FARMINGTON — Mt. Blue Middle School Katahdin Community students spent Thursday, Nov. 15, with Apple Professional Learning (APL) specialists and local educators learning innovative ways to utilize programs on their Apple laptops. The seventh-grade students designed graphics, created songs, produced newscasts and collaborated in creative design thinking.
“We want students to use their computers for a higher level of thinking,” said teacher Denise Mochamer. “The purpose is to teach them to use different programs to share their ideas.”
APL specialist Anne Marie Quirion-Hutton led students through a workshop using Shapes. Pictures, logos, icons and illustrations hold more meaning today than ever before, she said. Symbols, such as the one that designates handicap access and parking, can be understood internationally without the use of words.
“Your generation is going to read more pictures than any other generation before you,” she said. “Pictures speak volumes internationally. By communicating through pictures, you make yourself visible to people across the globe.”
Quirion-Hutton also discussed dual coding theory. “When information is presented with pictures, it is stored in one part of the brain. Words are stored in another. Teaching through pictures stores the information in two parts of the brain and makes it easier to recall,” she explained.
Teacher Dan Ryder worked with students in a creative design-thinking experience. Using terminology related to mathematics and science, Ryder asked students to create a name for a band. He then encouraged them to build on the original concept to come up with a catchy and innovative idea.
Student Trent Beaudoin suggested Double Negative which the group quickly shortened to Double-Neg before settling on D-Neg.
“Now they are a hip-hop band and breaking records worldwide,” Ryder said. “The biggest ideas always hatch from the littlest spark of something.”
APL specialist Lindsey Carnes assisted students with creating a newscast using a green screen and video recording applications on their laptops. Most students opted to make a breaking news story about a snowstorm predicted for the following day.
“With a green screen, students can put themselves anywhere in the world,” Carnes said. “If they are doing a report on Egypt, they can be in Egypt.”
Students Rose Tylor, Alex York and Rosella York worked together to break the weather story. Although the girls were in front of a green screen, the video showed them reporting from outside Mt. Blue Middle School.
“This is so much fun,” said Tyler. “It will be good to use this for homework assignments.”
Students in APL specialist Tim Hart’s workshop created music using GarageBand. Part of learning is creating, he said.
Students mixed and edited beats, instruments and audio to create original music.
“Even though you are making music right now, all we are really doing is editing audio,” Hart said. “It is no different than when you record an interview or report. You can use this technology to edit out the ‘umms’ and burps to make a clean audio.”
The program was provided at no cost to the district by Apple through the Maine Learning Technology Initiative. Sugarloaf Community students will take part in the program later in the year, Mochamer said.