You could call a class project completed by fifth-graders at Greenport Elementary School a win-win: the kids got to enjoy a creative project that took them out of the classroom and into Greenport Village, and the teachers still managed to impart crucial lessons on history, technology and teamwork.
In fact, you might even call it a win-win-win: by creating videos about local landmarks and attaching them to QR codes, the students created a modern walking tour that can educate the village at large and honor Southold Town’s 375th anniversary.
“For some people that don’t really know about the history of Greenport, when they see videos of this, they can learn about what happened,” said Julio Coctomas, one of the students who participated.
Two classes comprising 45 students presented their project in the school auditorium Tuesday, about two months after they began working on it.
In March, Southold Town contacted local schools asking them to participate in a digital storytelling project to honor its 375th anniversary.
Students from Oysterponds Elementary School produced a video on the historical significance of the local whaling industry and introduced that at a Southold Town Board meeting last week.
For their part, the classes of Greenport fifth-grade teachers Stephanie Pawlik and Stacy Van Duzer made short, educational clips on local landmarks.
The teachers said their updated map should soon be available on the school’s website for any who were not in attendance Tuesday. [A scanned copy with QR codes is available at the bottom of this article.]
Each of the 20 videos is available by scanning unique QR codes inserted into the “enhanced” version of a Greenport walking-tour map.
“We started thinking, ‘How could we bring a 21st-century student into this?’” Ms. Pawlik said.
After the formal part of Tuesday’s presentation, the atmosphere changed into one similar to a technology convention. Students attended stations by the QR codes and educated guests — many of whom were their parents — on what they learned and how to use smartphones and tablets to access the videos.
To prepare, Ms. Pawlik and Ms. Van Duzen took the students on a tour based on the original walking-tour map. Then, students chose partners and a location to research.
“The kids did all the research,” Ms. Van Duzen said. “They used the Internet, they used that historical map and they used Google Maps … They all had to get at least five facts and write the facts down, and then they turned those into the script.”
Some students appeared in the videos as narrators and historians, and others served as videographers, using school-owned iPads to film and Chromebooks to edit.
“I liked how we got to use the iPads and the QR codes and how we got to transfer pictures from our iPads to our Chromebooks,” said Shelby Picard, one of the students. “We emailed each other to talk about which way the video should go. I thought that was really cool.”
In addition to gaining technological skills, Ms. Pawlik said the students strengthened their creative muscles and learned how to work together in a modern setting.
“Our students, as they’re leaving high school, are entering the job market, where collaboration is key and the ability to communicate whether you’re face-to-face or with technology is so important,” she said.
The students themselves were happy to gain these skills.
“We got to walk around making videos and show people what we can do and what we’re capable of,” said Jahmeek Freeman, who excitedly told attendees about the Civil War relics he observed in the Captain Wells House on Main Street.
Others said they enjoyed learning more about places they see regularly.
“I really liked it because I didn’t really know any history about Greenport before this, and now I’m fascinated by all the historical buildings that I drive past and walk past every day,” said Julio, who was particularly riveted by a trap door in Claudio’s restaurant used in olden times by bootleggers.
And beyond specific skills and historical tidbits, the students learned about their town in a unique and lasting way.
“Instead of looking in a textbook and reading, we were out there looking at things in our town that we’ve never known before,”Shelby said. “Now, when we walk by, we’ll see it and go, ‘Oh, I made a video about that’ instead of going in the textbook and reading it and being bored out of our minds.”