Multimodal Shoe Poems and Digital Writers Workshop

by Bridget Dalton

The next issue of the International Reading Association’s The Reading Teacher includes a column that I wrote on ” Multimodal Composing and the Common Core Standards”.  In the column I describe a multimodal shoe poem project . To complement the article, I’ve pasted below the PowerPoint slide presentation that Blaine Smith and I created to introduce the activity and scaffold the process. Feel free to use and remix this for your students.  If you try it out, it would be great to hear from you via a post to the blog or an email (bridget.dalton@colorado.edu).

Multimodal Shoe Poem


Why start with Shoe Poems?

1. Kids know shoes – they are part of popular culture. They begin with expert knowledge and can focus on creating the poem
2. Shoe poems offer multiple entry points – they can be concrete or abstract.
Why Power Point?
1. It’s an easy to use composing tool that allows you to build with image, sound and text.
2. You can build on students’ prior experience with the tool.


Blaine Smith and I have been developing a Digital Writers’ Workshop instructional approach (Dalton & Smith, under review). For this project, we used a Demo, Create, and Share, Reflect, Respond structure, but there are lots of different ways to be successful. Think about how you teach writing and adapt your approach so that it reflects multimodal design.

Here we go! To begin, awaken students’ excitement by ‘showing and telling’.  What is a shoe poem? Why would you want to create one?
How does it work?


I try to use at least 2 examples and encourage students to come up with their own creative approaches. These 3 examples show different types of shoe poems: question-answer; shoe memory; and shoe conversation They offer choices and also show different styles of multimodal design. Tell students the blue box is information to help them – it is not part of the poem!


For this shoe memory, Claire selected a wooden floor background and a tap dancing sound effect to complement her written memory of the thrill of wearing her first pair of high heels when she was 11 years old.


This last example is likely to appeal to kid interested in sports. It illustrates a different visual style and how to use the audio-record tool to make the shoe conversation can come alive with dramatic dialogue.


Now for the fun part – create your own shoe poem. I often have students work with a partner so they can benefit from the talents, knowledge and skills that each brings to the task. Working with a partner also requires that they talk about design decisions and negotiate their collaboration.


I use PowerPoint to provide the directions for the activity. I project it on the screen while students are working, and put it in a folder on their computers so that they can consult it as needed. I do this to avoid repeating directions!


Since this was an introduction to multimodal composition for these students, I scaffolded it by putting a folder of shoe images on their desktops. Of course, if they had a special shoe in mind that wasn’t in the folder, they searched on the Internet.  While there are steps involved in creating and producing multimodal pieces, students can change the order as needed. This outlines the overall process; schedule intermittent sharing sessions so that students can present and get feedback as they go along.

Again, since these students were new to both shoe poems and this type of multimodal composition, I scaffolded it with a template they could use, if they wanted. I remind students that it is one way, and they may have a different way that will work better for them.


The Share, Reflect, Respond stage happens during the process to get feedback, and at the end, to celebrate. Students are more influenced by each other’s work than they are by teacher examples!
I combine students’ class presentations with some kind of publishing. Audience is important; the Internet offers multiple options for publishing student work. I also make color-printed hard copies when I can.

And that is a wrap, my friends! Hope to hear about the creative work you are doing with your students to transform them into designers and multimodal composers!

My Pop Studio: Develop critical thinking and media skills with this free online game from Renee Hobbs and the Media Education Lab

post by Bridget Dalton, 9//13/12

Usually I blog about digital tools and instructional strategies, but today I want to introduce you to someone whose work I’ve followed for a number of years – Renee Hobbs. Renee is Professor and Founding Director of the Harrington School of Communication and Media at the University of Rhode Island. Renee is quite unusual in that she combines ‘making stuff’ in the Media Education Lab, with conducting research on media literacy and consulting on copyright and fair use policy. You can get a sense of the breadth and depth of her work by accessing slide shows of her many presentations available at http://www.slideshare.net/reneehobbs.

If you would like to hear directly from Renee about her leadership role in media literacy, view this video of an interview with her at the 10th Anniversary of the National Association for Media Literacy Education:

photo of Renee Hobbs

My Pop Studio

Today, I want to feature My Pop Studio, a free online ‘creative play experience’ developed by Renee and colleagues at the Media Education Lab. The goal of My Pop Studio is to engage young adolescents and teens in creating, manipulating, critiquing, and reflecting on mass media that is directed at girls. It includes a Magazine Studio, a TV studio, a Music Studio, and a Digital Studio. My Pop Studio is designed for use at home and at school (teachers can download a curriculum guide at http://mypopstudio.com/for_parents.php

screen shot of My Pop Studio

If your students and/or children try out My Pop Studio, please consider posting a comment about your experience.

Transforming Writing Instruction in the Digital Age

a post from Bridget Dalton, Aug. 7, 2012
book cover of"Transforming Writing Instruction in the Digital Age"

Dana Grisham and Thomas DeVere Wolsey’s new book, “Transforming Writing Instruction in the Digital Age: Techniques for Grades 5-12”. is a wonderful resource for all of us who are striving to integrate technology and writing instruction in ways that make a meaningful difference for our students. I was honored to write the foreword for this outstanding volume and have provided it below for your information. I’ve been re-reading the book in preparation for the fall semester and was struck by its timeliness and relevance to the Common Core State Standards. This adds even more to its value!

