Thursday, March 3, 2016

Complex Literary Analysis & Student-Created Presentations

Written by Matt Snow - English Teacher

Collaboration with colleagues and students, and a willingness to try new things for the first time, can lead to inspiring examples of learning with our students!

Recently I had the opportunity to “borrow” a wonderful teaching idea shared with me by a Wheeling teacher named Laura Wagner.  The idea was created by another Wheeling teacher Mike Burke.  It involves breaking down literary analysis into four levels, and it is designed to introduce students to this very complicated skill set that is necessary in AP Language and AP Literature.  The four levels are Literal, Metaphoric, Philosophic, and Aesthetic, and they obviously increase in complexity and difficulty.   Students truly struggle with literary analysis, and the breakdown into isolated skills really helps.  While we had practiced over and over, some of them still weren’t “getting it.”

Around the same time I was working on this system with my students, I also had the opportunity to watch Joyce Kim’s students do a presentation on Adobe Voice.  (For more on those presentations, check out this previous Collab Blog post.)  It struck me fairly quickly that this App would be a great way for kids to demonstrate mastery of this four level analysis while allowing creativity and genuine student engagement in the project.  Essentially, their job was to choose a photo of any type that they felt they could analyze.  It could be a painting, photo, advertisement, political cartoon, etc.

Of course, doing something for the first time, I wondered how they would do.  Would the App do what I wanted?  Would they buy into it?  Most importantly, would they get it “right?”  The results were encouraging, and I wouldn’t be writing this blog if I didn’t see the value in the App.  Their presentations made their thinking and learning visible in a creative way that also allowed me to see if they really "got it."

I also see the value in collaboration and what goes on in the Collab Lab.  With minimal time commitment on my part, I learned about something quite valuable to my students, and they, in turn, demonstrated proficiency in their assigned skills.

Check out these examples of their presentations:


To curate all the presentations from each class, students uploaded them to a Schoology Media Album.  Having the presentations in a Media Album allows the teacher to easily access them to share/present them to the class.  Also, students can access all the presentations for peer review.  The curated examples can also serve as models of work for future students.




Student testimonials:

I really enjoyed using the app! I would highly recommend it. It had very unique features that were useful and efficient. I would like to use this app again for other projects
—Mereesa Valera

I really enjoyed using Adobe voice. I found it easy to use and one thing that surprised me was that the music choices are actually good. Most presentation apps I've encountered have sub par music, but I really like the vast options that Adobe Voice offers. Although the music is great, I did find it a bit irritating that if I stopped a recording on a slide, and I wanted to add to what I was saying, I had to erase the entire recording for that slide and restart. Overall I liked the app, though, and if I had the option to choose an app to use for a presentation, I would definitely choose Adobe Voice--Nicole Vassiliou

I really enjoyed using this app. I really like apps that allow creative thoughts. It gives me more motivation to give it all that I have. It's usually fun choosing fun background music, background pictures and styles in the presentation because it lets your imagination run wild. I was really looking forward to a project with this kind of creative freedom—Shuayb Qadri

Have you discovered new ways to engage students with creative ways to demonstrate complex thinking skills?  Please share your ideas with the Collab Lab!

1 comment:

  1. I loved looking at these examples--you can really showcase a student's strengths and understanding here, not to mention it probably adds to their sense of accomplishment hearing their own voice dissecting, analyzing, and interpreting art in this way. Thanks for sharing.


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