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FableVision and Big Picture Learning Launch Animated Film Series to Raise the Positive Profile Around Vocational Education and Career Opportunities

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In an effort to raise the positive profile around vocational education and career opportunities, Big Picture Learning (BPL) and FableVision—both long-time champions of progressive, creative approaches to education—are collaborating to produce a series of short, animated films to help students, educators, and caregivers understand and appreciate successful career paths that extend beyond the four-year college experience. Navigating Our Way is the first film project in BPL’s initiatives (including the Harbor Freight Fellows Initiative), aimed at providing new forms of apprenticeship and mentoring for youths exploring career pathways in trades and crafts.

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Navigating Our Way follows the story of best friends Seymour and Sylvie, who grow up near the busy shipyards of New Orleans and share a similar set of lofty dreams which include building, ships, and the harbor itself. Following their high school graduation, Seymour parts ways with Sylvie to go to college. Sylvie surprises Seymour by rejecting her many college acceptance invitations in favor of apprenticing and learning from her family’s shipyard workshop. Eventually, fate brings the two back together with an opportunity that requires both of their unique and important skills, and one that affirms that their different choices and journeys were equally valid.   

Navigating Our Way, produced by FableVision Studios, is narrated by award-winning film and television actor and New Orleans native Wendell Pierce. The film was written by Elliot Washor (Big Picture Learning) and Paul Reynolds (FableVision), with character design by New York Times best-selling picture book author Peter H. Reynolds. The film’s original music score was composed by New Orleans native and BPL student, Brian Richburg Jr., in collaboration with composer Tony Lechner.  

Along with tackling the stigma around the trades, Big Picture Learning co-founder Elliot Washor hopes this film will work to evolve society’s understanding of learning as a solely cognitive activity.  “We are forgetting how to work with our hands, and how to create things.” says Washor. “You can’t talk about human intelligence without also talking about hands. Our nation’s CTE (Career Technical Education) programs need a creative rethink to offer a blend of head-heart-hands learning.” Of course, shifting social-cultural perceptions around the trades  is an enormous challenge. That’s why the BPL and FableVision teams are leveraging the power of narrative storytelling to foster attitudinal change.

“We hope, over time, our work with Big Picture Learning will help shift the perception and value of all learning paths, including trades and highly skilled vocational and technical careers,” FableVision Co-founder and CEO Paul Reynolds shares, adding, “Navigating Our Way marks the launch of a national initiative, and will be followed by many other tools, including films, books, and educational resources that will help communities across the U.S. advocate and implement best-in-class CTE education and fill the trade pipeline with creative, talented, and passionate contributors.”  


Big Picture Learning is heading to Austin, Texas to take the annual SXSW EDU conference by storm. Click  on the images for more information about their upcoming sessions and be sure to add them to your schedule! 

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Our Favorite Words Inspired by Peter H. Reynolds’ “The Word Collector”

“Hover,” “treasure,” and “whisper” are just a few of the many words that expert word-collector Jerome has gathered and stored away in award-winning author/illustrator and FableVision co-founder Peter H. Reynolds’ latest story, The Word Collector.

It’s not until his words get lost and scattered that he begins to recognize that the hundreds of syllables he has collected are only pieces of a much larger puzzle. He realizes that words can be strung together to create meaning much greater than they have on their own. He uses this revelation to create poetry and songs that delight all who listen, encourage, and motivate people all around him, and even show affection for his furry friends. He begins to fill in the lines of his own story with healing words, loving words, and uplifting words.

Words are the greatest bridge-builders—they transcend race, religion, age, gender, sexuality, ability, and distance. Whether it’s braille on the page of a novel, a good morning text message, or a story harmonized to music, the power and versatility that words hold is the common thread. Through words we are able to connect with each other, with icons of the past, with characters on a screen, and even with our own feelings. They are the tools through which we build the story of our life.

