Making Curriculum Pop

I found Dr. Kist’s presentation to be extremely engaging, relevant to my teaching, and interesting. His presentation raised a lot of questions and made me reflect on my own teaching practices and beliefs. I have been meaning to try the snow ball activity in the classroom I work in. I found it to be highly engaging and thought provoking activity. In the third grade, I imagine if being an activity I could try after a read aloud, in morning meeting, or any time when I feel the need for a community building exercise. Having our class connect and comment on one another’s thinking through an active exercise was a refreshing and different literacy activity that I can see fitting in to any type of classroom. Both the snowball activity and the sequencing activity reminded me how effective it is to incorporate movement into classroom activities. I also took away how important it is for teachers to use engaging activities that are highly responsive to student interests in our efforts to create a classroom where community and collaboration are valued.

In the beginning of the presentation, Dr. Kist showed us his extraordinary media literacy autobiography including books from his past, TV shows, and images that are all a part of his literacy world. I have been trying to create my own “reading life” movie for a class I am currently in by collecting texts that are important in my life. To be honest, putting the movie together has me feeling very digitally incompetent. Trying to sequence music, picture, and text is tough work! When I sat down to work on it the other day, I was immediately reminded of one of Dr. Kist’s points that just because we may be a part of the generation of “digital natives”, does not necessarily mean we always feel like we are. I can’t help but think about how our generation’s relationship with media is not as simple as we may think. When approaching a classroom community, it is important to realize that every student may not feel comfortable, have the interest, or possess the digital media skills that we believe that many students of this generation boast.

A picture from my own "reading life" digital story (I can't seem to make in any smaller)!

Dr. Kist’s presentation also got me thinking about balance between print based literacy and new literacies in the elementary classroom. In this era, new literacies, such movies, YouTube, music, and images, are more abundant and attainable than ever. In this semester, I have tried to incorporate more multi-media literacy in the classroom I work in. I ended up planning a shared reading of the song Imagine by John Lennon and incorporated images from the Strawberry Fields Park in Central Park while we listened to, sang, and studied the lyrics of the song. I also showed a clip of Author’s Readers Theater at the launch of my reader’s theater activity. However, each time I worked with these new literacy technologies it felt isolated from the rest of the student’s actual curriculum. As I think about the day I have my own elementary classroom, I wonder how I will more seamlessly thread these new literacies throughout the curriculum in a more meaningful way. Also, when and how much do I incorporate new literacies into an elementary classroom? I don’t know if there are any answers, but I feel is important is to strive for a balance and to know your student’s needs and the interests of the community of learners you are in. An important message that stood out to me at the end of the presentation was Dr. Kist’s belief that no matter what age and technology we are in, classroom education should still be all about creating community and collaborating. How true!

Links to share...

Interesting article in the NY times about the Literacy debate:

If you have Microsoft here are the programs you can make a digital story on:
Movie Maker:

If you are ever planning on doing reader's theater, here is the Author's reader's theater I shared with my students:

These are a couple of links that I have found interesting lately and have thought could be incorporated into the classroom.....(I guess I am on a history kick!)

"The New Hard Times" reader submitted video:
-13 year old interviewing his grandmother about the Great Depression

Holocaust Survivor podcasts:

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Replies to This Discussion

Great post! I agree that the snowball activity is something that I would love to use in my classroom. I imagine using it at the beginning of the year as a community building activity. I think it is a great activity to show students that they are more alike then they realize. It also is a great activity to introduce a new book, movie, show, etc. to someone!! I love your shared reading with John Lennon's "Imagine" song. That is so very creative! Thanks for all the great resource links!
Hi Wynne!
Awesome post! One part that i found really interesting is when you said "I can’t help but think about how our generation’s relationship with media is not as simple as we may think. When approaching a classroom community, it is important to realize that every student may not feel comfortable, have the interest, or possess the digital media skills that we believe that many students of this generation boast." I worked at a very low socioeconomic school where students had no access both at home or at school to computers or to television. They knew some things about popular media but did not have extensive skills when it came to digital media. Can we still incorporate media into our classroom if our students aren't exposed to this at home? Are we showing them what they are missing out? I always thought about this at that school. If i showed a clip of a movie from my computer, would they then think why can't i have a computer? Just something your comment made me think of. Great links.
I too was blown away by this idea of a media literacy biography. We do " all about" books and other sorts of autobiographies all the time in our classrooms yet, I've never thought much about doing on on media. As a response to Blair's questions, I teach in an inner city school right now. Although some children may not have computers at home, I feel that media is still all around them. They could even create an autobiography based on songs that they have heard. I feel it's our job to equip students with all the necessary tools to compete in today's technological reality. It's our job to make it an daily part of our classroom. I want each of my children to walk out of my classroom doors feeling comfortable and confident in media literacy, just as I want them to exit my room knowing that he/ she is a great reader. And that reading is a tool, use it wisely.
I too enjoyed Kists snowball activity and thought it would be usable in my classroom (when I get one). I think Kist was right when he talked about the fact that classrooms should be about community no matter what. Even though some of this might be a bit hard to implement in a inner city school I agree with Sophy it is doable with some adjustments. In response to Blair, isn't it the teachers responsibility to make the children feel comfortable with this technology. If you show comfort with it so will the students.
Dear Wynne,

Thank you for your thought-provoking post. I am particularly interested in your query concerning the intersection of classroom lessons involving media to those curricular segments that are non-media based (in either content or platform) for your students’ learning. You shared that one value you have concerning creative curricula design, parameters for media inclusion and linkages to other classroom material is the importance “to strive for a balance and to know your student’s needs and the interests of the community of learners you are in."

