Thursday, September 19, 2013

Junior Badge: Digital Photography

The Digital Photography badge was a lot of fun for the girls and for me. They love taking photos. In fact, one of our kapers is to take photos at each meeting/event. So, they had done a lot of stuff already. But, it was nice to slow down a bit and focus on this.

We were blessed to have a college Journalism/Art student with us for a few meetings. So, we used her knowledge.

#1: Learn about digital cameras from an expert

The girls interview the college student and she was great to talk about why she like photography and what subjects she liked.

I also brought in my "good camera" and printed out a tips/tricks sheet from the internet and we reviewed it and talked about what different terms meant. The badge sheet included some basic terms, too, which I talked about with the girls and explained the differences, etc.

#2: Take tons of photos
Well, I can't say they took tons while focusing on this badge, but remember they had been photographing all sorts of stuff all year long, so they had this covered. Instead, I gave them a list of 5-7 items that they had to do.... such as "take a selfie, find a different perspective, macro photo, group shot, action shot, landscape photo".

#3 Edit three photos
THEN, with the photos they took... I brought in my laptop that has photo editing software and let them play. I did put a timer on it, because these girls would spend HOURS editing if you let them. They each got 10 minutes to apply filters, add borders, correct red eye, etc. If you don't have software, check out Picasa's photo editing tool. It's free and contains lots of fun stuff you can do.

#4 Make a digital photo project
I happen to have software for digital scrapbooking. So, after they edited photos, they used those to create a card or a page. I had them printed and they were used as invitations to our Court Of Awards at the end of the year.

#5 Share your photos
We did an online shared album of all the photos the girls took. I invited parents to view and share with family.

As a fieldtrip for this badge, we visited Miller Photography. Their Columbia facility is about 2 miles from our meeting location. It was very cool. The girls were able to see all the cool stuff professional photographers could have their prints turned into. The girls saw machines in action and how quickly orders are processed and shipped. They maintain a 99.9% 24 hour turn around rate even during Christmas season!! The girls' favorite was the laser cutting machine... how could they not be impressed seeing a laser burning through layers of chipboard to make album covers?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Shutterfly "team" sites

I may the last person on the planet to know about Shutterfly's Share sites, but just in case, I wanted to pass along an amazing FREE tool for your troop.

My girls like to have a Photo Journalist kaper. They take turns taking photos and documenting what we did for troop meetings. It's great, because I want pictures but it's hard to take pictures when you are the Troop Leader... but in a few years, when they are doing most of the work and I'm just there for advice... they'll still want to take the pictures. HA!

Anyway... a good Girl Scout Leader friend of mine mentioned she used Shutterfly for her troop for signing up for events. My ears perked up and I asked for a little more information. Well, life gets busy and I hadn't done anything with it until last week.

You can set up a Shutterfly account (if you don't have one) and then set up a "Share" site to set up calendar events with reminders, share photos and give parents permission to upload additional photos from events, have a troop roster to easily track who is and isn't available for events, event sign up forms (these do have to be tweaked), upload files for dispersing, set up a journal for sharing news with parents, a message board (though I disabled mine) and of course the store where you can order photo gifts (It is Shutterfly after all).

The Calendar is where you can set up reminders, events, meetings, service projects, etc. Now, the site was designed for "teams" (like softball, t-ball, etc), so you have to sort of covert things in your mind. For instance, I don't need "Game", but I definitely can use "Meeting" when setting up my calendar items.

I use "Trip" for events; "Volunteer" for Service Projects; "Performance" for Ceremonies; "General" for deadlines on event registration and you can set up a reminder where the system will automatically email out the reminder to parents and I don't have to remember to do that!!! I did add all the girls' birthdays and the GS Holidays, too. You can even download the Calendar and import it into another client, such as Google or Outlook or whatever. That's nice, too. If events change, you can ask it to update members.

The Event Sign Ups I'm using totally differently than intended. For my events, I'm using the Volunteer Sign

Up forms. I put the girls names as a Role and have parents leave a comment "yes" or "no" to let me know if their daughter is attending. I have a sign up for all the events we are doing this year with any information I have about the event.