The book is available at http://www.guilford.com/p/wolsey

From Transforming Writing Instruction in the Digital Age: Techniques for Grades 5-12 by Thomas DeVere Wolsey and Dana L. Grisham. Copyright 2012 by The Guilford Press. All rights reserved.

Foreword
My friend calls out, “The water’s amazing! Jump in!” I hesitate. “Hmmmnn, shall I? It looks cold. Are those clouds on the horizon? I like to swim, but snorkeling is relatively new to me.” I stand at the edge of the dock, watching my friend enjoy herself. I know she is an experienced snorkeler and this is one of her favorite spots. I grab hold of my gear and step off the edge. “Okay, here goes, I’m JUMPING! Wow, this feels great!” And away we go, my friend and I, swimming over the coral reef, ready for an adventure together.

Thomas DeVere Wolsey and Dana L. Grisham have written a book about technology and writing that invites us to “Jump in!” and join them in the adventure of integrating technology into the teaching and learning of the millennial generation. They invite us to jump (or step, if you are feeling a bit more cautious) into the exciting and sometimes turbulent waters of teaching writing in today’s schools. They guide us to focus on what’s important about writing, learning, and the role that technology and media can play in improving the quality of our students’ compositions, their use of writing to transform learning, and their engagement with academic literacy.

Leaders in the scholarship and practice of digital literacies, DeVere and Dana are expert guides who share the wealth of their knowledge and experience in this book, which is designed to help teachers take the next step forward in using technology to engage students in writing that is worth doing. The book artfully combines theory and practice, presenting numerous examples and vignettes to offer a vision of what is possible, along with the concrete suggestions and practical tips that are essential to success. I had barely started reading the manuscript and taking notes to prepare me for writing this foreword when I found myself opening a second document file to take note of teaching ideas, digital tools, and resources that I knew would be useful to me in my own work. The book had a larger effect on me, how- ever, stimulating my thinking about our underlying models of composition in a digital world and the urgent need to improve both theory and practice. It also reinvigorated me. The status quo is not working for too many of our students. It’s not working for many of us who are teachers. Using technology to help students create, communicate, connect, and learn is one way to change things. I believe that teachers, literacy coaches, teacher educators, and curriculum specialists will find this book to be a valuable resource, one that provides multiple entry points and pathways to follow in accordance with their individual goals, subject areas, and levels of technology expertise. In the following section, I highlight some of the key features of the book that I think make it a particularly valuable resource.

Student learning and writing pedagogy drive technology integration, not the other way around.
I love “cool tools.” In fact, my colleague Debbie Rowe and I lead a multimodal composition research group for doctoral students that begins each session with one of the members sharing a digital tool that has interesting implications for research and practice. DeVere and Dana offer a rich array of digital tools and resources throughout their book. However, it is abundantly clear from the Introduction through to the last page that their book is about writing, is about learning, and is about engagement. Technology and media are essential to making that happen. We need the nuts and bolts to build something, but we also need to have a vision for what we’re building, to understand why it’s important, and to know how we go about constructing it. Before we begin, we want some evidence that what we’re doing is supported by previous experience and success.

Dana and DeVere set their vision in the Introduction and then extend and apply it in each chapter. They draw on Bereiter and Scardamalia’s (1987) models of writing as either “knowledge telling” or “knowledge transformation.” While they acknowledge the role of “writing to tell,” their passion is in helping students use writing for knowledge transformation. I appreciate the way they structure each chapter to open with sections on “What is it?” and “Why is it important?” before moving on to how technology can help. Theory and research are embedded throughout (and where the research is limited, they suggest practices that are promising). The continuing message is that technology is both medium and message, and that it is their particular use by knowledgeable teachers and their students that will move us forward.

Writing is not just for English; writing is discipline specific.
Often there is a divide between folks who love to teach writing for literary purposes and those who love to teach their content and view writing as a vehicle to communicate learning. DeVere and Dana offer a more integrative perspective. They make a strong case for why writing is part of academic literacy. Writing is not just a matter of genre and text structure; rather it’s a way of thinking and using language and symbol systems to communicate within our community. A real strength of this book is the range and depth of examples from English, social studies, and science classrooms that illustrate how technology and media can transform the learning process and offer new opportunities for students’ creative expression, social interaction, and learning. Students compose to grapple with challenging content and accomplish purposes specific to the subject matter. While composing tools might be considered somewhat generic, Dana and DeVere illustrate how it is what you do with them in relation to particular academic content and skills that can make all the difference between a “just okay” and an “amazing” student- learning experience and outcome.

