GTE 1999 Minigrants: Lake County Literacy Program

Background of project:

There is a dearth of multimedia, interactive software for adult new readers, (those reading at the very beginning of the process). Beginning and emerging readers really enjoy reading stories, etc written by other learners; hence, the proliferation of learner anthologies in adult literacy programs across the US. We have six years of Collections, our annual anthology, filled with stories about learners' interests, hobbies, dreams, countries, etc. Recently we've had a number (6) of learners expressing interest in writing their biographies. One such biography was published in 1997. All these factors led us to the publishing of learner writings in another format - on CD-ROMs.

Initial Process

Each of three staff persons, including two ABE teachers decided what would be the topic of her CD. After much discussion among the three and knowing what is of interest to learners, it was decided that one CD would focus on students' interests and hobbies. The second CD would focus on excerpts from the 6 biographies that were already in paper format. With the increasing ESL population in our literacy program the third CD would focus on stories from our ESL learners. Staff also knew that many of the students had photographs they had taken while on vacations, from their personal photo albums or had taken pictures while exploring their hobbies or interests. Students were a great source for the "graphics" for the CD's.

Problems

One staff person was familiar with using Hyperstudio. She then became the teacher/mentor to the other two staff members. Learning to use Hyperstudio was not difficult but the myriad of problems staff encountered when creating each of the CDs was frustrating. Also frustrating was when we continually received the message that "this program has performed an illegal operation and will shut down" in the middle of importing a graphic or sound required that the program had to be rebooted. The frustration of copying and pasting and having the "object" disappear or reappear as a totally different sound or graphic caused a few headaches. Technical support from Hyperstudio was not consistent or always available.

Student Input

In the early stages of the project, learners knew about the CD's but did not see them in the early format. As the pieces of the project were shown to the learners, they became excited and offered suggestions for sounds, music and pictures.. One student in particular said, "Take out that white box (the text). You�re ruining the picture. Just let me talk." Another student, who refuses to write anything brought in pictures and dictated a story that was included on the CD. She now says, "I'll find some more pictures to write about." The CD with biography excerpts (Favorite Authors) was to include 6 students. One learner, who has a powerful story about learning to read, continually cancelled meeting with the staff person to discuss her story. Although her story was originally published in Collections, she was never able to meet any of our deadlines. Next time!

Evaluation

Overall the project was extremely successful in terms of learner response. The student authors continually repeated, "This is cool. This is neat. Wow. My story looks great. Is that my voice? This makes me miss my country. I have some more pictures. I'm going to Reno and I'm going to take a lot of pictures. Where is a CD on sports? Can I have a copy to send to my family?"

Staff's evaluation of the project was that next time we would

  • allow more time
  • with student input, select accompanying sounds, music or graphics (photos or click art) and save them all to a CD-ROM for easier access
  • use either Macromedia's Director or Author (whichever is easier)
  • get more teacher and/or tutor input
  • maybe get "professional" people for the voiceovers.
Project Link

Lake County Literacy Program
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