A Long, Long Time Ago I Can Still Remember

I know that I'm a day late in getting this posted...since Veteran's Day was yesterday and all, but it just wasn't going to happen.  Sorry y'all!  Fortunately, this is an activity that isn't necessarily a Veteran's Day only activity.  It's terrific for all of November as we turn our focus to gratitude.

When I was getting my arts integration endorsement, we had a few classes on technological arts.  We were challenged to create a video with technology that our students had access to so that we would be familiar with it.  I've made a few movies in my day, but our school has Chrome books, and those don't come preloaded with video editing software.  There WAS an online program called Mozilla Popcorn that is an online video editing program.  And it's my favorite four-letter f-word: FREE!  Unfortunately, they no longer support this service, so...it's not available to make new videos.  :(

It's pretty basic, but, hey, when you're teaching video and movie creation to 11 year-olds, basic is okay!  Our other challenge was to become familiar with Creative Commons licensing for pictures & music.  When I was in junior high, I was in a choir that sang the song "In Flanders Fields."  I loved the song because it was gorgeous, but it wasn't until years later that I understood the meaning.  I decided to create a video that featured the song along with pictures and to use the original poem as a close read for my students to launch a more thoughtful essay on gratitude.  I was worried that my students would totally miss the point and think it was weird, but I should have learned to NEVER EVER underestimate 6th graders.

I had my kids read the poem first without any background.  (At this point, we had done a lot of close reading, so they knew the drill of highlighting, writing, notating, etc. and writing about their first read.)  We talked about it and I asked them what they thought it was about.  The first read most of them said, "I'm kind of confused...what's a lark?"  Ha!  Gotta love kids.  Anyway, I slowly introduced more information before each respective reading: history of the author, the story behind the poem's authorship, and where/what Flanders Field is.  I honestly struggled to hold back tears by the end of the third read as students where pulling out some SERIOUSLY DEEP MEANING!  They were so moved by this short poem.

For the fourth read, I asked them to watch the video and write down their thoughts as it went along.  As the video ended, not a soul moved.  They quietly left my room for lunch, and they frequently talked about how much they enjoyed the lesson.  It's one that I've used again and again because it is so powerful to instill deep gratitude in our students.  After all, we have SO much to be grateful for.

This would be a powerful way to begin a class project of sending letters and packages to troops overseas or to begin a social studies unit on WWI & WWII or The Revolutionary war (or any war really) so that students have a little more respect and understanding for those who have given their lives fighting for freedom.

I'm including the links for the background info and the video I used.  Because of the CC licensing, you are also welcome to use this video and edit it as you wish, so long as you are not seeking financial gain for the video, pictures, etc.  I'd LOVE to hear how it goes in your class!


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