Play Presentation

Kent Manning

Kent Manning has been teaching for 25 years. His current assignment is K to 8 educational technology support for 46 schools in the Belleville area. His interests include digital storytelling and how the use of audio and visual technologies can help students and adults tell their story.

Table of Contents

Overview

This writing activity will combine Grade 3 and 4 Ontario Curriculum expectation requirements from Science – Life Systems and Language Arts – Non Fiction Writing. Although this activity was completed by a Grade 3-4 class, adjustments could be made for other curriculum expectations for Grades 2 to 8.

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Purpose of Learning Object

Students will create a 60 to 90 second digital persuasive story which answers the critical question: “Should humans engage in the deforestation of rainforests?”

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Description of the Learning Task

Students’ writing responses will take on a rich, engaging and active tone as students create the digital persuasive stories. Students will use voice narration, images, original art work to persuade the audience of their point of view.

Steps in the Process

A. Writing

  1. Reasoning: Opinion stated with appropriate factual supporting evidence related to claim.
  2. Communication: Ideas and facts from background knowledge or schema.
  3. Organization of Ideas: Ideas will be logically connected.
  4. Application: Conventions used eg. “I statements”

B. Enhancing the Writing with Multimedia

  1. Record Narratives using Audacity sound recording software.
  2. Creative commons image search for images to match story.
  3. Visual story creation using movie making software.

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Curriculum Connections

Reading, Writing, Media Literacy and Science

Grade 3

Identify the topic, purpose, audience, and form of writing. (Writing 1.1)

Sort ideas and information for their writing in a variety of ways. (Writing 1.4)

Identify their point of view and determine if their information supports their point of view. (Writing 2.5)

Demonstrate understanding of a variety of texts by identifying important ideas and some supporting details. (Reading 1.4)

Extend understanding of texts by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them. (Reading 1.6)

Assess ways in which plants have an impact on society and the environment, and ways in which human activity has an impact on plants and plant habitats. (Science Overall)

Grade 4

Identify the topic, purpose, audience, and form of writing. (Writing 1.1)

Sort ideas and information for their writing in a variety of ways. (Writing 1.4)

Identify their point of view and determine if their information sufficiently supports their point of view. (Writing 2.5)

Demonstrate an understanding of a variety of texts by summarizing important ideas and citing important details. (Reading 1.4)

Extend understanding of texts by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them. (Reading 1.6)

Analyse the effects of human activities on habitats and communities. (Science Overall)

Demonstrate an understanding of habitats and communities and the relationships among the plants and animals that live in them. (Science Overall)

Media Literacy

Create a variety of media texts for different purposes and audiences, using appropriate forms, conventions, and techniques.

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Required Technology

All students and teachers involved in this project required access to computers, the internet and software. They needed access to the software Movie Maker and Audacity, sound recording software and word processing software. Microphones which attach to computers were used to record students’s narratives.

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Assessment

In this rich culminating task it is important for there to be an essential or critical question. This task fits into the core curriculum and represents the “big idea” about deforestation which is taking place in our world. Should humans engage in the deforestation of rainforests?

Developing Rich Culminating Tasks

Writing Frame and Rubric

Use the A.P.E.+ method for Argumentative/Persuasive writing and evaluating : reasoning, communication, organization of ideas, and conventions with the rubric.

Answer Proof, Extend and Conclude Writing Framework

Persuasive Writing Rubric

Visual Storytelling Rubric

By using this rubric you will be addressing the multimedia components of the digital persuasive story. The following criteria will be addressed: Story Title, Story Lead, Story Voice, Author’s Focus, Story Idea Development, Audio-Visual Impact.

Visual Storytelling Rubric

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Scope and Sequence

This task can be undertaken at any time of the year. In this example the persuasive writing assignment was part of a larger Grades 3 and 4 Science – Life Systems unit and was started in the third week of September.

As long as there is an inquiry approach, critical question and topic focus, this unit can take as long as 3 weeks depending on the complexity of tasks assigned.

At the outset the “critical inquiry question” is introduced: Should humans engage in the deforestation of rainforests? The topic focus is the importance of the rainforest and how plants and animals are interrelated within that habitat.

The text form for writing was determined to be a persuasive/opinion non-fiction writing. The students explained in their writing the cause and effects of deforestation as it effects plants and animals. And provided proof from their knowledge gathering within their claim.

Before the students began writing their argument, they were immersed in reading for meaning expectations 1.8 and 1.9 which are higher order thinking skill expectations.

The reading writing connection was addressed and mentor texts that have explanations about the content were used. The culminating task was a visual story where images illustrated a spoken/written word. Students persuade their audience about their particular point of view which includes facts and opinions about deforestation.

Content and Flow within a Literacy Block (Life Systems)

Download Content and Flow framework without links.

Read Aloud

Nature’s Green Umbrella (Tropical Rain Forests)

Think aloud and brainstorm using Ideas Blackline Master. Why are rainforests are important?

The Great Kapok Tree (Lynne Cherry) – Think Aloud Determining Importance

Life in the Rainforest (Lucy Baker) – Think/Pair/Share

Animals Feel Emotion – Persuasive Text – Think Aloud Claim and Support Chart

Who said it, what is their opinion, evidence.

