Sunday, June 19, 2011

Teaching 2011 Style - Technology Integration

Two months ago one of my colleagues, Monte Bourjaily (AP US), and I were talking about what to do after the AP exam.  We both had to balance some local requirements (state exam for juniors and state/local govt requirements for seniors + FLE for both of us).  We were determined,though, to have a joint project that would be both content focused on government (since all of Monte's kids are taking government next fall) and would be completely digital in its presentation.  I insisted on the latter since it's obviously my thing, but also so I could watch from FL while I was grading the AP exam.  Monte had three AP US classes who joined my two AP Govt classes.  While two of our classes met at the same time of the day, one did not and even some in our same periods wanted to work with ones in other times, so going digital allowed for grouping across periods and days!  We created our assignment in Google Docs since we kept thinking of new ideas and resources and didn't want to keep e-mailing them back and forth.  The students (in groups of 20-22, but broken into sub groups of 5) choose to then create their own Google Docs pages so they could put what they were doing as the project went along.  After that each group was asked to create a webpage and put all of their content in digital format.  Most of the groups (this is the best one) were fantastic (yes, remember we were working with seniors after the AP exam was over!) and many went way beyond what we asked for.  This group, for example, sent some kids to DC to interview tourist on the debt.  They produced videos (see the DC inteviews above), Prezi, PowerPoints, webpages (here, here, here , here, here and here), quizzes, debates).  Most importantly our students learned a great deal about the national debt, Medicare and Social Security.  I am also happy that when the juniors reach my room next year, I will have to worry less about teaching those topics and additionally can require even more digital assignments.  As if all of this was not enough the legislative assistant and correspondent for US Senator Mark Warner came out and spoke to and answered (and dodged some) a ton of questions from our students. Likewise nationally know Washington Post reporter Robert Samuelson came out and did the same as Warner's two employees. All three were impressed with the knowledge of our students which we believe came from our learning by doing exercise.  Finally, we had to grade these assignments in a short window as my government students ended their school year a week before the juniors.  So we used Google Docs and called each other up one night and literally graded together in real time from our respective homes.  We hope this exercise inspires you to "jump off the cliff" (yes, we already have spoken about how we will do it differently next year) and use more digital learning.  I should add that my principal and my county have been very helpful in getting us enough laptops to actually make this project work.  You can see some of the pics of our combined students in the post below

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