Year3-Week5 & 6: There’s No Place Like Home

2018-09-10_STEAMLab wk05 google-earth_02

Year3-Week5 & 6: There’s No Place Like Home

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I came up with this idea that I wanted to work with Kindergarten & first grade using the theme of “my community,” building on what it’s like to live in North Las Vegas and a child’s almost infinite capacity to create based on the tiniest bits of lived experiences. Week 4 we used Google Earth to virtually visit their homes and I had them tell me one thing that they liked about their homes. They listed everything from dogs to their bed or having their own bedroom, to playing in their backyard. This week I showed them the home I grew up in in Southern California, then we visited some of the homes we didn’t get to visit last week and I had them tell me the one thing they’d like to have in their neighborhood. They listed everything from LEGO-land, to parks and petting zoos, to movie theaters, Olympic pool swim centers and “princess” club houses.

I was hoping that “driving around the neighborhood” virtually, and given all of the undeveloped property around the school, that we could map out the things that we would like to have in our neighborhood, things like big grocery stores or more recreation areas. But that seemed just a bit too advanced for my kindergarteners and first graders. So, for Week 6 I decided to give them the option to build their parks/theaters/rec centers using LEGO or draw something on good ol’ paper and crayons.

I looked for “coloring book” images that I might print-out as a starting point for those who chose the “drawing” option. But I didn’t find anything that I felt would work. I’m pretty sure that I’ll need something more than blank paper to help the Kindergarteners with their illustrations. Several first graders got the idea about what they were supposed to draw, but several were more “general.”

I still hope to figure out a way to “map out” North Las Vegas with some kind of simplified “map” and have my students do some “civic planning” and come up with ideas about what to do with all of the undeveloped lots in the neighborhood. I think that this is going to require many feet of white butcher paper and lots of crayons.

iBooks Author & the Post-Website World

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I just finished taking an extensive tutorial on the Apple product iBooks Author and it really got me thinking about the post website world. What I mean is that Apple has been trying for decades to create the right combination of tools to enable their users to unleash their creativity on the world. Among other problems, the chief conduit of sharing this creativity has been a mode of communication that was primarily designed to make it possible for scholars to access each others’ papers. In other words, from its inception, the Internet has a narrow set of tools meant to share text or highly compressed versions of other media. It’s remarkable how much can be shared via such small pipes and such non-artist-friendly tools. Apple’s last tool, iWeb, attempted to bridge the kind of page-layout tools used for magazines and graphic design with the limitations of html and the Internet. But as easy as these tools were to use I think Apple discovered that everyone did want to take pictures and make videos, but no one wanted to go through the hassle of putting up a website to post their creative works. But what could not be controlled on the Internet was quite a different thing if one were to use tablets, specifically iPads, as the means of sharing… But, realistically, we’re still dealing with more hassle than most are willing to deal with. I don’t think Apple cares about that or is under any delusion that the vast majority of wanna-be photographers or videographers are going to rush to iBooks Author to share their works. I think that tools like iPhoto and iMovie and the iPhone and iPad will continue to serve the needs of folks who just want to whip out the pictures from the weekend trip or videos from the vacation and YouTube and Facebook will continue to be the easiest way to share one’s work with friends and family. But what happens when one wants to create something more than snapshots from the weekend or something more involved than a 90-second video of the baby dancing? I know this problem well.

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