Planning The Year Ahead

So the year finally came to an end. The room well on it’s way to being set up. It was now time to contemplate all I had to do. I had to plan a series of units – from Prep to Grade 6 – from scratch. I had the new curriculum as a framework, but I had nothing to look back on, no skills to build up and no experience to fall back on. This is a new subject to primary school kids, and I had to justify the faith in which the school had placed on me.

thinking-clipart-3

There were a few of those points flitting about in my brain that I had to now bring together.

  1. I wanted to include Adobe tools in there. Desktop apps for the older kids, but certainly there is a plethora of fantastic tools such as Voice, Slate, Photoshop Mix, Photoshop Fix, Capture and the new kid on the block – Post. These apps are top notch.
  2. I don’t want to solely rely on Adobe tools. One of the main components of media arts is to communicate an idea or a story using digital means. An app that is very popular with my 3 year old girl is called PuppetPals HD. I’m so lucky I have her as a benchmark, because if she can make something work, there is no reason why the average Prep student couldn’t also.
  3. The curriculum is – for the most part – framed in composite year levels. Which means Prep, 1-2s, 3-4s and 5-6s. This is back to the old VELS way of doing things and quite different to the National Curriculum or even the AusVELS which had the curriculum set out in single year levels. Our school has been structured as single year levels for a few years now. I don’t see it going back, so I need to essentially split up a composite level (1-2s for example) into Grade 1 and Grade 2.
  4. As I mentioned before, every student is starting from scratch, pretty much. None of them have experience with planning a photography project. Virtually none of them have used Adobe apps before. None of them know what a composite is, or a filter. Very few of them have any in depth experience in editing videos and audio, much less properly planning and shooting one. This means everyone is starting from scratch, from square 1.
  5. None of the kids (or many of the teachers and parents come to that) have a clear idea of what Media Arts is. I’m still getting my head around it as well. I know what it isn’t – and that’s pretty important to set out from the beginning.
  6. Apart from the kids now in Grade 5, every other year I have taught have moved on to high school. Which means, I have to get to know virtually EVERYONE! I feel like a brand new teacher.

So, a lot to think about. To start with, this year, I plan to teach the 1-2s the exact same thing. Same with the 3-4s and the 5-6s. Once we’ve gotten through the first year, I then have space to build on as they progress to the next year and the next level.

I think that, for the most part, I will limit the Prep – 2s to work on iPads, with the older kids using iPads and Desktops. I don’t see it as my role to teach ICT. I would hope, by the time a child is in third grade, they would have some understanding of how to navigate and use a desktop environment (in our case, Windows PCs).

I plan to have everyone work in pairs. I don’t have enough machines for them to work separately, but I also want them to work in teams. The pairs will remain the same throughout the term. I’ll mix it up next term.

I will split the year up into four units. It will look almost identical (as far as WHAT they are learning) for all the kids in the school. The difference is in HOW they learn it, and my expectations also increase with the older students.

This is how I broke it down:

plan
A slide from my presentation to the kids – “What is Media Arts?”

The main difference being, for the grade five and sixes, they will skip the animation component in term 3 and go straight into video production. Then in term 4 they will go in post production skills (titles, subtitles, special effects, audio mixing, etc).

The idea is that by the end of the second term (in the first semester) they can work on a mini project that brings together the photography and design. This I can use for the major assessment in their reports. Then, in the second semester, they can use their new skills in animation and video production to deliver a short film that will be their assessment piece for the end of the year.

The last thing – in particular to me working in my school – is that with our school now granted status as an International Baccalaureate candidate school with the PYP (Primary Years Program) I had to think of how to make genuine and meaningful links to the students Inquiry in their classrooms, based on their central questions and wonderings. For me, that meant finding out what they are exploring in each year level, and where possible, using those topics to fuel the output of what the students come up with. For example, the Prep students start the year looking at themselves and their place in our world. So I will use that for future project ideas.

So, before everyone comes back from holidays, this is the rough plan I have for term one. Bear in mind that, the first week of school (in actuality it’s only two days) the students do not have specialist classes. I start from Week 2.

Experience tells me that I fully expect this to change after the first week, as I get to know how far I can push the kids. Some lessons might need longer that one session, so sacrifices will have to be made. But no problems, I can always move that to next year’s planner down the road.

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