Powerful Learning with iPads – iMovie Book Trailers in Grade 3

As I look back over the past six months, one teaching and learning experience stands out as a true highlight – the Year 3 iMovie Book Trailer Project, which was developed and brought to life by the amazing students of Year 3B, and their wonderful teacher. 

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The Process

This project was run in Term 3, 2014 as a team-teaching project over six weeks, with roughly 90 minutes (2 lessons) each week. Neither the classroom teacher or I had ever done anything quite like this before, so it was very much a collaborative learning experience – and not just for the students!

Students worked in small group “book clubs”, choosing their favourite book from the Australian Children’s Book Awards Shortlist for 2014. They worked to identify the main events of the story, holding detailed discussions about the book as they set about creating visual storyboards.

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When we started this project, we weren’t sure if we’d have students’ filming scenes from the books, or using Creative Commons/Public Domain images off the Internet. We eventually decided to go with the (somewhat) easier option – filming. Prior to formally filming book trailer scenes, we gave students time to simply play with the iPad camera, Photos, and iMovie app, discovering how they all worked. The stage was set for one of the most intense, but rewarding teaching experiences I’ve ever been a part of.

On filming day, I knew we were in ‘trouble’ when I discovered a group of students setting up with piles of cardboard boxes in the library – before school had even started! Students brought in costumes and props, and set to work filming their scenes. This proved to be a fascinating process for us as teachers, as we noticed some groups found it much easier to work with each-other than others. We tried to maintain a hands-off, over the shoulder approach, and let the students work through the creative process relatively independently; however, we did have to step in with one group on several occasions.  We weren’t overly sure how many lessons we’d need, and eventually spent about three (very intensive) hours in total.

The Results

Our students blew us away with their passion, creativity, and sheer enthusiasm; and the videos they produced were of exceptionally high quality. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to ask for parental permission to share them on my personal blog, and I ran out of time to put them on the school website! Next year, that won’t be such an issue, as student publishing will be one of our major whole-school ICT focus areas.

Reflections

As this was very much a collaborative ICT integration project, I asked my partner teacher to share her thoughts on our teaching and learning process –

It was a pleasure to work with Michael on this Book Trailer project. His excitement was shared by the children and myself. I came to the table with little experience so he was involving me in the learning process along with the children. With his guidance the main elements were discussed as a whole and then the children were encouraged to play and experiment. Other Book Trailers were critiqued by the children, the children became confident critics and through the process the children developed an eye and an understanding for what was required to produce a powerful and successful Trailer.

The children were supported with their learning at all times by Michael as he moved with ease from one group’s individual need to another. Michael allowed the children to be creative and encouraged them to solve problem themselves learning from each other. The parents were impressed with their children’s enthusiasm for the Book Trailer project. Some children asked to have a permission note for their parents, to allow them to come to school early so they could get started on their filming. The project was then able to be viewed by all parents during Open Night. It was a huge success where we got to how learning became fun and effortless for all involved.

The children came into this project with no experience with this type of technology or using iPads in a collaborative project. The children chose to be in a group that they had a common interest, the interest was their favourite book from the Book Week nominations. As a result group sizes were varied along with a variation in literacy ability. This could have been very challenging for most teachers but through this project I believe we got the most from all our children. They are looking forward to the next project with Michael.

My Thoughts

As I look back at this project, I am immensely proud of what we achieved in a relatively short space of time. I was blessed to work with a gifted, enthusiastic classroom teacher who was prepared to take risks, letting the students take the lead in their learning. We were able to forge a close working relationship, building on our respective strengths and expertise to enable our students to create something special. I’m very much looking forward to seeing what we can do together next year!

Lessons learnt working with iMovie in Upper Primary

In Term 3, 2014, I spent half a term working with Years 3-6 students on various iMovie projects. While I plan to blog about my Year 3 and 4 students’ creations later on, I am in a position to share and reflect upon my experiences working with the upper primary classes. The Year 5 and 6 students were set a challenge – to create an iMovie ‘explanation‘ or advertisement for a chosen audience.

As I wrote in my planning document, the iMovie project was intended as an introduction to digital storytelling, one which will

“develop students’ skills for telling powerful stories through the use of images, text, and sound. Students’ final product will be an iMovie book trailer / explanatory video (depending on year level), which will require them to create planning storyboards, identity and cite Creative Commons images and music, and edit a video presentation.”

At the time, being new to the school and teaching ICT, my planning for this project was more closely aligned with the ICT General Capabilities than the new Digital Technologies curriculum, of which I am starting to develop a working knowledge. The project ran for just under 5 weeks, which in hindsight, was barely enough time to complete and submit the finished products!

