“To fulfill the promise of digital citizenship, Americans must acquire multimedia communication skills that include the ability to compose messages using language, graphic design, images, and sound, and know how to use these skills to engage in the civic life of their communities.” ~Renee Hobbs
As we head into the New Year, it is exciting to see a number of great video competitions open to students. From our regional spring SEVAs competition to NextVista’s national and international events, students can hone their 21st century skill set (critical thinking, communication, creativity, collaboration, (digital) citizenship) – as they build their ePortfolios and digital footprints.
It is also exciting to see a growing number of free online tools and tips to help student filmmakers through the process of taking a message and transforming it into a media gem. For example:
And the big ah ha? Hey, until hearing Nick’s presentation, I had not considered that almost never in a news story will you see transitions used. Aside from the rare dissolve transition, used to show a flashback or change in time, transitions are not part of an award-winning newscast. But, oh my, do students, especially elementary students, love to use transitions! Nick’s presentation could be just the tip students need to rethink the use of star wipes, for instance, in transitioning their viewers from one scene to the next.
Video editing – Although I’m still grieving the loss of cloud-based JayCut, such an awesome freebie that even included green screen options – and allowed editing from both Mac and PC, eliminating all kinds of school-to-home/home-to-school issues – I continue to be grateful for iMovie, Movie Maker, and PhotoStory3 (one of my favorite digital storytelling tools!). And I look forward in the New Year to exploring free smartphone apps for filmmaking.
I think one of the most important things we can do for students is to support and promote their efforts at becoming effective multimedia writers. Providing tools and tips is one way – along with providing authentic audiences. Over the next month, I’d like to gather a comprehensive list of student video competitions. If you know of any, please jump in and leave a comment.
“The great films have not been made yet. The ones who will make them are out there, though, riding a skateboard.” ~Robert Altman
I’m still working on my first cup of coffee, and already have 3 good resources to share:
#1 – How the Internet is Revolutionizing Education – One of the many gems Discovery Education’s Dean Mantz has sent my way via Discovery Education’s Diigo group, this infographic makes visible the impact of the Internet on education.
#2 – You Can’t Just Google It – A great YouTube discussion starter with students about the need to question information. Love the daily gems that arrive each morning in the National Writing Project (#wnp) Daily. Thank you, JoAnn Jacobs, for re-tweeting Paula Naugle’s Tweet with the video’s URL.
#3 – Khan Academy and the Effectiveness of Science videos - Since the Khan Academy is included in the above infographic, I re-watched a YouTube video posted by Leila Dibble to the Merit 2011 ning (I’ll be blogging more about the Merit program, which I’ll be participating in during July). This intriguing video explores “students’ common misconceptions in a video alongside the scientific concepts has been shown to increase learning by increasing the amount of mental effort students expend while watching it.” Seems like a perfect inquiry-based project in the making for high school science teachers to involve students in documenting their prior knowledge/understandings of a concept.
Heading to kitchen for 2nd cup of coffee…
This morning, I headed across town to the Twin Rivers School District to attend a 3-day training sponsored (sort of) by Intel: Transforming Learning with One to One.
Here are my take-aways from Day 1:
I’ll be back tomorrow with more cool tools and strategies from the One to One workshop:-)
How can blogging help extend elementary students’ summary writing skills? If you’d been with me Friday afternoon at David Reese Elementary School, where I had the privilege of joining 5th grade teacher Rudy Alfonso for his lesson on summary writing, I’m pretty sure you, too, would be inspired by the integral role his class blog plays in the writing process.
Rudy opened the lesson with an interactive review of the parts of a summary, which he’s made available on Slideshare:
I think one of the most powerful learning tools teachers can bring into the classroom is a poster of the updated Bloom’s Taxonomy. Considering how many print-ready posters are already online, if I were an administrator, I’d provide all my teachers with full-blown, color-coded charts they could easily point to and use as a framework for discussing the multiple approaches to conquering content standards.
