Vocabulary Self-Collection Strategy Plus (VSS+)

by Dana L. Grisham (with Thomas DeVere Wolsey and Linda Smetana)

The Need for Vocabulary Learning

The need for breadth and depth of vocabulary accelerates through the grades as students encounter more challenging academic texts in print and on the Internet (CCSS, 2010). Improving students’ vocabulary is critical if students are to develop advanced literacy levels required for success in school and beyond, in the world of higher education and the workplace (Biancarosa & Snow, 2006; Graves & Watts-Taffy, 2008; Lubliner & Grisham, 2012).

Research suggests that students with a well-developed vocabulary learn many more words indirectly through reading than from instruction (Cunningham & Stanovich, 2001). If wide reading promotes vocabulary development, then conversations about their reading with adults and peers also strengthen students’ word learning (Biemiller & Boote, 2006). The goal of effective vocabulary instruction is to promote a lively interest in words through student expression and participation in a learning community that enjoys playing with words, builds on individual interests as well as curriculum needs, and emphasizes self-efficacy in word learning (Beck, McKeown, & Kucan, 2008; Graves & Watts-Taffy, 2008). As we have noted in this blog, the impact of technology on vocabulary development also needs to be considered (Castek, Dalton & Grisham, 2012).  In other contexts, we have suggested that technology integration should be generative in the sense that learners should use technological tools to satisfy their curiosity and to generate creations for learning and for the demonstration of learning (Grisham & Smetana, 2011).

Vocabulary instruction may occur before reading (preteaching important vocabulary), during reading (teaching what emerges as needed), and after reading. Vocabulary Self-collection Strategy or VSS (Haggard, 1982), is an after reading strategy.

The Common Core (2010) requires that technology be integrated into instructional and independent learning sequences.  Research has shown that the use of technology and technology-based instruction enhances student learning. In the post-reading vocabulary assignment we explore here, teachers may use use several forms of technology to increase student interest in vocabulary and a variant of the VSS strategy to engage students in more robust vocabulary learning.

Vocabulary Self-collection Strategy Plus (VSS+) occurs after a selection has been read and is based on the principles of VSS (Haggard, 1982), a researched-based strategy that captures the essence of vocabulary learning:  multiple exposures to a word, multiple readings of a text, collaboration of students and teacher, oral discussions and presentations, selecting words that are important to know, writing a script and recording a podcast, Internet search for illustrations, and building semantic webs. Recently, two colleagues (Thomas DeVere Wolsey and Linda Smetana) and I worked in a fourth-grade classroom in a public school in Northern California, to teach the students how to make an online dictionary (e-dictionary) page using the VSS+ strategy. The three of us spent three hours with Mr. D’s 33 students, first in the classroom, then in the computer lab at their school.

VSS+ is a structure that becomes familiar to students so they can use it with more independence over time. It takes more time in the beginning as teachers and students get used to the technology, the time, and the process.  To teach VSS+ we wanted to use text with interesting or unknown words or text dense with academic language. Mr. D provided us with a passage from the Science textbook in use in his classroom. Mr. D pre-taught some of the vocabulary and students had already read and discussed the package when we arrived.

Collaboration and peer learning are essential to the VSS+ strategy. Mr. D had the students divided into cooperative groups of 4 students. In order to differentiate instruction to meet the learning needs of students, they may be grouped heterogeneously or homogeneously as needed. Mr. D’s students were grouped heterogeneously.

To teach the VSS+ strategy, we began in the classroom with a PowerPoint slide and a demonstration of the strategy.  Using a think aloud protocol, I modeled the strategy by presenting a nominated word to the class, and provided suggested answers to the following questions. In the demonstration, we used an example that we constructed on “continent” (see below). These are the three elements that students must consider as they nominate a word.

a.     Where is the word found in the text?  (Page number; read the sentence aloud)

b.     What do the team members think the word means?

c.     Why did the team think the class should learn the word?  The team must tell the class why the word is important enough to single out for emphasis (a rationale).

During the team presentations of nominated words, we facilitated discussion, listened to students’ projected meanings of the word, and invited class members to contribute additional clarifications of the words. A chosen target word was allocated to each team to prepare an e-dictionary page.

 Then came the fun part!  We adjourned to the computer lab where we asked students in Mr. D’s class to use two formats for their e-dictionary pages:  PowerPoint (like our example below) and a program called Thinglink.