We’re all in this together, or teachers and students are making it happen.
In public speeches about educational reform and in professional devel- opment efforts, we often hear that teachers are leaders and that our notion of “what works” should expand to include practitioners’ expertise and expe- rience. The democratization of publishing on the Internet has offered many teachers the opportunity to communicate directly with an audience that is interested in learning from and with them as they go about the daily work of teaching in schools. Blogs, websites, and wikis are just a few of their online venues. However, teachers’ voices are less well represented in published text- books. One of my favorite features in this book is the inclusion of in-depth classroom examples in each chapter. Some examples are written by teachers, whereas others are written by DeVere and Dana at a level of detail that shows their intimate knowledge of the teacher, his or her classroom, and students. It is the combination of Dana and DeVere’s expertise with the expertise of some amazing classroom teachers that give this book depth and credibility.

Affect matters—for students and for us.
Have you ever taken a course or a workshop because of the way the instructor teaches, as much as the content of the course? The importance of affect and the social basis of learning is just as true for adults as it is for children—perhaps even more so, since we bring firmly entrenched beliefs and dispositions along with vast stores of knowledge and skills to each learning encounter. Clearly, DeVere and Dana are highly expert and experienced in the field of writing and technology and there is much to be learned from the information in this book. They are somewhat unusual, I think, in the way that they have shared some of who they are through their writing of this book. Their writing style and tone are conversational as they think out loud, conjecture, joke, and share strong feelings and convictions. They respect teachers and children. They understand and have experienced the realities of real teaching, real kids, and the unpredictability and promise of teaching with technology. They are resilient and hopeful about the future of students in our schools and the role of technology and writing in making change happen. By the end of the book, I was very glad to have had Dana and DeVere’s guidance and to know that they are continuing their adventures in writing and technology. Jump in and try an adventure of your own—I know I will.

Bridget Dalton, Ed.D.
Vanderbilt University

Order Transforming Writing Instruction in the Digital Age: Teaching Practices That Work on Amazon.

CNN’s iReport Toolkit: Tell your Story Like a Pro

A post by Bridget Dalton

The power of multimodal communication

I believe in the power and relevance of multimodal composition and storytelling for today’s children and teens.  My belief is not abstract – it comes from my work with students on different types of multimedia projects.  I also enjoy experimenting with my own multimodal pieces, especially integrating text and images.   However, I remain a novice in this arena,  never losing the feeling that there is so much that I don’t know that could potentially be helpful to me, and to my students.

CNN.com’s  iReport Toolkit

Thus, I love it when I find help from those who are expert at what they do!  In this case, it is the reporters and staff from CNN.com who are sharing their expertise.  As part of their participatory news initiative, CNN has developed an iReport Toolkit that is available online at http://ireport.cnn.com/toolkit.jspa.  The goal of the toolkit is to help you “Tell your story like a pro”.  Of course, for CNN, stories represent all kinds of genres – from the investigative news expose to the human interest story.

The toolkit includes four main sections, Storytelling, Photos, Video, and Audio.

screenshot of CNN.com iReport Toolkit

To begin, start with the story to be told

These expert reporters and storytellers start with Storytelling — highlighting the ingredients of a good story and then offering key advice such as getting the basics first, attending to pace, and talking like a human being (that is my personal favorite!). Additional links expand on different aspects of storytelling, allowing you to pursue your own storytelling needs and interests.

Tell your story with photos, video, and sound

For each of the next three sections – photos, video, and sound – the CNN folks zero in on what is unique about that mode for storytelling and communication purposes. The storytelling guidance is integrally connected to technical advice, such as framing your shot, or audio recording in a place with a noisy background.

Get tips from the professionals

I especially enjoy the pieces that feature advice specific reporters and production staff. While researching for this blog, I found a piece, ‘Editing Video like a Pro’, by reporter/producer Brandon Ancil (http://www.cnn.com/2011/IREPORT/09/09/edit.video.bootcamp.irpt/). It caught my eye because I’m preparing to create a mini-documentary about two youth composing a digital story together. This is a new experience for me, so I’m eager to try out Ancil’s method for organizing his video during editing and production. I will let you know how it goes in a future post!

Use the iReport Toolkit for teaching and learning

This type of resource can be used at two levels – to support your own experimentation with multimodal composition and to support your teaching efforts. If you are teaching middle or high school students, your students will be able to read and use the site on their own, with your guidance as to which sections to attend to for their particular project. If your students are younger, much of the information is applicable, but you will need to apply it as appropriate for your students.

Try it and see! And, please share strategies and resources that you have found to be particularly helpful in teaching multimodal composition to your students.

CAST’s Science Writer: A free, online tool to scaffold students’ writing of science reports

A post by Bridget Dalton

Before joining Vanderbilt University, I had the good fortune to serve as the Director of Literacy and Technology at CAST, a non-profit research and development organization dedicated  to  improving student learning and engagement through the integration of universal design for learning (Rose & Meyer, 2002), technology, and subject matter content and skills.

