One of the most outstanding aspects of CELC’s experientially-based curriculum is something known as “theme”. CELC has four themes that rotate during the four years between 5th and 8th grade. The theme for this 2019-20 academic year: Exploration and Discovery.
Students began by exploring and then sharing their personal passions. We believe that “exploration and discovery” stems from a seed of passion. These personal passions ranged from horseback riding to literature. To begin their formal research papers, topics were chosen by selecting someone who has made a significant impact on the world. This year we have Fred Rogers, Madame C.J. Walker, Leonardo daVinci, Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, John Lennon, and Stephen Hawking.
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All themes follow a similar format – individual study, collaborative study, research and writing formal reports, all culminating in a student exhibition open to the public where students showcase their work. The event typically involves creating large, interactive life-sized displays within which each student takes on the role of the person studied, presenting information through “living museum” presentation and performance.
By spring of this year, however, as CELC held all classes via Zoom, the plan to construct elaborate life-sized displays to share in a public setting shifted abruptly.
As is the CELC way, we adapted and determined a new plan! As much of this “new way” has brought both negative and positive changes to all of our lives, this thankfully fit the latter – while not a complete replacement for the in-person construction/performance style exhibition, what has emerged is an opportunity to work with award-winning cinematography/journalism Professor Michael Hernandez, who helped launch and guide students to create Explainer Videos. These dynamic digital presentations allow students to combine written and visual expression and broaden understanding of what is possible within the world of technology.
The final exhibition for this year: Zoom meeting world premiere for family and friends of their Explainer Videos in the form of an eBook – Wow! So much new learning for all of us!
The Theme Explainer Process, as told by CELCers
Julian: At first we all had ideas of what we were going to do for our theme projects, but when COVID-19 stuck us at home, we had to change how we would do things. So we changed to Explainer Videos, a video that explains things. This is a type of video project that we had never heard of before. It all started with help from Melinda’s friend, Michael Hernandez. Michael teaches journalism and cinematography at a high school in California. He taught us about Explainer Videos, and while at first it was a little confusing, the more and more he talked about it, the clearer it became.
Natalia: The next step was to come up with the five most important points or ideas for the video, which was challenging for all of us. We all needed to first compile our ideas, and then we had to figure out which ones were the best for the top five. All the five important points would have to fit the “So What” of the project. The “So What” is the message we wanted the audience to be left with.
Spencer: We created an outline of our slides so we could get a feel for what we might include in our slideshow. We used a slideshow planning sheet to write down our “So What”, 5 main ideas, and ideas for each slide. After that, we each got individual feedback about our ideas to edit, delete, or enhance them.
Avi: Michael taught us how to find images online that we were legally allowed to use. Then, we collected visuals for our own Keynote/Powerpoint presentations that emphasized the 5 main ideas. These images would be inserted into their respective slides along with their captions. We also learned how to animate the images so that they could transition into the next image.
Harper: When writing an audio script, the words have to match with the visual images on the slides. Many of us found that picking out and recording the embedded videos gave the project a little pizazz. In the end we had to make sure that the images and wording matched, which was hard at first, but it eventually worked. We then recorded our slideshows as a video.
Emma: We each had individual meetings with Michael to discuss the first drafts of each of our slideshows to see what needed tweaking and adjusting. We received constructive feedback from Michael and took his suggestions to improve on our presentation.
Ethan: The next step was to take action based on the feedback we received in class with Michael, bringing our slideshows to Final Form. The changes took on a wide variety of forms, from rearranging or removing entire sections to making minor editing changes. With the changes we made, we were able to recreate or re-word our ideas so as to bring the “So What?” of our presentation to the forefront.
Liam: We had to re-record our slideshows to follow Michael’s feedback. And then save it as a video presentation, called an Explainer Video. We hope you will enjoy our creations!