Thursday, October 23, 2014

Groovy 7th Graders Learned to Research -- And it was FUN!

Last week, I received an email invitation to spend an upcoming day exploring a student created museum approach to the 1960s. That's the kind of email I will clear my calendar for!

Yesterday, I ventured out to Wylie ISD and found myself on the Junior High campus. Within minutes, three 7th graders eagerly showed up to escort me down to their 1960's walkthrough museum. I was checked to be sure I had a QR code scanner on my "smart" phone and a set of earbuds...

Let the learning for this former history teacher begin!

Oh... Did I mention this was an ELA class? Yes! The TEKS to be covered and learned by the students were centered around research papers, citations, primary sources, and writing... It took me at least ten questions before the students articulated that bit of information... They were more interested in explaining the "fun" they had in learning and show off their knowledge of the 1960s.

The teacher, Mrs. Ann Hurst, approached her content by allowing her students to utilize their own voice and choice in exploring the research process. In fact, this started out to be a project over the Titanic, but after the students brainstormed things that interested them and voted, the 1960s emerged as a time period the students clamored to know more about.

What was difficult? According to Alex, Anna Claire, and Reid, that would be "CITATIONS!!!" and "figuring out how to validate our resources on the internet!"

The breakdown of the process:

Students chose their own groups and topics, as well as made sure each student in the group had job responsibilities (true PBL fashion). The research and writing began, then the students chose a way to "present" their papers. Most groups selected the creation of a ShowMe or an Animoto. Utilizing four iPads brought into the classroom, the student groups rotated, shared, collaborated, and presented their papers... Campus Instructional Technology Specialist Coach Luke Hurst assisted with any technical questions the students had.

Then the museum construction began. Administration allowed the students to decorate an empty room with 60's flair. Students posted pics and QR codes by year around the room. All visitors walk through with a "smart" device and scan QR codes posted near pictures and descriptions of poignant people and events from the 1960s. The reward is a ShowMe or Animoto with student selected or drawn representations coinciding with student read research papers. An old turn table softly plays 60's music in the background and visitors are taken back in time to the Vietnam War, Alcatraz Prison, and the first Super Bowl to name a few.

A job well done, 7th grade Bulldogs!

The museum is open for the remainder of the month.