I’ve written before about the extraordinary value and significance of digital video for enhanced teaching and learning; as Chris Anderson writes in Wired Magazine:

 I believe that the arrival of free online video may turn out to be just as significant a media development as the arrival of print. It is creating new global communities, granting their members both the means and the motivation to step up their skills and broaden their imaginations. It is unleashing an unprecedented wave of innovation in thousands of different disciplines: some trivial, some niche in the extreme, some central to solving humanity’s problems.

In short, free online video is boosting the net sum of global talent. It is helping the world get smarter…. Video is the killer app.  Don’t write me.  Tell me. Show me.

When I was a teacher in the nineties, videos were much harder to access, often expensive, and somehow it seemed the mentality was that if you were going to show a video, you ought to show an entire hour– a full episode for instance of “Eyes on the Prize” or “The Civil War.”  The youtube revolution, however, has unleashed not only an enormous array of video opportunities, for free, but also shifted the mindset to the power of short video- five minutes is too long, 2-3 minutes perfect.  It is for illumination, not full-length exposition.

And as we recognize the power of digital video-watching for student understanding, we also come to see the critical importance of the digital video-making for student skill development.  It is the third leg of a communication skill set, joining written and oral communication.    As the Chronicle of Higher Education wrote last year

Film students aren’t the only ones producing videos for homework these days. Professors teaching courses in writing, geology, forensics, sociology, anthropology, foreign languages, and many other disciplines now assign video projects, pushing students to make arguments formatted for the YouTube age.

video is only one aspect of multimedia literacy, which can also include other forms of digital communication, including audio and interactive presentations. “It’s really being able to communicate effectively in a networked culture.”

I’m lifting the following from our weekly St. Gregory Hawks e-view newsletter; it is a monthly column prepared by our Technology Director Andrei Henriksen, a series he calls Trending site of the month:   This month’s subject is YouTube use, and he has helpfully collected reports from a number of our teachers about the way they are using youtube, as an element of our 1:1 laptop program, in class. My thanks to both Andrei and these teachers

 English, Dr. Kate Oubre

First semester, students in English 1 produce a creative project including a written memoir/story, original art, and an original promotional video uploaded onto YouTube and inserted into their own Google site page.  Students this year focused on food and culture and produced such works asThe Perfect Gift” with animation, and “St. Patrick’s Day Supper,” with a slide show and written narration.

 History, Dr. Michelle Berry

We use YouTube in both my Seminar in US History and my AP U.S. Government courses.  Most recently, students uploaded their own videos from the APGOV Campaign Project to YouTube.  For an example: 

(more…)

In what has been one of the most exciting curricular developments of late at St. Gregory, our ninth graders are tackling each winter an elaborate multi-disciplinary project on the topic of bioethics. The assignment comes jointly from the ninth grade biology and English teachers, and requires students in teams to research an assigned topic in bioethics, address driving questions, take it through multiple steps of revision and reflection, and then publish their completed work in a presentation which they deliver to other students, after which they actually provide a test-for-understanding quiz to those students about their presentation.

Below these four presentation Prezis and video (two prezis after the jump (more), which I am so happy to be sharing, is more detailed information about the assignment, including a rubric and the project “pitch” requirements. (You may need to click on “more.”) I thank the St. Gregory students whose fine work this is for giving me permission to share.



Here is a link to the test for understanding quiz which was prepared to accompany this presentation, designed by the students as part of their project. (it is amusing to me to read question 4, multiple choice option b). (more…)

I’ve been writing recently about FabLabs (here and here), and the importance of providing times, ways, and places for students to design and build their own “solutions” to problems, especially problems they discover, and to refine those “solutions” in multiple iterations.

(Be sure to see the two other posts sharing class work also: here and here).

At St. Gregory, where we aspire to “create innovators,” one of our most important and most exciting initiatives over the past two years has been the steady advance of our “Design Build”  Tech Innovations class,  taught by the amazing and awesome Mr. Dennis Conner.   It is an entirely PBL formatted class, with no set curriculum other than having students investigate “problems” and choose one to design and build solutions for.

The class continues to be a great success, and the difficult question looming for us at St. Gregory is whether to decide to move it from an optional elective (it is taught pass-fail, students can take it as many times as they wish, and it has received great enthusiasm from its participants) to a required freshman or sophomore class, formatted as an “introduction to and foundations of innovation” class.     The jury is still out on this one.

Suzie Boss, an edutopia blogger and author of Reinventing Project Based Learning with Technology, and  who visited St. Gregory last spring for two days, wrote this recently, in a piece entitled “How Design Build Curriculum Can Transform a Community.”

Where does a project like this fit into current discussions of 21st-century skills?

Our students are learning skills like welding and carpentry, 2D and 3D modeling. But those are the vehicles to do something else. We blog as much as we’re on the table saw. We’re giving them tools for entrepreneurship, for innovation, for local citizenship and engagement. We’re giving them a way to think through problems in their own lives. Design is all about possibility. For a student, that’s the best gift you can give them.

With the fall semester now completed, I want to share, in this post and in two following posts, examples of student work completed in the past few months by their own reports.  You can find the whole set on the class website here.

