Bridgette Fincher- Masters in Educational Technology and Leadership. 2006

Terms and Classes

Summer '05

Fall Term '05

 Winter Term '06

Spring/Summer Term '06

Action Research Project


Fifth Grade UBD Commercial Project

To document the process, the appropriate section of the unit plan is listed, and what happened in narrative form follows. Pictures and copies of document will be inserted along the way. Comments from my small group team, Pam and Josh, will be inserted in the appropriate spots.

black=original plan   blue: narrative comments   maroon: small group- Josh and Pam

 March 5th-March 12th

Section A: Essential Questions- How did I feel when I had to come to a new school? What things hurt or helped me when I first got here? Content Knowledge and Skills: The student will develop, and identify, point- of- view in him and others. Performance Assessments and Other Assessments: A short, personal reflection with key sentence stems. 

Learning Activities: Gathering Background Knowledge and Initial Group Set Up  March 13 Tapped In Transcript

1. Paring up, the students will interview each other to see what their feelings would be about entering a new school. A second section of the paper would ask all the questions that they might feel that they needed answered to feel like they would have a good understanding of the situation. Guiding Thoughts: Have the kids project what questions they have about entering middle school next year, and then apply that to the situation that a new student could face at Old Wire Road. Also, they need to think about it from a lower school and upper school perspective.

On the first day, the children had time to brainstorm. They ended up in triads due to the configuration of kids in the room as some were out doing modified testing procedures. I lose a third of my class everyday to pull out programs, so going on without them in certain exercises, is not unusual and I plan around it. The roles assigned were recorders, reporters and timekeepers. At the end of session, the results of the brainstorms were placed on the white board with the emotions listed first. The feelings were categorized into negative, neutral and positive emotions. (Just as a side note, the kids and I have had an agreement about my spelling. While I will try to spell things correctly when we are doing board work, but if I err we will either let it be or a student will hit a dictionary to help me correct it. It depends on the day what we opt to do.)

 2. The feeling and questions will then be posted on paper and reviewed by the students. Charting out possible answers to the questions should be written under the emotion that they address. Leading questions should help the student see ways in which providing the answers to incoming students should rotate the feelings from negative to positive. If there is not a transition, then alternate questions and their answers should be derived that will address that emotional need.


This is an ongoing process. After the students saw the questions on the board, we then sorted them into broad categories. We ended up with six: time, special events, friends, kids, subjects, and where. The students were surprised to find that the basic questions were applicable to both lower and upper grade students. Most of the questions were affective in nature followed by spatial and organizational queries. I switched processes at this time because the kids needed to get up and moving. Next week, the individual groups will select their top three questions and figure out the shift.

3. The student should then be sorted into two primary groups- upper, lower and all school groups. These groups would then take the appropriate questions and emotions for their subgroup and use that as a base for what is to follow.  

On the second day, the groups were selected. There are many different methods that I use to form groups, from where I select all, to the kids select all, and all permutations between. I have been having trouble with some dynamics between my boys due to isolation issues or work habits when they are together behaviors.This time, I picked. The key kids I was watching out for were thefirst members of six separate groups. Then, I added compatible girls, alternating boy/girl until the class was divided up. I also had to take into account those kids who would be gone in pull out and balance that out so that each group could function if they were gone. Each group then selected its top three categories it wanted to do. I rolled a die to call up groups and they rock-papered, scissored to see who got one of their choices.  

On the third day, the groups sat down and wrote out a group contract. This was not in the initial UBD plan, due to the fact that I didn’t take into account the ongoing PowerPoint project I had going in class when I wrote the plan. In the former project, the teams had worked on key questions, deriving format, and adapting qualifications that I gave them for expectations. The next step of the internalization of group process for the class was put into this project’s contract. This time around, I had two expectations and each group came up with three of their own. In the example, the key words are boxed. This is will be the rubric that they will score themselves by on a 1-4 scale and form the basis of each individual's reflection journal. They also had to outline in the contract consequences for members who were off task, from least intrusive to most, and then list positive outcomes at the end of the project based on their own scoring on their rubric.

They took a long time on this one and gave it a lot of thought. It was a growth experience for some. They are an emotionally young group and having to shoulder full responsibility was something new. They understood well applying consequences to other kids but it seemed a bit harder to get that the consequences also would apply to them as well. Making things just and fair was and interesting process. The fact that I was out of the picture on the application side was also bit daunting.They had to be responsible for supplying and enforcing what they wrote during the time the project was being worked on.The only thing that I donated to the cause was twenty minutes of free time at the end. My only stipulation for the first positive consequence was that they got a score of two, which translates as just meeting the expectations. Please click here for one of the contracts in a pdf format. I selected this one because of the joke they added in the on task section...they came up grinning when they came to confer with me before signing the contract. Go Hogs!