The Challenge

I challenged my  students to plan and produce an iMovie which respected copyright through the use of Creative Commons (CC) images and (optional) soundtrack. Stressing that the completed works were highly likely to be published online (which will be a new initiative at the school), I tried to build my students’ understanding and awareness of copyright and online privacy, encouraging their use of CC images rather than live footage of themselves. I was also very keen to emphasise that the time spent planning and scripting the iMovie was just as important as the actual filming – countering the expectation that students could  just jump in front of a webcam and perform with little to no preparation.

The Year 5 students, with the benefit of the detailed project framework, came closer to achieving these goals – although approximately half of the teams didn’t take on the challenge of using images instead of live footage (some had permission to do this). The Year 6 students, set the much broader challenge of creating an advertisement, had more freedom with the use of live footage; however, were expected to demonstrate that they could plan, produce, and edit an iMovie which respected copyright laws.

How did we go? 

Year 5

Given this was not an ICT integration project, and only loosely aligned with the classroom English curriculum, I wasn’t overly worried that many students created procedures rather than explanations. What I did find fascinating; however, was how some groups responded to the challenge of using still images rather than live footage – by creating and using their own photos.

Amongst the Year 5 projects, there were some truly stand out examples of creativity, collaboration, and learning – including explanations of life cycles, the formation of igneous rocks, and how to paint your nails (I work in a girls school!). Some of my personal favourites are the recipes for cakes, brownies, and chocolate balls; the best of which I will be seeking parental permission to share later on.

In the meantime, I can share a selection of my Year 5 students’ iMovies which illustrate a wide range of iMovie production skills, and an emerging awareness of Creative Commons. Some of these have been edited to protect students’ privacy.

Year 6

My Year 6 students, despite some initial hesitation, responded brilliantly to the challenge of planning and scripting their iMovie presentations. I suspect the purpose and usefulness of writing the script / scene plans was made a little clearer due to their participation and intensive preparation for the upcoming Year 5-6 dramatic production, based on The Amazing Maurice, by Terry Pratchett.

Set the broad challenge of producing an iMovie advertisement which respected copyright, students set about collaboratively creating advertisements for the Royal Show, gymnastics, the Garden City Shopping Centre, and the school production. I had students spread out across the school – some were interviewing the Principal, Deputy Principal, teachers, and younger students, while others were filming gymnastics on the front lawn. The resulting advertisements reflected students’ unexpectedly high level interview skills, and a wide range of iMovie production skills, including the very clever use of effects, and a classroom wall as a rudimentary greenscreen.

Considering that students were primarily encouraged to work out how to use the iMovie tools amongst themselves, I was thrilled with the results. Unfortunately, as most of the Year 6 videos feature students’ faces, I can’t share them on my personal blog without parental permission. I can share one though – which if the students’ had included a ‘hook at the end’, would have come close to being one of the best advertisements in their class.

So, where to next year?

I will take a great deal of confidence and learning out of this teaching experience, which is technically the first major upper primary ICT project  I have planned, taught, and assessed. I now have a much better understanding of my students’  iMovie planning and production skills, and have a fairly good idea of the topics I will need to teach and reinforce in 2015.

Some notes that I’ve made along the way include:

  • There is a real need to explicitly focus on the use & referencing of Creative Commons media (music, images, etc) in ICT. This was a brand new concept this year, so it is not surprising that many students are still coming to terms with it.
  • I will need to continue the emphasis on prior planning and scripting, with some more work on storyboarding, especially with next year’s Year 6s. We will likely use Google Docs for this.
  • Never assume students know how to export and submit iMovies via Edmodo or Dropbox. (This is a mistake I won’t make again!).
  • I will also be focussing on the introduction of more advanced iMovie skills, especially the use of title / text overlays to convey meaning, and how to adjust volume and length of film clips.

Overall, this was an invaluable teaching and learning experience for me, and a great way to start my ICT teaching journey. I know I have a great deal to learn, but I’m proud of what I’ve achieved, and especially proud of my wonderfully creative students – who never cease to inspire me as a teacher.

Science, ICT, and the Global Classroom (#CONSTAWA33 Keynote)

Last weekend, I presented the Dinner Keynote at the Science Teachers’ of Western Australia conference, exploring the topic: Science, ICT, and the Global Classroom: Exploring the Possibilities. 

