I would not recommend undertaking this project.
But you should totally do it.
I’ll be honest. I think a lot of my “pioneering spirit” has something to do with my complete lack of foresight. If you ask me to do something and outline all of the obstacles, there is a large chance I am going to find something else to do. But, if I jump into something without any thought about the potential problems, I just force myself to wade through them to get to the other side. It’s not bravery; it’s intentional ignorance.
That’s what happened with the “You Matter” augmented reality project I dove into a couple of weeks ago.
To summarize briefly, I thought it would be a meaningful way for my students to start their school year with me by scanning a photo of their parents with the iPad (using the Aurasma app), that would trigger a video message from their parents telling the students how much they mean to them. The students would keep the photo all year in their class folder, and be able to scan it any time or even just look at the picture to remind them of this message.
You can see the first two posts that I did on this project here and here. (But if you are like me, and find the knowledge of a bunch of hurdles at the outset too daunting, then you might not want to click on the 2nd link…)
As an elementary GT teacher, I currently have 40 students (2nd-5th), with more to come in November when I add 1st. Of course, I didn’t decide to try this with just one grade level. Instead, I asked all of the parents to contribute.
But I’m not going to spend this post complaining about my own lack of vision.
In the end, I got videos for every student from at least one parent. In some cases I got two videos. In some cases, family pets got in on the action. In one case, a beaver costume was used.
They were funny, touching, loving, and creative.
Just like my students.
I have never done anything so completely exhausting and so completely rewarding in my life.
Through this project, I learned a lot about my students that I never knew, and I learned a lot about their parents. Many of these parents I have never seen or spoken to, even though this may be the second year I have their child. But now I have had contact with each and every one. And they know that I would do anything to make their child feel special, even if it means I have to call every number on their contact list or text message them at 9:00 at night on a Saturday.
And then I added one more piece to the project.
I videotaped the reactions of the students to the videos. (Each student watched his or her video with me privately.) The kid who thought his parents were speaking to him live through FaceTime and started talking back to them? I got it. The big smiles, the tears in the corners of the eyes, the guffaws of laughter? I got it. And I sent it to the parents (after getting their permission).
Because I wanted them to see how much they mattered, too.
I have a daughter. I tell her, “I love you” every day, and I chauffeur her to all of her extracurricular activities. I spend time with her playing games and doing fun projects – and all of those things are vitally important.
But I’m going to make a video for her, too. Because there is something about someone saying those words, taking the time to immortalize them, verbally acknowledging the important part that a person plays in your life, that makes an impact.
No, I wouldn’t recommend this project to anyone. It’s time-consuming, nail-biting, throw-your-computer-at-the-wall-because-it’s-too-slow frustrating.
But you should really do it.
(If you would like to learn about “You Matter,” Angela Maiers is the amazing speaker and writer who inspired me to incorporate this into my classroom. She will be the guest on the Two Guys Show next Tuesday, October 1st, at 9 PM EST.)