Friday, 22 November 2013

Recipe: One Kid-Created Play, with a Dash of SAMR

I was so proud of my students on Wednesday evening. They had been working on a play that they performed for their parents, and they pulled it off without a hitch! The reason it was so impressive was because they had total ownership of the design, backdrop, props, set, and all changes to the script. As we have been working in an inquiry-based model this year, there have been a lot of opportunities for students to shine in class when they share their learning, or creations. But the play was something everyone came together to do, and I wasn't exactly sure if it would all turn out.

As a teacher used to leading everything, I stepped back and let them figure out what they need to change and what they need to do to make it successful. The end result wasn't perfect, but it sure was amazing! The excitement on stage was palpable, and they did an awesome job of acting. 

The growth I've seen in my students is hard to describe. They have carried this project through, took on all the work themselves, and have become successful in producing their very own finished product. Everything was designed and made by the students. They used digital technology to create backgrounds with Minecraft, which were very effective in giving a backdrop to every scene. 

They used technology to record their voices over a music track in a loop it so that it would play in between each scene, giving information to their audience. They designed, built and modified a web page for the play until they were happy with the result. The website shared information about the upcoming play with families, and also with students from another school. Their self-authored website is here.

We were lucky enough to be able to perform our play for a live audience at our school, and a virtual audience as well. We wanted to share our play with students from another school. We realized we had to figure out a way to do it without busing them here. Happily, technology was there to make it easy for us. Using a Google Hangout, we were able to link up with the class and not only have a live audience, but also a virtual audience watching our play all at the same time. The definite highlight of the day for me was the first time I heard virtual laughter streaming out of the computer as the other class watched the play. 

This is the SAMR model of how people use technology, developed by Ruben R. Puentedura, Ph.D. This helped me to think about how we could best utilize technology when working on our play. I had heard of this concept for the first time this year, and it really fit with what we were doing in class. It forced me to look critically at how I am using technology, and to make me really think about how I could better use it to expand our learning opportunities. Reflecting on my own practice, I could see that the top two levels were what I wanted to achieve this year. That is when I decided we would try to promote, and share our play with others beyond the four walls of our school. The resulting experience was well worth the effort.

I would like to sincerely thank Mr. Michael Frey and his class. They were on the other side of the Google Hangout, and they provided us with critical feedback the following day through Today's Meet.

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