Language Arts Challenge
I Am Who I Am Because…
Submission Due Date: March 26, 2021
Designed for Middle and High School Students
|Table of Contents
● The Challenge
● Assumptions and Logistics
● Meridian Support Resources
● Presentation of Learning
● Evaluation Rubric
● Essential Questions
● Student Proficiencies
● Curricular Correlations: Common Core (W2, W3, W4, W5, SL5, L1, L5, L6)
|Range of Activities
● Personal Essay Writing
● Exploration of Art and Self Expression
● Learning How to Communicate through Words and Images
● Digital Literacy Skills – Video – Pre-production, Production and Post-production
● 21st Century Skills – Creativity, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Presentational Skills
Every person has an individual set of experiences, passions, and sense of identity which make them unique – adding value to their surrounding community. Similar to people, original artwork adds value to the world that wasn’t there before. Let’s double the value by combining the two: create art about the individual: you (or your team). In this digital storytelling challenge, you will use video to create a self-portrait exploring three key themes: family heritage, personal passions, and defining aspects of your identity (ex. religion, culture, gender, sexuality, etc.) You have two options for how you create your self-portrait:
- Option 1 is to create a self-portrait inspired by the three themes through a medium of your choice such as painting, wood working, drawing, knitting, etc. Document this creative process as it is happening, which will serve as the spine of your digital story.
- Option 2 is for the audio and visuals of the video to be your self-portrait. This can mean you write a song, poem, dance, or short story that you pair with visuals. This can mean that your storytelling format can be a vlog, documentary-style video, photo essay, music video or a mixture of formats. It can mean anything really: the narrative form of ‘you’ is up to you. You can explore more than the three themes listed, but be sure to touch on your heritage, passions, and influential aspects of your identity. As you create, be open to the artistic process; it might take you in an unexpected direction. Finally, this can be done as a group process – as a team of two, three or four individuals – who are exploring their collective identities through this exploration.
- The Digital Self-Portrait (this is the only deliverable to Meridian Stories)
- Personal Essay Draft (at teacher’s discretion)
- Storyboard or Draft Script (at teacher’s discretion)
[This Meridian Stories Challenge was developed by Regan Duffy, a student at the University of Minnesota.]
Assumptions and Logistics
Time Frame – We recommend that this digital storytelling project takes place inside of a three to four-week time frame.
Length – All Meridian Stories submissions should be under 4 minutes in length, unless otherwise specified.
Slate – All digital storytelling projects must begin with a slate that provides:
- the title of the piece;
- the name of the school submitting;
- the wording ‘Permission Granted’ which gives Meridian Stories the right to a) publicly display the submission in question on, as linked from, related to or in support of Meridian Stories digital media; and b) use or reference it for educational purposes only in any and all media; and
- We strongly recommend that students do not put their last names on the piece either at the start or finish, during the credits.
Submissions – Keep in mind that each school can only submit three submissions per Competition (so while the entire class can participate in the Challenge, only three can be submitted to Meridian Stories for Mentor review and scoring).
Teacher Reviews – All reviews by the teacher are at the discretion of the teacher and all suggested paper deliverables are due only to the teacher. The only deliverable to Meridian Stories is the digital storytelling project.
Teacher’s Role and Technology Integrator – While it is helpful to have a Technology Integrator involved, they are not usually necessary: the students already know how to produce the digital storytelling project. And if they don’t, part of their challenge is to figure it out. They will! The teacher’s primary function in these Challenges is to guide the students as they engage with the content. You don’t need to know editing, sound design, shooting or storyboarding: you just need to know your content area, while assisting them with time management issues.
Digital Rules/Literacy – We strongly recommend that all students follow the rules of Digital Citizenry in their proper usage and/or citation of images, music and text taken from other sources. This recommendation includes producing a citations page at the end of your entry, if applicable. See the Digital Rules area in the Meridian Digital Storytelling Resources Center section of the site for guidance.
