Course 3, Week 5-Breaking Down Barriers

Cycle of Socialization
Cycle of Socialization

The activity we completed for this week’s action was to read Bobbie Harro’s chapter, the Cycle of Socialization. Below you will find my first Flipgrid post. I have not used a tool like Flipgrid before where we make and watch others’ video clips. I especially appreciated how easy it was to make a recording. While watching others’ videos, the next video would start playing making it a quick and easy transition by not having to select the video myself.

Fear. …people who conform minimally receive the benefit of being left alone…Our silence is consent.


I can foresee using Flipgrid with my students to encourage conversations and discussions. Most grade three students enjoy videoing themselves and watching their peers’ videos. They like to make positive comments for feedback, too. I could provide the prompt or activity and have the students respond or reflect through a Flipgrid. Although this was my first, the students have used Flipgrid before with their classroom teacher. Most of my special educational needs students struggle with writing so this platform will make the process easier using videos instead of writing.

My practice

My reading on diversity and social justice will impact my practice. Harro’s chapter helped me to see and be more aware of the different social identities. From here on out, I will remember to be mindful of my students in the targeted groups and the agent groups. I will question myself: Am I showing bias? Am treating my students equitably? Am I giving or taking away their power? Am I being a good role model?

My social identity

I identify as a middle-aged, white woman raised in poverty in the south-eastern United States. My social identities set me off on a path as a young adult and somehow I landed where I am now. If I knew then what I know now, there were so many other opportunities I could have explored. Choosing teaching as a profession is so typical for a woman. My children are my greatest achievement. That being said, getting married at 18 and having babies at 20 (just like my mother and grandmother) was not necessarily the best decision for our futures. Luckily my kiddos have chosen to break this cycle that kept us in poverty. I share all this personal information because those struggles are what I believe shaped me into this middle-aged, white woman I am today. My start in life could have been easier if I was a member of more agent groups; however, like every coin has its flip side, my start could have been much worse.

I am the accumulation of all my life experiences, shuffled together with my agent and target memberships. I can empathize with my students. I can appreciate my colleagues. Harro’s article resonated with me on a deep level. Harro shared information I “can’t not know it anymore.” I see the power imbalance in my workplace, for example. I am one of those silent bystanders who “conform in order to receive the benefit of being left alone.” I do not argue with my administrators when I believe my students or I am being treated unfairly. I may ask a question but when I am not favorably listened to, I stop. I cannot afford to be a troublemaker. At least, I am not willing to risk my job by challenging those in power. No promises but I realize I need to try harder and I will try harder to make a difference.

our community Flipgrid discussion on the cycle of socialization

This week we explored technology tools we can use to collaborate and share ideas. We dove into the content-the cycle of socialization, using the tool- Flipgrid, while we practiced the visible thinking trend-Text Rendering Protocol. Please join our community discussion by following the link to our community Flipgrid

Course 3, Week 6 Final project

My team and I chose to “create a unit planner based on the enduring understandings of this course that support students in becoming Creative Communicators and Global Collaborators (ISTE Standards for Students 6 and 7).” After some discussion of the different options, we concluded the unit planning would be more useful. Our positions are elementary school teachers and currently, we do not have plans to offer a professional development opportunity; therefore, the PD program would not be the most useful for us to create at this time.

Tackling Nonfiction Texts Bootcamp

The topic my team chose, Tackling Nonfiction Texts Bootcamp, was a non-fiction text features unit and the standards chosen are currently being covered in our grade levels.  We chose this due to the practicality of being able to include infographics in the lesson plan and being able to create a learning experience to span three grade levels.

Two heads are better than one… C. S. Lewis

Not only does collaborating with a cohesive team make group projects more enjoyable, but you also have a better chance of creating a better product.  Once you start brainstorming, sharing ideas, and building on others’ ideas; a powerful collaborative is created. In addition, I’ve learned frequent communication is essential when collaborating. You do not have to have all the answers and even asking “dumb” questions can move the ideas along. Like we tell our students when they are stuck: just start writing words on the paper, and eventually, a story will form. Once our collaboration was started, our story was able to be formed.

The project was different from other learning experiences I have designed because of the technology topic of creating infographics. Using what I learned in Course 3 and translating it into opportunities to share my learning with my students creates more enriching, diverse lessons. This opportunity is like a breath of fresh air into a lesson that is not necessarily the most exciting topic.

This final project related to what I learned in Course 3 because creating this unit planner allowed us to take the skills we learned, like infographics and design elements, and pass the learning along to our students.

