Big Helmet; Little Sheriff

I have these two Broncos helmets that I thought would be perfect for the big car little car daily create. I also am trying to expand my digital prowess with these projects, so I decided to digitally create a Payton Manning jersey for my cowboy/Manning stand-in.

big helmet little sherriff

Big Helmet; Little Sheriff

Scruffy Looking Nerf Herder

I choose to try out Troll Quotes for my Visual assignment. I had a quick idea of what I wanted to mash together but the creation process was fun and I went though many versions. Here is what I settled on:

han rodgers


Scott McCloud Talks Science, History, and Comics

Finding a Digital Story

I have settled on a focus and I am excited to research and explore comics and graphic novels. To start I initially read a journal piece about bringing comics in the classroom, which I choose because I want to harness the strength of comics to increase my students’ engagement. In the piece the author references work by Scott McCloud called Understanding Comics. I found it at the library and I am waiting for it to be delivered to my local branch. I also found a Ted Talk by Scott McCloud, and what an amazing discovery!

McCloud’s talk is touching, thoughtful, informative, engaging and hilarious. McCloud discusses comics, his career in comics and his theories on why the art form resonates with its audience. The content of this talk speaks for itself but it is McCloud’s mastery of the storytelling craft that makes this a must watch. I choose my evaluation traits this week to highlight some of the many strengths from McCould’s talk:

  • Flow, organization and pacing
  • Research
  • Digital crafmenship

Flow, Organization and Pacing

McCloud organizes his talk around his personal narrative. The narrative starts with McClould’s father’s story and the nature of his upbringing. His story helps McCloud connect with his audience, because McCloud is able to share his struggles and lighthearted moments from his childhood.

The personal narrative format enables McCloud make interesting transitions between his talking points. His early life story connects to how McCloud sees his relationship with comics and his family. Then McCloud leads into his theories about of unique storytelling elements in comics by describing how he started into making comics. Finally McCloud introduces his vision for the future of comics with a story about buying his first computer.

The narrative supports the organizational and flow of McCoud’s talk.  McCloud’s pacing is prepared but natural and his delivery of jokes is flawless, making the talk engaging thought out. I Love the flow, organization and pacing of this presentation  because  the  impeccable delivery had me riveted from the get go.


McCould shares that he grew up in a family of scientists and engineers and that even as a comic artist he thinks like a scientist. the research and historical information shared in his talk confirms this  statement. Specifically at 6:40 McCloud describes four approaches to crafting comics and connects these approaches to the four subdivisions of thought as purposed by Carl Jung. Then at 9:40 he shares historical documents that show though out history the temporal progression used in stories that are told though graphics. This information gives his talk an air of authority and makes his theories believable.

Digital Craftsmanship

The most impressive trait of McCloud’s story is his use of digital craftsmanship. McCloud inter-slices digital pictures into his talk to illustrate his points or as the punchline of a joke. For example:

  • At 4:17 McCloud inserts a picture of the Simpson bully Nelson Muntz and executed a perfectly timed “Ha Ha”.
  • At 5:05 images flash in quick succession to highlight each word in a humorous rant.
  • At 12:50 McCloud uses a digital image of a monitor to illustrate the relationship to between computers and comics in the digital age.

The digital craftsmanship of this piece effectively transforms his simple speech into a multimedia experience.

The Story!

I feel fortunate that I was able to watch and share this impressive Ted Talk. Scott McCloud has expanded my world view of comics and I am a already devoted reader of graphic novels, too devoted if you ask family. The most important take away, however, is to intertwine, personal narrative, humor, and media into presentations to create an effective digital stories.

