The Best Laid plans….

This week’s theme in class seems to be Digital Storytelling, so I wanted to share this anecdote with everyone. Three years ago when our school was first deemed as a “Classrooms for the Future” School, we were introduced to a lot of new technology, including classroom laptops and digital cameras. While attending a seminar of “Digital Storytelling” I was inspired to use the cameras and the program called “Photostory” to have students create a project along the lines of a Digital Story. I worked with our CFF coach to design a relevant lesson where students would find images online that match up to the theme of the project, or go out and take photos themselves. The students then had to construct a 3 minute presentation or “story” with music, narration, add-ons…ect. A rubric was provided for students, and we began the process of creation. I had a week slotted to complete this project, more than enough time I believed! As it turns out, the project took almost 3 weeks!!

From the beginning the lesson was plagued with daily malfunctions. Cameras not working, laptops freezing up, slow network connections, lost files, the program simply not working or allowing students to upload their content….for 12 straight days I got an amazing aerobic workout as I trotted from group to group troubleshooting and fixing problem after problem. In the end, the final products were amazing and the students stated they enjoyed the experience and the lesson. The problem at hand was, losing 12 days of instruction of content….was it worth it? The students were on task, creating a hands-on product and working in cooperation. These are all great attributes to a working classroom. So, in my mind, it was worth it, and after the lesson was over, I “tweeked” the lesson and made tutorial sheets for the students concerning the program. Of course, the most valuable lesson for me after this initial run was, whenever an educator is implementing new tactics and new technology into his/her classroom, patience is a must, and even the best laid plans can go down the drain.

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About moriquendi23

I am a high school history teacher in west-central PA. I am also the producer/director of the schools drama plays and musicals, the scholastic quiz team coach, and assistant marching band director. Needless to say...I'm a pretty busy guy.
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4 Responses to The Best Laid plans….

  1. jksuter says:

    I could have written this blog. Probably the same frustrating Lenovo computers we received with the CFF grant. I wonder if the schools that went with Apple laptops have the same problems. I have been trying to convince our tech department we should go with Apples when we move to 1 to 1. They say the Apples are too expensive to be justified. If you can get a 1 week project done in a week rather than three that would be all the justification I would need. I shudder to think of all the time I have wasted dealing with those computers over the last two years…

  2. pettisharley says:

    Greetings. I enjoyed your tale and find it interesting. We’ve had similar CFF problems at my school as well. I liked your analysis of the 12 days lost. Was it really lost? Sounds like it wasnt, just the objectives of the lesson changed. If the students got valuable instruction out of the unit, then it was certainly worth it.

    • moriquendi23 says:

      Thanks for the reply! I think its interesting that we agree that though some content time was lost, the lesson was still worth it. Perhaps technology is changing the parameters on which we assess a valuable and meaningful lesson. Typically, our progress is basedon how far in the text we get before the end of the semester or year, or how many assessment anchors we cover before a test. I think we may be giving our students a disadvantage by using these archaic dynamics. If we as a society are stressing 21st century skills more and more, shouldn’t we then not change our classroom expectations to match? Just a thought.

      • jksuter says:

        I agree with both of you, but if no work is taking place because students are waiting for crashed computers to reboot, the internet to work again, or any of the other problems we have run into, I still believe it is wasted time. I don’t mind taking longer to complete a project where learning is taking place. Just think what your students might have achieved in those 12 days without technical problems.

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