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Using Halftone and Tumblr to Tell Our School’s Story

March 21, 2012

As a special education teacher who has taught self-contained classes for the past three years, one of the most important challenges is helping students who spend most of their day with the same small group of students feel a part of the larger school community. Our school has been wonderful about welcoming all students whether it be the student government or student broadcast network. One way I’ve tried to connect my students to the larger school community while giving them independence and technology practice has been through the SuperWalton project. While browsing iTunes’ Apps Store, I came across Halftone, a photo-editing app ($1.99) that takes pictures and makes them look like they came from a comic book. The students love the effects and the captions are incredibly easy to edit.

At the start of the school year, I presented this project to my students and they were very excited about it. Their mission was to take a picture of something they liked about our school each day, edit the picture, and post it to our Tumblr page, all of which could be done with my school-issued iPod. For the first couple of weeks, we would walk the halls as a class, discussing what picture we should take. After the kids took a picture, I would guide them along the editing and publishing process. After about five trials, the only thing they needed from me was the iPod and a hall pass, because they knew what they wanted to showcase and they needed no help from me. The students have been completely trustworthy, both in the halls and with the content they’ve posted, only calling on me when there’s a glitch in the matrix, which doesn’t happen very often.

Besides students having the independence to decide what to document, they are also able to talk with other teachers and students while they roam the halls looking for their next subject, able to ask for suggestions or to ask a teacher if they’d like to be featured on our site. My students have also received questions from students at other schools via our Tumblr page, which they have loved responding to, as it shows them their work is valued far beyond the walls of our school.

Steps my students have mastered throughout the (ongoing) SuperWalton project:

  • taking quality pictures
  • editing pictures
  • saving pictures to iPod
  • uploading pictures to Tumblr through iPod
  • adding captions to Tumblr post
  • publishing to Tumblr
  • checking Tumblr site after publishing to make sure everything looks the way they want it to
  • editing Tumblr post or reposting, if necessary
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