The Power of Students following a Tech Checklist

This past week I spent three days and two nights with 51 fifth-graders near the Rocky Mountain National Park here in Colorado for our annual ECO-Week, I was the guy in charge of technology, of course. Before ECO-Week began I had trained six students on how to use technology to record the activities of ECO-Week. Three were trained to be digital photographers and three to be FLIP videographers. The morning of ECO-Week arrived and I gave them each their assigned piece of technology and a checklist they had to follow.

The checklist was the shots that I needed them to get, things like; “Students getting on the bus.” “Students looking at tracks.” “Wildlife” etc. I had learned from previous years that you cannot just give student a camera and expect to get back the shots you need. A teacher once criticized me, saying that the checklist stifled student creativity, I argued that it enhanced it instead. 11-year-olds are not natural professional photographers, they need to be pointed in the right direction and then take the photo (following a couple of rules of photography that they have learned). They can use all the creativity they want – but just get me the photo of the student at the roller-rink.

At the end of the first day when the student returned the cameras to be downloaded and recharged I was blown away at the great photos and video I got back. We also did a daily podcast from ECO-Week for our parents back at home.

Check it all out at our school’s website:

http://www.bethkeelementary.com/eco-week.html

So here’s the take away: decided what you want from your students, give them a little training (ie: Atomic Learning Tutorials) and a checklist and then stand back and prepared to be amazed.