Throughout the year, as part of our unit of inquiry into how we express ourselves, the children have been exploring ways of telling stories. Recently, a group of children have shown particular interest in the PuppetPals app on our iPads. As part of our writing focus on fictional narratives, the children have been conducting group and personal inquiries into how narrative fictions work, looking in particular at setting, characters and plot. In our writing workshops, the children are aware of many of the processes involved in writing. They know that not all work continues to publishing stage and that published work needs to be of high quality. As part of the viewing and presenting strand of our language curriculum the children have been working on voice projection and speaking clearly.
Today, Aiden and Jaiden came to tell me that they had something important to share. It was a story that Aiden had created first using text and drawing.
The original story:
The boys had decided to work collaboratively to adapt Aiden’s original idea and retell the story using PuppetPals. They had spent a whole morning working on the story and were delighted with their work.
- Aiden: I think it’s the best we ever did. Please can you put it o the blog because we want to show everyone?
- Jaiden: We tried to do it so many times, like all day, and each time it’s better and better and now it’s ready to share.
It was obvious from the body language of both children that this was a momentous occassion. They were clearly very proud their work. I could see they felt they had created something significant which they wanted to share with a wider audience. I was keen to respect and support the momentum of the occasion. The children didn’t need praise from me -this whole project had come from Aiden and Jaiden. The boys were self-motivated, and their own assessments of their creation were more powerful than any adult praise. I decided the most useful thing I could do was help them share their work. Over the year, we have talked a lot about digital footprints and about the need to think carefully about how we portray ourselves on line. I asked the boys if they thought their work was good enough to publish on YouTube. Aiden and Jaiden looked at each other.
- Jaiden: Wow! YouTube! We better check.
- Aiden :YouTube! I think it’s good enough. But I agree with Jaiden. We need to check. YouTube!
- Aiden: We think it’s good. We listened carefully and it’s definitely good enough for publishing.
- Jaiden: We have loud voices and not too many characters. And the background matches the story.
- Aiden: And the story makes sense.
- Jaiden: It’s really good. It’s our best ever.
- Jaiden: I especially like how we photographed the characters from the original one.
- Aiden: Yeah! We did that because we wanted the characters to be the same.
We exported the clip to YouTube. All the children were struck with awe and wonder that they had the power to create great works and share them on YouTube. Yungi suggested tweeting a link of the YouTube clip to @KinderPals so they could wathc the story in Canada.
There has been much talk in recent years about the role of technology in elementary school classrooms; talk about whether technology has a place, and if so, how best to use it to enhance teaching and learning. In this example, the technology complimented and enhanced our writing inquiry into narrative fiction and our overarching unit of inquiry into how we express ourselves. It empowered the children by enabling them to create a story independently and share work their work with a wider audience. The technology was not a substitute for a more traditional style of learning -it enabled the children to do new things in ways that were not previously possible.