Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fair Use and Copyright for Educators

Ever find yourself asking questions like these:

  • Can I play “The Telltale Head” episode of The Simpsons in class as part of my unit on Poe?
  • Is it okay to include a clip from The News Hour with Jim Lehrer in my ReadWriteThink lesson plan?
  • I want to show a screen capture from a video game in my conference presentation. Is that okay?
  • Can a student use the chorus from Dire Straits’ "Romeo and Juliet" in a PowerPoint presentation on the play?
  • The class made a video adaptation of a Dr. Seuss book. Can we post it online?

The Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education (HTMLPDF) provides guidance that can help answer all these questions. Released today and endorsed by NCTE, this document provides an overview of copyright and fair use practices and includes five principles that address specific situations teachers encounter when using copyrighted text in the classroom.

In addition to the code, be sure to visit the Media Education Lab website, where you’ll find key resources and curriculum materials. The site includes links to My Pop Studio, which focuses on media literacy for girls 9–14, and Assignment Media Literacy resources for elementary, middle, and high school students. You’ll find songs and video clips that you can use with students or in your professional development workshops. The Teaching about Copyright and Fair Use section of the site includes case studies and lesson plans.

In addition to understanding copyright and fair use, you should know something about Creative Commons. For a great overview, check out “The Beauty of ‘Some Rights Reserved’: Introducing Creative Commons to Librarians, Faculty, and Students” from the November issue of the Association of College and Research Libraries publication C&RL News. The Learn More section of the Creative Commons website offers movies, comics, and FAQs.

Oh, and the answers to all those questions I started out with? Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. Read the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Media Literacy Education (HTMLPDF) to see why. :-)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Use Doodle to Cast Your Vote

Trying to plan a time to meet friends at the Annual Convention in San Antonio? Want the class to choose a destination for the next field trip? Need to choose the best day for an after-school committee or club meeting?

No matter what you’re trying to decide, Doodle is a free online tool that makes it easy to gather preferences from teachers, students, families, and anyone else you want to connect to. Whether you need to schedule an event or choose among several general options, you can use Doodle to accomplish what you want simply.

So how does it work?

  1. Go to the Doodle website.
  2. Create a login (or login if you are already set up.
  3. Choose either to schedule an event or set up a poll.
  4. Name your survey and enter all the options.
  5. Click finish.
  6. Check your email for a link to the survey.
  7. Send the link out to everyone you want to respond.

That’s it. Doodle does all the tallying for you. People who respond do not need to set up an account or even have an email address. Just give them the URL. That’s all that’s needed—which makes it a nice choice for school systems where students cannot post personal information online.

When your survey is complete, you can print out the results or export them to a spreadsheet or PDF.

Wondering how you might use it? The options really are extensive. You might schedule any of these events:

  • Convention, affiliate, or assembly meetings
  • Student-teacher or parent-teacher conferences
  • After-school study sessions
  • Teacher inquiry/study group meetings
  • Committee or departmental meetings
  • Professional development workshops
  • Extra-curricular meetings or special events

The Poll tool in Doodle can be used for anything students might vote for in the classroom:

  • Literature circle texts
  • Collaborative research topics
  • Name for a class pet
  • Class rules
  • Expectations for an assignment (class-generated rubrics)
  • Field trip destination
  • Next read-aloud text
  • Favorite characters, texts, or authors
  • Movie to watch at a class party

Doodle can help with any decision you need to make. If you can state the options, you can use Doodle to gather opinions and come to a conclusion. Because the tool is Internet-based, it’s perfect for distance ed and online courses as well as for finding ways for colleagues spread across a region, the nation, or the world.

If you have Internet access, you can cast your vote with Doodle!