In 7 essential skills that aren’t taught in school, there is an Andy Warholesque 15 minutes of fame kind of quote:
“Your goal is not immortality,
but a momentary piercing
of the ever-shifting zeitgeist.”
I would argue that one of these of these essential skills is being able to tell a story and spread your message not only digitally, but in a way as to engage and influence people.
Last year, I began to explore this idea with my small group of Early Years students with a vengeance.
With only 7 children, and a relatively open curriculum, I had the luxury of working individually with each of them (or in small groups) on different digital storytelling projects throughout the year. Using Book Creator, we began by creating class ebooks based on books read in class.
*Note: I am a huge Book Creator fan. I have been introducing it to all the first grade students (and their teachers) this past week using this short presentation. Feel free to make a copy/download.
One of these ebooks was our own version of Todd Parr’s, “It’s Okay to be Different.” Students thought long and hard about what made them different from other students in the class. One said, “It’s okay to speak Spanish.” Another declared, “It’s okay to call your dad Mausi.”
IT”S OKAY TO BE DIFFERENT:
Once downloaded as an epub to our ibooks library, and shared to our class blog, the students could view the digital book at any time, just as they might a real book. They could then view and revisit the ebooks they had created on the ipads, on the desktop and projected onto the wall.
When revisiting their digital stories, I noticed that different digital viewing formats offered different possibilities and extensions of the learning experience.
Projecting an ebook onto the wall initiated a re-arrangement of chairs for ideal viewing (theatre style.) This sudden re-arrangement of the room provided a provocation for different feelings and connections. The children suddenly felt the seating reflected a train journey, leading to a mini inquiry into riding trains.
We projected clips of moving trains onto the wall and the children rehearsed packing bags , catching trains, and punching tickets…eventually making their own tickets, using the local Swiss SBB logo as our guide.
Of course this spin off was unrelated to our ebook…but the process of revisiting our work and the way in which we viewed the book prompted an entirely new and unexpected learning inquiry.
We also re-visited our Books as epubs in the iBooks library. (Books created on different iPads were eventually Airdropped onto all other iPads so the students could access all books on any iPad, acting as a traveling library.) The portability of the iPads allowed us to bring them to our Buddy classes. We shared the stories with a wide range of ages—all of them impressed by our school’s littlest learners. It also prompted discussion: “Wow, how did you do that?” and provided an opportunity for the students to develop their oral skills. Other class teachers—viewing over the students’ shoulders, learned something, too and were motivated to create their own ebooks.
We also uploaded all creations to our class blog so they could be shared at home with family members, or at school assemblies. All comments made by others were revisited in class, helping to build the confidence and perseverance to make more ebooks.
Finally, viewing the ebooks on the desktop helped build other skills—the understanding that different devices provide different views of the same thing, but perhaps more importantly– the patience and fine motor skills required for small hands to maneuver and click with an aging mouse!
With each new ebook we tried to blend a different app or or learn a new process.
With our next ebook, we focussed on another element of our “All about me Unit”–our favourite things. The children explored the instant alpha tool in a separate photo editing app, Juxtaposer. We developed our fine motor skills and attention to detail further as students carefully traced around a photo of their bodies to erase the background, before adding it to their favourite page in the book about favourite things.
ALL ABOUT ME:
Next, we blended video, pictures and sound and tried out the (then new) comic book feature in Book Creator when we made a Quiet and Loud book. The students needed to think of two juxtaposing ideas for the book–(doors are quiet, but slamming doors are loud…very challenging for 4 year olds–they needed help with this. ) Now familiar with the book making process, the students slowly began taking more ownership of the design elements of making a book—selecting the colours of their page, their font and basic layout:
QUIET AND LOUD:
It was around Thanksgiving when my fabulous Ed Tech Coach, Jocelyn Sutherland brought us an iPad stand. We immediately jumped into playing around with Stop Motion. She initially tried a simple claymation technique using playdough…
…which we eventually modified to create the word ‘Happy’ as the “intro” to our class Thanksgiving ebook. The students developed many literacy and digital skills while making the “title page” alone–
- letter recognition/formation–we created the letters we used to make the stop motion video in Letter School and learned to take a screen shot
- importing screen shots into Pic Collage for easy printing
- more letter formation using playdough
- intro to spelling–that the letters that make up Thanksgiving must go in certain order
This began our lengthy exploration into stop motion as a digital story telling tool and prompted the evolution of moving from ebooks to pure movie making magic. I plan to continue to document and reflect on the learning process in future posts.