In mid April one of my English teachers had her AP Lit students create propaganda pieces as a component of the novel study of George Orwell’s 1984. I blogged about it here. First impressions can be so deceiving, as though I came to the class to see them and even agreed to display them in the library, I was impressed, but not super impressed.
Confession: I was initially not impressed…
After taking the hodgepodge of posters and assorted other relia back to the library, I had the realization that ooooh yeah these kids were really thinking outside the box! I had misjudged much of what I’d seen. My worry then became what if students and teachers who saw them displayed in the library only gave them a cursory glance and then had the same initial response. I really felt that many who had not read the book would totally miss the point of the content displayed. I went back to my collaborating teacher to offer some ideas or insights to prevent that from happening.
The gallery walk idea is born
After our discussion, we agreed on a gallery walk. We would have our students use Audacity to record a description of their piece, giving insights into why they chose the medium used as well as significances. We would upload the audiofiles, provide the students a link, and get them to create QR codes to go with the display. Signs would be made to encourage students and teachers to use smartphones or our library’s iPads to scan the codes and listen to the explanation that went with the visual.
Still working-still creating
We are in the midst of making our recordings now, and the students seem to be super excited about creating a recording that explains their choices for their propaganda. I’ve had several teachers either in the library or just passing through to admire the posters or ask questions about what the kids are doing. They see the microphones, the qr codes, and the FUN the kids are having, and want the same for their classes.
DABA (deserves a bigger audience!)
As I reflected today, I realized these are two classes’ worth of propaganda, and they should get to “hear” each other’s explanations. Initially I thought they might return to the library to walk around and scan the codes around the display. This is a viable option, but I really think many students and teachers will be too busy to take the time. Solution? Make a VoiceThread of the projects as the qr codes are completed. I have snapped and imported the photos of the projects, and I connected the audio files made these last two days with their corresponding propaganda. Not all are finished, as we are working with small groups during their AP Lit blocks. But as the others finish in the next day or so, I will get them to add their audio recording to the picture of their work in VoiceThread too. My collaborating teacher will be able to show via VoiceThread the combined efforts of both classes to both her classes. We will post on our library blog and share with our district as well. So while the “gallery walk” idea has held, we are also using VoiceThread to make it a “virtual gallery walk” too, one that can have a wider audience.
You should teach some of the summer tech courses
I had another teacher stop and ask me today if I were teaching any of the summer district technology classes. He’s been in the library these last two days with his classes, but from the other side observing our project as it progresses. He said he wanted to sign up for all the ones I’m leading, as he really liked the activities he’s seen coming form collaborating with the library. I told him I had offered but hadn’t been asked to do any at this time. I told him that since he is one of my colleagues, I’d be happy to sit down with him ANYTIME to give him a rundown on project ideas. As he left today (after using our iPads in the library) he took away a viable idea for two science classes to create qr code based scavenger hunts that the other classes could do in the next weeks.
End of school – a tough time of the year for all
This is the time of the year when it is so challenging to keep our students engaged–14 more days of school. SCORE (on several fronts!) One for the library gaining another collaborating teacher, one for project based learning, and one for engaged students seeking a wider audience.