Archive for May, 2010

May 10, 2010

Photos Inside of Words: Use a Clipping Mask!

In Photoshop Elements, putting a photo inside of words (or any layer object for that matter) is easy when students have a basic understanding of layers. A clipping mask allows a layer to assume the shape of a layer directly below it.
clipping mask.png
In this example, I started with a picture of a zebra taken at the zoo. The steps are easy:
1. Open the photo to be put inside of the text.
2. Add the text over the top, then size and format the text. A font with thick letters works best, and it doesn’t matter what color is applied to the text.
3. Since a background layer can’t be used for a clipping mask, duplicate the background layer (Layer>Duplicate Layer).
4. Move the duplicate background layer above the text layer. Don’t be alarmed that the text is now hidden!
5. With the background copy layer selected, choose Layer>Create Clipping Mask. (It will look indented with a little arrow under it.)
6. To see what happened to the upper two layers, hide the Background layer by clicking the “eye” icon (then go ahead and show it again).
7. To make the type “pop” off the Background, select text layer and apply layer styles from the Effects panel, like a bevel or drop shadow.
8. In the example above, a solid color adjustment layer was added (round black/white icon in Layers panel) just above the original Background layer.
To learn more about adjustment layers or see a video of this tutorial, go to my website on Photoshop Elements, what you didn’t know. Several video tutorials will teach you other fun things you didn’t know you could do with Photoshop Elements. Have fun!

7:43 AM Permalink
May 9, 2010

AIR- Tight! The Photographer’s Ephemeris

Continue reading…

4:47 PM Permalink
May 4, 2010

Does Data Based Decision making ignore Qualitative Research?

There is a strong push in educational administration to use data driven decision making. On the surface, it looks to be a very sound concept. What are the test scores, what subsections are strongest, what needs to be improved? In the test driven educational environment, it is difficult to argue with those priorities.
Yet as educators, we know there are always two faces to tests. There are the hard scores, ideally (But not always – see Texas ) based on non-politicized, well researched questions, and there is the story of the individual students, some of whom make heroic gains while struggling against incredibly difficult home lives to make substantial gains.
We have always known about this in education, and consequently, research has branched into two widely respected fields, quantitative research, (by the numbers) and qualitative research (by the case, or individual). My concern and the concern of many is that we have gone too far to the side of numerical analysis, and over reliance on test scores, and have ignored the qualitative aspects.
So why write about this in an Adobe blog? Because Adobe provides a tremendous amount of qualitative support options for education. Acrobat’s ePortfolio capabilities provide educators a chance to look in-depth at what students are doing, how they are doing it, and how they reflect upon that process. While it is not the only tool around for doing this, it is certainly an effective one.
When looking at the Adobe product line, there are many, many tools that assist in the achievement of higher order thinking skills, and 21st century skills and few that contribute to quantitative analysis. This is because it is harder to measure higher order thinking quantitatively, not because of any lack in the toolset. As I have mentioned elsewhere, the new digital divide emerging, one where rich kids go to school to learn how to tell the computer what to do, and to create, and one where poor kids go to school, and learn how to take orders from the computer, and how to do worksheets in a computer.
What experiences would you like your child to have? What products have they produced this school year?

