Friday, April 8, 2011

AR # 6 Sample Project

This week I was given the task of creating a sample project for students to base their digital story on.  I have asked for students to decide on their favorite book, or a book that they enjoyed and to write a story summary.  They are to include story map elements like settings, characters, plot, and use describing words or phrases to recount what they read about.  I also wanted them to include images in order to create a multimedia story.  I decided to leave out audio as this will be their first time with the Prezi program.
            I teach fifth grade Language Arts and summarizing with story element development is important at this level of reading.  It is mandated that I teach 90 minutes of reading each day.  This type of project can take away from one class’s progress through the year’s order of instruction, mainly because I need a computer lab to conduct group instruction.   I decided a few things would need to be put in place.  I first talked with my principal about the project, talked to the computer lab teacher, and the homeroom teacher to keep everyone well notified of what I was having students do as a Language project.  I of course had to create a Prezi for each student, allow them to be invited to be an editor of the project.  What this means is that they are given an URL to get to their project, and are invited to work on it.  As an ideal situation I would have students that all have computer access at home with their own e-mail accounts and just e-mail them the invitation link.  Prezi actually has a function that allows you to “invite an editor”.  This can be one or multiple students working on the same project from all different locations.  The problem is not all students have computers at home and none have their own e-mail account.  Which at this age I think is a good idea.  I used my OCPS e-mail account and created a separate project for each student.  Then I created a letter, which I had approved by my principal, that had my curriculum page URL and their “invitation” URL.  This first week they are to play around with the program, and get past the wow factor so they are ready to create.  Prezi is a great help because it give a short tutorial for students to see what they can do with the program.  I of course choose one class, instead of all three of my classes just for the sake of managing students and getting used to a facilitator role rather than a direct instructor role. 
            This week I will meet the students during their computer lab time to go over some specific concepts and directions for them to follow to complete this project.  I then will have them use their book pick to tell about the setting, characters and summarize the plot of the story.  Their next task after using print to complete the story map is to include graphics.  I told students that they can use , or they can draw pictures which I can scan or they can ask for pictures from the book to be scanned for their project so they can insert them to create their multimedia digital story.  I have created a curriculum page so that they can easily access these pictures.  I will scan them and place them in a folder for them to access.  Since scanning takes so long, I can do this at home, and they can work from home in order to increase the accessibility of their project and the material they need to complete it. 
            My most important goals are to have students work on their story structure skills and to show me that they can express these skills in a new way by creating a digital story.  I also think that it is important for them to access the Web and gain a healthy understanding of how to use the Internet for their preparations to be more independent for middle school and beyond.  Normally, I have students do the basic pencil and paper story map.  This is where they read a short book then fill in the parts for story elements.  This will hopefully make them excited to complete tasks like summarizing, plot development and character development.  I think as access to work stations or computer becomes available then it will be easier to complete project like this as common practice not just a huge learning experience as it is now.  I see that I need to continue to work and practice my facilitating of this type of assignments.  I definitely didn’t realize the time it would take to get students set up for this project.  But as I continue to facilitate these types of projects I’m sure that I will become better at distributing the needed components students need to be successful.  At this stage I feel I am still building the project and after the first run will see the mistakes I need to fix, but also will have a base to work from for the next time I have students complete a Prezi.
            I think I could improve by more planning time, and more practicing on my own.  I am still finding myself discovering new things to do.  I also am finding points of frustration, which take awhile to figure out.  Then the light bulb goes on and I have discovered more aspects of Prezi.  As for other types of Digital Storytelling ideas, I hope to visit and explore other sites with other programs.  It almost seem like I am a commercial for Prezi and it is the best thing out there.  As I have learned, especially in this class, there are more things that are undiscovered then things that we have discovered when it comes to Internet resources.  Last, for my example for students to view and build upon, I used my favorite book that I read to my son.  I hope you enjoy the example.


  1. Keefe,

    I loved your Prezi! Not only is that one of my favorite books of all time, but you created a clear, concise and visually interesting example for your students! Your planning for this project was very well thought out, especially for something new and different, and the level to which you thought about what your students could and could not do was very considerate.

    My one concern with your example is that it is maybe a little too simple. Now I understand that this would be their first time using the program, but you clearly have planned for them to play with it and do quite a bit of prep work before they submit their final presentation. This is definitely a bit of a sophisticated project you would be assigning, and yet your example is a bit stark and a little bland. Your idea is sound, the planning is sound, and I know the execution would be great, but I think a more complex example would be better for them. Give them a good bar to strive for and it might encourage more creativity. After all, 5th graders are a bit more advanced then they used to be, so I would suggest giving them a really top-notch example to refer back to. Maybe I am quibbling over nothing, but I think a rich example could yield equally rich projects from students.

    Overall, your project is just wonderful and I think it'll be a great success with your students.

  2. Thanks for your input, I gave them a minimum to strive for, and something that they all new. I also had to consider that the next two weeks they have FCAT testing, which puts a lot of strain on them. I was in the lab yesterday with them and their ideas are much more creative, which I felt was the point. I wanted them to go beyond the example, and believe it or not they mostly didn't know how to do most of the required steps. Thanks for your great input. I plan to create another example with one of their favorite books "The Diary of a Wimpy Kid."

  3. Wow, you really did your homework on this one. I appreciated the fact that you included other teachers that are involved with the students.

    I understand the frustration with some students not having access to a computer outside of school. I like your approach and that you are open minded to the fact not all students will be able to perform on a computer and give them alternatives.

    Great post and wonderful story!

  4. Hi Keefe,

    Wow, what a substantive post! You have really put some prep work in ahead of time to try and make your digital storytelling project successful for your students. Kudos to you! (I hope your principal appreciates all of your efforts.)

    I believe using Prezi for your particular age students is a great idea and the concept you have is right on target. There are so many different Web 2.0 tools available now that are free. Also they have extensive “Help” sections and there are all kinds of online tutorials available online for them that the traditional “paper and pencil” book report seems so boring. You’ve got a “winner” of an idea here.

    The only question I have is about the reading level of the book you used in your example. I so much appreciate it being a family favorite, but I think it needed to be more on reading level of your students. That is my only constructive suggestion, and I am glad to read in your reply to Julie that you thought the same as we and you have already decided to create an example based on “The Diary of a Wimpy Kid.” That should be awesome. Just remember that this is a learning experience for all of us and by trial and error sometimes we learn the best. I have had to adjust the particular digital storytelling project I am developing several times and it’s almost where I want it to be.

    Best of luck with using your project with your students, and I know by the preliminary feedback you’ve posted so far, they are enthusiastic and getting into the whole thing. That should make you feel good especially with all the work you've put into this project. This should be a memorable learning experience for all of you!

    Thanks for sharing, and I hope FCAT has gone well for you this week!

    :-) Ruth

  5. What a great example! I know you stated that you wish you could spend more time on the planning part, but it looks to me like you have Prezi down to a T:) I have to say that you seem to be a great planner as you had all the logistics planned out ahead of time. Some of those things I didn't even think about. For my students (1st graders) I had them go home and talk to their parents and I too sent a letter asking those that could to sign up for Prezi using their parents e-mail. This worked out well because almost all my students, minus 5, created an account. I didn't even think to use invite editor, which would have been nice. I'm getting used to Prezi now and I love reading everyone's post because I learn even more.

    You stated, "I also think that it is important for them to access the Web and gain a healthy understanding of how to use the Internet for their preparations to be more independent for middle school and beyond." I think educators have a responsibilty for the 21st century to at least teach basic computer presentation skills. These projects and assignments not only help them become better prepared for their future, but it gives them the skills they need to use technolgy independently and be successful at it.