I couldn't agree with you more that students’ interests, and presenting information that engage them as holistic individuals, is what ultimately may bring them closer to school time study. You gave an example of your multi-media engagement with students involving Lennon’s “Strawberry Fields” and images of Central Park (including his famous inscription) as you evaluated the aural and lyrical significance of the song work. You followed this story by your inquiry that touched me above: how does inclusion of this activity cognitively, logistically relate to the classroom in its full curriculum?

I would like to suggest the Salvadori Center to you. Salvadori is an interesting educational resource (its website offers age and content specific curricula, i.e. lessons geared for middle school math students) that introduces environmental awareness to students through study of "built" classroom structure and "build environment” society. Utilizing some of their teaching tenets, which aim to increase students' knowledge about their natural versus constructed environments, could offer a dynamic supplement to studying “Imagine” and its intersection to Central Park. As a joined curriculum, Lennon’s music piece could probe ideas of peace as sustenance. Using the same environment of “park” for students, this lesson plan might cohere for an expansive and connected learning for students that spans disciplines of Urban Studies, Environmental Awareness, and Arts and Community Activisms.

Do you think this extension of study might be helpful for you as educator in your classroom?

hey Wynne, I absolutely agree with everything you said. These days, while I worked with a small group of students for my MARP, I tried to focus on creating a community and working in collaboration. I believe that there is not just one part of the day that is dedicated to community building, but throughout the school day students should experience learning with and from each other.
Hi Wynne,
I enjoyed reading your reflection on Dr. William Kist's presentation on "The New Literacies Movement and Web 2.0: Roadblocks and Opportunities." I agree with Dr. Kist’s philosophy: teachers should not assume that their students are comfortable and interested in engaging in technologies and media sources. Since technology has been growing and advancing over time, educators should try to stay updated on new technology and media as well as give their students ample opportunities to explore and discover new technologies (assuming computers and televisions are provided and permitted at their schools). When Dr. Kist spoke about popular culture, he commented on how he asks his college students to create slideshows composed of media artifacts (books, music, television shows, movies) from their childhood. Having children create their own slideshows of what they watch, listen to, and read will allow teachers to understand their students' interests. I also agree with you that it's important to seamlessly thread new literacies throughout the curriculum in a more meaningful way. In order to do so, I would suggest that you use transitional activities, clearly explain expectations/learning goals for each lesson, and always communicate how using media in the classroom relates to the students learning a specific subject/topic/area of study.
Hey Wynne,
Great post! I thought Kist’s presentation was refreshing! I also loved the snowball activity and I think it can be incorporated into the primary grades as well. It’s a great ice breaker for the beginning of the year and can be continued throughout the year so that students continue to learn new things about their peers.
You also made a great point about not making assumptions about our students and their level of comfort with media. I think it is so important for the instructor to support students in their media experience and provide them with the guidance that will help them be successful.
Hi Wynne,

First of all, great job with the "reading life" digital story! It looks very professional, not at all like a beginner's attempt.

I am not a digital "native" either - this semester I have been introduced to and have had to complete multiple assignments using new digital media/technology tools. For example, I have composed and arranged a full song for violin and piano using a notation software called Sibelius. I also have created my first "song" using off-the-shelf sound loops using a Mac based software called Garage Band. Finally, I just learned blogging 101 in the past 72 hours!

Based on the above experience, and my main background as a music teacher for junior high school, let me give you my perspective on your comment "When approaching a classroom community, it is important to realize that every student may not feel comfortable, have the interest, or possess the digital media skills that we believe that many students of this generation boast.":
1. Without a doubt a majority of the students and teachers need to catch up on digital media skills - most media/technology tools are not things one can master overnight; they are, more often than not, pretty sophisticated.
2. The curriculum has to be designed thoughtfully so that the media/technology tool helps, not hinders the classroom learning process.
3. At least within music education, the availability of media/technology tools does not necessarily translate to increase in music knowledge.

Anyways, I hope my comments help contribute to the discussion!

Hi Wynne-
Thanks so much for the post. I really like how you used The Beatles song in a lesson. I too have some similar questions about how much media I should use and how to make it flow with the curriculum. I couldn't help but to think of the "workshop model" and how media could fit into the minilesson format. I guess that is something that we will have to mess around with in our classrooms next year. I like the quote you added at the end about how Kist emphasized the importance of building community and collaboration. That is something that I feel is essential in todays classrooms!



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