The school year is growing very short. Unfortunately, our student’s attention spans also seem to be growing shorter. This is when using projects that involve creativity and some of the great ideas off the web can revitalize your student’s interest in learning. Projects can also help you enjoy teaching the last few weeks of school. Programs like Discovery Streaming, VoiceThread or Animoto are great venues for getting students excited about researching a topic and producing a fun to make and watch project. Here are a few ideas that teachers at my school are trying.
In seventh grade we are dissecting frogs this week. Before the students dissect the frogs, we build interest and background using a video from Discovery Streaming. A good title to try is called Frogs: Facts and Folklore. Next, our technology teacher has the students use a program like Inspiration to label all the internal organs of the frog. The students use problem solving to figure out what the name of the frog’s internal organs are, and the students have to also decide which organs are in each of the frog’s body system During the dissection, the students take pictures of the dissection and the organ systems that they labeled in computer class. Next, they can make a VoiceThread or an Animoto movie about the dissection lab. If you have some students who are against dissection, they could be making an alternative project on the pro’s and con’s of dissection.
Another idea is one that our Earth science teacher is using in her class. The students are using VoiceThread to make a project on the planets. The students enjoy the challenge and appreciate not having to sit and listen to a lecture style lesson at this time of year.
No time for projects? What about using VoiceThread as an alternative assessment for a semester exam. It would be fun for the students, utilize all the scientific skills they have learned this year and be less stressful to grade. As the students present their VoiceThread to the class, you can grade them using a rubric based on the criteria you set up for the project.
Are you up for the end of the year challenge? I know your students are, and if you try a project instead of a book, your students may not even remember to check the calendar to see how many days are left until school is out.