Rivers and Society: An Expo Fair
This Digital Storytelling Challenge is part of a cross-disciplinary set of three Challenges that feature The River as a core element connecting Language Arts, History and the Sciences. Why rivers? Because rivers are one of the elemental ecosystems around which anthropogenic activities are being assessed. Rivers are also a strong symbol of hope and inspiration; a metaphor for the cyclical robustness of nature and of humanity. And they are pathways to worlds far beyond the classroom, across the globe and back in time; humanity’s first and original transportation grid that can be used to trace our historical expansion around the world. The River spans the realms of science, history, culture, economics and creativity like few other natural elements in this world and therefore is an invaluable subject around which to research and communicate meaningful stories.
Submission Due Date: March 26, 2021
Designed for Middle and High School Students
|Table of Contents
||Range of Activities
This Challenge looks at rivers from a historical and economic perspective – trying to get at the essential question: why have humans historically flocked to rivers? Rivers have provided a steady source of food and water for humanity for as long as there have been humans. But over time, humanity turned more and more to the power of rivers to innovate and progress. What critical inventions revolutionized their time by finding new ways to put the river to use? How has the power of rivers guided humanity, and equally important, how have we changed the rivers to meet our own needs?
In order to explore these questions, students will focus on a particular human-made innovation or river utilization – i.e., water wheel, canal, logging, canoe – that had the effect of making the river facilitate humanity’s survival and well-being.
Pick one product or usage. You are at the Regional Annual River Expo where people are hawking all sorts of river-related products…in the time period of your choice. You have the stage for three or four minutes. Create a pitch video about your product. Feel free to dress up and present from the time period in which the innovation or utilization was taking place.
- Digital Story (this is the only Meridian Stories deliverable)
- Outline of Research (at teacher’s discretion)
- First Draft Script (at teacher’s discretion)
[This Meridian Stories Challenge was adapted from Ethan Pierce’s Senior Thesis at Vassar College, 2020.]
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 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 students’ work.
During Phase I student teams will:
- Research an overview of rivers and their historical intersection with humanity. If you are studying a particular geographic location or time period in class, limit your research to within those parameters. Identify a specific function that interests you for how a river was used to help society survive or progress. Here’s a list of ideas to get you started:
- – Water wheel
- – Different types of paddle craft
- – Sailing ships
- – Nets or fishing poles
- – Dams
- – Hydroelectric power
- – Aqueducts
- – Logging
- – Turbines
- Using primary and secondary sources, research three different facets of your innovation.
- What is it? If it’s a thing – like a water wheel – what actually is it and how does it work?
- The story of the origins of the innovation. When and where was it discovered or first put to use? What was the need that led to its invention? What problem did the river and its elements solve?
- Keep in mind that your select innovation doesn’t have to be one that changed the world. It could be a local use on a local river that changed the historical development of your region.
- Successful examples of the application of your select innovation. This will help you to determine the economic impact of your innovation; the flaws (where it failed in its first trial runs); and what innovations were made to make the innovation more efficient and effective.
|The story you are going to tell – your pitch at the local “Tech Expo” – does not have to take place right at the very moment your innovation was invented. For example, dams might have been around for ten years before this ‘Expo’. They just haven’t been around …where you live. They might be new to your area. What is important is that you have enough information about the early beginnings of your innovation to be able to ‘sell’ it based on proof of its efficacy in terms of improving the human condition.|
- Create an outline of the facts you have uncovered in these three areas.
- Teacher’s Option: Outline of Research – The teacher may require teams to hand in an outline of the information that they have discovered in these three areas.
|One more thing to note: you most likely know a lot more about this innovation than the character you are about to create, who will be selling this use of the river. Why? Because you live now and have access to a lot more information. For example, you know how much power a dam can actually create; but you also know the damage it can do to the river’s ecosystem. Feel free to include this information – what you nowknow – in your pitch video in some creative way.|
During Phase II, student teams will:
- Brainstorm about the general shape of your video. Some directions to consider:
- Story Shape – This is about selling: selling a product or a way of life. You could design the whole video like a commercial. That is an option. Or, you could record one person doing a sales pitch, as if to an audience of people standing around, waiting to sign on the dotted line and purchase. And keep in mind: one of the best-selling strategies? A good story.
