Using iMovie in the Classroom

When you make a film you usually make a film about an idea. -Sydney Pollack

I think almost everyone enjoys a good movie.  The cost of going to the theater, however, is becoming terribly cost prohibitive.  The last movie I saw in the theater was Lincoln.  It was a great film and it renewed my interest in the history of the Lincoln era and the Civil War.  Living in Charleston where the Civil War began, I am able to walk on the very cobblestone streets that Union and Confederate soldiers trod.

iMovieBringing topics alive to our students is difficult…especially historical topics that are far removed from our students day to day reality.  Looking at a Social Studies text with illustrations and images of historical figures isn’t always very engaging. iMovie is an app that can be used across all grade levels.   A 4th grade teacher in my school has her students use iMovie to demonstrate their learning.  A project on Abolitionists involved students using Book Creator to create a book on their chosen Abolitionist and many chose to create an additional project in iMovie.  Here is one student’s iMovie on Harriet Tubman:

Wow…this blew me away.  A nine year old created that.

Teachers can also use iMovie as a tool for introducing content in a meaningful way.  Students are far more likely to be interested in topics when introduced like this:

The fairy tale clips were downloaded from You Tube and inserted into iMovie.  The clips were trimmed and text frames were added.  In this movie, the clips are from familiar movies on which students can anchor their learning.  This 4th grade teacher uses this iMovie to introduce her thematic unit.  What a great way to grab students’ attention and engage them from the beginning.

While I have had my students create iMovies to demonstrate learning, it hadn’t occurred to me to use them for instruction and content delivery.  After these are created, students can access them and re-play them if needed for instruction.

I encourage you to explore iMovie from the instructional side. It will definitely be on my To-Do List for the fall!

Today we will do exciting new things. Let’s get to it!

Summer is Here…Now What?

There was nothing like a Saturday – unless it was the Saturday leading up to the last week of school and into summer vacation. That of course was all the Saturdays of your life rolled into one big shiny ball. -Nora Roberts 

My daddy Surf Fishing

My daddy
Surf Fishing

I live in a pretty awesome place.  As a vacation destination, it has beaches and islands, golf, well-preserved architecture, historical significance, and incredible restaurants.  Charleston was also named “the most polite and hospitable city in America” by Southern Living magazine.  I have no trouble slipping into the slow and lazy pace of summer in the South.  I don’t know if it is Saturday or Tuesday.  Coming off a manic, over-scheduled school year, I’m ready to decompress.

So why am I doing staff development for  other school districts and working on conference presentations at ISTE and iSummit…could it be, that the phrase “everything I ever needed to know I learned in kindergarten” is wrong?  I believe you can teach an old dog new tricks.  Our world is fluid and things never stay the same.  Life-long learning helps us adapt to change.  When I work with other teachers in professional development and I speak at conferences, I am sharing my knowledge but I also learn from them.

Don’t we all get a good laugh when someone not in the know says something like, “It must be nice to have 3 months off from work and get paid for it.”  WHATEVER.  I’ve never had 3 months off in the summer in all of the years I’ve taught.  Summer is a great time for re-charging the old batteries, but it’s also a time for reflection, staff development, re-working lesson plans and PS…that classroom that was all packed up in June has to be un-packed and put back together in August.

I hope to soak up some sun and read some good books, but I also hope to learn from others at ISTE in San Antonio, work and learn from my fellow Apple Distinguished Educators at the institute this summer in Austin, and even though I’m presenting, I want to sit in on some sessions at iSummit in Atlanta.  I want to spend some time reading more on Personalized Learning. I want to read all of those great tweets from my PLN on Twitter that I just haven’t had time to look at.  When we stop learning, we become stagnant.  I want to take part in these learning opportunities so that I can go back to work in August excited and ready…because the work and energy we put into our students during the school year is exhausting.  I know there are times I have to dip into my “innovation and creativity reserves” just to make it through.

We spend 180 days (more in some countries), filling others.  Summer is a time we can fill ourselves.  There are few professions that have classroom hours, pre- and post-school hours, conferences and phone calls, weekend work, after-hours grading, professional development requirements, lesson planning, team meetings, extracurricular clubs and teams, parent correspondence, district level meetings, material preparation, and paperwork on top of paperwork.

Whether you are in the northern hemisphere enjoying summer, or in the southern hemisphere going into fall, I hope you will all find time re-charge.  Learn something new. I will be sharing with all of you the things I learn this summer, so y’all come back now, ya hear?

Today we will do exciting new things. Let’s get to it!

Daring To Ask “What If”

When the time came to leap in faith, whether you had your eyes open or closed or screamed all the way down or not, made no practical difference.- Lois McMaster Bujold

what ifWhat if?  At times, it is a question posed with wonder and inquiry.  Others, with anxiety and trepidation.  When asked in the hearts of  5 year olds,  it is often met with unconditional enthusiasm and willingness to try.  How do you feel about the “What ifs” in your life?

This has been a challenging year for me both personally and professionally.  In August, I was asked to consider applying for Apple Distinguished Educator.  My first thought was, “What if I don’t make it?”  Then, I allowed myself to think of “What if I do?”  Upon being chosen in February, my professional life changed almost instantly.  I have felt like a meteor hurtling through space…but in a good way. I have been brought into a whole new world of learning, collegiality, and absolute wonder.

I have watched my students daily ask themselves, “What if…” in their learning.  5 year olds are curious no doubt, even without an iPad.  The iPads have allowed us to explore that curiosity, touch it, read about it, talk about it, and create.  Having access to this seemingly simple tool has expanded their classroom beyond our four walls into a global classroom.  The ability to have choice in how they demonstrate learning has awakened even the least confident child and brought him into full flower.  Allowing my students to work at their own level with different sight word lists and reading levels has allowed them to go further in the last 180 days than they ever would have previously.collaboration 2

When I received the opportunity in January, 2011 to utilize 1:1 iPads in my classroom, I dared to ask, “What if?” Over the next few months and into the school year 2011-12, my “what ifs” grew and my students started asking their own ‘what ifs”.  What if I taught my students how to blog?  What if I moved away from the drill and practice apps and allowed my kids to create their own content?  What if I had different sight words lists and allowed them to move on when they were ready? What if I gave them the ability to plan their day and have some choice?

Who knew that just 2 1/2 years ago, when starting with iPads, I would have transformed my teaching to this extent and my students learning as well?  It amazes me even now.

I am wheeling my iPads down to storage in just a few hours as we close the final chapter of the 2012-13 school year today.  I am excited about the awesome staff development opportunities I have with my Apple Distinguished Educators this summer.  I can’t wait to see what new “What ifs” develop in August…well, after a summer vacation, that is…

Whether you are starting a new school term on the other side of the world, or ending this one, I dare you to ask “What if?”  Like the quote above says, whether you take a leap of faith or go screaming all the way, it makes no difference.  The difference comes in daring to try.

Today we will do exciting new things. Let’s get to it!