A few days ago, I had something happen to me, I had two Donors Choose projects end without making their goal. For the first time in almost two years, I didn’t have a project make it’s goal. I didn’t get upset about it, but it made me really think about why they didn’t get funded? The first usually is: “it was too high of a goal.” One of the main reasons that a lot of Donors Choose do not get funded is because it’s too high of a goal. However, my goal was in the less than $200 range and I had a donors match too. Those usually get funded in just a few weeks if you set it up right. So my next question was: “What didn’t I do to get enough attention for my project?” Which seem to be the answer, I was basically saying: “I don’t have a budget and I really want to help my students learn with tools that I can’t afford.” Which does rub the wrong way, so I decided to think about what was important to my students and it didn’t take long before some of my students came to me during a project on Tuesday and said: “Mr. Read, I love using Flipgrid, but recording them isn’t really convenient for me.” That’s when it hit me.
We were doing a business attire project based on Project Runway. Where students had to wear what they believe is proper attire when going on interviews, working in jobs, ect. After they did their walk and students wrote down critiques, they would go to a selfie booth that I had borrowed from my TA for them to record their Flipgrid reflection in silence while their peers were getting ready for their Runway walk. One of the biggest problems was there was:
1. Not enough light in the booth.
2. Wi-fi on our Laptops are constantly in question.
3. Eye contact is not the best during filming.
4. We also needed a better microphone for recording.
5. We can’t use cellphones in our classroom unless under direct supervision due to students violating cellphone use policy.
6. Students would rather record and then upload files and we are limited in our video editing tools.
7. Background noise.
So, I decided that I would build a Flipgrid Recording Studio, but of course, how could I do this? The first thing was to start small, I did a search online and found this great DIY Flipgrid Booth by Claudia Zavala Jr. Similar to my TA’s selfie both (which sadly we cannot keep in the classroom on a permanent basis). Building the booth is a great start and picking up the materials myself and then having our Shop Students construct the booth is a great hands on and meets the standards and exploration we want them to do in our school. However, I ran into the same problem, light and proper eye contact and not to mention I knew using our Laptops would also prove a problem. I did some searching on Tony Vincent’s website Learning in Hand. I discovered the Ring Light, which is just what I looking for lighting. During our original Project Runway recording, we used a few of our cellphones LED light to correct our lighting. The Ring Light is just what we need and I immediately put that on to my Donors Choose list. Next was trying to find the right recording device and while we have hardtops, they tend to be very low based and even with using a box or something to elevate them, my students are very knowledgeable on where to look if they were going to use their phones during use time outside the classroom and know how to look for a camera. I immediately knew I needed an iPad mini. As this would be able to fit perfectly in with the Ring Light and be adjustable and could use for future designs. After this, I stopped and realized I was already in the $700 range for a new Donors Choose. So, I decided this would make my Part 1 of my project.
So after some typing and looking for a few things that would greatly help start my recording studio, I posted the Project. We received our first donation a couple of hours later, beginning the journey. However, this is really the beginning of the recording studio project. I have plans to divide this into a few more parts:
Getting an iRig microphone for the iPad and then a couple of Yeti Mics for our regular lap tops for recording. This is also early plans for us starting a student podcast for the 2018-2019 School Year (Think Ahead).
Sound recording area for our laptops so Students can still record, but will avoid large background noise when multiple students need to record at one time and not lose precious reflection time.
I want my students to start creating higher degree of videos, including creating an almost “weather report” with a portable Green Screen. This will also go into sparking my students creativity and utilizing our Green Screen Applications in Adobe After Effects and using our iPad Mini with Doink Green Screen and related GSuite and IOS Apps such as Google Forms, Sites, Stick Around and Explain Everything.
I want to get more iPad Minis, Ring Lights and supportive lenses and recording pieces needed for the studio to be amazing and for my students to really soar with Flipgrid.
This is going to be a long journey and I don’t expect it to happen over night or even before the school year is over, but it is important to me. This isn’t about making my classroom look cool. It’s about increasing and not limiting student voice in the classroom and it’s something I want to do for them. After all Kids Deserve it.