You fill out information about the event and decide what type of sign up form it is. Like I said, I'm using Volunteer sign ups.

Then, you list the roles or jobs. I'm listing the girls names as Roles, because that's what I've found is easiest to get parents to give me responses.

Once it's created, you can have the site email the members and ask them to come sign up. I set up all the events for the year and parents can sign up when they want, but I didn't have the site email them. When I am ready or closer to an event, you can send the sign up form out to members and invite them to sign up. That's what I plan to do.

One of the things I was complaining about the first night was the inability to upload files to the site to just have a Resources pages for parents... those basic forms that everyone needs access to... permission slips, at home badge information, "homework" sheets that I'm sending with girls this year in order to get them to step up and take responsibility for their badge achievement, and completed stuff we do like newsletters that parents may want to see. I did find it... You add a "Files" page and then can upload as you want. LOVE that you can drag and drop to reorder the list, too.

I'm still figuring it all out and I'm definitely not an expert on it, but so far it's pretty cool. My only "oops" was with the Message Board, which is why it's gone (ha!). I was uploading some blank forms and told it to post and when it did, it emailed all the members of the site that there were files uploaded... niiiicceee. But, it was my fault.. I wasn't paying attention apparently and I didn't uncheck a box. But, I don't want parents posting things on a board thinking they are going to me and they send them to everyone. AND I don't want my parents to post something and I not see it and it be kinda important. I want to retain our communication and improve it... not make it more difficult.

I LOVE LOVE LOVE the fact that I can set up albums and ask parents to contribute photos after the event. The calendar has an option to "email after event to invite to share photos". I plan on doing that. PLUS, I love that there is one place now for my families to check calendar, event sign ups, documents, and they are able to view photos from past events. That is awesome. Much easier than setting up a new album every time and sharing it out. I really hope that I will keep on top of uploading photos. OH... and you can tag people in there, too, even the girls who don't have accounts (They have to be 13, so I better not be getting any requests because that's a violation of their Internet Safety Pledge. There are Federal Laws preventing companies from collecting personal information about kids under 13 and since they have to share personal information to make an account... they aren't supposed to have one and if they do... it's because they lied about their age... which I'm totally NOT cool with. -- okay... off soap box).

I encourage you to check Shutterfly out... I know there are other places that offer similar things, but I really like this and it's very easy to use... plus you can order prints right there... it's awesome.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Junior Badge: Scribe badge

I have to say... the Scribe badge was one of the quickest ones the girls flew through... In fact, I had planned to do 3 of 5 activities and the girls finished all 5 in one meeting... I think I have a batch of writers in my troop.

Scribe 1: Poetry  
We tied our Poetry to World Thinking Day, actually. The girls wrote poems about their Mom, which tied to the 2013 theme.

Scribe 2: Short Story (team)
I like to bring teamwork into any badge we do, because it's great to work alone and it's great to learn how to work together. The girls took turns passing around a piece of paper to create a progressive short story. We had done this before verbally, but the girls had never written down a story together. They did a great job.

Scribe 3: 10 words about me
Believe it or now, this was the most difficult for the girls to do. Although, I put a few "rules" on it... it had to be positive, had to be a characteristic other than physical appearance, and couldn't be general like "I'm funny". They did a great job.

Scribe 4: Write an article
The girls chose to write a troop newsletter together. They thought about the types of things they see in the paper and divided up the sections. One girl did a feature story, another community event (wedding), the weather, comics, and even the ads section were covered. I took their stories and drawings after the meeting and compiled them into a newsletter for each of them to have. It was rather cool, in my opinion.

Scribe 5: Opinion essay
The Opinion Essay was a shocker. These girls were in 4th grade... 10 years at the oldest. The topics they chose to write about was not why cheddar is better than mozzarella or why you should eat dessert... These girls chose their topics and addressed gun control, freedom of speech, and using resources like electricity wisely. I could not believe their topics.... yes, these are tomorrow's leaders and if they keep that drive the world will be a better place.