Meet Daisy, a six-year-old digital native. She can shoot, upload, and edit a digital how-to book with very minimal assistance. If this first grader can produce a movie for her class, an adult technophobe can easily and enjoyably do the same.
Young people of all ages are using digital media to entertain themselves, explore new worlds, and even overthrow oppressive governments. With your help, they can use new media to educate lots of other children.
Read on for instructions, videos, and ideas to motivate kids of any age in creating 21st century literacy.
Traditionally, movie making is reserved for my independent 5th grade students for writing, shooting and editing movies about primary social issues they plan to conquer. However, with a little guidance even kindergartners can master digital literacy.
8 Easy Steps Any Kid Could Follow
Before passing out cameras, my students spend lots of time playing with imaginary cameras and learning associated vocabulary. Kids shut one eye and raise their imaginary camera frames to the other eye to zoom in and zoom out, pan left and pan right.
Step 2. Record: Push the red button to start recording. Push the red button to stop recording. Push the plus sign above the red button to zoom in. Push the minus sign to zoom out.
Step 3. Play: Push the silver triangle. Use the smaller arrows next to the record button to scroll through videos.
Step 4. Delete: Push the trash can icon.
Consider using kid-friendly camcorders during center time when you have a spare adult in the room and teach everyone the wrist guard rule: "No guard on your wrist -- Your flip camera will be missed!"
Ready to Edit?
Step 5. Upload: Make sure the monitor is facing you. Slide down the latch on the left to "flip" open the the USB arm. When ready to edit, this USB arm is plugged into the computer's USB port.
Step 6. Cut: Once in FlipShare, the Flip editing software, click on a video clip. Click on the scissor icon in the right-hand corner of your selected video clip. Slide the "Start" and "End" points to the desired positions. Save your changes.
Step 7. Make a Movie: Click on the "Create Movie" or clapboard icon in the bottom right hand corner of the screen. Arrange your videos by dragging your favorite clips in the desired sequence. Click "Next" in the bottom corner of the window to add titles, music and render your movie. Once your movie is finished, play your movie full screen for maximum enjoyment.
Step 8. Create screening invitations, get your popcorn ready and celebrate your digital literacy triumph with other classes.
What You'll Need:
A) Any kid-friendly camcorder and rechargeable batteries (If you have more than one camera, label them by groups, e.g. "Harvard," "Yale," and assign accordingly.)
B) Tripod(s), computer, and you must have an interactive whiteboard. The IWB makes guided editing incredibly easy. An IWB ensures that every child can clearly see every step of the editing process and come to the board to edit themselves.
C) A Stool (Without it, you'll be forced to lift young students up to press editing software icons.)
D) Can't work with a small group of children? Call in parental or volunteer help for "Movie Magic Mondays" or "Digital Literacy Nights." Invite older buddy classes or adult volunteers to your 20-minute Flip how-to lesson for your students. Each volunteer should gently guide child teams of two to four people to make movie magic happen.
E) Got lots of help? Get a handbook for nervous adults. Print the steps above with the photos and place on heavy card stock for each group leader.
F) Consent forms. Make sure you have signed release forms from parents/guardians allowing the child to be videotaped.
G) Clapboard. For four dollars, you can purchase a wooden clapboard that will inspire kids to holler, "Action!" before each take. (My kids adore this!)
The Proof Is In the Pudding
In less than three hours, four 5-year-olds became familiar with the Flip camcorder, brainstormed, shot and edited a public service announcement for recycling. Their simple but effective piece kicked off school-wide discourse for my school's new recycling program.
Daisy's 1st grade class is finishing a digital how-to book on making an apple pie. Take a look at an excerpt.
My school's 1st grade classes are studying the effects of the BP oil spill. They are in the process of creating a Microsoft Photo Story and a music video to raise money for Gulf clean-up costs. Here is just a snippet of a protest song they've been working on with our school's music director, Caroline Barnes.
Here is a sketch comedy piece shot and written by our 2nd graders for our school's Literacy Fair. Second graders received help from their 4th grade buddy class in editing The Angry Thesaurus.
My 2-year-old quickly maneuvers iPhone icons to find his favorite Thomas the Tank Engine stories on YouTube. He scans for Thomas and Friends stories created by families or his own movies that he has created with his father. (New to the world of a toddler's obsession with iPhones and iPads? Check out this short article from the New York Times.) If my son has a teacher willing to play with new technology and use his interests to push his literacy skills, I can't wait to see what he will create in a couple of years.
A beloved professor recently turned my attention to Janet Evans' Literacy Moves On: Popular Culture, New Technologies, and Critical Literacy in the Elementary Classroom. This short, easy read highlighted the work of 4-year-olds who made animated films using a nursery laptop. Wow! What are you creating with very young students? Please share your ideas and some inspiration . . .
Word Wiz Update: In my last post, I discussed easy ways to get kids crazy about vocabulary. My 5th graders just wrapped a Justin Bieber Word Wiz movie. Enjoy!