March 13th -20th

Section B: Story Boards. Content Knowledge and Skills: The student will become comfortable using the story board format as a method of drafting. . Performance Assessments and Other Assessments: A short, personal reflection with key sentence stems. 

Learning Activities:

1. Deconstruct a Known: Make a “backwards” storyboard. Watch a standard 30 second television commercial that is persuasive in nature. Watch the video. For every change in shot, a drawing is made. When it is all done, it should mirror the commercial.

In this case, I used a current Aflack clip which I had recorded off the TV onto a DVD, which was a old silent movie riff with a tied-up heroine and the Aflack duck who comes to save the day. The beauty of this particular commercial is that it has very definite breaks in camera angle and perspective which made it easy for the kids to spot the scene shifts. We mapped out the commercial as a group after viewing it once all the way through, and then mapped in clunks as I stopped the DVD.

 2. Make an Intermediate Form: Cut out specific comics from a newspaper. Using gentle kids Manga comics would be good due to the shifts in visual perspectives they have.  Have the kids act the roles of being the characters. Take digital pictures of the kids and then write text to go on the slide. Be sure to shift perspective and action. This allows the students to see how storyboarding works from a drawn perspective. Watch the program and see if there needed to be any slides in the middle which would make the message flow better.  I actually wrote this section a bit harder than it needed to be so I modified what I did in the classroom. What ended up happening was that I went for cheap and got the Archie comics after I checked out the price of the manga comics here in the States (yipe!) archie2.rtf We reviewed camera angles by looking at transparencies of picture clips I had taken out of a current People magazine. The students then looked at the panels of the comics and drew in what they agreed were the camera angles. Then, they had to rewrite the dialogue of the comics to be one of the key questions that a new kid might have upon entering the school. One of the students had to be a camera man, and hold that stance and angle while being the narrator, while the other two had to be the characters in the panels. I had made sure that the Archie comics only had two characters on the page. The students practiced their tableaux and narrations. Then, we gathered around in a circle and critiqued the performances to see if the camera angles were correct, if the poses the students had matched what was in the panel they had selected and if the dialogue answered the requirements of the assignment. 

The students spent their final day of this section finishing up selecting the key questions they wanted to address in their scripts and documenting how answering this questions would make a new student feel better. Also, each day that they met, they wrote a reflection log in their journals to document how the project was going. We will be on Spring Break from March 20-March 27 which means the bulk of the planning, writing and picture taking will have to take place the week we get back.


March 27th- March 31st

 Section D: Story Boarding and The Final Video Construction:  

Essential Understanding:     What things can I show a new student before they get here that would make them feel better about coming?  Content Knowledge and Skills: The student will write a persuasive text using the writing process. The student will learn the elements which help makes a picture visually appealing as- well- as providing a persuasive subtext. The student will use a digital camera and a music site  to select music for the commercial. Assessments:  A short, personal reflection with key sentence stems.

1. Ask for Teena and Heather to come in and help with the kids using a digital camera. The shots are done and checked off on the story board. The pictures are downloaded and saved in two areas

2. After reviewing their general list, the students need to take a tour of the school. As they do the tour, they need to think of shots that would be persuasive and interesting. As they find one, they need to draw it from the perspective they found. Flow, continuity and ability to effectively photograph it needs to be really focused in on. The narratives the kids worked on should be printed out and pasted below each appropriate shot when the storyboard is done.

The very first day back we hit the ground running with the project. I was able to snag two people, Cameron-my son and Mrs. Karen- an instructional aide, to go out with the kids and supervise them as they took the pictures that they had storyboarded. The kids seemed to enjoy the process and got in some pretty good shots as well. What you see in the following photomontage is a picture of their storyboard and the resultant pictures. One of the things that I realized, through, was that I would have to go around in a few days and get some filler shots to add to continuity and flow in the commercial as well as making sure that a more well rounded representation of the facility happened.


3. Each subgroup then needs to look at their questions and write a text, written from the perspective of a new student written in as an internal conversation a new student has to themselves. A beginning list of possible shots should also be derived as a possible supplement to the text.

