Results tagged “educator profiles”

In Search Of … Audience

Essentials: In Search Of Audience

The field of youth media is about, among other things, pulling young people out of the audience and having them run the show. From passive to active, consumers to producers, bystanders to change agents. So, it’s an interesting dilemma to have – asking youth to put themselves back in the audience in order to define it.

Mike Cross, a Multimedia and Art teacher, put it this way: “How do you get a group of young people to define their audience for a media project when they struggle with the concept of audience?” He tackled this challenge head-on when he decided to do a poster project with his group of students.

As a way to introduce the concept of audience, he asked his students to make three posters – all with the same message, but for three different audiences. For this project, Mike defined the audiences for his group: elementary students, teenagers, and parents. Then he prompted his students to brainstorm and discuss all the ways that they could create their posters to target and appeal to the respective audience.

Following these discussions on audience and discerning which graphic design elements appeal to the different groups, students decided that for the elementary students they would use more playful fonts and have a lot of color; for the teens the posters would be more serious and have a cooler font–like a grunge; and for the parents the posters would be presented more formally.

In addition to defining these audiences, Mike had the students examine movie posters as a way to critique the graphic elements, as well as introduce how these different elements convey meaning to different audiences. They also discussed the process for creating a movie poster and used these as an example for their own posters.

“I learned that it is important to keep some guidelines but to balance that by allowing for creativity.”
- Mike Cross

In the end, students gravitated to creating social issues posters around the topics of gang violence, animal abuse, and the environment. The seriousness of these issues corresponds to the seriousness of purpose the students are bringing to their media work. When you’re encouraged to think carefully and to truly examine the interests and perspectives of the people you’re speaking to, it affects what you say and how you say it–and elevates the quality of your message.

Make A Top Five List

Essentials: Top Five List

Before anyone got into groups or picked topics for their Adobe Youth Voices project, this is what Deana Thai asked her students to do: “I really wanted them to want to work on the topic,” she said, “and not just be in the group because their friends were.”

A teacher at Lincoln High School in San Jose, California, she has in the past assigned students to groups and assigned topics. But with Adobe Youth Voices, she wanted it to be different. So she asked students to brainstorm individually then write down 5 topics or questions that they wanted to talk about and share with others.

To find out who else was interested in the same topics, students put their ideas up on the board. They brought up global warming, the importance of education, learning disabilities, and more. They wanted to talk about teen stress, teen depression, and the truth about health care. They’re concerned about body image, bullying, and drunk driving. Of the twenty to thirty different topics, they would focus on between eight and ten – to suit the size of the group.

““It worked out really well – everyone in the group was serious about the topic, because they cared about it,” said Deana.

Students subsequently formed groups based on common interests. In this way, most students joined with different peers than usual, and, Deana notes, the students who ended up with a friend “later told me that it was a mistake to try to assist their friend because they didn’t help with the project or even come to class.” She reflects, “they didn’t know where to draw the line” with a friend who was not participating.

Identifying what’s important to the students “was important for the success of the groups and projects,” Deana says. Moreover, she asserts that the educator needs to be enthusiastic in order to get student buy-in: “You can have all the tools you need, but if you don’t care for the topic or what you’re teaching, students will pick up on it.”

Whether an educator or youth, the common denominator in this formula for success is caring about what you do.

Deana Thai is a teacher at Lincoln High School in San Jose, California. As part of Adobe Youth Voices, she teaches an elective Digital Multimedia class for 11th and 12th grade students.

To view an animation entitled “Anorexia” by Lincoln High School student Ryanne Zertuche, visit our Youth Media Gallery.

The Making Of A Music Video

Essentials: The Making Of A Music Video

Especially with the support of seasoned educators, youth media producers grow and expand their acumen. Youth media isn’t about the absence of adult input, but rather strong behind-the-scenes presence of a facilitator, who empowers youth to make their own artistic choices.

This philosophy drives the work of people like Peter Pheap, an Adobe Youth Voices trainer, educator, and mentor, who facilitates media making at Boys and Girls Clubs in northern California. Peter took a break from his regular gig to lead a one-day workshop at the Adobe Youth Voices Summit 2009. His task was to guide an international group of youth in making a music video. Given the time constraints, good facilitation would be key.

He came prepared – “I brought a few beats with me that some of the youths from my clubhouse made, to see which ones might work best.”

