Sunday, December 12, 2010

Change the Channel

Yeah! The K-8 geometry video is ready for release! The students did a great job getting footage, and had lots of creative ideas that used their talents. I hope you enjoy it!  (The students would love it if you share the link.)

The video started back at the midsemester when students at our school were making a lipdub.  During my class.  "Can we go?" (GVSU lipdub - came out pretty well.)

"Not now - you had to be involved before."

"What's a lipdub?"

So I showed them what I consider the classic of the genre, Shorewood High School's reverse lipdub.  We were just starting our unit on teaching (following doing, preceding learning).  So we talked about how many teachers find it hard to get students to do any work, and yet here's a whole school working their butts off to make a video.  They had a great discussion about it, bringing up choice, student interest, engagement and other factors.  Then... "can we make one?"

Any reasonably bright teacher would have seen that coming, but not me.  "I'll think about it."

Starting our last unit, I brought it up.  If we're going to do it, it's time.  Discussion led them to believe that the reverse lipdub was right out, followed shortly by a lipdub.  Some students were really into the idea, most were in favor, and a few were dead against it.  There's a fair number of choice workshops in my courses, and I said most of the prep work would be choice.  They wouldn't be graded on the success or not.  The class voted on it with most in favor.  I started freaking out.  It was worth doing to me because:
  • Student interest was high, 
  • The idea of how to capture and communicate math is relevant to a math ed class,
  • By the end of the semester it could be connected to review, and
  • The preservice teachers wanted to be able to show it to their students to answer why they should be engaged.
But as the last couple weeks went by, only a few students were contributing.  (We had a google doc for students to add their ideas and development to.) My freak out got freakier.  Was it even going to be worth trying?  Part of this was also I wanted them to see a teacher giving something a go, taking a risk.  That's better if I'm uncomfortable, right?

We used our last class period to do the filming.  One of the cameras failed completely.  I just wheeled in all the manipulatives with which they had had the most fun.  Objective: get some good footage.

One student had written the Math, Math, Baby rap, and found someone to rap, so they started choreographing it.  Other students got building and drawing.  One student had come up with an I Love Charts style demonstration (on Jeggings, which you can buy but she proves do not exist), and another was ready to demonstrate our amazing rubber band enlarger.  The atmosphere got charged and they really got into the spirit.  In hindsight, we should have gotten this footage earlier, and then students could film and add to it.  Ultimately I had to do the first pass editing, but it was inspiring to do it because they got such good footage.  The Geometry song came from me noticing that it would fit to Adam Sandler's Hanukkah song, the guitarist learning it in 5 minutes from youtube, and the singer coming up with the lyrics (with some crowdsourcing) on the spot.

Even if there was no video result, I would have been happy to see the students so engaged in making math visible and engaging.  But it's better with the video!

Resources: Jamendo was a great place to find cc 3.0 music, and I think the songs from Antony Raijekov (jazz) and Josh Woodward (pop/folk) really help make it. They're not math songs, but nobody's perfect.

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