Constructivist Celebration – NYSCATE Preconference

celebration-logo-small.pngThe Constructivist Celebration came to NYSCATE today. The first celebration took place at NECC back in July, and its great that we had the opportunity in New York to come together.

Gary Stager, Executive Director of the Constructivist Consortium, and Melinda Kolk, of Tech4Learning, started the day speaking about the value and need for constructivist learning environments in our classrooms. Melinda used a very entertaining drawing of Gary (including interesting dental work) as she demonstrated animation with the software, Frames.

The bulk of the remainder of the day was spent with us exploring some of the provided software (from Tech4Learning, LCSI, and Inspiration) to create a project. I came to this day with a plan in mind – Tech4Learning’s site, Recipes4Success has a neat lesson plan on creating a video poem that I like to share during my digital storytelling workshops. I have some ELA teachers who are interested in this project, so I wanted to create a sample to show for school.

I used The Harbor by Carl Sandberg for my sample. Poetry is a hard topic for me to grasp, which is one of the reasons I wanted to try this. I love that the project allows for students to interpret as they see fit after analyzing the poem. Here is the poem – take a moment to digest it before viewing my interpretation:

The Harbor (Carl Sandberg)

Passing through huddled and ugly walls
By doorways where women
Looked from their hunger-deep eyes,
Haunted with shadows of hunger-hands,
Out from the huddled and ugly walls,
I came sudden, at the city’s edge,
On a blue burst of lake,
Long lake waves breaking under the sun
On a spray-flung curve of shore;
And a fluttering storm of gulls,
Masses of great gray wings
And flying white bellies
Veering and wheeling free in the open

One way to portray this with pictures is to do an image search and insert pictures that would be appropriate, but I decided to take the angle of using only images available from walking around the convention center…like having a student who does not live near a harbor using images from their home area. Here is what I created – definitely a work in progress, but I’m happy with how it is coming together.

If I were to start over, I’d do something totally different, but that is what is so great about this project – every interpretation would, and should, be different. I did not use any of the software provided today (this was done in iMovie) since that is what our teachers will have immediate access to at school. I do see some real possibilities with the Tech4Learnings tools, which are referenced in the video poem lesson plan.

After some sharing time of eachother’s projects, we finished with Gary making some closing remarks. I particularly liked his comment that (paraphrasing) we shouldn’t make education better so we can compete with the world…we should make education better because its the right thing to do.

Thanks to everyone at the Consortium for a creative day, and for the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que lunch!

Off to David Jakes in the morning – looking forward to it!