Two weeks ago I took a professional development day to attend an all-day workshop at Full Sail University, a college focusing on digital media and film production. The workshop I attended focused on bringing in digital media projects into the classroom. Now most of the workshop was wayyyy over my head (I can’t even use Adobe PhotoShop lol) however I had heard of Adobe Spark from the millions of promotional emails to my school account and so I focused on that for the day. My goal was to move my Humanities students from digital consumers to digital produces (and that happens to be the title of another PD I went to this summer…notice the running theme here…lol). So while at Full Sail I cooked up a way to transform a short project that I was already doing on Mosaic Laws to taking the final production into a digital creation.
**Note, ALL the infographics below are from my students. I tried to pick a diverse amount of images.
Here are the exact research directions I gave my kiddos:
In class you will be assigned a set of laws from the Torah (Exodus, Leviticus, or Deuteronomy). You and your partner are to research the following about your assigned Bible verses (you BOTH need completed notes:
Purpose of the law
Perceived (or actual) benefit to the people besides religious (i.e. social, economic, medicinal/health, etc.)
How these laws are observed (or why they are not observed) today (especially by orthodox/Hasidic Jews)
After going over what I was looking for in their research, I handed my students slips of paper with the topic of their Mosaic Law (i.e. eating animals, camp cleanliness, marriage, death, etc.) with the corresponding Biblical verses. If you want to see the full list of verses/topics CLICK HERE.
I then showed them the skill of how to google Bible verses using Bible Gateway and let them go with their research for the rest of the class period. After they got a good unstinting of what the verse was actually prohibiting, they then had to do research outside the Bible to find out what might be some benefits of those laws besides “G-d told us to” and how people do (or do not) follow those laws today.
**Note, whenever I use any religious text in class I make it a point to tell them we are using it as literature, not as document of historical accuracy or truth, regardless of what I or they individually believe.
I did not tell them they were making an infographic as their final product at first because I know my students would then do less in-depth research if they knew they weren’t going to need ALL of their initial research for their final piece. 🙂
In retrospect I would tweak this part of the project in two ways:
- Make some of the verses shorter
- Take out the last bullet point on how people practice these laws today – it was too much for many of them to finish in the time allotted
Day 2 & 3 involved their creation of an infographic. I started off the class by explaining the purpose of an infographic (to be visually pleasing while still giving good information) and showing them Adobe Spark (disclaimer, I much much prefer Canva so I told them they could use either).
Most students had to finish up their research on day 2 but many of them started their layout for their infographic on this day. Although they did their research as a pair, I had each student make their own infographic so they could show off their individuality with the project.
Here are my directions for their infographics (final product):
Your final product will be an infographic in Adobe Spark OR Canva (you will have to make an account first). You and your partner worked on the research together but you are each creating your own product. I am leaving the infographic directions VERY broad to allow each of your to express the information you have learned in a personal manner but keep in mind that the point of an infographic is to deliver information in an attractive, but informative way.
Your infographic needs to include:
The research information – if your law(s) have a lot of individual parts you can focus on ONE part
An image/graphic/picture/symbol related to your law
A quote from your law (does NOT have to be the whole thing)
You can probably see why I didn’t give students these directions on day one: if you had laws about eating animals you have lots of different laws and I allowed them to focus on one for their infographic (because of space issues) but I wanted them to research ALL of them. 🙂 Surprisingly none of them complained about that, I think they know me by now. lol
What’s teaching without a few bumps on the road!? Here are some of the main issues I encountered and how I overcame them:
- Learned helplessness (this is one of my biggest pet peeves!) – students love asking me “is this enough for an A?” and my way around that is to always answer that question by telling them to check out the directions/rubric and self-grade their product. I also hate the question/comment “can you do this for me? this isn’t working how I’d like.” I just smile and tell them that figuring out work arounds is part of the skills I am trying to teach in this project. Now I don’t leave my kids out to hang (I am a VERY hands on teacher) but a little guided frustration isn’t bad in life.
- Shitty laptops – our school has seriously aging computers and they were glitching badly on day 2, luckily both Adobe Spark & Canva have great phone apps but I was able to beg to get into a computer lab with desktops for day 3 – score!
- Absences – I put students in pairs for the day 1 research just so they could help each other out but I told them they had to take their own notes because day 2 & 3 were individual. Thank goodness I did that because I had kids not show up day 2 and/or day 3 and their partner would have been screwed otherwise.
I normally don’t repeat activities in Humanities but a lot of my students expressed that they would like to make infographics again, especially since they would be more familiar with Adobe Spark and/or Canva. So I’m trying to cook something up for another unit.