Without communication, nothing is possible. Whether students learn in a virtual world, a classroom, online, a combination of these, or some other way is not relevant. If a student learns something and can apply it to his/her own life and can share it with others, teachers have succeeded in educating the student. Teachers teach to each student’s PLE and should be using all tools, not just Web 2.0 tools. The new school is the world, and everything in it.

Visual literacy and media literacy are the abilities to see, to understand, and ultimately to think, create, and communicate graphically. Generally speaking, the visually literate viewer looks at an image carefully, critically, and with an eye for the intentions of the image’s creator. Those skills can be applied equally to any type of image: photographs, paintings and drawings, graphic art (including everything from political cartoons to comic books to illustrations in children’s books), films, maps, and various kinds of charts and graphs. All convey information and ideas, and visual literacy allows the viewer to gather the information and ideas contained in an image, place them in context, and determine whether they are valid.

This project would not be described as a traditional approach to learning. According to Apple (2009) “Traditional teaching and learning strategies are becoming increasingly ineffective with a generation of secondary students who have instant access to information, embrace the roles of content producer and publisher and have access to extensive social networks online” (p. 1).

All learners used the visual dictionaries often and enjoyed the way the vocabulary was presented. As we progressed through the school year, my creator students became more familiar with the process and each 1st grader realized they were learning more by participating with the visual dictionary creations.

We used a mixed approach for both the creation piece as well as the sample piece. We have excellent data and from cycle 1 to cycle 2 and our 1st grade students improved an average of 28% based upon the Florida’s Progress Monitoring & Reporting Network. My students (7th and 8th graders from Illinois) were qualitative because their work dealt with descriptions. While their work could be observed and measured it used colors, textures, smells, tastes, appearance, and beauty. Our 1st grade Florida friends were quantitative because their results dealt with numbers and could be measured. Their Florida scores improved and we are proud to be a part of that accomplishment.

All our visual dictionary components were created with online expectations. Our 1st grade students utilized online MobileMe web galleries to view vocabulary words from the beginning through cycle 2. The online experience allowed each student to participate when they were ready.

We have completed both cycles and have determined on a preliminary basis an overall 28% increase in vocabulary, which includes visual, media, and technology. The graphs that are attached show how much each group improved from cycle 1 (series 1) to cycle 2 (series 2). The word lists we based our creations on came from the Florida Progress Monitoring & Reporting Network.

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