Our Challenge: Engaging Students in Science

As a primary school teacher & global education specialist, being asked to present to secondary science teachers was an interesting experience 🙂

The central theme of the presentation focussed on the use of technology to enable teachers and students Engage, Connect, Communicate, and Collaborate in secondary Science – via connections with external organisations, experts, and science educators around Australia, and around the world.

Building Bridges with REAL Science

My most memorable science teachers were those who were passionate about their subject, and who went out of their way to CONNECT their students to REAL science. As was posited to me on the night, these connections should, and indeed MUST begin, in the primary school classroom, but I was interested in exploring the possibilities at the secondary level.

You DON”T have to be an Expert (when you’re part of a community)

I was also very keen to point out that teachers don’t have to be ICT experts to engage & connect their students in Science. The keys to success lie in keeping an open mind, and and being willing to learn and collaborate with colleagues and experts beyond your classroom walls through engaging in online communities, such as the Scootle Community and Twitter.

I finished up by sharing a crowd-sourced Google Doc, containing links and ideas for Secondary Science teachers interested in exploring the possibilities of ICT and global connections in their teaching. You can access (and contribute) to that document via the short link: http://bit.ly/CONSTAWA2013.

 

Post Conference Reflections

I was rather pleased with the reception I received at the CONSTAWA Conference. It was rather challenging to walk into an unfamiliar conference audience, but the feedback was very positive.

I’ve learnt a great deal through the experience … not just about how much work and preparation goes into these kind of presentations, but how I can personally integrate ICT and global connections into my own Science teaching in the future. The connections I’ve made … the lessons I’ve learned … will help me a great deal when I eventually find my own space and own classroom – one day.

Thank you to the long list of teachers, scientists, and experts who helped make this presentation possible. I am indebted to you – for your support … and inspiring example of what is possible when you ‘explore the possibilities’ of Science, ICT, and the Global Classroom.

Presenting at #ACEC2012

Cross Posted at The Global Classroom Project

On Wednesday October 1, 2012, I had the wonderful opportunity to present with Nigel Mitchell (@1nbm) on the topic: “Working in the Global Classroom” at theAustralian Computers in Education Conference

 

 

Despite some initial technical hurdles, including the fact that Skype was blocked at the school, the presentation was a great success.

We managed to Skype with Julie Lindsay, the co-founder of Flat Classroom Projects; and shared our global collaboration stories with a large local audience, and a small group of teachers in Taiwan, India, and the United States via UStream,

I hope you will take some time to explore our slides, and watch our UStream recording.

You can access, and contribute to our presentation notes here.

Pedagogy & Creative Collaboration (#flatclass Book Club – Part 6)



cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by jakerome

Thankfully, the #flatclass book club took a break last week due to Mothers’ Day, which gave me a welcome reprieve as I tried to catch up with my blog reflections. This week, I’m going to share my reflections on Chapters 7 & 8 of Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds.

It’s about “Choice” (Chapter 7)

While I struggled to make a contribution to the discussions surrounding Chapter 7, I was able to glean a few useful lessons: 

Teachers make instructional choices about technology, curriculum, pedagogy, and classroom learning environments on a daily basis. 

 

Teachers who are willing to learn, experiment, and explore new teaching strategies are more likely to become life-long learners, and successfully engage their students in their learning. 

I also liked the ideas for supporting student engagement – enabling students to question, build, invent, connect, find meaning, understand, and excel through the effective application of technology & engagement in global collaborative projects. We are beginning to work towards these goals in the #globalclassroom project, and I look forward to applying these ideas in my own classroom one day. 

Creation & Collaboration (Chapter 8 )

I enjoyed chatting about Chapter 8, which explores the topic of “co-creation”. While I prefer to think of this as “creative collaboration”; I was able to draw many parallels to my own professional practice.

As those who have come to know me online over the past year and a half will attest, the development of my online presence (digital footprint) has been a wild ride.

I started out blogging about classroom management, joined Twitter, met my dear friend @clivesir, and presented at my first online conference… A few months later, as I was going through a massive professional transition, I met Deb Frazier, co-founded the Global Classroom, and the rest, as they say, is history … 

I now find myself, as a third year relief (substitute) teacher, becoming a voice of change in the global education sphere. By collaborating with experienced teachers online, I’ve led the creation of a new global education community, and learnt a great deal about myself in the process.

So yes, I can only smile as a I read this chapter, and recommend its key lessons to my fellow readers –

  1. Establish your online presence – Its time to share your story
  2. Connect & contribute to your network – your voice IS important
  3. Don’t be afraid to create & collaborate – with your school colleagues, local community, and members of your global Personal Learning Network
  4. When you are ready, start exploring ways to bring this creative collaboration into your classroom – for our students need to learn these skills too …

As the old saying goes, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.

