Saturday, June 9, 2012

Ending the year with all 6 strands

I've really enjoyed teaching the Grade 4s this year.  Some of this is no doubt because I've taught the same students now for 3 years in a row and it has been a real joy to watch their skills and confidence grow over this time.  Their final unit of inquiry this year is is How We Organize Ourselves.  The students are inquiring into the production, exchange and consumption of goods and services and are currently working in groups on their summative assessment which is to create a product or service to sell at a trading fair next week.  The IT has supported this by having the students use iMovie to create an advert to promote their product or service.  I thought it would be good to use the final unit to revisit all 6 ICT in the PYP strands and for me to observe how the students were able to work on these independently.

Investigate:  students have been inquiring into how to create a effective 30 second movie to persuade someone to purchase a good or service.  Building on our use of WeVideo earlier this year, where students made book trailers in their literature circles, the students were all aware that they needed to consider the storyline, the images and the audio.  They had already explored how photography could be used to convey a message in the How We Express Ourselves unit, and had used still photographs with the Ken Burns effect in WeVideo for the book trailers, but now it was time to investigate motion.  We looked at different movement shots such as the pan, tilt, pedestal, arc and zoom and we investigated when these shots could be best used.  The students had a couple of lessons to practice taking these different shots and to critique each other's techniques.

Organize:  We then discussed how a movie or advertisement is really a sequence of different types of shots.  We looked at long shots, medium shots and close ups.  We discussed how in a written story the first paragraph would be the introduction and that would contain the setting and the characters  We matched this up with the long shot and noticed that after this the movies would probably be a combination of medium and close up shots.  Again there was a lot of practice going on where students tried out multiple shots and combined them in different ways.  We ended this session with the students making a storyboard for their advert.

Collaborate:  Students were working in groups of 3-4 students and they needed to sort out who was going to do which parts of the movie.  One member of the group would need to be the camera person, the others would be the actors.  In some groups the camera person role was rotated so that all students could also be actors.  A few groups of students wrote background music for their advertisements using GarageBand.  Again, some groups worked on this together and some divided up the work.  They were all familiar with GarageBand from the earlier How We Express Ourselves unit.

Communicate:  The students were told they had a maximum of 30 seconds to get their message across.  They had to combine the movie, music and text in order to promote their product or service effectively.

Create:  The students then filmed their movie and worked in iMovie to edit it.  They cut and cropped their shots, added transitions, subtitles and titles, sound effects, music and voice-overs.  Eventually they exported the movies using Quicktime and then added them onto their blogs.

Be responsible digital citizens:  A few of the groups also wanted to use still photography, for example some wanted to use photos as backgrounds to the action.  We did this by projecting the images onto the SMARTboard and then having the students act in front of it (for example pretending to be on a surfboard in front of a photo of a wave, pretending they were in the desert and desperate for a drink in front of a picture of a sand dune and so on).  The students were careful to make sure they used only copyright free images from either Image Quest or by searching on Flickr for creative commons images.

As I reflect on this, the thing that struck me the most was how independent the students were.  This was the first time we'd used iMovie and the first time we'd tried out motion shots, but all the students were keen to try something new.  Although I did show them different camera techniques, they basically learned how to use iMovie simply by trying things out.  I saw my job being that of offering advice, rather than direct instruction - for example if a group had a movie that was longer than 30 seconds I would discuss alternatives with them as to how they could make the movie shorter.  Then I just left it up to them.

The movies are almost finished now and the trade fair will be held on Thursday next week.  The students have a few days next week to show their movies and to persuade the rest of the students at school to come and buy the things they are selling.  I'm excited to see how the trade fair will work out.  Fingers crossed for fine weather!

Photo Credit:  Silhouette Shooter by Thomas Hawk, 2006 AttributionNoncommercial


  1. This looks great, Maggie.
    I got this post from our IT guy about Green screens. I haven't tried it yet but when I read your post, it reminded me that I had tucked this away in my 'to do' list!

    1. I saw a great video a while ago where students were performing a song in front of a SMARTboard where the iTunes visualizer was being displayed. It looked really good and gave me the idea of also trying this with photos. What we discovered is that the board has to be low - students went to a Grade 1 class where boards are mounted very low down on the wall for students to use.

  2. This has been a great way for us to finish off the year, incorporating many of the skills the students have developed throughout. The other important aspect of the task is that it's contextual for the students so they've been very motivated to produce a high quality advertisement. I'm also looking forward to seeing the results of their finished products - lets hope the weather is sunny! Your guidance with this task has been wonderful, Maggie, thanks so much.