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On Scholastic’s site you can flex your creative muscles by tinkering with words and phrases through interactive activities that get you mixing and meddling with words just like Jerome. You can become your own master wordsmith by making a collage out of Jerome’s many words over the backdrop of the whimsical illustrations from the book.

When you get a group of storytellers together in one room, there is going to be all kinds of words flying back and forth. The image that just popped into your head is what the FableVision office looks like. Following in the footsteps of Jerome, we decided to collect some of our own favorite words together!

Watch the FableVision-produced trailer for The Word Collector here and get a copy for yourself and all the other word collectors in your life!

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February FableFriday: Laura Evans, Director of Education, Georgia Public Broadcasting

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Laura Evans is no stranger to the world of education. With a well-rounded background in journalism and classroom teaching experience, she brings unique perspective to her work as Director of Education at Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB), Georgia’s digital media content provider for the classroom. GPB offers locally produced, Georgia-specific content and digital streaming services across all subject areas to teachers and students. GPB recently teamed up with FableVision Studios to develop Georgia Race Through Time and GASHA GO!, two interactive games that strike the right balance between educational content and entertainment, embodying Laura’s belief in the power and potential of game-based learning.

“I think game-based learning is effective because it makes learning fun. We cannot underestimate the power of fun, especially with young learners,” Laura shares. “Students today are digital natives and are extremely comfortable in this environment; it’s the ‘language’ they speak. We are seeing that the more traditional approaches to learning are no longer working and game-based learning allows for a more individualized, student-centered approach that meets all students where they are.”

Join us in learning more about Laura’s educational philosophies, her creative collaborations with FableVision Studios, and her vision for the future of GPB Education – as well as her recommendations for your next movie night!

As a former educator of 11 years, your passion for education enables you to bring a teacher’s perspective to the development and implementation of GPB’s educational resources. How does your time in front of the classroom enrich and inform your work? 
The time I spent in the classroom gives me better insight into what works and what does not work from an implementation standpoint. Sometimes, education resources are created without seeing them through the lens of a teacher and that can be counterproductive. When we approach new projects, I always try to put my teacher hat on and think about practicality and usefulness.

To bring history to life, GPB and FableVision created Georgia Race Through Time, a new history adventure game for 8th grade students. What inspired the making of this game featuring the time-travelling, antique-collecting Savannah and her trusty sidekick, Peaches? 
Since this game is aligned to Georgia standards, we knew it would be heavy on content. However, we also wanted to make sure it was fun and engaging for students. We collaborated with FableVision to come up with a great storyline and characters that would help students connect to the game. We also wanted to capture elements of Georgia, which influenced the names of the characters, Savannah and Peaches. Savannah is, of course, a city in Georgia, and the peach is Georgia’s official state fruit.

Math just got a new musical makeover! GPB recently released a new suite of games and activities to teach number sense, numeracy, and literacy to children in grades K-3. Tell us about GASHA GO! and what this game aims to accomplish.
We continue to hear from Georgia teachers that foundational math skills are critical for kids’ success in school later on. If young learners do not start off with a good understanding of numbers and their relationships to one another, they have difficulty when they get to more abstract mathematical concepts. GASHA GO! is designed for kids in kindergarten through third grade and was developed with input from Georgia elementary math teachers. It helps children build those foundational numeracy skills through fun math challenges and engaging characters.

What has your experience been like working with the FableVision team?
Working with the FableVision team has been such a positive, creative experience for us. We knew they had a reputation as a leader in game-based learning, but we didn’t quite know what to expect when we started our first project (Georgia Race Through Time). After our first “FabLab”—FableVision’s creative brainstorming / kickoff meeting—we knew we had picked the right partner based on the level of professionalism and energy with which they approached our project. They have helped us develop two great educational games, Georgia Race Through Time and GASHA GO!, from the beginning to the final touches. We look forward to working with them again soon.

