Irene learns about teaching – Part 1c

Old style school desk painted blue against a blue wall.

The final piece of this module was a two-page written assignment exploring Pratt and Collins (2000-2020) Teaching Perspectives Inventory (TPI). I was able to determine that my dominant perspectives are Developmental and Apprenticeship, my fall back perspectives are Transmission and Nurturing, and my recessive perspective is Social Reform (Pratt & Collins, 2000-2020). However, given that my current teaching practice is not the traditional classroom/semester model, I found Pratt and Collins explanations of the perspectives limited and I turned to Bates (2015) work on teaching, specifically explanations of campus-focused and online-focused teaching to deepen my understanding.

Tony Bates has written a creative commons licensed text on teaching in online and digital environments for University professors. In Chapter 3, Bates considers teaching methods currently used in campus-based environments and illustrates the five teaching perspectives from Pratt and Collins using examples, historical references and analysis. Using terms like “learning by listening” (p. 84),”learning by talking” (p. 91), “learning by doing” (p.95), and “learning by feeling,” Bates (2015) expanded my understanding of the different perspectives and what they can offer when reflecting on teaching and learning.

In particular, I gained at better understanding of the Nurturing and Social Reform perspectives, the two areas that I had the lowest scores in on the TPI. The Nurturing summary from Pratt and Collins discussed developing self-esteem and enhancing effort in a safe environment. On the surface, I had some objection to this idea, not because I want students to be in an unsafe environment or not to have good self-esteem but rather that at the college level, results matter, not just effort, and learning can be uncomfortable and frustrating. It seems like Nurturing was being too nice or feeling sorry for students. Through Bates, I understood Nurturing to be empathizing with the learner. encouraging learning with appropriate supports; a perspective where the teacher takes the role of a critical friend (Costa & Kallick, 1993).

The Social Reform perspective seemed to put the teacher in the role of knowing all that is good and right for society and molding students into that image. I see a danger in this if the teacher is not able to be open to learners’ value and viewpoints. There are aspects of this perspective in college level education with the emphasis on developing well rounded citizens in addition to proving vocational outcomes. Through Bates, I drew a parallel between Social Reform and collectivism.

I have more thinking, reading, talking, and feeling to do about the Nurturing and Social Reform to sort out what benefits these could bring to my teaching rather than to continue to reject them out of hand.

References

Bates, A. W. (2015) Teaching in a digital age: Guidelines for designing teaching and learning [Electronic version]. Vancouver BC: Tony Bates Associates Ltd. Retrieved from https://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage/

Costa, A. L. & Kallick, B. (1993). Through the lens of a critical friend. Educational Leadership, 51,(2), 49 – 51. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/oct93/vol51/num02/Through-the-Lens-of-a-Critical-Friend.aspx

Pratt, D. D. & Collins, J. B. (2000-2020). Teaching perspective inventory. Retrieved from http://www.teachingperspectives.com/tpi/

Featured image: Photo by Carli Jeen on Unsplash

Irene learns about teaching – Part 1b

Successful students get involved - photo of staff and students at Chatham Campus for Bee Positive Day.

So, how do I know if I am connecting and motivating my students. THRIVES, the course I am using as a focus for these reflections, is a course in our LMS designed to introduce students to the culture of the college and present a model of successful student skills, behaviours and attitudes that new student can follow. Given that THRIVES is a non-mandatory course and, unfortunately at the moment, has little opportunity for student to instructor communication and no opportunity for student to student interaction, I have had to turn to other indicators to judge rates of engagement.

First, a little background on how we set up the course. In order to ensure the materials and design were learner-focused, we used Fink’s Intergrated Course Design model. In particular, examining the situational factors of the course lead to design changes. Considering the context of our teaching and learning situation and the nature of our subject along with the characteristics of our learner and of our teacher forced us to debate how to address the challenges we knew would be part of this project. This lead to a careful consideration on how we would introduce the course to students and how we would communicate with students during the course, the adaptation of an OER textbook, the use of video lectures and the addition of H5P interactive learning elements. I use we for the development as I still had collegues to work with by the time the pilot began, I was alone in the implementation with the exception of my Director.

