I recently completed a project at a public school in Massachusetts where the goal was to help second grade students conduct research and then report out by telling a story about a country in Africa. Wait – did I just say ‘goal?’ Yes, we actually had a well defined and written goal for the project. While there seems to be a rush these days to ‘get the technology and then we will figure out what to do with it,’ the key to success seems to be the opposite – have a plan with goals and then ask, ‘will technology help us reach this goal?’
In this case the teacher and I sat down and created a timeline that involved students writing and posting questions not to a wiki or discussion thread but, dare I say, to a blank wall that they filled with thoughts and ideas they wrote down on sticky notes. To make this crazy situation even crazier, we actually used books for research and created storyboards using pen and paper. And, I hope you are sitting down, the final step was to work in teams and use pencils and more paper to write the story. Yes, a word processing program might have been good but these were second grade students so the plan – there’s that word again – was to use technology if and where it would enhance the learning.
The last step was for the kids to work in teams to use iCreate’s SAM Animation software to tell their story and be able to share their work with other students, friends, and relatives anywhere in the world. Thus, having a digital narrative aligned with the goal. Also, part of the objective was to learn about collaboration and teamwork, so again using SAM made sense.
The kids were happy, the teacher was thrilled, and parents were able to engage more productively with their children around an exciting class project. Oh, did I also mention our goals were met?