Remember, Remember the 5th of November

A few "digi text" ideas For Firework Night. Anthony originally set the challenge of creating "clean" art, using graphics packages around the theme of Firework night. Visits to Doug Linda and Anthony's blog, have set me thinking about how we could use other available ICT tools to respond to or extend the stimulus. Onscreen graphics, rarely look as good on paper as they do displayed digitally, so here are a few thoughts.

Multimedia Firework Poetry or Stories

With Year 1 students last November I used 2 create a story as a tool to write multimodal firework stories. Responding to firework displays they had attended, the student's painted fire work pictures with the tools provided by the software and added texts about their experiences of the events.

Playing with the tools available, some began to add animation effects and sounds from the library provided by the software. The sounds they chose were not always appropriate, but this was their's and my first experience with the tool. On reflection however, in preparing for these sessions, I now might visit royalty free sound effects websites, to download additional sound effects to the computer in preparation for the activity and widen the available soundscape for them to choose from and use. In addition to this the children could also use a microphone to record their own sound effects using the recording tool, or rather than type their stories add it as a soundtrack.

I am a big fan of this tool, it is much more powerful than first viewing might suggests. If you are interested I have a comic strip how to, about using 2 create a story on our school website or you can download it directly by right clicking this link.

As an introductory tool for multimodal text development, 2 create a story is also a great platform to use with older students for planning. As a publishing option the files can be exported as "Flash" for inclusion in a web site, or as "pack and go" devices to share on screen with others.

How about preparing a file and using 2 create a story to frame a guided or shared writing session using digital images as a starting point. Where these digital images come from we have a host of possibilities. We could:

  • Google and download a collection of images from the internet
  • Use photos we have ourselves of bonfire parties and firework displays
  • Or use graphics packages such as Revelation Art, 2 Paint a Picture, Softease's Textease Paint, Photofiltre or Microsoft Paint to ask students to develop firework images of their own.

I find that digital images generated by students present better in digital environments than they do on paper. These images imported to 2 create a story, will act as writing prompts and talking points, to develop class collections of descriptive sentences and phrases and facilitate use of the software environment as a place to model and share the style or type of written outcome we are working on. Using this with the IWB we can work together as a class to collect WOW words eg adjectives, verbs or adverbs, figurative language, perhaps resulting in collections of similes or adjectival phrases using the visual scaffolds to help. With these displayed they become available designs for students to borrow, or help frame their own inventions, to include in the multimedia text we want them to write. One outcome might be a navigable poem, each page holding an image, supported by sound and text, and presenting a textured line of poetry. Alternatively we might use the internet to research the origins of bonfire night, include images from the web, and orally presented commentary recounting or reporting events.

Photostories, Softease Presenter, Powerpoint and 2 Create

I would use similar processes with MS Powerpoint, 2 create, Textease Presenter. MS Photostory as those above to develop "texts." In introducing the tasks and processes involved students might be given their own copies of a template file to work on, or using one of my own I would guide the students through the processes of making their own from scratch. With more experienced groups we would want to encourage, making or collecting, importing and use of their own images, sound effects or soundtracks. This would involve preliminary work to "collect, organise and store" or develop images in a graphics package, that might perhaps involve editing images that students have downloaded from the internet, they might also involve finding and downloading sound effects, or prerecording these using other tools.

How this type of work is done its curriculum and your school context will obviously dictate time available to you or the approach you want or are required to take.
  • Are you intending to develop an ICT unit around a theme?
  • Are you developing the task as an additional one off project stemming from an extended Literacy unit?
This will influence how you manage student engagement and the degree of design freedom they have with the project. If the latter, you might want to limit the amount of ICT skills input neccesary and begin with a template, since the focus is on text representation, if the former you will obviously want the students to develop as much of the project themselves as possible.

In using 2 create, powerpoint and presenter, the biggest difference in the process would be students learning how to compile and organise their materials in preparation for making their presentations, then learning how to attach sound files, use images as backgrounds and how to hyperlink the text for themselves, while thinking about the effects they want to portray.

Photostory, Movie Maker and Podium

Using Photostory much the same process "collect, organise, store and present" outlined above would apply to the designing and making of the presentation. I have pulled it out for separate treatment here though, because of the output format it generates. The final format of projects developed in photostory being video opens up some really exciting possibilities for sharing, or joint authorship if you are feeling adventurous. Completed video projects made in photostory by the students, can be "spliced" together by importing them to Movie Maker to develop a class project. This could be the poetry idea mentioned above, or might be the production of a report about the Gunpowder Plot, where students in groups are delegated areas to investigate and present, using Internet research, and scripts they develop to produce their individual contributions to the class documentary, a digital news story, non chronological report, or documentary. Using the IWB with Movie Maker, the students can be involved in the compilation of the final outcome and in making editorial decisions about how the programme might go together. Opening titles and credits can be added, before the final programme is aired for viewing and further discussion (maybe over popcorn! or toasted marshmallows?)

I have included Podium, Softease's podcasting solution here also, not as a way of presenting images or as afterthought, but as another possible ICT tool to present and perform oral text outcomes and as a vehicle to give purpose, context or a sense of audience to work developed in class. The purpose of writing in any format is for reading, and as a stimulus the importance and historical significance of the story of the Gunpowder Plot shouts out for a documentary, an empathetic news report, or short play to be presented. A podcast would be a fabulous way to air and share these outcomes as living texts in a different format. November 5th is about more than a "penny for the guy," and the whooshing exploding aesthetic appeal of the firework, who was this Guy and why after 400ish years is his effigy still so revered. I would love to hear from you if any of these ideas have been useful of interest or have spurred you on to explore the development of multimodal texts with your students. I look forward to sharing what you have done.

1 comment:

Doug said...

Great ideas Simon ... particularly like the speaking and listening idea using Podium to podcast ... would make a terrific historical drama with actors recording episodes in podcast diary format of the days leading up to the final arrests and then a reprise to sum up.