Monday, May 6, 2013

TCAF-Inspired, Year-Long Project Complete!

I am SO very excited about the video I've posted above. Let me set the scenario.

I love going to the Toronto Comic Arts Festival every year. Last year, I wrote about my son and my daughter's plan to create a movie using a book from Colleen A.F. Venable's excellent Guinea P.I. series. I am happy to report that, after a year's worth of work (okay, more like four months work and eight months of procrastination), we finally have a finished product to share with the world!

There were several hurdles we had to overcome. We switched executive producers at the beginning of the project. We had some casting difficulties because we couldn't find any Webkinz hamsters to buy to fill the roles of the other hamsters besides Hamisher. (Thankfully, my husband found some toys online through Indigo and had them shipped to our local Chapters store.) We had to do some creative problem solving, like when we wanted the fish to move without seeing our hands. We had some technical difficulties when I transferred all our photos and videos off the iPad and iMovie needed the files so I had to resend all the required video files to the Photos folder. Despite it all, we persevered and we succeeded.

What I adore about this project was that it was something my children undertook of their own accord. When they'd get discouraged, they'd read the inscription that Colleen wrote in the book we bought from her that she autographed. We didn't want to let her down, and just in time for TCAF 2013, we posted our film to YouTube. If this was a school project, it would combine reading, media literacy, music, drama, and ICT. The learning skills their teacher could remark on would include responsibility, collaboration, initiative, organization, and self-regulation. My kids didn't do it for any marks. They were inspired to undertake authentic learning because of their shared love of a graphic novel and a charming author.

I wish we had a chance to do projects like this more often in school. I was able to do something similar with some of my students. My Grade 3-4s are nearing the end of their year-long foray into their What Is Media - Minecraft Style video. The uneasy part of this type of project-based learning is that it's hard at times to sift out all the individual assessments from the collective project, and because we spent a long time on this one huge task, it represents a large portion of the students' media mark. (If anyone reading this has any insights on assessment in project-based learning, I'd appreciate hearing it. I have some solutions in mind for assessing this major project, but it'd be great to hear other suggestions.)

This Friday, I'll be attending the second annual TCAF Librarian and Educators Day - but this time, I'll be bringing four of my intermediate division library helpers along with me. I hope that they will be inspired by the comic authors and illustrators they will meet and maybe they'll try writing their own comic, or making a movie adaptation of a book, or some other project of their choosing, just because.

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