Have you used Prezi? Or Wordle? How about Xtranormal? Somebody recently posted the Wordle below about their affinity for cell phones. It looks cool, I’ll admit that. But are these the types of technology applications that are truly useful, and worth employing in classrooms?
I’ve personally tested out these Web 2.0 programs, and I’ve also attempted to use them in room 137. While they can be used to create products that are pleasing to the eye, or perhaps engage students, the level of thinking that’s required is debatable. Plus, as a teacher, I want students to learn real skills in media production, not just using templates on countless web applications. Granted, I’m using iMovie as an introductory program, which provides templates for people to more easily create short videos and slideshows. But at least there is the opportunity for students to create more material from scratch, from interviews, from authentic photography, versus just plugging in more simple information or stock images.
I believe in the power of storytelling, and I also believe students should create as close to 100% of their work. Right now, this requires students to learn how to analyze pictures, apply photo rules when they shoot, interview, edit, and sequence all of their raw footage and images. Students get the best of both worlds–they can engage with new technology, but also use sustained thought and effort to see a project through. Below you’ll find some recent examples from Jalen and Will, two beginners in my class. I’m proud of their efforts.
I did a demonstration at a local STEM elementary school today as the “Science Guy”
The theme I used were three things starting with “I”. Inspiration, Ideas, and Isaac Newton. First I showed them scale models of the Wright Flyer and the Spirit of St. Louis and had them try to name the famous planes. The Wright Flyer they got but had trouble with the Spirit of St. Louis. Then I talked about how the Wright Brothers approached the problem of flight and how they had been inspired by other inventors before them. With the Spirit of St. Louis I talked about how that Charles Lindberg inspired people to fly and build model airplanes.
Then I did a flight of a Delta Dart rubber powered airplane. The kids went wild when they saw that fly. After that I showed how I found ideas for foam gliders starting with the FPG-9 and moving on to the other gliders I designed from foam. The gliders were a big hit too.
After that I demonstrated a mousetrap car, wind turbine, electric motor, and the hydraulic arm. With the older group I talked some of Newton’s Laws.