- Story Arc – This Challenge is not about creating a ‘period’ video. You can set it any time. It is about being accurate about the river use on which you are focusing and letting the audience know a) what it is; b) what problem it solves; c) how it works; and d) the positive outcome it produces. If there are also negative outcomes – such as mentioned above about the damage dams do to a river’s natural eco-system – then find a way to hint at that information to let the viewer know that you know! (This could be featured, for example, in an exchange with a skeptical buyer who is listening to your pitch.)
- Location – It’s an ‘Expo’. Like a trade show. Perhaps you set it in contemporary times. Or in the time period of your subject. Either way, here are some decision to be made about location:
- Are you working out of a booth?
- On a stage for a three-minute presentation?
- Or, are you just showing a video (which we are giving you permission to do, even though video may not have been invented in that time period) which is designed like a commercial?
- Character and Voice – Who, if anyone, is doing the selling? Is this being voiced like an old-fashioned auctioneer or in the cool tones of a contemporary person who sounds and looks like they should be selling you an expensive watch, but in fact, is introducing you to a new kind of boat called a …kayak.
- Create an outline of your story, fusing the key points you identified in your research outline, with the general creative approach that you have just brainstormed.
- Create a first draft script. Two things to consider:
- This script is designed to sell and persuade, as well as communicate truthfully the assets and benefits of this innovation.
- The core driver to this is The River as a powerful and beautiful product of nature. Don’t ignore the qualities and potency and lure of this elemental force.
- Teacher’s Option: First Draft Script – The teacher may require teams to hand in a first draft script for review and feedback.
- Pre-produce your story. This means gathering all the materials you need to visualize your story. This might include scouting locations; gathering props; researching and collecting photos and footage; making costumes; casting characters; and checking on your video and sound recording devices.
- If you are shooting scenes in one or more location, creating a storyboard may be the most organized way to approach the logistics of shooting. Check out the Create a Storyboard, Framing a Shot document for assistance.
- Rehearse your script. Finalize your script.
- Produce your story.
During Phase III student teams will:
- Record the voice-over or narration, as necessary.
- 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, triumphs and suspenseful tone of the story – 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|
|Margaret Heffernan on Non-Fiction||Creative Brainstorming Techniques|
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 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 – Rivers and Society: An Expo Fair
|The River Innovation||The choice of innovation is rich, complex, thoughtful and explained thoroughly|
|The Origins Story||The presentation of how this innovation came to be is well researched|
|The Usefulness and Impact||The usefulness of this innovation – its potential to contribute to human progress – is clearly and accurately stated|
|The Pitch||The narrative is persuasive – the organization of the facts makes for a compelling argument|
|The Story Arc||The narrative is engaging: the elements of story are clear and pull the audience into the experience|
|The Characters and Voice||The verbal presentation of your pitch – the voice and characters – is inviting and engaging|
|Visualization||The choice of how to present the story and the quality of the visuals reflect a thoughtful professionalism|
|Editing||The digital story 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 scene and its persuasive qualities|
21st CENTURY SKILLS COMMAND (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.|
- What role have rivers played in humanity’s historical quest for survival and progress?
- How has information gathered from primary sources enhanced your understanding of the topic? How is the information from the primary sources different from the information gathered from secondary sources?
- What is one innovation that utilized the river and all its natural elements that impacted the evolution of societal development: locally, regionally or globally?
- How does one construct a persuasive story about an innovative idea that leads viewers to accept and value that innovative idea?
- 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?
- How has working on a team – practicing one’s collaborative skills – changed the learning experience?
- The student will begin to conceptualize the deeply intertwined histories of humanity and river systems, with a focus on intersections around mechanical power, transportation, commerce and food.
