Creating CREATORS, rather than just CONSUMERS

Originally posted on October 17, 2017
Last year I had an opportunity to work with a technology integrator for a project I was doing with my students in science.  We were going to create human body projects, but I wanted to change things up, I didn’t want to do another PowerPoint… I had recently seen a news show that was talking about AR (augmented reality) in the classroom and was hoping to incorporate some aspect of AR with my students and their projects.  The project ended up having multiple layers, covering a multitude of standards, and grew into something I could never have imagined when we started.
I created a Google Site which housed all of the materials for the project.  First, the students watched (consumed) a short video about the human body. We then had a discussion about the human body and why it was important and brainstormed a list of things they already knew about it.  They then filled in a Google Form, choosing their top three choices of body systems they would want to do their research about.  Most students were able to research either their first or second choices.
Next, students did research (consume), which was guided by a graphic organizer which provided them with a place to keep track of their important information, as well as a focus for the information they needed to gather.
Once the research was complete, students were asked to gather images related to the different aspects of the research they were doing.  Then we began to discuss the next steps. 
They were going to create a video, which was going to explain the importance of their body system.  At this point in time, they were then partnered with the other people who were researching the same body system.  They first compared and contrasted the information they researched.  Then, they highlighted the information they wanted to use from each person’s graphic organizer.
Now, it was time to plan things out.  Each group began by creating a storyboard to decide the order in which they were going to present their information, as well as the visuals they wanted to use for each segment.  Once they had their plan, they used a Google Doc (shared with their group and with me) to start drafting their scripts.  Students were able to work and collaborate on their scripts at the same time, which maximized their time on task. Once they felt they were done with their writing, I read and commented on their writing, providing them with suggestions for improvement.
As if they weren’t having fun already, the ultra creation time was about to commence! Enter, Explain Everything…boy oh boy do I just love this app!! The students imported images, drew diagrams, added their own video and text to create their finished products.  Watching this happen in the classroom was pure joy! Talk about student engagement!!!
…but we still weren’t finished!!! Each group was tasked with creating three questions (and providing the answers) about their system that would be asked after someone watch their video.  We talked about wanting to know that they gained a general understanding of the importance of their body system, so the questions shouldn’t be too specific.
Almost done…
Lastly, students created a poster with the name of their system, the names of the people in the group and a visual that best represented their body system.  This is where the AR comes in.  The posters were going to serve as the ‘trigger’ for the Aurasma app.  As the posters were scanned, their videos would pop up on the screen and begin playing. When the videos were finished, the questions (which were loaded into a Google Form) would come onto the screen so they could be answered by whoever was watching the video.
Other 5th grade classes were invited to class to watch and learn from the videos.  In addition, parents were invited to see what their children were working on in class. Students in my class were also able to watch the videos made by their classmates and use them to help learn and study the body systems that they didn’t research.
There are many tech tools out there that allow our students to create a product which helps demonstrate their understanding of a topic.  As I mentioned before, I really LOVE Explain Everything (luckily for me my district purchased the app for our iPads).  Some teachers may not be ready to have their students tackle that app.  I have recently discovered Adobe Spark, which I think is a great starter tool to create quick and easy videos, and delivers a beautiful finished product.  If videos aren’t in your wheelhouse, I also used Book Creator last year with my students to create children’s books about the ecosystems they were researching.
We all need to consume information to gain new information.  In my (humble) opinion, if we don’t do something with all that we consume, we (and our students) will never have a true understanding of all the information we are taking in…
What creation tools do you use with your students? Have you tried the ones mentioned here? What are your thoughts?