On the second day, each of the commercial groups sat down and wrote their mini-scripts. Prior to them doing it, I gave them the name of a fictional fifth and kindergartener that they would be showing around with a description of each. The rational being that if they had an audience, their dialogue should sound more authentic and, for the most part, it did. Each group had to write down two key questions they wanted to address and write the dialogue as if the student had asked them that question. They knew that the dialogue had to be between 15 to 20 seconds long which they timed for. The dialogue was placed underneath the panels in the storyboard. Click here for a new page that lists the full typed script as well as the group members and locations of their digital shots. This was a day when tempers flared, however, as some discovered the joys of self-monitoring as some teams discovered the slackers within. Some groups had to go through their consequence list that each had agreed to on their group agreement, much to the crabbiness of the person who was having the law laid down by his or her peers. I watched to make sure things were equitable but life wasn’t so breezy when push came to shove for some of them. Their reflections were very insightful to read that day.

4.Listen to select music from Music Free play. Talk about mood and how music enhances what a person sees visually on the screen. Have the students select the music that would best fit and down load it from the site and save it in the key file. They also need to note their music choice on the story board.   

The final day we worked this week, was focused on selecting the beginning and ending music tags as well as some small insert sounds between each groups section. I was really tickled to stumble upon a fantastic site made by Hollywood sound effect editors to use in their film making called Royalty free is some cases and sorted by genera and then mood it was made in heaven for projects like this! Working in small groups we sifted through a number of options to select the beginning and ending production numbers. When I asked them why they chose the ones they did, they said that the sound, which started off softy and then grew mysterious with a funky undertones, was like saying, “Come to our school, we are cool!”  Pretty persuasive argument, that! Then, we went through and selected bits of about four seconds in length to serve as insert pieces. The kids wanted me to be sure to leave the link up on my site for a bit so that they could go and explore on their own. Always nice to know when technology grabs them.

April 1st-12th

Content Knowledge and Skills: The student will use a digital camera and Windows Movie Maker to generate a viable commercial.  Assessments:  A short, personal reflection with key sentence stems.

This week and a half, the students finished up their section individual sections of the commercials. On the first day, the students copied, and saved, their specific photos from a central file where their shots had been downloaded from the digital camera. They renamed and cropped the pictures a specific size. A few of the groups noticed that the pictures that they had were not of good quality…mostly that the student in the picture was trying to look cool but only came out looking hacked off. So, retakes with smiles, were done. As this was going on, the narrators from each group recorded their speeches using a headset and the recorder portion of Movie Maker. Getting the sound just right, and in working order, was a bit of a challenge initially due to the fact that the set up of the computers in the computer lab was not consistent. So, fiddling with the front pink jacks or the rear jacks, with the attendant manipulations in the programs took up time. Too, given the sound quality is not the best, there is a hiss imbedded in each audio file but the sound quality is doable.  

We did discover in the midst of all of this a monetary problem, though. When I went to download what I THOUGHT was to be free music, much to my surprise, it cost. Some, a lot! Like $64 for one 2minute clip. I just about gagged! However, some of the bits of interim music was too bad, and that I downloaded. The other was substituted with 10 second clips that worked alright under copyright laws.    

The next day, I sat with two groups at a time, and went through a demo model of putting all the elements together. I did this silently and slowly. Over time, I have learned that if there is some particular details or order I need folks to take note of, it works better if I don’t say anything. That allows the students focus to be on the work. They took notes, and only after I was done with the first demo, were they allowed to ask questions. Then, they were on their own. What was really great to see was just how fluid the kids were for the first time around. Due to their understanding of how PowerPoint worked, they were able to generalize to Movie Maker with only a few hitches. Too, each group helped each other when difficulties arose. I guess there is some merit to having similar structures and toolbars after all.  

The student portion of this project is now done, leaving me to do some clean up on some timing and continuity issues. The finished movie will be posted as soon as I get that done but due to ITBS testing this week, my time to get to the project has been very limited due to the disrupted schedule. The kids were sent home with an evaluation sheet of sentence stems to get at how they felt the project went. These were turned in to me privately. What I did was do a generic sheet with the main elements. The next day, the students looked at the average of the scores and the general comments all had made. Then, they had to figure out if the average score was fair and accurate. I wrote guiding questions on the bottom of each sheet to help them think beyond the score. The comments reflected general trends the group had indicated as well as some actions that I had observed in class that they had not. For some groups, it was really hard for them to really look at what they deserved as apposed to what they wanted but in the end, they all did it! They had their individual celebrations on April 13th as determined by each individual group. 



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