Monday, November 24, 2008

The Ultimate Jigsaw! My Maps

I have been struggling to do something cool with Minnesota History for some time. According to our department, it falls inside the personal 20% that really isn't essential but still fun/important to teach. This year I came up with the ultimate jigsaw where I divided up my 15o students by ability group, across 5 blocks and made a Google My Maps Project. The process of getting started was a bit of a beast but today we were full throttle ahead and real progress was being made.

click to enlarge!

The students are in the process of creating content, links, pictures and constructing their knowledge from resources I pulled together in a public Google Doc. Occasionally a student embeds a surfing video to highlight Minnesota's ancient oceans, but we talk it through until it connects back to limestone and sandstone. Whether the final version of the map will convey that connection is unknown.

When I think back to eighth grade, the only thing I remember about my science class is my teacher using catapults to launch erasers across the room. I was concerned about my jeans, shoes, friends, girls, sports and if I had $.63 for a taco after school. Big picture....the students are learning how to create using the web and picking up a little MN history in the process. Really, how many states can claim lava rock? The students are collaborating with students in other classes. They are learning how to manage browser tabs and become a little more web savvy. With luck, they will also continue to add their maps over a long Thanksgiving weekend. If they do....without being told....then it was worth it.

Stay tuned for a link to the final map!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Historical Night & Wordle

Check out Wordle! This is a Wordle created using the text from Barack Obama's speech on election night. Wordle is a great tool because it can quickly highlight the main idea of a body of text. How could this be used in your classroom?

from Wordle

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

learning.21st - Google Docs Podcast "I Have A Dream"

My new course, learning.21st, is now over. Based on discussions and feedback from students, it was a major success! The final project was producing a podcast about the big idea they wanted everyone at school to know about. The four big ideas the students gravitated to were cyberbullying, Google Docs, tricks and tips, and social networking sites like The students used an adapted template to put together their podcast and developed the content on their own. The groups used their newly honed 21st century skills to develop the script in Google Docs and also used a Google Form to submit their group self-evaluation. After a quarter of micro-projects, it was great to watch them use the skills they learned in class and work over several days to complete their final project. It was also rewarding to sit back and hear student discussions about how these tools are benefiting them as learners.

Who said students can't engage in metacognition?

Here is the Google Docs Podcast! Listen to what the students are saying...and then check it out for yourself.