Monday, 27 June 2011

Choose Your Own Adventure Project - Day 5

Today was THE day! The students hammed out the grammar for their annotations and then we headed to the lab to start linking videos together using YouTube's annotation feature. It's amazing how a few hours can be condensed into a single sentence :-)

Materials and Equipment
1. Computer lab time
2. CYOA Annotation Planning handout
3. Student copies of their Storyboards
4. CYOA Annotation How-to handout

The Process
1. Due to unusually sad attendance this morning, my 4 groups of 3 were each missing one person. Nice symmetrical absenteeism! Yay! Also, bizarrely enough, none of the missing people were the owners of the YouTube channels that had the videos uploaded to them last class. Double Yay!

2. Since this is the last week of our 4 week study block AND since Friday is a stat holiday here in Canada, we had to use some of our morning class to prep this up. We're also down to one lab, so we had to get in while we could .

3. Students worked with their partner in class and created grammatically correct annotations for each of the decision arrows on their storyboard using the CYOA Annotation Planning handout. They wrote their sentences down (each made a copy) and then had someone from another group check their grammar. After that, I checked them too. Just in case. Unfortunately I forgot to check their video titles...*sigh*

**Note: I asked the students write their annotations with "You" instead of "I"...this followed the format of the CYOA novels we had read earlier in the project.

4. To the crap-lab! Partners sat together. Partner A signed in to their own YouTube channel (where the videos had been uploaded to the other day).

5. Partner B went online to YouTube and found their videos with a quick search. Partner B then copied and pasted each video link into a Word doc on our shared server file. This was done so Partner A could just copy and paste each link into the appropriate box while annotating. After finishing, they closed the file.
**Note: If Partner B made a numbered or bulleted list of their links, this caused some problems when pasting the link into the annotation box - the number or bullet point came too! Scroll back in the link and make sure there is nothing before the http: part!

6. Partner A opened the document that their partner created and started copying the sentences and links into each of the annotation boxes for each video. They used the CYOA Annotation How-to handout to guide themselves. Partner B's new job was to go to each of the videos after their partner was done and click / test-drive each annotation! VERY important and we caught a few errors this way!

7. We got all of the lab work done in an hour. The in-class writing took approximately 20 minutes.

Hope all this verbosity is helpful to you! If you want to know more, drop me a line!


- Posted from my iPad

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Choose Your Own Adventure Project - Day 4

We wrapped up the last of the recording today and then students uploaded their videos from their folders on the network. This was a bit of an adventure due our lab being a wee bit...well, "quirky" (trying to keep it polite here ).

Materials and Equipment
1. Students' videos in their own folders on the network
2. Students should have their own YouTube channels - my students have these set up as part of our class. Each group needed to choose one members' channel to upload their videos to.

The Process
1. We booked our lab time and had the groups get together and start uploading their videos. They had selected one member's YouTube channel to upload to. The videos must be uploaded before they can be annotated/linked together.
2. One of the surprising challenges for my students was giving each of their videos a descriptive title. I showed first group finished how to upload and title their videos and instructed the three of them to assist their classmates as necessary.
3. Due to our lab's pathetic upload speeds, this was all we were able to accomplish in class. The next class will have us in the lab again, annotating all the videos together.

The Sharing
1. We will be sharing the final results in the next post, after all the annotation craziness is wrapped up. The students are all very keen to share their videos with each other and I can't wait to see their final products!

Please let me know if you have any questions or if you've tried this with your own students! Bye for now.

- Posted from my iPad

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Choose Your Own Adventure Project - Day 3

Today was a day filled with recording craziness! I have to say, I am extremely impressed with the creativity and effort that my teams of 3 put in today - SO many great / weird / surprising collaborations between teams to help make their videos even more awesome!