8:09 AM Permalink
May 1, 2010

Digital Learning Environment Events Update – Denver

The eighth Digital Learning Environment Event was held in downtown Denver, Colorado on April 29, 2010. The day started off with a keynote by William R. Kurts, Chief Executive Officer, Denver School of Science and Technology Public Schools.
Bill currently serves as the CEO of Denver School of Science and Technology Public Schools (DSST), a charter school management organization that oversees 3 secondary schools with plans to open 2 more in the next 5 years. They plan to eventually service 4,000 students. Bill was the Founding Head of DSST, the flagship schools of Denver Public Schools. He was named one of 25 champions of public education in Denver over the last 25 years by the Public Education Business Coalition. He also serves on the Advisory Council of the University of Southern California’s Rossier Schoo0lo of Education MAT program.
The first DSST school was founded in 2004. It started out as a school with a technology emphasis. There are now 3 schools with an emphasis on STEM. All schools are public with open enrollment-these are not magnet schools. One seventh of all DPS 8th graders applied for the program. Students are selected through lottery only so the selection is completely random. Campuses are generally 6-12th grade. The plan is to have 5 campuses in Denver by 2014.
The students are an accurate representation of all students in the urban Denver area, with 45% in the free and reduced category and 67% minority. The philosophy is inclusive, with an emphasis on the idea that everyone should be served well by the public school system. A video showed students that now take pride is being categorized as “a nerd” and proclaim that “we affirm who you are-you have important gifts and we will challenge you and hold you accountable”. Another student noted in the video that, “Teachers let me know my own strength”.
Here are some amazing facts about DSST that were shared:
• 100% of the students that graduated for the last 3 years were accepted into a 4 year college!
• The District is of 6 finalists for the White House Race to the Top Commencement Challenge.
• The District has the highest results in Colorado in both growth and achievement
• The Districts low performing kids are outperforming all the subgroups of all students in Colorado
• The percentage of college bound graduates that have to take remediation classes are only 7%. Contrast this with 56% of DPS and 32% of Colorado State graduates.
The vision of the district is a 100% graduation rate and a 100% college acceptance rate. Bill emphasizes that every kids should have the choice to go to college. When kids have the choice to go to college, according to Bill, most DO chose to go. Right now only 1 in 4 has the choice in Denver. Only 1 in 10 students go on to get a college degree and only 1 in 20 low income students earn a degree. The goal of DSST is to get 64% of their students to earn their degrees.
Can DSST transform DPS? Is it hopelessly naïve or realistically achievable? Bill’s enthusiasm, passion and devotion to the cause are amazing and admirable. It will be interesting to watch the district in the next few years.
Bill also noted that the move toward 1:1 computing is inevitable. It is a core principal in the districts design. Mobile, multi-media based learning will supplement traditional classroom instruction eventually. We need to make a commitment to get to 1:1. It will be an integral part of everything that we do at school. He explained that every student, regardless of race or background, has better technology in their pockets than most students have in their computer labs. Further, it is his observation that everyone uses cell phones regardless of the income level.
Bill also emphasized that technology is not the only way to deliver instruction but it can support traditional approaches and make them much better.
DSST has hp laptops for every student. The program was birthed with generous grants from hp and overtime has transitioned to being funded by the district’s general fund. Students are charged a tech fee of $150 per year with allowances made for those students who are not able to pay. There is a self insurance program in place with student deductibles and fees if loss or damage occurs.
These were noted as pre-conditions for success:
• Clear measurable goals
• Strong school culture (embrace change, get adults to see the power of the changes and be willing to be learners, a learning culture is alive in the school, the vision that supports the overall goals and vision of the school)
• Teachers and staff are learners first
• An organizational vision that incorporates technology, but doe not make the technology the “end”
The program creates a personalized learning environment. On a daily basis technology is used as needed to achieve the goals for the day. That might mean 100% of the time or less. It is powerfully used in both the educational and administrative processes. Individualized instruction through data collection and analysis is used to drive instruction. Classes are projects based and electives include film, bridge building, simulations in physics and other powerful STEM learning activities. The technology in the hands of the students allows them to drive their own instruction. The district also uses Camtasia software to record lessons so that students can replay instructions as needed.
Bill ended his presentation with some questions. 1:1-what is it? What does is look like? What will it look like in the future? Tablets, cell phones, readers, etc are all changing so rapidly that we can’t know for sure what they will look like in the near future. What we do know that we have to make this work; we have to rise to the challenge, because our kid’s futures depend on it.
There are two FREE remaining DLE events coming to a city near you:
Minneapolis – May 5, 2010
Raleigh-Durham – May 11, 2010
Find out more and to register for the events, visit:

1:02 PM Permalink