Monday, May 23, 2011

Civil War Newscasts: Part I

Since the end of the year is upon us, I wanted to finish with a bang. This, in nerdy tech/history teacher terms, meant a major collaborative project. My goal was to create an assignment that went into detail in many aspects of the Civil War but also incorporated different pieces of technology that are available to students at our school. Ultimately, I decided to have the students pretend like there were televisions and news stations during the Civil War Era and create a newscast based on some of the particulars of the time.

My goal for this post is to begin to break the project down into parts so any teacher could incorporate this into whatever your subject area may be. So here goes...

The first day was simply going over the project with the students. Each student was given a group, each group a topic, and each topic an instruction sheet and checklist. Here is a teacher information sheet to guide you as well.

The second through fourth days is what I'd really like to focus on in this post. This is the script writing process. Students were made aware that they could not begin filming until all scripts were complete.

The first piece of tech integration shows up in the script writing. Students used Google Docs and their checklist to create their scripts. Google Docs allows for the utmost in student collaboration. Each group created a Google Doc for each of the scripts before they even started. Immediately, the students were asked to share the document with each of their group members and their teacher. This allows for each group member to edit the document at any time from home or school. For more information on Google Docs please click here.

I have to share a one story about our Google Docs experience to show you how cool it is. I had one group that had two of the three group members out while we were writing our scripts. In the past, that one remaining student would be stuck with a lot of work. With gDocs, the students that were out sick were actually working on the script at home at the same time as the one student that made it to school. VERY COOL STUFF!

Many students used their former notes, textbooks, or the internet to research their topics as they were typing their scripts. I was able to read the scripts as the students were typing. Another nice feature of Google Docs that I used was the insert comment feature. I typed several comments on each script during the class period as the students were working. This freaked them out at first that "big brother" was watching their every word being typed. In the end they found it helpful, and they were very excited that I could add some insight before the scripts were officially due.

I'll share the remaining parts and tech integration of this project in future posts. They will appear on my blog at Teaching History with Tech. If you enjoyed this post please consider joining my PLN @HistoryandTech. And finally, I'd like to thank @techforschools for allowing me the opportunity to guest post.

Have a great summer...the next school year will be here before you know it!