Word on the street is that GPB and FableVision are taking a special trip to Austin, Texas this March. What's the occasion? 
Yes, our trip to SXSW EDU is coming up soon. We were selected from thousands of applicants to host a panel along with the team from FableVision. Our session is called Immersive Learning: Teaching History through GBL and we will share our process for creating a story-rich, standards-based game that positively impacts middle school students’ learning. As a public broadcasting station, we are constantly looking for ways to engage the adolescent audience, which sometimes dwindles when they grow out of kids’ programming. By specifically targeting this age group with our digital resources, we keep them interacting with our GPB brand.

Your team is always cooking up new tools! What's next for GPB Education? 
We are always looking for ways to innovate in the digital learning space. In addition to working on several new virtual field trips to different locations in Georgia, we are also working on our next Live Exploration. Live Explorations bring exciting locations to life via live streaming, stunning footage, field experts, live interactions, and supplemental resources. We had great success with our first trip to Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary—we had over 45,000 students and teachers watch and interact live.  This time we are working to bring the Okefenokee Swamp live to classrooms across Georgia (and the nation). We also continue to have great success with our new digital series, Things Explained. Our next episode will examine the mathematics of the Winter Olympics.

As a self-professed film, television, and literature geek, please share:

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Catch GPB and FableVision at SXSW EDU! 

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Immersive Learning: Teaching History through GBL
When: March 5 at 12:30 p.m.
Where: Room 17B, Austin Convention Center
Public broadcasting stations are positioned to connect and engage educators, students, and families. However, there's a significant decline in viewership among adolescents. Media developers and educators pioneered a game-based learning tool that tackles subject matter difficulty with Georgia Race Through Time, a supplemental history game. See how education experts addressed the challenges of producing a story-enriched, standards-based game to positively impact middle school students' learning. Register to attend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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FableVision Opens D.C. Office to Expand Development of Creative Ed Tech and Grow Public and Private Partnerships

(Boston, MA – January 18, 2018) – FableVision Studios is pleased to announce the opening of its Washington, D.C.-based office to be led by James Collins who, as Director of Strategic Partnerships and Government Relations, will support and accelerate FableVision’s growing roster of public and private collaborations around new technologies, digital storytelling, and pedagogically-progressive learning models.

"I’m thrilled to have James join the FableVision team and look forward to working with him to support best-in-class partners who are innovating media-rich ed tech," said FableVision President and Co-Founder Gary Goldberger, who made the announcement this week. "James is already playing a key role in forging alliances that will benefit the education technology and game-based education community."

James joins FableVision after his tenure at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology and the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for Learning and Digital Access where he focused on learning games, as well as education technology policy and research. He has aggressive plans to grow FableVision’s reach in the federal sector.

"When I first got to know FableVision at the Smithsonian, I knew that I had found a special group of people," Collins said. "It is an organization that has discovered how to mix pedagogy, storytelling, technology, and wonder fueled by a sense of mission. It is an honor to take these transformative experiences to scale."

James has a history of bringing together stakeholders to create change including co- founding the first federal Climate Change Game Jam, leading the Equity team for former President Obama’s National Maker Faire, and supporting the Department of Education’s #GoOpen campaign. James has also taught Computer Science in university and afterschool settings and is currently a member of the Montgomery College Game Degree Program’s Advisory Board. He holds a dual Bachelor’s of Science from DePaul University and a Juris Doctor from Washington & Lee Law School.

"So many of our creative collaborators committed to innovative ed tech and positive change are already based in D.C. – PBS Kids, Smithsonian, National Archives, Reading Is Fundamental, National Academy of Science," CEO and Co-Founder Paul Reynolds said. “I’m excited that James will help us build out our operations and shape the direction of how ed tech can truly serve all learners in more effective ways."

About FableVision

FableVision Studios has earned national and global recognition for its award-winning websites, games, animated films, museum kiosks, and apps. Its roster of clients includes educational publishers, broadcasters, nonprofits, museums, researchers, and institutions such as PBS KIDS, Smithsonian Institution, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Nick Jr., and National Geographic Society. FableVision is dedicated to helping all learners reach their full potential and telling “stories that matter, stories that move.”