It is time to take it.

 

I learned a valuable lesson today (#flatclass Book Club, Part 3)

 

Chapter 4, Communication, focuses on the need to develop the “techno-personal skills”, the online habits, which sustain online collaboration and networking. For me, some key ideas from this chapter relate to the nature of online communication tools, and some handy ideas for efficient, inclusive communication between teachers and students involved in global collaboration.

While I was originally going to focus this post on ways we could improve the #globalclassroom handshakes, I’m going to jump ahead a little, and write about something I learned today (relating to Chapters 4 and 5).

The situation

Today, I invited a teacher from the Middle East to join an upcoming #globalclassroom project. A little later, I became concerned that involvement in this project might inadvertently place this teacher in a difficult situation …  relating to the volatile political situation in the region.

Sadly, I was correct.

We talked about the issue, and our teacher decided to decline the invitation.

I was disappointed, but relieved that I hadn’t put my friend at potential risk.

I had learned a valuable lesson

When we collaborate globally, our ignorance of cultural and religious differences can have dramatic, unintended consequences in the lives of real people, in the real world.

We need to learn about, and be sensitive to difference. Yes, this seems obvious, but is so much harder in practice – as we “don’t know what we don’t know”.

This is why I believe it so critical to have open, public and private communication channels for global collaborative projects, and why it is so essential to build trusting, respectful relationships with the teachers you work with.

We need to create the space for people to talk and get to know each-other. I have personally learned so much about other people through mindless conversations about our lives and families – via Skype IM and Twitter conversations. These conversations usually occur in private mediums, and help to build mutual trust and respect. This means that when potential issues arise, when we are not sure about something, we feel more confident in asking for clarification behind the scenes.

As teachers, we can’t teach our students to be ‘culturally aware’ if we don’t understand, and model this awareness ourselves.

You don’t realise what this means until you’ve experienced it first-hand. It truly seems the more I learn, the less I know.

So, looking ahead … 

I hope, over time to get to know my friend a little better. If permissible, I’d love to just chat about our work & life from time to time …  I know so little about her culture, work, and way of life. If not, I hope she can at least point me in the right direction.

Inshallah.

Teacherpreneurs – Connect, Create, and Collaborate (#flatclass Book Club – Part 2)

Chapter 3, Connection, is the first installment of “The Seven Steps to Flatten Your Classroom“. It was focussed on ways teachers and students can create their own Personal learning Networks, using push and pull technologies to make the enriching global connections which underpin their learning, sharing, and collaboration.

Despite suffering from severe information overload, there were a few quotes and ideas in this chapter which really stood out, helping me to understand a little more about my own (technology enabled) learning habit, and educational mindset.

 Flickr CC Licensed: ‘Working Together Teamwork Puzzle Concept’

 

“When you know how to connect effectively, you have the power to learn”

Personally, this idea reflects my own experiences over the past year. On March 22, I celebrated the first anniversary of my first-ever global project, the very first time I was able to connect my students with the world.

I have been on Twitter for maybe 14 months, yet my global connections have transformed the way I teach, and the way I learn. My connections have led to wonderful global friendships, amazing educational partnerships, and quite literally impacted on students’ learning around the world.

I couldn’t do the work I do without my wonderful PLN, who support, inspire, and educate me on a daily basis. This is humbling, but it is a fundamental truth.

The Teacherpreneur – My “Ah-ha” Moment

A teacherpreneur is a person who seeks to enrich their classroom learning environment by “forging partnerships with other classrooms with common curricular goals and expectations. They accept the risks and responsibilities for the endeavour, and are accountable for the outcome.” (p. 44).

“Good teacherpreneurs aren’t renegades, they are connectors” (p. 45)

As I frantically scribbled “YES!!” in my notes, I realised that this concept defines what I have become over the past few months. While I haven’t yet had the opportunity to make meaningful, long-term connections within my own school and classroom learning environment, I’m helping to connect teachers around the world

‘Teacherpreneurship” is the idea which underpins the #globalclassroom community – we have created a place where teachers can work together to forge global partnerships, explore ways to extend their curriculum through global connections, and share responsibility for the ultimate success of their projects.

And this is an idea worth sharing.

 

Be Careful What You Wish For

This is the third in my series of posts detailing the origins & development of the Global Classroom Project: 2011-12.

Shortly after the successful completion of Global Classroom 2011 in July, I was rather surprised to hear that Deb Frazier (@frazierde) wanted to do it all over again! She wanted the second project to run for the duration of the American school year (9 months), and hopefully involve classes across 6 continents.

