During June and July, I decided to run a dance unit for all my classes instead of doing sports. For students in first and second grade, we reviewed what they had learned for the parade last July. For my other students, each grade level received a different song based on their musical taste. For example, my third graders love Legos, so they learned a dance to “Everything is Awesome.” While we had great challenges, we were successful in other areas, and I am proud of the final result.
The ultimate goal of this unit was to create a music video to the dance they were learning. I wanted to use a green screen (we painted my classroom to create one) in order to change the backgrounds for the students while they danced. Students were tasked with learning and filming the dance as well as editing the images. Using the application “Green Screen by Do Ink,” we found some challenges. The photo in the left shows a successful test run, but with some minor issues, such as blurriness. However, once we started filming we encountered major problems with students blending into the picture. I prompted the students to find a solution and after about 20 minutes of intense discussion and problem solving, the students came to me with answers. They concluded that they could not produce a well-edited video for three different reasons: the background did not completely match the color options given in the application, the clothing the students wore blended into the picture frame, and the sun shining through the windows brought some light to their faces, but it also distorted the final image.
While I wish we could have figured out the technology behind the project, I’m proud of what the students accomplished during this time. First, students began to problem solve, a concept I’ve wanted to focus on with my older students. I was impressed with their conversation on why the technology didn’t work and their processes on trying to fix it. They looked at many different angles and eventually decided to try and re-film. Second, they (specifically my 3rd and 6th graders) worked hard to create the best dance video. At the beginning of the unit, many students were not pleased with the idea of doing a dance class in place of sports, and student motivation was at an all time low as a result. This quickly turned around once they saw the purpose behind the project – creating music videos with new technology to which they have not been exposed. They loved the idea, especially the technological component. I loved seeing my students more engaged in their learning because they were seeing technology used in a different manner. My older students walked away with a greater interest in how technology can work in their education.
Overall, I’m happy with the final product. It may not have been what my students and I envisioned from the beginning, but we were able to have good conversations about compromise, technology, and problem solving. Below is a video of half of my third grade class. I hope you enjoy it.