Saturday, May 12, 2007

Movies or Essays?

Still making movies with kids. Still loving it.

Still slightly amazed at how quickly most kids have taken to it. Makes me think back to last year when my students were writing their DARE essays. Essays are clearly not something my students spent time reading, which made writing them very difficult. In constrast, my students have been exposed to a great deal of video. I suspect that is why they found this so easy.

And it was the kiddos who had struggled most this year, the ones who still haven't grasped that ALL their documents are stored in their My Documents folder, that made the biggest gains. So many of those kids are the ones who actually got hold a digital camera and used Legos or Bionicles, candy bars or army guys or rubber ducks as their subjects. They took photo after photo of these subjects in different positions. They found a way (CD-ROM, thumb drive, Blackboard, bringing in the camera) to get the photos to school. They narrated the entire video, usually with different voices for different characters. They searched through our collection of royalty-free music to find just the right sound tracks.

All the children seem to enjoy this unit, but these kids are especially delighted and amazed by what they have created. They sit and watch the video again and again. They keep going in and making small tweaks to make the video just right. They are focused and animated in a way I haven't seen all year, although I glimpsed it during our web page unit.

My next step is to put the videos in a location where the classroom teachers can reach them, and offer the viewing of the videos as an activity for those last few days of school. I hope the teachers are as delighted and amazed as the children and I have been. I hope it sends the teachers off on the summer vacation thinking, "I wonder how I can use student-made videos in my curriculum next year?" I'll be asking myself the same question.