Singing about Science!

The #ichoosetapwater video contest was promoted via poster back in the fall.  I don’t know why, but I’ve never entered any contests before with my class.  This one aligned so nicely with my ‘community citizenship through curriculum’ project that I had to do it.  Using iPads daily in the room has been empowering for kids – both in creativity and in learning that there are so many ways to share their thinking in a way that suits their personal voice.  I wanted to pull some of their tech know-how into the film contest.

I blogged earlier about the creative process we followed to produce stop motion animation videos in small groups tackling the various lyrics that were written based on brainstorming students did collaboratively on a Padlet.  We invited our other grade 4 friends into the process to make it a big group work project.  We really dug into the purpose of the contest and ensured that our main points were clearly highlighted in the song.  Conservation.  Preservation.  Pollution.  Energy.  Re-usability.  Appreciation of our great lake natural resources.  Big themes worth singing about, right?

Who would have thought we’d not only get invited to the Blue Carpet Event,

but actually come in first place?  $1000 to put towards student learning.  Amazing water bottles for all the students.  Incredibly, an opportunity to record a 30 second public service announcement ‘commercial’ for a popular radio station in St. Thomas.  These are all incredible opportunities for kids supported by the events’ sponsors.

File_006 (2)Even with all this, I think the most important part of the process was showing students that THEIR work had a real audience outside of our classroom.  Just being invited to an event at an art gallery during an evening and having our film screened was a big win for the grade 4s.  The VIPs would come to the front, one by one, opening golden papers to announce finalists.  Our school name wasn’t spoken until the end.  Then the photograph time started!  We posed for photos for 15 minutes.  Within the hour their success was tweeted about, posted on facebook, and official statements were collected for the papers.  A REAL audience. Powerful stuff.

The money will go to purchase more iPads.  Without them, our stop motion animations wouldn’t have happened in the first place.  They have become the go-to tool for creative endeavors in and outside of my classroom (yahoo to their portability!).  Then the phone call came to book time with myFM 94.1 to arrange a recording time for our 30 second radio spot.  That’s when the excitement started all over again.

We practiced for 30 minutes prior to recording time and got pumped up for the experience. We went up to the room where the myFM set up captured the interest of the students and set the tone for the event.

We did 3 recordings.  The first was our 30 second commercial.  The earlier practice paid off and we got the recording we wanted on the first attempt!  What a great feeling – a real collaborative success!  We then recorded the full length song, including the spoken lines near the end.  Nailed it on the first try as well!  We were able to listen to the playback immediately and watch as the production crew manipulated pitch and amplitude of the sound waves (a perfect science link for grade four).  Finally, the myFM team had the students co-create a typical radio ad with sound effects, background music, and attention-grabbing vocals.  We talked about audience, purpose, and the ins and outs of radio advertising.  All in all, a great hour of learning and creating!

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So how did it all turn out?  The 30 second spot, the full song (which will play one day during regular rotation!) and the practice commercial were fine-tuned at the station and sent back. They sound so great.

There’s something so satisfying about an idea becoming a successful final product. Students literally found their voice, and for two weeks their audience is in the 10s of thousands.  Incredible.

30 Second Commercial Audio

Full version

Having Fun Creating an Ad

A huge thank you to the sponsors for a meaningful experience that these 9 and 10 year olds will never forget.