If there's anything I've learned on the digital journey, it is the importance of letting myself explore and play with different tools. It gives me the opportunity to be creative, work out the kinks and think about how I might use these tools with my students. In addition, I am seeing more and more that the way I think about my writing has evolved. There is so much more to consider as I craft my digital compositions.
In Crafting Digital Writing, Troy Hicks states, "...that the type of craft elements we insist our student create in their alphabetic texts can be complemented, - or better yet, extended - by the types of craft elements we can use given the availability of digital writing tools. With digital writing, we need to think with words, of course, yet we also need to begin thinking like artists, web designers, recording engineers, photographers and filmmakers." (2012)
More and more I find myself thinking like a designer or photographer, or whatever it is that I'm creating as I explore different tools and create a variety of digital compositions. I can then use my learning to help my students do the same kind of thinking. My friend Cathy calls this #playtolearn.
Lately, I've been playing with Canva. I discovered it this summer and tried it out to share the makes I did with the #CLMOOC group. For this first one, I used a template provided on the site. I inserted images into the place holders and added my text. It was easy to use and I was satisfied with my first attempt, but I knew it could be better.
I returned to Canva over break and discovered their tutorials for beginners. Being who I am, I decided to give them a try. They even have more advanced tutorials in the Design School.
I learned about using frames and text holders to create my OLW image. I played with fonts (choosing a font that gave a sense of quietness). I learned that typefaces (designer word for fonts) with rounded edges are friendlier, while those with geometric edges are solid and strong. In addition I learned serifs lend an air of sophistication. (Go ahead and click on the link for serifs...I had to look it up and now I understand serif and sans serif).
I used my new knowledge in yesterday's blog image, although I need to do more work with color and weight of fonts here. Those are my next tutorials.
Last night I decided to go big and try one of the lessons from the Design School: How to Design a Creative Quote for Social Media. (Much to my surprise, Cathy sent me a text telling me how much fun she was having on Canva while I was working. Check out today's post. ) I chose one of the quotes from my Pinterest board and decided to play with it a bit. This is what I came up with. (Aren't the shadows cool?)
While designing this piece, I thought about the font, shape, and color. I chose this particular font because it gave me the simplified look I wanted. In addition, I capitalized the words that were important to me. I wanted the quote to look like it was spilling down the page (to go with that free flowing feeling the quote gives me), so I used the boxes to frame the words and rotated them to help the reader's eye travel down the page. The orange boxes with the darker red frame and shadow effect make the words pop.
Some things to think about...
- These simple looking images took a lot of time. Not only was I thinking about my message, but I was learning the technical skills of adding shadows, spacing the text, etc.
- There was a lot of thought into how I wanted to present my pieces. Which images will best convey my message? Do I want to use an image or do I use a graphic instead?
- I needed to go through this process in order to help my students go through the process.
I think some would ask if it's important to teach our students these skills when they are crafting digital compositions? I believe it is. Our students are composing and consuming texts very differently in today's world. I believe it's my responsibility as a teacher of writers to help my students be able to produce thoughtful quality products. Even our youngest writers can understand and use basic elements like choosing a font that conveys a serious tone versus a lighter tone or choosing colors that help words pop out instead of making them impossible to read.
It is also my goal that students be able to articulate their thinking as they create. Just as I've asked students to reflect on traditional pieces they've written where they discuss mentors and craft moves they tried, I want them to do the same with digital pieces. I believe that if I want my students to do these things, then I need to model my own digital writing process, which brings us back to #playtolearn.
What are you exploring in your own digital journey?