In the lab, under teacher supervision, team members used the Internet to locate images and or definitions for the target word and then collaboratively determined which of the images/definitions best fit their prediction of the word meaning.

We proposed the following formatting for the eDictionary:

Word and Written Definition

Image selection from the Internet, Photos, Illustrations or Student Drawings (if a scanner is available)

Semantic web (we used WordSift)

Student audio recording about the word (critical thinking about own word learning)

Arrangement of the PowerPoint or Website page

Audio recording by students of the main elements of the word exploration

Posting to website (classroom e-Dictionary)

In the following example, the three of us used PowerPoint to make a sample e-dictionary page using the word “continent.” In the PowerPoint page is an audio recording that cannot be loaded into WordPress. To hear this recording, please visit

http://media60.podbean.com/pb/5d2ff0db75b8e90568ffd2295b4362b8/52693971/data1/blogs25/353339/uploads/ThinglinkContinents.mp3

Slide2

Next week in Literacy Beat, Linda, DeVere and I will talk more about the work we did with Mr. D’s students and share examples of their PowerPoint and Thinglink pages with you.

References

Biancarosa, C., & Snow, C. E. (2006). Reading next—A vision for action and research in middle and high school literacy: A report to Carnegie Corporation of New York (2nd ed.). Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education.

Biemiller, A. & Boote, C. (2006). An effective method for building meaning vocabulary in primary grades. Journal of Educational Psychology, 98, 44-62.

Blachowicz, C. L. Z., & Fisher, P. (2000). Vocabulary instruction. In R. Barr, P.

Mosenthal, P. S. Pearson, & M. Kamil (Eds.), Handbook of Reading Research, vol. III, (pp. 503-523). White Plains: Longman.

Castek, J., Dalton, B. & Grisham, D. L. (2012). Using Multimedia to Support Generative Vocabulary Learning. In J. F. Baumann & E. J. Kame’enui (Eds.). Vocabulary Instruction: Research to Practice (2nd Edition). New York: Guilford.

Common Core State Standards Initiative. (2010). Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects. Washington, DC: CCSSO & National Governors Association.

Cunningham, A.E. & Stanovich, K. E. (2001).  What reading does for the mind. American Educator, 22, 1/2, 8-15.

Graves, M.E. & Watts-Taffy, S. (2008).  For the love of words:  Fostering word consciousness in young readers. Reading Teacher, 62, 99.185-193.

Haggard, M. (1982) The vocabulary self collection strategy: An active approach to word learning.  Journal of Reading, Vol. 26, No. 3 (Dec., 1982), pp. 203-207.

Grisham, D.L. & Smetana, L. (2011) Generative technology for teacher educators. Journal of Reading Education, 36, 3, 12-18.

Lubliner, S. & Grisham, D. L. (2012). Cognate Strategy Instruction: Providing Powerful Literacy Tools to Spanish-Speaking Students. In J. Fingon & S. Ulanov (Eds.), Learning from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Classrooms: Promoting Success for All Students (pp. 105-123). New York: Teachers College Press.

  

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Copyright and Fair Use in the Classroom: An Introduction

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

Working with multimedia, almost invariably, means incorporating the works of others into a presentation (see Huffman, 2010). Teachers and students do have some latitude, called Fair Use. However, it is always an effective practice to make sure that others’ intellectual properties are attributed or cited in any presentation. While there can be substantial penalties for infringing on the works created by others, the most important point, arguably, is that attributing the works of others is simply good citizenship. Creators want credit for their work, and any user is a potential creator, as well. In digital environments, creators, authors, and users take care of one another by properly attributing the sources they use. Though teachers, professors, and students are very familiar with citation of text-based sources (e.g. APA, MLA, Chicago style), these style guides often do not provide sufficient guidance when a student, for example, wants to incorporate images, audio, or video created by others in a multimedia presentation.

In this video, some general ideas related to citing video, audio, and image sources are explored, especially as they relate to presentations (using PowerPoint, Prezi, and similar formats).


An excellent place to begin learning about digital citizenship is the MediaLab at the University of Rhode Island. Teacher and student resources can be found on the Medialab website.

Though not exhaustive, these websites provide a place to begin looking for music and image sources that students and teacher might use in their own multimedia presentations while considering the rights of others who have contributed their works.

