A.C.T.O.S in Action! Digital Media Arts 3rd -12th Grade


This is a story about an elementary school in the heart of the Central Coast Valley that embarks on a three-year journey to implement and sustain its own successful media arts program.

It is important because building media literacy prepares our students for pathways to higher education as well as providing the inspiration and encouragement necessary to become productive members of their communities. Students have shown an increase in communication amongst peers and have demonstrated higher confidence within collaborative environments, a skill highly utilized in today’s innovative work environments. This program also provided a model for building sustainable media arts programming in several rural school districts that are dedicated to bridging the digital divide in their communities. The A.C.T.O.S in Action program model was designed to build a self sustaining program capacity while reinforcing a digital media arts presence on campus.

The program’s success has been led utilizing the arts integration pedagogy known as A.C.T.O.S https://prezi.com/qwcomf5jxn_s/actos-pedagogy-for-module/ , which provides guidance for building intrinsic motivated student-led learning environments. This pedagogical approach is built on the creation of immersive learning environments, which provide engaging visual hands-on lessons geared toward our English Language Learners.

Time Frame

This project began during the 2015-18 school year with onsite summer programming and then leading to a Digital Media Arts after school program, which ran from the 2015-16 school year to the 2017-18 school year. During the school year a school site teacher Ms. Monica Moreno, a 6th grade teacher, who took the course along side students to increase her familiarity with the curriculum and the pedagogical approach. Students took the course for two consecutive years, both years culminating in a professional broadcast in a professional media studio.


The Alisal Union School District is Title 1 and operates 12 K-6 schools and partners with one Charter School in the most rapidly growing section of Salinas, CA.

Salinas is an agricultural community with less than 20% of its young adults attaining degrees at higher education institutions. Monte Bella Elementary is a California Distinguished Gold Ribbon school, serving 640 students with a 95% free and reduced lunch rate.

Key Characters

Dr. Roberto Nuñez, principal of Monte Bella Elementary first was made aware of the Media Center for Arts Education and Technology (MCAET) programs at an open Media Arts forum promoting A.C.T.O.S, MCAET’s arts integration pedagogy project. It was his vision for his scholars at Monte Bella to become active in the media arts through a Summer partnership with MCAET in 2015. He enlisted his 6th grade lead teacher Monica Moreno who held some previous experience with media projects of her own utilizing her classroom’s iPad lab. The original 36 scholars of Monte Bella Elementary School ranging from 3rd grade to 6th grade, that participated in the A.C.T.O.S. Summer program in it’s inaugural year.


In the first summer of A.C.T.O.S. Digital Media Arts Program, Dr. Nuñez assigned two Monte Bella Elementary School instructors to take the digital media course with 37 of his 3rd through 6th grade students. Monica Moreno, would later become the driver and advocate for the After School incarnation of the program. In those early mornings, the students would arrive to the program shortly before 8:30 am. If they were early enough they could watch the MCAET Mobile Digital Media Studio, an 18 wheeler semi pull onto campus. http://mcaet.org/we-educate/mobile-digital-media-studio/ The 18 wheeler was a mobile media art production studio and media lab, equipped with green screen, lights, state of the art editing software and satellite internet.

The 39 participants were met by 3 professional media artists every day for two weeks. Emiliano Valdez, Lead A.C.T.O.S instructor and professional media artist hailing from El Teatro Campesino, Alfredo Avila, an independent documentary film maker whose credits include, God’s Tenants, a true documentary showing the true poverty stricken communities of Brazil’s City of Gold, and Ruben Gonzalez, a Hollywood and an accomplished playwright, whose work has received numerous accolades.

The students would embark on a summer educational media project that would end in the halls of the local digital media television studio, where they would perform live news broadcasts for a live audience of the community stakeholders. Through this journey, students would receive instruction in Acting for Film and Television, Script Writing, Audio Production, Cinematography, Broadcast Journalism and Short Filmmaking. See photos and website: http://mcaet.org/we-deliver/


Students would learn about filmmaking in both its pre and post production processes. It is the A.C.T.O.S approach to building an intrinsic motivation for learning by creating immersive learning environments complimented by real world digital tools and equipment. The film production sets looked like the film sets of Hollywood, which created an environment that felt authentic to our students. https://youtu.be/lXtOV1c3PIA The students would produce its first short film, Bearing is Caring, a film about how Honesty and Friendship can overcome Bullying. and what became our flagship news casting model MBC News, a student led Broadcast News show, directed, written and performed by the students of Monte Bella. https://youtu.be/EmHlWpAgbaY Each participant and their families would travel to the MCAET digital media studio located at the Monterey County Office of Education facilities to film a live broadcast of their news program as well as showcase their short film Bearing is Caring.

Upon completion of our first summer program, Dr. Nuñez began working with MCAET to develop a year round model of this program with an emphasis on digital filmmaking and broadcasting. The result is a successful year round after school digital media arts program that has been operating since 2015-16 school year. Since its inception Monica Moreno has created her own Broadcast news club, that operates during the school day and reports on the various happenings throughout the year. These two programs thrive and run concurrently throughout the school year.

MCAET has gone on to expand to an additional after school program at a rural middle school in Greenfield and a rural high school in Soledad, CA together which serves 100+ students. This program not only provides a credentialed instructor from MCAET but also mentors and supports a CTE credentialed district teacher from the Soledad School District.

Why It Matters

Research shows that students who drive and actively participate in their learning are engaged in their future. Our brand of programming and committed partnerships within our own learning communities created a sense of value in these students. These student’s successes and their newly found digital voices have birthed and spawned sustainable programming throughout a rural community. Both the Elementary School and the Media Arts Educational Department within the county has seen tremendous growth and success with its original arts integration approach expanding across multiple districts and counties.

The program offers a natural bridge between the digital world where our students are daily citizens and the arts education and integration efforts of our states educational goals. Thus allowing us all to take the stage, claim our voice, and create our future. All stakeholders involved experienced success and carved a pathway towards a true 21st century education.

Regional Lead: Hamish Tyler

District Name: Soledad School District

School Name: Alisal School

County: Monterey

Contact Name: Emiliano Valdez and Monica Moreno

Contact Email: teatroeducation@gmail.com