Smithsonian Junior Folklorists Challenge

It was during Easter holidays that I came across the Junior Folklorist Challenge and I thought of proposing my second year class to take part in it.  In my Region, Puglia,  in southern Italy,  we have many traditions connected with Easter!
So when we came back from holidays I launched the idea. It was the 28 April. As usual,  they were enthusiastic!  We brainstormed together the traditions to document and the class decided they could document in fact two traditions. Not everybody wanted to link it to religion,  so they decided to document the tradition of orecchiette making,  which is a typical homemade pasta of our region, beside that of the procession of the Virgin of Sorrows.
What I liked of this project was that it allowed students to learn also how to proceed in the documentation,  and having a method is very important for young students (my students are 12).
Once we had chosen the two traditions to work on, the first step was to identify the ‘tradition bearers’; these are people who practice the tradition.  They brainstormed in the groups and  asked also their parents who could help.  The next day they came with a last of people they could  interview about the tradition.
So,  we were ready for the next step!  I asked each group member to think and write down individually at least 2 questions about the tradition.  Then they got in groups and decided which were the most interesting questions. They had to care for the interviews during another long school holiday which was coming at the beginning of May. I recommended they got the approval of the interviewees to use their image in writing and actually dictated document they needed to read and ask them to sign.  In the document it was also explained the purpose of the recordings.
When we met again on 6 May,  they had interviewed a lot of people and we had in fact even more material then we could possibly use.  So I asked them to summarize the important facts they had discovered about the tradition and select the best interviews.  Some interviews were also videos taken with their mobile phones,  whereas others were just recordings. They made a list of all files and a brief description of their content,  so to track them more easily. Then they started to type the scripts of the selected interviews.

The interviews were all in Italian,  but the video had to have subtitles or voice over in English,  so they needed to translate the scripts.  To this purpose and to allow them to do it more quickly I decided to use Google translation toolkit.  It allows to upload a document and provides a machine translation,  then highlights sentence by sentence and it is possible to check it corresponds to the original and also correct possible grammar mistakes or edit the text for word choice.  It worked very well!  Oh,  I forgot to say that it is collaborative,  as it uploads the translation to Google drive and you can invite others to edit it with you!
The final step was to put together the video.  I used wevideo trial version which allows to edit videos collaboratively.  It was good because it allowed me to work also from home to finalize the project and send out the videos,  since we were again on holiday from school!
My students are now waiting to know if their videos got selected for the price,  but they enjoyed a lot working in this way,  because they were creative and free to choose how best to carry out the task!


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