Tag Archive: digital

Jun 09

Course 4 week 5-Badges and the Learning Community

Google starts badges

In the following video, you can see how Google is incorporating the badging system with Google Reader.

Badging is a way to document what types of articles you have read and to help customize the Google Reader experience (at least that is what Google says).

Below is the description of badging.

Electronic badge system = scouting merit badge system?

There is some debate about how the badging system works to promote extrinsic motivation and decrease the cultivation of intrinsic motivation.  Philipp Schmid, executive director and co-founder of Peer 2 Peer University, wrote about two key points regarding the badge system in his blog post, Let’s make badges not stink:

The issue is not, “badges or no badges” The issue is how we can design badge systems that foster great learning practices. 

1 – Use badges to define roles rather than as rewards. In many learning communities users take different roles. Mitch actually mentions the importance of taking roles within a community like Scratch, but he sees roles as separate from badges. I believe that by recognizing roles – for example a mentor role – through a badge will signal to a new members of the community that mentorship is a valued practice within the community, and helps  them identify those who can help with problems and questions. And finally it may encourage users to strive to become mentors themselves. So rather than give badges as rewards they can help diffuse awareness of roles within a community.

2 – Anchor badges within community. The relationship between issuer and recipients will influence perceptions and expectations around badges. Badges that are woven into the fabric of a community of learning will be perceived less as extrinsic motivators, but as representation of core practices within the community. When the badge recipient feels ownership of the design of the badge, because she fully considers herself a member of the community that defines and issues the badge, the badge can provide an effective marker of learning pathways that help the learner to orientate herself within the landscape, and can act as a marker and pointer for new members of the community following in her steps.

In my classroom

While far from perfect, I did work on an analog version of a badge system in my classroom.  Learning Japanese can be challenging.  Student motivation can be a huge hurdle.  My challenge was, “How do you motivate/keep students motivated to take risks and put forth the effort.  This is what I came up with for use in the classroom.

Name tag (front)

Promoting the stars or badges, I explained to the students that this was a goal.  If students showed mastery of hiragana, katakana, or a certain topic, students could earn their star.  The question was not if you were going to earn your star (for the appropriate topic), but WHEN you were going to earn the star.  Those students who earned their star early on were asked to mentor and help their fellow classmates out so they too could earn their star.  While at times management of the system became a challenge, the initial structure held and the culture was established.

Since participation and speaking Japanese in class was a key trait that I wanted students to develop, students could earn stickers for their involvement with the class.  Twenty stickers collected, students would then earn their belt (a colored strip of paper) indicating their rank.  Loosely based on the karate belting system, the idea was that the more practice that you completed, the higher rank you could attain.  In general, the system allowed students to help self-monitor their classroom participation and skill level in class.

Name tag (back) Homework-side

The preparation for class and homework sheet was another way of providing individual feedback in an analog info-graphic type form.  Students could easily check with a quick glance if they had been consistent with their homework completion.  I could congratulate students for having consistent lines of stickers, or ask students about the patterns that they noticed if the homework completion was not as consistent.

Where I was

With the star system, the questions that were being answered were similar to the following:

What do we want kids to learn?  What are the goals?  What is the content?

One downside with the star system, was the focus on the content.

Where I want to be

In the future, I want to be able to connect more with the student and their needs.  It would be nice to have an independent study component where students could earn specific badges for their efforts outside of class.  For example there could be a badge for taking swim lessons in Japanese, or a badge for talking to a friend or relative in Japanese (via Skype, on the phone, or in person).

I would like to focus on student leaders/mentors and develop those roles.  With students better equipped to create useful videos that I could share with other classes, I was able to share much more between classes than I had been able to do in previous years.  While student role-models and the student ability to impact the learning of students outside of their own Japanese class was definitely apparent, I did not get to the point where I could properly recognize those students for their contributions.  Students were given feedback at times about their projects via handwritten post-it notes.

Below is the list that Stackoverflow has to offer to its users.  It is a comprehensive list with a unique angle on the badge titles.