Location – Try not to shoot in a classroom at your school. The classroom, no matter how you dress it up, looks like a classroom and can negatively impact the digital story you are trying to tell.
Collaboration – We strongly recommend that students work in teams of 3-4: part of the educational value is around building collaborative skill sets. But students may work individually.
COVID-19 does not mean that students can’t collaborate. This unusual societal circumstance allows students to, paradoxically, focus on their collaborative skills even more through a clear delegation of responsibilities; and tight communication in order to insure that everyone is clear on the scripting and blocking of individual scenes that need to tell a cohesive story, even though the scenes may be shot in isolation. Digital storytelling projects in general move the essential communication about content and learning away from the educator and toward the students themselves. That is part of their educational strength. But in COVID-19, this quality is expanded. With the teacher more ‘unavailable’ than normal, the students must rely on their collaborative skills more than ever. It’s like playing a team sport with less input from the coach. They have to rise the occasion …and they will.
Below is a suggested breakdown for the student’s work.
During Phase I, student teams (or just a singular student) will:
- Start by exploring your personal passions and identity. That’s much easier said than done and going about it looks different for everyone. You can explore these things by journaling, meditating, reflecting with friends and family, or sitting alone with your thoughts. The goal of this process is to find what you want to explore and share in your self-portrait.
- To help you along, here are some questions to consider, on a per theme basis:
- Family Heritage:
- How have the experiences of your family influenced your development as a person?
- Are there any family values that have helped you through hard times or made it easier to make decisions?
- What is your ancestral heritage and what traditions are associated with the family history? Understanding some of the people who came before you – whose movements and choices landed your family where it is today – can be deeply enlightening…and oftentimes, unsettling and confusing. But always informative. Talk to your parents or relatives: where are you really from and how do you think that shapes the other two themes: your passions and identity?
- Personal Passions:
- What do you aspire to do? (this question can be applied to a short-term goal you have for yourself or longer term objectives, related to occupations or a difference you hope to make in the world).
- What do you highly value? (Art, music, nature, friends, science, etc.)
- What’s a unique interest you have?
- Defining Aspects of Identity – *Note: This portion of the project can be especially personal, so do not feel a need to share anything with which you are not comfortable.
- What are some foundational aspects of your identity, internally and externally?
- How have these parts of your identity influenced the daily aspects of your life?
- How would you be different if you changed any of your defining aspects of identity?
- Take all of this work and write it up. Expressing this in the form of a personal essay can be incredibly useful in helping you to articulate your thoughts while excavating elements of self-understanding. A personal essay is like a personal statement that you write with the express purpose of communicating to others who you are, honestly and authentically. A personal essay can serve the dual purpose of awakening others to the many dimensions that make up you, as well provide increased self- awareness.
- Teacher’s Option: Personal Essay Draft – Teachers may require that students/teams hand in a short personal essay or summary of ideas that comprise the key points of their identity.
- After thinking – and writing – about these themes, decide what kind of self-portrait you would like to create and what medium you’d like to use. The themes will have a significant impact on the execution of your self-portrait, so take your time with your period of reflection over the themes.
- If this is being done as a TEAM project, all of Phase I still applies: everyone is still working through their own aspects of identity. How it is turned into a collective work of art is a Phase II process.
During Phase II, the student will:
- Your project will be the documentation of creating your self-portrait and explaining the artistic process as well as your exploration of the themes. A few questions to consider:
- Is there an overarching message you want to share?
- Is this video 1 minute, 2 minutes, 4 minutes? Fast paced and punchy or slower and more reflective?
- How do the three themes ‘talk’ to each in other in your art and your story of your art?
- Anticipate visuals you want in the video before creating. By knowing what you want to film ahead of time, you won’t miss an opportunity for footage along the way. Consider visual aids you can add into the video that pertain to your project like photos or mementos. Also consider how you will reveal and display your art to viewers. Will the final product only be revealed in the end? Or will viewers see your completed artwork at the beginning of your digital self-portrait, and then work backwards through the creation process? These are just two options.
