Student Voices : Students share their favorite tools and projects

2/27/2013 12:00:00 AM

Documenting the Action

Marianapolis Prep School’s Tech Crew, the school’s student technology club.

At Marianapolis Prep School in Thompson, CT, the athletics department wanted help filming and sharing footage of games with select audiences. The administration team wanted a solution for recording major school events using an in-house AV team. Enter TechCrew, the school’s student technology club. The administration team at Marianapolis made a commitment to purchasing the needed AV equipment to take on the task, which gave the TechCrew the capacity to film, edit, and share stunning video projects.

Students from the TechCrew began filming school events in HD quality, using in-house equipment. During the process, they learned how to professionally edit the footage and publish the final product on the school Web site. Student athletes who were pursuing athletic scholarships could then use these high-quality videos and share them with recruiters. The school also gained a full production studio that includes two cameras and a video editing studio. The studio gave students the ability to create custom-labeled, lightscribed DVDs from live-streaming events on the school’s Web site or from programs streamed from a cloud-based database.

“It takes a lot of gumption to ask the administration for such a significant amount of capital investment,” says Dan Adiletta, Manager of Educational Technology. “But taking on that level of responsibility is what has created this incredible sense of empowerment among the TechCrew.”

High school freshman Joel Cheney, a student who spearheaded the project, adds, “I was so happy to hear that we were finally going to start filming sporting events for our school. These videos gave our basketball players a huge advantage, and they were a great resource to help them get into a good school. With these tools, we were able to make a DVD with all of their highlights for the year, and then we were able to send them out to prospective schools. These clips made our program and our school look more professional.”

Note: Marianapolis Prep School educator Dan Adiletta will present more student projects at Tech Forum Boston.

Re-Imaging Art through Photo Editing

At the New Milford High School in New Jersey, art teacher Mrs. Morel wanted to challenge her advanced drawing class with a trip to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City that would have an impact in the classroom long after the visit was over. She decided to partner with media teacher Mr. Pevny to combine art instruction with technology.

Digital MoMA Project by Tariq Khan titled “Attack”

Prior to the museum trip, her students researched the history of photography and learned how artists have utilized this medium to document and create art. They focused primarily on unconventional photographic methods and innovations in photography and photomontages. Mr. Pevny taught them how to handle cameras, take photos that made an impact, and use Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom to manipulate photos.

When they visited the museum, students used cameras and electronic devices to document their findings from both the exhibitions and their experience. Upon their return from the MoMA, students completed their own “pieces,” based upon their experiences at the museum.

Kindergarten students at the Terakki Foundation Schools in Istanbul, Turkey draw characters for their digital games.

High school senior Tariq Khan decided to use photos he took of sculptures at the MoMA and combine them with his own photos of various New York City surroundings to create a unique artistic collage. Tariq used a Nikon 3100 DSLR camera to document his experience, and then he cropped and edited his photographs using Adobe Lightroom. Finally, using Adobe Photoshop (CS4), Tariq digitally rendered his collage using multiple images imported from Adobe Lightroom. Some of the artistic techniques Tariq used included photo montaging, color theory, composition, and digital mastery.

Learning Language with Games

Kindergarten students of the Terakki Foundation Schools in Istanbul, Turkey, created “Bubble and Pebble” digital games. The children developed their own learning and teaching materials by combining their English, IT, and animation skills, and they shared their results with children from all over the world.

First, they drew and colored the two main characters, the boy “Bubble” and the girl “Pebble,” based on objects and backgrounds from existing games. Next, the children learned how to animate pictures for the digital games and put the drawings together as frames of a stopmotion animation. The children then recorded their voices in English, thus giving them an opportunity to practice their pronunciation in English. Each child did something to design the digital games, and some children also suggested drawings they had made at home to be included in their games. This was an inspiring and motivational project for the children and the teachers.

