Holland Patent Elementary School, located in New York, has over 360 students in grades K-5. Lisa Buchanan, a first grade teacher, attended a workshop on Adobe® Visual Communicator® software at a conference in Albany, New York. Buchanan was impressed by the demonstration and won a copy of the software in the raffle. Buchanan's mind began racing on all the different ways her school could use it. She immediately began thinking of how Visual Communicator could be used in the school's fourth and fifth grade classes, but she also thought it was easy enough for her first grade students to use. "Every year we have our first graders do a research report and presentation on Rainforest animals, I had never thought of using video in my classroom until that demonstration," says Buchanan.
After showing the demonstration to the other first grade teachers and computer teacher, they wanted to have all 52 first grade students create their Rainforest Animal report using Visual Communicator. In addition to increasing student motivation and self-esteem, the teachers saw that using this program would help teach their students research, writing, and computer skills.
The four teachers motivated their students to begin their research project by showing them a video they had created using Visual Communicator. They demonstrated what the students would be doing for this project and how it would work.
To complete their project, students had to pick a rainforest animal and conduct research on various characteristics of the animal. Then they typed up a brief report on the animal, which was later pasted into Visual Communicator's teleprompter as a script. The students then searched for images while the teachers located sound clips on the Internet that corresponded to their animal. Having created a basic template for the videos, the teachers then took all the students information and plugged it effortlessly into Visual Communicator. The first grade students then practiced reading their script prior to recording so that they could master the flow. The ability to adjust the teleprompter speed was vital since different students had different reading levels.
"By using Visual Communicator, the students learned a lot about researching and writing a report as well as a basic understanding of using a computer, surfing the Internet, and creating a video. Visual Communicator is such an easy program for students to learn that it can be easily adapted for people of all ages, technological experience, and education,??? says Buchanan. "The best part of using Visual Communicator in my class was the motivation it created among my students because each student is??equal. It didn't matter what their learning level was, they all were able to create the same high-quality video. Visual Communicator provided us with a unique learning experience that helped us teach new skills in a fun and interactive way."