The power of a Bloom’s Taxonomy is maximized when students align everything from daily assignments to long-term projects to the six levels.
I recently joined elementary computer lab teacher Kelly Tenkely for a wonderful Elluminate session on Creative Thinking with Digital Blooms Taxonomy webinar. Her presentation is on the LiveBinders site and includes samples of the grade-level appropriate graphic organizers, such as the peacock below, she – and her students – have developed to help think through the levels various assignments fall into.
As Kelly explains, “I created the Bloomin’ Peacock to show teachers the Blooms Taxonomy break down and the Bloomin’ digital Peacock that shows how the digital tools in the supplement break down.” By making Bloom’s levels more visual, her students become active participants in analyzing the steps (which are sometimes recursive) involved in moving from remember to create. For Kelly, the difference is between simply focusing on a tool itself to using that tool to extend learning across the content areas.
The Visual Blooms Wiki is a great resource for more ideas on rolling out Bloom’s taxonomy with a 21st century skills frame. Check out the Web 2.0 graphic, which I just shared with a high school English teacher…who is now rethinking how his 11th graders will reflect on the lessons of the Holocaust and Elie Wiesel’s powerful survivor story Night.
With so many possibilities for learning tied to and promoted through shared conversations between teacher to students, students to students, students to teacher, and students to the world, I am intrigued by the structure Bloom’s Taxonomy provides for jump starting and guiding the conversations.
A few NECC conferences ago, I attended a session with Chris Lehmann. He introduced the word “prosumer,” a combination of consumer and producer. Chris predicted this word would soon make its way into the English language.
I am fortunate to work with a number of teachers who actively, consciously structure a students-as-producers model of learning. Each time I listen to Marco Torres talk about students as receivers of information vs. creators of information, I realize the importance of showcasing the work of these innovative teachers, so that their colleagues and administrators will begin to consider the price students who are locked into year-long test-prep programs will pay for being denied access to our increasingly participatory culture.
One resource I’ve used for the past few years to start conversations around new definitions for 21st century literacies is B.J. Nesbitt’s A Vision of K-12 Students Today (an adaptation of Michael Wesch’s A Vision of Today’s (College) Student) – a plea from students to become creators and producers:
I now have a new resource to add to my students-as-producers toolkit: the 2010 Horizon Report. This annual report from the New Media Consortium’s Horizon Project “describes emerging technologies likely to have a large impact on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry on college and university campuses within the next five years.”
If you don’t feel like reading it in its entirety, it’s very easy to skim through, thanks to the navigation-friendly format. You might want to start with Key Trends and then move on to Critical Challenges.
Want to see what’s on the horizon? Check out these sections of the report:
I truly believe that one small step towards meeting the critical challenges listed in the report could be a commitment at all sites to shift at least some of the school day into a create/produce mode.
I would love to join – or co-facilitate – a conversation on making the shift from consumer to producer! If you have resources on the topic, please add a comment!
What ed philo & tchg styles are likely in a schl whose walls feature motivational posters w/can-do slogans about effort & success?” Alfie Kohn
Alfie Kohn’s Friday morning tweet was on my mind as I headed down the hill yesterday to my school district – and 24 hours later, I’m still thinking about how I would answer his question.
I visit a lot of school sites, both in my day-time job and through a number of organizations I belong to. Most front offices and libraries have professionally done motivational posters. Some have student-done posters. I think the latter may be more reflective of a site’s educational philosophy than the former. I think the purchased posters reflect where sites would like to be; student-done posters reflect more the realities of the school day.
Take these three student samples, for instance, which were entered in a district-sponsored campaign to motivate students to get to school on time (click for an enlarged view). Could it be the lack of motivation for students to get to school on time stems from being greeted with messages such as “Take out your textbooks”or “Detention – Be Quiet” or a major part of the school day being spent sitting (daydreaming, sleeping) in rows?
