Saturday, February 14, 2015

American Revolution project

In December of this year my students and I embarked on a very big project.
We were fully immersed in our study of the American Revolution. We were reading "Rush Revere and the First Patriots". We were watching clips about the American Revolution in the animated series "Liberty's Kids". We were researching the American Revolution on our Chrome books using Discovery Education.
I presented the students with a challenge. Create a project that shows what you learned about the American Revolution. The project had three parts.
  1. Graphic Organizer-The students had a choice from different kinds of Graphic Organizers depending upon their abilities and strengths.
  2. Paper-This was the strictest requirement. The students had to write a informative paper about the American Revolution. I provided a rubric for the students to self evaluate before I assessed their work.
  3. Project-This requirement was very broad. The students were given a choice of how to present what they had learned. They could make a poster, shadow box, digital presentation, etc. This way they could really use their strengths to "show off" what they learned.
The American Revolution project was a big deal.  I allowed the students a lot of choice and I believe that helped the student engagement.  All students attempted to use PowToon to make their presentations (see below for some PowToon examples).  The comfort level varied widely.  Many students I thought would like to do their project on PowToon ended up doing their projects on posters.  I think it would have helped, if I gave the students a little more time to “play” with PowToon before using it in an actual project.  
Some of my students made the choice to use posters rather than technology tools for the same reasons adults chose not to use technology tools.  Lack of experience with using technology and a fear of “messing it up” make it difficult for some students to embrace PowToon.  It is my job to continue exposing the students to this tool and others so that they become more comfortable.
The American Revolution project had a variety of parts that challenged the students to combine and apply skills that had been previously been taught and practised in isolation.  The technology component allowed me as a teacher to move my students up Blooms Taxonomy while engaging them in a challenging assignment.
Another Powtoon Example:

To view the lesson plan click here.  Feel free to barrow or steal.  That is one phrase from my teaching education that I will never forget.  "Successful teachers beg, barrow, and steal."

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