Edtech Co-Op Show 21: Multimedia Essays in Language Arts

Essential Question: How can technology and visual literacy connect with key ideas in writing while engaging students with 21st century skills?

Guest: Kerri Mahoney of the College of William and Mary

Tips of the Week:

David- Knowmia is a clearinghouse of tutorials across all disciplines for high school students. Like Khan Academy and doing a search on YouTube, it offers support and enrichment opportunities for self-directed students. Students just need to use their information and media literacies to compare and evaluate the sources they draw from.

Mark- I’m a big proponent of project-based learning (PBL), but have always struggled with the assessment piece. I came across a great article from Edutopia called Practical PBL: The Ongoing Challenge of Assessment. The author, Katie Piper raises some good issues and provides some good ideas to think about. Get more information about Kerri’s multimedia essays at the site she created. Kerri's site on Multimedia Essays- not only see examples of student essays but get further information on how to implement this instructional strategy in your classroom.

Next Show- Mark shares about using Universal Design for Learning (UDL) in one’s teaching and how he helps his pre-service teachers use it in their lesson design work.
1 response
Hi Mark and David,

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to share some of my experiences with implementing the multimedia essay with my students. I very much appreciate your comments and insights into this process.

I want to emphasize with you and your listeners how much of an organic process this was with my students and I. When I think back now of the original model essay I made I want to laugh at how rudimentary it was in some ways! - but two things also come to mind.

1. As a teacher, it was essential to my credibility that I had actually made a model for my students (I wasn't asking them to do anything I hadn't done, and I had a very good idea of the potential issues they would run into and how to solve them) This proved invaluable in the individual conferences I had with students as they worked through the process themselves - I could answer questions on both the English content and technical levels. I really encourage teachers to try using technology to produce their own products - written, visual, or oral - because of the learning experience involved with doing it yourself as a way to support student learning.

2. The idea of student choice was essential throughout the project. If you take a look at some of the sample student assignments on my website you will easily see that these are not contrived essay assignments. The students ask and answer their own questions. As an AP English Language teacher, I worked hard to help my students to have confidence in their own voice as writers and that there was not some mysterious 'right' way of writing. This was a major struggle against the stereotypes of standardized writing tests (but seriously paid off in the end :-). One of the best examples is of the student who diagnosed the main character of the novel "Animal Dreams" with PTSD from her knowledge in taking a psychology course and tying it into AP English - this is not an interpretation I would have come up with, but she was able to use images of her own family, of art, of current events, and information from her psychology course to support her arguments. This is the kind of thinking I encouraged and saw my students engage in as they created these types of essays. (you can view her multimedia essay on my website listed above)

I want students to be able to make connections between literature, their own lives and experiences, and the multitude of texts - current events, historical, visual, musical, etc. - that they are enveloped by in everyday life - and technology makes this possible.

All students' voices are valuable, and the technology we have access to is a means to show them off and celebrate our diverse points of view. Not everyone expresses their thoughts in the same way, and I strongly encourage students to show off their individual ways of thinking in the medium that works for them.

If anyone has further questions, or would like more information, feel free to contact me at krmahoney@email.wm.edu Thanks again to Mark and David their insight and hard work.

Best, Kerri