In January, when we began talking with our English 3AP teachers about a way to make their Vietnam Wall project more “reachable” online, the goal was to allow students who were reading The Things They Carried to retell the stories of those individuals whose names were listed on the Vietnam Wall.
Now, our collaborative Vietnam Wall Experience project for English 3AP is almost completed, thanks to the efforts of many hands. (Thanks to the teachers, Becky Stucky, Sandra Coker, and Michelle Crocker, and Joel Adkins, our technology coordinator, Paula Murray, district tech coordinator, and Kevin Schwartz, Information Services department).
Students created a video project, using a variety of software, to tell the story of a soldier’s life and death. Each student was assigned a name from the Vietnam Wall. Some had access to much more information about their person than others from the Virtual Wall site and some were even able to interview family members or friends via email.
In beginning the project, Joel and I worked with all three teachers’ classes to demo software and share examples of how they could approach the project, and to talk to them about appropriateness of tone and music, as I wrote about a few months ago. We began the project using a pbwiki site we had created to host software tutorials and sample videos. Teachers worked with students on the research, bibliographies, and their class presentations, among many other things.
Some students let the text or interviews tell the story, others the music and images. The list of videos is lengthy, so here are a few excellent examples of work students did.
This is by far the largest video project we’ve done, with almost 300 students involved, and only some of their work is represented on the Vietnam site.
We have learned some lessons about helping students more during the editing process(before movie projects are finalized), as well as issues with using photostory (and iMovie which many of our students used at home), as well as about hosting video projects online.
I also wish we’d allowed more time to explore the idea of recording narration. A few students did that, and it added a touching overlay to the video and conveyed more information than text can.
I think students learned how to “drill deeper,” especially when they didn’t have much information on their soldier available, as well as how to tell a story effectively in a multi-media environment, and how to be aware of their audience. And we do have some work to do on the actual classroom presentation of the videos–do they stand alone? Should students speak as well?
Each video tells a story as the student interpreted it. As Tim O’Brien so aptly wrote in the Things They Carried, “I want you to feel what I felt. I want you to know why story-truth is truer sometimes than happening-truth.”