Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Inaugural Project Summary

Thanks to Rob Nelson for taking the time to write this article. I had posted about it before, and had encouraged you to participate. I hope you did. Now, Rob talks about how the day went. I sure wish I could have been there. (Sorry this took so long to post, Rob. I hurried you just so you could wait. :-) )
"Four years ago, one of my 8th grade students participated in a career project, his career goal was to become a reporter. Just three weeks ago I found myself talking to the same student, it was five in the morning, he was in the school, I was in Washington and we were ready to broadcast live.

On January 20th, Springfield High School, in Pennsylvania hosted a project designed to engage as many students as possible in a discussion on Barack Obama’s historic inauguration. This project started off as an idea for a video documentary during the student’s yearly Close-Up trip to Washington DC that coincided with the Inauguration. Government teacher Bill McRae thought that this would be an excellent opportunity to get some primary source materials in a video format for this historic event. As the event got closer, Mr. McRae began to share his ideas with the Classrooms for the Future coach and Dave Jurkiewicz, our Video Production teacher. By the end of the brainstorming, a simple documentary had evolved into a documentary news project that would ultimately involve 10-15 teachers, 200-300 students, 3 distinct venues, and 20 to 30 short student produced videos that spanned the content areas. All of the resources were made available using web tools such as Blogger, TeacherTube, and Ustream that teachers can, provided they are not blocked by content filters, access free of charge and at their discretion.

This was a people project. It is true that we used abundant technological resources and we really would not have been able to take it as far as we did without the cameras, laptops, blogs, and Internet resources but in the end it was about the experience the students gained and the knowledge and practice that came with that experience. As the project progressed and, in one students words, “We found out how big it was”; we saw just how energetic, innovative, and filled with initiative our students truly were. They became real world problem solvers as they anticipated potential problems to avoid as well as developing solutions to overcome existing challenges.

“It’s amazing” was the quote from one news anchor after spending an hour and a half with the students on January 20th. Time after time reporters commented on how realistic the preparations were for the project. To quote Bill Mcrae,” We just got out of the kids way”. The authentic nature of the project allowed students to make connections that they would not ordinarily have made. Broadcast journalism students filmed other students conducting math lessons that focused on how experts figured out the crowds on the mall. Government students honed interview techniques as they prepared for trips to the National Constitution Center and Washington DC. Time after time students commented on how the project based approach enhanced their understanding and appreciation of the events. Just the other day, one of the students who went to Washington told me that “I miss it.” “Yeah, the trip was fun” I responded, assuming that she meant the trip itself. “No,” the student corrected,” I mean the whole project, I miss working, and getting ready, it was exciting.”

It’s not done yet…keep an eye out for shspresidentialwatch"

Here are the links: video
Don't you just LOVE what technology is doing in some schools? GREAT stuff!

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