Materials and Equipment
1. (2) Flip Video Cameras
2. Spare batteries for Flip cameras
3. The CYOA Planning handout from previous days

The Process
1. As students worked with their groups to finish up / tweak their storyboarding, I gave each table of 6 students (2 teams at a table) one of the Flip cameras and instructed them to work together and help each other with recording their different scenes.
2. I also told the teams that in their handout there was a blank page for planning out and discussing tricky bits of dialogue. If there was grammar or word choice questions, I asked them to write it down there and come and show me. I told them that I did NOT want a script for each scene! Besides taking too long to prepare, it would make their delivery all stilted and awkward. They all agreed that this was a VERY good decision to make :-)
3. Finally, I explained where I wanted them to save all their videos on the network and how I wanted them to name each video according to the numbering on the Storyboarding part of the handout (this part was actually completed by self-selected members from each team / table after class had wrapped up).
4. Students got to work and were recording and working together for the entire rest of the time. We'll need to continue a little bit next class, but we'll have most of the videos ready to upload in another day or so!

The Sharing
Their videos will be uploaded within a couple of days and then they can work on annotating / linking them up into a complete CYOA video adventure!

Stay tuned for more!

- Posted from my iPad

Choose Your Own Adventure Project - Day 2

For this part of the project I split my class of 12 students into groups of 3, gave each a copy of the CYOA Planning handout and helped them get a handle on what they needed to do. It worked extremely well!

Material and equipment
1. 1 copy of the CYOA Planning handout for each student.

The Process
1. Like I said, I put the students into groups of 3 and gave each students a copy of the CYOA Planning handout. This redundancy will be handy in case of the occasional absent body from a group for our next class - each student made a copy of their plan.
2. I wanted to keep my students indoors, so I limited their story problems to things that could happen at school (eg: You're 25 minutes late for class. What do you do?). I explained that we'd brainstorm a few and then they would develop a few more in their groups. After that, they would choose one and fill in the crazy storyboard with all the arrows in the CYOA Planning handout.
3. We brainstormed a few of school- related problems together on the board and then I turned my teams loose and circulated to offer advice or assistance as needed. As my class is all adults, some of the possible story endings were getting a wee bit, um, "adult" in nature, but still, they were very creative!
4. In our one hour time slot, most of the groups did not completely finish their storyboarding, which was fine. We're not in a rush and I wanted them to not feel stressed.

The Sharing
1. Most of the sharing today happened between the groups at each table. There was a lot of "Oh! That's an awesome idea - we could do something like that here in our story". At some point I may get inspired to scan and post a completed storyboard from one of my teams, but for now I'm just going to wait and see where this project takes us.

In our next class, we're going to be starting to record each scene in their storyboarded plans. It promises to be chaos, but glorious, productive chaos!

Oh, by the way, I took one plan from each group and made a copy for myself - I wanted to see if I could spot any potential difficulties and help preempt them, but they were all quite solid and made sense.

Until next time!
- Posted from my iPad

Monday, 13 June 2011

Choose Your Own Adventure Project - Day 1

Did you ever read Choose Your Own Adventure books when you were younger? If you did, then you probably remember marking pages with your fingers "just in case" If your childhood was lacking this fun, the basic idea is this: Imagine a story that allows you to make choices about the path the characters take. Some stories have 25 possible endings (or even more!), but most of the endings are not good for your character :-). You make choices flipping to different pages in the book and read the next part of the adventure. Continue until you reach one of the endings. I loved these when I was younger and my son really enjoys them now.

Then I remembered seeing a YouTube video called "The Time Machine" and decided to try something similar (on a much smaller scale) with my Power Speaking Students. This posting is just for the first day of the project.

Material and Equipment
1. Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) novels ( 1 book per pair of students)
2. Mark one spot in one of the novels where there is a life-or-death decision
3. Dictionaries (most of my students use electronic dictionaries)
4. Sticky notes for quick bookmarks
5. Computer lab access to view "The Time Machine"

The Process
1. Begin by talking about how we make SO many choices all the time, every day and most of the time they aren't important enough to think about carefully.