WikiMedia Commons
Creative Commons Search Tool and Creative Commons Licenses
National Gallery of Art – Open AccessJamendo
Low cost images: Dreamstime

Added March 13, 2014: Teach Students About Creative Commons: 15+ Resources – See more at: http://www.techlearning.com/Default.aspx?tabid=67&entryid=7298#sthash.vLSuk9fQ.dpuf

Explore more resources at these Delicious.com links:

Fair Use
Copyright
Plagiarism

I hope that this brief introduction leads you and your students toward the goal of better digital citizenship through attribution and citation of the intellectual property others create—a springboard to more ideas and a collaborative world.

Questions for Students and Teachers:

1. Consider the last multimedia presentation you placed online. How did you cite or otherwise attribute the digital images, audio files, or other media you incorporated?
2. How might you have more effectively cited the sources as a digital citizen to show how your own ideas built upon the ideas and creative works of others?
3. In what ways do traditional styleguides help you cite works you used? How do traditional styleguides fail to address multimedia presentations and use of images, audio, or video files in your own creative works?

References:
Huffman, S. (2010, May/June). The missing link: The lack of citations and copyright notices in multimedia presentations. TechTrends, 54(3), pp. 38-44.

Links to Traditional Styleguides:
APA
MLA
Chicago
Turabian

Creative Commons License
Copyright and Fair Use in the Classroom: An Introduction by Thomas DeVere Wolsey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://literacybeat.com/about/.

Generative Technology: Teacher Candidate Examples

by Dana Grisham

In my last post, on March 2, 2013, I talked about a project that my colleague, Linda Smetana, and I did with teacher candidates who were asked to integrate technology into literacy lessons they were doing in their assignments in schools. Linda and I refer to this as “generative technology” and feel that when students create something as a result of using technology, there is a positive synergy about it. The teacher candidates benefit from learning to use technology in their teaching and their K-12 students benefit from creating something academic with the tools they are offered.

Linda and I believe that “generative” technology needs to be infused into teacher preparation. Technology in teacher preparation tends to be “silo-ed” in the programs where we teach.  By generative technology, we mean that the technology is embedded in the content of the course in teaching methods, rather than something “added on.” In my March 2013 post, I talked at length about the assignment that was generated and promised to share the products in my next post. So, here are a couple of the products that resulted from our generative technology assignment. Remember that there were 21 teacher candidates in the fifth quarter of a seven-quarter post-baccalaureate teacher preparation program; 17 of the candidates were simultaneously completing their masters degree in education while 18 of the 21 participants were earning their education specialist and multiple subject (elementary) credentials.

First, teacher candidates showed a great deal of diversity in the choices they made about the technology they infused into their projects. The actual projects that candidates chose are listed below (all names are pseudonyms).

Simone

High School

Mixed general education English class includes

Sped, at risk, low performing

Intern

Using Voki to create avatars who read student created papers

Nita and Lila

Elementary

RSP & intervention 4th & 5th graders

Interns

Shared teaching position

Class Writing Blog where student progress was chronicled

Avram

Middle School

RSP & intervention

Intern

Writing Website created by the Flamingo Writers; weebly.com

Lani and Ed

Middle School

RSP & Instructional Support, history

Student teachers

Election Brochure using

MyBrochureMaker

Alicia

Early primary

Special education self contained class

Intern

Storybird for creating books with repetitive text incorporating sight words

Elana

Primary

Special education, self contained class

Intern

Prezi for zoo-phonics lessons

Joanne

Upper elementary

Special education, self contained class

Intern

Toontastic as a vehicle for Story Writing using the iPad.

Callum

Middle School

Communication and Social Skills class

Intern

Toontastic as a vehicle for Story Writing using the iPad

Lianne and Jerri

Elementary

Resource

Student teachers

Comic Creator to create a class book of prepositions; iPod to record student’ reading of authored page; student videos

Jake

Middle School

Resource

Student teacher

Using Glogster, students created presentations of specific historical events

Monte

Middle School

Resource & Intervention History class

Intern

Using Glogster, students created

presentations of inventions

Joleen

Elementary

Language enriched special education self contained class

Student teacher

Comic Creator to create simple stories

Tina

Elementary

Special education self contained class

Intern

Storybird to create stories – social skills and sharing

Miles

High School

SPED class for students with Emotional Disturbance

Intern

Began with Prezi and changed to ppt because of site technology resources; Students isolated the elements of the novel ‘the necklace’ located images on the web that reflect essence of event

Larry

Elementary

Special Education self contained class

Intern

Strip Generator, student created panels regarding sharing. Luke’s presentation to the class was through Prezi.

