6th grade just finished their annual MemoryCorps project. This is the 4th year we’ve included the project in our curriculum, as it meshes so nicely with their conversations about identity. The mission of StoryCorps is “to provide people of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share and preserve the stories of our lives. We do this to remind one another of our shared humanity, to strengthen and build the connections between people, to teach the value of listening, and to weave into the fabric of our culture the understanding that everyone’s story matters. At the same time, we are creating an invaluable archive for future generations.”
Similarly, for our MemoryCorps unit, 6th graders interviewed a family member to learn from them and their stories. When possible, students captured audio and/or video of this interview, and after, they wrote a summary of the conversation and recorded themselves in school delivering this summary either using Garageband or Photobooth (we have batches of Logitech USB headsets with microphones which the students share). These files were uploaded/archived to our in-house video server powered by @Drupal and supported by Cristina Martinez, our brilliant network/server manager. English teachers, Amy Kissel and Elana Metsch-Ampel, created three separate shared Google Slides presentations — one for each of the three learning groups. Each student went to their class’s slideshow and added a slide which included:
- The name of their family member.
- A scintillating quote from the interview.
- A brief biography about the family member.
- A photo or a photo of an artifact representing that person.
- Links to their reading of the summary and any links to the original interview when applicable.
I totally love this project!
Amy Kissel (6th grade English), Peter Weiss (6th grade English Associate), and Dena Rothstein (6th grade Social Studies) collaborated on a Personal Artifact Project. Kids were provided a mason jar to fill with items that represented their identity. They had to choose and describe factually one of their own items and also compose a fictional story about a classmate’s item.
Later, I came in and asked the students create a new page on their personal Google Site for the 2013-2014 school year. They used this same Google Site in 3rd and 4th grade and will continue to add to it throughout their middle school years…or until the technology changes.
We talked about how this page should use the Announcements template so it can be structured like a blog. Because they took a picture of their jar and their objects, students use the 2-column layout for this first post. So the image/s could be in one column and the text could be in the other. We also talked about what it means to curate a portfolio and craft their digital presence.
Eleana Pellegrino (Art Teacher at The School at Columbia University) worked with her 6th graders to create self portraits using pencil, ink, and watercolor. Students at our K-8 create self-portraits every year, and it’s illuminating to recognize how they see themselves and how that changes annually. The 6th grade self-portrait integrates nicely with their overarching theme: How History Shapes My Identity. Eleana took photos of each portrait and created an album of images on The Gallery (our internal photo server powered by Drupal).
Later, I showed the students how to grab this digital image of their painted self-portrait and open it up on Photoshop. We did the following steps:
1. Adjust the image size to 8″x10″
2. Add layers for each Text item
3. Experiment with Text size, color, font, warping, orientation, and Free Transform to rotate or skew text boxes
4. Export finished image as a jpeg
5. Upload their jpeg file to another shared album on The Gallery
The bulletin board with printouts of their finished art looks pretty spectacular in the stairwell.