“Children should be seen not heard.”
How many of us feel like this was the mantra when growing up?
In education, we can’t afford for learners to remain passive consumers of knowledge. We know that today’s employers demand being able to process, respond to, and create plausible solutions to pressing issues. This cannot happen if learning experiences are not more engaging and interactive.
Thank goodness, we are learning how to leverage learner interest and talents to empower youth to articulate informed opinions on significant causes. Initiatives like Letters to the Next President create opportunities for students to create various media and share their ideas on campaign issues. Partners like National Writing Project, Youth Radio, Mozilla Foundation, Hypothis.Is, KQED Education, and many more collaborate to design activities that invite people to participate. First, this summer, educators will experience Media Makes and Make Cycles in order to prepare for what it will be like to do such work with their students. Next, educators will incorporate lessons, which will be developed over the summer, this coming fall to encourage learners to make multimedia letters to the next president.
Let’s examine one of the KQED Media Makes. For the Letters to Next President Media Make #2, we were invited to make our political art. Learners viewed an engaging video about famous political artists complete with 5 Tips to creating their own. They were able to work independently or with partners. They chose one of the nine campaign issues that speaks to them. They created and published their political art.
It’s important for me to focus on media-making as a process similar to the Writing Process. It’s iterative, and learners must seek and respond to feedback to hone their messages. Here are some guidelines I included in the activity description.
Agency (20 points):
- Completed on time?
- Connected to an election issue from resource above?
- Received feedback from Mrs. Bence and revised accordingly?
- Received feedback from Mrs. Boyd and revised accordingly?
- Demonstrates original, creative thought
- Art is memorable and powerful
- Art is completed in near professional manner
- Directions were followed
Oral Communication (10 Points):
- able to articulate type of feedback desired
- able to justify choices
- able to explain why this is an important issue
- able to express inspirations
- able to articulate process
Knowledge and Thinking (10 Points):
- art reflects understanding of election issue
- art reflects review and understanding of Do Now Art School resource
- art reflects sound design theory
- art connects clearly to perspective on election issue
- art attempts to be inclusive AND tolerant instead of exclusive AND prejudicial (our driving question)
Written Communication (5 Points):
- posts jpeg with catchy relevant tweet message using #MediaMakePoliticalArt #2NextPrez #YouthActionFF #boydbence
- errorless spelling and punctuation on political poster
We had an extra layer of authenticity to this activity. The most impactful political art, as chosen by the Youth Action Film Festival (YAFF) Student Advisory Board, will be selected and turned into buttons whose sale will benefit YAFF. Learners got really excited about that!
It’s my sincere hope more educators take advantage of such meaningful learning opportunities as Media Makes for Letters to the Next President. It will ignite the political agency in our learners. During such experiences, I find them to be passionate, willing to become more informed on important issues, and eager to fine tune their media to best communicate their perspectives while remaining open to diverse perspectives.