I recognize that change is hard and that all of us who are teaching in 2010 were born in the past century. But I am optimistic that change is happening, due in large part to how easy it now is to access mentor texts and teachers 24/7.
Cheryl Oaks, in a recent post to her Tech & Learning blog, What’s it like to be a students in today’s classrooms?, asks, “Would I be a different type of learner than I was 50 years ago?” She answers the question by providing some great online resources.
What if students started the day, for instance, with a message on the board something like “log on to the Newseum and …” or “team up and head into David Warlick’s sources for Raw Data and …“? Would the No Excuses posters featured above reflect a different learning environment? I’m betting yes.
I’ll end this post with a great video by Kevin Honeycutt, one I plan to share with colleagues as we continue conversations on what 21st classrooms should/could look like – maybe even eliminating the need for motivational posters;-).
Skype is great tool…but movie making with Skype? Meet Mr. Alfonso, one of my EETT teachers, who I’m guessing can take any technology tool to a new level. His Meet the David Reese Bunch video is but one of a growing bank of samples of how movie making can promote shared learning communities.
A visit to Rudy Alfonso’s classroom blog will provide you with a window into what the act/art of digital composing looks like in his 5th grade classroom. Forget any stereotypes of Title I teaching (sometimes limited to multiple-choice, lower-level thinking activities); they don’t apply to this classroom. Based on a recent visit to Mr. Alfonso’s classroom, one of my resolutions for the New Year is to document his students’ year-long learning journeys, including video interviews. I’m pretty sure the end product will be an invaluable resource for other educators who want to provide a 21st century curriculum to their elementary students, but just need some tips and models.
Wouldn’t you love to hear first-hand why Serena, for instance, who has completed her storyboard for her second movie and is now ready to move into production, has decided her first scene will open with the particular ‘Establishing shot” shown in her storyboard?!
At the very minimum, I’m planning to add a monthly update on my digital travels with Mr. Alfonso and his class. I hope you’ll join me – and contribute to the conversation with links to what new technologies look like when they get legs and walk beyond workshops and into your classrooms.
If you haven’t already marked October 20th on your calendar to take part in the National Day on Writing, please read on! In recognition of how integral writing has become to all of us as we journey further into the 21st century, the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) is inviting our nation to come celebrate composition in all its forms by submitting a piece of writing to the National Gallery of Writing.
Why a National Day on Writing?
In light of the significance of writing in our national life, to draw attention to the remarkable variety of writing we engage in, and to help writers from all walks of life recognize how important writing is to their lives, October 20, 2009, will be celebrated as The National Day on Writing. The National Day on Writing will
- celebrate the foundational place of writing in Americans’ personal, professional, and civic lives.
- point to the importance of writing instruction and practice at every grade level, for every student and in every subject area from preschool through university. (See The Genteel Unteaching of America’s Poor.)
- emphasize the lifelong process of learning to write and composing for different audiences, purposes, and occasions.
- recognize the scope and range of writing done by the American people and others.
- honor the use of the full range of media for composing.
- encourage Americans to write and enjoy and learn from the writing of others.
What a wonderful opportunity to write as an individual, a family, a classroom, a school site, a department – to write from all walks of life. All the resources you might need to get started with your piece are available on the website, from a flyer about the event to a link to Writing Between the Lines – and Everywhere Else, a look at how young people are using forms of digital media to reshape the process of composing.
A huge thank you to all the folks at NCTE for your gift to the nation!
The great films have not been made yet. The ones who will make them are out there, though, riding a skateboard.” – Robert Altman
Why would a classroom teacher at any grade level or in any subject area consider adding one more activity into an already jam-packed curriculum? This is a question I ask myself repeatedly when teaching the filmmaking workshops I offer through the Area 3 Writing Project and through my school district.
Last October the Sacramento Educational Cable Consortium (SECC) invited me, as part of their SEVA teacher training series, to give a workshop that would provide teachers with the justification to bring video production into the K12 curriculum. Having a workshop deadline to meet was just the motivation I needed to sit down and articulate why I believe all students should have access to filmmaking (aka digital storytelling, video production, etc.) as part of their instructional day.
