Medieval Medley – a MYP Humanities Summative

In April, our two 8th grade MYP Humanities teachers approached us to collaborate on their upcoming summative. Students were able to pick a person, place or event, do research and then present their information to the class in a variety of ways. The teachers had already given students options for steps 1 to 3s. It took many meetings to come to a mutual understanding of what they wanted from us and how technology integration might look throughout the process. My biggest concern was that we keep the summative as inquiry based as possible (following what they had already created). I wasn’t a big fan of giving them a list of technology options with examples for each – I wanted students to be creative, not me. We ended up coming up with a variety of ways that students could use technology to create presentations from step 3. When I was contemplating the list, I made sure to start with the task (step 3) and then create a list of technology options.

Each tech coach took a couple class sections and attended three of their work sessions (after their research was complete). During the first session, we introduced a couple of the technology options.My goal was to focus on technology tools that they probably hadn’t seen or used before and talk about the task.

For the next 3 class periods, I circulated the room asking students how they had chosen to present (step 3) and giving advice/tech help where needed. Although there were still many students who simply used a PowerPoint or Keynote to give a lecture, there were a few who had some really great products. My favorite non-tech project was a medical time capsule. The student went all out and was completely committed to his project: he introduced it by saying he found this box while on vacation in Italy. It was quite creative!

Some of my favorite projects (using technology):

Overall, the project was further proof to me of how much work we “tech integrators” have to do to help people (students and teachers alike) understand the power of meaningful integration. I am not impressed by Keynotes with distracting transitions – what does this do to make a project BETTER, to increase learning? We need to get away from the flashy and encourage quality based in curriculum and pedogogy. It also struck me (again) that students have no concept for copyright. I used my COETAIL learning to talk to students about using images that they are allowed to use as I circulated the room. Next year I would suggest that a short lesson on copyright and creative commons is done before students start researching. Since the only criterion that was being assessed was D (Communicating) I would also suggest doing more with that – what makes good presentations, how can students best communicate their learning? Christina and I even thought the MYP Design Cycle might be able to be used 🙂

This was a good learning experience for me and I look forward to seeing what happens with the project next year!

Google Earth in lower elementary

Last weekend at the Middle East GAFE Summit, I had the pleasure of meeting John Bailey and attending one of his sessions on Google Earth. The man knows his stuff! While I was at his session, I was finally inspired to share an idea I had for the KG2 teachers recently. I’m sure John could embellish it and make it much better (as he found out he was selected to attend the next Google Teacher’s Academy while we were there..congrats John!) but I do what I can. 😉

During the 3-hour planning meeting for the IB PYP KG2 unit, it was mentioned that in the past students have looked at their food wrappers to see where their food comes from. I thought this would be a great way to incorporate Google Earth!

After students find out where their food is from, the teacher could create a placemark for each student/food item. Instead of just creating simple placemarks, I went one step further  and inserted pictures. I took a picture of the food item using my iPad. I then created a secret board on Pinterest (using the iPad app). On my computer, I copied the image URL of the picture on Pinterest. In the placemark, I clicked ‘add image’ and pasted the URL. You could also put the pictures on your website…you just need to be able to get the image URL. If you want to get really awesome, you could mess around with Tours and create a video of all the placemarks.

Although you cannot create placemarks on the iPad (that I’ve found…let me know if you figure it out!), you can open your Trip on the iPad. I emailed myself the Google Earth attachment (you can also upload it to your Google Drive) and was able to open and view it on the iPad. Students can now actually SEE where their food came from! Pretty cool, huh?

(I couldn’t get the embed gadget to work for the Google Earth file. Feel free to open it in Google Earth! Merci to Jeff for his modeling skills 🙂

Note: I did not receive any compensation for this review. Just my honest opinion & experience.