I read a blog post today by Dean Shareski, in which he quoted Darren Kuropatwa's question, 'What is it I can do now that I couldn't do before?'. What a great question, and a constant challenge to those lucky enough to have digital tools in their classrooms that would have been undreamt of in the not too distant past.
This past week my class has started a new term, and a new inquiry 'A Bug's Life', looking at arthropods (insects, spiders etc) in our neighbourhood, and the effect they have on us, as mammals sharing this environment. There is so much scope for wonderment and awe when we look at the world of bugs - beyond what Hollywood sci-fi movie makers could think of in the originality, complexity and freakishness of some of these alien-like creatures.
My students are already excited about it, and I have had jars of collected bugs coming out my ears this week, as they have gone about their house and garden looking for strange creatures and bringing them in (one parent told me, "She's gone bug-mad this week!"). Usually at the start of an inquiry I will spend some time finding out what the students know already, and what they want to learn. I might have done this using a graphic organiser in the past, but I love the fact that now we can really bring this curiosity to life, in relatively simple ways, using video and web 2.0 tools.
Below is a very short and simple video we made, stitching their questions together as soundbites, choosing an iMovie theme, and getting some backing music from Garageband. So easy, and so much more interesting (and shareable) than writing this down on a graphic organiser. What's more, it was our first time posting a video on Youtube, so they were very excited about that.
As you will see on the class wiki link above (A Bug's Life), we used Wallwisher to post some of the things we already knew. Another new experience for the children, and fun at the same time.
I'm really looking forward to getting into the inquiry more, and exploring what it is we can do now that we couldn't do before. I'd really like them to become junior entomologists, and create mini nature documentaries in the style of the late Steve Irwin (The Crocodile Hunter) and New Zealand's own Bugman, Ruud Kleinpaste. We could then enter these in the MADE Awards.
What an exciting time to be a teacher!