Benoit Reflection on Lesson Plan Implementation
For my lesson, my 12th grade students were asked to write “Where I am From” poems and then turn them into digital stories using a slideshow website. This lesson fit the 12th grade curriculum for poetry and self-exploration. It helped students review and interact with the elements of poetry and especially the “Where I am From” format. Through the slideshow websites students created a digital story demonstrating their understanding for the “Where I am From” poetry, as well as how to visually present their poem to an audience. The students needed access to computer labs to type, search for photos, and create their digital story. They also needed instruction on how to find Creative Commons photos and cite them correctly. After they made the digital story, they posted the videos to their blogs and showed them off to their peers.
The lesson plan was scheduled to take place just over the course of a week, but ended up taking almost two weeks. The class started off by reviewing important elements of poetry (imagery, descriptions, tone, showing not telling, figurative language, etc). Then we read and discussed the original “Where I am From” poem as a class. We also looked at several other examples of “Where I am From” poems that people had written. We talked about what we liked, what we didn’t, and the different poetry elements that were implemented. Next, students received a template and started writing their own version of the poem. After completing the template, students typed their poems on Google Docs. After multiple discussions, check-ins, and self and peer editing, students took their final “Where I am From” poem and turned it into a digital story. The step of the process took a lot of pre-planning by me. I had to locate different websites that would work for our digital story assignment. I also had to find Creative Commons websites for students to find photos. Before students got started, we spent time watching sample digital stories, talking about where to find Creative Commons photos, and some techniques for making digital stories. I gave them multiple online slideshow websites to try, but most students chose to use PhotoPeach.com. I only allotted for three days in the computer lab. It ended up taking almost a week for students to find Creative Commons photos, create a digital story, and cite their photos correctly. Since making the videos took longer to create than anticipated, we ran out of time to show most of them in class. Instead students posted them on their blogs and were able to spend part of the last lab day doing a gallery walk. Overall, the lesson plan went fairly well according to how I planned. It took a little longer than the allotted time, but overall was a success!
Question Set One:
As students crafted their “Where I am From” poem and created their digital story, they made choices about the word choice, song, narration, images, and text they include. The creative choices they made helped determine the tone and mood of their poem. They learned how to find Creative Commons images and cite them correctly. I assumed that since students have been using Google Docs that will not needed re-teaching. That was mostly accurate. Students who did have questions were able to ask a peer or figure it out after a few minutes. Another assumption I made was the fact we’ve used Creative Commons websites to find pictures before, so it should have made this concept a review for students. This however, took additional time and explanation than I originally thought. The final assumption I made was that students had never made written this type of poem or made a slideshow before and will need constant help, support, and modeling when working on it. This was extremely accurate, as I continually was helping students and finding examples to help them create their own.
The slideshow websites allowed students to make their poems into digital stories. The poem wasn’t just a class assignment for me to see, it became a public representation of them. Some students were hesitant at first to post them and I was worried this would be a constraint, but it actually pushed students to create better quality poems and digital stories. They wanted to edit additional times and were anxious to get more feedback from me. Some of the constraints of the digital story making was that students could only have a total of thirty slides, so sometimes they had to change words or cut out lines. This changed some of the integrity of the original poem. Students were then forced to revise as they made their video, which in most cases worked out. It just added additional work on to the process. Finding Creative Commons photos also limited students because they couldn’t just use any image they found. Instead, they had to be creative or use their own photos to get exactly what they wanted.
Learning took place in several ways. The constructivist learning style says that students adapt knowledge based on new information. Students came to the table with knowledge of writing previous poems or pieces of writing. Some of that knowledge was more accurate than others. They also came with different levels of technology knowledge. As they learned, they had to adapt their thinking and learn new ways to complete the task. Along with the behaviorist learning style, students have been conditioned to use Google Docs and find Creative Commons photos. Those tasks are things students have seen before. Students were able to re-experience the correct method by remembering what they did before.
The “Where I am From” poem is intended to enhance the learning of poetry, which is already engrained in the English curriculum. The video component is meant to give students a new way to think about the audience and purpose of the work they are producing.
The poem writing in general accounted for differences among learners. The poems were student’s own stories, so they were able to include what they knew. Length requirements and expectations were adjusted as necessary for accommodations. The students who felt comfortable with technology, incorporated more elements with transitions, slides, narrative, etc.
The good thing about this project is that there are lots of examples and templates available to help teachers and students. The teachers need to be well versed on computers, especially Google Docs, and the slideshow websites. An understanding of this will save time and energy trying to learn it as the students do. The students need a basic understanding of Google Docs and the Internet, so they can navigate accordingly. The knowledge students learn during this process will help them when working with technology later on. It helps them develop critically thinking skills and tools like effective communication.
I assessed the students in several ways. We had multiple check-ins and discussions as they lesson progressed. I was able to see students progressing at each step of the writing process and then again during the digital story making. I gave students credit for drafting, as well as participation points for check-ins along the way. I also gave a survey at the end to see how the process went for students. Posting the projects on their blogs made them accountable for producing a quality product. Finally, they got a project grade for their finished work.
Question Set TwoTechnology played a big role in implementing this lesson plan. Students typed, shared, and edited their poem using Google Docs. They could access their poem and edit it no matter where they are. They can also give feedback to a peer without being in the same place. The slideshow websites offered advantages in that they can be worked on from anywhere a student has Internet access. PhotoPeach was easy to use and had very limited tools that students needed to learn to create their story. This could also be seen as a disadvantage. Because it only did so much, it limited student creativity when it comes to making the video. The technology allowed someone who felt they weren’t very creative or technology savvy the chance to create a very polished product.
Students enjoyed using the different technologies. At first, they struggled a little trying to use the new tool. After awhile, however, they embraced the challenge and worked through the process. Students had a lot of questions about where things were located, how to add images, and how to find and cite Creative Commons photos. I pulled up the websites on my computer to project them to class. We had discussions also to talk about how to use different tools. Students helped each other and also shared tips when they discovered things that worked well.
Students seemed to be really analyzing the content while they used the technology. They were thoughtful when using Google Docs to write their poems. They took care to edit and choose the right words to get their ideas across. After that, they were thinking intensely about their poem as they chose images and music to go along with the text. The technology definitely motivated students to work harder on their poem than they normally would have. It was exciting to watch students work passionately about a class assignment. The technology also made the assignment feel less like another class assignment and instead like a more personal, meaningful piece. At the end, they have a movie about their life to show off!