I was reading a newsletter I subscribe to today and came across a link to a blog post about using Project-Based writing with “tweens.” This is the article:
This is just the sort of thing that gets me excited! When the kids are enthusiastic and excited about learning, it doesn’t seem like “work.” The learning becomes authentic and meaningful. As a result, the children learn better, with greater depth, and are able to apply their skills.
Another “perk” of such assignments is the curriculum integration. This teacher is working on a writing assignment. But the subject isn’t writing, it’s science. They could be incorporating math skills, as well, as they are researching and coming up with solutions to the question at hand. They’re going to be integrating technology. They’re working with others in cooperative groups. They’re assigned roles and responsibilities. These are students who are working as 21st Century learners.
Are the kids focused on their writing? Yes. But it’s elaborately disguised as an intriguing assignment with all kinds of exciting bells and whistles thrown in. Are they learning to write effectively? Yes. And in such a way that they are more likely to be able to repeat, as opposed to being taught a set of skills in isolation and then having to learn how to apply them.
This is the kind of educational practice our students need, and deserve.
While looking online at the AASL (American Association of School Librarians) website today, I came across a link for a PPT presentation listing 52 ways to use Wordle in the classroom (and tips!). This was fabulous!!! It is shared with Creative Commons permission and can be viewed at the following link:
They’ve done a fabulous job coming up with fun and inventive ways to use this tool. Kids love it, it’s so easy. Just think… Put a story, or the first page or two of the new novel you’re introducing, into Wordle and use that with your intro to draw them in and make them wonder… Use it with their essays so they can see what their focus was on — were they all over the place or did they have just a few main ideas? What were the key points in a presidential speech? AMAZING ideas that span grade levels — there is something for everyone!
Can you imagine the look on their faces when you tell your students that you’re going to teach them how to design a video game? Could you possibly hit any closer to home for most of these kids? What do they love more than video games? Well, other than their cell phones maybe… And is this something that’s only possible for the most tech-savvy of us in the trenches? No! Not by any stretch of the imagination. Look at this site I found while reading Scholastic Instructor (Summer, 2011, p.16).
Gamestar Mechanic is geared towards the 4th – 9th grades, students begin playing individually, completing quests to learn the principles of video game design. As a reward for earning enough experience, they are awarded a design workshop in which they design their own game. They can then publish these games to share, as well as playing games designed by other kids, and they can review one another’s games. Students will learn art and design, problem-solving, writing/storytelling, as well as working on their STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) skills.
Older kids will enjoy a similar website called Activate! Again, the students are creatively solving problems (though here they are real-world environmental-related problems). They design games, and can enjoy those created by others. They are also asked to provide feedback. The more they offer, they greater their own rewards.
Both of these programs are meant to take place in 4 lessons, and both involve computers and worksheets to teach the students. For more information, view Scholastic’s article (complete with videos and the research behind these sites). Level UP!