I'm starting a new section to my blog, thanks to some advice given to me by Colette Cassinelli of edtech Vision, and will be documenting some of the literature projects that incorporate Google Apps this school year.
My first post will contain a summary of my thought process and development of the projects. I will then post updates during each project and refections after the completion of the project. My hope is that other Language Arts teachers can use these projects as is or adapt them to meet their needs.
Anne Frank Museum
I read "The Diary of Anne Frank" every year with my 8th graders. One of the concepts I want them to get from reading this is how a book (and a single person) can have a profound social impact. We spend a lot of class time discussing the significance behind Anne Frank and I wanted to choose a project that would hammer that message home.
Here in Indianapolis, we are lucky to have a very well done exhibit at The Indianapolis Children's Museum called "The Power of Children." It is centered around Anne Frank, Ruby Bridges, and Indiana-native Ryan White. The Children's Museum is only a few blocks from the neighborhood where most of my students live. Most of their families have memberships and have seen the exhibit. In this time of limited field trips, I decided not to "waste" time on a trip to this museum. However, I offer extra credit for student that do visit and complete a project of their choosing on it. Last year, two of my students made this video for me to share with other classes around the world that couldn't make it to the museum:
For 3 years, my culminating project for Anne Frank was a Student Created Museum. The students would work paired or solo and create an exhibit for our museum on a topic related to Anne Frank. They have to get my approval on their topic and medium choice, but, for the most part, the creation is their own. In the past, I have had students create video re-inactments of "scenes" from the book, a mock radio broadcast that Anne might have heard, a full scale floor diagram of the actual size of Anne's room (along with furniture), a display of a backpack that someone like Anne may have taken into hiding, and many other creative ideas. I haven't been disappointed with the quality of exhibits. However, we display this museum for a few hours in our school's gym. Other classes in the school, as well as parents and community members, would come through and view the museum and interact with the students acting as guides. If the parents or others we wanted to see all the projects couldn't make the museum times, they were out of luck. And, I also wanted to be sensitive to other teacher's class time and not take the students out of other classes.
So, I wondered, how can I increase the viewership of the creative projects and also, if possible, reduce the amount of out-of-class time?
An idea came to me this summer while visiting Second Life. I'm not a frequent visitor to Second Life, but drop in every few months to see what's going on. I found out the United States Holocaust Museum has created a "Virtual" Holocaust Museum of sorts in Second Life.
I immediately began searching for a way to build an interactive 3d gallery with clickable items. The clickable items would be the students' digital exhibits. I could then share this with other classes worldwide, parents, and community members all to view at their leisure. I've experimented with SketchUp and Flash but haven't gotten the results I wanted. I can create the 3d environment in SketchUp, but can't make it interactive with videos or other presentations being viewable. If you have suggestions, or the programing know-how, to do this, please let me know.
The students' multimedia choice is still up to them. After they create their projects, I will collect them all into a Google Site. Our school recently started using Google Apps. I anticipate some students will use Google Presentations for their project, others will upload to Google Video, maybe use Picasa and/or Picnik to create a photo collage, but I'm allowing them to make those choices in order to foster their ingenuity. I'm sure at least one of them will come up with an idea I would never have thought of.
I can then share this Site to the parents, to other teachers, and even the world via twitter and other social media.
The project will take place in October and I will update my blog with progress and results. I'd love to hear your thoughts and suggestions.