2. On the board I began by writing "My alarm went off at 6:15 this morning" and draw 2 lines out from it to start making an upside-down tree shape. I asked my students to tell me one thing I might have done (eg: "You got up") and wrote "I got up" on the board under one of the lines. Then I asked them for another possibility (eg: "You hit snooze") and wrote "I kept sleeping" under the other line. I went back to the first path, "I got up" and repeated the process by eliciting 2 more options under it. Then I did the same for the "I kept sleeping" path. This means I had 4 options now, 2 from the "I got up" side, and 2 from the "I kept sleeping" side.

3. You could continue doing this, but we decided to put some different endings to our 4 options and stop there. One ending can be the best, one was good, one was bad and one was terrible. The "best" and the "good" endings finished the "I got up" path. The "bad" and the "terrible" endings finished the "I kept sleeping" path. The "best" ending involved me getting a promotion (don't I wish it was that easy ) while the "terrible" ending had my boss beat me up !

4. Now I showed the students the novels and we discussed if any of them had ever seen or read something like them before (all but one of my students said "no" to both questions). I explained how these novels were also about choices (like we had explored on the board, but more interesting ) and that I had an example for them (I shared the life-or-death option in one story and the class had to vote on which path we should take. The majority chose incorrectly and so we all died . There was much sadness.

I put students into pairs and had one partner randomly choose a novel. I told students to take turns reading their novel aloud with their partner (great opportunities here for error correction and vocab building!) and to decide together which choices to make. I gave them approx. 20 minutes to do this. We stopped and bookmarked where they were at (they put their names on the sticky notes and put the notes in their books).

5. Now I told them I wanted to show them something EXTREMELY cool in the lab. I explained that some very creative guys had created a CYOA video adventure and that they were going to have a chance to explore it in the lab. For each choice, these guys made different videos and connected them together! It's so neat!

Note to my school Admin people: This would have been even cooler if our blasted lab had cooperated . Our school has a garage sale of crappy old PCs and they were sooooo slow loading the YouTube videos that my students quickly became frustrated and bored!
We had a "plan B" with an alternate site for them to go to while they were waiting, but c'mon! REALLY? This is the tech level we all have to suffer with? Talk about killing the buzz! It's EMBARRASSING !

The Sharing
This will come later...for now, we're at the "plotting and scheming" stage

As usual, any thoughts or comments are welcome. Thanks!

- Posted from my iPad

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Video Feedback from Students

I think that my students enjoy my class. Actually, I'm pretty sure most of them do because of the feedback I receive from them. One way my school uses to collect this feedback is in the form of a face-to-face interview at the end of a 4-week study block. As I see it, the problem with this technique are these:
1. It takes a relatively long time per student
2. It may be hard for students to express their true feelings with me sitting across from them.

I thought I would try something new this time. I created a video feedback mini-project for my students to complete without any interference from me.

Material and Equipment
1. A video camera with spare batteries
2. A tripod
3. A chair
4. Interview Handout: A single page with the interview questions I usually use face-to-face and lines under each question (for students to jot down some notes before they go and record their responses)

The Process
This worked well this time because I was out of my class for approximately 20 minutes with some administrative tasks, so my students didn't have any pressure put on them by me being nearby.

My students are all competent using our Flip video camera and since it was mounted on a tripod (and they are all adults), leaving them unattended was not an issue.

Students found a classmate to control the camera and to read the questions aloud. They took their papers with them since this was completely unrehearsed and again, I wanted this to be low pressure for them. After one pair finished, another pair would come out.

When not recording their responses, the students were practicing for final speeches that they would have to deliver the next day. Again, this was routine, so my not being in the classroom was not an issue for my students.

The Sharing

I have not posted this feedback anywhere, but I have shared them with my administrator via my Dropbox account (which I recently upgraded. I'm quite happy about that ). Unlike several of my colleagues, I don't fear feedback from my students and I am quite happy to make my feedback as transparent as possible. I always get at least one or two great ideas to layer into my course as well as food for thought about the established routines we use.

If you try this out with your class (or if you already do this type of feedback activity with your students), drop me a line - I'd love to hear more about what you are doing!


- Posted from my iPad