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Inside Teaching : April 2011
www.atra.edu.au | firstname.lastname@example.org CURRICULUM & ASSESSMENT 37 When our Year 4 class completed an English unit based on Paul Jennings’s ‘Smelly Feat’ from Unbearable last year, we wanted to use an action learning model, not just because the text suited this approach but because we were using a program called Marvin that enabled our students to construct multimodal texts that displayed their deep knowledge and understanding of the text. The fact that Marvin was new to us meant that the action learning occurred naturally as we teachers and our students learned to use the program together, in cycles of learning, with lots of collaboration and reflection. Marvin also fitted well with our school’s approach to literacy in the English classroom. We use the National Accelerated Literacy Program, which focuses on following a structured sequence of activities to teach literacy explicitly. Talking and listening, reading and writing are taught simultaneously. Marvin is a multimedia and animation authoring platform for the rapid production of animated messages. It was created by the Northern Territory Institute for Community Engagement and Development to support Aboriginal people living in remote communities to learn about available health care. We found that its focus on animation, local content and dialects catered for multiple learning styles, but we also thought a few of the characters were not age- appropriate for our primary school students. To address that, on installation we removed some characters from the characters file in the program folder. To integrate Marvin we all first had some free play with the program, familiarising ourselves with the different functions, learning to add backgrounds, characters and voices to a file, generally exploring the possibilities of the program with followup group reflection on our Marvin sessions. At the same time, students were presenting talks to the class in our talking and listening program, addressing themes in ‘Smelly Feat’ to do with the plight of endangered species, loss of habitat and damage to the environment. Next, we learned to construct storyboards then began planning individual and group projects using Marvin, making the most of the open-endedness of the program, which stimulates higher-order, creative responses from students. Most of the digital resources we used in our Marvin projects were obtained from The Le@rning Federation. The Le@rning Federation provides an extensive range of digital curriculum resources, for which copyright has already been negotiated for use in schools in Australia and New Zealand. Digital resources from The Le@rning Federation include learning objects – multimedia resources and interactive tools, and digital resources – as well as movie clips, music, photographs, artefacts and pictures. Other free sites our students used are: • www.freesound.org for free- to-use sound files, with acknowledgement of authors under creative commons copyright licence terms, on any topic you could possibly be studying • http://commons.wikimedia.org • www.freedigitalphotos.net for free, quality photos, and • www.ccmixer.org for remixes and mash-ups of songs, with acknowledgement for any songs used. Susan Groundwater-Smith, in Supporting Student Learning Environments in a Digital Age, loRRaIne beveRIdge and amy meRcHant explain how a computer animation program designed for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people living in remote communities supports the literacy learning of all students in their classroom.