Digital Storytelling in the Classroom

Lynne Zalesak, Social Studies Teacher, Houston ISD, uses Digital Storytelling to engage her students in the classroom.

For a free Digital Storeytelling e-book go here: http://www.microsoft.com/education/teachers/guides/digital_storytelling.aspx


Project-based Learning: What it is and What it isn’t!

Great videos on Project-Based Learning!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Project Based Learning Is  ► http://howtovideos.hightechhigh.org/video/268/What+Project+Based+Learning+Is

What Project Based Learning Isn’t -

http://howtovideos.hightechhigh.org/video/265/What+Project+Based+Learning+Isn%27t


Virtual Field Trip Notables

Many virtual field trips have already been created and can easily be incorporated into existing lesson plans and curriculum units.

A virtual field trip might be as simple as going to an existing online site, such as The White House, and taking a virtual tour – http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/white-house-101

Professionally produced sites, such as the ones described in this section, combine sophisticated technologies and hands-on learning activities. The Gilder Lehrman Collection contains more than 60,000 documents detailing the political and social history of the United States.

http://www.gilderlehrman.org/collection/online/index.html

The collection includes manuscript letters, diaries, maps, photographs, printed books and pamphlets dating from 1493 through modern times. There are several online exhibits and virtual tours that can be used to travel back through American History.

The JASON Project, produced by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute, integrates video programming, satellite transmissions, classroom activities and instruction to expose students to real science and exploration http://www.jason.org/public/home.aspx. Through hands-on, inquiry driven learning, JASON inspires teachers to try new teaching techniques and effectively engages students in active learning (JASON).

LEARNZ, Linking Education and Antarctic Research in New Zealand, is an online virtual field trip program designed for New Zealand students http://www.learnz.org.nz/. LEARNZ takes students on adventures alongside researchers engaging them in science experiments. Originally LEARNZ just provided the field trip experience; however, their adventures now include supporting documentation available one month before the actual excursion, interactive online activities and quizzes, and a diary to be completed each day that includes a record of the day’s events with still pictures. Enrolled “travelers” automatically receive an email with a summary of the day’s events as soon as the diary is posted to the Web.

Ball State University has partnered with The Smithsonian Institute, Cooperstown National Baseball Hall of Fame, the United States Congress, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to provide sophisticated virtual field trips that include live broadcasts, web-based simulations, and online gaming for student engagement http://www.bsu.edu/eft/home2/00front.htm.


Essential questions: Start Students Off On A Journey

Essential questions start students off on a journey and help them develop related questions that organize and direct their search for knowledge. Project-based, constructivist learning emphasizes problem solving using the idea of an essential question as a starting point to set the stage for further questioning.

question mark

Essential questions are important because they provide a teacher with a thoughtful approach to a course or to individual units. They help the teacher understand the usefulness, the relevance, and the greater benefit of a particular topic in a course or unit. Essential questions are usually thought-provoking to students and can be used to stimulate discussion, debate, dissent, and research.

Take a real-world topic and begin an in-depth investigation. Base your question on an authentic situation or topic. What is happening in your classroom? In your community? Select a question about an issue students will believe that, by answering, they are having an impact on. Make it relevant for them. The question should be a “now” question — a question that has meaning in your students’ lives.

Read: The Question is the Answer – http://questioning.org/module/module1.html

Resources:

http://www.edutopia.org/teaching-module-pbl-how

http://questioning.org/Q7/toolkit.html#anchor173647


Virtual Field Trips for Project-Based Learning

Virtual field trips are a form of project-based learning, where instruction and learning occur within the context of a challenging project. Just as workers encounter complicated tasks in the workplace, students are presented with questions and problems that act as catalysts for learning. Projects usually extend over a few classes or weeks to help students acquire new, necessary knowledge and skill sets (Thomas, 2000).

In other words, instead of working on a small project for a week, projects build upon each other and can carry over from semester to semester as they facilitate the learning. Long-term projects make it possible to personalize learning, achieve more active involvement by students in shaping their education, and enable more authentic assessment of what students have actually learned. In history and social studies, a particular interest of mine, project-based learning (PBL) engages students as historians or social scientists and stimulates them to want to know more about the events and people they investigate.

Why should teachers use virtual field trips? Virtual field trips are an inexpensive way to integrate hands-on technology into the curriculum while maintaining student interest in the unit being studied. They offer a student-centered approach to instruction and diversify the teaching methods of content area instruction.

Virtual instruction allows students to view people and places in a visually stimulating environment, which cannot be done through mere textbook reading. (Lacina, 2004)  Students bring back facts and information uncovered through their experience on their virtual adventure. Teachers can use virtual field trips not only to meet national technology standards but to combine content standards with technology standards fostering learning that results in interdisciplinary knowledge.

10 Reasons to Use Virtual Field Trips

Virtual Field Trip Notables


The importance of real-world learning

Project-based learning can be defined as learning that occurs within the context of a challenging project. Just as workers encounter complicated tasks in the workplace, students are presented with questions and problems that act as catalysts for learning. Projects usually extend over a few classes or weeks to help students acquire new, necessary knowledge and skill sets. In other words, instead of working on a small project for a week, projects build upon each other and can carry over from semester to semester as they facilitate the learning.

Long-term projects make it possible to personalize learning, achieve more active involvement by students in shaping their education, and enable more authentic assessment of what students have actually learned.

Project-based learning provides students with the opportunity to engage in real world situations that by their nature have no easy solution, or have no solution at the present time. Students learn to manage their time, interpret data sets, resolve value conflicts between group members and prepare and communicate the results of their investigation. In other words, they will use their experiences to learn to manage real life situations.

PBL empowers students as self-directed learners; by taking responsibility or their learning, students learn what they need to know.  This aspect of PBL is crucial to developing active, intrinsically motivated, self-determined, lifelong learners. Project-based, constructivist learning emphasizes problem solving using the idea of an essential question as a starting point to set the stage for further questioning.

Great videos on PBL:

What Project Based Learning Is – http://howtovideos.hightechhigh.org/video/268/What+Project+Based+Learning+Is

What Project Based Learning Isn’t – http://howtovideos.hightechhigh.org/video/265/What+Project+Based+Learning+Isn%27t

Project-based Learning: Why do it? – http://ow.ly/50Ucz


Video Explanation: Project Based Learning

I am a big fan of explanatory videos. This is a great one explaining Project-based learning, where instruction and learning occur within the context of a challenging project.

Just as workers encounter complicated tasks in the workplace, students are presented with questions and problems that act as catalysts for learning. Projects usually extend over a few classes or weeks to help students acquire new, necessary knowledge and skill sets (Thomas, 2000). In other words, instead of working on a small project for a week, projects build upon each other and can carry over from semester to semester as they facilitate the learning. Long-term projects make it possible to personalize learning, achieve more active involvement by students in shaping their education, and enable more authentic assessment of what students have actually learned. In history and social studies, a particular interest of mine, project-based learning (PBL) engages students as historians or social scientists and stimulates them to want to know more about the events and people they investigate.

Technology tools have become so user-friendly that teachers can easily create their own virtual field trips. Teachers, on their own or with their students, can visit a site and use digital cameras or video to capture information. Maps and reference materials can be added to maximize the actual site study. Lesson planning is part of the process of making pedagogical, intellectual, and ideological choices. In constructivist classrooms, students get involved in making these decisions, choosing interesting projects or places that they would like to visit. Virtual field trips can include a range of instructional approaches and technologies. As Cassady and Mullen noted, there needs to be a shift from discussions about hardware and software to the inherent desire of children to explore the world (2006).


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