Scott McCloud Talks Science, History, and Comics

A Picture’s Worth

I have been struggling with choosing a focus for the semester. I have been going back and forth between a focus that I can use in my teaching or a focus that follows my personal interests. I have reasons to believe that either option would be great. A professional focus will help me better my craft and make me a more effective teacher.  A passion project will give me the chance to use that passion for motivation and immerse  myself in my digital story much in the same way I will ask my students to do so in the future. I have decided on a compromise – graphic novels. I have always loved reading graphic novels and as an educator, who was a reluctant reader, I have always touted graphic novels as a way to help students access literature.

ib attribute inquirer darren
To start my inquiry into graphic novels and literacy I found an genre bending article by Gene Yang called “Graphic Novels in the Classroom”, this piece has a great message about the power of graphic novels to increase student engagement. Yang goes on to hypothesize why the graphic novel is so engaging for young learners. Because the graphic novel has elements of visual media and traditional literature it harness the strengths of each. The visuals draw the views interest and attention. Unlike most other visual media the graphic novel is “visual permanent”, meaning that the viewer moves though the information presented at their own digression, much like a traditional text. Speeding though parts that lag, carefully viewing and reviewing dense or interesting parts. A viewer can even interrupt or change the narrative as they choose, which enables the reader to help construct their own understanding of the story or text.
Yang literally illustrates his opinions by writing his article in the form of a comic. This empowers the reader to experiment with the attributes of comics that Yang highlights as engaging features. By reading about and experiencing these engaging features the reader/viewer gains a deeper understanding of why graphic novels are such powerful tools for teaching literacy.
Check out Yang’s work for yourself, link to the pdf here.

D B Ranch


I decided, this week, to take on a daily create challenge to design a new cattle brand. I chose to make a brand with the letter D and B from my name but also the Denver Broncos! This was a lot of fun and crazy how many different attempts I made even though I kept the basic idea the same. A large D with a smaller B nestled inside. I tried with and without serifs, I had skinny Ds with thick Bs and thick Ds with skinny Bs. I even did a drawing C.J. Anderson brandishing the cattle iron as he rushes in for a touchdown! I decided to go simple, because I wanted to focus on the design of the brand and not the over all composition of a drawing. Here is my new brand creation:

brand idea DS #2

And as a bonus for any Broncos fans out there here is C.J. Anderson doing his thing:

cj anderson with branding iron.png


D B Ranch

My Man Paulo Freire

I was so excited, reading chapter one of New Literacies, when the work of Paulo Freire was cited as important for the factor shifting literacy into formal education (Lankshear & Knobel, 4). I was introduced to Freire’s work when I was getting my Master of Education. I latched onto his ideas that education was a catalyst for revolution. I saw the application of his theories in the elementary classroom, because the students in those classrooms were facing revolutionary change in their lives everyday, socially and physically.  Education gives students perspective on those changes, a way to understand and interact with the world as students are exposed to a larger and more diversified segment of it. New Literacies seems to tout a similar belief letting students use the medium that best communicates the story the author is inspired to tell, the means of communication are rapidly changing and Freire would have wanted education to embrace it.   

I had come to class with a thought that digital storytelling is a technical activity. How do you use this program? What are the newest tools reach audiences? Chapter one of New Literacies opened my eyes to the need to keep focused on best practice literacy instruction when creating digital stories or incorporating digital storytelling into classroom instruction. New literacies need to focus on the story or ideas that are being shared. When the focus of the project is on the content being shared it becomes the foundation that engaging delivery methods can be built on. Digital stories that are technically impressive will grab the audience’s attention but will be unable to hold viewers attention or will not create a memorable impression for the viewer. A story is effective when the content or lessons of the story are memorable, not just how flashy the  presentation was.

I am still trying to find what my focus is for this course. I am torn between thinking about using digital storytelling with my students so that they can share their stories or do I want to experience the successes and failures from the creation of digital stories created from my passions. I feel that it will serve me and my students best if I experience the process for myself. The experience will let me know how it feels to plan and execute projects. The experience will also give me a greater understanding of available tools. Mostly creating projects for my own passions will give me exemplar products that I can share with students and let them know that the success is worth the effort.

