December 26, 2011
I teach a course called Digital Literacy to two freshman classes. Formerly called Computer Applications, this course aims to teach students the skills they will need to successfully participate in a digital environment in the 21st century. We focus on topics such as digital citizenship, digital footprints, tech savvy, and media. Students have developed their skills with software such as PowerPoint, Prezi, Photoshop, GarageBand, and iMovie, as well as various social media sites and web 2.0 tools.
When I saw Project PLN’s call for student submissions, I knew this was an excellent opportunity for my students to practice what we’ve been working on all semester, as well as other important skills like teamwork, leadership, and time management. Inspired by this post by Andrew Marcinek, I put together this assignment sheet. I wasn’t really sure what to expect. This was the first time I gave this much freedom to my students, but I trusted them to do great work. They did not disappoint.
After a slightly chaotic start, students got themselves organized into groups. They spent the next four classes working in small groups and occasionally reconvening as a class to complete their dream school web site. Each group made its own contribution to the site. Here is what they created:
A day: Diverse National Academy (DNA)
B day: North Star Institute
Please spend some time looking at their sites; they are excited to hear what people around the country (and hopefully the world!) think about their work. They would love it if you tweeted me or left a comment so they can get some feedback.
The best part of this project for me was reading their reflections at the end. I was excited to see that they understood the value of working as a team, completing a project that has real-world applications, and developing a product for a broad, authentic audience. Here are some highlights:
When asked if they enjoyed the project and why they replied…
- “I did enjoy this project. It was interesting, thought provoking, and forced us to look at school in a different way.”
- “I enjoyed the project because it was like a real world situation which actually has benefits.”
- “I did enjoy this project because it encompassed everything we learned. This project included everyone, leaving no one out.”
- “I did enjoy this project because we had a lot of freedom to do what we wanted, and our final product will be viewed by many people, so it isn’t just for a grade.”
- “The project was somewhat enjoyable because the project was frustrating for a while until the class was able to come to a consensus, but the final product came out really well, and it was exciting to see that our class created a great product.”
When asked what they could do to improve in the future they said…
- “We need to listen better to other people. We should also try to be open to criticism and be flexible with our opinions instead of being hard-headed.”
- “I think we should break up into groups of 4-6 and do the brainstorming. Then, we should share our ideas as a whole class. I think this will make the planning stages less frustrating. Then, we can figure out who is doing what and begin working on the actual project sooner.”
- “We should be able to do the same thing we did: break up into groups, while also collaborating between the groups to create one large outcome. I think we would work better now that we understand how we need to work. Originally, there were problems because we had no idea what to do. But now that we know what to do, doing another project would be easier.”
All in all, my students and I agree that this project was a success. Thank you, Project PLN, for creating this opportunity for us!
Biotechnology High School
Michelle Lampinen is a National Board Certified English teacher who lives in New Jersey, has two cats, and loves chocolate. She has been teaching English I, IB Language & Literature HL, and Digital Literacy at Biotechnology High School in Freehold, NJ for seven years. The school is a great fit for her because it’s full of nerds, and she’s pretty much the biggest nerd ever. While she loves technology, and I mean REALLY loves technology, she also understands the importance of unplugging and enjoying nature every once in a while.