And, as much as possible, he built in opportunities for the youth to make different choices and take ownership of the piece. “I left it up to the teens to come up with their style – whether that is singing, rapping, or spoken words – because I knew that if they couldn’t sing or rap they could at least talk into a mic and read their poem over some music.”

By setting the project up this way, he notes, “the youths felt really comfortable knowing that if they weren’t musically inclined they could still participate.”

“I formed three groups and made sure they took turns videotaping while switching roles so they each had a chance to be the director, cameraman, audio, and talent,” Peter goes on to explain.

To supply a common frame of reference and orient them to the project, Peter showed the students a couple music videos in the styles that his groups have done in the past. He explained the steps of the production process and talked about basic song structure. To “help me facilitate and coach some of the other teens on song structure and writing lyrics,” Peter brought along a young person from his program who he’s worked with many times.

Providing adequate support and advising on the scope of a project are important functions of a facilitator. Given only one day to complete the piece, Peter had to structure the work so that the tasks were achievable, while still very much a youth production. He recalls, “I decided to go with a slower instrumental; it would be easier for the youths who never wrote a song before to catch on and sing or rap to the beat. If I had more time, we probably would have been able to compose and produce the beat during the sessions.”

Also as part of the pre-planning, Peter came up with the topic of “identity” for the music video, which he figured would be accessible but open-ended – and provide the structure they needed to move quickly through the production steps. Each person contributed lyrics for 4 measures, or 8 if they liked.

Individuals in the group had the opportunity to express themselves not only through their lyrics, but also in how they appeared on screen. “I made sure they taped themselves multiple times,” explains Peter, “using the different types of shots that I was asking for, such as close-up, medium shots, long shots, and b-roll.” As facilitator, he endeavored to give them a range of opportunities to shape the final media work. He adds, “once they had their own footage, they were able to edit their part of the music video, and I just pieced them all together.”

When young people have the responsibility to edit their parts, to make choices about their work, it enhances their sense of ownership – and investment in the project. Whether it’s a collaborative music video created in one day (i.e., “Identity”), or a media work months in the making (i.e., “I Am the Difference”), facilitation makes a difference.

A Recipe for Making Your Own Curriculum

Essentials: A Recipe For Making Your Own Curriculum

“Creating one’s own curriculum is like making a delicious homemade meal,” says Meryl Meisler, Digital Arts teacher at the Institute for Collaborative Education in New York City. “You take a little of this, a little of that, basing the stock on success from previous projects/recipes or other great cooks, and adding spice to make it the best yet.”

“In life as in art we are influenced by what we have seen or done before. The same goes for my curriculum,” says Meryl.

For years Meryl has been developing her own curriculum to use with digital arts classes. She endeavors to come up with project themes that capture the imagination of her students, and to put together activities that effectively guide them through the creative process. As she tells it, “You gather your ingredients, prepare your working space, invite the participants or guests and never take your eye off the stove so nothing and no one gets burnt in the process.”

During the many stages in the media making process, Meryl closely tracks her students’ progress and cultivates learning. She invents or adapts activities that support their learning experience. For instance, a piece of her curriculum adapted from the AYV summer training sessions is a mini “Self Movie.” It’s “a way to introduce, through digital storytelling, the basics of working in our school network environment: brainstorming and storyboarding, naming and saving conventions, using photo capture devices, image manipulation, original music and voiceovers, editing and output, and intellectual copyrights.” She has each student create a “Self Movie” at the beginning of the year, and by the time they finish, “they are familiar with using Photoshop, Illustrator, Garageband, and Premiere – and know more about their classmates.”

After the students have this foundation working with various software, they begin a larger media project. Meryl says she collaborated with fellow teachers to come up with the project theme this year. It wasn’t through a formal planning committee – and needn’t be. Just a series of conversations with her colleagues, where they listened to each other and made connections across the curriculum. You never know where a conversation might lead.

Having decided to pursue projects “based more on inside feelings and questions” than in the past, it just so happened that the music teacher brought up the challenges of scoring original music with 6th graders. Meryl explained to him “how we use storyboards to plan animation and film, and suggested the use of storyboards for student compositions.” Together they “brainstormed the idea of students scoring original instrumental music for their AYV projects.” Then another teacher proposed that 6th grade student advisory groups could be a forum for “sounding out” what’s important to them. Notes Meryl, this is “how the Sound Out project was born.”

