iMovie has made a surge into classroom instruction, in part because of the rapid growth in the field of digital video and partly because of Apple's superior software design that offers tremendous ease for the user.  Like all educational technology, desktop video editing is not a ubiquitous solution for all of the challenges teachers face in today's classroom.  Teachers using digital video, in particular iMovie, have provided  an abundance of anecdotal evidence for encouraging individual expression, spawning creativity, revitalizing content, promoting collective knowledge construction and individual reflection, and offering students of a variety of backgrounds and experiences to engage in authentic learning.

Digital video has been instrumental in many areas of education for empowering youth to actively shape their schooling experience. Science, mathematics, and reading instruction is enhanced through digital video by providing excellent and culturally sensitive science instruction by providing teachers insight into culturally held beliefs which run contrary to scientific understanding, by documenting shifts in student thinking from naïve to expert with regard to specific scientific concepts, by providing a lasting record of field trips to local science resources, and by nurturing students development in an intrinsically motivating way. Science is inherently interesting to children. Children seek knowledge about the world around them and are interested in how things work. Integrating science, mathematics, and literacy builds upon their natural curiosity and makes reading and writing more meaningful. Combining investigative work with text-based experiences, especially story telling, allows students to be successful through multiple paths, honoring their personal strengths and interests, while building on weaker skills.   In this way, shared personal experiences can be woven into reading and writing instruction as students compare their own knowledge with that of the scientific community--thus building a sense of purpose for schooling.

In preparing the next generation of teachers, we need to take seriously the responsibility of empowering teachers with tools to assist them in their continued professional growth and pursuit of teaching excellence. Preservice teachers should understand the impact digital video can have in placing children's voices in the forefront of educational decisions. Pre-service and practicing teachers alike can easily learn how to incorporate digital video into their classroom instruction through the use of tools like iMovie.  Below are four different applications of iMovie used in a single elementary science methods course to prepare future teachers of science. These include: 1) Introducing external artifacts, 2) Modeling of alternative teaching strategies, 3) Reviewing and reflecting upon shared events, and 4) Documenting learning or presentation of personal accomplishment. Though there are limitless variations to the ways iMovie can be used to construct knowledge in educational contexts, (see iMovies in Education at the Apple Website) the following four represent how iMovie can be used for preparing future science teachers.   As you watch each of these, you may think of your own applications for the latest digital video technology at your school. For a more updated version of this and other iMovie Galleries in education visit this link, the Apple Learning Interchange or my good friend Marco Torres' extraordinary website that he and his kids produce.
 

Introducing external artifacts and events
While it may be desirable to provide students with many out of school experiences, iMovie can introduce of varied contexts and events for children when providing outside resources is too logistically challenging.  Several students accompanied a teacher after school to a pond and collected video and created an iMovie of the experience for all of the students. The pond iMovie was accompanied in the classroom by live animals (crayfish, frogs, lizards, turtles, snails, bugs) and plants for students to observe with magnifying glasses and through microscopes. The iMovie and related investigations even helped students to understand that pond animals and plants exist that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Students took turns viewing different pond water samples and compiled a bulletin board of observations of different animals they discovered and questions they had about their findings.
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Modeling alternative teaching strategies

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Integration is an important tenet of current national curricular reforms.  Planning units which cross subject matter boundaries is challenging and requires a broad scope of teacher knowledge.  This series of lessons teaching the science and mathematics inherent in bridge building was one attempt to weave geometry into the 2nd - 3rd grade school curriculum.  Discussion of the stability of civic structures and the use of common geometric shapes for strength served as launching points for students to put their knowledge and collaborative skills together to design and test a model structure.  The use of proposed designs, prescribed weight loads, analyzed failures, and the comparison among a collective set of failed structures helped students synthesize their mathematics and science learning in practical ways.  This series of lessons also introduced children to capturing their work through iMovie as their produced their first school video.
 

