New Middle School Classes on Course to Improve Communications Skills

In their “Introduction to Communications” class, sixth graders are learning to navigate the Internet, preparing and revising presentations, and speaking in front of a group.  Meanwhile in “Creative Expressions'', eighth graders are creating podcasts, editing video productions, and making slideshows. “Things are going pretty well,” said English teacher Sheila Ogden who is teaching both classes this school year. “The exposure to skills learned will be helpful in other classes as well.”

Intro to Communications

This new course emphasizes doing research on the Internet and helping students identify and use reliable sources online.  “With sixth graders, we take it a little slower and we definitely address websites to stay away from. We’re looking at links and evaluating whether they are something you can trust,” said Ogden.  Students are also learning how to be good digital citizens and protect their privacy online.

The class also focuses on honing public speaking skills. “Teachers have told me that when some kids get to high school they don't have a lot of experience doing presentations and speaking in front of the class. Because students were using the computer so much last year (due to online learning during the pandemic), they have had even less experience getting up and speaking in front of their classmates. This class helps prepare them for that.” Students have been researching and speaking on a variety of topics from World War II, to the environment, to sports and athletes. Students then create presentations that inform, demonstrate, and even convince others to their point of view. “The kids are quick to catch onto things. Last year helped them get familiar with technology. That's for sure!” said Ogden.

Creative Expressions

“The goal of this class is to show students what they have learned through digital creativity. “We talk about the technical side of creating meaning through the camera, to use music to add or change the tone of something, and the technical side of film making and editing,” said Ogden about some of the areas eighth graders are focusing on in this new class. “We have access to Adobe products. For example, I use We Video ® for editing. Plus, our Technology Department has a ton of equipment that they are happy to let us borrow. They have shown us how to use different cameras and different microphones to create productions.”

One such production involves creating podcasts.  One group is doing restaurant reviews, another reviewing video games, and some doing sports commentaries after the football or volleyball game.  “I want them to have meaningful communication and connection with each other, to have positive and healthy relationships with their classmates and to learn how to communicate one-on-one with the person sitting next to them,” said Ogden. 

Ogden is creating an online bank of the student’s final presentations to be used as examples.  “It has been a challenge, but really it has been amazing teaching both classes,” said Ogden. “It is fun being the teacher who gets to do the creative projects with the kids. I feel lucky to be that person in so many students' schedules.” 

 
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