Bigger Projects = Bigger Learning

#edtech #elearning - This week I am speaking at a regional teacher’s meeting about some of the projects I do with my elementary students. As I was preparing my speech it  got me thinking...

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The start of a new school year also means the start of my before and after school clubs. Every week I meet with students who want to be podcasters, movie makers or robotic engineers. Today I would like to talk about my movie makers.

Movie making is a big deal in our elementary school. This year we have taken it to a new level, we want to make movies with a message, instead of just the dramatic one that we have done in the past. I guess I had been reading too many books this past summer and now it shows in my clubs, I want my students to make a difference -- and they can do this with their movie making.

Like many elementary schools we have a set of school values that we promote in everything that we do; Respect, Responsibility, Integrity and Kindness. These four values have deep roots in our school and in our teaching. We now make movies about these values, in fact, I stole the idea from

The one thing about making movies with 4th and 5th grade students is that it is a really big project for them to wrap their little minds around. Some would even say too big. We do weeks of planning followed by weeks of shooting, and anyone who has ever been involved in a shoot knows that it is one of the most boring thing to be a part of. It is a lot of sitting around and being quiet, waiting for your turn to be in a shot. The reality of it is that this kind of work in important for students to learn, to be part of a big picture with no immediate payback. Which can be tough for students of fast-food generation. But my kids stick with it and keep coming back week after week until we are done shooting.

The payback they do get comes a few weeks later when the final movie has been edited and it is up on YouTube for their family and friends to see, not to mention the entire world.

As far as I am concerned students learn a lot from these big projects, and I am not talking about filmmaking skills. Skills like patience, communication and cooperation, a movie set is like a family, we are all working towards the same goal and in the end, we all win -- not just the kids on screen, because even my actors soon realize all the hard work that everyone puts into the project.

These are things they just can’t learn by working on a project for only a few weeks, sometimes it takes months for these types of things to sink in. So don't be afraid to push working with school technology projects to bigger and longer projects.

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