Extensive list of badges

Representing core practices within the community

Using our current mission statement as a guide, perhaps “stars” or badges could be included for the students attaining goals or showing exemplary behavior as these type of learners:



Globally responsible
learners prepared for global responsibility

As I come to the close of one chapter and I am about to start another journey at my new school, I look forward to learning more about the core practices and beliefs of RIS.  Starting my acquisition with a new language, I may have to come up with my own personal badge system to help keep track of my language learning.  But regardless of whether or not a badge system is currently in place at my new elementary school, I am excited to become an active part of a new learning community.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.coetail.com/dimanishi/2012/06/09/course-4-week-5/

Jun 09

Course 4 week 2-How Deep is the Integration?


The SAMR model

The SAMR model, developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, has been a useful lens for looking at tech integration.  In my language learning classroom, have I been merely substituting electronic flash cards for the hard tag version?

One example (for this post)

I still give out vocabulary flash cards printed on hard tag.  We do different activities and games with those sets of flash cards.  With the use of Quizlet, students have been offered another choice of study and another layer reinforcement for the learning.  Quizlet has allowed me to augment the learning experience for kids with the ability to add pictures and use games as a way to enhance the practice ritual.  In addition, for upper grade levels, I have had students create their own flash cards after evaluating their own strengths and weaknesses.

TPACK diagram

Once again, we have an additional acronym to add to our educational vocabulary.  Below is another example of the TPACK diagram.  This is the result of a group work exercise at one of our COETAIL classes.

From diagrams to reality

So what does successful tech integration look like?  Watch the video below.

A Commitment to High Tech Education

It is surprising that this article was originally published in 2003.  (The video was later added to Youtube in 2010.)  It was impressive to see the integration of technology at this high school redefining what students were doing.  The tasks were relevant and meaningful for the students.  With clear purposes for the use of technology (in this video), students were motivated and challenged to interpret and produce results for use in the community.

Reflective questions

In Jeff Utech’s blog post, Evaluating Technology Use in the Classroom, Jeff presents four questions that could be used when observing a classroom activity, or watching a video such as the one from Edutopia.

  1. Is the technology being used “Just because it’s there”?
  2. Is the technology allowing the teacher/students to do Old things in Old ways?
  3. Is the technology allowing the teacher/students to do Old things in New ways?
  4. Is the technology creating new and different learning experiences for the students?
I like the way that Jeff has organized the questions starting with superficial use and gradually “peeling away at the onion”, digging deeper and deeper.  These are questions that I ask myself.  These are questions that I have had  my colleagues ask me.
Tech integration needs to start with the outer layers of the onion.  It is natural for us to explore and play with something that is new (just because it is there).  However, if I only tasted the outer skin of the onion, I do not know if I would continue to cook with onions.  The challenge is to continue to peel away at the onion in order to have a taste of the meaty, juicy part.


Permanent link to this article: http://www.coetail.com/dimanishi/2012/06/09/course-4/

Mar 31

From Pre-Analog to Digital Storytelling


David Jakes wrote, “There is a biological basis for visual communication.” in his blog post from 2008.

There are…

  • auditory nerve connections to the brain = 30,000 fibers
  • optical nerve connections to the brain = 1,000,000 fibers (Burmark, 2002)

The optical fibers in the human body are more than 3x the amount of the auditory fibers.  This makes sense as to why vision plays an important role in our lives.

Long ago-

My digital storytelling roots start when I was a kid.  My father had an 8mm camera and then later a Super 8 camera.   I have found memories of getting out the screen and projector in order to watch the silent black and white movies.  I was later impressed when color and audio were also included!

Sound Super Zoom - Super 8 Camera

I also have to admit that I grew up experiencing 35 mm slides shows.  Yes, the kind with two slide projectors so images could fade into the other.  There used a time when I wanted to possess my own two slide projectors so I could make the same type of presentations.

Kodachrome Slideshow

Now with all of the technological advances available today, it easy to create multi-media presentations. Digital storytelling is no longer limited to only those possessing special equipment, but it can now easily be done on your home computer, iPad, cellular phone, etc.  The tools needed to create digital media are readily available and additional content is available through a variety of resources on the Internet.

