Monday, June 8, 2009

Collaborating with Technology: Multimedia and Biology

So, three posts are coming up summarizing 3 collaborations between my students and others in my school, across Canada, and North America. Here goes...

With so many FREE web 2.0 tools, teachers have the ability to easily reach out beyond their classrooms to engage in meaningful, curriculum-based interactions that will live in the memories of students for a long time. 

Ultimately I would like some of these projects to be the topic of discussions in years ahead when a student reminisces, "Remember in Nichol's class when we..." 

My multimedia students completed a cross curricular project with our Biology classes this semester. They were told that the bio students were the 'clients' and they were being retained as the contracted production house. The topic was recycling and the audience was grade 4. After some meetings with the Biology department, I involved the students in the process of rubric development through class discussion. I asked what they thought their responsibilities would be as the head of the film studio. Most of what they said fell in line with the CTS module that I was using for this project. They commented about:

- quality/flow of editing 
- audio levels 
- types of shots with the camera
- lighting, natural and use of our lighting rig

To which I added
- use of planning time/shooting time with clients
- aesthetics and timing of titles, credits

The central message and script of the movies were the responsibility of the Biology 20 students. They were marked with their own rubric. When I discussed this rubric with the two biology teachers an interesting point about assessment came up. Should the biology students be marked on the quality editing of the movie? Prior to working with Neil Stephenson and our own in-house assessment guru Dean Senn, I would have said yes. On this project, I didn't agree. Biology students should be evaluated based on outcomes from the Biology curriculum and the same goes for multimedia.

Is this wrong? Still being a newb trying to wade my way through new approaches to assessment is sometimes very challenging. Please weigh in with your thoughts.

The project took about 2 weeks with 5 days for direct collaboration between the two classes. We planned and created storyboards on day 1, shot the video for 2 days, and did rough edits on the fourth day. My multimedia students then had 5 classes do the final edit including titles and credits.  The 5th class together the following week was for my students to present the final edit to their Biology 'clients'. 

Overall it was a very positive experience. One group even emulated the Commoncraft style of videos with cutout characters. It was a huge hit with the grade 4's!  (Link to come, as the video is at school on my class HD). 

The next step is for me to work with my colleagues to build their capacity. Ultimately, I would like to see their students using the carts of MacBooks we have coming at our building next year. Using the Kodak zi6 cameras and Canon FS200 cameras made shooting and importing a snap. All of my students used Final Cut and wowed their clients with their use of Livetype for titles and credit, well most of them anyways. Tripods were mandatory so these recycle movies didn't turn into homages to the Blair Witch Project!

Samples to be distributed once I get back to school. Drop me an email if you would like to see either the Biology or Multimedia sides of the rubric. coolpoolteacher at

Photosource: Moria from Flickr

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