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Sunday, June 1, 2014

End of Year Reflections and changes for next year

I started having students blog during 4th term and have decided to have them do it throughout the entire year. Basically the blog will be the their homework. They will update it weekly and get credit for their updates. I don't think I should grade the blog, just give them credit for doing it. If you have read this blog before you know that we did video zeitgeist that highlighted the major happenings worldwide throughout the year. I am going to have on entry per month in which they evaluate the current world and local events and determine which ones should be in their end of year video.

One of the final things I have students do is a final write up in which part of it is to give me feedback. One of the things I ask is what was your favorite activities/lessons/assignments. I have used the Genius Project idea for the past few years and students really like it. This year during fourth term students created a blog and then updated it weekly. Since my class is studying geography I told students they could pick anything 'geography related' for their genius project (which if they realize it, is just about anything). Their homework for the term was a weekly post, updating their findings. In the end they presented their blog and their genius project to the class during the last week of school. It was neat to see such a variety of projects from researching myths and legends from around the world to saving the great barrier reef to a history of Arabic music to the northern lights.

Here are some of their thoughts:

"My favorite assignment was the Genius Project. It let us think outside the box. I had a great time learning about my topic."

"My favorite assignment was the Genius Project. This is because it gave us an opportunity to make decisions on our own on whatever we wanted to do. You gave us total freedom...which is the best kind of homework."

"My favorite assignment was the blog. It was cool to be able to study and figure things out by yourself. Everyone picked something that reflected who they are and through it I got to know each person a little better."

"I really loved the Genius Project. I was able to write about something I was passionate about, and share my experiences with others."

"I really liked getting to pick what I was going to study and learn about. It helped keep me on top of my assignment and I feel I learned more than I would have if I chose from a list of topics."

Based on these thoughts as well as my own here are the changes I am making for the upcoming year:

Have students blog weekly through out the year for homework. Once a month on current events for Zeitgeist. Once a month for genius projects Once on what we have learned in class. With extra research on application and extension of knowledge. The other will be an open topic. 9-10 entries per term.

First week will set it up. They explain purpose of their blog and what they think geography is and what they hope to learn about during the year. They will do a term write up each term on each of topics. First few times will get lab to help them out. Periodically will get lab for same purpose.

I think creating a positive digital footprint is of utmost importance. With that in mind I am going to teach how to tag, comment, use CC pics, embed video, so that when their name is searched they have a lot of positive things to show for it.

This post if more me thinking out loud, but I welcome any suggestions of things that have worked well for you.

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