- Consider the audio in your digital self-portrait. Utilizing voiceover or talking straight to camera creates a different experience for viewers. How will you use music and other sound effects to enhance the engagement with your viewers?
- Envision what you’d like the viewers to take away from your digital self-portrait. Often it can be useful to start with a definition of that experience – that impact you want to create – and work your story back from there.
- If this a team work of art, it might be helpful to pick one unifying theme – one thing that accurately reflects all of you – and then build your individual artistic pathways from that one unifying quality.
- You have already written about your exploration of the three themes. What does those ideas on paper look like …in a video? For example, will the themes be presented in different artistic styles? Or will they look to be a part of one larger artistic piece?
- Be careful not to overthink this – not to reach too far creatively. You have your ideas. You have word, image and sound/music at your disposal to communicate those ideas. Do it.
- As part of this transformation from paper – personal essay – to digital self-portrait, you are moving from an essay format to a visual story format. What exactly is this story of …you? What elements of ‘story’ are important in this piece? Plot? Setting? Emotional connection? Character? Think of how the personal themes you’ve identified and explored can be organized into a story.
- For example, are you the narrator telling your own story? Does the audience know it’s your story or is that revealed at the end?
- How will your visuals and sound work together to enhance the storytelling experience? The combination of sound and visuals can play off of each other to add emphasis. An increase or absence of sound can tell your audience to pay attention to what’s on screen. A change in lighting or an abrupt scene change can tell viewers that a new point is being made. No matter what your project is, paying an equal amount of attention to visuals and sound creates a more immersive experience.
- As with Option 1, envision what you’d like the final product of the video to be and how you want to impact your audience. What would you like viewers to take away from their encounter with your digital self-portrait?
- If this is a team digital self-portrait, as with Option 1, it might be helpful to pick one unifying theme – one thing that accurately reflects all of you – and then build your individual artistic pathways from that one unifying quality.
During Phase III student teams will:
- Script and rehearse the video. This is a digital self-portrait: it may take a few takes to get it just right.
- As necessary or desired, storyboard the video. Certain images may be really important to your story. Storyboarding is a critical tool that allows you to “see” your story before you shoot it.
- Teacher’s Option: Storyboard or Draft Script – Teachers may require that students/teams hand in a draft of their script or a storyboard of digital self-portrait, for review and feedback.
- Shoot the video!
- Record any singing, instrument playing, or voice-over needed for your video.
- Edit the video, adding stills and graphics as desired.
- Post-produce the video, adding music and sound effects as desired, keeping in mind the effect that music – in terms of enhancing the emotions and stories- can have on the audience.
Meridian Support: The Digital Storytelling Resource Center
|Meridian Stories provides two forms of support for the student teams:
1. Meridian Innovators and Artists – This is a series of three to four minute-videos featuring artists and innovative professionals who offer important advice, specifically for Meridian Stories, in the areas of creativity and production.
2. Media Resource Collection – These are short documents that offer student teams key tips in the areas of creativity, production, game design and digital citizenry.
Recommended review, as a team, for this Competition include:
|Meridian Innovators and Artists||Media Resource Collection|
|Liza Bakewell on Memoir and Non-Fiction Writing||Creating a Short Documentary
Presentation of Learning
Meridian Stories is a proud partner of the non-profit Share Your Learning, which is spearheading the movement of over five million students to publicly share their work as a meaningful part of their educational experience.
The workforce considers Presentational Skills to be a key asset and we encourage you to allow students to practice this skill set as often as possible. These digital storytelling projects provide a great opportunity for kids to practice their public presentational skills. This can be achieved in a remote learning environment by inviting parents to a Zoom/Google/Skype screening of the student’s digital stories.
According to Share Your Learning, Presentations of Learning (POL) promote…
- Student Ownership, Responsibility & Engagement. POLs can serve as a powerful rite of passage at the end of [a project]. By reflecting on their growth over time in relation to academic and character goals, grounded in evidence from their work, students are encouraged to take ownership of their learning. Just as an artist wants their portfolio to represent their best work, POLs encourage students to care deeply about the work they will share.