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Deb created a Google Doc entitled “Ideas to Grow ~ Global Classroom”, which I shared via Twitter – inviting interested teachers to register their details, and brainstorm ideas for projects at different age levels. In a testament to the power of Twitter, we had over 30 K-12 teachers signed up within 3 weeks … and two stunned project leaders.

The first #globalclassroom project saw 8 primary (elementary) teachers collaborating on a single project. In light of the overwhelming response to our initial planning document, it was clear that this wasn’t going to happen the second time around. 

Having brought so many interesting teachers into Global Classroom 2011-12 through my global connections,  I was pretty happy with the response. As reality set in; however, I resolved to take responsibility for my actions. For someone whose family motto is “Never Volunteer”, the decision to lead the development of the #globalclassroom project proved to have unintended, but incredibly rewarding consequences.

As the old saying goes, “Be careful what you wish for” …

In the Beginning … Global Classroom 2011

Considering where Global Classroom has taken us over the past 6 months, I think it’s time to reflect on my involvement in the original Global Classroom Project, which began in April 2011.

Global Classroom 2011 was a fantastic learning experience; marking the first time I’d ever worked on a global collaborative project, and the first time my Grade 6 students had ever directly connected with other children around the world. We had no idea where it would ultimately lead.

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A Global VoiceThread – Kids talking to kids.

The project centred on Deb Frazier’s Grade 1 students’ VoiceThread, where children around the world posted and responded to each-other’s questions about national animals, culture, languages, school life, technology, and sports. What made the project so fascinating for the students (and for the teachers) was its’ authenticity. We had real kids sharing their questions and voices with authentic global audiences.

 

My students enjoyed listening and responding to the younger students’ questions, and some went to great lengths to share their knowledge and learning. I know in retrospect that some of the answers were a little long for the Grade 1 children, but I’ll never forget those little moments …

The 5 hilarious attempts to sing the Australian national anthem …. the former international school student sharing her ability to speak 6 languages (4 fluently) … and the sheer jealousy when my students discovered “those American kids had iMacs and iPads” in their classroom!

 

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In addition to the VoiceThread, my Grade 6’s created EduGlogster posters about their home cultures, quickly realising that my students came from a wide range of cultural backgrounds, and spoke a total of 11 languages. The authentic learning purpose, and engaging nature of the technology, made this project an incredible success; and proved particularly motivating for my Indigenous and academically weak students, who were able to make invaluable contributions to the Global Classroom project.

 

 

After the project ended, I suggested that we create a wiki archive, with the intention of providing a central place where we could share our students’ work and classrooms with the world. This wiki was built by the six teachers involved in Global Classroom 2011, and considering our lack of prior experience with wikis, proved to be a very positive learning experience for all of us.

You can find our first Global Classroom wiki here: http://globalclassroom2011.wikispaces.com.

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We’d love the hear your feedback in the comments below!

 

 

How One Tweet Initiated A Global Partnership

I’d like you to meet Deb Frazier, a Grade 1 teacher from Ohio, USA.

You’ll find Deb on Twitter as @frazierde, and she blogs at Primary Perspective.

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Deb and I have yet to meet face-to-face, yet over the past few months, we have become global partners, and good friends, through our close collaboration in building The Global Classroom Project.

I first met Deb in May 2011, through Twitter; and looking back, it seems it was meant to be. Deb was relatively new to Twitter, and was interested in extending her students’ learning beyond her classroom walls.

I was a second year teacher, and relatively established user of social media, about to embark on a 4 week relief placement in a Grade 6 class – the first class I’ve ever been able to call my “own”. Following the success of my first global project in March 2011, when I ran the World Water Day International LinoIt Project, I was keen to further experiment with web 2.0 tools in education.

And then, late one night, I came across a tweet and a blog post which would change the course of my career:

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The Global Classroom Project (2011) was born …

 

Deb Frazier, from Ohio, USA was looking to connect her Grade 1 class with children around the world via VoiceThread. As Deb blogged here, the idea was born in the minds of her students; yet it was Deb’s vision, and use of social media to connect with fellow global teachers which made it a successful global reality.

As I prepare to explore the development of the Global Classroom Project over the past months, and my role within it, over this upcoming series of posts, I am still struck by the simple fact that Deb and I met, and collaborated via social media and Web 2.0 tools.

We hear so much negativity about social media in education, yet this global collaboration, this global partnership bears testament to how connections made through social media can change our
worldviews, our teaching, and our students’ lives.

And to think that it all started with One Tweet, and One Blog Post …