It was quite a busy time of year, wrapping up tests and squeezing in those last bits of curriculum, but I knew that I should still carve out some time to participate. I had only wanted a one-time hour visit, but here was Toontastic's request:
- Students would need to use Toontastic on three separate occasions: 30-40 minute periods working with the same partners. During the third session, Andy Russell and Alicia Chang would come and observe their use as well as give a talk on innovation.
- Students could use any prompt that I gave them
- Parents would of course need to sign a consent. The consent part turned out to be easy, as all of my students' parents were in favor of their students getting excited about connecting with successful innovators building quality apps!
- Students would upload their completed cartoons with numbers associated to their team and session numbers so that researchers would know during which session a cartoon was created. They were going to study how students' use of the app changed with more exposure and experience.
The task: Students were directed to compose Toontastic cartoons/stories about conflicts that happened on the playground or anywhere at school. They needed to follow the story arc provided in the app, (pictured below) using the stages and music to enhance their narration of the story.
They worked in pairs and trios (chosen by me) to devise their stories: choosing the scene, main characters, setup, conflict, challenge, resolution and more. Collaborating on these stories was indeed a practice of utilizing effective communication skills and taking turns being the leader and director!
The result: Students reported that they really enjoyed working together to develop these stories. They devised conflicts about excluding and including peers, arguing about fairness on the playing field, and resolving everyday issues on the playground. Of course there is no scientific way to measure how this impacted their "real" conflicts, but I can say that it gave them practice in analyzing precursors to conflict and how they build into bigger events before they resolve them. As you can see from Toontastic's charts below, students definitely showed a higher level of engagement, a deeper exploration of complex emotion, and an increase in descriptive language over the course of the sessions.
You can read the detailed results of the study here.
|Charts property of Toontastic|
Here is a video of my students in action from this article:
Andy and Alicia finally came to my class to observe session 3. Andy even taught my students to prototype on paper! You can read about this fabulous experience here.
You can also view my students' "toons' on our Toontastic channel.
Toontastic, as you can see, is an engaging tool where students can develop stories, explore interpersonal conflicts and solutions, and work with peers to collaborate creatively!