See you next week!
Image from: http://www.edwebproject.org/bali/gallery/pics/tirta.perfectpaddy.jpg
Categories : International School
See you next week!
Image from: http://www.edwebproject.org/bali/gallery/pics/tirta.perfectpaddy.jpg
Peggy (the grade 6 social studies teacher) and I are just about to start a new integrated IT/social studies project on sub-saharan Africa from 500-1700CE. At the same time, I’m completing an Ed Leadership certificate and right now we’re working on the ideas presented in Integrating Differentiated Instruction and Understanding by Design.
Since I am learning all this “good stuff” on the weekends, I wanted to try to apply it to my teaching. So Peggy (being ever so flexible and willing to try anything) and I are following the UbD model for designing our unit. I am posting about this with three ulterior motives:
Here is our idea (.pdf version here):
(please keep in mind that this is a work in progress)
We need to meet the following standards:
Standard 1: Students will understand patterns of change and continuity, relationships between people and events through time, and various interpretations of those relationships. Benchmark 1.2: Identify and use primary and secondary sources in historical research.
Standard 3: Students will understand the concepts of geography and demography and how geography and demography influence and are influenced by human history. Benchmark 3.7: Describe ways that human events have influenced, and been influenced by, physical and human geographic conditions in local, regional, national, and global settings.
Standard 4: Students will understand cultural and intellectual developments and interactions among and within societies. Benchmark 4.1: Understand ways that social and environmental factors and culture are related. Benchmark 4.9: Identify patterns of social and cultural continuity in various societies and analyze ways in which people maintained traditions and resisted external challenges. Benchmark 4.10: Draw inferences from archeological evidence.
We want students to be able to grasp these essential understandings:
and therefore, answer these essential questions:
In order to integrate technology, we have decided that students will create a wikispace following the GRASPS model:
Goal: Your task is to create an interactive, multimedia wikispace documenting the history and culture of sub-Saharan Africa from 500-1700CE
Role: You are archeological specialists in charge of researching sub-Saharan Africa
Audience: The world (via the Internet)!
Situation: You must collaborate together to produce an interactive, informative, technology-rich wikispace that is appropriate for middle school students around the world.
Product/Performance: To inform people around the world (including your parents and classmates) about the history of sub-Saharan Africa
We would like students to work in 2 large groups (based on the regions defined in our text, History Alive) and then split into smaller groups based on the different kingdoms within each region. Each student in each group will have a specific responsibility.
We were also thinking of ways to use the 6 facets of understanding to lead students to their final GRASPS project:
Apply: Information Literacy:
Create personal learning networks with students around the world learning about ancient Africa
Utilize digital resources to create multimedia presentations that visually represent aspects of African civilizations
Flash animation charting the rise and fall of individual African nations
Write a journal reflection on your blog in the voice of a sub-Saharan African during the time period stated (each student writing from a different voice about the same issue). Comment on another student’s blog from your perspective to begin a role-play style dialogue with different members of the society.
Obviously there’s lots of work to be done still, but I would love to hear your thoughts! What works? What are we missing? What’s over the top? I don’t want to be too gung-ho with the tech side of the project, but I’m very excited to be able to put into practice some of the things I have been reading about lately…
I just finished watching David Warlick’s pre-conference keynote for the K12 Online conference which is officially starting next week. Wow. For starters, I think it’s so amazing to see and hear someone make a keynote presentation in North Carolina, USA from the comfort of my own home in faraway Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Especially someone that I have been reading, but whom I have never heard speak. As David says at the beginning of his keynote: he’s there and then, I’m here and now, yet we are still communicating and learning from each other.
It may be obvious, but I truly enjoyed the way David “presented” from so many different places. Not only was the actual content of the presentation powerful, but the visual of teaching and learning taking place anywhere, anytime, really sent the message home (and of course, I enjoyed the many views of North Carolina, never having been there myself). I appreciate that sometimes it’s not enough to just say you can do something with technology, but to show the possibilities of the technology is what is truly powerful. Even though I am familiar with all of the technology that David used during his video, it was motivating to see it all put together into one presentation, and to see that appropriate use of technology for an educational setting. And then there’s the most amazing part – this video keynote is just the beginning. Now we get the opportunity to explore with all of the other tools used to support the content keynote. We have the blogging, the “co-learning” wiki, the conference-specific social networking, etc, etc. It’s amazing to me to have this experience, while learning myself, because this is how our students should be communicating to us. This is the future of communication.
Personally, I have grown up with technology. My parents both spent their entire careers working for IBM. I can’t remember a time when we didn’t have 3 or 4 computers around the house. Even so, I still could not have imagined where we would be today. I turned 29 this year, and I never would have pictured myself a technology teacher when I was growing up. I guess along the way of becoming a full-time human rights activist, I took a side journey and I ended up finding a true passion, a passion I would never have known existed within me, if I hadn’t been, to use David’s term, “derailed.” But now I couldn’t be happier about the fact. I am living in a period of time when unique and exciting changes are taking place every single day, and on each one of those days I get the opportunity to enthuse and excite a child about those developments. Imagine where our students will be in 5, 10, 20 years…What we are beginning here, with this keynote, and this conference, will shape the future, a future that can only be radically different from our lives today. Wow.
I recently posted about faculty members questioning the validity of teaching technology. So, I created a new page on my wiki to help explain why teaching technology is so important, but of course that’s not enough… As I click through the hundreds of feeds in my RSS reader, I am quite relieved to see that I’m not alone in this uphill battle of embracing change. Today I found the No Teacher LEft Behind Wiki created by Graham Wegner. He writes:
“The changing information landscape of the 21st Century demands that our students develop new skills of information literacy and become knowledge producers as an integral component of their learning. But what of the professionals charged with these students’ education? Can they be convinced of the need for personal change to keep pace with their students’ world? Are they even aware of the exponential changes taking place? How would they get started in their classrooms?”
