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Academic Aesthetic #178: Problems and Solutions

This is an episode about problems and solutions as I look ahead to next year’s curriculum.

Problem

9 week curriculum needs revising.  This is a course that can be repeated every year.  Even if I didn’t need to change the lessons to keep it interesting to ME, I would still need to change the lessons to keep it interesting to my students.

Solution

Change the “plot” of most projects.  Instead of building a tree using 3D Tin, build a flower (or something else)!  Projects too simple for a “plot” change can be retired, replaced by new assignments.

Problem

Major curriculum needs a large overhaul.  There were many projects that worked well, but others that did not.  Some were based on specific time-sensitive events, like our school’s Fall Drama production.  In addition, the majority of the class (I have 7 students moving on to High School) will be in the course next year.  This can’t just be a repeat, I need a full year’s worth of new projects.

Solution

Don’t reset points, levels, or projects completed.  Incoming majors will still be Level 1.  Returning majors (7th and 8th grade) will be whatever level they were in June. This will require more levels to be added (Current cap is Level 5) with more complex assignments to accommodate returning students.  Current thought is to include assignments that involve more than one media file.  Instead of “Record an .mp3” they may have to “Create a podcast series with no fewer than 5 episodes.”

Problem

Film Festival projects are cutting it close – very close – to our deadline.  With 5 weeks to go many students still have not finished their scripts.

Solution

Spread Film Festival projects out through the entire year.  Script/Storyboard due Q1, Final Movie due Q3, Trailer due Q4, and a new “Making of…” project due Q2.  These projects will reside OUTSIDE of the Levels format existing for the other projects, and can be handed in regardless of the level of the student.

Problem

5th Grade curriculum relates to the 9 week curriculum much more than it does to the Major curriculum.  Incoming Majors have experience with technology but there is much room for improvement.

Solution

Redo 5th grade curriculum to follow gaming model.  Move some “retired” 9 week lessons to 5th grade to give them a feel for the program, then simplify some Major lessons and introduce them has higher level 5th grade projects.

Problem

Site design could use an overhaul.  (This seems to change every year.)  I used MediaWiki for Middle School’s class sites because I wanted to teach myself how to use MediaWiki.  Now that the challenge is gone I am seeing MediaWiki’s shortcomings.  My options are to install plugins to give MediaWiki the functionality that it lacks OR to move on to something else.

Solution … ?

Hand coding, Google Sites, WordPress, Drupal, Wikispaces, Tumblr, … something else?  I am still looking into all of my options.

Problem

Many of my tutorials must be redone.  Some are no longer relevant as better techniques have been developed, others need to redone now that websites and or apps have been upgraded.

Solution

Nothing to it but to do it.  The kinks for this have already been worked out, the rest is just time management.

Problem

Technology can be lacking.  We have more cameras this year than any previous year, yet I do not have enough cameras to provide one to each student.  Many students do not have technology at home needed to complete assignments.  This has been partially solved by creating “low tech” projects that relate to technology but don’t require it for an A.  More can and should be done.

Solution

Donors Choose for cameras?  Create a “recommended purchases” page on the class site?  (I cannot “require” anything more than a flash drive, but I can “recommend” anything.)  Provide weekly lab time after school to any students that wish to work on something.

By theartguy

Aaron Smith is a Media Arts & Technology Teacher who spends most of his time on computers. In his free time he plays video games, edits videos, and misses his wife dearly.