"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

We are a creation station: making videos on science topics

What are all these engaged 5th graders working on?  Read on and find out!  While meeting with the fifth graders teachers to plan out one project, I happily took on another. I am helping the fifth grade students prepare for the state standardized science test (Science MCAS). The Science MCAS covers topics from kindergarten through grade five. The teachers determined the twelve most important topics for the students to cover for this project and each of the three classes would cover that same twelve topics.
Here's the general outline of the project.

Session One: I used Web resources to explain what a Common Craft video is and how to create one.

Google Docs in Plain English

The Making of a Common Craft Style Video

Behind the Scenes of Filming a Common Craft Video 

Session Two: The students received their topics and began gathering information from print and electronic resources. I created and shared this information gathering form with them. I modeled a bit of it here.
Student example - sources of energy

Session Three: Students began to write scripts. I shared this template with them.
Student example - life cycles

Student example - rocks and minerals

Student example - solar system
Session Four: Students began to make props.


Session Five: Students continued to fine tune scripts and props.

Session Six: Students practiced Common Craft presentations

Session Seven: Students filmed Common Craft presentations.

Example 1 

Example 2

Example 3

Within this overall outline, some students chose to create an Animoto or a Google Presentation on their topic. 

The students will be evaluating this project and assessing their work next week. We won't really understand the impact of this project until the state standardized test scores come out next autumn, but even without that data, I think this project is a winner...on so many fronts.

The classroom teachers are appreciative of the work that I have done with the students. They also are seeing the impact of an authentic learning experience such as this.  Each classroom had a viewing party, unfortunately my schedule is not so booked, I couldn't be present, but I heard from both teachers and students how successful it was. The students have taken on the role as "experts" on their individual subject. I hear from the teachers that they are imparting knowledge to other students, immediately after the viewing of the videos/presentations as well as following the viewing party. The students are proud of their own work and recognize the hard work of their classmates. I heard that they were studiously taking notes during the videos/presentations. These resources will be there for the next week so they can watch and re-watch them at school and at home. Here's another cool thing, since each of the three classes covered the same same twelve topics, the students have three unique approaches and expressions from which to learn about the subject.

As for me, I am grateful to have been given this opportunity. I want to work on meaningful (and authentic!) projects with the students and I want to be seen as a valuable teaching partner.  I have learned quite a bit and have made notes for next year, but on the whole this has been a successful and valuable learning experience for all. Working with me, the students brought a project from beginning to end and developed and practiced solid research skills along the way. I love that the students produced a product that others will use to learn about the subject. I love that my library was a space filled with learning and doing and making.  

We are a creation station.


  1. Loved this project! Where did you get a copy of the standards you used? Did kids get a copy?

    1. Our standards are online through the DESE. We also have printed copies in our classrooms and libraries. The students got a copy of the learning outcomes for the unit.