December 20, 2010

Flat Classroom Elementary Pilot Moves Ahead

One of my primary goals for our use of technology at school is to increase communication and collaboration. The Elementary Flat Classroom Pilot project "A Week in the Life..." is becoming a powerful experience of interaction, engagement and learning. Rosie Lenehan's 4th grade class is participating and the students are in the midst of designing multimedia ways to describe their lives in Yarmouth, Maine for students in the other schools and countries. We are working off of a page of Web 2.0 tools and each set of reading buddies is preparing a project to post to their team page in the project wiki.

The focus is on creating a media message that shows an aspect of their daily lives in a manner that is clear, interesting and if possible, interactive. Right now we have teams that are using Animoto and Photopeach which can include photos, captions, background music and selected themes. Viewers can leave comments if they are logged in. Animoto allows short videos as well as photos and "producers" are encouraged to select brief highlights which is an editing skill. Animoto supports education accounts providing me with unlimited space for videos. For both tools the students are using my school email to login with our town zip code so they can access from anywhere and I can moderate their projects. Some students are creating or responding to Voicethreads. This year we have subscriptions for 3rd and 4th grade classes to log in on their own and create projects within the K12 Education domain. This allows more students to be on at a time and group projects can be shared within classes or across the school for comments.

A few students are exploring Simplebooklet using my email and the school account password. This tool looks to have tremendous flexibility from as simple as photo and text to as complex as adding a GarageBand soundtrack or copyright free music as well as videos. The group exploring this tool has taken Flipcam movies and they are editing them to show a view of our school. This tool allows interactivity online so we may be able to use it to compile team projects into on on the final project wiki pages.

This intensive exploration of tools is also a chance to work with students on the idea of concise communication and preparing for a particular audience--other students who do not know about their school and their daily lives. Today Rosie's class will be working on their projects, viewing other projects, leaving comments and communicating with their teams on Edmodo. Gordon Chibroski, a photographer from the Portland Press Herald took these photos in preparation for an article in January about the pilot.

(cross posted at