The things we carry forward

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. 

Ernest E. Bartolina

Eddie E. Chervony

Gene Kuvik

Terry F. Leazer

Robert Leon Tucci

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? 

More details about the projects, as well as a place for comments can be found on the website or feel free to comment here or at Joel’s tech blog.

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.”  

2 thoughts on “The things we carry forward

  1. This project is something that more and more students should be exposed to; opening up the avenues for content creation via video and storytelling tools allows greater access by the students to the ideas that authors, filmmakers, artists, and musicians hope to invoke within their audiences.

    If you could send along more details of this project I would greatly appreciate it. Some of our English classes read this book, and beginning next year, we will be creating a Googlelitrip featuring names and pictures of soldiers from our area who lost their lives in Vietnam. A video element would add greatly to this endeavor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *