I wish I wrote down all the ideas I want to do in my classroom. Like many educators, I forget more than I do. However, there was a moment this past month in a Twitter chat (#txedchat) that challenged me to try something different with my instruction before the year ended.
Reading through all the great ideas (i.e., green screens, poetry breaks, #breakoutedu), I wasn’t sure which one to do. I always wanted to utilize a green screen with a novel, but never understood exactly how to make it happen. From the people in the chat, I asked questions and for examples. Their passions to share led me to @TouchCast and @Doink apps for iPad, which I had access to both.
After much consideration, I went with the @TouchCast and it was awesome!
Less is more!
We started with an exploration activity using the Touch Cast tutorials and allowed scholars to learn the processes of the program. Manipulating backgrounds, adding sounds effects, and laughing was a major part for each scholar at the beginning. Students joked a lot, but it was okay. Their engagement was quickly rising.
I offered a simple first assignment: introduce one of the new vocabulary words from our weekly list using a Vapp (i.e., component of Touch Cast program). Some literally used the dictionary comment of Google while others searched for photos to display as backgrounds to allow their audience to understand the word (as shown below). It was a small project that didn’t require much thought, but offered a chance to show mastery of some of the tutorials and made vocabulary fun.
The RAFT (role, audience, format, and topic) strategy is commonly used in English/Language Arts classrooms. Our class began with a basic introduction of the strategy. I explained how all writers have to consider all aspects of their work when writing. I used a sample think aloud using the RAFT exercise to demonstrate the brainstorming all the potential parts of the RAFT.
— Brian Cook, Ed.D. (@DrBrianCook) May 24, 2016
As students worked together, many different roles came out (i.e., therapist, reporter, principal, character) where students imagined themselves playing that particular role. The ideas continued to flow as the scholars chose their audience very quickly and moved onto format and topic. Many chose to go with the green screen — while others went with Glogster and PowToon.
As we discussed the topic, I left it very open ended wanting to give them choice. We went over possible themes using a classroom poster and many quickly determined key themes in the novel, Taking Sides by Gary Soto, we were using for the project. Some scholars focused on single parent homes while others were more concerned with the aspect of growing up and friendships.
The minimum requirement was to use the @TouchCast app for one minutes and not re-create the novel. For instance, one scholar decided to have a talk show type setup with Lincoln, the main character, and Luke Skywalker because both characters had problems with their fathers. The questioning from the host talked about similar problems both faced.
Another scholar decided to focus on the character Monica, a young lady student who my scholar inferred had feelings for Lincoln. When conferencing with her, she said she felt passionate about the topic because Monica’s dad was very strict and did not want her to date because of her age; in her own home, she was receiving very similar treatment from her father because she was the same age as Monica. The short video showed a sit-down a mini-debate with Monica pleading her case to her father on why she should be allowed to date Lincoln. The scholar essentially wrote an argument essay, but did so in the format of a @TouchCast.
The list of examples and potential brainstormed from the RAFT were amazing (i.e., character changes, relationships between friends, etc.). Scholars displayed a deeper understanding of the novel and utilized technology to show it. Each project was different, but each of them showed their understanding. I was quite impressed.