Today I want to feature Science Writer, a free online writing tool developed by Tracey Hall, Elizabeth Murray, and CAST colleagues.  It’s a wonderful example of how to scaffold students’ writing in relation to the demands of a particular writing genre, in this case, the science lab report, or more generally, the science report.  The tool is designed for use with middle school and high school students, but might also work for upper elementary students, depending on their skill.

screenshot of Science Writer

Screenshot of CAST’s Science Writer. http://sciencewriter.cast.org

How does Science Writer work?
Science Writer steps students through the process of writing a report with  introduction, methods, results, and conclusion sections. Students draft, revise, and edit their report, using just-in-time support from pedagogical agents who offer models and information about how to write each section. They may also access content and editing checklists to help them evaluate  their writing and make revisions. And finally, students can use the embedded text-to-speech tool to listen to their writing to see if it “sounds right” and to listen to any of the directions and instructional material, as well as accessing vocabulary definitions. Each student has their own Science Writer account and teachers are able to view students’ work and provide feedback throughout the writing process.

Screenshot showing Science Writer features

Science Writer supports students through their writing process.

Is there research support for Science Writer?
In a study funded by the US Department of Education, Hall and Murray (2009) found that students using Science Writer improved writing and science comprehension skills. A field test study is underway and results should be available soon. You can find additional information about their research at http:///www.cast.org/research/projects/tws.html.

I recommend you check out Science Writer – if it’s not the right fit for your grade level or subject matter, please share it with your favorite middle school or high school science teacher!

screenshot of Science Writer video

This brief video for students explains how the Science Writer features can help them write a more successful science report.

video link

Resources
For additional information about Science Writer: http://sciencewriter.cast.org

To learn more about universal design for learning: http://www.cast.org/udl/index.html

Rose, D. & Meyer, A. (2002). Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age. ASCD. Available free online: http://www.cast.org/library/books/tes/index.html

When we were young: A book memories project

Remembering when we were young:  A book memories project

a post from Bridget Dalton

A student views the Book Memory Quilt Display at Peabody Library, Vanderbilt University.

I always begin my course on children’s literature with sharing of book memories. Students and I travel back in time to the child we were at age three, seven, perhaps ten or eleven, and recall the books that held such special meaning for us at that time in our childhood. Why do we remember these books so powerfully? Often, it is who we read the book with that is most important, with many remembering the sights, sounds, and physical presence of reading with a parent. Sometimes it is the book’s role in our development of a reading identity. One student describes the first book she was able to read on her own; another describes how her love of “Eloise” led to a family trip to the Plaza Hotel in New York City where she was able to order room service, just like her favorite heroine!; a third describes a kitchen scene where he listened to his father read aloud from the Bible and respond to his questions.  Sharing book memories is always one of my favorite classes. We get to know one another better. It’s fun, and sometimes a bit emotional, as we remember “when we were young”.

Trying something different – a multimodal book memory

This year, I decided to try something different. I wanted students to share their stories with a larger audience, and I wanted to involve them in composing in a digital format. After we talked through our book memories, I introduced our Book Memory Project by projecting a PowerPoint slide illustrating my memory of Robert McCluskey’s classic tale, “Make Way for Ducklings”. I described why this book is so special to me and then talked about my visual design – my choice of an illustration from the book to serve as the background, use of sepia brown font and inclusion of a photo of my father, brother, sister, and me during my own duckling years. I explained how I made design choices in hopes that my writing and visuals would work together to effectively communicate my book memory.

I recall reading “Make Way for Ducklings” with family.

Getting started with a hypertext anthology of book memories

Students were intrigued and curious about the possibilities, so the next step was to create a hypertext anthology using PowerPoint.  I provided a rubric to guide them, with the most important guideline being that they should have fun with this experience and allow themselves to be creative in both their writing and visual design.  In the sections that follow, I share some examples of students’ book memories (they did a wonderful job!), outline the project steps and provide a rubric for you to adapt.

In thinking about how you might want to adapt this idea for your own students, consider first whether a book memory as I’ve conceptualized it for adults makes sense for younger children.  They might not be interested in recalling a book from younger days – unless they are used as book advertisements for children in a younger grade?  Another option would be to use this format as a book response activity for a favorite book they have read recently (or perhaps riff on this to capture their experience with their ‘worst’ read book of the year!).  A third option would be to have students interview a parent or grandparent about their favorite book memory.  For some, it may be a story told orally that they remember best, and that would work equally well.

Project steps

Creating a hypertext anthology of book memories using Power Point (note you can also do this as a web page or with any hypertext tool):

  1. Have each student create one slide illustrating their book memory.
  2. Create a master PowerPoint and insert each student’s slide (remember to check ‘keep source formatting’ when you insert so that you don’t lose the students’ design). Let students know that they can use a first name only, a pseudonym, or a full name, depending on privacy concerns if it is to be shared publicly.
  3. Create a title slide with the title, date, and authors (see example).

4. Create a table of contents slide that will be hyperlinked to each book memory.

In the example below, I used the table feature to enter the student’s name and book title and then hyperlinked each name to the student’s slide with their book memory.

The table of contents is hyperlinked to each book memory slide.

5. Hyperlink each book memory slide back to the table of contents slide.

For your first book memory link, create a graphic to serve as the hyperlink back to the table of contents. Then, copy and paste that on each of the slides (this way you avoid creating a new link to return to the table of contents for each book memory slide).

This student recalls her memory of The Polar Express. Notice how she has inserted a photo of her head onto the child’s body to show how she imagined riding the train. the arrow in the bottom right corner is a hyperlink back to the table of contents.

