Using Fonts to Inspire Creative Writing

Recently, my students learned how to access and install fonts on their computers. (That sounds like a random font explosion… I should say that I showed them how do this…) The experience included a discussion of internet safety, download guidelines, and installation information. Once we had all that ‘stuff’ out of the way, the addition of new fonts has prompted a great deal of new story writing ideas.

Currently, my students are writing stories titled:

“Zebas and Zebras Adventures” (prompted by 101! Zebra Print)

To the Teddies of the Garden” (inspired by Sassy Teddys 3)

I know that I find inspiration in all kinds of places, and it has been fun to watch students take inspiration in the land of fonts. Please be aware that there are plenty of inappropriate titled fonts out there… I haven’t seen many of the actual fonts be an issue, but the name certainly can contain profanity or inappropriate references. (For example, Sh*t Happens is a beautiful font with an unlovely name…)

Digital Launch Pads for Students

Surprisingly, most of them don’t have a web presence that they are claiming. This semester, we start building their ‘brand’ online… the one they want their connections, future colleges, and employers of choice to view.


Creative Commons License photo credit: Undertow851

I am struggling with the order of introducing new technology platforms to the high school students this fall.  Which comes first? Edmodo? (Yes, because it will facilitate the others.) What about everything else? Google Apps? NoodleTools? Pintrest? Diigo? Twitter?

So, I did what anyone would do…. I Googled my students. Refined searches. And guess what?  Next to nothing.

Either I have some amazingly privacy savvy high schoolers or I have a group of students who have been very digitally sheltered. Or Google is hiding things from me again. I have a few 100+ year old students, one living in Never Land, several with funny names… most were trying to ‘cover themselves’, but didn’t realize their real name was still associated with those things online.

Surprisingly, most of them do not have a negative web presence. This semester, we start building their positive ‘brand’ online… the one they want their connections, future colleges, and employers of choice to view.

At Reform Symposium last weekend, Alec Couros @courosa shared a site called About.Me that allows you to build a ‘personal profile page that points to your content from around the web.’ ((http://about.me))  In a few weeks, we begin there- after some initial work on digital footprint. ((Story to follow… waiting to see how my ideas play out first!)) Purposefully building a digital launch pad that increases their footprint and that can point to their other online content. I am hopeful that this connectedness will help them catch a vison for their future… whether they are headed for the stars or staying more earth-bound with the rest of us.

As for me, my launchpad is done. ((I even ordered the business cards they offered from Moo.com.  I’ll let you know what I think of those in a few weeks.))

Colorado History in Stop Motion

I showed students some stop motion videos so they would have a sense of what we were doing in 2D. (Rather than have the additional elements in three dimensional projects, I elected to limit it by using only two dimensions.) Students split into teams of 4-6 and decided on a topic in Colorado History to blend with their showcase.

Time: 4- 30 minute Computer Lab sessions

First, I showed students some stop motion videos so they would have a sense of what we were doing in 2D.  (Rather than have the additional elements in three dimensional projects, I elected to limit it by using only two dimensions.)  Students split into teams of 4-6 and decided on a topic in Colorado  History to blend with their showcase.

Day 1- Student teams decide on concept and mock up idea by all drawing in KidPix.

Day 2- Explanation of background.  Teams decide on background image, draw, and print it.

Day 3- Explanation of moving elements.  Teams divide foreground drawing duties among themselves, draw, and print.

Day 4- Film using camera stills from a regular digital camera.

I asked students to take around 100 images, but it quickly became apparent that was a large number for this age group.  The best process was to have each student on the team take 10 photos, and most groups ended up with around 40 images.

Due to our time limitations, I downloaded all the projects into one iMovie file on my computer.  You can easily make Stop Motion on iMovie by adding the images to the project, then selecting all of them.  You must then do two things:  1) Make sure the “Ken Burns/Crop” is off, and the “Fit” is on, and 2) Use the Inspector to change the time per image to something like 0.2 seconds….. that varied by project.  Some I were longer than others.

The biggest challenge for me was stepping back and letting them work out their issues, especially in filming.  Some of the groups moved the camera or didn’t zoom in close enough (thus the table and tape view you see in some of the projects), but it was fully theirs.  I want to empower them to create on their own, and not have their project be my project.  We’ll have a wrap-up discussion later this week when we watch the movies in class.