shirts and belt buckles) and we need to keep our professionalism outside the classroom. Perhaps we should start calling teaching a perfession and refer to ourselves as prosons?
  • Curriculum follows Connection. Building connections with our students is most important. We don't teach the curriculum. The curriculum is a book. It can't learn anything. We teach kids and kids thrive on relationship.
  • Develop a love of learning.
    • Embody it! Be a life-long learner, even if it is difficult, because if we give up on learning something, we model that for our students. 
    • We need to take feedback and try to improve.
    • Show our learning in our portfolio, not just our work.
    • Don't just teach kids school, help them learn to love to learn.
  • Use learning goals over performance goals. No grades, no awards. George recommended Drive by Daniel H. Pink to our class to learn about motivation.
  • Digital Leadership - use social media, technology to better the lives of others.
  • Be passionate about what we teach. Passion is a virus and is highly contagious.
  • Be school teachers instead of classroom teachers. Many people just work with their group of students and don't interact with any other students in the school. Be part of the community. Treat all the students in the school as if they were in your classroom. Look at duty as a way connect with more students.
  • Strong communication skills. Don't email angry! George shared how he would handle students who came to him for discipline. He'd get them to tell him why they were there and get them to suggest appropriate consequences. He also phoned parents with the student present, which prevented students from giving another story to parents once they went home. 
Helping Ourselves
  • What is out there? Be aware of our digital footprint. Our tweets are public and we will be googled, yahooed, and binged every which way be prospective employers. Who we are online can make or break us. In George's schools students were starting digital portfolios in kindergarten.
  • What am I saying about myself? Proofread my resume and never exagerate or hyperbolize.
  • Put my website, blog, twitter account, etc. inside my resume. Providing my online presence right away shows that we are confident in our digital selves and prevents any misunderstandings over namesakes who may be doing unprofessional, or even illegal, things online.
Awesome thought - Move from problem solvers to problem finders. Don't give "real world" problems but get students to find problems in the world and then work to solve them.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Digital Footprint

Google search:
tyler letkeman (1st 2 pages)
487 days ago I posted about my digital footprint. The fantasy art I posted in high school is still a prominent feature, but I've made my peace with that. My twitter account is more visible and things I've worked on since that post, like my eportfolio, page, presenting PD sessions and the upcoming byte conference, are great examples of a positive footprint. My name is rare, so I'm surprised at the amount of stuff that isn't me, but I plan on giving prospective employers my URL with my application (and maybe including a picture of me on my resume) to make their google/bing/yahoo/ask/dogpile search of me easier.
google image search: tyler letkeman