My 10th grade U.S. History class at Center Point High School was presented with the challenge of producing a digital family history project. The digital device could be anyone they choose. Any point-of-view was acceptable, as long as it was relevant to their family. The rationale of this assessment was to allow my students to explore their family history and develop and expand their use of digital technology in the educational process. The project was based on their family history. The viewpoints that they opted to relate to their family history was creatively theirs.
The instructions included the encouragement to be creative and demonstrate their knowledge of technology-based presentations. The purpose of this assignment seemed relevantly simple in context to me. During the process, it was revealed to me that my students were not familiar with many aspects of their family. They were not knowledgeable of their genealogy, extended generations, and general information concerning their families (names, ages, date of birth, knowledge of maternal and paternal sides of the family or location of relatives). I am not sure when I start compiling this information about my family, but it always seemed part of my basic knowledge. This activity simulated conversations within each household.
The student relayed to me that they interviewed family members to increase their information base. I know of two students that worked hand-and-hand with their parents to become mini-experts about their families. The level of communication that opened up between the students and their parents was inspiring. The Course of Study objectives for this activity came from ALEX: English Language Arts (2015) 10th grade. The family history project focused on the following standards: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas 16.) Analyze various accounts of a subject told in different mediums (e.g., a person’s life story in both print and multimedia), determining which details are emphasized in each account. [RI.9-10.7] Writing Standards: Text Types and Purposes 22.)
Write informative or explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content. [W.9-10.2] a. Introduce a topic; organize complex ideas, concepts, and information to make important connections and distinctions; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., figures, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension. [W.9-10.2a] b. Develop the topic with well-chosen, relevant, and sufficient facts, extended definitions, concrete details, quotations, or other information and examples appropriate to the audience’s knowledge of the topic. [W.9-10.2b]
c. Use appropriate and varied transitions to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships among complex ideas and concepts. [W.9-10.2c] d. Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to manage the complexity of the topic. [W.9-10.2d] e. Establish and maintain a formal style and objective tone while attending to the norms and conventions of the discipline in which they are writing. [W.9-10.2e] f. Provide a concluding statement or section that follows from and supports the information or explanation presented (e.g., articulating implications or the significance of the topic). [W.9-10.2f]
Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 21-23 above.) [W.9-10.4] 25.) Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of the first three standards in the Language strand in Grades K-10.) [W.9-10.5]
Speaking and Listening Standards: Comprehension and Collaboration 31.) Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on Grade 10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively. [SL.9-10.1] a. Come to discussions prepared, having read and researched material under study; explicitly draw on that preparation by referring to evidence from texts and other research on the topic or issue to stimulate a thoughtful, well-reasoned exchange of ideas. [SL.9-10.1a] b. Work with peers to set rules for collegial discussions and decision-making (e.g., informal consensus, taking votes on key issues, presentation of alternate views), clear goals and deadlines, and individual roles as needed. [SL.9-10.1b]
c. Propel conversations by posing and responding to questions that relate the current discussion to broader themes or larger ideas; actively incorporate others into the discussion; and clarify, verify, or challenge ideas and conclusions. [SL.9-10.1c] d. Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarize points of agreement and disagreement, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their views and understanding and make new connections in light of the evidence and reasoning presented. [SL.9-10.1d] 32.) Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally), evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source. [SL.9-10.2]
Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas 34.) Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task. [SL.9-10.4] 35.) Make strategic use of digital media (e.g., textual, graphical, audio, visual, and interactive elements) in presentations to enhance understanding of findings, reasoning, and evidence and to add interest. [SL.9-10.5] 36.) Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate. (See Grade 10 Language standards 37 and 39 for specific expectations.) [SL.9-10.6] Conventions of Standard English 37.) Demonstrate command of the conventions of Standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking. [L.9-10.1]
a. Use parallel structure.* [L.9-10.1a] b. Use various types of phrases (noun, verb, adjectival, adverbial, participial, prepositional, absolute) and clauses (independent, dependent; noun, relative, adverbial) to convey specific meanings and add variety and interest to writing or presentations. [L.9-10.1b] c. Apply rules of subject-verb agreement when the subject is compound in form but singular in meaning and when the subject is plural in form but singular in meaning. (Alabama) 38.) Demonstrate command of the conventions of Standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing. [L.9-10.2]
a. Use a semicolon (and perhaps a conjunctive adverb) to link two or more closely related independent clauses. [L.9-10.2a] b. Use a colon to introduce a list or quotation. [L.9-10.2b] c. Spell correctly. [L.9-10.2c] Vocabulary Acquisition and Understanding 42.) Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression. [L.9-10.6] (ALEX – Alabama Learning Exchange, 2015)
With the objectives identified in the Course of Study, ALEX, the following are steps that were applied to this project. 1. On March 1, 2016, the student signed for and received their initial instructions about this particular assignment.(C:\Users\aputt\Pictures\2016-04-09 Family History ProjectRequirements, C:\Users\aputt\Pictures\2016-04-09 Family History Project Checklist, C:\Users\aputt\Pictures\2016-04-09 Family History Rubric, and C:\Users\aputt\Pictures\2016-04-09 sign in sheet.)
