* This is a reflection to my “Book Trailer Unit” which included my COETAIL Course 1 Lesson Plan: A Lesson in Creative Commons.
It was serendipity that I happened to teach this unit while enrolled in COETAIL Course 1 & 2. Last year, my friend who is also our librarian and I were talking about books and creating interdisciplinary units between the library and my MYP Design Technology classes. We are both avid readers and identified a lack of a community of readers at our current school. So, we decided to take matters into our own hands.
For Grade 8, we created a unit in which students were given the challenge to create and nurture a community of readers at our school. It was a good unit and we have tweaked it a bit to try and get a better outcome next year.
In Grade 7, I wanted it to be a little less open-ended with the products because I wanted my students to improve their video making skills on the technology side of the project. I’m not sure how we came up with the idea to go with book trailers, but it was a perfect fit for us to work together to promote reading.
Here is the task sheet for the unit.
Here are the blog posts I wrote for my students regarding this unit:
iMovie Tutorials & Help – A did mini-lessons for some students and differentiated instruction with a playlist
As part of the investigation, I introduced Creative Commons to my students. At the beginning it was frustrating for everyone in the classroom (me included), as we couldn’t always find high quality media that was Creative Commons. Part of the problem was the fact that as readers, we visualize what we read differently. There are not exact images of these visualizations and deep connections with the text available on line. Although this caused frustrations, it also sparked great conversations on reading and choosing strong images.
At the beginning, I struggled with finding good sources for them to find good media. I initially “sent” them to SoundCloud Creative Commons to get music for their videos, but quickly found that there was a lot of inappropriate and explicit media there, but also, that their media isn’t moderated really well. There were many songs that were uploaded by people who were not the artists or who themselves had illegally (I think) modified the music. Another issue I ran into was YouTube Creative Commons, because you have to use their video editor to use their Creative Commons media. It was also more difficult to give attribution to those creators at the end of their video, because once it was added, sometimes it was difficult to go back and find that information.
My students created some really amazing projects. I am really proud of their work. They worked hard, they honored creators & authors and in turn I hope that they are proud of their work.
At the end of the unit, I had my students take a survey so I could get feedback about their knowledge of CC and for them to give suggestions when I teach it next year.
I got some interesting feedback, some of it was very positive and they really seemed to gain a good understanding about CC. I did get a few kids say things like,”Creative Commons is a website where you can get all sorts of medias from other people legally and reuse it”. I want them to have a deeper understanding than this, but it is a start.
For question #2 – most of them were about legally using other work and many wrote that they would use CC media for projects in other classes. I did have a few students share that they are considering CC as creators. This is where I would like more students to go. Maybe it’s too much to jam into one unit. Maybe this is something I should develop more in 8th grade. I need to think more about this.
I decided in the last few weeks was to encourage students (if they wanted) to use social media to promote their book trailers and reading. COETAIL has made me less afraid of using social media in the class. It is my students’ lives and I need to embrace it more. I am motivated and engaged by using social media to learn, why shouldn’t they? My students are no longer creating projects for me or for the other 18 classmates in the room, they are creating for anyone they want. I want them creating real solutions to real problems and I want them to make an impact. I don’t want them to create for a grade.
Two of my students got responses from authors.
Many students have 50+ hits on their unlisted YouTube videos.
My students and COETAIL brought this unit to a different level. The unit took on a whole new life – one I hadn’t planned, but one that turned out much better. I wanted to celebrate the reader, but in the end we really celebrated the creator. As a technology teacher, I am really happy with that. Next year instead of focusing on promoting reading (which is a great effect of this unit), I want to change my essential question to something along the lines of respecting creators. Now I just have to wordsmith that idea.