Start. Stop. Start.
At the end of Course 4, I had high hopes for the Course 5 final project. From Course 4, I found a set of science teachers who were eager and open to working with me. I am a MS librarian and, as such, I don’t have my own classes as library is not a class in MS. I don’t necessarily have classes or units of my own to “transform” for the final project, so my plan was to partner with a teacher or teachers who did.
My Science colleagues and I were doing a science unit on Space and it was going to be fantastic, of course! Well, Course 5 rolled around, we talked about my project and their unit, time passed and they weren’t ready to start yet. And more time passed and still not ready. Even more time passed and it things just seemed to fall apart and I realized that I couldn’t wait any longer if I had any chance of finishing this course on time. The good news is that we all feel that this unit has a great chance of coming to fruition next year and we’re excited about the possibilities.
Although it was pretty late in the Course, I moved on. I’d recently worked with Åsa, a Grade 7 English Language ) teacher, building research units to implement next year and a few other ideas to implement next year. She described herself as a bit of a techno-phobe but one that would like to use more technology – with support. I approached Åsa and asked if I could support her in implementing any of those ideas this year. And, miracle of miracles, she was interested and eager. However, the issue was that Åsa was mid-unit in her novel study of Parvana by Deborah Ellis. Another issue – although to a lesser degree – was that the class size was very small but beggars can’t be choosers, really. The majority of her English Language B class was moved up to Language A for the novel study unit and the 3 remaining students were extremely disappointed that their current level of English wasn’t quite ready for them to move up with their classmates.
Åsa and I talked about what she was comfortable adding, what would be an authentic use of tech and what she felt would be most beneficial for her students. She wanted to give the students a “boost” by doing something interesting and new. Åsa was very interested in book trailers so that was the direction we headed. She thought that creating a book trailer to show the Lang A students would really help boost her students’ morale. We decided that all 3 students would work together on one trailer since it would allow them to communicate and collaborate with each other.
I used both school and NET for Students standards for this project.
Western Academy of Beijing Standards: LAB.WR (Standard/SL) Learners will write with creativity, clarity and logic for a variety of purposes and audiences.
1. communicate simple information clearly.
3. describe experiences and events.
6. use simple writing for different purposes.
8. use simple vocabulary appropriately.
LAB.VS (Standard/SL) Effectively use viewing skills to analyze and evaluate the content and presentation in a range of media. Learners will
- discuss relevant information.
- communicate basic, unit-based information clearly.
- support opinions with relevant reasons.
- show good understanding of topic through responses in familiar and some spontaneous situations.
- engage actively in and contribute to conversations.
NETS for Students Standards:
1. Creativity and Innovation – Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology.
a. Apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, or processes
b. Create original works as a means of personal or group expression
2. Communication and Collaboration – Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.
a. Interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media
b. Communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media and formats
d. Contribute to project teams to produce original works or solve problems
- Animoto.com (educator membership) for video
- Compfight.com (images)
- ccmixter.org (music)
- I had planned on using Storyboardthat.com but we ended up using a paper storyboard at pretty much the last minute.
Åsa and I introduced the project by beginning a discussion about book trailers and the idea of making a trailer for Parvana, the novel they had just finished. What did they know about trailers, what there purpose was, had they ever seen or made one, etc? Only one student had ever made one but they all sort of know what they were. I selected 2 books – The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and Wonder by RJ Palacio and demoed 2 trailers for each title – the publisher’s trailers and ones made by civilians. We talked about the differences and commonalities of the different versions; what worked; what didn’t. And the project pretty much took off from there.
The students were interested in creating the trailer especially when they learned that they were the only ones doing it, that it would be shared with the Lang A students and that Åsa would use the trailer to introduce the book to next year’s Lang B students. However, I would never have known they were interested by their speed to create the finished product!
Working with this group of students was new to me. Åsa had told me repeatedly that they were a great bunch of students but incredibly slow to get their work done and WOW – she was not kidding! It was like pulling teeth, at times. I was so grateful for her insight and experience with this group. But they ultimately got it done and we all think it turned out well.
I really enjoyed being part of the students discussions on what scenes should be used to best capture the feeling of the book, what images and song would be appropriate, how much to describe, how to create text to hook to view and, perhaps most importantly, how to come to an agreement on these issues since they were creating one trailer.
I believe the project met a fair amount of the standards that I set out with. The outcome was that students felt really proud about something they created and that Åsa felt was valuable to their language learning. Åsa felt supported and pleased with the process and the final product. I do feel that I met my goals which were to implement many of the tools, applications, and theories that we have covered in the first 4 courses of the COETAIL program.
Evidence of learning
The trailer was “premiered” to the students who were moved up to Language A for the novel study. Although I wasn’t able to go to the premiere, Åsa reported back to me that the “audience” was very impressed with the trailer. The students who created it were dead proud of themselves, especially when their classmates began asking them questions about how they did it. It makes me smile to think of Åsa’s retelling everyone’s reaction.
Åsa also was really impressed with how easy Animoto was to use and the quality of video you could produce using it and she’s already planned on using it again. She’s no longer afraid of that piece which I think is a huge bonus to the project. The students were able to use Compfight and ccmixter.org which I shared with them and I learned about from COETAIL to find images that were appropriate and a song that suited the story although they ended up selecting and Animoto song in the end.
This was a pretty interesting project for me. As a librarian, I’m used to collaborating with teachers but I’m not really used to having a time constraint on the implementation. It’s usually up to them & it happens 2 ways:I offer and if my colleague is interested & ready then we plan & implement or they come to me and tell me what they want and we start a conversation. But with this project, I HAD to partner with someone and it HAD to be within a certain period of time so that was pretty new and, I found, pretty stressful.
I was reminded that plans do not always turn out. I had planned – in my head, at least – that this project would be one transforming a Gr 8 science unit. I was also reminded that when working with students, things often take considerably longer than I think they will. I need to give myself a bigger cushion for that. We cut it pretty close at the end.
I was also reminded that sometimes, although the students are enjoying the work, they may not be as motivated as I am to get the work done. :) Hence the bigger time cushion.
Finally, next time, I hope to be more realistic on collaborating with busy people and realize when it’s just not going to happen. If I’d been able to do that, I could have started with Åsa earlier in her unit since there are many other areas in that unit where tech could be authentically used for transformation such as blogging their reading journals.
The biggest thing I learned through the COETAIL is to take the leap and just do it. Put myself out there. Start somewhere. The program forced me to blog which I found absolutely terrifying but now plan on continuing and it forced me to reach out to strangers. I guess I feel like the program made me walk the walk.
Redefinition? To my mind, the implemented project does meet the definition of redefinition which is “Tech allows for the creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable.” Book trailers are a form of digital storytelling. Technology allowed the students to combine images, text and sound into a movie which which conveyed a message to the viewer.
My PLN is made up of people I know in real life – colleagues past & present – and people I’ve met through the program. I feel like I have a decent start on my PLN but it’s something that will change over time – grow & contract, grow & contract.
Where I’ll go from here: I really do hope to continue to blog and to read & comment on others’ blogs. I want to stay connected to and grow my PLN. In addition, I want to continue to learn about (most likely by reading others blogs) and – more importantly – use new technology tools while supporting students and teachers.
Finally, I guess I just want to continue to challenge myself to push past my comfort zone. a bit at least. So this is end of my Course 5 project, the end of my COETAIL classes, but hopefully just the beginning of my tech adventure.