Catcher in the Rye in the 21st Century

Eleventh grade students in an English literature class at Leadership Public School’s used Pathbite portfolio’s to do a digital literary analysis of the literary classic Catcher in the Rye.

Amy McGeorge, an 11th-grade teacher at Leadership Public Schools in the San Francisco area, was challenged to keep both her high performing students and her less-experienced learners equally stimulated in her English literature class. She took on the momentous task of creating meaningful conversation about the literary classic The Catcher in the Rye for both groups of students. She wanted to engage all of her students by using technology-based activities. To accomplish this task, she turned to digital portfolios. Students were given the following simple instructions to help them get started with electronic portfolio technology:

* Title your portfolio and describe the project.
* Upload a current photo and introduce yourself.
* Find a piece of music that is inspired by The Catcher in the Rye and explain its significance.
* Find a link to a map of New York and explain the significance of Holden’s time in New York City.
* Find an image of Holden. What element of Holden’s personality does it portray?
* Find a reference to The Catcher in the Rye in popular culture. How is it still relevant today?

Caption TK

Each student created an electronic portfolio using curated Web sites, background knowledge, discussions, and new insights about the assignment. The project was a huge success. It taught students how to collaborate around subject-matter content, it gave students who were less tech-savvy increased digital literacy skills, and it helped students create schoolwide portfolio accounts to help them prepare for college and the job market.

Digital Storytelling with Cartoons

Mrs. Cindy O’Kane, a 5th-grade teacher at Belhaven Middle School in Linwood, NJ, created the S.P.E.A.K. (Students Performing, Experiencing, and Acquiring Knowledge) Project: Digital Storytelling Using PowerPoint. Students write stories and bring them to life using animation and narration. The final project is a cartoon with the students’ voices as characters.

The learning goals for the S.P.E.A.K. project are teaching students how to animate and use their oral reading and public speaking skills with emotion and inflection. Students learn how to use clip art to create backgrounds and characters. With the animation tools in PowerPoint, the students also learn how to move their characters and record their voices to go along with the animation.

“I thought it was fun to make the characters move the way you wanted them to,” says student Grace M. “I like that you could put your own voice as the character’s voice. I never used PowerPoint like that before. I definitely want to make another cartoon like that again!”

Reading Across Oceans

At Steuart Weller Elementary in the Loudoun County Public School District in Ashburn, VA, 4th- and 5th-grade students have embarked on a year-long virtual experience that is increasing both their literacy skills and their cultural understanding. In partnership with the United Way, students have access to ePals’ In2Books, an e-mentoring program through which students and their adult e-mentors engage in online conversations about issues in books they read together. They also use ePals to connect with classrooms around the world for free, using programs such as “Reading Across Oceans.” Below is a sample activity that highlights a project the students used with e-mentors in the United Kingdom.

Caption TK

Fifth-grade students paired up with adult e-mentors from London and jointly read a variety of online text accounts about the sinking of the Titanic.

After reading the texts, students and e-mentors exchanged online conversations via the secure In2Books portal, which was closely monitored by the classroom teacher. Both students and e-mentors shared perspectives and background information that were not only relevant to the story of the Titanic, but also helped students understand cultural differences. For example, Ms. Suciu, one of the UK-based e-mentors, described how a specific passenger, Wallace Hartley, played his violin until the ship sank. She also shared how people like him are remembered in the UK as national heroes.

In the process of exchanging information about the Titanic, children were able to learn how to communicate professionally and respectfully, take more time to correct mistakes, write clearly, and find their writing voices.

Students at Steuart Weller culminated their reading activities with a live meeting with their e-mentors via Avatar Kinect. This program allows synchronous meetings via avatars that mimic all movements a person makes, including facial expressions. During these synchronous meetings (which can also be conducted via Skype), both the students and e-mentors discussed ways that both countries could commemorate the sinking of the Titanic.

The “Reading Across Oceans” program has helped students read more effectively, make cultural and personal connections, and learn how to become strong writers and orators.

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