I had three arguments in mind before even turning on the computer. Within an hour, I had my presentation ready to go. Three arguments expanded to six – and I was on a roll, having discovered in the process how strongly I felt about the topic.
The following week, a group of teachers willing to rise early on a Saturday filed into my SEVA workshop. I lucked out. Not only was this a very awake and participatory group, they also wanted to return to their own sites and present the case for filmmaking. Based the number of requests for my PowerPoint, SEVA organizer Doug Niva suggested uploading my slideshow to their website site.
As much as I appreciate the number of slideshows educators around the world have generously uploaded to such venues as YouTube, or SlideShare, or their blogs, I wish more content producers would also provide a written piece to document how they moved from an initial burning question or challenge to a final product or solution. What follows is my attempt to share my personal learning journey, an experience that has been shaped by first-hand interactions and observations in classrooms (mainly grades 4-12) and the research and advise of others, beginning with filmmaker Nikos Theodosakis and continuing with filmmaker and literacy coach (Los Angeles USD) Mathew Needleman and many colleagues from the National Writing Project (NWP).
So let’s return to my Case for Filmmaking in the Classroom presentation, starting with slide/argument #1:
#1: Addressing ethical use of the Internet – Picture the following scenario: an elementary teacher (yes, in my district), Googles herself. To her dismay she finds that on a day she was out, one of her students used a cell phone to film a lovely little scene of classroom chaos, to which his middle school brother later helped him flavor with some racist, homophobic words, and then upload to YouTube. As school counselors in my district scramble to deal with an explosion of cyberbullying issues, I argue that teaching the ethical use of video and the Internet must be woven into the elementary curriculum, before the onslaught of adolescent (mis)behavior.
In the case of the above siblings, the parents were clueless as to how their children were choosing to use both their cell phones and the computer in the kids’ bedroom. To illustrate the fact that too many students lack an ethical grounding in the appropriate use of the Internet, I downloaded a YouTube video of a student getting his head bashed against a locker and linked it to Slide #1.
Try doing an Internet search on “locker room fight” and you’ll get back literally hundreds of links, such as the Norwood Middle School’s claim to fame. Granted, middle school is all about making wrong decisions, but what if districts wove media education into the elementary curriculum? It is my hope that such a program could play a pivotal role in keeping students safe from each other (i.e., cyberbullying) and from themselves (i.e, sexting) and in reversing what has become an alarming trend, too often ending tragically.
#2: Promoting critical media consumption – Thanks to support from the National Writing Project, I had the opportunity to attend last summer’s NCTE Institute on 21st Century Literacies. The seed for this post was planted when Ernest Morrell took to the podium to deliver his Critical Literacy and Urban Youth: Pedagogies of Access, Dissent, and Liberation keynote address. Ernest opened with four questions that begged for discussion:
No surprise that he answered question #4 with:
Slide #2 is similar to one Ernest used, maybe not the same Seventeen Magazine cover, but definitely the same image from 50 Cents, complete with its phallic symbols and suggestions of violence. I don’t know that the images from the covers of Seventeen, with the pitch, for instance, on how to Get amazing abs!, actually promote any safer or healthier life style than 50 Cents‘ collection. Given that the age range of Seventeen readers spans from 12-17, I argue that there is a critical need to provide upper elementary and middle school students with first-hand opportunities to explore and manipulate media so that they might become as skilled in reading and interpreting images as they are with decoding traditional text.
#3: Providing students with multiple ways to access core content – No matter how many times I visit CogDogRoo’s (Alan Levine) 50+ Ways to Tell a Story, each time I find new Web 2.0 resources and tools for incorporating digital storytelling across the curriculum. Whereas filmmaking was once a medium that required expensive equipment and major technical expertise, “we are at the point now where we can do some very compelling content creation with nothing more complex than a web browser.” Why would we not offer students filmmaking opportunities and options? To answer that question, I’ll call on an elementary school SEVA film producer and a middle school SEVA film producer to share their perspectives on how the process of filmmaking translates into learning venues.
