I just happened to have a conversation with a student yesterday who went to Centro Scuola (an overseas summer school program with the York Catholic District School Board) which reminded me of one of my former students who had done that and who is now in California working in Film. I popped over to send him a hello message on Facebook and saw this “Narrative Cinematography Reel” by his Facebook friend, Howard Wan. I have never met Howard before, but I was intrigued by this concept (which is apparently a thing in the film industry) and my teacher brain couldn’t help but think of how we could use this idea as a metacognitive reflection in grade 8, a diagnostic in grade 9 and a culminating activity in grade 12; a different kind of Digital Portfolio.
Because I’m on a committee to help with our PA Day coming soon, I’ve been thinking of innovation and in particular this definition which I’ve taken from George Couro’s Innovator’s Mindset (pgs 19-20):
Innovation is a way of thinking that creates something new and better. Innovation can come from either “invention” (something totally new) or “iteration” (a change of something that already exists).
Technology can be crucial in the development of innovation, but innovation is less about tools and more about how we use those tools.
What to do with all of the files
Yesterday, I worked with grade 9 students to show them how to organize their Google Drive (we use Google Apps for Education). Many of them had used their Google Drive for grade 7 & 8 and asked what they were going to do with their “Elementary” file folder. The answer yesterday was nothing. But today, when I saw Howard’s Narrative Reel, I got to thinking…
How can we do better?
Rarely do we have the opportunity to truly know a student when they come to us in grade 9. We often rely on an All About Me activity or something like that which truthfully becomes a bit stale when we are asking kids to do this year after year. In fact, I remember one group of students reflecting on how they wished teachers would just talk to each other so they wouldn’t have to keep “introducing themselves” to teachers in the same way every year.
With the increase in what students can now save digitally they can easily compile the “best of” and like Howard Wan’s Narrative reel, create a digital reel of highlights of their elementary years using actual artifacts from their Google Drive. That way, a grade 9 teacher can not only get a sense of a student’s interests, but so too get insight as to a child’s strengths and needs based on their past work and experiences.
What about Grade 12?
In Ontario, as part of the English Curriculum, there is a Media Strand whereby the creation of media products is an expectation. Wouldn’t creating a Narrative Reel for highlighting their high school achievements make a useful and meaningful media product they could use to add to an About Me page or Digital Portfolio and that they could take with them to the world of work or post-secondary? By grade 12, students would have been exposed (hopefully) to a variety of digital storytelling tools so they could choose the best tool to tell their story.
What are some other ideas you have for tweaking an existing project or assignment to make it more meaningful or authentic for your learners?