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Mashing Up and Remixing a Current Event

MixmasCE

I was blessed this past week to have two colleagues offer me the chance to teach a lesson on current events. We wanted to focus on the big question of what is the social impact on and multiple layers of current events. This lent itself well to the experience of mashing up and remixing content along with continuing to build towards important skills, dispositions, and habits of mind (see these at the end)

Current Events Today

In 50 minutes, we went on the following jammed packed journey exploring that very question and targeting the creation of a MashedUp/Remixed Current Event. We introduced this big question by pushing students to compare the journalistic story versus the human side of the story.  Our story was that of homelessness and a recent new article that can be summarized in three bullet points:

  • homelessness is on the rise by 38% in part because of the continued economic state
  • over 1 million homeless people are children under 6
  • social services are struggling to keep up

But this is just part of the story as we discussed with students. There is also the human side, which provides a different context as well as insights into the event’s significance. Thus, we kicked it off with the following*:

  • images from Flickr and Instagram of homeless children searched by location
  • videos from YouTube of stories directly from the homeless

And we also added the twist about how one article on a current event has many layers and different (often contradictory) perspectives as well as “facts”: blogs, tweets, other news sources, photo sites, video sites, social networks, etc.

We then discussed what these social media items, the human side, and the diverse perspectives add/remove from the current event article.

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Mashing Up and Remixing a Current Event Process

With the foundation laid in the opening, here is the process we  followed in groups of three building in choice and flexibility.

Phase I: Find

  1. Using a curation app (Zite, Flipboard, Currents, Pulse, or other) on their Nexus 7, explore various current events.
  2. As a group, decide upon one current event that is of interest to all group members.
  3. Create a pitch statement on why this event is important/significant enough to explore

Phase II: Pitch

  1. Each group pitches their significance statement to the teachers
  2. Teachers provide feedback and the group either adjusts or is ready for the next phase

Phase III: Curate, Mashup, and Remix

With the current event topic in place, students begin the creation process of retelling their selected current event article with at least 5 different types of media (blogs, tweets, Flickr images, articles, YouTubes, etc). We used Storify to create the mashed and remixed current event.

  1. Each group creates a Storify account on a group Chromebook
  2. On their Storify, they drag their original article from Phase I into their story and write a brief summary of it.
  3. Using Storify on the Chromebook and each student’s Nexus 7, they begin the curation phase: a) exploring the social side and different layers of the current event b) negotiating on which pieces to include
  4. Students beam and share agreed upon curated items
  5. Students design a MashUp the original current event’s article topic by adding in the various media they’ve curated to Storify
  6. Students Remix the original current event’s article by organizing the Storify and adding brief rationales that move it to a new story (this is really advanced and not something I expected students to get to on their first try nor in such a small amount of time – however, we still had them begin trying to remix)
  7. When “finished”, show teacher for final feedback
  8. Feedback is given in continuous 20 second visits to each group throughout this phase.

Phase IV: Publish and Share to the Network

Once a group has published their Mashed Up, Remixed Current Event, it is important to share the work to both an open and close network.

  1. Publish the work to Storify’s open network
  2. Share the work into the class Google+ community
  3. “Read” and comment on each other’s work within Google+

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Teacher Feedback

The assessment process of this piece comes from the following area:

  1. Participation: how well did each student take part, curate resources, and negotiate ideas
  2. MashUp: how effective were the various media in mashing up the original article
  3. Remix: how effective was the remix commentary, rationales, and insights that moved the Storify into something more that just the original article
  4. Network Participation: what degree and quality of feedback did you give to your peers

What Would We Do Differently

  1. Scaffold each of those phases  over an extended period before attempting to bring them all together.
  2. The entire process would not have been done in one straight 50 minute class initially. Instead, each phase would have been done across four 15 minute classroom chunks to offer natural reflective time between class periods. We knew this ahead of time but we intentionally wanted to go through the whole process.
  3. Provide curation strategies: navigating, discovering (hashtags, keywords, etc), selecting from various media
  4. Discuss the value of different media types (e.g. Twitter provides both raw, first-person insights as well as professional insights)
  5. Limit the groups to two people until comfort is established
  6. If the groups find different stories around the same current event, use each one at the beginning with a summary of them. We had them settle upon the same article.

In the Phases, I would have done the following:

  • Phase II: after pitch to the teacher, pitch to the entire class for rapid feedback
  • Phase III: break the Mashup and Remix into two different phases. This would give them a natural break between those two items and offer some clarity about the difference. In many ways, we are remixing as we are mashing up (or maybe the other way around). When we ask students to add those insights, it is difficult because they feel the media does that on its own (maybe it does).
  • Phase IV: I’d add a reflection part including time to look at other Storifies (not classmates) on the same topic and compare it to theirs.

Skills, Dispositions, and Habits of Mind

From NCTE’s position on literacy

  • Develop proficiency and fluency with the tools of technology;
  • Manage, analyze, and synthesize multiple streams of simultaneous information;
  • Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multimedia texts;

From Connected Learning

  • Production Centered: actively producing, creating, experimenting, and designing
  • Peer Culture
  • Openly Networked

From New Media Literacies: Learning in a Participatory Culture

  •  Appropriation: the ability to meaningfully sample and remix media content.
  • Multitasking: the ability to scan one’s environment and shift focus as needed to salient details.
  • Distributed Cognition: the ability to interact meaningfully with tools that expand mental capacities.
  • Collective Intelligence: the ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with others toward a common goal.
  • Judgment: the ability to evaluate the reliability and credibility of different information sources.
  • Transmedia Navigation: the ability to follow the flow of stories and information across multiple media.
  • Networking – the ability to search for, synthesize, and disseminate information.
  • Visualization – the ability to translate information into visual models and understand the information visual models are communicating

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