We have surprised Open Meadow Middle by converting a small storage room in their gym into a high tech media lab. Many students and staff were unaware this room even existed! The Hollywood Theatre was busy this fall purchasing, inventorying, and creating systems to make media integration easy for the Open Meadow community. The amount of small details involved in creating a media lab came as a surprise to all of us. The main challenge we experienced was figuring out how to make the lab self directed. There wasn’t always going to be a media artist around to assist staff with checking out and reserving equipment. After consulting a few techies in the Portland area and doing some trial-and-error troubleshooting we now have a plethora of resources in place and have had a few checkouts over the past month.
Teachers and staff at the middle school have been incredibly receptive and excited about using the equipment in their classrooms. We have done stop-motion animation with iPads and tablet stages and video editing with iMovie on MacBooks in science. Students documented a field trip to the bank with a GoPro, digital camera and iPad in their Career Preparedness class. The math teacher has began using iPads with math games as an incentive to complete worksheets in his class. Many students are interested in photography and have volunteered to document school events such as the Halloween dance, talent show and parent night. There have been an immense amount of selfies created in the past 3 months!
The main success from the first steps of this initiative have been the increased amount of engagement and the use of media as an incentive for students to increase their participation in class. Many students at Open Middle have difficulty focusing in class. I have had the pleasure of witnessing some of the most difficult students engaged throughout an entire class period when media was present. One student has shown a high amount of interest in the technology in the lab and has studied manuals for a few pieces of gear in his free time. During after school homework help sessions he completes all missing assignments so that he can then work in the lab.
It has been amazing to see Open Meadow Middle transform and adapt to the presence of multimedia tools. We are all looking forward to next semester so that we can start bringing in artists from the community to provide inspiration and instruction for students and staff. The sky’s the limit to the artistic projects that can now be created!
Education Manager for the Hollywood Theatre
Resident Media Artist at Open Meadow Middle School