This is what passes for innovation at this end of term…
Me: I want to do Tudor websites with my year 7s this afternoon but I am not sure where to host them.
Helpful Teacher Friend: Hmm. Don’t know. But you could get them to do something in Movie Maker, it’s awesome! Yeah…like….Tudor timelines! In Movie Maker!
Me: Um, OK, really? Not websites?
HTF: No! Tudor timeline movies! Amazing!
Me: OK. How hard can Movie Maker be? I watched my year 9s using it a few years ago….
And so, having managed to get an unprecedented four lessons of computer time in a row for the last weeks of term, I set my pliant year 7s a Movie Maker task. This proved a challenge for us all, since none of us are particularly well-versed in it; but we seem to have done alright.
Their task was to create a timeline of the Tudors in Movie Maker. This sounds like an extremely loose and open-ended task, because it was. I gave them some suggestions for how they could interpret the task, as well as the option to work individually or in pairs, and we had done a few lessons of prior learning on Henry VIII and his six wives and why Elizabeth never married.
The results can be seen here. You may get bored with the same two songs over and over again.
Here are my learnings from the project:
Know your resources. The computers have recently been upgraded and I hadn’t realised that there were no CD drives in the new ones, so I had to rip the CDs they brought in and put music on shared resources for them – which is why the same two songs are on most of the videos. I also discovered ICT no longer lend headphones. This was not the best time to discover this for the first time.
Have music available. There must be freely downloadable music out there for things like this. I spent zero time finding any; in fact, it didn’t even cross my mind until now, after the fact. Instead I set them a find-music-and-bring-it-in homework.
Have an example. If I had made an example ahead of time, I would have been more helpful to the students when they got going, as opposed to learning with them.
Have a planning session. I had the whole class work for an hour on researching before they got started on their movies. With hindsight, I would have spent half of this time talking through possible timeline options for them.
Allow time to evaluate. The issues created by the music hoovered up so much time that we rushed to get them uploaded at the end. I would have preferred for them to watch each others’ and give hints and tips on spelling and things like colour schemes, before we put them live on YouTube. Some of the spellings make me wince, but the achievement is not lessened by it, I suppose.
They did enjoy playing, though, and were astonishingly closely focused on the task for the entire length of the project, which is unprecedented. To be fair, though, I attempt a few risky activities with this class and they usually rise to it very well. I am impressed with how they managed to come to the program with no prior experience of it in most cases, and just figure it out. I was also delighted to note that the most academic were not the most skilled.
Unfortunately, due to the length of the project and the fact that I am devoting their last lesson to a pond-based Armada extravaganza, I didn’t get to continue the Wallwisher project I had planned. However, the wall will still be there in September, and I am keeping this class as they move into Y8, so I may pick it up with them first lesson back, to give them a bit of continuity of learning and a chance to get some extended writing done early in the term.