When a super storm event like Hurricane Sandy occurs, digital kids and their families get a good, and sometimes sobering opportunity to learn a lot more about the work of journalists — professional and citizen — as well as first responders. Much suffering, as well as amazing feats of service to others, occur during these events, so it’s important to view and consume the most authentic of resources available.
Lots of Hurricane Sandy coverage can be found in newspapers, blogs, and other social media, offering us opportunities learn together as families — as we share the content about the storm, the terrible damage it caused, and the ways that people responded. Children and adults will also use these resources in the coming days to figure out how to help, and in the process we all strengthen our media literacy skills (important in today’s world) by identifying the best and most reliable sources of information.
The other day I discovered an amazing blog as I searched for coverage of the storm and its effects on Ocean Grove, New Jersey (where I spent many happy summers as a child). Run by Paul Goldfinger and colleagues, Blogfinger.net offers me on-the-scene hurricane reports from the little beach town, so dear to me and my family, and now without its own newspaper.
Blogfinger — I discovered it thanks to my cousin, also know as Sandy — turned out to be a terrific resource. It has solid information, great pictures, and well-written narrative. The picture to the right, shows the damage to the Great Auditorium, a structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and a place where I’ve attended dozens of worship services and concerts. You can check out many other Ocean Grove photographs at the Blogfinger site.
I have a new favorite app — Wordfoto. Interestingly it’s designed for an iPhone but does not yet have an iPad version.
With the Wordfoto application, I make a word list and then have some fun designing art. I select a picture as a background to highlight my words. I can use an image that comes with the app, I can use one of the pictures in my iPhone photo galleries, or I can take a new picture.
When I combine the picture and the word list — voila, a cool Wordfoto. The app comes with a variety of editing options, allowing users to play with the image, crop it, create styles, and fine tune the texture of the pictures. Wordfoto also comes with preset styles that introduce texture, color, and depth variations, making it easy for new users to get started.
Newly created images can be easily e-mailed, posted to Facebook, and more. Once e-mailed, the Wordfoto jpg images can be incorporated into other projects.
Potential uses? Spelling lists, messages and cards, vocabulary practice, event signs, and much more. The images will also be useful as illustrations for school reports, and I’m excited because I design occasional images for my blog posts.
Many years ago my early elementary school aged daughter met author Daniel Pinkwater in a bookstore. After listening to him read and getting his autograph, she offered him a suggestion about a picture in one of his books. My husband and I were shocked at first, but then we congratulated ourselves — our daughter was so experienced and comfortable with picture books that she felt right at home giving a suggestion to a noted author.
Ensuring that picture books — lots of them — play a significant role in a child’s life is a required task for digital world parents, because all children in the connected need the skills to evaluate the images — especially the digital pictures — that saturate their lives. The Google Answers site points out that an average American is exposed to huge numbers of commercial messages each day (note the wide range of estimates at this site). Unfortunately children probably encounter these messages as well, so they need sound media literacy skills that help them interpret what they see. Picture books help.
“There’s more to these books than meets the eye,” writes Appalachian State University Professor David Considine in a document, MEDIA MATTERS: Here’s How One College Professor Puts the ‘Me’ in Media. Dr. Considine describes how he wants to demonstrate that students can “…develop critical-viewing skills by using something they already work with – picture books…” The process of reading picture books contributes mightily to the development of sound media literacy skills, building strong foundations that help children become astute image consumers.
Several recent articles have addressed picture books and young readers.