Serena

Middle School

Resource Specialist Program

Student teacher

Storybird to create stories; illustrate stories from gallery pictures

Janet

Elementary

Special Education self contained class

Student teacher

Using Xtranormal, a text to movie website; students created short films reflecting narrative story structure with their own scripts using text-to speech technology.

Callista

Elementary

Resource Specialist Program

Intern

VoiceThread; understanding literal and figurative meaning of idioms

I’d like to share just a couple of examples with you.

In the first example, low track high school students in tenth grade learned to create avatars using VOKI (http://www.voki.com/). Simone, their teacher, planned a series of lessons for the students to write a descriptive paragraph incorporating at least four adjectives and one metaphor after reading the poem Mother to Son by Langston Hughes and highlighting the staircase metaphor. After writing their paragraphs, students audio-recorded them and the VOKI avatars voiced the paragraphs for the entire class. Simone stressed in her reflection that students had discovered “the power of their voices” and were incredibly motivated by the project.  She stated, “I was happy to learn more about my students—because they were more motivated to complete the assignment, they were participating more in the activities as well, and I got a great insight into both their comprehension and writing levels.” She also recounted one of the “greatest successes” was with a male student who became more engaged and active when he realized “he could become his character.”

Another example is the Flamingo Writers Workshop, which comes from the middle school level.  The teacher, Avram, developed the Flamingo Writers Workshop, a pullout group of behaviorally and academically challenged English Learners, all boys. The project lasted several weeks and Avram stated that they “stayed completely engaged” with it. The students created a website after receiving instruction in both writing and in using technology on Weebly (http://www.weebly.com/).  Avram stated, “I wanted to give them something that they could remember for years to come.” One of the interesting aspects of this project was the parallel he drew and emphasized throughout the lessons, between writing as a process—as represented by the POWER acronym (Prewriting, Organizing, Writing, Editing, and Revising) and the “steps” for creating the website: Plan, Design, Create, Register, Inspect, and Publish.  He stated, “Technology made everything we did more engaging to the students.” Avram, an admitted “technophobe” changed his views substantially, stating that the assignment “has certainly helped me understand that students need the enrichment and engagement that technology can provide.”  He related that the website and the writing posted there gave these students an identity as a community that they have continued into other spaces. You can explore the Flamingo Writers Workshop (which continues to function as of this date) at http://flamingowritersworkshop.weebly.com/.

The first page of the website looks like this (and it is truly interactive):
Flamingo
Students worked really hard to make an interactive website that reflected their needs and identities. The next page defines writing:
Why I should care
Finally, here is an example of expository writing (and there are examples for narrative writing also):
Expository

The final example comes from the elementary level and was unique because it is the only project submitted that was not generative in the sense that students did not create anything, but from the report they were certainly the benificiaries.

Elana was working at the second and third grade level in a Special Day Class setting. She chose Prezi (http://prezi.com) for lessons in phonemic awareness and phonics—chosen as presentation software that is “interesting to my students, but not too distracting.” She stated that Prezi allowed her to “take something my students have been working on since Kindergarten and make it new and exciting.” She scanned the “Zoo Phonics” (http://www.zoo-phonics.com/) picture cards into the computer and inserted them into the Prezi. She then projected the Prezi onto the whiteboard and the students did the body movements and chanted the alphabetic sounds. Later Elana plans to add sight words to the Prezi. For the students, here was a more engaging and multimodal way of learning “the same old thing.”  Here is an example of one of the cue cards:

Catina

           Linda and I believe that for all educators there is an urgent need to embrace technological tools for communication and composition in our homes and schools. There are examples everywhere of sound technology use in schools as well as the examples we have provided here (Google sites, for example). Teacher candidates need practical experience in using new tools in academic settings. Grisham and Wolsey (2012) have highlighted the fear factor that even technologically adept teacher candidates have until they gain experience applying new tools as teaching and learning opportunities for themselves and for their K-12 students.  In teacher preparation programs, candidates can collaborate to support each other as they work with these 21st century tools. As teacher educators we are committed to articulate the use of 21st century technology for teaching and student learning across program courses so that teacher candidates may have multiple opportunities to practice and develop the skills to implement technology-rich instruction in their classrooms. We would like to stress that while ours is not the only way to meaningfully integrate technology into teacher preparation courses, we would argue that it is one effective way to do so and we invite readers to try this for themselves.

