K-12 Curriculum Development

Middle School Digital Accountable Talk

At Soundview Academy (SVA), a middle school in the South Bronx, principal Will Frackelton is leading an effort to leverage students’ digital and media literacy skills acquired in their grade 6-8 filmmaking program to enhance a school-wide initiative of building “accountable talk” into students’ academic interactions.  Filmmaking teacher, Kevin Lopez, is piloting a model for a schoolwide network of blogs that will allow students to publish multimedia “posts” and “comments” using content-specific protocols for constructing arguments and critiquing work on the SVA Film Blog, which defines the intiative 

“Accountable Talk is a way of practicing and developing good habits when engaging in discussions.  We are combining Accountable Talk with professional film vocabulary in our blog posts and comments to develop the practice of using evidence to support our opinions, ideas, predictions, and inferences.” 

Digital Literacy Planning Framework

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Open the Interactive Mind Map

The framework above was developed at the URI Summer Institute in Digital Literacy

Broad Schoolwide Goals

  • Teachers observe and interact with students as digital citizens in an academic setting
  • Students demonstrate Common Core Standards-based competencies: asking questions, making inferences, interpreting and explaining research-backed thinking, supporting arguments with text-based evidence, recognizing structures authors use to communicate ideas, using “Tier 3” language
  • Teachers/Students develop and use a Digital Accountable Talk Rubric per content area
  • Students demonstrate media literacy competencies within their written and multimedia posts: critiquing effectiveness of each other’s media messages, reflectively tailoring production decisions to reach authentic audiences
  • Students reinforce digital literacy and digital citizenship skills by participating in an online learning community according to agreed-upon rules for collegial discussions

Student Work Examples

Long-Term Vision

  • Lopez is hoping that students’ immersion in the language of critique, and use of professional vocabulary will deepen the critical decision making during student film production.
  • Frackelton’s vision for the accountable talk network is to create a real-world environment to leverage student enthusiasm for digital media and participatory culture,  while engaging core content, assessing and polishing digital and media literacy competencies, and expanding the potential of SVA academic initiatives.
  • The Media Spot’s vision is for media literacy concepts to become part of the general practice of teachers school-wide through the use of this model.

Challenges & Questions

SVA’s logistical challenge will be to find time to train the instructional staff beyond Lopez — accommodating a range of digital literacy among them — on the effective use and moderation of these blogs.  The approach will be to roll out content area blogs one academic department at a time and train them using experienced SVA staff and students.  They will start with the most technically-proficient content teams, and build towards a critical mass of in-house proficiency.  The potential of extending middle school student engagement with digital communication to core content areas through this initiative makes it a worthy outlay of PD time towards further modernization of their CCSS-based curriculum.