Wednesday, July 9, 2014

How To . . .

For the past several weeks, I have been involved in an online learning community for educators.  The focus is on making things and reflecting, often using technology.  The first "assignment" was to make a "How To."  I was just starting to make another one of my silly, terrible-on-purpose Winnebago videos, so I thought, why not just make a How To along with it?
Ha!  Easier said than done.

For starters, this third Winnebago video was way more complicated than the two previous ones.  Those first two are super short (like about a minute long) and involve no special effects.  I soon realized that I could not actually lay out the whole processes in a video without it becoming longer than the Winnebago video itself.  And in the end, no one would really be able to follow my process to come up with their own project.
And honestly--who would want to?  These things I make are intentionally so very, very bad!  The joy of making these is in the creative problem solving that comes with winging it, which is why I don't have a precise, professional end product.  The energy is in the process--like spuriously deciding to add the John Cena bit and an explosion.

Cast of characters and the script laid out on a tray
My assistant tediously photographs each frame while I tediously manipulate the props
Making sound effects
Synchronizing the sound with the images
In the end, I scrapped the idea of making the How To about the Winnebago.  I started thinking about other things I could make a How To about.  And in thinking about this, I got to thinking about how often I use How To information. 
Here's some things I have recently looked up:
How to knit continental style
How to fix a dropped stitch in knitting
How to knit a long stitch
How to load string on a weed eater
How to get rid of mice in your garden
How cure yellow/brown spots on tomato plants
How to recolor or replace floor tile grout
How to make a meme
Of course, recipes are How To, and crochet patterns--

And then there are ones I go back to again and again, like How To reset my students' passwords on Edmodo.

I was struck by the men who made the weed eater videos.  How is it they decided to do that?  "Hey, I'll take my camera out to the shop and show everyone how to . . . " So very modern.  So many questions so immediately answered.

I started to wonder what everyday thing I do that other people don't know how to do?
Stick to or start running
Make rice
Keep rabbits
Pump a bike tire

There are whole programs like those Nanny shows that tell people How To take care of their kids.
And that got me thinking about psychological How To's I could do:
How to be patient with teenagers
How to help your child through cancer
How to live in a foreign country

Of course, my job is a full day of How To:
How to find the summer reading list (that just today)
How set up a grade book
How to negotiate parent conferences
How to teach to a student's potential
How to read, to write, to stretch, to see-- 

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