We want students to be smart, responsible problem solvers and critical thinkers. If we want our students to advocate for change or help others envision an idea, our students need effective communication skills. We must provide opportunities for all of our students to articulate their vision and become great speakers and communicators. We must also provide students with an authentic audience. Students complete assignments for teachers every day and turn them in for an audience of one (the teacher). What if we gave their work a greater reach? What if students knew that people they knew - and people they didn’t - were going to ‘see’ their work? We are more likely to get students’ best work when they have an audience that’s important to them.
Funding from this grant will convert an existing library office into a media production lab, complete with active learning furniture so that students can work independently and collaboratively to create podcasts and video recordings that will be shared with the greater community. Classroom and community projects that students will complete as part of this grant funding will provide opportunities for multigenerational and inclusive learning. These new educational opportunities will include, but not be limited to, the following activities: Students will interview school administrators, teachers and School Committee members about policies, procedures and other issues for distribution within the local and state community to further engage students in their school and community. All 10th-grade students will record and contribute to a video / audio time capsule. Business students will record, edit and distribute conversations they have with family members about financial literacy topics, a multigenerational issue. Students in the Best Buddies International program will record, edit and distribute ‘day in the life’ Buddy interviews to help create a more inclusive school environment and break social barriers, working with students at the high school, as well as middle and elementary schools.
Students who create podcasts and videos will increase their knowledge and skills in media, digital, technology and information literacies, while continuing to develop foundational literacy practices of writing, reading and speaking. This project directly aligns with the vision and goals of the library and school. By enabling students to create their own podcasts, they can question, discuss and present their learning. Students are taking control of their education and further engaging in the learning material. These recordings can be available to their classmates so that they have the opportunity to teach each other. Podcasts can be downloaded to a mobile device, allowing the student to access the learning resources anytime, anywhere, with very little effort. There are podcast subscription apps available for every smartphone and device.
All building teachers will also be offered workshops in using the equipment so that they can record their lessons and lectures, providing students with easy access to study aids. Students can use these podcasts for reference purposes and preparing for exams. Students can study the content and understand the topic at their own pace. This capacity to review, again and again, is particularly valuable to students from an international background or with learning difficulties.
The existing library office is a traditional office; a large wooden desk with an oversized leather chair. This office is never used because the librarian is out in the library working with students. The office provides the perfect space for a media production lab. It is in close proximity to the circulation desk so that the librarian is within close distance to assist when needed, one wall of the office is a large window facing the library to ensure student accountability, and the office has a door that can be closed to provide the necessary environment to create quality recordings without interruptions and background noise.
This project would expand upon what is currently available to students in the library. Students utilize the library office space daily to record video recordings using their Chromebook devices. Unfortunately, the software and equipment available on their devices are inferior.