Mystery Draw #1

Mystery Drawing exercises have the potential to provide a fun listening exercise to reinforce key vocabulary and when presented digitally, provide students listening practice with different media.

Do you want to give this Mystery Drawing A Try? Make a copy of the Mystery Draw exercise shown on the left and try it out yourself. Since this is the first one I've created, I tried to keep it simple. Fair warning though, the audio directions will seem fast. This is deliberate as I want students to practice stopping media and replaying to capture critical information. Too often, I've heard students say that listening to something again or stopping and replaying is considered cheating. Yet another remant of practices promoted during the NCLB-era and this type of exercise attempts to provide authentic practice to help change these mindsets. I imagine the student who would be most successful will the one who takes their time and stops and replays.

Here's how I created this exercise.

1) In Google Drawing, I created the one inch ruler template on a landscape page setup. Want a copy?

2) Within Google Drawing, I downloaded the template as .png file.



3) Create a new Google Slides file. Change the page setup to landscape first. File > Page Setup > Custom > 11 x 8.5 inches



4) Change Background Image. Slide > Change Background > Image: Choose > Upload downloaded .png file as the background image. Setting this as the background image means that the rulers will not move. This is important as I drew most of my objects on top of the ruler images to get the correct size. If the rulers moved when I was moving my other objects, I would have been easily frustrated. Plus, I can see doing coordinate grid mystery draws in the future and having that coordinate grid not move is essential!

5) Write up Mystery Draw steps in a Google Doc. This is important step as it provides a transcript for students to critique or add to after the initial mystery draw.  It also provides an easy source for captions to your audio for maximum accessibility.

6) I recorded the directions on my cell phone using a Voice Recorder App. (I was hoping I could just upload this audio file into YouTube Editor but it didn't like the .m4a file type.)

7) Using iMovie, I combined the audio file and the Mystery Draw image and exported to YouTube.

8) Inserted the YouTube video onto the Google Slide. (If I were using this with students, I would place the YouTube video off-canvas unlike what is shown above. This would preserve canvas real estate and would still be accessible for students who wouldn't be working in presentation mode. For students who rely on captioning, size video accordingly.)

9) Distribute your Mystery Draw Google Slide Assignment to students so they each have a copy.

Lessons Learned.
1) Don't give up too quickly on an idea. I've had this idea since June but couldn't figure out a way for it to work. I was trying to make it work via Google Sites with an embedded AudioBoom or SoundCloud and then Google Drawing within an iframe. This idea appealed to me because it would easily allow for students to see each other's work. There is probably a script that could make this happen and duplicate pages for each student but I think the same can be accomplished by having students post their products within Google Classroom discussion post. Another option could be duplicating the slides and pushing out a single Google Slide file with students each working on their own slide.

2) You could use Web Capture within YouTube to skip a few steps and streamline the process.

Next Steps.
1) Try this out with students! See what happens. Gather feedback and refine moving forward.

2) Figure out a viable workflow on Chromebooks so students could create their own mystery draws for one another. Then, it's not just a listening exercise. It truly becomes a listening and speaking exercise and with multiple iterations it also incorporates writing practice.

Test Yourself.
My mystery draw object looked like this when completed. How did you do? Could you see yourself doing something similar with students?

Mystery Draw: A Listening Practice

A teacher recently asked me what were the top three skills they should teach in a computer elective course to prepare students for SBAC testing. It's not about explicitly teaching students skills to prepare them to take an assessment on the computer but creating authentic conditions that allow students to meaningfully use technology as they learn all the new standards.

With the CCSS standards, there is an emphasis on the listening and speaking standards. SBAC assesses the listening standards by having students watch or listen to media content of various lengths and complexity with the expectation that students will be able to extract and apply the information. Students struggle with this if media content isn't part of regular instruction. Many students don't realize that it is ok and they are expected to replay and pause content to allow them to capture the information they need. During a discussion with a friend and colleague about this and my obsession with Google Drawing, the idea of mystery drawing was born.

I remember doing mystery drawings in elementary school. The teacher would provide written directions to follow or read directions orally and repeat as needed. I'm imagining updating this practice and providing recorded audio directions such as:

  1.  Draw a circle with a diameter of 2 inches in the middle of your canvas.  
  2. Use the color fill tool to make your circle red. 
  3.  Create a 2.5 inch with a thickness of 8px that runs though the center point.
And the directions would continue. If students followed the directions correctly they would have a recognizable image at the end.

Mystery Drawing would provide a means to practice acquiring information from different media formats. Students would have the ability to control the flow of information and be encouraged to pause and replay as needed. Also, the tasks could be designed to help reinforce key vocabulary concepts. These tasks could be done individually as a whole class and then provide opportunities for sharing. Students would gain valuable speaking practice as they described their mystery drawing using the key vocabulary. There are so many possibilities with this. They could create the directions themselves and then others could help refine the clarity of their directions through feedback and critique. Now I just need to problem solve a few of the immediate challenges I anticipate in making this reality. I look forward to sharing my first iteration of Mystery Drawing soon.

Note: The above blog post has been marked as draft since mid-June. I've had this idea in the back of my mind since then but couldn't figure out a way to make it feasible within the classroom. I wanted to create a way that teachers could push this type of assignment out via Google Classroom as a single entity and not have to rely on different file types or multiple tabs open. It was also important that students be able to complete the initial assignment independently to get the practice of controlling the listening media. I think I found a solution that meets these parameters. As I was began writing my how-to blog post, I figured I should post this first to provide some context. So much for swift iterations. Better late than never!

Sketchnoting as a Mindfulness Practice

I began the Solano County GAFE Summit with my sketchbook and tweeting out my slightly blurry sketchnotes following Lise Galuga's opening keynote called, "Growing Up Google." Little did I know how that tweet would change my GAFE Summit experience.

Since beginning taking visual notes more than a year ago, it's always frightening to share with others especially keynote speakers. Knowing the time and effort speakers put into their presentations, it's scary to share something that couldn't be created without the speaker but in which the speaker is not the intended audience. I think visually and regularly taking visual notes helps me process information. So, it was a new experience when Lise wanted to meet me, take a picture together and see my other sketchnotes. We connected the next morning and the learning began.


 Pictures were taken, previous sketchnotes were reviewed, and conversation continued. The conversation quickly evolved into the idea of creating a time-lapse video on Sunday morning's Keynote by Roni Habib. Tables were swapped, apps were downloaded and tripod was set up and before I knew it my cell phone was capturing images every 30 seconds during the Keynote while focused on my sketchbook.

Ironically, a major theme of Habib's keynote address was the importance of being mindful and being present. It's so easy now to do things mindlessly. The presence of a camera created heightened awareness of my process and choices. I was more aware of the colors and images I was using. Regardless of the camera, that's what I appreciate about sketchnoting. It is a practice that allows me to be more mindful as I consume information whether that is from a book or from a live presentation. I can take something I read, see, or hear and make it my own through a very deliberate practice.

I had a full-circle moment during the last session as I presenting on Google Drawing. I was sharing a vector portrait I created and a teacher asked how long it took to complete. I found myself not answering the question directly but rather explaining how when I work on these projects everything else drops away. I am present in the moment and my mind is clear. It is my mindfulness practice.

Wondering about the time-lapse video? Here's the raw footage. I'm not done with this yet. There's another blog post or two about this process and perhaps even a workshop session in my future. Stay tuned.