10 Best Photographs by an Amateur Photographer

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Teaching Beginner Students Podcasting and Audacity

     This semester in Teaching Multimedia has been full of great learning experiences to take with me; I was able to learn new material, build on material I already knew, and create lessons that I hope to adapt and use with my sophomore English classes next school year.
    Out of all the lessons I have created, or thought about creating, this one is my favorite for sure. I never knew how to create tutorials of my laptop screen for easier teaching until now, and I am so excited to use this in the future!
     The lesson I chose to focus on was teaching elements of podcasting to students, along with how to upload, edit and put together a complete podcast with an interview. I loved doing this assignment in class and I think this topic could easily be adapted and used with my English classes. This lesson outlines the beginning elements of how to podcast, looks at how to conduct and interview and elements present in a podcast, and finally how to edit the podcast, adding music in and editing out what isn't needed. The lesson, complete with a video tutorial, is to the right of this post, under the page "Lesson Plan for Podcasting and Editing a Podcast." Please check it out and enjoy!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Strange Encounters with Shooting Video for the First Time

I have to admit this is the first time I have ever shot any type of video on a subject, other than my handsome nephew and his crazy antics or my puppy running laps around my house like she is in first at the Daytona 500. Shooting video was a complicated task for me to complete. My camera that I was using had a video shooting setting; therefore, I decided to utilize it for this project. However, when I was getting my interview on camera with the testing coordinator my disc ran out of storage and didn’t save the interview. I had to get the interview done a second time; this time, I used my camera again and recorded it on my iPhone 5S through the video option, just to be safe. I wanted to make sure I captured what she had to say that was relevant to my topic being covered: the ever so lovely AIR Exams my school is giving for 2 weeks (that’s 10 days of lost instruction in case you were wondering). I was finally able to capture my interview with the testing coordinator, Jayme Yonak, and she was able to provide a lot of valuable information that I never knew concerning the tests. Here, I thought they were just a headache us teachers had to deal with, a stressor because we were nervous about our students passing, and a constant pit in our stomachs about how the students’ scores would reflect on our evaluations. While I still have all of those feelings concerning these tests, I now see the importance of them and what they are testing the students. Shooting the video (both times) with Jayme was a fun experience. She was nervous about how she was going to look and sound on video; however, I assured her that no one was going to see this video besides my instructor and myself. She talked loud enough so that she was easily heard and was able to present valuable information much needed for the video. I was able to use the interview footage in my video and then used my voice from as a voice over with photographs displaying how to access the Ohio AIR Testing site, practices tests and other information. Compiling all of the videos, audio, and still photographs into Adobe Photoshop Premier 14 was a task that stressed me out. But, I found that as I continued to work and edit the task seemed to get a little easier. It reminded me of using Audacity for editing audio and podcasts; took a few minutes to adjust and learn the tools, but once I did I was able to put together the video. I thought it was really cool to be playing images or a video but to have audio, from a separate file, playing at the same time. I always wondered how that was done for commercials or videos and I was finally able to see, on a basic level, how to disconnect video and audio. This assignment was fun for me to do, and edit; however, I wish that I could have picked a better subject or topic to do the video on. Being on time constraints, having various distractors, and lots of stressors definitely hindered this video. But, I did educate the general public on just why all of Ohio schools are using the new AIR exams as the testing standard. Check out my first video on AIR exams below!

AIR Exam Video from Robin Lester on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Creating Cool Media Tools

This week I tried my hand at creating pretty cool stuff to utilize in social media and online publications. I created a map, a survey, and a timeline of events. I have created maps and surveys before; however, creating a timeline was new for me. Below you will see all of my creations. I encourage you to check them out and practice for yourself! :) Map of Surrounding Area of ULHS End of the Year Survey
ULHS Timeline of Events for Week of 3/29/2016

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Keep Calm and Interview On!

This week I did my very first podcast interview. I chose to interview my brother, Matthew, about choosing not to go to college after high school and his experiences regarding this decision. He was very thorough and able to give insightful answers to the six questions I asked him. These questions included:

  •  What is your current job? Are there any benefits or opportunities for growth available?
  •  What influenced you to not go to college?
  •  Do you think you made a mistake with deciding against college? 
  •  Are you judged for choosing to not attend college? How did your friends and family react? 
  •  Do you see college in your future? Why or why not?
  •  What advice would give to high school students who are considering not going to college after  high school? 

