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Multimedia Madness

posted Dec 6, 2013, 7:09 AM by William Farren   [ updated Dec 6, 2013, 7:31 AM ]
Just wanted to give you a small sample of what is happening in the middle school with regards to student use and creation of multimedia to improve understanding and to tease information out of data.
In the first example, students in 8th grade geography are using visualization tools found in Google spreadsheets to turn raw, dry data into meaning. First, they are creating filters with the data found on the United Nations Data site in order to create and download a comma separated value file.  This file they then import into a Google spreadsheet and use one of the many visualizations found in the application. One of the benefits of this type of web-based application is how it allows the publication of dynamic charts/graphs/maps. Click on the map below to see an interactive version.
Click to Interact

What's interesting about visualizing raw data (and there's an ever growing amount of high quality data available!) is that it helps us ask better questions and extract meaning from tables of text. In the example above, it's interesting to note that so many of the countries with the highest child mortality rate in the year 2000 were neighbors. What is the cause of this? What confounding factors do all the countries have in common, if any?  The use of color also helps see degree (heatmaps) which are very useful when trying to visualize data. Students are gaining important literacies in the use of data to create meaning through visualization tools. Later, United Nations Millennium Goals will be charted and mapped, then analyzed by students in order to create a web-based atlas.

Below is an example of a video being used by Mr. Scanga in grade 6 science to help explain properties of matter. Mr. Scanga has a huge library of curated (often interactive) media which he shares with students regularly. Here's an example of a great interactive explanation from the BBC.

On another multimedia note, students in grade 8 hosted children from a local school for visually impaired students. We were able to have our students interact with their guests using two fun applications on the school's iPads that allowed for rich auditory feedback and multi-touch input. The iPads allow user input that could never be achieved with a single mouse click alone, meaning that instruments like virtual keyboards, drum pads and X/Y input panels can be used.