I love, love, love these pictures! Not because of the color or the composition. In fact, many of the pictures taken on this day suffer from the effects of low light, low resolution, and more than a few fingers in the way of the lenses. But I love these pictures because of the photographers. These photos were taken by kindergarten students in Mrs. Cook’s class.
When I woke up on Tuesday morning, I had no idea that I would be accompanying 100+ kindergartners to the New England aquarium. When I realized that I had the opportunity to join the Francis Wyman kindergartners on their trip I swung by Pine Glen and, with the help of Librarian Megan Carney and Instructional Technology Specialist Michelle Ardizzoni, got 5 old iPod Touches charged and ready to go. In this case, I chose iPods over iPads for two reasons: they are the perfect size for small hands, especially when we would be moving about, and given the age of the devices there would be less of a loss if one accidentally got wet.
Under ideal circumstances, I would have had a session with students on how to properly use the camera including proper grip and framing. As we were flying by the seat of our pants, I had to settle with showing the first five students how to access the camera and encouraged them to shoot in landscape mode. I chose landscape mode partly so that the pictures would look good together in a slide show and just in case we ended up with a few movies among the still photos.
Students knew they were in charge of documenting our experiences, adding a sense of importance and audience to their work. Students who couldn’t sit still on the bus on the way to the aquarium (or on the way home, either!) settled in and took their role as documentarians seriously, keeping the iPod away from the water and making sure they took a picture of the “really important” things they saw.
The simple act of adding photographic and video records of field trips and everyday activities in the classroom is one example of how we can authentically integrate technology into our teaching and learning. It shows students that what they are learning is as important to memorialize as their vacation activities. It helps to preserve and recall what has been said and done and having students take the photos emphasizes the need to focus on what is important and how to communicate that to others.
While many of the iPod photos ended up being fairly low quality, primarily due to the lack of light and resolution of the camera, when added to the pictures taken by teachers and chaperones, the class now has a wealth of material that can be used in a multitude of ways.
Here are just a few that would be appropriate for elementary:
- photo book with captions to recall/show the trip;
- slideshows or videos highlighting each student’s learning or memories;
- activator for digital storytelling about the trip or fictional story about fish/sea;
- nonfiction books on the characteristics of sea animals/life.
With iPads in every classroom, documenting student work and learning is easier than ever. For help with uploading photos and videos to Google Drive, see my earlier post here.