About two weeks prior to the start of the school I mail my new students and parents a welcome letter and a supply list. This year, I decided to throw in a bit of flare by enclosing the content in a “candy bar wrapper,” which I modeled after the Wonka Bar from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. My wrapper was created in Adobe Illustrator with the help of the Willy Wonka font, which I was able to find and download for free after a quick Google Search. For the sake of authenticity, I tried to make my chocolate bar look as close to the Wonka Bar as possible. Also, the back (not pictured) contains a QR code that connects to my classroom website.
Along with the two papers, the wrapper also included a golden ticket, which invited new students to a classroom technology day, approximately ten days prior to the start of the school year. (Once again, the golden ticket mimics the “real” golden ticket as closely as possible.) Due to the heavy emphasis that is placed on technology in my classroom, I like to get students started with certain tools as soon as possible. Also, I can take this time to proactively establish rapport with my students, which pays off later on when certain learning obstacles may occur.
So, towards the middle of this past August, 20 out of my 28 new students entered into my classroom for the very first time. More or less, the day was split into four parts:
- Story Arc – Students learned the basic story arc: setup, conflict, challenge, climax, and resolution. (This idea was borrowed from the Toontastic app, which provides this structure in order to assist users in creating stories.) We also discussed how all movies, television shows, and books follow a certain structure, in one way or another. After, the students were informed that their task for the day was to build a five scene movie, one scene for each step of the story arc.
- iMovie Demo – I conducted some basic demos, emphasizing the workflow that the students would be following. This included shooting video on their iPod Touches, bringing the content into iMovie as a new event, transferring the footage to a new project, and then trimming, adding titles and transitions. We also talked about various export options.
- Letting Go! – The students, in groups of 4-5, were provided with time to shoot the footage for their movies. However, prior to jumping on the technology, they were encouraged to first storyboard their five scenes. (A little more work at the beginning makes everything less stressful later on!)
- Student Showcase – Once the movies were created and handed in (via the student shared drive on my district’s network), the students proudly showed off their creations. I do have to say that I was blown away by their work and their creative confidence, especially considering the fact that for many of them this was their first time using iMovie.
Overall, this was an exciting start to the school year, and I look forward to providing my students with more opportunities to improve upon their digital storytelling abilities.
If you’re a classroom teacher, let me know how you start off the new school year!
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