- The student will understand how combining primary and secondary sources can help one to reach a more complex and nuanced understanding of history.
- The student will learn about one specific river innovation within the context of the historical time in which it came to be impactful.
- The student will have organized a persuasive narrative about the assets and potency of this select ‘river innovation.’
- The student will utilize key 21st century skills, with a focus on creativity, critical thinking and digital literacy, in their process of translating historical content into a new narrative format.
- The student will have an increased awareness of the challenges and rewards of team collaboration. Collaboration – the ability to work with others – is considered one of the most important 21st century skills to develop in students as they prepare for life after secondary school.
The Rivers and Society: An Expo Fair Challenge addresses a range of curricular objectives that have been articulated by the Common Core Curricular Standards – English Language Arts and History/Social Studies, and the C3 Framework from the National Council of Social Studies. Below please find the standards that are addressed, either wholly or in part.
Common Core Curricular Standards
English Language Arts Standards – History/Social Studies
READING INFORMATIONAL TEXT
Key Ideas and Details
|Cite the textual evidence that most strongly supports an analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.||Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.||Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.|
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.
Research to Build and Present Knowledge
|Conduct short research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question), drawing on several sources and generating additional related, focused questions that allow for multiple avenues of exploration.
|Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.||Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.|
SPEAKING AND LISTENING
Comprehension and Collaboration
|Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher- led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.||Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9–10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.||Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one- on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11–12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.|
SPEAKING AND LISTENING
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.|
SPEAKING AND LISTENING
Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas
|Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.||Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.||Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.|
Knowledge of Language
|Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.
|Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.||Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.|
Key Ideas and Details
|Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.||Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.||Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.|
Integration of Knowledge and Ideas
|Analyze the relationship between a primary and secondary source on the same topic.||Compare and contrast treatments of the same topic in several primary and secondary sources.||Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.|
C3 Framework – National Council of Social Studies
|6th – 8th Grade||9th – 12th Grade|
|D1.5.6-8. Determine the kinds of sources that will be helpful in answering compelling and supporting questions, taking into consideration multiple points of views represented in the sources.
|D1.5.9-12. Determine the kinds of sources that will be helpful in answering compelling and supporting questions, taking into consideration multiple points of view represented in the sources, the types of sources available, and the potential uses of the sources.|
|D2.Civ.14.6-8. Compare historical and contemporary means of changing societies and promoting the common good.
|D2.Civ.14.9-12. Analyze historical, contemporary, and emerging means of changing societies, promoting the common good, and protecting rights.|
how cultural patterns and economic decisions influence environments and the daily lives of people in both nearby and distant places.
|D2.Geo.4.9-12. Analyze relationships and interactions within and between human and physical systems to explain reciprocal influences that occur among them.|
|D2.Geo.6.6-8. Explain how the physical and human characteristics of places and regions are connected to hu- man identities and cultures.
|D2.Geo.6.9-12. Evaluate the impact of human settlement activities on the environmental and cultural characteristics of specific places and regions.|
|D2.Geo.7.6-8. Explain how changes in transportation and communication technology influence the spatial connections among human settlements and affect the diffusion of ideas and cultural practices.||D2.Geo.7.9-12. Analyze the reciprocal nature of how historical events and the spatial diffusion of ideas, technologies, and cultural practices have influenced migration patterns and the distribution of human population.|
|D2.Geo.8.6-8. Analyze how relationships between humans and environments extend or contract spatial patterns of settlement and movement.
|D2.Geo.8.9-12. Evaluate the impact of economic activities and political decisions on spatial patterns within and among urban, suburban, and rural regions.|
|D2.Geo.11.6-8. Explain how the relationship between the environmental characteristics of places and production of goods influences the spatial patterns of world trade.||D2.Geo.11.9-12. Evaluate how economic globalization and the expanding use of scarce resources contribute to conflict and cooperation within and among countries.|
|D2.His.2.6-8. Classify series of historical events and developments as examples of change and/or continuity.||D2.His.2.9-12. Analyze change and continuity in historical eras.|