Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Toontastic!







Imagine a room full of 10-11 year old science students, just finishing up with research on a topic, person, or experiment of their choice. The school year is ending, and this is the Independent Study Phase. For the last week, the students have been asking and answering questions. Using their iPads, they have done the work to become the experts in their chosen area. So, the students have the content, and now they want to showcase it. They want to CREATE!

With iPads in hand and the Toontastic app open, the conversations bubble. In one area, a group of three boys are trying to share all parts of their thermal insulation experiment into a cartoon. They are laughing about changing voices as they discuss key elements to include about the experiment. A little girl works in another area by herself. She is excited to make her video about dolphin adaptations. This topic has captivated her interest for the past week. She makes eye contact with me 1 or 2 times during the 40 minute period, and each time, her face is glowing and her science and creative mind is hard at work. Another young lady comes up to me several times to hear the latest addition to her Toontastic cartoon about Mars. She loves her work, her cleverness, and her topic!

These students are informed, creative, and filled with purpose. Not one time is the amount of work questioned. Not one time is a student asking to change or quit. They are into it! Big. Time. AND, they are acting and feeling like scientists. You can magnify this pride and sense of purpose many times over when it is time to share. The students each get their time to give background information before playing their Toontastic video. They are the recipients of enthusiastic applause at the end of each video. And, they are proud!

There isn’t a multiple choice, fill in the blank, or true/false component to this learning. There isn’t cramming to memorize vocabulary. And, their isn’t a high stakes test involved. THIS IS TRUE LEARNING.

With Toontastic, my students are problem solving, creating, and sharing ideas. They are modeling what we really do…in the real world. And, they are doing it using a medium that attends to THEIR learning style and their brains. Creating a cartoon with their ideas and voices, shows me how much content was truly learned.

And this is why I will continue to use apps such as Toontastic. Giving my students a forum for expression of science content is key!

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