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Schools sweep media festival

Nearly 200 students honored for work

POSTED: January 14, 2011 10:36 a.m.
Photo by Seraine Page/

Gracie Byler of Joseph Martin Elementary receives an award for her project Johnny Appleseed from her computer lab teacher, Victoria Funston; , Verdell Jones; board member, Carol Guyett; and board chairman, Lily Baker. Byler won the award from the International Student Media Festival, a festival focused on student media projects.

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One hundred and seventy eight students were recognized for their accomplishments in the International Student Media Festival during the Liberty County Board of Education’s Tuesday meeting. Parents, students and educators crowded into the meeting to watch the children receive their awards.
Dr. Patti Crane, executive director of technology and media for the Liberty County School System, announced that certificates and medallions would be distributed to students who participated in the festival, which focuses on classroom media projects designed to teach students by integrating technology into everyday learning.
“The students we are honoring tonight earned superior scores at their school level, county level and state festival,” Crane said. 
Students worked during class time and after school on the 55 projects, which included sequential stills from PowerPoint and other software programs, live action video and web pages.
Thirty two of those were scored as winning projects, Crane said.
“Students and teachers from kindergarten through college are honored in a three-day event that includes workshops, screenings of winning entries and an awards ceremony. It has now grown to be one of the oldest and largest events of its kind. ISMF has been sponsored since 1974 by the Association for Educational Communications and Technology, a nonprofit organization improving instruction through technology,” according to the ISMF website.
Button Gwinnett, Frank Long, Jordye Bacon, Liberty, Taylors Creek and Waldo Pafford elementary schools all had winning projects at the ISMF, Crane said.
“Each year student projects must earn a superior school at the school, county and then the state media festival to qualify for entry into the ISMF,” she said.
A total of 154 students were named winners, and 178 students were recognized for participating in winning projects.
Only one student, fourth-grader Nathan Spradley, won “best of festival” for his project, “The Animal Tracks Mystery,” which focused on different animal tracks found outdoors.
The award is given to a contestant who meets the highest judging criteria, according to the ISMF website. Fewer than 1 percent of entries win “best of festival.”
“One of the favorite things about doing the project was I got to go outside and take the pictures in the fresh air,” Spradley said. “My absolute favorite overall was that I got to spend a lot of time with my mom doing it.”
Melissa Aspinwall, a second-grade teacher at Taylors Creek Elementary, said watching the students learn and get excited about technology was what made the year-long project so worthwhile.
“My favorite part is seeing the excitement the students express when they see their finished project,” Aspinwall said. “It is also great to let them think out of the box and use technology to demonstrate what they have learned.”
The projects students worked on often focused on simple life activities such as being friends, telling about a sport played, being twins, vacations and favorite animals, she said. Each week, two students worked with a flip camera and a digital camera to capture the week’s lessons. Pictures and video were used to create several class and group projects, Aspinwall said.
“I learned and each year it holds true, that students are very creative and have great ideas of showing various skills that they have learned throughout the year.  They come up with illustrations that are amazing,” she said
Each year, classroom teachers, school media specialists, computer lab teachers, and instructional technology specialists work with students to assist in the preparation and instructional process, Crane said.
Only one student and her family attended the conference in Anaheim, but Crane hopes more students, teachers and staff will be able to attend the event next year in Florida.
The technology and media director said students are now working on projects to enter in the upcoming school media festival.
“It is a way for students to show what they have learned or just to show their creative side,” Aspinwall said. “By the students being involved, it helps them to carry learning over across the curriculum and out of the classroom. Also, they learn at an early to use technology and not be afraid of it.”

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