During the Spring 2019 semester, I piloted THRIVES with approximately 1,000 1st semester students. I planned two emails to introduce and explain THRIVES and designated Thursdays for THRIVES for weekly announcements. In addition to the instructor email within the course, I mentioned our THRIVES email in every communication. One way I could check student reaction was to monitor these emails. Based on the questions received, I did two more emails to all students to clarify our purpose for enrolling students into THRIVES and clear common confusion.

Using Blackboard Course Activity reports, I was able to check the activity rates of my students and the amount of time students were engaging with the THRIVES material. At the end of the pilot, 80% of students had logged into and viewed something in THRIVES. I also used the Gradebook to determine the last date students had access THRIVES and the number of quizzes they attempted. Early in the semester, student activity rates were high but quiz completion was almost non-existant. I added an icon to all the quizzes and emailed directions with the icon to the students. I had included interactive self-check learning objects using H5P and I believe that some students thought those activites were the quizzes for the modules. After this email, quiz completion increased. At the end of the semester, 22% of active students had completed quizzes.

Using the course reports, I was also able to track the day and time that students were access the modules. My Thursday for THRIVES announcements were driving activity as Thurdsay and Friday became the most common days for THRIVES activity. These announcements highlighted part of THRIVES and also used messaging that promoted our expectations of students. These expectations included go to class, get involved, take responsibility, learn independently and embrace diversity. My thought was that even if all students saw of THRIVES were the announcements, they would receive reenforcement our college values.

For the Fall 2019 semester, I also moved all the THRIVES videos to a YouTube channel that I monitor and that allows for tracking of views. This is another way I can track how student are using the different elements of the course. I also set up individual page tracking within the modules and other course content areas for college polices and guides so check their usage.

While the lack of student to instructor and student to student interaction is not idea, it is the best I can do at this time. I am running nine sections of THRIVES with over 6,000 enrolled students for the Fall semester. I would not be able to cope without a lot more support. I may be techically running my very own MOOC.

Reference

Fink, L. D. (2005). IDEA Paper #42: Intergrated Course Design. Manhattan, KS: The IDEA Centre. Retrieved from https://www.ideaedu.org/Portals/0/Uploads/Documents/IDEA%20Papers/IDEA%20Papers/Idea_Paper_42.pdf

For more on using Fink’s Intergrated Course Design, see Integrated Course Design to Improve Student Learning from Northern Illinois University.

Featured image: St. Clair College, 2019

Irene learns about teaching: Part 1a

Two old men chatting while standing against a wall.

Who’s your model?

Think back to a teacher you admire and consider their motivational, interpersonal and intellectual skills. I know what I am supposed to say – good teachers motivate their learners, have highly rated interpersonal skills and are content experts. This question is leading to a recognition that teaching is more than just an expert who imparts facts and walks out of the room. However, my favorite teachers were a pair of kinda grumpy old men.

My favorite teachers were not what you would call “highly motivational” in a cheerleader or coach kind of way. They had high expectations of their students and were enthusiastic about their subjects. You could tell that they thought what they had to teach was important and were able to articulate why I, as a student, would want to know this. And at the same time, there was an expectation that I would either choose to motivate myself to do the work to learn it, or I wouldn’t. If I did, they would be there to help me when I stumbled; if I didn’t, well good luck with that.

My favorite teachers were not what you would call “highly personable” and perhaps even a bit unapproachable. They were not kind, grandfatherly figures ready with a sympathetic ear. They were more no nonsense, tell me what you need and please, no tears dudes who would respond to a rational explanation but were not going to feel sorry for you or let you waste their time.

My favorite teachers were content experts and the courses they taught were tough ones. They were certainly intelligent and had a dry sense of humor that many of my fellow students did not get. But I do see a difference from the “sage on the stage” model in that they also cared about their ability to teach; to make their content understandable with out watering it down; to be fair, clear and reasonable in their application of grades and class rules; and to provide authentic opportunities for students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills.

