I have been teaching for 16 years, I have taught science, social studies and ELA. I have taught in the Common Core Curriculum and in the Texas State Standards Curriculum. No matter what educational program you teach within, using technology and learning 21st century skills is critical for students to use.
I am a science teacher at heart- inquiry, discovery, STEM or STEAM as it is now referred to. That arts component is so important in science, creating blueprints, podcasts, and stop-motion videos are fantastic ways to bring creativity, choice and visual arts, into the science classroom. In my classroom, I use a giant makerspace, full of supplies (most donated by parents). This makerspace blends both digits and digital- hands-on engineering and construction and technology- podcasting and blogging and stop-motion video and vlogging.
The most important thing I can do as an educator is to provide the platform from which my students can dive into their own learning. The tools for them to be able to think and make decisions for themselves. They can decide to step into the shallow end or jump into the deep end, but if they are given options in which to demonstrate their knowledge, strategies to make learning engaging and purposeful- they will take risks and try new things. How do I know this? I offer a cornucopia of methods, tools and approaches and let my students find out which one they feel comfortable with. Do they always choose the easy ones?
At first maybe. But after a few weeks they are challenging themselves and creating masterful demonstrations and presentations. “Risk free collisions” I call them. Students either try and prefer or attempt and drop. Either way, like I tell my own children “You must take a no thank you bite.” Then you can opt out. It is amazing what personal discretion adds to a classroom dynamic. When students not only take ownership but are offered proprietorship of their learning- they will be more willing to put down the road map and go off-roading. It’s all in the suspension, right?
There are several ways my class incorporates podcasting, recorded presentations, in our classroom. The first, I record reviews of all assessments and recaps of activities and labs. I post them on Canvas, our online learning platform and students can go back and listen to them for study purposes, or if they were absent. I have a blended classroom: I use technology for preloading and reflective purposes, as well as notes. This way in class my students are applying the knowledge they get from on-line notes. My podcasts are from 5-15 minutes long and almost every student listen to them more than once.
The second way podcasting is integrated is by student creation. Many of their labs and activities need a reflection component. Rather than a handout, where many students will just copy off one another, I have them as a group or individually create a 1-2-minute reflection podcast. This gets posted on Canvas as well and they must listen and respond to at least 3 from their class. This way they hear alternative points of view and every student is held responsible for learning the content.
The third way podcasting has become a part of our classroom community is that students can get extra-credit if they create a 1-minute expert podcast. It can be about anything they discovered, on topic. Students love to try and outdo one another. I often get several on the same topic. These podcasts are also shared on our learning platform for all to hear and learn from. They are optional, but most students listen to them because they are on topic and are generally about something that they are struggling with. These place learning again, in student hands.
Blogging is a great way for students to answer questions and share ideas online. I have students answer weekly questions in blog format and they comment on one another’s. This keeps them collaborative and open-minded. The questions are usually open-ended so that students can have argument driven inquiry discussions and then by the end of the thread, they usually seem to all agree on the answer. It is a great tool to make sure every student is participating in the conversation.
In order to create a podcast, you can use the recording app on most smartphones- they just need to save as an MP3. This is the best option and works very well.
Stop Motion Video and Vlogging
Unlike blogging and podcasting, which can be quick and easily uploaded, stop-motion and vlogging takes a little bit more time to implement. Time to create the diorama or backdrop, time to record and edit, and time to format and post. But, once you have them do one, any future endeavors become streamlined and more easily completed with-in a few days. This was my classes latest project. They created dioramas of an assigned ecosystem- designed an animal using Genetics and Adaptations and then created a stop-motion video of their animal in their habitat.
This was a two-week project. Students worked in groups and completed peer evaluations and an individual reflection sheet that went with the project. Rather than spend two days presenting, I posted all the stop motion videos on Canvas, our online learning platform and they had to personally watch at least ten (2 from each class) and post a blog about their favorite animals, not video. This opened an argument driven inquiry about the best adaptations needed for each ecosystem. It was an awesome conversation to witness. Technology meets STEAM, meets writing and reflection.
Here are a few awesome websites students can use to learn how to create a stop-motion video. I had students watch the tutorial on Stop-Motion, the app we have available on our I-pads at school, before they took their first picture. Most students used this app but a few created animations or downloaded different apps, they wanted to use that offered a few more options. Either way, have them create a story-board, have them discuss how their shots should look, before they start taking pictures. This helps them stay on track and organized.
- How to Make a Stop Motion Movie – The Beginner’s Guide
- Make a Stop Motion Movie on Your iPhone or iPad. It’s Easy!
- Stop-Motion App Tutorial
Vlogging is just a video created to demonstrate knowledge in a creative way. My students tend to use props and set up the backdrop like a news program or a live interview format. This is much quicker and can be done in a few minutes or a class period, depending on what content you are having them share. My class had interviews with one another (groups of 2-3) each group represented an Endocrine System gland and they asked about location, job and hormone. It was a fun way to get through the glands quickly. Then they shared on-line and watched each group (6 per class) and then wrote a reflection about the Endocrine System.
Technology is essential to integrate into any classroom. Podcasting, blogging, vlogging and stop-motion video are just a few options that allow students to take the wheel and really get creative. Sharing on-line is also a critical 21st century skill. Making sure that students understand how to post and reflect, share and respond in a meaningful and purposeful way. Commenting is a skill many people need practice with. Technology components of assignments provide an opportunity to grow as critical thinkers and writers. They allow students to create with their digits, design using digital applications and then above all share and collaborate on-line, all three necessary strategies in learning. I use technology sparingly, focusing much more on hands-on, but these tools are a purposeful and engaging way to put students in the driver’s seat.
If you would like any further information on how to blend these strategies to your classroom you can contact me on Twitter @ChouinardJahant or read my blogs which have more articles on everything education related. iteacherimother.blogspot.com and practicalrebellion.blogspot.com