Maker Literacies

Maker Projects

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 Shattered: Documentary Film-Making Project

Based on the novel Shattered by Eric Walters, which tells the story of a fifteen-year-old’s friendship with a soldier who suffers from PTSD, grade 10 students in a secondary school in the Niagara area will produce two-minute documentaries on a theme featured in the novel (e.g., homelessness, anxiety, addiction). Students will work in small groups to plan and produce their documentaries about the effect of PTSD and much of their work requires conversations about how to depict strong affect and severe anxiety experienced by PTSD sufferers. A media artist (Vanessa Crosbie-Ramsay) and psychotherapist (Daniele Vassallo) will work closely with a secondary English teacher (Tara Markovich) as they plan, design, and produce documentaries with students.

This project involves team members Tara Markovich and Vanessa Crosbie Ramsay



Transforming Text: From Novel To Graphic Story to Animation

This project is a literacy and media-based project that is centered on Canadian Children’s Literature and will take place in a grade three/four classroom in Niagara Catholic District School Board. The children’s book series Canadian Flyers by Frida Wishinsky will be used as a source for exploration. To begin, the classroom teacher, Melissa Turcotte will read a single title as a read aloud to the students.  This provides an opportunity for students to explore the genre, identify text features and become familiar with the author’s narrative style. Larry will work alongside Melissa to distribute and organize a reading program where students, in groups of three or four will each read be given a Canadian Flyer title to read. Larry will demonstrate how prose text can be transformed into graphic novel format and students will have an opportunity to independently preparepages ‘as if’ their book was going to be a graphic novel. Larry’s will provide further instruction identifying and creating graphic texts and introduce response activities that may include retelling, writing in role, dramatization. One of the project goals is to have each group to work collaboratively to prepare a short graphic novel of the chapter book. This project involves team members Dr. Larry Swartz, Melissa Turcotte, and Jennifer Burkitt. 


Creating self-portraits through multimodal exploration

Starting with a look at traditional photography, this project will begin by exploring the power of the photographic image in relation to the diverse world of portraiture.  After researching how “the portrait” has emerged from its traditional roots to today’s pop culture obsession of the selfie, students will work from a base photographic self-portrait image to extend the definition of “What is a self-portrait?”.  When asked how may we be defined in a visual representation, found objects, mixed media and a diverse range of non-traditional materials will serve as inspiration and tools of creation for the youth involved in this project.

This project involves team member Dr. Peter Vietgen.


Games and the Gaming Industry: Game Project

Gaming is an engaging way to interact with material while developing critical thinking skills and resiliency.  In this project, students will use multiple literacies to analyze and create a workable game prototype that they will pitch to industry specialists. After learning the basics of game design, grade 10 students in a Niagara secondary school will collaborate and put their knowledge and skills to the test while creating games that use narrative, image, and design techniques.  An assistant professor of game studies at Brock University (Jason Hawreliak) will work closely with a Secondary English teacher (Karen Douglas) as they play, design, and produce their games.   

This project involves team members Dr. Jason Hawreliak.


Coding Project

With the digital storytelling power of Scratch, a kid-friendly, block-based programming language with Makey Makey, an invention kit that connects everyday objects to computer programs, grade 3-4 elementary students will work in partners to complete storyboards and digital narrative organizers to retell the elements of a story from a book of their choice. While learning the basics of “blockly” coding in Scratch, students will record their voices within their computer program and retell their stories. Makey Makey invention kits will then be used to connect graphite pencils drawings of their stories to their computer programs.  This particular project is multifaceted, and stresses both computational thinking and problem solving skills as well as creativity.

This project involves team member Ann Rigg