The end of year shipment is good stuff

by Mr. Sheehy

I’ve found that multimedia projects are a great way to finish out a year. A couple weeks ago I heard a few colleagues begin to complain about students shutting down. I can happily say my percentage of quitters is relatively low, and I attribute much of it to the assignments students have been doing (see for example, Tyler and Christine’s video on To Kill a Mockingbird). They are exciting, they involve media, and they involve learning, and the result is some of the students’ best work to date. Almost every one of my students has been excited about learning how to make cool presentations whether through Power Point, Movie Maker, or Photo Story, and the products they have created are generally insightful and well done. There are exceptions, of course, but I don’t dwell on those and usually the projects weak on insight make up for it in technical skill (I feel like I’m an ice-skating judge: “Your artistic score is strong, but your technical skill is low in a couple areas – bronze.”).

So maybe the students are a tougher sell this time of year, but I’m convinced of a few things that increase their involvement: 1) I am not “ready for summer,” as every person asks me when they see me, which means I don’t exude end-of-the-year attitude to my students, which means, 2) I am still trying to do great things for them instead of fill the time until the final, which means, 3) when I hold some high expectations they don’t feel like it’s a double-standard, and it’s not a double-standard, because, 4) I realize it’s no fun to be pinned in a room reading for 90 minutes when it’s sunny and 70 degrees outside, so, 5) I’ve picked assignments I think are a ton of fun, and we’re finishing the year with them.

My student-aide and I put together two end of the year reflections on blogging. One is a podcast where I talk for about five minutes with some students’ words edited in. My aide and her friend read all the quotes, but each one is from a different student. I had my aide pick the quotes out of the 30 or so articles students wrote about blogging, because I wanted to hear what a teenager thought was important or noteworthy about blogging, as opposed to the teacher-y thinking. We then took the students’ words and put them together in a video. The video is a compilation of still shots of our blogs and FlickrCC pics that my aide found. We used Photo Story to create and edit the Ken Burns effect and then tagged on the full screens and music in Movie Maker.  I haven’t touched a shred of the grading I need to do someday soon, but that’s okay, because what we’re doing is fun and valuable.