This is exactly the question that I am wrestling with – as Graham visualizes in this post, we are at the “tipping point for education” and I’m not quite sure how to pull/cajole/invite/motivate my colleagues over to my side of see-saw. I need to figure out how to bring the essence of The Power of One
video (which I found on Marion Ginopolis’ guest blog post) into my school. Thankfully, Graham is presenting at the K12 Online conference soon and I am anxiously awaiting his thoughts and ideas on the topic.
I was also inspired to see this quote:
“Ed. tech???…Frankly, I’m tired of the excuses. “We don’t have time for that.” “We can’t afford that.” “That’s not what we do.” Nonsense! How can you/we NOT afford to bring the institution of schooling in line with our 21st century society? And, in this asynchronous world our children live in, what is time anyway?”
This is one thing I have quickly come to love about blogging – the possibility for so much learning, so quickly, and from so many different points of view. And the ability to take in only what you need, what you can handle, when you have time to process the information. For example, Jeff writes about learning communities in his blog, The Thinking Stick, today, which inspired me to have a closer look at the more formal learning communities that are popping up around the edublogosphere (and by “more formal” I mean actual groups of people intentionally and specifically working together, rather than just the individual learning communities we are all forming just by virtue of reading and commenting on each other’s blogs). I found these:
As Mark van ‘t Hooft at Ubiquitous Thoughts writes, the “issues of teaching, learning and technology are similar all over the world.” It’s amazing to think that no matter how far away I am from like-minded educators in the physical world, we are all just a click away here in the virtual world. This is such an inspiring feeling for me, I am realizing more and more that I have to share this experience with my students. It’s not fair for me to be the only one with a “Personal Learning Network” in the classroom, I need to allow and assist my students in creating their own PLN as well, like Clarence Fisher has so successfully done with his students. Now that I’ve gotten my sixth graders blogging successfully, I really need to introduce RSS and get them started creating their own learning community. I realize now that if they stay at the level they are now, they are just one step above “doing the same writing, just placing it on the web” as Will Richardson points out from David Parry’s report.
Its very easy to introduce something new and exciting and stay superficial. I think the key to these new web 2.0 technologies is to dig deep and find the real core value of the tool, rather than just using technology for technology’s sake. I need to open the doors in the walled garden for my kids. I am inspired by stories like this. And this comment “With this article, it seems as if the conversation, and my learning process, have been frozen in time” referring to written work on actual paper, rather than work in electronic format, on Karyn Romeis’ blog really rings true for me. I can only image how much more true it is for our digital native students. I realize I’m still holding onto a little fear of opening up those floodgates, but it has to happen. How can I shut my students out from a world that is so rewarding for me every single day?
I am really starting to get the hang of this whole wiki thing this week. Yes, last week I posted a link to the page on my wiki where I try to convince all teachers that we need to embrace new technologies, but I didn’t really understand how much this technology would change my teaching and learning. But, now it’s starting to clear up:
I spent most of today working on my Middle School IT Integration wiki for my students. I teach 9-week exploratory classes for grades 6-8 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The sessions are so short that we don’t often get to more than one or two major projects following the MYP technology design cycle (which I started using when I was teaching in Munich, Germany). But today, as I was working on this wiki for the students, I realized that the tools are actually so simple that I could incorporate a collaborative aspect to my courses just by letting them post what they learn on the wiki. Nothing so in-depth as Jeff’s amazing TeenTek project over in Shanghai, but a little something to pique their curiosity about this new tool.
After being away for a lovely long weekend on the Malaysian island of Redang,
I came back to my RSS aggregator full of amazing wikis (that I will, of course, dutifly post on my page about wikis for the staff at school). Here are some of the really amazing ones:
And, of course, the wiki for the K12 Online Conference
This got me thinking about something else… I remembered reading Vicki Davis’ post a few weeks ago about the effect that Wikipedia will have on textbooks given the rapid pace of technological and scientific change we are experiencing. I remember thinking that was a very interesting idea. And really, how can textbook authors, editors, publishers and manufacturers keep up with these developments? And today, I found David Warlick’s 2 Cents and Christopher Craft’s post about the same topic which reminded me of the original post. And then I remembered something else interesting:
Many of you may not know, but we in Malaysia (and Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia) experience something called “the haze” annually (during the dry season) due to slash and burn agriculture on Sumatra.
I was curious to find out more about this year’s haze, since it wasn’t quite as bad as last year, but was still prompting us to turn on the aircon rather than have the doors open in our condo. I did a search on Google and found only articles related to the 2005 State of Emergency that was declared here in Malaysia. Nothing on 2006. Interesting. I then did the same search including the date and look what came up as the first article in my search (at the time). Wow! CNN and BBC haven’t posted a thing, but Wikipedia had detailed reports by date and time for everything about this year’s haze almost up to the minute.
I shared that story with my sixth grade study skills class on Tuesday and they got it right away: textbooks are great for historical references, but not even scientific “fact”, and certainly not current events. They were really excited because we had just finished making our own class wiki and this really helped them see the relevance of the project. In fact, several of them commented on their blogs about how they could use a wiki in their other classes. If only the other teachers were as excited about this as they are…
I’ve been having some technical issues with my blog over the last few days. Every time I try to create a post with links the screen goes blank, I get this error message:
and then I loose the whole post. Needless to say it hasn’t been a fun week.
I’ve tried clearing the cache, restarting, and now I’m using a different theme just to see if that solves it. Things seem to be a little better today, since I’ve obviously been able to post this, with a test link, but it’s definitely not working properly. Has anyone else had this problem and resolved it?