6. Once you’re done, test each link from the table of contents to each slide and return.

7. Save your PowerPoint anthology (or hyperlinked web page).

8. Decide how you will share the PowerPoint.  You could put it on a computer in the classroom and the school library. You might also want to share it on your class webpage.

Assessing a book memory

I needed to asses students’ book memories to reflect their multimodal compositions.  I’ve pasted the rubric I developed below.  I tried to keep it general so that students would have flexibility in creating their designs (I intensely dislike rubrics that try to quantify multimodal composing such that more images are better than fewer images.  We all know the power of a single image when it suits the message and intended audience!).

Book Memory Rubric

A = Either writing or visual design are advanced, or both are advanced.

B = Either writing or visual design are proficient, or both are proficient.

C = Both areas are basic, or below basic (I know this will not be an option for any of you!).

This rubric is designed to assess writing and visual design quality of the book memory.

Option:  Book memory quilt display

The book memory quilt created by our class is hanging in the Peabody Library for all to enjoy! We printed out the slides in color on hard stock paper and laid them out on a large table so that we could balance the colors.  Next, we strung them together with ribbon to create several banners.   Then, we hung the banners together to create a quilt-like display for the wall.  Simply done, but quite effective!

Group banners to create a book memory quilt to hang on the wall.

A few more book memories

A student remembers her father’s gift of “Call it Courage” and how it helped her to be brave.

“Goodnight Moon” was a book fondly remembered by several students.

Enjoy your own book memories!

If you try this project out with your students (or some adaptation), please consider sharing your experience by posting a comment to this blog.  I look forward to reading more book memories.

Design Your Wild Self Avatar: Getting to know one another through mulitmodal composition

post by Bridget

Avatar design could be said to be a new literacy. When playing digital games and social networking, kids often select and customize avatars to represent themselves. They offer opportunities to experiment with different identities and take on roles within the specific context of the game or community. They also offer the opportunity to design with different media and think symbolically about how to represent ‘character’.

This past summer, I used an avatar design activity to launch a Digital Writers’ Workshop with urban middle school students who were participating in a summer school program. Collaborating with a group of doctoral students (Blaine Smith, Christian Ehret, Summer Wood, Tyler Hollett and Robin Jocius), we used the avatar design activity to help us all get to know one another and to introduce kids to the notion that they are multimodal designers and could communicate with different symbol systems (a key theme of the workshop).

Across a series of composing activities, we tried out a scaffolded approach to multimodal composition: Demonstrate, Create, and Share-reflect-respond, or DCSrr for short (Dalton, 2011). Below, I describe this process and share some examples of students’ work, along with their design reflections.

Getting started: Finding the “Build Your Wild Self” avatar design website

The first challenge was finding an avatar design tool online that was free, appropriate for young adolescents, and which ran on the lab computers without glitches. Blaine and I spent a few hours searching, finding some very cool sites that we had to reject, typically because they required registration with a commercial enterprise (something we wanted to avoid), the images of females were highly sexualized, or there were few multicultural options.

We hit pay dirt when we found the “Build Your Wild Self” website sponsored by the New York Zoos and Aguariam and the Wildlife Conservation Society (http://www.buildyourwildself.com/). Of course, the first thing I had to do was design my own avatar to explore the tool and think about how kids would use it. Here is the home page, which displays my avatar.

avatar home page

Here I am on the “Build Your Wild Self” avatar design website

screen shot of PPT introducing avatar activity

screenshot of Blaine's avatar design

image of avatar design

Serina’s avatar:

Antennas: I picked the antennas because I can search out things and I also need glasses to see. Those are kind of my little glasses.

Rabbit ears: So I have the rabbit ears, if that’s what they are, so know that I can hear you

Wings: …because I thought they were cool, they looked all right and also I can fly,

I can do anything I want to do and see stuff and if you mess with me, I’ll stick you.

image of avatar design

Serina’s avatar: I can do anything I want to do

Parting shot: Fun? Yes! Multimodal composition? Yes!

Try designing your own ‘wild self’ and then try it out with your students. I would love to hear how it goes (post a comment, please!).

Developing student’s visual literacy through scaffolded image inquiry

A post from Bridget

We live in a visual world.  The screen of the computer, eReader, smart phone, and game consul is dominated by visuals that we must interpret in relation to their design, communication purpose, and interactive capabilities. What is changing, however, is the degree to which the visual is entering the academic domain.  While visual literacy has always held a place in the literacy curriculum, it is increasingly recognized as an essential literacy skill for the 21st century.   According to the Common Core standards and the IRA/NCTE reading/language arts standards, students must learn how to be savvy consumers AND creative, adept producers of visual messages.

In this post, I feature one of my favorite visual literacy resources, Image Detective, and share an example from Isabel Bauerlein demonstrating how the Image Detective scaffolded inquiry process can be extended in the classroom.  Read on! View on!