This open-ended project theme set the table for students to really dig in. Whether it’s one “chef” or a team, the art of creating curriculum, like any art form, takes patience, a willingness to improvise, and an appetite for what’s possible.

Sana’s Digital Dream

Essentials: Sanas Digital Dream

Sana Sohail says her mom was her inspiration to pursue an education when education for girls was looked down upon. In 2004, along with a few of her peers, Sana founded the Global Fund For Children grantee partner Chanan Development Association (CDA), a youth-led organization in Pakistan dedicated to supporting the active participation of youth and women in their communities by employing the techniques of interactive theater, puppetry, digital and social media, music, cultural festivals, and trainings.

Sana’s background is uniquely media focused. In 2007, she decided to create a media unit with CDA. The goal was to enable youth to create short digital stories about the issues they were facing within their communities and share those stories with community members. Over 33 young people across Pakistan participated in a training that encompassed story writing, digital story creation, blogging, and social media. When she visited me in Washington, DC, Sana shared some of the digital media created by the young people with whom she worked. She beamed with pride as she excitedly talked about the youth in the program.

Sana described the enthusiasm of the youth in the media training workshop. Classes started at 9:00 AM, she said, and the youth were sitting outside at 8:00 AM, waiting for the classroom doors to open. There was interest and anticipation. She said that many of the youth she worked with came from very impoverished communities. Some of the youth faced opposition from within their families about participating in the training. Girls, in particular, were discouraged from attending, but they convinced their parents that the media training was a worthwhile activity.

Sana also described how the community received the media when it was screened. She said that once community members viewed the media and listened to the issues that the youth most cared about, the community began to better appreciate the media training workshop and began to find value in the creation process.

Sana is an educator involved in the Adobe Youth Voices program. She’s taking part in an online course that highlights the principles of youth media and innovation through the use of digital tools. Her dream is to one day open a digital media center dedicated to youth in Lahore, Pakistan. Sana said, “Every young person has a passion. They only need a platform. They only need a skill.” The digital storytelling training helps to enable young people to convey their messages and share their thoughts with their communities.

Animation: Bringing the Message to Life

Essentials: Animation Bringing The Message To Life

“What do you think is important for people around you to understand?” Deepthi asked. She was launching an animation project with youth in Bangalore, India, and having this conversation was the first step in crafting a message they cared about.

Deepthi recalls, “We had seen a lot of trees being cut down for widening of roads and constructing of buildings.” From what they were observing in their community, the group brainstormed a list of issues for their media project, including global warming, drought, forest fires, and the effects of all this on living things. “We had the message but we did not have a storyline. This was a challenge. Having ideas was one thing but being able to implement them was another.”

To arrive at their message, Deepthi asked the youth “to write down anything and everything that came to their mind. At this stage, we did not discuss animation. We just discussed the message.”

Once the message was clear, they discussed “how to represent the issue,” how to put their ideas in action. They came up with the concept and generated a list of objects/characters – animals, humans, trees, cars, planes – for the story. “The list was endless,” Deepthi recollects. In fact, they had to simplify the storyline to make it achievable in the time given.

As the youth artists set to work on the pictures, they realized that they liked the look of the drawings done on paper and imported into the software, rather than drawn in Flash. Besides, with Flash installed on only two computers, Deepthi explains that drawing the pictures by hand first meant “we could not only involve all students, but we were able to get the students introduced to Photoshop, Flash, and Premiere” in the course of production.

The result is a vision and a kind of thought experiment. In their Flash animation, the youth artists imagine what it would look like if CTRL Z, the computer keyboard shortcut for “undo,” worked on the environment. They depict deforestation, pollution, and urban sprawl, leading to global warming, then they rewind or “undo” the damage.

Throughout the piece, sound effects and music accompany the visuals, setting the tone and conveying their meaning without need for words. But the message at the conclusion is transcribed, and very direct: “It’s not this easy to erase and redraw. Let’s get it right the first time. Save Earth. Save Us. Save Yourselves.”

“This was an exciting learning experience,” for the youth artists, Deepthi reflects. She feels that “the hand-drawn pictures also gave the whole animation a personal touch.” Whatever the process, for the youth to invest themselves in the media work, to make it personal, breathes life into the message it carries.

