Digital Documentaries

Teachers and students explore the methodology and practice of Marco Torres, educator, producer, media artist, and Instructional OIT consultant and explore how digital documentaries can engage students, deepen their content understandings, and improve their communication skills.

· Tools of multimedia are introduced through projects in several different formats: documentaries, music, experimental video, advocacy/selling ideas, and storytelling/feature production.
· Content of the projects comes from the students and is based on a curriculum related topic. Using up-to-date presentation of learned information makes for realistic, contextual, emotional connections to what is learned.
· Media is the language of kids. Students who may not take to learning by reading a textbook or listening to a lecture often jump at the chance to understand complex concepts by presenting finished products in the form of a film or a Web documentary or a PowerPoint® presentation.
· Students learn the four P's. The first P is planning, the most critical part. In the planning, that's where students write the script, the timeline, and the storyboards. The second P is production. Students shoot video footage or start to collect the information needed to do the project. The third part is a presentation. This is where they actually present the information. The final P is project assessment, evaluating the final work using rubrics.

Demonstration of Mastery of Skills: Students produce digital documentary that can be showcased at a Film Festival.

Robotics: Making Curriculum Connections

Teachers will learn how to build and program robots. Professional development will be informed and rooted in constructivism, which emphasizes a hands-on problem solving and project-based approach to learning. Founded in the belief that individuals learn in unique and complex ways, this approach offers students an opportunity to conduct their own research and experiment in the pursuit of knowledge, while challenging students to think creatively, apply concepts and actively "construct" meaning. Teachers begin by using basic robotics kits and purchase additional more complex components, as their need grows. Schools use one of more of the following robotics kits: Lego, Vex, or hand built and all compete in various regional and NYFirst competitions.

Cyber High School Project

The Cyber High School Project was conceived to provide a forum for learning, sharing, communicating, and collaborating amongst appropriate networks of learners, from within the borough/city and throughout various global communities. High school teachers, across all content areas are informed about available technologies and resources that they can use to engage students, deepen understanding, and facilitate 24/7/365 anytime/anywhere learning. Push-in and/or Online professional development is provided to support content and instructional practice, focusing on how, when, and why certain tools should be used. Ongoing discussions with teachers include such topics as the benefits of project-based and passion-based learning, the emergence of non-linear learning as typified on the read / write web and within social networks, and the need to prepare our students with information literacy skills and 21st century technology skills. Teachers are encouraged to view themselves as learners, who model and make their own learning style transparent. They recognize that their students now have access to content specialists with knowledge and resources that far exceed that of the teacher, and that their role is becoming that of a guide, a connector, an arbiter of knowledge.

As teachers explore the possibilities for integrating technology, new and exciting changes are happening throughout the borough/city. For example, students from many high schools visit an AP Calculus blog hosted by one extraordinary teacher, who provides excellent resources. He posts a “question of the day” and students have until 10pm to provide both a solution and an explanation of the process they followed to achieve the answer. At 9 pm the teacher approves all the comments and the students get to see if they got the correct answer and, if not, they can review the process and explanations of their peers. English students are connecting online with authors, science students are taking and examining samples from local water sources and sharing their data online with students across the country. Social studies classes view satellite images, live weather data, primary source documents, and converse with students and content experts in global communities using blogs, wikis, and voice over Internet. English Language Learners are excited to use iPods to practice, record, and podcast their oral presentations on iTunes, a format that can be shared with family and friends in their native country. Foreign Language students converse online with other students and native speakers to practice their written and oral communication skills.