- Community Pride & Involvement. When peers, teachers and community members come together to engage with student work and provide authentic feedback, they become invested in students’ growth and serve as active contributors to the school community.
- Equity. POLs ensure that all students are seen and provide insight into what learning experiences students find most meaningful and relevant to their lives.
Meridian Stories’ own research indicates this to be a really useful exercise for one additional reason: Students actually learn from their peers’ presentations – it is useful to hear a perspective that is not just the teacher’s.
It is with this in mind that we you encourage you to plan an event – it could be just an end-of-the-week class or an event where parents, teachers and student peers are invited – to allow the students to showcase their Meridian Stories’ digital storytelling projects. For more free resources that will support this planning, visit Share Your Learning.
Evaluation Rubric – I Am Who I Am Because…
|The Themes||The student explores the three themes thoughtfully and compellingly|
|Self-Portrait||The self-portrait is engaging, enlightening and creative|
|The Process||The necessarily complex process for creating this artistic personal narrative is evident in the final piece|
|Narrative Format||The choice of narrative format is creative, honest and appealing|
|Themes and Self Portrait||The three themes cohere with other elements of the final work, to create a provocative and engaging narrative|
|The Art||The final artwork effectively and accurately communicates important ideas about the subject|
|Visual Choices||The visual and stylistic choices enhance the story and the content|
|Editing||The video is edited cleanly and effectively, resulting in an engaging viewing experience|
|Sound and Music||Sound effects and music enhance the audience’s engagement with the digital self-portrait|
21st CENTURY SKILLS COMMAND (for teachers only)
|Collaborative Thinking||The group demonstrated flexibility in making compromises and valued the contributions of each group member|
|Creativity and Innovation||The group brainstormed many inventive ideas and was able to evaluate, refine and implement them effectively|
|Initiative and Self-Direction||The group set attainable goals, worked independently and managed their time effectively, demonstrating a disciplined commitment to the project|
- ‘Who are you?’ and why is it critically important to explore and seriously examine this question, individually or as a group?
- How has the creation of an artistic personal essay broadened one’s understanding of narrative structure, self, and creativity?
- How has the use of artwork as a form of storytelling diversified one’s capacity to tell stories through alternative mediums?
- How has processing and connecting the three themes helped one explore the concept of self and character?
- How has immersion in the creation of original content and the production of digital media – exercising one’s creativity, critical thinking and digital literacy skills – deepened the overall educational experience?
- The student will engage in a complex, far-ranging and creative exploration of personal identity and understand why this level of self-awareness is essential.
- The student will gain a broader understanding of how writing, inside of a personal essay structure, can expand one’s ability to communicate and understand self.
- The student will gain the ability to portray a story and message through an alternative medium other than verbal or written communication.
- The student will build connections with art and identity to develop a stronger understanding of self and character.
- The student will utilize key 21st century skills, with a focus on creativity, critical thinking and digital literacy, in their process of translating personal content into a new narrative format.
The I AM Who I Am Because… Challenge addresses a range of curricular objectives that have been articulated by the Common Core Curricular Standards – English Language Arts. Below please find the standards that are addressed, either wholly or in part.
Common Core Curricular Standards – English Language Arts
|Standard||Grade 8||Grades 9-10||Grades 11-12|
Text Types and Purposes
|Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.||Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.||Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.|
Text Types and Purposes
|Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.||Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.||Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.|
Production and Distribution of Writing
|Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.||Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.||Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.|
Production and Distribution of Writing
|With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed.||Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.||Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.|
|Speaking & Listening 5
Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas
|Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest.||Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.||Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest.|
Conventions of Standard English
|Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.||Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.||Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.|
Vocabulary Acquisition and Use
|Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.||Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.||Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.|
Vocabulary Acquisition and Use
|Acquire and use accurately grade-appropriate general academic and domain-specific words and phrases; gather vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.||Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.||Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.|