Accentuate The Positive

Essentials: Accentuate The Positive

You can pull elements for your piece out of thin air. You can build layers from scratch. You can invent something new, or dramatically re-interpret an existing image so that it looks brand new. All this creative potential is what Rachelle Berthelot, a high school teacher from Ottawa, Canada, loves about graphic design.

In her words, “Graphic design expresses an idea simply and effectively while still maintaining a high aesthetic value, which,” she notes, “cannot always be controlled when dealing with video or audio productions at this level. In this way it fosters student success.”

With boundless possibility – when you can take your project in any direction without being tethered to the footage or audio you’ve captured – artists must carefully map out their own direction. So, how do you prompt youth to be truly intentional in their artistic choices?

To get students on their way, Rachelle gave them some direction. “When presenting this project,” she says, “I emphasized that their voices needed to be heard and that they were free to express a topic that was of value to them.” As a “jumping off point,” she showed her students exemplars, but “noticed so many of the messages had negative connotations, anti-bullying, anti-smoking, etc.” In contrast, “I very much wanted to encourage them to produce something that had a positive underlying message.”

Rachelle also gave her students experiences with the software they’d be using for their larger graphic design project. For example, “They created a morphed animal using source images from the internet, they edited a self portrait in four distinct ways, etc.” When the class viewed the products afterward, they taught each other about the techniques and elements they’d used. As a result of these mini assignments, “students had an understanding of how creating a multi layered image and using variant opacities when overlaying text” yielded a more professional look.

Crucially, Rachelle gave them constant feedback throughout the creative process: “Students bounced ideas off me, they discussed what type of images they wanted to capture, we discussed rules of composition and what makes an image interesting and effective.” She emphasizes that, “while the message that students wish to express is of utmost importance, the aesthetics is of equal importance in terms of conveying that message.”

“I want them to be conscious artists who consider that what they put forth is what is most likely to return to them,” says Rachelle. “The ideas that followed were inspirational.”

Representing their message through a work of graphic design entails making a lot of choices – choices which Rachelle takes pride in helping her students navigate. “Several of the students at Immaculata High School have dealt with many hardships in their lives,” she reflects, and “it was so nice to see them rejoice in something positive.”

Kane Milne: Helping Students Tell Their Stories

When Kane Milne became a facilitator for the Adobe Youth Voices program, he was working as a director of the only Intel Computer Clubhouse in New Zealand. Over the last several years he has overseen the expansion of the program, and now New Zealand boasts five Computer Clubhouses. Kane oversees the Adobe Youth Voices program at each site.

Kane Milne

“I learn as much as anyone in the program,” says Kane of his involvement with Adobe Youth Voices. “Being able to lead youth through the creative process and seeing their imagination ignite, and them get a real sense of empowerment is awesome.”

The programs work primarily with youth from New Zealand’s Maori community, and other students of Pacific Islander descent. “As with a lot of marginalized communities, the way we are portrayed in the mainstream media doesn’t often reflect the reality the members see each day.”

Kane believes the biggest strength of the Adobe Youth Voices program hasn’t been the way it reaches youth, but rather the way it has given youth an opportunity to reach out to a wider audience and tell the stories which the media has overlooked.

Kane describes himself as a lifelong learner, and spends his free time with his family, playing music and practicing his craft as a photographer. He is also volunteering as a judge for the Adobe Youth Voices Aspire Awards, another opportunity for Kane to support young people in telling their stories on the world stage.

Ivan Reyes Martinez: Putting Education First

Ivan Reyes Martinez has been involved with the Boys & Girls Club of the Peninsula for many years, since he was a teenager himself. Ivan credits his early days at the club with getting him started down the pathway towards a music career that took off right out of high school.

The magic began when Ivan got the chance to use the club’s music equipment. “There was a group of teens, maybe 25 of us, who were fighting for time in the tiny recording studio,” remembers Ivan, who had to take turns using the studio and only put his hands on the equipment for 20 or 30 minutes a day.

Ivan says Peter Pheap, former Director of the Boys & Girls Club in Redwood City, “took him under his wing” so to speak, and encouraged Ivan to finish high school and to pursue his newfound passion. “Peter saw my persistence and my determination to learn, and that is what helped me stand out from the rest of the team. He noticed that I took the basics and ran with them. Eventually I bought my own little speakers and computer and software, and after a year of experimenting, I made a CD for Peter.”