Image Detective, is a free online tool developed by Bill Tally and colleagues at the Center for Children and Technology, Education Development Center. http://cct2.edc.org/PMA/image_detective/

home screen of Image Detective

click image to enlarge

We’re used to teaching students the inquiry process in relation to their research projects and science investigations.  Why not teach them how to “inquire” about images?  Better yet, teach them visual inquiry within a subject area such as social studies so that they develop visual literacy skills while also learning to think like a historian with primary sources?  The Image Detective scaffolds the inquiry processes of asking questions, critically reading images, understanding context and background, synthesizing ideas and drawing conclusions, and comparing conclusions. The turn of the 19th century images reflect social studies themes such as immigration, women’s suffrage, and the American west.

This next screenshot shows how students collect and interpret visual clues in response to one of the default questions, “Is this poster in favor of women’s right ot vote or against it?”  Students may also type in their own question.

screenshot shows image clue hotspot and notes about clue

click image to enlarge

The third screenshot shows how students develop a conclusion based on the image clues that they have collected. Once they’ve submitted a conclusion, they can compare their response to others’ that have been posted.  Important note – the Image Detective does not save students’ work after the session is ended, so students will need to print out their work or cut and paste it into a Word doc.

screenshot showing prompted conclusion

click image to enlarge

What about the research base for this type of digital tool?  Tally and Goldenburg (2005) studied how 159 middle school and high school students and their teachers used Image Detective to explore one of the Picturing Modern America images.  They found that students were able to engage in historical thinking behaviors such as close observation, inferencing from evidence, corroboration, and question posing.  Students also reported that they enjoyed learning history by investigating images, rather than listening to lectures and reading textbooks.

To learn more about this study, read:  Tally, B. & Goldenberg, L. B. (2005).  Fostering historical thinking with digitized primary sources.  Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 38(1), 1-21.

Extending Image Detective in the classroom – An example from Isabel Bauerlein

Teachers often ask me if it is possible to use Image Detective with images other than the nine scaffolded images that are featured in the tool.  I think that would be a great feature, but it is currently not on option (are you listening, Bill Tally?!).

I usually respond that it would be great to introduce students to the visual inquiry process using the Image Detective tool and then extend it informally beyond the specific tool and images.  In one of my classes last semester I suggested that Power Point might serve well as a hypertext authoring environment for creating an Image Detective-like learning experience.    I speculated that teachers and students could both get involved in creating scaffolded image inquiries to share with others.  Isabel Bauerlein, a recent graduate of our masters’ degree program in reading, took up the challenge.  She designed an intriguing extension of Image Detective for her class project, using  Power Point to create a scaffolded inquiry experience with photos that are now freely available from Life magazine.  With her permission, I am sharing some of her work. I find it quite inspiring!

Here is Isabel’s description of her project:

Isabel Bauerlein Analyzing Images  This three lesson series for 9th grade English is designed as an introduction to the novel To Kill a Mockingbird. Students practice analyzing images on the Image Detective website, transfer those skills to analyzing a historic image from the 1930s, learn about the Scottsboro Trial, and then analyze a set of LIFE magazine photos for ideological stance.

An excerpt from Lesson 2 about the Scottsboro Trial is shown in the next 3 slides.  Note how Isabel used the same inquiry structure as the Image Detective, offering support through hyperlinked slides.

click image to enlarge

Isabel goes on with additional slides that pose questions and offer clues that encourage students to apply a more critical perspective to this historical image.  For example, in the following slide, Isabel asks students to think about why the Life reporter (and magazine editor) would use the word “goggling” in this caption to describe how these young black men are viewing the scene outside the window.

click image to enlarge

Are you feeling inspired to try out Image Detective and/or create your own scaffolded images ?!  While this tool and Isabel’s example are designed for students in middle to high school grades, I can imagine how it could be extended for work with younger students.

Please share your experiences teaching visual literacy skills and resources by posting a comment to this blog.  Read! View! Interact!

Digital Book Trailers: A Welcome Alternative to the Book Report

A post from Bridget.

I was an avid reader beginning in third grade, when my parents finally allowed me to ride my bike to the local library on my own (those were safer times). Once a week, I would collect as many books as I could fit into my bike basket and pedal back home with my treasures.  My friends didn’t know I was a voracious reader (I didn’t want to appear nerdy and enjoyed my private reading world).   Perhaps more surprising is the fact that my teachers were unaware of my love of reading. I deliberately kept them in the dark for fear that I would be asked to write the “dreaded book report”, a genre that I found incredibly boring. Even worse, I might be asked to stand up in the front of the class and give an oral book report.

Happily, in today’s media rich world there are alternatives to the traditional book report.  Digital book trailers are becoming increasingly popular with kids, teachers, authors, and publishers alike.  What is a digital book trailer?  While definitions vary, a popular form of digital book trailer is a short digital video (less than 2 minutes) that combines characteristics of a movie trailer and a book advertisement.

In the following section, I highlight some wonderful examples of book trailers created by students (and in one case, by an incredibly entertaining teacher and librarian), and provide some links to resources.

STORYTUBES:  Young children are in on the act of creating book trailers

The annual STORYTUBE contest is sponsored by several ALA libraries.  Open to children from ages 5 to 18, students submit their digital book trailers in January/February.  In addition to the winners selected by a panel of judges, the online audience votes for their favorite.

