First lessons were great. Students not only learned a great deal, but exhibited high engagement for early-year classes. This most recent lesson was frustrating. A personal sickness caused me to miss an unusual amount of time. This caused some confusion in understanding what we’re trying to do. Second was the disaster of a website used to demonstrate learning: http://www.educreations.com.
The lessons learned with this activity extended beyond content. How do we deal technology when it fails us? That’s a crucial question to develop an answer to in a 1:1 classroom. We also learned to deal with frustration. That’s probably more important, as it’s going to happen. A LOT.
Students broke into small groups and read from Mark Henry Lawson and Bob Boone’s “Write Through Chicago.” Following with our theme of “Leaders and Legacies,” we chose 9 different leaders (or events) and studied the significance of their legacies:
- Jean Baptise Point du Sable
- Ft. Dearborn Massacre
- Elliott Ness
- Jane Addams and Hull House
- ’68 DNC and Protests
- Carl Sandburg
- Pullman Workers Strike
- Haymarket Riot
- Dr. Williams & First Open Heart Surgery
What’s so great about this book is how it designs student though. Students read, research, and then make a series of connections. Kids work through Bloom’s Taxonomy of high-level thinking, and end up with a deep understanding of their topic. While this was compromised by my absence early in the lesson, students had 3-4 days to work on this aspect.
Deep learning is wonderful for mastery of many concepts. However, breadth isn’t possible when we study one topic so closely. Students needed to learn of other figures and their legacies, so our groups transitioned into production units. Their goal: teach other groups about our figure. Make it concise, clear, and fun. The problem: our chosen website was an abysmal failure.
While frustrating, we need to adapt. Students used WeVideo as an alternative, found ways to simplify the process for using educations, and met outside of class time to revise their project. I think this is a nice example of “grit,” as Mrs. Foellmer points out. Students need to learn how to handle the frustration and solve a problem. Content aside, it was nice to see students persevere and find a way to share their learning. This was in no way ideal, but an unintended lesson in problem-solving.
Students have finished production of their videos, and are now writing about what they’ve learned. We’re moving into the Civil War next.