See the class webpage.
A link for Skype in the Classroom.
In my junior level American Literature classes, we need to cover a play by Shakespeare each year to be able to meet our Common Core State Standards. Last year, however, I didn't get it done. I just couldn't figure out how to connect a Shakespeare play to one of the fulcrum texts we were already reading in class-at least not in a meaningful package that wouldn't distract for too much time.
Then, I found a great unit plan by Cindy O'Donnell-Allen and Jenny St. Romain, and I knew connecting Hamlet to Of Mice and Men with an overarching theme of resilience would work perfectly.
Next, I started to look for interesting ways to have students represent what they learned in a compact way. I was thinking of having students perform a scene from the play in groups. Yet, when I had done that in the past, students never created something worth capturing on film. The time for preparation and creative application just wasn't sufficient on my timeline. I needed something more focused.
In my reader program, I stumbled upon the Australian Theatre for Young People group, and saw their wonderfully stitched together version of the main soliloquy in Hamlet. I was intrigued. All I needed then was a way to connect it to the student's lives to make it work.
As I thought about what was really happening in Hamlet's monologue, I was simultaneously covering Joseph Campbell's ideas in other classes. Soon, I became convinced that each of my students would have had a similar moment in their lives which they could include in the film through location, setting, and reflection.
It does make me want to continue with the wiki idea, but just put a new motivational spin on it. "This will be used by future students. You will be helping them to understand what is going on in the book."
I would like to find a way to place these accomplishments more firmly in the realm of, "Hey, I participated in something unique." Maybe reflection is the path to this.
So, this year my big project that I am really focused on is a movie that we will make in my American Literature class. I will have students filming outside of class, and then editing it together to make a complete monologue in several different voices. More on that later.
This will also be tied to a unit on personal narratives which is really a form of reflection also, so students should be used to the idea by the time we get to the filming stage.
"... to reflectively experience is to make connections within the details of the work of the problem, to see it through the lens of abstraction or theory, to generate one's own questions about it, to take more active and conscious control over understanding." ~ From Teaching With Your Mouth Shut
What I am also going to have them do, however, is film a "making of" movie. I will explain that it will be to help other teachers be able to do a similar type of project in their class, but it will really serve as a type of reflection for the students, a way to talk about and display what they enjoy about the project.
Here are a couple of links that led me to this type of thinking. Peter Papas' article on Reflective Taxonomy and his blog including a Making Of Video. He didn't make the connection to reflective thinking in doing such a project, but that is what he accomplished.
An interesting video on what makes the difference between countries leading in educational testing scores and the United States. Also relevant to different ways to create video instruction.
You can see their book profile on Bookdrum's Website. Included under the "contributor page" are links for student's Post Modern Multimedia Research Projects and their Letters About a Thing They Carry which were both published as missions on Youthvoices.net.
What he says about education is similar to what I believe. It is not going to be long before people realize that the way to get around the one-size-fits-all problem we are encountering in education is technology. This man has achieved it at Stanford. He effectively taught 23,000 people by making recordings and interactive quizes. Those 23,000 people passed the same test he gave to his 200 students at Stanford.
I particularly like what he says about how student's feel like they learn only when they do something. "Engaged classes" in the traditional, lecture-based class are frequently only truly engaging for a few students; the majority simply watch the lecture and the few interactive students. When you do projects, however, everyone feels like they are doing something, and while they feel like they are doing things, they take the information and apply it. That is around minute 17.
While the movies worked well, and the students were very engaged with them, there are a few things I would change next time. First, I would schedule in some work with movie maker before hand. Perhaps have the class work in groups to make something. This would minimize the learning curve, and it would also allow for more experimentation with techniques like layering in audio tracks. Second, I would require the use of proper MLA citations in the reflection as well as a bibliography in order to meet the state standards for research papers.