It is worth reviewing what motivational, interpersonal and intellectual skills you bring to your teaching beyond your content expertise because simply being an expert or even someone who learned at a high content level does not make you an effective teacher. I am glad I had my grumpy old man teachers and while I don’t have to be one, I can still learn from their example.

Featured image: Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

Learning about teaching – THRIVES

Successful students go to class. Find out more about THRIVES on Bb or email thrives@stclaircollege.ca

I will be taking a course over the next three months about Learning Theories and assessing your own teaching. Although I have taught in the classroom in the past, my work in the past 12 years in student services has been in the area of creating/sustaining the Tutoring System we have at the college and retention projects. Yes, I meant to capitalize Tutoring and System. One of our goals has been to make Tutoring Services a credible and responsive system of academic supports for students. One of the roles, I have as a Retention Coordinator is to train and supervise tutors in their practice of tutoring. So there is teaching there. I work with groups and individual students primarily in the area of English, Writing and Communications, check check, more teaching. And finally, I do in-class workshops mostly on the Writing Process, Citation Skills and Study Strategies. I like to think that involves teaching as well. But for, at least the first part, of this course, I want to focus on a Retention Project – THRIVES.

THRIVES is a set of modules developed in Blackboard, our LMS, for 1st semester students at St. Clair College. I am the lead faculty for this project. While I can’t give you access to the modules as they exist in our LMS, you can follow along by reading the OER textbook online and viewing the videos created for THRIVES on Youtube.

All 1st semester students at the college are enrolled in THRIVES. This means, I currently have over 6,000 students. Thankfully, they have not all emailed me at the same time. There are a number of questions that I want to ponder – how do we improve participation, how do we judge effectiveness, and how do we improve the learning environment.

One of the challenges is that the “course” is not mandatory, it does not appear on students’ class schedules and we haven’t figured out a good way to introduce THRIVES to students. Another issue is that, presently, there is no student to student communication options and the instructor/student communication is primarily through announcements and email.

I don’t know if the course I am taking on Learning Theories will help answer my question, but I believe using THRIVES as my focus may spark some new ideas. I hope to document some of my thoughts here over the next few weeks. You are welcome to follow along.

A Guide for Successful Students, Stewart & Maisonville (2019) is hosted on eCampus Ontario’s Open Library.

Interviewing My Domain

Cup of coffee with note: Enjoy the little things.

Alternate title: What I did at Summer Domain Camp. A new activity for Domain Camp for 2019 was to interview your domain. Here is my response:

  • What is your domain name and what is the story, meaning behind your choice of that as a name?

My domain is procaffination.ca and it comes from the idea that I have difficulty doing anything before I have my first coffee. Instead of procrastination, I suffer from procaffination. I am also pro-coffee! I like coffee. I basically drink coffee and water. So procaffination is a good fit for my domain.

  • What was your understanding, experience with domains before you got one? Where were you publishing online before having one of your own?

I have some past experience with basic HTML and many years ago, I had a faculty page at St. Clair College. This was basically before CSS became a thing so that was quite some time ago. More recently, the thought of having a domain of my own was not on my radar.

  • What was a compelling feature, reason, motivation for you to get and use a domain? When you started what did you think you would put there?

When I got started with Ontario Extend in May of 2018, I started a free WordPress blog. At that time, I was not sure I had anything to say but I was willing to give it a whirl if only to participate more fully in the Extend activities. When I start with the Domain of my Own in July 2018, I thought I would like to have some more control and ability to play, basically, my domain would be my sandbox to try out new things. I wanted a place to work out some of my own thoughts about teaching and learning but also to explore accessibility issues.

  • What kinds of sites have you set up one your domain since then? How are you using them? Please share URLs!

You can find all my subdomains by visiting procaffination.ca

At the moment, I have my personal blog under Largecoffeewfourcreams, a collection of blog posts from our Tutor Team for the Fall 2018 9x9x25 Challenge, a gallery of faux inspirational posters I created from quotes from posts for the 9x9x25 Challenge and a SPLOT about cats.

  • What helped you or would have helped you more when you started using your domain? What do you still struggle with?

