The latter post concluded with our hopes to integrate this technology into fifth grade. What follows is a summary of our results.
During the 2011-12 school year, all fifth graders at Abbot School participated in the Westford Education Foundation funded project In Motion on the Ocean: European Explorer Stop-Action Movies. Under the direction of four social studies teachers, Stacey Mulholland, Aimee Murphy, Karla Pentedemos and Kate O’Brien, and in conjunction with the Instructional Technology Specialist (me), 40 movies were created and uploaded to the blog portion of a Wiki. Although the project is over for the year, all of the movies still may be played right on the site or downloaded by clicking on the Subscribe in iTunes button. Commenting also continues to be open for constructive feedback. (Many comments have resulted from participation in #comments4kids on Twitter.)
The overall goal of this project was for students to demonstrate their knowledge of early European explorers (Massachusetts History and Social Studies Standards 5.1, 5.3) using an extremely hands-on and constructivist medium that would appeal to all students. During the learning process, students were observed informally as well as surveyed formally. Here are some quotes from both students and staff that demonstrate the project’s success:
‘This is the best project I’ve ever done!’ – overheard by Mrs. Murphy as students were working in their groups.
‘I know we are doing a new unit, but can we do that again with Colonial America?’ – said to Mrs. Murphy at the end of the project.
‘I thought it was a great way to express your creativity and have fun with your friends.’ – from a 5th grader’s reflection sheet- Question answered: Is there anything else about the project you want to tell?
‘I wish we had more assignments like this.’ – from a 5th grader’s reflection sheet- Question answered: Is there anything else about the project you want to tell?
‘Advice I give future SAM directors is listen to everyone, they might have great ideas.’ -from a 5th grader’s reflection sheet- Question answered: Advice I give future SAM directors is….
‘Advice I give future SAM directors is to meet a few days before you film and find out what everyone is bringing.’ -from a 5th grader’s reflection sheet- Question answered: Advice I give future SAM directors is….
Also, students were asked: Doing this project, I feel that a) I know more about the explorer than I did before or b) my knowledge of the explorer hasn’t changed. Almost 100% chose “a”. This confidence was reflected in benchmark as well with one teacher reporting that these were the best scores yet.
‘I loved watching the kids develop group decision making skills. Throughout the process, I noticed kids that aren’t normally leaders speak up and get their voices heard. Group members gave each other positive feedback on how to meet their goals. Half way through the project in a self-evaluation, students were asked to reflect on the process. I was encouraged by how many students commented that they knew more about their explorer than before. I also was impressed at how many students now look at the movie making process differently and respect the process that it takes to accomplish it.’ – Stacey Mulholland
At Abbot School, we integrate technology into our core curriculum. Students use technology to master content and deepen understandings. The European Explorer Stop-Action Movies Project has been one of those great projects where the students are so invested in their learning that it doesn’t feel like work. The students are so engaged that they are having rich content conversations in their groups. The hands-on nature has appealed to many different types of learning styles, too. Everyone is on task and making a contribution. The technology tool, SAM Animation, truly is a facilitator allowing for real world skills to be developed and core curriculum to be front and center.
The challenge with any new project is the time devoted to reach its full fruition in its inaugural year. Our hopes is to streamline the process a little next year. However, this project definitely is a keeper!