Now we're into the messy part of the project. Students are working throughout the classroom in make-shift studios writing scripts, creating models and explaining their thinking as they compare two fractions.
Some of the strengths of this project so far are the following:
- Students are engaged and working for long periods of time to figure out just right ways to explain their thinking.
- Students are thinking deeply about mathematical concepts and processes.
- Students are developing collaborative practice and skill.
As the project evolves, I find myself adding and modifying pieces to best meet students' needs. Here are some of the initial changes:
- Adding the "audience" factor: I forgot to do that initially and as soon as I took the time to designate and discuss our audience, students' investment and care grew. Our audience is the third grade classes. Students are eager to share their learning with the grade below them and the teachers they had last year. Further, their short films will be helpful to third graders as they learn about fractions, prep for State tests and look forward to fourth grade.
- Showing Examples: I created and showed my examples one day and Khan examples the next. Students enjoyed Khan's humor and the fact that his videos were short. I told them the story about Khan and they liked that too. Then I explained how they can use Khan's videos as a tool to help their learning. Some students added that they regularly use the videos for homework help.
- Editing on the Big Screen: As groups completed initial drafts, I played their films on the "big screen" (white board). We sat together and watched the videos, discussed the highlights and decided if it was ready to go or needed a retake. It was fun to sit with the group and discuss the film together with a focus on third graders ability to learn from the video.
- Good Enough: This is the first draft and my students are ten-year-olds, not adults. So as long as the math is correct and the voices clear, I accept the film. Having created a film myself, I know that it's a project with many possibilities, but we don't have the time (or the will) to explore them all.
This is a lengthy project. We're on day two and students are wrapping up their first film drafts. I expect that all students will be done by day three. Next week we'll make appointments to share the work with third grade classes.
Stay tuned as I'll write a final project post that includes examples of the students' films. Let me know if you have any suggestions.