Instead of essays and book reports, more schools are turning toward multimedia projects in the classroom to make lessons more engaging and even stem the tide of bullying and tolerance.
While implementing technology initiatives such as 1-to-1 and using audio and visuals such as photographs, administrators at Crosby ISD in Texas also wanted to see what their teachers could do to “beef up” their instruction, says Patricia Kay, assistant superintendent of instruction.
“We came up with a multimedia challenge that the whole district could participate in,” she says. “Our goal was to encourage our teachers to integrate technology in their classrooms and inspire kids to be creative.”
So last fall, Crosby students and teachers in grades one through 12 created multimedia projects that promoted responsible digital citizenship, covering topics such as cyber-bullying and texting while driving. Teachers were given guidelines as to how to incorporate a multimedia project with these topics into their curriculum. Projects entered into the competition included slideshows, web pages and video PSAs.
“This competition helps us educators in the district know what our students are capable of when using technology, and will certainly help us shape future programs,” Kay says. “When students can turn content into 2D, 3D and even 4D forms, it gets them excited while learning new skills.”
Also in Texas, Klein ISD had added a multimedia competition to its annual “Through Your Eyes Community Celebration,” which promotes diversity and honors community volunteers, says Judy Rimato, associate superintendent for communications and planning.
Students throughout Klein’s 40-plus buildings submitted short films, stop-motion animation and other multimedia projects on bullying, respect and overcoming obstacles. Standout projects, such as a short documentary about depression, were honored at the celebration.
“Using multimedia in the classroom gives students an outlet to express themselves in a creative way,” says Mark Evans, Through Your Eyes program director. “Having students use it to tell a story or promote a message turns it into a powerful tool.”
Billings Public Schools in Montana also used multimedia to promote tolerance given a series of hate crimes that occurred there in the early 90s. Last year, students in Bruce Wendt’s junior American studies class at Billings West High School worked with Montana PBS to create a multimedia exhibit at the town’s Western Heritage Center.
Students researched the events and recorded video interviews with the police chief and mayor at the time, among others who were involved, says Wendt. The Montana PBS TV crew worked with the students to record the interviews, while also teaching them interview and journalism skills.
He added that many students had never heard about the hate crimes, but were interested in learning more about them.
“The kids even thought of recreating the racist leaflets that hate groups were putting on local cars. It’s those details that really show visitors what the town was like 20 years ago,” says Wendt. “Instead of writing an essay about what happened, actually putting together this exhibit had our students thinking outside the box, thinking from different perspectives and realizing there isn’t always an answer as to why things happen.”