Since many people are returning to school during the next couple of weeks, I thought I would re-visit and share some of last year’s more successful projects in case you want to try one.
Today’s post is about something I tried last year with the goal of impressing upon my students how much they matter to others – in this case, their parents. What I did not realize was that I would also develop new and deeper connections with my students and their families with this project.
The basic concept was this: ask parents to secretly record videos of themselves telling their children how important they are to them and what they hoped the children would accomplish in school that year. The parents would send me the videos, and I would use Aurasma Studio (here is a link to Aurasma tutorial videos in case you need it) to attach them to still images of the parents. When my students scanned the images with the Aurasma app on the iPad, they would see and hear their parents’ videos. They kept the photos in their folders all year so they could scan them whenever they wanted, and as a reminder of their parents’ personal messages.
You can read more about the project specifics here. There were definitely some problems (be sure to click on the links for the project updates so you can avoid some of them, if possible), but the positive results made every bump along the road worth it.
One huge obstacle was getting a video for every child. I have a GT pull-out program, and had approximately 45 students in 1st-5th on my class rolls at the time I sent out the request for videos. For obvious reasons, I didn’t want anyone to end up without a video.
I had a hard time tracking down one particular parent. When I finally reached her, she apologized for not getting a video turned in yet. Her best friend was dying from cancer and she had been dealing with that for several weeks.
We are often so quick to judge when we don’t get immediate support from parents. We forget that there are many other reasons for lack of responsiveness – and most of them have nothing to do with neglect of their children.
I had a few conversations with parents during this project that gave me so much more insight on the backgrounds of my students than I had ever known. So did their videos. Every single one (and I did end up getting at least one video for each student) told me how precious their children are and that I, indeed, have a huge responsibility as their part-time caretaker.
If you are not comfortable with using Aurasma Studio, you can always do a variation of this project that does not include augmented reality. (You could upload the videos to Google Drive and link them to QR codes, or just share individual links with the students.) The value of this activity is strengthening the bond amongst parents, students, and the teacher. It is a great way to develop a supportive community in your classroom.