Teachers are generally a creative and resourceful bunch, and though we do make use of commercially produced materials, we often customize them for our students. Unusual, humorous, poignant and the relevant materials (pictures, artifacts, movies, stories) help us to introduce a topic, define processes and content, and trigger creative thought. Machinima is a tool/process that teachers can use for each of these, and it is inexpensive and relatively easy.
Machinima is a way of making animated movies with nothing more than a computer and screen capture software and “filmed” either in a virtual world or Video Game. The “movie” can be used “as is” without any editing or embellished with sound, music, special effects, text, and editing.
Considering the components of a typical lesson/unit plan, either teaching a process or introducing new content, machinima could be incorporated to bring interest, help explain, and just get attention in a way that today’s students are used to.
- Lesson/Unit Introduction: A short clip introducing a topic in any subject area is possible with a machinima. Virtual worlds allow for scenes and actions that would be impossible to recreate in the physical world. As you look over your lesson plans the introductions used to introduce concepts on history, science, math, and literature will trigger ideas of making a machinima to make that introduction more interesting, relevant and memorable. Using a video game to make that introduction is certain to catch student attention, you can open a free introductory account in most games to use for machinima and virtual world registrations are free to join.
- Lesson Objectives: When you give students objectives for a lesson or unit it is typically in words, written and spoken. How about having an avatar tie the objectives as they go through some motions or appear in a setting to bring attention to the highlights? Perhaps supplying the objectives in an animated fashion will support students in successful learning.
- Lesson/Unit Materials: As your machinima library grows, movies will be included in lesson/unit materials and can be shared with colleagues.
- Unit Procedures: Teaching requires the use of multiple procedures to ensure learning, those that involve student interaction and collaboration have proven effective. Student created machinima is a potentially effective addition to the more traditional activities that you currently use.
- Unit Assessment: Student created machinma is a form of authentic assessment, evaluated with the use of a rubric provided to students at the start of the unit.
- Remediation & Enrichment : Machinima works for both enrichment and remediation as students can work in groups and develop machinma ensuring objectives, keeping in mind that grouping students to ensure success is important.
- Differentiating Instruction: Developing any project in a group requires use of various skills and knowledge. All students can contribute to a machinima as there is a variety of skills and levels involved.
As you wind down the school year and the think about how to do it better next year, consider incorporating machinima into your teaching repertoire. You may want to register for the free Machinma course beginning on June 4 at the P2PU.org site.