I wanted to find some resources that I could share that highlight the connection between digital storytelling and new literacies, and I felt the the best way would be to find a digital story that highlights not only the ‘whys’ but also the ‘hows’ of digital storytelling.  This Prezi gave a coherent descriptions of both digital storytelling and literacy, and how teachers can use digital storytelling to support students. It also has reviews of resources that teachers can incorporate into their practice.  

My Man Paulo Freire

Digital Stories about Digital Storytelling!

Introduction to Chosen Pieces and Evaluation Traits
For my digital story critiques this first week I wanted to take advantage of using digital stories to learn more about what make a digital story and what I will need to do to make my own effective digital stories. Because I am observing these stories with the lens that they are models for my own future projects I chose evaluation traits that I felt best evaluated the overall effectiveness or engagement of each digital story.  The traits I chose were:
  1. project planning
  2. originality, voice, and creativity
  3. sense of audience
Project planning is important because a strong plan for any project will lay the foundation for communicating ideas in a way that is coherent and flows naturally and effectively. Strong voice and creativity of the pieces will hook the audience’s attention and  increase their engagement throughout the story. Finally the sense of audience is important because the author needs to know who they are creating for, and making sure the audience can access the critical takeaways from the story.
The Digital Stories
My first piece was shared by TeachTec Tips for Teachers and was called Digital Storytelling in the Classroom. This piece is an introduction to the why to use digital storytelling with students and focuses on the increased engagement from students.
 My second piece was shared by Mark Woolley at the Catholic Education Center of Wollongong, Australia and is titled Living Literacy – Digital Story Telling for 21st Century Learners. This piece give a brief overview of why to incorporate digital story telling and includes information about how to start digitally telling stories.
Evaluation of Chosen Pieces
The Living Literacy piece was created as a Prezi which empowers the user to move from visuals and text in a manor that is more fluid and nonlinear than the traditional progression of a PowerPoint sideshow. The author took advantage of this tool and was able to highlight the core arguments for using digital storytelling and to reinforce those reason with repeated viewings throughout the piece. This planning effectively made the  message for the why for digital story telling the focal port of the piece and to connect to suggestions of how to incorporate digital learning into teaching practice.
The Digital Storytelling in the Classroom was a video of and educator who has embraced digital storytelling telling her story with video of her students creating digital stories interwoven into the interview to illustrate the points that are being made. The educator’s story is well rehearsed and delivered professionally and the shots of the students clearly illustrate how engage they are in their work. This piece, unlike the Woolley piece, does not show any examples of students final projects and I believe that this is a missed opportunity in the planning process to give the audience incite into what that great student engagement led to.
Voice and Creativity:
The Woolley piece has a strong well rehearsed voice that keeps the viewer’s attention by succinctly moving though information but it is the examples of student work that  grabs the viewer’s attention because it is a natural way to highlight the effective outcomes for the student creators of digital stories. I feel that inclusion of student work at the beginning of the piece would have hooked the audience’s attention sooner.
The TeachTec Tips piece is very polished and the production value goes a long way to making the piece have a strong voice that effectively communicates the message that digital story telling is effective because it increased student engagement and therefor all teachers need to incorporate it into learning regardless of the teacher’s level of comfort with technology.
Sense of Audience:
The Woolley piece seems to understand that its audience is teachers who are already interested in digital storytelling but need support with the “how to”. Woolley effectively reaches this audience by quickly giving an overview of why digital storytelling is effective and then time devoted to exploring recommendations of digital storytelling tools and exemplar pieces.
The TeachTec Tips piece is geared to a different audience, teachers who are not convinced of the effectiveness of digital storytelling or are intimidated by the technologies needed for digital storytelling. The piece is effective in reaching this audience of weary teachers by using a trustworthy spokesperson to reassure viewers that even though she was worried about her own technological skills she took baby steps and was able to achieve strong student engagement, and the student engagement was reinforced with viewers with shots of students collaborating, focusing, and having fun in the process.