A while back, Dean asked us to engage in a couple of assignments from the DS106 website.  I blogged about my tasks and received a comment from a classmate about another assignment she thought I would have chosen: Cat Breading.  Had I seen it when I was carefully selecting my projects, I definitely would have completed it then. Fast-forward to this week, and I found myself with a couple pieces of decrepit bread in my cupboard, some time to kill, and a very special cat named Charlie.

The Story Of Charlie Bear

It was Friday, November 10, 2006.  I remember this because I had the day off work as Remembrance Day fell on the Saturday that year.  I was on my way out to my car when I heard the tiny meows of a kitten somewhere on the street.  I looked around and called, "Here kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty!"  Almost immediately, a little cat skittishly ran over to me on my driveway.  I tried to approach her but as I stepped toward her she ran back onto the street. It was snowing and getting too cold for a small cat like that to be out for long, so I went up to the porch of the house and called again: "Here kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty!"  Again she came, and so this time I opened the door and invited her into the house. She came running in the door and was warmly greeted by a curious German Shepherd, a Collie crossed with who-knows-what, and a growling/hissing cat who was clearly running the show.  Needless to say, Charlie bolted back outside to safety.  I looked around for her, but she was nowhere in sight.  When I returned to my car and turned on my headlights, the beam of light shone into a bush at the front of the house, revealing the little kitten.

Tugging on my heart strings, I rescued her from the bush and brought her back into the house and into the spare bedroom where she spent the night with my mom.  The next morning I called the Humane Society to report "him" found (I am really bad at deciphering the genders of kittens) and was informed of my options:

        1.  Bring her in immediately
        2.  Keep her at home until someone claims her and if after two weeks no one phones looking for her, bring her
             in then
        3.  Keep her at home until someone claims her and if after two weeks no one phones looking for her, keep her
Charlie's New Zipper Post-Surgery
We obviously chose option #3 and here we are today.  She is the polar opposite of my other cat, Hank (#catproblems), in that she is almost annoyingly affectionate and will take whatever our two Bostons or we dish out.  Last year she swallowed a large piece of a rubber dog toy and underwent major surgery to have it removed. When the vet techs phoned to update us the morning after, they said she was still a little groggy from the drugs but was rubbing her face on everyone's hands.  That is my Charlie Bear.  So when I stuck a piece of bread on her head, she just sat patiently while I snapped pictures and laughed hysterically at her expense.  I almost feel bad when I write that, but then I look at this picture and chuckle a little more:    

Miss Charlie, Donning Her Bread-Crown
Earlier this week Dean invited Instructional Technology Specialist, Alan Levine to steer our live session on the topic of Digital Storytelling.  During his presentation, Alan mentioned a website called DS106, an online course for Digital Storytelling that you can join anytime and sort of use as you like.  Dean asked us to check it out and complete two assignments from two different categories.  Let me begin my saying that my archaic operating system and lack of Photoshop made this very challenging for me.  I wasn't sure where to start, so I clicked the 'gimme a random one' button at the top.  You might be thinking, "That's the spirit!" or "How brave!" but I clicked that button close to 20 times, looking for an assignment that interested me and that I could do with the software I have.

The first one that caught my eye was Letters in Your Surroundings under the Design Assignments.  It looked snazzy and creative which is right up my alley, so I set to work.  This week I had also learned the importance of using images off the internet under the Creative Commons, so I began searching for the letters I needed to create my name.  After I had downloaded all of my images, I pasted them into a Word document and formatted them to be the same height.  From there I saved my document as a PDF in iPhoto by selecting the option from a drop down list in my printer dialogue box.  Then I opened the image in iPhoto, cropped out the extra white space, and was left with this!  The pictures are a little blurry, but that's what you get when you don't have a proper photo editor.  I still think it's pretty cool. 
Images Used Under Creative Commons From (Left to Right): John-Morgan, Camera Eye Photography, *Ann Gordon, p_a_h, isconniethere, Nina Matthews Photography, janetmck, Nina Matthews Photography
I went back to the random assignment generator, and clicked a few more times and came up with the Comic Book Effect assignment under Visual Assignments.  I was determined not to let my lack of a photo editor bring me down, so I went into the App Store on my iPad and bought the Halftone app for $0.99.  I then uploaded a photo I had taken of my cat, Hank, earlier this week with the Hipstamatic app and added some magical comic book effects.  It was really easy to use and looks pretty cool.  I emailed both of the pictures to myself so I could upload them here for you to see:
Before (Jimmy Lens, Kodot XGrizzled Film, No Flash)
Comic Book Hank
There are hundreds of assignments to choose from which would give students tons of choice if you decided to use DS106 in the classroom.  There are lots of connections that could be made to areas like literacy that would provide an alternative to boring old book reports.  Check it out and post your creations below!