A Visit to Design Foundations

Over the past week I’ve had the great pleasure of visiting Ms. Susan Smith’s Design Foundations classes.  Ms. Smith is chair of our Art Department, and she has created the curriculum for this valuable course which is now a requirement of all ninth graders.  I visited a group of ninth graders as well as another section composed of upper level students.  Both groups were working in our new iMac Lab.

Each group had a similar assignment.  They were to take source material from outside of the class and create a movie by blending additional media with FinalCut ProX software.  For instance, the ninth graders had recently been video recorded giving an informative speech in their speech classes.*  With Ms. Smith, they were combining the speeches with still photos, music and graphics into short movies, using state of the art software.

So many cool things were happening.  First, Ms. Smith was guiding students to properly licensed media such as Compfight for photos and Magnatune for music.  Then of course the students were all getting experience using professional grade video editing software on high performance machines.  Finally, her ability to trouble-shoot and coach the girls 1:1 was remarkable.

Incidentally, throughout the lesson Ms. Smith would alternately control and release the students’ computer screens using LanSchool software.  She would first demonstrate a technique on their screens and then allow them to work on their individual projects.

Mercy is so fortunate to have teachers of Ms. Smiths’ ability and dedication.  And she and I are both fortunate to work at a school that is so supportive of both technology and the arts.

We have something very special going here.

L. Baker, Associate Principal/Operations and Apple Distinguished Educator

*The speech teachers and art teachers worked very hard to coordinate the two assignments, and Ms. Colleen Rozman (Associate Principal/Academic Affairs) used her magic wand to schedule the ninth graders in both classes simultaneously.

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