Monday, April 29, 2013

PBL Idea: Using WeVideo in the Social Studies Classroom

As part of the Blended Schools Network MOOC coursework, one of our options was to share a lesson plan involving PBL and elements of blended learning.  As I thought about various projects I've helped with over the past couple of years, the one that came immediately to mind was using WeVideo as a culminating project for our 9th grade World Geography classes.

Typically, the students in the World Geography classes at our high school would complete some sort of culminating research paper -- the topic would need to include several elements of the topics covered throughout the year, and it would need to connect them in a meaningful way.  Last year, we decided to take a different approach and make it a multi-media project connected to conflict.

Product & Tool
After quite a bit of brainstorming, discussion, and collaborating, our group (which was comprised of the librarians, the World Geo teachers, and myself) landed on having the students create a short newscast using WeVideo about a real conflict (either current or historical).  In the spirit of the original research idea, the newscast would need to explain how different aspects of world geography studied throughout the year (place, population, resources, politics, religion, etc.) contributed or played a part in the conflict.  The World Geo teachers pulled the objectives and standards that they wanted to see addressed, and the librarians contributed information literacy standards that they wanted to include in the project.

Essential Questions
The World Geo teachers solidified the essential questions for the project:  given the various aspects or themes of world geography studied, in what ways do you think we could avoid conflict between groups or countries? What elements contribute to conflict between peoples, races, or countries?  After meeting with the librarians, they contributed their own essential questions, specific to the research part of the project:  which resources (online or print) provide the best information about the aspects chosen to explore and what is the best way in which to represent that information for your viewers?

After looking at different rubric options in the Intel Project Rubrics database as a group, we decided that we would divide the assessment:  librarians would help assess the portions related to the research process, and the teachers would assess the final projects with the portions related to content/product.  This helped divide up the workload -- the librarians could provide guidance based on the rubric during the research portion of the project while the World Geo teachers could assess the portions related to content, analysis, and presentation (100 points total, with different areas weighted more heavily, based on objective focus).

14-15 pts 10-13 pts 5-9 pts 0-4 pts
I appropriately used other media, such as maps, images, and/or other effects, to enhance the content. Everything I included supported the tone or ideas in the video.
I included or used other media, such as maps, images, and/or other effects. They mostly supported the tone or ideas in the video.
I tried to use other media in my video, but I needed more images or maps or effects. Sometimes they didn't support the tone or the ideas in the video.
I did not use other media in my video, or the media didn't match the ideas in the video or the tone.
14-15 pts 10-13 pts 5-9 pts 0-4 pts
Every spoken word in my video can be clearly heard and understood. The music levels were appropriate and not louder than the voice.
All the important spoken words in my video can be clearly heard and understood. The music levels were mostly set correctly.
Several parts of my video are unclear or hard to hear, or one portion is unclear. The music interferes sometimes with the voice.
Many parts of my video are unclear or hard to hear. The music is too distracting or the levels are too loud.
9-10 pts 7-8 pts 5-6 pts. 0-4 pts
I carefully observed all copyright laws, cited text sources, and cited images appropriately. I carefully observed all copyright laws, but I made some minor errors when citing text sources or citing images. I sometimes violated copyright laws, or I made some errors when citing text sources or citing images. My video violated copyright laws, and/or I did not cite text or image sources.
9-10 pts. 7-8 pts 5-6 pts 0-4 pts
My video’s information was thorough, well-researched, and accurate. I chose strong examples or details and they supported my ideas well. My video’s information was mostly well-researched and accurate. I included good examples or details that mostly supported my ideas. My video’s information was researched and generally accurate. I could have included more details or examples to support my ideas. My video’s information was inaccurate. I did not have enough examples or details.
9 -10 pts. 7-8 pts 5-6 pts 0-4 pts
My script was well-organized and I had smooth transitions between concepts or ideas. I had a strong beginning, middle, and end. My script was mostly well-organized. I had clear transitions between concepts or ideas, and a clear beginning, middle, and end. My script had a few problems with organization, and some transitions were missing. The beginning, middle and end were not always clear. My script wasn't organized or easy to follow, there were no transitions, and it was hard to tell where the beginning, middle, and end were.
Interconnectedness (Analysis) – 20 points
19-20 16-18 pts 14-15 pts 0-13 pts
My video’s information made insightful connections between different topics and clearly analyzed how the ideas connected. My video’s information mostly made clear connections between topics and analyzed how the ideas connected. My video’s information had different topics but they didn't always connect to each other, nor did it analyze how the ideas connected. My video’s information didn't include enough topics and/or there wasn't much of a connection between ideas.
Research Process
9-10 pts 7-8 pts 5-6 pts 0-4 pts
I used credible sources (databases) for my research. I extracted relevant information and correctly paraphrased the information on my EasyBib notecards. I have a suitable number of notecards. I used credible sources (databases) for my research. I extracted relevant information and most information is correclty paraphrased on my EasyBib notecards.  I have an adiquate number of notecards. I used credible sources (databases) for my research.Information on my EasyBib notecards is not paraphrased accurately.  I have some notecards. I did not use credible sources (databases) for my research. Information on my Easyib notecards is not paraphrased (missing). I have very few notecards.
9-10 pts 7-8 pts 5-6 pts 0-4 pts
I worked really hard and didn't get off task or off topic. I listened well, followed directions the first time, and helped those around me. I mostly stayed on topic and on task. I listened and followed directions and did not distract others. I got off topic or off task and sometimes had difficulty listening or following directions. I sometimes distracted others. I didn't stay on task and I didn't focus or listen when instructions were given. I distracted others around me.