A year ago, I drafted the RFP for my district’s application for Round 7 of the EETT Grant. My goal was to integrate Web 2.0 tools into the 4th grade (Year One) and 5th grade (Year Two) English/Language Arts program. In thinking back to the one-page summary that must precede the grant narrative, I remember pondering over this sentence: “Target teachers will participate in 42 hours of professional development on 21 century technologies followed by hands-on explorations with specific Web 2.0 tools (blogs, wikis, podcasts, and multimedia applications) that will ‘power up’ Open Court lessons and engage students in the learning process.“ Given that every administrator will say “Yes!” when asked if he/she would like to be involved in a technology grant, often without understanding the professional development required to support teachers in adopting new tools, I hesitated to be too specific about exactly which ‘multimedia applications’ would be included, knowing that over a two-year period, new tools would emerge, adding to an already robust menu (i.e., Movie Maker2/iMovie, PhotoStory 3, VoiceThread, Animoto). But I definitely did not want the grant to be all about learning PowerPoint!
At the October EETT kickoff meeting, I noted a look of shear panic by at least four or five teachers as we started the day by connecting for an interactive videoconference with Mathew Needleman and ended the day by passing out a complete camera set (bag, tripod, microphone, two cameras) for each site. I wondered if I was being overly ambitious in my vision for taking student voices beyond the classroom via video production. But eight months later, as we approached the end of the school year and with movie making projects happening at all three EETT sites, I had the opportunity to observe students firsthand as they moved though various stages of multimedia writing. EETT teacher Tara McCartney’s commitment to providing her students with multiple modes of writing is clearly making language arts standards more attainable for her 4th graders:
#4 Supporting a collaborative learning environment – In his book The Director in the classroom: How filmmaking Inspires Learning, Nikios Theodosakis points out that “Filmmaking is a collaborative art, requiring dozens of passionate craftspeople to bring about a focused vision onto the screen. Each brings with them their own experiences and insights and makes the final film richer and truer than the director originally imagined” (p 7). Yet not all students have access to such 21st century skills as collaborating, connecting, and creating . The more high-poverty + low-performing a school site is, the greater the pressure is on administrators and teachers to deliver instruction per the ‘sit ‘n get’ model. I stand in awe of those educators who seek innovative ways to make learning engaging and memorable – despite top-down mandates that can lead to what teacher/writer Kelly Gallagher refers as “apartheid programs,” effectively denying students access to the “participatory culture” described in Henry Jenkin’s white paper.
Florin High School English teacher Bob LeVin is one of the innovators. I met Bob five years ago when I sent out an email to my district’s Technology Advisory Committee asking if anyone knew an English teacher who might be interested connecting with other classrooms in the Youth Voices online project. Bob’s enthusiastic response was the start of a yearly connection in which we meet at the start of each new school year to talk about tools and possibilities for taking his students’ voices beyond the confines of their school site and and increasingly impoverished community. What began in the first two years with a productive exploration of blogging has evolved into an annual integration of filmmaking into Bob’s program. Former student Michael Fuentes explains well the benefits of making a movie:
On the ‘same side of the tracks’ as Florin High School, Prairie Elementary School students in Lesley Mckillop’s 4th grade classroom have started the long journey to the red carpet, SEVA (Student Educational Video Awards) style. As Lesley’s young filmmakers made their way onto the stage to receive an Honorable Mention Award for Blog Safely!, I wondered if the crowd filling Sacramento’s historic Crest Theater to capacity understood what it meant to have students thanking their principal for driving them to the awards ceremony. Lesley, an innovator and an EETT teacher, came to me following the October kickoff and shared that she knew nothing about technology. Her initial reaction to bringing filmmaking to her 4th graders was the feeling of being completely overwhelmed while at the same time wanting to get on board and, more importantly, bring her class on board. By the time the school year drew to a close, all of her students had participated in the making of one or more movie productions, and for a handful, including the young man who is the last to step up to the microphone in the clip I’ve inserted at the end of this post, filmmaking has rocked their worlds.
