Tomorrow is Digital Learning Day for the National Writing Project and their "Digital Is..." initiative. I've been following the build up on Twitter and want to weigh in.
My plan for Digital Learning Day is more than a day--I have taught the lesson in increments and tomorrow will be just one more day in that build-up to a digital product.
We are writing visual stories.
Taking a cue from a group on Flickr I am asking my students to compose a story with five images. We are currently studying "Story" --their notes highlight that there are four basic types of story: love story, someone goes on a journey, worlds collide, and a stranger comes to town. We also dig deeper in the concepts that all stories have some form of conflict, obstacles, and change.
We are going to attempt to demonstrate those aspects of storytelling in our visual stories.
Students have asked if it could be more than five images. I like the five image limit in that it is like poetry--we have to be precise. We have to select just the right image and place it at the just the right time.
Students are allowed to use any pre-existing images from home, new digital images, drawn/painted images, other creative composition images (construction paper, etc.), as well as anything from our school subscription to ImageQuest (a compilation of royalty free/public domain images hosted by Encyclopedia Britannica).
Rather than log the students into Flickr, we will use our own Moodle site. Students have used this to load podcasts along with other products. I'll have create a link on our classroom wiki that takes viewers directly to their visual story from their individual online portfolios on the wiki.
Planning something for this day inspired a thought--are we at a point where separate, isolated computer labs and classes are an inefficient model? Considering the rate in which technology is evolving, and the varying differences in comfort and expertise among teachers, would we be better served if technology was blended into rooms, departments, or teams?
Our building is a 6 through 8 middle school--could we see the day where a technology teacher was assigned to each grade and learned to blend his/her curriculum in with the rest of the subjects of the school? For the sake of argument, a tech teacher could spend week one in Teacher A's Science class, week two in teach B's Social Studies class, etc.
Of course, rooms would have to be revamped--more outlets, USB ports, and hardware--or perhaps mobile carts traveled with the tech teacher. He/She could rotate--in our school we have twelve core subject teachers in 8th grade. We would potentially co-teach once every twelve weeks--three times a year.
I'm just think out loud, inspired by the spirit of tomorrow. I'm wondering if any schools have a blended technology plan rather than a plan which sets technology as isolated rooms (technology dumps)...
Another advantage to this approach, would be the ability to train and develop the tech saavy of all of the teachers throughout the year...something that I believe our education system needs to consider nationwide.