My 6th graders are currently working on a marketing campaign that aligns with the hashtag on social media for the Minnesota Department of Tourism: #onlyinMN. Students each picked a place or event which they thought was awesome. They’ve researched and now created 3 products as part of the campaign: a pop-up ad (in the style of a brochure), a TV commercial, and a tweet. They are now on to preparing their presentations in which they are pretending the class is the board of directors for their place/event and they have to persuade them to purchase their campaign for the upcoming season.
I’ve done this whole unit with just 2 google docs that have step-by-step directions and linked videos, templates, docs, and rubrics. By doing this, each of my students has been able to work at their own pace. I have an end-date that is the same for everyone, but teaching this in a blended way has allowed for many awesome things:
- Fast students to go ahead of their peers
- Slow students to get help from me when they need it
- Students who were sick to work from home and not feel as stressed out when they return
- Me to have individual one-on-one time with every student to help them make their work great
- Students to revise when they need to, instead of feeling ahead of behind the class
I was very proud of them throughout this unit because students also learned and were so successful with many tech tools and tricks. I really attribute this to the blended learning model. Instead of modeling the tech tool or trick to the whole class at the same time, students could watch a video model when needed.
If teaching to the whole class at once then these negative things can occur:
- Students will not get a chance to re-watch if they don’t understand
- Students who already know the skill are forced to waste time
- Students who aren’t ready for that skill don’t necessarily understand
- Students may not need that skill for a while and will not have a chance to immediately apply their learning
If using blended learning, then these positive things can occur:
- Students can re-watch again and again and again to master the skill
- Students who already know the skill can skip that part of the lesson, or simply review quickly
- Students can watch and learn the skill when they actually need it
- Students can immediately apply their learning since they are watching when they need it
The tech skills that my students learned throughout the unit were as follows. I was so proud of them! (And keep in mind these are 6th graders who aren’t 1:1!)
- Creating citations with Easy Bib google docs add-on
- How to change the page size of a Google presentation
- How to manipulate photos in a slide
- The research tab
- Sharing levels on google products
- How to create a hyperlink
- Publishing Google products to the web
- Creating goo.gl shortened links
- Creating a commercial using Animoto
You might think I’m crazy, but let me tell you, teaching documentary analysis through “Making a Murderer” was one of the best decisions I’ve made so far this year. I’ve written a little bit about it before, but let me give you a little update.
Through some awesome help of social media and a friend of a friend, I got a guest speaker to come to my classroom yesterday. Chris Duffy was a reporter in Green Bay and covered the whole Steven Avery trial and fiasco. He now lives in the Twin Cities, right where I teach. Chris recently wrote an article for the Star Tribune about how documentaries are inherently biased. This is exactly what we’re tyring to teach the kids: that they must analyze everything in the media that they see and hear to really understand if it’s credible or not.
First, we read his article. I used DocentEDU to create an interactive, blended lesson for my students that they worked through at their own pace. It really was so awesome to have their online discussion answers to help spur discussion face to face. Then, Mr. Duffy was magnanimous enough to actually come and speak to my students.
My students were so engaged. Chris was a wonderful speaker and was so interesting. He hit on every single point that I had been trying to teach my students over the course of the unit. Our EQ had been, “Are documentaries a credible source of information?” Chris more than delivered. My students asked him questions (based on the DocentEDU lesson) for the whole class period. While reading their reflections afterwards, having Mr. Duffy as a guest really helped them think and learn about how they do and should consume media. The kids were still talking about it today.
Like I’ve said in other posts, I really encourage you to just reach out and find someone to come and speak to your class. I’ve had guests for every unit so far this year, and it always is the highlight of each unit. Just put a call out there and you never know who you might get!