Have you ever wanted to breathe new life into boring, traditional assignments? Animoto and Wordle, both 2009 recipients of the BWTL, are favorite go-to ideas when I’m brainstorming with teachers for new projects. Often they are unaware of the programs, or worse, aware but don’t see the tie-in to their curriculum content. As teacher librarians we are always on the look out for activities, ideas, or projects that allow students an interesting way to demonstrate concept mastery. Tried and true paper-writing becomes mundane and boring, both for the student and the teacher. Providing teachers a tool for their teacher toolbox and giving students a unique avenue to show they have researched, read, or learned a required standard can be a catalyst for re-engaging students in the learning process.
One of my teachers each semester assigns one written book report. Often times the type of required book changes by either genre or type. In a collaborative session with her, I introduced her to Wordle and Animoto. The library has a digital frame on the circulation desk, and often we create visuals to promote ongoing initiatives, including things like contests, upcoming events, new books, what’s popular, really almost anything. Having the digital frame made me realize it was the perfect avenue to showcase student work as well. I approached my collaborating teacher with an idea that her students books reports could be improved by adding a “visual” route, and a digital project was born. Over the years it has taken many twists and turns, and in its current state, it has grown to students creating a book review for our Destiny Quest, a digital product for the digital frame, and that same digital product added to the Destiny Record. Because our Destiny program is open to the public via the world wide web, anyone who looks for books through our catalog may come across Animoto videos, book posters that have included wordles, and student reviews. My collaborating teacher has maintained a written portion to the project, requiring the students to write the review and citations. Citations are for pictures used in their projects and for their print book reviewed in a strict MLA format, and this is a part of the rubric we use, where students are assessed. The rubric assesses the following: MLA Review, MLA Citations, minimum of five pictures related to the story or the book’s content in a visual, minimum of five uses of text in visual, and an oral presentation to class using the student created visual.
The students are much more engaged in all facets of the project knowing their end product potentially has a global audience. They are also excited at the prospect of our using their work in our digital frame for promoting a print resource they used from the library. My collaborating teacher frequently tells her students the skill set they develop from these projects can be used in other classes. I know our students have done this, particularly with our Animoto Accounts because the “Educator” accounts we use with the students have many works finished and/or in progress in there. I used to “download” them and then delete them until recently a student came in the library hysterical because her project (one from some time ago) was missing. I had deleted it thinking it was so old we didn’t need to keep it. This student had actually used the embed feature, and my deleting it caused her work to be missing in another digital avenue. Lesson learned–leave the students’ previous or other work in my accounts.
Here are a few samples of students’ past projects from the class I described above. They are embedded in our Destiny catalog and used to advertise or highlight books in the library as well.
Sample Student Visual Book Reports using a mashup of pictures and an overlay of a Wordle.
Sample Animoto Student Projects