For more information about FableVision Studios visit: www.fablevisionstudios.com.

 

 

Media Contact

Sarah Ditkoff
FableVision Studios
sarah@fablevision.com
617.956.5700

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New Year, New You  

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I love the start of the New Year—fresh start, clean slate, the promise of a new you. As a big fan of lists, making my New Year’s Resolutions is my favorite tradition that began when I was in the third grade.

A week before the start of winter vacation, Ms. Ferrugio—the teacher who fostered my love of reading—stood up and announced that she had presents for everyone. She got everyone a book (mine was The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids: Vampires Don’t Wear Polka Dots), a pack of red pencils, and stationery with illustrated birds. She said that in addition to doing lots of reading over the break, she hoped that we were also going to make a few resolutions ourselves. To get us started, she shared a few things from her personal list: to create a new unit lesson plan about Egypt, read 50 new books, and do 10 intentional acts of kindness. From her career as an educator to stoking her love of literature to being a nicer human being, these resolutions touched upon different parts of Ms. Ferrugio’s personality.

I’m reminded of this as I make my own list. It’s important to not just be a better person for myself but also to those around me, doing my part to keep FableVision’s mission of moving the word to a better place alive.

This year, I’m sharing a few things from my New Year’s resolution list with a little help from some of my favorite FableVision stalwarts. I hope that this toolkit of games, animation, interactives, and more enables you to meditate on the goals you want to achieve this year. Here’s to making Ms. Ferrugio proud!

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Get in Touch with the Natural World with the New England Aquarium
As winter makes the weather frightful, the lull of home’s warmth and comfort can be powerful. Combat this habit and stay cozy by taking a trip to Boston’s New England Aquarium. With the installation of the interactive and educational Fish Identification iPad app designed by FableVision, the Boston attraction offers something that other aquariums don’t. The aquarium mounted six iPads around their signature Giant Ocean Tank so that aquarium goers like me can identify the fish and other animals in this central exhibit. Much better than Netflix! Learn more here.


Improve Financial Literacy with Commonwealth
In the US, there are few young people who know how to manage their personal finances. I don’t want to be one of them. That’s why I’m upping my financial literacy by playing Con ’Em If You Can. In the game, the player assumes the role of a con artist learning key techniques—phantom riches, reciprocity, scarcity, social consensus, and source credibility—to scam the residents of Shady Acres. The intention is that by playing as the con artist, the user learns how not to fall for the schemes in the real world. Play for free on the game’s site.


Practice Self-Care with Marc Colagiovanni
By being kind to ourselves, we’re able to be kind to those around us. As we get older, the way we talk to ourselves can be less than compassionate. That’s why I’m reminding myself that I’m perfectly perfect just the way I am with Marc Colagiovanni’s The Reflection in Me. With FableVision founder and renowned children’s book author/illustrator Peter H. Reynolds at the helm as illustrator and executive producer, The Reflection in Me follows the impactful experience of a child going through the practice of self-love and acceptance. The film seeks to promote the message of having a positive self-image and unconditional love. Watch for free here.


Get Movin’ and Groovin’ with Sesame Street in Communities
Wellness is possible this year thanks to Grover’s Playground Workout! Developed by FableVision, the interactive is crafted to encourage families to get up on their feet and have fun exercising together. Players either spin the wheel to land on a random monster or pick a monster of their own choosing that then models up to three different moves that kids and parents (and Mitul!) can mimic. An excellent way to break a sweat with my favorite furry monster. Play Grover’s Playground Workout on Sesame Street in Communities’ website.


Exercise Kindness with Committee for Children
The world can always do with more kindness and playing ParkPals: Kindness Rules is a good way to remind yourself of the little ways we can make a big impact. ParkPals provides a safe space for children ages 7–9 to practice kind social behaviors in a safe, structured, online space. The game features an avatar creator, mini-games, and a virtual playground where the child has the opportunity to implement learned strategies in a simulated real-world experience. Play ParkPals for free in iTunes and the Google Play store.

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