     Matt answered all of these questions appropriately and gave very insightful information. He did an excellent job for it being his first interview and podcast, as well. Recording an interview via podcast is a whole new ballgame for me; I have no experience with podcasting whatsoever. However, I found it to be quite easy once I listened to some examples, read how to set up and record my podcast, and got pointers on conducting the interview. Before I could conduct this podcast, I had to listen to examples, decide on a topic to discuss, conduct research, and design appropriate questions to the topic to ask during the interview. Once I picked a topic I had to figure out who I could interview regarding the topic, and if they would be able to provide answers relating to the topic and questions being asked. With the seniors asking for advice on college essays and filling out job applications, I decided to center my podcast on students who choose not to go to college after high school. Both of my younger brothers have made this decision and I was able to design questions with them in mind. The questions I asked Matt above all relate to his life now since choosing to not to go to college after high school.
  Conducting the podcast interview was harder than I anticipated. I figured it would be easy to just record myself asking the questions and Matt answering them. I quickly found out that it wasn’t that easy. Matt had a severe case of the giggles because he was new to all of this and wasn’t sure about his answers to the questions. Reassuring him to just act natural, as if we were having this discussion without it being recorded, seemed to help. He was able to calm down and just acted natural, not worrying about my iPhone recording the interview. Getting our giggles and acting silly out of the way was a major thing we had to accomplish before starting the interview.
      Editing the interview to include music, an introduction, and making it sound all put together wasn’t as difficult as I thought. I have a little experience editing podcasts with Audacity and I used my previous knowledge to complete this task. I thoroughly enjoyed this assignment and hope to gain more experience with Audacity, podcasts, and interviewing. Until then, please listen to and enjoy my podcast located below!

Interview with Matthew Lester on deciding to forgo college after high school.

Friday, March 4, 2016

audioBoom: The Easiest Way to Create a Podcast

Recording a podcast is something that I never thought I would ever have to do until this week in Teaching Multimedia. Deciding on a topic, conducting research, and writing the script all seemed so easy; however, I was so nervous to actually record what I was saying. I kept thinking how everyone who views my blog would be able to play the podcast and listen to what I am saying. Talk about nerve-racking! However, I was able to read my script, record my podcast, and successfully post it (as you can see below). Before I was able to do any of the above, I had to read up on audio and recording audio. The resources provided were excellent pieces to help me in recording audio, something I have never done before this week. While everything discussed, shared, and read pertained to audio and podcasts, there were a couple of sources that provided great tips, tricks, and information for audio recording.
Before this week, I never knew that there were so many types of sounds that can be recorded. Actvalities, ambience, background sound, and room tone were all new terms to me. I had always thought that whatever sound was in the background of an interview, recording, etc. wasn’t planned out or pre-determined; it was merely the sounds surrounding the area. I now know the difference between different types of sounds. Ambience is the natural sound effects and this sound is usually used to set the scene. For example, to set the ambience for a romantic date night, the sound effects are going to include soft, romantic music playing in the background, perhaps the pop of a champagne cork, too. Ambience is setting the scene for the recording that will be happening. Background sound is the natural sounds of a place. This will be what you hear when standing in the middle of a locale where a news story takes place. For example, if a story is being run on a fatal accident on a busy highway, the background sound would include cars going by, horns honking, brakes squealing, and perhaps even sirens and whistles. The background sound being captured should relate to the story that is being recorded. Finally, room tone is the distinct tone, or set of sounds, that are associated with the room. Every room has a distinct tone made of hardly detectable sounds. When recording in a room, the sound of the room is always there behind the voices. For example, the hums of a refrigerator would be included in a kitchen’s room tone. The room tone of my podcast has the quiet, indistinct conversations from the television and the occasional scratching or barking from my miniature dachshund. I have a set background sound for my podcast. Although, it would have been really cool to do my podcast in Boston on the bench where Poe supposedly died on that cold fall morning. While I am sure the background sounds would be vastly different now than they were in 1849, it would have still been background sounds chosen that are associated with the story.   
audioBoom was also a great tool to learn about this week. It makes recording a podcast super easy, and kind of fun. Everything is a step-by-step process and it is easy to record, save, and download. Before this lesson, I had never heard of audioBoom. Now, I am trying to figure out a lesson for my students to utilize this tool, especially those who suffer from anxiety associated with public speaking. If you get the chance, I would recommend checking out audioBoom by clicking on this link. It is a great resource for not only journalism students, but all students, as well. Be sure to check out the variety of podcasts offered on the site, too. A variety of subjects and topics are covered, as well as some celebrity podcasts mixed into the bunch, too.

Finally, be sure to listen to my podcast below. It is the first death theory my students had researched when discussing the mysterious death of Edgar Allan Poe. While it offers great insight into the idea of alcoholism, other theories and evidence are yet to come. Keep in mind, this is my first podcast! I think it sounds horrible (due to contracting a sinus infection), but I plan on experimenting more with this!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Even Amateur's can Learn to Operate a Camera!