Ontario Extend Domain Camp activities was my main guide for getting set up with support from @Cogdog and the Reclaim Hosting Community. I don’t know that I needed more help than that. I struggle with finding my own voice and I think that is something I have to figure out on my own.

  • What kind of future plans to you have for your domain?

World domination?? Okay, probably not. But I want to find a focus and a rhythm so that there is regular activity. For the 2019 Domain Camp, I am taking the opportunity to review the past activities and trying my hand at the new one. I have explored the first four weeks and have done some clean up of my domain and refreshed my knowledge of how I set up the domain and subdomains last year. I have found this to be a valuable activity which is motivating me to continue.

  • What would you say to other educators about the value, reason why to have a domain of your own?

The value for me has been around having a space that I control where I can express myself, where I can work out ideas about teaching and learning out loud. We talk about reflective practice with our students but how much do we do ourselves. This is a space for that.

  • What will it take them to get going with their own domain?

You got to get over the fear – fear of making a mistake, fear of being judged, fear of looking “fill in the blank” in front of peers, fear of being found out as being lacking, fear of this all being too technical for you. Grab on to the idea that you have something unique to offer, your perspective is valueable and the technical stuff is a challenge you can take on and there will be folks who will help, all you have to do is ask.

Planning the next tutor leadership day

two people drawing on whiteboard

On Thursday, December 20, 2018, we will be having our Fall Tutor Leadership day, a part day professional development seminar with two goals: continue to build a community for tutors and address emerging challenges tutors are facing in their practice. I am frantically trying to finish a pressbook with the tutors’ blogs for the OntarioExtend 9x9x25 challenge to use at the Leadership day and have decided to remove some of the suggestions about how to use the guide. I am going to let others decide for themselves how to use it, so I have moved some of the materials I thought about adding here:

Getting tutors to talk:

This section is a quick summary of ideas have used to increase discussion participation during meetings and training.  It is a goal of our training to give tutors an opportunity to continue to build communication skills as well as to build relationships with staff and other tutors. Tutors can and should be a support to one another, be a source for answers to questions when staff are not immediately available and this process is improved when tutors begin to know each other and understand that they can learn from each other.

These first three ideas are from the Cult of Pedagogy,  specifically Jennifer Gonzales’ 2015 blog post on Class Discussion ideas

Affinity Mapping

Affinity mapping begins with a big question. Tutors generate ideas and jot these on a post-it note, one per note. This notes are added to a wall or sheet with the question in no particular order. After many ideas have been added, tutors examine the notes and begin to group in to themes.

Snowball Discussion

Students start in groups of two to discuss a question and then join another group of two to have a discussion with four. These four can join another group of four, and so on. I like to use this technique with Think-Pair-Share instructions at the beginning.

Talk Moves

This technique appears to have been developed for elementary and secondary level students, however, I have found it gives tutors a model for having discussions about tutoring topics where opinions may differ and during early training sessions when some tutors may still be reluctant to join in. Talk moves gives up to five sentence models to use when adding to a discussion that requires the tutor to listen to another speaker and respond to what they have said.

Examples: I agree with what __________ said, because ________________. I want to add to what __________said, I think ________________. I disagree with __________________ because ______________. I have a connection to what ____________said. Can you explain your thinking?

A couple of my own ideas:

Introductions with crazy questions:

At the start of each training or meeting, I ask the tutors to give me their name, their program, a course they like to tutor and then I add a crazy question. The question is relatively risk free but revealing of the tutor as a person. I find these questions often lead to connections and other conversations between tutors.

Examples:

  • What are you freakishly good at that has nothing to do with what you are studying?
  • What is something you are proud of in the last year/ 6 months?
  • What do you collect (as in have more than 3 of)?
  • What is something you would like to learn to do?

Pick a card

Using a deck of playing cards, when the discussions first begin, I give a card from the deck to each tutors as they speak. I ask the tutors with a card to wait to answer gain until everyone has a card. Once everyone has a card, we use them again but this time, tutors can leave the card face down and turn them over when they have spoken. I have found this gives a representation of who has spoken and a gentle reminder that it is important to hear from everyone.

