Tuesday, 11 June 2013

4 Ways to Activate Students With iMovie

Have you ever climbed a mountain and not looked back? Can you imagine, not taking pride in the distance you've come, or building anticipation as you look forward? iMovie on the iPad has been an enormously successful tool that encourages reflection and anticipation for learning.

I started thinking about the power of simple recordings when I had a disadvantaged student who rarely arrived on time... Morning work was SMART Board based, so I used quicktime to do a screen capture so he could work without missing a beat.

This line of thinking naturally led me to iMovie on the iPad.

Instant reflection.
We had grade 4 kids that were challenged to make a double pulley system. They got stuck a lot, and teachers "annoyingly" pelted students with questions, not answers. Soon students started thinking out loud... Talking, sharing and collaborating with their partners and other teams...Teachers gave power to the students and partnered with them... Then we started recording. iMovie edits on the fly, so we were able to share students' creative, problem-solving thoughts with the entire class immediately after the lesson. A question in one group became a discussion point for the class, and the everyone took turns either building on the wonderment or providing solutions and ideas.

Get your head in the game!
A different class was studying Air and Aerodynamics where they were challenged to land a flying machine while keeping a lego-minifigure safe... Each work-period, though, they were starting from scratch. Their minds slowly (too slowly) began to ease into the lesson, so we filmed them thinking/questioning/working and hooked them by reminding them of the great work they had done in the previous lesson. We've repeated this a few times and have always been blown away by how a 2-5 minute video can instantly reengage students in their learning.

In a 40 minute lesson, kids can develop a documentary and can be introduced to a new topic. They can develop questions to guide the inquiry and can help fill up the "Know" bit of a KWL... with ease. We pulled out a bunch of books, threw them on the floor and passed out iPads. After a 3 minute tutorial on iMovie (optional!), we asked kids to craft a documentary about the topic that included audio, video, titles, and visuals. Students took pictures from the book and published a 2-minute documentary. Ideally we'd throw those up on the internet for students to watch from home, but we wound up showing them to the class. It was amazing how activated their memories were... When we started to look at our prior knowledge, they were exploding with (base level) ideas. More importantly though, they were primed for the deeper learning that followed!

For our most recent unit on the Inuit Games we showcased our learning to the entire school by hosting every grade. The grade 2 student-leaders taught all of the kids how to play their games, and the students responded by doing their best, being respectful and playing hard (it was a pretty amazing morning!). As students were leading and learning we recorded the entire process. On the fly, we edited a 10-minute video that included each grade 2 student. We also made a trailer on iMovie. In the afternoon the grade 2s all got together and had their own celebration of learning where they could watch themselves directing older kids, sharing their knowledge, and being successful.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Stop... Collaborate & Research: #GAFE

Marlborough School is an early adopter for the CBE GAFE (Google Apps For Education) initiative.

We have been able to use GAFE for about 3 months now and it's only recently that I have noticed our staff and students really connecting with it and realizing its power! As teachers begun to use GAFE with their students it has quickly spread. The infectious nature of collaboration and success is unreal to watch.

This project was the first major project that one of our grade 6 teachers embarked on using GAFE. The subject, some would call fairly dry, was learning about the decision making process used by the Iroquois Confederacy. The students would eventually write about the topic as well as create a giant infographic.

Research and Assessing

Students worked together to research the Iroquois Confederacy. Using Google Forms, students read about different aspects of the Iroquois culture. They filled in a separate Google Form (picture above) with each new piece of information. All the information was then collated in a shared spreadsheet for all students to access.

Gathering and Communicating

Once all the information was collected, students formed their own groups and then synthesized their understanding of all the information. The first task was to come up with a few paragraphs which they would writing collaboratively using Google Docs. Students were able to simultaneously write in the document to form their finished piece of writing.

The groups also planned their infographic using the Google Drawing app. This was an interesting process of collaboratively drawing their plan which would utlimately become a massive poster on paper. All the group members were able draw simultaneously with the drawing app. They worked really well together on this part of the project in an app that no one had ever used before. It was amazing to see them adopt this new way of working together.

Once all the writing and drawing plans had been completed, the task was then to put all of the info onto paper. Because of the collaborative and organized nature of this project, groups have been completely focused and on task throughout. We really look forward to seeing the finished work.