Thursday, October 15, 2009

Media Literacy, teaching and learning and 21st Century Skills

HOME, Inc.
165 Brookside Avenue Extension · Jamaica Plain, MA · 02130

HOME, Inc. Contact: Alan Michel, Phone 617.427.4663,
PR Agency Contact: David Scher, Phone 978.395.5068,

MEDIA LITERACY CONFERENCE – October 24th, 8:00 AM-4:00 PM
Media Literacy, 21st Century Skills

Boston, MA – HOME, Inc., TechFoundation and MIT Comparative Media Studies, partner on a one-day conference on Media Literacy. The event is scheduled for October 24th and will take place at the MIT Campus: Building E51 (Tang Center), from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. This year’s conference theme is “Media Literacy, 21st Century Skills”.

Educational decision makers, curriculum developers, after-school program coordinators, superintendents, instructors and community leaders are all welcome to attend and participate in relevant panel discussions and breakout sessions. The conference is the third to be held on a biennial schedule and will feature today’s most topical subject-matter including: “Education in Transition to 21st Century Learning”, “Student as Researcher, Producer and Publisher: New Media, Education and Advocacy”, “Media Educations’ Role in Teaching 21st Century Skills”, “Media and Public Health…Changing Behavior Through Advocacy and Media Creation”, “Media as Experiment and as Identity Guide During Adolescence” and “Adolescence and the Intersection of the Media’s Images of Success”. The event will feature leaders in the field of media literacy Including prominent educators, filmmakers, public health workers and representatives from organizations dedicated to developing programs that promote and generate awareness to the subject of media literacy.

The conference will continue it’s tradition of providing two tracks covering topics relating to “in-school” and “after school” media literacy program development. There will also be a special presentation of the second Dola Award for Media Literacy in Education. This award is meant to acknowledge and encourage outstanding media literacy education that encourages collaboration, communication, and innovation in the use of media to challenge students to learn and succeed. HOME, Inc. Board Member, Dola Hamilton Stemberg, is the benefactor of this biennial award, which will be presented to a school and teacher that have made outstanding contributions to teaching and learning with media in the classroom.

Four years have passed since our inaugural Media Literacy Conference. Tremendous changes in how technology is used to communicate and share information through social networks and self-published content continue to influence how we approach the subject of media literacy with today’s youth. A whole generation of educators are faced with the challenge of having to dissect and interpret how these new social channels can be used as tools to educate and promote positive messages.

It feels right for us to take a look again at where we are and just how much progress has been made in shaping Media Literacy to meet today’s frenetic pace. What are the new challenges we face? Which social networks are causing the biggest stir? How will Smartphones, Netbooks, PDAs, Handheld Camcorders forever change the way we see our world and communicate with each other? How will we define what is news or what information is worthy of following? Come join us as we explore these topics and examine the role of today’s educator.

To register for this year’s event, visit the HOME, Inc. registration website at . If you require any additional information on this event please contact us at or by phone at (617) 427-4663.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Students at Brighton High Attend Inauguration and Examine the Political Process

The Inauguration of the 44th President of the United States was attended by nearly 2 million people, a record breaking turnout for a historic and symbolic event. Among the hoards gathered on the National Mall on the chilly January morning to welcome the new president were 30+ students from Brighton High School, one of HOME's media lab partner schools.

The students brought video and still cameras along to document the experience and captured some great footage of themselves and their peers at the historic event. Two students in Brighton High's Journalism class, Felton Cotijo and Nelson Silizav, will team up with lab coordinator Stephen LoVerme to create a first hand video memoir of the event.

Cortijo, who snuck away from the group with a friend in order to get a better look describes the experience. "It was touching to see people hugging each other and crying, and how excited they were. It was like hearing your favorite line in a song you like and getting excited." Silieza was also struck by the emotions of his peers and teachers. "I looked over at Mr. Phil", recalls Silieza, "and saw that he was crying. He grew up during segregation." Both students agree that the experience is one they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

Jumping back several months, Brighton High School students delved deep into the issues at the heart of the debate of the upcoming election. Teacher Vanessa Foster teamed up with LoVerme for a comprehensive election unit comprised of several projects including a "Letter to the Next President" essay, campaign video ads and a mock election/survey. The mock election had an interesting twist; in addition to a general vote between Obama and McCain, students were asked to choose between two positions on issues such as gun violence, immigration, the war in Iraq, education and the economy, but without specifying which position belonged to which candidate. The election results saw Obama winning by a large margin, but it was observed that McCain gained a significant amount of support on the issues when the candidates were not specified. The election results were visualized in a series of graphs.

To read the letters visit

Leading up to the election the class broke into groups, each being assigned a candidate and an issue. The groups then did research on the issues, each producing a hallway display and and a persuave video ad for their candidate. A compilation of the ads can be viewed on

Traveling back even further in time, students at Social Justice Academy expressed their views on the historic Democratic primary race of 2008 in a 10 minute video called "Becoming President".

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Teen TV Website Launched!

Teen TV, one of HOME's media programs, now has its own website, with all the complete two seasons and pilot episode playing on the site. The video's are being hosted by, where Teen TV has it's own channel. Teen TV is a summer intensive media literacy and media production workshop that is part of HOME's Media Lab Partner-ship with public schools. Our teen crew learns the ins and outs of production and produces a magazine style TV show focused on organizations doing positive work in the community and involving teens, which an emphasis on opportunities for teens in the Boston area. Teen TV is a summer job, the crew is paid for their time and we expect only the best. The third year of the Teen TV program was held at English High School's media lab and saw the highest standards yet in production and content. A screening of Teen TV was recently held in the auditorium at English High School and was attended by many of the programs participants. A special 45 minute composite episode was shown, as well and a trailer for Teen TV 2007, which did not have its screening. We are honored to be able to share the Teen TV crew's work with the world!

