Last year, for a Social Study unit, I had students conduct state research. There are ten students in my classroom so each one did five states. I gave them a template in order to guide their research. This included finding the state’s capital, abbreviation, bird, flower, population, climate, three interesting facts, three reasons why someone would want to visit, and required an illustration of the state flag. Copies were made of all the templates they filled out by hand and bounded so each student had their own “book”.
The class enjoyed using Google to find the straightforward information, yet struggled with sorting through the appropriate sites to find interesting facts and tourist attractions. At one point I thought it could’ve been due to laziness; they didn’t want to actually search/read for their answers. During this course, I realize, maybe they weren’t sure how to navigate through websites or find valid resources, maybe this skill does not come natural to them (especially those with reading deficits).
When I think back to the beginning stages of using the internet, I don’t necessarily remember being taught how to determine if a resource is creditable or not. I feel like it wasn’t until I got to college that it became an expectation our resources were legitimate.
After taking this course and realizing the impact of using technology in the classroom, I want to try to have my class create power points for their state research projects this upcoming year. I think using PowerPoint would be a safe stepping stone for them. It will be new, but shouldn’t become too overwhelming. This is important in order to reduce behaviors and work avoidance (as I work in a self-contained classroom for middle school students with ED any challenge can be an antecedent).
I have used Prezi in the past and think it is a great tool, but I know, as a college student, I had a hard time getting the hang of it so I do not want to set my students up for failure. I know my students do not have experience using PowerPoint. The key to teaching this new task will be modeling. I can’t sit them in front of a computer and expect them to just figure it out. So what I would like to do is present them with a state research project that I have already completed using PowerPoint. I will make it really engaging; use lots of images and animation with the changing of slides tools. I can show them how to copy and paste links, edit their layouts and more!
Aside from modeling, another major factor in the success of this plan will depend on the environment. I have ten students with only three desktops. It will be essential for modeling to have access to a computer lab with a smartboard so I can appropriately model and provide adequate supports. We all know as educators, scheduling and technical difficulties will always throw a wrench in our plans so it will be important for me to be as prepared as possible.