 
 
It is sometimes important to model teaching strategies for pre-service teachers that promote a deeper scientific understanding of everyday phenomena. Teaching to confront commonly held misconceptions is an arduous task, requiring teachers to establish students' dissatisfaction in their common sense understanding.  Some well known student misconceptions include the disappearance of mass during combustion, the existence of air in the bubbles of boiling water, the prediction of water temperature increases during melting, the expectations that objects naturally slow down in frictionless environments, or the distance from the sun as the cause of seasons.  This lesson integrates technology through live data collection for comparing predictions with actual measured observations for where the heat is used during melting and boiling.
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Click here for an iMovie

Teaching science as a process has been a phrase used widely for over three decades in science education reform.  Unfortunately, this has been promoted by many elementary school texts as simply the scientific method.  Often the steps of generating a hypothesis, designing an experiment, making observations and so on are carried out by novice teachers in isolation to any particular event or problem.  This iMovie captures excerpts from an example lesson to demonstrate to preservice teachers the viability of teaching science to children in an open problem solving way. Children were required to design a container to protect an egg from breaking on impact.  Teams of students worked together to create written descriptions and designs of their product, collaboratively construct their projects, and then test their projects under the critical lens of the camera.  In contrast to a simple contest, students were asked to make predictions regarding all of the designs and analyze the failures of the products of other students.  Concepts taught in this series of lessons included terminal velocity, deceleration, and force.
 

 
 
This iMovie is an example of teaching science within the context of larger societal issues.  Science is most effectively taught to children when it has direct bearing on their lives and experiences. In order to engage children in local community planning and development we identified the kinds of issues which directly impacted children. There are many ways in which children can be involved directly in changing their community. "How fast do cars actually travel in front of our school?"  was a question that provided an authentic context for problem solving. We explored motion, speed, school and societal rules, and responsibility, in relation to the problem of cars speeding by during school hours as harried commuters raced through the community to make their work deadlines. 
 
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Click here for an iMovie

This excerpt is from a larger collection of iMovies produced by a group of 2nd - 5th graders.  In a collaboration between public schools and a local university, one teacher was able to achieve their dream of facilitating a small news team to collect, report and broadcast a taped news broadcast of events in the school.  The impact on the sense of community felt among students and teachers of all ages was tremendous as children became more aware of events among siblings and other children of different grades levels.  There is high expectations among the students, parents, teachers, and principals that this news team will blossom into a full blown technology initiative on site as children become mentors to other children as the program expands. 
 
 

This is another example of teaching science within the context of larger societal issues.  In an attempt to integrate science, literacy and technology. Some of the societal problems which often draws the greatest attraction for students are recycling, endangered species, pollution, and television violence. Given the choice of topics students drafted cartoon-like story boards to plan their digital video collection. One such solicited unit focussed on the oil spill from the Exxon Valdez. Students were interested in studying how oil spills can be cleaned up along the Western Coast of the United States. Once children had read some children's books about oil spills and some historical articles about the event, students were asked to test which of the methods used were most effective in cleaning up oil spills.

 
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Reviewing and reflecting upon shared events

Current science  and teacher reforms call for teachers to explore many avenues of teacher knowledge including knowledge of student thinking, background and prior experiences, and culture. Part of learning to teach well involves learning to listen carefully and weigh fully the beliefs of children as teachers plan, instruct, and evaluate. iMovies assisted Jody and Edrick in the process of revisting, reviewing, and reflecting upon their interviews with several children. Edrick and Jody interviewed a variety of 4th graders on their understanding a basic but challenging question of "Why do leaves change color?" The expert answer is found in the amount of light plants receive and the shortening of the Fall days and subsequent toxification of leaves to degrade chlorophyll and not found in the common explanations of children and adults alike. Such common explanations include coldness of the weather and the relative humidity or rainfall.

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Click here for an iMovie

In preparation for Amanda's and Carolina's lesson on seasons, they interviewed a variety of 4th graders on their understanding of a basic question that leaves many scratching their heads.  "Where do the stars go during the day?"  That is a question which requires command of a complex set of concepts including our ability to perceive light, revolution and rotation of the earth in its orbit, and the relative comparisons of light intensity.  Amanda and Carolina also learned that children can appear to believe one concept and yet default to another in the course of the same interview. 