Check out the website at

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

ForSE 2008

I had the good fortune of attending ForSE 2008, the forum for Social Entrepreneurs. on Friday October 10th at Boston University School of Management. It was a great opportunity for open discussion about creating viable partnerships between funders and programs interested in social outcome enterprises that can become sustainable. There were some great examples of projects. Alex Chisholm, Executive Director and Founder of Learning Games Network, for example, spoke about the underlying desire for creativity that is fostered in gaming, and that practice in being creative..... designing your own solutions within limitations is a fundamental component of mastering the creative processes. The more you do the more you want to do....

Julie Nesson, Case Presenter of her Young Entrepreneurs Alliance, helped to describe the conflicts that hands on program managers feel when they look at how to grow a social enterprise from an idea piloted successfully to thinking about building a branded and regional or national program. Some great discussions and ideas were put forward. One of the most compelling arguments centered around defining the value proposition of the organization. Is it about relationship building on an individual mentoring level that will make changes possible for young people and if so, can packaging curriculum and franchising based on that package bring the core program to scale?

These were wonderful discussions that couldn't have been more appropriate to HOME's mission and work with young people and schools. If we are going to reach young people on a large scale, the model must incorporate the kind of culture that fosters creativity, and opens doors of opportunity that would otherwise remain closed. Shaping Media can certainly shape many lives as long as the media is out there, in the community and making a difference on many levels.

More thoughts to come! What do you think?

Monday, March 17, 2008

DrupalCon Boston 2008

It's been a few weeks now since I attended DrupalCon Boston, and there's is a lot of exciting news to report. Lots of cutting edge technology, and more Mac laptops than I've ever seen in one place!

For those of you wondering what Drupal is, it is a Content Management System (CMS) or platform. What is does is allow you to build a website using a wide array of tools, and manage all its content so it can be updated dynamically without having to use HTML or PHP. Drupal is extremely useful for building community websites. More at

Here is a brief list of some of the things I learned about:

Theming techniques - this is how you get your Drupal website to look the way you want it. There are many ready made themes available, but they tend to look standard when you're looking for a unique look. A lot can be done by editing CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). When it comes to organizing content that will not look the same over every page, you use a thing called panels. These function a lot like tables in HTML. So basically you just have one big content block and fill it up any way you like with panels.

Integrating Flash into Drupal
- I saw a demonstration where an animated Flash banner was updated using Drupal, by changing the background image, text and other elements, all with Drupal forms!

SWF Address - this is an open source script that allows you to create custom URLs for sections of an all flash site. A Flash website is one big file, as opposed to a conventional website that is many files linked together. This makes it impossible to user browser features such as bookmarks and the "back" button. With SWF address, you can create a unique url for each section of the site, enabling the user to bookmark pages and use the forward/back buttons, history, etc. Very exciting! Soon we will have websites that are entirely Flash and powered by Drupal!

- Flex is a code only application for creating SWF files (the same format Flash exports) Best part is version 2 is open source!

Open Laslo
- this is an open source application with it's own coding language that enables developer to create pages that "gracefully degrade". This is achieved by exporting SWF files and DHTML (dynamic html) from the same content! By having both versions, users that don't have the flash player can experience similar rich web experience as those that do.

One highlight of the week was a session led by Dimetri, a an extremely talented 12 year old web developer! It was amazing to see such a young person speak with such authority and have a room of 200 adults hanging on his every word! Video of this and other session will be available on the web soon.

I will leave you all with that...and here come the links:

DrupalCon Home
Website Showcase

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Two BPS Conferences

I am excited about HOME's blog. Here is my first submission.

I have just participated at two conferences with he Boston Public Schools over the last couple days. One at Media Technology High School and the second at Northeastern University. It was great to see our small but dedicated community of school supporters, students and teachers working together, sharing ideas and picking up new energy and inspiration from each other.

It was truly great to see the students struggling to find their own voice in their work and to see some experimentation and to talk with the students who were very open, confident and aware of risk taking and learning.

One of the interesting points that was raised, was evaluation of media literacy and media projects in schools. I pointed out that we have the tools in schools to evaluate this by looking at student grades, MCAS scores, and attendance records. We recently completed a small study of our students at English High and found that their MCAS scores in language arts were 25% above their peers. We also found that, among other things, our students' attendance records in other courses improved substantially during their enrollment in our media courses. It is important to realize that not all media literacy and media projects are going to yield these kinds of results.

Renee Hobbs from Temple University pointed out in her keynote at Northeastern on Saturday, that there are differences in what some teachers and educators consider to be media literacy. She was clear that it is not enough to include media such as films, video , and the internet, in classes. The approach has to include analysis, peer and teacher support, and a learning environment that allows us to question our assumptions and encourages us to make changes based on what we are learning. A great media program is going to expect students and teachers to stretch and grow.

Both the conference at Northeastern, and the open house at the Media and Technology High School were terrific opportunities for us to see a snapshot of where we are today locally.
Let's keep the dialog going!!!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Blast From the Past

Here for your enjoyment are some old videos from English High School and Social Justice Academy. To choose from the list of videos, click on the "menu" button.