Take the time to view two of my personal  favorites in the 5-7 year old category.  The first features “A Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats and the second features “ The Story of Edward Tulane” by Kate DiCamillo.   In “A Snowy Day’, a young girl is videotaped as she introduces the story, falls asleep to enter into the story world where she re-enacts key scenes from the book, and then wakes up to close with a message to read the book.  The Edward Tulane video is more complex in video production, involving a green screen, hand-drawn illustrations, and props.  Both are terrific!
StoryTube website

http://www.storytubes.info

http://storytubes.info/drupal/node/50

http://teacherlibrarian.ning.com/video/storytube-contest-entry-edward

Middle School Students at Veterans Park Academy post digital book trailers to their school blog

Book trailers are ideal for middle grade children who have seen and enjoyed many movie trailers and are eager to merge this with the book advertisement.  Check out the digital book trailers created by Mrs. Hansen’s students using Photo Story 3. While there is no live video,  Rachel’s book trailer for “Rules ” by Cynthia Lord shows how images, sound track, and text can work together to pique your curiosity and make you want to read the book “to find out what happens…”

http://vpaamedia.edublogs.org/2009/01/20/students-create-digital-book-trailers-like-movie-previews-for-books/

The Digital Book Talk Center 

The Digital Book Talk Center’s motto is “ Creating a community of avid readers, one video at a time”.  Led by Dr. Robert Kenny of Florida Gulf Coast University and Dr. Glenda Gunter of the University of Central Florida, this award-winning site offers 113 digital book talks (with more coming from K-12 and university students).  There is an array of book trailers that will appeal to adolescent learners, either as an enticement to read a new book, or as an introduction to a book they have already selected to read.  You may also  download the U-B_the_Director curriculum, and view other instructional resources, such as the “how to make a book trailer” video. http://www.ehow.com/how_4491963_make-book-trailer.html

 http://digitalbooktalk.com 

Everybody is doing it, even teachers and librarians!

I can’t end this post without calling your attention to a very entertaining book trailer, MouseSpace:  Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse, 2008 Librareo Winner

I laugh every time I watch this video about a teacher who runs into the library moments before the bell rings for class to find the book that she absolutely MUST HAVE for her lesson.  Unfortunately, she can only remember that it has something to do with a mouse.  See how many titles you recognize as this knowledgeable librarian runs through a multitude of ‘mouse-related’ book titles!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZM3Ws0W86r4

And, that’s a wrap, folks!

VocabVid Stories: Developing vocabulary depth and breadth through live action video

A post from Bridget

Language is hard to express in words. Voltaire

Last week, Jill blogged about a chapter we wrote on developing vocabulary through multimodal expression (Castek, Dalton & Grisham, in press). I wanted to expand on the Vocab Vid strategy (Dalton & Grisham, 2011) and share some examples created by students in my graduate course on adolescent literacy. Their videos “show not tell” the potential of this multimodal word learning strategy. I have also included a handout at the end of the post that you can adapt for use with your students. I’ve learned that some structuring of the process results in more creative and effective videos.

The way that I‘ve been thinking about VocabVids is in the form of a short, live action story (30-45 seconds). Language learning is social – we learn with and about vocabulary as we experience it in specific contexts (Gee, 2004). We also know that many students benefit from multimedia learning, especially in relation to vocabulary (Mayer, 2005; Dalton, Proctor, Uccelli, Mo & Snow, 2011).

To create VocabVids, students work in small groups to develop a scenario for use of the word, discussing the nuances of word meaning and relationships between words. The planning process involves getting to know the word through initial research with tools such as an online thesaurus and an image search of the term. Students brainstorm a context for the word, asking who, what, where, when and why would this word be used? Skits are improvised, filmed, reviewed, and reshot if necessary. I deliberately have kept the process short – the video is planned and filmed in about 15 minutes – and the product is a live action video that does not involve editing. The final products are presented in class for discussion of the words and digital video skills, with an option to publish to a larger audience on the school website, YouTube, Teacher tube, etc.

But what about word choice? I would choose words for different purposes. To begin, you might ask students to select from a list of words that meet Beck and McKeowan’s notion of tier 2 words – words that are important to know and which aren’t part of everyday word knowledge. Or, you might want to open it wide and let students choose their own words, which could be quite specific to their interests, linked to a novel they are reading, or to a unit they are studying in science and social studies. Encourage them to choose a word that lends itself to being acted out (don’t avoid abstract words – they can be excellent candidates).

Student-designed Vocab Vids
The following 6 videos are posted with permission of the authors who are graduate students in my class, EnEd 3400, Reading and Learning with Print and New Media. I’ve highlighted the targeted word and story context for your information. However, I recommend that you and your students try watching the video without knowing the targeted word to see how quickly you can generate a range of guesses. Use the related words and storyline as clues to engage your students in active word learning.

VocabVid 1: ‘Ritual’ by Meridith and Ashley

With a coffee cup and the words ‘routine’, ‘pattern’, and ‘customary habit’, Ashley and Meridith illustrate a morning ritual many of us enjoy – drinking coffee.

