The good news is…the moment I have been waiting a decade for has finally arrived. No, I am not getting married…but in my world this is a close second. The moment has come where technology integration is taking over, and classrooms around the nation are being given engagement tools (i.e. iPads and Chromebooks) and teachers are being required to quickly rethink the way they deliver instruction. The tools have become ubiquitous and inexpensive enough that almost all school districts are able to afford some sort of device. Many financially savvy and forward thinking districts are bringing in 1:1 iPads or 1:1 Chomebooks to their schools and watching as teachers dive into the deep end of the technology integration pool.
This scenario is exciting, but sadly teachers are often introducing tools and creation products they don’t fully understand themselves.
Because their schools have filtered the internet for so many years they are completely unfamiliar with the education-based Web 2.0 tools and the powers of social media in the classroom.
The bad news…I have seen this in almost every school I have come in contact with, including my own. Teachers ask kids to create iMovies or Book Creator projects and proudly boast about student successes even though their students final products include bright red backgrounds and green cursive font. I have even watched as a teacher allowed kids to give presentations with obvious signs of plagiarism, oblivious to the fact that the kids could not even pronounce the words they were reading off their slides (yes, I said reading off their slides…feel free to cringe here).
I had to bite my tongue as I watched the teacher tell the students that their text heavy and over animated keynote was perfectly done.
The teachers are not to blame, they have not been properly trained in these areas. Microsoft has given them an awful example by including almost every bell and whistle they could into their products. When I train teachers I tell them to avoid what I call the “Microsoft Effect.” This means that just because it is included in the program – does not mean you have to use it. This is why I love Google Apps for Education. They have taken out the bells and whistles and have gone back to the basics, so students can concentrate on the content not on the backgrounds, transitions or themes.
With this in mind, I have come up with a list of creation literacy skills TEACHERS and students need to learn.
Teach Kids Presentations Skills
Before you begin teaching the students presentation skills, make sure the teachers understand them first! It is kind of hard to get the lady who wears a collection of mis-matching Christmas sweaters, socks and earrings to understand the idea of color combining and contrasting, but please try! Teach both teachers and students about KISS -Keep it simple stupid and stress the idea of simplicity.
Teach About Fonts!
Do you know the difference between a serif and sans serif font? Time to learn! Everything is digital now and teachers and students need to understand the difference between fonts. They could rise to new teaching heights if they understand that the font selection aides the learning process, and we need different fonts for different age groups. It may seems simple, but this might be one of the most important and overlooked lessons they can learn.
Choosing a photo from the internet is an art form.
I call it being a good “steal”ographer, because you are basically navigating the interent for photos you can steal for your presentation or iMovie. First you have to pick a photo that effectively shows what you are trying to convey. Next, you have to check for copyright permissions and correctly give the author credit for the photo. Finally, you have to do this in a strategic amount of time. Kids need to understand how to find and curate great photos. Ken Shelton calls it “finding what you need, and needing what you find.” Students need to understand the components that make for a good selection and you should show examples before you began a project.
Keyword Selection and Bolding
Keyword selection and the subsequent bolding of those keywords is an essential 21st Century skill. Have you ever read an email that had good keyword selection and bolding. It is a thing of art, and in a time of ubiquitous information students need to develop this skill so that they will get people to read or want to read their creation product.
Ahh..music selection. This is probably the most overlooked skill. How many times have you received an imovie from a student that was masterfully put together and then completely ruined by the music selection? There is an art to picking the right beat structure and the right type of music for a project. Just ask the guy who does the music for Freddy Kreuger he can tell you that music selection is the key to manipulating emotions and enhancing the movie. Your students understand this…they just need reminding.
If you focus on these skills – put them into a rubric – and show examples of both the good and bad, you will get student produced creation products that will bring chills to your spine. Students have it in them to create masterful pieces of information, it is your job to encourage this skill! Good Luck!