Wednesday, September 03, 2008

LAUNCHING THE NEW YEAR

Getting Started

We got a late start on our project, but now we are going to try to make up for lost time. At the end of the summer we equipped each of our Hebrew teachers with a small Flip video camera and, during our staff days before school started, we trained each one how to use them. We chose these tiny cameras because of their ease of use.

Our Hebrew department is populated by wonderful, hard-working, enthusiastic, but not technically sophisticated teachers. We really wanted to set up everyone for success in the videotaping part of our project, and we wanted the technology to enhance our vision and not get in the way. These cameras are very small and incredibly easy to use. They are able to plug directly into your computer after you make the tape.

As it turned out, one of our most senior members of the staff was the first to take the plunge. She is also our Israeli music specialist, and she starts every year sitting with her students in the youngest grades, singing with them and watching their faces light up as they remember the songs they learned in previous years (some of which they sang at last year's Zimriyah). This year she had her video camera with her, and she taped the children on the 1st and 2nd days of school.

Unexpected Results

What was interesting to us was that she expected, as we all did, that the children would be self conscious because of the video camera and would not want to sing out they way they had in the past. In fact, almost the opposite occurred. The camera is so small that she was able to hold it away from her face and just enjoy the students singing while she was doing the taping. To our teacher, it seemed that the students were even more responsive than usual, knowing they were being taped. She also shared with them that she was making the film as a record of what they sounded like on the first day of school, and that they will be able to compare that to what they sound like as they grow and learn much more Hebrew. The children were as excited about the project as the teacher.

Now that one of us has broken the ice, it will be easier for other members of the team to start using their cameras. We'll write again soon to keep people posted as we branch out with some of the other aspects of our project.

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