Tag Archives: EdTech 506

Whitespace

Character Traits.fw

Assumptions: Seventh grade students often need help organizing their thoughts. They also have trouble identifying character traits because they look at current emotions rather than trends in the character’s thoughts, feelings, actions, and words. Finally seventh graders generally do not support their conclusions with reasons, generally giving incomplete answers in incomplete sentences.

Solution: This tool, which will be used with a list of possible character traits, walks students through the thought process of analyzing character traits. It requires students to map the characters words, thoughts, feelings and actions as well as mapping other characters’ words, thoughts, feelings, and actions. The tool then walks the student through an analysis of the characters’ traits and provides space for the students to explain their reasoning. The tool uses whitespace to create symmetry and to separate sections of the visual (Lohr, 2008, p. 274-275). Students should be able to take notes in the white space on the left and fill in the blanks on the right.

User Test: I will be testing this tool with my students and making changes based on their feedback and my observations of what is and is not working for them. I anticipate maybe needing to enlarge the headings over each section.

Sources: Lohr, L. (2008). Creating graphics for learning and performance (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Organization Project

This week I experimented with organization principles. I chose to create a guide for figuring out the theme of a story and writing it as a statement.

theme statement.fw

Assumptions: The seventh grade students who will use this tool tend to choose one word topic to describe the theme of a story. When asked to state a lesson or universal truth proposed by the author, the students have difficulty articulating an actual theme.

Solution: This tool gives students a method for discovering the theme of a story. This tool is a just-in-time tool that students would use while completing a writing assignment or test about a literary work. In creating this tool, I followed several organizational principles. First, I chunked the information in sequential order. To make the process easier, I included visual cues for how the users should work through the process. The boxes are in ascending color value and I numbered them which adds both a numerical and further color hierarchy (Yellow leads to orange which leads to red).  This should make the information easier to understand (Lohr, 2008, p. 124). In order to focus on the information, I left off distracting lines (Lohr, 2008, p.140). Finally, I included color in the main text to help the information stand out.

User Test: I will be testing this tool with my students and making changes based on their feedback and my observations of what is and is not working for them. I anticipate maybe needing to add a black line around the white section of the visual.

Sources: Lohr, L. (2008). Creating graphics for learning and performance (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Color and Depth

Characters.fw

Assumptions: 7th grade students know what characters are, and they may have heard the terms protagonist and antagonist, but they do not know much else about characters.

Solution: I have chunked opposite character types by using the same color to identify the type. According to Lohr (2008) “[t]he first function of color is to label or differentiate information” (p. 265). I used red for the characters who move the story along, green for character types that indicate change, or lack of change, and blue for characters who are more, or less, complex. The colors I chose are not symbolic, or hierarchical, but I did try to choose colors with the same value for continuity.

User Test: My parents are visiting, so I had them look over the visual. Based on their feedback, I thickened the labels for each character type and clarified my explanation of each type.

Sources: Lohr, L. (2008). Creating graphics for learning and performance (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Selection Project

This week’s design principle involves selection. Basically, the idea is that, as a designer, I need to pay attention to visual and auditory stimuli. I decided to take the information I used in an old PowerPoint and redo it. The PowerPoint was too busy. I built a plot mountain on an image of an actual mountain (The Grand Teton) which I thought was really cool. However, since the first use, I have never used the image again because even in transparent mode, it stood out too much to be useful.

Here is my image:

Plot Mountain

Assumptions: This graphic will be used by 7th grade students in ELA classes. Students often have trouble following plot events and untangling the events in a story. The plot mountain is a tool teachers often use to assist students in determining the story sequence. This graphic is the first for a lesson on plot structure.

Solution: This graphic is not a new concept. However, my visual puts the plot mountain and its associated terms in close proximity. This visual is an improvement on one I created in the past to teach the vocabulary used with plot. With this visual I created a simple line drawing for the mountain rather than using a photo. The problem with the visual I created several years ago is a reversal of figure and ground. The background photo is distracting to the learner (Lohr, 2008, p. 105). I chose to color code the terms so that I could place them appropriately on the mountain. I wanted to represent visually that rising action and falling action are not single events, but a series of events, so I placed three dots for each.

I plan to create a similar image with space for my students to write questions that will help them discover each of the plot elements in a story. Students will also receive a blank plot mountain to analyze a fairy tale.

User-Test: I will be conducting a user test on Facebook as well as asking family members to look over the image. I would like to know if the color-coding is distracting, or if I should continue it into the vocabulary section. I would also like to know if the visual is useful.

Sources: 

Lohr, L. (2008). Creating graphics for learning and performance (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Update: My users replied that the colors on the image were too light to be legible. They also suggested continuing the color code at the bottom of the page. My brother wondered about the down slope after crisis, so I adjusted the lines to show the slope continuing upward, but indicating that the crisis is a sort of mini-climax. Another user thought that the terms protagonist and antagonist needed definition, so I took those out for now. Those will be defined on a separate visual. Finally, I moved the dots off the mountain to better show the points of the diagram.

Here is the original image:

Plot Mountain

Design Process Model

**See the update at the end of this post.**

This week we were supposed to use the design process to create a graphic that summarizes our unit or introduces a new portion of the unit. Here is the graphic I created:

Theme main idea and topic.fw

Users and Assumptions: The students who will be using this graphic are in 7th grade ELA classes. Half of them read far below grade level and most do not like to read. Based on past class discussions, 7th grade students often confuse theme, topic, and main idea. Most students, when asked the theme or main idea, will state a topic.

Solution Justification: I began my design of this graphic by analyzing the purpose of my visual (Lohr, 2008, p. 75). Since I want my students to understand the differences between theme and subject/topic main idea, I decided that I needed to juxtapose the information in the same image. I considered how I would organize my information, and how to make it easy to understand. As I created the image, I realized that color coding the terms would help, so I assigned each a color. I also decided to number and align corresponding information in the chart. This should allow users to quickly and easily compare theme, main idea, and subject.

