Last year I took a class an introductory course on Microsoft's Photo Story 3 for Windows and brainstormed various ways that this new technology could be used in our classrooms. The first project that we designed for our students was in Mr. Stein's Participation in Government classes (Grade 12). The topic of the assignment was Humanitarian Organizations. Students were assigned with the creation of a Public Service Announcement (PSA) promoting the missions and methods for six prominent non-profit organizations. We defined a PSA as a non-commercial advertisement broadcast for the public good. The main idea of our PSAs were to modify public attitudes by raising awareness about specific issues. Once each student was assigned to a group and given an organization to profile this project had 6 steps outlined below. Once each phase was completed students were required to report their progress to the “Project Managers” (teacher/librarian).
This project was a great fit for Photo Story. The classroom teacher and I worked collaboratively to create a meaningful assignment that worked with this technology. We didn't take a square peg and try to fit it into a round hole. I think it is important for teachers and school librarians to remember that Photo Story is NOT PowerPoint. They should not rework all of their previous PowerPoint projects and convert them to Photo Story projects simply because this is the latest technology fad. The technology should complement and be appropriate to the assignment, not the other way around. Photo Story should be used for digital storytelling. Please see image above (created using Wordle) for inspiring Photo Story classroom applications. PowerPoint should be used for creating dynamic and high-impact presentations. These tools can be used to teach our students different and equally important 21st century skills. If used correctly, Photo Story can be used as an instrument to enable our students to improve their writing skills. The purpose of using Photo Story is to tell a story, so by using this technology our students gain practice scripting a narrative. PowerPoint should be used as a visual aid when presenting information orally to an audience. Since studies show that the audience will only remember three messages, our students need to decide what information is important to communicate. The most important skill when using PowerPoint is to practice/rehearse the presentation, as most students fear public speaking. Photo Story and PowerPoint are both technologies that can enhance project-based learning, but they serve different purposes and should be used fittingly.
These are the PSAs created by Mr. Stein's classes. Below are simplified instructions of the project, along with the organizations our students profiled.
Step 1: Research: Use the materials provided in the library and on the Internet to learn about the organization.
Step 2: Brainstorm: Generate strategies for explaining your organization in a way that will get others to take action.
Step 3: Write Treatment: A Treatment is a written description of what you intend to show and accomplish in your finished piece. Treatments must be approved by the teacher.
Step 4: Write a Script: Even if you do not intend to use any dialogue at all you’ll need a script describing the images and the associated sounds the viewer will see and hear.
Step 5: Produce Podcast: Using still images, narration and music in Photo Story create a podcast/netcast.
Step 6: Present: Finally students will present their video and post it to the class blog explaining why we should support their organization.