General Techniques:

Whether you are planning a one hour meeting or a day long event, there are a couple of techniques I use that have made the training better:

Name Tags:

Use name tags, it will not only help you remember everyone’s name but it makes it easier for tutors to learn each other’s names.

Burning Questions:

Before the session begins, hand out or have available some half sheets of paper and pens and invite tutors to write down their burning question. A burning question is that one that they hope you will cover or is foremost on their mind. I collect them and review during a break. This way I can address common questions or emerging issues even if they were not on my original agenda.

Parking Lot:

Before the meeting begins, set up a space on a whiteboard or use flip chart paper on the wall for your parking lot. Explain that is something comes up that can’t be addressed during the meeting, you will writing it in the parking lot and return to it if there is time or respond in some other way, such as be email. Sometimes, tutors have questions that require you to gather addition information or seek approval. Using a parking lot ensure that those matters are not lost.

Takeaways:

For longer sessions in particular, during the last 10 – 15 minutes, I like to ask tutors to write down a takeaway from the meeting, for example, something they learned and tape this on the wall. As the closing, I review some of the comments with the group.

How does this relate to the act of tutoring?

We ask tutors to where their name tags when meeting with students so that it is easier to identify who is a tutor in our lab space. We also encourage tutors to begin their sessions by asking their students what they would like to work on during their session together, what is their student’s burning question. The idea of the parking lot can also come up in a tutoring session when a tutor may need to gather additional information or when some other issue may need to be set aside so that the tutor and student can focus on the material at hand. And finally, we ask tutors to confirm student learning before the session is over, to ask for a summary of what the student has learned or now understands.

Featured Image: Photo by Kaleidico on Unsplash

The Frankenreference – Taming the APA Monster

person drawing Frankenstein on brown board

I just going to say it, I love APA Style Blog. Seriously, if you teach writing, are learning writing, or if you write using APA, follow @APA_Style on Twitter.

APA is often a monster, a big boss if you will, that students feel they will never beat. My nickname in tutoring services is APA Lady. (I have another, the Dictator of Tutoring, but that is different post.) I have read literally hundreds of APA student papers, before and after submission. And I have seen students with good ideas give up on writing because of frustrations with APA.

I think part of that stems from our belief, as faculty, that APA are strict rules rather than guidelines. And because of this, we hold students to a too high standard of exactness. I was reminded of this today when checking out the APA Style Blog on referencing Art: “a good reference contains enough information to lead your reader to the source you used, as concisely as possible” (Hume-Pratuch, 2010, para. 2). That’s it. That is what a good reference is supposed to do and while there are guidelines, if the reference our students provide does that, we should accept it.

According to McAdoo (2010), “if the exact situation you’re looking for is not represented, don’t be afraid to create a Frankenreference” (para. 3). LOVE IT! The Frankenreference! Every APA reference has four parts – author, year, title, and publishing information. Those four parts help the reader find the document, and by document I mean what ever thing you used to gain the information be it a video, blog post, report, book, tweet, movie, webpage, article, etc., and the ability to review it as you did. Which is the point of the reference page: to help the reader find the sources you used so that if they are interested in more, they can gain from it too! Awesome, the point is to leave a path!

But too often, I believe we end up using APA as a stick that beats up developing writers who may not yet know that this report they used should be referenced as a book, listed as an electronic version or that this other source is really an online article and not a simple webpage as they have formated it. Did they give you enough information to find the source? If they did, use this as an opportunity for learning more about referencing and show them the other, perhaps more proper, way to reference but don’t take away one of their ten marks for APA. When students consistently receive one out of ten marks for APA, even after spending hours trying to get it right, it is demotivational. And, frankly in my opinion, deters them from the joy of writing, the meaning of referencing, and understanding of how you can follow another’s research to gain more information. I have had too many students in my office tell me that they are just giving up on APA because it is not worth it, that they will never get good marks on it anyways.

