Journeys May Newsletter

The Academy Awards: Part 2
by Erik Palmer, Veteran Teacher, Author, Consultant, Professional Speaker, and Journeys Program Consultant

I wrote about the Academy Awards in last month's article. You recall that I noted that we can learn about the pieces of effective speaking by noticing that some people get awards for writing words worth saying and others get awards for saying those words well. That helps us understand and teach oral communication. We have to make clear to students that they must do both parts well: build a great talk and perform the talk well. The parts are equally important though teachers almost always award more points for writing a presentation than they do for delivering a presentation. That is a mistake. Well-written talks are diminished and can even be worthless if we don’t teach students how to deliver talks well.

But let’s assume that you have taught students how to create a powerful message and then given them specific lessons about how to speak impressively. Now you want to record them so you can post the podcast or video to YouTube® or your school website. Pick a digital recording and hit the red button, right? Nope, not yet. Back to the Academy Awards.

Why an award for soundtrack? Because when you add the right sound, it contributes to the message. Why an award for set design? Because when you have the perfect scene with perfect images, the message is enhanced. Why an award for directing? Because if you are going to create something for all to see, you need to make sure the message is well recorded. I mention this because too often teachers are so excited to use a new tool that they forget the purpose for which the tool is designed: broadcasting a great message. GarageBand®, VoiceThread®, green screen technology, and all the other ways to record, assume that you have something worth recording. That requires great speaking, of course, and also great sound, great images, and great recording.

Let’s start with sound. Unfortunately, many podcast creation tools make it simple to add a looping background track of some music. Often, the music becomes annoying before the podcast is over. Frequently, students choose the looping track because it sounds “cool” or because they think “you hafta have something.” Teach them about making the music match the mood of the message, rather than selecting sound randomly. Start by bringing in examples of mixed media messages and point out how the music supports the ideas. Commercials and public service announcements are a good place to start. What kind of music is being played as we look at the poor shelter puppies? This is an important piece of media literacy—understanding the language of sound—and an important way to make the message more powerful. For the “About Me” podcast being created by the soccer-loving student, which would work better: a random popular song or the World Cup theme song? What music genre works for the podcast about world hunger? Ask students to think like an Oscar contender. Would this be an award-winning soundtrack?

What about images? Teach students about the power of images. Images are not neutral and should be chosen for a reason. Do a web search to find images of Los Angeles. Ask some students to make a photo essay proving that Los Angeles is a horrible place to live. (Add some descriptors such as “Los Angeles garbage” and “Los Angeles pollution” or “Los Angeles traffic.”) Ask others to select images that prove L.A. is a great place to live. Both groups will succeed. All of the images are “true,” yet image selection can make a huge difference in our beliefs about the city. This is also an important piece of media literacy—understanding the language of image—and will show students how to improve their digital presentations. Should the soccer-loving student add a selfie from the lunchroom or a picture of himself in uniform on the pitch? Is the world hunger podcast better with a picture of a starving adult or a starving child? Which has more impact?

Teach about the big picture, also. We want images on the set that enhance our words, but we cannot forget that the entire set matters. What else is being shown by the camera? The “About Me” podcast filmed in a room with a vacuum cleaner and little sister in the back room watching television diminishes the message. Students talking about world hunger while sitting in a classroom decorated with book posters are distracting viewers and undercutting the point. Think scene by scene, image by image, and ask if the Academy would honor this podcast or video.

Finally, pay attention to the overall direction. Camera angles, camera stability, camera focus, sound levels, and more matter. Point and shoot is fine for some beginners, but students are capable of more than we think. We aren’t wasting film. Delete and rerecord as necessary. Don’t post to YouTube or the class webpage until each piece is as good as it can be. Spending a little time thinking like a movie producer improves production and teaches media literacy at the same time. At some point, if we do our work well, we can claim the Best Short Subject award.


