InquiryPowerful Literacies, Inquiry, and Technology-Enhanced Learning

When basic literacies are combined with activities the require high level thinking, they become powerful literatures that lead to information and communication fluency.

For example rather than just "practicing letter writing," let's apply the technique of postcard or letterwriting to a meaningful communication. Students might use the letter to describe or persuade. In addition, let's involve multiple intelligences and channels of communication through the use of text, images, sound, and motion.

Visual Literacy

Let's use our digital cameras to promote powerful literacies, inquiry, and technology-enhanced learning.

Try the following digital photography starter. Print the PhotoStarter (Word) (PDF) document. Follow the directions.

Use some of the following software to help in your work:

All levelsWhat signs and symbols do you see around you? Let's take photographs to match some of the signs and symbols we find in our world. Go to WiseGorilla Symbols and Signs to collect clipart of common signs and symbols. Put your favorites on separate PowerPoint slides. Then, go on a scavenger hunt. How many of these signs and symbols can you photograph? If you were trying to explain these signs and symbols to someone from another world, what would you say?

k through 2Pick an every day object and see how many versions you can find. For example, how many doors can you find inside and outside the school? Take photographs of these doors. If you need more ideas, check out the Photo Gallery of Doors.

k through 2Letters are all around us. Can you see objects that seem to be shaped like letters of the alphabet? Take photographs of these objects and build a Virtual Alphabet project using the Virtual Word Wall PowerPoint.

k through 2Opposites are everywhere. Create situations to show opposites such as short/tall, small/large. Also, create examples of locations such as above/below/beside/behind, in/out, top/bottom, close/far. Add these to PowerPoint starters such as 1Line and ask students to write what they see.

All levelsCreate photo math mysteries. Set up a situation in a photograph, then ask students to solve the math problem. You may wish to use audio to explain the problem. You could also ask students to draw lines or make circles on the photo. Create a place for the answer. Hide the answer behind an answer button or create an audio button for the answer. Save the PowerPoint starter called math mystery. For older students, you can call these "CSI Crime Scene" photos.

Use PowerPoint or PhotoStory to create your own stories. Use the following lessons for ideas on using photographs in the classroom:
Taking Photos of Curious George: Exploring Character Through Images
For other ideas, go to ReadWriteThink and do a grade level search for photos or photography.

Powerful Literacies

Make letter and postcard writing come alive with digital photographs. Read books with a focus on letters or postcards. Then, design an assignment that involves digital photographs and postcard or letter writing. The following three books will get you started:

  • Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School by Mark Teague
  • Letters from Felix by Annette Langen, Laura Lindgren
  • A Letter to Amy by Ezra Jack Keats

Dear Mrs. LaRue A Letter to AmyFelix

Explore the following examples of WebQuests that incorporate letter or postcard writing.

All levelsLet's use the Postcard Creator to make our own Postcard! We'll take a digital photograph that will be used on one side. The computer will create the information for the other side. Print it out. Cut out the photograph and the postcard you created. Then, glue them to a piece of cardstock or construction paper. Go to Postcard Creator lessons for more ideas. Go to the PBS Postcards and Letters for links to other resources.

All levelsYou can also create Postcards in PowerPoint. Right click on postcard.ppt, then choose Save Target As. Open the file. Put a photo on the first slide. Then, complete the back side on the second slide. Print two slides per page and fold to make your post card.

grades 3-6Use the Letter Generator to make your own Letter! Paste a photo into your letter. Go to Letter Generator lessons for more ideas.


Video Literacy

move!Let's use our digital cameras to promote powerful literacies, inquiry, and technology-enhanced learning. The key to video is action. Sound should play, voices should be heard, objects should move, or the camera should move. When writing a script, make things happen!

Read the book Move! by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page. Think of the ways that students could act out the movement of animals.

Try the following digital photography starter. Print the VideoStarter (Word) (PDF) document. Follow the directions.

Use some of the following software to help in your work:

Let's experiment with video. Create a sample that you can share with your class. Then, have small groups work on their own videos. Use the following ideas to get you started:

Demonstration - Provide narration for a process, procedure, example, or situation. For example, create short videos using an ice cube to talk about the water cycle. Or, show the life cycle of a tree. Use an "over the shoulder" shot to show penmanship, how to tie shoes, how to create a terrarium, how a simple machine works, or other fine motor activities that require a "close=up" view.

Math Mystery - Present a situation with a math problem to solve. Use a junior detective theme.

Rules - Discuss and demonstrate rules including classroom rules, computer rules, and safety rules. Think about correct and incorrect methods to brush teeth, wash hands, and other healthy practices. Also consider other principles, guidelines, procedures, or processes.

Promoters - Create a show public service announcement or advertisement. Be sure to make it persuasive. Advertisements for books are a fun place to start.

Vocabulary - Use video to help visualize vocabulary. For example, video is great for action words such as eating, walking, running, and riding. Also use it for opposites and location words (i.e., the ant moved from last place to first place).

Puppet Stories - Tell a story using puppets or other objects. Use the following tutorials to learn more about puppets:

News Program - Create a short news or information program focusing on a single topic such as weather, letter, colors, science, or social studies topics. Watch the following program as an example - Webster School Elementary Weather Reporters.

Learn more at Planning and Producing Audio and Video Materials. Also, learn about making a video.


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