Saturday, December 14, 2013

Wrapping Up Smart Jams in the Classroom

This was probably my last week in the classroom for the Smart Jams project. (Check my Music in the Classroom page for the full outline of this math and music video project for elementary grades.)

While it has been five weeks, I really only met with most classes about nine times for 45 minutes each. That comes out to around six to seven hours of class time. It's more than I wanted, but I have learned some ways to save time. I will write all of that up in a later post.

This week most groups were finishing their signs for their video.  Meanwhile, I met outside the room with groups to record the parts for their video.

A lot of students had big ideas of how their video would look, but I told them we had to be realistic! The project involves 23 videos altogether and we simply didn't have time for lots of effects and different settings. To keep it manageable, I told them we had about 20 minutes per group for recording. Most times we were done in 15.

Almost all the students had a lot of fun performing for their video. It was good to be a part of a project with so many smiles and much laughter.

Here's the general process I used for most groups as I recorded the content:

  • Make and record a problem in Explain Everything that will be displayed on screen during the first time through their song. Ideally they created this problem on their video planning sheets. Some wanted to work the problem on paper instead.
  • Get pictures of each of their signs.
  • Take video of dancing, displaying the signs or, in some cases, lip synced performances of the song.  We used the Video Star app for this. (Small note: Video Star was updated this week with a feature for using multiple devices to record a performance. I haven't had a chance to try this yet, but I hope to next week. If it works as described this could be an excellent feature for multi-camera productions.)
I finished with about half the groups this week, so next week I will pull the others from their regular music class activity to finish up.

Here are other notes about this week:
  • When students finished recording I told them I needed some logos and designs for my Smart Jams portion of the website and for my MACUL presentation. They created these with the same low tech approach as their signs.
  • I gave half the students a post-test. Those students were given a pretest before we started, so I am curious to see how much they learned about the math in this project. I still have to check those.
  • Speaking of work, I am still touching up recordings, working in UJam and processing pictures. The vocal performances varied quite a bit in quality. I had to line up audio on the beats in almost every case. Sometimes it took only a few minutes. In other cases, the students' rhythm was way off and it took me way too long to get something that's barely satisfactory. I am going to speak with Crystal about the best way to address this in the future. One thought is that with a group that struggles (often because of absences), she would perform the main parts and we would have the others just do backup vocals here and there. I will write a full report on recording and processing files along with demo videos and more notes on what I learned.
  • Video editing is going to be my big job over Christmas break. While I am going to polish up a couple outstanding examples, most videos will be very simple. I am going to limit editing to 15 - 30 minutes and work exclusively on the iPad for those.

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