Giving Students a Voice with iPads and iMovies

This summer, I worked with high school migrant students in a summer camp using iPads to give them a voice through videos and writing.  This posts builds on the one prior to it, Giving Students iPads vs Pens, but focuses on the instructional aspects.  Here's a fun video that two students created on the first day in about 20 min.  Watch others from this Shout Out page.

Prep and a platform are important!  A lot of prep work goes into setting something like this up.  I had 15 iPads, 4 staff, and around 25 students at one time.  I chose Blogger as the platform in part because it has a super easy to use app.  We used iMovies as the movie making app and You Tube Capture to quickly upload the movies to You Tube.  In weeks 2-3, when staff became more comfortable, we added Animoto (using an Educator’s account) and Explain Everything. The resources and handouts and general plans were posted prior to beginning each week.  It is handy to have videos, links, general purpose explanation, etc. set up ahead of time on a site to aid in the flow of instruction during a project.

Student choice: In week one, I began with a structured format that was “school like” the staff politely told me later. Staff were learning the apps, there were a lot of unknowns, and it seemed the safe bet. Students created Where I am From poems and turned them into videos.  I had my handouts, model examples videos and how-to videos ready to go on the site.  It was exciting the first day when one of the participants quickly created an incredible rap during a pre-write session.  But for what could be a variety of reasons—not wanting to share publically, or perhaps feeling the need to follow my “school like” directions, his rap didn’t make it to video.  Students in week 1 did a great job!   They followed my directions, but I was a bit disappointed in my directions and how it pigeon holed everyone into creating a similar looking video. 

In weeks 2-3, staff were more comfortable, and they opened topics up to students.  Wow, do kids have ideas and voices worth listening to!  They chose topics of importance to them such as bullying, language choice, goal setting, etc.  

Process and experience: If this is presented with a focus on the process and learning, not only the final product, it helps meet the needs of a wider range of learners, differentiating and even individualizing.

Learn together as you go:  Tablets truly give teachers the opportunity to take the seat of a facilitator and learner with the students.  Students asked each other, problem solved, worked together, naturally became the experts and taught me! I did do a lot of the leg work in managing the site and creating You Tube playlists, looking at privacy issues, etc, but some of this can be delegated to students as well.

Celebrate!  This type of learning differentiates and allows learners of varying levels to contribute.  We popped popcorn and watched their videos and related videos along the way.

Overview: This experience shows how mobile devices can be used quickly to create videos and give students a voice.  This is the tip of the iceberg when we have access to such devices and begin to rethink assignments and how technologies can support content and language learning. This experience also cements the importance of a platform (such as a blog) for workflow and instructional purposes, to share student work, and to communicate.

Happy movie watching!


Student Voice with Tablets vs. Pens?

So many discussions about technology in education begin with a conversation about either the woes of how technology is driving the curriculum or of some fear it will replace the teacher. 

Tech is another tool.  I hold nothing in my hand.  Now I pick up a pen.  What can I do now that I hold a pen that I couldn’t before I had the pen in my hand?  What a powerful tool the pen is!  How it has shaped our world.

Will the pen do all the work for me?  Does the pen have the words and ability to make them jump on the paper?  Silly.  Yet we often start discussions of today’s technology this way.  To use the tablet or not?  What if we had just let the pen sit there and never explored it’s potential in education?  What if we only gave wealthy students access to the pen? Etc.

Three weeks this summer, I worked in a summer camp for high school migrant youth.  Some of them had held an iPad before and knew more about its uses than me.  For others, this was their first time.  Within a few hours with minimal guidance of a college staff leader, they shared their voices.  They created about themselves on topics of relevance to them.  Check out their videos here!

I sense this is only the beginning.  With many of these emerging technologies, it’s like picking up the pen for the first time and realizing, “This has potential in my hands—wait, it has more potential in my students’ hands!”  We’re wrapping our heads around this.  Play, create, share, and reflect.  Think in terms of collaboration, communication, creativity, critical thinking, and culture.  The framework of my tech course is becoming more important to me as I think about the emerging technologies.

Stay tuned for an upcoming post about some of the how-tos and my instructional tech take-aways of this summer migrant leadership camp experience.