           In closing, I’d like to once again share the TPACK model that guided our students in their integration of technology and literacy.  Another of our LiteracyBeat authors, Bridget Dalton, has shared this with teachers everywhere in her 2013 column in The Reading Teacher.

TPACK

References:

Grisham, D. L. & Smetana, L. (in press). Multimodal Composition for teacher candidates: Models for K-12 classroom writing instruction. In R. Ferdig & K. Pytash (Eds.), Exploring multimodal composition and digital writing. Hershey, PA: I-G-I Global.

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2006). Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge: A new framework for teacher knowledge . Teachers College Record 108 (6), 1017-1054.

Wolsey, T.D. & Grisham, D. L. (2012). Transforming Writing Instruction in the Digital Age: Techniques for Grades 5-12. New York: Guilford.

UDL Studio: Deepening response to literature

UDL Studio, a free digital tool (funded largely by the Carnegie foundation) has recently been released by CAST. UDL studio is underpinned by the principles of Universal Design for Learning . UDL Studio  joins other successful digital tools created by CAST. See for example my blog post on LEA Meets Book Builder. UDL Studio enables anyone to create media-rich resources, to actively engage and motivate students, and to respond flexibly to the needs of each learner; thereby ensuring quality and equality in access to learning for all.

UDL Studio offers templates to scaffold you or your students as you create content using multimodal elements, such as text, image¸ video, audio, and animation. You can explore the project library to view previous projects created by UDL studio users.
For example, Katherine Cooper has created a project around Charles Dickens’ classic tale A Christmas Carol. In the screen shot you can see links to audio recording related to character study. Students can also record their prior knowledge of the story through multiple modalities, such as writing, recording, drawing, or uploading a file attachment.

Katherine Cooper

Katherine Cooper

Meanwhile, Matthew Puma has created a resource to support his students while reading SOS Titanic by Eve Bunting. Students can explore historical information relating to the Titanic; inner feelings of the characters; and actions and events within the book. The screen shot below relates to a mind map of themes in the Titanic.

mind map SOS Titanic

My wonderful, final year, elective student teachers have begun to explore the possibilities presented by UDL Studio to encourage immersion in, involvement with, and interpretation of literature (Dwyer & Larson, 2013). We have begun a project around The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas/Pajamas by John Boyne. Our aim is to deepen engagement with the text through close reading to explore the structure of the text; the perspectives of the characters; the use of vocabulary; and historical perspectives relating to the text.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

We really like the tips and resources page which asks you to reflect carefully on how the use of the digital tool enhances children’s understanding of text; enriches the reading experience; and represents information in an engaging manner. The plethora of free digital tools include:

Recording and editing software
Audacity: http://audacity.sourceforge.net/
Free Sound Editor: http://www.free-sound-editor.com/
Audio Pal: http://www.audiopal.com/index.html

Video search engines and editing software
• Blinkx Video Search Engine: http://www.blinkx.com/
• Truveo Video Search: http://www.truveo.com/
• Video editing http://www.stroome.com/

Sources for images
• Pics4Learning: http://pics.tech4learning.com
• Creative Commons image search: http://search.creativecommons.org/
• Free Photos: http://www.freeimages.co.uk

Animation tools
• Gifninja: http://www.gifninja.com/
• Picasion: http://picasion.com/
• GoAnimate: http://goanimate.com/

Reference
Dwyer, B. & Larson, L. (2013). The writer in the reader: Building communities of response in digital environments. In Kristine E. Pytash & Richard E. Ferdig (Eds.). Exploring Technology for Writing and Writing Instruction. US: IGI Global

The Info on Infographics: Synthesizing Multiple Sources with Text and Visuals

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey
Infographics may be a term you haven’t heard (or if you have heard of it, you may have thought, “Ugh, another infomercial”). However, even if you haven’t heard the term, it is very likely you have seen an infographic if you have been on Facebook, YouTube, or on your school or company website. What they are is as intriguing as the first picture book (it was Orbis Pictus, by the way) or the comic books and graphic novels you read when you were a kid, or last week, for that matter. As important, infographics are tools that teachers can use to help students understand big ideas, and they are tools that students can use to synthesize multiple sources of information.
What is an infographic? Well, it combines data, charts and tables, text, maps, and images in a persuasive and engaging way. Infographics are often fun to read. They transcend the individual chart or table by bringing together many types of information. Here is one example:

