Over the past year, I had the opportunity to work with the inspirational staff at the Brooklyn School of Inquiry, PS 686, on a series of documentary videos on their arts, enrichment and media literacy programs. (more…)
I was recently consulting The Media Education Lab’s website for ideas on how to explain the concept of Media Literacy and describe the field of Media Education to a group I was speaking to in Florida. I was delighted to find themediaspot.org listed as one of seven resources linked to from The Media Education Lab’s Key Resources page, where TMS is described as one of their “favorite youth media organizations”! (more…)
Last fall TMS established a “blended” (in-person + online) professional development relationship to develop a Voicethread unit plan for student multimedia productions involving participation from older adults in the community with English classes of Elizabeth Smith at Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet, a public high school in Nashville, TN. Hume Fogg has been recognized as a national Blue Ribbon school by the USDOE, and ranked the 49th best public school in the country by US News & World Report, which meant that the existing project plans that Elizabeth brought for us to work media literacy concepts and digital media tools into were already chock-full-of rigor and creatively designed.
Elizabeth and I were connected through her involvement with The Generation Connection camp (TGC), which TMS has collaborated with for 9 years. Our blended relationship began with a face-to-face meeting in Nashville to brainstorm ways that TGC, TMS and Hume Fogg could create a project that would incorporate media literacy concepts into a high school English project that involved older adults in the community as collaborators and resources for the students. After getting a feel for each other in person, we continued developing the project over the phone, co-editing planning documents in Google Docs (left), and within Voicethread.com projects (below).
Intergenerational Collaboration within Schools
TGC’s mission is to faciliate reciprocal mentoring between youth and older adults to build community, and create meaningful relationships between often isolated groups within the same community. We planned to match small student production groups with older adults from the community as a resource and collaborator. The “reciprocal” element would involve students teaching older adults Voicethread skills and schooling them in social media online collaboration, which is second-nature to them, while older adults would offer their generation’s research methods, and in some cases first-hand experinece related to the projects, or knowledge of how readings of the classic novels the projects are connected to have changed over the years. As we’ve seen through TGC Due to the logistics of background checks, and scheduling challenges, the intergenerational collaboration did not materialize this time around, but will remain a part of the unit plan for 2012-13 school year at Hume Fogg.
Voicethread “Case” Productions around Classic Novels
Step 1: Intro project for teacher & students to get acquainted with Voicethread
Students first completed mini projects to get acquainted with the Voicethread process defending the relevance of In Cold Blood for an AP English Curriculum: Here’s the assignment (Google Doc): https://docs.google.com/document/d/1GBLMfpSXWXR1nX5Fcz-I_KNRRLcmKv6lIRAPo_ky-2g/edit#heading=h.mhx9qwzgg19t
Step 2: Larger-scale projects requiring specific multimedia elements
[Elizabeth, would you like to give a sentence or two about the objective of the assignment? And a description of the showcase you guys did at the end to culuminate? Did you have a rubric for analyzing the work?]
Media literacy value amplified by the assignment, made possible by Voicethread
The strength of these projects from a media literacy perspective are in the specific requirement of students to communicate and persuade through a combination of media in an online environment. Students must decide where to get quality information to complete their “case” assignment, and synthesize that information by communicating what they learned through a combination of video, documents, and images in Voicethread. Voicethread allowed the incorporation of whatever media the students chose to produce, and allowed collaboration to take place asynchronously as well as in person in class. It also allows for student or teacher and peer interaactive review through the commenting feature.
Collaborative, educational multimedia production poses many challenges. In a given learning environment, many factors must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, including the range of technical savvy among educators and youth, available technology resources, and the degree of technical support. This prevents a “magic bullet” prescription for media education through production, but it also provides opportunities for creative new media applications in virtually any situation!
The goal of working with TMS is primarily to increase media literacy for youth and educators alike. The production projects deal with a range of topics and content, but always support the core concepts of media analysis and our objectives. Below are some of the benefits of working with us (see also: Learning Standards).
Connecting with the world of 21st Century youth
We believe that at whatever age, youth can apply their own experiences to uniquely enrich projects in ways that inherently promote media literacy. The TMS production process is designed to connect students’ comfort, or “ways of knowing”, with new media to existing curricula.
Foundations: Spiral Curriculum, Goodman, Tyner, Winn, PBS
Professional producers working with you
TMS media professionals provide the technical expertise to help educators complete projects with confidence while focusing on new and traditional teaching opportunities during the production process. (see also our philosophy‘s section on “collaborative production”)
Foundations: Hobbs, Tyner
Our projects start with language-based subject matter drawn from existing curricula. This adds new perspective and learning opportunities to existing teaching strategies.
Technology planning and support
Any computer use in a group setting requires professional technical support and planning. The rush to acquire new media has left many groups with more computers than they can maintain and no realistic plan for using them to increase learning. Collaborative production with TMS can include long-term technology planning and technical support to allow educators to capitalize on potential learning opportunities instead of troubleshooting technical glitches they are not trained to handle.
Foundations: Tyner, COSN
Create new media voices in your community
We believe that if a child knows their work will have a life beyond their immediate surroundings, they will be more invested in the process. Digital audio and video, and the Internet have made it possible for virtually anyone to create a voice in these dominant forms of 21st Century public discourse. Aside from helping youth create these voices, TMS works to distribute and share your group’s work through community screenings and, with your permission, on the Internet.
Custom educational resources created by YOU
Material produced through TMS can be distributed within your educational community as teaching material with cross-curricular value. With your permission, your projects can become part of The Media Spot’s production archive for others to use in their pursuit of media literacy.
Our approach to promoting media literacy is to provide professional development and student services to educational communities through project-based media education. Through this web site, we provide access to the concept of media literacy through our resources, by outlining our collaborative production process, and presenting TMS productions.
Through this approach we hope to achieve the objectives outlined below.
collaborative production objectives:
- to empower youth to become informed and active 21st century citizens by developing media literacy and multimedia production skills
- to help youth identify media messages in society, understand how and why they are present, and think independently and critically about their relationship to those messages
- to empower youth to establish a voice using the dominant media of the 21st Century
- to empower educators to integrate media literacy themes and projects into their curricula
- to teach youth technical skills essential in the classroom and beyond
- to help schools efficiently and effectively utilize the technology they possess to enhance teaching and learning practices
objectives of this web site:
- to introduce our approach & rationale to educators interested in media literacy
- to share foundational resources that have helped us become media literate ourselves
- to support media education projects in the classroom
- to connect and share our productions with the world