I blogged last week about the acquisition and use of a small set of class netbooks in my Social Studies classroom thus far this year. The students really seem to enjoy using them in class and request them on a regular basis (they far enjoy using them and working with others in comparison to listening to me lecture, and I don't blame them). But, as I said in my last post, I wanted to move beyond using the netbooks on a "one-off" basis for completing Google Docs organizers and answering questions on the class blog. I want the students to go further with what they can do with easy access to the web and the abiltity to collaborate and create.
As a result, with two of the courses (a total of four sections) thatr I teach (I have three preps this year) I am moving to a more project based approach beginning with the second semester which started for us this week. For my seniors who take my Modern World History 1945 to the Present course, I have begun a project with them where they will look at the problems and successes of development in six different regions of the world. The student will use a class Ning to for their project linked to Google Docs to create a research page, outline, and presentation. The presentation will then be uploaded to VoiceThread for the creators and rest of the student in the class to comment and question about the issues presented. There will then be a final assessment at the end to analyze patterns of development around the world.
My sophomores, who take World Civilization 1450 to 1950, will begin a similar project using a class Ning and Google Docs for their collaboration and research in groups. But the topic and final product will be different. They will research different political, economic and cultural ideas that were developed during the 19th century and how those ideas still affect us today. They will use their research to make a documentary segment on their topic. They will then work with all the other groups to make one extensive video on the topics presented.
In both cases, I believe this will be much more engaging and benefitial to the students instead of me lecturing to them over the next month on the same topics and issues. I worked with our school's media specialist to get the students using the right kind of reseources, but a major focus of the projects is using the netbooks in the classroom for research, planning and writing, so we do not need to go to the media center or lab as often. I will keep you, my readers, informed to the successes and pitfalls of my new approach. Until next time, keep moving forward!