This week in Teaching Multimedia, I learned all about how to operate a DSLR camera and change the settings for the ISO, shutter speed and aperture to get great photos. Those three settings are all built into a camera to manipulate light. I had a previous class where, Teaching Photojournalism, where I was exposed to these terms and camera settings before; however, it is still a fairly new topic to me. I seem to lack at photography skills, but can take an excellent selfie. For example, check out that selfie to the right. While it was taken on a cell phone camera, I was able to capture my puppy, Bailey, at a rare moment of lying still. It’s an excellent photograph of us, if I do say so myself.
            To get back on task, let me explain what exactly ISO, shutter speed and aperture are. ISO has to do with the sensitivity to light that hits the center of the camera. The settings range form 100 to 3200. It’s not really a control that get’s changed a lot. For example, for football games, inside a house, and basketball games in a gym light is needed. An ISO setting of 800, 1600 or 3200 would be more beneficial for the picture. However, outside not a whole lot of light is needed so an ISO setting of 200-400 would be good. The faster an ISO is set, then the faster a shutter speed will be; the slower the ISO is set, then a slower shutter speed with be used. Moving onto shutter speeds, next. Shutter speeds are set and control the amount of light entering the camera. A slow shutter speed will allow light to enter, while a fast shutter speed will allow less light to enter. Shutter speeds begin at 30 and can go all the way to 8,000. While these look like big numbers, we are talking fractions of a second here. For example, a shutter speed setting on a camera may read 30, but it would technically be 1/30 of a second. By changing the shutter speeds, you are able to control the amount of light and motion allowed into the camera. Finally, the aperture has to do with the lens and is controls the amount of light let into the lens, based on the hole-size. The aperture is symbolized by an f-stop. These range from 2.84 to 32. An f-stop setting of 2.8 means that there is a big hole in the lens, while a setting of 32 signifies a small hole in the lens. These are set depending on the depth of the field that you are shooting in, or how close/far away you are from an object. A 2.8 setting would be used in a shallow depth of field to focus in on an object.
            Reading the camera manual really helped me to put everything discussed in chat, and that I read, into perspective. While I am not a fan of reading manuals for anything, I figured I should do so this one time since I really don’t know much about cameras, let alone the camera I am using. Reading through it told me exactly what I needed to know about my camera when it came to setting the ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. I also learned a few other tips and tricks that are accessible through the manual setting. I definitely wouldn’t have learned what I needed to know to take the above pictures if I didn’t read the manual and completed the readings this week.
  While I had a blast shooting around 100 photographs of my puppy, Bailey, my parents’ dogs, and my family, I’m pretty sure they couldn’t wait for me to put the camera away. Learning how to continuously change the settings to get the correct type of photograph was a challenge for me this week; however, it was a great learning experience. The pictures in the slideshow above are my 10 best pictures from this week. Enjoy the cuteness of the dogs and my family, as well as my awesome amateur photography skills.


Monday, February 1, 2016

What Do You Mean Instagram Isn’t for Duck Face Photos?!

     Hello!! Let me start with saying welcome to my blog! My name is Robin Lester and I am a sophomore English teacher at Union Local High School in Belmont, Ohio. In case you have no idea where that is, it is in the Ohio Valley, a very rural area located around St. Clairsville, Ohio, about 2 hours east of Columbus. I teach 3 general English classes and 2 college prep English classes everyday for 45 minutes per class period.

     While I don’t currently advise a student media, I am hoping to in the future. Union Local High School used to have a school newspaper that was completely online. I would like to start this program back up again; however, the only way to do so would be to offer it as a club at first. The school won’t make it a class unless there is a lot of interest for it. It took Yearbook forever to become a class, so my hopes were dashed away of starting Journalism classes at the school anytime soon. I would really like to advise a student newspaper even if it is only a club. I think the students need to be informed on what is going on around the school, community, and world and there is no better way to do so than through an online publication!
            Because I use so many social media sites and are familiar with them as is, I can’t think of any I need to learn more about. When it comes to social media, I use Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram. My students use the same ones, along with Tumblr, YouTube, and who knows what else that I’m unaware of. I know they use these because I see them daily making duck faces or taking videos to post to their Instagram or Snapchat stories, or catching me up on what Cosmo posted on their Snapchat story. Also, they are always talking about the latest Twitter war between students from rival schools and who got the most likes on their Instagram post. I want the students to be able to use these social media sites, but to do so when it comes to finding accurate news stories that they need to be informed about. I use a lot of the same sites as them. Yes, I do send the occasional duck face Snapchat or check out the Cosmo story, but I also check out the latest breaking news stories via Twitter and Facebook. I follow a variety of news outlets, sport outlets, and educational sites that allow me to see the new and upcoming information. I have to say I use social media to catch up on all of my news needs instead of watching the news on television or reading the newspaper. What I want to instill in my students is using their social media sites to gather relevant news and information. They need to learn that these sites are for more than just posting pictures and tweeting at enemies; instead, they need to find the abundant and newsworthy information and coverage that is offered.

            With much discussion about social media, in my Teaching Multimedia course this week I was assigned to read two chapters about create a blog on Wordpress, a common blogging site, and how to use social media sites for newsworthy needs. While Wordpress can be a bit overwhelming at first, once you begin playing around with it all of those feelings will be washed away. With a step-by-step analysis of how to blog, add widgets, and images I felt at ease with the site. Besides this helpful textbook, I also read about the different parts of a blog from a PDF article. This great analysis of all the parts of a blog and how they work are enough to put any beginner blogger’s fears at ease. The readings this weeks for class are great resources to utilize when deciding to create a blog. Make sure to check them out when deciding to create your own blog!