Finally…A (technological) Breakthrough

A few weeks ago, I met with Todd Whitten, the Burlington High School Social Studies Department Chair. Todd has a reputation for trying new technology in the classroom. I was eager to chat with him about a few apps and web tools that I thought he might want to integrate into his classes.

When we met, I showed Todd the app VidRhythm. At face value, one might assume the app only holds entertainment value. However, knowing how creative Todd is, I knew he would think otherwise. I was right. As soon as he saw it, he immediately thought of his new Modern American class. I asked when he thought he might use it.

“Next period.”

I was shocked, yet excited at how quickly he wanted to try it. I asked if I could observe and/or assist the students if needed.

“Absolutely.”

IMG_0541

I returned to his class the next period and saw the students in action. Todd had written very simple instructions on the board and his students were well on their way.

The 4 C’s had come to life:

1. The students were collaborating in small groups to select music and themes.
2. They were thinking critically about how they could best express their topic using the app.
3. It was a rather loud classroom, lots of communication taking place.
4. Creativity emerged when they figured out they could get pictures in the clips instead of video
(a student’s idea, not mine).

One team in particular had to use the app to describe the Challenger disaster. I wondered how they would handle using the app. Most of the music was upbeat. They had to describe a tragic event from the eighties. Honestly, I thought they would have to select an alternative app.

Ironically, this team’s creation turned out to be one of the best.

I ran into one of the students from the Challenger group on my way to lunch later that afternoon and asked how she liked using the app.

     “It was fun. It really challenged our creativity.”

This was the “technological breakthrough” as an integration specialist I had been hoping for and it finally happened! I asked the student if she would follow up with an e-mail elaborating on her experience.

Here’s what she had to say:

IMG_0538“Using VidRhythm on the iPad is an interesting experience that pushes creative boundaries. By providing us with only a few second, as well as an inability to arrange the sounds freely, we (the students) had to think outside the box to create visuals and key words or sounds that would fit into the format the app provided us with as well as get the point of our topic across to a casual viewer. The video my group made on the Challenger, using VidRhythm is here.”

So, there you have it…a few small steps (I’m only a size 5 shoe after all-huge risk with the blog humor, I know) but one giant leap in terms of tech integration.

I hope this was the first of many more opportunities for me to work with the amazing teachers and students at Burlington High School.

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