Teacher Consultant

Dave Boardman

Messalonskee High School
Oakland, Maine

Maine Writing Project

Recommendations

  1. Focus on the writing first: The purpose of the project as a whole tends to become clouded and work is greatly dragged out when students move too early to photo or music selection. That said, sometimes drawing other media in helps spark possibilities for some writers.
  2. Don't teach computer programs: Provide a handout and show students the Help menu on iMovie, Moviemaker, Photostory 3, or Adobe's Premiere Elements; teach them how to search for help on Google. Have students search in two places or ask two people before asking their teacher for help.
  3. Encourage using royalty-free images and music: Offer access to websites that provide royalty-free images like Image After, bigphoto.com, or Stock.Xchng, and professional music sites like Free Play Music. Students will be impressed with how their projects take on a professional quality when they work with high-quality components; the realization that their own writing could take on a professional quality to match these images and sounds becomes all the more clear to young writers.
  4. Create authentic assignments: Encourage and support projects that tell community members' stories, provide comprehensive answers to unit-essential questions, or provide the opportunity to tell personal life stories. What makes digital arts projects especially effective is that they are not traditional papers. Keeping that in mind throughout the assignment helps maintain that sense of real work, rather than school work.
  5. Don't save multimedia projects for the classes that behave themselves: Sometimes, those students who are least engaged and most disruptive express this behavior because they haven’t had a chance to communicate and think critically. While students may initially find it a challenge to handle the freedom of a large-scale project, with time the realization that they are involved in a different way of showing what they know soon takes hold and the work of the class moves smoothly.