Spencer B’s project: a HEXAPOD

This is a hexapod. A hexapod is a robot with 6 ‘legs’, in this case with 3dof per leg. And before I bore you, I want to tell you that this is quite possibly the greatest project I have ever worked on. It has cost me, so far, just below 1k. Bit expensive, no? But the experience and result has been worth it. Intrigued?

This has been a labor of love. It’s been frustrating. It still won’t walk, this is because I had no idea about its power consumption. 8 amps? Despite that ridiculous number for a rather small robot, the control program (which consists of a virtual cube you can rotate with arrow keys and change with a few keystrokes) is nearly there! I’ll post it later on.

The robot was constructed primarily out of anodized aluminum parts and 18 servos. It includes a high amp regulator, as well as a microcontroller and a radio module. It looks like something out of a Sci-Fi movie. Here’s a link to where I got the parts:   WWW.LYNXMOTION.COM

—-

Clayton M’s project: Rockets!

Michael and others: the Trebuchet 2:

Filmed at our soccer field just behind our Science Laboratories, and also at a Trebuchet competition held in October on the campus of the University of Arizona, in which our students competed.

Some of my favorite elements of excellent learning are:

  • engaging students in making connections from their learning to “real world” issues and concerns;
  • motivating and rewarding students by asking them to do work that matters to them personally and which they can invest themselves into, developing as they do a stronger sense of their own identity and their own unique worldview;
  • asking students to use, develop, and demonstrate outstanding 21st century skills and digital proficiencies, and in particular using effective digital communication tools such as websites and digital videos;
  • and asking, expecting, and even insisting that students prepare and present high quality, finished, polished “products” as culminations of their learning experiences, and use these finished products as goals and ends toward which their learning journeys are progressing.

In a recent extended assignment for our excellent History and Social Studies teacher and department Chair, Michelle Berry, Ph.D., students were asked to prepare 2016 Presidential campaigns, including campaign ads on digital video and full blown websites.

Here I am sharing three video advertisement examples, and two websites.   The first comes from student Jackson R., who prepared a Green Party Presidential campaign with himself playing the part of Robert Forrest.   Be sure to click on the image above to visit his extraordinarily comprehensive and near-professionally produced campaign website, and enjoy his campaign ad video.  (more…)

2011-12 School Year opening assembly:

Good morning, and welcome to School year 2011-12, St. Gregory’s 32nd year!  It is great to see you all here, and may I say, you look terrific today– such great looking style– and I want to especially welcome our new students, including those from China,  Germany, and Alaska.   They came all this way to come to St. Gregory.   OUr student body is again over 300 students, and it feels great to have you all here.

Screening the following clip:

I loved this film, particularly its treatment of the students working together to create their film.   I realize that for me this movie, Super 8, had particular resonance, as it was about a group of 13 year olds in 1979, and I myself was 13 in 1979.

Super 8 the movie has great lessons and inspiration for us as learners, and I want to share with you my Super 8 takeaways, or Super 8 inspirations for a great school year of learning and growth:

  1. These students identified and followed their passion.  The main character did not want to go away to sports camp for the summer: his passion then was film and he pursued it vigorously!
  2. They used the best available contemporary technology to create and communicate.  They regularly went down to the camera store to see what was new, and they wanted to be informed and to use the best contemporary tools to accomplish their mission. (more…)

Our new St. Gregory Design Build Technological Innovation class continues to inspire me; it is so great to see students identifying their passions and designing projects around them, tackling difficult problems, and persevering through difficulties to design and build new technologies.

The video above showcases another example of the learning of this class, in this case the design and construction of a “Giant Trike.”  My appreciation goes to the excellent teacher, Dennis Connor, who runs this class and also produced the video, and of course to our fine student Alex who designed and built the bicycle.

Related Posts:

Related videos: (more…)

[cross=posted, slightly modified, from Connected Principals]

While interviewing a teaching candidate a few weeks ago, I asked her about her own digital citizenship and the ways she uses Web 2.0 tools to create, collaborate, and communicate online; her answer was swift and firm:

“Oh no, I would never do that; I know that it is dangerous and deeply problematic to ever put information about yourself on line because it will come back to haunt you.  In our family we know we must guard our privacy and protect ourselves from anything that could hurt our reputation. ”  We didn’t hire this candidate.

Let’s view digital footprints not as  frightening dangers to avoid, but as fruitful opportunities to cultivate for ourselves and especially for our students; let’s seek to support them in creating digital portfolios and wonderfully positive images of themselves online.

TEDx youth programs are a magnificent vehicle for this endeavor, and are readily available for schools and associations to participate in.

I am extremely proud of my regional association of schools (Independent school Association of the Southwest) for the work of  our technology directors in launching a TEDxYouth day for our member-schools, in which dozens of our students prepared and presented their own TED style talks.  The video above is a promotional video for our association’s program: it is blended with the promotional video for student TEDx programs broadly, and you can find and share the universal TEDxYouth video here.

I am really delighted with the program: can you think of  a better way to support students in the development of their oral and digital video communication skills, to provide them opportunities to share and advocate their visions and passions, to connect them with a vibrant global network, and to enhance their digital footprints?

Last week I enjoyed seeing Jason Kern, Technology Director at Oakridge School (TX), do an excellent presentation on the ISAS TEDx program, and Jason welcomed me to embed his slides (after the jump).    (more…)