My calendar was pretty full but the teacher was strategic. She sent me an email invitation with an embedded video of her three students inviting me to their party. There I was, face-to-face with three girls. It was pretty hard to look them in the eye and think of saying no. I was also curious to find out what these students thought of using prezi as a tool to demonstrate their learning. Thus, this past week I ended up in the library at Green Timbers Elementary with Mrs. Thiessen’s grade 3 class.
As a member of district staff, it was actually a bit of treat to be back in a school setting and see the excited faces and keen enthusiasm of these students. (Yes, sometimes I really miss being a principal). And Mrs. Thiessen knows how to organize a party. There was finger food, cake, punch and medals for all of the students at the end of the presentation. She made sure she had invited special guests so the students had an authentic audience as well. You can watch a video of her party here. There were many things that impressed me about the party; here are a few observations:
1. The students designed their own rubric to assess their learning. The rubric included the things that these students felt were important. They wanted to make sure that: they stayed on topic, they included captions, the information reflected their learning, they used appropriate grammar and punctuation and that they demonstrated the ability to embed videos and pictures in their presentation. Finally, they tried to add some “cool factor” for a special effect. By helping design the rubric, the students were owning their learning.
2. The students had learned a new tool. I have never made a prezi and I could see that they clearly had a few things to teach me. I was also amazed at their versatility using prezi for being in grade 3. Two of the invited guests also have children in grade 3. We noted that our own children have only had the opportunity to use computers in their schools to do typing and math games. It was nice to see these students using technology creatively to support their learning.
3. This tool gave students the opportunity to represent their learning in a variety of ways. Each presentation was different and you could not tell who was learning disabled, gifted or simply a struggling learner. As one student shared:
4. The students were deeply engaged in their learning. At the end of each of their presentations they reflected on their experience and what they thought about learning in this fashion.
This Integrated Media Literacy Project was a joint initiative with the Education Department of Vancouver’s Pacific Cinematheque. They are a non-profit charitable organization that focuses on teaching the creative, critical and pedagogical aspects of digital media production, media literacy and film education. They provided a trained facilitator, Adelle Cabral, to help the students learn about Web 2.0 tools. The students chose prezi as the tool they most wanted to investigate. The students, the teacher, the parents, and guests enjoyed the opportunity to see the students present their learning. And as one guest described it, “Talk about personalized localized learning. Now these students really know where they live…on this planet.”