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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Vulnerability and Learning: The Movie Contest

Today students shared their movie creations. Each base-ten system animation was clever and different from the others. Each child or team focused on a different aspect of the base-ten system and chose a myriad of ways to portray the concepts. The audience of fourth graders and fifth grade classmates watched and reacted.

I listened to the audience and I watched each creator as they shared their work. I realized how vulnerable one may feel when his/her work is being shared. I was keenly aware of when the audience reacted with laughter or engagement and when the audience was less engaged. The young filmmakers were also aware of this.

The fact that this was a contest added to the vulnerability as students knew their creations were being judged against their classmates' work. I saw each of them noticing the clever ideas one another used to make meaning with SCRATCH, PowToon, iMovie, PhotoBooth, and Khan Academy Coding.

Next time we do this project, I'm going to make more time and ceremony when it comes to the share. I want to make sure that the audience understands the level of time, thought, creativity, and risk students invested to complete the task. I also want the creators to understand how much I value each person's creativity, voice, and presentation. Just because each film is not the same doesn't lessen the quality, in fact it made the whole show more interesting.

I have felt this same vulnerability often as I publish a blog post, craft a screencast, create a digital story, or code an animation. It's challenging to publish one's work, but it's also educational and growth producing to put yourself out there and let an audience critique your work.

When we return to school after the break, I'll honor each student filmmaker with a certificate and a few words about the film's strengths. There will be small prizes too. I'll make sure that the audience also understands the role of vulnerability and the time it takes to create a valued work. Then in the not too distant future, during the Hour of Code week, I'll give every child a chance to code a short math operations animation. Before we begin that project, I'll remind them of all the wonderful lessons they  learned from the first wave of brave and creative math animators, the ones who laid the path for others.

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