Students are naturally motivated to produce interesting content that they can publish for others. Visual learners also have the opportunity to produce work using their processing strengths in order to communicate their ideas. Students are engaged in active learning requiring critical and creative thinking skills while collaborating with their peers. Like other posts in my multiliteracies series, I will share some teaching ideas and reference the five critical elements of of digital and media literacy discussed by Hobbs and Moore in their book Discovering Media Literacy.
- Access: locating materials responsibly and understanding those materials
- Analyze: comprehending messages in a variety of formats and evaluating the credibility and quality of those messages
- Create: using digital tools and technology to make content in a variety of formats
- Reflect: making responsible choices and evaluating one’s own behavior and work
- Act: taking action to solve problems and address social issues
Public Service Announcements
I use video creation as one option for assessment for a project based learning activity with my students. They are tasked with researching a current event related to natural resources (access) and then creating a public service announcement to persuade an audience to take action to protect our natural resources (create, act). The videos student produce are used to assess content knowledge, writing techniques, and use of digital media. Students can learn the digital literacy concept of sequencing images, language, and sound to accomplish the task of persuading a specific audience through the various stages of the video creation process.
When working through the five step process of identifying your goals, preproduction, production, postproduction, and distribution and promotion outlined by Hobbs and Moore, I used a workshop model with my students in order to provide adequate support for each student group. Each day we met, we started with a mini-lesson addressing the step in the process that the student groups were working on. The lessons included direct modeling, viewing or creating examples, and setting a goal for the day’s work time. Following the mini-lessons, student groups would begin working on their outlined task for the day while I conferenced with groups and provided necessary feedback and support. This type of daily feedback and support was necessary for my fourth graders to stay on track with their projects and remain focused on our goals of communicating a clear message and using expression and tone when speaking. The workshop model worked nicely because I could address each group’s needs and provide scaffolding through feedback, just-in-time instruction, and clarification.
This year I shot the scenes for the public service announcements using my iPhone and edited with Windows Media Maker. Next year I will look for a better recording option as my sound was inconsistent. Unfortunately, we ran short on time as this was our last big project of the year. That means my students missed out on the postproduction part of creating videos, and I did all the editing at home to finish before school was out for the summer. My students loved viewing their work and hearing feedback from their peers about their messages (analyze). Each group also took time to reflect on their work and make comments about how they could improve their work in the future and how I could better support groups next year (reflect).
This is a public service announcement I created for my students as a model.
Producing digital stories is a meaningful task for students as they both learn from digital content and also produce it. Using digital stories is a great way to connect technology and content in the classroom. Students can practice the digital skills of sequencing images, creating images with meaning, and reading with expression.
I plan to use digital storytelling in my classroom next year as a tool for students to express their ideas creatively while writing stories and demonstrating their visual literacy skills. One literacy skill my students struggle with is understanding how characters interact with and impact the plot of a story. To practice and teach this skill, I will have students rewrite, or remix, a story of their choice by changing a main character’s traits and showing how that affects the plot (create).
My lesson closely follows the four steps outlined by Hobbs and Moore in their book that I mentioned above. The steps are: develop the characters, write the script, frame and film the scene, and perform and receive feedback.
First, students would brainstorm with a partner about various character traits for a main character and how that trait might cause the character to behave differently. While they write their stories, students would create a storyboard to visualize each scene they want to portray. When students have their planning finished, they can create digital slides or draw scenes and scan them to digital format. Finally, students can use the skills they already learned through screencasting to record their stories. Once students publish their work, their peers can explore various stories, provide feedback, and explain how the plot was affected by a character’s traits (analyze, reflect, act).
I created a model for my students, and next school year, I plan to have my students create their own digital stories. Watch my digital story model of the Three Little Pigs and the Lazy Wolf. I used one set of clipart that I purchased from Etsy to create multiple scenes in Google Slides, and then I read my script and recorded my story using Screencast-o-matic with voice over. Creating the visual images was surprisingly easy, and the end result will interest students.
If digital storytelling is new to you or if you are interested in incorporating it into your classroom, stop by the Creative Educator. They have lots of great examples and lesson ideas if you need some inspiration.
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