Wow – the end of another course – Course 4 starting next week!! The purpose of this post is to reflect on the experience of designing this unit/presentation.
To be honest in my reflection, I need to say first that I’ve really struggled keeping up with Course 3. It’s not that I don’t understand parts of it or I can’t do parts of it, it’s that I’ve struggled with keeping everything functioning together. By that I mean my family, my work and my study. And it’s been hard. So hard in fact, that I ended up doing BOTH parts of the final project instead of just one. Was it a combination of so much to do and so little time to do it in? Was it not reading the instructions properly? Is this what happens to our students when we overload them with so much to learn and so little time to learn it in?
So how did I come to do twice as much work as I really need to? I believed I’d read the requirements correctly the first time, and I actually had. I also distinctly remember our Course Advisers repeatedly tell us that we had a choice so my confusion, and eventual “extra workload” was entirely my own fault!
Utilize your visual literacy skills to either:
- Create a visual presentation to use in your class to help teach a lesson
- Develop a unit plan to actively engage students in using visual literacy to demonstrate their learning (include a model “project” for what your students should produce).
For some reason a while later I thought than you had to have a unit plan and I couldn’t understand how to get a unit plan out of the tutorial my group and I had created on “How To Choose A Just Right Book”. So that’s what led to me doing BOTH parts of the final project! I think I need to take some of the advice I always offer my students:
Check and double check you understand exactly what it is you are required to do before you start!
Anyhow ……. back to the reflection:
Create a visual presentation to use in your class to help teach a lesson:
I enjoyed working as a group on a creating a tutorial for what is a similar problem across the grades – teaching students how to choose just right books in the learning hub! For some of us, many of our students wander aimlessly around the learning hub not actually making good use of their time and certainly not sure of how to choose a book that’s just right for them without the levels on the books. It felt like we were creating an authentic presentation for use in the classroom as well as fulfilling our course project requirements. Working together as group saw us work cooperatively, collaboratively, using each others strengths to produce a finished product, much like we expect our students to do. It is always helpful to go through the process we expect our students to go through in order to troubleshoot any problems we think may occur.
Develop a unit plan to actively engage students in using visual literacy to demonstrate their learning (include a model “project” for what your students should produce).
I love digital storytelling. Stories let us communicate our perspective and perception. Stories let us connect on an emotional level with people and events in stories and we connect them to experiences in our lives. Digital storytelling allows us to share our stories globally hence the driving force behind the unit plan Personal Narratives Digital Stories. Sharing our stories with an authentic audience enables students to work with purpose, using visual literacy to show, not tell the narrative story. How powerful is that? Communicate skills are engaged, connection skills are addressed and students are provided with opportunities to address multiple intelligences. Again, going through the process we expect our students to go through in order to experience what it will be like is paramount to the success of any project-based learning in the classroom. It also provides students with a model to aspire to, gives them direction and helps them to understand what is expected of them.
The actual process of making the model was an eye-opener. Just thinking that you’ve developed this splendid, authentic, purposeful task does not necessarily ensure that the project will be successful. Choosing my personal narrative was easy – it’s the one I’d done the most work one, it’s the one that’s been polished and polished until it’s the best that it can be. Students will not struggle with this step as they too have a similar piece of work in their Writer’s Workshop book.
Finding the images for the story was easy – pictures from my camera. That’s what had prompted me to write the original narrative in the first place. As for students finding images, unless they too had photos stored on their computers at home and could bring them in on a flash drive, they would have to search for appropriate images to retell their chosen personal narratives. I began to wonder whether there was a rather large obstacle here for students. Searching and finding appropriate images (and I’m referring to the visual appropriateness here, rather than the creative commons approriateness) will be time-consuming and difficult for many students. This would be the area where the storyboard planning would be extremely important – what sorts of images will help me tell my story. This is where those critical thinking skills will need to be applied. Critical thinking is a very valuable skill, a very important skill. At this point I get the feeling that this is the focal point, the crux of the lesson – that’s different to what was originally envisioned in the unit planning. Again, I’m reminded of the importance of creating a model project.
Using still images, adding audio, adding background music, and using transitions in iMovie was exceptionally easy, but only because I’m familiar with the programme. This is where screencasting will be of particular use – mini tutorials to share with students how to do certain things like importing images, editing images, transitions etc. It could also be an opportunity for students with prior knowledge to shine – they could help other students by offering a “mini-workshop” on how to do certain things in iMovie. You could organise to have 3-4 “iMovie Experts” who are available to answer questions from fellow students so that the teacher remains the facilitator and does not have to have all the answers and technical know-how of the programme.
Projects have layers – it’s important to understand that – it’s important to realise that some things will be taught “just-in-time” with project-based learning, other things will be deliberated planned and taught. Being flexible is one of the reasons working with digital tools will succeed. Taking risks with your own learning and going through the process you expect your students to go through will also help your project to be a successful one.