Updating my Skill Set: Getting Over my Fear of Photoshop

ladieslearningcode-500x500Learning something new is scary, especially if you have had time to build up a good infrastructure of fear around it. But there comes a time when you have to woman up and face your fears directly. That time came for me this last Saturday, when I took an introductory workshop on web design with the organization Ladies Learning Code.

That wasn’t the scary part. The scary part was that we were using – gasp – Photoshop as a design tool.

Confession time. I am Photoshop phobic. The few times I have tried to use it, I end up simply moving my mouse up and down with no idea where to even begin. Anytime photoshop is required beyond resizing or cropping images, I get my husband to do it (or my daughters- they are now both adept at using it due to Mr. Scruton’s multimedia class.)

Photoshop is one of the few tools I felt I needed some handholding to begin to understand (and, for the sake of my marriage, the hand holder could not be my husband), so I jumped at the chance when I saw the workshop advertised. It cost $50 and included a catered lunch. There was a workshop leader and then a mentor for every 3 participants (these people volunteered their time to help out) which meant that there was always someone around to help if I got stuck.

I met some interesting people and above all, learned the basics of navigating the arcane (ok, now a little less for me) world of Photoshop! I was even able to put my new found skills to work on Monday, when I designed the following poster using Photoshop:

Used Book Sale Poster

It was way easier than using word or powerpoint (which is what I have been using) once I finally understood the advantage of layers. Okay, so I have a ways to go in terms of design, but it’s a start!

I would definitely recommend Ladies Learning Code if you want to learn something new (they give introductory workshops on html, CSS, etc.) Their next workshop is a mother/daughter introduction to html/css. Check it out!

Now can anybody tell me what the heck rasterizing means?

Rappido App Review: a look in my social science folder

Images. As a way to compliment a project. As a discussion starter. Images to enhance a lesson or to illustrate an idea.

Everybody likes to read something with pictures. Especially if the pictures are beautiful, evocative, shocking, sensational.

When researching my To Kill a Mockingbird Background Documentary project,  I came across a couple of excellent apps with photo archives.

Price: Free
Searchability: You can browse by category, by geographical location or search by keyword. I found wonderful archived photos from the Great Depression on here, but you can also find Current events in the “See Today’s Top Photos”. I can’t easily find the range of dates this app covers, but, because they access third party sources, they go back at least to the Titanic…
Warning: it is unabashedly United States-centric. Click on the Canada pin on the map and laugh at their Canadian essay.

Guardian Eyewitness:
Price: Free
Searchability: Unlike the LIFE app which functions more as a digital archive than a repository for current events images. Here is a quote from their information page:

The Guardian Eyewitness app for iPad offers the world’s most distinctive and provocative photographs from the most popular digital newspaper in the UK, providing a daily, visual reflection of global events. Each time you open the app it will download the latest 100 photographs for you to browse or save in your favourites.

There is no searching, except for the icon of two columns in the top right hand corner where you can browse the thumbnails of the last 100 photos. However, you can email them to yourself or share via Facebook and twitter, or even just save it to your favourites. The quality of the images, however, make it a great catalyst for current events discussions (History, Geography, ERC).

I have already reviewed Linetime and Timeline in a previous post.

My newest addiction to my social science folder is an app two teachers recommended in two days:

 7 billion by National Geographic: ( a special issue)

Price: Free
Searchability: A little confusing at first, but only because there is SO MUCH here! To mark the fact that we just reached 7 billion people on the Planet Earth (insert shudder here), National Geographic has put together this app chock full of their outstanding images, detailed articles on topics ranging from heirloom seeds to impacts on the ocean to cities for sustainable development. As well, there are graphics showing interactive maps of the world and their population now and then (the then can be 50 years ago or 30)

It is a little difficult to navigate between the different sections- oh. I forgot. I am using an ipad. I just have to tap on the screen and I can go to the main page.

OOh. I just checked the face of 7 billion section, where you can see what the typical face of 7 billion is. So much here to explore with your students- I recommend it highly!

Thanks Ms. Monty and Ms. Reich for this amazing suggestion!