Hello everyone and welcome back to the ol’ blog.
Today I’m going to be walking you through the basic outline of my group’s course prototype and explaining some of the ways students will be interacting with other classmates/students and teachers.
Our course prototype has taken a much more defined shape over the last few weeks and we’ve finally figured out the direction we’re taking this thing in. Here’s a quick overview of the basic idea and content of the unit:
Grade 6 ELA – blended learning course
Creating digital content unit
Students will learn how to use various online and digital tools to help them find new ways of representing their written work. The final project: the summary of learning, will be an amalgamation of everything the students learned throughout the unit. The unit will focus on scaffolding and providing students with the skills necessary to create a final product. The unit has been designed with student collaboration in mind, meaning students will work, interact and collaborate with other students in various ways. The final project will require students to pair up with their reading buddies to create a narrated digital story.
Modules will be set-up as “how-to tutorials”, paired up with assignments and assessments for each module.
– How to use Read and Write (For assisted learning and when students are brainstorming ideas for their stories with their reading buddies).
– How to use Google Docs, Google Drive and other cloud-based software.
– How to use animation tools such as Videoscribe, Powtoon, Telegami and Puppet Pals.
– How to film using your device. Students will learn the basics to simple screenwriting and script writing; they will be given tips on what makes for good and captivating cinematography; and how to capture good footage for your project.
– How to edit videos and raw footage using Windows Movie Maker, iMovie or other video editors.
– How to create podcasts (learning how to use audio recording software such as GarageBand and Audacity for podcasts and narratives for our stories).
– How to narrate and add life to your videos and digital artifacts.
– How to create a time-lapse video.
– Final project. Summary of learning: a narrated digital storybook that combines everything we learned in the unit.
Summary of learning project: A narrated digital storybook
Compose a narrative story using visual techniques learned and acquired throughout the unit. Up until this point, students would have learned how to use a wide range of online and digital tools to create their own visual and narrated content. Students will first pair up with their reading buddies to brainstorm and come up with a story that the grade 6’s will elaborate on, build off of and transform into a visual and narrated representation. The intent of this final project is for students to bring together all of their acquired knowledge to create a “summary of their learning” in the form of a digital narrated story.
Students will have the option to incorporate as many approaches as possible, whether it’s filming, editing and putting together a mini movie of their story; digitally or manually illustrating images that can be used for a narrated storybook; creating time-lapse videos to incorporate into their videos; using online tools such as Videoscribe or Powtoon to create and narrate their content; or combining all of these approaches and more (depending on their own knowledge of digital tools). Students will be encouraged to combine as many of these tools and techniques as possible (including a minimum of at least TWO of these techniques learned in class).
Students will then share their projects on Youtube in order to post on our class blog to share with parents, family, and each other. Students will also unveil their projects to their reading buddies. This project allows for the potential of pairing up with another class or even students in other schools.
The purpose of the project is to allow students with varying skills to experiment with various forms of media to create one, cohesive final product. Students who are more digitally inclined will have the option to explore more digital tools, whereas students who are a little more into acting can focus more on filming and editing. Students who are more visually inclined can explore this domain by creating various types of illustrations and even animations. Students who are looking for more of a challenge can use more difficult tools (such as raw footage video editors such as iMovie or Windows Movie Maker), or opt for more user friendly tools such as PowToon or Videoscribe.
As mentioned earlier, the unit has been designed with student collaboration in mind. Although you could use the course to collaborate with other students of similar age (grade six), we’ve decided to focus on collaborating with our reading buddies (grade one).
This idea came to me from my own experiences pairing my grade six class with one of the grade one classes in our school for reading buddies. My coworker and I decided that rather than focus solely on reading, our students could work on writing, art and technology. Why not hit some curricular outcomes for both grade one and six students? After so many years of doing reading buddies, we wanted to create a meaningful exchange between both classes where we could assess our students after each meeting.
My initial intent was to start a “tech buddies” type of set up where my grade six students could teach the grade one students basic tech skills. We got this idea from having experienced a lot of difficulty getting grade ones to log onto their profiles. Talking to a lot of my coworkers, part of the reason why some early primary grade teachers avoid laptop use in their classrooms is the strenuous task of having 20+ five/six year olds log onto their profiles in less than fifteen minutes. We figured by teaching them how to do these tasks, they would get the practice needed to become more familiar and comfortable with technology.
Obviously pairing up my grade sixes with grade one students is going to mutually benefit both parties, that is why my group thought about bringing this element of exchange to our course prototype.
I am putting together the final project module for our course, and the main objective of it is to create a narrated digital story the students created based off a brainstorm they do with their reading buddies.
The first step of the assignment is to pair up with their reading buddy, and using learning assistance tools such as Read&Write for Google, they will write out a brainstorm of ideas for their stories. Students will fill out an online form on Google Docs with details about their stories such as characters, locations, basic plot ideas, etc. Students will then take this basic plan/brainstorm and transform and develop it into a full-blown written story. Students will take their reading buddies story and reimagine it using digital and online tools to create a visual and narrated version of their stories. Students will share their progress with their reading buddies, and will eventually do a “screening” of their final projects to the grade ones.
Throughout the process, as students meet up every week for reading buddies, the grade sixes will share their progress with their partners, allowing the grade ones to give them basic feedback and suggestions on their projects.
We thought it would be a great idea to involve the grade ones because it would give the project a lot more purpose for the older kids. For one, the story is based off the ideas the grade one student came up with. As they put together a brainstorm, both parties will contribute and come up with ideas. This experience becomes more meaningful as it will be assessed (the Google Doc form they must fill out).
Students will then take the brainstorm and build a plan for their project, which will also be assessed. The plan will be set up a lot like the previous brainstorm document, where students must plan out what tools, resources and direction they will be taking with their project.
The intent is for them to combine as many of the techniques they learned throughout the unit.
As the grade sixes meet up with their reading buddies every week, they can show their partner the direction they’re taking with their project. In order to make this a meaningful step in the process, the students must take into consideration the feedback they are getting from their partners, and applying that feedback to their projects.
I want the students to focus on the process that is why every step will be assessed. Whether it’s the brainstorm, the rough draft of their written stories, the plan for their summary of learning video, and the final project itself; students will need to reflect upon their work constantly. Students will be able to share some of their progress on their weekly blog, where they will be able to share what they are doing with the teacher, parents and each other. The final project will be posted to Youtube, where they will be able to share their assignments with a much bigger audience, including parents, classmates and other students.
I’m really looking forward to putting this entire thing together and finally setting it up on Google Classroom. The project will definitely allow for students to work at their own pace, and having a teacher in the classroom will provide students with the extra support in case they need more help with certain tools, etc.
As we all know, the process of learning is easily one of the most meaningful aspects of teaching, and finding ways to keep students accountable for their work throughout the process is extremely important if we want them to care about their work. There is an added element of importance in the final project because students are creating a final product based off their reading buddies’ ideas. As many of you know, the relationships formed through reading buddies are often really strong; the older students often step-up to the plate and take on a really strong leadership role in these situations. Why not use that in this project? It would definitely make the assignment a lot more meaningful, especially since it’ll be shared with so many people.
I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone else has chosen to do with their prototypes. I’d love to hear any suggestions, tips and critiques of what we’re doing. I’d also love to hear about what you would do if you were to use this type of course in your classroom. Once again, thanks for reading and good luck everyone!