I lucked out last week. The WHS Science department was planning a trip to Boston to see several exhibits, and there was space enough for me to go and to take a few art students along. I’d been dying to see the Glass Flowers at the Harvard Museum of Natural History since the science folks started taking students to see it a few years back. My pitch to be included in the trip involved media – the ability to facilitate the student documentation of the trip in still photos, digital audio and digital video. With five still cameras, three audio recorders and one video camera dispersed among the students, divided among the three groups, we went into the Museum of Science and off to Cambridge.
While we were at Harvard, the science teacher did mini-talks in front of several of the exhibits, pointing out how the exhibit demonstrated particular concepts the students covered or would soon cover in class. Chris is a great teacher and has a wealth of information he is happy to share with anyone who wants to listen. The students with the recording media picked up on that and many of his ad-hoc presentations were captured. This will be great for the students to review when they get back to class, and for students who were unable to attend to get some flavor of the trip. What great additions to Chris’s curriculum – mini-movies and podcasts to engage students.
In addition to capturing the teacher talking, the students interviewed each other about the trip and what they were seeing. When a peer is interested in their thoughts, they actually have to have some – and you could see the engagement kicking into another level, the search to find something coherent and meaningful to say about what they were seeing. Sometimes they read the info-cards with the exhibit – not exactly higher level thinking, but it provided key information for the video and stills, and there is a good chance they wouldn’t have read it at all had they not had a specific reason to do so.
The bus ride home provided yet another insight for me. The science teachers were talking about how they saw the media involvement lead to additional student engagement, as well as the opportunity to have materials to work with in class upon their return. They were really excited about the possibilities of this kind of student interaction – this time on a field trip, but I’d be willing to bet they will see the ways it can be used in the classroom as well. We’ve been doing things like this in Art for a while, but it really is a new prospect for many of the other teachers. The science teachers thought we should present the media and the trip to the rest of the faculty at a staff meeting – their idea, not mine. Hooray!
So, we are left with 1.5 GB of still pictures and audio files (not to mention all the pictures I’ll get from the students with their own cameras when I get back to school tomorrow), and 8 GB (about 30 min) of video clips. I’m trying to figure out how to post all the media where the students can all get to it, add to it, and use it for whatever projects they come up with. We’re a 1:1 school, so the kids all have the tools they need to make podcasts, edit images, create movies, etc. We have a server and workspaces on First Class Client. All I have to do is request the nearly 10GB of space – ultimately more like 15 when the kids start adding – to make it all accessible. I can’t wait to see what they come up with.