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Today’s Students, Today’s Needs: Key Areas of Specialization for Educators’ Professional Development

By Jovana Jankovic

The end of June marks the final days of classes for elementary and secondary students in most school boards throughout Canada and the US. As educators consider professional development opportunities for the new school year beginning in September, it’s important to keep in mind that the most effective professional development is the kind that helps educators focus on the needs of their students.

What are the most pressing needs of today’s young people? Are there gaps in your curriculum that could be filled by addressing emerging contemporary topics and skills? Obviously, the convenience, ubiquity, and constant access to mobile digital devices have strongly impacted the ways in which we communicate with, interact with, and analyze the world around us. Critical media literacy and an understanding of digital media technology are crucial skills for today’s young people to develop, and many school boards have yet to formalize these subjects into their core curricula.

Teaching students about digital storytelling, audio-visual production, new communications technologies, digital animation, critical media literacy, and the history and current state of media creation has been shown to have many positive effects. These effects include: mindful technology use (not just passive, distracted browsing of the internet or social media, but active engagement in, and production of, original content), technical troubleshooting (including learning new software and managing archives of digital content), and real-world digital production skills (as all businesses are increasingly required to have an online presence, digital marketing content creation such as image editing and video production have become highly sought-after workplace skills). Not convinced? Just take a look at this charming and thought-provoking personal essay from educator Paul Barnwell in Louisville, Kentucky. After he initiated a digital storytelling project in his classroom, his students felt like “trailblazers” and gained the confidence to “become the authors of their own lives.” Mr. Barnwell rightly warns that “if we don't consider and carefully plan what skills students are learning and practicing by employing technology in the classroom, we're doing our students a disservice."

If you’re an educator at the elementary or secondary levels, and particularly specializing in art, language, literature, music, theatre, science and technology, history, or social studies, you can have a great impact on your students’ media education by helping them to create and modify images, plan and organize ideas through storyboards, write scripts, perform in front of cameras, design and produce web content, or report news stories.

Not sure where to start? Check out Hands On Media’s Professional Development workshops, or inquire about Custom Training sessions for educators in a particular area of specialization. Contact us at #514.659.3814 or and we can help you understand and tailor your professional development goals to meet the current (and future!) needs of your students in a saturated and stimulating digital media landscape.

We wish all our educators, their students, and our community partners a happy and eventful summer break!


Feeling Recharged from BC + Ready for Next Workshops!

We are back from an incredible journey to Haida Gwaii, BC for the last few weeks, and what a productive and recharging trip it was!  A total of 4 workshops were delivered : 1 student Stop Motion Animation with Grade 3 students in Port Clements, 1 student Digital Storytelling with Grade 8 students in Masset, and 2 Professional Development workshops at George M, DawsonSecondary School.  There was a lot of enthusiasm for the new apps and techniques I introduced to them, and I am optimistic there will be many more animations and Digital Stories coming from these students in the near future :) 

Aside from the educational workshops, some highlights of Haids Gwaii were staying with so many hospitable and helpful locals, learning about so many aspects of life on the island that I would never have gotten staying in a hotel, and experiencing the magical beauty of this part of the world.  It is hard to describe how beautiful these islands are:  the never-ending beaches, the moss-covered forests, the rich Haida culture, the full moon rising over North Beach...  I cannot recommend visiting (or moving to) Haida Gwaii more.

Thank you to everyone in Haida Gwaii for your generosity, knowledge, and unforgettable welcome.

Now that November is in full swing, many new plans are taking shape:  Our first Montreal workshop is taking place this Friday with a group of Grade 1 Francophone students where we will be making Stop Motion animations.  A visit to New Brunswick is tentatively booked with the Acadian Film Festival to meet the Deputy Minister of Education in Fredericton, a trip to Labrador for the Labrador Creative Arts Festival to deliver a series of Stop Motion Animation workshops is almost confirmed (fingers crossed), and near the end of the month we will be delivering Professional Development workshops with two huge teacher conferences in Montreal, QPAT and SPEAQ. 

I feel recharged from this trip to BC, and even more confident in the limitless potential for media education with Canadian teachers and students.  Please spread the word about our work, and don't hesitate to get in touch about any questions you may have about what we can do together!


And We're Off!

And We're Off!

Our website was launched mere weeks ago, but we have been receiving workshop requests and news of accepted proposals ever since!  Bookings are open for 2016, so please share our site with any teacher or film festival that you think may be interested. 

Haida Gwaii, British Columbia

The trip to Haida Gwaii is booked with several confirmed workshops through Tahayghen Elementary School and George M Dawson Secondary School.  A huge shout-out to teacher Allison Kozak for organizing such an incredible itinerary.

Oct. 22: Student Digital Storytelling Workshop, Masset, BC

Oct. 23: Teaching Digital Storytelling in the Classroom, Masset, BC

Oct. 24: Teaching Stop Motion Animation in the Classroom, Masset, BC

Oct. 26: Tentative Student Digital Storytelling, Old Masset Youth Centre, Old Masset, BC

Oct. 28: Student Animation Workshop, Port Clements, BC

Montreal, Quebec

Nov. 6: Student Stop Motion Animation Workshop, Montreal, QC.

Fredericton, New Brunswick

Nov. 10-15: Trip to New Brunswick to meet with Deputy Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development Gérald Richard and Acadian Film Festival organizers Jean-Pierre et Kathy DesmaraIs to discuss potential projects and collaborations.  Will try to schedule teacher and student workshops while there as well.

Montreal, Quebec

Nov. 26-28: We have been accepted to deliver two Professional Development workshops at two teacher conferences in Montreal occurring the same weekend: QPAT (Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers) and SPEAQ (Société de la perfectionnement de l’enseignement, de l'anglais, langue seconde, au Québec). Details of dates and location to come.