I believe what has influenced me the most in course 3 is improving my visual communication. After learning the design principles, I began using them to improve my communication online. This is reflected in my final project where I attempted to incorporate design principles. For example, on slide 3 of the Infographic Creation Lesson Outline, we used visual links instead of just a list of words.

example of using visual links

In my experience, the typical elementary school student is egocentric. They complete their online projects to please themselves. The idea of making a slide deck more comprehensible for the reader is a new concept for many of them. They still want to have multiple, unreadable florescent green fonts with a red background, for example. I have included a work sample below showing what an eight-year-old finds visually appealing. I was able to talk him down to only two font colors and I plan to work with this student to incorporate more design principles in the future. I will know students have learned the concepts once I see them independently using infographics in their work or following design principles. Hopefully, I will also see students making suggestions to their peers on how they can improve their work.

grade 3 student work sample showing what is visually appealing to this eight-year-old

I hope to see students take what they learn about infographics and design elements and transfer them to their future work. I hope they will agree with the idea infographics can make learning easier. I hope they will agree using the design principles of Contrast, Alignment, Repetition, & Proximity (CARP) in their work will make relaying their message to the reader more effective. In addition, I hope to see students improve on giving and receiving feedback as this is a difficult skill for this age group and more exposure is beneficial.

Course three has been full of fun activities and new information. I look forward to using what I have learned about visual literacy and continue to become a better communicator and collaborator.

Course 3, Week 4-Choose a visual aid and update it

Design principled presentations

“Ninety percent of what you hear is gone after 30 seconds!” David J.P. Phillips explained in his TedXStockholm presentation five design principles to follow to improve presentation slides so the audience will retain the information you are trying to impart.

Image from David JP Phillips TEDx
  1. One message per slide to keep the focus
  2. Include an image of your message and a few words to highlight your point
  3. Size-The main idea should be sized bigger
  4. Contrast-What you are talking about should be brightest. No white backgrounds.
  5. Objects-No more than six.

Phillips finished up by reminding us it is not the number of slides in the deck, it is the number of objects in each slide. In other words, when admin tells you to only use one slide for your lesson to keep it easy for your students, they’re wrong-according to Phillips. Forcing you to have10 messages in one slide to cover your content defeats the purpose of keeping it simple.

“If companies would have as little respect for business as they have for presentations the majority would go bankrupt.” -John Medina, Ph.D.
Less is More

Zen principles can apply to everyday life, like when designing presentation slides. Garr Renolds told us in his blog, Presentation Zen, to keep our visuals simple. He showed us before and after slides as examples of how to improve visuals. Simplistic changes can make the slides more relevant, such as making sure images match the message, using declarative statements as the title for the slide, and using the image as the slide itself instead of placing the image on a slide.

Who knew storytelling should be used in modern presentations? Obviously, Renolds did. In his blog post, 10 tips for Improving Your Presentations Today, not only did he share tips, but he also shared his TedXKyoto speech: “10 Ways to Make Better Presentations: Lessons from Storytellers.”

Renolds’ speech explained several ways to improve presentations and the importance or advantage of including storytelling too.

Visually organized=Digital planner space

After reading, watching, and listening to Phillips and Renolds, I brainstormed different ideas for which visual aid (slide, poster, anchor chart, etc.) I would like to update. After considering a few ideas, I decided to create a Google slide to help me quickly find planning documents in my Google Drive-what I’m calling a digital planner space. There are several steps to find the planners in the shared Drive (see image below) and I always spend a lot of time searching for what I need. My digital planner space was something quick to create and easy to find in my Drive

I took Renold’s suggestion about making a photograph the actual slide. I used a photo I took while on vacation in Las Palmas a few years ago. I chose this photograph as a reminder of simpler times. The photo was not as wide as the slide so I horizontally flipped a second copy of the photo to cover the white space.  I considered changing the size of the slide to match the size of the photo; however, I have tried that in the past and felt it too time-consuming.  Next, I included sticky note images and made them links to the different planning documents. I shared the slide with my grade three team and asked them if this type of visual helped them or am I the only one struggling to find the planning documents. I shared my visual aid with the grade three team and asked if they found it helpful. One out of the four teachers responded with feedback. The teacher wrote, “This is awesome! Thanks for sharing. I love the virtual sticky notes!”

Steps to find planning documents:After:

Holly’s G3 Digital Planner Space

Course 3, Week 3-Show not tell

Course 3, Week 3-Show not tell


It was a lot of fun to play around with this week’s topic about making data and information visual. I explored infographics and created a timeline using Google Slides, I started a draft of my next resume and added several diagrams, and finally, I  created an infographic using Piktochart to help me remember how to do my breathing exercises my vocal tutor has me do.


Infographics are great visuals to make information more accessible to our students and I’m excited to incorporate more in my teaching. I am also looking forward to having my students create their own infographics. I’m certain they will enjoy creating them as much as I did. What a great way to learn! This topic was a great reminder of the power of using visuals in our teaching.

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