Essential Question : What are the elements of effective communication?


The variety of ways information and media come into and out of our lives is significantly more diverse today than it was even 5 years ago. Today we are able to access and interact with information on so many different levels and senses that it is no longer just a matter of "putting your ideas down on paper". How we organize our ideas and present information is now just as important as the content itself. Students need to be taught that when communicating a new "visual literacy" exists and there are best practices that if followed can lead to more effective communication.

The curriculum of design and attention to aesthetic has always been the property of the visual arts, however as so much our media is now consumed and created electronically a new set of visual literacies have emerged. As students move between mediums they need to be aware of how their audience interact with that medium and how to take advantage of this to strengthen their message or purpose for communication.

The great myth is that these “digital natives” know more about this new information environment than we do. But here’s the reality: they may be experts in entertaining themselves online, but they know almost nothing about educating themselves online. - Michael Wesch, Professor of Digital Ethnography, Kansas State University

Enduring Understandings

  • Design and layout of information are important elements of effective communication.
  • Different mediums of communication have their own sets of best practices and tools.
  • Understanding your audience and the purpose behind your communication are important elements of effective communication.
  • Different information mediums require different strategies when organizing information and communicating effectively.
  • Reflection is a important component to developing communication skills.

Learning In Action:

Enduring Understanding: Design and layout of information are important elements of effective communication.

The focus is always on effective communication. At different grade levels and for different topics this may or may not include use of technology. A third grade child explaining her report on volcanoes may have used a poster and photos, but layout and design still influence the effectiveness of the communication. With technology, students will demonstrate understanding of visual literacy. They will be able to reflect upon and defend choices made in design and layout like color, design, timing, and object placement for visual presentations or timing, script and storyboarding for movies or podcasts.

The technology skills that are involved in the learning of this enduring understanding very much depend on the nature of the subject matter being presented (see Enduring Understanding on Purpose). Once again, the technology skills are learned as needed and used as tools for successful content learning. Students learn how to use tools when they can directly apply what they are learnng to a purpose. That purpose is always driven by the core curriculum.

If the teacher did not feel comfortable teaching these technology skills then the technology coordinator should brought in to team teach or help. This person also may have even been brought in earlier, at the planning stage.

The example above highlights the very different approach that this embedded curriculum will take. In the past, attempts to integrate technology led to the creation of documents that detailed specific skills and the precise age or grade level at which a student would learn that skill. Also, past models focused on specific software titles like PowerPoint and not the core elements of effective effective communication. By focusing on this enduring understanding students will be prepared to communicate effectively no matter what the presentation medium. The software may change but elements of effective communication are TIMELESS!

This is how technology is used and learned in the real world. It is this model that we are using to foster student technology learning, as well as teacher technology professional development. As tasks become more rich in technology use, so too will the requirements for learning, teaching and assessment.


Rubrics for Assessment

Oral Presentations
Grade 9 - 12 -
Grade 6 - 8 -
Grade 3 - 5
Grade K - 2 - Anecdotal and done through conversation and student relfections