I have the pleasure to be part of the advisory board of an amazing organization, the AnBryce Foundation, for the last couple years. Their mission speaks volumes:
The AnBryce Foundation provides multiple settings for underserved youth that stimulate the curiosity for learning and the discovery of self in order to support and promote the growth of independent and confident thinkers. Through long-term academic and leadership enrichment opportunities that equip them to excel in school, in relationships, and in facing challenges, while having fun, the AnBryce Foundation instills in each youth the confidence to become successful in post-secondary endeavors and prepares them to play an active role in improving their communities and the world
They have a variety of programs, including a summer camp, a Saturday Institute (at GW University), a mentor program, and a variety of scholarship programs for undergraduate and law students.
Last Saturday, I worked with the 3rd and 4th graders in their Saturday Institute program. Students in the Saturday Institute have multiple instructional and exploratory periods throughout the morning. I had the chance to lead one of the 1-hour sessions. I wanted to recap the project that I did with them here. Since students were in the computer lab, I decided we would make “Buncee Cards.” The Buncee team generously donated a year of pro licenses to all students so that we could use all of the features available. The goal of the day was to create a card – for a parent, a sibling, or a friend. They had freedom over choosing their theme, though I suggested they either make a “card” addressed specifically to whoever they were sharing it with or that they make their project an expression of something they were passionate about.
— Stacey Roshan (@buddyxo) March 21, 2015
After getting students logged into Buncee, I demonstrated one feature at a time and had the students follow along and create with me. Buncee is a breeze to use, so even with the 3rd and 4th graders, getting them started took no effort at all. Students started by finding a background and then moved to searching for some images. One of the best things about using Buncee is that students can do a Google search for images right within the Buncee platform! This is super helpful! For the little kids, it would have been difficult to show them how to download images and then upload them into their project… or how to grab an image URL. (Sidenote: when I work with older students, keeping them all in one platform eliminates a lot of distraction.) As the 3rd and 4th graders searched for images, they were able to practice their spelling. The students were so impressive in helping one another through this task – if a student was stuck on spelling a word, they asked the person sitting next to them. From there, we chose a video to embed in their project. With Buncee, you can do a YouTube (or Vimeo) search right within the platform. I must admit – the enthusiasm in the room went wild when I showed them this feature. “What, we get to add YouTube videos? Wow, this is amazing” pretty much summed up their reaction. I did have to put a time limit on adding their videos – they could have spent an hour just scrolling through the videos :) After this, we moved to adding in “messages and quotes” that matched their theme. In the Buncee library, there are a variety of well designed messages and quotes to jazz up any project. The challenge of this part of this activity was keeping students focused on a theme. There are so many cool things to choose from in the Buncee library, that it was easy for students to just drag in everything that looked cool. So at this point, it was a nice opportunity to talk about design – keeping things from getting overly cluttered, staying on a common theme, etc. Once things were cleaned up a bit, we moved on to adding in animations. This was another “wow” moment for the students. I really loved how the animated gifs added to the student projects. For example, one student’s theme was basketball – he was making the card for his father and both him and his father loved basketball and played together – and he was able to add in a stick figure swooshing a basket.
In this project, students definitely showed their creative and artistic side in making their Buncees. Topics ranged from a favorite sport, to a favorite video game, to a favorite subject in school, to a very personalized note to a parent. Since I work with high school students on a day-to-day basis, I didn’t quite know what to expect with the little ones. The enthusiasm from the students was excellent and they exceeded my expectations in creating organized, well thought out cards. Unfortunately, the computers we were using didn’t have mics, so we weren’t able to add in audio recordings. That would have been a really nice personal touch to the cards. At the end, we were able to email all of the cards home. If we had a printer, I would have had the students print their cards with a QR code at the bottom (Buncee has a QR code generator right built into their platform). Then, students would have had something physical to give their parent/sibling/friend. When scanned, the receiver of the card would be taken directly to the Buncee project, to view all of the interactive features (video, audio, animation).
To sum things up, here is a quick video of the students enjoying creating their Buncee projects!
So my thanks goes to both Buncee, for creating an amazing platform that I’ve enjoyed using for such a wide variety of project needs and for generously donating us licenses. And also to the AnBryce Foundation, for your amazing support to so many students in need… for showing them the joy of learning… and for providing opportunities to build life-long learners.