VocabVid 2: ‘Conspicuous’ by Leah and Max

Playing Hide and Seek?  As Leah chides Max, it is very important to be ‘discreet’.  Since Max is usually ‘obvious’, ‘blatant’ and ‘eye-catching’, will he be able to find a hiding spot that is not ‘conspicuous’?

VocabVid 3: ‘Diminutive’ by Katie R and Laura

Laura convinces Katie that the spot on her jeans is ‘little’, ‘tiny’, ‘petite’, even ‘Lilliputian’.  It is ‘NOT huge’, as Katie fears, but “diminutive”!  Personally, I loved the Lilliputian reference from Gulliver’s Travels.

VocabVid 4: ‘Eerie’ by Erin

Flashing lights and strange noises in the bathroom result in a ‘weird’, ‘spooky’, ‘creepy’, and ‘eerie’ experience for Erin.

VocabVid 5: ‘Lurk’ by Neil and Yumeng

When does ‘lying in wait’ and ‘peeking’ turn into ‘lurking’?!  Yumeng helps Neil understand the difference.

VocabVid 6: ‘Braggadocio’ by Russell and Simon

Technical alert – this video is sideways, but funny!

Why would Russell call his friend a ‘bombast’ and scorn him for his ‘pomposity’ and lack of ‘humility’?  Watch ‘braggadocio’ Simon to find out!

STUDENT HANDOUT: 30 Second VocabVid Stories

 Your goal:  To show, not tell, the meaning of a word in a 30-second digital VocabVid  Story

VocabVid Stories are short (about 30-45 seconds) videos that illustrate the meaning of a word through a short skit.  The goal is to situate the word within a meaningful context to help us learn and remember the word.  And, you will learn something about designing short videos along the way!

 Plan

1.  Research your word to find synonyms, antonyms, and other related words that you can include in your story dialogue. Don’t forget to make note of different forms of the word. The Visual Thesaurus or other online thesaurus tools are great resources for exploring the meaning of your word.

2.  Brainstorm possible contexts for how the word might be used.  As you’re brainstorming, think about how you can act out your video skit.

  •  Where might you hear this word?
  • Who might be saying it?
  • What is happening?
  • When is the word being used?
  • Why are they saying it?
  • What kinds of feelings might be associated with this word?

3.  Do you need any simple props?

4. What is your location? Where will you film? (Since we are in school, I have made arrangements for you to use this class, the hallway, outside the door at the end of the hall, etc.)

5. Make a sign showing your word in writing (print the word large and clear so that it can be read on screen). You will show this sign at the end of the video.

 Film

6. Improvise your skit, giving each other feedback as you go along.

7. Film your skit and review (see the technical advice section on shooting your video and using a Flip camera).

8. Try filming again if needed and select the best one.

Show (and perhaps publish)

9. Share your videos in class and discuss what you learned about these words, as well as what you learned about creating VocabVid Stories.

10. Consider posting your video to a class website, blog, or YouTube (be sure to have everyone’s permission to post)

 Technical Tips for Shooting your Video

1. Don’t shoot into the light! (Avoid standing in front of windows).

2. Actors need to face the camera or each other at an angle that still allows them to be seen and heard. It is common for people to turn away from the camera, especially if they are in groups. Watch out for this.

3. Actors need to speak clearly! Be dramatic!

4. Find a quiet spot.  Test your volume at the beginning, so you know who needs to be louder or who needs to speak more clearly.

5. Show your vocabulary word on a piece of paper at the end.  I have provided markers and paper for you to use.

 Flip Camera Directions

  • How to Turn Your Camera On: Slide the gray button on the top right side of the camera down. Your camera will automatically turn on.
  • How to Begin Shooting: Hold the camera in the vertical position (otherwise, you will get sideways video!). Press the red button to begin filming.
  • How to Stop Shooting: Press the red button again.  There is no way to pause your videos, so you will have to complete them in one take. But, please film a few takes and compare so that you can choose the best one!
  • Zoom In/Out: Press the + button to zoom in and the – button to zoom out.
  • How to Play Videos Back: Press the Play button to the left side of the screen. Press it again to go to the next video.
  • How to Delete Videos: If you want to delete a video, press the trash can twice.

ONLY KEEP THE FINAL VERSION OF THE VIDEO ON THE FLIP CAMERA. DELETE ALL OTHER VERSIONS BEFORE RETURNING THE CAMERA to Robin – she will download on Bridget’s computer.

 References:

Castek, J., Dalton, B., & Grisham, D. (in press). Using multimedia to support students’ generative vocabulary learning. In J. Baumann and E. Kame’enui (Eds.) Vocabulary Instruction: Research to Practice (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Dalton, B., Proctor, C.P., Uccelli, P., Mo, E. & Snow, C.E. (2011).  Designing for diversity:  The role of reading strategies and interactive vocabulary in a digital reading environment for 5th grade monolingual English and bilingual students.  Journal of Literacy Research, 43 (1), 68-100.

Dalton, B. & Grisham, D. (2011).  eVoc strategies: Ten ways to use technology to build vocabulary. The Reading Teacher, 64(5), 306–317. DOI:10.1598/RT.64.5.1

 

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