Day three at Constructing Modern Knowledge began with some project work. In the morning we were treated to a panel discussion between Edith Ackerman, another MIT Media Lab connection, Deborah Meier, and James Loader from Australia.
I have always admired Meier, and it was a real pleasure to hear Ackerman talk so passionately about the right of those in early childhood (and all children) to learn through play. She reminded the room that “kindergarten” – literally child garden – was Froebel’s term for a place where children would be nurtured in their own way – just as we nurture all plants in a garden for their specific needs. Meier talked about the intellectual stimulation of working with young children. They are mind-blowing in the way that they understand the world.
The panel reminded me to think about and the learning environment that I am creating for my students. How can I make it a place that is a model for a good life? How can I make my class a more democratic space where all voices are heard and valued and we learn how to dissent? I know that when I get back home I will need to change up my room space to make it more open. I need to take up less real estate in the room (books, table, desk).
After lunch we all dove back into our projects and then Gary insisted that we all take a break and listen to the jazz masters, Dr. Barry Harris and Jimmy Heath. I was worried because the room we are in is incredible as a project space, but it’s a big room with lots of hard surfaces -and they’ve had a hard time with sound support for speakers. I shouldn’t have worried. The acoustic instruments (tenor sax and grand piano) sounded great in the space, and the two musicians were brilliant story tellers and master teachers. What a delight.
So what about my project?
Well, after poking at and staring at and reading and walking trough tutorials on xcode, I let out a heavy sigh. Gary had suggested earlier that iBooks Author might be the right choice for this project, and after doing some research, I believe he is right. What is even better, this can be a much more collaborative project with my students. I can have teams of students working on text, getting high resolution images of the art, and doing some additional digging. When the book gets updated, and it WILL be updates, everyone who ahs a copy will be notified that there is an update. So I started putting together the architecture of the book. You cannot move pages, it seems, but there are other flexibilities and nice templates.
I can choose photos with captions or photos with text – this is a nice feature as not all pieces of art have the same depth of information. For instance – We know almost nothing about the abstract sculpture in the front of the building, BUT we know a ton about another abstract – lovingly called the French Fries by students. This is an entry that will go to two pages, where others may be a basic caption with title, artist, and location.
Using iBooks Author will be great – we are a 1to1 iPad school from 5-12th grade and there are classroom sets in the lower school. Although some limitations will make me a little cranky after working with Adobe InDesign to publish the class anthology, I think the accessibility will be compelling.
That freed me up to play in the MicroWorlds environment – and I tried to remember the things that I knew. Fortunately the software has a lovely vocabulary help feature, so I was able to do THIS:
Cleaner shapes, more color, tighter overlap. Now, I need to figure out how to get it to RUN. What’s the trigger? A button most likely – still need to work on that.