I came back from a very enjoyable 4-week holiday. I had penciled out some ideas before the break but really didn’t feel attached or excited about any single one. Our first week back last week brought challenges of getting everyone back on track at the same time as diving into new units.
One of my co-workers (who is retiring this year) has developed a social studies unit over the last eight years on Indigenous Peoples of the United States. Teaching in Malaysia, I have never been excited about this out of context unit for the students, however, it is what it is. Last week she brought me about 35 worksheets that linked with the standards and benchmarks that needed to be covered throughout the unit. I sent the sheets off to be photocopied with my classroom helper without thinking too much about it. This worksheet style/ binder booklet style of teaching is typical for what I am seeing in my school. I try to go against the grain when I can. I got the sheets returned from the copy room with a note asking for me to schedule this copy job since it was too large to be done on the spot. I think this not saved me! I looked at the sheets in horror and wondered how I could not have to teach this way for the next two months. How could I transform the learning to not have the kids be put through this extremely boring worksheet driven experiences. This sparked my idea for the final course project.
Just to give you some background in the technology we have at school. We are a new Google Apps school and I have given the kids lots of experiences with the Apps since they received their google accounts but am wanting to do something more. We also finally received our long awaited Chrome Books in the classroom and we have 8 at our immediate disposal.
So, all pieces of the puzzle seemed to lean toward using what we have available and what the kids have been using and learning to navigate through. I want to turn this unit on its head and have it completely online with the kids using new skills to learn in an inconceivable way without the technology.
Here is what I had in mind by blending the Google Apps with our new Chromebooks in the classroom for my final project:
-Using google docs to share what would have been traditional worksheets. Although, this in and of itself is not redefinition it is a start with getting the kids interacting through documents and providing them with a more flexible approach to what used to be a worksheet. I would not be just putting worksheets on docs but rather taking what might have been given as a worksheet and having the students work in their groups to complete the tasks on a shared doc.
-One of the activities is to have them colour in a portion of the US map to show where their indigenous tribe is from. My thoughts are to use google maps to have them zoom in on their region and add more layered information to it and learn about it through the map app.
-Using Blogger to have their own blog to reflect, share and comment on each others learning. I am going introduce blogging to them this week. They have experience with my class blog and using the comment feature but will be pushing them to the next step of reflecting on their own blog.
-Using their existing Google Site to actually put their work up. The other teachers are having worksheet folders where all their work goes home in a bundled folder consisting of more than 30 sheets of paper. I want them to actually start using their site as a portfolio of their learning.
In reflection this doesn’t sound transformational but it is transformational to what the unit currently exists as. I want to flip the learning online from traditional paper/pencil tasks.
…….I am working through a possible PBL task that would turn into a final project. I am going to go back into Course 4 and review some of the big ideas related to PBL. Stay tuned.
What are your thoughts? Am I redefining the learning by taking it online as opposed to what exists in worksheets and folders? I am still shaping this and hope to have a PBL task by the end of the week to start with them next Monday.