(written by Mary Burks, 4th grade teacher, from newsletter)

The pilot at Guy Benjamin School in St. John has come to a close. At its inception, all persons involved understood that we were delving into new technological territory. There were some initial roadblocks due mostly to some hardware problems that were resolved. The students were excitable, malleable, and productive. Some picked up the skills step-by-step as they were introduced. Others holistically delved, experimented and learned through risk-taking. Yet others became experts at gaining the attention of the teachers and mentors for special “how-to” tips.

Four students were selected as winners at the end of the pilot. Liana won for the best overall story using Etoys, incorporating story, art, and animation into one smooth piece. Her story was 17 pages long and included every skill that had been taught in the pilot. She illustrated her story, proofread and edited her text continually, and used holders for special animations. Tracy won for the best story. She wrote a very lengthy tale about a lonely mango that one day became a beautiful tree. A’Feyah won for the artwork she drew in a story about her dog that waits for her every day after school, wagging its tail. Vanessa, best scripting, wrote a pirate tale with wonderful animations of her pirate finding a treasure chest.

While involved in the pilot, I doubt even the authors knew just where their stories were heading. The projects were in a constant state of change, from art to story line to animations to, well, starting all over again. As the children learned skills in Etoys they massaged their projects to include the best ways to incorporate the new things they were trying out. The project wasn’t about a story. The project was about creating a story out of all the cool stuff they were learning how to do.

Students, teachers, and mentors learned much. In the end, I stand in awe of the progress the students made, the levels of collaboration they achieved, the final projects they produced, and the camaraderie they grew to feel for each other. Staying after school until 5:00 was no small commitment on their part. The students never failed to impress me with their adaptability. The final projects were all awesome. In a word, the pilot at Guy Benjamin School was successful.

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