Shared Reading

Discovering Rain Forests

Chapter 1: What is a Rainforest?

Chapter 5: The Importance of Rain Forests

Chapter 7: Protecting Rain Forests

Tropical Rain Forests

Chapter 9: Danger

Positive and Negative Effects of Deforestation – The reasons for deforestation Reading Response

Determining Importance (Focus)/Ideas

The Great Kapok Tree – Use Ideas BLM. Students brainstorm reasons as to how plants and animals depend on each other for survival.

Animals Feel Emotion – Sides of the Room Activity (debate)

Positive and Negative Effects of Deforestation (Claim and Support Chart; Determining Importance BLM)

Deforestation

(Claim and Support; Ideas BLM – What are the positive effects of deforestation?

Next day – What are the negative effects of deforestation?

Final sides of the room activity – answering final “writing question” and debating sides. – anchor chart

Content Area: ¾ Science – Life Systems

Genre/Writing Focus: Persuasive (Claim and Support)

Modelled Writing

Model using APE.

Should Humans Engage in Deforestation?

Model “A” section of report:Monday;

Model “P” section:Tuesday ;

Model “ E” section:Wednesday;

Model “ +” section: Thursday.

APE – Answer; Proof, Extend (+ Conclusion) Shared Writing

Monday to Thursday – Write specific section of report together. (Guided Writing)

Brainstorm own ideas for independent task

Assist students in gathering ideas for their writing – make sure everyone is “ready” (Independent Writing)

Should humans engage in the deforestation of rainforests?

Guided Reading

Nature Reuses and Recycles (Level R)

Determining Important Information is a focus for guided reading this block

Independent Reading

Purpose (DI), (IDEAS) – using BLM’s modeled from read-aloud/shared reading to determine understanding from individual students.

Say: Debates – sides of the room – Should Humans Engage in Deforestation? – providing proof for their opinion.

Write: Persuasive paper – Should Humans Engage in Deforestation?

Do: Movie Maker – Digital Persuasive Story

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Accommodations and Modifications

As the electronic writing portion of the unit began, students were identified who were not reading and writing at grade level and accommodations and modifications were put into place.

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Differentiation

“Differentiating instruction involves providing students with different avenues of acquiring content; of processing, constructing, or making sense of ideas; and to developing teaching products so that all students within a classroom can learn effectively, regardless of differences in ability”.

Source: Wikipedia March 2009

Every effort was made during the process of writing and recording the visual stories to provide opportunities for students to be successful.

  1. Students were identified who could neither read nor write at grade level.
  2. These students were given opportunities to “orally respond” during shared reading time.
  3. The students were withdrawn and their stories were “scribed” by a resource teacher.
  4. The students stories were then typed using a word processor by an adult.
  5. At the time of recording the voice files, an adult used the “echo read” strategy. A sentence was read by the teacher, and repeated by the student, while the recording software recorded the voice until the entire story was recorded.
  6. Using this strategy allowed the students who could neither read nor write at grade level, the opportunity to be successful with the same task as all other classmates.

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Research Base

The research on the topic of motivating and providing support to non-fiction writers is quite compelling.

Research shows that when you use visual media and information and communication technology during the writing process it enhances and supports writers.

The following research review is provided by Caroline Daly – Ofsted.

The Use of Visual Media

Boys [and girls] work well when given opportunities to use the language found in cartoons, television, video and computer games, and the methods used by visual media to convey action are transferred effectively by boys into their own writing (Millard, 1997, 2001).

This dramatic dimension to their writing is accompanied by a more effective use of language, in the use of a range of adjectives, adverbs and complex sentences, in comparison with girls.

Many boys [and girls] respond to strong visual images and it has been suggested that such images ‘accelerate’ boys’ [and girls] learning because they are more oriented towards visual and spatial learning styles (Smith, 1996).

This has been substantiated by a recent growing body of research into the impact of visual learning on writing development. Opportunities for pupils to present work in charts and flow diagrams, using overhead projectors and interactive whiteboards, have met with enthusiasm from boys (Higgins, 2002).

The Use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

The motivating effect on boys of ICT is well established, and there is a growing literature on the power of ICT to improve pupils’ engagement with a wide range of literacy activities.

Tweddle (1997) explored the capacity of ICT to support the strategies already outlined as promoting boys’ writing – the oral work which takes place in front of the screen during paired drafting, the focus on independent learning and providing real purposes for writing. It is an energising tool for talking about the details of linguistic and organisational features of texts.

Within the wider agenda for raising achievement, ICT is seen to have a special appeal in English, because the interaction with text allows to ‘transform… be social… be engaged’ (Noble and Bradford, 2000).

The benefits of ICT for boys’ (and girls’) writing are summarised by Myhill as part of her response to the TAP Project (2001).

Classroom strategies using ICT involve:

  • offering differentiated support on an individual basis
  • supporting both writing composition and transcription
  • whole-class direct teaching on an aspect of literacy.

