The power of the Flip
This week I sadly read that on April 12 Cisco, who is the worldwide leader in networking that transforms how people connect, communicate and collaborate, will close down the Flip business. I’ve fallen in love with this elegant low cost video camera that makes HD movies well and can easily (even for dummies like me) be uploaded to websites like Facebook or YouTube.
For weeks I had my group of EAP Humanities 7th graders working on creating documentary style movies about the 1-1 Laptop Program in grade 6 at our Middle School. This would give them a chance to demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using appropriate technology. (TAIL standard 4)
The idea to do this project came from my experience working with classes that have the 1-1 laptop in grade 6 and with the one and only grade 7 class I teach a few periods each week.
It’s a real advantage if kids have their own laptop versus using the shared laptops from a cart! The accessibility of using laptops as tools for learning isn’t the issue here, but the nuisance of heavily used and therefore run-out-of battery computers by the time we need them is (or was I should say).
There isn’t a day that I not have a Flip Camera with me to use for personal VDO making and working with my EAL students. So just on another ordinary day working on laptops with my 7th grade group within less than twenty minutes half of my kids’ laptops ran out of batteries and they all clustered around the laptop cart to plug them in. I took my Flip Camera out and two minutes later the event was documented not even thinking much of what to do with this “proof” that this was an unworkable situation!! Why deprive my students from what the their younger peers in grade 6 have!!!!
Having to deal with that situation on a daily basis gave me an idea for my final COETAIL classroom project for which I wanted to focus on kids as creators and communicators. There was quite some planning involved and together with them I decided on steps and guidelines for the movie making. For even more needed structure I created a Movie Checklist that helped with the organization. One dilemma was that there weren’t many opportunities to actually do much filming so therefore the 7th graders had my 6th graders and I assigned to do some of the “in class action “ filming with the Flip Cameras during grade 6 Humanities classes. Teams could give us their wish list and I provided the raw material, which they got access to. Also I invited parents of grade 6 students for interviewing. And then there was the research on good documentary style movie making and learning more about the 1-1 laptop initiative.
There were these moments that you just wished you never started this project because there were definitely glitches and there never seem to be enough time or time got wasted. Some teams worked well, especially the groups of three but the pairs kept on arguing about the focus of the movie etc………
After the deadline has passed and our class been observed we have three finished movies out of five and there’s lots more that can be done to improve. I have gained better insights in my students’ learning abilities, English language development, and most of all that learning is in the process of creating the video not the actual product it self. Today my principal showed one movie from one of my students to the PTA to explain the 1-1 laptop program initiative for next year for grade 7 and 8 in our Middle School. There are a number things that can and should be improved just for this project alone such as teaching kids how to do the credits page and how to use proper language to share information but it is even worse to not involve students in activities using appropriate media and environments so that they can practice to effectively communicate ideas, knowledge, and understanding to audiences ranging from local to global. (TAIL Standard 3)