This past week, I have had a classroom full of Barbie dolls, toy trolls, Transformers, and Bratz dolls. At first look, a passerby might think that I was teaching a pre-school class. You might be thinking that this sounds like something that would happen in a second or third grade class, or maybe even in a classroom full of giddy middle schoolers, but that is not the case. These are my Seniors, and for a while there, the classroom truly looked like someone had tipped over the toy box at a preschool. It was so awesome!
The assignment was for students to read several stories from the Decameron until they found one that they liked. Then they made storyboards and created the movies using stop animation. The whole purpose of the project was to take a work of art (the Decameron) and transfer it into their own work of art. One plus side of this project was that the students read several stories from the Decameron to find stories that would work well for a movie project. They actually read some literature from the late Middle Ages without acting like I was torturing them.
I have never done this with older students before. In the last two years, all of the stop motion projects I have been a part of have been with students in elementary classes. I wasn’t quite sure how these older students would do with it. I thought there was a chance that they would think it was childish or “beneath” their level of intelligence. After all, I am working with Seniors who often feel that they have school over and done with before the year gets started.
I was amazed at how well the students responded to the project. Like I said earlier, on the day for filming, we literally had a classroom full toys and props with students busily working to create their own piece of art. The students worked in groups to do the filming, and then worked individually to create their own version of the movie in Movie Maker.
The students are not done quite yet, but I am interested to see what they come have come up with. From what I have seen, we are going to have a great film festival party next week.
Now for the big question. How much time did this take out of your regular instruction in the classroom? It really didn’t take that long. By the end of the project, we will have spent 4 1/2 hours of class time making the actual video. Some might say that this is too much time, but I would argue that I have seen more hard thinking coming from this activity than most of what we have done in class this year. I am interested to see how this transfers to other work done in the classroom.
Actually, that sounds like a great topic for some research.