User Test: Based on adult user feedback, I have changed the letter-bullets in front of the examples to black. They were colored to match their sections, but this seemed to detract from the point of color coding.

I will be conducting a user test with my students later this week and will update this section once they have given me feedback. I anticipate that they will want some sort of visual representation of topic. I am not sure what I could include if this is the case. It is also possible that I will receive feedback informing me that the clipart should be nearer to the “notes” rather than the examples.

Sources:

Lohr, L. (2008). Creating graphics for learning and performance (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Update 2/25/2016: I received a lot of positive feedback about the composition of this image. Several friends who are current, or former, English teachers expressed appreciation for this visual after I shared it on Facebook. However, when I tried to project it for my students, they couldn’t read it as originally created because it was too pixelated. One of my friends mentioned this also. So, I have fixed it. The image you see above is the new version. Here is what has changed: I tripled the resolution on the image. It now prints nicely in landscape as an 8.5-inch x 11-inch image. It should also project without pixelating.

Working with Shapes

**See the update at the end of the post.**

This week I created a graphic to teach the idea that figurative language used by a writer helps readers create a picture in their mind.

Image #1

Figurative Language Types and Definition

My intended audience is 7th grade students at the beginning of the school year. These students will include English Learners as well as students with IEPs. Based on reading tests administered over the past several years, about half of the 7th grade students at my school read at 4th grade level of below. 7th grade students generally know the terms for simile, metaphor, and personification, but are not always sure why writers use these devices.

I chose to use a paint palette as the organizing tool for figurative language, because ovals often show unity of ideas (Lohr, 2008, p. 250). Writers use all of these devices (allusion, analogy, hyperbole, metaphor, personification, and simile) to paint a picture in the reader’s mind. Each device can be used alone, or with other devices, just as a painter can use individual colors from the palette, or mix them with each other. I chose a square as my underlying display shape because it allowed me to show cause and effect between the reader and the writer. This essentially gave me two triangles for my images. I used a stick figure, rather than a cartoon figure simply because I could not draw an acceptable cartoon figure; I tried because I really wanted a cartoon figure, but none of them turned out. The stick figure allows me to use a thought bubble to show the effect of the writer’s use of figurative language on the reader.

From my user test, I learned that the message wasn’t completely clear because I had “writer” in the top left corner and “reader” in the bottom right corner. I made these changes and the revised image is the one shown above. My user also informed me that the purple behind personification was too dark, so I lightened that as well.

Sources:

Lohr, L. (2008). Creating graphics for learning and performance (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Van Gogh, Vincent. Starry Night. Accessed at wikimedia.org.

Update 2/25/2016: A couple of my friends reported that they had a hard time reading three of the paint splotches, so I lightened the color and tripled the resolution.

I also received some criticism that my stick figure doesn’t really match the rest of the image. Since I learned that I could, in fact, use clip art for this assignment, I tried a couple of different figures. Check out my additional images and let me know which one you think works best.

Image #2

Figurative Language Types and Definition 2nd try.fw

Image #3

Figurative Language Types and Definition 3rd try.fw

 

Typography Assignment

typography assignment

The assignment this week was to create 4 text-only characterizations of words that deal with the topic for my final project. Since my final project will be on literary concepts, I chose four terms that will be introduced at the beginning of the unit.

Users

My users will be 7th grade students. These students have had an introduction to figurative language, but often do not remember the terminology. About half of my current students read at 3rd or 4th grade level.

Solutions

Three of my words use script fonts. Lohr (2008) says that scripts are often used “to designate different voice…to designate a historical period of time, and in small places where ornamentation may be desired” (p. 222). I used the script fonts because the writing was just three separate words, so it would not be strenuous to read, and because I was looking for a distinctive look that could help portray the ideas of mood, tone, and personification.

Three of my words also use symbol typefaces. Lohr (2008) states that “Symbol typefaces and Dingbats provide access to a variety of images that can be used for instructional purposes” (p. 223). I chose to use Webdings and Wingdings to add meaning to “tone”, “mood”, and “figurative language”. The paintbrushes in “figurative language” are to symbolize that figurative language paints a picture for the reader. The faces in “mood” are to demonstrate that mood in literature is similar to moods that we can see on people’s faces. The ear in “tone” is to remind students that tone is the attitude we hear from a speaker, similar to the attitude shown in word choice by an author.

For “personification”, I used a script font and made the P larger than the other letters. Then I converted the letters to paths. I manipulated the “P” to look like a person’s head in profile, and I made shoes out of the “n”. This should remind students that personification is giving the qualities of a person to a non-person.

For both “tone” and “figurative”, I manipulated the kerning until the letters were equally spaced. According to Lohr (2008), “applying proper kerning improves appearance” and “varying the width between letters…can also increase readability” (p. 237).

I added a background color to the canvas, because white seemed to stark. I tried to choose light colors for greater contrast with the typography, with the exception of mood. I chose to use black for “mood’s” background to show an example of mood.

User Test and Resulting Changes

I asked friend who teaches Kindergarten, and who is mother to a 12-year-old and a 14-year-old, to look at my images. She was able to see the person in “personification”. She liked the “mood” and “tone” images, but suggested that I turn the paintbrushes the other direction. Since I could not figure out how to flip just one symbol upside down, I converted “figurative” to paths and moved the brushes up so that they looked like they were painting the other letters.

Sources:

Lohr, L. (2008). Creating graphics for learning and performance (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

Update 2/25/2016: Shown below is an updated version of this image. I have flipped the paint brushes right side up and increased the resolution.

typography assignment.fw