About 10 years ago, the school where my son was attending received a grant to provide each student in the 5th grade class with a tablet computer. The idea was that I would use these tablets and lovable 5th graders as my guinea pigs to examine the use of tablets in the classroom and how tablets could be integrated into teaching art. It is hard to believe that just 10 years ago, we – educators and parents – were still grappling with the hows, whys and logistics of integrating technologies into the classroom.
There are volumes of takeaways from that experience, but certainly one of the most profound was the level of complex thinking and application the kids were capable of. I was able to introduce 5th graders to concepts that I was teaching my college students, including semiotics. Semiotic theory is not normal 5th grade material, but stripping away the academic aspects and just focusing on what things mean in relation to other things, students were able to create projects and talk about juxtapositions in them.
Within the course of a year, students explored photography using the camera in the tablets to learn the rule of thirds. We then created basic down shooters where students were able to explore basic principles of animation such as kinetics and stretch and squish. The next project was to first create model dragons and then explore animating them. The course culminated in students working in small groups to write and animate their own short animated videos which also required them to learn basic video editing to assemble the individual scene. At the end-of-the-year students’ show, students set up their tablets to show off their work to parents.
Kids are able to digest and utilize much more complex concepts than I ever imagined. Unfortunately this experiment ran for only two years (until commitments no longer allowed me the time to devote to the project). My sincerest hope for the class was to empower students to take on projects and use technologies to express complex and personal ideas – and clearly they succeeded.
Examples of student projects:
Until next time.