We know that the APA manual was not written for students – right? It is not learner friendly. I believe most content instructors don’t spend a lot of time teaching or reviewing APA with their students and that students are left to figure it out. If only that were possible. I have been doing the APA Lady thing for 10 years, and I still check the manual and APA Style website regularly. In fact, I had to look up how to reference a blog to make sure I did it right for this post.

Finally, all this emphasis on the proper referencing and citing of sources takes attention away from the other, perhaps even more important, part of APA: the style of writing. APA style is more than the rules and guidelines, it is a style of writing that is clear, concise and logical; that reduces bias with neutral language; and values an academic treatment of topics for better communication. APA guidelines were meant to help writers to present their findings through publication but I fear that how it is used with students who are developing writers is causing a level of frustration that causes them to stop trying.

Hume-Pratuch, J. (2010, April 10). There’s an art to it [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2010/04/theres-an-art-to-it.html

McAdoo, T. (2010, February 11). The frankenreference [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2010/02/the-frankenreference.html

Postscript: A final word on dates. All of my references for this article are more than five years old and would be rejected by some faculty as too old. The 6th version of the APA manual was released in 2009 and it is the current version. Therefore, APA Style Blog posts from 2010 about the 6th edition can be considered foundational sources and are valid in spite of their age. There is a lot of bad information online about APA and there are few sources I trust. There is no better place to go for advice online on APA then  APA Style.

Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

Temporary Disabilities

man with hand bandage wearing backpack standing

Staying within the theme of students with disabilities, I have been thinking about students with temporary disabilities, perhaps because I have seen a number of St. Clair College students recently on crutches. I expect that all colleges and universities provide acommodations for students with a temporary disabilities such as a broken arm, sprained ankle or other injury. A student comes in with a broken arm and I expect the reaction is: Well of course! You are going to need more time to write your test because you broke your writing hand! Often, temporary disabilities are obvious – you can see it!

Let’s do a self test. When you are asked for accomodations from a student with a broken arm, how do you react? Do you:

A. Ask them for a doctor’s note and copy of their xray to prove that their arm is broken?

B. Question them about if they REALLY need extra time to write their test? After all, employers aren’t going to want to give extra time!

C. Accept their excuse but call them out in class for making you do extra work by having to get their test to Student Services 48 hours in advance and making you go back there to pick it up!

D. Accept their accomodation plan and ask if there is anything else you can do to help them while they recover?

Do you think that my A – C answers are ridiculous? I do, but I have heard stories of students with other types of disabilities including learning disabilities and mental health issues describe these kinds of reactions from faculty and I have heard faculty express concerns about whether students with disabilities REALLY need them.

I just wonder, do we give students with invisible disabilities the same acceptance and care that we do for students with temporary disabilities? It is something to think about!

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Learning Strategies for Students

person holding pencil near laptop computer

All students come to us with a certain set of study skills but most don’t realize that there are a variety of ways to approach and interact with materials and learning experiences in an educational environment. When students have struggles with their learning, often they do more of the same rather than trying something new; usually because they don’t know that there is something new to try. For students with learning disabilities, Learning Strategists are the best source of new ideas.

Students with learning disabilities, in particular, benefit from explicit instruction in strategies that mitigate the challenges in the education environment that their learning disability presents. But like many enhancements in our environment that we have made for persons with disabilities like automatic doors which help persons without disabilities as well, learning strategies can help all students. Here’s a couple of examples:

Two Finger Reading: If you are reading a textbook and come across a figure or chart, use two finger reading. Before reading the full text in the chapter about the figure, read the text beneath the figure. This often is a brief summary of the material presented and can provide a quick overview of the big picture. Place one finger of one hand on the figure. Place one finger of the other hand on the text in the chapter. This will help you keep your place in the text and on the figure as you move your attention between the two. Read a chunk of the full text that describes or explains the figure. Then shift your attention to the figure and trace the area of the figure that the text described. When you have reviewed that section of the figure, return to read another chuck of the full text. For more on reading see my previous post.