ICT as a means of improving the presentation of their work, increasing self-confidence and overcoming teacher disapproval of untidy handwriting (Bleach, 1998).

The use of spell-checkers has been welcomed because boys [and girls] like instant feedback. It is however, in the ‘alterability’ of text on screen that ICT offers the most impact on the linguistic choices pupils make by supporting the teaching of composition features, for example using the highlight and font facilities to focus on topic sentences, cohesion, vocabulary chains and excessive co-ordination (Myhill, 2001).

This is reliant upon teachers’ own knowledge and motivation, and how they resist being hampered by a lack of sophisticated technology – it is rather about how to use what is available. At the other extreme, work on multimedia authoring offers exciting opportunities for teachers to push further the expectations of what pupils can do with language when the technology becomes available, as has been shown by work in London primary schools (Lachs, 2000).”

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Evidence of Innovation and/or Exemplary Practice

The Importance of Multimedia Literacy in the 21st Century

Multimedia literacy is a very important part of 21st century learning. The power of multimedia plays a large part in today’s classroom. Multimedia objects which include graphics, audio and images will be used to influence, explain point of view and to communicate a clear message to an audience.

Text in the 21st century is now multimodal in in nature. Texts can be produced and shared as print, electronic, visual, and graphical forms, hand-held devices to mention a few. With the invention of blogs, podcasts and wikis, student and adults are communicating like never before.

Therefore, it behoves us to use audio recording and visuals in our writing today with students.

By providing these visual media and ICT scaffolds we assist our students as they produce 21st century texts.

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Other Applications and Extensions

By using visual media and ICT in all subject areas, there is a greater opportunity for teacher and student motivation and engagement.

For examples of imaginative, innovative use of visual and ICT media across the curriculum please view the Videos section of Edutopia.org

Boys and girls work well when given opportunities to use the language found in cartoons, television, video and computer games, and the methods used by visual media to convey action are transferred effectively by boys into their own writing (Millard, 1997, 2001).

This dramatic dimension to their writing is accompanied by a more effective use of language, in the use of a range of adjectives, adverbs and complex sentences, in comparison with girls.

Many boys respond to strong visual images and it has been suggested that such images ‘accelerate’ boys’ learning because they are more oriented towards visual and spatial learning styles (Smith, 1996).

This has been substantiated by a recent growing body of research into the impact of visual learning on writing development. Opportunities for pupils to present work in charts and flow diagrams, using overhead projectors and interactive whiteboards, have met with enthusiasm from boys (Higgins, 2002).

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Impact Analysis

How does this project make a difference?

This project makes a difference by offering technology enhancements which will make the process of the writing task more engaging. By integrating technology via visual media and information and communication technology it gives a greater opportunity for student engagement and support.

How does it change student engagement and learning?

By recording voice digital files, searching or creating images to support and enhance the writing assignment and finally creating a multimedia final product of student writing, the students are not faced with just one way of presenting their written work. The written work takes on a more 21st century look and feel.

How the teacher uses instructional practices, designs learning and decision-making

The teacher need to learn the various technologies explained in a project of this nature. Scanning student work, recording digital voice files, creating or searching for visual files and finally using movie making software to stitch the project together are 21st century student skills and by default teachers must know these valuable skills.

What impact has there been across the school, division or with colleagues?

Students, schools, school groups and entire districts will need to develop these 21st century skills in that order. As with many technological innovations, it is the students who bring about the need for change. We as an educational community need to respond to these changes and bring to the table a similar technological skill set. Only when Principals and Teachers are empowered with these skills will they be able to effect change in the classrooms of our province.

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Additional Resources

Read Aloud

Nature’s Green Umbrella (Tropical Rain Forests)

Think aloud and brainstorm using Ideas Blackline Master. Why are rainforests are important?

The Great Kapok Tree (Lynne Cherry) – Think Aloud Determining Importance

Life in the Rainforest (Lucy Baker) – Think/Pair/Share

Animals Feel Emotion – Persuasive Text – Think Aloud Claim and Support Chart

Who said it, what is their opinion, evidence.

Shared Reading

Discovering Rain Forests

Chapter 1: What is a Rainforest?

Chapter 5: The Importance of Rain Forests

Chapter 7: Protecting Rain Forests

Videos from Resource Center/Other

Life in a Rainforest

Animals in the Rainforest/Plants in the Rainforest

You Tube (Deforestation – Geography Project) – Before/After Deforestation

Books about Boys Learning and Literacy

Reading Don’t Fix No Chevys - M.W. Smith and J.D. Wilhelm

Going with the Flow – M.W. Smith and J.D. Wilhelm

Engaging Readers and Writers with Inquiry – J.D. Wilhelm

Boy Writers – Ralph Fletcher

The Trouble with Boys – Peg Tyre

Boy Smarts – Barry Macdonald

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Copyright/Paper Citation Considerations

On-line Resources:

1. Caroline Daly’s research review of Boys Non-Fiction writing and some related research on how the use of visual media and ICT can assist boys to write non-fiction.

2. Amy Dahm’s Text Forms for Writing Matrix.

3. Jeff Wilhelm’s matrix for developing rich technology enhanced summative tasks.

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