Picture
I learned about Fotoflexer at the MACUL conference.  It's a fun web tool that lets you upload images and tint them, layer text and clip art on top of them, and apply other editing techniques.  This was one of the web tools that I was least enthusiastic about simply because I didn't have any immediate, great ideas about how to use it in class.  When I shared different web tools with my staff - Scoop.it, Pinterest, Photosynth, and others - this seemed to be their least favorite as well.  Well, after today, I'm a changed woman with new appreciation for Fotoflexer. 

This is my fourth year teaching George Orwell's Animal Farm, and I wanted to do something new with art integration in my unit.  We already study propaganda in the unit, and I wanted my students to apply the techniques we've learned about and evaluated in various pieces of propaganda by creating their own propaganda pieces.  However, we've spent a lot of time analyzing propaganda and not enough time analyzing the novel or characters, and so I designed an activity which married the two.  Students picked their favorite character from the novel and brainstormed the character's likes, dislikes, values, interests, mottos, etc.  Then, the students had to select several propaganda techniques to sell their character's life philosophy.  They had to pick propaganda techniques that matched their character's personality.  This would show me that the truly understood their character's voice and tone, that they identified propaganda techniques used by their character and were able to infer which other techniques would fit their characters, and that they could apply all of these concepts to create an effective piece of propaganda.

Brainstorms:

It was so much fun!  Fotoflexer is really easy and quick to use, and students were able to create meaningful works in a short amount of time.  One of my frustrations with some technology and programs is that they take so long to learn how to use and that students end up spending more time navigating the program than they do mastering the standards.  If the standard is to explore technology and use it to communicate a message, that's one thing, but when the standard is to analyze a character's voice, the vehicle for demonstrating mastery of this standard should be a help and not a hindrance to learning.  Several students commented on how easily and quickly they were able to create something they really liked and felt adequately demonstrated their understanding.

Student Work:

A few students recorded themselves talking about their own propaganda pieces on ScreenChomp.  The first is of me modeling the process for them and the following are a few samples of their work:  
Student feedback on Fotoflexer:

* "It helped me to think symbolically."
* "I was able to get my point across visually."
* "It was much faster and easier than drawing it out myself."
* "It helped me to think more about my character's personality."
* "Although I'd rather draw it myself, I liked that it didn't take long but I was still able to show what I learned."
* "It made me think about propaganda's presence in pictures.  It's not just in writing or what people say."
* "Two people could upload the same original pictures, but all of the editing features made it so that even two of the same image looked like completely different pictures."
* "It was quick to throw together when with your own hands, it would take hours to do the same thing."
* "It helped me to picture my character and how their looks show their personality." 
 


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    About Me

    A lover of literature and the arts and an advocate for global awareness and active citizenship, I spend my days with high school English and Social Studies students exploring why it all matters and how they can have a voice in the world.  This is my space to document and reflect on my practice, note happenings in education, and share my appreciation for the arts.

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