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Fair lets students tell stories
Media Festival focuses creativity
0325 Media festival
Judges Vickie Funston, right, a Joseph Martin Elementary computer lab teacher, and Dawn MacDonald, an instructional coach at Liberty Elementary School, evaluate a student media project Friday at the board of education office. - photo by Photo by Danielle Hipps

Liberty County media specialists and computer teachers joined forces Friday with community volunteers to gauge just how well students share their voice through multimedia.
The group of 44 judges evaluated 380 projects to determine which ones will be submitted to this year’s Georgia Student Media Festival, which aims to stimulate student interest and involvement in all types of media production.
Dr. Patti Crane, executive director of media and technology for the Liberty County School System, said she recalls working on fair submissions with still-photograph sequences in 1995, her second year as a teacher.
“It evolved; it used to be the hand-drawn books, … and as it evolved, that’s totally gone by the wayside — it’s totally a digital experience now,” Crane said.
The student-made projects can be submitted by individuals, groups or even classes, and they are graded according to content and organization, technical quality and general effectiveness.
Projects are evaluated on a 100-point scale by two judges. Projects that score more than 96 points advance to the state competition, LCSS media coordinator Jaime Rearley said.
The same grading will be used at state, where those who score in the superior range of 96-100 will advance to the international competition.
In 2011, the district sent 150 projects to the Georgia state media festival, and 83 of them advanced to the International Student Media Festival in Jacksonville. There, five students from Liberty County received best-of-festival awards, and eight students were honored as judges’ favorites.
Teachers and the students advancing to state will be notified early next week, Rearley said.
In computer labs throughout the board of education building, pairs gathered at computers to watch and listen to the student projects.
Judges Vickie Funston, a Joseph Martin Elementary computer lab teacher, and Dawn MacDonald, an instructional coach at Liberty Elementary School, said they were impressed by the works.
“We’re noticing a lot of vocabulary from science and social studies that’s popping up in their stories,” MacDonald said.
“They’re using facts within their fictional stories, so it’s interesting, creative as well as informational,” Funston said.
Both said the projects seem to integrate the Common Core State Standards idea of presentation that will roll out this year, and they anticipate the students’ experience will ease the transition.
“I’m amazed at how early they have such a wide knowledge of technology, because they’re not afraid of it. They’ve had it around all of their lives,” MacDonald said.
Funston explained that a project they were grading was created as a traditional book, and then scanned into Microsoft Photo Story.
“What’s so cool is that it’s not just you reading her story, you get to hear her voice reading her story to you,” MacDonald said, gesturing to a project on the screen. “And so it has a lot of impact because she really owns her story by being able to do the narration.”
The project also introduces students to copyright concepts by requiring them to adhere to fair use guidelines for educational multimedia.
Categories in this year’s festival include live-action productions with on-screen talent, animal, sequential stills, electronic picture books, electronic photographic essays, interactive stills, websites and podcasts.
The works must have a purpose that is either instructional, informational, documentary, persuasive, entertainment or a story.
“The students learn how to use different parts of technology, and they’re working as a team on some projects, so they have to use cooperative work skills,” Rearley said. “Many times, the project is based on information they’re learning in their classes, so it’s a great way for them to synthesize information they’re learning in their classroom and apply technology skills.”

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