3 New Units: Creativity, Minecraft & Mashups

14 01 2013

Phew. Now that I can catch my breath, it’s time to dedicate some words to this blog. Actually, there isn’t a lot to say. I’ve been busy writing new units for an art and two technology classes. However, they are pretty good units, in my opinion. I’m willing to share to throw it out to you. Good? Bad? Crazy? etc.

I revamped a grade 10 unit on creative interpretation. This unit gives grade 10 students a taste of what to expect in IB art. The primary focus is on how to develop ideas. Students look into what creativity is and select a theme to visually represent. Here is how the unit is structured:

Unit Question: Where do good ideas come from?

Significant Concept: We are influenced and inspired by the world around us.

Another new unit is grade 7 technology. This unit is based on Minecraft, where the focus is on cooperation and entitled “Fair Game.” Students will be developing a theme park, where each group is in charge of an area and each individual in charge of a structure. All groups must negotiate with each other to come to an agreement as to what the park will look like and require. It’s an MYP technology unit and broken down like this:

Area Of Interaction - Environments: How do we behave and interact with each other in offline and online communities? Is there a difference? What are our roles, responsibilities and duties when working collaboratively? What part do we play and what are the interrelationships of different environments? In this unit, students will work together to make decisions based on creative thinking, communication, and collaboration. They will consider both their immediate classroom environment and their online environment in a gaming context.

Significant Concept: How we solve problems depends on the conditions of the environment and group dynamics.

Unit Question: What does cooperation and collaboration look like?

Finally, the last is another MYP technology unit on Mashups for grade 8. The unit is broken like this:

Area Of Interaction - Human Ingenuity: Media can be constructed and consumed. Recent advances in technology have led to the increased malleability of media like text, images, music, and video.  Advances in the speed and flexibility of communication are allowing people to make use of copyrighted content to build a culture of remixes and mashups, exercising reinterpretation and creativity in the process. Media can now be combined, retold and reinterpreted in many different ways.

Significant Concept: Everything is a remix.

Unit Question: Does copyright hinder or cultivate creativity?

I’m excited to teach these and will let you know the interesting things that pop up!

Grade 7 Digital Stories

6 12 2012

This is my first year teaching Middle School Technology using the MYP Design Cycle. It is a rather thorough and demanding programme, both in terms of student work, teaching and evaluating. However, I understand and agree with the goals of the programme and how the focus is on process over product.

Recently my grade 7 class just completed their unit on digital stories. Our significant concept was, “We can communicate our stories in many different ways.” Our unit question was, “How can we use media to communicate our stories?”

I’ll save myself the trouble of summarising the unit on this post. If interested, you can view what we did weekly for about 12 weeks here. Of course, I will be making some necessary changes and improvements to the structure and delivery of the unit, as well as some refinements to the evaluation.

What I would like to do, is showcase some of the efforts these clever 12 and 13 year olds have done. These “stories” were rather flexible in their definition, with some students creating fiction, documentaries and instructional videos. They had only three weeks to actually create the product and some were very successful. To clarify this, some “unsuccessful” efforts were also successful (and probably more direct and efficient) in teaching what is needed to create a piece of work. This is an aspect of the MYP that I like. Some of the applications ranged from iMovie, to Powerpoint/Keynote to VoiceThread, Doozla, Blender, FinalCut and Adobe Flash.

The first one here impresses me. It is a hand drawn comic that was imported into Prezi in order to pan across the panels, which was then screen recorded. Next it was imported into iMovie for further editing. Did I mention this was completed in 3 weeks? I like the mixture between digital and analogue.

The Stone of the Future from Marina Mitsumata on Vimeo.

The next one on “How to Eat an Apple” uses time lapse/stop-motion photography and is filmed with excellent lighting, simply by placing the apple in a plastic container!

How to: Eat an Apple from Connor Harrington on Vimeo.

The next one is a hand drawn animation that has a great scene around the 1min.30sec. mark. Check it out!

Finally, this last one on “How to Eat Toast” is rather silly and humorous. Have a look.

There are several others I can show, but this post would run on forever. If you’d like to see some student reflection/evaluation examples, check out these two here and here. Feel free to leave some of these students comments directly on the video sites.