Posted by togalearning
Written in collaboration with Jeff Plaman
This week we’d like to share a few examples of how students are using technology in a variety of ways throughout the High School. These vignettes illustrate the positive actions teachers are taking to help students learn essential life skills while meeting their curricular goals. For example, in Lauren Jordy’s grade 10 European History class, students worked with a partner to create a podcast about an individual or an event during the Crusades, illustrating how it impacted Europe or European culture. Most of Ms. Jordy’s students had listened to a podcast before, but this was the first time they had created one. The podcasts demonstrated the students’ understanding of the content, but also developed new technical skills, communication, collaboration, and problem solving strategies. Since these podcasts are uploaded to a server that is connected to the Internet, these podcasts can be considered published, as well. Anyone in the world can listen to or download them, and they can appear in search results through popular search engines. The students reported enjoying the task and having the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding through this new medium.
Faced with stacks of journal folders to assess, IB Theater teacher Tom Rosevear wanted a way to have his students connect with him and each other more regularly. He also wanted to be able to easily share links and media with students and give them way to add creative content to the course. Tom decided to create a social network for his class using the Ning platform, and it has been very successful so far. “I can now read students’ responses as soon as they’re posted on the Ning and respond to it. Others respond, too, and the learning act is thus much more ‘in the moment’.” The network makes different kinds of communication a snap. With built-in email, forum discussion, and blogs, one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many communications are possible not to mention communication through the video and photo posts. Another advantage is that the learning isn’t confined to the four walls of the classroom, as Rosevear explains “we also have invited ‘experts’ to join our Ning. Megan Campisi, a professional actor/writer based in New York City is a member and we hope to enlarge this network of ‘primary sources’.”
The grade 9 Asian Studies students had the opportunity to create and publish work with multimedia and Web 2.0 tools during the first quarter. For the Unit 1 final assessment, which focused on the essential question “How does geography impact culture, economics, and politics in Asian nations?” they chose to write either a National Geographic-style magazine article or create a documentary video. All students first had to write an essay or script according to expository writing structures taught in the course. Once this was finished, the writers used MS Publisher to layout the magazine article, converting the final product to a PDF to make it easier to upload to the internet for publishing. The final articles were published via Issuu. The video creators used iMovie or Windows Movie Maker, along with various video downloading and conversion tools, to produce their movies. Many students published their final video to YouTube. These students also reported enjoying the challenges of the task and being given a chance to present their content understanding in relevant and engaging formats that add value to the world beyond the classroom.
“I am always searching for ways to collaborate and create deeper meaning in what we do within the classroom so these new technologies certainly have the potential to help” said Kendra Farrell, a High School Visual Arts teacher. Farrell was inspired after attending a presentation during the EARCOS teacher’s conference last spring and has since leaped into the Web 2.0 world with her Digital Imagry class. Her students use a wiki platform to post their work, reflect on the process, and critique each other’s photographs. “We have had feedback from people all over the globe.’I can’t really imagine what Digital Imagery would be like without wikispaces’ wrote one student.”
In all of these examples, the use of technology has not replaced the regular curriculum, rather it helped students to collaborate, create, and communicate as they demonstrate their understanding of the course objectives. In the process, they’re expanding their abilities to thrive in an increasingly digital world. As Kendra Farrell said, “Things are changing. We are all connected and it feels very immediate, exciting and right to just do it and get involved.”