At that time, we were using Moodle as our LMS, so we decided to put all rubrics, checklists, directions, links, and self-assessments in our course shell for World Geo.  This was a really good way to organize the different aspects of the assignment -- not only did it cut down on the "what are we supposed to do again?" question, but it also helped provide a structure for feedback and assessment.  Student were given a schedule of expectations that either the librarians for the teachers would check off as the project progressed.

Online Tools
In addition to the databases that we subscribed to as a school, students relied upon GoogleDocs for their storyboarding, GoogleDocs for their script drafts, and WeVideo for the final project.  Each student was responsible for finding still images for their newscast (using a Creative Commons search, if no images were found in the databases), as well as doing a short intro video with built-in webcams.

WeVideo ended up being a great choice for this project.  Not only did it have the kinds of themes, background music, and transitions that enhanced the newscast, but because it is web-based, students could work on their projects from anywhere, collaborate with each other, and finally share their projects digitally with their teachers and the librarians.

When the project concluded, we got together to reflect on how things went with the project.  Overall, it was a big success.  The teachers were very enthusiastic about the quality of the projects that the students submitted, and one of them even started a similar project with her other classes because she thought it went so well.  For next time, we discussed tightening up our daily expectations and restructuring the time (perhaps extending a day or two).  Also, we discussed using some of higher quality newscasts as exemplars for the next group.  And now that WeVideo is part of GoogleDrive, some of the logistics of the assignment will become a bit easier.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Blended Learning: School as a Learning Station

My goal this school year has been to dive more into the concept of blended learning.  I've been really fortunate with timing: I was able to attend a blended learning design workshop in Denver last month, eNet Colorado started offering Intel's Blended Learning course this month, and the Blended Schools Network offered a MOOC on blended learning as well (which started 2 weeks ago, as of this post).  Of course, I've been able to dig around on my own, but having some structured opportunities has also been helpful.

From the Innosight Institute
I've seen various definitions for blended learning, but I found the one from the Innosight Institute useful in talking with folks who are just starting to hear this term: a formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online delivery of content and instruction with some element of student control {emphasis mine} over time, place, path, and/or pace and at least in part at a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home {emphasis mine, again}. 

In our district-level discussions, we've tried to bring blended learning into the conversation whenever possible.  Our long-term goal is to have time, place, and age-agnostic learning for all students and teachers.  That can happen, if we start to look at the brick & mortal school as one part of an overall "learning station."

The school "learning station" idea plays into the student control aspect and is where we have to take a close look at our own practice.  We have had technology-rich environments for some time (with either labs, carts, or learning stations), but rarely have I seen situations where students control any of those elements (time, place, path, and/or pace).  This part of the definition could assist in explaining how to transform a technology-rich learning environment into an environment that is approaching or fully implementing a blending learning model.

Identifying levels of student control over those elements might also help us figure out some thoughtful ways to measure impact on their learning.  What happens when there is control solely over time? place? path? pace? Which of those are key for different learners? Which elements need to remain under teacher direction for specific learners?  Do students who need credit recovery benefit more than others with control over place or path?  Does path help us get away from putting students into certain classes based purely on age?  How do these help us get to time, place, and age-agnostic learning?  How can the school become 1 learning station in a much broader and varied learning process?

Because teachers may be familiar with the idea of learning stations, starting to ask how we can make the physical classroom or school only 1 part of a learning station might push the view of learning experiences and teacher/learner roles into a different light.  If we truly want time, place, and age-agnostic learning, we need to think about being a critical part of the learning process but certainly not the only part.