Infographics

Infographic of Infographics

and here is another

The topics captured by infographics are diverse. They can convey complex economic concepts, or persuade the reader to take action to help solve a complicated problem facing the world. They may present an array of terms that develop conceptual understanding of vocabulary. For students, infographics gather information and present it in an interesting and coherent way. At the same time, the best infographics challenge the imagination and the intellect. Quite often, infographics have a very professional look about them, but, get this: students (and their teachers) can create them, too. I decided to test one infographic creation tool just to show readers of LiteracyBeat that it can be done. If I can do it, so can you. I used Picktochart for this experiment to render LiteracyBeat as an infographic. LitBeat-Infographic

Click the image to see the infographic in greater detail.

How might readers of LiteracyBeat use infographics to help their students make sense of content? When students create infographics, they might
• Compare two or more works of literary fiction or the authors of those works +
• Use images, text, and tables to show how social media affects their own lives
• Present local findings and those of peers at another school in a different geographic region with comparisons of international data
• Encourage peers to read, via an infographic on the school webpage, by including data about the most popular books read, the most assigned books, and so on.

How have you used infographics? How might you plan to use infographics to assist your students with summarization, synthesis, and other high-level cognitive tasks?

Resources:
From Kathy Schrock: http://www.schrockguide.net/infographics-workshop.html
Plus a rubric: http://www.schrockguide.net/uploads/3/9/2/2/392267/infographic_rubric.pdf
From Visual.ly: http://create.visual.ly/
List of tools and links From InfographicsArchive: http://www.infographicsarchive.com/create-infographics-and-data-visualization/
More resources on Delicious: https://delicious.com/tdwolsey/Infographics

News from the International Reading Association Conference

The International Reading Association conference took place April 19 – 22nd in San Antonio, Texas. We were thrilled that all of us were able to attend and participate in IRA board activities, committee meetings, SIG sessions, preconference institutes, and workshops. Below are highlights from the conference.

• Bernadette was officially inaugurated onto the IRA board of directors. Her vast experience with teaching and learning in Ireland has yielded a goldmine of ideas that will help IRA forge ahead in new and innovative directions. She is sure to share many useful insights about the use of technology to support reading, writing, collaboration, and learning. We’re excited about what lies ahead for Bernadette and for IRA.

• Dana was honored with the Computers in Reading Research Award. This award is given by the TILE-SIG to honor reading researchers who have made a significant contribution to research related to classroom literacy instruction and technology integration. Her recent book Transforming Writing Instruction in the Digital Age (co-authored with DeVere) provides professional development for teachers and techniques for integrating writing with Web 2.0 technologies. This ground breaking work, coupled with Dana’s work in digital vocabulary learning and teacher development, sets her apart as an exceptional scholar who is committed to supporting the work of teachers and teacher educators. Her keynote address will be presented at 2014 TILE-SIG session during the New Orleans conference.

• DeVere presented an interactive session at preconference institute organized by Kathy Ganske: Making a Difference through Writing. Participants explored two aspects of working in digital environments: How to work with digital sources to inform their writing and how to bring together digital images and composing processes, as means for increasing language learning. Participants learned how to use online tools their students can employ to draw or reuse images found on the Internet in service of writing as a means of learning. Examples of digital stories that combine images and words were provided, and participants with computers or smartphones had the opportunity to try some of the tools. By linking the parts of the brain that process images with those parts that process language, written work improves and so does student learning. Follow this link to view the presentation slides and resources.

• Bridget presented her innovative work on multimodal composition at the ‘Meet the Researchers’ poster session. She reported on a study conducted with Blaine Smith of Vanderbilt University that examined how two urban middle school youth collaboratively composed a digital video retelling of a folktale. Drawing on Camtasia real time video screen capture of the youth’s composing processes, their retelling products, and their perspectives on composing, they created an in-depth portrait of this pair of engaged, successful storytellers. The study supports the integration of multimodal composition into the literacy program, highlighting the value of teaching within a scaffolded digital composition workshop model.