# 5 Responding to current research – During the October SEVA workshop, I shared some snippets from Daniel Pink‘s A Whole New Mind and Thomas Friedman‘s The World Is Flat, passed around my Time Magazine issue, and promoted the work of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills – all of which point to the many “c” words associated with new literacies, such as connecting, collaborating, and creating .
In April, I traveled down the road to Berkeley for a NWP Digital Is meeting, where I had the good fortune to meet Liz Stephens. As an opening activity, the meeting coordinators asked our cozy group of 12 to think about and share a “whack on the head” about the intersection between writing and technology. Liz’s statement that writing in a digital age is “more about ‘frames’ than ‘stages’ was an instant jolt for me and brought to mind recent conversations with teachers and students, such as Xavier Carillo (former student of Bob LeVin), who shares a “no duh”:
In a test-driven climate, it’s easy for teachers and administrators to view filmmaking as a ‘when-testing-is-over’ activity. I think if they could sit in on a session or two with students from my EETT classrooms, they would see that, unlike worksheets, as students delve into their filmmaking projects, a major shift happens. They typically begin a project with the idea of “completing an assignment.” And then the shift happens: they see themselves as producers of content that others will see and benefit from. They have – with much enthusiasm and pride – ascended to the top level of Bloom’s Taxonomy (as revised in 2001 by Anderson and Krothwahl).
#6 Engaging students -Well this one is pretty much a no brainer. No matter what their access is during or beyond the school day, students like technology. From brainstorming, to storyboarding, to filming, to narrating, to editing – many students find a niche in the filmmaking process that pushes them as learners, as contributors, as team players. As they shift from consumers to content producers, there is also a shift in ownership of the learning. Step into their classrooms, and you will see the collaborative efforts start to happen, you will feel the synergy, and you will witness new levels of student engagement.
It’s been my privilege over the past few years to watch colleague (same district, same Writing Project) Jim Faires weave filmmaking into his 6th grade curriculum at Butler Elementary School. Through filmmaking, Jim is often on the receiving end of inspiration.
But how does a teacher justify integrating filmmaking in a textbook and test-prep driven school day? In my state, California Standards for the Teaching Profession provide a ready-made argument. Checkout the first standard: ENGAGING AND SUPPORTING ALL STUDENTS IN LEARNING:
Teachers build on students’ prior knowledge, life experience, and interests to achieve learning goals for all students. Teachers use a variety of instructional strategies and resources that respond to students’ diverse needs. Teachers facilitate challenging learning experiences for all students in environments that promote autonomy, interaction and choice. Teachers actively engage all students in problem solving and critical thinking within and across subject matter areas. Concepts and skills are taught in ways that encourage students to apply them in real-life contexts that make subject matter meaningful. Teachers assist all students to become self-directed learners who are able to demonstrate, articulate, and evaluate what they learn.“
Back to my initial question: How does a teacher find the time to integrate one more activity into the school day? Take three minutes to watch Lesley McKillop’s students as they ‘walk the red carpet.’ At the end of the this on-the-spot video, shot collectively (without a tripod) by her students, Lesley provides an answer to that important and often-asked question.
I actually started this post several months ago but didn’t publish it, thinking there were probably more points and definitely more resources that I could add. I’ve recently rediscovered, for instance, Edutopia’s What Works in Public Education site. A search on ‘filmmaking the classroom’ brought up a list of great articles – more than enough to justify my hitting the Publish button. If you have ideas and/or resources to add, I invite you to join me in this conversation and post a comment. I’m pretty sure my six arguments could easily be expanded to a dozen or more!