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