Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Math Education: Digital Storytelling

We''ll apply the SRSD approach to problem solving throughout this project. 
I know that digital projects make students dig deep and perform at high levels. The synergy of image, words, music, numbers, and video make for a rich platform to use when explaining mathematical thinking. With this in mind, I started a digital math story problem project with students yesterday.

I began by introducing students to what a digital story is by showing them a couple of videos that exist on this digital storytelling presentation. Then I put students in partner groups. I chose the groups and matched students by complementary skills, stamina, and other abilities.

The next step will be to model the problem solving process and then model the digital storytelling process step-by-step. Then it will be up to students to continue on their learning path with lots of teacher support.

One hurdle in the process is choosing the best platform for these math stories. I would have chosen SCRATCH but this year's students are not as facile with this. I think it's time that we started a dedicated coding education process at the school beginning with 30 minutes a week of coding related to interdisciplinary learning at kindergarten. Kindergarten could start with SCRATCH, Jr. and perhaps some other related coding programs and then the programs and projects could develop as children get older. There's so much potential with coding today, and this would have been the perfect medium.

Since they're not familiar with SCRATCH enough and there's limited time, I shot out a request for other possible apps. Dan Callahan suggested Explain Everything, but because I need to determine the apps I will use in the classroom, if they cost money, way ahead of time (up to a year). But there's the possibility that the app exists on iPads I can borrow so I'm looking into that. Then I read that Toontastic might be a good app, but I need to have five or so free apps at a time before I'm able to have apps added to the iPads so that won't work with the system logistics for adding apps. So I'll probably go with iMovie, an app that's on all the iPads I have access to and a process I'm familiar with as outlined in the Digital Storytelling Presentation.

The next challenge will be growing a sense of team and enthusiasm with the groups. When a project is new like this some children become nervous, some don't naturally gravitate toward new challenges while others will be eager to jump in.

Further, I'll need to create my own math story problem video as a model too. I always find that if a teacher goes through all the steps on their own and creates a similar project, then the teacher is much better able to teach the project or content.

I'm sure I'll write more about this project as it emerges. Once students complete their projects, they'll have a chance to present the short math videos at school assembly as one way of sharing with and teaching the whole school of 400 students from kindergarten to fifth grade.

I love having a new project to work on with students. It adds excitement to the classroom and deepens and broadens everyone's learning landscape. Onward.