 

 

 

Dr. Rebecca Ambrose interviewed Sierra, a seven-year old girl who was on her summer break before starting third grade at the time of the interview. Sierra had some fraction instruction in second grade. The purpose of the interview was to assess Sierra's fraction understanding at the start of a two-week  instructional unit on fractions. Video clips of this instructional unit are available from the IMAP project. Students of all ages have difficulty learning about fractions because the domain is complicated. This site is designed to help users begin to consider the complexity of this domain by considering the work of one child.  Through the aide of iMovie, visitor have the opportunity to watch some of her work and to view the interview questions along with her written responses. 
 
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Trish and Michelle were elementary science methods students who interviewed kindergarten students' understanding of phase changes in water and designed lessons to address various children's preconceptions including those of water "disappearing"  or getting "sucked into the ground" when it evaporates from the school yard pavement.  Trish and Michelle report learning much from the children even after their lessons were long since completed.  Constructing their iMovie gave them additional insight into their pedagogical choices and how tenacious some common sense explanations can be among children who may or may not be developmentally ready for abstractions like mass conservation.
 

 
 
 
Diana, John, and Kyla explored in their iMovie how two different classrooms of 4th graders responded to two different lessons on the same topic.  After interviewing children to get a better understanding of their notions about gravity and acceleration, they devised two lessons using ramps and free falling objects to address the misconception that heavier objects fall at a faster rate than lighter ones.  These future teachers collaborated with one another and shared their videos as they learned from one another about issues of student management, engagement, and the use of discrepant events to establish cognitive dissatisfaction among elementary school children.
 
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Documenting learning or presenting personal accomplishments

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It is often said that teachers "teach the way they were taught."  If this were an absolute axiom there would be no place for reform efforts or need for teacher education departments since there would be no room for change or visions for how classrooms might someday look.   To the contrary, we all understand that with the current shortage of teachers, especially in science and mathematics, compels us to work with teachers in today's classrooms to provide important rationale for questioning the ways teaching has always been done and exploring ways and means for promoting needed change.  To accomplish this we, as teacher educators, must deal directly with the personal beliefs and constructions of what it means to teach and learn to help cultivate the "secret gardens" of teachers (Wilson, 1995).  As G. W. McDiarmid has argued, we cannot make change in teachers' beliefs until we have helped novice teachers understand the limits of their own learning experiences and provide alternative frameworks to place them in a larger context of value-laden educational settings.   In an attempt to help pre-service elementary teachers express their widespread frustration with science and desire to learn alternative methods,  students produced these iMovies in the first week of the science methods course as students reflected upon the their science experience while reading from such provocative authors as Herbert Kohl, Phillip Jackson, William Ayers, bell hooks, and other teacher/scholars.


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Click here for iMovie


 
 
Teaching children science for the first time can be a frightening experience for most novice teachers.  Yet, in many contexts young teachers are required to teach and compile evidence of their teaching effectiveness for their tenure and continued professional development within their first few years.  This iMovie was produced by an elementary  science methods student interested in capturing her attempt to teach the difficult science concept of density.  She incorporated her iMovie into her professional portfolio and has since accepted a job teaching in Southern California.
 
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Click here for an iMovie

Teachers can capture and disseminate artifacts that are produced in classrooms.  Parent nights, open houses, and other functions can be few and far between.  Publishing iMovies on the web gives teachers an added option for being able to share the work of their students with friends and family.  This iMovie was produced by a teacher wishing to thank their parent volunteers and to update the community of the art program active at their school. Students replicated cave art and talked about local petraglyphs with a local volunteer.
 

 
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Children also like to display their work.  These three iMovies were made by a third grade student who wanted to share their homework and extra curricular activities with family members in other parts of the country. 

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Click here for an iMovie


 

For more information, please contact Randy Yerrick at ryerrick@mail.sdsu.edu