Component Spotlight

Reading Adventures Magazine

Journeys Reading Adventures Magazine keeps students engaged while they are applying important knowledge and skills during the last part of the school year. Available for Grades 3–6, these high-interest student magazines contain fiction, informational text, poetry, games, and hands-on activities. You will find the same Teacher's Edition structure and robust support for these Magazines as you do for Journeys Student Book selections. Corresponding Projectables, EL Supports, Reader's Notebook Pages, Weekly Tests, Home Letters, etc., are included. The combined Teacher's Edition lessons and Magazine selections make up 4 weeks of instruction.

TIP: Audio of all the Reading Adventures Magazine selections can be found on ThinkCentral in the Audio Hub. Look for the Student Resources icon on the Dashboard.

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Technology Tips

Get the Most out of Your Journeys Digital Resources

HMH developed the Common Core Reading Practice and Assessment app to give teachers a quick, convenient way to prepare students for the next generation of standards-based assessments. By using the app to practice, students become familiar with online performance tasks, drag-and-drop items, and text highlight items, as well as the difficulty level of questions that they will see on Common Core assessments. Available for iPad® for Grades K–6 and Android™ for Grades 2–6, the app has 6 units of content, 5 lessons per unit. The app includes new passages in the correct Lexile® band connected to Journeys Anchor Text by topic. In addition, questions are in PARCC®* and SBAC** formats and assess skills of the week from the core program. Embedded hints and tips are available to give students scaffolded feedback as they are practicing.

TIP: The Common Core Reading Practice and Assessment app can be used in conjunction with the online Standards-Based Assessment Resource and Standards-Based Weekly Tests to make sure students are fully prepared for the tech-enhanced items found on online assessments.

*Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company is not sponsored by, authorized by or affiliated with PARCC, Inc. or the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

**This product is not endorsed by nor affiliated with Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

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Q: How were passages in the Standards-Based Assessment Resource and Standards-Based Weekly Tests leveled?
A: Lexile® measures were run on all passages for the SBAR and SBWT. In some cases qualitative text complexity pushed a passage to on-grade-level, even though the Lexile score fell slightly below. No Lexile scores were used to level passages in Kindergarten and Grade 1. For those grades, passages have controlled vocabulary to ensure they are appropriate for the time of year based on the foundational skills sequence.

Q: What is the TOSCROF?
A: The TOSCROF is a norm-referenced Journeys assessment component for Grades 2–10. Available as PDFs on ThinkCentral, the Test of Silent Contextual Reading Fluency measures a student's silent reading ability and can be used flexibly for screening, diagnostic, and progress monitoring. There are four forms available. Each form contains a series of passages that become progressively more difficult in their content, vocabulary, and grammar. The passages are printed in all capital letters, without punctuation or spaces between the words. Students have 3 minutes to draw lines between as many words as possible.

Q: For the Weekly Tests in Grade 1, am I supposed to read the questions to students or have students use the available audio? Doesn't this affect the validity of the test if the test questions are read aloud?
A: Teachers should follow the instructions at the bottom of the Grade 1 Grab-and-Go booklet PDF versions of the Weekly Tests. The instructions will indicate whether or not to read the test questions or directions or both. An issue sometimes arises because audio is available for all Grade 1 online questions and answer items. Journeys program designers decided to include test item audio for the benefit of students who still need the support. At this grade-level, test results will be valid as long as the Grab-and-Go teacher instructions are followed.

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If this is your first year using the Journeys © 2017 program, then signing up for this newsletter will provide you with timely information each month to help you take full advantage of all the program components and resources!

*PARCC® is a registered trademark of PARCC, Inc. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company is not sponsored by, authorized by, or affiliated with PARCC, Inc. or the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

**This product is not endorsed by nor affiliated with Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

Android is a trademark of Google Inc. YouTube is a registered trademark of Google Inc. iPad and GarageBand are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. VoiceThread® is a registered trademark of VoiceThread, LLC. Lexile® is a trademark of MetaMetrics, Inc., and is registered in the United States and abroad. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt® and HMH® are registered trademarks of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. © Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.
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