Over my placement, I was given the opportunity to develop grade 5 students’ digital citizenship skills. When I arrived at my placement, the students were in the middle of creating their own digital advertising and informative pamphlet online. To accomplish this task, the students were required to have a lot of pre-requisite skills. They had to be familiar with the type of technology they were using (Chromebook) and have some knowledge about how pamphlets are formatted and written. As they were developing their own pamphlets, they were also developing their media and digital skills. I planned to expand on these skills by later having them complete a social studies project using a new media application, Storify, an online program that has helped me expand my media and digital skills. This would expand their "digital self" and enable them to be a "digital agent" (International Society for Technology in Education, 2017).
Canva is a fantastic online application that is free to use and provides students with the potential to create stunning educational projects. The capability of creativity is endless with the multiple types of outlines, patterns, colours, and fonts. In a grade 5 classroom I was volunteering in previous to my grade 5 placement classroom, they used Canva to create infographics on a renewable energy resource of their choice. At the time, I thought that creating posters or infographics was the capability of the app.
Canva Informative Advertising
On placement, I had the pleasure of experiencing the other capability of Canva, it’s pamphlet format. The students were all given examples of actual distributed advertising and informative pamphlets. They used these as inspiration and to become more familiar with this form of media. Instead of creating these pamphlets on paper, they were to create them digitally using Canva. I had only created a digital pamphlet in university for one of my courses where I used Google Docs instead. This task required this level of skill from students merely ten years old. This is when I realized that the times of technology have changed and advanced at a rapid rate. These students were creating text boxes, typing, inserting images, formatting, and designing all in one project. All the while, they were also researching, analyzing, summarizing, accessing prior knowledge, persuading, and informing.
Students Teaching Teachers
What baffled me was that they were teaching me. I had no prior experience with this technology and learned its several applications by observing the students. They would ask me for help, such as asking how to save a picture and input it onto their brochure. Myself, not being familiar with Chromebooks or the Canva app, was struggling to help them in this task. Asking the students themselves proved to be the most beneficial. They solved several technical problems and taught me a thing or two about the tricks and capabilities of the technology. Talk about a backwards learning model.
Storify is an online application that allows users to create a digital story using many types of media such as Twitter, Instagram, SoundCloud, YouTube, Flicker, Getty Images, Google, and Google Images. I created a Storify in my teaching program for a Social Studies class. I created a Storify about the different issues regarding Earth’s depleting water resource and the different ways that this issue can be taught to students so that they may become Geo-literate. I was able to seamlessly integrate videos, pictures, articles, websites, and texts throughout my Storify and share it using the URL. Once completing this project, I was amazed at what I had created.
Using Storify at Placement
I thought Storify would make a project to give to my future students, I had no intention of using it during placement. However, after witnessing these grade 5 students master the Canva program and complete stunning informative and persuasive brochures on the interactions between the Jesuit Priests and the Wendat people of St. Marie Among the Hurons, it occurred to me that this placement could be my opportunity to engage students in a Storify project. After, discussing this with my Associate Teacher, he had confirmed that his students would be ready for this next step in their media learning. He suggested that the students use the Storify application for a Social Studies project on First Nations peoples and their interactions with European explorers. I had to access the curriculum and many other resources to generate the outline for this project. The students would all be assigned a First Nations group, which they could change if they wish, write an introduction, research the group’s interactions before European contact, during European contact, the result of this contact, and a conclusion summing up the significance of the story they created.
Click on the buttons below to view some of the students' Storifys!
Digital Experts of the Future
This project was very much open-ended and required them to be resourceful in accessing books and websites, analytical in choosing which information to include in the story, creative in the media they chose to include, persuasive in their opinions, fluent in their writing, knowledgeable on their topic, and decisive in their presentation and organization of ideas.
Click on the button below to explore other students' Storifys!
Part way through the project, a notification was given by Storify declaring that no new accounts could be created and that Storify would cease to exist as of May 2018. This was discouraging to hear. I felt deflated, teaching many young minds an application that would become obsolete. However, my Associate Teacher assured me that this happens all the time. Technology advances and other technology falls behind in the dust. The fact that Storify was ending, did not make the students’ learning of it any less meaningful. They can take these new skills they developed in designing, researching, and manipulating media to subsequent applications that will supersede Storify. The students learned this valuable lesson at the same time as I, a university student, at the same time. They had also mastered an application that was assigned at a university level. They acquired and strengthened so many skills and gained an incredible learning experience that they will always remember and look back on.
The students went above and beyond my expectations. They accessed higher order thinking and created marvellous works that could actually be used as tools for other students’ learning. They organized research into captivating stories accompanied by meaningful images, videos, and sounds. They also had the opportunity to share their knowledge and findings with the class through an oral and visual presentation of their Storifys. I assured them that they should feel extremely proud of themselves for completing such a complex and mentally demanding task that required them to think critically using knowledge of social studies, language, and media.
Having the opportunity to create this Storify project was an incredible learning experience for the students and for me. I took a great risk and put a lot of faith into the independent learning of students and was amazed by the results. I believe that this project allowed them to gain and extend their 21st Century learner skills such as judgment, researching , appropriation, multi-tasking, and creative expression (The New Media Literacies, 2008).. It is incredible to see what students will create and come up with when given the technology, the opportunity, and allowing them to be the guides in their own learning.
"The New Digital Citizenship: Empower Proactive Digital Learners," International Society for Technology in Education, 2017. Retrieved from cdn2.hubspot.net/hubfs/1818747/Downloads/ISTE_Digital%20Citizenship%20Poster_11x17_10-2017.pdf
NMLstaff08 "The New Media Literacies," YouTube, 2008. Retrieved from www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1&v=pEHcGAsnBZE