• Jill, together with her colleague Heather Cotanch from the Lawrence Hall of Science, presented a workshop entitled Enhancing Literacy and Content Learning Using iPad Apps for Digital Content Creation. This hands-on learning experience involved participants in designing instructional experiences that actively engage students in creating digital content. Three digital content creation tools were used: 1) iMovie, a video creation app that makes shooting and editing a video simple, 2) ShowMe, an app that makes it easy to create a storyboard with images and drawing and includes a voiceover feature, and 3) VoiceThread, a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images and allows creators or viewers to add voice over, text, and video commentary. During the workshop, participants worked collabortively on iPads to create a product using one of the applications introduced. This full immersion approach mirrored what students face in the classrooms as they engage in digitally enhanced learning. Selected final products were shared and celebrated. Participant observations about the learning process were discussed with an eye toward design principles for implementation.

We hope you’re able to join the fun at next year’s IRA conference that will take place May 9-12, 2014 in New Orleans.

Delivering Presentations as Learning Opportunities

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

We all know what a presentation is, right? The teacher presents information, typically thought of as a lecture, to a classroom full of students. A financial officer presents a budget to the board of a corporation. Students, having completed research on a topic present it to their peers. Often visual aids, such as a poster or PowerPoint enhance what the presenter has to say. Multimedia software, along with media hosting sites (e.g., YouTube) gives teachers and their students so many more options than a person with a laser pointer at the front of a room with a captive student audience. Equally important, those same multimedia tools offer the possibility of improving the learning they are intended to promote.

Presentations involve multiple steps; we can think of them as compositions. They require selection of a topic, identification of appropriate sources of information, characterizing that information for the audience, organizing it, choosing the presentation tools, designing the components of the presentation, rehearsing, and finally delivering it to the audience. Delivery is our focus for this blog post. Students are very familiar with traditional presentations using presentation software (e.g., PowerPoint, Keynote). In this format, the student (or a small group of students) prepare a presentation then deliver it to the class as a kind of lecture. Students do need to learn effective presentation skills in a face-to-face environment.

An effective alternative is to ask students to put their presentations online. Some presentation tools live online naturally. Prezi is one such tool, and Glogs make excellent e-posters. Newer versions of PowerPoint easily support audio files and can be converted to videos that may be uploaded to YouTube, Vimeo, and similar services. The big advantage is that students need not sit through all the presentations of their classmates. If the teacher embeds the presentation on a class blog or provides a link in a threaded discussion group, students may then select three or four presentations from their classmates to view. Other social media may also be used–Facebook, Edmodo, Twitter, etc. Using the comment feature of the blog or the threaded discussion forum, they comment on the presentations, adding to the information, questioning it, or suggesting strengths or possible alternatives to the ideas presented.


This format also works well for “dress rehearsal.” A student-created presentation might be shared via a private link to a small group for comment with an eye toward improvement of the product. Andrea Shea (Lapp, Wolsey, & Shea, 2012) taught her second graders to offer “praises” and “pushes” on student writing, and the idea can be used to help students improve their presentations, as well. A push is just gentle feedback designed to offer suggestions, alternatives, and the perspective of a member of the audience. As with written work, students often think of their presentation tools in a once and done way. They may not rehearse what they will say (either recorded or for live presentation) and design elements often benefit from feedback from an audience. Consider PowerPoint presentations with so much text crowded on the slide that the small text is almost impossible to read, or the slide with fonts so fancy they require much work of the audience just to get past all the curlicues and serifs (cf., Reynolds, 2010). Such presentation aids could benefit from some peer response during drafting.
High school teacher Jason Kintner promotes peer feedback on presentations through an Oscar or People’s Choice award format. He writes,

“Something I like to do in my classes to allow students to recognize and reward outstanding performance of the peers in delivering presentation is to designate specific awards. Students pick the top three presentations in the following categories (They are not allowed to pick the same student for each category):
• Einstein Award—Outstanding originality and depth of understanding.
• Rembrandt Award—Outstanding creativity and artistic ability.
• Gestalt Award—Presentation creates an “aha” moment, sudden burst of understanding, enlightenment, or enrichment.

References

Lapp, D., Wolsey, T. D., & Shea, A. (2012). “Blogging helps your ideas come out”—Remixing writing instruction + digital literacy=audience awareness. The California Reader, 46(1), 14-20.

Reynolds, G. (2010). Presentation zen design. Berkeley, CA: New Riders.