Thursday, September 28, 2006


My first hour English 10 class has been using the laptops daily for the past week to create a mockumentary (a partly fictitious documentary) using Photostory. This is a preparatory project for Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451--a prophetic novel that warns us of a dark and empty future in which humans have used technology both to feed and hide their shallow natures. We are using the mockumentaries in order to create prophecies as well. The task given to each student was to pick a subject that has changed dramatically over the past 20 years, such as phones, fashion, music, sports, cars, etc., to analyze both how things have changed and why they have changed, and to use these trends to make specific predictions for the future. Then, they will set their mockumentary in the year 2026 and explore how their subjects have progressed up to this point. As part of their script, they also need to establish their tone and address the positive and the negative consquences of these changes.

What is interesting about this project is that they taking one of the central ideas of our constructivist team and making it literal--they are creating their own futures, and they're doing so in an educated, individual, and cautious way. The technology has made this project far more engaging than a paper; because they know that they will be reading and recording their scripts and setting them to images and music for the rest of the class to watch, they're quite self-conscious about and invested in their writing.

I would like to publish some of their mockumentaries somehow. If anyone has suggestions, please let me know. The major challenge so far has been teaching to a class that is so diverse in their technological abilities. Some students want to use a more complicated program than Photostory, while other students are just now learning how to make tables on Microsoft Word and how to organize their electronic work into folders. Because of this, students have been working at very different speeds, and while they're all working--that's the important part--it's difficult to make daily plans. It still feels somewhat loose, and the amount of freedom they have had with this makes me a little nervous. Thoughts and suggestions? Thanks! Kristin Kakos


BenH said...

I don't really know a lot about this, because I am not in your class, but I would suggest letting them use whatever program they can. I think it would be interesting to see how it turns out. Some would be simpler than others, and some more complex. But I think that would make it more diverse and intersting. However they want to express their creativity should be an option.

As far as daily plans? I don't know. Maybe you could just allocate a block of time each day devoted to work. Or even better, a larger block of time every other day. I think the un-interrupted time is very valuable. At least to me it is.

Michelle S said...

This sounds like an interesting experiment to see how well students are handling the technology. I think the students will find creative ways to use the freedom you've given them. As for planning, let the students have maybe ten minutes at most every day on the computer working on the project. Because the students will finish at different rates, encourage that the ones that finish first help those who aren't as sure how to handle Photostory, or whatever it is they're using. I know one of the goals of constructivist teaching is to let students make their own education. So during this time, let them work by themselves and only give help if there is a question another student cannot answer. This project sounds like fun! It will be interesting to see the results. Ask Mr. Fisch about publishing possibilities.

pats said...

I really like using laptobs in Mrs. Smith class. It's nice because I never spell words wrong, because of the spell check. I agree with Ben, we should be able to use what ever program that we feel is useful. We do have just about any program that we can. I really like what we have done in the past where we just all comment on each other's thought's. Its silent in the room but every one is talking online.

Hikingout said...


Hope I got your attention, this is very IMPORTANT.

I have an URGENT message. Today in AP Gov, Meyer brought up a very interesting bill called the DELETING ONLINE PREDATORS BILL, despite the nice title, the bill will destroy what we and the Arapahoe High School staff have attempted to create. Please research this bill. The gist of the bill is that all access to chat rooms, BLOGS, myspace,and perhaps even simpler pages that might allow students to display any kind of personal information will be denied to students.

This bill will be extremely detrimental to the education, will destroy everything we have worked hard to establish, and eliminate the benefits to internet in the classroom that many of you enjoy. THIS BILL PASSED IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES BY A VOTE OF 410-15. Our time window is incredibly short to take any kind of action against this bill before it is passed by the Senate and it WILL be passed. We must take action now, IF THERE IS A WAY TO ORGANIZE A MEETING FOR CONCERNED STUDENTS I WOULD BE GRACIOUS FOR INFORMATION ON HOW TO GET A ROOM AND ANNOUNCEMENTS.

Any strategies on how not to get this bill passed would be greatly appreciated, I have a few, but I would prefer one in which I don't have to be suspended or expelled :).

kayla257 said...

Mrs. Smith I think that it is great that you are teaching us such new things in the technology department, but truth be told, sometimes it is a little hectic because technology can either work for you or not, depending on the day. So I think that we should have a practice run in class before we are expected to turn in such difficult mind rattling papers. However, I do feel that it was our fault because you were there for us to ask questions along with Mr.Fische, and you did give us great detailed directions. If the media center had more than one computer and headset I think things may have gone alot smoother.