Ivan Reyes Martinez

It was not long after producing this “debut” CD for his mentor that Ivan gathered a few of his talented friends together and started making music in earnest, producing tracks that quickly became famous in his neighborhood, and then far beyond. Ivan’s music was soon being played on the radio, first on local Bay Area stations and later on the Clear Channel networks, and even received recognition on BET. Ivan soon found himself traveling across the country making music and working with well known names in the industry.

Although he knew that as a musician, he had talent and promise, Ivan decided that it was important to augment his raw talent with education and professional experience, which led him back to the Bay Area. For the last few years, Ivan has kept an ambitious schedule, pursuing a degree in music tech in the mornings, working in the afternoons, spending his evenings doing homework and producing music whenever he can.

When returning to his hometown of Redwood City, he stopped in to visit Peter Pheap and the Boys & Girls Club, and learned that the center was now hosting a Peapod Adobe Youth Voices Academy. Ivan was hired by the Academy to manage the music program and hit the ground running, producing I Am The Difference as his first project with his students. Since this auspicious start, Ivan has coached his students to produce the amazing body of work that has come from this program.

Ivan puts a lot of emphasis on the importance of staying focused on education, telling his students that they can’t expect to rest on talent alone. “The music industry has changed so much, it’s rare these days that anyone can just be a musician. You also have to understand production, distribution, business, marketing… There’s a lot you have to know in order to make it in the industry today, that’s why you need an education to back you up.”

Ivan Reyes Martinez

What’s different now at the Peapod Adobe Youth Voices Academy is that with an expanded music program, students have more chances to put their hands on production equipment and fuel their passions, motivating them to stay committed to finishing school. Says Ivan of his students, “They have the artistic skills and the vision to go far. I help them focus on what they are good at, then I help them back it up with the skills they need to be a success.”

Ivan also emphasizes that no one should take things for granted, regardless of their talents and interests. “Everyone needs to think about how much work their parents and families have put into building a life and raising their kids, especially when they have immigrant parents like me. It was always my dad’s dream to see me finish my education, and that played a big part in my realization that I needed to take that next step. My dad always told me, you may have been born in this country, but without an education you will be foreign to your industry: you need to be prepared.”

Now only two quarters away from finishing his college degree, Ivan has big plans for the future. He’s been building a collection of instrumental tracks and looks forward to getting more time back in the studio himself, but he’s also looking forward to continuing his work with his Academy students.

“On a personal level, Adobe Youth Voices has helped me to fulfill that musical need that I have in me every day, the outlet to produce media that does have a purpose, that makes people feel inspired and motivates them to do something. The music industry doesn’t usually focus on that. This program keeps young people occupied with something positive, and helps to inspire them to strive and improve themselves.”

Ivan is looking forward to hearing the amazing music his students will keep writing and producing, as well as the world of inspired music he’ll review as an Adobe Youth Voices Aspire Awards judge.

Sandra Holland: Creating Community Beyond Classroom Walls

Sandra Holland has been an educator with the San Jose Unified School District for 12 years, the past four of which she has been using Adobe Youth Voices curriculum in her classroom. Now an AYV Lead Educator, Sandra is passionate about providing the opportunities to her students that they might not otherwise have.

Sandra Holland

“We feel fortunate to have Adobe mentors come in to our classroom to offer technical expertise on media projects,” says Sandra. “This extra technical support and mentoring is not usually available at the high school level. This support has expanded the boundaries of what our youth can accomplish.” Sandra says that her students are now participating in film festivals and local arts exhibitions, and gaining personal & professional skills while having fun.

For Sandra, inspiring young people to create is a family tradition. “I come from a long line of working artists and educators,” says Sandra about her family, which includes painters, sculptors, commercial artists and art professors. “My family is my inspiration for a career in the arts, they have always encouraged me to follow my dream.”

Working with young creative minds is deeply fulfilling for Sandra, who says she is lucky to have such great students to work with. “I love seeing excitement in students when they come up with a great idea. I enjoy helping students to problem solve and communicate visually.”

Willow Glen High School, where Sandra teaches, has a student population that reflects the diverse community of San Jose. “Our population includes students from around the globe, each student brings a unique story to share.” Sandra enjoys using creative curriculum to support her students in telling their stories, and helping students forge connections between each other and with the community at large. “Adobe Youth Voices has created a community that goes beyond the classroom walls.”

Sandra is volunteering as an Adobe Youth Voices Aspire Awards judge, yet another opportunity to help students understand themselves as part of a global community of artists.

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