Thursday, May 31, 2007

Authentic Assessment: You're Funded!

How's this for authentic assessment? Fifth-graders from Elise Mueller's class in Bellingham, Wash., wanted to upgrade their classroom technology. So they asked if they could write their own grant proposal. Their teacher, a veteran at using the project approach, encouraged the students to put together a project team. They used a wiki to organize their proposal, including a spreadsheet to track the proposed costs and persuasive writing to make their case for technologies to support "meaningful projects designed with teacher support, to meet individual learning goals and learning styles." Their proposal has been funded, bringing in nearly $10,000 in new equipment. Among their ideas for "learning adventures": podcasts, videos that challenge common scientific misconceptions, and claymation videos starring "Math Man."

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Romeo, Juliet, and MySpace

Koty Zelinka, English teacher at Portland Lutheran High School in Oregon, explains in an Oregonian article how she used MySpace to help her students get deeper into analyzing Shakespearean characters. The social networking site was an obvious choice, since nearly 90 percent of her students already had their own pages. She had them work in small teams to create pages for Romeo, Juliet, Mercutio, Tybalt, and other characters. Before long, students were channeling their Shakespearean counterparts via emoticons, photos, and star-crossed blog entries. Using MySpace for learning not only got her students engaged in character studies, but also gave Zelinka a chance to educate parents--and students--about online security. Who else is tapping the learning potential of social networking tools?