Bytes of Learning’s CREATE Together
CREATE Together from Bytes of Learning is a multimedia software program that combines creation, collaboration, communication, problem solving and publishing tools for all grade levels. Students can create animated games, puzzles, interactive simulations, searchable multimedia databases and hyperlinked presentations among other activities. The software also has the capability to publish CD-ROM projects such as yearbooks, student writing databases and student-made games.
After an unsuccessful year of providing instruction to students in a computer applications class and asking them to take notes, I decided to try CREATE Together. I started by having my students get into groups and explaining that our goal was to prepare games for younger children. Students had to follow these steps:
1. Interview the younger students’ teachers to identify topics of relevance and interest.
2. Research the topics on the Internet, by asking parents and friends, and by reading books and magazines.
3. Prepare written reports with an introduction, body, conclusion and bibliography.
4. Have the written reports checked by other teachers, and share them with fellow classmates.
5. Create the games screen by screen, allowing every student in class to contribute ideas.
When we started creating games the children learned something new every day. My students enjoyed what they were doing and felt important doing it, which made them more confident. Even at recess students would run to the lab and get in lines to use the computers. Most of the time I couldn’t let everybody in, so I invented a ticket system that allowed students to take turns. The students were enjoying the experience and most importantly, they were learning. The only difficulty was that my class had 30 students and everybody wanted my help. Fortunately, CREATE Together comes with a computerized assistant that guides students through the program’s processes.
The next year, my new fifth-graders started the same process of making learning games. This time, we took the children’s pictures and added them to the games so everyone would know who created them. I also got the idea of making our school’s first interactive multimedia yearbook with CREATE Together. I had fifth- and sixth-graders plan the yearbook, picking classmates’ pictures and writing their stories.
In 2001, when I started teaching at St. Jude School in Costa Rica, students used CREATE Together to make games about the solar system, phonics, math, natural disasters and colors. The students did research by asking family members, investigating books, as well as searching the Internet, magazines and other sources.
Through this program my students didn’t just learn about computers, they learned values. They learned how to be a friend, to respect other’s choices and ideas, as well as to listen to others and not just talk. I have never observed students as cooperative with each other as they have been using CREATE Together. Each student voluntarily brought research materials to assist their classmates, and the students were always interested in their classmates’ games.
Parents also became involved. I sent notes telling parents how well their children worked, and they began visiting the classroom. When the games were finished, we even invited the Costa Rica Department of Education to view the students’ work.
I was satisfied because my students learned so much from using CREATE Together. They learned how to explore the Internet; how to print and paste images, then use them in CREATE Together; and how to record their voices and add sounds to projects. Without a doubt, my students learned more using CREATE Together than they would have learned if I had tried to teach them the same skills in separate lessons. My students learned the skills far better because they were using them for a purpose.
Laura Grillo Abdelnour
St. Jude School
San José, Costa Rica
This article originally appeared in the 11/01/2002 issue of THE Journal.