Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Middle School Multigenre Autobiographies

Oh my goodness!  How can it already be the second week of October and yet I haven't posted any EdTech News since the end of July?  It must be the busiest time of the year - Back to School season. Now that we all have a chance to collectively take a deep breath it is time to share all of the exciting instructional technology stories occurring on campus.  To kick us off I thought I share a beginning-of-the-year project that had its genesis during this year's NCS Summer Tech Camp - middle school multigenre autobiographies.

After reading the William Kist article, New Literacies and the Common Core, Cary Zierenberg and Elise Wallace were inspired by Kist's Mulitgenre Autobiography project for preservice teachers and decided to develop their own version for middle school students in Leading Edge and PFAA.  Using questions, such as "What was your favorite movie as child?", "What was your first favorite song?", and "What was the first book you read cover-to-cover?" they took students on a journey cataloging the various types of text that had shaped their literate lives.  The project had three main goals -
  • Have students read and analyze text in its many forms (print, multimedia, audio, graphics);
  • Lay the groundwork for a future conversations about the essential features of genre (audience, purpose, form, content);
  • Build classroom community.
Students could choose the digital medium in which they wanted to publish and many chose videos posted to YouTube or Prezis, but some chose more unique tools such as Padlet.  Below are links to few of the student and even teacher projects where the teachers "wrote along side" their students.
While this project occurred a few weeks ago, Elise and Cary have already noticed differences in the way this year's students are starting to analyze text.  For example, Elise has moved into her next unit on Progress and while in the past her students often treated the video clips as entertaining bits of multimedia, this year she is finding that the class discussions (face-to-face and online) are much richer with students naturally engaging in close reading and deeper analysis.

When you have a moment take a look at the student and teacher examples.  This project is a great example of how we meet the demands of Common Core by creating a culture of literacy that gets students to value, deeply analyze, and create all forms of text.  Or as Rick Gott said during the Summer Tech Camp, "All of us teach reading and writing, including me in my film class."


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