Every year our 2nd graders write monster stories leading up to the end of October and a PACT time called Monster Mash where families come into the classrooms to engage in what students are learning.
The project has many hands involved. In art, Ms. Foretich works with the students to create their own monsters. She then takes digital photographs or scans of those monsters and prints out mini versions of each student’s monster.
In class, students create scenes where their monster might live, where they might terrorize, or where they might go on an adventure. They use their monster and scene to write a story. Through several writing workshops, students develop their pieces, revise/edit, and publish.
In the media center, students come to me to film their monster story with our iPads. Some students come with one scene and one monster, while others come with multiple scenes, multiple monsters, and pages and pages of story. This year, we created a huge recording schedule that was quite ambitious. Over almost 2 weeks, I would have 3 students every 15 minutes during a 90 minute time frame. During this 15 minute window, we had to film the movie, upload it to an iMac, check the volume, add a title slide, and export the movie to a flash drive for Youtube uploading at a later time. It took quite a while to get a flow going, but by the final few days, we were getting really efficient in our 15 minute window. With a few students at the beginning, we made an opening slide with footsteps and a creaking door. This same slide was used for every student, so we just had to change the title and author each time. I set this up on 2 iMacs so that we could double up on uploads. Some students filmed by themselves by using the iPad on a tripod. Other students were filmed by Ms. Maher, a gifted teacher, or Mrs. McGee, a grad assistant. If enough students were available and ready, students filmed for each other. My role was to walk students through the steps of creating the video. With every student, I talked through what we were doing on the screen. Students approved the volume on their videos, added their title, and stayed with me through the export process. I uploaded the video to Youtube after they left.
Teachers showed the videos during the Monster Mash PACT time. To make sharing and viewing the videos easy, the teachers took all of the links to student videos and put them on a Thinglink. To make these, we put all of the student monsters on a table, took a picture of them, uploaded the picture to thinglink, and attached each student video to his/her monster. Now, when parents ask how to get to the videos, it is very easy to just share the thinglink with them.
Next year, I want to think about how to give students even more ownership in the process. Because of the tight time frame, it was hard to let students do all of the work of filming and uploading, but I know there has to be another way. I’m going to reflect on that and suggest some improvement for next year. For now, we can enjoy the amazing creations of these students in art, the classroom, and the media center.