Thursday, December 15, 2011

Student Centered Learning with iPads in Global Studies

Dr. Justin Suran, high school teacher and technology facilitator, shared this classroom unit with us:

At the end of October, the students in my ninth-grade Global Studies class chose research topics from a list of possible topics on ancient India (e.g., “Aryan gods and goddesses” or “Chandragupta Maurya”) and ancient China (e.g., “bronze casting” or “Legalism”).  In a series of assignments, each student formulated a research question, found and took notes on several online sources, and wrote a works cited entry for each source.

I published each student’s research question on our Global Studies website, along with a one-paragraph synopsis of each report:

These student-authored synopses became a kind of “textbook” for our unit on India and China.  Each student also presented her findings in an in-class report.  Students created PowerPoint presentations using the Quickoffice app and projected their slides directly from their iPads. Ultimately, I used information from the in-class presentations and written synopses to write a series of multiple-choice questions for our summative assessments.

While some students may have benefited from a more structured, teacher-centered approach, most students rose to the challenge and learned a lot from the assignment.  They framed interesting and meaningful research questions, found reliable sources, and taught the rest of us what they had learned. In the process of writing their presentations and learning from one another, they learned to see themselves as co-creators of historically significant (and test-worthy!) knowledge.

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