3 + 3 + 3 In Class: This strategy is to help shift your focus to the class that is beginning and prepare for new information as well as close a class before you leave. It involves taking three minutes before the class begins and 3 minutes at the end of class before you leave. Before start of class, take three minutes and quickly review the material presented in the last class. Scan your notes or other materials to remind yourself of what has come before. This can help you build connections between information presented from one class to the next and it wakes up your brain so that it is ready to receive new information. At the end of class, before you pack up and leave, take three minutes to quickly review the notes you have just taken and make a list of three concepts or ideas that were most important TO YOU. A quick review, coupled with decision making and writing down your list can help make the information more meaningful to you and increase the movement of information between short-term and long term memory.

While learning strategies and study skill instruction can help all students, for students with disabilities, working with a Learning Strategist allows for the exploration of strategies tailored to their particular learning needs. It can take some trial and error to find the method that matches the student, but the effort can mean the difference between struggling needlessly and making the most of a student’s finite study time.

Featured Image: Photo by Helloquence on Unsplash

9X9X25 Quotes on Fancy Photos Guide

It’s up to all of us, in each of our unique corners and niches to be talking about citizenship topics, especially about digital citizenship topics. ~ Helen DeWaard Photo: timelasped photo of traffic across a grey bridge

This is a bonus 9x9x25 post in a guide to making a Faux Inspirational Quotes.

Step 1. Go to the syndicated post feed and read a bunch of entries. When you read one that resonates with you, scan it again for a quote that is enticing; it doesn’t have to be the conclusion or the main point. I look for something that meaningful that can both stand alone and invite a viewer to seek out more. This is one part of how your perspective adds value, out of all the possible quotes, you get to choose the one to highlight.

Step 2. Assemble the basics, copy the quote, find the author(s) names and Twitter tag, make an icon or brand for OntarioExtend 9x9x25. I use MSPublisher to create mine. I use a rectangle box in black as my frame and assemble the pieces using the same font (Century in bold). The quote is in 24 – 28 pt font size.

Step 3. Hang out at Unsplash (or another creative commons friendly photo sharing site) and look for a pretty photo. Here is where your imagination adds value, what photo in your mind adds to the quote? Select something that has some usable space on the edges for the quote to be added that is of the same color with little detail so the words can be read.

large moon in the sky above a hill
Photo by Andrea Reiman on Unsplash

Or Format Text Box to add a Fill with a similar color as the background and set to a high rate (70% or more) of transparency to improve text readability.

Fall leafs in the sunlight
Photo by Timothy Eberly on Unsplash

Step 4: Mess around with the placement of the quote and the brand and try different justifications of the text until it looks pretty and balanced. I am not sure how to describe balanced, but at some point, it just looks right. Don’t forget to add an attribution to the photographer. I add the Unsplash attribution in white 10pt font, usually in one of the bottom corners.

Step 5: Save as a Portable Network Graphic (PNG) or your choice of a graphic file format and open the graphic with another photo editing program such as Windows Paint to crop the white edges and scale the photo. I use Snagit Editor by Techsmith and do a quick crop and scale to 1160 pixels width and let the height calculate. 1160 pixels is a good size for the full picture to show when you share it to twitter.

Step 6: Tweet the photo to @OntarioExtend and include the hashtag #9x9x25 and tag the author of the post you took the quote from. Attach the picture and copy the quote and photo description to the description box for the alt tag. If you do not have a description box at the bottom of the photo, you will need to turn on this option through Settings on your Twitter account. A considerate alt tag includes both the words shown on the graphic and a description of the photo.

Final notes: I have weird personal reasons for the pictures I choose. For Helen DeWaard’s quote on digital citizenship, I choose a time lapsed photo of a bridge where the car tail lights were streaks because the internet is often called an information highway and data streaks past and teaching digital citizenship is like building a bridge for students. For Peg French’s warning on not becoming bedazzled by technology, I chose a photo of a single eye in glitter make up.

I hope the authors of the quote enjoy seeing my final mash-up of a photo and their quote. I think it is fascinating to see someone else’s perspective of the words I have written. Alan Levine did this for me once in a DailyExtend and I thought – Wow, I sound really smart! I hope the authors see how smart they sound to me and that others, seeing the mash-up on Twitter, will be enticed to check out some of the blog posts for themselves.