Jul 02 2010

ISTE 2010: Inspiring Students To Think BIG!

The Buzz Blog explores the BIG opportunities that BizMovie offers.

When I cruised the exhibit hall at ISTE, the last thing I expected was a flashback to my Junior High days. I was a...theater geek. (Long, slow, exhale). It's part of my past, and I've come to accept it, though from time to time, it creeps back into my mind like a strange dream. When it came time for the Spring Show, I was the only male in theater class, so it was a no-brainer who would play David, the leading role in the off, off, off broadway production of David & Lisa: the story of a troubled male tween and his disturbed young girlfriend who found love and acceptance...in a mental institution. After this roundtrip of the mind, I found myself back in the exhibit hall, reading the materials and talking to the exhibitor about the importance of giving students real-world skills.

The truth is, I'm still a bit of a theater geek at heart, and I love creating content, especially in the digital domain, and I get a huge kick out of passing that love along to my students. BizMovie, one of three modules by BizWorld.org, is an integrated business, entrepreneurship, and computer programming curriculum. During a 12-week program (an hour a week) students create animated movies using movie making technology that also enables them to learn basic programming as they start and run their own movie production companies. Students experience the entire entrepreneurial cycle as they work together to design, produce, market, and even sell tickets to their animated films. Who knows – a program like this could inspire the next James Cameron.  

Students work in teams to apply academic skills to real-world business situations in 3rd to 8th grade classrooms. All programs are interdisciplinary, aligned to standards, and enable students to recognize the practical application of core subject material while engaging them in opportunities to exercise 21st century skills.

The lesson plans are straight forward and simple to follow. Objectives and learning standards are also provided. Lessons begin with a guiding question that leads into a 5-minute "do now" activity, followed by instruction, application of knowledge, link to the business of movie production, a closure activity, and even a homework assignment. The side panel of the lesson plan guide includes helpful teaching tips, sort of like the ones found in the For Dummies books. Resources and handouts are also provided, along with a list of words and definitions common in the film, computer, and business industry.

From 2003 to about 2007, I ran a program similar to this one in our school's after school program, but the medium was video production. As engaging, creative, and fun as that experience was, I could only manage roughly four to five students at a time; this program offers something for everyone all of the time, thanks to the personal computer. It's an ideal curriculum for a classroom or after school program.

Kerpoof, the MovieMaking software, works in a web browser, so there's no software to download. It does require Flash Player 10, which will have already been installed on most browsers. If you dont have the latest version of Flash, you can download it for free from Adobe. 

Program Requirements:

  • Access to a class set of computers with internet capability and Adobe Flash Player 10
  • Classroom of students
  • Expected time commitment of 20 hours (prep, program and debrief)

To have your students experience the “MovieMaker” application created by Kerpoof exclusively for the BizMovie program, go to www.kerpoof.com. The BizMovie Kit costs $95, and includes a Teacher Manual, Resource Guide, BizMovie Stock Cards, BizBucks, and a Movie Clapper. Kerpoof, the MovieMaking software, is free to use regardless of whether or not you choose to purchase the curriculum. I will see YOU at the Oscars.

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