2. Students were given six consecutive school days in the computer lab. During this time, students brainstormed and explored a variety of digital tools available for them. Students were able to narrow down their point of view or theme of their project. Students were provided with any material they needed to be successful in this endeavor. Student were given the opportunity to select the order of their presentations (C:\Users\aputt\Pictures\2016-04-09 Presentation Order Sign Up Sheet.)
3. Students were given “Consent to Release Photo/Image” forms (C:\Users\aputt\Pictures\2016-04-09 consent to release photoimage.) Out of a class of 27, only five consent forms were returned. 4. On March 15, 2016, the class began their presentations. Due to the class size, the presentation required two school days. Absenteeism extended this activity to four days total. Students, on average, had, at least, fifteen calendar days to complete this project for the presentation stage. Formative and summative tools were used through this process.
The formative tools included daily oral check-ins with students, observations through the six school days in the computer lab, and self-assessment by using the checklist provided in the initial instructions, and the overall project assignment. Summative assessment involved the rubric project expectations, including the final project and final transcript of the project, and final project grade. The products that were produced from “My Family History” project varied from topic to final presentation style. The class was offered a broad range of options, in which to produce their projects, based on a classroom brainstorming activity.
They formulated the following options: Prezi(http://prezi.com/bf4rmrsf9gpu/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy&rc=ex0share). My History Project.com, Fakebook (http://www.classtools.net/FB/1236-yyZ7sR), storybook creator, PowerPoint (file:///E:/Threadford%20Powerpoint.pdf), Interactive posters (https://onedrive.live.com/?cid=775EFD624204B25F&id=775EFD624204B25F%21402&parId=775EFD624204B25F%21397&o=OneUp), Piktochart and Scratch.
I was surprised that with the vast options available to them, my students went with what they felt was more comfortable, a basic poster or tri-fold presentation ( https://onedrive.live.com/redir?resid=775EFD624204B25F!400&authkey=!AMT6Nbx7k0ZYuvU&v=3&ithint=photo%2cJPG). The majority of the tools available to produce these projects were limited in digital technology, even though an entire week was available in the computer lab at school.
I witnessed that with too many options available that my student population became uncomfortable and lacked confidence. They inquired multiple times for step-by-step instructions. Throughout the process, students continuously asked, “Can I do this?” My general response was, “Does it relate to your family history? ”The students were standoffish when this material was originally presented. As a few students determined their family history viewpoint and became enthusiastic about this activity, it led others to become more engaged with their projects. I was impressed that most of my students were prepared and on-time with their projects.
While the oral presentations were being presented, the audience was attentive and participated appropriately. I was pleasantly surprised by their attitudes towards classmates. They asked appropriate questions of the presenters and were respectful and attentive. A few students shared their finished projects with classmates outside of our class. Fellow colleagues came by my room peruse them, after hearing the students discussions. One teacher used the material presented by Ferguson, “Being Gay The Right Way”( with his child to have an open dialogue about gender identity.