Being able to read and write multiple forms of media and integrate them into a meaningful whole is the new hallmark of literacy.
At SSIS is moving towards becoming a 1:1 MacBook school in the upper grades, and although we know how challenging it is at times to make sure students use laptops and iPads in a way that supports their education, we believe that what we might often see as gaming and information consumption devices can turn very easily into places where students go to “paint”. Jason Ohler calls these devices Screasels: Screens that can easily become a new easel, a new place where students go to create, not just to consume. A lot of us grew up just looking at media as something that we consume, but media is now something that we make.
And the bottom line here is that literacy means consuming and producing the media forms of the day, whatever they are. And it’s been always like this! If you have a kid that just reads but does not write, would you consider that student literate? NO YOU WOULDN’T. You would consider that student half literate, since he/she can only do half of the literacy equation.
And we are absolutely at that point where students need to be able to write well whatever it is that they read. And it hasn’t been until a few years ago that we have had access to widely distributed media creation tools, affordable and easy to use, that are allowing us to produce the same media that we all used to just consume ten years ago.
During this past weeks, as a part of a writing unit on fairytales, our 3rd graders embarked in a multimedia adaptation of their favorite tales using “Green Screen Technology”. Students planned, created and performed in front of a video camera their original story using a green screen as a background, which allowed for “chroma key green screen editing”. At the post production level, students scanned copies of their own drawings which were “slid behind” their video recorded performances using chroma editing on the iPad. A truly innovative project!
As stated in the Grade 3 team blog: “Each of the grade 3 students performed their adaptation using a Green Screen, creating and changing the settings behind them while they made their stories come alive through story telling. Students used actions, voice changes, facial expressions and sounds to enhance their performances.”
Last week, Ms. Manzano’s wonderful Grade 2 class embarked in a multimedia project where students chose a story that they wanted to retell through drama and/or puppetry. Students created settings for Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the African folktale Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock, and a nonfiction book about gorillas, and ended up creating cartoons where students could practice different literacy elements (oral communication, written language, visuals, audio) and integrate them into a meaningful whole.
At SSIS we believe that when used effectively and for the right purpose, technology can elevate the learning process for students in this era of technological advancements. Multimedia can effectively promote active learning when it is used within a project-based environment, that is grounded in authentic learning and sound design principles, with an innovative teaching and learning strategy in a technology-backed class.
ES Technology Learning Facilitator