Great example-

4 Generations: The Waterbuffalo Movie (HD) – I first learned about The Waterbuffalo Movie when reading  David Jakes’ post.  The story and visuals combined with Robert Thompson’s narration and background music create a compelling message.


Student work-

One activity that I do with students towards the beginning of the year is to create a simple puppet show to have students perform their self-introduction. (first graders, beginning level)

This year I was able to try out an iPad 2 for a short time.  I was able to create, edit,  and share a simple story acting out the classroom phrases.  Students enjoyed the  activity and they liked the final product.  Using iMovie on the iPad2 made editing quick and it was easy to incorporate background music to help create a more finished product.

With the fifth grade students having access to either an iPad 2 or a Macbook, a future project could be having the students create their own story about someone famous in Japan.  Students would do the research and gather useful video clips, photographs, maps, and other media.  They would be required to learn about the person’s life and perform a self-introduction as the person.  They could use puppets similar to the ones used in the self-introduction video or it could be something similar to the Common Craft style.  One goal would be to try and show how the person the student selected is/was important to Japan.


Like many other adults, it is amazing to watch my own kids easily taking movies with the iPhone, iPad, or DS.  Out of the blue, my six year old just finished his video of the inside of our house.  My dad started with a super 8 camera.  My son started with an iPhone.  I look forward to seeing what the next generation will have to play with.


Burmark, Lynell. Visual Literacy: Learn to See. See to Learn. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2002.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.coetail.com/dimanishi/2012/03/31/digital-storytelling/

Mar 10

Infographics & Data Visualizations- making data user friendly

Data, data, data.  What does the data say?  Often times we are asked this question or we ask this question of ourselves.

Hans Rosling does a phenomenal job of taking data and putting it into a format that makes sense.  He is passionate about the data and the trends and patterns that can be discovered if presentedinthe right format.  Like a sports commentator, he skillfully highlights the key plays on the screen.

YouTube Preview Image

Jer Thorpe shares how he makes history and data something meaningful and exciting with his data visualizations.

YouTube Preview Image


With the students-

One idea that I have using data visualization with the students would be to create something similar to the Linkedin map.

Here is one example from Flickr.
My LinkedIn network, visualized

Students could create something similar writing the names of students intheir homeroom and family members in katakana and hiragana.  Students could utilize the Your Name in Japanese website to help write names with the proper characters.

Another idea could be for students to record the data about the weather, what they ate, or something relevant to  student lives.  The students would then have to create an infographic representing the collected data and then share their results with the class.


Permanent link to this article: http://www.coetail.com/dimanishi/2012/03/10/week-5/

Nov 04

New Tools, New Ways of Learning

I believe that in some cases, I was guilty of doing the same thing, just in new ways.  Instead of using a tape recorder, I was using a digital audio recorder on the computer.  Instead of using the overhead projector, I was using the document camera. However, the document camera does allow me to recognize exemplary student work.  It also is good for using real student work to discover and correct common mistakes.

Taking students to a new level of learning is a concept that is now much more in forefront of my thinking now

With the use of iPads to help practice writing in hiragana, katakana, and kanji, it is now more apparent that the programs used are geared towards lower level thinking skills.  Therefore, it is important to further investigate how other apps (iMovie, Popplet, ReplayNote, etc.) can be be utilized for students to and apply their language skills.

On the team level, my colleagues and I are now using Google Documents to take collaboration to a new level.  Working on the same document at the same time saves time, gets everyone involved, and allows everyone an equal voice.   This is new learning for our group and it has worked well in the case of taking meeting notes and getting member feedback.  Team members can give timely feedback that is shared back to the entire group almost immediately after a meeting.  It is open and honest communication and collaboration.  There is not the need for one person to collect, sort, and then combine it into a single document to be later circulated to the group.  Collaboration is made easier and the process is accelerated with Google Documents.






Permanent link to this article: http://www.coetail.com/dimanishi/2011/11/04/new-tools-new-ways-of-learning/