OES students use project-based learning to travel back 1,200 years

By on June 11, 2014
Students (from left) Holly Duguid, Rheanna Harfman, Patricia Bratton and Emma Mandziuk show the video they made about the Carolingian Empire of early 9th century Europe. The girls and their classmates acted and sang and used a video green screen to superimpose backgrounds. (Richard McGuire photo)

Students (from left) Holly Duguid, Rheanna Harfman, Patricia Bratton and Emma Mandziuk show the video they made about the Carolingian Empire of early 9th century Europe. The girls and their classmates acted and sang and used a video green screen to superimpose backgrounds. (Richard McGuire photo)

Four girls from Osoyoos Elementary School have transported themselves back centuries to the time of Emperor Charlemagne 1,200 years ago.

Using video technology, the girls and their friends have placed themselves in settings of ancient castles, wearing outfits to portray themselves as travelling minstrels.

The project occupied Emma Mandziuk, Holly Duguid, Rheanna Harfman and Patricia Bratton for about four weeks as they filmed in a school yoga room and then poured over the computer to edit their work into a video of nearly 20 minutes.

The video is an excellent example of the kind of project-based learning that the Osoyoos elementary school has adopted as part of its 21st century learning, said Shendah Benoit, vice principal.

“They integrated technology, creativity and critical thinking to develop the movie and then they presented it to the class,” said Benoit. “Using those competencies, they were really able to make the curriculum their own.”

The girls researched the history of the Carolingian Empire and then wrote lyrics based on their research that they set to the music of currently popular songs. As minstrels, they incorporated the songs into the video’s storyline.

Asked who the ringleader of the project was, the girls pointed without hesitation to Mandziuk, who did the editing in iMovie on her Macintosh computer. Mandziuk has done previous videos, but this was her biggest project so far.

“Emma is usually the one who put it all together because she is really good with technology and she likes it a lot,” said Harfman.

While the other girls concentrated on the acting and the music, they also gained some experience in video editing.

For Mandziuk too, the project taught her more about video technology. The girls set up an eight-by-10-foot green screen in the yoga room, which is used to superimpose exotic backgrounds behind their acting.

“I hadn’t done much with the green screen before, even though I had it,” said Mandziuk. “I don’t really have a big enough space in my house because it’s huge, so since we had it here with proper lighting and everything, I got to learn more on how to use it.”

Besides learning about history and video technology, the girls learned other important skills, Benoit points out.

“They’re having success because they’re collaborating together and communicating,” said Benoit. “One of the things that I find the most pleasing is that while the students were doing the project there was a lot of laughter and giggling. Others would look in and think what were they doing in there. It looks like a group of girls playing. Then we saw the final project and you realize that learning can be fun and joyful. For us as educators, we step back and are just very proud of them.”

Teacher Dean Rowland said students in Grades six and seven were given a number of “big ideas” from the B.C. curriculum as a starting point from which to develop their projects.

They then came up with their own ideas to turn it into a project.

The students were guarded about showing the work to Rowland while they were working on it, but he would talk to them daily to ask how they were doing and what they needed.

“They worked really hard at it and in the end they were really tired,” said Rowland. “When they finally presented it, it was like wow.”

The girls don’t hesitate to mention that they learned much more with this project than they would have with a traditional education model of reading from textbooks.

“I learned a lot more with this than I have in the past,” said Mandziuk. “Maybe it’s because it’s a topic that I was interested in, so I was reading a lot about it and I know all about Charlemagne now… I remember in Grade 4 we did a lot of textbook stuff and I hated it.”

“They did a great job and demonstrated almost all the stuff that we look for,” said Rowland. “Get your own ideas, share your learning through your project and use technology. In the end, you have a really nice product and something you really should be proud of.”

RICHARD McGUIRE

Osoyoos Times

 

 

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