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Teacher Grants: TeachNet Ready-Set-Tech
Let's Meet the Presidents

This project incorporates Internet use, American history, and hand-made puppets, used to create student iMovies. First, children research the topic of an American president. They were encouraged to choose a president they had never heard of before, or one they wanted to learn more about. Second, they worked cooperatively in groups on writing a report and a script of the movie they would be making. Third, students made puppets out of clay and felt. Last, the children performed their skits and it was videotaped to create a movie, which was showcased in the school art gallery for all to enjoy.

Puppet Created
by a Student

Subject Area
Social Studies, Special Education, Technology, Arts

Grade Levels

(1) Gain more knowledge about our American Presidents (besides Lincoln and Washington); (2) Encourage cooperative learning among students; (3) Learn sculpture skills; (4)
Understand digital movie-making;

Internet Used
Students viewed specific web sites for children about our American presidents. These sites provided students with biographical information as well as photos and/or portraits of the presidents.

Materials Used
iMac computers with Internet access; LCD projector; digital camera; digital video camera; iMovie software; classroom printer.

Standards Addressed
Students will gather and organize information about an important accomplishment of an important individual from American history. Students will read, speak, write and listen for information and understanding. Students will engage in the processes that constitute creation and performance in the arts. Students wll create art works in a variety of media, such as sculpture and puppet-making.

Learning was measured in several ways. Students had to listen to one another and positively help each other with their scripts. Their written report and script was proof of what they learned. The movie was the culminating activity that allowed everything to come together.

Students Involved
This class is a special education class of 12 students with a mix of disabilities. Ability levels varied, but for the most part, web sites for children had to be carefully chosen, as the reading level of most adult web sites would prove too challenging. Stronger readers were grouped with weaker readers, and writing tasks were shared. Most students made their own puppets.

Teacher Tips
Regular modeling clay was used to make the puppets, however, since I finished this project, I have substituted the clay with celluclay, a form of papier mache, which works much better. The clay wound up being much too heavy.

Overall Value
I work with a mixed assortment of children with disabilties. This particular class had many socially inept children, as well as inhibited children. Puppets are a great medium for allowing children who don't normally talk to come out of their shell. This unit could be adapted to any class, as children love puppets--and ones that are made themselves hold more meaning.

Bruce Wilson

Bruce Wilson is a fourth/fifth grade special education teacher at P.S. 84 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He has a M.S. from Hunter College in Special Education( learning disabilities). He enjoys using different forms of technology in the classroom with his students. He spends his spare time making digital movies of his travels around the world.



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