Teaching Students How to Unplug

The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) awarded Kristen Pelfrey, a teacher at Foothill Technology High School, Ventura, California, the 2013 MAE Award for Best Literature Program for Teens. The award provides $500 to the recipient and $500 to the recipient’s library and is sponsored by the Margaret A. Edwards Trust.

Pelfrey created a program allowing her students to unplug from their digital lives and engage their imagination using the worlds found in books. The program, titled “The Best Fiction (about) Young Adults Revolution” has a simple goal asking students to read a book fromYALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults list. Once teens finished their books, they wrote a thank you to the authors for the stories, experiences, and worlds.

Students then went on to create posters for the books they read, using the graphic editing program Fireworks. They created text, incorporated imagery, and addressed visual design standards. Their final project was to storyboard and create a book trailer for their book using Movie Maker. The students will work in cooperation with the film class, and possibly with the local television station, to promote their trailers. They will also be posted on YouTube and be made available via other student- and school-appropriate channels. This program truly brought together teens’ love for literature and technology.

“I believe that ‘unplugging’ is an essential twenty-first century skill,” explained Pelfrey in her winning application. “My goal is to have a school culture in which the norm is for all students and teachers to have a book for pleasure reading in hand at all times.”

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