2010 – 2011 School Year Final Reflection
Summer has been happening for about a week now and a post about my school year has been brewing in my mind…well, for pretty much the whole school year. This post will focus mostly on the second half of the year in which we completed a unit on China. I met a man last summer who was moving to Jishou, China to teach English to middle school students there and I told him it would be very cool if we could somehow connect our classrooms. He thought it sounded cool and we shared skype and gtalk details with each other and ended up doing some pretty cool things, I think, with our students. Much of what we did could have been done better, but it was the first time doing what we did for the both of us.
The purpose of this post is to share what we did during the course of the year and possibly get some feedback from people like Dean, Jokay, Angela, Kim, Scott or other people in my PLN who might possibly glance at my blog every now and again. The best way to do this is to simply share my students’ final projects. Each student made 5 wiki pages which they linked together via a navigation bar at the top of each page. One of the best example navigation bars/websites can be found below. I believe the navigation bar at the top of each page allowed each student to have what was the equivalent of their own web site.
Erica’s navigation bar
Each student created a homepage that had the purpose of sharing with their Pen Pals and their classmates who they were. The home page was a kind of biography or compilation of their lives up to this point. Students also created a blog page where they were assigned blogging tasks at various times during the quarter. The Chinese Province Project page was a place for them to gather research and display their prezi, glogster, or powerpoint that demonstrated the important aspects of the five themes of geography for their chosen province, municipality, or autonomous region. The next page down was the Chinese Pen Pal page. Each student created a one-slide biography of their pen pal which they shared at the end of the quarter.
They also posted the slide on their wiki page along with the letters that they wrote to one another as you can see if you take the time to look at Erica’s example or any of the students examples. We used audacity to create the major components on the final page. Mr. Howe was kind enough to stay up until 2:00am china time a couple of days and teach my students some common phrases that his students used and also help my students prepare questions for two meetups we had via QQ towards the end of the quarter. Students created audio files on their Chinese Language Pages where they practiced their pronunciation of several of those phrases. What really impressed the Chinese students was the fact that we made the effort to learn their language. They (the Jishou students) had a belief that most Americans were too arrogant to attempt to learn something about another country’s culture. I believe it allowed them to be more open with my students when we held our two meetups.
When I do a unit like this in the future, I will do a couple of things differently. First I will definitely make the province project more problem based. Each province in China, faces unique problems that students could use as topics to incorporate the 5 geography themes. The research they did, did not have as much purpose as it could have had. Secondly, I will not start exchanging letters until the quarter I begin the unit. Students were a bit confused when they had to change Pen Pals when I switched middle schools during the year. I will also take any suggestions of ways I could improve this unit based on anyone’s evaluation of my students’ projects. Any feedback anyone has on this blog post (I don’t believe I finally made 100) is greatly appreciated.
A student at East Middle School created the Animoto below to share what we learned during the quarter.