Wednesday, June 22, 2011

First Annual Academy Awards

Our middle school hosted our first every digital story academy awards ceremony this month. This event was developed as a way to showcase and promote the wonderful digital stories and multimedia projects our students are creating in their classes.

I first introduced digital storytelling in the district two years ago. Teachers attended professional development courses that focused not only on the technology, but the pedagogy and planning that are necessary to implement this form of assessment in classrooms. Since then we have students in grades k-12 developing digital stories individually, in groups and as whole class projects.

For our academy awards ceremony we focused on the work of our middle school students. We had wonderful examples of stories developed in many of our core subject areas. We assembled a team of teachers who reviewed the work that had been developed. From that we created categories. (next year we plan on providing the teachers and students with the categories at the beginning of the year so they can develop projects that fit the categories and their curriculum). The categories we came up with are:

1. Best Personal Narrative

2. Best Adapted Screenplay

3. Best Historical Children's Story

4. Best Educational Video

5. Best Foreign Film

6. Best Public Service Announcement

7. Best Cinematography

8. Best Stop Motion Animation

For the event we ordered small academy awards for the winners, key chains for the nominees, a red carpet and a large blog up Oscar. We had a popcorn maker and juice for the students. The event was a huge success. It was very powerful to see the reaction of the students as we recognized their work. Next year we plan on offering this at a district level. Stay tuned for more information!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Celebrity Chef in the Classroom

I recently helped organize a video conference session for one of our grade 4 classes. The students were learning about the restaurant business.

The students in Mr. Rowe and Ms. Hollack's class in White Rock Elementary School had a special visit with Chef Jeffrey Steelman. Chef Steelman is the corporate chef for Todd English. Todd English is a celebrity chef who currently owns 26 restaurantsaround the world. Chef Steelman is in charge of the oversight and opening of all of these restaurants.

This was an interdisciplinary project in which the students learned about the restaurant business. They researched what is involved in the process of starting and opening a restaurant. Students were given the task of developing their own restaurant. They developed a theme, a menu and a slogan.  The next step was to write a descriptive essay about their restaurant. This included details about the foods they serve. The students used Microsoft Publisher to create menus for their restaurants during their time in the computer lab. They were also charged with the task of creating 'pizzas' as advertisements.  The students had to develop equivalent fractions for each slice. They then decorated their pizzas with toppings according to those fractions.

The final activities of the project included a video conference with Chef Steelman. The students prepared and asked the chef a number of questions about the restaurant business, cooking and the life of a chef. Following the video conference the students hosted a tasting in their classroom in which they all provided samples of foods from their restaurants.

A short video clip of the video conference can be found below.