First, the classroom should be set up so everyone can see each other’s computer. This comes in extremely handy. Students can go from station to station listening and seeing each other’s projects and get immediate feedback before the final presentation. With the computers facing into the center of the room, everyone can see each computer and you can see every student’s computer. The open area is a rug where you start and finish every lesson. When working on computers, just like practicing music, you need to take breaks. Allow students to see other people’s work. Assessment before the final presentation is important. Superior project should be your goal. By interaction of others, editing is occurring daily.
During the work time, go from computer to computer and develop a personal relationship with the students. The same questions may arise, do not stop the class, even if the same question comes up again and again. Put in on a stickie (either computer or real) and talk about it at the end or beginning of the class time. The only time you should stop the class from working if there is a computer glitch and you need to teach a “tech tip,” immediately. I stop the class and everyone rushes over to see the mistake or problem, and within a minute they are back to their station working.
Also, during work time, allow for the student to go between various aspects of the project and multi-task. They can work, watch other people projects, or simply look over their project. Allow for students to work on a lot of different programs at the same time. There might even be a day off time. Students that work extremely hard everyday need a refueling time to look over their project and process what they have completed.
Creativity does not just happen. Allow for processing and creativity to work. Many of the final projects that “blew me away” had a very rough start. Students may start one project, jump to another, and then redo the entire project again, before zeroing in on the final presentation. One type project comes to mind. The seventh graders were completing a final “spectacular” project for the class. A seventh grader, Willie, had decided to do an iMovie and videotaped his friends for the elective class. The story line was weak and with no real purpose. Mid-quarter came and went. He was still videotaping the same endless “no story” iMovie. Finally one day, when there was nine days left, he had an old file he did in sixth grade. He had the boys listen to the podcast and they thought it was terrific. Well, eight podcasts later, complete with pictures, a full website was dedicated. All completed in eight days. The final project was amazing. The students came in early and worked “focused” for the rest of the time.
You can view student podcasts, movies, and websites at www.carolbroos.com