The second graders at PS 50 wrote this lovely thank you letter at the end of our Rainforest video project this Spring. I have not received anything like it since I student taught first grade in Terry Ashley's class at the Marion Cross School in Norwich, VT, and the class wrote me a couple of collective thank you letters, referring to all the fun we had had with our studies of fairies. . .
To come back to PS 50 (in East Harlem, first school for my friend/colleague Rebekah Marler-Mitchell to head up as principal, after a successful career as early childhood educator): this Spring I made four original video stories with one second grade class and three original travel shows with a fourth grade class, and we all viewed them together on the last day. The second grade videos were imaginative story-plays woven together from several days the children spent playing and narrating their stories in the Rainforest Library. The fourth grade travel shows provided information from the students' in-class research and interviews with teachers from the school who had visited various rainforests of the world. Doing both projects simultaneously was an exciting way to explore two developmentally appropriate uses of the video medium. And perhaps more importantly, making videos with students was the perfect way to explore the completely original phenomenon of an actual public school Rainforest Library! Every school in NYC should have one, or something similarly un-characteristic to New York. . . truly mind-expanding, giving children entering the space a reason to feel in awe of reading and its relationship to the world at large.