Lesson Plans


Student project suggestion:

Create public domain clipart for #OER for ANY topic in any class. Share on openclipart.org

Handouts, whether they are traditional paper or online creations, benefit from topical images. Why only search for suitable ones made by others? Make some yourself (model good process for your students), or alternatively, have your students make them and provide them a grade bump for their effort.

Physic diagram: positively charged pith balls repel

Make images for your subject, to illustrate a concept.

Calendar Icon

Make icons to help focus the mind while reading a worksheet/student guide.

Encourage students to contribute the images to make them easy to access for you, other classes in your school system and for the benefit of all. openclipart.org is a site which accepts original artwork created with the vector graphic tool, Inkscape.

Inkscape is a Free Software (AKA “open source”) tool you can download and install on your computers at school and at home. There are hundreds of good tutorials to help you and your students get started.

When you or a student publish a graphic to openclipart.org, give your school credit, too. Simply add a tag with a version of your school’s name that will let other teachers search the site for work done by the creatives in your district. There is no cost to set up an account, and the work submitted can also be used as part of a student’s portfolio and resumé, a great component for a college application. All the submitted graphics are, by rule, in the public domain. That makes them totally accessible.

It is easy to export graphics from openclipart to add them to a document in png format, perfect for word processing documents. It is just as easy to get the link codes to include the image on a Web page the way I did above with the physics illustration and calendar icon. You can even download a graphic in original Inkscape (svg) format to remix, modify, simplify, enhance to your specific needs.

If you decide to try this suggestion, please send links to graphics you or your students have created. Your success will encourage others.

Copyright and plagiarism and the effective use of Internet resources are vital elements of creative assignments in schools. Access to digital versions of books, magazines, audio and video resources have changed the nature of what a student can do when constructing a school assignment.

It has been common practice to ask students to write about a famous person, for example. The writing part may actually be the focus of the assignment. The person being used isn’t the real focus. Typically students get to choose from a batch of people and then gather resources to learn what they need in order to begin writing the essay.

A teacher’s common practice has been the recommendation of resources, sending children to the school or town library to access encyclopedias, books, newspapers, etc. A rough draft frequently follows so the teacher can comment on style, grammar, spelling and such along with proper use of quotations with adequate citations. The final draft gets a grade.

The Internet has given teachers the task of adding online resources to the mix. That means each teacher must add some online/digital expectations to the assignment and rough draft evaluation. Teachers need to incorporate an honest discussion of fair use, copyright, remixing. The vetting of resources which was once passed off to librarians now must become part of a teacher’s routine. Teachers need to make very few assumptions. Some students will have their own computer/tablet/smartphone and good support at home. Some students will be better than others at search strategies. The assignment needs to become more broad so it can include a student sharing of those skills. Each school year, as student move ahead, the discussion needs to become more rich and nuanced like any other phase of helping studnts learn.

With that in mind, a discussion about and use of Open Educational Resources is important. Teachers need to have a good personal understanding of the digital issues involved. Plagiarism has long been part of the discussion. Now, when we talk about copyright compliance, it is not only valuable, but vital to highlight the distinction between restricted and open usage of all the easily accessible materials a student may want to incorporate in an assignment.

I would recommend you read and refer others to the article, “Teach kids about copyright: a list of resources from Creative Commons” by Jane Park. Develop your own skills to become as strong in resource selection as possible. Understand the alternatives yourself. That way you can be the best guide you can be for this year’s students and keep exploring to prepare for the next year and the next. In fact, you will be modelling the process for your students. Revealing your process may actually help them understand how you see that fabled goal, “life long learning.”

Here’s a new idea for Inkscape, the Free Software vector graphics program.

Get your high school or middle school students involved in making dot-to-dot creations for the kids back in grades 1-3.

This example, by Frankes, comes from openclipart.org where Frankes uploaded it. All the work at openclipart.org is in the public domain, so it is ready for you and your students to put to use.

connect-dots

In fact, it looks like Frankes remixed another person’s witch image into this larger product. Remixing is encouraged at openclipart.org because sharing is GOOD.

connect-dots1

Halloween is just a little bit ahead of us, but there is certainly still time for you to organize this project. Even if you are slow about it, there is a whole year ahead with lots of graphic-rich holidays to use as your focus. Inkscape is open source software which can be installed at school and at home by you, by your students, by anybody. You don’t need permission to get started. It won’t cost you anything but your own effort.

Please leave a comment here if you do this project and can give links to your students’ work.

