Introducing Women as Changemakers Using Multimedia Text Sets

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On December 23, 1867, in Delta, Louisiana, Sara Breedlove was born, and she became a remarkable changemaker better known as Madam C.J. Walker. Her transformative contributions revolutionized African-American women’s hair care and cosmetic industries while establishing her as the first American woman to amass a million dollars.

Modern-day changemakers such as Ketanji Brown Jackson and Amanda Gorman continue in this tradition of providing models for bringing change through social action. These women and others possess the traits such as vision, passion, perseverance, empathy, resourcefulness, and action-oriented, which are commonly found in changemakers.

Although students learn about famous people from the past and present, the term “changemaker” is not always explored in depth. Students become familiar with what makes someone famous, but taking a deeper look into the concept of changemakers helps them to understand better the impact these people have on their communities or society and their motivation to make a difference.

One method to provide students with background knowledge before introducing a new topic, such as changemakers, is through multimedia text sets (MMTS). Matt Bergman explains the concept and use of multimedia text sets in this YouTube video. Put into simple terms; multimedia text sets provide students with links to background information that introduces content and motivates them to make connections to the background materials as you teach your unit. 

Multimedia text sets differ from HyperDocs because they aren’t a complete lesson; the text set is simply an opportunity to look at the information shared on the board by choosing from the options provided. During a fifteen to thirty-minute exploration activity, students choose from links that interest them to learn more about the provided subject. 

What is a Multimedia Text Set:

  • Links to high-interest information and resources 
  • Engage students’ interest and curiosity
  • Builds background knowledge before lessons 
  • Students work individually or in small groups
  • Shares several options for learning
  • Offers short periods for students to explore, no longer than 15-30 minutes, for each exploration
  • Includes opportunities for reflection to reinforce concepts
  • Provides educators with knowledge of prior student understanding
  • Students pick and choose items to explore without rules
  • Learn more about multimedia text sets (also called explore boards) by watching this video or this example presentation

As you start a new teaching unit, a multimedia text set provides students with background information that offers engaging content related to your upcoming lessons.

Women as Changemakers is an example of a multimedia text set (also called explore board) for use when introducing a unit on women as changemakers or Black History Month. The example above uses Google Docs to deliver the content; another option using the same information can be found in this Wakelet collection. Links for students to explore include:

  • Students begin by posting a  Flip (TeachersFirst review) response about their understanding of the characteristics of changemakers. After using the explore board, students record a new Flip video with their new understanding of changemakers. 
  • Includes a link to the definition of changemakers and a video explanation
  • Videos of women changemakers such as Madam C.J. Walker, Ketanji Jackson Brown, and Amanda Gorman
  • Podcasts (if podcasts are long, ask students to listen to a specific time segment)
  • Articles and websites about the characteristics of changemakers
  • Analysis of Imagine by John Lennon
  • Other items to include in multimedia text sets:
    • Links to books, perhaps those available online or in your classroom library
    • Introduce vocabulary terms – provide links to online flashcards using Quizlet (TeachersFirst review) or Flashcard Stash (TeachersFirst review).

How to integrate multimedia text sets in any classroom:

  • Include the multimedia text set as a station during station rotations.
  • Replace homework with multimedia text sets.
  • The Woman as Changemakers explore board includes several different options for exploration. It should be offered to students more than once; consider providing two exploration sessions for students to interact with the information provided. Include fewer items if using the explore board for one student exploration session. 
  • Alternative tools for creating multimedia text sets include curation tools such as Symbaloo (TeachersFirst review) or Wakelet (TeachersFirst review).
  • Learn more about creating multimedia text sets by watching this OK2Ask webinar.

Additional topics for explore boards:

  • Begin a poetry unit with a multimedia text set that shares examples of different forms of poetry.
  • Before a Civil War unit, create a multimedia text set that features information about important locations, primary source documents from newspapers that reflect the social climate at that time, and videos about lesser-known figures in the Civil War.
  • Introduce a science unit on force and motion, including examples of everyday use, vocabulary, and famous scientists.
  • Some math units require an understanding of many new vocabulary terms. Use a multimedia text set to introduce those terms to students through example images, video explanations, infographics, and exploratory activities. For example, this simulation tool from PHET Interactive Simulations (TeachersFirst review) allows students to explore proportions in several ways and is an excellent introduction to learning about ratios.
  • Multimedia text sets are an excellent tool to assist multilingual learners. Some of the key elements of working with multilingual learners include providing support, such as introducing vocabulary before starting a unit and using a variety of modalities in lessons. Provide a multimedia text set before starting any new unit. Include links introducing and providing vocabulary practice, background information in the student’s native language, and video explanations. Demonstrate how to change the language of subtitles in YouTube videos so that students can watch in both English and their native language. This video provides a tutorial for changing subtitle languages on YouTube.

Using multimedia text sets provides an engaging way to spark students’ interest in a new topic and motivate them to participate actively in the learning process. By offering open exploration time with carefully curated resources, multimedia text sets tap into students’ natural curiosity. At the same time, the student-driven approach gives them the independence to pick and choose items of interest to learn more about a subject. Using multimedia text sets increases engagement, motivation, and understanding of new concepts. As we seek to educate students on the important contributions of changemakers (or any other topic), multimedia text sets offer an impactful tool to pique their interest and inspire deeper learning.

Have you tried using multimedia text sets in your classroom? What suggestions do you have for including this technique to engage learners? We would love to hear your ideas in the comments below.

About the author: Sharon Hall

Sharon Hall was a recipient of the Presidential Award of Excellence in Math teaching. With over 15 years of classroom experience as a National Board Certified teacher, Sharon shares her content knowledge and reflections on ideas for basic classroom technology integration with us.

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