Even better, submit the work to openclipart.org where a collection can be organized.

Do you have a binary clock?

Do you use it in your classroom?

Here’s an activity you might try with your students.

Intead of focusing on the time initially, see if students notice when interesting shapes show up in the pattern of LED lights.

bcd-clock3

This next image looks like football goalposts to me. Would you agree?

goalpost

How about this pattern as a house?

house

This next one looks like a small dog…maybe if you squint.

little-dog

There’s an Inkscape clock blank to do your own shapes.

There’s a worksheet you can give your kids to try figuring out their own interesting shapes.

Get some more details at http://runeman.org/articles/binary-clock/index.html

Release early and often.

There’s always something new going on in my brain. I enjoy experimenting…lifelong learning, I guess. Hence “betty ‘n’ bob.”

I recently came across a simple cartooning idea. Basic characters in a simple comic format. Just add the dialog and…there it is, a cartoon. Thanks to Leo Loikkanen at All Filler, no Killer for the idea and inspiration. He created and released a cartoon template called “American Efficiency” using the CC0 “Creative Commons Zero” license. That makes the template essentially public domain. Anybody can use the template. Just download it to your computer. Print a copy and add your own dialog to make your own cartoon.

cartoon by Leo Loikkanen
Click on the image to see the full-size original.

I’ve been exploring graphic ideas using Inkscape, a free open-source program for drawing vector graphics. I am NOT very artistic, and find that my limited talents are harnessed better by using a vector graphics tool than a freehand sketch/paint program like Krita (both on a GNU/Linux computer). I decided to try out the idea from Leo Loikkanen in Inkscape. Along with a basic template, I created a series of mood-showing characters, one male “Bob” and the other female “Betty.” Here’s my first effort.

cartoon of betty 'n' bob

To make the process of creating a variety of cartoons a bit easier, I put together a page with a few mood images for each character. I’m releasing it as CC-Zero as Leo did his. Perhaps you could use it with students in your school or with your own children. Inkscape is a great tool for all sorts of things.

Inkscape Template 2x of betty ‘n’ bob. Use a right-click and “Save link as…” for all templates. Otherwise the template, an SVG file, may just display on your browser.

In spite of the lack of popular demand, I’ve reworked the design template to be a three-panel design in two formats. One is just like the two panel, just on a rotated page. [Inkscape 3x Template] The other is an expanded template with a first-cut set of cartoon development instructions built into the template. [Inkscape 3x Instructions] Feedback is requested.

Enjoy!

betty'n'bob May 16, 2011

Keeping Busy

CCAttribution License http://www.wordle.net

CCAttribution License http://www.wordle.net

This image was created using the Web site
http://www.wordle.net

Thought the software behind this image, and the site itself, are not open source, the results you create are licensed using the Creative Commons Attribution License. You are free to use the image in any way you want.

The images are created on-the-fly and randomly based on text you paste into an on-screen form. Once the image is created, you can choose to modify it in several useful ways, you can get it redrawn with new color choices, fewer words, change case, orientation (vertical, horizontal, mix, anywhichway).

Make sure you capture the image(s) you like because it won’t necessarily be much like the next redraw. You can save the image to the Wordle site, and if you do, anybody else can make use of the image you saved. You can post the link which is automatically generated on site.

The text used to generate this image is the U.S. Declaration of Independence, but you can use any text you want, making it suitable for discussion starters in your classes. Paste in an article and get students to begin analysis of the importance of terms that appear. The bigger the word, the more times it occurs in the text.

Thanks to this site for making me aware of Wordle.net:
http://h30411.www3.hp.com/discussions/viewTopic/p/topicId/51053/Wordle.htm?messageBoardId=700&webPageId=1002100&order=Recently%20Updated&flags=&posterId=&viewSelect=&forum=Lesson+ideas+(6th-8th+grade)

High school teachers, if you teach programming, or even just computer “literacy”, here is something for you to do for your students. Promote the opportunity for your students to get involved in a free software project.

The Free Software Foundation has instituted an annual contest that will award a GNU powered netbook computer to a student at the end of each year and a tee shirt monthly based on feedback from the projects that students work on.

http://www.fsf.org/blogs/community/gnugeneration

This is a “real world” opportunity that can take your students’ work out of the ordinary limits of classroom assignments, and can engage your most eager students to use their talents to advance the FOSS community. You know some of your students will benefit. Give them the chance. Tell them about the opportunity, encourage them to get involved. Offer to give them support, too.

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